1. What they smell like: Casmir by Chopard
2. How they sleep (sleeping position, schedule, etc): Irene typically sleeps on her side with her arms curled into her chest, sometimes with her legs pulled in as well. She loves being wrapped in the covers, and if she’s sharing the bed with another person, she’ll take the covers from them. She also will cuddle up to people she trusts who sleep in the same bed as her (such as Kate or Sherlock), but she won’t acknowledge that little fact to anyone but her significant other at any given point.
3. What music they enjoy: Opera, classical, songs that make her feel powerful
4. How much time they spend getting ready every morning: A very long time. She prefers to have at least an hour in the mornings to get ready, as often her getting ready in the morning calls for all that makeup and the fancy dress and whatnot, but she can get ready perfectly with the dress and the makeup and the hair in thirty minutes if she’s truly in a hurry. The hair is what’s really difficult for her to do without another person.
5. Their favorite thing to collect: People and secrets
6. Left or right-handed: Right
7. Religion (if any): Raised Catholic but is currently agnostic
8. Favorite sport: Dance, with a particular emphasis on ballet and pointe
9. Favorite touristy thing to do when traveling: Stay in fantastic hotels and sightsee
10. Favorite kind of weather: Spring days where the sun is out and there’s a light breeze
11. A weird/obscure fear they have: Abuse (though that’s not too weird or obscure)
12. The carnival/arcade game they always win without fail: Throwing darts at balloons
Of course Jim is eager. What self-respecting man wouldn’t be eager to spend some time with this woman? In his case it certainly is because he wants his information, and rightfully so. Miss Adler boasts a high success rate and a specialized skill set, meaning that results are assured and typically in far less time than one might expect. Give her a moment more than she needs, and she is liable to find something else to do with whatever she has acquired. It is not unlike purchasing some trinket for a gift intended for a friend, only to grow so attached that one decides to keep the item for themselves.
He does not say any of this to her, of course. Irene’s ego does not need stroking, nor does she need for Jim to give her any ideas. If she did decide to hand his information off to the highest bidder, their contract would be terminated and he could very well have her terminated as well, but they both know the likelihood of that happening is fairly small. She is too valuable and, though Jim would never admit to it, he has become somewhat fond of her to an extent. Destroying something so lovely, and so valuable, would not be a wise move on his part.
That doesn’t mean she doesn’t try his patience, sometimes.
"With enough pieces, the big picture can be guessed at," Jim says optimistically, though his eyes have narrowed dangerously. When terrorist plots are involved, there is far too much at stake for simple guesswork to be in any way acceptable. His only solace is that Irene may have taken some fat, ugly old fraud to bed for no good reason, though realistically he knows that it might not have been the case. While Jim may not dabble all too often in her trade, he does know a thing or two; enough to understand that sex is not always involved.
It’s a nice thought, though; disgust and disinterest, all at her expense and for Jim’s benefit. Still, it’s not enough for them to be even. Not even close.
"Miss Adler," Jim sighs, letting his fingers drum rhythmically against the arm of his chair. "What am I to do with you? Allow you sufficient time to fix your mistake?” She ought to know that just because he’s asking doesn’t mean he actually intends to do it. It’s a trap, either way. Asking for more time is a weakness, a form of groveling, but if she does not, she admits that the small scraps of likely useless information she does have is all she can offer him.
What people didn’t often realize was that Irene loved what she did. Bringing people, men and women, down to their knees in front of her, owning them completely and utterly in ways that were both physical and psychological, gave her a thrill that nothing else could. It was where she could prove her superiority, especially considering people were paying her to break them. That was proof enough of how far above them she was.
And perhaps the best part was that she didn’t compromise herself. She didn’t take her clothes off unless she wanted to. Did she show a fair amount of skin? Sure, but she was comfortable with every inch of skin shown. That was the most important thing. Nothing happened in her profession that she didn’t orchestrate. Her business and her rules, and that meant that sex typically wasn’t part of what she was paid for. Irene was no common whore; she didn’t have sex with people for money. She scolded, she punished people. If her relationship with a client came to sex, it was because she had wanted or needed it to.
Thankfully, her relationship with the person in question on this job didn’t come to sex; it hadn’t been that dire that she had needed to resort to such a tactic. He was old, married with kids, not exactly the type of person one would look forward to bedding. So Irene hadn’t exactly sacrificed too much of herself.
She took another sip of her tea, looking at Jim over the rim of the cup. Irene knew exactly what he was doing. He was setting his trap. If she asked for more time, it would give off the impression that she was incompetent, that she hadn’t been able to get it right the first time and was acknowledging it. However, if she doesn’t ask for that extension, she will be offering him scraps. Either way, she loses.
So Irene made herself a third option. She lowered the cup carefully, looking at him with raised eyebrows. With Jim, every movement, every action, every eyebrow raise is calculated perfectly. It had to be. One wrong move and there would be a sniper’s sight on her head for simply offending the man. “My mistake? You’ve got it all wrong, love.” She will give him what he has, not acknowledge the fact that it’s really nothing, pretend that from those little scraps he can create a concrete picture, and hold her head high throughout. That could work. “I don’t do re-dos. Not how I run things. I retrieved information the first time around, and I was successful. Your turn to do something meaningful with the information.” He wouldn’t be able to. She would pretend that he would, leave her. Perhaps deceiving Jim, or at least attempting to, was a risk (correction: certainly was a risk), but Irene was willing to take it.
"He senses something, call it desperation
Another dollar another day
And if she had the proper words to say
She would tell him
But she’d have nothing left to sell him”
- ”The Ballad of Mona Lisa,” Panic! At the Disco
Irene Adler is desperate. Desperate for success, desperate for recognition, and desperate for importance, among other things. But that is, of course, a given. Everyone is typically desperate for something: Hers just happens to be importance. Being a woman in a business that revolves around sex is not out of the ordinary; it’s how she conducts herself in that business that is extraordinary and different. And though she loves being able to bring people to their knees in front of her with a few slashes of her whip (hence why she became a dominatrix instead of a simple prostitute; she wanted the control), it still wasn’t enough.
It was becoming a criminal and spy that helped set her even further apart, made her feel more important. And her desperation for recognition comes from being a woman in a criminal world dominated by men. Irene is just as competent in her work as they are, and yet no one is willing to believe it, despite the fact that she could have them wrapped around her finger easily.
However, in addition to a desperation for recognition and importance, she is also desperate and in search of more traditional things: Companionship, trust, etc. Her desire for companionship is part of the reason she stuck with Kate so long. She is perfectly competent on her own, but she needs that anchor, whoever it may be. Her want of trust is evident in nearly all the fights she and Sherlock have about trust: She tells him things and he doesn’t tell her things in return, and even though that’s because he’s still uncomfortable with doing so, it isn’t enough of an explanation for her. She wants to know that at least one person in the world can trust her with something, and that she can trust them in return. Trust is everything to her (which partially stems from her relationship with Godfrey, in which there was no trust at all). Even though she’s paranoid that most are out to get her and that everyone is an enemy, she’s always looking for that one person to trust. Trust might just be her obsession when it comes to certain people.
If Irene had the proper words to tell someone, the proper strength, and the proper willpower, she’d let more people close. She’d be more open about things like this. She’d tell people about her desperation to be recognized, her want of companionship, her need for trust.
But Irene, in her line of work, needs to sell confidence. She needs to ooze confidence and poise and grace and class and sex and arrogance. It’s a tall order. She needs to make everyone know that she is superior, needs to make others believe it, and goes so far as to make herself believe it, too.
If she told someone else how vulnerable she actually is when it comes to some things, how ordinary, if she actually stepped off of her pedestal for one moment and became human, she’d have absolutely nothing left to sell them.