When she hears the siren behind her, Mary pulls over, trying not to panic. She's within the speed limit, but maybe she's got a dud headlight. But when the woman gets out of the panda car she knows she's done for. A slight black woman, wearing a smart brown jacket and sensible shoes. There's only one reason a plain-clothes copper could be stopping her and it's not for traffic offences.
Maybe she can still bluff her way out. Mary's good at looking innocent: she's had five years of practice. Harmless and cheery, that's the way to go. She rolls down the window and forces herself to smile as the other woman approaches.
"Something wrong, officer?" Mary asks.
"Is this your car?" the other woman asks. Late twenties or early thirties, good-looking, confident. Her dark eyes are scanning Mary closely and Mary forces her smile to broaden more.
"Yes," she says.
"Got your driving licence?"
Mary pulls it out and hands it to the other woman. The officer scans it, scans her. A forty-something blonde, dressed unflatteringly all in black, completely unremarkable. She's made herself unremarkable since she came to London.
"Mary Watson," the officer says. Her accent's south London, working class, much like Mary's own, except hers is natural. "John Watson's wife."
Mary nods, and suddenly she recognises the woman, from one of the old newspaper cuttings of Sherlock's triumphs, standing beside Greg Lestrade, scowling at the camera. "Is your name...Donovan?"
"Sergeant Donovan. John been talking about me?" There's a hint of challenge in Donovan's voice and Mary tries to remember what she's heard about her. And then the memory clicks into place. Sherlock's voice: If you're inviting Lestrade to the wedding, what about Sally Donovan? And John's furious response: After the Bruhl case? No bloody way. Sally Donovan was the one who first got Sherlock suspected of being a fraud, wasn't she?
"I don't think John likes you," Mary says cheerily and Donovan smiles back at her and says:
"Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are dangerous men, but I guess you know that already."
"I go for that," Mary says. "That's why I married John."
Donovan's smile fades. "And this morning, this vehicle was spotted outside a known location for drug purchase and so were the pair of them. What I've heard is that Sherlock's back on smack. So we need to find out where he's keeping his gear."
Oh, fuck. Mary's caught in the middle of a drugs bust. No point in playing dumb, is there?
"Sherlock's using, yeah," she says confidently. "John found him in some kind of drug den this morning and they got into a fight. But of course we're not helping Sherlock. We're trying to get him clean again."
"Then you won't mind me searching your car, will you?" Donovan says, and there's something in the deliberate way she says it that Mary recognises. John told her once that Lestrade organised drug busts when he needed to pressurise Sherlock.
"You think Sherlock's on a case, don't you?" she says and Donovan shrugs.
"I just wanna know what he's up to before it blows up in all our faces," she replies. "So, Mrs Watson, can you please get out of your car and hand over the keys."
She's busted before she even gets near Magnussen. Well, one last throw, Mary decides, as she hands the keys over.
"I haven't got drugs in this car," she says. "But there's climbing gear and a gun in the boot."
"Any reason for that?" Donovan asks, and her voice is caught between scepticism and curiosity.
"I was gonna abseil into our flat tonight. Sort of Milk Tray thing. Give John a thrill." She tries to sound casual. Donovan must know what John's like by now.
Donovan's eyes widen as she unzips the bag in the boot.
"You do things thoroughly, don't you?" she says. "Gun real?"
Mary nods. "John'd spot a replica."
"What you planning after the break in?"
She forces herself to grin. "Sex. Danger turns John on. Me too." And then she stares straight into Donovan's eyes. "What about you?"
If she's wrong, she's going down for years for the handgun possession alone. But she's not wrong, not from the way that Donovan's breath hitches just for a moment. And then Donovan – Sally – smiles a merciless smile.
"You saying this is all just for a sex game. Got any proof of that?"
"How much evidence do you need?" Mary asks.
"Enough to convince me that you get turned on by all the wrong things," Sally says. "You got married a month ago, didn't you?"
Mary nods, another piece abruptly falling into place. John said Donovan had been involved with some married man, hadn't he? Maybe she just craves things she's not allowed. Someone's husband. Someone's wife as well?
"John doesn't know where I'm going tonight," she says, and adds: "I'm a good liar. So when do you finish your shift...Sally?"
"You don't think I'm letting you go, do you? Sally replies. "There's a hotel just down the road; follow me in your car. Park there, give me your car keys, then book a room. No funny business: remember I've got your name and license plate."
"Do I book the room for an hour?"
Sally smiles. "For the night. For as long as it takes."
Anything's better than getting arrested at this point. And Magnussen will surely be spending the night at his penthouse. As long as she can get there by the early hours of the morning, she'll be OK for the op. Though she'll have to think of some excuse to tell John about why she's back so late.
"OK," Mary says.
"Give me the room key," Sally says, when they're in the hotel lobby. "I'll go up now, you come up in a couple of minutes."
She wants to check the layout of the place, Mary guesses, give herself home advantage. As well as remind Mary that she's got nowhere to run to. Even so, she could back out. But she's not going to. It's not the worst thing she's prepared to do to keep John. It's at least twenty years since she made out with a woman, but she's not a sophomore now. She knows what she likes in bed; she just hopes she can work out what turns Sally on.
When she opens the hotel door, Sally's waiting for her, still fully-clothed and obviously in copper mode. Not a good start.
"Put your hands behind your head," Sally says. "I'm gonna frisk you."
It's common sense, but it's also an excuse for Sally to cop a feel of her. Her hands linger just too long as they work down the sides of Mary's boobs – being up the duff has given her some decent cleavage at last - and then smoothly across her rounding stomach. But now Sally's strong fingers are heading down her thighs, and Mary sees her chance. It's risky but it's the quickest way to work out what Sally's like underneath the tough shell. Hook her leg round Sally's ankle, pull and down she goes.
Down they both go. Sally's not expecting the attack, but her reaction's immediate, grabbing onto Mary's legs, over-balancing her and pulling her down on top of her. Before Mary can try anything more, Sally's rolling them over, so Mary ends up on her back, Sally's hands clamping onto her wrists. And Sally's knee poised to smash into her groin if she tries any more tricks.
Mary tries to force her hands free for a moment and then goes as limp as she can. She watches a triumphant grin appear on Sally's face, as she realises she's got Mary at her mercy. If Mary's guessed wrong, now's the time Sally'll decide to beat the shit out of her. But Greg Lestrade wouldn't work with someone like that, would he? Sally wants to be in control, but Mary's guessing she's not naturally violent. She might do bad things sometimes, but she's not a bad person.
She's also certain now that Sally's faster and stronger than her. It probably helps the other woman as well that she's not eight-and-a-bit-weeks pregnant. If it comes to a full-on fight, Mary's bound to lose. But she's not going to fight any more. Not when she's got exactly what she wants.
Small but strong; what always turns her on in a man. But John's not here and Sally is and Mary's been horny since the drug den first thing this morning. Time to let those hormones sloshing around her system take over, forget the fears driving Mary Watson on. And if John ever finds out about this hotel – well, she can probably get him off just by describing what she and Sally are thinking about doing to one another. For a moment she imagines him asking if he can watch next time. And then her mouth reaches up to Sally's full lips and brushes a kiss onto them. Concentrate on now: don't worry about what might happen later.
Up close she can see the freckles across Sally's nose, making her look for a moment little more than a kid. But the smile that's appearing now isn't a kid's smile or even a girl's. It's that of a woman who knows what she's doing is wrong and doesn't care anymore. Sally moves so she's straddling Mary and her mouth pushes down onto hers. But she's not relaxing her grip on Mary's wrists yet, obviously doesn't quite trust her. Mary's not going anywhere else soon.
She doesn't want to go anywhere else. Not when Sally's warm, firm lips are locking onto hers, challenging, exploring. Mary closes her eyes, lets this happen, embarrassingly ready to surrender control. Then Sally's lips are going along her jaw line and down her neck, and Mary rouses herself just enough to whisper:
She can feel Sally's smile against her skin, and the strong grip round Mary's wrists becomes gentler now, as Sally's thumbs start to stroke at the skin there. Mary wants more, trying to push her body up to press it against Sally's firm thighs. But the angle's wrong, and gravity is working against her, and she's starting to feel the hardness of the floorboards beneath the fancy carpet.
"Bed?" she asks, and it comes out wrong, meek and pathetic, and Sally's letting her go and standing up. Mary scrambles to her feet, feeling suddenly self-conscious, clumsy. She isn't as fast as she should be any more; without the gun or the element of surprise, she'll be vulnerable in a fight. And next to Sally, her body's nothing to write home about, even before the pregnancy. She's old enough to know better than acting like this; she needs to go home, confess everything to John. Beg for his help dealing with Magnussen.
But John's not at home; he's off somewhere with Sherlock. And she daren't tell him she's been lying all along. She has to solve her own problems: be the Alice Adair of five years, ten years ago. Someone needs killing, you kill them. Someone needs seducing, you seduce them. It's not what your body looks like, it's what you can do with it. And Sally may enjoy being in control, but she doesn't want Mary just passive. She's watching Mary now with interest, obviously still not sure what to make of her. Time to take some of the initiative back.
Mary takes a step forward to where Sally's standing, and then shamelessly reaches out to grab her by the waist, pull her in to snog her as if they were teenagers. They're the same height, and their bodies fit together wonderfully, as Mary's hands slide down towards Sally's firm bum, so she can press their bodies even closer together.
"You said bed," Sally says, freeing her lips for a moment, and her fingers are scrabbling at the waistband of Mary's trousers. "Or do you want me to get you off right here and now?"
"Bed," Mary says, and this time it sounds right, sounds like she means it. And then she's stepping away and pulling off her clothes as rapidly as she can, because she's wearing unflattering underwear and she doesn't want Sally to see it. Some perfume will make her feel sexier though, and she hurries over to reach for her handbag, where she dropped it over by the door.
"You're not allergic to perfume, are you?" she asks, as she pulls out the atomiser, and Sally replies:
"No, but I don't wear it on duty. Might contaminate the crime scene, people always tell me. What you got?"
"Claire de Lune. Want some?"
"Nah. But if you want to put some on, that's OK." Sally's stripped down to her underwear: an orange sports bra and briefs that show off the lean, strong lines of her pale brown torso. She watches Mary's gaze slide over her and smiles.
"I work out," Sally says. "Do a lot of weight training."
"I don't get the time for that now," Mary says, and she sprays the perfume clumsily onto her neck and wrists. A bit too much, so that the jasmine and rose scent rises in waves off her flushed, tingling skin. She wonders if Sally guesses she's pregnant: what she'd say if she knew. Don't think about that. Think about giving Sally what she wants. And what she wants now, Mary guesses, is to prove that she can drive another woman wild.
Mary goes over to the bed, pulls off the duvet and lies down. Stretches herself out, shamelessly opening her legs, letting her head fall back against the pillows. As Sally saunters over, Mary looks up into those wide, dark eyes and asks:
"What do you want me to do?"
"Touch your breasts," Sally replies. "And make sure you tell me when I hit your g-spot."
Her breasts are more tender now than they used to be, so Mary licks her fingers and then carefully circles the nipples. Has the pregnancy already made the areolas a fraction darker than they were? Though Sally's will be darker still, when she finally gets to see them.
So many changes to her own body already. Increased blood flow everywhere, including down below. Sally's thumb is circling her clit, and those strong clever fingers are working away inside her and it's suddenly just too much, her nervous system overloading with sensation.
"That's enough," she exclaims and Sally looks down at her and asks:
"Do you want to stop?"
There's real concern there and Mary finds herself flushing. Her body needs this and she has to make it work for Sally as well.
"Gentler, please," she asks, and Sally nods. There's a hand on her belly now, stroking it, soothing her and lighter touches on her clit that still spark through her. Mary remembers to breathe, to let the excitement build and not fight it, refuse it. She's panting now, gasping almost. Sally's saying something, but Mary's brain's obviously gone offline, because all that matters are Sally's fingers and so near, yes, it's going to happen and she bites down on her lip because otherwise she will yell someone's name and it might not be the right one. This, this, this: nothing but the liquid slide of heat in her groin and her muscles spasming and then the silence. She lies there wearily and she's not Mary or Alice anymore. For a moment she can be no-one; and that is beyond wonderful.
But when she opens her eyes, Mary has dissolved away into bliss, and she puts on Alice Grace Rucastle Adair. Alice looks up at Sally, that sexy blend of tough and tender. Sally wants to do bad things, but she doesn't enjoy hurting people. AGRA isn't real any more; she can't be hurt. Alice will give Sally whatever she wants and she'll give it enthusiastically.
Sally's crouched on her knees beside her, reaching for tissues to wipe her hands. Alice takes the right hand that's just been in her, pulls it to her mouth, licks the tips of Sally's fingers, tasting herself. With her other hand she reaches out to the orange fabric of Sally's briefs.
"You getting wet as well?" she asks, her fingers brushing Sally's crotch lightly. Sally's thighs clamp together, trapping her hand. "I'll take that as a yes."
Alice's fingers press a little deeper, increasing the friction of the cotton against Sally's labia, as she sits up and start kissing Sally's belly. Firmer than hers, but sensitive as well, and she can feel Sally's knees shift slightly, as she tries to keep herself upright.
"Tell me when you need to lie down," Alice says, and she knows she's got Sally hooked now, because Sally can't resist a challenge. She's going to let Alice play with her till she howls, and then she's going to let her walk out of this room, because no-one can stop AGRA tonight.
She drops her fingers just a millimetre away from Sally's crotch to check, and sure enough, Sally flexes slightly into her touch. And then Sally's grinding herself shamelessly against the other woman's fingers, and Alice's other hand is tracing circles on Sally's firm buttocks, while she licks salty sweat off Sally's belly, rejoicing in the fact that at least her hand-eye co-ordination hasn't been shot to hell by the baby.
Soon Sally's wetness is seeping through the orange fabric and there's a tension in her stomach muscles now that makes Alice worry she might actually topple over.
"Lie down," she says. "I wanna come down on you."
Sally, to her surprise, actually does what she's told. She's flexible enough to spread her legs wide, so Alice can get a good view. Sally's unshaved, her body warm and musky. Alice has never done this to a woman, but she's got a strong tongue and it can't be that hard.
"Tell me what you like," she says and Sally snaps back:
"Just do it. Now." Her legs, surprisingly long, stretch just a little wider open.
Trial and error, as it'd be with a strange man. Listen to Sally's breath, catching as Alice's tongue touches her clit just for a second. Then move away to her labia, kissing her inner thigh, mixing it up until Sally's desperate, reaching down to pull her head in closer as her pelvis rocks up.
Go for the kill now, Alice decides, as she looks up for a moment. Sally's near the edge now, hands fisted, eyes closed, lips parted, desire turning all that strength into a helpless, desperate beauty. No time for teasing, as Alice's tongue-tip zeroes-in on the warm nub of Sally's clitoris and her hands rub and fondle Sally's thighs, driving her towards what she needs.
"God," Sally breathes, and she's shuddering, coming and Alice just keeps on licking, because she's going to give Sally everything she wants and then more. Sally's head is starting to rock from side to side, panting like she can't breathe. The last gasps of a race, but they haven't reached the finishing line yet, not if Alice can help it...
"Stop!" Sally yells, and Alice's head comes up as she pushes herself back onto her heels, so she can survey the damage she's done. Sally's eyes flick open for a moment to gaze glassily up at her and then close again.
"You had enough?" Alice asks and Sally nods. Even that looks an effort. All orgasmed out; mission accomplished. Alice climbs off the bed, rolls out her kinked neck and shoulders. Other than that, she's ready for anything now. All her doubts burned away in the afterglow of really good sex. She starts to dress hastily.
"Mary?" Sally says, and her eyes are opening as she levers her tired limbs up to sit on the edge of the bed.
The police officer returning? God, let's hope not.
"What?" Alice asks, and she can't get Mary's cheery voice back yet.
"Don't do it," Sally says, and that's not a police officer saying that, that's a friend.
"What do you mean?" How does she play innocent now, when she's fired up for the op?
"Whatever Sherlock's got you doing. He's sucked you in now, hasn't it? John's not enough. That's why you're carrying the gun, so you can smuggle it in somewhere and leave it for John to retrieve."
It makes sense, of course, if you're used to the pair of them, and Sally's known them for years. Almost certainly knows that's John shot people before now, even if she can't prove it. Maybe doesn't want to prove it.
"It's not John's gun, it's mine," she tells Sally, and a terrible sadness appears on Sally's face for a moment, like that's not really a surprise. Like she knew exactly what Mary was all along and she still couldn't resist her.
"Don't use it," Sally says. "If you kill anyone, I'll gonna have to be the one who arrests you."
"I'm threatening someone," she replies. "As long as he does what I say, he'll be OK." She can't kill Magnussen, or at least not yet, not till she's sure what he's got on her. But he's not used to violence: if she breaks in into his own flat, shows him what she can do, she's sure he'll crumble. You haven't got eyes in the back of your head. I've got past bodyguards before, you know that. If you betray me, there'll be no more Mary Morstan. I'll change my name, I'll disappear into the shadows of London. And six months later, by the time you hear my gun firing, it'll be too late to dodge the bullet. She can't leave John, but Magnussen doesn't know that. She's gonna scare the shit out of him and no-one will stop her.
"Stay away from Sherlock," Sally says, and her voice is desperate. "I'm begging you." And then she ducks her head for the moment, and when she gets up off the bed, she stands up, facing Mary, looks her straight in the eyes. Five-foot three and skinny and naked, but you can see how Sergeant Donovan's survived being a copper all these years. Back in control, the undefeatable toughness re-emerging from the flushed and shuddering lover. "Or if you've gotta shoot someone, shoot Sherlock. Nobody would miss him."
"John would," Alice says, because Alice doesn't need to pretend. "Don't worry, I know what I'm doing." Sherlock matters to her because he matters to John, and somehow they can work their weird triangle out. As long as Magnussen keeps his nose out of the whole business. She checks her watch. 8.32, so she's running around an hour late. Doesn't matter: she's not working to an exact timetable. If Magnussen's out somewhere she'll wait for him in his office; if he's already in the penthouse, she can trap him there.
"Mary," Sally says, and she's going to say Don't go, and Alice can't let her. Mary's spoken for and Sally can't cope with Alice – no-one can, even she can't anymore.
"That's enough," Alice barks and Sally's mouth closes. And Alice rams down her black woolly hat onto her head, and picks up her car keys where Sally has dropped them and walks out of the hotel room. Because if she hesitates they're all done for, Sally as well. She has to keep going and hope that she can still win. Mary Morstan could have fallen for Sally, but it's too late for that. Tonight, Alice is going to do whatever it takes for Mary Watson to keep John.