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Watson was first conscious of pain, and of distance from that pain. Injury, he ascertained; morphia, he further noted. Explosion, he recalled. Chasing after Blackwood. Good God, I'm alive, he marvelled. Then Watson was more acutely conscious of pain, but also more aware of himself: not only was he alive, but long experience in the field told him that he wasn't even much damaged. Remarkable.

"You ought to tell Mr Holmes," said Mary's voice from somewhere to his left - behind him, for as he blinked his eyes open he found he was lying in a bed - "that if he intends to impersonate a doctor, he ought to give more study to the profession. Any nurse who had happened by would have been very alarmed."

John thought of rolling over, but the beginning of the motion told him that there was a significant amount of damage (if, from the sting rather than the feeling of being flayed, relatively superficial) done to his back. Instead, he decided to push himself up, only to discover his arm was the other thing that was wrenched - but by then, Mary had stood up and was helping him.

She came round the other side of the bed to look at him, and brush his face with one hand. "I told you to be careful, I do believe," she said, with a half-smile that did nothing to hide the darkness beneath her eyes, or the strain of worry. He put his own hand over hers, and felt a certain wash of self-recrimination: he really ought to have known better than to go running after Blackwood like that, without attention to detail. The intense hatred he felt for the man seemed inadequate an explanation.

He simply said, "I'm sorry." He might have kissed her, but there was the sound of footsteps in the hall. They passed by, but by then so had much of the moment, and the question nagging at him would not be denied: "Holmes is alive, then," he said, because he remembered nothing much beyond his desperate shout.

Mary nodded. "He was here," she said, after looking around, "as a doctor. There's a warrant for his arrest, so he couldn't stay."

John's stomach knotted - and then he was struck by a thought, through the drugs. "His arrest," he clarified. Mary nodded. "Not mine," he clarified further, and Mary shook her head, with a look that said she understood exactly what he was asking.

"Damn it," he swore, and didn't apologize for it.

"Not as bad as it could be," Mary replied, and she was right: Blackwood clearly had someone of influence firmly under his thumb, but if Lestrade was only looking to arrest Holmes and not Watson as well, then he was dragging his feet. If that weren't the case, Watson would be in a cell, or at least being loomed over by a constable. No, Lestrade was still an ally, however reluctant and harried. Hopefully, he could be of some use, or at least a minimum hindrance.

Because this could not be over. He had to find Holmes - hopefully before the man did something stupid.

"Mary," he said slowly, "my darling, I'm sorry - I need some clothes."

She squeezed his fingers. "You need to finish taking the bits out of your arm and shoulder," she replied, briskly. "I've already brought you clothes." At his startled look, she nodded to the doorway he hadn't been watching. "Mr Holmes isn't the only one who was here."

Watson turned to look, and saw Irene Adler standing just inside the room. She was in stocking feet, which answered the question of how she'd come so quietly; her shoes were in her hand. She looked as grim-faced as Watson had ever seen her.

"Miss Adler explained," Mary said, and it was hard to tell whether there was something unusually cool in her voice or not. If pressed, John would have admitted he had never intended to inflict Irene Adler's acquaintance on his fiancée, but Providence was apparently not so kind this time.

Mary bent and kissed his cheek. "Come along, John, dear," she said. "You have a terribly evil man to catch."