When Jim was five years old, he broke his younger brother's wrist. The toddler had snatched a book from his hand, and Jim grabbed the boy's wrist, twisting sharply until he heard a snap, and the book fell to the floor. Seth wailed, but Jim ignored him in favor of retrieving the book and irritably flipping through the pages, trying to find his lost place. Their father came running into the room to see what the commotion was.
“Jim, what happened?!”, he shouted as he saw the swelling already occurring on his youngest child's arm.
Jim kept reading as he answered. “I broke his wrist.”
His father's voice was nearly hysterical, and Jim looked up from his book with a put-upon expression on his face. “He took my book.”
His father scooped the boy up into his arms, cradling the still crying child to his chest. “Jim, you can't do things like that!”
He cocked his head slightly to the side. “Why not?”
“Because it hurts him!”
He had never understood why he was supposed to care.
~ ~ ~
“Sebastian, get out!”
“What the fuck, Boss? I'm too tired for this shit.” Seb had just gotten back from a job that had lasted all day, and he was exhausted. The last thing he had wanted was to come home to find Jim yelling at him.
“Get OUT!” A glass shattered as it hit the wall behind Sebastian's head.
Sebastian sighed wearily. “What did I do?”
“It doesn't matter. Just...go.” Jim's voice was nearly a growl. He didn't want to talk about this, not now, now ever.
His voice was low and even now, deadly calm. “Moran.” He pulled a pistol from it's hiding place in his pants and leveled it at the sniper's head. “This is your last warning. Get. Out.”
Sebastian stared at him. This wasn't the first time Jim had threatened his life, but tonight, he really just wasn't in the mood for it. Tonight, it was too much.
“Fine.” He turned around and walked out, slamming the door behind him. Something deep inside of him broke, and he knew that this time, he wouldn't be coming back.
~ ~ ~
“Hey, Sebby?” Jim looked up from the video game he was playing.
“I want you to move in with me.” When Sebastian didn't respond immediately, he continued talking. “You're here all the time anyway, and you'll be able to protect me better if you stay close. It's kind of silly to have a bodyguard who leaves me alone sometimes.”
Sebastian grunted in acknowledgment, his focus on the rifle and cleaning oil in his lap.
Jim frowned at the lack of attention, before continuing cheerily.“I'll have someone move your things over tomorrow.”
Sebastian finally looked up at that. “I don't want one of your fucking lackeys messing with my stuff.”
Jim rolled his eyes. “It's not like there's anything valuable in your flat. You keep all your guns here.”
“I have a few at the flat”, he protested.
“Not that you value”, Jim shot back.
Sebastian shot his employer a half-hearted glare from the side. “Then maybe I have some things of sentimental value.”
“No you don't.”
“How the fuck would you know?” He was growing annoyed.
Jim idly clucked his tongue. “Because, Sebby, you're not the type to keep things that are sentimental.”
Sebastian stayed silent, not having an argument to that.
“Besides”, Jim continued, “I searched your flat before, and it was all boring.”
“You WHAT?” The sniper exploded.
“You know I hate repeating myself, Seb.”
“Why the fuck would you think it's okay to search my flat? That's personal, you fucker.”
“It was early in your employment. I had to make sure that you weren't hiding anything from me.”
He sighed to himself, knowing that it was futile to protest. “What did you find?”
“Exactly what I expected.”
Sebastian rolled his eyes. He didn't know what other answer he had been expecting.
The conversation lulled to a stop, and the two of them went back to their respective activities. It was a few minutes later before Sebastian spoke again, not looking up.
“I'll bring my stuff over first thing in the morning.”
Jim smiled to himself.
~ ~ ~
It was 3:30 am and Jim sat alone at his kitchen table sipping at coffee that had gone cold an hour ago. He knew that his fit of temper earlier that day had been unfounded, and he was waiting up for Sebastian to come back home. He had tried to call him, but he had turned his cellphone off. The immediate answer of the voicemail hadn't surprised him; Sebastian always turned his phone off when they had a fight. He would just have to wait until he came home on his own.
He glanced down at the papers scattered all over the table-top – some blond woman whose name he couldn't be bothered to remember wanted someone to kill her husband, and she had left him with all the information he would need to track him down. He had the addresses of the hotels the man stayed at, the restaurants where he ate, even where he took his kids to the park. The man wasn't trying to keep his whereabouts a secret at all. Jim hated people who left paper trails. They made things far too boring for him, and it was so easy to get to them. Jim made sure that he always trained his men to be smarter than that. All of them knew better. Of course, there was only one that was on his mind. Only one that mattered.
Sebastian never left a paper trail.
~ ~ ~
The two lay curled up in Jim's bed together, both of the drifting in a post-coital haze. Sebastian's larger frame was curled around Jim, and the smaller man hummed contentedly to himself. He always slept better like this, held tight in the sniper's arms. It was a good thing, since they slept this way almost always, now. He couldn't remember the last time he had had to sleep alone. He smiled at the thought, ignoring the implications and letting himself fall farther into sleep.
Sebastian, equally happy, let out a breath against the top of Jim's head. “Goodnight, Jim.”
Jim, already asleep, cuddled closer into him in response.
~ ~ ~
Jim woke up at 10 am the next morning and immediately knew that Sebastian wasn't home. He could always tell when his lover was in the flat, and now it was too empty, too silent. He stood up from the kitchen chair where he had fallen asleep and stretched out his tired muscles before prowling through the flat. Sebastian had always come home by now – he never stayed out all night, no matter what Jim did. He picked up his phone and dialed Seb's number idly.
A beep answered him, and a polite voice told him that the number had been disconnected. Jim took the phone away from his ear and looked down at it. He knew in that moment that something was horribly wrong. With a sinking feeling in his chest, he went into Sebastian's room. Just as he had feared, the room was completely bare. The drawers were emptied, left standing open, and even the pillow had been taken from the bed. His chest ached. With shaky hands he opened the closet doors where Seb kept his guns. That was the one thing that he would never leave behind. It was empty. He closed the doors with a shuddering breath.
As he sat down on the bed, he silently berated himself. How had this happened? How had he come to care? He had never experienced that before. No one had ever mattered. They had all always been expendable, no matter what. So why was it different now? Why did tears prickle at the back of his eyes as he realized that Sebastian was really never coming back? He felt a scream try to claw it's way out of his throat. Why did he love him? Stupid, stupid, stupid.
~ ~ ~
Jim sat in an undignified heap on his bedroom floor, rocking back and forth. The gun pressed to his temple was cold, but he didn't care, pressing it harder against his skin.
Sebastian stood in the doorway, taking in the situation. “Boss?” Jim looked up at him with wide eyes, and Sebastian immediately corrected himself – this wasn't Moriarty, the mastermind who ran London's biggest criminal organization; this was a man, a boy, who was hurt. “James.”
Jim stared back at him with glassy eyes. “Sebby. Sebby, I can't. It's too...it's too much.” His voice shook.
“Okay now, just calm down.” Sebastian immediately fell into the comforting role, used to this situation by now.
Jim shook his head feverishly. “No, I can't. I can't do it anymore.”
“It's okay, James.” His voice was soft and soothing. “It's alright. Just put down the gun, yeah?”
Tears threatened to spill over and Jim's lip quivered. He cocked the gun. “Seb. My Sebby.” He giggled, a single tear making it's way down his cheek. “I made a mistake.”
Sebastian cautiously took a few slow steps toward his employer. When Jim didn't try to stop him, Sebastian answered, trying to keep him distracted.“What's that?”
Jim giggled again, hysterical, nearly choking in the process. “I think I love you.”
Sebastian froze mid-step, staring at him wide-eyed for just a moment before traveling the few more steps toward him and taking the gun from his hand. Wordlessly, he fell to his knees and wrapped his arms around the smaller man, pulling him into his chest. He rubbed Jim's back and played with his hair until he fell asleep.
~ ~ ~
Jim changed the locks.