Actions

Work Header

To Sherlock Holmes She is always The Woman

Chapter Text

 

 

 

To Sherlock Holmes She is always The Woman

 

 

 

 

I

 

 

He was standing there , in the street, still. Alone. He did not want to go home, he wanted to be alone. As always, his mind was so full of thoughts, feelings and ideas, just waiting to be connected. But today was different. So what changed? What bothered him about all that had just happened? He won. As always.

She was not able to manipulate him, as she wanted, didn’t beat him.

And then, why he wasn’t satisfied? What was missing this time? What troubled him? That he had given her to enemies, naked, without protection, with no masks? It was her fault, after all. She hadtried to trick him, humiliate in front of his brother. She made him look like a fool. HIM, Sherlock Holmes, a fool. But Sherlock Holmes don’t let himself be manipulate by a woman. To Sherlock Holmes women doesn’t even exist. For him, there not even are feelings

Not even feelings? Yes, maybe they exist, he thought. They exist , also for him. He know it. He always says he hasn’t a heart.  He had made a boast of it. Being a sociopath.

Ah yes, maybe be a true sociopath would have been better. No feelings, nothing. But he had some feelings, he felt, for so many people around him. Feelings of affection and feelings of hatred. Even if he would never shown it to anyone. Or at least he would have tried to do it. He had feelings for John, Mrs. Hudson and Molly, also for that useless of Lestrade, even for Mycroft. He has different shades of feelings, which he hardly catches, but he knew them, by now. Most of times he could manage them, even if he can’t always understand them. And then, there was Her. And he feels something for Her, he has felt grown it month after month. Something that suddenly exploded on the first day he met Her. A dull explosion, which had puzzled him for a moment. Or maybe  for more than a moment.

But he didn’t understand his own feelings, he never understood in all those months, it was something that he could not handle, something that made him act in a way that he doesn’t always liked, and that made him making mistakes. Mistakes.

And he made so many errors recently, and She was always involved in that. But at the moment he didn’t want to think about it, about his own feelings. It was boring and annoying. Why those things exist? Why he had not born as a perfect machine?

It seem to him like having a manufacturing defect, but that’s impossible.

Suddenly he realized. Even if he had won, hugely won, he‘ll never be satisfied of that victory. He had humiliated her, but his attack on her stupid emotions, and the disadvantage of loving ,that speech was true for him too, he had spoken to himself.

She played and lost. But also he had lost. Plus he condemned her to death.

He had allowed to make disappear forever the only woman in his life who was his equal. The only one who had ever touched a part of his soul buried in the deep. That brilliant woman, complicated almost as much as him. Lost forever.

Mycroft would have left her to her fate? A true iceman. Sherlock knew it very well.

Mycroft for his own business would sell his soul .Even without realized it.

He couldn’t trust him. He decided, he couldn’t let things as they were now.

With all those thoughts in his mind, he began to walk home.

He had much to think, many things to arrange and no one but him could achieve in that affair.

John wasn’t home when he returned. Probably he had an emergency at work.

He was surprised but also relieved. He didn’t want to talk with him about the way the  things had gone. Not now.

He sat on his own armchair. Memories of moments shared with Her in his mind. Just few hours early, that night, they were close, so close that Irene had betrayed herself.

But what about him? He betrayed himself?

For a moment he had had the same chemical reaction, but he managed to keep self-control. When he had felt the touch of her warm hand , and her face so close to him, his heart began to beat faster. He took her pulse. Elevated. As his own pulse.

Their hearts were beating together. In that moment he was speechless. And she asked “Oh Mr. Holmes, if it was the end of the world, if this was the very last night, would you have dinner with me?”

Even now, after so many hours, he couldn’t answer . He wasn’t never hungry in his life. Not the kind of hunger that She meant. It was easy, until now. Usually he doesn’t like women. He find almost all human beings stupid, but women were even more, if possible. But now, he wasn’t no longer sure about anything anymore, since he met The Woman. That’s what made Her so scary. The scariest among the women. The Woman. The only one worthy to being considered. She’s clever, and She has power over him. And  She loves him. He was sure about that. Not just for the pulse and her dilated pupils. The way She had collapsed at the end, was really exhaustive. More than words. Also because almost all the words that came out of her mouth  was lies.

Thousands of thoughts bounced off in his head, incessantly. He stood there, sitting by the fire, lightly pinching the violin.

Chapter Text

II

 

At dawn, when John returned home, he found Sherlock on his couch, closed in his mind palace. He usually acted like this, but this time he seemed strange, different.

If it wasn’t about Sherlock, John would have thought he was sad.

He greeted him at the door, and went into the kitchen to make coffee. Sherlock doesn’t even raise his head.

John thought that it was about Irene Adler. Since that woman had appeared, he was stranger than usual.

When he went work, she was there, in Baker Street, but now John doesn’t saw her anywhere.  Something must been happened.

He wasn’t available for a while, and he had some lost call from Mycroft.

“It was a busy night at work, tonight. I missed something? Where’s she?” John said, turning his head, looking for her. Even this time, Sherlock don’t raise his head.

“Err… Sherlock? Are you okay?” He was curious now, but also a bit worried about him. He got closer to him and put a hand on his shoulder. Sherlock finally raised his head, but his mind wasn’t still there. “ Sherlock! For God’s sake! Say something!”

Now he was a bit bothered by his catatonia. Therefore Sherlock jumped up, and grabbing the bow, he started to play the violin. He played a sad melody. John recognized it as the one he composed for Irene Adler’s fake death.

She was dead then? Really, this time? “I’ve to call Mycroft.” He thought. He couldn’t understand anything. And, clearly, Sherlock doesn’t wanted to talk with him.

He drank his coffee, and then ran in his room to call Mycroft. He explained to John what had happened. He talked about the way Irene had tried to make a fool of Sherlock, and after all, how his brother has found the camera phone‘s password, beating her. How he saved all the situation, but not her. Sherlock had humiliated her. And now she was without protection. Everything was in Mycroft’s hands.

John hung up the phone. He doesn’t knew what to think anymore. Maybe Sherlock was sad because he was almost beaten by that woman? Maybe he regretted his behavior? Improbable. John didn’t understand what was going on in Sherlock’s head, but he decided to let him stew in his own juice. He hoped that without Irene Adler on their way, he would get over it soon. He really hoped it.

Meanwhile he would updated his blog about the case. And then, finally, he would be able to go to sleep. Violin permitting.

 

 

Chapter Text

III

 

 

 

 

One week later, Sherlock started over again his own routine. Lestrade asked him some help for a case, but it was a very trivial one, as usually are the crimes of passion. He solved easily.

Even though the days passed by, he still was thinking about that night, and about the events of last months. Now he wasn’t even more annoyed about it. He doesn’t talk with anyone about it. He had already decided what to do.

He had told to his homeless network to keep him informed about all movements around some targets like Mycroft’s house and the Dyogenes Club.

He had knew till now, all about Her displacements in the recent days. She was in a secret location ( not for him, obviously) waiting for transferring Her elsewhere. Sherlock has understood that Mycroft hadn’t put her under arrest. She was kept in his custody only until the expatriation. This meant that She was totally without protection once She left Great Britain. Sherlock couldn’t  trust his own brother. And Mycroft has always tried to manage his life.

Mycroft also came to visit him, few days ago, obviously to check the situation. He tried to talk about Her, but Sherlock avoided the topic. However, in that visit, Sherlock was able to pick some information. As always, Mycroft had got a phone call and went on the kitchen, to talk in private. He spoke in a language code, but was easy for Sherlock to figure out who he was talking about.

He heard that She was being transferred abroad, next evening, with a flight to Paris.

Probably her destination was to be further away.

When his brother left, and while John was at work, he continued his investigations.

He couldn’t share this thing with John. John was practically his family, he trusted him blindly, but he couldn’t share it with him. That was only his own affair. He felt this sensation, but he couldn’t explain to himself why. In the end, he just wanted to know her safe.

On the next days, he continued to follow Her movements. He found out, still by the phone calls of Mycroft, and even spying on some of his documents, the new identity of  The Woman, and through her phone’s GPS he knew always her position. ( Mycroft left her keep the phone, his interest was on her camera phone only.)

He even got to hack the site of the provider,  to know her position if the GPS was disabled.

A morning, a few weeks later, Sherlock was having his breakfast, when John returned home from work. He brought the newspaper with him. A news hit Sherlock as a fist.

He had to use all his self-control to not show his reaction when he read the news of a hijacking to Karachi of a Paris-New York flight.

Most of the passengers was safe but some Westerners were kidnapped, probably to ask ransom to their governments. He knew that She was on that plan.

The day before, following her movements, he had discovered thebooking, made with Her new alias. His head seemed to explode.

He felt an unpleasant sensation of panic and a sharp pain at the top of his stomach.

Clearly he couldn’t hide his sensations because John noticed it.

“ What’s wrong in the newspaper? You seem… strange…I mean, stranger than usual.” He said, biting a slice of toast.

“ Nothing.” He replied with a grin “No interesting murders in the City today. I’ll die of boredom. I’m bored. “

“ It’s not good to rejoice over people’s death, Sherlock…”

“As if you were not bored to death, you too! But my mind can’t bear all this calm!! I’m going into my bedroom, maybe I can find something on the blog.” He said, folding the newspaper, and he got up from his chair.

“ Oh, Sherlock, wait.. I’m going out for a few days. Harry is sick, and it’s been a while since I visit her…We’ve no case and I’ve not seen her at Christmas…so” John said quickly.

Sherlock looked at him “ You must be really bored to go visit your sister!!”

“I’m leaving in a couple of days…I’ll back in a week, I think…” He couldn’t finish his sentence that Sherlock was already in his own bedroom and shut the door behind himself.

John was worried about to leave him alone for a while. But in the end he was a grown man, and, anyway, Mrs. Hudson was here to look after him. He tried to not feel too guilty. After all, it was not for fun, and he wasn’t happy at the idea to facing her sister.

Meanwhile Sherlock was sitting on his own bed, with the laptop.

He was sitting with folded hands, elbows on knees and he was trying to order the millions of thoughts that crowded as ever in his mind. He had to think of a solution, quickly. He went through several possibility. He was sure that the terrorists had hijacked the flight for her. He had to do something or She would die soon. Really, this time. He stood up and began to walk through the room frantically.

There must be some way, and he had to find it. Suddenly he found the only possible solution. The panic was replaced by excitement.

He clung to the laptop and began to send mail. He knew who to contact in such Countries, and in such circumstances. In the past, to fight boredom, he had traveled extensively and he had knew several people who still owed  to him . He also knew the worst criminals. And also they owed something to him.

Quickly he contacted everyone that  could be useful, he urgently needed false documents and bookings with an alias. It took him two days to organize everything, but in the end everything was perfect. He had planned it at night without sleeping, to try not to make suspicious John. John wasn't so stupid and he would have easily understood if he had not taken every precaution.

The night  he finished to plan everything, he sat in his own armchair. He hesitated. He lingered in a memory. The memory of Her eyes locked on him.

Why was he doing that? Sense of guilt? Only this? And why should he feel guilty? She was the only one to blame, for all her own misfortunes. She had played with fire, and she got burned. However the punishment seemed excessive, disproportionately high, for such a good player. She already had her punishment that night, and he had inflicted it. She had already paid. And he had not grudge against Her. He could only remember those moments, strangely pleasant moments in Her company.  Was it  for this reason, then? Because of that feeling of confusion? Because of that mental game with The Woman, so exciting for him? Because of that sense of constant challenge that had prompted him to show off his intelligence to impress Her? Because of that chemical reaction? Chemistry? It was only a matter of chemistry? This was the point. He couldn't understand it. Feelings. He wasn't made for this things. He only knew he had to do it. He had to, absolutely.

Next morning John was leaving to go to see Harry.

Sherlock was having his breakfast when John came down, with a small suitcase.

He left it near the door and he sat at table. In recent days had acted  as usual, although he seemed more excited than annoyed. But since there was nothing to be excited about, for the lack of cases, he  thought that he was just the usual Sherlock.

He was glad that he was not still bored till the point to get back to shoot around the house. John tried to give him some recommendations, hoping not to find when he would back home the house totally destroyed by some of his experiment or by one of his attacks of boredom. Sherlock listened distractedly, he seemed absorbed by his newspaper. John would have wanted to investigate, but had to go because the taxi would arrive shortly. "I go now, please, take care." Said John.

"Take care of what?" Sherlock said, with surprise.

"Nothing, nothing ..." John murmured sadly, shaking his head. He knew that Sherlock hadn't heard a word of what he had said. "I'll call you later," he said, taking the suitcase and ran down quickly.

Sherlock waited to hear the door close. He got up and looked out of the window, down in the street. John took a taxi cab. He heard noises on the stairs, he sat down, picking up the newspaper. Mrs. Hudson's steps.

"Sherlock, dear. John is already gone? Too bad! I wanted to say goodbye to him! You need something? But just for this time, because you're alone. I'm not your housekeeper! " She said, moving herself around the flats, waving her hands, clearly undecided if to tidy up something or not.

"John will be back in a few days, don't worry about me, Mrs. Hudson," he replied, raising his head from the newspaper, " We'll be fine, the skull and I. In that regard, could you give it back to me? Once again? "

Mrs. Hudson sighed.

While she was descending the stairs, Sherlock said, "Oh, I'll not spend much time at home, probably. I just received an email with a case. It looks interesting "

"Well, Sherlock, try to be careful, because there's John with you, dear." She said and she went downstairs.

As soon as the door of her apartment was closed, he stood up and took off his dressing gown, took the ready suitcase in his room, the fake documents, and he put on his coat. He quickly went down in the street, where he took to taxi to the airport.

 

 

Chapter Text

IV

 

Sherlock takes the flight without problems. The fake ID card was perfect.

He wore a fake mustache and false beard, and had changed his coat with one less showy, to be sure to go unnoticed even. Another one small precaution. Nobody had to know that Sherlock Holmes has left the country. To Pakistan, then, less than ever.

So he avoided a direct flight, and he had preferred to make a change with a short stop off in Paris.

Throughout the journey, obviously he had not stopped to think, even for a moment,  although he was bothered by all these people boring and so miserably stupid around him. The plan was good, of course, but he shouldn't leave anything to chance.  He had heard , from some informers in Pakistan, something about the terror group that had kidnapped The Woman. Easy to guess that they were the same implicated in the case of the airplane. Unfortunately  the decryption of the code had cut the ground from under  to the British Government and also had interfered with the plans of terrorists. They had understood clearly that the British and Americans knew about their plans.

He had discovered the area in which She could be imprisoned, the area under the control of that group. The most difficult and most dangerous part of the plan was to infiltrate into the terrorist cell. This part of the plan was not yet fully established, but he was sure of being able to square the circle.

Arriving in Karachi he had to get in touch with his informers, some were in the police of the city, some others were outsiders or former criminals. Obviously, he disguised his appearance, with another disguise, he shouldn't look like a Western, and  he had everything ready to masquerade. In addition to his beard and dark mustache, wearing a clear cotton shalwar kameez. He went directly from the airport into a hotel in the city ,chosen as his base of operations. He came into the hotel and went out again quickly.

While he was waiting for his contact in a busy street with a market, his attention was caught by some men, four in all, arguing heatedly. With a single glance he realized that they belonged to the terrorist cell. Their accent and some details of their clothes, the callosities of his hands, the type of soil mixed with sand on their shoes and clothing, visible tattoos on the arms of two of them,  betrayed them immediately. Their attitude was suspect and they were armed and they tried to hide it. His informer confirmed his deductions. The four were the contact of the terrorist cell in the city, they were well known in the slums, although no one knew their true identity.

He understood that they were in the city for the kidnapping. They had kidnapped some people with The Woman, and they should indicate their requests, and they should indicate their requests, leaving information, videos and photos of prisoners.

But they haven’t requests for Her. No one press release that he happened to read,  had wrote something about Her. He decided to meet an old acquaintance, an ex-military now mercenary. Sherlock had kept in touch via email because he was very knowledgeable about the local terrorist cells. He had got more information and logistical support. By now he had decided to infiltrate but he didn't  know yet how.

 

He had to be able to take the place of one of the four terrorists in the city before they returned to the site where they imprisoned her. He followed the movements of the four for days, with the help of his contacts. The last night before that the group left the city, he surprised one of them alone, slightly apart from the rest of the team, he pulled him into an alley and knocked out him  with the help of an accomplice.

Quickly he put on the terrorist's dress, trying to hide carefully his whole face. Then he went as fast as possible  the other three. His knowledge of the language enabled him to understand almost everything they said. But he didn't feel so confident to make sentences too articulate, then he merely respond briefly and concise. During the journey to the secret prison, he pretended  to sleep for a while. He carried with him only the phone, to contact people who were helping him and giving them your location. When they arrived at the camp, he was surprised. It  was not very big, there were few means and men, and a single building surrounded by tends.

After a few moments, he realized. It was clear, at least at his eyes, because of  the size of the field, and the number of men, that this was not the real hiding place of the cell. It was only a temporary shelter that they would leave soon. It was probably a question of time. And it was clear that most of the hostages was not here. He had confirmed his suspicions, after a brief reconnaissance.

The hostages, maybe all, were in another shelter, the most inaccessible and farest from residential area. This would be abandoned the next day.

The news made him nervous. He had to figure out where She was held captive. It had to do it rapidly. He had also found evidences of at least a couple of executions, by decapitation. He had understood from conversations that was certainly a woman among the dead. The mere thought that he would be arriving late was absolutely inconceivable. For a moment he felt a twinge deep in the chest. But he ignored it. He couldn't stop now.

He was trying to keep himself busy, when one of the terrorists, clearly a his superior, because of the tone with he had ordered him to bring some material within the building. This was small and bare, built with mud bricks dried with a double door and some slits that served as windows. He realized, once he entered the building, that someone was being held inside, in one of two rooms. There was a guard at the door of the room and some bowls with water on a wooden table. The guard asked him to relieve him. As soon as he went out, Sherlock peered into the room through a hole in the door and saw Her.

She was sitting on the floor, tied to a chain. She was pale and looked much thinner than he remembered. The face was sharper and flat. She wore a long black robe, like a burka and had their heads covered. She was motionless and She stared at the ground. She looked a shadow of herself, but she still maintained Her proud elegance.

He felt something growing inside him but He controlled it. He wondered if She was okay, or if she was wound.

Had they given Her at least some food?

Suddenly he was filled with anxiety about her fate, but I try to regain control. Worry was useless. He had to think. It was the only way to pull Her out of there.

He said nothing and stood outside on guard. He couldn't be carried away by the desire to take Her away immediately. It wouldn't make any sense, and it wasn't part of the plan.

He realized that they would have killed Her and then they would leave. In the end She didn't have any protection now, no one was interested in his fate. Except him. The other hostages would drawn attention of the media, money, or weapons... She had just to die quickly.

After discovering that the execution was scheduled for that evening, he volunteered for the role of executioner. No one seemed very interested in his fate, all the terrorists would have preferred to be in the main camp.

He warned his contacts about all he had discovered, and he gave them their location and time of the mission.

He had chosen people to be involved accurately, since he had to deceive even his brother, and it wasn't an easy thing. They were all outsiders, former soldiers, mercenaries. None of them knew his real name. None could trace them back to him and he felt safe. He used several aliases in the past in his journeys around the world. He had always found it amusing.

The sun went down quickly and it got dark. The time of  the execution approached.

He saw Her leave the building where She was locked up, accompanied by two men. One of them pushed her sharply, making her stagger. In that moment he felt a feeling of tenderness, he felt almost moved. She looked so helpless, weak and pale. She didn't seem Her either. But She was Her. And for a instant, before kneeling, her eyes shone as he remembered. She asked as last wish to send a text from Her cell phone. She begged, tears in her eyes.

They granted it, last and only act of mercy.

Sherlock knew immediately that the text, Her last text was for him. She could send it to anyone, but he knew that it was for him. He was not sure about the meaning. It could be a last farewell, to let him know that facing of death, Her last thought has gone to him. Or a last act of challenge, to let him know that She was dead because of him. At that moment he didn't know which of the two options was preferable. But he still felt a pang. That was clear now. He also had a heart .

He knew that the text was coming to his phone, which he kept hidden in his pocket, under the tunic. Everything had to happen in a few seconds. He saw Her prepare herself to death, with incredible dignity. He raised his sword. She not looked down, Her head held high, ready to face Her destiny.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

V

 

 

Images of her brief but intense life were running fast in the mind of Irene.

Of all the people she met, of all the things she lived, so little was left.

She was always looking for a challenge. Looking for something that made her feel alive. It looked that everything had slipped away like grains of sand between her hands.

She had never felt so alone. She had always tried to escape that feeling of loneliness, filling her life with crazy experiences and challenges. She knew that the independence and all her choices, would bring loneliness to her.

But this was the very first time that she felt very lonely. She couldn't forget those eyes, glacial yet so intense. Those eyes that looked her, at the firelight. Those eyes that had conquered her, enough to mark her downfall. Now it was the only thing that she was missing. She couldn't regret what had happened, to have known him, to have loved him, to have betrayed him.

The betrayal was in her own nature, even if that had cost her the respect of the only man, the only human being who had ever aroused her interest.

Now she would have given anything to see him again just for a moment. She wondered if he had thought of her even for an instant from that night.

She felt like a silly girl. But now she had nothing left to lose. The game was over. Her end was near.

She decided to direct him her last thought. He would perhaps despised her, despised her weakness, caused by the love she felt for him. She hoped at least to remain in his mind for a moment, She didn't want to fall into oblivion.

When her last wish was fulfilled, she wrote the last text with trembling hands: "Goodbye, Mr. Holmes."

She couldn't write more. But that wasn't her style.

He would understand anyway. She sent it. The awareness that she wouldn't see him again was a thought almost more painful than her imminent death.

She felt her own eyes filled with tears.

But she wouldn't show weakness, nor cowardice. She held up her own head.

They wouldn't have taken away her dignity. She felt a tear sliding down her own cheek. She knew it would have taken just a minute.

She closed her eyes.

 

 

 

In the silence of the desert surrounded by the night, when she was only waiting the hand of death upon him, she heard it.

She recognized her own voice, the moan that  she had given to Him. To the man who had bewitched her.

In a moment she didn't know if  believe to her ears. She felt her own heart skip a beat, between joy and emotion.

She opened her eyes and turned toward the direction from which the sound came.

She looked at the man who towered her, her executioner.

She looked at him and she instantly recognized those eyes.

Eyes clear as water of a stream, flashing of euphoric tension. HIS eyes.

"When I say run, run!" He said, opening his eyes wide as a child in front of a new game. He was clearly excited and amused by that action rescue.

In that moment, he turned  his sword to the terrorists who surrounded them and began to attack them. Irene looked straight ahead, unable to restrain the joy that was exploding inside her.

She smiled." He cares then," she thought. "He cares for me enough to coming here to save me. Personally. Oh you, damned clever man with a funny hat."

She felt better immediately, as if the days of torture and deprivation were gone in an instant.

She turned and she saw Sherlock fight with several men at once, she knew that he was skilled with the sword and also able to survive in melee combat, but she had to help somehow. He couldn't resist long only with his own forces.

She stood up. The body of the first terrorist hit by Sherlock lay beside her, she took his gun. She watched the situation around them. She tried to get closer to Sherlock, with other terrorist at gunpoint. She fired twice, hitting two men, one of which in the leg. Other men of the cell were approaching.

Even Sherlock had dropped the sword, and he opened a way off with blows of a firearm. At that moment he glanced toward the only access road to the camp, where  some vehicles were going toward them, apparently two or three SUV.

Irene heard numerous shots of firearms.

Then Sherlock grabbed her arm.

"Now. Run!" he said, starting to run eastward, toward the mountains.

Irene began to run with him, that still gripped her arm. She continued to run, although she was barefoot, trying to keep up with Sherlock, even if it was impossible for her to keep his pace, because of the difference in height and body type between them.

It seemed hours since they had escaped, when she suddenly felt the weight of maltreatment and hunger she had suffered in past days .

She felt her own knees give away, and she felt her body falling to the ground, without giving her the possibility to realize what was going on.

Sherlock stopped immediately and for the first time since they had left the camp, he turned toward her.

He didn't say a word, he just looked at her. But that was enough to restore her strength. She would never again given him the satisfaction of seeing her weak and needy.

But when she saw him stretch out his hand to her, she felt her own heart skip a beat, and a violent heat invading her chest.

"No, not yet." she thought, putting her hand in his. This time her heartbeat elevated was certainly because of the race.

The attraction she felt for him had nothing to do with it, she thought.

But she knew she was lying to herself, when she felt her own heart beating still faster in her chest, and her own face blushing. They were just walking in silence, surrounded by darkness, in the desert, hand in hand.

She couldn't even remember when she had walked hand in hand to someone. She couldn't even remember if it had ever happened to her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

VI

 

 

 

They walked in silence for about an hour. Sherlock tried not being distracted by the warmth in Her little hand in his, and continued to focus his attention on the ground. They weren't yet safe, and moreover it seemed that She couldn't longer run.

At this time the mercenaries that he had hired, under the leadership of his contact, were  attacking the camp of the terrorists. They prepared everything as his order, in part he had already arranged by himself some details in the afternoon.

If everything had proceeded as he had established, no one could understand that The Woman was alive and safe, not even Mycroft. Thanks to the unknown female victim's body, to all the evidence that had pre-packed, and to the fire that was destroying the camp no one could prove otherwise.

In addition he had prepared a video quite credible, even if the exact moment of execution wasn't visible. Moreover he would deceived anyone with her belongings and the corpse burnt..

He was convinced that Mycroft would believed in the death of Irene Adler because it was what he wanted. His brother wouldn't have ever admitted what had actually happened, even denying the obvious.

They reached a glade, where Sherlock had got ready a jeep for their escape.

A mercenary waited for them. Sherlock said the password, and the man gave him the keys of the vehicle and walked away. They got into the car, and at that moment he realized that She had remained silent during all the journey.

He hadn't yet heard the sound of Her voice, and that was really unusual.

For a moment he wished to hear again Her voice, dismissive and secure, while apostrophizing some flirtatious phrase of defiance to him.

But he drove the thought away, and he didn't said anything.

He drove in the night, in silence, to the next stop, that he only knew.

He didn't stop thinking even for an instant.

He was used to the crowded meetings of thoughts in his head, but now with Her next him, some thoughts unsuitable to the situation were coming. Dangerous distractions. He hated the distractions. They always ruined perfect functioning of his brain. However, he couldn't deny to feel a bit of pleasure for the existence of those feelings, all caused by Her and by Her alone. Those feelings were so new and unknown to him. He felt as in front of a new scientific discovery, with himself under the lens of the microscope. He rummaged into the suitcase, that he had arranged in the car, for a couple of nicotine patches. He was getting nervous, and he still needed to think. It was then that he turned to look at Her. He knew that She was sleeping now. He had heard her breathing changing about thirty minutes before.

She was quiet now. Her face lightened by the glow of the headlights of the car, seemed sweeter. Sherlock, laughed.

"Sweet" was not the most appropriate term to define The Woman. No, definitely it wasn't.

She had also demonstrated it that evening, defending herself by her own, weapon in hand, as the first time he met Her. The Woman that will not let you even play the hero role in peace. He laughed again. Yet at the time it was the only word that  came to mind to him.

He stopped the car and put his hand on Her shoulder. She was probably still shaken by the events of the previous days, She woke abruptly, grabbing his hand firmly.

She was clearly terrified, and was trying to defend herself from what She thought was an assault.

When She realized to be safe, She fixed him with a bewildered look.

He felt a violent pang in the stomach. He thought that probably they could have abused Her during the captivity, but he drove away the thought immediately. He thought that in such a situation he should reassure Her. John would have agreed with him. He smiled and gave Her nod to get off the car.

Meanwhile going along the Indus river had reached the sea. There was a small beach, isolated and unenlightened. On the shore there was a small boat.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

VII

 

 

 

 

 

 

Through the small boat they came close to a cargo. Sherlock was the first one to go up on a small rope ladder that hanged down the ship.

Then he hoisted the suitcase on board and finally helped Irene to come on board.

On the deck of the ship, what seemed to be the captain was waiting for them . He was an Indian man, mustachioed and plump.

Sherlock began to talk quietly with the man in his language, then, turning to her, he said "Come" and took the suitcase.

Irene followed him below deck in a small, quite dark corridor. It was certainly not a cruise ship, but after what she had passed in recent days, this seemed like paradise. She couldn't help but think that she was here, alive, with him at her side.

For the duration of the escape she had continued to think about what was going on, about  the reason why he was here, about the reason why he had saved her.

She suddenly realized what he had done , all by himself, only for her. And for the first time in her life, she felt guilty.

She had deceived him, humiliated him, just to win the game that she had woven around him. She had condemned herself to misery, when she openly challenged him, and lost. Yet he was here, for her. What does all this mean then? He had forgiven her?

They arrived in front of a small door, so small that he couldn't walk through it, without bending over. It was a small cabin with a bed, a large single size, an armchair, a table and few other furniture.

It was too comfortable to be a room of cabin crew. It was clearly the room of Captain.

Sherlock closed the door behind her and put the suitcase on the bed.

He turned to look at her, finally. As always, his eyes betrayed no emotion. His gaze clear and icy, intense and penetrating. She gaze at him, as always. She looked in his eyes, as they had always done since the first time they meet.

At first never lower her gaze was a challenge for her, she wouldn't show herself  inferior of him, she didn't want to lose the game. But soon she realized that she couldn't to look away from his eyes.

She got lost in his eyes, and she liked that sensation. They were magnetic. Those eyes charmed her and then not let her escape. She still was smarting over her loss of control about the situation. She still blamed herself for let him get into her heart and her mind.

All the physical suffering she had suffered during the terrible past days, the feeling of being lost forever and the thought of not seeing him ever again, had made its mark on her. She was always the same but somehow she was different. See him here, in flesh and blood, was beautiful and exciting for her, after having dreamed about him during the desperate nights of captivity. But she wouldn't made that clear to his eyes. She knew that he was able to analyze her if she had lowered her guard.

At that point, Irene broke the silence between them, which lasted for hours.

"Mr. Holmes ... " she said, but she did a slight pause, and at once she heard his voice answering, quick as ever.

" Miss Adler, I think that now you should take a bath and rest  for a while. Clearly we aren't safe yet, and a long journey awaits us. Now if you please, I've some things more to fix..." The speed of the sentence put a smile on her face. Oh the usual Sherlock Holmes!

"You don't explain anything about your plan?  It involves me personally! "She said, trying to recover at least a bit of control over her situation. She continued to look into his eyes, and he returned her glaze.

"No." Replied dry.

"And why? If I may ask. We're talking about my life ... I know you have already arranged about everything but ... "

"There is no reason why you should be in the know about the plan now. You'll know everything in due time. I will not give you any chance to interfere with what I have planned this time." He said, opening the suitcase. He took out a clear shirt, starting to change his clothes.

She was amazed. She didn't know what to reply, or rather she knew, but she hadn't now the force to starting a discussion with him.

She realized that even if he had saved her, he still didn't trust her.

He thought that she would betray him, taking advantage of him again and run away, maybe leaving him in trouble.

Well, actually she could. " I misbehave" she thought.

For a moment she liked the idea to do it. But then her eyes rested on him, he, changing his shirt, faced backwards now. A gesture of shyness? Her lips curled into a smile.

Just one moment before he was a natural born ruler, ready to control her in every movement, and now he looked like a kid.

Eventually he had risked his life to save her from hell, and he had no plausible reason to save her. Except one, perhaps. So for now, it wasn't the best idea betraying him.

She sank into the bed with a sigh. It's okay, for now. She thought.

Meanwhile Sherlock was already completely changed. He wore a pair of dark blue pants and a sky blue cotton shirt. He still wearing the fake beard. Clearly, it  was a disguise to pass unnoticed on board ship.

"Blue suits you very well." she said with a half-smile, "and I have always loved men with beards."

"It's better you take a bath. I'll be back soon. "He said, quickly glancing at her, impassive as ever. He went out.

Irene slumped on the bed, exhausted. If she was a different kind of woman, she would burst into tears. She felt all the tears in her throat. But she had cried enough in front of Sherlock and she didn't wanted to cry again now.

The prison had destroyed her not only physically but also mentally. She call herself into question seriously. She remembered the night when, unable to sleep, she saw in her own mind the faces of few people she wanted to see again. She wondered if anyone would actually missed her. If her life was worth something, at the end of games.

She always wanted the power. Not for the wealth, it would be easy to marry a rich and foolish man, perhaps older than her, as many other women did.

She wanted more. She wanted the challenge, the victory, the  power. The feeling to hold people powerful and important in her grasp.

But that night, alone in that small prison she just wanted another chance. And now that desire was reality. She stood up, grabbed towel and soap from the suitcase and went into the small bathroom of the cab. She undressed herself, being careful touching her own skin. Even if she hadn't said anything she felt pain everywhere and she knew to be injured. Her back was burning, her legs and feet ached.

Luckily the hot shower made her feels better. She wrapped her body in a towel and left the bathroom. She took the Sherlock's dressing gown from the suitcase and put it on. Then she began to rummage in the small suitcase. There were a couple of shirts, one white and one purple, pure Sherlock-style, two pairs of trousers, some t-shirts  for the disguises, some change of underwear and then a black skirt, a green blouse for her, and a light silk dress, of the color of her eyes.

A pair of black shoes, very low heels for her standard. And then some underwear for her. She smiled, pulling her bra out of the suitcase. He had chosen it? He knew her measurements, but he had chosen it personally, really?

The idea that he had gone alone in a lingerie store to buy her bras and panties was so tender and funny at the same time. She burst out laughing. And he also has good taste, she thought.

In that instant, she heard the door opening. Sherlock came in. He had a tray of food in one hand and a bag in the other one. He noticed her expression with her hands deep in his suitcase. He seemed losing for a moment his usual coolness, for a moment he seemed almost embarrassed. "Even more funnier!" Irene thought.

"I had to take the liberty to choose some item of clothing for her, Miss Adler. I know you probably don't like them, but you'll keep a low profile for a while time. "He said closing the door behind him.

"You chosen all this you personally, Mr. Holmes? I'm flattered." She said smiling.

"Don't be. I had no other plausible options." He said hastily, putting the tray on the wooden table. It seemed to her almost to have seen him blush.

"And I am pleased to noting that you remember so well the color of my eyes, Mr. Holmes." She continued, always smiling.

"Now I think you should eat, instead of speaking about clothing." It was clear that he trying to change the subject. "And now, I would check up your state of  health."

He turned and stared at her, still motionless and impassive again.

"I'm fine, thanks." She didn't know why but she didn't want show him the her real physical conditions. When he had knew her, she was proud and independent. She couldn't bear to show herself in that way. Especially to him.

"Don't be stupid. Basically it’s nothing to be ashamed of, considering our first meeting." He said, provoking her, with a grin." I know you're wounded. I noticed you have wounds on your back, your left leg and both feet. They are light wounds. You should be medicated. Let me see." His voice was steady and quiet.

That voice made her tremble at times. Irene sighed, bowing to the facts. She turned around and dropped the dressing gown on the floor.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

VIII

 

 

 

 

 

He kept calm and determined until that moment. Everything went as he planned.

It was all quiet on board and the Captain had everything under control. He had time to focus on Her. He knew that she was injured. He knew it since he had seen Her walking at the camp, just before the execution.

He had ignored all things he saw, or otherwise he would have been conditional on that. But now he had to heal her wounds.

The woman looked strangely shy, as if suddenly showing her nakedness She would be vulnerable. Strange, he thought. She hadn't many scruples, on their first meeting. Then he suddenly understood. He realized that she was actually naked for the first time. She no longer wore the mask of the dominatrix, she wasn't strong and fearless. She was alone, broken in body. She felt weak but didn't want to show it to him.

He felt a pang, who became a pain as soon as he saw Her candid bare back, completely covered with wounds, more or less deep.

Lashes. She was covered with wounds and bruises on Her left leg and also on both forearms. Defense wounds.

He was filled with a sudden and strong feeling. Anger.

It was the same feeling that took hold on him when he saw the wounds on Mrs. Hudson's face, but this time was much more violent. A violent rage, but totally out of place, he thought. He had already avenged those wounds. The men who had caused all this had been punished hours ago.

He tried to suppress that feeling so strong, closed his eyes for a moment and breathed deeply. He opened his eyes and calmly opened the bag he had brought with him and began to disinfect wounds. He wasn't a doctor, but as far as he knew of the subject the injuries didn't seem serious, but not be neglected.

He began to bind up her wounds, he suddenly saw a thrill run down Her body.

He diverted his attention from her wounds for a moment, and he set his gaze on Her. Her white skin had what is commonly know as goose bumps. He observed the phenomenon almost fascinated.

He immediately realized he shouldn't have focus his attention on Her naked body.

As during their first meeting, although he tried to remain impassive, that vision confused him. He didn't even explain himself how, but he felt  suddenly distracted, disoriented as soon as his eyes rested on Her. He felt his heart accelerate again, he was afraid of being betrayed by some involuntary gesture of his own body.

He tightened the bandage quickly, picked up the robe and put it on her shoulders. He turned immediately. He hoped she hadn't noticed anything, nor noticed his sudden behaviour modification.

He heard Her turn but he went quickly near the table, took a piece of bread and began eating it. He felt much better.

When he turned back She was again wrapped in the dressing gown, sitting on the bed busy to medicate some cuts on Her legs and feet. She seemed full of dignity and charm even now.

The woman was undoubtedly superior to all women who he had ever known. She was superior in character, wit and cunning. And on that occasion, he had to admit, a part of him was captivated by Her.

"You should eat something, Miss Adler. You will need of all your strength for the journey."

She looked up, looked combative. "Still don't you want tell me the destination, Mr. Holmes?"

"Even if I had plan everything in detail, it should not be difficult for you to deduce something. Think." He replied, staring at her. He knew that She was the only person capable to prevent his moves.

She looked straight into his eyes and smiled. "Well, of course, in view of  this ship's size, we will use only this to reach the next stop, not far from here. In view of the dangerous nations that surround us, the most plausible and easily accessible destination is India. Probably a small town on the coast of India. "

He smiled. In a few moments She had already figured out the next move.

"See, Miss Adler, you've nothing to worry about. We have to eat and rest a bit for now."

As he finished the sentence he saw her getting up and went toward him. For a moment she caught  him off guard.

"Obviously you'll sleep in the bed, and I... on the armchair ... and I don't ..." He quickly added quickly, trying to avoid her advances.

But she said nothing. She was close, so close as he clearly caught the scent of her skin.

She was still staring at him, but this time Her eyes seemed different than usual.

He tried to read her mind, it wasn't always easy,  sometimes impossible.

It happened in a split second, enough to staggered him.

Suddenly he felt the weight of her lean body  against his own, and he felt her warmth. He hadn't expected it. Her face was hidden in his chest. Her hand held tight his shirt. He didn't understand what was happening, was completely bewildered. It was another trick? Another move in their own game? He stood still, petrified. He hoped that she don't noticed that his heart was now totally out of his control. Damned uncontrolled chemical reactions! Damn it! He listened to Her breathing. She remained motionless with Her face on his chest. Was she crying? ReallyShe was really showing Her weakness, deliberately?

He heard she murmuring softly "Thanks."

He felt a pang in his heart. Another damned chemical reaction! Damn it!

He breathed deeply, he couldn't decide if placing a hand on her shoulder. Perhaps in these circumstances this's what people do, he thought. But he hardly had time to think about it, She snapped away from him, turning her back, and She got into bed without looking at him again.

Obviously this was too much even for Her, he thought he sank into the armchair with a sigh. He immersed himself in his thoughts, he heard the breathing of The Woman change. She was in a deep sleep.

He continued to racked his brain to improve the plan, to continue to go unnoticed in Mycroft checks and  to be able to control his reactions in her presence.

The next morning he would have to send some message to John.

He had barely kept in touch with him from the start of the journey and Sherlock had no idea of his programs. Suddenly he was distracted from his thoughts by a change in the pace of Her breathing. She was agitated, disturbed. A nightmare.

One of the worst nightmare, looking the way she tossed and turned. Probably the captivity had left marks on Her psyche.

He got up and walked over to the bed, although he didn't know what he would do. He was not good at these things. Human relationships. He needed to end Her uneasiness, but he don't knew how.

It made him nervous, more and more nervous.

What do people do in these circumstances? It is necessary physical contact? The thought was almost scary for him.

He sat on the bed beside Her, who is now manifestly shaken, and he put his hand on his arm, trying not to be too rough. He was always tough in these things, apparently, or at least according to John.

He tried to shake Her firmly but gently. Under his touch She seemed to fidget more, and even if She was opening Her eyes, he murmured softly, "Miss Adler ..."

At the sound of his voice, She calmed down, opening Her eyes, but She was still so shaken as to grasp his hand at the wrist.

"It's just a nightmare. You're safe now."  He said.

The breathing slowed, the body seemed to relax and She lay down again, but didn't let Her grip on his wrist.

He stayed at Her side, it seemed the most sensible thing to do. He stayed until he saw Her fell again into a deep sleep, with a relaxed and peaceful expression. Only then he  freed his hand and got up.

He decided to not sleep, sleep was boring and he had too many things to think about. He took another nicotine patch from the suitcase, he applied it on his arm, next to that put a few hours before, and he came back to armchair, hands clasped under his chin, thinking.

 

 

Chapter Text

IX

 

 

When Irene opened her eyes, she doesn't remembered  much of what happened during the night. She remembered the nightmare, and unfortunately remembered how much it was realistic. She was precipitated in absolute panic, unable to cope with the terror. Then she remembered his voice, his warm voice that reassured her. His touch and his presence near her. But it was true or she had imagined it all? It was just a dream? Yet she was convinced she had felt his presence beside her, it couldn't be just her imagination.

The night before she had been too vulnerable. She had collapsed. She was going to cry in his arms as a heroine of a sappy romantic novel. Stupid.

Yet that "thank you" was sincere. She knew that she owed her life, and the possibility of a new start. In that moment she was honest, and perhaps he deserved to see her without mask, after all.At least occasionally.

She sat on the bed. She saw him sitting in a chair intention to breakfast. Evidently he had already taken a shower and changed his clothes, because he was wearing dark trousers and a white shirt,  slightly unbuttoned at the neck, as he habitually did.

"Good morning, Mr. Holmes."

 He turned to look at her "Miss Adler." he replied.

"Why didn't you wake me up? I get ready in a minute! "She said jumping out of bed, walked to the bathroom. She rapidly refreshed herself, she returned into the room and took the dress that Sherlock had bought for her and put it on. It fitted to her perfectly. She noted again how much the color of the dress harmonized with her own eyes.

She smiled. "I'm really flattered!" She said, turning her head toward him.

"Don't be." He said turning his eyes at her, and immediately look away from her.

She smiled, amused  remembering when they had had that cross talk during their first meeting. She made a teacup and ate a bit of toasted bread on the table, then she turned and approached to his chair.

"Let's have dinner, Mr. Holmes." She said with the flirtatious tone she usually addressed to him.

He replied turning his head to her. "I just had breakfast." The expression on his face seemed amused. Probably he liked the idea of starting again their Game.

Shortly after the ship docked near the port of Mumbai, they landed, and took a taxi apparently head towards the city center. They arrived at a hotel, a luxury hotel for foreigners.

As they went in the hotel's hall, Sherlock approached the reception desk and he played one of his interpretation of "ordinary person". In this case an American citizen, Mr. Tom Johnson, in Mumbai for a short-stay with his wife.

Irene was amused to see Sherlock,  trying to look human and to disguise his accent. She joined the play, linking  arms with him and muttered  few annoyed comments about the hotel's quality, not forgetting to add "dear" every time she talked to him.

They got into the room, Sherlock closed the door behind them, and turned toward her as he put the suitcase on the table. "Your American accent is rather good"

"Your is not bad," she replied staring at him. They looked each other in silence for a long time. She loved when their eyes were connected in that way. Suddenly she heard the ring of Sherlock's phone. Sherlock turned his back to answer. It was John. Clearly  Sherlock had kept him in the dark about everything." Poor John". She thought.

But she realize how far Sherlock had pushed himself just to save her life. The call ended, he turned back toward her. "I think today it's better for you to stay in Hotel. It's not safe for you to quit even though we are now in another nation. You had too many enemies at large."

This sentence, it sounded like a conviction to prison. She tried to oppose but she couldn't say anything sensible . Unfortunately he was right. This meant that she would probably be left alone in the room, while Sherlock attended to his business in town.

Before long, she saw him get ready and go out. She was already bored of his immobility but she still felt the scars of her imprisonment on her body. Basically less than 24 hours earlier she was locked in a dark and dirty cell. She took a shower, this time in a bathroom worthy of the name, medicate her wounds and changed the bandage.

She pulled from the suitcase her favorite dress, Sherlock's dressing gown, and wore it.

She sat on the bed and called the room service. After the dinner, she lay down on the bed and fell into a deep sleep. When she awoke, Sherlock was already back at the hotel. He wandered up and down across the room quickly. She sat up in bed, still sleepily.

"Will you tell me now what you decided to do with me, Mr. Holmes?" 

He stopped walking, sat in a chair, keeping his eyes on her.

"Don’t worry, Miss Adler, I'm not going to hand over you to anyone. You'll be free to decide as you desire if you don't like the solution I chose for you. "

"What's that?" She replied. "You'll have a new identity, a new life and a new home."

 "And how did you manage to do all this by yourself?"

"Oh please. For me it was no big deal. The most annoying part was take some contacts." He said, clearly annoyed by the lack of confidence in his abilities that she was demonstrating.

"But it will have cost a lot of money ..."

"Miss Adler, I come from a rich family. I don't have money problems. Moreover, even if my bank account is often controlled by my brother, I have a secret fund for emergencies in a safe deposit box. I'm the only one aware of this deposit box. "

"Not anymore it seems."

"Well I don't think that it can affect that much at this point." He said, in a detached way, as always, as he sat in an armchair.

She was shocked for all that he had arranged for her, only for her. She imagined something like that, but now that she listened it to his real voice, all seemed unreal. She felt a twinge in her stomach, and her heart ran faster. What did his behaviour meant? He also felt something for her? Why should he have done this otherwise?

"Why you do all this for me, Mr. Holmes? "

She saw that Sherlock opened wide his eyes for a moment, as if he was waiting for that question but he didn't wanted to hear it anyway. He didn't answer, he just stared at her.

Irene rose from the bed, approaching him. She knelt down next to his armchair, like that night in Baker Street, in front of the fireplace.

She rested a hand on his, slowly and softly. Again she looked him in the eyes. She was silent for a moment then she said again, whispering: "Why you do all this for me? "

 

 

 

Chapter Text

X

 

He was sitting in the armchair, with The Woman kneeling at his feet. He felt the warm touch of  Her hand on his own.

He knew that question would come sooner or later. He was waiting it.

Obviously She asked the reason why he concerned for Her so much. Even he wondered why for days, questioned himself about the reason for his actions but he couldn't figure it out.He couldn't recognize these feelings and although he felt them, he couldn't accepted them. But he couldn't even ignore them or reject them.He had tried that famous night, to push her away from him, but evidently it was not so easy.

He hadn't the answer to Her question. So he didn't answer.

He looked at Her again, Her eyes was so similar to his own. The touch of Her hand  shaken him, but he still managed to keep everything under control. He rolled his wrist to take Her hand under his own, with his fingers touching Her wrist. This time She knew what he was doing.

He couldn't use twice the same trick with her.

Indeed, She said "Do you still take my pulse?" And after a short pause She whispered softly, Her face closer to his own "Go ahead Mr. Holmes, this time I have nothing to hide."

Her heart was accelerated, as that night in Baker Street. The pulse increased more as  She moved closer to him. She was so close he could feel her breath on his face's skin. He felt Her warm body leaning against his own.

And in that moment he felt he was losing his self-control, his heart throbbed violently. He realized that She was taking his pulse, and for a moment he began to panic. Their hearts beat in perfect sync.

"Elevated" She said with a mischievous smile.

He did not know quite what to do. He stood motionless, staring at Her.

"Your pupils dilated" She continued, coming even closer. Now he felt the weight of Her slender body against his own. He tried desperately to turn his thoughts away from that feeling of warmth, so natural and powerful.

He didn't answer.

He saw Her face came closer and closer, and he held his breath.

He had a little gasp when he felt the touch of Her soft lips on his own lips. It was a light kiss. It was a brand new feeling for him, he never felt it before. It was like a kiss on the cheek, but more intense. Strangely pleasant.

A high heat rushed to his face, leaving him breathless for a moment.

When he could breathe again, he whispered against Her lips "I don't trust you", trying to feign coolness.

"I'll not betray you this time," She said nearest to his lips, and gave him another peck on his lips.

This one wasn't unexpected but no less devastating. By now he had totally lost control of his emotional reactions. These feelings were so unbearably pleasurable that they almost hurt.

"I can't trust you." he whispered again, hoping to hide all that stirred inside him. Neither this time The woman backed away, She moved closer to his lips and She said softly "I owe you my life, I could never harm you" .

At that point he couldn't held back himself, as soon as he felt the warmth of Her lips close to his, without even noticed he kissed Her for the first time.

He wanted to feel again that soft touch, even if it was hard to admit even to himself. He lingered in the kiss, She reciprocated and he was guided by Her. The kiss was delicate and soft at first, then it became increasingly deeper.

The feeling was overwhelming, totally unknown. At first he was shaken violently, but after a moment the sensation seemed to become more pleasant and intimate. It was strange, absorbing, warm and wet.

He couldn't get away. The involvement was not only physical, he felt spreading throughout his body, his heart beat strongly and a strong heat wrapped him ever more. He felt frightened and intrigued at the same time and  he couldn't stop kissing Her. He felt Her hand pass lightly over his face and then moving up to caress his hair, playing with his curls. He wasn't able to understand how long the kiss had lasted, but it seemed to him as if time had stopped.

He detached himself from Her almost breathless, and whispered "Liar".

Emotionally this was definitely the most he could endure. To manage all these physical and psychological sensations all at once, for the first time, was too much for him.

He felt the panic rising, he wished his usual lucidity, he broke away from Her and stood up abruptly. He definitely needed a shower. A cold shower.

He wasn't able to handle the situation, but he couldn't indulge in the sensations or feelings or whatever they were. Every time he had felt that kind of feelings he lost lucidity. He felt like a sixteen years old boy. Probably for these things he was a sixteen years old boy. Perhaps Mycroft was right. No. For God's sake. No. He couldn't leave The Woman to Her fate but  he had to regain the control of the Game, or he would lose in a glaring way.

He wasn't still sure that caring was a disadvantage.

He wouldn't wanted to have feelings for random human beings, but he wanted to keep those few people he cares about, those few feelings he had felt growing in himself. He wanted to keep them carefully. But he also had to learn to manage them, or this would have really been his undoing. And this involved Her.

When he came back in the room, after having taken a shower and changed his shirt, She was having dinner, sitting at the table. She had clearly called the room service while he was in the bathroom.

" Mr. Holmes would you have dinner with me?" She joked as usual.

"I'm not hungry" at this time he didn't know if it was true or not.

Perhaps up to few moments before, he was hungry, that kind of hunger that She always dropped a hint about. But now he was again in command of his faculties, he was lucid. "Tomorrow  we have the flight early in the morning, I suggest you go to sleep, Miss Adler. "He continued.

"What is our destination? A European city? "She asked.

"Sherbrooke, Quebec," he replied concise.

"Quebec? But it's so far away from London! I don't want ... I'll never ... " She didn't finish the sentence, but She stared at him with an expression that seemed to him a mixture of anger and ... sadness. Could She be sad?

"It's far enough away to allow you a peaceful life, away from your enemies. And you shouldn't think of London now. You better not come back in UK for a while."

"This is impossible. You know that I will not do it "She said, challenging him.

"You'll decide that later, my task for the moment  is to take you in a safe place. You have already all the documents, with a new alias of course. "

"You planned everything." She answered. The tone was clearly ironic.

She must has been annoyed because he had chosen a place so far away. "So this is the destination of our journey." She continued.

"Yes," he answered Her, "Yes," he answered her, talking bluntly.

She get up and go to the bathroom, slamming the door behind Her. She seemed to have accepted the situation even though not willingly.

Definitely for The Woman accepting that someone else had planned Her whole future life without taking into account Her opinion was very difficult to accept. She was used to decide on her own, to dominate.

At that moment he didn't want to argue. He felt strangely tired. Strange, even if he hadn't slept for days and had travelled around  the world.

He sat on the bed. "Sleeping is boring," he thought. "I don't want to sleep."

But anyway he lay on the bed and he plunged in thought, and without realizing, he slipped into a deep sleep.

 

He wake up suddenly. It was dark, he tried to figure out how long he could have slept. What could have happened in that lapse of time? Why he fell asleep so suddenly! Damn!

These unpleasant reactions of his body began to bother him. Where were She?

He answered to his last question when he realized that he felt a weight pressed against the left side of his body.

Clearly there was something, or rather someone beside him. He felt Her warm body against, or indeed above his own body, he felt an arm round his chest, Her hand resting on his chest. The Woman was asleep, peaceful.

She slept, hugging him, with Her body too close, dangerously close. He had to hold himself back not to jump off the bed. He didn't know if was preferable for him to let Her sleep or wake Her up then having to resist to Her physical and psychological attacks.

Usually it was fun, the challenge, but today things were slipped out his control.

And he didn't like the Game so much if he couldn't direct it.

He wouldn't give up so easily, he won't let her win. For now they were all square.

He decided to not wake Her, it was the best choice for now.

After all, there were only a few hours before dawn, and they would be passed quickly or at least he hoped so.

He couldn't sleep anymore. Her warmth distracted him, he felt Her soft touch against his own body, he was trying to attract less dangerous thoughts, trying to ignore Her. He  give a start when She slipped in the sleep, rubbing Her face against his chest, Her breath on his neck.

Her hand held increasingly tight shirt,  Her leg ran down his leg. He felt a shiver go through all along his back, and his skin react. Goose bumps. And not just that. Clearly his receptors were stimulated a bit too much. Again those physical reactions that  he couldn't control.  He felt relieved that She was deeply asleep and She couldn't realize his condition. He couldn't deny that it was somewhat pleasant.

Clearly it was because of the chemistry. He took a deep breath, trying to focus his mind on more important things.

After almost an hour he was almost used to that physical contact, even if his heartbeat was still a bit elevated. Her rhythmic breathing in some way was cradling him. Almost unconsciously he let slid his hand on Her arm, receiving in exchange a soft and pleasant sensation. Reassuring. He was amazed for a moment at this sensation. Then he fell asleep again.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

XI

 

 

When Irene woke up, it was almost morning.

She was still almost the same position in which she had fallen asleep. When, coming out of the bathroom, after she had medicated again her wounds, she found him on the bed, fully clothed, in a deep sleep.  She laughed. Here he was, the great consulting detective . Asleep and defenceless as a child. She could easily flee away. But to where? To be caught again? Throwing in the trash bin the only person who had run for help her, without asking anything in return, it seemed really pointless to her. And then that person was Him.

The only man that ever counted for something for her.

"And, God, how damned cute he is when he sleep!" she thought. She had already piqued him enough that night, but she just couldn't stop.

She wanted to kiss him from the first time she had seen him. To slap him and kiss him. Irene had this two conflicting desires every time she gazed those cheekbones. Slapping him was a real pleasure, but she would have preferred to do it in other circumstances, more pleasant.

It took a little more time to kiss him. He wasn't even so bad, despite his “nickname” and his complete disregard for such matters. Indeed. It was a very nice kiss. Intense and absorbing. It had taken her breath away.

And if he hadn't moved away, she would continue to kiss him all night long.

But she knew that it was too early for Sherlock. He couldn't deal with these things in a few moments. He wasn't ready yet.

But she still wanted to kiss him. And to slap him. Continuously.

Not that she was used to kisses. She hasn't kissed anyone for such long time. In her work, kisses were banned, too intimate, too involving. The feelings had to be left aside. But this time she was unsuccessful.

She lay on the bed next to Sherlock, she came closer to him, being careful not to wake him. She put her hand on his chest, listening to his quiet heartbeat. She kept on listen to his regular breathing until she slipped into a deep sleep.

When she awoke she was embraced to him. She had slipped on him and her leg was around his hips. Irene checked that he was still asleep, she stopped to admire his profile while he slept.She realized that his hand encircled her arm almost to embracing her. Her heart felt a twinge, as if she were flooded with sweetness.

“How strange sensation!”

She didn't know if his gesture was intentional or caused by an movement during sleep, but she couldn't help herself to feel this sweet pang. She was ashamed of feeling delighted for that tiny contact, as she was pleased for that kiss, but she couldn't avoid to feeling it.

She had to admit now that her feelings for Sherlock were totally out of her control, and she had no intention of suffocating them, especially now that he was saving her life. But neither she couldn't indulge in that feelings completely.

She thought about his plan of action and their destination, so far away.

Away from London, the City that was everything to her, and so away from him. She couldn't bear the thought of not being able to see him for who knows how long, but she wouldn't have admitted it even under torture. And he didn't even realized it. When he had to deal with feelings, he's really slow sometimes.

She couldn't bear of being forced into something against her will.

But for now his plan seemed to be the best choice, although she wouldn't have

given up so easily. And to let decide to someone else how to set up her own life, then, it was out of the question. And especially in this case.

As she thought of all possible solutions for the future, Irene felt Sherlock body moving under her, she noticed that he was waking up. He opened his eyes slightly, a bit groggy for the sleep.

He opened his eyes wide for a second when he saw her so close to him, but  he soon regained his usual coolness.

"Good morning, Mr. Holmes," she whispered while smiling giving him  a light kiss on the cheek. "Slept well?"

"Good morning, Miss Adler," he answered less composed than usual,and immediately he raised himself to a sitting position on bed. "We have a flight leaving in two hours. We should hurry up "

Irene smiled, it was evident that awakening near her and that kiss on the cheek hadn't left him indifferent.

Sherlock got up, he took his clothes and he shut himself in the bathroom.

Irene got dressed and put on herself a light make up. She changed her eye color with coloured contact lenses, and she wore a dark ash blonde wig. She covered the wig with a hat.

They left the hotel quickly, without having breakfast, to be noticed as little as possible.

They took a taxi to the airport, and they had no problem to boarding.

The plane would have landed in Paris, from there they took another flight to Montreal.

The trip wasn't too long, but it was hard to find ways to involve Sherlock's mind, forced into an environment as restricted, with little opportunity of moving.

Irene smiled. She saw him so restless and she thought about what was waiting for her, in the longer trip to Montreal.

"You'll come with me in Quebec? "She asked. In reality, she hoped he would be with her.

"I wouldn't give you the chance to ruin my superb plan, I want to complete it before. I'll back home as soon as you'll have settled in. "

"Settled in?" She replied doubtfully.

"I hope you will not try to start again with your previous lifestyle. You can find a job less dangerous and less exposed. "

"More boring then." She said glancing at him.

"I am afraid so."

"I can't promise this to you, I'm not fit for boring things." She said with a grin, shrugging her shoulders.

 

"I can't really blame you for this, Miss Adler. I hate boring things, like sitting compelled in twenty inches of space, with no possibility to walk, or stand up ... "

"We can always think, Mr. Holmes. Tell me what you deduce about the other passengers? A deduction competition? "

She challenged him, amused.

"Competition?" He looked at her, raising slightly an eyebrow. "I'm afraid that you've already lost, in a challenge with me ..." he continued.

They began to compete with each other to see who could deduce much information as possible from the people next to them, and she could be a match for him.

Irene had to admit that almost always Sherlock defeated her.

She was incapable to process thoughts with his such speed and precision, she needed more time.

In the end she knew that that man was unique. She knew well  and she couldn't help  admiring him for that.

After challenging, they read some newspapers, which were almost all French, a couple in English, and after he corrected some gross errors in these news, terribly teased, Irene challenged Sherlock to try to resolve some murder cases based on some little evidence described in crime news.

It was damn exciting to be in his company, he was like a volcano. People was swept away completely by his personality . And she was completely swept away by him.

She liked also when he was moody. His caprices amused her. It was like trying to tame a wild beast. They were so alike but also so different.

Once someone had met Sherlock Holmes, his life would never be the same.

They landed at Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris. They had two hours wait before boarding the flight to Montreal. Irene decided to go some shopping at the airport, because she had only a couple of dresses.She decided to avoid too expensive clothes, but at least in good taste.

Sherlock gave her some money he had prepared for her and let her alone. He simply follow her from a distance, just to check that there were no suspicious individuals around.

She trying to recreate a small wardrobe, certainly not to be compared with her previous stuff, but something that allow her to feel again in her shoes, even if she was  undercover.

She ate something and then they embarked on the plane.

The journey was long, Irene was always more amused by the increasing annoyance of Sherlock, he was like a hyperactive child forced into a box too small. He floundered continuously, he responded badly to the hostess who tried to contain his whims, alternating moments of logorrhea with catatonic state, from which reemerged again with a flood of comments and thoughts.

Irene could keep up with him, although she knew of not being at his level.

No one could. Neither Moriarty, she thought. She didn't know why but this thought made her feel relieved. It was a guarantee.

She continued for all the journey to try to keep him busy with verbal challenges, games and provocations, even though it was impossible for her to draw the attention of Sherlock for so long.

She knew well that he would be lost again in his own thoughts, staring into space , lost  in some kind of speculation.

At their arrival, while waiting for their luggage, Irene felt strangely sad and lost. It was a strange feeling for her. She was in a country unknown to her, without identity, and as soon as he would be gone also completely alone.

Without her identity to protect herself, she felt really disoriented. But at least she was alive. And she certainly would not allow Sherlock to eliminate her from his life. She had always make it by her own efforts, she would make it this time too.

They took a taxi from the airport, toward her new home. She wasn't even curious.

The idea of a life in "low profile" don't  excite her, but she had no choice. At least for a while.

It was evening when they arrived to what would be her new home. It was a  white house bungalow house, with a porch. A nice, low-profile house, a sample of what would be her future life. She didn't know whether to feel relieved or sad. She knew that her time with Sherlock was about to expire .To have had him all for herself in those days was an experience from which she didn't want yet to do without.

She started to explore the house, that had a nice living room with an adjoining kitchen, a study and a bedroom quite spacious. Nothing fancy or particularly fashionable, but in good condition and of good quality.

Suddenly Irene looked at Sherlock, stared at him again.

"When you'll come back home Mr. Holmes?" She was serious, she also felt sad.

She didn't want to say him goodbye once again.

"Two days from now, for sure. I have to go before John's return, and now your affairs  seems to be in order. As soon as we settled the last things, I'll deliver you from my presence, Miss Adler. "

"And if I don't want to be freed from you? If I wanted to keep you here forever? "

She was trying to make an effort to not seem sad as she said it, but flirty as ever.

He looked into her eyes again, and he said nothing. "He's scanning me" she thought. Irene stared back at him and took a step, getting closer to him. They sat in silence for a time that she couldn't quantify. Gazing each other, without saying a word.

She couldn't stop looking at him, as if there were nothing else that made sense in all the world. This was their only way of communicating, the only one sincere and without pretense.

Suddenly Sherlock spoke, breaking the eye contact with her, turning his gaze to the wall of the room where there was a mirror. "I have to go. The day after tomorrow. "

Irene didn't answer, she turned and walked silently to the bedroom. She took off her jacket, and wig and put them on the bed. She showered and changed her clothes, putting on Sherlock's blue dressing gown again. Then she pulled out of the suitcase the few clothes that belonged to her now and started to put them in the closet. She looked once more at the clothes he had bought for her. Then she went back into the living room, barefoot and with her hair loose still wet.

Sherlock was sitting on one of the two chairs in the living room. He turned on the TV, probably bored. He was sitting with his legs tucked against his chest, holding his knees with his arms. Irene was amused to see that behavior. On the occasions they had met before, apart from the time spent in the airplane, Sherlock had maintained a proud and quiet attitude.

For her the possibility to see his true essence was electrifying. Watching him throw a tantrum like a child, constantly changing mood, getting bored and become nervous, was really a discovery for her. And her passion for him wasn't undermined. That was enriched actually.

And there he was sitting in a chair all curled up to rant to the TV, because of some inaccuracy or banality. Too funny.

Suddenly he turned to her, looked at her and stood up, rummaging in his pockets. "Behold, these are your new documents Miss Adler. There everything, including health insurance. I'll give you also all documents of a bank account in your name. I have them in my suitcase." He said handing an envelope full of documents, precisely, all made payable to Miss Alice Irons.

Sherlock left the room and returned shortly after, with other envelopes in his hand, in which there were clearly other documents. Irene opened them, and then she put them in a desk drawer and locked it.

"Thank you, Mr. Holmes. " That was the only thing she could say." I'm going to bed now. The flight was tiring. "

"Yes, of course I'll stay here on the couch. See you tomorrow, Miss Adler."

Irene went into the bedroom and closed the door behind her. She didn't know why, but she was in bad mood. She threw herself on the bed above the covers and fell asleep.

The next morning she woke up, she went to the bathroom to check her wounds, then clutching Sherlock's robe on the body, Irene tried to think in a more lucid way at the night before. She was in distress, but she didn't even understand why. She had to be grateful for everything. Thanks to him she could still breathe, she could have now a new life in that house.

But the thought made her feel bad also. Irene felt happy and suffering at the same time. She always had solved her problems by herself but now she owed everything to a man. She always used men for her own purposes. But now not only her heart belonged to this man, even though he was perhaps the most extraordinary and clever she ever met, but also she owed to him everything else.

She was afraid of what it entailed. Irene was afraid to bind too, even more than she already was. And that she didn't like it. Even just  the idea bothered her. Perhaps it would be better for her that Sherlock Holmes was out of her life forever. But could she stand it? And above all, was it what she really wanted? Was she still the same woman? Or the captivity and being so close to death had changed her in some way? She felt different, deep down in her being, but she still didn't understand how and what would bring that change.

She found up Sherlock in the kitchen. He was already dressed in a dark suit and white shirt, sitting at the table intently reading the newspaper while he had breakfast, clearly prepared by him. A man of many resources, Irene smiled to herself.

"No. I don't want him out of my life." She thought when her eyes rested on him. He looked at her, aware of her presence.

She sat down at the table with him and began to make breakfast. It was the first time she had breakfast with him at the table. That sensation was unusual for her, she had never known true domestic life, not even when she was a little girl, and this time it seemed almost surreal.

Sherlock was very talkative, intent to comment some news of the local newspaper. The place was quiet maybe, but  the Canada was rich in events that tickled his mind, then he continued to read excerpts of articles commenting, arguing facts with brief descriptions, laughing at the blindness of the legal authorities, regretting having to go back to London without dealing with none of those interesting cases.

Shortly after they went to town to arrange some business and to allow Irene to become familiar with the small town.

It was evening when they come back home. Sherlock began to arrange his things for the return flight to London the next morning.

Meanwhile, Irene began to study the documents that contain all the information about her new life. She wore a white dress light, a light makeup and her long dark hair left loose. "You will allow me to repay you as soon as I can, Mr. Holmes," she said, looking up from the sheets, gazing at him intent on making the suitcase on the living room’s table.

"I don't think it's necessary, Miss Adler. It's only money. And I doubt that you can give me something in return for saving your life. I did what I thought was right to do. You don't owe me anything. "He said turning to look at her, then he return to his things.

"You're wrong. And, I'll repay you, that you like it or not. I don't like to depend on other people. "

"She certainly doesn't depend on me, nor I want to. I've already said you don't owe me anything. "He said again, stopping at all what he was doing, and staring at her.

"It was my decision."

She didn't answer but she was really angry because he didn't want to release her at least from that burden. She would return every penny to him anyway.

"Oh I forgot." He said again, rummaging in his bag "I allowed myself to get you a new phone, just in case."

He put down the phone, small and black, on the table next to her and went back to the bag.

Irene took it and saw the menu and then the agenda. She smiled when she found Sherlock 's phone number on the agenda. He put his number in the phonebook. So that phone was his way to tell her that  she could get in touch with him.

"Thank you." She said.

He didn't turn around. "You should go to sleep, Miss Adler."

"No. Not tonight."

Instantly Sherlock turned to her, and gazed at her without speaking, raising an eyebrow.

"Not tonight, I'd rather stay here with you, Mr. Holmes. It's our last night together." She continued, and she stood up to get close to him. He was still silent. "Please."

He flopped down on the couch with a sigh. Irene sat next to him.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

XII

                  

 

He had capitulated immediately, hearing her pray to stay with her during the night. Obviously he would never admitting that he was pleased to stay some little time more with her before his departure. At the end it couldn't be too damaging. Or so he hoped.

He sat on the couch staring at the ceiling. "Well, we should find a way to spend the evening. Something not too boring. I get bored easily, you know. "He said, without looking at her.

"I have an idea." She said with her usual tone seductively provocative.

He turned to look at her face, raised eyebrows with a skeptical expression.

"What could you suggest that could seriously arouse my attention?"

"I'm sure I know many ways to spend an evening, so far from boring, Mr. Holmes, ways that you ignores completely. I'm convinced however, that I would be able to interest even you. "She smiled seductively. She was clearly leading on him. "But for now we could just play a game of chess, what do you think? If you think you can beat me, of course." She continued with defiant attitude.

He puffed amused by this challenge naive. "Do you really think to be able to get ME in trouble? I could even think to let you win the game if you weren't so insolent "He laughed sarcastically.

"We'll see. And when I win, prepare to do penance. " Retorted The Woman staring at him, getting close to him.

"Beat ME? Ah, "he said laughing," But do you remember who you're talking to? I  beat you blindfolded. "

"Don't exaggerate Mr. Holmes. I'm tempting by the idea of you blindfolded, but I have no qualms to knock you out. You should still remember the feeling of my beloved whip on your sharp cheekbones. "She said, laughing, as she stood up to take the chessboard and settled it on the coffee table.

He remembered well, even if he was drugged, he can still remember that feeling.

" The whip hand "yeah," he thought.

The game started, She moved first. At the start he wasn't worried at all, he was controlling the game as always, anticipating her moves. Just looking at the movements of her eyes or subtle facial grimacing.

At some point, at mid-game, for a moment, he lost the control of the game and She took over immediately. As soon as he was distracted, She lauched her attack, as always. As in their own special game.

So he was more  interested in the game, he wanted to push on, to cornered her and win over quickly. He’ll win, obviously.

“I can’t lose. Impossible.” He thought.

But  at times  he lost her movements. He was stunned and he had to restart over again.

He was hiding his thoughts. He was confident to control the situation. He won the first game. It wasn’t so easy as he thought, but he’ll never confess this to her.

He looked at her, victorious, with a childish smile : “ What did you say?” twiddling with her king piece.

“I’m sure I bothered you. Several times. Confess.”

“I’m sure I just put your king in check. Checkmate.” He said, amused.

“Oh come on! You won  just one chess game. You haven't saved the Nation! I’ll win the next one , Mr. Holmes.”

“You want to continue to play until you’ll be able to defeat me? Then we’ll play forever and ever!” he said, raising his hands. “ Maybe it’s better for you to give up, you haven’t a chance.”

“Ah Ah. You’re so funny. I’ll win sooner than you think.”

“Ok. We’ll see. Three games. You have to win at least one game. One is gone, two try left.”

“Oh so you give me an advantage…It could be worse.”

They started the second match. This time her play was more aggressive and elusive. She analyzed him. She was incredibly intelligent, He already knew that her brain was unordinary. The Woman  could compete with him, when She wanted to. And She did it. That game was more intense and combative than previous. He was enthusiastic at  moment. He had to think faster to predict her moves and limit the damages. She almost won, but he managed to checkmated her. Terrific. The most exciting chess game ever. It wasn’t like play alone or with John. John was so predictable. Boring.

“And then?” He said to her, without hiding the euphoria.

“I still have a chance. It’ll not be easy this time. I analyzed you, Mr. Holmes.”

And the third and last game was on. They played for hours, it was about 3 a.m. now.

This match was different from the start. Her game changed, and he was caught off guard for a moment. That woman always confounded him.  Uncomfortable feeling but also stimulating. He couldn’t read inside her even now. Like the day he met her, but at least She was dressed this time.

He stared at her. She was focused and confident. He waited her move and tried to figure out how avoid losing his horse. He contained her attack on one side, but he exposed his bishop and lost it. It was not amusing at all. Then Sherlock change his strategy, adapting to hers. He check her king, but immediately realized that he had fallen into a trap. The match was lost. Two movements left and She will have won.

He gazed at her. They both knew that She has won. She smirked at him, wanting her revenge. “Not laughing anymore now? Prepare to do penance!”

He raised his eyebrow “ Oh no, I don’t think so. I never accepted your terms, don’t I?”

“Oh you’ll do it. Don’t dare avoid your punishment!”

“Old habits die hard, right Ms. Adler? But I’m not that kind of man. I’m not so easy to dominate.” He answered, staring at her constantly.

He had to be careful, he couldn’t  give her too much power over him. She shouldn’t tempt him again.

“ I know. We are alike, Mr. Holmes. We both love to lead the game, it’s good.” She stretched her body towards him.

“ It’s true. We both love dominate, rule the game and win.”

“It will never change, Mr. Holmes. We’ll never be like the others.”

“No, never.” He said, without showing emotions.

It was a fact. They were different from the others, that will never change, this is the only way to relate each other that they knew. They’ll continue to play, perhaps with new rules. And they’ll continue to be hurt, get closer each other and then run away, forever.

"That night, Mr. Holmes ..." She said and then stops immediately.

"That night you acted like a fool, and  you lost ... there's nothing else to say" He had no intention of reopening that subject, which threatened to bring dangerous repercussions.

“About what happening after my kidnapping…”She stopped again, as if She was struggling to express herself, unlike the usual. He gazed at her, again.

“You own me no explanation. I deduced everything already. You didn’t deserved such experience, nor death, so I could not leave you in that situation. "He said , his voice calm, emotionless .

" But maybe I deserved it ,I don't deny it . It was my fault. But I want to talk to you about something else. Behind everything that happened to me there is the hand of the greatest criminal mind that the world has ever seen. I played my cards all wrong . Your brother has obtained documents about him. And I signed my death sentence. "

" I know. I knew also that night. "

"Don’t you understand? It's not over , I can be safe, but he will come back,  soon , this time for you! " Her eyes seemed genuinely concerned , which surprised him more than the subject of Her speech.

" So what? I can’t wait to be able to finally confront that man! Seriously you  think that I could ever pull me back in front of  him ? But if I'm waiting for it, for months!" He said , standing up , excited at the idea of a new challenge.

" Be careful Mr. Holmes please. Never underestimate that man. He is obsessed with you and capable of anything. Choose well your trusted persons. I'm serious ."

Her growing anxiety hurt him, as if She doubting his ability.

"Your concern doesn't make any sense, I can beat him. I assure you , don't be afraid. " He was confident. He couldn't restrain the tone of annoyance as saying those words. He would never doubted his own abilities. Even though  She was right partly: his confrontation with Moriarty was approaching, and it wouldn't be easy at all. He sat down on the couch, sinking in thoughts, deeply, in his mind palace.

When he emerged from the torpor, The Woman was sitting next to him.

She stared at him in silence. Her hair loose on  shoulders. She was amused when their eyes met. She smiled.

"I find really interesting to watch you, lost in your thoughts . In your personal world. Your mind is a fascinating tool .Really. " She said,  Her eyes were gentle , much more than that night at Baker Street.

He kept quiet, it was definitely the best move in that circumstance .

He looked at his watch, it was almost 5 a.m. . He stood up, took his personal items and began to rearrange them, departure’s time was near.

Soon after, She got up from the couch, and pacing up and down the room, she looked at him as he finished packing  his suitcase. Then She leaned against the desk, without stopping to observe him. He called a cab to the airport, changed his shirt with a white one. He could still feel her eyes on him,  he raised his head and stared at her.

"I think it's time to say goodbye, Miss Adler. Or should I say Miss Irons. "

The woman still held his gaze, and kept her look serious and determined.

"This isn't the end of the story,  Mr. Holmes. I want to turn the table, and I'm not just talking about chess. "

"You only won one game out of three. Fortune. "

"Next time we'll see. " Her eyes changed, She seemed sad " Try to stay alive until our next meeting. Remember, you owes me a dinner. "

She brought up again on that topic, obviously she was almost obsessed with it. He came closer, and bent over her and whispered in her ear "Nobody can beat Sherlock Holmes, and you should know it better than anyone else."

He suddenly felt her hands grip the lapels of his jacket.

She pulled him firmly, taking him by surprise.  He felt a slight sense of panic. A stab in the stomach.

Her warm breath caressed his neck and then his face. He startled slightly.

He hated the confusion that She causes inside him. He stepped back a little, but She nestled him against her again,  in the most delicate way. The warm touch of her soft lips on his.

He felt a pang in the chest as the kiss slowly grew more profound. He followed her lead, failing to oppose any resistance. Her hands slid down his jacket, before stroking the chest, then gently on the neck,  tightening around his shoulders. He felt his whole body tight against hers.

Although it wasn't the first time they kissed, he still couldn't get used to it.

Again strange sensations emerged.  It was so difficult to control his emotions. He wasn't able to ignore them anymore and hushing them up. Without realizing it, he held her in his arms, caressing her skin with his hands. He felt the softness of her bare skin under his fingers.

His heart was beating so fast, as if he was running. He lingered on her lips, again and again, losing himself completely, surrendering to those feelings so  unknown.

Then suddenly he found again his lucidity and slowly pulled away from her. As soon as the contact between them was cut, while he was still trying to catch his breath and to regain his self-control, She gave him a light, soft kiss, and the another one. She stared at  him. Her expression seemed angry and saddened at the same time: "Sherlock, I mean it."

He was moved.

She said his name for the first time.

But he kept silent.  He only gazed back at her.

"Maybe this time She is sincere..." he thought.

But he didn't want to think about what it could or should mean.

In that moment they heard the sound of the klaxon. The taxi cab was in the street, waiting.

For a moment he stayed still, still staring at her eyes, then he turned around, picked up the suitcase and walked toward the door and opened it.

He stopped to look back at her again. "Goodbye, Miss Adler"

"Goodbye, Mr. Holmes." She replied, still leaning against the desk.

He closed the door and got into the taxi. He turned instinctively toward the house, while the taxi was leaving. He saw her standing at the window. Their eyes met for a moment before the car slipped away.