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eaten more reality than anything

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The texts drop one by one into her phone like pigeons in the backyard. There's the squawk of the ringtone, then one well-flung hand and she pecks at the screen 0044. Richard chose the number on one of the whimsical streaks when he would go through her things as though unused her trust of him would expire into air. It is one of his few personal effects in her possession after he fluttered away, Colombian coffee on his breath as he told her he would be safe elsewhere. "It won't be safe for you anywhere," she had said. "Can't you stay with m— my story, at least until we're done with the initial publishing?"

He had only showed her his most common smile, all the more disarming for having his teeth show first. "I have to go, Kitty. But you gotta remember me, yes?"

Someone could eat more.

You want a scoop, but you don't have it. I might.

She thought they were spam at first. A journalist, particularly one who has done as well as Ms Katherine Reilly in the aftermath of her exposé, will have many people demanding her attention. But this one comes with a picture, plus caption:

Don't you know this man would suit you?

The memory of Sherlock Holmes still makes her feel dirty, what with Rich having to hide underground because of his mad supporters and all the other people he destroyed to make himself famous. She recognizes him in the photo instantly, but it's not one of the spurt that surfaced after her article. The newspaper he's reading is dated— is that after his death?


Sherlock's coat scrolls down. Open your door, dearest.

The phone flips in her hand a few times, then she strides through the living room, only pausing to pick up her keys from the dinner table. She works the door latch with one hand and separates the longest key from its siblings with the other. Precautions have to be taken in an age when flint-eyed men and women, some of them reeking with either homelessness or desperation, have tried to rip her things off her walls and pronounce her a liar in her own home.

She has never seen the woman on her steps before, but she'll remember, after: the eyeshadow, much brighter than Kitty's own. Straight shoulders. No purse. Her dress, a web of white silk and dark chiffon, and always the nails, painted the exact red Kitty wanted but could never afford before the Affair. "Hello," the woman says.

In one sweep Kitty takes in her posture and decides on the blunt approach. "Who are you."

"Please don't be impolite; we're not strangers." The nails dart out to pluck Kitty's phone from her pocket before she can react. The woman purses her lips, rubs the screen as though it has Kitty's life on it in Braille, and types 0044 with surety. Kitty gapes at her. "Although I can play that, if you enjoy such games."

"I don't know who you are, but—"

"I had better come in, shouldn't I?" She sweeps past Kitty and seats herself in the kitchen, her curls haloed in afternoon light. "Irene Adler, although I fancy you'll find something else to call me. Everyone always does."


"Jim Moriarty. Or Richard Brooks, you prefer that? He's real."

The situation rights itself for Kitty; in a matter of fact and lies, she always has the upper hand. She walks closer and blinks slowly with her eyes locked on Adler, something she knows disconcerts and beguiles people in equal measure. "There's all sorts of opinions about that, and I wrote most of the good ones. How would you know that?"

"I know what he likes," Adler says. She has one foot off the ground, pointed at Kitty, almost accusatory.


"Star sapphires. Women with collared shirts and smarts, and don't you have at least one of those. Me too, as it happens. Men with tea. You could offer me some, by the way, pouting like that brings out your jaw and it's nowhere near so lovely as your dimples. The way he smiles at his tools in the morning, and the way he kisses goodbyes right under the nose, and the way he says please when he's being held down. Please and no and yes and please." She cocks her head. "Tell me, am I wrong?"

Adler has both feet on the ground now like she's about to rise, and Kitty steps backward as she flounders for a retort. "You're guessing." She continues more strongly, "We try not to do that in my field. What do you think you are, his mistress?"

Adler stands up. She's taller than Kitty expected this close. Her fingers are colder, too, with three of them under Kitty's chin and the nails cut more pointed. Kitty knows she's blushing, pink pooling under the scarlet nails, but she can't help it at all. "For goodness' sake, you sweet girl. Do you want the truth?"

She reaches up to pull Adler's hand away and somehow ends up with her fingers around Adler's wrist. "Richard already told me the truth, and he's not named Moriarty!"

"Tell me again."

"He's— not Moriarty, whoever you—" Kitty shakes her head. She didn't even know she backed up so far sometime in the last minute, or that Irene has placed a hand on her waist, right over the pocket where she keeps the pendant Rich gave her, or that they're wedged with a counter to one side so when she tries to duck Irene can press her against the wall with just her body. There's black chiffon in her vision, lots of it, and the intricate detailing of black leather as Irene pushes her hip out against Kitty's thigh. Irene regards her, calmer than Kitty will be able to pretend in seconds, her elbow on Kitty's shoulder and fingers stroking a button, and leans in yet more.

Kitty opens her mouth.

Irene's kiss is hard. Her teeth scrape over Kitty's lips, just enough to make her want to yield to this woman like no woman (or man) she's ever met before. Under the cover of her tongue on Kitty's, she throws a leg around Kitty's thighs and twists her back to the table. "Bend over," she says, her curls swinging, "I want to show you the consequences of lying." Kitty ends up sprawled with her face up and caught in Irene's eyes. She stares at the bluest eyeshadow, the eyeliner, the dilated pupils, or maybe those are her own as Irene holds her tight.

"You can call me whatever you like, you sweet clever girl," Irene breathes into her ear. She's too hot. Irene's puff tickles, and the kisses she runs down Kitty's neck onto her breastbone are too much, Kitty shudders even though she wants to keep a semblance of control. A brief panic passes through her. She has to eat daily on this table. There could be a scandal over the journalist seen gasping through the half-drawn window.

But Irene's twisting her collar, forcing the fabric tight against her throat as she swallows and swallows down a kind of wild happiness that means more than any propriety. She slides her tongue over Irene's forehead. The first taste is sharp and like alchemy she can't describe how the notes of it make up the result, perfumes and blood oranges resolving into the taste of power, nothing like the newspaper ink that probably dusts her skin. Irene laughs and kisses her again over her chest. "Don't worry." She unfastens button after button as Kitty finally finds somewhere to put her hands: Irene's back, where she can feel every bone in Irene's spine through the dress and presses each one in wonder, up and down until she blindly feels a zipper and starts pulling it.

They divest their clothes slowly. Irene keeps distracting her by licking at her breasts as soon as Kitty's shirt comes off, her bra on her shaking stomach because Irene won't stop to let her take it off. Kitty thanks herself for her sensible dressing, which means a skirt that peels off easily under Irene's experienced fingers, and curses Irene's style. The dress is too tight and the black and white of it swirls in her vision when Irene bites hard on her nipple. Right, then left. She moans and tips her head back toward the window she would forget even exists if not for the way it lights Irene's face, how Irene looks arching her eyebrows at her. Again when Irene licks over what she's sure will bruise tomorrow and runs fingers down her legs at the same time. She's given up any facade of composure. Her hand shakes so hard she can't find the third or fifth zipper any more. She can't remember the last woman who made her fall apart like this, if anyone she's ever slept with in her slightly grubby career even has made her look at them with such admiration. By the time she's lost her jacket and shirt, her skirt and bra have been tossed on the counter, and Irene is rubbing slowly over her panties, she has barely managed to undress any of Irene.

Irene smiles at her and steps back. She has her hands on nothing but her own hips.

"What the hell," Kitty tries. It gets thrown up from somewhere scratchy. "That all?"

Irene puts the point of her nail between Kitty's legs, where she's so wet she can almost smell it, and drags the one red nail up to Kitty's neck where it all started. "Call my name."

"Irene Adler," she manages. Irene's trailing that finger back down.

She reaches one nipple and twists. Kitty's tried that before but she didn't know it was possible for it to hurt that much. "Wrong," Irene says. "Those lips of yours, I could make them bleed."

Kitty bites her own lip. She probably looks like she's freshly fucked, like she's nineteen in college again, her makeup smudged like a child's painting, sweat beading inside her thighs. Irene continues smiling with not a flush on her cheeks anywhere and not a strand of her silk sheath out of place. If it weren't for the way Irene's nostrils flare looking at her, Kitty wouldn't think Irene wants her at all. Definitely she doesn't the way Kitty aches for her. For those long fingers inside her, and those lips open over her spread legs, not unmoving and closed at her side.


The woman slaps her face. It's a light slap, only enough to drive dizziness up Kitty's stomach and her shaking breasts— fingers circle her nipple torturously slow— into her head. "Describe for me, please."

"I want you to."


Kitty breathes in and out until she finally borrows some stillness from Ms Katherine Reilly, investigative journalist and facer of mass murderers. Opens her eyes to match Irene, props herself up a bit on her hurt elbows. "Irene," she says, "Irene Adler, you repel me. You mesmerize me. You turn me on, woman, and I want you to fuck me and hurt me and whatever else you do in your free time."

This pleases Irene. She pats Kitty's breast, almost absently, like someone following the lines of a rite. "Just one other thing."

"Please," Kitty murmurs, and then the truth and rightness of it explodes out of her and she screams, whatever the neighbors can hear, "please!"


Irene's hands are skin-warmed as they reach under her panties. She cranes her neck up so she can kiss Irene, slower and sweeter now that they both know Irene'll take care of her.

She forgets how to breathe anyway when Irene's thumb and index and middle finger thrust into her at once.

She's been waiting so long it doesn't take much for her to cry into Irene's mouth. She keeps making noises as Irene's other hand brushes over her clit, one small stroke at a time. Faster and faster it goes, faster she strains herself to get Irene harder and deeper against herself, the table strafing her back in a way that only feels delicious now with most of her attention centered on her cunt. Her legs tighten around Irene's waist.

She's probably begging. Neither of them can hear, what with their tongues occupied and Kitty's hands fisting behind Irene's neck and Irene bearing down on her or maybe she's riding up on Irene, but it's something that sits there between them as Irene catches Kitty's clit, pinches, and starts rubbing. It's far too much. She clenches repeatedly on the woman inside her— wet, wet, slick— and arches against the woman on her. Irene's breasts are amazing against her own. Irene looks amazing, her hair rolling over Kitty's shoulders, and her fingers are something beyond amazing.

Irene breaks their kiss long enough to whisper "It'll hurt". She doesn't wait for a response before pinching her nails around Kitty's clit and biting a nipple and spreading her fingers wide enough Kitty can feel every knuckle, imagines she can feel every millimeter of Irene's skin insider her, even the whorls of her fingers, and comes so hard she feels weightless for a moment before the slick thrust of Irene against her brings her back down.

All she can say when Irene licks her to another orgasm is "Oh god". She says nothing at all when Irene goes down on her with both tongue and teeth to a third and collapses strengthless, flat on the table.

Irene sits next to her and strokes her quivering stomach until she pacifies herself, then supports her held so she can drink some water. At some point after the third orgasm, while Kitty kept her eyes closed and tried not to black out, Irene apparently brought herself to one. Her fingers are slick; she clearly hasn't washed them, probably just so she can slip one lightly in the side of Kitty's mouth and have her suck at them.

Her dress is also open. Kitty can't stop looking any more, now that she's finally seen Irene completely naked. "You're quite something, my girl. I can only imagine how you would look under a whip and handcuffs."

"Do— ah," she breaks off. Irene brushes hair off of her face. "Do you."

"Perhaps when you recover."

Kitty wants to say that's an insult, that she can get up now, but she tries and almost slips off the table before Irene rights her and lifts her back onto it. "Also perhaps when you believe I've told you truth. Nothing but."


Irene drops her own on the table and holds Kitty's phone up.

From: The Woman
You have my number. Let's have dinner.

"Only dinner? Gotta be cheating me."

Irene's lips curve enough to be a grin. Kitty can't wait to find out all of her expressions and what the nuances of each of them mean, once she can gather enough strength to lift her head and actually watch Irene type.

From: The Woman
Let's have dinner first.