It was a cool summer night in London. A gentle rainstorm drenched the city streets and brought with it a pleasant chill in comparison to unbearably hot nights that had plagued the busy city a few nights prior. It was then that the famous Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson were challenged in solving the mystery behind the bizarre murder of a businessman on holiday, his body having been found floating in the River Thames.
Upon their return nearly fourteen hours later life went about as per usual. It wasn't until Holmes himself suddenly feeling unnaturally tired and weak that the true effects of the prolonged exposure to the rain had reared its ugly head early the following morning.
Sherlock failed to awaken at his usual hour which was already very bizarre for such a disciplined man. Instinctively as a doctor Watson decided to check in on his friend only to discover the detective shivering and hunched over his work desk in a futile effort to study a cold case offered to him by Detective Lestrade earlier that month.
One touch to Sherlock's trembling shoulder was all it took to tell the seasoned doctor that his friend was running a temperature and needed to rest. With a little coaxing Watson was able to help Sherlock stand up from the desk before he helped guide his friend over to his bed to lay down. It was there he remained all that morning well into the evening as he endured the ravages of an intense fever that grew worse all the day went on.
Wringing out the excess cool water from a clean white cloth into a basic Watson smoothed out the offered compress over Sherlock's forehead in a soothing manner. A bowl of partially touched broth and a cold cup of tea sat on the nightstand beside Sherlock's sickbed. Watson spent most of his time sitting in the chair beside the bed as he remained vigil over his ill friend all day and all through the night.
A gentle knock on the opened door caused Watson to slowly turn his head and spot Mrs. Hudson standing in the doorway with a worried expression on her otherwise kind face. "How is our patient faring doctor?"
"Not well." Watson confessed as he adjusted the thick brown quilt pulled up to Sherlock's chest. The detective didn't react to the voice speaking around him or to Watson's immediate presence at his side. "During the brief moments when he was awake I could get him to accept only two spoonfuls of broth before he felt too ill to continue and fell asleep once again. He must keep up his strength if he is to recover, but even the simple act of eating or drinking is proving too taxing for him."
"Oh, the poor dear. Do you know what has him so ill?"
"Yes. I believe Holmes has developed a cold that has devolved into a nasty chest infection. Possibly bronchitis."
"Oh my... I do hope he recovers soon."
Sherlock's pallor was frighteningly pale. His already gaunt features and frame look all the more prominent as his profuse sweating had left him dehydrated, and his inability to eat caused his body to burn through its reserves at an alarming pace. Dark circles under his heavy eyelids emphasized the physical strain his body was enduring as he fought to combat the life-threatening infection.
A glass thermometer was resting in Sherlock's mouth gauging his temperature, but even before the full minute had passed Watson could see that his temperature was elevated to a nearly dangerously high degree.
Mrs. Hudson stepped further into the room with her hands clasped together over her chest as she peered down at Sherlock with a motherly care. "Is there anything I can do?"
"Perhaps. If you could bring me some clean, cool water and a clean cloth I can give him a quick bath."
"Of course doctor. Right away."
A weak cough escaped Sherlock's lips as his head lolled slightly against his pillow. Gray colored irises slowly emerged from between his dark eyelids as a faint consciousness graced the detective's remarkable mind once more. "...Watson?"
"I'm right here." Watson replied in a warm manner as he gently rested his hand on Sherlock's chest, the sweat drenched shirt was cold beneath Watson's palm but he didn't dare move his hand away. Pulling the thermometer from Sherlock's mouth he read the recorded temperature and frowned: *39.6 degrees Celsius. "Can you tell me how you are feeling?"
"...horrendous." Sherlock took in a gasping breath as a sharp pain in his chest caught him by surprise. Fighting through the pain he kept his focus on his friend. "Watson. I am ill."
"Yes, a cold I'm afraid."
"It's worse than that, isn't it? I can see it in your eyes." Sherlock grimaced as another faint cough originated from his chest. "Be honest with me Watson. My illness is far more serious than a mere cold, is it not?"
Sighing with a heavy heart Watson replied honestly. "Unfortunately, yes. I believe you have also developed bronchitis." Placing his hand over the compress on Sherlock's forehead Watson inwardly flinched as he felt how warm it had become in such a short amount of time. "You're burning up."
"I have survived worse." Sherlock muttered in a very low voice as he fought to maintain consciousness and lucidity. His eyes shut slowly and his head lolled to the side. "And I have... prevailed."
"Sherlock?" Watson's hand moved down from the sick detective's forehead to the side of his face. There was no sign of consciousness and his skin was unnaturally hot. "Don't worry my friend, I'll see to your fever. Just rest."
Mrs. Hudson returned to the room with a bundle of clean cloths and a fresh blanket in her arms. A large bowl of clean, cool water was balanced on top of the cloths. Crossing the room carefully she set the requested items down on the end of the bed for Dr. Watson to take. "Here you are, my dear. Would you care for a fresh cup of tea?"
"That sounds positively delightful, Mrs. Hudson." Watson smiled appreciatively as he unbuttoned the cuffs of his sleeves and rolled them up to his elbows. He then took one of the offered bowl and cloths and dipped them into the cool water. "Take your time."
"Oh, yes. I understand." Approaching the nightstand Mrs. Hudson picked up the tray holding the cold tea and the cold brother before leaving the room. "I'll be downstairs if you need anything."
The door clicked softly as the landlady left her two tenants alone in the sickroom. With Mrs. Hudson absent Watson proceeded to use the damp cloth to gently wipe down Sherlock's overheated and sweaty skin to simultaneously cool his feverish flatmate and cleanse his weakened body.
Sherlock twitched slightly as the cool cloth was gently wiped along his face before traveling down his neck and to his chest. The motion ceased as Watson took hold of the lapels of Sherlock's white shirt and began to unfasten the buttons to expose his chest.
Always having been skinny it wasn't any surprise to see Sherlock's frame thin and sallow. But during his bout of sickness and being unable to eat a single morsel or drink a single drop had left him appearing emaciated; ribs prominent against his pale skin and his strained breaths struggling to force his chest to rise and fall were alarming.
"Sorry about this, but modesty is seldom spared when dealing with a patient."
As Watson wiped off Sherlock's chest the detective remained motionless and disturbingly silent. Never opening his eyes or reacting to the cold sensation pressing against his hot skin. Never trying to resist or fight back when Watson began to pull his arms free of the sleeves of the shirt. Never uttering a single word of discomfort or embarrassment as the shirt was removed entirely.
Using great care Watson used the cloth to wipe the sweat from Sherlock's arms, his hands, his shoulders and his chest before pulling the quilt back up to cover his sickly form. Wrapping one arm around Sherlock's shoulders Watson coaxed his friend into a sitting upright position and let him weigh heavily against his own shoulder as he supported the entirety of Sherlock's deadweight. But it was in this position that Watson could hear how unsteady Sherlock's breathing had become, and of the building congestion within.
"Nearly there." Watson stated as he proceeded to use the cloth to wipe the sweat from Sherlock's back. The jagged breaths that passed through Sherlock's body were weak, rattling inside as a chest infection began to settle in. "There we are." Watson stated with feigned confidence as he put his hand under Sherlock's head and helped him to lay back down flat on the bed. "That should make you feel more comfortable."
Pulling the quilt back up to cover Sherlock's chest Watson sat the bowl of water to the side as used it to freshen the compress over Sherlock's forehead. As Watson replaced the compress a rather deep cough suddenly escaped Sherlock's lips with a violent outburst.
"Easy, Holmes." Watson encouraged as he replaced his hand over top Sherlock's chest. The detective's pounding heart thundered rapidly under Watson's palm much to the doctor's chagrin. "I'm going to see you through this."
Drops of rain continued to patter against the windows of the flat with a natural rhythm that created a peaceful ambience for Sherlock to rest. The evening turned to night and Mrs. Hudson returned with a fresh pot of tea, a pitcher of clean water and two empty cups on a tray.
"Please dear, have some tea." The sweet landlady insisted as she sat the tray down and poured a cup for Watson to enjoy. "You won't be able to do him much good if you let yourself get too tired."
"You're right, Mrs. Hudson." Watson agreed as he took the steaming cup and sipped it tentatively. "Thank you."
"Shall I prepare some more broth for Mr. Holmes?"
"No, not tonight. In the morning perhaps."
"Very well. I shall see you both in the morning then. But if you need anything don't hesitate to wake me."
"Yes, of course." Watson watched as she turned to take her leave once again, pulling the door shut behind her. "Goodnight, Mrs. Hudson."
Watson finished his tea and placed the empty cup on the tray sitting on the nightstand. Leaning forward in his chair he watched Sherlock's breathing very carefully, a faint shuddering had begun to accompany each deep, slow exhale. Unwilling to chance a secondary infection setting in along with the already severe cold Watson opened his medical bag sitting on the floor beside the bed and retrieved his stethoscope.
Placing the device into his ears Watson pulled down the quilt, watching Sherlock suddenly shiver in response, and placed the bell of the stethoscope on the center of Sherlock's chest. "I just want to have a listen. Bear with me."
Sherlock only flinched slightly as the cold metal made contact with his still hot skin, but he didn't awaken from his deep and much needed slumber.
As Watson moved the bell slowly over Sherlock's chest, listening intently to both lungs and the heart, he heard a distinct crackling sound that was indicative of fluid beginning to build up in the lungs. The wheezing in Sherlock's breaths only confirmed his suspicions all the further as his body spasmed in the throes of a coughing fit.
"It's alright." Watson retracted the stethoscope and pulled up the quilt up over Sherlock's chest and then laid the additional blanket that Mrs. Hudson had brought in over top. "As much as it pains me to do this to you we must see if you can sweat this sickness out. For now, the warmer the better."
"Watson...?" Sherlock weakly called out for his friend as his breathing dissipated into pitiful gasps for breath.
"That's right, I'm here. Don't speak, just try to relax and breathe as normally as possible."
"...Hurts." Sherlock panted pathetically as his chest frantically rose and fell with rapid shudders.
"I know it does, that's why you need to relax. You're very ill."
"It's not... not just bronchitis... is it? No longer... a suspicion."
The content of the question was as unsettling as Sherlock's weak, shaking voice as he asked it.
"No." Watson answered honestly out of respect for his friend and colleague. "I fear it has in fact degraded into something much worse. Pneumonia."
"I suspected... as much." Sherlock gave Watson a very faint smile. Sweat beaded on his face and gave his pale complexion a pitiful sheen of sickness. Blinking slowly his eyes remained partially closed as exhaustion crept in steadily. "Survived it once before,... as a child."
"Then you should have no problem surviving once again now that you're grown." Watson tried to sound confident but the fear in his voice was still audible to Sherlock's keen ears. "Try to rest as much as possible. In the morning we'll try the tea and broth again."
"Watson..." Sherlock sighed deeply as he fought to take a deep breath. "Stay with me." His voice faded gently as he allowed sleep to overtake him once again.
"Of course. I won't be going anywhere. I promise."
The night proceeded slowly as the rain continued to cover the city in a cool downpour and Sherlock's breathing sounded worse with each passing hour. What had started as a mild cough was degrading into painful hacks that nearly choked the air from his lungs. Sherlock's fever seemed relatively static which meant his infection wasn't necessarily getting worse, but it wasn't improving either.
Fighting the urge to nod off from where he sat in his chair Watson preoccupied his mind by counting Sherlock's struggling breaths and by pressing his fingers to the inside of Sherlock's wrist to count his rapid pulse. The heat radiating from Sherlock's skin was alarmingly intense.
Worried that his temperature had risen over the past few hours Watson decided to interfere.
"Let's get that fever down, shall we?" Watson suggested as he freshened the compress and it replaced it over Sherlock's forehead. The cool sensation against his overheated skin caused Sherlock to flinch and set off a coughing spell. "So sorry about that." Watson apologized as he put one hand down Sherlock's chest and felt the violent spasm wracking his body. "It'll pass soon enough."
Retrieving the thermometer from the nearby nightstand Watson shook the device a few times before replacing it in Sherlock's mouth to gauge the current degree of his fever more precisely.
Sherlock's eyes opened slightly as Watson opened his pocketwatch to note the time. The taste of the glass thermometer in his mouth made him instinctively reach up to remove it, but Watson's hand wrapped around his wrist to stop him. "Leave it be."
Sherlock's breathing began to hasten as he tried to wrest his arm free from Watson's hand. A mild delirium had set in causing Sherlock to forget where he was or what happened to him. The unfamiliar setting was enough to frighten the ill man into a near panic.
"You're okay, I'm here with you. You're safe." Watson soothed kindly with the utmost sincerity in his voice. "Be still."
Though it was unlikely that Sherlock understood what Watson was saying the sound of Watson's voice seemed to be enough to calm him down. He stopped pulling at Watson's hand and relaxed on the bed again.
The storm outside continued to bombard the city in a cold, heavy rain that seemed absolutely eternal. The lamps that illuminated the streets had been snuffed out by the relentless rain leaving the deserted streets basked in an eerie darkness.
A full minute passed and Watson pulled the thermometer from Sherlock's mouth to read the newly recorded temperature: *40 degrees Celsius.
Sherlock's fever was getting worse.
With a heavy sigh Watson set aside the thermometer and pulled back the quilt from Sherlock's chest. It pained him to see his sick friend begin to shiver as he knowingly pulled back the quilt that was keeping him warm, but that was precisely the problem. If Sherlock's body didn't cool down soon then he risked permanent brain damage. If anything were to befall Sherlock as a result of this sickness Watson would never be able to forgive himself.
"I know it's uncomfortable my friend, but you must refrain from covering yourself from now on. Your temperature is dangerously high. We can longer chance you sweating this sickness out of your system, you need to remain cool."
Sherlock sighed as he began to pant as if he couldn't catch his breath. A rattling cough erupted from his aching lungs causing Sherlock press a hand to his chest as if he could somehow restrain the coughing fit and force it to cease through sheer will.
"Holmes?" Watson picked up his stethoscope and took another listen of Sherlock's chest. Pushing Sherlock's hand aside Watson listened carefully to the painful congestion building up in Sherlock's chest. The cold metal of the bell made Sherlock jump once it made contact with his hot skin. Running the bell over both lungs and his racing heart Watson made his grim diagnosis: pneumonia. There was no longer any doubt about the severity of the infection.
"I'm going to give you a tonic. It'll help bring down your fever and make it easier to breathe."
Checking his medical bag Watson easily found the medicine he was searching for, a small vial of a faint gray powder. Pouring a small amount of the powder into the clean teacup Watson then added clean water from the pitcher and stirred until the powder had been completely dissolved into a pale gray hued elixir.
"This will taste very bitter, my friend." Watson cautioned as he slipped a hand under Sherlock's shoulders and helped him to sit upward just enough to drink without choking. Pressing the rim of the teacup to Sherlock's lips Watson gently began tipping it upward until Sherlock began to reflexively sip at the tonic and expressly flinched at the horrid taste in his mouth.
Sherlock's hand weakly reached up in an effort to push the tonic away but Watson was insistent.
"I know the taste is quite foul, but it will aid your recovery. You must drink."
A sudden cough rattled from Sherlock's body causing Watson to pull the cup away to prevent it from spilling as he supported his ill friend with his other hand. The deep, wet coughs were indicative of building pulmonary edema; fluid in the lungs.
"Try to take a breath, Holmes." Watson encouraged calmly as possible to ensure that Sherlock himself remained calm. Once the fit passed Watson returned the cup to Sherlock's lips and pressed lightly. "Drink."
There was a brief pause before Sherlock lowered his hand and resumed slowly tipping at the vile liquid. Reluctant but obedient Sherlock slowly finished off the tonic without putting up a fight or spitting out the elixir all over himself or Watson.
"That's it. That's all." Watson set aside the teacup as he helped Sherlock to lay back down. Pressing the back of his hand to Sherlock's forehead Watson grimaced at the still very high heat radiating from his skin. "Now let's hope that the tonic soothes your fever sooner rather than later." Pulling his hand back Watson bowed his head in fatigue while keeping his eyes on his ill friend. "For both of our sake."
Sporadic coughing fits mixed with wheezing kept Watson ever vigilant throughout the long, cold night. Refreshing the compress as often as possible Watson battled the fever that plagued Sherlock's body. The very fever that threatened to destroy his incredible brain within a matter of seconds if Watson failed to break the fever before the rising temperature reached a lethal degree.
Sitting on the edge of the bed Watson placed the thermometer in Sherlock's mouth yet again and began counting to sixty, using his pocketwatch to keep track of the time while he simultaneously measured Sherlock's pulse with his fingers against the sick detective's neck.
There was a gentle knocking at the door as Mrs. Hudson entered the room with a tray containing a kettle of fresh tea and bowl of warm broth. Setting the tray down on the nightstand beside the bed the older woman looked down at Sherlock with motherly concern in her eyes. "How is he, doctor?"
"Holding his own." Watson stated firmly as he gently pulled the glass thermometer from between Sherlock's teeth. Reading the current temperature a faint grin appeared on his tired face. "His fever has finally begun to reduce. Down to *38.9. That's the lowest I've seen it since I begun taking care of him."
"Is he on the mend, then?"
"Perhaps." Watson pulled his hand back from Sherlock's wrist and rested it on his chest. The breaths weren't as labored as they had been but there was still a distinct rattle accompanying each exhalation. "But we won't know for sure until his cough clears up entirely. It's not as severe as it had been last night, it appears as though the tonic I had administered has worked. Now it's up to his own body to fight off the lingering infection."
"Well, until then I've brought you both a light breakfast. Tea, toast and fresh broth. If you'd care for something else I don't mind stepping back into the kitchen."
"No, no. This fine Mrs. Hudson. Thank you." Watson picked up the kettle and poured himself a cup of tea to enjoy. "Please, don't put yourself out on my account."
"It's no trouble at all. I will be off to the market this afternoon. If you require anything let me know."
"I will. Thank you again."
Before leaving the room Mrs. Hudson ran her hand through Sherlock's sweaty locks affectionately. "I hope you're well again, soon, love. London still needs you."
Watson watched as Mrs. Hudson parted from the room gracefully. The door clicked shut behind her and the sounds of her footsteps creaking down the staircase sounded off, becoming more and more muffled as she distanced herself from the room.
"Mrs. Hudson is too kind, to us." A weak voice commented from the bed as Sherlock awoken from his slumber.
"Holmes, good to see your eyes open." Watson placed his tea down on the tray and focused entirely on his patient. "How do you feel? Would you care for some warm tea?"
"Warm?" Sherlock gave Watson a sly grin. "I thought we were to keep my body cool. Wouldn't warm tea undo all of your hard work?"
"True. But your fever has begun to decline. And," Watson poured some tea into the second cup before presenting it to Sherlock. "you haven't had any liquids in the past forty-eight hours."
"Aside from that atrocious tonic, you mean."
"Yes, yes. I'm aware that my medication has an unappealing flavor, but it did its job. Your temperature has dropped two degrees since last night."
Lifting a trembling, pale hand toward the cup Sherlock tried to sit upright, using his other hand to push himself upward.
"Allow me." Watson put his hand on Sherlock's shoulder as he had done so the night before and helped him to sit up. Watching Sherlock's every movement very closely for any sign of relapse or impending fainting spell before he released his grip Watson handed Sherlock a cup of tea. "Better?"
"Quite." Sherlock accepted the tea and held the cup in his shaking hands. Lifting the tea up from the saucer he sipped it gingerly. "To my ill hand this teacup feels as though it weighs more than that of a brick."
"It's normal." Watson assured him as he finished off his own. "Once your infection clears your full strength will return in time."
"I certainly hope so. I dread the day I'm too weak to carry my revolved while out on a case."
Watson helped Sherlock to sit the teacup and saucer back down on the tray beside the bed. "Try to get some more sleep. If the tea doesn't bother your stomach we can try the broth next."
"If you insist." Sherlock relented as he slid back down into the bed and laid against the pillow. Exhausted physically and mentally drained Sherlock closed his eyes and fell asleep rather quickly. "Thank you, Watson."
"You're most welcome, Holmes."
Sitting back in his seat Watson resumed his vigil over Sherlock as his ill friend continued to fight off the infection that was still running rampant through his body. While Sherlock's condition was improving it wasn't happening as quickly as Watson expected considering the potency of the tonic he had provided.
Tired himself Watson leaned back in his chair, folded his hands together on his lap and closed his eyes.
Doctors need to rest as well.
The sound of china smashing on the floor and Mrs. Hudson's shriek of surprise startled Watson awake in an instant. Watson leapt to his feet, his shoes slipping on fragments of broken teacups and saucers, as he struggled to gain his balance as he looked about the room in abject confusion.
Mrs. Hudson was standing back from the bed with her hands over her mouth to stifle her gasps of horror as she watched Sherlock flailing about in the bed. "Doctor!"
"He's having a seizure!" Watson immediately recognized the frantic muscle spasms as convulsions. Pressing his hands firmly against Sherlock's shoulders Watson managed to hold Sherlock down on the bed and restrain him as much as possible. "Mrs. Hudson, step out of the room! Now!"
The kind landlady did as she was instructed and rushed out of the room as the sight of her tenant so frightfully ill had shaken her to her core.
Watson used all of his strength to pin Sherlock down in the bed during the seizure. Mentally he timed the duration of the seizure while using all of his strength to keep Sherlock as still and as stable as possible until the seizure mercifully passed.
"Holmes?" Watson stared down at Sherlock's eerily blank, pale face with masked horror. Pressing his fingers to the side of Sherlock's neck he registered a thready, rapid pulse as a result of the frantic spasms. "Sherlock?" Using his thumb Watson lifted Sherlock's eyelid and checked his eyes. The gray irises were nearly gone as the massive black pupils nearly encompassed his entire eye. "Sherlock, can you hear me?"
Sherlock remained perfectly still save for deep, slow breaths that forced his chest to rise and fall in a sluggish rhythm.
Pressing his hand down over Sherlock's forehead Watson immediately diagnosed the cause of the seizure. Sherlock's fever had risen to a dangerously high level and was seconds away from destroying his brain tissue.
"Blasted infection!" Watson huffed as he pulled the quilt from the bed and straightened Sherlock's limbs outward from his body. "The tonic has worn off and I don't dare give you another dose after this event. But I assure you Holmes," Watson's hand rested on Sherlock's chest over his thundering heart. "I will see you through this!"
There was a hesitant knock on the door as Mrs. Hudson dared to peer into the room through the partially opened door. "D-Doctor?"
"Mrs. Hudson, I need your help."
"Yes of course!" She pushed open the door and hustled into the room and stood at the foot of Sherlock's bed. "Anything."
"His fever has risen considerably. I will require a great deal of ice and cold water."
"How much, doctor?"
"Enough to fill the bath."
"Yes." Watson leaned down over the bed and slipped one arm under Sherlock's shoulders and his other arm beneath Sherlock's knees. In one swift motion the broadly built man was able to easily lift the leaner man up into his arms off of the bed. "His temperature is lethally high, he needs an ice bath or he will surely die."
The mention of death was all it took for Mrs. Hudson to find the resolve to move as quickly as possible search of ice down in the kitchen. She'd even knock on every door in London to ask for ice if necessary.
"Right away, doctor!" Mrs. Hudson rushed down the stairs with her apron flapping in the wind while Watson tended to Sherlock himself.
"This won't be pleasant my friend," Watson stated calmly as he carried Sherlock into the bathroom and laid him down in the porcelain tub. "but I believe you'd agree with me that the prospect of death is much worse than a chilly bath."
Grabbing a towel from the nearby rack Watson folded it into a neat bundle and tucked it beneath Sherlock's head and neck. Placing the stopper in the drain of the tub Watson turned on the faucet and let uncomfortably cold water fill the basin steadily.
Watson dipped his hand into the water to gauge the temperature and adjusted it so it was slightly warmer than it had been. Sherlock's breathing hastened as the unexpected chill began to sting at his toes and his feet, but it was a necessary evil.
"So sorry about this." Watson again apologized as he took a clean cloth and soaked it in the water and wrung it out. Placing the cloth over Sherlock's forehead he smoothed it out over Sherlock's overheat skin. "I promise that this is for the best."
Mrs. Hudson entered the bathroom carrying a large bowl filled with as much ice as she could gather and handed it to Watson. "Anything else?"
"Fetch my medical bag from Holmes' room. I need the thermometer."
Sherlock's breaths became faster and his hands began twitching in response to the cold water as it fulled the tub and rose higher up along his body, soaking into his trousers. The fabric clung uncomfortably to his skin but Watson let them be for the sake of his friend's dignity while he battled the stubborn raging infection.
"Try to relax. I know you can't respond but I believe you can hear me. I won't let anything happen to you."
Mrs. Hudson returned with the bag and set it on the floor beside Watson as he knelt down beside the tub. "Here you are."
"Doctor... Is he-"
"No, of course not!" Watson answered her question before she even finished it. Reaching into the bag he retrieved the thermometer and shook it twice. "He'll pull through, you'll see."
"I just wish I could do more."
"You've done more than enough Mrs. Hudson." Watson gently used his hand to lower Sherlock's jaw down before he placed the thermometer between his teeth and gently held Sherlock's jaws shut around it. Pulling out his pocketwatch he opened the cover and rested it on the edge of the tub to keep track of the passing minute. "If you'd be so kind as to bring some fresh broth I can attempt to-"
"Oh, yes. Say no more. I'll clean up the mess on the floor of Mr. Holmes' room as well. Be back in a moment."
With his free hand Watson began adding the ice to the bath as the water filled the tub half of its full capacity. As the ice was added Sherlock began to shiver in response to the mounting cold and a weak cough escaped his lips around the thermometer as the chill that surrounded his body made it too uncomfortable to breathe.
"Easy my friend. It will be over sooner than you realize." Pulling the thermometer from Sherlock's mouth he read the temperature and nearly gasped before replacing it. The fever had risen to *40.7 degrees Celsius. "It's no wonder you had a seizure." Watson stated as he placed more ice into the bath. "Oh, this is my fault Holmes. If I had remained vigil, truly vigil and not fallen asleep then I could have prevented this. Forgive me my friend."
Turning off the faucet once the water level reached Sherlock's lower chest Watson placed the remaining ice in the bath and carefully monitored the temperature of the water. If it became too cold Sherlock would slip into shock and perhaps fall into cardiac arrest.
"I've brought you some fresh towels." Mrs. Hudson announced herself as she rested a tall stack of white towels on the edge of the sink. "I also took the liberty of applying fresh sheets to his bed."
"Excellent, the fresh linens will do wonders for his recovery."
"Shall I do anything else?"
"No, Mrs. Hudson. All I ask of you is to rest, my dear. You've have had quite the fright."
"Oh, yes. When I entered Mr. Holmes' room to retrieve the tray he suddenly began thrashing about in his bed. I've never seen such a sight before!"
"And I pray that you never will again."
"So do I." Mrs. Hudson admitted as she took her leave of the bathroom allowing Sherlock some degree of privacy during one of his most vulnerable moments.
Pressing his hand to Sherlock's chest Watson counted the detective's breaths and his heart rate. While his vitals weren't presenting as normal they were stable nonetheless. It'd have to do until the infection finally cleared from his system. Waiting for an additional twenty minutes to pass since the ice bath began Watson tentatively took the thermometer from Sherlock's mouth to check the latest reading.
"There's some improvement here." In the half hour since the ice had been administered Sherlock's temperature had dropped down to *39.7 degrees Celsius. "Perhaps another twenty minutes?"
Sherlock's eyes suddenly opened, his gray irises dull and unfocused as he took in a panicked gasp for breath and went completely limp.
"Holmes?" Watson's hand pressed down on his chest but found no movement beneath his palm. No respiration, no heartbeat "Holmes!"
Reacting quickly Watson put his arms under Sherlock's shoulders and legs and hoisted him out of the tub, the thermometer falling from Sherlock's jaw and splashing into the tub as he was forcefully hefted up and away from the water. Freezing water sloshed all over the floor and soaked into Watson's clothing causing his to shiver in the intense cold.
Kneeling awkwardly on the drenched bathroom floor Watson laid Sherlock's body down flat before he placed one hand over top the other and placed his combined fists down on the center of Sherlock's chest to begin compressions.
"This is what I feared!" Watson confessed as he counted to compressions to fifteen and checked for a pulse. There was still no sign of life as Sherlock's stilled heart remained motionless. Resuming compressions Watson began counting to fifteen once again. "Please Holmes, you mustn't let something as silly as a cold be the end of you!"
A shuddering gasp stopped Watson mid motion as he counted to six. Letting his hands rest on Sherlock's chest he happily counted the feeble beats beneath his palms as Sherlock began breathing once again.
"That's it! Good show!" Watson fell back onto the floor, his hand wiping the cold sweat from his face as he let out a relieved chuckled at his friend's remarkable fortitude and strength to continue to live on. "Just give me a moment to catch my breath and I'll take you back to your room."
Taking a fresh towel from the sink just above his head Watson used it to dry off Sherlock's body without jostling the sick man too much in the process. The water had done its job and cooled off his overheated body, but now it seemed it had worked too quickly and caused his heart to skip in a dangerous arrhythmia until it stopped. Fortunately Watson's quick thinking and training as a doctor allowed him to properly diagnose and treat Sherlock before the cardiac arrest had resulted in his death.
"Come now." Watson groaned as he again leaned down over his friend to slip his arms under Sherlock's shoulders and legs. Lifting the lean man up was beginning to prove itself a challenge for Watson's older back and scarred leg, but the doctor was determined to see his friend through this sickness. "Mrs. Hudson has taken the time to freshen your bed. A pleasant night's sleep will do you good."
Carrying Sherlock back into his room Watson laid Sherlock down into the already turned down bed and reluctantly proceeded to remove the water soaked trousers from Sherlock's legs.
"As I stated before ol' chap, modesty is seldom spared."
With the wet clothing removed Watson pulled the sheet up to Sherlock's chest and placed his hand on Sherlock's forehead. The once burning hot skin felt much cooler to the touch than it had been previously but there was still an unnerving heat radiating from his skin.
The broken china had been swept up from the floor by Mrs. Hudson. A tray containing a fresh pot of tea and bowl of broth was sitting on the nightstand beside the bed as requested by Watson.
"I'll be back in a moment. I want to check your temperature one more time, and believe me Holmes, I'm just as annoyed by the repetition as you are."
Watson left Sherlock alone for only a minute to reclaim his medical bag from the bathroom. Sherlock's face was pale with a fine sheen of cold sweat over his face and his forehead courtesy of the fever that still lingered as the infection raged inside his body. Through slightly parted lips Sherlock took in deep breaths that shuddered his entire body with each inhalation.
"Here we are." Watson returned to the room having easily reclaimed the thermometer from the tub, a fresh cold compress and gathered his bag expertly. Ignoring the chill that settled in over his own body as a result of getting splashed with the cold water Watson placed the thermometer between Sherlock's teeth and pulled his stethoscope from the bag. "I need to have a listen." Watson stated as he placed the instrument in his ears and pressed the bell against Sherlock's bare chest. "I doubt you inhaled in water, but I am still concerned for any rib fractures as a result of the compressions."
Sherlock remained silent as Watson listened to his lungs and his heart. The cold metal of the bell was nothing in comparison to the ice filled water than he had been subjected to in a less than comfortable manner.
"Your lungs have begun to clear up, this is wonderful!" Watson beamed as he draped the stethoscope around his neck in an undeniable reflex from his many years of practice. "The tonic did its job and cleared the congestion away, now all that's left is tending to the fever."
Pulling the thermometer from Sherlock's teeth Watson read the recorded temperature and his shoulders sagged with relief. Down to *38.4 degrees.
"The ice bath appears to have worked. Now, let's make sure you remain on this road to recovery without any other detours along the way!"
Reaching over for the bowl of warm broth Watson put his arm under Sherlock's shoulders and helped him to sit up slightly. The motion was enough to rouse Sherlock into a state of semi-consciousness, but he was exhausted from the devastating infection, inability to eat and cardiac arrest. Glassy gray irises appeared between the slits of his eyelids and attempted to look toward Watson, but couldn't focus.
"It may be difficult but I need you to drink some of this broth." Watson asked as he held the bowl toward Sherlock and pooled a small amount into the spoon in his hand. Lifting the spoon to Sherlock's lips he waited for some effort on his friend's part before making another move. "Please."
Sherlock's eyes blinked slowly as if he was lost in contemplation before finally reacting. He tried to use the spoon himself but his hand was too shaky and too weak.
"Allow me." Watson insisted as he patiently aided his friend in drinking the broth very slowly.
It took nearly twenty minutes for Sherlock to finish just half of the broth and the effort exerted was taxing his already tired body. Watson could see his friend struggling to remain awake and took it upon himself to sit the bowl back down with an approving nod.
"That'll do for now." Watson helped Sherlock to lay back down on the bed, his hand carefully guiding the sick detective by the shoulder. Pulling the quilt up to Sherlock's chin Watson sat in the chair beside his bed and watched his friend drift off into a deep sleep. Taking the compress that was resting on the top of his bag he smoothed it over Sherlock's forehead gently. "You did well, Holmes. By dawn we shall see how well you've progressed since this night."
The silence and stillness that settled in the room was palpable. The only noise or motion came from Watson's muffled pocketwatch ticking away in the depths of his medical bag resting on the edge of Sherlock's bed.
Watson endured an irritating chill that swept over his own body as he sat statuesque in his wet clothing as he watched Sherlock sleeping in the bed. The steady rhythmic breathing was indicative of sleep and the absence of any cough or wheezing demonstrated Sherlock's slow but steady recovery from his threatening illness.
The storm that had threatened the city for almost an entire week was finally beginning to die down, though the city remained drenched in a cold rain. The wind had stopped and life returned to the streets as those who had been seeking shelter from the storm were comfortable enough to leave their homes.
During the night Mrs. Hudson had stopped by Sherlock's room and peeked her head inside. When she saw Sherlock sleeping peacefully in the bed and Watson asleep in the chair, his clothing still damp from getting splashed, she smiled warmly at the bond of friendship that kept the two men loyal to each other. After draping a thick quilt over Watson's body Mrs. Hudson picked up the tray containing the now cold tea and cold broth. Leaving as quietly as she entered the kindhearted landlady left her two tenants alone for the remainder of the night and well into the early morning.
As the sun crept through the window and cut through the partially drawn curtains of the room the warm rays shone on Watson's face and roused him from his slumber. Looking about to regain his bearings his eyes fell upon Sherlock sleeping in his bed and he remembered the previous night's events. As he stood up from the chair the quilt fell from his body onto the floor at his feet.
Not wanting to disturb his friend's much needed sleep Watson lightly pulled back the quilt and picked up Sherlock's wrist and checked his pulse. Normal.
"That's a good man." Watson whispered sincerely as he replaced Sherlock's hand to the bed and covered it under the quilt. Reaching up for the compress still resting over Sherlock's forehead Watson noticed that Sherlock's eyes were moving about back and forth quickly under his closed eyelids. "Dreaming, it seems."
Resting his hand over Sherlock's forehead the good doctor let out a small laugh. Sherlock's fever had mercifully broken in the night.
A deep sigh escaped Sherlock's lips as his head lolled back and forth slightly against his pillow. Gray irises appeared from beneath his eyelids as he awoke from his sleep with a groggy stare. "Watson?"
"Holmes." Watson smiled as he put his hand down on Sherlock's arm. "How do you feel?"
"Tired. I'm very tired." Sherlock admitted with a sleepy tone. "How long was I unconscious?"
Watson pulled his pocketwatch from his medical bag and noted the time. "You have been asleep for almost fourteen hours now. What's the last thing you remember?"
"I remember... I spoke to you briefly before accepting a cup of tea. And accepting that ghastly tonic before that."
"Vaguely..." Sherlock was studying Watson's face and recognized the deeply seeded concern that only showed itself when someone was in dire need of medical attention. "Watson, had something happened while I was unconscious?"
"Sherlock," Watson rarely used Sherlock's first name which only emphasized the worry he felt toward his friend's health. "yesterday evening after you and I spoke you had fallen asleep and the effect of the tonic I had administered earlier wore off. During your sleep your fever spiked to a dangerous degree, which resulted in a seizure."
"A seizure?" Sherlock was familiar with the term but knew little of the details regarding such a state. "Severe?"
"Severe enough. Fortunately it seems you hadn't suffered any permanent damage from either the seizure or the dangerously high fever. The ice bath worked as I had hoped. But it also resulted in cardiac arrest."
"Yet I'm still here among the living." Sherlock winced a little as he tried to push the quilt down from his chest. "Cardio pulmonary resuscitation, correct?"
"Yes... How did you-"
"My ribs are quite sore. The pain is reminiscent of the pain I felt after I suffered a fall during the pursuit of a suspect last fall. To suffer such an injury in my state would only result from chest compressions."
Watson smiled broadly as his friend's skill of keen observation showed so sign of faltering. "I believe it's safe to say you're well on your way to a full recovery."
"And you?" Sherlock asked with an enigmatic stare. "How are you faring?"
"Me?" Watson nearly laughed at the idea of Sherlock putting his health above his own. "I'm quite fine. It was you who were dangerously ill."
"But you're ill as well." Sherlock eyed Watson's slightly pale complexion and the dark tint on the fabric of his clothing where they had been splashed previously. "Your exposure to the very cold that saved my life has apparently had a negative effect on your health as a result. I can see your eyes are slightly bloodshot, your face pale and your voice sounds unusually heavy."
"I'm-" A sudden sneeze caught Watson off guard, but the doctor managed to cover his mouth with the bend of his arm. "Oh dear, excuse me!" Watson sniffled once before clearing his throat. "Just a mild cold, nothing to worry about."
"Watson," Sherlock tentatively pushed himself upright on his elbows and sat up in the bed. His gray eyes began to clear as he fully regained consciousness and his senses. The sickly paleness that had marred his complexion had disappeared entirely as his health returned. "you and I both know that even the mildest of colds are not to be taken lightly."
"Come now, Holmes. I will be fine."
"No need to worry." A faint grin appeared on Sherlock's face as he spoke. "Just as you saw me through my illness I shall do the same for you!"
"Really Holmes, I don't-"
"Nonsense! I'll have Mrs. Hudson bring you some fresh tea and broth." Sherlock seemed unusually chipper for someone who had recently recovered from such a serious illness. "Please Watson, return to your room while I fetch myself some clean clothes."
"But Holmes, I'll be-" Another sneeze cut off Watson's protest midsentence. "Oh, very well. You win."
"Please don't pout Watson." Sherlock asked in a lighthearted manner. "After all you speak as though you're being punished. It would be my honor as your friend to see you through this blasted cold."
"Why... thank you, Holmes."
"Now that we have that settled, off to bed with you!" Sherlock insisted as he looked about his room for any sign of his clothes and realized that Mrs. Hudson must've already taken them for the wash. "I shall be along shortly."
"You're sure you're well enough to get up? I would prefer it if you had at least one more day in bed to rest."
"Do not fret about me. While we await a new case we shall reside ourselves to Baker Street and contemplate the cure to the common cold."
"Well," Watson began to stroll out of Sherlock's room slowly. "I'm certain that if anyone can find the cure to the common cold it's Sherlock Holmes."
"Or Dr. Watson." Sherlock reminded him. "After all, you saved my life. Not to mention the hundreds before you and I ever met. Don't ever think or sell yourself short Watson, I won't stand for it."
"Thank you, Holmes."
As Watson left the room and shut the door Sherlock rose from his bed on trembling legs and proceeded to gather some fresh clothes. The mess on the floor courtesy of Watson's medical bag, supplies, the numerous used compresses and crumpled up quilt made Sherlock shake his head slightly in amusement.
"Good ol' Watson."
Having recovered from his illness Sherlock found a renewed strength in himself, and in his most trusted colleague Dr. Watson.
"We must get you well soon, Watson." Sherlock stated as he slipped on a clean white shirt and gray trousers. As he dressed himself he looked out his window to the busy streets below; watching citizens go about their usual routines monotonously. "The city still needs us."