Sherlock looked up and down the alley once more before picking the lock on the battered metal door. It took slightly longer than he expected, but more importantly, the door wasn't alarmed. That both complicated and simplified things.
He slipped inside, letting the door close lightly behind him. The corridor was empty, but he heard voices somewhere nearby, to his left. He walked in the opposite direction, down and around a corner, and stepped into an alcove when he heard footsteps approaching. Two men passed by, discussing the specifics of a recent football match, and they didn't see him huddled in the shadows. He waited until they'd disappeared around the corner before moving on.
It was surprisingly easy to find what he was looking for: a locked door (easy to pick, three-pin cylinder) led to a makeshift office. Two folding tables served as desks in the cramped space; stacks of papers littered one while another was relatively clear except for an open laptop computer. Sherlock leaned over it and powered it on. A paper cup of coffee (Costa) sat next to the laptop, gone cold.
He reckoned he had at most ten minutes before they found him. The password took a bit longer to work out than he'd expected, but then he'd had to attack it with very few clues, so that shouldn't have been a surprise. What was a surprise, however, was the loud trilling sound the machine made when Windows powered up, not silenced when he frantically pressed the mute button and swore under his breath. It would have been heard up and down the corridor, most likely.
He amended his earlier time estimate to two minutes and began rifling through files, opening and closing folders, looking for the right information. There was a chance, if he got what he needed now, that they wouldn't have to go through this charade, that he could just--
"Hey, Mack, what are you--" The man who had just poked his head through the doorway froze as Sherlock looked up at him.
"Evening," Sherlock said as he took two steps back from the desk. His eyes flicked around the room, searching out defensive positions, potential weapons, weaknesses in his opponent.
"I know who you are," the man said, leaning casually in the doorway -- a front: the tension in his shoulders and the way he held his arms showed he was actually quite worried -- "and I know why you're here. You'd best come along with me, quietly." He pulled a handgun from behind his back and pointed it in Sherlock's general direction, not so much a threat as a statement of who had the upper hand here.
Sherlock held his hands out to his sides and gave him a tight smile. According to the plan, then. Right.
He was walked down the corridor again, past the outer door he'd broken in through and onwards, towards the voices he'd heard earlier.
"In there," the man said, gesturing with the gun towards a closed door. "Open it."
Sherlock turned the handle and pushed it open. Five men were seated around a table, playing cards; another two huddled in a far corner, talking. Smoke hung in the air over their heads, thick and grey, swirling up toward the ceiling. They all turned to look at Sherlock, who held his hands up in a gesture of submission.
"Look who I found skulking about," the man behind him said as he closed the door. "Sherlock fucking Holmes, the famous detective."
A few of the men snickered, but one simply stared at Sherlock impassively, an expensive cigar (Cohiba? Possibly, the aroma was distinct, though he'd have to get a closer look at the label to be certain) clenched between his teeth. The others turned to look at this man after a moment of silence. Apparently the leader of this operation, then. Or at least the most senior man present. No, definitely the leader: the style of his jacket, his position in the room (facing the door, back to the corner), the absurdly high pile of chips in front of him (the others let him win out of fear), the way his eyes were instantly calculating and observing (always paranoid, rightfully so) from the moment Sherlock entered the room.
The man spoke around the cigar. "Who sent you?" Polish accent, slurred to sound Russian to English ears. Ha.
"No one," Sherlock replied. "I'm here entirely on my own."
"Bullshit," was the reply. More snickering followed as the men around the table recovered from their surprise. "Who are you working for? The police? The government?"
Sherlock smiled. "Perhaps I'm just curious about your operation. Doing a bit of background research, in case you boys decide to commit some sort of crime in the near future. You know, smuggling, drug running… selling old nuclear weapons on the black market. That sort of thing." He shrugged as casually as he could manage with a roomful of thugs glaring at him.
The man chuckled in response. "Is that a threat? How charming. Wallins, Mack -- take Mr. Holmes downstairs and get him comfortable. I'll deal with him later."
Wallins stubbed out his cigarette and stood, looking far more menacing than he had done sitting down. Mack was one of the men who'd been lurking in a far corner, away from the smoke and the game. Sherlock cast a quick glance at him, taking in the familiar form before looking away again. His stomach lurched, not unpleasantly: he'd been looking forward to this part.
Mack crossed to him and stared up at him, arms loosely at his sides and his blue eyes narrow. "Sherlock Holmes, is it? I've heard quite a lot about you. Bind his hands."
His hands were pulled behind his back by someone unseen and bound together with a plastic strap. It was a bit tight for comfort, but hopefully it wouldn't be for long. He stared down at the man before him, keeping his expression as neutral as possible.
It had been weeks since he'd seen John -- four weeks and two days, in fact; four stunningly fucking long weeks with only a few text messages here and there when John checked in. It was all he could do not to stare, to drink in the sight of him. His hair was different, more closely trimmed than it had been a few weeks ago, and there was a day's growth on his face. His expression was hard, unsmiling -- he blended in with this lot rather well.
"Turn," John said, and then tugged on the plastic binding. "Fuck, Wallins, he might need these hands later."
"What for, to toss you off?"
There was some snickering at that, and Sherlock felt John's fingers brush against his wrists. It was an unnecessary touch, purely done for reassurance, and Sherlock swallowed. Perhaps he shouldn't have agreed to this: he was only going to be a distraction. Or worse, be distracted -- they hadn't worked this way before. It was new territory.
"That's exactly what I had in mind," John replied drily. "Let's go." He gave Sherlock a firm shove towards the door. Wallins had produced a gun from somewhere, though he was holding it discreetly, just a suggestion of a threat. Not that Sherlock was going to try anything just yet -- that wasn't the plan, after all. He walked through the door after Wallins and followed him down the corridor, keeping his eyes focused on the man's broad shoulders. John was behind him, his footfalls a familiar pattern on the concrete floor.
They descended to a lower level, then into a dark, wet-smelling corridor. Bare light bulbs -- the old-fashioned incandescent kind -- hung from the ceiling, giving the space an eerily dungeon-like feel.
Wallins stopped before a metal door, painted green and covered with graffiti. He slid the long metal deadbolt aside and pushed the door open. Sherlock felt John's hand press against his lower back for a full second of warning, his thumb drawing a small circle around one vertebra, before he gave Sherlock a firm shove. Sherlock took the hint and stumbled forward into the room, nearly allowing himself to topple over.
"Search him," Wallins said as he switched on the light by the door -- another bare bulb, this one flickering ominously.
"With pleasure." John stepped forward and gave Sherlock a cursory pat-down, clearly ignoring the phone in his pocket. He was unarmed, as per the plan. "He's clean."
"You're not as clever as everyone says, are you?" Wallins' tone was derisive, intended to provoke a reaction. "Walking right in here, unarmed, as if you could take what you want and walk out again."
"That was indeed my plan," Sherlock replied, his voice flat. "You've unraveled it. Good on you."
"Well, your plans are about to change, aren't they?" Wallins cracked his knuckles menacingly. "This here is my favorite part."
"Allow me," John said, stepping forward again. His expression was neutral, but his eyes sparkled, and Sherlock knew what was coming next.
"Right," he said, glancing back and forth between the two men, feigning nervousness. "This isn't necessary, you know. I'm hardly a danger to--"
John gave him a warning, a slight clench of his fist, and then hit him across the jaw. His full power wasn't behind it; he'd made it look far worse than it actually was. Sherlock spun away from him, wincing. John stepped forward again, his eyes flicking down to Sherlock's stomach, and Sherlock braced for the next punch. He grunted and let himself fold in around John's fist, then staggered backwards as John gave him another shove, further from Wallins with every step. Another punch to the gut had him falling to his knees, and then at John's slight nod he collapsed to the floor, writhing as if in agony. John gave him a solid staged kick in the stomach and Sherlock groaned and rolled over, his back to Wallins.
"Comfortable yet?" John asked.
"Fuck you," Sherlock spat.
"All right, Mack, enough." Wallins' voice had an edge to it, and for a moment Sherlock worried that their act hadn't been convincing. John swore softly and backed away, and Sherlock realized that John had been about to hit him again. "The boss said comfortable, not incapacitated. Let's go."
Their footsteps receded and the door closed, and within a minute it was completely silent. Sherlock pushed himself to sitting and winced: John had gone easy on him, but he was still going to have bruises to show for it. He tugged at the binding on his hands; he wasn't going to be able to free himself without injury. He assumed John would be back at the earliest opportunity anyway. He merely needed to be patient.
He managed to get to his feet and examine the room he was in. It was small and dark, windowless, walls tagged and peeling, cement floor stained with God only knew what. Oh, wait -- that was piss, definitely, but at least six months old. There were empty shelves along one wall, an ancient wooden chair and a flimsy-looking camp bed against the opposite wall, but otherwise the room was bare. Nothing useful here -- not that him escaping alone was in the plan. He'd have to wait for John to come back.
The term boredom was redefined for him in the following hours. Only the occasional sound of the plumbing disturbed the silence, and without access to a window or his phone, he quickly lost track of time.
When the door finally opened, the creak of the rusty hinges was nearly deafening. He jumped to his feet and squashed the impulse to grin as John closed the door behind him and smiled. Sherlock glanced up toward the ceiling and John shook his head.
"No surveillance down here. They haven't had to use this room to hold anyone recently. It's mostly used for storage." He tilted his head toward the camp bed. "Well, that and the occasional visit by a prostitute. Always entertaining, to say the least. How are you? Any injuries?"
"I'm fine, though this bind is a bit tight."
John crossed to him and pulled him into an awkward embrace, and Sherlock closed his eyes. He'd forgotten what John smelled like, somehow. There was a strange twist in his belly at the thought. He couldn't do much but lean into John in response, and John laughed.
"Sorry, I just… It's good to see you. Here, let me get that bind off you." Sherlock turned and John pulled a knife from his pocket and sliced through it.
"Ah, thanks." Sherlock rubbed at his wrists.
"Sorry it took me a while to get back down here, but I've got something for you." John pulled a USB drive from his pocket and held it out. "I hadn't been able to get into the office long enough to pull all the data, but your appearance proved to be such a distraction that I had a good half hour to rifle through all of it. They've been trying to work out who might be after them that they didn't already suspect. This should be everything we'll need to pin them down on terrorism charges."
"You've done half of my job for me, then. I owe you one." Sherlock grinned and pocketed the USB drive. "So does that mean you're handing in your resignation tonight?"
"Abso-fucking-lutely. Ready to get out of here?"
"I assume you've got an escape plan worked out?"
"I do, I--"
Sherlock cut John off with a wave of his hand -- there were footsteps coming down the corridor.
"Shit," John whispered, looking over his shoulder. "Quick, your hands."
Sherlock put them behind his back so they would appear to be bound, at least at first sight. John stared hard at him for a moment, listening. The footsteps paused outside the door. Sherlock's mind whirled: four scenarios presented themselves instantly, only two of which were probably feasible, and maybe only one that would allow them to escape uninjured.
John had an almost frantic, faraway expression on his face. His eyes focused again rather suddenly, and he lunged forward and clasped Sherlock's face in his hands. The door hinges creaked and John crushed his mouth against Sherlock's.
Sherlock almost smiled; this was becoming a habit with the two of them. He struggled enough to make it look convincing (with John's tongue in his mouth it was a bit difficult to look like he wasn't enjoying it) and glanced toward the door to where Wallins was standing there squinting at them.
"Jesus, Mack. I was taking the piss before."
John pulled away long enough to say, "Fuck off!" before roughly kissing Sherlock again. Stubble, God -- who knew it would feel so intriguing pressed into his skin?
"When you're finished in there the boss wants to have a chat with the prisoner."
John turned his head out of the kiss and pushed Sherlock roughly to his knees. "I'll bring him up when I'm done."
Wallins snorted. "I'm guessing this won't take long."
"Not if that pretty mouth feels as good as it looks." John unfastened his jeans and tugged them down an inch, shifting so that his back was towards Wallins. He grabbed a handful of Sherlock's hair and jerked his head back roughly. "You'd better make this good. Watch the teeth or you'll be sorry." His voice was gruff but his expression was conflicted, apologetic. Sherlock raised his eyebrows in response -- honestly, did he think Sherlock was going to take this personally? John rolled his eyes and then settled back in to character. He tightened his grip on Sherlock's hair and shoved Sherlock's face against the thin cotton of his pants.
Wallins chuckled from across the room; apparently he was planning to watch. Sherlock's nose was pressed against John's groin now and his heart was pounding. He had to make this look real. It had been a long, long time since he'd given a blow job, but the basic mechanics of it were simple enough. He moved his head a bit -- difficult since John's firm grip on his hair kept his face smashed against him -- and did his best to look like he was struggling to breathe around a mouthful of cock. John's grip was firm enough that he actually was struggling to get air, and when he shifted his head to allow himself to breathe, his nose bumped into what was undoubtedly John's prick. The very idea of that sent a shiver through him. He closed his eyes; the muffled moan he produced wasn't entirely faked. He heard John gasp above him and he looked up to see John's cheeks were flushed bright red. John looked down at him with a strange expression on his face, something between embarrassment and curiosity. His hands loosened in Sherlock's hair.
John had an erection, Sherlock realized with a start, even as his nose stroked down the length of it through the pants. It had happened before, that time on the floor, months ago, but Sherlock had only felt it through several layers of clothes. He hadn't seen it then, but now he could see it quite well as it strained against John's pants, a wet spot forming where the glans pushed up against the fabric just below the waistband. Sherlock swallowed: he might actually have to do this. The thought wasn't unwelcome. In fact--
"It's not a fucking porno, Wallins," John said, the hoarseness in his voice completely genuine. He pumped his hips just enough to give the impression that he was fucking Sherlock's mouth. "Get out."
"You're fucking twisted, Mack, you know that? Five minutes." A moment later they heard the door close. The sound of Wallins' footsteps receded.
John shoved Sherlock away and zipped his jeans, his face still flaming. "I'm so sorry. Oh God, that was a horrible idea. I don't know why I did that, I--"
"Don't worry about it." Sherlock pushed to his feet and ran a hand through his hair, hoping to hell John didn't notice that Sherlock was half-hard as well. "It worked. Right now we need to worry about getting out of here."
"Right, right." John looked away and adjusted his prick in his jeans with a pained expression. "There's a back stairway. We'll have to be careful at the top, but it's not usually watched." He pulled a gun from where it had been tucked into a pocket and checked the cartridge, flicked off the safety. "Ready?"
Sherlock nodded in response.
John took three steps toward the door and winced before shoving a hand down the front of his jeans again. "Goddammit."
Sherlock couldn't help smirking. "Need a minute?"
John rolled his eyes. "Let's just get the fuck out of here, all right? You can pay me back later." Sherlock gaped at him and John grimaced. "Oh, God, I meant take the piss or-- I didn't mean… Shit." He shook his head and gestured with the gun for Sherlock to go ahead of him through the door. "Keep your hands behind your back and go in front of me. Head to the right."
Sherlock felt for the USB drive in his pocket and nodded. This next part was familiar, at least. A quick escape -- most likely with a spot of trouble involved, nothing they hadn't done before, maybe even a gun fight -- but they'd get away and would be home within the hour, exhilarated and breathless: John-and-Sherlock on the case again after nearly a month of being apart, separated by one of Mycroft's schemes.
It was over now. John was coming home. Sherlock smiled.
"What?" John asked, cocking the gun.
"Nothing," Sherlock replied, still smiling stupidly. That wouldn't do for the part he was playing at the moment, though, so he let it all go, the excitement and the odd buzzing in the back of his head, and the memory of John's hard prick against his cheek. No, he should definitely not think about that right now. He clasped his hands behind his back and slumped his shoulders, a prisoner once again.
"Let's roll," John said.
Sherlock stepped through the doorway, ready to face anything.