As bcbdrums said, this bandwagon was too much fun to pass up. Do join us, won't you - it will be fun to see our different characterisations and styles come out in the process.

Mine is rather short, but seriously the poor man has been angsted to death (no pun intended) by now and I didn't have the heart to prolong the agony too much...

"Well, well!" said he coolly as he scrambled to the surface."I guess you have been one too many for me, Mr. Holmes. Saw through my game, I suppose, and played me for a sucker from the first. Well, sir, I hand it to you; you have me beat and --"

In an instant he had whisked out a revolver from his breast and had fired two shots. I felt a sudden hot sear as if a red-hot iron had been pressed to my shoulder, in the very place I had been hit long ago by an Afghani Jezail bullet, and the ensuing pain radiated out into a red cloud that only dissipated when the floorboards came up to hit my head quite hard.

I blinked furiously, then clutched at my shoulder as the numbing shock wore off and the only thing remaining was a burning agony…but there had been two shots, and I doubted both had been meant for me…I had to get up…

I set my teeth and waited for my vision to clear, feeling my breath coming rather too fast for comfort. Finally the cloud before my eyes faded and I struggled onto my knees, looking round for Holmes.

My initial relief upon seeing him uninjured was immediately shattered by horror – for he was standing over the inert form of 'Killer' Evans, holding a revolver in a shaking hand…there was blood trickling from a cut the man's temple. But either our criminal was not dead yet or the detective wished to ensure that he was, for even as I put my hands on the floor to steady a wave of dizziness, Holmes raised the gun and pointed it directly at the fellow's head.

"Holmes, don't!" The words were meant as a shout but came out rather more like a sobbing gasp as I tried to raise myself, to stop him…

My friend jumped as if he had been stung upon the sound of my voice, but he refused to look at me, his shoulders heaving with some unusually intense emotion. And he completely ignored my pleading and cocked the revolver.

"Holmes, you can't!"

I managed to get to one knee, grasping the back of the nearby chair for support, trying to put pressure on my shirt over the wound with my other hand, biting back a cry of pain as a wave of dizzying nausea swept over me.

"He's unconscious, Holmes," I gasped, "you – you can't possibly – justify that – stop it, please…"

I struggled to my feet just as he did finally turn and look at me, and in twenty-two years I had never seen such a haunted look in his eyes. "I don't care," he whispered intensely.

"But I do," I said through gritted teeth, "please…"

As if hearing someone else talking and not myself, I heard my voice trail off in a low moan as the combination of movement and blood-loss sent the room slowly spinning around me, and I braced myself for the inevitable collision with the floor again.

Holmes's pistol hit it with a metallic clank, but I did not, as he dropped the weapon to jump forward and catch me in his arms.

As he settled me on the floor with an unusual gentleness, carefully removing my hand to look at the wound, I met his still-frightened eyes with all the clarity I could muster amid the sweeping pain.

"Thank you," I murmured, indicating the still-unconscious form of Killer Evans, blissfully unaware of how close he came to a slow and agonising death.

"No," he whispered earnestly, glancing at the gun lying beside us on the floor and then at his trembling hand, now covered in blood, my blood, "thank you, my dear Watson."