spock: logic is sexy

Sherlock Fic: A Mutually Beneficial Arrangement (Sherlock, Irene)

Title: A Mutually Beneficial Arrangement
Rating: PG
Characters: Sherlock Holmes, Irene Adler
Summary: Sherlock has something Irene wants. Irene has something Sherlock wants. Maybe they can come to a mutually beneficial arrangement.
Notes: My holmestice story for eanor, who asked for Irene POV, banter, and Sherlock and Irene trying to outsmart each other. A sequel will be forthcoming for my Sherlock Big Bang this fall. Many thanks for spikeface for help getting into Irene's head and yeomanrand for the beta reading.
Word Count: 1800




Being dead was dreadfully boring and terribly low class.

There was a bathtub in her kitchen. The stove only had two burners, and sometimes she cooked on it, but mostly she ordered take-away. It was a devil to work off all the calories, but then, she had plenty of time for the gym. Sometimes she imagined that the Chinese deliverymen were assassins, and she answered the door with a knife behind her back even when she wasn't pretending. (She'd only needed it once, and he hadn't put up a very good fight.)

The flat reminded her a bit of her university days. (Except for the bit about the Chinese assassin. That was new.) If she'd had a friend to ring, she would've said that her kitchen tub was quaint, and the orange and avocado backsplash was strangely cheery. She hadn't any friends though, so opportunities for positive spin were limited. The trouble was, "I used to be a dominatrix, and then a lot of people tried to kill me" wasn't a very good conversation starter. Anyway, she doubted that any of the pedestrians who swirled beneath her window, absorbed in their tiny lives, could keep her entertained for long.

She smoked a lot of cigarettes.

***


The latest deliveryman was not Chinese.

His jacket sleeves were much too short, and she'd recognize those cheekbones anywhere, even beneath the brim of a cap. Sloppy of him, really. She'd expected better of a man who had so convincingly faked his own death.

She traded her knife for a syringe before she opened the door. She doubted he was coming to kill her, but it never hurt to remind him who was on top.

***


He slept for a long time, so long that she actually took his pulse and researched what constituted a dangerously low heart rate, then felt ridiculous when she discovered that he was perfectly fine. Maybe she hadn't checked the dose in her syringe. Maybe he was simply tired.

Searching his pockets only took half an hour. He had forty-two pounds, twelve dollars, fifty-seven euro, and a handful of crumbling Egyptian notes of indeterminate value. There was a syringe inside his biro, which she tucked into her desk drawer, and a knife in his shoe, which she kept on principle even though it wasn't as good as hers. His wallet contained four ID cards, one forged, one stolen, and two that appeared to be authentic. His German passport said his name was Hans, and if it was a forgery, it was a very skilled one. The Ice Man was good at procuring documents, then. Not surprising.

She tapped one of his three credit cards against the table and thought about a new identity. By the time he woke up, she knew her price.

***


There were unattractive shadows beneath his eyes, and he was even thinner than she remembered.

She plunked a styrofoam tray of Chinese leftovers in front of him.

"Eat," she commanded. Couldn't have him dying of starvation on her. That would be no fun.

He narrowed his eyes, and she made him a cup of tea just to confuse him. She lit a cigarette because she knew he wouldn't ask for one, and stood just too far away for him to inhale the smoke.

"Ginger hair suits you," she said. The cut was short and elegant, but she missed the curls.

"Blond hair makes you look cheap," he answered. It was the first thing he'd said to her since he arrived.

"Take a look at the flat. I am cheap these days."

She waited for his rejoinder, but it never came. Pity. She'd had all sorts of cutting retorts ready, and she was positively dying for some good banter. Usually, she didn't let men talk back to her; he should have known it was an honor. Instead, there was only the quick, dry rasp of his swallows, one after another, as if he hadn't eaten in days.

"I'm going back to sleep," he said, and passed out on her bed.

***


"If you steal my bed again, I'm selling you to Sebastian Moran," she said. She had a crick in her neck from sleeping on the sofa, and his Chinese deliveryman's jacket was not nearly as comfortable as his old coat, nor as enjoyable to wear.

He sat up on the bed.

"Don't be stupid. I'm the only entertainment you've had in months," he said.

He had a point. Also, Sebastian would kill her.

"All right. Tell my why you're here or I'll phone John Watson." That would be interesting. Maybe she would call him anyway.

Alarm flitted across his face, so briefly that she doubted anyone else would have noticed. He wasn't inhuman, she thought, just well-controlled and inscrutable to those whose livelihoods did not depend on watching people very closely.

He snorted. "Don't tell me you don't know."

Don't tell me you expect me to tell you what I have that you would value, she thought. She picked up her phone and pressed the first digit of Watson's number.

"Shall I keep going?"

His face twisted into a disgusted grimace. "His number wasn't even in your contacts."

Irene smiled. "You kept my phone." She memorized everyone's number, always, but he didn't need to know that. Without taking her eyes off his face, she dialed two more digits.

"All right," he said. "I'm here because I'm bored."

"You've been to four countries in the last seven days, you're carrying two weapons, and you've got five forms of identification. You're not bored." You are insulting my intelligence though, which is not to be tolerated. She dialed the last few digits of Watson's number, and Sherlock sprang out of bed and seized the phone from her hand just as a sleepy "Hullo" echoed on the other end of the line. Sherlock didn't manage to actually put his hand over her mouth before he pressed end, but it was a close thing.

"The number's blocked. He won't be able to call back," Irene said. They were standing very close now, but she took a step closer anyway. She traced her thumb over his wrist and the heel of his hand, and he flinched. "Let go of the phone, or I won't stop."

The phone dropped into her hand. She did not retreat.

"Let's be clear about something here, shall we?" she said. "You're here because you're desperate. I have something you want, something you need. That means I have the power here. Don't forget it."

"I shan't." His smile didn't reach his eyes. "But I doubt I'm the only desperate person in this room."

"Oh?" she asked, and Sherlock snorted.

"Look at this place. Look at you. Peroxide hair. Pink nail varnish. Tracksuit bottoms. But whatever you say, times are not cheap. You've got at least ten thousand pounds in the bottom of your desk drawer -- you ought to stop looking at things you don't want me to notice, by the way -- but you're here, and that means you're desperate." He waved a hand airily, as if brushing away a counterargument she hadn't even made. "Oh, you're a good actress. I of all people know. You could be anywhere. But you don't fit in, you stand out. You pretend it's your nature, but it's because you're an imposter everywhere you go. Everywhere except here, the place you were born. The place you swore you would never return. And you are desperate to leave."

She smiled, fierce and predatory. No use denying the obvious. "So we're both desperate. That means we can make a deal." How she missed her red lipstick. The next bit of the routine always sounded so much better when she was wearing it. She stepped forward, closing the last bit of distance between them, and tilted her head. "Tell me what you want."

Sherlock stepped backward and collapsed gracelessly onto the sofa. He scrubbed a hand over his eyes. "Help," he said very quietly.

"What?"

"I said I need help." The undercurrent of irritation was unmistakable, but his voice was still unexpectedly quiet.

"That's rather obvious, don't you think?" she snapped, annoyed and slightly off balance. She had expected a larger and more aggressive list of demands, but that wasn't the problem. She leaned back against the edge of the bed and crossed her arms over her chest, considering. "Help doing what?"

"Finding Sebastian Moran."

"Can't help you there. Not much anyway." She wished it were otherwise, but she'd only seen the man twice. All their business had been conducted by phone, the way both of them liked it. "I know his mobile number, a few of his contacts. That's all."

"I know." He gave her a small half smile. "I'll find Moran, with or without your information."

"Then why are you here?"

"Because I've discovered in the past few months that I don't particularly care to do it alone." His lips twisted; he sounded positively disgusted.

The sun was up now, and in the light that poured in through the windows, the circles under his eyes looked particularly dark. There it was, the thing that had been bothering her: he, him, his, never Sherlock, not even in her mind if she could avoid it. God, she was a fool.

"What's in it for me?" she asked, even though she had a bad feeling they both knew.

He -- Sherlock -- waved an airy hand.

"Whatever you like. Mycroft would see to it. I'm sure I don't have to explain the other benefits."

"No," she said. With Moran dead, she might be able to come out of hiding and assume a new identity. And if she had helped to kill him, her smaller enemies would hardly dare to cross her. "If you try to double cross me, I'll tell John Watson you're alive."

"If you do that, I'll kill you."

"And John Watson would still know you were alive." Why he was so desperate to hide from his only friend was beyond her, but it really was excellent leverage. She tapped her fingers on the night table. "Has it occurred to you that I could solve a great many of my problems by selling you to Sebastian Moran?"

Sherlock looked bored again. "We've discussed this already. I'm much too entertaining to dispose of. And there's the small matter that you don't want me dead."

"You're taking a lot on faith," she said, even though they both knew he wasn't. She could see the plan now: let her take his weapons and fall asleep in her bed, alone and unarmed, all to prove to her that she didn't want him gone.

"This is the last time I'll remind you what I am offering. You and I are the same, Irene. Neither of us is meant for confinement, and genius needs an audience. Think carefully before you refuse." He rose from the couch, put on the delivery man's jacket as if were royal vestments, and swiped her last pack of cigarettes from the kitchen table. "I'll be back in two days. I'll expect your decision then."

She leaned against the wall and watched him go. Irene Adler, crime fighter. It had a nice ring, she had to admit.
this is great. I love the idea of them working together, and I love the characterization. yay!

favorite bit:
How she missed her red lipstick. The next bit of the routine always sounded so much better when she was wearing it. She stepped forward, closing the last bit of distance between them, and tilted her head. "Tell me what you want."

Sherlock stepped backward and collapsed gracelessly onto the sofa. He scrubbed a hand over his eyes. "Help," he said very quietly.


very nice!
I still really love this story and I'm definitely looking forward to seeing you expand on it. <3
LOL! I'd love for this to continue. Great tension and character!
Oh, this is so witty and catty and deft. You've brought BBC!Irene back to her bleachy-blonde canon roots with a satisfying thump. And Sherlock just breaks my heart.

This is terrific as is, but I'd adore a sequel if it comes down the pike.