cypress_fic: (Wheat Field with Cypresses - Van Gogh)
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Title: This Thing All Things Devours (10/15)
Pairing: Sherlock/John
Rating: Explicit
Word Count: 4,600 for this part
Genre: AU/fusion, science fiction, action, romance

Summary:

(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...




They stayed in Zone 5 for two weeks, playing at being tourists, hiding in the hotel suite, and watching telly for any news of the crimes they had committed in Zone 4.  There was one short report, but it was quickly forgotten when a group of twelve thieves took a bank in Zone 3 and got away with two thousand years.

Since then, it had been almost too quiet.  John couldn’t help worrying.  He laid on the sofa, tangled with Sherlock, and stared blankly at the muted television.

Sigerson Bank was mentioned briefly in the news ticker at the bottom of the screen.  John tensed.

“He knows I’m here of my own volition,” Sherlock said, quietly.  “He’s not stupid.”

John ran his fingers through Sherlock’s hair.  “I half-expected us to get stopped at the toll.”

“Hmm.”  Sherlock closed his eyes.  “If Mycroft catches me, I’ll only find you again.”

“Not if I’m in jail for bank robbery.”

Sherlock lifted his head from John’s chest.  “He already knows where we are,” he said.  “We’re being followed.  There have been people watching us ever since we moved to Zone 5.”

“How long have you known this?”

“Since we arrived.”

“Why haven’t they approached us?”

“Because he trusts you.”

John was quiet for a moment, and Sherlock continued.

“When I got home after the Walters case, Mycroft discovered almost immediately that I was missing over a year of my life.  When he asked me about it, I said that I had given it away.  It was true, of course, but I’m sure he did some snooping of his own.”

“That’s why he had my picture.”

Sherlock nodded.  “I didn’t realize until we met again, but it doesn’t surprise me.  He has always been interested in my personal affairs.”

Affairs?”

“It’s a turn of phrase.”

John laughed, and Sherlock laid his head back down.

“Do you think he’s going to approach us?” John asked.

“He will intercede if he finds it necessary.  But he’s not watching us constantly.  He just knows where we are at any given time.”

“How?”

“That’s his little mystery.”

“Did you just admit to not knowing something?”

“Oh, shut up.”

John chuckled.

They didn’t discuss it further, but somehow, knowing that they were being watched made John feel a bit better.  As long as Sherlock did not come to harm, John had Mycroft’s unspoken trust.

He couldn’t say how long it would last.  They had a job planned in the next couple days—their first with Sherlock—and it tied John’s stomach in knots just thinking about it.  There wasn’t much he could do—he knew Sherlock wanted to come, and he knew that the rest of the team could use him, but he couldn’t help being nervous over how things would work out.

John tightened his arm around Sherlock’s waist.  Sherlock kissed his chest.

---


The day of the job crept ever closer, until finally, after much planning, discussion, and deliberation, the day came.

“Are you ready?" asked John.

Sherlock nodded.

“Remember, if it’s between your life and the time, your life comes out on top, no question about it.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes, but his smile was fond.  “John.”

John nodded.  “Alright.  Let’s go.”

There was an unseasonable chill to the clear summer night.  Between the waxing moon overhead and the yellow lights illuminating the corners of the car park, it wasn’t quite as dark as John had hoped.  He and Sherlock hid under the canopy of an overgrown oak tree.  Lestrade was across the road from them, glancing over every now and then, waiting for John’s signal.

John adjusted the comm unit in his ear.

“Molly?  Is the coast clear?” he asked.

“There’s one guard stationed in the inside hallway.  He’s not going anywhere—you’ll have to deal with him.”

“Fine.”  John signalled to Lestrade with a nod of the head.  They snuck towards the back employee entrance of the bank, all three of them standing to one side of the door.  Molly’s speedy typing could be heard in the background of the comm unit.

“Keypad opening now,” she said.

A tiny hatch slid open next to the door, and John entered four random numbers.  The keypad gave a negative-sounding beep and slid closed again.  Molly re-opened it, and John entered another four random numbers.  The hatch slid closed with another warning beep.

“You sure this is going to work?” asked Lestrade, watching as the hatch slid open again.

As if on cue, a voice came through on the other side of the door.

“That you, Kate?  You forget the code again?”

The door opened to reveal a short, smiling man in a wrinkled security uniform.  His smile quickly disappeared when he saw the three men standing outside.

“Shit—”

John hooked an arm around his elbow and pulled him roughly from the door.  While the man squirmed, Lestrade held a chloroform-soaked rag over his nose and mouth.  The guard fell limp.  John, Lestrade, and Sherlock walked into the deserted hallway of the bank.

John passed the unconscious guard to Lestrade, who secured his arms and legs.

“We’re in,” John said to Molly.  He turned to face the exit door, where Sherlock was closely examining the frame.  “Find it?” he asked.

Sherlock held up one long index finger, and didn’t answer.  John stood just behind him, waiting.

"There," said Sherlock.  He pointed to a small translucent square of film stuck to the wall, then peeled it off with two gloved fingers.  John took it and angled it in the light.  There was a strong fingerprint barely visible on the film.

"That should do," he said.  "It's clear enough for a printlock, anyway.  Let's go."

The hallway was lined on either side by offices, all vacant until the bank opened the next morning.  There was a security camera set up in the corner of the ceiling, facing directly at them.  John glanced at it, warily.  Though he knew Molly was supplying the security office a fake video feed, it was unnerving to have the camera facing him.  They headed towards the stairwell at the end of the hallway.

The stairwell was secured by a printlock and a four-digit passcode.  Thanks to Sally sneaking into the bank less than an hour earlier, they had one half of what they needed.  John pressed the visifilm to the touchscreen by the door.  It blinked green, then displayed a numeric keypad.

"Molly?" John asked.  "Passcode?"

"One second," she replied.  John bit his lip.

"Oh for god's sake," said Sherlock.  "It's obvious.  2102, the year the bank was founded.  Something the employees will remember, but not the customers."

John looked at him and raised an eyebrow.  He entered the passcode, and the edges of the door glowed green to signify that it was unlocked.

"Never mind, Molly," he said.  "Sherlock—"

"I know."  John could tell from the tone of Molly's voice that she was smiling. "I’ve had the passcode since I hacked in.  I just like seeing him do that."

John saw Sherlock preen out of the corner of his eye.  "Don't encourage him," he muttered.

The door slid open silently with a tap.  There was one floor above them, and two below.  They paused for a moment, letting the door shut behind them, and listened for any sign of life.  They heard nothing.

"Okay," said John in a low voice, "We're in the stairwell.  Do you see Sally?"

"Well, yes and no.  She's on the floor below you—third room down on your left—but there aren't any cameras in there."

Lestrade cringed.  "Bad sign."

"She can handle herself."  John touched the waistband of his trousers out of habit, then remembered that he didn't have his gun with him.  He bit his lip.

“Let’s go,” he said.

He led the way down the bare concrete stairs, then unlocked the door at the bottom.  It opened into another hallway, much like the first.  It was eerily quiet, and the complete lack of noise was making John nervous.

“You’re sure she’s here?” asked Lestrade.  “I don’t hear any—”

A short cry came from a room down the hall.  They walked quickly to the door that Molly had specified, and stood still for a moment, listening.  There was a rustling sound coming from inside.  John unlocked the door, and held his breath as it opened.

They peered inside, and John had to try hard to hold back a laugh.

"Told you she could handle herself," he said.

Sally was standing in the middle of the room with three unconscious guards on the floor by her feet.  She brushed a curl out of her eyes.

"Took you long enough.”

Sherlock stared.  “They had you handcuffed.”

“Oh, did they?” Sally kicked at the unlocked handcuffs at her feet, then turned to John.  “They were careful not to identify themselves.  I’m not sure who has the highest security clearance.”

John bit his lip.  “And likely using the wrong code will set off an alarm.  Did you check their pockets?”

“Yeah.  They all have ID cards, but there’s no security specifications.”

Sally handed the ID cards to John.  They all looked the same: a name, barcode, signature, fingerprint, and one photo, animated to switch back and forth from headshot to profile every few seconds.  None of the cards gave any indication of their security rank.

John looked up at Sherlock.  “You think you can figure out who the boss is here?”

Sherlock rolled his eyes.  “The fact that you need to even ask that question—”

“Okay, I’m not asking then, just tell us.”

Sherlock moved closer to the guards.  He nudged at one and knelt down to examine them all up close.

“This one,” he said, pointing.  “His shoes aren’t as worn—he’s used to sitting behind a desk and doesn’t get out on the floor as often.  His uniform isn’t as wrinkled, likely because he didn’t see any action all day, and just came out to deal with Sally.  And there’s a mark on his finger, here.  He gave a blood sample for the DNA lock on the safe.  This is where his finger has been repeatedly pricked.”

“Amazing.”  John licked his lips, then pursed them.  He saw Sally shake her head out of the corner of his eye.  “Alright,” he said.  “Get his fingerprint and DNA and we’re set.”

While Lestrade took the guard’s fingerprint with an extra piece of visifilm, Sherlock plucked two hairs from the guard’s head and sealed them in a plastic bag.  Sally and John set to work tying up the other guards with cable ties.  Once the guards had been restrained and shoved into a far corner of the room, John stood up and looked down at their handiwork with something like pride.

“Okay, moving on.”

---


The safe door reached from floor to ceiling.  It was made of thick metal, with a touchscreen control for the three-step locking mechanism.  When John activated the screen, an opening appeared, with a prompt to insert an ID card.

John pushed the card into the slot, and was rewarded with a soft “ding.”  The screen changed to prompt for a fingerprint.  John pressed the visifilm directly in the middle of the screen, warming the back with his thumb to give it body temperature.  The lock dinged again.

“So far, so good,” John muttered.  Lestrade was shifting from side to side behind him.  He could hear Sally pacing.

The screen changed again with a prompt for DNA, requesting a selection between hair, blood, and saliva samples.  John selected hair, and a tiny hatch opened in the side of the door.  He placed one of the guard’s hairs inside, and the hatch snapped closed.  John held his breath.

DNA accepted.
Charles Casey confirmed


“Perfect,” Sally murmured.  Lestrade chuckled.  The screen changed again.

Please deposit 50 years for entry.

“Shit.”  John sighed and started to pull off his glove.  “This one needs a deposit,” he said.

Sherlock put a hand on John’s elbow.  “Wait, a deposit?”

“Yeah, some banks do that.  Ensures that only people with enough time can get in.”

"That wasn't part of the plan."

John shrugged.  “There’s always something.”  He bared his wrist and held it over the collection capsule that had sprung out from the safe.

“How much do you have?” Sherlock asked.

“Just enough.  Fifty years and two days.”

“That’s ridiculous.”  Sherlock reached for John’s hand, but Lestrade grabbed his wrist.  “Take my time,” Sherlock said.

“John won’t let us use our own,” said Lestrade.  “Trust me, I’ve tried to convince him.”

“John—”

John watched the numbers on his arm whittle down to just two days.  He ignored Sherlock’s stare.  When fifty years had been deposited, the lock gave a series of beeps, and a loud shifting sound could be heard from inside the safe.  The large metal door opened on its own.  John looked inside and smiled.

“We’re in.”

Lestrade handed everyone an empty holdall, then he and Sally went right into the safe.  They began stuffing their bags full of cartridges.  John was about to step inside when Sherlock pulled him back.  John turned around to face him.

Sherlock ran his hand down John’s forearm, then took his wrist and looked down at John’s numbers.  He rubbed his thumb over the passing seconds.

“I’ll be fine,” John said, softly.  “I’ll get it back when we close the safe.”

Sherlock squeezed his wrist, gently.

“Let’s go.”  John pulled his glove back on to cover his fingertips.

They went into the safe and started loading their bags with capsules.  There was barely enough room inside for four people.  Lestrade accidentally hit John in the ribs, and Sally kept elbowing him in the back.  They worked as quickly as possible.  Lestrade was the first one out, and set his bag on the floor as he glanced down the hallway.

“You guys almost ready?” he asked.

Sally heaved her bag onto her shoulder.  “Done,” she said.  She stepped out of the safe.

She had only just passed the threshold when a loud ringing sound split the air.  John jumped.

“What happened?”  He looked from Lestrade to Sally and back.

“The safe had a weight trigger—you took too much out,” said Molly.  “Give me a minute.”

John grabbed Sherlock by the back of his shirt and pulled him out of the safe.

“Let’s go,” he said.  The alarm turned off, and they could heard footsteps on the floor above them.  They headed towards the stairwell.

“Molly, how many guards are here?”

“Just two, plus the ones you tied up.”

“Good.  Let’s see if we can make it out without too much trouble.”  John unlocked the stairwell door.  They heard a door open on the floor above them.  Voices echoed down from above.

A man peered at them from over the stairs just as John started climbing up.  The man pulled out a slim silver gun and shot a blue bolt of energy at John.  It missed by centimetres.

John stopped short and turned around, pushing the others to go back.

“Scramblers,” he said.  He looked frantically at the other staircase, leading down to a second underground level.  “Molly, what’s downstairs?”

“Mechanical room, servers—”

John started walking.  “Can we get out that way?”

“It’s a maze, but I can tell you where to go.”

John ran down the stairs, the others following close behind.

“I thought you said they didn’t have guns!” called Sherlock.

“Scramblers aren’t guns,” Lestrade answered.

They unlocked the basement door.  Motion-activated lights came on as they entered the hallway.

“Straight down,” said Molly.  “Cut through the last door on your left.  It’s unlocked.”

They were halfway down the hall when the security guards started coming through, scramblers raised.

“Vatican cameos!” John yelled.  They ducked to the floor, still running, as blue shots flew over their heads.

The door at the end of the hall wasn’t electronic.  Sally reached it first and swung it open, holding it for the others as they rushed through behind her.  John pushed Sherlock ahead of him, shielding Sherlock with his body.

“Ahh!”  He felt a sting in his back, and realized he was hit.

“John!”

“I’m fine, I’m—”  John shoved his glove down to his wrist and looked at his numbers.  The scrambler had done its job—the digits flickered on his arm, taking and giving and taking again without settling on any one amount.  John hoped that when they stopped, he was left with enough time to escape.

“Go out the door on the other side of the room,” said Molly.

“John.”  Sherlock pulled John towards him as they ran.  He clung to John’s arm and watched, waiting for the numbers to settle.

One day, twenty-three hours—twelve hours, fifty-five minutes, nine—one day, one hour, seven—one—zero—four

John rubbed at his arm as if he could stop the numbers from changing.  He heard the security guards opening the door behind them.  Sherlock pushed John ahead.  They started running down the next hallway.

“How big is this place?” asked Lestrade.

“The basement’s actually bigger than the building itself,” said Molly.  “End of the hall, second-to-last door on your right.  It’s locked, but I can open it for you.”

When John looked down at his arm again, his numbers had stopped changing.  They had settled at only three hours and thirty-one minutes.  John counted himself lucky.  Hopefully, they would be out of the bank by then.

Sherlock grabbed for John’s wrist, but John pulled it away.

“How much?” Sherlock asked.

“Enough.”

How much?”

The door at the end of the hall slid open.  They entered a small office.  When the door closed again, John turned around and jammed a lock pick into its touchscreen.  It burst and fizzed with electricity.

“Molly?”

“Take the door on the right, then the staircase up two floors.  There’s an exit.  I’ll have the car meet you.”

John took a step forward, but Sherlock grabbed him by the wrist and held him back.

“We’ll catch up,” Sherlock said, his voice flat.  He flung open a small, narrow door to reveal a storage closet, then tossed in his holdall.  He pushed John inside after it.

“Um—”  Lestrade and Sally hovered by the exit, not sure whether to listen to him.

John tried to get past Sherlock, but Sherlock wouldn’t move.

“Go!” John yelled to the others.  He dropped his holdall in the closet and took a step inside.  Sherlock closed the door.

The space was small—lined with metal shelves on three sides that were stacked with reams of synthpaper, boxes of styluses, and spare computer parts.  John could hear Lestrade and Sally’s footsteps in his ear.  Sherlock moved closer.  His breath was warm against John’s face.

John put his hand to his ear and pulled out his comm unit.  Sherlock did the same.  Now, the only thing they could hear were the voices of the guards coming down the hallway.

“You know the code?”

“Yeah, give me a—shit.”

“They jammed it!”

“Wait, lemme—”

There was a banging sound against the door, then a rattling.  Sherlock took John’s arm and looked down at his numbers.  John swallowed.

The door of the office opened with a grinding of gears.  John’s heart nearly beat out of his chest.

“That door there, they’re going for the back exit!”

Footsteps pounded across the linoleum, and the opposite door slid open and shut.  John let out a breath that he hadn’t realized he’d been holding.  The office fell silent.

Sherlock still had John’s arm in his grip.  “Three hours,” he murmured.

John looked up at him, and tried to gain control of his breathing.  Sherlock’s eyebrows were knit with concern.  John shrugged.

The closet was lit only by the light of the numbers on John’s arm.  His glove was bunched around his hand, allowing his digits to glow in a dull green haze.  Sherlock’s eyes flickered from John’s arm to his face.  He slid his palm over John’s wrist and held tight.  John licked his lips.  He had exchanged time with countless people throughout his life—his mother, his sister, friends, and colleagues—but there was always something different about sharing time with a lover.  John closed his eyes.

It was as if something was nudging at his mind.  He felt Sherlock’s presence inside of him—the slightest brush of Sherlock’s consciousness against his own.  He had the option to will it away—nudge back until Sherlock was pushed out.  He didn’t.  Instead, he allowed Sherlock to enter.

John opened his eyes and looked down at his numbers.  He felt Sherlock hovering at the edge of his mind, a part of Sherlock in tune with him.

The hours on his arm went up slowly—Sherlock was lingering, making it last.  The three became a four, became a five, became a six.  Sherlock pushed a little faster, and the days went up, one by one.  When John had a week on his arm, he nudged Sherlock away.

“That’s enough,” he said, his voice hushed.

Sherlock slowed the exchange, and John’s numbers stilled.  Though they had stopped exchanging time, they still held fast to each others’ wrists.  John leaned up on his toes and kissed Sherlock, softly.

“Thank you,” he said.

---


When the room had been quiet for some time, they turned their comm units back on and asked Molly to help them escape.  She told them when the coast was clear, and they made a run for it.  They clung to the shadows outside the building, making their way around to where they had left Sherlock’s motorbike.

“You alright?” Lestrade asked.  They could hear his car’s engine in the background of the comm unit.

“Fine,” said John.  “Sherlock lent me some time.”

“I figured.”

They attached the holdalls to Sherlock’s bike and drove away from the bank.  The night air was cool against John’s face.  His blood was still pumping fast through his veins.

“That was kind of a mess,” said Sally.  “Next time, can we figure out if they have scramblers before we get in?”

“Sorry, guys,” said Molly.  “They must have bought them off the books.”

“That’s alright, John’s still alive, isn’t he?”

Sherlock’s hands tightened on John’s waist.  John smiled.

"That was exciting," Sherlock said, his voice light and a little too innocent.  John wondered what he was up to immediately.  "Very exciting."

One of his hands slid down onto John’s thigh.  John took a sharp breath.

"It's not always like that," said Lestrade, seemingly ignorant of the mischievous tone to Sherlock's voice.  "Despite what you saw this time and last, there are jobs where we get off without a scratch."

John heard Sherlock remove his helmet and clip it onto the bike.  He was about to protest when he felt Sherlock’s mouth on the back of his neck.  Sherlock’s hand slid up and down on John's thigh.

"It must be hard," Sherlock said into the comm unit.  "For you to get off.  Like that."

"Uh—"

Sherlock leaned a little closer into John.  His hand slid briefly over John's crotch.  John caught his breath.

"Um, guys," he said, a slight gasp to his voice.  "We'll uh—meet up with you later, we just—we have to—"

"Hey John?  Don't tell us."

John heard Sally snicker, then the comm unit went silent.  Sherlock chuckled.

There was a traffic light up ahead.  John took a right-hand turn onto a smaller street.  He saw a deserted car park and started to slow down, but Sherlock removed his hand from John's thigh.

"Keep driving," he said.

John glanced around the empty lot.

"Why, what's wrong with this?" he asked.  "There's no one—"

"Keep driving."

John rolled his eyes and sped up again.  Sherlock mouthed at the back of his neck.  He put his hand on John's leg again, stroking up and down.

"You want to get a room somewhere?"

"No, John."  Sherlock smiled against John's skin.  John started getting very suspicious.

"If you're thinking what I think you're thinking—"

"This street is very quiet and deserted, isn't it?"

"Oh, god."  Sherlock bit John's trapezius muscle, and John shivered.  Sherlock's hand crept over to John's crotch and lingered a little longer.

"You dressed to the right," Sherlock said.  He unbuttoned John's trousers and lowered his zipper.

John swallowed.  "This is really, really unsafe."

"Isn't it?" Sherlock purred.  He caressed John's cock through his pants.  "I can feel you growing bigger under my hand."

John licked his lips.  He tried hard to concentrate on the road.  Sherlock thrust his hips towards John's arse and breathed hard against the back of his neck.

"Go faster," he said, speaking right into John's ear.

John sped up.  Sherlock smiled.

When the street curved to the left, John saw headlights coming towards them.  Sherlock pulled John’s trousers open wide, and slid his hand into John’s pants.  John choked out a cry.

It was unlikely that the people in the car could see them—they would have to be looking for it, and if even if they were, John's shirt was covering Sherlock's hand.  Even so, John felt an exhibitionist thrill.  He held his breath.  Sherlock gave a strong tug as they sped past the other car.  John’s whole body spasmed.

John could feel Sherlock laughing behind him.  He kissed John's neck, starting at his nape and working his way around to kiss the side of John's jaw.  John turned slightly towards him to give him better access.

The bike swerved.

"John!"

John quickly set them straight again, his heart racing.  Sherlock pulled back and nosed at John's hair.  "Pay attention," he said.  He removed his hand, spat into it, and then gripped John again.  He started stroking faster than before.

"Ah—shit," John muttered.

Sherlock was merciless.  He ran his thumb through the wetness at the head of John's cock.  He kept thrusting his hips into John's arse.  He smashed his face into the crook of John's neck, breathing heavily.

"Sherlock, I can't—"

"Yes you can."

John tried to take a steadying breath.  He realized that he had slowed down significantly in his distraction, and he sped up a bit, the wind ruffling his hair.  Sherlock reached to the side and yanked up John's sleeve, pushing his glove down to expose his flickering numbers.  He bit the back of John's neck, and John's spine arched.  He tried to thrust into Sherlock's fist, but found he couldn't do it while driving.

"Sherlock—"

The world around him seemed to curl in on itself, the edges of his vision turning black.  He kept his elbows locked, arms steady as he pulsed in Sherlock's hand.  Sherlock was murmuring against his neck, but John couldn't hear what he was saying.  He looked up—realizing suddenly that he hadn't been facing the road.

"Fuck!"

The bike wobbled through dirt for a bit before John guided them back to the road.  Sherlock clung tightly to John's hips, laughing with his head on John's shoulder.  John flushed.  He changed his mind and drove back to the side of the road, slowing down and parking in the grass.

John got up and pulled Sherlock off the bike by his collar.  He smashed their lips together and spun them around, walking Sherlock backwards towards the edge of the woods.

"That was ridiculous," he breathed.  He pushed Sherlock up against the nearest tree trunk.  "That was the most ridiculous thing I've ever done."

"You flatlined," Sherlock said, barely audible against John's lips.  "I saw you."

John groaned, completely unsurprised, but sorry he had missed seeing it.  Sherlock pulled him in for another kiss.  John obliged for a moment, then unbuckled Sherlock's belt and slid to his knees.

---

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