John snatched the scalpel away from Sherlock, slightly astonished how little resistance the Consulting Detective offered. He yelled at him to overcome his own shock.
"Have you gone completely insane?"
Sherlock didn't reply and didn't move.
Many people didn't know how to slash their wrists effectively, doing it the wrong way, but Sherlock did, and he had been about to do it. Since he had already lost quite a large amount of blood recently,it wouldn't have taken long for him to lose so much blood that the oxygen saturation would have gone fatally low. Bleeding out was a dirty death for those who had to clean up after the dead, but it was pleasant for the dying ones as it didn't hurt. One just fell asleep and never woke up again.
Luckily, Sherlock's cut didn't seem to be too deep, the blood still only dripping from it, not pulsating. John took a clean towel from the drawer and pressed it on the wound. Still Sherlock didn't show any reaction.
"Stay put!" the doctor ordered, although in his current state he wasn't expecting his flatmate to move or run away anyway.
As fast as he could, he fetched the first aid kit from the bathroom and applied a pressure dressing to Sherlock's wrist. It was like patching up a doll, since there wasn't any tension in Sherlock's muscles. His gaze was directed at the treatment of his wrist, however, John doubted that he was actually noticing it. The cut was frightening, but Sherlock's strange behaviour was even more so. He seemed to have fallen into a complete apathy. John hat witnessed this before and for some patients it had been extremely difficult to escape that condition.
"Sherlock, look at me! It's me, John! Can you hear me?"
Slowly, very slowly, Sherlock raised his head and looked John in the eyes, then, as slowly as before, he looked back down. The ever-glowing fire in the Consulting Detective's eyes was gone and it struck his friend that a part in Sherlock seemed to have already died.
John slid down on the floor next to Sherlock, sighing deeply. Never would he have thought that the World's only Consulting Detective could attempt suicide, particularly not in the way he had done. Slashing your wrists was a quite unreasonable method - if there was anything reasonable about taking one's life at all - as it took comparatively long. There were methods that were much more reliable and quicker if the actual aim was to die and not to cry for help. Sherlock had usually been a man of reason, so why, for God's sake, did he try this? Of course, he had been strongly disturbed by his emotional experiences lately, but why on earth hadn't John noticed that he had been so close to falling apart?! He had expected an emotional meltdown, but he hadn't imagined how it would take place and that it would happen so soon.
"Sherlock, you know what?" John asked, leaning his head back against the cabinet door. He was aware though of the fact that Sherlock wouldn't answer, probably wouldn't even hear him. "You can't do that to friends, you know? I mean, let them – let me– save your life a couple of times, even donate my blood to you, and then sneak away by killing yourself! I don't assume this was just an experiment about how deep you can cut your wrist without bleeding to death, so I think it's really unfair. You don't know how many times I was that close to sending a bullet up my mouth – why, do you reckon, did I keep the gun after having left the army? – but… I wasn't just so selfish as to let others do the cleaning after me and, particularly, I wouldn't have left without any explanation to Harry."
The ex-army doctor let his chin drop on his chest. "Do you know that the bereaved always - and I really mean every single minute of their lives – ask themselves why they hadn't been there in time and why the other one hadn't said anything before?!" He shook his head as if to answer that question himself, then looked at Sherlock, scrutinizing the motionless man next to him.
"You can't just leave me here like that, Sherlock! I might as well take my gun and follow you. Nothing of that, though, would be fair, you know? Not towards Harry, or Mycroft or Mrs Hudson, Lestrade and Molly – man, she would break if she couldn't hover around you in the lab anymore! - Sherlock, you might be having a difficult time, but others suffer, too. I know that you don't really care what others think, but, for once in your life, don't just be selfish! Let us help you, mate! It's nothing to be ashamed of – we all need help occasionally. Even Mycroft. He needs your help right now as much as you need his. Do you understand that?"
John got up from the floor and turned to the kitchen window without actually noticing what was happening outside.
"No, I imagine you don't. But anyway, I've only just returned from him. I went to him because I was worried about you," turning around and facing Sherlock he almost yelled, " – and how right I was! I wouldn't have thought, though, that you'd do such a bloody stupid thing! Seriously, Sherlock, someone should punch you to bring you back to your senses – and right now I really feel like that I should be that someone! Damn it, mate! I know that what I'm telling you here is just a shot in the dark, but I really don't know what to do with you. I better go and call Mycroft. He wanted to drop by anyway, but I think I can't wait till then, because I NEED HELP – and so do you, my friend!"
John shook his head in desperation. There was no sign that his flatmate had heard what he had said, nevertheless John felt a bit better. He had been extremely shocked by the sight of Sherlock slashing his wrist and was as much relieved that he hadn't succeeded. The Consulting Detective was still staring at his hands, but his view was empty, his gaze turned inwards.
John wanted to call Mycroft to tell him about what had happened. Maybe that could convince him to tell Sherlock everything to at least try to make it better. It couldn't get any worse anyway. He was afraid, though, that Sherlock would have to be treated in a clinic if he didn't wake from his apathy. The doctor took his mobile from his pocket and left the kitchen, when he heard a whisper.
John stopped in his movement and turned around. He had just been about to push the dial button, but hesitated now. Sherlock hadn't averted his gaze from his hands, but he was moving the fingers of the hand with the dressing as if to check if they were still obeying him. He seemed to have woken a bit from his mental absence.
"Didn't mean to…"
John's eyebrows shot up. "Didn't mean to… kill yourself? Sherlock?" He snorted disbelievingly. "It's a pretty strange way to not mean it and yet have a scalpel stuck in your wrist. See what I mean?" Having said that, John wished he had bitten his tongue. Sherlock was trying to tell him something, so he should just shut up and listen. He couldn't resist, though, since he was torn between fear, relief and anger, the latter dominating at the moment.
"I... I'm really sorry," John said quietly, rolling his eyes in annoyance about himself. He retrieved a blanket from the sofa, went over to Sherlock and lay it around his shoulders as best as he could. Although he was sure that Sherlock didn't actually feel how chilly it was, sitting bare-chested in a not too warm kitchen definitely couldn't help make him feel better. And he hoped that the pale man was at least a tiny bit susceptible to such comforting gestures. Once again John crouched down at his friend's side.
"So, you didn't mean to…?"
Sherlock pulled his legs to his chin and rested his forehead on his knees, his arms embracing his shins. He looked like a helpless child, trying to hide himself. For a long while he said nothing, and John waited patiently, because he didn't want to spoil it again. After a time that felt endless and the doctor almost having given up hope that his flatmate would speak at all, Sherlock inhaled sharply as if he felt pain and whispered, "I didn't mean to hurt you. I thought pain might distract me from the emotions; I wanted to feel something other than... and ... cut myself. But when I had the blade in my hand it just… happened to slide into the wrist, I… I didn't even realize it. It didn't even hurt, John. I'm sorry."
"Then just… don't do it again. Next time I might not be in time to save you, Sherlock, if your hands go their own ways with a scalpel or anything else potentially lethal in them, you know? Once too often can be pretty terminal with these things, don't forget that."
Sherlock raised his head and bent it to face his flatmate. "I need to know what had happened."
"I thought so. Talk to Mycroft, Sherlock. I guess, this might convince him of the need to do something, so he might give in."
"Don't tell him about this." Sherlock begged shamefacedly.
John gave a brief laugh of
helplessness. "Don't underestimate your brother. I, however, will not tell
him anything. You set the terms, Sherlock. – I will run you a hot bath. I don't
want you to die of pneumonia after all." John pushed himself up and,
pointing his index finger at the dark-haired misery on the floor, said
warningly, "And don't you dare drown in the tub!"