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'I have a favour to ask of you,' Sherlock said over the phone.

Molly closed her eyes. 'Another one?'

Silence.

'Sherlock, it's – it's fine. Just tell me.'

'I'm asking too much of you,' he said, voice as expressionless as ever.

'I don't mind. Honestly, I don't. What is it you need me to do?'

He sighed. 'Irene Adler.'

Molly's fingers tightened on the phone. 'I... I thought she was dead?'

'She isn't. I helped her fake her death, so she owes me a favour. But she's in hiding.'

'You want me to find her?'

'No. I've found out about a... a gathering she'll almost definitely visit. I need you to go there and talk to her.'

'Okay. Wait, a gathering?'

'Yes. You'll need appropriate attire.'

***

Appropriate attire turned out to be something Molly could only think of as slut wear. She'd settled on an old pair of dark jeans that were a little too tight and that she had stuffed in the back of her closet, high heels that she had only worn once and that made her stumble, and a dark red tank top.

She felt like a massive tart, but when she approached the club she realised what she was wearing was incredibly conservative, compared to other people. One woman slipped out of her coat just as she walked inside and turned out to be wearing nothing but a thong and tassels sticking to her breasts. Molly cringed in embarrassment even just looking at it.

But she was here on a mission. She raised her chin and strode to the entrance. It would have been more impressive if she hadn't almost twisted her ankle on her third step, and someone had to catch her arm to keep her from falling.

She shook it off and tried to walk straight through, but the bouncer stopped her with a hand on her shoulder

'Sure you're in the right place, love?' he asked, with an unimpressed look at her jeans and jacket.

'Yes, I am, actually.'

He raised his eyebrows and Molly thought quickly.

'Irene Adler gave me the address,' she said.

The bouncer dropped his hand as if he had burnt himself.

'That's right, let me in now without trouble,' Molly ploughed on, 'and I won't tell Miss Adler about you.'

He stepped back and Molly walked in with a small triumphant grin. That grin faded almost immediately once she saw the main floor.

Sherlock had given her only a few details, because this party was apparently very exclusive, but he had given her a general idea what to expect.

Even so... The tassels-and-thong woman seemed to be more rule than exception. There was a lot of leather and latex and lace, and six-inch platform heels and piercings and fluorescent make-up, and she was fairly sure that couple in the shadows only a few feet away was actually having sex, right there, for everyone to -

Oh god.

She kept her eyes on the floor and made her way to the bar. At least the strobe lights hid her blush, but nothing could hide how much out of place she felt.

She hardly ever went to regular clubs. She felt uncomfortable in pubs. She just didn't deal well with large crowds of exuberant people.

The girl behind the bar had bleached short hair and a lot of tattoos, but her smile was surprisingly kind. 'What can I get you, love?' she shouted over the music.

'Er... ' Molly racked her brains to think of something appropriate. 'White wine?'

'Sure thing,' the barmaid said with an easy grin.

Well, at least that had been alright. Molly sighed and turned around, looking around the room. She was a pathologist, for god's sake, she'd seen more naked bodies than most people.

Well, maybe not these people.

'First-timer?' someone asked from her left. Molly spun around in surprise and almost knocked her glass over.

'Oh, sorry!'

'I'm fine.' It was a man, thankfully dressed almost decently, leather trousers and a matching vest. 'So, are you?'

'Am I that obvious?'

He smirked and looked her up and down in a way that was making her very uncomfortable. 'A little. You could really use someone to show you the ropes, I think.'

'Oh, no, I'm - '

He leaned on the bar next to her, and it was making her feel trapped. She desperately tried to think of a way to brush him off, but she had never been good at that sort of thing.

'I volunteer myself. I'm sure I can find out what you like...'

He leaned closer and she could smell the alcohol on his breath. His pupils were enlarged. Just the light, or drugs?

'Actually, I'm looking for someone?' Molly said, surreptitiously reaching for her bag and the mace Greg had given her when she had told him how scared she got sometimes.

'Whoever he is, baby, he's no match for me,' he drawled.

'Wanna bet, Steven?' an amused female voice said behind him. He whirled around and revealed a stunningly beautiful woman, smirking confidently at the man.

Irene Adler. Easily recognizable from the pictures Sherlock had sent her. I know what you look like naked, Molly thought dazedly, even thought that hadn't been Irene, but Sherlock had recognized her, so...

'Now look, I saw her first. This isn't - ' Steven whined.

'The lady asked for me by name at the door.' She smiled a little wider, showing off her teeth. 'Now back off.'

He fled. Irene watched him run with a very satisfied expression. 'Toad of a man,' she said lazily.

'Thanks for that.'

Irene turned her attention to Molly. 'Well, kitten, I suggest we find somewhere a little more private? We don't want anyone like that interrupting us, do we?'

Molly opened her mouth to protest, and stopped. Irene's smile and tone were blatantly flirtatious, but her eyes didn't match. They were cold and analytical and very very intelligent, like Sherlock.

(like Jim)

'Okay. I'd like that.'

***

Irene led her to a door next to the bar, down a hallway with thick padded doors. Her hand was resting lightly low on Molly's back, a small searing pressure that was making Molly's breath come just a little faster.

Job , she reminded herself sternly. This is for Sherlock.

Irene opened a door and waved her in. Molly tried very hard not to stare at the huge four poster bed, the whip hanging from the wall, the cabinet...

'So...' Irene said, leaning against the wall.

'I'm - '

'I know who you are, dear girl. What I don't know is what on earth would bring you to a place like this?'

'Sherlock,' Molly blurted

Irene arched an eyebrow.

'He isn't dead.'

Irene's eyes went even more sharp. 'Oh, I know that. But how do you?'

Molly spluttered. Irene hadn’t even looked surprised. 'You knew?'

'Yes, he isn't that good at hiding, Sherlock,’ Irene said, a small knowing smile on her face. ‘So why did he tell you?'

'He needed my help.'

'Did he?' Irene turned around and poured two glasses of champagne. 'And now he's sending you to do the dirty work, is he?'

'He can't come back to London. It isn't safe.'

'I never thought he would be the cautious ty-'

'Not for him,’ Molly said quickly. ‘For his friends. For John, and Greg, and Mrs. Hudson.'

Irene turned around, holding the glass to her lips. 'And you?'

She bit her lip and looked down. 'It doesn't - ' She took a deep breath and tried again. 'He told me to ask you something.'

Irene didn't reply. She was still looking at Molly, as if she wanted to peel her apart and see what's inside, and it took all Molly's resolve not to start fidgeting.

It was the same look Sherlock had always directed at his clues.

'Hm,' Irene finally said. 'Well then, what is it?'

'They're talking about a shadow. Is it true?' Molly recited. Sherlock never gave her clear information, he said it would protect her better if she didn't know anything.

Or maybe he just didn't trust her.

Irene gave her another sharp look, and then, without looking away, got the other glass from the cabinet and handed it to Molly.

Molly took a large gulp – she could really use something to calm her nerves – and promptly started coughing. Irene's lips curled up.

'Yes,' she said.

Molly looked up, eyes watering. 'Sorry?'

'Tell Sherlock that. Yes. And he'd better watch his step.'

The words sounded like a threat, but her tone was so calm, so neutral, it sounded more like a simple fact.

'Okay.' Molly put down her glass.

'So, little messenger,' Irene said, still with that same terrifyingly intense look. 'Mission accomplished. Back to your home?'

'Um.'

Irene took a step closer, and Molly could smell her musky perfume. 'Or,' Irene continued, her voice going soft, 'you could stay here for a bit. Enjoy yourself. Because you look like you could use it, Molly.'

Her stomach plummeted. 'Um... Thank you, but no, I'm not really – this stuff, it's...' She waved her hand at the room in general.

'Well, if you're sure. You're always welcome if you change your mind. In fact...' Irene turned and went to the cabinet. She pulled open one of the top drawers and pulled a small ivory card out. She took a silver pen out as well and wrote something down.

'Here, kitten.' She handed it over to Molly. The Woman, it said, with two phone numbers printed beneath and another handwritten one. 'Any time.'

'Thank you,' she said politely. It wasn't about Molly, of course, she was just a pawn in this great game that those geniuses were all playing.

She put the card in the pocket of her jeans and made to leave, but before she could take one step Irene swooped in and kissed her on the cheek. 'Safe journey, my pet,' she whispered, and Molly's eyes closed briefly. God, that voice.

She floated through the crowd without even noticing, and even the freezing air outside wasn't quite enough to chase away the ghost-pressure of lips on her cheek.

***

She dreamed again that night. Of green eyes, and grey ones. And brown eyes, because she just couldn't stop, could she? Like a moth, stupidly, mindlessly drawn to what would only end up hurting her.  Her imagination betrayed her and she ended up with the feel of hands on her skin, not hesitant and shaking like they had been when he had been pretending, but the way she imagined him to be. Confident, knowing, his mouth on hers without any hesitation...

She dreamed of leaning against a slim chest, looking over her shoulder into an ascetic smile and high cheekbones, and looking back and seeing pale hands on her thighs and an evil smirk, saw them look at each other and ignoring her, because this had always been about them and she was just stupid enough to be caught in the middle.

She woke up panting and with an ache between her legs she refused to relieve, refused, because this was wrong.

And it's not like she wasn't scared, she was, she kept her door locked and chained and always carried mace and never walked outside alone after dark, but still there was this tiny little part of her that -

She squeezed her eyes shut. What she needed was someone to talk to about this, but who would understand? Who wouldn't judge?

***

Two days later Irene turned up just outside her flat.

Just... standing there, looking like she stepped straight out of Vogue, waiting patiently. When she spotted Molly she smiled and waved, and Molly couldn't do anything but gape.

'Hello, Molly dear. I've invited myself over. You don't mind, do you?'

And of course she couldn't just say no, so she led Irene up the two flight of stairs to her place. Irene looked around the little flat with obvious amusement. It was making Molly very aware of all the silly things she had. The box-set of Glee, the couple of tiny cat figurines, the lace doilies, and oh dear lord.

She almost stumbled in her haste to get to the pink bra, hanging to dry just above the radiator. Molly stuffed it down a drawer in panic – not that it would change anything, if Irene was anything like Sherlock she would've spotted it from the second she stepped inside – and turned around. And started to babble.

'So, um, do you want tea? Or, anything else? I think I've got a bottle of whiskey somewhere if you - ' Irene simply smiled, and Molly heard her own voice fizz out.

She blinked and tried again. 'Did you get here easily? The traffic's a bit - '

'Molly,' Irene interrupted. 'I'm not here to talk about the traffic. Stop that and sit down.'

Molly stopped and sat down. It wasn't even a conscious decision, she just did. And to be honest, it was a bit of a relief, being told clearly what was expected from her.

'Okay. What do you need to tell Sherlock?' Molly asked, hands on her knees.

'Sherlock?' Irene laughed. 'What has Sherlock to do with this? Not everything revolves around him, you know, no matter how much he likes to think so.'

'So why are you – '

'I'm bored.' She sprawled back, arms spread across the back of the sofa. 'I'm not in immediate danger anymore but I can't do anything high profile. I spent months going from one party to another, hearing the same tired old lines, the same boring people. And then you turned up on my doorstep.'

'I'm – I'm not. I mean, I'm boring.'

Irene smiled. 'Are you?'

And just like that, the memory of last night's dream returned, vivid and real. Dreaming of threesomes with a friend who was clearly not interested in you and a man who conned you and probably would have killed you in the end might not be boring, but -

Irene couldn't know that. Could she?

'I've always wondered... ' Irene said. 'What was it like, fucking Jim?'

Molly choked. Two simple words and they brought back all the memories, the things she'd had (gentle trembling fingers brushing back her hair), the things she wanted (being lifted onto a dissecting table right there in the middle of investigating the clues for one of his cases), the things she had fantasized about.

Once she had regained a bit of control over her own imagination, she noticed Irene looking at her. Studying her. Would she be able to deduce what was going on in Molly's mind?

'You're not scared,' Irene said thoughtfully. 'That wasn't fear, just now.'

'No,' Molly said, because she was tired of hiding it all. 'Not that – I should be. It isn't normal.'

'In my opinion people worry far too much about being normal or not.'

'But I am! You know, afraid, but also other things...'

Irene cocked her head. 'I don't have a single client who isn't afraid, even just a bit. Some people are just attracted to danger, and being afraid is only a natural part of that.'

'But I'm not - ' Molly looked down and started picking at her sleeve. 'You make it sound exciting and interesting but it's just weird.'

'Depends on how you look at it.'

Molly looked up shyly. Irene was smiling, and even though almost everything she did was flirtatious and seductive, this looked a bit... extra.

Several things at once crossed Molly's mind. She remembered John telling her Irene was gay. She remembered the naked body on the slab (which should be a turnoff to anyone normal, get a grip girl), and Irene stepping up and chasing away that guy at the club without even batting an eye, and Irene's fingers brushing hers when she handed over the card, and and and.

Irene got up from the sofa, very slowly and deliberate, and knelt down in front of Molly's chair. She put her elegant hands just above Molly's knees and looked at Molly, lips parted.

'There's nothing,' she said, and if before she had sounded inviting, now her voice was pure sex. 'nothing to be ashamed of.'

Her slim fingers slid higher. Molly stared, entranced. 'I'm not gay.'

'The more people say that, the more I realise how little that means. Do you want me to stop, Molly?'

She shook her head, speechless. It was Irene's eyes, the way she noticed everything, the slightest detail.

Irene lifted one hand and put it gently on the back of Molly's neck. 'Ever done this before, Molly? With a woman?'

She shook her head again. Irene's hand pulled her carefully down until Molly's lips were less than an inch away from Irene's.

'You're trembling,' Irene whispered. Molly closed her eyes. 'And you want this. Don't you?'

And Molly closed in for that last inch. Irene's lips were soft and slick against hers, those long nails sharp and scratchy against her neck, and Molly hadn't kissed anyone since Jim and it felt amazing.

When Irene eventually pulled away Molly sighed in disappointment. Irene stood back up, looking down at her, expression inscrutable.

This was where it would all blow up. Irene would leave, or would try to dig for information on Sherlock, or she would -

Offer a hand in open invitation, apparently. Molly stared dumbly for a few seconds.

'I prefer to do this on a bed,' Irene said. Her smile was wicked and teasing. 'But if you want to stay here I'm sure I can accommodate.'

Molly swallowed. Irene's hand was still there, tempting her. She could still back out, play it safe, but –

She took Irene's hand and allowed herself to be pulled up, and Irene's answering grin took away the last of the doubt.

***

Molly’s bedroom wasn’t anything spectacular. It was small, just like the rest of her flat, and comfortable. There was a bed and a wardrobe and not much else, except another few knickknacks and figurines, and Toby’s basket in the corner. Her sheets were plain, her coverlet a soft light blue, and it was all so boring and normal. Irene probably slept between black silk sheets in a king-size antique bed. Irene’s bedroom would have a walk-in wardrobe and lots of stylish pieces of furniture. Irene’s bedroom would not contain a half-full hamper of laundry.

Irene look around the room, distinctly amused.

‘It’s nothing much,’ Molly said, cringing a little.

Irene turned and grinned. ‘It’s perfect.’

She put her hands on Molly’s hips, as if she was about to start slow dancing, and drew Molly close. She bent her head, lips against Molly’s jaw, and Molly could smell the heady scent of Irene’s hair, her oriental perfume, that slight powdery scent of her make up.

‘Poor darling,’ Irene murmured against Molly’s hair. ‘It’s all a bit new to you, isn’t it?’

‘A bit,’ Molly said, hands hovering uncertainly in the air. ‘I - I’m not sure if - ‘

‘Shh.’ Irene’s hands moved, one going up to rest between Molly’s shoulder blades, the other following the curve of her bum. ‘No need to worry. The basics are the same, and, well...’

Irene leaned back. Her pupils were very large in the half-light of the room, or - or was there some other reason apart from the lack of light?

‘And?’ Molly asked, staring entranced at Irene’s face. She looked almost unreal.

‘And at least one of us has the requisite experience.’

Butterflies took off in Molly’s stomach. ‘Oh,’ she said, stupidly, unable to think of anything else to say.

‘Yes, oh.’ Irene took a step forward and Molly had no choice but to follow, step back until her calves hit the bed. She took Irene’s arms, just above the elbow, to keep from falling. She felt almost apprehensive, touching the delicate fabric of Irene’s dress. God knew how much it was worth.

Irene pushed her down to sit on the bed and stepped back. She reached behind her back, there was the sound of a zipper, and then she stepped out of her dress.

Irene was... beautiful, really. No one looked appealing when they were on the morgue’s slab, but even there Molly had noticed the perfect proportions, and now, clad in black silky underwear, every-so-slightly flushed, and topped with that smile...

Yes, beautiful was the right word for it.

‘Scoot back,’ Irene said. ‘Against the pillows.’

Oh, right, Molly wasn’t here to just watch. Her stomach made another nervous summersault as she did as she was told, back against the mound of soft fluffy pillows. It might not be stylish, her bed, but at least it was comfy.

Irene put her knee on the bed and drew a finger over Molly’s anklebone. She took off Molly’s shoes - flat brogues, the polar opposite of Irene’s black stilettos - and, with another of those wicked smiles, ran her nails over the sole of Molly’s foot. Molly jerked in surprise.

‘Ticklish, are we?’ Irene asked, stroking a little firmer.

Molly’s toes curled. ‘A bit?’ she squeaked.

‘Interesting.’

Irene’s hand moved upwards. Several thoughts and worries crossed Molly’s mind at once. Had she shaved her legs? (yes) Did her underwear match? (no) Had she any idea what she was doing? (a thousand times no)

Irene shifted, kneeling between Molly’s feet, one hand on each leg. She pushed Molly’s knees gently apart and Molly bit her knuckle.

‘I’m, er, I’m not sure if...’

Irene looked up and Molly’s words died in her mouth. ‘You’re a little nervous, aren’t you?’ Irene asked.

Molly bit her lip and nodded silently.

‘Trust me.’ Irene said.

‘No.’

Irene’s eyebrows flew up in something that looked like genuine surprise. ‘No?’

‘You’re, er...’ Molly looked down. ‘You’re not exactly the most trustworthy of persons.’

‘True enough.’

Molly risked a peek. Irene was still smiling, but she had that looking-for-clues look again. ‘But, Molly, I can assure that you can trust me when it comes to this. Okay?’

Irene’s fingers were drawing small circles just above Molly’s knees. She couldn’t look away from those sharp red nails, the elegant pale fingers.

‘Okay,’ she said, a little shaky.

Irene grinned and ran her hands higher, over the outside of Molly’s thighs, rucking up her sensible skirt. Molly squeezed her eyes shut as her skirt rode up all the way to her waist, and -

Irene chuckled. ‘Well, aren’t these lovely?’

Molly rose up a bit and looked down. She’d put one of her favourite pair of knickers, sky-blue with a little bow on the waistband. They’d always made her feel pretty, but next to Irene’s silk and satin it looked, well, childish.

Irene was looking at her again. When Molly met her eyes, she grinned and ran her thumb very lightly over Molly’s crotch. Molly let her head fall back to the pillows and groaned.

‘But as sweet as these are, I think we might have more fun if they come off. What do you say?’

Molly lifted her hips in wordless reply, and Irene laughed again. It could have sounded mean, or mocking, but instead it almost felt... kind. Patient.

Irene slid Molly’s pants down and tossed them off the bed. She changed position again, one hand running up and down Molly’s thigh, and winked.

Molly’s breath was coming in quick sharp bursts. She stared at Irene’s hands, at her mouth, gasped when Irene licked her lips. She’d hardly even done anything and Molly was already trembling with anticipation.

It wasn’t like no-one had ever gone down on her, but it had always felt as a strange sort of courtesy, or a duty. Maybe her ex-boyfriends hadn’t been that skilled, or maybe Molly just was weird that way, but she hadn’t really enjoyed it. But now Molly’s eyes were glued to Irene’s lips and for Irene this wasn’t courtesy, Irene would be very very good at this, and it was making Molly’s head spin.

With one last smile Irene bent her head.

There was something very... well, scandalous about this all. Molly was still properly dressed from neck to waist, but her skirt was bunched around her waist and her pants were lying discarded on her floor and she was writhing against the pillows, and Irene was lying between Molly’s legs like some - some dangerous cat vampire woman enthusiastically licking and sucking and oh god -

Molly flailed and her hands found Irene’s hair. She expected to be told off or pushed away, but Irene didn’t react. Molly twisted her fingers in the dark perfect coils, grateful that at least now she had something to hold on to.

Irene pulled away a little and looked up at Molly. ‘How are we doing?’ she said cheerfully.

Molly blinked. Irene’s lips were wet and swollen and shiny and - ‘Er. Good?’

‘Excellent.’ And she dove back between Molly’s thighs.

There was a pattern to it. First soft, then just a bit rougher, then waiting as if gauging her reaction, and then rough again. Experimenting, that was what Irene was doing, trying out things and finding out what Molly liked and that thought was so overwhelming that she gasped, out loud.

Irene paused again, hands gently stroking Molly’s legs. 'Are we alright, kitten?'

'Yes, yes,' Molly said, a little high-pitched. 'Keep going, please.'

She laughed. Her hands went back to Molly’s thighs, pushing them wide - oh, she’d feel that in the morning - and Irene’s fingers gently brushed her clit. Molly sobbed and her hands tightened in Irene’s hair.

‘Careful, don’t pull,’ Irene murmured.

‘Sorry, it’s just, it feel so - ‘

‘Shush, I know.’

Her fingers continued their caresses, still too light to give any proper relief, and then wet pressure against her entrance and that was Irene’s tongue and oh god oh god she wasn’t going to last any second longer -

Irene’s nails pressed into Molly’s thigh and that tiny burst of pain was the last push she needed. She came with a quivering sigh, mumbling words she was hardly aware of, shaking all through the aftershocks, still holding on to Irene’s hair like it was all that was keeping her connected to her sanity.

Eventually Irene untangled Molly’s fingers from her hair and leaned back, legs folded underneath her. She looked a little like a mermaid, sitting like that, otherwordly and dangerous and alluring.

Molly pulled her skirt back down. Now the thrill had died away she felt... not ashamed, exactly, but a little sad and resigned. After all, she’d just done what she had done before, hadn’t she? Fell into the trap, allowed herself to be used. And any minute now Irene would start asking about Sherlock, or revealing that she had videoed all this and was planning on using it as blackmail, or maybe even pulling a knife from her knickers and -

Molly closed her eyes. She suddenly felt very tired.

‘I think I liked you better when you were gasping.’

She opened her eyes again. Irene’s head was tilted to one side, studying Molly. ‘At least then you looked like you were enjoying yourself,’ she continued.

‘Just tell me what you want,’ Molly said quietly.

‘Want? I just got exactly what I want, Molly.’ Irene narrowed her eyes. ‘Why do you ask?’

‘Because I’m - ‘ She took a deep breath. ‘Because it’s always like this. I get caught up in the middle of this, this game people smarter than me are playing, and I never learn - ‘ She trailed off. She couldn’t really explain it that well. ‘I’m just a pawn, aren’t I?’ she said, looking at her hands.

‘Hm. Well, that’s one way of looking at it.’

‘Wh- What do you mean?’

‘You can just as well ask yourself why it is that we keep coming to you. Why we are drawn to you. You think you’re just a chess piece, Molly,’ she curled her fingers loosely around Molly’s ankle, ‘but you could just as easily be the thing we’re all revolving around. The centre.’

Molly gaped. She had never ever thought of it like that, but the way Irene said it... It was persuasive, it made sense, it made Molly feel important.

‘But I’m not,’ she said uneasily. ‘Special, I mean, I’m nothing - I’m just me.’

‘Yes. Just you.’ Irene’s thumb caressed her anklebone. ‘Didn’t it ever occur to you that being you might be special enough?’

Irene smiled, gently encouraging. It could all still be just a trick, but the look in her eyes was soft, and she hadn’t asked anything from Molly except, well, except sex, and Molly had been more than willing to give that.

The phone rang. Molly started in surprise - it had felt as if they had been floating in their private bubble, separated from the rest of the world - and Irene’s hand fell from her ankle.

Molly took her phone from the nightstand. Number withheld, and she had a suspicion who it might be. She glanced at Irene and answered.

‘Hello?’

‘Molly.’ Sherlock’s voice, cool and controlled as always. ‘I need you to - ‘ A pause. ‘Are you alright? You sound winded.’

Irene grinned broadly and Molly couldn’t keep in a giggle. ‘Yes! Yes, I’m fine, absolutely fine, don’t worry.’

‘Right,’ Sherlock said. He sounded a little thrown. ‘I... I need you to contact Irene Adler again. There’s something I need to ask her.’

‘Oh. Irene. Er...’

Irene had leaned back again, eyes half-closed like a cat’s. Why the hell not, Molly thought.

‘Well, you can ask her right now, if you want.’

What?’

Molly giggled again and handed the phone over to Irene.

‘Hello, Sherlock dear. You needed me?’ Irene said smoothly. She caught Molly’s eye and winked.

Molly fell back against the pillows, only half listening to the cryptic conversation. She was feeling far too blissful to start analysing.. Not that she had any chance of deciphering them, she’d never reach that level of intelligence, but that was alright. She didn’t have to, she was starting to realise. She could be important without being as smart as them.

‘I’m sure I’ll be hearing from you again,’ Irene said, and she ended the call. She grinned at the screen. ‘He sounded so flustered.’

‘I think he was actually completely surprised,’ Molly agreed.

‘Well, good, the occasional little shock won’t harm him. People like Sherlock should be kept on their toes.’

‘People like you?’

Irene put the phone down and directed once again her full attention to Molly. It was starting to get a little less intimidating.

‘Did you just sleep with me to get to Sherlock?’ Molly asked quickly, before she lost her nerve.

Irene cocked her head again. ‘I won’t lie and tell you that didn’t play a part. But it isn’t the whole story, and, well...’ Another smile, this one slow and lazy and full of promise. ‘I’m still here, aren’t I?’

‘Oh. You, er, yes. You are.’ Molly got up on her knees and reached out tentatively. ‘Er, can I?’ she asked.

Irene took Molly’s wrist and put her hand on Irene’s waist. ‘You must definitely can, Molly.’

Molly smoothed her hand over the soft skin of Irene’s side. It might look like marble but she was warm and alive, and when Molly brushed her fingers over Irene’s ribs she gasped a little. Alive and human.

Irene pulled her close. Molly ended up pressed against her, the smell of Irene’s perfume filling her nose, Irene’s skin warm against her, Irene’s lips against Molly’s throat, and Molly laughed, delightedly. Maybe she’d spent all this time pining after the wrong genius.

Irene rolled them over and Molly leaned down and kissed her, and as her hand found Molly’s neck, urging her on, Molly could feel all her doubts evaporate.

She was exactly where she wanted to be, and so, she now knew, was Irene.