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Alternative Medicine

Title: Alternative Medicine
Fandom: Sherlock BBC
Characters/Pairings: Sherlock/John
Rating: NC-17
Word count: 4,650
Disclaimer: This is a transformative work of the BBC’s Sherlock, which itself is a transformative work. Fun, not profit!
Warnings: Explicit sex
Notes: This is the finally written and edited result of a [luminous] plot bunny that showed up while watching Baskerville at Sherlock Seattle and was frantically written down on an old bus schedule in the dark. Deciphering it was fun. This is thus dedicated to all the excellent people of Sherlock Seattle, especially the people who make it happen. It’s a little funny that a large social event inspired me to write a fic the working title of which was “angst and hand jobs.” It does what it says on the tin.
Summary: “We’re self-medicating anxiety and boredom.” “No, we’re not,” John says breathlessly. “That’s not it anymore.”


The first time it’s an accident.

“I need a case!” Sherlock barks, slamming his hands into the table and crumpling the front pages of tabloids from three weeks ago.

“You just finished a case yesterday,” John says. He curls the cover of his paperback spy novel back, a little too forcefully. “Can’t you give yourself a day?”

The first time it happens Sherlock is wild-eyed and almost literally bouncing off the walls, making a mess of every organised surface. Twenty-four hours off a case and it hasn’t lasted, that post-case calm. The amount of time it’ll hold for varies, depending on the case, how satisfying it was, how much sleep Sherlock has to catch up on. John’s been making a bit of a study of Sherlock’s calm states, and he’s been wondering if there’s any way to produce them other than solving a case.

When Sherlock’s all restless energy and scattered movement John can’t do anything with him in the room, can’t focus, can’t sit quietly without Sherlock knocking into the back of his chair and throwing newspapers in his direction. And John is tired from the last case still, tired enough he’s not thinking through the implications of his actions, so that when he tosses aside the novel and gets up it makes sense to grab Sherlock by the back of his neck.

“What are you doing?” Sherlock asks, wriggling, but John is marching him into his bedroom.

“Getting you to quit fucking bouncing all over the flat like a puppy that needs to go for a run in the park,” John says, and shoves him hard against the wall. John wants to shock Sherlock a little bit. His arm is pressed across Sherlock’s collarbones and his hip is digging into Sherlock’s thigh. He’s not sure he expects this to make a difference.

It does. Sherlock sags against the wall, like all the manic energy has been pulled out of him, like there’s no room for it anymore in the space between him and John and the wall. John’s not expecting that reaction, but he’s got what he wants and he’s afraid that if he lets go there will be room for the energy again.

The bedroom is only lit by the pale daylight from the window; Sherlock looks like a painting. John meets his eyes, and shifts on his feet, and--Sherlock is hard.

Sherlock’s eyes flick downwards, and his mouth opens, and he relaxes even further against the wall.

“I don’t bounce,” Sherlock says, sounding just like he always does, and John takes that very Sherlockiness as confirmation that this is okay.

John’s thought about this, of course he has. Both in that way you idly contemplate what all your friends look like naked, and in the less idle way you wonder about Sherlock in particular, and whether anyone’s ever touched him.

Sherlock isn’t demanding about his arousal. John would have expected him to be. He doesn’t look uncertain, either, he just looks like the pressure of John’s arm against his chest is doing pleasant things to his head. John has learned this, after so long living with his Sherlock: it’s all about doing things to your head that make it bearable. And this is... this is harmless, comparatively. So John catches Sherlock’s eye and grins a bit, and then he reaches up and pops the button on Sherlock’s trousers.

Sherlock’s not all the way hard, but he’s--oh, yes he is, when John unzips the trousers and runs his fingers down the front of Sherlock’s pants. Nearly.

John doesn’t know what Sherlock is thinking--they’ve never talked about this, barely even skirted around the idea. This is not a situation John ever seriously expected them to end up in. It’s a bit overwhelming, the combination of the room’s half-darkness and Sherlock’s height and the fact that there are no soft spots on this body in front of him--at least, not that he knows yet, not that are discoverable through clothing and the barest touch of fingers.

“Okay, let me--” John breathes deep and drags his thumb upwards.

Sherlock exhales long and tilts his head back against the wall, and in the exhale there’s a “John.” His neck looks almost white in this light. John, looking at it, moves his arm upwards and shifts it, so that it’s still pressing into Sherlock’s right shoulder but his hand curls around the front of Sherlock’s neck. Sherlock’s wearing a t-shirt; John moves his other hand and shoves the shirt up so his hand is flat against Sherlock’s even flatter stomach and then he slides it down, into Sherlock’s pants.

John rests his head against his arm and murmurs, “Didn’t think of this yourself?” He fumbles a bit and then wraps his right hand around Sherlock’s cock.

Sherlock says, “Wouldn’t have worked by myself,” breath hitching on “have.”

“Oh.” John’s breath feels damp against his sleeve. He curls his hand around, so that he’s holding Sherlock’s cock in his palm with his fingers downwards, and drags up minutely, and down again. “Is this--”

Sherlock reaches up and grips John’s shoulder, hard. He says, “Please,” his voice even deeper than usual. He’s become still, so utterly motionless after the way his body was vibrating with energy.

Still, that is, but for the way his hips twitch towards John as John rubs the heel of his hand over the head of Sherlock’s cock. John is so focused on getting Sherlock to relax, to stay sprawled against the wall, that he’s not even sure if he’s aroused himself. He’s not hard but his skin feels over-sensitive and he’s still breathing heavily into his own arm.

Sherlock takes deep, deliberate breaths until John gets fed up with the restriction of Sherlock’s clothing and shoves his trousers and pants down one-handed, one side at a time. With nothing in the way John wraps his hand fully around Sherlock’s cock and Sherlock bites off a noise. John looks up at him. He’s staring down at John, intent, almost like John is a case to be solved but also different--a little unfocused.

John licks his lips and Sherlock thrusts, shoving his cock up through John’s loose fist and bumping against the thin skin on the inside of John’s wrist. He leaves a smudge of precome there, wet and cooling as he thrusts shallower this time. John lets go for a moment, wipes his wrist up Sherlock’s cock (hears, through a blur of sensation, a shocked oh), and licks across his palm before wrapping it back around Sherlock’s cock.

Sherlock’s eyes are wide but no longer wild, and his mouth is open. His hips jerk; John twists one hand and the other curls tighter around Sherlock’s neck. “I don’t--bounce around like a puppy,” he says, practically gasping, and then he curls his right shoulder into John’s arm and shuts his eyes and comes.

Sherlock goes limp, everywhere, barely holding himself up. John lets go and looks up to see Sherlock watching him through his eyelashes. “All right?” John asks. Sherlock nods faintly. John lets go of Sherlock’s neck and steps back half a pace. “Are you going to be able to sit and read something nice and calming about deadly bacteria now?”

Sherlock kicks his trousers and pants off, wipes himself off a bit with the pants, and then slips out from between John and the wall and goes to pull out a pair of clean pyjamas. He folds himself onto the bed, legs crossed, and looks appraisingly at John. John feels almost like he’s absorbed some of Sherlock’s energy, pulled it out of Sherlock and into himself. He can’t stay quite still, fidgeting his fingers against each other, jiggling his leg. “All right, John,” Sherlock says.

“Yeah,” John says. “Yeah.” And then because he doesn’t know what else to do he leaves the room, locks himself in the bathroom, and takes off all his clothes.

It worked, John thinks. And, what just happened?


The second time it happens John almost gets the sense that Sherlock is vibrating off the walls, but he’s doing it in John’s direction. John shoves him down on the couch and kneels next to him, and he barely says a word. He seems to take it as read that this is how they solve this problem now, that it’s their problem.

Afterward Sherlock gets up and wanders, slightly wobbly, into the bathroom. John hears the shower start up. Still kneeling on the couch, John tugs at the waistband of his own trousers and sighs.


John doesn’t think this started out as sex. The first time it happened he was solving a problem. The second time he was solving a problem Sherlock asked him to solve. Just an exchange of sensation, a way to give Sherlock some peace, simple neurochemistry. Almost medication. So it was... bodies, but not sex.

John tilts his head back so the spray from the shower hits his neck, and shoves forward, jerking his cock roughly into his hand. On the back of his eyelids Sherlock is propped against the kitchen table, gasping and fucking John’s hands.

It’s sex now. He doesn’t know if Sherlock sees it that way, but John can no longer pretend otherwise.


This is wrong. Henry Knight shows up before John gets fed up with Sherlock’s energy and cigarette cravings, and John is sorry. It’s a case, and cases are always better--they last longer for Sherlock and they leave John feeling the pleasant adrenaline come-down rather than the bereft and aroused feeling he gets after he gets Sherlock off. And still it feels like a missed opportunity, the chance to press Sherlock against a good solid surface and touch him until he’s calm. He knows it’s selfish, that he likes to be the one who does it, who gets to leave Sherlock relaxed and smug. But Henry Knight shows up and they’re off to Dartmoor.

John spends the train ride staring out the window and trying not to think about Sherlock’s hip bones.


It’s different this time.

John comes back into the dining room of the Cross Keys and takes the glass out of Sherlock’s hands; his skin is pink from the fire. Sherlock is shaking, but this time it’s not a vibrating energy but an anxious tremor. John is angry and hurt, and he tugs Sherlock up by his collar, a little rough. “Come on,” he mutters.

“I’m not--”

“Shut up.”

John pushes Sherlock along, hand on the back of his neck, guiding him up the stairs. Gary winks at them from behind the bar. John frowns because, well, he’s making the right assumption. Sort of.

“This isn’t--” Sherlock starts, while John is unlocking the door to their room.

“Are you sure?” John asks. “Are you sure it won’t help? Because if you’re not sure then shut the fuck up.”


John gets the door open and pushes Sherlock inside. “Sit,” he snaps. He’s so angry now, so angry this is a bad idea. But Sherlock obeys, and John knows it will work. Sherlock sits, arms crossed, jaw tense. John shuts the door and turns on the lamp on the useless little table next to the door. He takes off his coat and tosses it on the bed.

Sherlock still looks sweaty and his hands are still trembling. John crosses the room and looks down at him, clenching and unclenching his fists. “Okay,” he says. “Just shut up. We’ll talk about it in the morning.”

Sherlock looks momentarily panicked, and John clarifies, “About you being a dick, Sherlock, not--”

They don’t talk about this.

“Take your trousers off,” John says. Sherlock looks mutinous, but he does it, unzipping his trousers and lifting his hips to slide everything down to his knees. Sherlock’s not aroused at all. “Touch yourself.”

“You know that doesn’t work.”

“Just do it.” John kneels in front of Sherlock’s chair and tugs his pants down further, as Sherlock wraps his hand around his own cock. John unties Sherlock’s shoes, working out the double knots slowly and carefully, listening to the soft brush of Sherlock’s hand over his own skin. John tugs off the shoes and socks, and the trousers and pants the rest of the way. Sherlock’s knees are bony and pale.

“I told you this wouldn’t work,” Sherlock says, gesturing with his free hand and glaring at John.

“You’re not doing it for you,” John says. He presses his thumbs into the pointy part of Sherlock’s hipbones, fingers splayed around to Sherlock’s arse. Sherlock huffs breathily, almost surprised-sounding.

But it’s still not quite sex for Sherlock, is it? He’s distracted now, but he isn’t hard, and somehow that makes John angrier. This disparity is growing and Sherlock never says thank you, but then--what is John sacrificing, really? His composure? That’s nothing, and distracting Sherlock is worth something. John is thankful that this works.

He’s still angry.

John lets go of Sherlock’s right hip and folds his hand around Sherlock’s balls, barely touching until with a sudden movement he presses the tip of his middle finger, a little bit of fingernail, into the soft space behind. He bends his wrist down and then slides his fingers away, trailing them across the inside of Sherlock’s thighs. He’s not even trying for progress towards anything at this point, just sensation, but it has an effect anyway. Sherlock lets go of his cock and curls his hands around the arms of the chair and asks, “What are you doing?”

“What do you think I’m doing?” John asks, without thinking it through, without realising that it’s a dangerous question. Maybe he doesn’t want to know, and he closes his eyes like that will mean he can’t hear the answer.

“You’re touching me.” Sherlock’s voice sounds a little uneven.

John opens his eyes and looks up. Is that different? Does Sherlock thinks that’s something other than what John usually does here? It’s impossible to tell, so John throws it all to the wind and nods.

Now Sherlock is aroused. He shifts his hips and his cock bobs slightly, and John presses down more forcefully on his hip with his right hand. “All right?” John asks.


Did Sherlock just agree to something there, something bigger than what they have tacitly and without any real negotiation agreed to? John is--and he may have admitted this, he isn’t even sure--too distracted to know. He’s leaning over Sherlock’s knees but he keeps his hips back, even though that makes his spine tense, even though his trousers have become uncomfortable.

There is nothing perfunctory about this--there never was, but this time it’s more noticeable, and it’s distracting from the business at hand. Get Sherlock off and deal with it later, John thinks.

John’s fingers are still tucked in the space between Sherlock’s thighs. He slides them back up and into Sherlock’s clean wiry pubic hair, tugs a bit, lets go and touches Sherlock’s cock. Now that Sherlock is hard, he’s very hard, and a bit sweat-damp. John runs the inside of the knuckles of all four fingers over the head of Sherlock’s cock, uneven.

Sherlock makes a frustrated noise and John grins because this is one of those days where Sherlock deserves to be frustrated. Sherlock pushes up with his hips but John’s hand is... probably leaving a bruise, actually, so the movement doesn’t have much effect except for a brief slide that has to be just as frustrating as it is relieving. John’s other hand intermittently slides smoothly and catches on friction and that’s probably frustrating too, but--. John licks his lips. It feels good.

Finally he lets go of Sherlock’s hip and Sherlock immediately thrusts upwards, only to have the thrust interrupted by John’s hand behind his knee pulling him forwards, his legs parenthetical around John’s torso. John licks the first two fingers of his right hand and slips them in behind Sherlock’s balls, his other hand still moving and catching on Sherlock’s cock. The fingers slip over Sherlock’s perineum, back against the edge of Sherlock’s arsehole, and this--this doesn’t really fall into the strict “hand jobs as a tactical response to Sherlock’s manic energy” plan John thinks they’ve established. But he’s breathing heavily and his hands are damp with sweat and precome and he’s about to start rutting against the front of the armchair, oh Christ.

This is sex. Sherlock’s mouth is open, his tongue keeps flicking over his upper lip. He’s not just distracted, not just getting off to stop the vibrating in his brain or the anxious tremor, he’s doing this--thrusting and gasping and sweating with John--for its own sake.

There’s a whine in John’s throat. He slides a smear of Sherlock’s precome down his cock, circles the two fingers of his other hand half in an opening gesture, almost pressing in. Sherlock says, “John,” his thighs quivering, his hips jerking up into John’s hand, down into John’s fingertips. John feels like he’s out of his mind, but he doesn’t let go, doesn’t do anything to touch himself, this is--this is--. Sherlock moans once, abbreviated, and comes almost lazily, like it’s happening in slow motion with John’s fingers still drawing it out. Ohproblem.

Afterwards John will wipe himself off, pull his trousers back up, walk through the bedroom where he will pretend not to see Sherlock still sitting in the armchair with no pants on, with his eyes still closed. The results of the Morse code lead will be doubly disappointing because it won’t even be distracting, just a reminder.

John will try and fail not to take Sherlock’s text about Louise Mortimer as being about anything other than the case.


John sags onto the bed and scrubs his hands over his face. The adrenaline and the strange calm of having a gun in his hand pushed this away for a little while, but now the fear has washed back in. He reaches out blindly and switches the bedside lamp on, banishing the image of the huge red-eyed hound in the dark.


John startles even though he knows Sherlock is in the room, and looks over his shoulder to see Sherlock leaning against the back of the door, arms crossed.

“I’m okay,” John mumbles. “It’s fine.”

Sherlock’s footsteps sound against the floor as he moves around his bed and towards John. John stares down at his hands, taking deliberately deep breaths. He tilts slightly to the right as Sherlock sits next to him on the overly squashy bed. “You’re not fine,” Sherlock says.

That’s true. John is shaky and sweaty and he feels the way Sherlock looked last night. It must be well past midnight now. It’s like they’re sitting in a bubble of light; the folds of Sherlock’s trousers look like a pen drawing. John huffs an almost-laugh. “Whose fault is that?”

Sherlock doesn’t answer. John watches him lean his forearms on his knees and press his palms together. “Would it help if--” he begins finally, and then stops. He looks like he’s working something out.

“What?” John asks, voice rough.

“Usually I’m the one who needs, um--but I could--”

John understands at the same moment Sherlock gives up on his understanding and reaches out. He’s shocked, but at the same time and after last night, not at all shocked. Sherlock’s hand comes to rest over John’s stomach, bunching up his shirt a little and then smoothing it down. “Are you--really?”

Short and sharp, Sherlock nods. “If you think it will help.”

“I--” John’s hands are shaking even worse suddenly, but he thinks about it. He imagines himself spread back across the bed and Sherlock leaning over him, Sherlock with one knee between his thighs, maybe, Sherlock’s long fingers. Oh God. “Yes. Please, Sherlock.” Even clumsy like this he makes quick work of his trousers. He dislodges Sherlock’s hand pushing them down to his knees, but then the hand is back, both hands, touching, pressing him down into the bed.

Sherlock is tentative, like he isn’t quite sure what he’s doing, and if touching himself doesn’t work then maybe that’s true. Maybe he doesn’t do this.

He’s doing it now. His right hand is on John’s cock, his left has pushed John’s shirt up and he’s pressing the heel of his hand down between John’s ribs. John gasps, his thighs tense, and then he relaxes, his body giving itself over to more pleasant sensations. Pressure and friction and the sight of Sherlock’s concentration written across his face like a good story.

“Sherlock, what are we--what are we doing?”

“You’ll sleep off the drug, if I can just--” Sherlock still has his coat on; his sleeve is scratchy against the soft skin at the crease of John’s thigh.

“No, I mean, I mean this. Oh. I mean all of this.”

“Self-medicating anxiety and boredom.”

John’s feet are still on the floor; he braces them and thrusts up. “No, we’re not,” John says breathlessly. “That’s not it anymore.”

Sherlock shakes his head. He looks a little bit helpless. His concentration looks a little frayed.

This is new in every way. In all of John’s guilty but well-fueled fantasies, it’s like it’s been in reality: Sherlock against the wall, against the table, sitting down, and John touching him. The quivering of Sherlock’s legs and his face when he comes, vividly remembered. No fantasy has ever featured Sherlock’s face when John comes, which--. “Wait,” John gasps. This is going too fast, and he knows something has changed here, but it’s not just a reversal. He doesn’t want to simply reverse things. He wants change.

Sherlock’s hand stills; he looks confused. “You saw it too, the hound,” John says, reaching down and wrapping his hand around Sherlock’s, together on his cock. John shivers. “You, can I?”

“Yes.” God, Sherlock’s voice is so deep it’s practically not a word at all. He takes his hand off John’s chest and starts unbuttoning his trousers, endearingly clumsy. John tries to help but mostly his fingers just slip in and tug at Sherlock’s shirt, pulling it up and unbuttoning his jacket. Sherlock kicks off his shoes and lifts his hips and shoves his pants off, and then John tugs at Sherlock’s hip and Sherlock straddles John. Shirt still on, jacket still on, coat spread back over John’s legs.

For a moment they are in the perfect position to look at each other, really to look. Sherlock’s eyes are dark and his hair is a mess (how?), and John opens his mouth and wets his lips with his tongue. “Yeah?” John asks, not even sure what answer he’s looking for.

Sherlock’s answer: to lean forward, one hand still moving infinitesimally on John’s cock, the other braced next to John’s head, to lean forward until the head of his cock brushes against the base of John’s.

John slips his hand across the minute gap between their bodies and wraps it around Sherlock’s cock. This is mutual in a way it’s never been before, with Sherlock’s thighs heavy over John’s thighs and both of them with their mouths open taking shallow little breaths. Nobody’s in control here, there’s nobody to keep this routine and simple. There’s just the way Sherlock’s mouth drops open further when John starts making involuntary little noises, like just the sound of John so turned on he can’t stop himself is enough.

“John,” Sherlock says, more air than sound.

“It’s okay, Sherlock,” John answers. “It’s okay to--just because--even when you--” But he loses the thread of what he’s saying and his eyes slip shut, his hand stilling on Sherlock’s cock, tightening in a way that makes Sherlock moan.

John bucks up into Sherlock, jostling him, reminded suddenly of the overheated feeling Sherlock’s coat on his legs is giving him. He comes, and when he opens his eyes again, barely finished, he finds Sherlock watching him with a rapt look on his face.

John is good at this now, good at touching Sherlock, at drawing it out. He knows when to speed up and when to touch so lightly Sherlock presses into him desperately. It’s a bit messy between them, and now Sherlock has both his hands braced next to John’s head and he’s thrusting into John’s hand. One of his feet is hooked around John’s calf. From the waist up, Sherlock still looks dressed.

Sherlock drops his head down, no longer looking at John.

His come lands on John’s chest, where not long ago his hand was pressed between John’s ribs: like an echo of the pressure. It pulls a last shudder out of John, a responsive mirror of Sherlock’s orgasm.

Sherlock is heavy. After a moment he climbs off of John and sits back on the bed. He shivers when he sits, naked arse on the lining of his coat. Absentmindedly he reaches out and wipes his hand on John’s shirt, which is still bunched up to the armpits.

John snorts, amused and happy he has something to be amused about, here in this post-coital limbo before the other shoe drops. “Sherlock?”

“I’m sorry, John, I meant--” He breaks off and shakes his head, clasping his hands and grimacing when he realises how sticky they still are.

“It’s okay, really.”

“No, it isn’t. That was meant to be your turn, and then I--”

“It doesn’t have to work like that,” John says softly. “Before, I was trying to say. It’s okay to want to get off just because. It doesn’t have to be ‘medicinal.’”

Sherlock shakes his head again. “But that wasn’t the arrangement. You didn’t agree to that.”

John laughs. “Sherlock, I didn’t agree to anything. It just happened, and I went along with it because it was working.” He sits up, tugging his shirt down and wiping his hands on it, and then reaches out to touch Sherlock’s thigh. “You don’t have to need it for us to do this. You can want it too.”

Sherlock stands, shaking off John’s hand and backing across the room. He looks ridiculous with his loose shirt-tails and his long coat, and no trousers. He still has his socks on. Ridiculous and so endearing. “And if I don’t want it?” he asks.

It’s transparent. Oh, Sherlock. John pulls up his pants so he can stand too and face Sherlock properly.

“I want it,” John says.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 5th, 2013 04:51 pm (UTC)
Aaaaaand faints.

May. 10th, 2013 02:41 am (UTC)
Whoops, hope there was a couch behind you. :D Thanks!
May. 29th, 2013 11:07 pm (UTC)
I've had this on my To Read list for a while, and I'm glad I finally got to it! I can totally see John initially being like "Ok, that's enough, time to calm the fuck down," and then slowly realizing what a can of worms he's opened. A very good can, of course, but still, one does not simply provide Sherlock Holmes with an orgasm service without things getting a little more complicated. =)
May. 30th, 2013 01:06 am (UTC)
I imagine living with Sherlock involves a lot of unintentional worm can-opening. :D Thanks for reading!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


Parce que c’etait lui, parce que c'etait moi.

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