The Fall

Jan. 22nd, 2012 06:10 pm
lightconductor: (crestfallen)
[personal profile] lightconductor
He had hardly waited for the poor chap to finish his sentence. He couldn't have waited. It had all been false, Watson should never have left him, he should have known better than to leave him alone for any reason. He should have insisted Holmes accompany him down the mountain path. He should have done something, at any rate, anything other than what he had done, which was apparently had allowed Holmes to walk into a trap all alone.

Holmes.

He wasn't much of a long-distance runner, either. He was a rugby man, or had been, and he was made for bursts of power and speed, or he had been before he'd got this dratted bullet in his leg. The run up the mountain slope was horrendous; his leg ached like it was newly wounded, his lungs burned with each gasp of air, but slowing down was... well, it was unthinkable.

Holmes, please. Hang on. Hang on.

Objectively, he knew he would never make it in time. It had taken him far too long just to come down the mountain to return to the inn in search of this fictional dying woman who wanted an English doctor. Probably by the time he'd reached the Englischer Hof the trap had been sprung already.

Don't think of that.

He had left Holmes. He would never, ever forgive himself for that, if something had happened. Especially after... after last night, after such promises, spoken and unspoken, it would not be just if something had happened now. No, this was Sherlock Holmes, by Christ. As soon as he rounded the rise he would see Holmes waiting for him, triumphant over whatever danger had presented itself, perhaps laughing at Watson for being so frightened. He wouldn't even mind that, just so long as he was all right.

By the time he reached the falls, he was shouting out Holmes's name, not sure if his voice would carry over the roar of water. He was staggering by this point, hardly able to breathe, staggering along in a limping sort of run. Watson half expected to find Holmes coming down the path, strolling unconcernedly towards him, but there was no sign of him.

"Holmes!" His voice was hoarse, and not completely from his sprint up a mountain. The rushing of a waterfall had never seemed so fatally silent to him. For a moment, Watson froze on the path, clutching his chest while he tried to breathe under the twin agonies of exertion and terror. "Holmes!"

And then.

Then, the alpenstock. He saw it, and his throat seemed to close up.

Watson tried to be stern with himself. He was a soldier. He had had friends, allies die before -- an entire regiment, very nearly. He understood the cost of life. Yet, he thought, none of them had been what Holmes was to him. No one had ever been that.

The note was easy to find, in the shade of the alpenstock, and Watson read it, half unbelieving. Holmes could not have perished. He couldn't have. The man was... too alive for that. There had to be some mistake. Surely it hadn't played out the way Holmes had expected it to when he had written this letter?

Clutching both the cigarette case and letter tightly in his pocket, Watson thought madly of what he was to do. What would Holmes have done? He would not leap to conclusions, certainly. He would have to apply Holmes's methods. There were footprints. He could, surely, determine what had happened?

What he saw was not encouraging: two pairs of footprints ascended the path to the cliff over the falls, there was a mad jumble of prints, and none returned. Both prints seemed to vanish over the edge.

Watson spent a long moment peering down into the cascade of water, willing the facts to be anything but what they were, trying to come to some alternate possibility that did not mean that Holmes was dead, that Watson was alone, far more alone than he had ever felt. He had been alone before, true, but not after having Holmes in his life, and the absence of what he'd had was shocking to feel.

For a terrible moment, he considered taking a few steps further forward, and throwing himself off the cliff as well. It was too much to ask of him, to ask of any man to bear. And surely there would be a certain poetic justice in the both of them dying here, now.

But no. Holmes had written in his letter that he had known the danger, he had known it was a trap, and he had, Watson had to suppose, spared Watson. How could Watson throw that away? How to repay that with taking his own life?

He ought to go down to the village, fetch the authorities. He knew that. And he would. But for the time being, Watson sat down on a rock, wet from the spray, growing wetter, and he wept silent and bitter tears while he turned Holmes's last letter over in his hands.

Believe me to be, my dear fellow,
always yours,
Sherlock Holmes.

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