Goodnight, Miss Adler
A.N: Ok… Have had this idea burning in the back of my mind for months, and finally found the time to write it (And now I have this one out of my system I can go back to the prompts in my ask box, which I assure you I have not forgotten about my lovelies ^-^ And thank you to everyone who’s sent me a prompt so far <3 )
I hope you enjoy… If that’s the right word for this… :P
Everything had been going so well.
The job had been one they could have done in their sleep, and as ever they had worked together brilliantly. Whilst Irene had charmed, flirted with and generally distracted the guards (Idiots. They should know better than to trust a pretty face…) Sherlock had managed to slip past, unnoticed, gaining entrance to the Ambassador’s office with relative ease. And ok, so a minor stumbling block had been hit when he’d been spotting leaving, but even that hadn’t worried him unduly. By the time the guard had gotten over the shock of seeing someone who most definitely wasn’t the Ambassador coming out of his office and called after him, Sherlock was already halfway down the corridor, and he somehow doubted he’d be recognised again. And yes, the guards at the entrance had seemed surprised to see him sprint towards them, particularly as none of them could remember admitting him, but Sherlock hadn’t given them a second thought as he grabbed Irene’s hand and they ran off together.
Adrenaline surging through his veins, he allowed himself a moment to bask in the after-glow of a successful job (as attested by the documents tucked safely in his coat pocket), and slowing his pace slightly, he turned towards Irene, a triumphant smirk flitting about his lips.
Then he heard the gunshot.
Just the one, but it caused the smile to fall immediately from his face, and instinctively ducking his head, he sped up again, cursing softly as Irene stumbled slightly next to him. Rounding a corner he dove down an alleyway, pulling Irene with him, watching with grim satisfaction as the men who had been pursuing them raced off into the night.
“Morons,” he muttered scornfully before doing a quick check as the adrenaline rush slowed; idiots they undoubtedly were, but he’d be very much surprised if their aim was as inadequate as their intellect. Finding no pain, blood or bullet wounds anywhere on his body, however, he had to concede he’d been wrong; apparently they were both lousy shots and lacking in intelligence. Fortunate, but dull. Turning to Irene, a clever remark on the tip of his tongue, he froze at her expression; a mixture of pain, apology and… Was that fear? Surely not. In all their time together he’d never known her to be afraid… His blood roaring in his ears, cold dread layering itself thickly around his chest, he dropped his gaze from her face to the front of her dress… Where a crimson poppy of bloody was blooming across the material.
“I-Irene?” Face pale, she attempted a shaky smile as her strength gave out and she sagged against the dirty brick wall, hand clutching the wound as she closed her eyes for a moment. Feeling an unfamiliar sense of panic rising in him, Sherlock pushed it down and away – now wasn’t the time – summoning all his energy into raising his emotionless mask as he helped her sit down, leaning her against the wall. Crouching next to her, ignoring the hammering of his heart and the faint trembling of his fingers, Sherlock moved automatically to assess the damage, even as a deluge of disjointed facts and calculations flashed through his mind.
Single gunshot wound to the abdomen. Average survival rate; 20%. Average survival time; 10 minutes. His hands had stilled at that, control threatening to crumble, before he took a deep breath and continued. She wasn’t going to die. She couldn’t.
If the bullet had hit the liver, there were between 5 and 60 minutes before she bled out. Any other organs, could be a few hours. Damage to the aorta would result in death in 5 minutes; to the inferior vena cava, 10 minutes.
Expression grim, Sherlock tore the scarf from round his neck, pressing it firmly against the wound in a vain attempt to stem the flow of blood still soaking the front of her dress, before fumbling for his phone with his other hand. Pulling it from his pocket, determination burning fiercely in his blue eyes, he dialled Lestrade’s number, muttering angrily until the call connected.
“Come on… Come on… Pick up the damn- Lestrade? I need an ambulance sent to Shatto Mews, Belgravia. Now.” Hanging up even as he heard Lestrade’s concerned yelp at the other end – he didn’t have time to explain things to the D.I. now – Sherlock dropped his phone back into his pocket and focused on keeping the scarf pressed firmly against her. “They’ll be here soon; then you’ll be ok.”
Even to his own ears it sounded weak, a sentiment Irene clearly shared as she gave a soft, breathy laugh, opening her eyes to gaze at him, mild amusement sparking there amidst the pain and resignation which had been building as the minutes trickled by, measurable only by the steadily spreading stain of her blood.
“Oh, Mr Holmes… I think we both know that is not quite true…” Smiling faintly, she leant her head back against the wall, her breathing becoming heavier as she continued to speak. “I always wondered how I would die…”
“Shut up,” he growled fiercely, eyes flashing. “You’re not going to die on me, Irene Adler. Do you hear me? You are not going to die.”
“Strangely enough,” she continued, acting as though she hadn’t heard him, “I never considered this as a possibility… A sniper’s bullet, yes. But not a lucky shot from some clumsy security guard.” Laughing softly, she started coughing weakly, wincing as the movement sent pain spiking through her.
“Stop it,” Sherlock snapped, anger and panic rising in him in an inexorable wave. “Stop it. Just stop all this… Idiotic talk.” Breathing heavily, mouth pressed into a thin line, he kept his focus on his scarf which was now more red than blue, dyed with her blood. “You are not going to die.”
“No. I won’t let you die, Irene.”
Smiling a little, she replied wryly, “I don’t think even you can prevent this, Sherlock… Though I applaud your faith in yourself, misguided as it may be…” Coughing again, she squeezed her eyes shut at the starburst of pain it unleashed, feeling something trickle from the side of her mouth. Opening her eyes with difficulty, she started to raise her hand, intending to wipe it away, but Sherlock got there first.
Gently, his thumb brushed against her skin, his gaze focused on her with the same single-mindedness she had observed, and so admired, in him before; when he was working a case, his mind searching for answers, or when he played the violin in the evenings, filling the flat with his soulful music. Usually, she found the sight vaguely arousing (she hadn’t been lying when she said that brainy was the new sexy), but this time it simply filled her with an immense sadness, though she fought to keep it from her expression. Because she knew that Sherlock was desperately trying to find a way out of this. And she also knew there wasn’t one. Not for her at least.
Frowning slightly as he tied his mind in knots, searching frantically through his memories and experiences to find something, anything which could help, Sherlock couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt this powerless. Because there was nothing… Instead, his thoughts kept getting snagged on unhelpful facts and ideas – damage to the inferior vena cava; 10 minutes ‘till death – that he found – aorta; 5 minutes – it increasingly difficult – 1 in 5 chance of survival for patient – to concentrate – 1 in 5 chance…
“You can’t die, ” he muttered distractedly, almost to himself, as he dragged himself back from his tangled thoughts and memories to gaze helplessly at Irene; pupils dilated… Heart rate elevated… Just like before…
Though this time he was sure these changes weren’t because of arousal, and he felt the unfamiliar sense of panic washing over him intensify, squeezing his heart until he found it difficult to breathe. In spite of this, he fought hard to keep his expression unconcerned and brisk, valiantly ignoring the voice in the back of his mind which had started to recite the symptoms of shock… “You can’t die… You’ve got to fight, Irene. Please.”
“Now, now, Mr Holmes…” She was shivering he noted, her skin almost pale and translucent in the dim light of the alley in which they were crouched. “You’ve never begged before in your life, remember? Let’s not start now…” Sherlock didn’t reply, simply shrugged off his coat and draped it over her, futile though it undoubtedly was, accepting her murmured thanks with a jerky nod of his head.
“We had fun, didn’t we, Sherlock?” She mumbled, voice weak and words almost slurring together now. “And we made a good team…. Always knew we would…” Not trusting himself to speak, Sherlock nodded again, fighting desperately to maintain his usual emotionless façade as Irene’s breathing slowed perceptibly, the pulse at her throat beating more weakly now. He could feel his control slipping however, tears beginning to prickle the back of his eyes. He couldn’t cry. He never cried… Besides, there was no need to cry, because she wasn’t going to die; Lestrade would arrive before then and everything would be fine…
“Hush now,” Irene murmured with a faint smile, slowly reaching up to wipe away the lone, treacherous tear which had managed to escape from his rapidly crumbling control, her touch surprisingly gentle. “It’s been a pleasure. Don’t spoil it…” Choking out a soft laugh at her choice of words, Sherlock leant his cheek against her hand for a moment, gaze flickering over her as though to memorise her for the last time. As if he could forget her…
As if she wasn’t already an integral part of his mind palace… Her smiles, her laugh, the way her eyes flashed when he angered her; there were whole rooms cataloguing Irene Adler in his mind palace, a futile attempt to understand her better. He never had managed to get even close to solving her mysteries…
Now he never would.
“Thank you for dinner…” Her voice was quiet now, fragile and gossamer-thin, and Sherlock felt his heart – he’d always thought he didn’t have one…Why did he have to have one? If he didn’t have a heart this wouldn’t hurt as much… - break at how very unlike Irene she sounded…
“Well, you seemed so insisted on going to dinner, I thought it rude to keep denying you the pleasure of my company.” Part of him was surprised at how normal he sounded, but a far larger part was focused on the precious, unexpected gift of her soft laugh, the sound encouraging a faint twitch of his own lips into something which could almost be called a smile in return.
“Thoughtful as ever… Mr Holmes… I fear I may have ruined your coat and scarf, though… A poor way to return-” Leaning forwards, he silenced her with a soft kiss which deepened as he poured into it all the thoughts about her he’d never been able to express, all the emotions she sparked in him (despite his best attempts to ignore them) with her fierce pride, startling intellect and wicked smile. Pulling away reluctantly, he gazed down at her as she struggled to open her eyes again.
“I’m sure I can find it in myself to forgive you for that…” he murmured, reaching out to gently trace her cheek with the pad of his thumb. “Goodnight, Miss Adler…”
“Goodnight… Mr Sherlock Holmes…” She whispered back, lips barely moving as her eyes fluttered closed for the last time; with a final, shuddering breath, she was still. Irene Adler was no more.
Sherlock wasn’t sure how long he stayed there, crouched almost protectively over the body of Irene Adler, the one woman who’d mattered to him, though he’d never quite found the words to tell her… Although his gaze was fixed on her lifeless form, that wasn’t the image which danced before his eyes. Instead a thousand fragments of shining memories flickered through his mind, each one a shared moment between himself and… The Woman.
The first time they’d met, with her damn distracting “Battle-dress”. The night in Baker Street when he’d so wanted to kiss her as they sat, heads bent close, bathed in the flickering light of the fire, her pulse jumping beneath his fingers. Her expression when he’d first arrived on her doorstep after his 'suicide’. The slap which followed. And the kiss which came after that. Her soft skin beneath his hands… Irene’s laughter, sometimes mocking, often genuine, filling up Baker Street after their return. The smile she wore whenever he deduced something, the sight of which always caused his heart rate to speed up…
It wasn’t until he felt a hand on his shoulder that he was able to wrench himself from the painful memories – all he had left of The Woman now… – forcing himself back into the present. Lifting his gaze from the body, he looked up into the concerned face of Lestrade. Too late for concern now…
“Sherlock… I-Christ… I’m sorry-” Nodding, Sherlock got stiffly to his feet, unable to listen to anymore, drawing himself up to stand as straight as usual, though there was an indefinable fragility about him now. “Look, if there’s anything you need…”
I needed you here sooner…
“No.” Sherlock’s tone was clipped, more deliberately emotionless and unconcerned than Greg had ever heard it, and frowning the older man took a step forward, hand outstretched.
“I don’t need anything, Lestrade.” Turning away abruptly, Sherlock strode off, shying away from Greg’s comforting hand, though the D.I noticed he didn’t go too far, almost as though he couldn’t quite bring himself to leave the Adler woman. Poor guy. Shaking his head slightly – Christ, what a mess… – Greg moved closer to supervise the removal of the body, glancing once more over his shoulder at the lone figure of Sherlock, noting the Consulting Detective looked almost heartbreakingly lost amidst the growing crowd of policemen and paramedics.
For Sherlock, he felt as though he was trapped in a dream. Everything seemed to be continuing as usual around him, but he couldn’t connect with anything. Feeling fractured and fragile, it was taking all his self-control to appear as calm and unaffected as possible, though if the pitying looks Lestrade kept throwing his way were anything to go by, he wasn’t doing a very good job at convincing anyone. Watching as they finally took the body away, Sherlock shivered slightly in the cool evening air, feeling… Empty. Irene was gone, and he didn’t know how to feel about that.
With a soft sigh, he melted into the shadows, leaving the alleyway with its coppery stench of blood and death, mingled with the lingering scent of Irene’s perfume behind as he made his way to the main road in search of a taxi to take him home. Enough. He had had enough.
Trying desperately to ignore the memories of The Woman which threatened to overwhelm him, he found the incomplete waltz he’d written for her all those years ago echoing eerily in his mind on a continuous loop. Except now he heard how it should end; in bittersweet notes and soft harmonies which spoke of gentle touches and unspoken words. In soaring, sweeping chords which sang out, chilling and enticing in equal measure, drawing the listener deeper into the music. In mysterious underlying melodies which interwove with the main song, half-formed and gone in a flash the moment the ear picked them out. It should end in the musical essence of The Woman.
Safe in the back of the London cab, Sherlock closed his eyes, letting the melody of the ghostly violin of his thoughts wash over him, a faint smile playing about his lips, even as a few more treacherous tears leaked from behind his mask.
“Goodnight, Miss Adler…”