This is in response to bcbdrums' challenge. You're absolutely right--none of us can resist, we might as well own up now. Unfortunately, I never really had a concrete rewrite done--it was just sort of hanging out in the back of my mind. Soooooo, hopefully this isn't abysmal, as I just sat down and wrote it after reading the challenge. Unfortunately, it is also after midnight, which is not good for the brain. But if I don't write it now I'll just be too lazy any other time, so I promise I'll be back at some later date to put in all the spelling and grammar. Like "panicked?" Is that right? Spell-check won't work on this computer for some reason, and my faithful dictionary was stolen just moments ago. Never mind. I promise I'll edit.

Disclaimer: As you have probably guessed... I am not Arthur Conan Doyle. These characters belong to him, not me.

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, and I felt a bullet tear into my shoulder. The pain was immediate and overwhelming; I sank to my knees and desperately tried to keep from passing out. My hand was pressed to the wound--on the same shoulder, as it happened, that had been wounded years ago, and I couldn't help but think wryly that at least I wouldn't have two bad shoulders when this was over.

I drew my hand away, and saw it covered in blood. Then again, perhaps that was the least of my worries. I was dimly aware of Holmes lunging forward and bringing his pistol viciously down on Killer Evans' skull. Foolish of us, really, not to alert the Yard before coming here. As the room began to spin I wondered vaguely if they really would have believed that the man had fabricated the story of the three Garridebs just to gain access to a man's basement.

Moments before I collapsed entirely I felt Holmes' arms around me, easing my descent. "Oh dear God, Watson," he breathed, and I felt him move my hand from where it was once again pressed against my shoulder to examine the wound. His sharp intake of breath was enough to tell me that what he saw was not the least bit superficial.

"Watson? Watson, can you hear me?" The panic in my friend's voice pulled me from the brink of unconsciousness, and I was able to open my eyes.

I shall never forget the look on Holmes' face. He had gone deathly pale, and any trace of the indifferent expression he usually wore was gone. I could feel that his arm around my shoulders was shaking and his eyes, usually so stern and piercing, were wide and fearful. Looking into his eyes I saw Sherlock Holmes as he was, not Sherlock Holmes as he presented himself to the world, and I found myself thinking that it was worth a wound, it was worth many wounds, to know the depth of loyalty and love that lay behind that cold mask. I found his hand with mine and tried to squeeze it reassuringly, but even this small movement was painful.

"Holmes--" Dammit, even talking was painful.

"Don't try to talk, Watson. Just--just stay still." Holmes' breathing was panicked and uneven. I had never expected to see him so shaken, indeed, there were times I'd hardly thought him capable of it. I wanted to tell him it would be all right, but at that moment I was somewhat unsure of even that.

My hand tightened around his, slippery with blood and uncertainty.

By no means do I consider myself a fanciful man, but I was certain that time had stopped when I saw Watson drop to the ground. Never in my life did I expect to feel such utter, abject terror as I did then. Seeing the severity of his wound, and hearing his gasp of pain as I touched his shoulder, certainly did nothing to help matters, and I confess I was completely petrified for a moment before regaining my senses. "Watson? Watson, can you hear me?"

He opened his eyes and met my gaze, upon which I was able to start breathing again. He reached up and clasped my free hand with his. "Holmes--" he whispered, then winced.

"Don't try to talk, Watson. Just--just stay still." My voice was shaking, and I tried to steel myself, forcing back my panic. I was sure the shots had been heard, probably the police were already on their way.

Watson squeezed my hand gently. "Holmes--" He tried to continue, but cut off abruptly, stiffining in pain.


His eyes closed, and I became terrified, terrified that if he lost consciousness he would never wake up again, terrified that I would lose him. "Stay with me, Watson, for God's sake, stay with me!"

My head was empty. There were no deductions, no thoughts, even. My mind had never let me down before, but for once I was at a complete loss.

"Watson, no! Watson!"

I had always considered the term 'heartbreak' to be nothing more than a fanciful romantic phrase of the sort that my Boswell was so fond of in his florid tales. But when Watson's eyes fluttered and closed, and his grip on my hand went slack, I felt my carefully hardened heart shatter, splinter into a thousand shards which pierced my very soul.

It was pure luck that Hopkins and I had been nearby when the shots were fired. We arrived at the scene as fast as we could, which I believe is all that prevented Holmes from killing Evans then and there. The first thing I saw was Holmes bent over the Doctor, wearing an expression I'd never expected to see on his face. Then I saw Evans, who was starting to sit up. I told Hopkins to get a cab immediately, regardless of whether or not there was someone in it, and quickly handcuffed Evans before he got up any further.

"What the devil happened here, Mr. Holmes?" I asked, hauling Evans to his feet. "Who is this man?"

"He's known as Killer Evans," replied Holmes, in a voice far less steady than I was accustomed to hearing. "That printing press in the basement belongs to him, and..."

"Yes, I can see what else he's responsible for," I muttered, kneeling beside the doctor. He didn't look good.

Evans chose that moment to try and slip away, even handcuffed as he was. Holmes was faster than I; in a second he was on his feet and furiously threw Evans against the wall, his eyes hardened into a terrifying glare. "Measures necessary to prevent the escape of a dangerous criminal," I muttered to myself, taking the opportunity to grab both revolvers lying on the ground. Evans struggled, and Holmes struck him across the jaw with a fearsome right hook. The criminal sagged, grimacing in pain. I saw the detective raise his hand again, and decided enough was enough. "Mr. Holmes, there is a limit to how much I can prevent myself from seeing!"

At first it looked as though he was going to disregard me completely, but something stayed his hand, and I saw him look at the Doctor for a long moment before stepping away from Evans.

I tried not too look at his face as I turned back to the man in front of me and searched anxiously for a pulse.

Conclusion in chapter two! What's the conclusion?... I, er, haven't decided yet.