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It was just a long strip of soft, dark cloth.

It wasn’t nearly impressive enough to justify the cold shiver running down Sherlock’s spine, the way her stomach clenched in anticipation. It looked harmless – but, like most things, it wasn’t so much the looks of it as what it could do.

“Close your eyes, sweetheart,” Irene said – no, ordered. Her pale fingers closed around the blindfold. She pulled it tight, as if she was testing it.

“Already?” Sherlock asked, sceptically. “Personally I would have  – ”

“Sherlock,” Joan said, voice warm with laughter. “Shut up.”

She squeezed her mouth shut and sent Joan a filthy look. “I thought you liked hearing me.”

Joan grinned, completely unabashed. “Depends on what you’re saying.”

“Personally I like the progression,” Irene said. Even she had that twinkle in her eye that meant she was privately laughing. Sherlock straightened her back and looked down her nose at her.

“What progression?”

“Oh, you know. Smartarse to begging to, ah, noises.”

Again Sherlock shivered. Involuntary responses, bloody inconveniences.

Irene stopped behind Sherlock. She lifted her heavy mass of curls up and carefully put the blindfold over her eyes. The hard pull at the knot made Sherlock rear back, almost stumbling. Damn Irene and all her little tricks.

And then everything was dark, and all her other senses started getting a little overzealous. Irene was standing at least a few inches away but Sherlock could feel her, her body heat. Smell her perfume. Almost taste it on the air.

Irene stepped back. All Sherlock had to go on was the sound of her heels on the floor. Going… close to Joan? Probably.

God, this was frustrating.

“Clothes,” Joan said, in her no-nonsense army voice. “Off.”

Sherlock turned her nose up but did as they told her to. Even though it was surprisingly difficult without visual clues: she almost toppled over while she was pulling her tights off.

And then she was naked. Her skin prickled. Neither of the other women said something, and she was starting to feel… exposed. Watched, yes, obviously.

She folded her arms and tapped her fingers on the inside of her elbow, impatient. “Well? Your voyeuristic tendencies satisfied? Can we get on with it now?”

They whispered. Too quiet to hear, damn them, not a single word she could make out, even with her hearing as sharp as it was now.

Irene and Joan. They shouldn’t get on as well as they did, but somewhere along the line they had put aside their differences. And teamed up against Sherlock, just her luck.

There was another sound of heels, but strange, shuffling, as if – ah, Irene was stepping out of her shoes. Meaning she’d just lost her handy auditory cue to tell them apart; the sound of bare-feet walking wasn’t distinctive enough to differentiate between them.

“Kneel down, hands in front of you.” Joan. Lost the laughter, this time.

Sherlock got down on her knees, hands on her thighs. Rustle of clothes, the soft sound of bare feet on the hard floor. That sixth-sense feeling of knowing someone was close.

Fingers closed around her hands – Joan’s, because calluses. Something soft went around her wrists – handcuffs, lined, the usual ones.

“Pull your wrists apart,” Joan ordered. Sherlock did: she had about two or three inches of space between them before the chain pulled tight. That frustrating length, just enough to have a bit of freedom but nothing enough to be of actual use.

The chain pulled tight again. “Follow,” Joan said, must have taken hold of the chain. She’d gone into that monosyllable, hard tone of voice she only ever used if they were in danger – or when they were doing this. Either way, it made something inside of Sherlock shiver with delight.

She shuffled after Joan on her knees, feeling more than a bit ridiculous. Especially with the blindfold, making every movement insecure – until she bumped her thighs hard against something.

The pressure on the chain went away. “Bend down.”

She did. Something soft but cool pressed against her stomach – an upholstered chair, footstool, something like that. Leather or vinyl rather than fabric.

Joan moved away. Again, Sherlock was faced with that feeling of being watched, studied. She squirmed a bit.

Irene laughed. “Getting a bit impatient, sweetheart?”

“More bored, actually,” she replied. “Were you actually planning on – ”

Thwack

She rocked forward, mouth open in shock, as hot pain flared across her backside. Flogger, sharper than she expected, must be – material – something…

She shook her head in irritation. Already? One good hit and she was done for? That was pathetic.

“Count.” Joan. Would it be her doing the hitting? Or Irene? Impossible to tell, really, so –

The flogger cracked again across her arse. “One,” she said, between gritted teeth. She hated counting, it kept her mind too occupied.

Another one. She arched her back. “Two. How many are you intending to – ”

Another hard hit. She winced.

“That’s for us to know and for you to find out, isn’t it?” Irene said calmly. “Well?”

Three.”

The tips of the flogger dangled right over her burning arse, a annoying teasing touch. She tried to distract herself, try to find the third woman in the room – Irene or Joan, whoever it was, who would be –

But the next few hits followed too quickly, one after the other. “Four,” she gasped. “Five, six, seven, ei- god.”

“What was that?” Irene asked cheerfully. She could just about imagine the face that went with that tone, the condescending sadistic smile.

“Eight. Sorry, my tongue slipped,” she sneered.

The next one was the hardest one yet. “No need to be smart, Sherlock,” Joan said. Also from behind her, they must be standing close to each other, maybe even touching –

Sherlock blinked as her mind suddenly was flooded with very distracting images.

“Sherlock,” Joan snapped. “You forgot to count.”

“Right, yes…” She shook her head, tried to shake the distractions off. “Eight – no, ni-”

Thwack

“And ten,” she added, panting.

“Good girl,” Irene cooed. “Such a clever one, aren’t you? Counting to ten and all, I’m so very impressed.”

Joan snorted. Sherlock gritted her teeth. Talking back wouldn’t really do anything but make Irene even more determined to rile her.

“Right. Knees apart, Sherlock,” Joan said.

Sherlock’s stomach flipped. She grudgingly spread her knees a bit.

“Bit further than that, please.”

She bit her lip and widened her stance, until she could feel the inside of her thighs quiver a little with the effort.

“Good. And stay.”

Footsteps. Stopping in front of her. Irene? Hard to tell, their scents had mingled, and she didn’t have any other clue, she couldn’t –

The chain of the handcuffs suddenly pulled tight again, forcing her to stretch out. She automatically repositioned her knees, which got her a sharp pat on the arse. Right, staying wide. It made every muscle in her body tense up.

Something gently stroked the back of her thigh. Thin, flexible –

Riding crop. She knew that one well. And she tensed up even more, because that thinghurt.

Not now, though. It was just stroking, the back of her thigh, and then the sensitive inside… She jerked in response and the chain got another pull, putting tension on her shoulders.

And then it went even higher. A ghosting touch against her cunt at first, and then just the side, dragging hard over her clit. She grunted and tilted her hips back.

A hand suddenly closed in her hair and pulled. “Ouch,” Sherlock snapped. “Careful.”

“You be careful,” Joan said. In front of her, which meant it was Irene handling the crop. Damn. Joan tended to be gentler, more insecure, while Irene…

Well, she knew what she was doing. She was a professional, after all.

Irene patted the crop against her cunt, hard enough to give a small sting of pain. Sherlock bit her lip again and Joan’s hand relaxed, her fingers dragging over Sherlock’s scalp.

And then the crop smacked down hard, right on the fleshiest part of her buttock. She rocked at the impact, giving a little gasp. It always hurt more than expected, a sharp nasty little shock of pain.

Irene’s nails raked over her other buttock, leaving behind four hot stripes of pain. Sherlock squirmed again.

Pain in and of itself was all fine, but this, the darkness of the blindfold, Joan’s fingers in her hair, that soft teasing touch of the crop earlier…

She wouldn’t be surprised if she was dripping on the carpet by now.

Irene hit her again, and she tensed up reflexively. “No need for me to count?” she asked, biting through the flare of pain.

“No, you can just moan,” Irene said. “Maybe whimper a little.”

“Not sure if I feel like obl-” and again she rocked forwards as Irene hit her.

“Besides…” and suddenly there was pressure between her shoulderblades, Irene squashing her down against the chair. She leaned in close, bringing with her that overwhelming smell of perfume and powder, hair and skin, all indefinably Irene. “I don’t think you could keep up.”

She leaned back again. What did she mean, keep up, did she –

And then there was the tell-tale swish of a crop cutting through air and a flurry of impact. Irene had a point, she could barely keep one hit apart from the other, let alone count. There was just pain, sharp little bursts of it, all across her arse, no place spared.

She moaned, struggling to keep still. Someone – Joan, that was Joan, right – took Sherlock’s hand and she squeezed, hard. She wouldn’t whimper, no matter what Irene wanted.

It seemed to last forever. And the pain of it… It intensified, obviously, skin slowly getting more tender – her arse must be bright red now – and still Irene didn’t slow down.

And then she did. Suddenly she could breathe again between each hit, even though she still gave a whole-body shudder when the crop cracked down, instinctively trying to get away.

She dropped her head down. Joan’s fingers went back to her hair, stroking gently.

“I think that’s enough for now, isn’t it?” Irene’s voice. Still annoyingly upbeat.

“Good,” Sherlock said, voice shaking. “Then take off this damned blindfold.”

Irene just laughed.

“We aren’t done yet, Sherlock,” Joan said mildly.

“But – ”

The next few things happened almost too quickly after each other to keep track of them. One of the handcuffs went off, she was flipped around, her arms were pulled behind her back and the cuff went back on. Something dragged over the floor, something heavy, and someone – Joan, must be Joan, still behind her – pulled her back by the hair. She struggled, tried to get to her feet but someone else – Irene, she could feel the nails – held her knees down.

She blinked against the blindfold. She was arched backwards, leaning back against something, arms pulled behind her back. Fastened to – she pulled – something in the floor, maybe the chair. She felt an urgent need to shuffle backwards, closer to where her arms where tethered, but Irene was still keeping hold of her knees. Or was that…

Yes, restraints. That was one of the advantages of doing this in Irene’s place, of course: all those unexpected hooks and bolts to keep people tied down.

Neither of them was touching her. She wriggled, tried to get some kind of image of how she was tied up, but things were still a little blurry.

Her arse still felt like it was on fire. And the insides of her thighs were trembling, because once again she was spread open far wider than was comfortable.

Joan’s hand touched her shoulder. “You alright?” she asked gently.

Sherlock snorted. “Of course I am, did you hear a safeword?”

“Sorry, sorry, just checking.”

Joan’s hand went down, over the taut muscles of her stomach, and back up. Her fingertip started slowly spiralling its way around her breast, and her other hand went back to her hair. Sherlock shivered, violently.

But Irene, where was Irene, what was she planning? Sherlock felt incredibly exposed with her thighs pulled open like that, surely she was going to do something with that?

A chuckle. “Look at you,” Irene said fondly. “You really are beautiful like this, darling.”

“Glad I’m entertaining you”, she said drily. Her breath was coming a bit short, though.

Irene’s hands touched her knees and slowly stroked up. “Want it?” she purred.

Sherlock bit down on her lip. 

“No need to say anything,” Irene continued. Her hand went up to the top of her thigh, and one finger pushed briefly, teasingly inside of her. “This says enough, I think.”

A rustle of cloth – Irene straightening up – and then something pressed against her mouth, salty –

Irene’s finger. Meaning Sherlock was tasting herself. She pulled her head away, irritated. Behind her Joan chuckled.

“Anyway, we should probably get on, shouldn’t we? Wouldn’t want you to get bored, now, would we?” Irene said.

“Definitely not,” Joan agreed.

Joan’s hands – warm, strong, familiar – squeezed her breasts, pinched her nipples. She gasped and tried to push up, not that she had much room left to, bent backwards as she was.

Irene had moved away again. Difficult to concentrate with Joan’s hands doing what they were, but she could hear something, and Irene’s hands on her wide-spread thighs again and then –

She moaned loudly – immediately hating herself for it, for giving in – as Irene’s tongue dragged wetly over her cunt.

Irene’s hand splayed wide over her stomach, the other spreading her open, and then her tongue went back, delicate little strokes that were nowhere enough to satisfy her, just enough to tease her back to full arousal.

She tried pull away, more instinct than conscious consideration, but the restraints kept her down. She curled and uncurled her fingers, tried to even out her breathing, anything to cope with Joan’s warm rough hands on her breasts and Irene’s mouth.

Irene pulled back, too soon, not soon enough, but it was a relief because at least now she –

A loud thwack. And a sudden warm intense pain right between her legs, where – flogger, Irene must have hit her right where she’d been licking only seconds before, dear god that hurt.

Something tickled the insides of her thighs, her cunt. The flogger, must be, just the tips of the strands. She was panting, shaking, a frantic god yes no please running through her mind, trying to overrule all other thoughts.

“Irene,” Joan said, from somewhere near her ear. “Could you hand us the – yeah, thanks.”

Something hard and thick rubbed against her. Dildo? No, ridged, harder, handle of the flogger probably. Good, a bit of relief. But then it went away and Irene hit her again, right between her legs, only this time it was a lot softer, feeling more like a caress than anything else. She relaxed a little.

And then something bit down hard on her nipple. Teeth, but – but Joan was behind her and Irene was too far, so, so what had they –

Joan was making shushing noises. “Still analysing?” she asked, gently.

“Of course I am,” Sherlock gasped. Nipple clamps, obviously, how could she forget that? “Hurry up and do the other, will you?”

Joan snorted. “God, only you could still be bossy at a time like this.”

“Well, it definitely makes a challenge, doesn’t it?” Irene mused.

“But, fine, milady commands…” Joan drawled. Something hard teased her other nipple, pressure slowly increasing. Sherlock had to bite her lip again to stay quiet. And then, another sharp pain, inside of her thigh, flogger, it burned and she rocked at it, momentarily overwhelmed.

“She can’t hold this position much longer,” Joan said, somewhere. Position, what position, why…

“Hmm, thought as much. Hold on.”

The pain was starting to fade, she was getting used to the clamps. And the skin of her thighs was warm and tingling.

The restraints on her legs went away and she was pulled upright, stumbling. Her muscles ached.

Firm hands – Joan’s? Had to be – guided her somewhere, pushed her to sit down. She leaned back against something soft, warm – Joan, she could feel Joan’s legs on either sides of hers. Bed, they must be on a bed.

Her hips were lifted and something soft, pillow, was pushed underneath. She tried to close her legs again but was brought up short by Irene’s hand grabbing her ankle, pulling it away. More restraints, these soft and lined, probably fastened to the bed posts. So, spread-eagled, but with her hands still behind her back, Joan behind her – yes, definitely Joan, she recognised the way she was stroking Sherlock’s hair – and Irene…

Irene, wildcard as ever, free to go where she wanted.

Fingernails scratched over the still-warm inside of her thighs. She jerked, almost cursed. Still no way to pull away from Irene’s damned touches.

She was starting to feel a bit dizzy.

“Does it hurt?” Irene cooed. “Poor baby.”

Sherlock ignored her, tried to predict what they’d do next. Pain-pleasure cycle, so they’d go back to something softer now, no doubt. Uncomplicatedly pleasurable.

And so she felt very smug when something pushed against her entrance. Irene hardly ever inserted her fingers, not with those nails, and unless she was really mistaken that was a dildo, possibly a vibrator.

“You’re getting predictable,” Sherlock said loudly. “I saw that coming from – ” And then she gasped for air at a sudden biting pain at her nipples.

Joan must have pulled off the clamps, in one go. Blood flowing back, leaving her nipples aching desperately. And of course Irene chose that exact moment to angle the dildo up, pressing firmly against her g-spot.

Sherlock rocked her hips, the pain mixing up with the other stuff and she wanted to tear the blindfold off, get out of these cuffs, because too much. She took a deep breath and tried to calm down, center herself.

the top of the staircase, going down, first floor, the long line of doors and –

A sharp stinging pain pulled her back again, abruptly. A slap, she’d been slapped. “No,” Joan’s voice said, from somewhere nearby. “No running off to your mindpalace, or locking this out. You’re going to stay right here, alright?”

No arguing with that voice. She nodded.

“Say it,” Irene said, mercilessly.

Sherlock gritted her teeth. “I’m…”

“Sherlock. Say it.”

“I… I won’t – won’t go away. I’ll stay here.”

“Good.” The mattress moved, and Irene’s hand stroked her cheek, nails dragging over her skin. “We’re going to push you deep,” she whispered. “And leave you to float. Understand, Sherlock? That’s what this is about.”

She shivered and nodded again.

“Good,” Irene said again. She leaned away, something – something, she did something, taking something? And Joan moved her hands away from Sherlock’s breasts.

Pain, again. Flogger hitting her breast, she sobbed as the strands caught her still-sensitive nipple.

Joan shushed and stroked her hair away from her forehead. “You’re doing fine, Sherlock,” Joan said softly. “We’ve got you, it’s fine.”

She relaxed a little into Joan’s hands. The flogger came down again. She arched her back, pressing back against Joan. She couldn’t stop the sounds anymore, each time the flogger hit her.

And then it stopped. She fell back against Joan. “Enough.”

“Enough is not a safeword, Sherlock,” Joan said calmly.

No, it wasn’t, and she didn’t – didn’t really want this to stop. She just…

She couldn’t think straight anymore.

“Sherlock. Safeword?”

She shook her head. “No, don’t - don’t stop.”

“You’re doing fine,” Joan added softly. Her arm went around Sherlock’s waist, holding her. And her other hand trailed down over her stomach and –

Sherlock gasped as Joan’s fingers gently teased at her, and she jumped again as the hardness inside of her started buzzing – vibrator, of course, should’ve known.

“Careful now,” Irene said, from somewhere. Her voice seemed to come from everywhere, now. “Don’t want her to come yet.”

“Yeah, I know. But trust me, I know when to…”

She was close. So damned close, but Joan’s fingers kept pulling away at the final moment, leaving her teetering on the edge, shaking, but not even the vibrator inside of her was enough to get her off then. And then, when she’d gone down enough, Joan’s fingers would return.

Funny how she’d thought Irene was the one she should worry about.

“Right. Hold her.”

Irene. Hands on her shoulders. Joan? Couldn’t tell, didn’t care, god.

Pain. More than anything else before, sharp, across her nipple, a stinging hit leaving behind warmth. Riding crop. Hurt.

“-lock? Sherlock, do you want to say something?”

Joan’s voice. Floating in and out of her consciousness. Safe. Anchoring.

She shook her head. “I’m…”

“We know, darling.” Irene. The Woman. 

Another hit, but the pain didn’t – it still hurt but it mixed with everything else and she felt high, more than that, not even cocaine could come close to feeling as good as this.

Pain, again. And something – wet, good, yes, “Please.”

Her orgasm shattered through her, seemed to encompass all of her, the tortured nerve-endings of her nipples and thighs and arse, and Joan’s arm around her but it didn’t stop, the aftershocks kept coming and toppled over again, and everything hurt and burned and glowed and –

And all thoughts dissolved.

***

Light.

She blinked.

“- too far, how do you know?”

“Years of being a professional, darling.”

Irene. And Joan. Talking.

“Yeah, but Sherlock isn’t like other people, is she?”

“No-o, but I know how she works. Look, she’s back.”

Joan’s face appeared upside down in her vision.

“Hello,” Sherlock said, feeling absurdly giggly.

“Who’s the current American president?”

Sherlock closed her eyes again. “You know I don’t concern myself with trivia.”

Irene chuckled. “Seems like she’s back to her old self. See? No need to worry.”

Sherlock opened her eyes again. She was lying on her back, with her head in Joan’s lap. Lots of places were sending up pain-signals, but at the moment it didn’t really register yet.

Endorphines. What a laugh.

She rolled her head a bit, just enough to see Irene get down on the bed next to her. “And what do we say?” Irene asked, the corners of her eyes crinkling.

“Admirable job,” Sherlock said, grudgingly.

“I was hoping for a thank you, but for the moment it’ll do.” Another cool smile. “After all, I already got you to beg.”

“I did not – ” Sherlock started, affronted.

“You did, actually,” Joan said, laughing.

Sherlock closed her eyes again.

“Ah, look, now she’s pouting,” Irene said. She moved closer and pressed her lips briefly against Sherlock’s, a chaste peck with a teasing sweep of her tongue.

She opened one eye and glared at Irene, too… too floaty to do anything else.

“Well, as much fun as this is, I actually do have paying customers this afternoon as well.” She got off the bed and stepped in her shoes. “Take as much time as you need, my next one prefers the dungeon anyway. Till next time, darling.”

And with one final wink for Sherlock she sashayed to the other room.

Sherlock blinked up at Joan, sleepily. Joan was still stroking her hair, and she felt an absurd urge to purr.

“Feeling alright?” Joan asked.

Sherlock nodded.

“Good.” Her fingers continued playing with Sherlock’s hair, detangling the curls.

“But I didn’t beg,” Sherlock added, and Joan burst out laughing.