Sebastian stifled a yawn as he shuffled about the kitchen. He poured himself a cup of coffee and added a spoonful of sugar from the container on the counter before adding in just the right amount of milk. The eggs and hash browns sizzling on the stove were slid onto a single plate and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Shifting both plate and mug to the breakfast bar, Sebastian swung around the corner of the counter and flopped onto a stool.
He could hear Jim typing furiously away on his laptop at his desk in the corner of the large living-room-slash-study-area that the breakfast bar stuck out into. He sounded rather busy; Sebastian wouldn’t bother him just yet. With another yawn (Jim had kept him up rather late last night, not that he was complaining), he cut off a portion of egg with the side of his fork, blew on it to cool it slightly and popped it into his mouth.
Sebastian nearly gagged as he dropped his fork to the counter with a clatter. The sounds of typing paused momentarily, before continuing in earnest. Coughing slightly, Sebastian picked up his fork and stabbed another section of egg, eyeing it suspiciously. He cautiously extended his tongue to lick at the surface.
Sugar. How the hell had he gotten sugar on his… Sebastian’s eyes flicked between the salt shaker on the breakfast bar and the sugar container on the counter in the kitchen. With a feeling of dread, he lifted his nice, warm, perfectly made cup of coffee to his lips and took a tenuous sip. This time he actually did gag as the taste of salty, milky coffee assaulted his tongue.
A soft chuckle was coming from the direction of Jim’s desk, and the typing sounds had stopped. Sebastian spun on his stool to face Jim, who had his back to him still. “Okay, what the fuck was that for?”
“April fools!” Jim called in a playful voice.
“It’s the middle of fucking June, Jim.”
“Well, obviously,” Jim said as he lazily spun his office chair around like some cliché Bond villain. “After all, you’d expect me to do something like this in April. Predictable.”
Sebastian gritted his teeth as he stood to dispose of his ruined breakfast and start over. His mind was already planning his revenge, however.
The game was on.
“Sebastian Fucking Moran!” Jim’s voice was shrill and it squeaked as he yelled out from the shower.
Sebastian popped his head into the bathroom with an innocent look. “Yes, my love?”
Jim yanked back the shower curtain with a metallic swish. His eyes were murderous. “Would you care to explain to me how my conditioner – my conditioner that costs £52 an ounce – somehow mysteriously transformed into vanilla flavored yoghurt?”
Sebastian grinned. “April fools!” he said, ducking out of the bathroom just in time to avoid the bottle that was hurled at his head.
Sweaty and covered in sawdust from a morning spent at his basement workbench, Sebastian pulled his sticky t-shirt off over his head and went to throw it in the hamper in the closet. He stopped dead in his tracks, arm halfway through the motion of tossing the shirt and stared dumbfounded into the closet.
Everything was still neat and tidy and organized. Jim’s suits were still hung evenly spaced, his shoes were still in the cubbies along the floor. But everything was wrong. Brown Armani trousers on a hanger with a gray Westwood coat. A shiny black Gucci shoe next to a ratty old trainer, both of them lefts. Ties hung with no regard to color, designer or pattern. Everything was mixed up, mismatched andWRONG.
He heard a triumphant chuckle coming from the bedroom doorway. “What’s the matter, Bastian?” Jim practically sang.
Sebastian stood frozen for a moment longer before shaking his head quickly and following through with the shirt toss. “Nothing,” he said, curtly.
“Really? Nothing? Absolutely nothing at all?” God, he sounded so smug.
“It’s not my problem. You’re the one who’s going to have a hard time getting dressed in the morning,” Sebastian said, defiantly opening his dresser beneath the bedroom window for a clean shirt and pants.
Jim crossed the bedroom to slide his arms around Sebastian’s waist. His voice was slippery and seductive in Sebastian’s ear. “And you’re just going to leave the closet like that, hmm? You’re just going to hop into the shower, get all nicey clean, get dressed, go about the rest of your day knowing, just knowing that the closet is still here, that allthose suits are hanging with all those trousers, still messed up, still –”
“Oh for fuck’s sake!” Sebastian growled, slapping Jim’s hands away and storming into the closet to fix everything. This was going to take hours… Oh, he was going to make him pay for this one.
The wind whipped through Sebastian’s hair as he sped along the motorway with the top down. Jim was, as always, next to him in the passenger seat. He was fiddling with the Bluetooth settings on his phone, trying to get it to pair with the Jag.
An electronic bell tone rang through the convertible’s speakers and Jim sat back with a proud grin. “Told you I could get it to work,” he said, sitting back and glancing over at Sebastian.
“Congratulations, you made it go ‘ding,’” he replied, sarcasm dripping from every syllable.
“I more than made it go ‘ding,’ love. Here, watch.” Jim slid forward in his seat again and hit a few spots on the touch screen control panel. “Call Antoine,” he said with a smug look at Sebastian.
A ringing filled the surround sound speakers of the Jag, and then a gruff voice in a thick Italian accent answered. “Gino’s Pizza, delivery or carry-out?”
“Uh… wrong number.” Jim pressed the screen a few more times and tried again. “Call. An. Toine. Now,” he said, very carefully and deliberately (and a touch irritatedly).
“Gino’s Pizza, delivery or carry-out?”
Jim mashed the hang-up button. “Stupid voice recognition software always… okay fine, here.” Sebastian shot him an amused look which Jim ignored, pressing the screen one last time. “Call. Jefferson.”
Ring. Ring. “Look buddy, we’ve got caller ID, you know. Now are you going to order a pizza or do I have to block your number?”
“What the bloody fuck?”Jim yelled, yanking his phone from where it had been sitting in one of the cup holders.
Sebastian kept his gaze fixed pointedly on the road as Jim sat beside him, scrolling through his contact list. Try as he might, however, Sebastian just couldn’t keep the grin from spreading across his face. “Something wrong, sweetheart?”
“Every number… you changed every number in my contact list…” Jim’s knuckles were pale as they gripped his phone like a vice. “Sebastian…” he continued, voice outwardly calm but with that tiny little waver that Sebastian knew betrayed the white hot fuming storm that was brewing beneath the surface. “What did I tell you about what would happen the next time you touched my phone?”
“Ah, you see, I didn’t touch your phone –”
“Sebastian…” Jim growled.
“– because as you are well aware, your contact list syncs with your email. So really, all one needs to gain access to said list is the password into your email account,” he looked over at Jim with a grin. “I’m flattered that you remember exactly what time we got married, babe.”
If the look Jim had sent him in the shower this morning was murderous, the one he was giving him now was practically serial.
Jim, why is there a Barrett XM500 barrel packed in with my AWM L115A1 stock?
I have no idea what you’re talking about, dear. But my my, mustn’t you look rather /foolish/.
Well then the bloody hit’s off then.
I rather think it isn’t, Moran.
How the fuck am I supposed to assassinate someone with two halves of a rifle?
Two halves DO make a whole…
Not when they’re two different fucking halves. I’m coming home.
You stay right where you are and do your fucking job, Colonel.
Jim, there’s five of them and one of me.
They’re fat, clueless bankers. I rather think you can take them.
Are you TRYING to get me killed?
I told you what would happen if you ever touched my phone again.
Sebastian sat on a stool he’d positioned in the living room to be in direct line of sight once Jim got home. There was a deep gash on one of his legs that would probably require stitches and his right cheek was purple and swollen from where one of the bastards had connected with a fist. In one hand he held Jim’s most prized possession: an original half-sheet B movie poster for Casablancasigned by Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart. In the other hand, he held a lighter.
He listened as the door opened and Jim tossed his keys into the bowl on the hallway table. There was the muffled clack of hard-soled shoes against the worn hardwood floor and then Jim was walking past the archway to the living room. He paused mid-stride as he caught Sebastian out of the corner of his eye. Turning to face him, he flicked his gaze from the cut on Sebastian’s leg to the bruise on his face. Any worry that might have started to creep across his face vanished, however, once he realized what Sebastian was holding in his hands.
“Okay, I think this has gone far enough…” Jim said, eyes wide.
“Oh, now it’s gone far enough? Now that your precious poster is in danger? You sent me into a hit unarmed,” Sebastian hissed.
“You more or less erased my contact list!”
“You sent me into a hit unarmed!”
“You had your knife!”
“They had a shotgun!” Sebastian flicked the starter on the lighter and a bright orange flame erupted from the top.
“They did?” Jim blinked a few times. “You didn’t… I mean…” He scanned Sebastian’s body more closely, looking for any gunshot wounds, clearly worried now.
“No,” Sebastian said through clenched teeth. “I managed to get that bastard first, but not before he got the butt of his 12 gauge into my kidney. Fat, clueless bankers my ass.”
The silence hung heavy, broken only by the soft hiss of the lighter’s flame as they stared at each other for several tense moments. Finally, Jim let out a dramatic sigh and crossed to Sebastian’s stool. The lighter twitched in Sebastian’s grip, unsure of what exactly Jim was doing.
Jim extended his hand. “Truce?”
Sebastian eyed him warily.
“Come on, ‘Bastian. Truce.” Jim wiggled his fingers. “I want to get a good look at your leg before it gets infected.”
Sebastian frowned, but he took his thumb off the lighter’s switch and slipped it into his pocket. “Okay, fine. Truce.” He shook Jim’s hand and allowed himself to be pulled up and off the stool.
Jim threaded his arms around Sebastian’s waist for a moment, holding him in a tight hug. Sebastian rested one arm across Jim’s shoulders as he leaned them both over slightly to set the poster down on the coffee table. Jim moved with him, still holding him close as they moved together, and Sebastian took it for what it was – an apology. I’m sorry you got hurt while playing my game.
Jim nodded. “Truce.” He placed a kiss on Sebastian’s chest before pulling away and heading for the bathroom, rolling up his sleeves as he did so. “At least until next April Fool’s.”
“And when will that be, December?” Sebastian asked, following close behind.
“Don’t be silly,” Jim said, pausing so that Sebastian ran into him, “like I’d actually tell you when it is.” He turned his head and grinned up at Sebastian, running his thumb softly across his bruising cheek. “Now let me get a look at that leg.”