Disclaimer: Many thanks to KCS for letting me know I don't need this anymore. Hurray for public domain!
Author's Note: Wow. Thirty-two reviews for only two chapters?! I really can't thank you enough! So here's a present to all you wonderful readers, Chapter 3! Enjoy!
I fully awoke for the first time in an unfamiliar bed with too-starched bedclothes, feeling very much like Rip Van Winkle until my senses were finally able to recognise my surroundings as those of a hospital room.
The next thing I noticed was that I was not alone, but rather in the company of the same man I'd been with last.
Sitting as close to my bedside as possible, his head had taken up residence on the mattress next to my side, one of his thin hands wrapped tightly around one of my bandaged ones.
By the look of his face and clothes, Holmes had been with me quite a while. Much more than a day's worth of stubble peppered his jaw line, and while his jacket and cravat had been tossed to the wayside his shirt and pants looked to be the same ones he'd worn that fateful night, if the smell of smoke that'd yet to leave them was any indication.
The memory of what had happened came rushing back as I inhaled that scent, my hand tensing in Holmes' as a result and making the poor man start from his chair in surprise.
His eyes wild and searching for the cause of the disturbance, it took only a moment for me to understand fully just how little sleep Holmes had gotten during his vigil.
"Holmes," I managed to whisper, lifting my hand in an attempt to snap him out of the daze he was in despite the pain that zinged through my arm by doing so.
If his name hadn't gotten his attention, the attempt I made at hiding the painful yelp my moving had caused more than accomplished the task.
"Watson! Don't move, you fool!"
He settled once more into his chair, shooting me a glare that could make even the most hardened of criminals think twice of crossing Sherlock Holmes.
"Sorry," I croaked, happily letting my hand move back to lie by my side.
"As you should be," Holmes growled, but despite this menace picked up a cup from a nearby tray and helping to raise my head, put it to my lips.
So eager was I at the sight of water my pride could have cared less about how helpless I was; the cool liquid bringing the world into a clarity I felt I'd not experienced for some time.
"Thank you," I whispered after I had my fill, watching Holmes nod curtly as he put the cup aside.
"How bad?" I asked; searching my friend's gaze for the truth as the morphine they'd given me I could tell was still dulling most of the pain.
Holmes sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger and I held my breath, unable to decipher anything from his exhausted, but otherwise blank expression.
"You are an extremely fortunate man, Watson, by all rights that fall should have killed you. From what I was able to deduce the fire-weakened floors that you crashed through must have slowed your velocity, and the sofa that you were found on at the bottom floor had to have cushioned the brunt of the impact. Nevertheless fallen debris pinned your leg, breaking it in several places, and you received a lovely concussion. Several of your ribs are either broken or cracked, and you have multiple second-degree burns on your hands, face and other extremities."
All of this Holmes explained in as calm a manner as I'd expect of him, and I would have believed this mask of collectedness entirely if it hadn't been for the fact that his hands had started to shake as he ended his narrative.
"You found me," this was more a statement than a question on my part, "How long did it take you?"
This question, as I knew it would, hit its mark squarely as I never have seen Holmes wince as sharply as he did then.
"Several hours by the time the fire had been put out, and the building could be safely searched," he hissed through clenched teeth, making the short breaths I'd been able to manage without intense pain stop in my chest.
"I'm so sorry," I choked, such paltry words, but they were all I could think to say.
"Being sorry does not cover half of this, Watson!" Holmes snapped, whipping from his chair to pace in front of my bed, the anger he'd been trying to hide now coming off of him in waves.
"You very well could have died, and all you have to say for yourself is that you are sorry?! Not only that but you intentionally put yourself in said position!"
"I had to threaten to physically harm the detective in charge to give me men to help search for you!"
"The blackguard had the gall to try and arrest me because of my vehemence, had it not been for Lestrade showing up I do not know what I would have done!"
"What the deuce is it?!"
"I meant it when I said I was sorry, despite what little comfort I know it must give. Sorry that I frightened you so badly. Sorry that you knew not my fate after that staircase gave way for so long. But I am not sorry for saving your life. I want you to know, too, that given the chance I would do it again, and will never apologise for it."
My interruption seemed to have the desired effect, as Holmes relaxed visibly, though the length of my speech I immediately regretted as a wave of dizziness washed over me, so persistent had I been to get my friend's attention that I never noticed how I'd managed to prop myself up on my elbows.
"Ugh," I winced, any strength I'd possessed giving way as my head hit the pillow once more, the panicked voice of Holmes filling my ears as I tried to keep myself from becoming sick.
"Watson! Talk to me!"
"Just dizzy," I managed to ground out, feeling Holmes' hand again grasp mine in support as the world continued to whirl around me even after I'd shut my eyes.
"You are right," my friend finally sighed after enough time had passed for the nausea to fade and the world to right itself again.
"You are the most insufferably giving man I have ever known Watson, and that scares me like nothing else. I would never have forgiven myself if you had not made it out of that house my dear fellow, and I doubt I will for a long time even now. I cannot predict future incidents in any of the cases we may have, but please promise me that you will never do such a thing again," he swallowed hard then, his grey eyes shining suspiciously before he quickly averted his gaze and his grip tightened, "I don't think I could survive your generosity a second time."
I squeezed his hand back as tightly as I could.
"Promise, Holmes," I managed to smile, despite the pain that'd been steadily growing since I'd first awoken.
Holmes, to my surprise and delight, smiled back as his eyes again met mine, the expression instantly chasing away any pain I felt.
"Thank you, my dear Watson."
Author's Note: I am by no means a doctor but tried my best to think up a logical reason for why Watson would be able to survive such a fall. Please let me know if the explanation provided cannot be covered even by artistic license, as I like to be as factual as possible with such things. Or if you liked it despite any foibles please feel free to tell me that too!