Disclaimer: I don't own Sherlock.
Hello again, friends! I have been so blessed to receive such great encouragement from such awesome people. It's totally inspired me to keep going – and you've earned yourself this chapter, plus an extension in the story (after this, it'll be one more chapter and an epilogue). Thank you all for your responses to my questions – I had a great time seeing how you think Sherlock would respond. Anyways. Enough of my rambles. Enjoy!
"Sherlock?" John blindly stumbled around the dark room, searching for the lamp switch. He found it and turned it on, causing Sherlock to jolt awake in the presence of such a bright light.
"Sorry." John apologized, turning the light away from the bed and setting a glass jar full of water down on the table. "How're you doing?"
"I'm fine." Sherlock said in a monotone voice. John was amazed at how quickly he pulled himself together – forty-five minutes ago he was on the verge of tears due to the level of pain and now he said he was fine. Maybe that was the key, John realized. He said he was okay … that didn't mean he actually was. John reached out a laid a hand on Sherlock's cheek.
"You've still got a fever."
"Obviously. Infections don't clear out that quickly."
John ignored his statement, rooting around for another pair of gloves on the first aid kit. He found them and pulled them on before lifting the washcloth from the large abrasion.
"How does it look?" Sherlock asked.
"Better, although we're not done with it by any means. I'm going to start alternating with rubbing alcohol and saline solution. Hopefully that will drain out what's left and then I'll give it one more good rinse with saline before I try to close it."
Sherlock merely nodded and John took this as his cue to start and repositioned the lamp. Sherlock's eyes followed John's hand as he picked up the turkey baster and let it hover over his arm but Sherlock turned his head before the first drops fell. An overwhelming stinging sensation shot up his arm, so intense it made his arm feel like it had a thousand needles poking into it all at once. Sherlock's other hand squeezed the stress ball tightly. It did very little to help the pain but it took his mind off the horrible feeling in his other arm. Slowly, the burning wore off and Sherlock loosened his grip. He turned his head to see John picking up the jar of saline.
"That's mine." Sherlock said.
"What?" John looked up from what he was doing.
"The pipette. I thought you said you couldn't use my droppers because you didn't know where they'd been."
"I sterilized it." John said, filling it with the clear liquid. "This shouldn't hurt as much as the alcohol."
Sherlock braced for the painful feeling again but John was right. It didn't hurt, exactly, but he was definitely aware of its presence. The sensation reminded him of how, on a hot afternoon, a drink of cold water could be felt slipping down your throat as you swallowed it. Sherlock was so pre-occupied with trying to describe the feeling of saline in the wound that he wasn't watching what John was doing. He let out a hiss when John packed gauze into the cut after irrigating it.
"Sorry." John said, not sounding sorry at all. "For what it's worth, it's working."
"That's good." Sherlock said in a sarcastic tone.
"Ready for the alcohol again?" John asked once the gauze was removed. Sherlock's face had lost the superiority that he seemed to have gained with his comment. He swallowed hard and nodded.
John repeated the process several times, each time drawing less out of the wound than before. Sherlock carried himself through it alright – squeezing his eyes shut, biting his lip against the pain and then sighing with relief as the saline neutralized the alcohol.
"Alright, this is the last of the rubbing alcohol." John said, filling the turkey baster to capacity. Sherlock didn't say anything but readied himself. He flexed his toes – somehow it made him feel more secure – and waited for the impact. John tried to work quickly but he wanted to be thorough. Instead of squeezing the baster to produce one long stream, John squeezed it in intervals, moving around the cut to get into every section. It was a slow process and the most painful one Sherlock had been through yet. Sherlock tried to distract himself.
Look at the pattern on the ceiling – who was he kidding? There was no pattern on the ceiling, just random stucco and swipes of paint. His eyes wandered to the dresser – tobacco ash was sitting out on it. How could he distinguish between two types of ash that had the same chemical make-up? What about – the pain grew worse in his arm. It mounted, the burning sensation building until his arm felt like it was on fire.
"John." Sherlock mumbled. "John, please stop."
John looked up and saw Sherlock was turning a shade of green which, mixed in with the pale complexion, gave his skin a greyish hue.
"Hang in there, Sherlock. It's almost over." John said as calmly as he could. Inside, his heart was pounding, telling him to stop Sherlock's pain but his medicinal logic knew that he had to finish this round.
"John." Sherlock's words had turned into somewhat of a moan. John was grateful when the turkey baster was empty and the last few drops fell into the wound.
"It's alright, Sherlock. It's all over." John said, quickly putting down the instrument. He re-moistened the face cloth and pressed it against Sherlock's forehead. The cooling effect brought Sherlock around a little and faint colour began returning to his cheeks.
"Are you going to be sick?" John asked.
"No." Sherlock answered, swallowing. "I'll be fine."
"Take deep breaths." John instructed. "With me, in … out. Good, keep going. In … out."
Sherlock mimicked John and his colour began to improve.
"Can I rinse out with the saline now or do you want a minute?"
Sherlock welcomed the sensation of water running through the wound – it was calming after the pain of the alcohol. However, his relief was short lived, as soon John was trying to stuff gauze pads into the nooks and crannies of the cut.
"Ow, John! Do you have to do that?" Sherlock exclaimed as he felt John's finger poking around inside the wound.
"Yes, I do. I can't stitch the cut without making sure I get as much secretion out of it as possible."
Sherlock almost gagged when he saw the gauze as John pulled it from the cut. He quickly turned his head, thankful that John had such a strong stomach. Sherlock began counting random objects – the knobs on the dresser, the rings holding the curtains, the number of light bulbs – all in attempts to keep his attention away from what John was doing. At last, John straightened up.
Sherlock turned and saw that the cut looked much better – much less inflamed, although fresh blood was still coming from it, undoubtedly from John's poking around.
"What now?" Sherlock asked, trying to calm his racing heart. John checked his watch.
"I think, for your sake, I'm going to irrigate the wound and pack it. We'll let you sleep for a few hours and then I'll stitch it closed."
"What do you mean 'for my sake'?"
"I want to give you some time to get some rest, first of all. Don't forget that your brilliant idea of hiding this has made you sick."
"Yes, and I'll still be sick after you stitch it closed. I'd rather get it done right away."
"It'll be good for the wound to irrigate a bit before closing it. Plus, I want to wait until I can give you more aspirin to help with the pain."
"I don't need more drugs, John. I'll be fine."
"Sherlock, stitching is going to be a whole other ball game than the hydrogen peroxide, and even worse than the rubbing alcohol. It will be extremely painful."
"I don't care. I want it done now."
John shook his head firmly.
"No. As your doctor, this is my decision and I'm saying that we're going to try and treat your fever with some compresses and you're going to sleep for a minimum of three hours. I can administer more medication in about four. Until then, I want you to rest."
Sherlock sighed in annoyance. He hated not being in control, although he had to admit that he certainly felt worn out by his treatment so far, not to mention that he knew John was right. The worst was still yet to come.
"Fine." Sherlock's voice indicated his displeasure but John didn't care – he was just glad that Sherlock agreed. After a quick trip to the loo, John settled Sherlock in his bed, abrasion packed with saline-soaked gauze and wrapped so Sherlock could sleep comfortably. The doctor was pleased to see that, despite his efforts, Sherlock's eyes were slipping closed. He laid a cool compress on his forehead and turned out the light.
A couple of things to point out:
1) A tip for you in you ever don't feel well or in pain – flexing your toes and counting objects are great distractions and they really do help you feel better – believe me, I speak from experience.
2) I've gotten a lot of questions about my treatment methods but three seem to be prevalent.
a) Why couldn't John give Sherlock stronger antibiotics? I'm pretty sure that in order to administer drugs of that nature, John would need to be associated with a working practice before ordering them … that's my excuse, as least!
b) Hydrogen peroxide is as bad as rubbing alcohol? I have never heard this before … hydrogen peroxide never hurts when I use it … but then again, I'm not pouring it onto a huge cut. I based Sherlock's experience on my own with the medicine. Anyone disagree/have experience with this?
c) Isn't aspirin a blood thinner? Yes, aspirin does serve to thin the blood, as well as treat pain and fever. I wasn't quite sure what else to use – in Canada, we don't have paracetamol so I'm not entirely sure on its medicinal properties so I went with something I knew, despite its blood-thinning quality. It bothers me slightly but c'est la vie, I suppose. I'll continue to use aspirin in the story simply for continuity sake.
3) As I'm writing this, I love torturing Sherlock but I'm rather curious as to opinions if this is accurate. Do you think that rubbing alcohol and such would prompt such extreme pain? What about the stitches – I've only ever had 2 in my entire life and I was numbed for them, but they did hurt afterwards … but I'm also a huge wimp when it comes to pain. I'm interested to see what you think!
Alright. I'm finally done now – sorry that was so long! Reviews are very welcome and always appreciated!