Please Bid Generously

John is a truly terrible waiter.

“Shit, shit, shit, shit,” he mutters to himself, barely caring that guests might be able to hear him. It’s their food he’s trying to get served, after all, so they should be able to deal with a bit of profanity for the cause. And it’s hardly his fault that the catering company had three no-shows for this goddamn fundraiser, and several tables don’t even properly have servers assigned to them.

He manages to deposit three salad plates on an otherwise unserved table. The plates are, for some reason, long rectangles instead of square or circular. They won’t all fit around the table if placed lengthwise, but placed with the long edge facing inwards is already causing several diners to trail their sleeves in oily slicks of salad dressing. John has a strong urge to punch whoever designed these plates. He calms the urge with the internal justification that by definition, anyone attending an art auction gala is extremely rich, and most of them have already proven to be arseholes, and thus oily sleeves are really just cosmic retribution.

He hurries back through the swinging doors that lead to a few small service rooms and closets and then to the kitchen. He tries his very best not to visibly glance through the open doorway to the tiny room where Sherlock is waiting with the other musicians, but doesn’t entirely succeed. Especially not when he hears a distinctly irritated voice saying “you’re really not angling to be hired back for more gigs, are you, mate?”

John grimaces. Sherlock doesn’t need to be hired back, of course, and neither does John. Both of their jobs for the night are strictly one-night engamants. Sherlock’s gig filling in for the the absent second violinist in the string quartet hired as entertainment had been the result of a well-placed spot of food poisoning. John’s being hired on in the catering team had seemed a stroke of good luck until John had arrived and realized the catering department in this place was so chronically understaffed they would have hired literally anyone off the streets, and more or less had.

So it’s fine if Sherlock alienates the rest of the quartet and John goes down in history as the slowest, most confused waiter in history. As long as they make it into the storeroom that contains the art slated for auction at the fundraiser, Sherlock is able to identify the piece which has an infinitely more valuable, stolen piece hidden underneath the one ostensibly for auction, John is in the room to identify the prearranged buyer of the stolen art, and the Met arrives in time to pick them up on the way out.

John’s hands are sweating inside of these stupid white waiter’s gloves.

They manage to get the rest of the salad service out. On their way back to the kitchen, John can’t stop himself from muttering, “Is it always this much of a disaster?” to the pretty blonde who’d smiled at him in the staff meeting before the event began. She glances at him with wide eyes and giggles, “Oh no, this is a good night. Nobody’s even cried yet! I’m going to go have a toke in the store-room downstairs, you in?”

“Uh,” splutters John, “Ah, no, I just need to–”

“Don’t worry,” she says, “People disappear for long stretches on their shifts all the time here. Nobody will even question it.”

Well that’s an unexpected blessing, at least. “Maybe next time,” he lies, and she shrugs and heads off.

John is heading back through the dank corridor towards the kitchen when he feels a hand on is arm and is yanked abruptly into a closet full of cleaning supplies.

“Sherlock!” he hisses. “I thought we were going to the art storeroom after the main course? We’ve just finished salad.”

“We are,” comes Sherlock voice through the gloom. “I just couldn’t bear to spend one more moment with those idiots. And you’re a terrible waiter.”

“You weren’t supposed to be watching me,” John objects, a small huff of air leaving him as Sherlock backs him up against a shelf. Strong hands grip his shoulders, and he yelps as Sherlock’s mouth descends on his neck. “I– Sherlock!-- Jesus, this place is a disaster. We need about eight more people to cover this room. My colleagues are down in a storeroom getting high as we speak.”

“And you’re getting off in a supply closet,” murmurs Sherlock, his fingertips sliding into the waistband of John’s satiny black trousers.

Ugh,” says John, half protest and half moan as Sherlock pulls his trousers down his thighs, “I am not.” He doesn’t resist, though, instead just pulling off the white gloves, finally giving his sweaty fingers a chance to breathe.

“Mmm, no,” says Sherlock, “I rather like those. Keep them on.”

There’s no point arguing with Sherlock, not when he’s got John pushed into a corner with his trousers trapped around his ankles. He’s also undone the bottom button of John’s vest, and his ands are skimming around underneath the white shirt underneath. John pulls the gloves back on, and then gasps when Sherlock’s hands travel down towards his rapidly hardening cock.

Lightning-quick, Sherlock hanages to grab both of John’s wrists in one of this own long hands, trapping John’s hands in front of his chest. John lets him because Sherlock’s hand is on his cock now, and oh, it’s– slippery. “You brought lube on a bloody case?” John gasps.

“Of course not,” Sherlock says, twisting his fingers deftly, “Don’t be ridiculous. This is a high-class event venue. They have packets of it in the vending machine in the bathroom.”

“Oh, well that’s much better, then” John groans sarcastically, then bites back the louder sounds threatening to emerge from him because there’s still the kitchen a few feet away, and kitchen and catering staff walking up and down the hallway. Hopefully there won’t be any sort of incident requiring cleanup while Sherlock and John are in the closet.

There is no finesse in this handjob; Sherlock simply works him over until John is shuddering and biting into his shoulder. At exactly the moment that John comes– Sherlock can always tell– the detective takes John’s two hands and holds them in front of his groin. John feels the warm splatter of semen over his gloves, and mumbles “fuck!” at the realization.

Sherlock steps back, grinning. “Christ!” says John, taking off the gloves and trying to wipe off the worst of it against his bare hand. Then he realizes there’s nowhere to put it from there, and Sherlock is still looking smugly pleased with himself, so he leans forward and makes an attempt to wipe it off across the self-satisfied arsehole’s face.

Sherlock catches his wrist before he can quite reach, and to struggle in the small, dark space would doubtless result in a calamity of cleaning products, so John has no choice but to allow his hand to be forced back until it’s hovering in front of his own face. Sherlock makes an obscene tongue-waggling gesture, and before John admits defeat and licks up his own semen, his makes sure to make eye contact with Sherlock and breathes, “Oh, I am going to fucking get you.” He grimaces as the now-cold slime coats his tongue.

Sherlock steps back, triumphant, his eyes fixed on John’s ruined gloves. John can only huff as he reaches down to pull his pants and trousers back up. “I have to go serve people food now.”

“Mmm,” says Sherlock. “Rather unsanitary. You really are a terrible waiter.”

John glares and only just remembers to check the hallways before he slams his way out of the supply closet, scheming.


John’s gloves are nearly dry from their quick soak in the bathroom sink by the time Sherlock and John meet up to pick the lock to the art storeroom. The stolen painting is secreted away in a plain wooden frame, underneath a rather unattractive painting of a boat that is rather unlikely to provoke high bids. Sherlock gestures at it triumphantly, and John notes the lot number for the live auction. They slip out before the string quartet has to play their first set: dessert service will be after that, then a second set from the quartet, and finally the live auction at the end of the night, when all the attendees are as drunk and loose-fisted as they’re likely to get. They manage to escape detection leaving, and Sherlock slips his lock picks into the inside pocket of his jacket.

It’s a tailcoat— Sherlock and the other man in the quartet are in white tie and tails, and the women in gowns— and John has a sudden vision of the tails parting around Sherlock’s bare arse like a curtain. “Play well,” he says neutrally, and Sherlock glances back at him suspiciously. John gives him a sweet grin and heads back to the kitchen.

The evening is running behind schedule, which fact leads to the first tears of the evening, as John’s colleague had more or less predicted (a catering department manager breaking down when he realized he would be blamed if the company ended up having to pay the staff overtime.) John and the other waiters are thus hurried out with dessert service during the string quartet’s first set, instead of after it, and in between slinging enormous slices of cake at patrons, John sneaks glances at Sherlock.

He’s seen Sherlock play the violin plenty, of course; almost every day. He’s heard him make the most horrible noises on the thing, as well as pieces (mostly for John’s benefit, he realized fairly early on) that are quite lovely. He’s even heard him practicing scales once or twice, though every occasion has been in the middle of the night and with a mute on, as if genuinely working on technique is a dirty secret that he must conceal from John at all costs.

John has never seen him play like this, though. He’s never seen Sherlock play with other people, and he’s never seen him perform. It’s breathtaking; all of the detective’s considerable skill on the violin, married with every scrap of acting talent that he possesses. He’s playing second violin, but that makes no difference to the laser focus he brings to his part. The quartet makes their way through a succession of civilized waltzes, and although Sherlock would never stand for such trash at Baker Street, he sways with the music and passes off each line he plays to his colleagues as if he had the parts memorized. Which he probably does, John realizes; memorizing this stuff would be the work of only a few moments for him, and leaves him free to communicate physically with his colleagues and even stay alert to the goings-on around the room.

He seems to be winning over the other musicians, too, no matter what he had said to offend them in the green room. The first violinist is swaying in time with him, leaning into him at the exact moments that Sherlock leans, making eye contact, smiling. They seem to be genuinely having a good time, despite the jaded, world-weary slumps that John had seen walking past their green room earlier.

John forces himself to stop staring and jog back to the kitchen for more dessert plates. Sherlock is acting, he reminds himself as he makes a second pass with the cake. He isn’t really a professional musician, and he wouldn’t want to be. But he could be. Sherlock can act so well in so many situations that he could be almost anything. Sherlock is brilliant, John thinks to himself– for the millionth time in his life, but somehow the realization never gets less astounding.

Sherlock is brilliant, and John had promised to fucking get him, and Sherlock will let him. John can barely conceal the grin on his face. An old lady pats his hand as he sets her dessert plate down and warbles, “That’s more like it, it’s nice to see a young person who’s enjoying his job for once.”

The quartet leaves off, allowing the guests to eat their dessert and get absolutely bloody plastered in peace for a while, and John slips into the cleaning supply room again.

Sherlock is easy to catch, probably because he very much wants to be caught. He is strolling by the barely-cracked-open door to the closet, alone in the hallway, and seems completely unsurprised (as per usual) when John yanks open the door, grabs his wrist and drags him in.

John slams him against the door. The kitchen has turned on their own music now, pump-up tunes to get them through cleanup and prepping for tomorrow’s service, and John is glad for the leeway with the noise. He wants to make Sherlock turn desperate and needy and loud.

“You were so fucking gorgeous up there,” he says honestly.

Sherlock scoffs. “Please. A selection of nineteenth-century party tunes arranged for moderately skilled string quartet. It was hardly a stretch of my–”

Don’t,” growls John, pushing Sherlock’s shoulders back again forcefully, “fucking talk back to me right now, Holmes.” He feels Sherlock’s breath hitch in his chest, his torso sliding down the wall slightly as he knees weaken, and John presses his advantage: “If I say you’re gorgeous, then what are you?” He grabs a fistful of Sherlock’s hair, pulling it up painfully, forcing Sherlock to make eye contact with him.

“Gorgeous,” Sherlock bites out reluctantly after a few moments of hesitation.

“That’s right,” says John. “Take off your shoes along with your trousers and pants. You’re going to have to spread your legs for me.”

Sherlock scrambles to comply, bending down awkwardly in the narrow space to untie the laces on his glossy black leather shoes. The lapel of his tailcoat hangs slightly open, and in a sudden flash of inspiration, John reaches in and grabs the lockpicks.

Sherlock’s mouth opens slightly, and closes again when John barks, “You’re in no position to be asking questions, here.” Sherlock straightens up to pull down his pants and trousers, and John can see that he is entirely hard already. He grins.

“Slut,” he says fondly. “Were you thinking about it, up there? Was some tiny part of that massive brain cordoned off, reserved for wondering what I was going to do to you for making me lick up my own come like a fucking animal?”

Sherlock nods, eyes wide.

“Turn around. Hands on the bleach shelf. Feet good and wide.”

Sherlock obeys, pliant now and breathing hard in that sweet way that turns into whimpers oh so easily. John lets him get comfortable, long white toes spreading on the cold concrete, presenting his back and cheeks and hole and thighs to John. By the time John touches him– a faint hand just up and down his back– he’s trembling with anticipation, and John feels a wave of triumph already.

He pats and scratches over Sherlock’s back, letting him relax a little, then switches to using a single hand on Sherlock’s skin while the other reaches into his own pocket to wiggle a lock pick out of the roll of tools. Normally, Sherlock would notice something like that straight away; but John has learned that he’s oddly unobservant in this state, willing to take whatever comes to him at the exact moment it appears. It’s strangely endearing, this trusting, naive Sherlock who is somehow both more and less Sherlock than the detective version.

John squats down on his toes, and runs the sharp tip of the lock pick down the smooth back of Sherlock’s left thigh.

Aaahh!” Sherlock gasps, his feet shuffling away from John in shock. John grabs his calves and brings him back, then slaps his arse, hard. “Stay put,” he says, and can see Sherlock’s curls bouncing above him as he nods in agreement.

He runs the pick up Sherlock’s other thigh, and this time it produces merely an extravagant full-body shiver. John gets bolder, scraping up and down Sherlock’s legs until the long red welts he’s raising are visible even in the gloom of the closet lit only by the light shining in around the cracks of the door. Sherlock is making little whimpering noises, and when they turn pathetic and sniffly enough to wrench at John’s heartstrings a little, he replaces the pick with his hands, soothing the skin of both thighs, rubbing up and down firmly as he presses kisses to Sherlock’s sacrum.

The noises don’t get any less pathetic, and though John is aware Sherlock is playing him, he takes pity anyway and brings his hands up to pry apart Sherlock’s cheeks. He allows a few long, languid licks up his crack and over his hole, and Sherlock buries his face in his shoulder to avoid whimpering louder than even the music from the kitchen could cover.

“I still want to watch you squirming when you sit down on that hard plastic chair to play,” John says, and draws back slightly to deliver the spanking he’s had in mind ever since Sherlock cornered him in this closet to begin with. “You–” smack, gasp-- “have been–” smack-- “asking for it–” smack, sob-- “all night.”

“John,” Sherlock gasps. “Please, John–”

“What are you begging for?”

Sherlock’s eyes squeezed tight in between his arms. “Don’t know.”

“You’ll take what I give you. And you’ll sit normally when you play, dont think I won’t see if you’re being tender with yourself.” He delivers two more hard smacks to each cheek before easing up, letting his hand brush over the reddened skin in a movement that is half violence, half tenderness.

John reaches a hand between Sherlock’s legs, and finds him hard and dripping. “I should make you come on your trousers or something,” he muses. “Would be fair payback.” John sighs theatrically– “But I suppose there is still work to be done, so I’ll allow you to do it with dry clothing.” He begins to stroke firmly, rubbing his other hand over Sherlock’s burning arse cheeks and thighs resplendent with scratches. Sherlock moans and pushes back into it, chasing the pain and the pleasure, and when he comes John catches most of it on his hand.

He allows Sherlock a few seconds to recuperate, then stands him up and spins him around, so that he can see what John is doing: licking Sherlock’s semen off of his hand, staring him down the entire time.

“You belong to me,” he says quietly, lapping in between his own digits. “Every bit of you. Got it?”


Anyone but John wouldn’t have noticed.

John is acting as porter for the live auction while Sherlock plays his second set, him and his colleagues bringing items from the storeroom to the ballroom, setting them up behind a curtain, ready to be swept away dramatically the moment the auction. So he’s behind the string quartet for much of the time, and has a clear view of the way that, while Sherlock’s movements might look like he’s simply swaying from side to side to the music, he rocks back and forth in a way that is distinctly uncomfortable. It makes John feel cheerful even when the same manager who had already had one breakdown over the timing of the thing appears on the verge of a second. When the auction is set up, the emcee gives a hand signal to the first violinist that the current tune should be their last, and the musicians exit with not so much as a smattering of applause. They were just decoration, apparently.

Technically, John should be reporting back to his floor manager for more orders now that table service is over. Instead, he slips to the back of the room to watch the auction. Not much is required of him other than avoid being seen: when a middle-aged gentleman with an ugly moustache bids first and loudest on the horrible painting of the boat, John grabs a bottle of wine from nearby cart, goes to refresh the glasses of everyone at his table, takes note of the man’s nameplate, and texts it to both Sherlock and Lestrade.

He peels off his gloves, divests himself of the bottle of wine and leaves them both on a nearby cart. Someone else will have to clean them up, but John can’t bring himself to feel guilty about it. He has a sore-arsed detective to take home.

Sherlock, it turns out, isn’t waiting at their prearranged spot outside the employee door to the event centre. It takes him a full twenty minutes to appear, by which time John is antsy; has something gone wrong? Is the buyer not part of the right criminal cabal?

Finally, Sherlock exits at the same time as the rest of the quartet. They’re all smiling and laughing, and the cellis trills, “I can’t believe you figured that out just from his wine glass!” Sherlock shrugs modestly. “A little hobby of mine,” he says.

“It was great playing with you,” the other violinist says, and shakes Sherlock’s hand. “We’d be glad to have you back if Marty or I are ever out.” Sherlock smiles, not quite the sincere one but very close, beckons John over. “My boyfriend is here to pick me up!” he says brightly, and John just barely avoids rolling his eyes. In revenge, he twines an arm around Sherlock’s waist that just twists down to cup his bum out of sight of the musicians.

“Oh, nice to meet you,” says the violinist, “Thanks for letting us borrow him.” They all exchange handshakes, and then Sherlock and John say goodbye, peeling off into the night to catch a cab home.

Sherlock pulls out his mobile. “Lestrade says the buyer is known to the Met,” he mutters.

“Need to stick around?” John asks, hoping the answer is no.

“Arresting people is boring,” pronounces Sherlock. “We’ve done the good bit.”

A cab miraculously appears, as they always seem to do for Sherlock. “I certainly recall doing the good bit,” John grins, climbing in. When the door closes, he brushes his fingertips over Sherlock’s sheek. “Hey,” he murmurs.


“You’re right, I am a shit waiter. But you’re brilliant.”

Sherlock smiles.