The masked woman dashed between the bookshelves, shouting foreign curses at the two men chasing her. The dim in the underground room was only relieved by the watery light from a lone window at the far side of the basement, which the burglar was clearly working towards. She expertly climbed the final bookshelf and crouched—not unlike a cat—on the top, next to the window.
"Allez au diable, pédés."
Before her followers could begin climbing, she was through the window. The last thing the shorter of the two men saw was her foot kicking the bookshelf before the window slammed shut.
His partner pulled him away just in time for him not to be crushed, but his ankle was caught. Judging from the searing pain, it was fractured. Shit.
"Damn that woman," muttered the curly-haired man. He was glancing back and forth around the room, looking for a ladder.
"Uh, Sherlock, a little help would be appreciated," panted his partner John, who was still trapped by his ankle under the bookshelf. Sherlock rolled his eyes and knelt down next to the bookshelf. John was sweating and his jaw was clenched.
"When I lift it, move fast. Oak, you know."
John nodded, and with a little huffing and puffing Sherlock lifted the eight-hundred-pound shelf off John's ankle. As soon as John had slid away, Sherlock dropped the shelf with a wince.
Later, when Sherlock was carrying John up the stairs ("Let's you and I not mention this to anybody, ever," John had said halfway up the steps), he decided to ignore the twinge of pain below his navel. John was injured and right now that was more important.
Detective Inspector Lestrade noticed that Sherlock seemed a little out of sorts these days, but he couldn't put his finger on why he thought that. A small, Sherlock-ish voice in his head snapped at him to think, damn it and maybe then he'd understand.
Two weeks ago Shelock had been visibly pained to walk up fourteen flights of stairs. Not that that wasn't painful for the average person, but for Sherlock Holmes?
Three days ago he'd dramatically thrown open the bedroom drapes of a man who'd been castrated with copper wire—ick—while providing rapid exposition about the murderess's psychology. The plume of dust threw the consulting detective off a little bit, however, by causing a coughing fit in Sherlock and a snigger fit in Anderson. Before he continued his monologue, Sherlock had winced and gently put a hand to his lower belly.
Maybe it's sympathy pain, DI Lestrade thought. He probably just misses John's company. He made a mental note to send a get-well-soon card to Dr. Watson. Broken ankle…nasty luck.
Sherlock Holmes was flat on his back and not enjoying life at all.
His bed sheets were twisted around him, his counterpane tossed to the floor. Sherlock could feel sticky sweat around his eyes. A casual observer might have concluded that Sherlock was recovering from an hour of unbridled passion, and indeed, one of his hands was in the waistband of his pajama bottoms.
"John!" Sherlock's voice cracked a little bit.
"What?" John called from the living room. He was currently reading a gossipy local newspaper, resting his bum ankle on a footstool.
"Something's wrong with my abdomen."
"Go to the doctor."
"You are the doctor."
"I'm a doctor who has a broken ankle and what on earth is so serious that you can't get out of bed for it?"
Sherlock shifted uncomfortably, the area below his navel (and a little to the left, Sherlock noted) growing hot with pain. It was like someone had punched him there repeatedly.
"I…I think I have a tapeworm. Or internal bleeding."
John rolled his eyes. He seriously doubted Sherlock had a tapeworm, as John made sure all meat in their lab-kitchen was cooked thoroughly. As for internal bleeding, it was unlikely that it would develop overnight. However, Sherlock sounded a tad pathetic, and what's a medically-trained friend for if not on-the-spot medical advice? He grabbed his crutches and hopped over to the doorway.
"Ah, John. Excellent that you could make it all the way over from your chair."
"Please tell me you have your hand down your waistband for sound medical reasons."
"Oh. Well. You see, there's some…thing in there that I need you to feel."
John turned and started to hop back to his chair.
"John, wait! I'm serious!"
John sighed and hopped into Sherlock's room. Easing himself onto the edge of Sherlock's bed, he took in Sherlock's pained, sweaty face and decided that he could be a really, really good friend just this once.
"I'm keeping my hand out of your trousers."
"Good. Fine. Just do what you can."
"Describe where it hurts, and how badly."
Sherlock gestured with his free hand and thought about the best way to describe the pain. "When I walk or cough, it's like something sharp is in my intestines. This morning when I woke up, I thought someone had stabbed me."
John pursed his lips. A lot of things could cause lower intestinal pain, but Sherlock had mentioned pain when he coughed. That was indicative of a hernia, and hernias were common in the groin.
"When did you first feel pain there?"
"The day you broke your ankle. I felt it carrying you up the stairs."
Ah. John was almost sure now. But that meant…
"Sherlock, I'm going to need to see the injury." At Sherlock's expression, he continued. "To make sure it is what I think it is."
"Can't you just feel it? We don't need to see it. I mean, there's, uh, hair there. You don't need to see it if you can feel it."
It had been a while since John had seen Sherlock this flustered. He felt a surge of compassion for his friend and opted for his gentlest doctor voice.
"Sherlock, I need to see the injury to gauge how serious it is. I'm a professional; there's nothing down there that can shock me, or that I don't already have myself." He smiled, but Sherlock wrinkled his nose and looked away.
John took that as his cue to look at the injury. He gently pulled down the front of Sherlock's pajama bottoms until he saw what he was looking for: an unsightly bulge.
"You have a hernia. Inguinal, I would guess. They're very common in men."
Sherlock's eyes widened, and John suppressed a smile. For all his massive intellect, Sherlock had massive gaps in knowledge, especially medical. He continued. "You'll have to have surgery."
"What causes hernias?" Sherlock was clearly trying to calm across as scientifically interested and failing hard—his eyes were just a bit too wide, his voice a smidge too high.
"It's a weak spot in the abdominal wall. You almost certainly developed it when you lifted the bookshelf off me, or right after when you carried me up the stairs."
Sherlock smiled a tad smugly. "So this is all your fault, then."
John heaved himself off the bed onto his crutches and ignored Sherlock's pleas to come back.