John parked Sherlock's motorbike in the tiny car park reserved for the few guests that did drive their own vehicles, and walked into the lobby of the hotel. It was nicer than usual—there was a chandelier hanging from the hand-painted ceiling, and a string quartet was playing in front of an attached cafe. Every surface seemed to gleam spotlessly with gold plating. John looked at Sherlock out of the corner of his eye and grinned.
"Nice, huh?" he asked.
Sherlock was distracted by the musicians. He looked at John and nodded.
As they passed the front desk, a man in a crisp black suit fumbled to put away his phone and smiled widely at John.
"Afternoon, Mr. Holmes, sir," he said. "Can I get you anything? Pillow for your guest?"
Sherlock frowned. "Do I—"
"Uh, no, that won't be necessary," John said quickly, guiding Sherlock past with a hand on his back. "Think we've got enough in the room already. Thanks, though."
He led Sherlock to the lift and pushed him in, stabbing the "close doors" button before anyone could follow them. Sherlock looked at him, expectantly.
"I uh—sometimes use your last name when I reserve a room," John muttered.
Sherlock gave a sly grin. "John Holmes?"
"It's practical," John added, refusing to meet Sherlock’s eyes. "It's not a name I'm likely to forget, and people seem to know it. They assume that I'm related, but they don't ask—"
Sherlock slid an arm around John's back.
"Practical," he said. "Of course." He pulled John closer.
"Whatever you're thinking, stop thinking it," John grumbled. The lift doors opened, and he stubbornly shrugged out of Sherlock's grip and walked down the hall. Sherlock followed, laughing under his breath.
Suite 221 was at the end of the hall. John entered the code that activated the fingerprint lock on the door, then pressed his thumb to the touchpad. The door slid open with a hum.
"John!" Molly immediately stood from where she had been nestled cross-legged in front of her laptop. She took a step forward as if to run towards John, but stopped when she saw Sherlock behind him.
"Where've you been?" Lestrade asked, around a mouthful of chicken lo mein. Sally was sitting across from him in an armchair, and raised an eyebrow at John as he entered the room.
The door slid closed behind Sherlock. John took off his jacket and tossed it onto a chair.
"Sorry," he said. "Got held up. We were chased by—"
"Wait, what’s he doing here?" Lestrade asked, pointing his chopsticks at Sherlock.
"Oh, it’s okay, he’s John's hostage," said Sally, irritated.
"I thought you'd get rid of him at the—"
"No," said Sally. "Apparently we're kidnappers now. John likes to make these decisions without consulting us."
John sighed. "Would you—hold on," he said. "He's not my hostage. He's just—" He took a breath and pulled Sherlock to stand beside him. The others stared at him, in wait.
"This is Sherlock," John said. "Sherlock Holmes."
Lestrade and Sally's faces were blank but Molly gave a soft gasp.
"Sherlock?" she asked.
John looked at her and nodded. Her face softened into a smile.
"Is anyone going to fill us in?" Lestrade asked, exchanging a look with Sally.
"Sigerson Bank is owned by the Holmes family.”
"My brother," Sherlock corrected. "Mycroft."
"Oh, so now you've kidnapped the brother of the man who owns the bank we're planning to rob?" asked Sally. "John, I really wish you'd—"
"I didn't kidnap him. He's here willingly. We know each other. We've met. Before."
Sally and Lestrade were quiet. Molly sat back down at her laptop, and typed away, smiling. John inwardly groaned at having to navigate the introductions. He turned to Sherlock.
"You're staying," he said. "Take off your jacket and put it over there, with mine."
Sherlock gave a haughty look to Sally and Lestrade, who were both frowning at him, Lestrade with mostly confusion, and Sally with a little more annoyance. He tossed his jacket next to John's, then unravelled the scarf from around his neck. There was a darkening bruise high on the right side of his throat. Everyone's gazes were immediately drawn to it.
"Uh—" Lestrade stammered.
Sally just gave a soft, "Oh."
Molly's face turned pink.
John looked at Sherlock's neck, quickly trying to change the subject.
"So um...I figure he can help us. Probably knows a bit more about the security system at Sigerson." He sat down on an empty sofa. Sherlock sat next to him.
"That's only partially true," Sherlock said. "Mycroft keeps a lot from me. He wants me to take an interest in the bank, but he doesn't trust me with too much insider knowledge."
"Well you've got to know more than we do," said Molly, still typing at her computer.
Sherlock shrugged. “Undoubtedly, yes.”
"Well in that case, I'm glad to have you with us," said Lestrade. "And if John trusts you, I do, too." He held out a hand. "Greg Lestrade."
Sherlock shook it, firmly.
"You used to be a Timekeeper," he said.
Lestrade's eyes widened. "Uh—"
"I've known enough in my day to be able to tell. You were with them for five years? Seven? No more than ten. You became disillusioned by the injustices of the system. Found yourself arresting more people who genuinely needed the time than people who were stealing it for selfish reasons, so you left."
Lestrade looked at John, who was smiling.
"Um, seven years is right. How'd you—"
Molly stood up from her computer and reached over to offer Sherlock her hand. "My name's Molly," she said. "Molly Hooper." She sat back in her chair and waited.
"You're close to John," Sherlock said. "He mentioned you once, in passing. I believe you worked together?" Molly nodded. "You don't have his hands. Your calluses are in different places. You were a programmer, then. Probably pushed into it by your parents, who were in the same field, but you ended up genuinely enjoying it. And judging by the twitch of your eyelid when I mentioned your parents, I believe you lost them—"
John nudged Sherlock's arm as Molly’s smile suddenly faded. "Alright, that's enough," he said. Sherlock turned to Sally, but she didn't introduce herself.
"Sally Donovan," John said, motioning towards her.
Sherlock nodded and opened his mouth to speak, but Sally stopped him.
"Don't," she said. She looked at John, frowning. "You sure you can trust him?" she asked.
John nodded, firmly. "I'd trust him with my life. I already have."
"I hope you're right." She turned to Sherlock.
"Greg's not the only one who was a Timekeeper," she said. "Took me five years to realize I was doing more harm than good. But let's see if I've still got it, yeah?"
She pointed at Sherlock's boots. "The bike is brand new, and you've got the whole kit to go with it. You're more than wealthy—you've never had less than a hundred years on your arm, have you? You probably bought the bike to show your brother that you're not under his rule. If he's the one who owns the bank, he's the more responsible one—likely older, too—and he doesn't like seeing you zooming around, headed for death."
She paused, and the room was still. "The bank was left to you by your parents, am I right?"
Sherlock nodded. "Died in a car crash."
"Ah, real rebellious of you, then. The bike.” Sally stood up. “I've known people like you. Rich and careless. Don't think about anyone but yourselves. We've got a good thing going here, and I don't trust you not to screw it up."
Sally held up a finger. "Let me speak, John.” She turned back to Sherlock. “If John says you're on the team, then you're on the team. John's in charge. But I've been screwed over before by people who were more interested in showing off and breaking the rules than in doing good for other people. So just know that I'll be watching. And if I see anything funny, believe me, the others are going to know about it. Understood?"
Sherlock stared up at her in mild shock, then slowly nodded, eyes narrowed.
“Understood,” he said.
Sally offered him her hand, and they shook.
“Screwed over by whom?” Sherlock asked.
“Don’t think that’s any of your business.”
John tugged Sherlock’s sleeve. “Don’t,” he said. “Let it go.”
Sherlock didn’t question further. Sally gave him a parting nod, and left the room.
"What was that all about?" John whispered to Lestrade.
Lestrade shrugged and put his empty container of lo mein on the coffee table.
“She’s got her reasons.” He glanced at Sherlock’s arm and sat back in his chair as Sally returned.
“So,” she said. “Where do we go from here?”
That night, lounging in the sitting room of the suite, everyone was a bit on edge. John couldn’t shake the feeling that they were being watched. He kept glancing towards the windows, but never saw anything unusual when he looked outside.
After a dinner of leftover takeaway, they started getting ready for bed to prepare for an early start the next morning. There were two bedrooms in the suite, each with two double-sized beds. Lestrade had been sharing a room with John, but when he saw Sherlock exiting the bathroom in John’s pyjamas, he hesitated a bit. Sally caught on quicker.
"Hey, Greg," she said. "Why don't you take my bed. I can share with Molly."
John looked up, sharply, as Lestrade moved his backpack into the other bedroom. "Wait,” he said. “That's not—no one has to share but Sherlock and me. We're not going to—"
"It's fine," said Molly. "Sally and I used to have sleepovers in primary school. It'll be just like old times." She smiled at Sally and arranged her pillows to make room for two.
"Lestrade," said John. "You honestly think we'd do anything with you in the room? We’re—"
Lestrade held up a hand. "It's not that I don't trust you, mate. It's just—well you two ought to have...you know. Some time. To yourselves." He set his phone on the nightstand table and fluffed his pillow before lying down.
John looked at Sherlock, who was in the bathroom, brushing his teeth with John’s toothbrush. Sherlock gave a foamy grin.
“Fine,” muttered John. “But I’m not going to bed right away. I think we should keep watch tonight.”
“You think they’re still looking for us?” Molly asked.
“I have Mycroft’s brother, of course they’re still looking for us.” John sighed. “We’ll split the night into two-hour shifts."
Sally raised a hand. “Wake me up when it’s time. I’ll go next.”
John nodded, and closed the door behind him as he left.
It wasn’t the first time they had kept watch after a job. This hotel was particularly suited for it. The balcony offered a perfect view of the main entrance below, and the street was lit well enough that John was confident he would be able to catch anything suspicious.
The night was warm, despite the light drizzle falling from the clouds overhead. The moon was a dull fuzz in the sky. John sat on a rocking bench near the edge of the balcony, one foot propped against the wall. A forcefield prevented the rain from blowing inside, keeping the space warm and dry.
The glass door opened behind him with a soft woosh, and John turned around to find Sherlock standing in the doorway. He was barefoot, wearing one of the dressing gowns that the hotel had provided.
“You should sleep,” said John, turning back around and not bothering to put any strength behind his argument.
Sherlock padded across the balcony and sat next to John, rocking the bench back and forth with one foot. After a moment of silence, he spoke.
"So is this what you've been doing while we were apart?" he asked. "Robbing banks?"
John shrugged. "Sort of. We just started about six months ago."
"What else did you do?"
"Can't you deduce that?" Sherlock raised a humourless eyebrow, and John huffed a laugh.
"Not much," he said. "Same as before, really. Work. That's about it."
"You kept going to the pub?"
"No. I stopped gambling. And I stopped Suicide." John looked over at Sherlock’s hand, where it rested between them. "Thought about what you said. When we met again, I wanted to be...better."
Sherlock shifted closer, so that they were pressed side-to-side. John gave in and linked their fingers.
"We've only known each other for four days," said Sherlock.
"Yeah." John looked at him. Sherlock was so close now that John could smell his skin. "You're different. I think." He hoped he wouldn’t start regretting the words that were falling out of his mouth. He looked away.
"Different from whom?"
John shrugged. "Everyone."
He leaned forward to get a better glimpse of a black car that had pulled up in front of the hotel, but when he saw that it was a group of laughing, inebriated teenagers, he sat back. Sherlock put a hand to John's cheek and turned his head to the side so he could look into John’s eyes.
John smiled. "I'm trying to keep watch here," he said, in a near-whisper. "You're distracting me."
Sherlock kissed him until John was only distantly aware of the outside world. When they broke apart, Sherlock sat back on the bench and stared soberly ahead.
"Wouldn't want to distract you," he said.
The drizzle started to calm into a light mist, and the clouds became less heavy and more like sheer wisps of colour over the sky. Sherlock rested his head on the back of the bench, and closed his eyes. He became so quiet and so still that it looked like he was asleep.
John leaned forward and stretched his arm over the edge of the balcony, passing through the warm wave of heat that marked the edge of the forcefield. He pulled back his rain-dampened hand and rubbed it over his face, the cold water helping to keep him awake. When he sat back on the bench, Sherlock was looking at him.
“What did you do?” John asked. “While we were apart?”
Sherlock thought for a moment.
“Led the Timekeepers astray on the Walters case. Avoided the cases that Mycroft gave me, and took my own instead. Dropped the drug habit, which you noticed.”
“Just like that?”
Sherlock shrugged. “Two months at a facility. I had incentive. And a one-year deadline.”
John’s stomach couldn't decide if it wanted to twist in on itself or flutter like it had wings.
“I did intend to see you again,” Sherlock continued. “I wanted to. I just...”
John nodded. “We met again purely by chance. What would have happened if we hadn’t?”
“I would have found you.”
“You say that, but—” John turned to look at Sherlock, and stopped. Sherlock was staring at him with a confidant intensity. John licked his lips and turned away.
The rain had stopped completely, and John had all but forgotten the crowd below. The balcony felt very warm.
“I kept a picture of you,” Sherlock murmured. He was still looking at John.
“From the frame in your room. I copied it onto my phone before I left.”
John’s mind was blank for a moment, then he remembered the first night they had spent together.
“The one of me on the hoverplane?” he asked.
Sherlock nodded. He shifted on the bench then leaned forward and kissed John’s cheek.
“It’s not a very good picture,” John said, rapidly losing control of his thought process as Sherlock started kissing a line down his neck. “My uniform’s dirty. I hadn’t showered for a week.”
“Nonsense,” Sherlock purred, grinning against John’s skin. “It was inspiring.”
John swallowed. “Oh.”
“I looked at it almost every night.”
Sherlock laughed, softly. He kept his face tucked into the crook of John’s neck and slid one hand onto John’s knee.
John shifted, though he wasn’t sure if it was to move further away or to move closer.
“I have to keep watch,” he said, turning to press his cheek to Sherlock’s curls.
Sherlock didn’t seem overly concerned. His hand moved further up, and John’s legs parted just a fraction. John covered Sherlock’s hand with his own.
“What did I say about distracting me?” he whispered. He guided Sherlock’s hand up his thigh. Sherlock’s fingers were just coming blessedly close to the bulge in John’s trousers when the balcony door slid open.
John startled, slamming his elbow into the back of the bench. He muttered a curse and rubbed at his arm, looking up to see Sally raising an eyebrow at him.
“I set an alarm,” she said. “Just in case. Your shift’s over.”
Sherlock stood, giving John a heated look over his shoulder as he passed Sally and headed back into the suite. John took a slow, steady breath.
“I hope you didn’t miss anything while you were distracted.”
Sally sat down on the bench where Sherlock had been.
“Just be careful. That’s all I’m saying.”
John nodded, curtly. “Thanks.”
John half-expected Sherlock to pounce as soon as he stepped into the bedroom. Instead, Sherlock was sitting on the edge of the bed, staring down at his feet. He glanced up as John shut the door quietly behind him.
“Are you alright?” John asked, because it seemed like an appropriate question.
John walked over to him and stood between his knees. He tilted Sherlock’s chin up and gave him a chaste, close-lipped kiss. Sherlock shifted back on the bed. He took a handful of John’s shirt and pulled him closer.
John crawled over Sherlock, and the world was thrown into sharp relief. John was hyperaware of everything—the scent of Sherlock's musk, the sound of rustling bed sheets, the feeling of expensive cotton beneath his palms.
"You said you missed me." He fell to Sherlock's side, lying half over his body. "When we were driving earlier..."
"Did I?" Sherlock asked.
John propped himself up on one elbow and found that Sherlock was looking at him, amusedly. He narrowed his eyes.
“You know you did, now you’re just being a prat.”
Sherlock smiled and flipped them over so that John was on his back. They were sideways on the bed, their feet dangling over the edge.
"I may have thought of you," Sherlock said. He kissed the base of John's throat and started undoing the buttons on his shirt. "Once or twice."
"Oh, is that all?" John asked. "Because I thought I heard something about 'every night?'"
Sherlock chuckled. "I said almost." He sat up, straddling John’s hips.
“Did you mark it on your calendar? Twenty-third of June—must think of John today, then I’m set for the year.”
Sherlock leaned down and kissed John briefly on the mouth.
“I thought of you often,” he said. "Why do you think I took the picture in the first place?"
He pulled off John’s shirt and tossed it on the floor.
"You know, I’m not entirely sure," John said, quietly. He put his hands on Sherlock’s thighs, enjoying the feeling of warm skin through the soft fabric.
Sherlock didn't explain. He trailed a hand down John's chest, pausing briefly at his belt buckle, then slid the belt off and dropped it over the edge of the bed. He pulled off the glove that John wore to conceal fifty years of stolen time, raising an eyebrow at the number.
John reached up to pull the dressing gown off of Sherlock's shoulders. The t-shirt Sherlock was wearing was tinted pink due to a laundry mishap. It was too large in some places and too small in others, and truthfully looked a little awkward. John gripped the worn bottom edge and pulled it up and over Sherlock's head.
Sherlock swallowed loudly enough to be heard in the quiet room. John licked his lips.
"You're lovely," he murmured. "Didn't get to see you properly, before."
Sherlock moved off of John's hips and laid down, his head on the pillow. He drew up his legs as if to protect himself. John crawled up next to him as Sherlock took off his glove and reached for John with his bare arm. He curled it around John’s back and pulled him down for a kiss.
The feeling of Sherlock's naked forearm against John’s scarred skin was intoxicating. John felt lightheaded. The numbers on their arms flickered like bolts of lightning.
Sherlock relaxed as they kissed, and straightened out his legs. He was still wearing John's ill-fitting pyjama bottoms, and John was still in his jeans. John looked down at Sherlock’s fingers as they started fussing with his flies in short, nervous movements. Sherlock’s lips were pursed, his forehead wrinkled in concentration. He glanced up and caught John’s eyes. John kissed the crease between Sherlock’s eyebrows.
Sherlock pulled the jeans off of John’s hips in a series of tugs, and John moved to lie between Sherlock's legs. When he started kissing Sherlock's neck, Sherlock closed his eyes and ran his hands up and down John's back. John scraped his teeth lightly over Sherlock’s skin, and Sherlock gave a soft "ah."
"You like that?" John asked, his voice rough.
Sherlock nodded. His hands gripped John's waist, tightly.
"I want to know what you did with my picture. Tell me." John slid a hand down Sherlock's chest, played with the waistband of his pyjama bottoms, then delved inside. His fingers tickled at the edge of Sherlock's public hair, but pointedly ignored his now-obvious erection.
Sherlock blew out a frustrated breath.
"I—just—" He tried to shift towards John's hand, but John pulled away.
“Did you touch yourself?” John asked, his voice almost more air than sound. “Thinking of me?”
Sherlock’s breath hitched.
“Was that a yes?” John pressed his hips down, circling them in a lazy grind against Sherlock.
Sherlock nodded messily, and John closed his eyes.
"Oh—god, Sherlock." He kissed Sherlock again, breathing hot exhales into his mouth. He couldn’t get the image out of his mind—Sherlock lying in bed, one hand in his pants, the other clutching his mobile, John's picture displayed on the screen.
"Tell me what you want,” John groaned. “I'll give you anything."
Sherlock wrapped his arms around John’s waist and rolled to the side. He tucked his head under John’s chin and started sucking kisses at his collarbone.
“Tell me,” John repeated. One hand dropped down Sherlock's back to squeeze his arse.
Sherlock stilled. “I don’t want—I’m not interested in penetration,” he said.
John nodded. “That’s fine. There are plenty of other things we can do."
Sherlock ducked his head and kissed John's chest. His face was flushed pink, and John suspected that he was trying to hide it. He buried his nose in Sherlock’s hair.
"Sherlock," he whispered. "Do you want me to take you in my mouth?"
Sherlock shivered and nodded, his eyes wide.
John licked his lips. He pushed Sherlock over onto his back and shifted down to rest between his legs. Sherlock instinctively drew his knees up and tilted his hips towards John. John leaned in to kiss the bit of belly above Sherlock's waistband. He tugged the pyjamas down just enough to run his tongue over Sherlock's hipbones. Sherlock drew a startled breath.
John smiled against a scattering of freckles on Sherlock's skin. He propped himself up on his elbows and eased the pyjamas off of Sherlock's hips. John closed his eyes and swallowed, thickly. He took a slow breath in an attempt to calm himself, then wrapped one hand around Sherlock's cock. Sherlock tried to stifle a cry, but failed.
John looked up to find Sherlock laying with his head tilted back, eyes scrunched closed. His mouth was open, taking tiny gasps of air. The sight of him made John’s face flush.
John kept one hand on Sherlock's hip, his thumb brushing over the hollow where thigh met torso. He kissed the tip of Sherlock's cock, brushing his lips against it just the slightest bit. Sherlock gave another sharp cry, and John stilled for a moment, afraid that someone had heard. He pulled away and licked his lips.
"You're so sensitive," he said. His voice was strange even to himself—low and slightly slurred. "This may not last long."
Sherlock lifted his head and looked down the length of his body, staring at John's lips. As Sherlock watched, John leaned in to take the head of Sherlock's cock into his mouth. Sherlock fell back again, and held his breath. One hand tightened in the sheets, the other groped for John's hand, where it still pressed into Sherlock's hip. He clutched John’s fingers tightly.
John slid down until nearly Sherlock's entire length was in his mouth. Sherlock's breaths became loud and ragged. He twisted the bed sheet in one hand.
Sherlock's reactions were making John ache. He tried to grind into the mattress, but didn't want to take his attention away from Sherlock. John felt a fierce desire to make this memorable for him, and from the looks of things, it wouldn't be too difficult. Sherlock kept trying to thrust up into John's mouth, but John pinned him down. He bobbed his head forward and back, enjoying the incoherent noises that Sherlock let escape. He felt Sherlock’s legs start to tense on either side of him. When John swirled his tongue one last time, Sherlock gave a loud gasp. He arched almost completely off of the mattress.
John forced himself to keep his eyes open, fighting against instinct in order to watch. When he swallowed and pulled away, he was panting slightly. He kicked off his boxer shorts and was about to wrap one hand around himself when Sherlock gave a grunt of disapproval and motioned him up.
“I want to,” he said, his voice still a bit breathless.
John crawled up next to him and gave him a wet, messy kiss as Sherlock stroked him with one sweaty and trembling hand. John breathed heavily against Sherlock’s mouth. Sherlock's inexperience was obvious; he was clearly finding the angle a bit awkward and kept trying to adjust his wrist. John squeezed his eyes closed. The fact that Sherlock had never touched anyone like this—the fact that he had never made anyone else feel the way that John felt right now—
John pressed his forehead against Sherlock’s, his breaths short and staggered. Sherlock stroked him through his orgasm. He kept his eyes focused on John’s mouth. When John’s breathing started to even out, he looked at Sherlock and gave a slightly dopey smile.
“That was perfect,” he whispered.
Sherlock turned pink.
John reached over to the bedside table for a tissue. He cleaned off Sherlock’s stomach first, wiping his come off of Sherlock’s skin. He tossed the dirtied tissue onto the floor and put a hand on Sherlock’s arm where it lay between them.
“Tired?” he asked, stroking his fingers over Sherlock’s numbers. Sherlock nodded in response. “Get some sleep. Not sure what we’re doing tomorrow, but whatever it is, you’ll need your rest.”
Sherlock didn’t speak, just looked at John as if he wanted to say something, but didn’t know what. John lifted Sherlock’s hand and kissed the inside of his wrist. Their eyes met, and John felt his heart rate pick up again.
“Well, hope you don’t mind,” he said, “but I’m a bit of a cuddler.” He turned onto his side and nestled back against Sherlock’s front, pulling Sherlock’s arm around him. He held Sherlock’s hand against his chest and ran a thumb over his knuckles.
The room was quiet; the sounds of the city muffled by the thick glass window. The sheets were pulled up around their shoulders, keeping them warm and snug. John felt entirely at peace. He drifted off to sleep, feeling puffs of breath against the back of his neck. He couldn’t remember the last time he had felt so content.