He brooded. It was his automatic reflex to do so between cases, a state of being to which he returned time and again. Without challenges, Holmes made his own; sometimes with disastrous results, but at the moment he was refraining from anything too dangerous, having promised both Watson and Mrs. Hudson that he would behave himself for the time being.

Watson was away; more precisely, he was off enjoying his honeymoon with Mary in Brighton. Knowing Watson’s prowess with the opposite sex, Holmes doubted the two of them would even leave their bedroom long enough to walk Gladstone regularly, let alone take in the sights of the seaside resort for their two weeks.

He tried not to think of it, since prurience wasn’t generally in his nature, but a touch of envy and arousal hit every time he considered the situation. He and Watson had each had paramours; Watson far more than he, but as men of the world they maintained healthy and discreet appetites. In private company they occasionally shared intimate information, and both had done their share of pursuing feminine charms when presented.

They were, in short, men who appreciated women, albeit with no interest in pursuing relationships.

Until now, Holmes sighed inwardly. Watson had done more than just follow a pretty ankle this time. He’d allowed his attraction in Mary to rise higher; moving from the intended goal between her thighs to her personality, and in the process had become . . . ensnared. Caught up with her in conversations and discussions and ultimately, future plans.

From honey pot to home-y plot, he thought, a trifle unkindly, and dismissed it. Watson was happy, and Mary was no reed to bend in the wind. She was loyal and tough in her own lady-like way; a good match for the man she had chosen. They were blissful, and despite his envy, Holmes wished them well.

But here, in the late afternoon shade of Mycroft’s folly as he looked out over the lovely countryside, it was difficult not to feel a touch of self-pity exacerbated by a lack of company. Holmes had taken up Mycroft’s loan of his house, but wandering around the empty place did nothing to soothe his irritations. Mycroft himself was absent, preferring to spend his time unraveling various knots of diplomatic entanglements in London and leaving the management of the estate to the housekeeper and staff.

Holmes leaned against one of the pillars of the folly and sighed. It was a graceful rotunda, classically Greek in design, modeled after the one at Stowe, albeit on a smaller scale of course. Housed in the center was a marble statue of Venus, seated on a throne and smiling far too smugly, Holmes thought, for a woman half-exposed to the elements. He had no particular appreciation for the Goddess of Love at the moment, and was considering the long hike back to the main house when the sound of a trap’s wheels coming up the gravel walkway brought him out of his reverie.

“Mr. Holmes!” came the gruff voice of Malone, the groundskeeper. “Yer ward is here!”

At this, Holmes spun, staring out at the approaching carriage, alert and curious. The distance was closing, and he could make out both figures; Malone’s beefy frame encased in his rough corduroy jacket and tweed flat cap, and next to him, the boy in the overcoat, wearing a plaid deerstalker, a few auburn curls escaping from under it.

“Th’ lad was lookin’ for you, sir, so I offered to bring him out this way and save him the trip,” Malone continued, pulling the shay to a stop a few yards from the Folly. “Youngster says you’ve got a lot of catchin’ up ta do.”

Holmes nodded slowly; watching as the boy lightly scrambled down from the shay and launched himself gracefully, arms outstretched. “Uncle Sherlock! How I’ve missed you, sir!” came the cheery call.

Stunned, Holmes allowed himself to be tightly hugged, and the faintest trace scent of Parisian perfume both allayed and inflamed his fears in the same moment. Beyond him, Malone chuckled a bit.

“Handsome little youth he is; had Maisie the parlor maid all in a tizzy with his shy eyes!”

“Did . . . he?” Holmes muttered, taking a moment to turn the boy away from Malone. “How very cheeky of . . . him.”

“Oh no harm done,” Malone interjected. “And right fond of you, he is, isn’t he?”

This seemed more than apparent, since the ‘boy’ had not let go of his tight, full-bodied hug around Holmes, who blinked and squirmed a little at this enthusiastic show of affection. Malone seemed to take no mind of it, though.

“Right, well I’m off to town sir; I’m afraid the two of you will need to take shank’s mare back to the house when you’re ready. Good day, sirs---” and with a touch to his cap, Malone smartly turned the cart, bringing the horse around in the direction they’d come from, and rattled off again, the wheels kicking up a little gravel as it departed.

As one trap pulled away, Holmes turned his attention to the other one in his arms. “I already have a reputation as a difficult misanthrope, Irene; I do not need the label of sodomite added to it,” he grumbled.

“Too late,” she whispered, hands sliding down to grip his backside. “Mmmmm, you’re full of avuncular lust, I see.”

“Stop!” Holmes hissed, as ever, torn between two courses of action. It was always like this with Irene; the war of mind and body, always a contest to see which would triumph. At the moment, body was gaining the upper hand, or at least the upper advantage, even if the member in question wasn’t the hand, precisely.

“Tell me, have you ever done it upright in a Grecian folly?” Irene murmured, bending her head to lick a particularly tender spot just under his ear, “Uncle?”

“Irene---” he warned, all too aware that they were within distant view of the house, and certainly if Malone turned around, he’d see far more affection going on than could be construed as normal for a boy and his guardian.

“I’ll take that as a ‘no,’” Irene purred, and let her small white teeth ever so gently nip at his skin. The effect was instantaneous and Holmes cursed himself for it, stiffening yet again. He slid his hands to catch Irene’s slender wrists, peeling them off of the small of his back.

“Listen to me! I’m sure Mycroft’s staff are willing to overlook any number of eccentricities, but this is not one of them! We are not in a position to do anything more than nod, and smile and create the impression of friendly, non-erotic, fraternal conversation. And that hat is ridiculous, by the way.”

“I love this hat,” Irene protested, “and you’re being overly-sensitive. Just because your bow is poised for the first overture is nothing to be ashamed of, you know.”

“And just because you have a peculiar fetish for improprieties that aggravate common decency and . . . and . . .” Holmes hissed, losing his train of thought as Irene rubbed one thigh between his, the caress of cloth and heat and pressure a thing of blackly exciting pleasure. He swallowed hard, eyes closed.

“It’s always nice to know you’re up for seeing me,” Irene sighed. “Far side of the folly, I want you, darling.”

Holmes didn’t say anything; he allowed himself to be towed to the back side of the edifice, where Irene then pushed him up against the base of Venus’s throne. He tried once more for reason, hands trying hard to catch hers. “Beds,” Holmes muttered hoarsely. “Mattresses of down, thick with silk brocade duvets; goose feather pillows---”

Her fingers nimbly undid the buttons of his bulging fly as she pressed up against him, cooing. “But you’re so lovely and hard for me right here, darling, so eager for my touch . . .”

Holmes muffled a moan, his hands shifting to her shoulders, pulling her closer to him and sending a pleading look heavenward. “Chaos, that’s always been your legacy . . .”

“Kiss me and shut up,” Irene ordered, her own voice strained now as she lifted her face to his. Holmes did wetly, his hands sliding under her overcoat to wrap around her waist, tugging at her shirt and pulling it free to reach the soft skin underneath. He grunted, rocking forward a bit as Irene cupped his straining erection, her cool, talented fingers caressing the heavy veins along it, and stroking him.

“Naughty uncle you are,” came her hungry whisper, “Come teach me a very private lesson here, oh please--!”

Her words made Holmes choke a bit, but his hands shifted, moved to tear at her fly buttons, popping them open one after another in quick succession. Under the cover of her overcoat it was easy to push Irene’s trousers down to her knees and slide his hand to cup a slightly calloused palm along her fluffy mound.

“Difficult to believe that the gates to perdition could be so . . . soft,” he growled, fingers toying with her curls even as Irene licked the corner of his mouth and rocked against him eagerly.

“Paradise,” she corrected him with a little whimper. “Worry about your soul later; I want to get laid.”

“So you shall, although I prefer the naughty niece over nephew,” Holmes admonished with a slight groan. “What am I saying? Irene, I refuse to be drawn into your twisted little games--”

She gave a little giggle, feminine and impatient. “Shall I get on my knees and draw this out?”

Instead of replying, Holmes twisted with her, scooping Irene up and dropping her bottom on the edge of Venus’s dais. Startled, Irene instinctively spread her knees for balance, and Holmes surged against her, one hand tugging her trousers down, the other swiftly guiding his impatient shaft. She gave a low, sweet keen as he thrust thickly into her, his kiss against her delicate ear.

“Folly,” Holmes rasped, “and madness, all in one--”

Irene kissed him frantically, her tongue against his as she clutched him, pulling him deeper. The trousers sagging around her slim ankles prevented her from wrapping her legs fully around Holmes, but she managed to bring her knees up around his hips, gripping them tightly as he drove hard into her, their bodies surging together and finding a frantic, lustful tempo. Irene gasped against his questing mouth, the deerstalker tumbling off to reveal a messy bun about to fall apart with each thrust.

Holmes was breathing hard, eyes half-closed and hands clenched around the bone of each of her hips; Irene shuddered at the sheer power of his lovemaking, the primal pleasure of his corded muscles and sinewy body. It wasn’t easy to seduce him, but the rewards made every effort worthwhile, she knew.

Then he tipped her hips, shifting the angle, and now his every stroke rubbed that lovely shivery spot deep within her. Irene felt the rush begin to build, like a wave rising to crest; inevitable and full of unstoppable power.

“You---” Holmes grunted, “--first, little niece.”

Irene cried out again; their heat and frenzy laced with risk and just the right amount of wicked fantasy sent her off the edge with a breathless rush. She shuddered hard, fingers digging into the shoulders of his jacket as pleasure wracked through her frame.

Holmes tried to slow himself and draw out the exquisite pleasure of taking Irene, but his impatient body refused to concede on the matter, and responded to the quick clench of her by pounding harder. He strained to hold back, but the sheer magnitude of lust throbbing through him defeated the attempt, and with a growl, Holmes erupted deep between her thighs, the mindless gratification washing through him.

It was difficult to keep standing, so he leaned heavily against Irene, nuzzling the damp length of her throat, tasting the sweetness of her sweat. The scent of her was lush and contented; he took pride in being the cause. Lightly Irene stroked his hair, and murmured gently. “Mmmmmmm. Now that’s the proper way to greet a loving relative, darling. Next time I can be your youngest aunt, just back from Paris, and—”

“--Among the things I find most intriguing about you is this indefatigable streak of sexual insanity,” Holmes muttered against her cheek. “We have just engaged in an act of public indecency which if reported to the authorities could have us both arrested, not to mention your sartorial subterfuge which at first glance would get you pegged--if you’ll pardon the gross pun--as a saucy catamite . . . darling.”

“Sodomy,” Irene murmured dreamily. “Oh that could be so lovely . . .”

Holmes gave a little, lost groan. “Say nothing more, I beg you!”

“You are so easily enticed down the primrose path, Sherlock,” she whispered with a hint of earnestness. “Honestly. If it wasn’t for the fact that you’re very good at . . . .” Irene slid a hand between their bodies and gently disengaged them, her hand caressing his sticky and softened shaft.

Holmes blushed as he fished out a handkerchief and presented it to her. “Flattery. Even as I deny your words, I am suspicious of them. Why are you here, Irene?”

She wiped the traces of their coupling from her mound and flashed him a quick smile. “One last and lovely tangle before I set off for the Continent. And to confirm precisely where your brother’s estate is, of course.”

“Another bolt hole for your collection?” he sighed, doing up his fly buttons and then tugging up her trousers and buttoning hers as well, although his fingers lingered on the latter action.

Irene gave a shrug. “I have prospects, and you have your cases. Better to enjoy ourselves in a few memorable trysts than attempt anything deeper that could be disastrous.”

“Mmm,” Holmes agreed, looking away for a moment. “I don’t suppose I could persuade you to at least stay the night, even if it must be as my . . . nephew.”

She laughed, and when her eyes met his, the twinkle in them held equal glints of affection and daring. “Give me two hours, and I can present myself as Watson’s niece, just in from New York. Wouldn’t it be the vilest evil to seduce a prim and shy young girl like that? So much temptation to a worldly man such as yourself, so many naughty tricks to teach a sweet innocent in her boudoir after the household has gone to bed.”

Holmes hesitated a moment, then caught her chin, lifted it and kissed Irene hard before muttering, “Not a folly; clearly a folie à deux.”

“It’s . . . a good madness though,” Irene told him, tenderly cupping his face and smiling into his eyes. “It will have to hold us for quite a while, if . . .”

“--Two hours,” Holmes nodded tightly, his melancholy gaze on hers.

Irene smiled.

His eyes were bright as he watched her run lightly across the lawn into the woods along the edge of the property. Holmes drew in a deep breath, and absently patted the goddess’ foot as he turned down the long path to the manor house, debating whether or not to tell the housekeeper to lay another place for dinner.



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