Sherlock Holmes. Holmes/Watson/Irene/Mary. 12,667 words. NC-17.
A huge thank you to skeletonwing for the wonderful beta job!
Inspired by this prompt at the kink meme. 'The first three made such a good team that they decided to go into business (and bed) together doing spy/detective sorts of things, and Mary decides she'd rather participate than be left on the sidelines and lose Watson. She could handle most of the administrative/legal stuff. Do want: Mary learning to be badass, femmeslash, a nice, happy, porny foursome. If you can wrangle it, I want to see Mary and Holmes have sex with each other for the first time (in the context of group sex) and learning to get along.'
It happens something like this:
Mary has rather an exceptionally long day at the shops, purchasing a delicate new tea set, dress, flowers for the hall, scones for after tea and writing paper and envelopes to send back to Devonshire for her mother. She tumbles out of the carriage, all packages and daffodils, and opens the door to her house to find Holmes and a woman Mary has yet to be acquainted making rather furious love on her lounge.
Naturally, she finds herself rather light-headed and manages a feminine gasp before, in all social propriety, fainting.
Later, of course, they’ll argue about it. Not Holmes and Mary, or even Holmes and his partner, but Mary and Watson.
“Am I simply meant to watch?” Mary hisses, she’ll be the first to admit it’s a rather unbecoming tone. “A bystander. Is that what I’ve been reduced to?”
Watson looks impossibly startled, hurt, says, “God, Mary, no. I just,” he hesitates, drops to the lounge, head in hands, before he looks back up at her, wide-eyed and the same sort of honest she fell in love with. “I want you safe. I want you to keep some semblance of a normal life.”
“A normal life? To what? To sit at home and wash dishes? To read about adventures, whilst my husband risks everything to be a part of them? John, honestly, I’m not that sort of girl.”
His expression turns pained, stunted, and Mary sighs, rolls her eyes back to the ceiling as if there’s help up there, someone willing to intervene. She doesn’t imagine Holmes would be particularly fond of the concept, but her Catholic upbringing desires otherwise. When she looks at Watson again, he’s watching her, studying with the same damned perceptiveness he treats all his great loves; medicine, Holmes, her.
“I’m not marrying you under false pretences,” she tries. “If I wanted a husband and children to be my only adventure, I wouldn’t have picked you.”
There’s a look he gets occasionally, like she surprises him, and it’s something she’s both proud and almost resentful of. She never aims to be unpredictable, but sometimes her mother’s impulsiveness proves hereditary.
“Besides, I imagine you’ll need someone to care for the paperwork,” she hums, straightening out her dress. “Your hand is awful, and I imagine it isn’t something Holmes will bother himself with.”
Watson snorts at that, rubs at the bridge of his nose and finally concedes, “There’s no way out of this, is there?”
It’s not that it’s a concession, but the tension feels oddly eased and it’s rather beyond her power to stop the laugh from escaping her lips, the smile easier than she ever could have hoped for. She leans down enough to kiss him chastely, a hand to his cheek.
She really could just leave it there, allow that to be the end of this rather impromptu debate, but he looks all the world like this is the last thing he wants, and Mary finds it’s impossibly easy to move that short distance to his ear.
“I have resigned myself to second fiddle, John,” she murmurs, feeling him tense beneath the palm of her hand, winding tighter like a violin string pulled taut. “But I won’t allow you to leave me behind entirely.”
As it is in its instance though, Mary is brought abruptly back to consciousness by smelling salts and a cool hand beneath her neck.
She gasps, eyelids fluttering open and she is greeted by the sight of the very woman who was the cause of her rather untimely collapse. She’s dressed now though, almost, corset and petticoat anyhow, make-up smeared and hair loose and dishevelled around her shoulders. She’s beautiful really, like the heroine Mary’s imagined of so many of her favourite stories, like Catherine, Elizabeth, Mary Magdalene, and it’s all she can do not to reach out, to brush the woman’s hair back from her face, shoulders, to see if her skin is truly as soft and real as it -
“There you are,” the woman says, a broad American accent, strong voice, almost out of place coming from the svelte figure and delicate features. “Back to the land of the living.”
Mary nods jerkily, rather coming back to herself, and pushes herself up onto her elbows only to find herself sprawled over the lounge. She cringes a little, and the woman must pick up on it for she laughs, glances back at Holmes before rolling her eyes in a way Mary had beaten out of her in boarding school.
The woman leans back off the seat, says, “The soon to be Mrs. Watson, I presume?” and it’s quick, the sizing-up the woman partakes in, but despite its speed and obvious effect, it’s hardly subtle. Mary resists the urge to fold her arms across her chest.
“Irene Adler,” the woman says suddenly, head cocked as she holds out a hand to shake and Mary accepts it rather hesitantly. “I assume John or Sherlock here didn’t get the chance to tell you of my decision to stay on.”
Holmes looks slightly abashed, but hardly regretful, says, “You have a very nice home, Miss Morstan,” instead. “Shall I assume it was passed on to you by your late fiancé?”
It’s petty on his half, and Irene shoots him an almost unimpressed look before Mary supplies, “Father, actually,” and sits up properly on the lounge, allowing Irene a better place beside her. “My late fiancé left his properties to his much deserving sisters.”
“Well, one would expect as much of such a short-lived engagement, I’d imagine,” and he’s up looking at the painting by the window and the small china vase left to her by her great aunt, somehow entirely dignified, despite his unbuttoned pants and lack of shirt.
Mary sighs, glances back at the hall where her new tea set shattered on impact with the floor, and then back at Irene, who says, “I really must thank you for your hospitality, you know. I must say I was surprised with the ease in which Watson invited us here, especially after he expressed his strict desire for you to remain out of all this.”
“Out of what?” Mary asks, suddenly startled and very much conscious.
Irene opens her mouth, but looks hesitantly back at Holmes who instead opts for staring out the window, hands folded behind his back as he takes in the view of the Thames.
“Out of what?” Mary asks again, deliberate this time, and Irene glances back at her, and adjusts her bustier just slightly.
“Out of our new business, ‘The Baker Street Detectives’ or something equally unintimidating,” she tries for a laugh, but her eyes are impossibly trained on Mary’s face; and neither of them seems anywhere close to jolly.
“Of course,” she replies, somewhere between aghast and bitterly angry, and it’s around that time that the front door pulls open and Watson, out of sight, calls out a “Hello,” followed by “Mary, we’ll need to set the table for four tonight.”
That’s it really. Watson had moved out of the Baker Street residency only to bring all his baggage into her home, one Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler apparently included, and Mary’s left tossing the pieces of the life she’d grown accustomed to (along with the shattered remnants of her new china tea set) into the trash, and attempting to grow used to one of often present and always implied debauchery and puzzles.
The thing is though, Mary has to work for this, for him, them, because the three of them pre-date her, their history impossibly interwoven, full of gunfights and adventures and moments of desperate co-dependence, and really, Mary met John when she had a rather unfortunate rash on her ankle (it was the long grass in her sister’s garden, as it so turned). And Mary works hard, and she keeps their books, and does enjoy being told of their old adventures, even if Holmes appears condescendingly indulgent whenever he has to explain things a little more slowly for her, but occasionally she wonders if John has the capacity to depend, rely, look at her the way he does at them.
It’s been two weeks since she resigned herself from her governess position at Lady Alexander’s, and the same progression since she began an employment under Sherlock Holmes’ rather questionable management. She was unsurprised by the disorder and the lack of professionalism in which he kept both demands for his assistance and bills, receipts and money, as well as an array of substances Mary doesn’t entirely want to know about.
She works late one night, sifting through letters of request and new jobs, and somewhere down the hall, she hears a hiss, a thud, and wanders down the stairs to investigate.
The door is open barely a fraction of an inch, but it may as well have been pulled wide for all that Mary can see. It lacks all the etiquette of social propriety, conformity, but then again, so does Holmes, and apparently his passions are not limited to business. He kisses Watson with all the force of an element, fire, water, his fingers tangled in her fiancés hair and his mouth open wide, pushing Watson back and goading him forward, and it’s all entirely too much when Watson leans into it all, into Holmes, pushing back as good as Holmes is forward, and they collide like a force of nature.
It’s absorbing, consuming, and she doesn’t feel the breath down her neck until she smells the smoke billowing from Irene’s loose cigarette. Mary startles, turns abruptly, and Irene merely arches an eyebrow, takes a drag and peeks into the room around Mary’s shoulder.
“They’ll outlast us both, you know,” she says finally, lips pursed and eyes half-lidded, like they’re a show and she’s paid the price. “The most we can hope for is to be memorable.”
It’s not like she didn’t know, she’ll think later; although, her mother was always rather adamant that hindsight dealt a cruel hand. She’s not even angry, just hurt, the constriction of her chest almost crippling within her corset, and she breathes too hard as she moves away from the door, and down the hall, pulling her coat over her shoulders as she leaves the front of the house, and hurries down the street.
By the time she gets home, feet aching and shoulders heaving, it’s all she can do to scramble out of her dress, bustle, petticoat, corset, knickers, chemise to sit naked and raw and somehow all too made up in the middle of her empty bed.
In the morning, there’ll be powder and charcoal on her pillow slip from where her make-up ran races down her face, clothing the tears that were all too real, and John in the armchair at the end of the room, blissfully asleep and painfully far away.
“How about Miss Emily Thatcher?” Mary asks, detached and somewhat cold. Irene had shot her an oddly consoling look when she’d arrived with John that morning, and Holmes had had little to say beyond a customary greeting. “Her husband disappeared last week. He left what appeared to be a suicide note, although his body hasn’t shown up since his disappearance.”
“Scullery maid,” Holmes says. “And the late train to Birmingham where he changed his name to Mr. William Darcy. A tribute to the late Austen, I imagine, and possibly delusions of grandeur. Really, Mary, do keep up.” he flashes Mary a condescending look, and it’s enough to make her grit her teeth.
Irene snorts from across the table, removing the stitches from a rather ugly set of curtains with her knife. Mary had asked about it earlier, and Irene had merely mumbled something about disguises and fabric and quite ignored the rest of the conversation.
She sighs, shuffles through another collection of letters before pulling one out at random.
“Oh, how about this, then? Lady Victoria Wilson had her emerald necklace stolen from her jewellery safe not three days ago, and – “
Irene cuts her off with a wave of the hand, drops the curtain back to the table. Instead of her hem-pulling, she traces the knife down her neck, pulls a chain loose and, out of the join of her bosom, emerges the very emerald necklace Lady Victoria so desires.
“Well,” Mary says, before dropping the letter into the bin.
“Don’t look so outraged, darling, our dear Lady Wilson has plenty more where this came from. The fact that it took her two days to notice is testimony to that, I assure you.”
There really is something to be said about solving crimes you yourself committed, and Mary is about to do just that when Watson steps in, his usual limping gait rather more blatant than usual and Mary works awfully hard not to think why.
Of course, that is hardly what she should be paying attention to anyway, not when he drops the newspaper curled tight in his fist straight into Holmes’ unprepared hands. The headline stark and consuming on the front page. ‘LORD DALTON’S DAUGHTER FOUND DEAD IN COUNTRYSIDE MANOR’
“Lord Dalton?” Mary asks, “From the House of Commons?”
“So it would seem,” Watson supplies. “She was found dead in her bed, covered in cryptic symbols. Pentagrams and the sort. The room wasn’t broken into and young Miss Dalton herself bore no wounds beyond a small bruise on her right thigh.”
He follows up by pulling an envelope from his breast pocket. “Lady Dalton has requested both our utmost discretion and care on the case.”
Holmes glances down at the paper, and finally shrugs. “Both areas in which I excel, obviously. I could take on worse cases, I suppose.”
“We,” Irene replies, snatching the paper from his hands and glancing through the article. “Shame. Miss Dalton was a gorgeous little thing. Found nude too, lucky bastard who found her.”
Irene grins over at her, and Mary, she simply flushes.
It’s hardly a shock when she walks in on them.
That alone is cause for enough distress to her proper upbringing, but she finds that that’s the last thing on her mind when she steps into Holmes’ room, only to find the man in question kneeling on the floorboards, Irene, dressed and elaborate on top of him, working her way down on what Mary can only assume is his, well, his cock given the way he’s breathless against the side of her neck. Irene pants, fingers tangled in his hair, and she kisses him, hard and impassioned before leaning over to snake her fingers beneath Watson’s chin to do the same to him. He sits there beside them, clothed and dishevelled and impossibly hard, and Mary clears her throat in what she believes is in fact a rather respectful manner given the situation at hand.
“Mary –“ and John looks so startled, deer on an ice-coated pond, despite Irene and Holmes’ blatant curiousity, their two pairs of eyes burning like embers on her skin, but Mary has had the time to school herself, the week since observing the two gentlemen’s kiss, to come to grips with her own lackings and their rather cruel way of completing each other.
So all in all, she merely smiles, tilts her head, says, “Lady Dalton has set up a meeting for tomorrow,” and turns to leave the room.
She’s not entirely sure she was expecting him to tumble out of the room after her, but something she hadn’t known was there uncurls with relief inside of her, even as she continues downstairs and into the lounge room.
She drops back into the suite, picking up some more of the paperwork to file when Mrs Hudson approaches, frazzled as always, “Tea, m’lady?”
“That would be wonderful, Anne,” Mary replies, smile pulled tight enough that her cheeks ache.
John staggers to the end of the lounge, sighs, looking hurt and derailed and entirely out of his comfort area, and the sentiment is both a relief and a discomfort in the pit of her chest as she says, “Yes, darling?”
He hesitates, Mary is certain, unsure where to go or how she is to react. She merely arches an eyebrow, hands still on the papers, but her attention is again trained impossibly on him, as if for a second it hadn’t been.
“It’s not what it looks like,” he tries eventually, and Mary shoots him a disbelieving look.
“On the contrary, I expect it’s exactly what it looks like.”
He pinches the bridge of his nose, has to balance himself on the arm of her chair as his cane is nowhere to be seen, and Mary instead moves the papers to the table, makes space beside herself for him to sit. He accepts, somehow both tentative and grateful.
“I really can explain,” he says after a minute, but he still can’t quite meet her eye, and Mary’s hurt, angry, but she’s not cruel, crass or unkind, so she chooses mercy over resentment.
“You don’t need to. There are…” she hesitates, tries to think of the appropriate words, and finds none really come, not naturally at least. She bites her lip. “Certain things,” she decides, “that I cannot provide, certain feelings that I cannot come to match and a relationship between the three of you that I can only hope to be a part of someday.” She says all this somewhat cautiously, playing with her engagement ring, pulling it off and twisting it in-between her fingers.
He drops into the chair opposite her, eyes wide and lips parted, and gently, hesitantly, he takes a grip of her hand, pulling the ring out of her grasp. Her breath is short, even as he leans forward, brings her hand to his lips and kisses the pale strip of skin where she faces a constant reminder of both wonderful gains and tremendous losses. It’s a second before, with shaking fingers, he slips the ring back on.
“I fear you are rather destined to be a part of all this, no matter anyone else’s thoughts on the matter,” he replies. “That is, if you are still willing to have me.”
It’s rather a relief to be home, to her own sheets and bed and nightdress, the latter of which is currently hitched around her waist. Her legs are spread, ankles locked around Watson’s waist, fingers on the back of his neck. He’s always been gentle here, when they make love, all too conscious of how much she’s giving by doing this out of wedlock, and maybe it was a relief, the way he didn’t find her to be too spoiled when she told him he was hardly her first. (Third, only to her last fiancé and a boy at her mother’s church when she was sixteen, but that was hardly anything for the books).
His breath is hot on her neck, jawline, and when he kisses her, it’s passionate and without wanting and it’s here that she remembers that she may have to share him with Holmes and Irene, but none of this between them is half-hearted, unwanted.
“John,” she hums, breathes into his mouth, “Darling.”
He’s panting against her cheek, skin, hot enough that Mary almost has to pull away, and somewhere in the distance there’s a whistle, a burst, a bang, and Watson pulls back, startled, and it’s all Mary can do to palm the back of his neck and pull him back down to meet her lips.
“What was that?” he whispers against her, and Mary ignores him, kisses him once, twice, three times, until he’s leaning back against her, thrusting into her hard until she’s gasping underneath him and it really would be wonderful to continue, but there’s another whistle, burst, bang, only closer this time, and they both seize momentarily with fright.
“What is that?” Only it’s Mary asking it this time, and John withdraws, pulls out, away and steps gently off the bed. He slowly makes his way to the door, and Mary pushes down her nightdress, moves to the edge of the bed only to hear a whistling somewhere underneath her. She glances up at John, and suddenly he’s crying out, racing forward to grab her wrist and pull her quickly from the room, in time to see something beneath the bed explode, the bed fracturing and the side table flying out through the window.
Possibly more, but John’s racing down the stairs, his hand so tight around her wrist that it’s impossible not to follow him, and they’re out of the front door before Mary can gather her bearings, just in time to watch the living room explode.
It’s terrifying of course, painfully so, but as they make the trek to the Baker Street residency only to have the door answered by an impossibly smug Holmes, and the invitation to stay until they can complete necessary renovations, both the truth and motivation becomes entirely too apparent.
Needless to say, Watson doesn’t get the chance to finish what he started, and Mary, aggravated and exhausted, rather finds herself unwilling to invite him to.
Mary hardly lived a lavish life at home, but the Baker Street residency is certainly a step down from her usual accommodations. She can’t say she dislikes it though, even if the company often leaves a lot to be desired.
“You do get used to the smell,” and it’s sudden, the imposition, but Irene is often like that, installing herself into rooms and homes and lives rather promptly and informally. She lowers herself to the lounge beside Mary. “I do tell our dear Sherlock to better care for it, if he intends to have us stay, but god knows he’s a deaf man when he so chooses.”
“Our?” Mary asks, and Irene laughs, leans in close enough that all Mary can smell is Parisian perfume.
“Soon-to-be,” Irene replies, her lips almost brushing Mary’s neck, and the heat, warmth, it’s distracting enough that Mary finds herself short of breath, the constriction only heightening when Irene slides her fingers down across Mary’s knee.
“It is, after all, rather nice to have some female company,” Irene hums, “Mrs. Hudson is entirely inadequate for my needs.”
“Your needs?” Her fingers are trembling, palms sweating, and that fact alone is somewhat humiliating, but Mary doesn’t honestly think herself capable of not reacting, not when Irene chuckles, a deep, throaty thing that echoes in the back of Mary’s head.
“Women’s business. You know, gossip and the like, fashion,” she tucks a strand of Mary’s hair behind her ear. “To help with dressing and -- well.”
She laughs properly this time, some wonderful, lyrical thing that has Mary’s lips parted in some inarticulate response when Watson comes in announcing Lestrade’s arrival.
“Exceptional timing, as always,” Irene responds. “Probably best I stay, don’t you think? Criminal mastermind that I am. Lestrade is willing to overlook a lot of things, but my parading around his fair town is probably too much even for him.”
John grins at that, and Mary uses the distraction to slip out from beneath Irene’s heavy hand, ignoring John’s knowing and somewhat inquisitive look as she smoothes her dress down her legs.
“You’ve taken on the Dalton case.” Lestrade’s voice is nothing but accusing, and Holmes, in a rather typical fashion, manages a wide-eyed, who-me? expression that has Mary rolling her eyes in a rather unbecoming fashion.
“We’ve met with the Lady of the house, yes,” Watson provides. “Holmes isn’t certain if there’s enough of a case.”
Lestrade looks like he’s about to respond, but Holmes simply doesn’t give him the chance.
“You do me a great disservice, old boy,” and mock-outrage is apparently another expression he finds particularly fitting. “I said no such thing. I simply believe that the case is of too insubstantial (an) effect. What we have here is probably a mere imitator of the late Blackwood, and if so, is of no interest to me whatsoever and hopefully not above and beyond the deductive skills of our local police service.”
And with a rather extravagant flourish, he pulls out his pipe, lights it, and takes a drag, ensuring to blow the smoke straight in Lestrade’s face. Mary wrinkles her nose, leans back in the lounge and watches what she can only assume is some sort of peacock-dance of male dominance. One Lestrade is sure to lose.
“Would another body peak your interest?”
Or maybe not.
Holmes, not missing a beat, replies, “Well, it certainly couldn’t hurt.”
This time, her name is Miss Mildred Waters, fourteen years old and the daughter of Lord Alfred and Lady Elizabeth, and her nude body and the small bruise on her thigh appear to be the least of Holmes’ worries as he deftly scopes out the bedroom. Watson, on the other hand, makes quick progress investigating the body.
The pair of them are talking in the sort of quick, practiced speech that Mary won’t pay heed to now but will spend too long dwelling over in the evening, the two of them passed out together in a bed down the hall. Instead, she runs fingers over the mantel over the fireplace, collects a few escaped remnants of dust that the housekeeper missed. There are pictures, a photograph of the family; father, mother, daughter, then of just the mother and dear little Mildred, and she picks it up almost without thinking. They’re both smiling, the sort of wide, cripplingly dishonest thing that Mary imitated in enough of her own family portraits, and the entire thing leaves a rather unsavoury taste in the back of her mouth.
“Who are you?”
The voice is terse, loud, and Mary fumbles, drops the frame back to the mantel and turns to find a governess, not five years younger, and somehow flighty, agitated in spite of the death of her young ward.
“Mary Morstan,” she replies deftly, after gathering her wits about herself. “The governess of Lady Arlington’s daughter. Round the same age as your dear Mildred,” she hesitates. “I do apologise, I’d merely heard the rumours, and you know, after the Dalton child – “
“Yes,” the governess replies, bites her lip, she seems somewhat embarrassed now by her curt reaction, and Mary tries for a gentle smile. “No, I totally understand. It’s so. “
The woman fumbles, wrings her hands, and Mary takes careful strides towards her, drops a hand to the small of her back and pushes her gently towards a chair. Holmes and Watson’s eyes burn holes in the back of her head.
“It’s all wrong, you know?” the woman continues, her eyes suddenly tearing, and it’s all such a very quick reaction that Mary wonders if maybe her first assumption of age was incorrect – the girl suddenly looks exceptionally young. “I never thought this sort of thing capable, thought she had just taken ill, but she began citing gibberish and, Lord,” she crosses herself. “It was like she was possessed.”
“Gosh,” Mary whispers, kneeling before the younger woman as she sits properly in the chair. “I don’t know what to say.”
“I merely left her for an instant, to get the nurse,” the woman continues, flushed and teary, “When I returned, she was covered like this and no longer breathing.”
Mary drops a hand to the woman’s cheek, pulls her in to embrace her. She’s cold to the touch, quivering and something throbs in the pit of Mary’s stomach, low and aching, twisting itself around her insides like she’s malleable and somehow more vulnerable for this girl’s - woman’s lack of control. She can’t help herself really, as she shoots John a glance only to see him hovering over the body. It’s when her gaze turns to Holmes only to find him staring back at her in an unwavering attention that she finds herself taken by surprise.
It’s hard to turn her attention back to the governess, made harder when the woman’s tears stop and she jerks away from Mary like she’s somehow burning, dangerous, and excuses herself from the room.
Watson barely waits an instant before taking advantage of the woman’s decided absence.
“It’s from a needle,” he says, supplies, “The bruise.”
“Of course it is,” Holmes replies, brushing a finger over the mantle place. “I do believe the question is no longer how but rather simply why.”
Watson does look at her at that, an exasperation that shows he’s quite as in the dark as she until Holmes decides to light the candle.
It’s late, early, and Mary wakes with a start. An awful night-terror regarding the fate of too many young women with bruises on their legs and the devil in their hearts and heads still all too present in her own, clutching at her innards and seizing up her chest. Gasping, she reaches out blindly for John’s hand, only to come hand to hand with the mattress and twisted up sheets.
There’s something to be said to waking up alone, a lack that turns into wantings and needs and impossible hurts with consciousness, and the emptiness at her bedside only mirrors itself in the cavern of her chest, goads the monsters from her nightmares and coaxes them out, further in. She sits up properly, tilting her head back to the ceiling, back to the bed and grimacing at the empty space. Pulling on a robe, she heads down the hall to Holmes’ bedroom, and hesitates only slightly before allowing herself inside.
The three of them are there, just as she expected, sprawled nude and entirely debauched, a spread of tangled limbs and red, red lips, and she’s seen them be intimate before, but not like this, not in such a way that she can’t tell where one of them ends and the other begins. They all turn of course, upon her entrance to face her. She tilts her head, watches them watch her, and it’s but a second of clenched eyes before John reopens them with some unspoken resolution.
“Mary,” he whispers, barely audible, and extracts himself impossibly slowly from their rapture to hold out a hand. It’s instant, the way Holmes tears his attention from Mary to face John. “Please,” Watson says, with little to no heed at Holmes’ sudden and intense change of focus.
John’s hand is outstretched, open, and it’s all Mary can do to hold herself still, steady, watch him slowly begin to tremble at her extended stillness until, finally, she inches forward to take it. She lets him undress her in front of them, lets him fuck her into oblivion between Irene’s raw want and Holmes’ torn betrayal, and it’s all Mary can do to lose herself in John’s lips and John’s hands and the wholeness she wishes she still felt when he fucked her.