Mary eyes the pomegranates on sale in the local grocery shop. She's never really liked pomegranates that much, definitely not her favorite fruit, too messy for that, but they're right in front of her and they're on sale and she's been craving something sweet but fresh all day- (She picks one of the roundish red fruit and looks at it thoughtfully. It appears and feels shiny in her hand, heavy in a way that makes gouging its weight satisfying.)
She puts the fruit in her hand basket, beneath the bread but besides the carton of milk, and she doesn't look at it again until she has to pay for it and bag it. The pomegranate wasn't on the list, wasn't even something Mary normally liked eating, but earlier, looking at the pile of plump red fruits, she'd felt... impulsive. Daring, almost, only buying a pomegranate isn't supposed to feel daring. (Nothing is supposed to feel daring after managing to capture and keep the attention of one Miss Irene Adler, but Mary's never been that fond of assumptions and presumptions, and if kissing Irene feels as natural as breathing but buying pomegranates is daring, then, by god, that's how it's supposed to be.)
In any case, Mary walks home with a spring in her step and one would-be wrinkle less between her eyebrows. When she gets home she shouts Irene's name, listens, shouts again, and only after making sure to check the bedroom and the living room does she conclude that Irene isn't home. Which isn't all that surprising since she's supposed to be working, somewhere in Europe, to be specific, Mary hadn't asked, didn't want to know (she loves Irene, occasionally lives with her and always respects her and her choices in life, but that doesn't mean she won't sometimes get jealous of the people whose tastes Irene professes to knowing and fulfilling).
Her hands are beginning to protest at the weight of the groceries she's carrying, and Mary lets a sigh of relief escape her as she places the heavy paper bags on the kitchen table. Her eyes pass over the sleek looking wristwatch she's currently wearing (a gift from Irene, Mary would never in a million years spend that much money on a wristwatch). It's a quarter to five, Mary notes (later than she'd have thought, but it's only September so it's still light outside, and almost warm) and Irene's supposed to arrive sometime around eight o'clock in the evening, so, Mary reasons, all is as it should be.
Which might actually be slightly surprising, seeing as despite Irene's relatively trustworthy schedule, it had happened for The Woman to finish a job earlier and come home without telling Mary, wait for her in bed in a black satin negligee that'd left far too little and far too much to imagination and- (Irene had seduced Mary in the most delightfully romantic and pleasurable ways, and Mary had let herself be seduced and impassioned oh so easily-).
Alas, no surprises today, Mary thinks as she starts to put the groceries where they belong, and she isn't sure whether she's sarcastic or not (regardless, the milk goes in the fridge, the box of cereal in one of the cupboards, the loaf of bread in the pantry). She stops when she gets to the pomegranate, hesitating. She leaves the shiny red fruit on the kitchen table and finishes putting the groceries away.
Five minutes later, the pomegranate is the only thing on the kitchen table (besides the tablecloth and the dainty but flowerless porcelain vase) and Mary... Mary is trying to remember the last time she'd eaten the stuff. Had she cut it in half? Had she tried to peel it like an orange? She can't remember and she isn't sure what had happened (or when, for that matter) but she clearly remembers getting pomegranate juice on her nice cashmere sweater (the stains had been red at first, and then, after an unsuccessful dunk in soapy water, blue, and she'd never really managed to get them out of it completely, so Mary'd just hidden the sweater at the back of her dresser and then, years later, donated it to charity).
Mary eventually gets tired of looking at the plump fruit (feeling oddly like a coward for not having eaten it already) and she gets a knife. She hesitates in front of the cutlery drawer before going for the biggest one and then... she moves the knife over the shiny red surface, slowly, gently, not even scratching it yet. She isn't sure how to start, to be honest. She remembers the fruit having a thousand seeds surrounded by dark red pulp, and she reasons that if she cuts it in half, then she'll get splattered in red, staining juice, but if she tries to peel it like an orange or an apple, then she won't be able to detach the little seeds properly and she'll get dirty trying to eat it. She tries to apply logic to the problem, but she's a nurse and a sniper and a lover, not a chef. And she can't think of a way to slice it that doesn't end up with her clothes ruined.
Finally, after two minutes of tracing patterns on the pomegranate's surface and imagining her presentable, cream-coloured blouse getting splattered (why, oh why did she have to wear it today? She'd go and change now, but her stubbornness and frustration won't let her), she decides that enough's enough - she turns on the laptop, carries it into the kitchen and then carefully puts it down on the kitchen table (and then she rushes back and gets the charger and plugs it in, because her laptop's battery's been having some trouble staying charged lately and it keeps shutting down in the middle of her favourite movies or Skype conversations with friends - she knows she should get the laptop fixed, maybe buy a new one, but it still works perfectly fine if you don't count the spontaneous turn off's and there are so many things she has on it, music and movies and photos of her and Irene, and, well, she's got rather attached to the sleek looking piece of machinery).
Ten minutes later she's watching a video of a small, olive skinned woman trying to explain how to eat a pomegranate. Cut off the crown, score the skin along the ridges, let the fruit soak in a bowl of water for a couple of minutes and then break it apart. Sure, Mary thinks, she can do that. It all seems (stupidly) straight forward and stain-less, now that she's watching the dark haired (possibly Spanish) woman easily deal with the round, shiny red pomegranate. Mary'd feel a little foolish about her previous attempts at eating the pomegranate, but all the problem solving has made her a little hungry and a little thirsty and more than a little stubborn. And she's really fancying pomegranate right about now.
She rolls up her sleeves, gets the water-filled bowl and the knife and the fruit from the kitchen table and clicks the replay button on the video. She lets it play for about ten to fifteen seconds at a time, hits pause, tries to mimic the moves on the computer screen, and then lets the video play again (she cuts off too little from one of the pomegranate's end and has to do it again, scores a bit too deeply along the sides and puts too much water in the bowl and it overflows a little when she puts the fruit in, but other than that, it all goes unexpectedly well).
The clock on the wall says half past six in the afternoon by the time she figures she can finally eat the little pulp encased seeds, and she crunches on the tiny, blood red and oddly shaped gems with relish. The pulp tastes sweet and a little tart, watery in a fresh way, and she derives a feeling of satisfaction whenever she chews on the seeds and hears (feels) them pop under her molars and bicuspids. The whole thing does feel rather strange going down, a little scratchy, to be sure, but she only drinks a little water before she goes back to eating (it's more of a snack, really, and it's even a healthy one).
She looks at the kitchen clock (twenty minutes to seven) and wonders when Irene will arrive home (that day, before eight in the evening so in another hour or so, but still, nothing's set in stone), though it's nothing more than a fleeting thought, and it leaves her mind as quickly as it enters it.
Mary fishes for another slice of pomegranate in the almost-overflowing glass bowl and finds one with ease. She lifts it slowly from the water, trying not to splatter herself too badly. She shakes the slice, trying to dislodge the seeds but has little luck with it. She tries to gently push the core outside, bring the ends to the back without making seeds fly in all directions, but the still surprisingly hard and now water-logged skin gives in to her with a little snap and Mary flinches at the feeling of cold red splatters of pomegranate juice sprinkling her skin from high up on the inside of her forearms to her hands. She curses quietly, wishes she'd thought to change her clothes before she started eating, but it's too late for that-
Mirthful laughter comes from behind her, and she turns, trying to avoid staining her rolled up sleeves. Irene is standing in the archway that joins the kitchen and the hallway, shaking with the strength and volume of her already fading laughter, and Mary's heart skips a beat, just like that, just by looking at Irene's laughing face (she finds it terribly unfair, she does, the things Irene's smile and laughter and voicedo to her, almost as unfair as what her looks and touches and body can).
Mary frowns a little as Irene comes closer, looking her in the eye and chuckling a little still, and takes her right (red splattered) arm, raises it up slowly, slowly, until her own red, red lips are scant centimeters away from Mary's mottled hand, and then Irene's kissing the inside of her wrist (her heart skips another beat) and flicking her tongue over the (sweet-sour) reddish stains until the skin's back to white and Mary's pulse is as irregular as the thrashing of the sea during a thunderstorm.
"How- how was your day?" Mary asks, trying to speak in a collected manner and failing terribly, her breath hitching halfway through and the end of her question far too breathy for pretense.
"Horribly, horribly boring," Irene purrs as she maintains the (seductive arousing) prolonged eye-contact with Mary. Her lips brush the pale, pale underside of Mary's forearm as she speaks, and Mary's suddenly very tempted to thread her other (still pomegranate splattered) hand through the woman's dark hair and drag her down for a bruising, devouring kiss. So, because she is Mary Morstan and she can, she does, and then she does it again and again and again and kissing is not the only thing they do that evening.
(And, afterwards, after they've kissed and touched and made love, after they've acquainted themselves with ecstasy and then came back to earth, after all that, Irene tries to hide her face in Mary's short, blond hair and whispers hotly, damply in her ear about pomegranates and Adonis' blood and Persephone and Hades, about Mary's red, red, bloody looking lips earlier that day, and purrs promises in the hollow of her throat, promises that make Mary's heart skip like a scratched CD, promises both sweet and filthy, promises that make her hungry for Irene's lips, body and soul, even as she doubts Irene can actually keep them, even as she finds she doesn't care).