A/N: No clue where this came from. The last line clobbered me between the eyes, and the result of a few hours spent at my keyboard was this story staring back at me from the screen. I tried my best to capture Moriarty's delightfully unique voice and expand it into a full-fledged internal narrative.
As an aside, I've learned that I can't for the life of me write in a normal fashion. I always end up with stories written in odd POVs with strange voices. What can I say? I like the unusual—and therefore memorable—stories.
All credit goes to ScribeOfRhapsody and StellarRequiem for their fantastic edits and encouragement! Thank you once again, ladies!
"You want me to shake hands with you in hell—I shall not disappoint you."
See, the thing is, I don't believe you, Sherlock. I can't. You've been corrupted: Infection clings to your body, your hair, your clothes, your words, corrosive and bitter and sickening, blunting, chipping and eroding and burning away your brilliant mind, and all because you decided to keep the army doctor as your pet.
What heights could you have risen to without the slow-acting but fatal toxin of his influence? What if you had been stronger, pushed away, fought against the doctor and his coddling, his caring, his morals?
Where would you be now?
Who would you be now?
Not weak. Because you've become weak, Sherlock. Your darling brother warned you not to burden yourself with emotions lest you fall into the quagmire of sentiment, but did you listen? Of course not. The doctor's miasma had already infected your newly resuscitated heart—remember when you insisted you didn't have one (wrong!) and I assured you that you did? Never, ever are emotions an advantage.
Nah, you won't join me in the fiery pit. Not today. Your heart is too active, too strong, beating too fast (he's scrambling back to you. Did you know that, Sherlock? He's burning and it's all your fault) and you, standing in front of me, so smug, convinced you'll be able to wriggle out of this tightening trap that you've built around yourself—you're living proof that those who have a heart are only setting themselves up for a fall. Tragic, isn't it?
Your heart, Sherlock. You have one. It's disappointing, though I admit I'm not entirely surprised. I did think you were worthy of the game, of solving the problem but, nah, you're ordinary. Smarter than most other men I've met—truly, I've never had so much fun in my life; you've presented an enthralling challenge—but ordinary all the same, and I'm disappointed, Sherlock, I really am.
Ordinary... on the side of the angels.
"Oh, I may be on the side of the angels, but don't think for one second that I am one of them."
You're not, are you? That, Sherlock, is for me to decide, judge, jury, executioner, since I'm the only one left on this planet who can see, as you're willingly blinding yourself with a mask woven of the most crippling emotions. But, hey, you're not turning away, not flickering so much as an eyelash... Might as well finish this now; there's no time like the present, wouldn't you say, dear?
But oh. Oh.
It seems I was mistaken.
You're not ordinary. This is a bit of a surprise. Mask indeed. No, you're me: Willing to do anything—go any distance, take every chance—to ensure you come out ahead. That's a dangerous set of rules to live by; don't you know you could get hurt? Of course you do... You're here. (With me. With me.)
Do you know you have blood in your eyes, Sherlock? No? Well, you see, it turns out I've been right from the moment your name first cropped up in my web (I'll give you credit for the title; too bad the court didn't appreciate the metaphor, did they, not even those sitting on the plush seats who were trapped in the delicate silk strands I wove with such care around them) because, surprise! You're me!
Oh, the weight that's slipping from my shoulders to shatter and melt and mold into quicksand around our feet! Thank you, Sherlock Holmes. Thank you. I'm not alone in this boring world of boring people living their boring lives. You... I understand you, and you understand me. So you'll agree with me when I decide this has to play out to the very last breath.
That's right: Grip my hand, Sherlock, nice and tight. I can't have you stopping me, now, can I?
We could have had so much fun together. So much fun. Ruled the world, but let's be honest: Ruling the world is so much work. Still, it would have been a pleasure to watch six billion beings dance to a duet composed by you and me, heard by none but you and me.
Bless you. Oh, rejoice, world, for I am not alone. There is one whom I can consider my equal, and I am happy.
But now we come to the final problem—for real, this time, Sherlock; I wouldn't lie to you about this. This is serious, you know? Because you're right: As long as I'm alive, you can save your friends, bloody useless parasites they are. You've got a way out. Your heart will still be alive... or will he? A heart isn't much use without a body. So I've been told, anyway. I almost regret not having a heart to experiment on. But wait, experiments have always been your forte.
I suppose your heart will have to find out on his own. Can't have you deducing how to stop my snipers; and you will, you know. You are me, and all that rot. (Can it be rot if I've decreed we're the same?) (Of course it can.)
So it seems the denouement is upon us. I'm not afraid to admit that I wasn't certain we'd reach this point. Yeah, okay, I suspected we'd end up here, hands clasped, union achieved in the final minutes (seconds), but to be standing on this rooftop, to live it... Well. If I told you it's an honor, would you believe me?
Yeah, didn't think so.
You know, you're so distracted by my fingers tightening around your wrist that you don't notice what's happening in my pocket, and I'm not sure whether I should be insulted or ecstatic. Genius you may be, but I win this round, Sherlock. Blinded by love, perhaps? Wouldn't know—I've never been in love. Can't say it suits you.
Friendly reminder: Don't forget the snipers. (I know it's impossible, but I'm not one to leave my affairs unfinished.) I'm still the only one who can stop them from decorating choice locations with the thoroughly unremarkable brain matter of your loyal-to-a-fault inner circle unless my men see you hop over the edge and your, in the end, no less remarkable brain matter is trampled into the cobblestones by every witless sap who once praised your name.
Well. Good luck with that.
And your pupils dilate and you yank my arm, but you're too late, too late, because the gun is cold and metallic against my teeth and tongue and I win.
See you in hell, Sherlock.