Sherlock sits in his spot on the sofa with a sigh.
It is three o’clock in the morning, and he is exhausted. He and John had chased a jewel thief through half the alleys in Soho. They had split up, and suddenly the man had turned on Sherlock with a switchblade. Ever heedless of his own body, the detective had thrown a right hook and gotten a slice to his bicep for his efforts. With both combatants somewhat out of commission, things had been at more or less a stalemate until John had leapt from a fire escape and landed one of the best flying tackles Sherlock had ever seen.
After Lestrade had picked up the thief, John had escorted Sherlock to the surgery, where he had patiently stitched up the cut in the detective’s arm. Then, still high on adrenaline, they had picked up Chinese takeaway and gone home to Baker Street.
Now, the leftovers in the fridge and the dishes in the sink, Sherlock is in his spot, eyes closed, waiting for John to finish with the shower, when suddenly he hears something.
“Ow. Fuck, ow.”
It’s John. Sherlock opens his eyes, and frowns.
“Jesus. When did this happen?” There is more swearing, and then Sherlock hears, very distinctly, the sharp intake of breath that John makes when he is in pain. He gets up from the sofa, grabbing the bottle of paracetamol from the table on the way. He knocks when he reaches the bathroom door.
“John? Are you injured?” There’s a strangled cough, and something soft, like a shirt, hits the floor.
“Ahem. Yes, but I think it’s nothing, Sherlock.” There’s a sticky, peeling noise, and another sharp inhale. Sherlock frowns again.
“It doesn’t sound like nothing. Are you sure?” The peeling noise happens again, and John winces.
“Really, it’s nothing.”
“I brought the paracetamol, just in case…”
A loud grunt. “Fine, just…” the door opens a bit and John’s hand comes out. “Just give me the bottle, Sherlock.”
The detective rolls his eyes. After a year and half of sharing a flat, and after six months of sleeping together, John isn’t bashful, surely? “Oh, for God’s sake, John. I’m coming in.”
“Sherlock, Sherlock, no, don’t!” The detective is not at all prepared for what he sees.
Quite a lot of blood, actually.
The doctor himself is leaning against the sink, his left hand clapped to his ribs. There’s a pressure dressing on what is obviously a deep cut. Blood has run down his side, soaking into his boxers. His other clothes are on the floor, and Sherlock can see a slash through the side of his jumper and his shirt. When John sees Sherlock staring at him, he grimaces.
“Really, it’s nothing. I didn’t even notice when it happened.”
Sherlock opens his mouth, then closes it. He moves towards John and gently grasps his hand. “Let me see it.”
John grimaces again. “It’s nothing. Nothing, the guy must have grazed me with his knife when I jumped on him, and then when I took my shirt off, it opened up again. I’ll just put some Steri-strips on it and tape it up. I have some in my bag, can you get it for me, please?” He presses more tightly on the wound.
Sherlock pushes John until he’s sitting on the toilet lid. Gently, he pulls John’s hand down and removes the dressing.
The cut is about an inch long. It’s not excessively deep, but as soon as Sherlock takes the dressing off it bleeds profusely. He immediately puts the dressing back on.
“I think that needs stitches, John.”
With a struggle, John stands up. “I know. I guess we’d better go to A&E. Can you hand me my shirt?” But Sherlock doesn’t move. “Sherlock? My shirt?”
“Why don’t I do it?” John’s mouth drops open.
“You? Stitch me up? Well, for one thing, you’re not a doctor. And you’re exhausted, look at you!” Sherlock waves his hand as if brushing off a fly.
“Nonsense. I’m no more tired than you were when you sewed up my arm. And I think I’ve watched you enough times to get the main idea.”
John’s eyes goggle out of his head. “The main idea! Sherlock, no offense, but I think I’d rather see someone who has more than just a main idea!”
Sherlock stands as well. “I know where the kit is, and I’ve watched you many times. Besides, I’ve sewn up corpses in the morgue. John, it’s past three in the morning, and you’re bleeding. You can tell me what to do, but please, let me do this for you.” He swallows. “After all the times you’ve put me back together, it’s the least I can do.”
They look at each other for a long moment, with only the dripping sound of blood hitting the floor. Finally John sighs.
“Fine. But if you don’t listen, even once, I’m going to A&E, is that clear?”
Sherlock smiles. “Perfectly. Come into the kitchen, the light’s better there.”
With a wadded towel to keep John from leaving a trail of blood droplets in place under his ribs, Sherlock helps his friend to the kitchen and eases him up to sit on the table. He gets John’s kit from the bedroom and opens it up. When he removes the dressing again, he sees the blood has now trickled to an ooze. He snaps on a pair of gloves and looks at John expectantly.
John swallows two paracetamol dry. “Right,” he says, gritting his teeth. “First you have to clean the area. There’s some disinfectant in the kit; use some sterile gauze. Just get as much blood off as you can, so you can see what’s going on. Try not to jostle it so it doesn’t start gushing again.”
Sherlock rips open a pack of gauze and snaps the cap off the disinfectant. It smells very strongly and Sherlock knows from experience that it’s going to sting like hell. He soaks some onto the gauze and looks at John apologetically. John takes a deep breath.
“Just do it,” he says, gripping the table. Sherlock holds his breath and gingerly dabs the gauze around the cut. John’s knuckles go white.
Sherlock dabs some more. After more disinfectant and two more gauze pads, he has a clear view of the cut and the blood has slowed to a dribble.
“What’s it look like?”
Sherlock inspects the wound. “Good. Not so much blood.”
“Clean edges?” When Sherlock nods, John sighs. “Good. Makes your job that much easier. Alright. In the kit there should be some lidocaine and some syringes. Fill one and give it to me. I’ll inject the local.”
“John, as you are well aware, I am perfectly capable of injecting something into the human body.”
John closes his eyes. “This is not an intravenous injection, Sherlock. If you miss, it will be completely ineffective and you may as well not use it at all. And I don’t know if I can take suturing with no anesthetic—Ow!”
Sherlock removes the needle with a flourish. “Done. How do I set up the sutures?” He asks, oblivious to John’s glare.
“Sherlock! You cannot just JAB a NEEDLE into my ribs without saying anything! What did I say about listening?”
“It was nowhere near your ribs. It was perfectly subcutaneous. Now, how do I set up the sutures?”
John sighs. He should have insisted on A&E.
“In the kit there should be a sterile curved needle and some 6-0 silk. You might need the forceps as well. Now, you’re going to be doing an interrupted stitch, so get the scissors ready. And don’t pull the skin too tight!”
Under John’s careful guidance, Sherlock uses the curved needle to draw the edges of the doctor’s skin closed. His first three stitches are a little wobbly, but the last six are neater, and the final one is nearly textbook.
When he finishes, Sherlock swabs the neat row carefully and dabs on some antiseptic ointment. He makes John take two more paracetamol while he fetches the vanity mirror from the bathroom. He holds it up so John can see his handiwork. “Well?”
John inspects his new stitches. “Not bad… nice even edges, no puckering, no more bleeding…” He hands Sherlock a bandage. “Stick that on, and you’re done. After you repack my kit.”
The detective carefully tapes on the dressing, and repacks the kit according to John’s specifications. “You’re out of lidocaine and you need a new needle,” he says, carefully gathering the waste into a biohazard bag. He strips off the gloves and tosses them in the bin. As he walks by to go put the kit away, John catches him by the wrist.
“Hey,” he says softly, squeezing his hand. “Thank you, Sherlock. You did a very good job on me.”
Sherlock puts the kit down and clasps the back of John’s neck with his other hand. He presses a soft kiss to John’s forehead, and then one to his lips. “Any time, doctor.” He pulls back and smiles. “Would you like to see my bedside manner?”