Edwardian fencing outfit.
There were three ways in which Irene Adler had beaten the illustrious Mr. Sherlock Holmes.
This first wasn’t very clever, she thought. A simple disguise - a collar flipped high, a hat into which she tucked her dark hair, a dark scarf to hide the daintiness of her neck and the clomping walk of a boy not long out of school. She allowed her voice to crack, just a little, on his surname as she wished him good evening. She gathered that he meant to stop by at eight in the morning, and left hours in advance along with the photograph he sought.
The second was over a century later, when she’d taken a riding crop to him, drugged him and fled through an open window, free to misbehave another day while the detective slept it off. That, she thought, was even less inspired - she’d hardly even had to use a sleight of hand to hid the syringe, but Mr. Holmes did make a rather unfortunate habit of underestimating women. Perhaps he wouldn’t do so anymore.
And the last time was frightfully literal but also somewhat poetic, she thought, and highly satisfying if nothing else. It was also completely unnecessary, but she supposed at this point she’d just developed a taste for one-upping the man. Besides - he’d accused her of sentiment and then saved her life and how could she let him get away with that?
If he’d known it was her when they dueled, he hadn’t let on. The bout had gone on far longer than the allotted five minutes. She could hear him snarling through his mask, and it only made her smile as she parried and riposted each attack, a step ahead of his every strategy, and she was doing this in heels.
He aimed each time, whether in four or in six, for the heart stitched onto the left side of her jacket, which she had placed their specifically to distract him. She clucked her tongue at him, amused: And you accuse me of sentiment, my dear? she thought, allowing him to step just a jot too close and beating his blade out of the way on her final riposte. He spun to turn his back on her and stalked down the strip, all long limbs and ire. John Watson was a very lucky man, she thought deviously, and he’d be thanking her later when Sherlock returned to the flat sweaty and frustrated and beaten once again. Heaven knew how the boy hated that.
“You’re rather good -” he said grudgingly, turning to face her.
“You’re not so bad.”
His eyes widened slightly and then narrowed: he seemed to recognize her voice.
“Who are you?” he asked finally.
She pulled off her mask to meet his eyes and saluted him.
“I’m hurt,” she drawled. “One would think you would remember the woman.”
She smirked at the slight flush of color to those impossible cheekbones.
“Oh, yes, dear,” she told him, “I know all about the nickname.”