Why is it that the best ideas always come to you when you're half asleep, laying in bed, and there's no paper nearby to write it down?

This fic is strangely... compartmentalized? Trying something new, I suppose.


"Sherlock, your phone. It rang four times already, it's probably Lestrade."

"Busy," Sherlock replied, fiddling with the microscope in front of him.

John sighed and crossed the room, reaching into the pocket of the suit jacket that Sherlock had carefully splayed across the couch. He answered, much to Lestrade's relief.

"Hello, John speaking."

"John, where the hell is Sherlock?"

"Says he's busy, what's wrong?"

"Tell him to get his bloody arse down to the National Gallery. A Da Vinci's been stolen."

xxxxxxxxxx

"Which Da Vinci?"

"The Virgin of the Rocks," Lestrade said, pushing past security toward the now empty spot on the wall where the painting used to sit. John and Sherlock followed closely. The latter took in his surroundings carefully, noting the distinct lack of details.

"Point of entry?"

"That's the problem; there wasn't one," Lestrade responded. "The only things that caught her were the cameras. By the time security sounded the alarm and got here, both she and the picture were gone. No one saw her come, no one saw her go."

"She?" John asked.

"Yes, a woman," Sherlock said, as they approached the abhorrent, blank patch. "That's lipstick on the wall."

Next to the spot where the painting used to sit sat a message in red lipstick. 'Sorry, boys. But expect this one back. Eventually. x'

"Sealed with a kiss?" John asked, amused. "Do you know who she is?"

"...Let me see the video footage."

xxxxxxxxxx

"What do you mean you can't do anything?"

"The painting is lost, Lestrade. Unless she returns it, which is just as likely as not."

"But how-"

"You wouldn't believe me. I'll let you know if it turns up."

xxxxxxxxxx

"So who is she?" John asked, climbing out of the cab in front of 221B.

"Trouble," Sherlock replied, stepping up to the door and stopping short.

"What?" John asked, slowing his gait.

"She's here." Sherlock sounded mildly amused, but not at all surprised. The exterior lock had a scratch on it that was not there before; he wasn't sure if she put it there because she needed to, or if she was just trying to irritate him.

The both of them ascended the stairs into their flat. And there, sprawled with her legs over the armrest and deep in a thick book, sat the woman from the security video. The stolen Da Vinci lay across the coffee table, much to the surprise of both of them, if Sherlock was being honest.

"Was the scratch on the lock necessary?"

"Don't worry - I break it next time. But I buy you a replacement eventually." She flipped a page in the book casually, as if she lived here or was invited in to stay for a very long time.

"Sorry - who are you?" John asked, perturbed that a thief would break into a flat - one that was half his - and decide to stay for a bit.

"Oh!" She swung her - admittedly, John thought - lovely legs over the armrest and back down to the floor. The book was forgotten on the side table. "I didn't realize. Never do look at dates anymore." She stood from the chair and crossed the room, holding a hand out to John. "Pleased to meet you. I'm Doctor River Song."

"Right." He ignored her proffered hand and turned to Sherlock. "Who is she?"

"Shake her hand, John." Sherlock replied distractedly, while texting Lestrade that he was now in possession of the missing painting.

"You know me, John," River said sweetly, her fantastic hair lending the space above her head a rather halo-esque appearance. "I've met you before, but you haven't met me. Until today."

"Wait, does this start happening a lot?" John blurted.

"That depends on your definition of a lot," River said, laughing. "Sometimes I do show up... unannounced."

"With stolen things." Sherlock pocketed his phone.

"Not always!" She protested. "This time it was necessary; Da Vinci needed proof. He wouldn't paint the thing until we showed him what it looked like at the end."

"Couldn't you have just used a poster?" John said, eyeing the painting. "They have those, you know."

"Da Vinci is a genius, he knows his own work. It had to be the genuine article."

"You ended up securing the painting's existence," Sherlock stated.

"Yes, so really, it's not all that bad," she replied mischievously. "But we don't need it any longer."

"Okay, wait." John held up his hands in defeat. "How could she meet Da Vinci? Or me without me meeting her?"

"Time travel, sweetie." River smiled. "You'll get used to it."

"Time- Okay. I'm done." John flopped down on the couch.

"She's not lying," Sherlock supplied, shucking off his coat and scarf. River began punching in coordinates on her vortex manipulator. "Leaving so soon?"

"I'm afraid so," River replied. "He's already in the vortex waiting for me. We're off to the jungles of Brazil in 1965. Something about a dinosaur."

"Ah," he replied mildly, as John looked on in intense confusion.

"I'll see you boys later." She gave John a wink and suddenly disappeared in a cloud of electricity.

"What the-" John jumped out of his seat. "She's... gone?"

"Vortex manipulator," Sherlock replied, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

"A... what?"

"A... time travel bracelet. Essentially."

John stared at the spot where River had been standing for a long moment. "Alright," he finally conceded. "Time travel. But who is she? An old friend?"

Sherlock took his previous spot at the kitchen table with the microscope. "An old friend? No. But an old something, anyway."