Amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant. As far as grammar is concerned, anyone can love: we, you, he, she, it, all of us. In reality, some of us have an awfully long struggle to learn it.
Sentiment is a chemical defect found in the losing side. I've quoted myself to death with that one. And up and down the internet, people have quoted me with glee. Fools that they are, fool that I was. It's how I started, so let me take you back to the beginning. I was so full of myself. I thought I knew everything about chemical. Sentiment would obscure my vision, blur my reasoning. Nasty chemicals speeding up the pulse, causing all sorts of sweat and smell. I can't be having that. I need my brain clear, uncompromised, sharp like a scalpel. Sherlock loves no one.
Look at me. Completely blind to the irony, I have no qualms flooding my body with non-sentimental chemicals. Caffeine, yes, please. Nicotine, bring it on. Heroin, sure, now and then. Cocaine, why not. So addiction isn't a defect in the losing side? Who am I kidding?
I'm a champion at kidding myself, though. Alone is what protects me. Nemo, niemand, nobody has ever been and will ever be more to me than a sophisticated organic machine, useful at best, irritating for the most part. Because I am Sherlock Holmes: smart, sharp, clever, bright don't even begin to describe me, but funnily enough, I suffer from a certain lack of understanding. Most people know it's not about the chemicals, but I am not most people, and so I am being an idiot. I won't let myself be compromised by such squishy things as affection and sentiment; not I, the great Sherlock Holmes, a brilliant brain adrift on an ocean of solitude.
Freak, 235 times. Psychopath, 164 times. Arsehole, 452 times. Bastard, 342 times. Idiot, 875 times (mostly my brother).
I'm making up these numbers, obviously, but you get the picture. People are not holding back with the names they call me. Don't worry. I call myself all of this, and worse. Verily, I am my own severest critic. If people loathe me, hate me even, they are welcome to it, because they are quite right. I am ridiculous, ludicrous one might say, rude, arrogant, obnoxious, irritating, callous, thoughtless, reckless, merciless. I leave a sea of pained expressions in my wake wherever I go. I trample on people's fragile sense of self-worth, and they have no idea that I envy them, because even a fragile sense of self-worth is better than none at all.
You arrogant git. You pompous sod. You are such an arse, such an arse, such an arse.
I hear you, people. I hear you. I couldn't have put it better myself.
Self-loathing is a vicious motivator. Solving puzzles is all I have. It's the only way I can do anything right.
Whatever possessed me to think that someone would be willing to share a flat with the world's most obnoxious pompous arsehole? Whatever possessed Mike Stamford to supply a victim? Whatever had I done to deserve this: a turning point, a chance?
It would be fair to say that I first started to like you because I could sense that you liked me. Not tolerated me, not cut me some slack for the sake of my brilliant mind, but actually liked me. Whatever possessed you?
Sally Donovan still called me a freak, but somehow that barely registered when I had a colleague by my side. I don't have colleagues, you say, Sally? Watch me! Watch me closely, because by the time this is over, I will have much more than a colleague, I will have an unfathomable debt to pay, because this man, this little softly-spoken man who barely knows me, has put a bullet into a stranger to save my life. I have to ask, with a vengeance: Whatever possessed you, John?
I wasn't pretending that day in our kitchen, you know. I really, really didn't expect you to call me your best friend. Which just goes to show how much out of my depth I still was being anyone's friend, even though by that time our friendship had already survived so much, even my own death.
And you may laugh, but in the early days of our friendship, I sometimes lay awake at night and savoured the taste of that word on my tongue. I have a friend. Please meet my friend, John Watson. This is my friend John. My friend. My friend. My friend John. I really, really was that soppy.
Here's the thing: Once you start, there is no stopping. If there can be one friend, there can be more than one, and it occurred to me, even before Moriarty clocked up my measly friends count at three, that anyone could be a friend. Anyone could enter my life one day and become important. Anyone who traverses the streets of London is potentially a friend I've not yet met. (Scary thought?)
These are the friends that I have met:
Greg. (I know your name, and you know I know it, and I know you know that I know.) You are, without a doubt, the most graceful person I have ever met. You have always given me my dues without hesitation, never a grudge, never a resentful look when I'd done your job better than you, never an attempt to inflate your own merit or diminish mine. I always show off, you never do. Did I say graceful? I should add dignified.
Mrs Hudson, Martha, you delightfully crazy old biddy. I love how you look like the quintessential little old English lady, complete with tea service, and yet you listen to Iron Maiden when you hoover and you drive your flash car like the devil. Sometimes I wish I could travel back in time just to see your younger self as an exotic dancer. The craziest thing about you, though, is your crazy lodger. How you put up with him, and care so much about him, I shall never know.
Bill Wiggins, you and all the other waifs and strays. Thank you for tolerating the posh boy and indulging his foibles. I hope you know that I would go to the ends of the earth for any of you.
Rosie, you have been such a surprise. Anyone would have said that Sherlock plus babies is a bad combination, and just think of how gobsmacked they all are when they see us together. But you see, I have endless patience with your shortcomings, Rosie, because you are only little and I am absolutely confident that you will grow into a splendid, splendid adult, and by the time you get there, I'll have spent twenty years meeting you, and what good friends will we be then!
Mary. Oh, Mary. Words fail me. Only this: Friendship doesn't end at the grave.
I love you, my friends. There are no chemicals involved, only respect and loyalty and gratitude and goodwill and a burning sense that I never want to get back to where I started. To nemo.
PS: Of course I love my parents, too. They just drive me up the wall, but I hear this is standard human practice.
Those who are too refined to call me an arsehole might call me a misanthrope. Go on, say it, and allow yourself to feel all educated and sophisticated for knowing such a fancy word. How clueless you are!
Universal benevolence is a cardinal virtue, as any moral philosopher will confirm. Perhaps you even know this much. Where you go wrong is in thinking that universal benevolence means smiling and telling people how nice they look and wringing your hands when someone gets hurt.
John once upbraided me, while on a case, for not caring about the potential victims. How would caring have helped them, John? Would caring have caught the killer? I told you to think of the people in hospital, because as a doctor you would know that what saves them is not people making sad faces and using hushed voices but sound medical skill based on solid scientific research. Anyone can be nice, but who else can do what I do?
I have nothing against kindness as such. I dare say it makes life better for most of the people most of the time. But there are sharks out there and monsters, and if they come after you or your loved ones, all your kindness and caring will be to no avail. Loving words won't stop a bullet. By all means go on, do what you do well, be the good neighbour and look after your friends in all the many everyday ways. But when the monsters come, you'll need me. I look after everyone.
I am no misanthrope. I am the ultimate philanthrope. In my cold, heartless way, I love everyone.
I said everyone, but I reserve the right to make exceptions. Not you, Norbury, not you, Magnusson, not you, Smith. Not the monsters. Not anyone who treats people like objects, who turns people into objects. Not anyone who plays with lives for the sake of the thrill. Not anyone who plays God. Not anyone who leeches away people's dignity, their very humanity.
Do I hear anyone mutter "pot, kettle, black" up there in the galleries? Does anyone have the word "hypocrisy" on their lips? Oh, do shut up. Anyone thinking they can lump me in with the sharks and the monsters can think again. I have never diminished your personhood. I have insulted you plenty, but only from equal to equal; you were always free to insult me right back, and you usually did. I was smarter than you and I let you feel it, but I didn't use my brains to control you or exploit you, not once. I may have shrugged off your sufferings and even your deaths, but I have never, not once, taken delight in them. I am an arse, a bastard, an arrogant sod, but I am not, repeat: not a psychopath.
(And not you either, Irene, no matter how alluring you are. You revelled in the prospect of holding the balance of a nation in the palm of your hand. You called it insurance, but that was just a euphemism. I judge you by the same standards to which I hold everyone else, and don't you believe for a second that my verdict will be softened by the smoothness of your skin.)
Anyone but you
Most of all, not you. Not-you for all the same reason as not-Magnusson and not-Smith, but their coagulated evil was general and I merely happened to cross their paths. Between you and me, it's personal.
I am used to people insulting me. I have no problem with people challenging me, trying to beat me. And if people want to gun for my life, well, I know how to look after myself. What you did to me was worse, so much worse. You wanted to turn me into you.
I am on the side of the angels because that's where I choose to be. My choice. You tried to take that away from me. You made the whole world believe a lie about me to the point where I began to doubt myself. You killed and destroyed, callously, casually, and you had the nerve to tell me that we were the same.
You nearly killed me, in a way that no gun or knife could have killed me. You nearly killed my essence. You said I was you, you thought I would turn into you, but I was, am, will be anyone but you.
Had your plan succeeded, had I jumped and perished as you intended, you would have had killed me so thoroughly that there'd have been nothing left. In front of the eyes of my precious friend, I was forced to confess that I was nothing, a fraud, worthless, a worm upon the Earth. My name would have been disgraced forever. This was your diabolical plan. And it failed.
You see, you'd overlooked one thing. There was someone who knew me and who also knew you, and who knew with unshakeable certainty that I wasn't you, that I was anyone but you, and who believed in me, and who gave me back to myself when I thought I had lost me.
Who? Oh, you are dead now and you will never know, but I, I who am not you, I know.
Yes, you. Did you fret because you didn't appear on my list of friends? Didn't you realise that you, of all people, merit an entry of your own?
If I was forced at gunpoint to choose a woman, I would always pick you. This is something I have always known, because you have always counted and I have always trusted you. You were always my choice for a shotgun wedding. And I always made sure that the moment of choice did not arise.
Always, always. What a fallacious word. There must have been a time before I knew you. In fact, there is evidence, and I know the exact length of the time span between my birth and the day I met you. So there must have been a Me before I met you, and yet that Me is not me. So when I say I have always trusted you, I mean it, because whoever the man was who walked the Earth before we met, he wasn't me because he didn't know you.
So, yes, if forced I would always have chosen you, but only lately has it occurred to me that I might choose you anyway, freely, for no other reason than that it would give me such … joy? And if I am honest (but when am I ever entirely honest?) I have already chosen, but so far I haven't dared to tell you, because what if you do not choose me back? Mary would have scolded me for being such a coward, of course she would. And since Mary must be heeded, I was working up to it; please believe me that I was getting there.
How could I have known that this day would come? There are words that should have been sacred and that I have been too awed even to think, and here these words are forced into our mouths, yours and mine, and extracted, from you, from me, under duress. How can our hearts survive this?
You – or me?
Brother mine, Ice Man, you heartless reptile, who's it going to be? You – or me? Which of us is the slow one, the stupid one? You've always seemed so successful, so well adapted, so efficient, so sorted. What an embarrassment for you to have this mess of a baby brother, this junkie, this freak. What an embarrassment to watch little brother become more human by the day, to see him surround himself with goldfish, to be so fond of his little pet, the army doctor.
Is that the real story? I don't think so. Rather more to the point: Here were you and I, and there was them. And we liked to think that they were so far beneath us, like ants crawling at our feet. We put on a show, for their amusement and ours, Sibling Rivalry, a play in infinitely many acts, while we secretly, mutely, sang from the same hymn sheet. John disturbed this furtive harmony. He changed the tempo and the key. I wonder now how that made you feel – did it make you feel? Did you worry you would lose me? You were never going to lose me.
And now it has come to this, brother, oh my brother, that we stand here, my gun pointed at you, because someone has to die and it cannot be, must not be John. You get it now, don't you, brother? You get it that he is no pet, no goldfish; that he's worth more than the both of us together; you get it and you know that if someone has to die, it's got to be you. It's got to be you, and you offer yourself, you offer your icy heart and try to smile to the last, because you are still the slow one. Brother, my brother, you have no idea how fiercely I love you, and since it has come to this that someone has to die, it cannot be you, it must not be you, it can only be me.
But I am still here and at long last I hold the key in my hands and it is nothing like what I expected.
Help me, brother. I am lost without your love.
Now, esteemed hecklers in the galleries, you may bring up the word hypocrisy. I should hold Eurus to the same standard by which I judge everyone else. She has killed as callously as Smith. She has ruled her tiny empire as ruthlessly as Magnusson. She has manipulated on a par with Moriarty, no, hand in hand with Moriarty. I should judge her and be done with it. But I cannot. I cannot.
If I disown her, I disown myself. If I condemn her, I condemn myself. All she has done bears my signature. There must have been a day, somewhere among the rubble of that newly unearthed past, when she cried out for me and I didn't hear. That's where it all began.
The day I met John was a turning point. But this, this moment as I stand before Eurus in the ruins of our home, is the turning point. Softly now, Sherlock, step softly on this thinnest ice of all. Fathomless black waters beckon beneath, but if I can reach her, who is adrift in an empty sky, then in spite of all the death and destruction some things at least may still be well.
I never had a friend. I had no one. No one can hear me. Nemo. Nemo.
I hear you, sister. I see you. I am holding my hand out to you. You are not lost anymore. I am not lost anymore. If I can save you, my sister, then I can save myself. If I can learn to love you, then I can finally love me. And if I can love me, I can love anyone.
Amo, amavi, amabo. I love, I have always loved, I will keep loving.
A/N: Latin grammar makes it possible that "amo" is technically a full sentence, however, it makes little sense without an object. It has occurred to me that in the latter part of the series, several pronouns are prominently used which could plausibly complete the sentence. And thus another plot bunny was born.