Have you ever felt like just a shadow on the wall, never really there, never really invested? Like that one stray dog that everybody pity's, but no one likes enough to take home and care for? Or like that odd sibling out, because there's three of you and they were already close when you showed up?
I do. I've felt like that for my entire life, like everything I do is out of boredom, out of necessity instead of desire. How do you think it feels, to know that every single person you work with despises you, wouldn't give you the time of day in any ordinary situation? But having them also pity you, look at you knowing that yours is a sad existence indeed, that's what hurts the most.
And you have to pretend it doesn't affect you, pretend it isn't even there; how else will you survive? And besides, you are so used to it by now, you don't think you would expect any less. At least that's what you tell yourself. You tell yourself that growing up as the "third brother", the "other brother", prepared you for this.
And you hope that you will eventually start to believe that, even though you know better than anyone that it is impossible to lie to oneself; and according to Mycroft, "you always were a terrible liar."
But still, none of this has prepared you for this new feeling. Before HE showed up, you didn't even recognise your old feelings. And if you did, you recklessly pretended you didn't; as if pretending makes you stronger.
And then Doctor John H. Watson showed up, and no heads in the fridge if you please, I am not gay, and is this a bag of thumbs? And in between all the tea, angry nighttime violin playing and "bloody brilliant"'s, you began to realise that maybe feeling your feelings wasn't so terrible after all. And emotions mixed with adrenaline, and cases turned into dinner dates, and suddenly everything was...good.
And you found yourself invested, FINALLY, and it barely shocked you that it was in something, someone, so ordinary. You went from being pitied to admired, and you found yourself no longer the injured stray without a home. You became that stray, the one with the scruffy exterior, that is taken in by a loving and incredibly patient and kind, gentle man.
And suddenly Mummy was visiting, and you were talking, actually TALKING, with Father, and even Mycroft was being more tolerable. Actually, everything was perfect, everything was amazing, "bloody brilliant", never mind just good.
So how much do you think it hurts, to finally have that, finally be able to feel like that, like a real person, only to have it be taken away? How much pain is there, when you've tried your hardest to do the right thing, the thing that HE would want you to do, only to come back and realize that it doesn't matter?
It doesn't matter what you do, how you act or what you say; you are alone, you are pitied, you are a stray and that is all you'll ever be. And whatever was there, if there was ever anything at all, is gone now, it's too late.
But your heart insists on trying anyways, despite what your brain is telling it; you talk to him, to them. You stay around, you help them prepare, you GO TO THEIR WEDDING FOR FUCK SAKES! And you're heart can't take it, because it's too much, knowing that you were never meant to be loved. You leave early, feeling broken and lost, more lost than ever before.
It hurts so much, and you know now it's too late, but you can't help it, you just can't help but love the man who taught you how to feel. (And now she's having his baby.)
And so you close your eyes and you cry, in the silence of your empty flat. You let yourself feel everything that you haven't been able to for so long, and you mourn the loss of your friend and the sad fact of your relationship with your brother. You regret past choices that led to your pathetic existence, and vow to try a little harder.
But most of all you sob because you're alone, because you always have been. Even when He was here, you wouldn't let him in, and now you get to cry over the loss of any chance. "Alone protects me," you once said. And suddenly you don't know what happened, you don't know anything anymore; because you lived so long telling yourself that lie, even though you've always known the truth. And you only said it to protect yourself, while pretending you were protecting him from you, but maybe you really were, and it's ALL JUST SO GOD DAMNED CONFUSING!
And as the tears leak out, a single, unwelcome voice makes itself heard through memories. Mycroft's face shows up on closed eye lids, within the depths of your Mind Palace, and your fists clench. His mouth moves in your mind, but you try to ignore the sound you know is coming out, the tired voice saying, "Caring is not an advantage, Sherlock."
Too bad you can read lips.