No one could say who had seduced who. Indeed, to the casual observer, there were no warning signs; no hint that the two had even seen one another before. Yet there they were, circling each other like a pair of wolves vying for dominance. A pair of sleek boots with three inch Cuban heels, discarded by the door, did nothing to diminish an illusion of height created by sheer presence, any more than a rumpled, tossed-aside suit jacket and an undone tie diminished an illusion of carefully cultivated civility.
In an instant, the half-crooked smiles and pleasantries fell to the carpet and shattered into shards of carefully woven words, leaving only the sharp, predatory smiles that Mycroft Holmes was unaccustomed to seeing outside of his own bloodline.
"Come now, Mr. Holmes." The slight curve of the lips was entirely gone now, making way for a smile that was all teeth and vicious triumph. "You didn't really believe I was actually dead this time, did you?"
If this ruffled him, Mycroft was careful not to give any sign aside from a slight twitch of his lips. "You know me better than that, Ms. Adler."
"Yes," Irene Adler brushed past him carelessly, shrugging the braces from her shoulders before retrieving a bottle of scotch from the bar. "I suppose I do." She glanced over her shoulder. "Drink?" Mycroft emitted a quiet hum of assent, and turning her back again, she busied herself with pouring two small glasses of scotch.
"You've cut your hair again."
"Mn. Yes." Mycroft felt, rather than saw the knife-like smile slip across his companion's face. "I have." The unspoken and you like it hung heavily in the air between them. Turning, she smirked and handed over his glass. "It's been rather useful over the past year."
"You do realise -"
"Of course I do." Irene leaned against the table, one elbow easing the bite of wood edging into the small of her back. "But it's harder to track a man who appears to be in two places at once, wouldn't you agree?"
"Fair enough." The elder Holmes brother covered his surprise by tapping his finger restlessly against the side of his glass. Sherlock, as was his practise, had been close-mouthed about much of his time on the run, and while the possibility had crossed his mind, he had not been aware of Adler's involvement. "And now?" He let the remainder of the question remain silent on his lips, then drowned it in scotch.
There was another quirk of bare lips - lips that formed a very familiar shape, followed by the brush of dexterous fingertips over his forearm and a flash of high cheekbones in the corner of his eye as the woman leaned in to whisper in his ear, the cool breath on his ear mingling with the faint scent of aged scotch and what was unmistakeably his brother's shampoo.
"That all depends, Mr. Holmes." There was a long pause and Mycroft knew without looking that he was being examined - no, studied - thoroughly. "You miss him. Don't you?"
There was silence, broken only by the barely audible sound of Mycroft swallowing the remainder of his drink. "I believe you know the answer to that."
A low chuckle rolled against his ear and he forced a shiver from rattling down his spine. "Well I do know what you like, don't I darling?"