|Irene. A. (bohemianscandal) wrote in rooms,|
@ 2015-07-04 22:06:00
|Entry tags:||!penny dreadful(s), *log, irene adler, sherlock holmes|
Irene & Sherlock
Who: Irene A and Sherlock H
Where: Penny Dreadful
The world Irene inhabited ran in an orderly, if haphazard fashion. There was neither pattern nor rhythm to her days, save the sole rule - that nothing be entirely predictable. (This was affectation and cold-blooded practicality in play: men believed they understood that which they could predict, and there were far too many who knew of the Woman Irene Adler had once been (indeed, several Women) to warrant predictability). It was also staid, and Irene had a horror of staid. Despite the sordidity of the environs and the particularity of the fashion in which she undertook work, it was work. The business of catering to whim and habit in equitable measure, and in wiping clean her metaphorical fingerprints of the entire business -- but oh, living in the shadows was boring.
And there was no excitement, no frisson of walking the artiste’s tightrope without a challenge. Scandal was wrapped in brown paper, with lavender, and left to gently moulder, without excitement.
Society, it thrived on scandal. It bloomed, like the midnight gardenias in Paris and it revelled in the unlacing of staid, the freedom from rigidity. Staid was not rewarded, the little white mice who stood at the edges of ballrooms in their lace and their pearls and their meekly-lowered eyes were milquetoast and missish, there was no interest to be piqued from within their ranks. (Save but one: there had been one who was sharp beneath the frippery and frills, one who laughed without dissemblance of mirth without the censorious to watch). The little trained songbirds sat upon their perches and sang (or twirled) according to the order demanded by keen-eyed chaperones and the whims of the men in their white gloves, as society waited with whetted appetite for a single step beyond the line.
Irene loathed lines.
She wore green, the unsullied dark jade, pure poison in rustling silk, and her hair was drawn only notionally from the back of her neck. She laughed, she laughed as if the lamps had been lit for her entertainment, and with her body, and she leaned upon the arm of the gentleman who had brought her into the room (and paid for the dress, and the diamonds that glittered at her throat, but this was mere flim-flam and was beneath regard) and whispered speculation into his ear about the men in the room. She was Irene Castello tonight, and her Italian was perfect - shouldn’t it be? She had been taught to sing with the stresses of dead lyricists’ language, and the man who had taught her cantos in the swelter of Rome, teased out beauty in her voice had been an eminent distraction.
It was not a private party precisely, but a party thrown open to the sundries of Society, to dally as a temporary entertainment. Oh, she was entertainment, she knew that - but they did not know precisely what she knew, and where better to sharpen sadly-rusty skills? They thought Irene Castello to be the whore of the man whose coat she trailed fingertips over: she turned a smile brighter than the candles towards him as if she did not know he bartered for a private room above those in which rich men frittered away a fortune on the turn of cards, with another man whose English was as guttural as the manservant who answered the door.
She watched the crowd. Some man present would know her name: some man present would know another her and the anticipation of the danger thrilled, cool in her throat, quickening her pulse. And then ice drenched through, the momentary shudder of recognition and the flimsy entertainment tore itself into shreds, like flittered silk.
An imprecise moment. But she stilled. Her smile was Mona-Lisa-painted perfection, her head cocked toward her gentleman, but her eyes did not move quickly enough.
Sherlock Holmes was so rarely haphazard that no one but his closest friend had ever seen him such. In that friend’s absence, he was almost wildly ordered, pristine in the hawk-like settle of his carved features and evening jacket. There was no mistaking him, not Sherlock Holmes, not when he was absolutely convinced of his own identity and not bothering to hide it. He was absolutely resplendent in snowy white and coal black, hair slicked, gray eyes narrowed and knowing. The room murmured with his presence, because as of a few weeks ago he was supposed to be a mouldering body stuck in some crevice at the bottom of the Falls.
More than this visible resurrection, Sherlock Holmes did not often enter society in years previous. He was welcome, welcome in the way performers and entertainments were welcome, but Society bored him, and he made that clear on multiple occasions. The sparkling upper class was generally more paste than diamond these days, but they did enjoy being despised. Three people tried to attract his notice, and barely managed it, only the hostess exclaiming over his new lease on extended life received a rather cold nod, and even she was soon left behind in his long angular shadow. He bypassed two drink trays and wound through the crowd in Irene’s direction like a particularly sharp minnow leaving the school.
He was not smiling.
Irene hadn’t learned to despise Society. Not truly, not the way anyone who was born into it until it soaked into every pore like a finely blended perfume could discard Society as if it were nothing. She had been a small girl with her face pressed against the pane between her world and this one, that glittered even if the jewellery was paste. She hadn’t known the difference, then. Now? Now it was nothing to her in the way she had been nothing to It. Society was the stage, and entertainers were always welcome, but Irene’s face did not display welcome, or sentiment. It was a Noh mask of consummate professionalism, and her chin tilted up toward her companion.
Oh she recognized him. Everyone in the room did, it was what came of infamy that had gone on for so long it wasn’t a passing fad. He might have been Dickensian, in the way he muddled them, dragging chains to rattle, like a specter. It was perfectly obvious he wasn’t dead. Irene didn’t believe Sherlock Holmes could die. It would please too many people and it would leave ends unknotted and nothing to pry at.
But even in a room filled with susurrating murmurs, the held breath of Society with a grand new entertainment, Irene’s head felt like it was full of clockwork set asunder, measuring in precise seconds in the wild sweep of hands. She had to leave. There was no way to wait, no way to ride it out when he had cut through the crowd with such deliberation. There was a great deal to risk, and risk was a frisson between having it all, and having nothing left.
No. Swift calculation, and she drew the head of her companion down to her, said something that had him step back, and directly into the path of one of the wait-staff who circled with champagne glasses -- who knocked sideways in a clatter and calamity, and a tinkle of breaking glass and echoing gasps and angry interjections from ladies in ruined silks. It all happened to be in Holmes’ path, and if that paved the way for a practiced, casual walk toward the necessary, where a lady could apply to her toilette -- and she climbed out the window therein -- who could have predicted that?
The woman who walked with quick, but uneventful speed was a drab one. Moth colored cloak over silk and the jewels were poured into an internal pocket and her shoes were boots, a size too large, taken from a servant who had been uncertain until money had been put into her hand. Irene fled, and she knew it, pride burning in her throat, but pride, and frisson, that sweltered in the wake of what tipped the scales toward caution.
Holmes had not expected her to retreat. It was the last thing he expected, actually, and he paused in his path, watching her over the end of his sharp nose in a manner that even the surrounding crowd had to notice. Most of the room had turned their attention to Mr. Holmes, standing in their midst like a particularly sharp beanpole in a flower garden, and in turn, they then turned to follow his attention to her. It occurred to the detective that the lady's behavior was distinctly guilty, and while his purpose was not in the criminal way (precisely) his previous encounter(s?) with Irene Adler had not left him with an overabundance of trust in her.
He watched her interaction with her companion, an uninteresting man he had assessed and dismissed in a very short few seconds as advanced in age, money, and boredom. His shoes suggested a negligent valet, his fingers a taste in cigars, and his watch that he was unhappily widowed some years previous. Irene Adler could do some harm to a man such, but not any that he would not deserve, or indeed, would not enjoy. Holmes dismissed him as deserving collateral damage, at best.
Her maneuvering had successfully stayed him from his direct approach, and he was caught in a knot of hand-wringing from a matron who was bemoaning the staining of her prized Worth dress from a century past. He watched her disappear into the crowd, down a hall, and let his mouth relax in thought as she vanished in a whip of emerald silk. Thoughtlessly, forgetting entirely that he was in a crowd of society matrons and stepping on broken Moreno glass, he groped around for a cigarette case and turned again toward the door, begging the butler for a light while the neglected hostess was caught between gratitude at his momentary presence and annoyance at his obvious rudeness.
Attired again in coat and hat, Sherlock Holmes moved out under the gaslight with his cigarette already lit, and turned toward Baker Street, pondering the implications of the short evening.