Chapter 1—Ruminations and Rehabilitations
Skye woke up in a hospital bed on Peterson Air Force Base near Colorado Springs the afternoon following the shooting, which was Saturday. Her chest and belly ached miserably, and there was a taste in her mouth as if all the armies that had ever marched had tramped across her tongue.
"Uhg," she groaned softly, smacking her mouth in disgust.
As sensation and full consciousness slowly returned, a previously unnoticed grip on her fingers tightened, and a familiar, English voice murmured, "Skye?"
"H-holmes? Is that you?" Skye wondered, confused.
"Yes, Skye. I am here."
Through the slits of her barely open eyelids, she saw a dark form loom over her, coming to sit gingerly on the edge of the bed. As her eyes finally responded to her mental command to focus, the form resolved into Holmes, who was now dressed in the RAF uniform he kept in their office. He reached for something beyond her range of sight, then brought his left hand back with a small plastic cup, a straw tucked inside it.
"Here. Sip this." His right hand never let go her own. Skye allowed him to place the straw in her mouth before sipping the cool water.
"Oh, that's better. My mouth tasted nasty."
"That would be the narcotics," he replied, the hint of a smile on his tired face as he returned the cup to the bedside table.
* * *
"Oh." Skye gave him a bleary-eyed scrutiny, and Holmes read it accurately.
"No, my dear. Watson broke me of that habit some years ago, at my own request, I might add. And I must confess, I find this world of yours stimulating enough that I have no interest in such substances, anyway." He allowed the hint of expression to become a full-fledged smile, and he said, "Dear old Watson, it seems, was equally as determined as dear new Skye. But it does mean I have some experience with nasty tastes in one's mouth."
"How bad?" Skye gestured to her bandaged, aching torso.
"Punctured left lung, lacerated spleen." Holmes drew a deep, pained breath. "Considerable blood loss. The spleen was not so damaged as to require complete removal, fortunately. There is speculation it caught a ricochet; the bits of metal pulled out from that organ definitely did not add up to a complete bullet, as opposed to the one in the lung, which emerged intact. But lung and spleen are repaired now, and you are getting blood." He gestured at the IV bags hanging nearby, where a deep-red fluid dribbled through a tube into her arm. "In fact, one of those is mine. They were low on your blood type." Then he quipped, "And relative to some of the people in this age of yours, it seems I am quite the healthy specimen." He paused, becoming very serious. "Skye, I must apologise…I had to break my oath to you."
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