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To Act the Part

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„You are Sherlock Holmes. I am John Watson.“

Irene Adler was used to obscene role plays but none of her clients had ever asked her to play someone she actually knew in person. That changed when she met Molly Hooper. Molly was one of the very few clients who never wanted any sex. She only wanted Irene to act like Sherlock Holmes. That shouldn’t be too difficult. Irene had fallen for Sherlock once. She shared character traits with him.


Being Sherlock Holmes meant wearing nothing but a dressing gown or a sheet (this was different from being Irene Adler – Irene Adler would wear nothing at all), it meant commanding Molly – pardon, John – to fetch a mobile that was in the pocket of the jacket Irene was wearing (Molly was very specific with her instructions on this one), it meant bringing body parts into Molly’s kitchen (which Molly brought from the morgue, actually).


Playing with Molly meant running through London solving real-life murders (real-death murders?). Sometimes Irene wondered if Molly set up those, too (no, she didn’t wonder for real, the thought just struck her mind).


“Why do you pay me for playing this game with you? Do you regret that you could never be with Sherlock? That he wasn’t interested in you?”

“No. I never wanted to be with Sherlock.”

“But you want to act like you are with him.”

“No. I want to act like I am with a version of him that I made up. I don’t want to pretend that this is a version of reality. I want this not to be real.”


“Why produce a second reality if you can have something that is entirely unreal? You want your parents to tell you bedtime stories. You don’t want them to take you on bedtime adventures.”


Sometimes Irene couldn’t deal with being Sherlock Holmes (she was too smitten with him and he was way to dead for her liking) Then Irene suggested making their adventures more fictitious to add another level of detachment. They could still be John and Sherlock but the universe around them had to change. They could be John and Sherlock in an alternate universe. Some of these universes were so outlandish that the only thing making Sherlock recognizable as being Sherlock was that his limbs were somewhat gangly (although they weren’t for real because Irene’s long shaven legs were anything but gangly).

Irene’s favorite universe was Victorian England. Or, more precisely, a romanticized 21st century version of Victorian England. In this universe, Irene would call Molly ‘Watson’ and Molly would call Irene ‘Holmes’. Irene liked how impersonal the formal address sounded to her modern-time ears. Sometimes playing this way felt outrageously weird to Irene. Sherlock was so much a man of the 21st century. It was hard for her to really imagine him living over a hundred years ago.


One day Molly told Irene that Irene should take hard drugs from time to time so that Molly could be upset about it. Irene didn’t do it. There were limits to what she would do.


“You are James Moriarty. I am Sebastian Moran.”

Irene shivered. “You don’t want to be James Moriarty if you’ve seen James Moriarty.” Then she added: “Who’s Sebastian Moran? Never heard of him.”

“I made him up. He’s Moriarty’s right hand man. A sniper.”

“So he doesn’t exist.”

“I don’t exist.”

Irene didn’t know what to make of that. The longer she thought about it the truer it sounded. It was frightening.


“Do you think that Sherlock would be angry if he knew that we’re doing this?” It was an odd question for Molly to ask. She never had moral qualms before. The question also implied that John didn’t matter. That was something Irene liked. John had never mattered to her.

“We can’t make Sherlock angry. Sherlock is dead.”

“You are dead.”

“I pretended to be.”

“Because you love to play pretend.”

“Is that so, Seb?”