One. Zero. One. Three. Part 2 (An Adlock + Mary Fanfiction)
(Before I start, I just wanted to say that I didn’t expect I will write a second part to this, nor will I have people asking me to, so thanks so much for loving PART ONE. Thanks to battledress, themissadventurer, and thestorywelovebest for the extra motivation!)
There was no point in arguing.
Sherlock found himself staring out an airplane window, bound for almost a twelve-hour trip to Phuket. Beside him, Mary was reading Restless by William Boyd, pushing her glasses up the bridge of her nose to see under the passengers’ designated reading light.
The detective could recall the controlled protests of John when Mary called to asked that before the wedding, it’ll be best to pay Harry a visit and stay the night. Mary passed it off as a weird, cleansing and soul-healing tradition thing that Sherlock found quite absurd, and yet his friend had bought it and agreed.
Giving them at least two days to spare, it simply felt like an exhausting excursion, or, as Mary puts it, her preferred pre-wedding celebration in place of a bridal shower.
Still, he could feel his entire body tingling, a disturbing sense of nervousness and excitement that sends an aching sensation at the pit of his stomach. Excusing himself from his seat, he headed to the loo to give his face a quick wash, and to replenish the nicotine patches he has in his arm since the night before. Tapping three new ones firmly over his skin, he headed back, trying hard not to picture Irene Adler’s smirk when he explains why he and Mary decided to pay a visit.
Taking off his coat and scarf as the heat of the tropics hit him, Sherlock looked over to Mary’s grinning face with a sigh.
“Well, go on. Give her a call.” Mary instructed, plainly going by her tone that it was an immediate order.
Sherlock rolled his eyes, knowing that there was nothing more that he could do. He took out his phone and pressed on Irene’s number, hoping that she was still in the country and that his silent anticipation was not wasted.
He knows that it was plain stupid for him to agree to this trip without letting Irene know firsthand that he was flying over, but all rationality was thrown to the side as he realised he would need time to prepare what is to be said regarding the matter.
After several rings and his patience almost at the brink of expiring, Irene Adler finally answered.
“I’m assuming that you’re calling to let me know you have arrived. I had arranged for someone to pick you and Mary up and bring you to my hotel. He should be carrying a sign. Code names in place, as usual.” Irene simply said before ending the call, and Sherlock was sure she had a smile playing on her lips as she did.
He looked aside to Mary, whose eyes were scanning the room as if she was in sync with Irene said, and her eyes stopped at a kind-looking man holding up a sign saying William Scott and Maria Watson.
“Come now, dear. There’s our ride.” Mary mused casually, tugging on the bewildered detective.
“For Ms. Norton.” Mary greeted, and the driver nodded, gladly assisting them with their luggage.
The soon-to-be Mrs. Watson rolled her eyes playfully at Sherlock’s continuous glare, and simply gestured that they should start occupying the backseat of the car.
When the wheels started rolling, Sherlock couldn’t help but cuss under his breath.
“Something the matter, dear?” Mary asked teasingly, tapping Sherlock on the arm.
“When did both of you have the time to plan this? You didn’t even tell me you knew her already!” Sherlock hissed.
“Oh, calm down, will you? I got her number from your easily-crackable phone, told her I was John’s fiancee, that I knew she was alive, and that you wouldn’t talk much about your relationship, making me all the more curious to meet her. She was delighted and slightly intrigued by the situation that she obliged. To be fair, Sherlock, I like her already.” Mary proclaimed, raising her eyebrows at the detective as if to say well, what would you expect.
They arrived at Phulay Bay, the hotel resort having the delightful view of the beach, and was escorted by the bellhop to one of the suites.
Sherlock could feel his fingers twitching for an unknown reason, his mind trying hard to keep the current thoughts whirling in his mind under control.
When the door opened, he was greeted by her, The Woman, whose skin is slightly pink than pale from the sun, wearing a sheer black cover up and a bikini of the same colour underneath. It was lost for a moment that Irene had her eyes on Mary, for the detective was still in the midst of assessing whether there had been any changes in her measurements.
“You’ve lost weight.” Sherlock mentioned, whether it was intentional or not, even he himself was unsure. He could see Mary’s amused look from his periphery, obviously holding back a smile.
“Is that the proper way to introduce me to your friend?” Irene mused, smirking.
“I take it you already got acquainted before we got here.” Sherlock simply replied.
“And seeing that he really won’t introduce us, hi, I’m Mary Morstan, John’s fiancee.” Mary interjected, reaching a hand out to Irene, which The Woman took.
“Pleasure. I’m Irene Adler… Sherlock’s… friend.” Irene greeted with a smile, the last word sounding more like a teasing purr. “Would you like some tea?”
Sherlock can’t help but roll his eyes, which made both women laugh.
“He is quite a handful, isn’t he?” Irene mused.
“Yes, he is… And yes, to the tea, I mean.” Mary replied with a grin, helping herself to one of the chairs. “So tell me, Irene, why is it that my soon-to-be husband thinks your dead and you seem… well, very much alive?”
Mary then nodded towards Sherlock. “Apart from the obvious explanation.”
Irene eyed Sherlock upon hearing the new information, but the detective averted his eyes. She gave a quick call to room service for the tea before addressing Mary.
“Well, now. I wasn’t aware that the good Doctor Watson doesn’t know. But it’s not much of a surprise that he didn’t tell him. Your fiance can be a little jealous at times, if I recall.” Irene teased, sitting by the bed with her legs crossed.
“Sherlock can be, too. They have some attachment issues, but they’re both too manly to admit it. But Sherlock likes me too much to even be jealous of me, right dear?” Mary added, to which Sherlock gave a groan.
“We made a 12-hour trip just to make fun of me, how wonderful.” he said flatly, finding himself a seat.
Mary giggled. “If my research serves me right, London to Karachi takes about 8 hours, plus the transfers. Now, there are no terrorists to hack with a mighty sword, but this is still very exciting.”
Irene was trying very hard to wipe the smile of her face. Sherlock, on the other hand, glared at The Woman.
“What else did you tell her?” Sherlock hissed.
Irene rolled her eyes. “Don’t worry. I spared all the passionate details that happened AFTER we got rid of your bloodstained clothes.”
Mary’s eyes widened, her lips forming an amused ‘O’ as she heard what Irene has to say. “You know what? I really don’t mind you telling me.”
Sherlock turned to shot his glare at Mary, but she simply gave him a cheeky smile. To the detective’s relief, room service arrived with the tea, but the feeling was easily replaced with annoyance when he saw the bellhop eyeing Irene.
He stood up, cutting in between Irene and the bellhop as he handed him a bill, sending the service man away with a clipped “Thank you for your service.”
Mary had her chin propped on her fingers as she watched the scene, giving Irene a small smile. Sherlock must’ve caught himself and had been aware once more of Mary’s amused look that he hurried back to his seat moodily, his expression enough to convey “Not a word”.
Irene handed each of them a cup and took her own, claiming their previous positions.
“So tell me, Mary, what is it about me that piqued your interest?” Irene inquired as she took as sip.
Sherlock was simply watching, tapping his finger on the rim of the cup, knowing that wherever the conversation will go, he will not have control over it. The very reason why he found himself surprised when Mary gave him the liberty to explain the situation.
“I think it’s best if it comes from Sherlock. That’ll be fair considering I dragged him here almost forcefully.” Mary quipped.
“Almost forcefully?” Sherlock raised.
“Yes, dear. Almost. Because truth be told, I honestly think you would’ve taken this trip even without me to ease your nerves before the wedding.” Mary said as-a-matter-of-factly, to which Sherlock had nothing to reply. He figured that fibbing against these two women only leads to embarrassing himself.
“Well?” Irene cut in, raising her eyebrows at Sherlock.
As soon as their eyes locked in, Sherlock could almost feel Mary disappearing. It was a typical case with The Woman that he wasn’t even surprised.
“I forgot to put my phone on vibrate and she heard your specialised text alert. The series of events that followed are as you expect them to be.” Sherlock explained, almost biting his tongue as he realised what he just said.
“Text alert? You don’t mean… Oh my goodness, Sherlock. You still haven’t changed it?” Irene was grinning now, her body unconsciously leaning towards his direction.
“Can’t be bothered.” Sherlock replied trying to sound nonchalant about the matter.
“Oh, please! You did bother a lot considering that you obviously went through a lot of phones from when you met.” Mary teased, making Irene’s smile grow wider.
“Is this sentiment, Mr. Holmes?” Irene purred.
Sherlock rolled his eyes. “Both of you are having so much fun, aren’t you?”
Irene nodded. “It can’t be helped.”
“The usual, Sherlock?” Irene asked as if on habit, looking up the dessert menu as they were finishing their dinner.
“Yes.” Sherlock replied, watching her.
He was aware that he was constantly watching Irene, and also that Mary was observing him in amusement. But after a couple of hours, Sherlock didn’t even bother to stop himself from habits he developed when around The Woman. He believes that Mary is smart enough to draw her own conclusions and that most likely, she will validate it with him as soon as they are alone.
“You’ve been here before, too?” Mary asked, surprised.
“I believe it was in another hotel.” Sherlock simply replied.
“The other hotel where we’re both banned because Sherlock insulted the manager.” Irene added.
“He was gawking at her like a vulture.” the detective replied in defense, his voice almost too quiet for everyone else to hear. “Not to mention the idiotic words that came out of his mouth.”
Mary placed her fork down and leaned in, much more interested. “Awww, that’s sweet.”
“Oh, it gets better.” Sherlock breathed.
“How so?” Mary’s eyebrows raised.
“I gave the guy a good punch.” Irene announced before continuing with a joke. “Sherlock was about to get hit, but I couldn’t get to have those beautiful cheekbones cut so I was the one who got physical.”
“She dealt with a broken hand after.” Sherlock sounded nostalgic as he said the words, and as he judged by Mary’s expression, it was obvious that she read into his meaning.
“I enjoyed the nursing I got, to be honest.” says Irene, eyeing Sherlock.
Mary smiled. “Now, it makes me quite curious how Sherlock slips in and out of Baker Street. None of us honestly suspects it.”
“Dear Martha knows.” Irene replied casually. Sherlock’s eyebrows suddenly knit, surprised that he’s hearing about the information for the first time.
“Mrs. Hudson?!” Sherlock exclaimed.
“Yes, dear. That lovely woman has been covering up for you. For someone who claims to be smart, you can be naive at times. How do you imagine your brother not being able to check in your flat when you’ve gone silent for a couple of days or so?” Irene confirmed incredulously.
“When did you even meet Mrs. Hudson?” Mary asked.
“A couple of years ago when she went up to complain about how much noise her ceiling was making the night before, and found me in Sherlock’s bedroom. We had tea before Sherlock and John came home from a case. She was lovely to talk to.” Irene confessed, smiling.
Sherlock sighed. “Now I know why she insisted on keeping some of her old clothes under the bed.”
Mary looked confused. “And that means…?”
Irene laughed, sipping on some champagne before replying. “Let’s just say that when Martha found me, my dress was… not wearable anymore. Kind of her to lend me some of her old clothes.”
“Scandalous.” Mary commented with a smile, taking a sip of wine.
“You are such a joy to talk to. It’s quite disappointing that you can’t be at the wedding.” Mary sighed.
“We’ll still have time to catch up in the future… just without your husband knowing.” Irene replied with a smirk, which made Mary grin.
Mary was eyeing Sherlock, the detective being silent the entire time they were walking back to their rooms. She was about to make a comment when there was a sudden shift in the way Sherlock was standing, clearing his throat as he was about to make his proposal.
“We’re leaving early tomorrow morning. Best to have some rest.” he commented, not meeting any of the women’s eyes.
“Ah, yes. I should leave you, then. Good night, Mary, Sherlock.” Irene acknowledged, her voice having a clipped edge to it.
Mary was about to chide in when Sherlock added, “I’ll be right back, Mary. I’ll just walk Miss Adler to her room.”
The other woman smiled at Irene, then to Sherlock, giving a nod and an expression of pure expectation and amusement. “That’s a brilliant idea. Good night, Irene.”
The Woman nodded in acknowledgement.
As Mary closed the door, Sherlock, whose eyes are not meeting Irene’s, muttered, “Shall we?”
The tension was felt at their every step, and Sherlock could feel his own chest thrumming as they drew close to Irene’s suite. He wanted to say something to her, but was unsure what, for as usual he was unaware how she felt about this sudden visit.
He could feel his frustration growing as he imagined every tick of the clock drawing close to when he has to say goodbye to her once more and greet his life back in London, but what else is to expect? He was used to feeling this way every time he finds himself alone with The Woman.
He was woken from his reverie at the sound of Irene’s keycard unlocking the door, The Woman looking at his somber expression.
“Would you like to come in?” she asked, hand already reaching for the pins on her hair.
He wanted to say no – to retain a sense of control as Mary was expecting him to come back – but just like all of their past escapades, he found himself succumbing to his impulses.
“Yes.” he muttered, voice almost just to himself.
He watched as Irene walked over to her bed, continuously taking the pins off her hair and letting them fall loose on her shoulders. Taking the seat opposite her, he folded his fingers together, waiting if she has anything to say.
“She’s lovely. I can see why you like her.” he heard her as she reached for a hairbrush and started combing her dark locks.
Sherlock nodded. “She helped me reconcile with John. Plus, she’s incredibly brilliant.”
“I can tell.” Irene replied. “But was it really that urgent that you have to fly in here to meet me?”
Carefully choosing his next words, Sherlock said, “She was curious to meet you after a certain incident.”
Irene’s brows knit in confusion. “The one about the text alert?”
“No.” Sherlock’s voice was now quiet, his blue eyes studying Irene’s expression closely. “My passcode.”
“And why would that pique her interest this much?” Irene asked.
Sherlock handed her his phone. “Give it a try.”
Irene looked at him as if he was making such a ridiculous request, but she never backed down in any of their past games, and counted this as one of those. She took the phone with her eyes on him, evident that her mind was calculating the possibilities.
Sherlock simply gave her a nod, as if he read her mind that they were both thinking of that fateful night when she almost brought the nation to its knees. Irene’s eyes narrowed as she came to an epiphany, the words “this is your heart” echoing in her mind.
Being playful as usual, a smile grew on her red lips as she stroked the phone with her finger, punching the numbers slowly. The phone unlocked.
“One. Zero. One. Three.” Irene announced with a smirk, her eyes boring deep into the detective’s. “Karachi.”
Silence passed between them, as if one was carefully thinking their next move. It was then that Sherlock figured that just like the past, it has become tradition to consider every night as their last night.
Drawing in closer, with his eyes never leaving hers as he moved, Sherlock breathed, “Do you think Mary will mind?”
And as expected, Irene met him halfway, her voice a sweet whisper when she replied, “Not at all.”
Once all checked in and settled, everything was in full circle as Sherlock sat on his designated seat in the plane. Noticing Mary’s lack of curiosity as to how he spent the night, he simply said, “Sorry if I kept you waiting last night. Did you wait long?”
To his surprise, Mary replied with a grin, “I went straight to bed after you left, to be honest.”
Sherlock looked at her curiously. “Why?”
Mary rolled her eyes playfully. “I’m not dumb, dear. I’m sure you already know the answer to your question.”