cypress_fic: (Wheat Field with Cypresses - Van Gogh)
[personal profile] cypress_fic

Title: This Thing All Things Devours (8/15)
Pairing: Sherlock/John
Rating: Explicit
Word Count: 4,000 for this part
Genre: AU/fusion, science fiction, action, romance


(In Time AU) In 2169, time is money—literally. Humans are genetically engineered to stop aging at 25, when the numbers on their arm start counting down from one year. When that time is up, they die. The only way to get more time is to earn it, borrow it, or steal it.

John Watson lives day-to-day in the crowded slums of Zone 13. He never imagined living any differently—until he meets the practically-immortal Sherlock, and helps him on a case to track a local time-thief...


Sherlock was not a graceful sleeper.  John was the first to wake the next morning, and he was surprised to see that Sherlock looked like an utter mess.  His hair was a tangled bird's nest, his limbs were sprawled awkwardly across the mattress, and he was drooling onto his pillow.  John held back a chuckle.  He brushed a curl away from Sherlock's forehead before getting out of bed.

Everyone else was already awake, and looked up as John closed the bedroom door gently behind him.  Lestrade gave him a roguish grin, and Molly and Sally exchanged a glance.

"Morning!" Lestrade said, cheerfully.

"Morning."  John walked over to where they sat and picked up a banana from a complementary fruit basket on the coffee table.  He sat down on the sofa next to Sally and peeled it, noticing suddenly that everyone was completely silent, staring at him.  He paused with the banana halfway to his mouth.

"What?" he asked.

Molly look down to stare intently at the laptop balanced on her knees.

Lestrade shrugged.  "Interesting choice of breakfast," he quipped.

Sally threw an apple at him.

Despite the disaster at Sigerson, they decided to stick with the plan they had made before entering Zone 4—they were going to rob Morgan Bank.  Morgan was much smaller, with a security system that Molly was familiar with.  It was on the outskirts of the area, and it would be incredibly easy to sneak through on their way to Zone 5, where they planned to lie low until Mycroft let his guard down. If everything went smoothly, they shouldn’t have any trouble going through unnoticed.

Once they were in, it would be simple.  The president of Morgan had had his phone hacked three years earlier, resulting in a few embarrassing privacy leaks.  As a result, he had become a bit of a technophobe.  He refused to use any type of electronic lock for his bank's safe, preferring instead to use an old-fashioned padlock.  He kept the key around his neck at all times.

Fortunately, there was a duplicate key, and thanks to hours of recorded security footage, Molly knew where it was hidden and how it was protected.  All they had to do was sneak into the president’s office, find the key, and open the safe.  Theoretically, it was easy.


John returned to the bedroom to find Sherlock lying diagonally across the bed.  He was awake, and looked up as John came in.

“There you are,” he said.  “Pass me my phone, I can’t reach it.”

John rolled his eyes at Sherlock’s outstretched hand and ignored him.  He started shuffling around the room, packing up his things.

Sherlock frowned.  “What are you doing?”

“We’re moving out,” John said.  He picked up his socks from the bottom of the mattress, squeezing Sherlock’s foot where it lay under the tangled sheet.  “We’re headed to Zone 5 to lie low for a bit, but we’ve got one quick job to do on the way.”

“I don’t even have any of my things,” Sherlock mused with a pout.  “You can’t make me wear those trousers again.  They’re still covered in semen.”

John chuckled.  “You’re coming with us, then?”

“Well it’s not as if I have anything better to do.”

John looked up at Sherlock sharply, and Sherlock grinned.

“Berk,” John muttered.

“Anyway,” continued Sherlock.  “I’ll be a great asset.  Don’t groups like these have a ‘mastermind?’”

John rolled his eyes.  “Okay, firstly, you’re not coming on this job.  Second, even if you were, you would not be the ‘mastermind.’”

“What do you mean I’m not coming on the job?”  Sherlock sat up in bed, the sheets pooling in his lap.  John glanced down his chest appreciatively, then quickly looked away.  “You need me.”

“Sherlock,” John sighed.  “No offense, but we’ve been doing this for the past six months.”  He tried to shove one last t-shirt into his overstuffed backpack, and frowned when it wouldn’t fit.

“Are you serious?” Sherlock asked, affronted.  “Have you completely forgotten the Walters case?”

“Robbing a bank is not like solving a crime.  In fact, it’s the complete opposite.”

“And therefore I can tell you exactly what not to do.”

“We’ve been doing fine on our own.  I’m not putting you in harm’s way for no reason.”  John gave up trying to shove the t-shirt into his backpack.  He sighed.  “Just stay here with Molly and I’ll be back in a few hours.”

“But I want to go!  It could be dangerous.”

“And that’s exactly what I’m afraid of.  You just want to go because you think it’s rebellious.  We’re not doing this to show off.”

Sherlock gave an angry sigh and leaned back against the pillows.  John tossed him the extra t-shirt.

“Put this on,” he said.  “You can’t walk around naked all day, and if you keep at it, I’m going to want to go three rounds in under 24 hours.  And I just don’t know if I can do that.”

Sherlock pulled on the t-shirt, laying back again, luxuriously.  He tugged the sheet down to reveal his hipbone, then tugged it again, a little slower.

“Trousers would be a good idea,” muttered John.  He tossed Sherlock’s trousers in his face, and turned away when Sherlock pulled them on without putting on any pants beforehand.

“You’re staying, and that’s final,” he said.  “We can do this ourselves.  Everything will be fine.”


Everything was not fine.

Things went smoothly in the beginning.  Sally managed to draw security away from the corporate offices, Molly had no trouble communicating with everyone via wrist cameras, and John and Lestrade slipped through to the president’s office just fine.  It was only once they got in that everything fell apart.

“It’s in a hidden drawer in the left leg of the desk,” said Molly.  “Hold up the camera—show me.”

Lestrade held his wrist to the desk and waved it around in aimless circles.

"Slower, slower—you're making me sick."

John glanced down at his own camera, seeing Molly frowning at the screen with concentration.  Sherlock watched over her shoulder, his arms crossed.  He looked at John, and his lips twitched to the side.

"There!" said Molly.  "Stay still—it's right there."

John knelt down to see where Lestrade’s wrist was pointed.  There was a tiny bump of a seam running along the joint where the leg of the desk met the surface.  He pressed his fingers to it, and found that it could be pried open.

"Got it!  Thanks, Molly, you're a lifesaver."  He pulled until he drew out a small lidded box—the perfect size to hide something flat, like a key.  As expected, the box was locked with a padlock of its own.  John set it on the desk and pulled a roll of tools from his jacket pocket.

"Good luck," said Molly.

John pursed his lips and slid a torsion wrench and half-diamond pick into the lock.

"I see you’ve learned some new skills over the past year," said Sherlock.  "Last I remember, you didn't know what lock picking was."

John smiled.  "Yeah, well, I can only do cylinder locks.  If I were better, I could break us into the safe, but—"  He held the box up to his ear and closed his eyes as he listened for the sound of the lock's pins falling into place.  He put down the half-diamond pick and switched to the hook pick.  When he heard the last pin, he breathed a sigh of relief.

"It's open," he said, with a smile.  Lestrade patted him on the back and watched over his shoulder as John opened the box.

"Um—problem," John said, frowning.  "It's empty."

"What?"  Lestrade grabbed the box from him, examining all sides and shaking it in one hand.  "Yeah, Molly, there's nothing here," he said.  He flipped the box upside-down and banged on the bottom, to no avail.

"Are you sure it's the right one?" asked Sally, whispering so she wouldn’t be heard while she stood watch in the lobby.

"No—I mean, yes, that's exactly where it should be.”

John ran his fingers over the seam under the table, but there was nothing else there.

"Fuck," he muttered.  "Do you know where else it could be?"

Molly didn't answer.  When John looked down at the video feed on his wrist, she was turned away from the camera, looking down at a tablet in her lap.  Sherlock had disappeared from behind her.


"I'm trying," she said, sounding worried.

John stood and started looking around the room, holding his camera up to the desk, in case it prompted any guesses.  The desk was covered in piles of half-finished paperwork and an excessive amount of office supplies.  There were pictures of the president’s family scattered to one side.  Three coasters were stacked on the right, but they clearly weren’t used very often, because the false wood was stained with a series of coffee rings.  John wiped at one with the textured fingertip of his glove.

He stopped when the comm unit in his ear beeped—the sound of someone going offline.

“Who was that?” John asked.  He looked down at Lestrade, who was studying the underside of the desk.  Lestrade shrugged.

“That was Sally,” said Molly.  “I don’t—I don’t know where she went.  I’ve lost her location.”

John felt his heart race faster.  Sally only turned ever off her comm unit when she needed to concentrate, and didn’t want people “inside her head,” distracting her.  It was possible that someone thought she was suspicious, and she was being questioned.  John glanced toward the door, afraid to peek outside, in case anyone was coming towards them.

“Can you see her on the cameras?” he asked Molly.

“No, I told you, I’ve lost her loca—”

The comm unit beeped again.

“Sorry,” said Sally, muttering quietly.  “But we have another problem.  There's a security guard headed your way.  I tried to stop him, but—”

John’s heart rate spiked.  He looked down at the desk angrily, frustrated by not only losing the time they planned to steal, but also in losing the key.  It made their entire trip today completely pointless.

"How far is he?" asked Lestrade.

"Uh, I'd give you five minutes."

John slammed his fist on the desk.  "Fuck."

"John, show me the desk again."

John looked down at his camera.  Sherlock had returned and was peering over Molly's shoulder, leaning closely into the screen.  Molly grimaced a bit as Sherlock pushed her to the side.

"Why, do you think you know where it's hidden?" John asked.


"Then why—"

"Just let me see."

John rolled his eyes and pointed the camera at the desk, half-heartedly.  He trailed it from one end to the other so Sherlock could see everything.


"Sherlock, we have to leave, we don't have time—"

"Get in closer."

John shoved his camera closer.  Lestrade stood by the door, peeking out into the hallway.  He turned back to glare at John.


John glanced at him and shrugged, keeping his wrist pointed to the desk, hoping that Sherlock saw something that would help.

Lestrade waved to catch John’s attention again.  "Someone’s coming," he hissed.

John crept over to the door and stood pressed to the wall next to Lestrade.  They heard footsteps coming down the hallway.  John held his breath.  The footsteps approached the door and paused.  John saw Lestrade tense.


John's eyes widened, and he looked up at Lestrade.  The voice continued.

"Oh, hey mate, I called you earlier, where were you?"

John sighed in relief.  The footsteps started again, continuing down the hall as the security guard carried on his phone conversation.  When the man turned a corner at the end of the hallway, Lestrade let out a low laugh.

"Close one," he said.

John shook his head.  "Too close.  We have to get out of here.  Molly?"

“You should be able to make it out before anyone sees you.”

John peered out the doorway.  Satisfied that the coast was clear, he turned into the hall and walked quietly back the way they had come.

"Wait—" Sherlock's voice came through the comm unit.  John looked down at his camera to find Sherlock leaning in again, pressing down on Molly's shoulder as she frowned at him, her face pink.

"Sherlock, get off of Molly."  John kept walking down the hallway.

"No, go to the safe, I can get you in."

"We can't get in without the key."

"Yes you can.  You can override the need for a key with a four-digit passcode."

Lestrade stopped walking.

"What do you mean?" he asked.  "This bank is owned by James Morgan.  He doesn't use tech for anything other than—"

"Please, this is the twenty-second century.  Did you think there wasn't even a digital code as a backup?"

John looked down at his camera.  "Molly didn't see anything about a digital code."

"That's because the lock isn't connected to the rest of the system.  Go to the safe and I'll give you the passcode."

John and Lestrade exchanged a look.

"Wait, how do you know the passcode?" asked Sally.  She was speaking louder now—John assumed that she had already moved out of the building.

"I just figured it out,” Sherlock said, sounding smug.

Lestrade gaped. "What?"

"Just go to the safe!"

John looked at Lestrade.  Lestrade nodded.


The safe ended up being protected by not just one lock, but five.  John wondered if all of those keys should have been in the box, or if they were scattered around the president's office—or even around the whole bank.  He realized how unprepared they had been.

"Sherlock?" he prompted.

"Do you have an electromagnetic pick?"

"Yes, of course."

"Turn it to the highest setting and use it on every lock.  One of them will have a chip at the end that should reset with enough magnetic energy."

John took the pick from his jacket and adjusted the settings.  He used the torsion wrench to hold down the plug of the first lock, then inserted the pick.  When he clicked a button on the side, the magnet was activated, and the pick jerked in his hand.  The lock didn’t react.

"Not the first one," he muttered.  He did the same to the second lock, but was unsuccessful.

"Are you sure about this?" Lestrade asked, looking into his wrist camera.  Sherlock didn't answer.

John moved down to the third lock, holding his breath as he pushed the button on the pick.  Finally, something happened—the lock let out a tiny beeping sound.  When John pulled out the pick, a holographic screen and keypad appeared on the door of the safe.  The screen flickered for a moment, then displayed the message "authorization needed."

"How did you know that was there?" asked Molly.

John looked down at his camera in time to see Sherlock smirk.

"The passcode is 2164," Sherlock said, ignoring Molly's question.

"Wait, wait—" said Sally, her voice betraying a bit of worry.  "Answer Molly.  How do you know this, because if this goes wrong—"

"It doesn't matter—I’m right."

"I don't care.  How do you—"

"Sally."  John looked down at his camera. "Sherlock, you can't leave us in the dark like this.  How did you know about the lock?"

"Mycroft, John.  Are you completely forgetting my background?"

"Mycroft told you the passcode to someone else's—"

"Mycroft has dealt with this bank before.  That's how I know about the existence of the digital lock.  I deduced the passcode."


"John, do have a bit more faith in me than that.  Just enter the number."

Lestrade and John looked at the screen, the hologram flickering, waiting for a code.

“John?” Sherlock asked.  John looked down at his camera.  “Remember the alley, the first night we met?  I knew instantly that you were a war mechanic.  You called me extraordinary.”

John took a deep breath and entered the code.  The screen disappeared.  John bit his lip.  A green light over the safe flashed three times, then the door silently slid open.

Lestrade laughed, and John gaped.

"I'm liking that boyfriend of yours," Lestrade said, clapping John on the shoulder.  He walked into the safe, running his gloved hands over the capsules that lined the walls.  John peered in next to him as Lestrade started packing an empty bag.

"Sherlock," John breathed.  "How the hell did you—"

"Simple."  John looked down the camera on his wrist, where Sherlock was smiling with pride.  "It was on the president's desk.  There was a framed picture of his daughter.  Fairly new picture, because there were finger marks through the dust on the edges—through the ‘upload’ button on the side.  So recently taken then, obviously a picture of her at a birthday party.  Her own party, since she was wearing a new dress.  The number of candles on the cake said she turned six.  Six years ago was 2164.  She’s his only child, it makes sense that he would use her birth year as the code.”

“Fantastic,” John whispered.  Sherlock’s smile grew wider, and John breathed out a laugh.  “Fuck,” he said.  “Sherlock, when I get back there I am dragging you into the bedroom and giving you whatever you want.”

Lestrade made a noise of discomfort.

Sally groaned.  “Ugh, John.”

Lestrade shoved a full bag of capsules at John’s chest, and pulled another empty bag from his pocket.  He started to fill it, working quickly.

John looked down at the bag in his arms, opening it up to gaze inside.  Each capsule held one hundred years.  Banks liked using them because they were bulky and awkward to hide, making them harder to steal.  Splitting the bank’s time into multiple cartridges meant there was less likelihood of someone swooping in and stealing everything.  It also protected the time from hackers, who would be able to steal the time easier if it were stored digitally.  There was something very archaic about the art of the bank robbery.

John ran his finger over the display screen of one cartridge, thinking about how much 100 years could buy.  He looked up from the bag when Lestrade stiffened in front of him.

“Did you hear that?” Lestrade asked.

John looked towards the door.  There were footsteps approaching in the distance.


Lestrade shoved another two capsules into his bag and zipped it closed.  They heaved the bags onto their backs, snapping them into place.

“What’s wrong?” asked Molly.  “Is someone coming?  There’s no one in the hallway.”

John didn’t answer, for fear of someone hearing his voice.  He glanced down at his camera, where Molly was studying the tablet in her lap.

“Oh—” she said, looking guilty.  “You tripped an alarm.”

“What do you mean?” asked Lestrade in a loud whisper.  “The code worked!”

“The code did work, but apparently, using it triggers a signal to security.”

“Well now what?”

The footsteps came closer, and John and Lestrade hid against the wall to either side of the door.

A lanky blonde security guard poked his head inside.  He spotted Lestrade, but didn't have a chance to react before John punched him in the gut and pulled him into the room.  He pushed the guard to the ground and disarmed him as Lestrade attacked the guard behind him.

“Guys, there’s a second exit!”  Molly said.  “If you can get out of there I can unlock a few doors for you.  I’ll send directions to the car for Sally.”

Lestrade took a punch to the face, but recovered quickly and shoved the guard against the wall.  He kneed the man in the crotch and threw him to the floor.  The guard didn’t get up.

“John!” Lestrade shouted, pinching his nose to stop it from bleeding.

The guard that John was fighting struggled to get up, and kicked John in the shin.  John stumbled, grabbing the door of the safe for balance.  There were still capsules inside, so he took one and swung at the guard’s head.  The guard fell unconscious.

“Where are we going, Molly?” John asked.

“Take a right.  I’ll unlock the door at the end of the hallway.”

Their footsteps pounded against the cold white tile.  John’s stomach clenched.  He heaved his bag higher up on his shoulders.  He could hear Lestrade sniffing and wiping his nose on his sleeve to keep from leaving a trail of blood.

The door at the end of the hallway slid open as they approached.  They slipped through, coming to a second hallway, just as long.  John stopped short when he saw a guard in a glass-windowed room.  He ducked out of eyesight.

“There’s someone in the room next door,” he whispered.  Lestrade peeked around the corner, then jumped back, his lips pursed.  His nosebleed had started to slow.

“Can you sneak by?” asked Molly.  “The exit’s right at the end of the hallway.  Sally just pulled up.”

John looked around the corner.  “We’ll have to crawl,” he said.

“Better than getting caught,” Lestrade muttered.

John took a breath and knelt on the floor.  He started to crawl on his hands and knees, keeping as close to the wall as he could.  He looked up over his shoulder to make sure his bag wasn’t visible over the windowsill.

“Um, I know you don’t want to hear this right now,” said Molly.  “But they’re trying to kick me out of the security system.”

Lestrade swore.

“Are they succeeding?” John asked, crawling faster.


The end of the hall was only a few metres away.

“I’d hurry, if I were you,” Molly said, meekly.

John’s hands slapped across the tile, grit digging into the heel of his palms.  He could tell his knees were going to bruise.  He looked up and saw the exit door open, a soft, warm breeze drifting tantalizingly near.

“Go, go, just go,’ Lestrade said.  He pushed the bottom of John’s bag to move him forward.

“Hurry!” Molly said, urgently.  “Oh!”  The exit door started to close just as John jumped up and slipped through.  It clipped Lestrade, nearly catching a hanging strap on his bag.

Sally was idling at the edge of the pavement.  They jumped into the car and drove off just as an alarm sounded in the distance.


John stared out the window, chewing on his bottom lip until it was raw.  That was a close call—much closer than it should have been.  His heart was still racing.  His knees hurt, he had a cut on one hand, and Lestrade was lucky that his nose wasn’t broken.

John couldn’t wait to do it again.

The rush of the escape was still humming through his veins.  He looked at the two bags of capsules by his feet.  There was more time there than anyone in Zone 13 would ever have imagined seeing.

John felt a flush of pride.  He looked down at the camera on his wrist.  The screen was blank, but looking at it now made him think of Sherlock’s triumphant smile when the safe door slid open.  The way Sherlock had dramatically rattled off his deduction, how he had saved the whole job from failure just because he saw one picture on the president’s desk...

Sally parked the car close to the hotel’s entrance, and John shoved the bags of capsules into the compartment they had created in the backseat.  They locked the car and walked into the hotel casually, Lestrade trying to cover his swollen nose.

“They probably tracked us,” Sally said, pacing back and forth once they were alone in the hotel’s lift.  “We have to pack up and leave.”

John nodded, but was barely listening.  He rocked on his heels, his hand clenching at his side.

“Half an hour,” said Lestrade.  “Shouldn’t take us longer than that.”

The lift doors opened, and John walked briskly down the hall, straight towards their room.  It took him two tries before the lock would accept his fingerprint.  He bit his lip in frustration.

Sherlock was across the room, reading Molly’s computer screen from over her shoulder.  He looked up as John stormed towards him.

“Believe I promised you something,” John muttered, taking Sherlock’s hand.

He dragged him towards the bedroom while Sherlock stumbled a couple of steps behind, grinning.

Lestrade frowned.  “You did hear me say half an hour, yeah?”

“Won’t take that long.”

John pushed Sherlock into the bedroom and shut the door firmly behind them.


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