There was at least no pretence this time about the house to which Richard had been hastily removed. The men who shared it with him came and went in shifts and no-one took the trouble to give him a name.
It wasn't quite house arrest. No-one was stopping him coming and going. He could, possibly, have moved out, except that his jobseekers allowance had been stopped in a suspiciously timed bureaucratic muddle and the little work he had paid no bills. The house- he refused to think of it as home- had well stocked cupboards and a small jar of change to cover bus fares to auditions.
Twice in the first week a car had taken him to Scotland Yard for further interrogation by an ill tempered Lestrade, still certain that Brook had been involved with Finney's murder but with no evidence of contact with anyone that night. It occurred to Richard halfway through the first interview that the phone under his mattress must have been an attempt by someone to frame him; he felt a rush of gratitude to Seb and his boss for taking it away. Mycroft did not make an appearance then or at any other time.
A small TV bit part in the second week gave him the first opportunity to slip the net. The costume department furnished hm with some easily concealed items and the next Saturday he went browsing along Oxford Street, something he'd got into the habit of doing since he left prison, just to have people around him. This time he disappeared into the busy Zavvi Megastore toilets, changed clothes, put on wig, added a little stage makeup and came out a good fifteen years older and with a completely different way of holding himself. He was, as he kept telling people, an actor.
Now down the quieter sidestreets in search of a public phone box. Seb answered the phone brusquely as he'd done before. Richard was suddenly nervous. Was this really wise?
He had no-one else. "Coffee?" he suggested, heard Seb laugh.
"Ah yes. Coffee. Are you in the city centre?"
"Yes." He said no more, was learning caution, even on this presumed safe phone.
"Victoria Gardens by Embankment Station." The phone went dead.
Richard didn't have enough money for a taxi. By the time he got off a bus and walked down into the gardens nearly half an hour had passed. He was wondering if it was safe to drop the disguise long enough for Seb to find him when the man himself overtook him, brushing his sleeve with a brief sideways glance. He followed around a long loop and up to the Strand, into the side door of the Strand Palace hotel.
They stood together in the lift. "I wasn't sure you'd recognise me," Richard said quietly.
"I'd know you anywhere." Seb seemed more matter of fact than flirtatious but Richard could feel a blush starting.
Fifth floor and a thoroughly unluxurious hotel room; nothing much but a double bed, a desk and chair and a small TV. Seb picked up the phone, ordered coffee for two from room service.
They stood looking at each other for a moment.
"I was expecting Starbucks. This is a bit ..." Richard tailed off, gesturing at the bed.
"Presumptuous? Neither of us have time for social conventions. He'll turn London upside down looking for you."
"I've done nothing wrong."
"It's who you are, not what you've done." Seb stepped forward to cup Richard's cheeks between his warm palms, look into his eyes. "Nothing at all like his," he murmured.
Richard didn't get a chance to ask who "he" might be, because Seb was kissing him, warm and thorough but strangely gentle, hands still stroking his face as if he were something amazing. He wrapped his own arms around the man's waist and they stood there for some time, just kissing.
A rap on the door and Seb disengaged. "Get that!" he snapped. Richard was about to protest the brusque order when he saw Seb's hand slide inside his jacket. He opened the door cautiously, leaving Seb a clear line of sight, but it was just a waiter with the tray of coffee.
"Do you always carry that?" he asked when the waiter had gone and Seb was pouring out the drinks.
"Most of the time. Does it bother you?"
"No. Not at all." Seb's raised eyebrow suggested that he'd read the rest of the unsaid sentence; Richard found the idea of Seb with the gun sexy as hell. But then he found everything about the gunman utterly and inexplicably enticing. He'd met plenty of dangerous men in prison, had never felt the inclination to do anything but give them a wide berth. Seb was different.
Seb unlaced his boots, swung himself lengthways onto the bed with a mug of coffee. Richard glanced at the space beside him. "May I?"
"That's the general idea."
Richard took his own shoes off, settled on the bed, not quite touching.
"Is it safe, me being here? For you, I mean?" He still had no idea who Seb worked for, or what his relationship with Mycroft and the police might be.
"No." Seb didn't seem to be unduly bothered by the idea.
"Does your boss mind?" Richard was thinking about allies and enemies. He couldn't afford any more of the latter.
Seb shrugged. "Don't know. Haven't asked him. This is my business."
There was something about that answer that didn't quite ring true, but Richard wasn't in a position to challenge it. The last thing he wanted was to drive Seb away right now. He drained his mug, put it on the side table, wondered how to proceed. He wasn't good at taking the lead.
He didn't have to. Seb's mug hit the carpet as the man moved to straddle him, grinning.
"Anything you don't want, now would be a good time to mention."
Richard's brain ran swiftly through possibilities, found them all interesting. "Don't...I don't want Mycroft's cameras to know. That's all. Everything else is good."
"Don't worry. I'm not stupid enough to leave any marks on this body." He leaned down to kiss Richard forcefully, pulled back. "I am going to fuck it though. I'm guessing you have no objection."
"No." Richard was near breathless. "None." He reached up to slide his hands under the loose shirt, feeling hard muscle and warm skin. Seb's fingers were plucking at buttons, a slight frown on his face as he concentrated.
The question seemed to startle both of them. Richard hadn't intended to say it out loud. Seb paused in what he was doing, carried on again, more slowly.
Richard's fingers ghosted over Seb's belly button. "I haven't done this very often." There had been other lovers, surely? His hands seemed to know what they were doing. "I didn't think I'd be your type, to be honest."
"I don't have a type." The shirt got pulled away from Richard's chest. "I take opportunities." A tongue ran between nipples and Richard shivered in pleasure.
"Now stop asking questions. We may not have much time."
Richard shut up. It had become difficult to think, anyway. Those forgotten ex-lovers had never been this determined on his own pleasure, he was sure. Seb seemed far more focussed on tugging every last gasp and sigh from him, than on the man's own satisfaction. For a while he simply twitched and writhed, blissful under Seb's mouth and hands.
He was spread on his back, impaled on long fingers, when his brain started working again. He didn't stop arching his back, the desperate panting for more, but he did start to notice things other than Seb's expertise. Like the fact that the man hadn't looked up at his face or spoken to him for a long while. Like... The fingers withdrew... were replaced...
"What about protection!" He tried to push the solid mass of the other man above him away, without success.
"Not an issue. Don't fuss." Seb was sliding inside him without pause.
"It is an issue! It isn't safe!"
"Yes, it is. I'll explain later. Now shut up."
"No. It's not safe, Seb..."
Seb switched his weight to one elbow, reached across the bed. " Want to know what's even less safe?" Cold metal pressed into Richard's cheek. "Not shutting up now."
Richard ought to be terrified, or angry, or both. He knew, rationally, that this had turned without a second's warning into rape at gunpoint by a near stranger.
He didn't believe it. A gut feeling that he had no reason to trust but did told him that Seb wouldn't-couldn't- harm him, that Seb expected him to know that, that the gun was no more than a punctuation mark.
He'd show the bastard. Richard turned his head towards the weapon, took the barrel between his lips, curled his tongue out along it.
"Fucking hell!" Seb shoved himself hard into Richard. "You are so fucking hot!"
"Yes." He felt hot. He felt like taking charge. Like teaching Seb some manners. He tipped his hips to take the man further in, opened his mouth to do the same with the gun. Seb was panting, swearing, losing all semblance of control as he rutted into Richard. The gun was loaded but the safety on. Moran was going to be punished for this, for all of it, the gun, the liberties he was taking with this body. But first they were both going to come....
They were both flat out on the bed, recovering. Seb pried himself up on one arm, eyes cautious.
"How do I know your name, Moran?"
"Must have heard it somewhere. Mycroft probably knows of me." Seb's tone was not convincing.
"Who's your boss?"
"Can't tell you that."
"I'll ask Mycroft if I have to."
"Mycroft will just assume you're playing games. He won't tell you."
"God. Something to do with Jim Moriarty?"
Seb grimaced. "Everything in your life is something to do with Jim Moriarty, Richard."
"He's just a pretence. Mycroft, Watson- they're deluded, that's all."
Seb rolled onto his back again, looked up at the ceiling. "You'd better go now."
Richard tried not to feel hurt. "You owe me an explanation first. About unprotected sex?"
"Isn't one. I just knew I wasn't going to catch everything from an uptight little risk-averse obsessive like you."
"And what about me?"
Seb shrugged, apparently uncaring.
Richard started to dress slowly and unhappily. One last try. "Can you and your boss help me?"
"Let's see. I'm on police bail for murder, I've got Mycroft tracing my every move, under the impression that I'm a super villain, I've got no money, no work and no real home and an ex-army lunatic probably planning to shoot me. And any number of possible STDs. Any of those, for a start."
"Nope." Seb seemed to have lost interest in him. Richard's frustration rose. Dressed, he went to the door, opened it, turned.
"Just one, then. Do you know who killed Nels Finney?"
Seb walked naked up to the door, looked directly at him. "No." Pushed Richard into the corridor and he heard the door lock behind him. Richard was confused, hurt and disappointed, but absolutely sure of two things. Seb Moran was frightened of someone or something, and pretty much everything he'd said in the last five minutes had been a lie.