Irene was still recovering from the shock of finding Sherlock Holmes drinking tea on the floor of her Kyoto flat.
"If you're here to collect me, I'll have you know that Japan doesn't extradite to the UK."
"It's not that," said Sherlock, setting the tea aside. "I want to hire you."
Irene blinked. This, somehow, was even more shocking.
"It's not what you think," Sherlock added, coloring slightly. "I'm about to embark on a dangerous undercover mission. If I were to be discovered, it's likely I'd be tortured."
"And? From what I've seen, you can take a blow."
"High praise," noted Sherlock with a smile. "I've worked hard to master my physical responses. But these days, the stakes are higher. If I were to break under pressure, it's not just me who'd be in danger."
Irene nodded. "Where do I come in?"
"Miss Adler, I'm told you're an expert in this field."
"You want me to hurt you?"
Sherlock cleared his throat. "It's a professional necessity, you understand. A matter of state security." He looked up and held her gaze. "I need you to find the limits of what I can endure, and then... take me further."
Irene could barely contain the thrill that ran through her body. "Well, since duty calls," she agreed. "Hand me that rope, and we'll begin."