Sebastian sleeps like a soldier—where and when he can. Standing up, on guard, tucked into corners. He catches a few stray minutes here and there, letting his head nod only long enough to stave off the hallucinations. He’ll go weeks without the comfort of a proper bed. Even when there’s a bed available and time to use it, Sebastian will disregard the comfort. Better to stay on watch, stay on the job, watch for traps.
Sometimes keeping the hallucinations away doesn’t work. There’s only so long you can go without sleep, catnaps or no, before your brain starts to sleep awake, and reality starts crumbling at the edges. Some jobs don’t allow for catnaps, and when you’re already three weeks in to running your reserves on empty, it doesn’t take long for things to start getting a little weird.
But even when his teammates can see him twitching, his aim is flawless, and he gets the job done.
Once, one of them asked him what he sees, when it gets bad enough to hallucinate. Sebastian just grinned at him and said, “tigers,” as a reference to the tiger incident that his platoon (Sebastian most of all) recounts at every available opportunity. It doesn’t embellish much in the retelling. There’s not much you can add to “the crazy fuck once crawled down a drain after a wounded man-eating tiger” to make it sound more epic, although most renditions claim that he went down unarmed and unarmored, and not even Sebastian will admit to whether that’s an embellishment.
He only lets himself sleep when someone else is standing guard. Back at base, when he’s on leave, Sebastian conks out and sleeps for days. You can set off sirens next to his head and he won’t budge. He’s slept whole leaves away, and the only way to wake him up early is to trigger his survival instincts: submerge his head and then stand the fuck out of the way. The men use “waking Colonel Moran” as a hazing procedure for new recruits, which one time ends in a whole set of broken ribs for the poor sap who wasn’t completely clear on the and then stand the fuck out of the way part.
The cleverer of the new recruits tend to also pick up on the unstated instructions for surviving this process. When the Colonel comes up, coughing water and roaring, it’s best to be looking very busy and to have absolutely no idea who was responsible for the dunking.
His temper never lasts long. Sebastian believes in getting the job done, and expects the same from his men. They did what was necessary, and now they can all get on with the new assignment. Pack up, move out. Places to see, people to kill.
By the time Moriarty picks him up, Sebastian hasn’t slept properly in months.
There’s no one else to stand guard when he’s on his own, so he just stays awake. He pushes himself until he hallucinates again and again, because it makes him feel alive, and adds an edge to the tedium of the everyday life that he can’t bear to live. Sometimes this goes better than others. He gambles, fights in illegal underground brawls, and takes on the occasional job from the few clients willing to take a risk on a washed-up, unstable sniper. His rates are dropping, but he’s still the best in one area: Sebastian Moran will take the suicide missions.
Clients come to him with the crazy jobs, the one that all the decent, sober and well-rested snipers have turned their backs on. Sebastian takes the jobs, and if he doesn’t start hallucinating, he carries them out flawlessly.
If he does start hallucinating, the situation turns into a mess. But he still always gets out alive. That’s Sebastian. The crazy fuck who just can’t be killed.
But Moriarty’s curious. He’s seen Sebastian’s file, and he’s heard the stories (with their various levels of embellishment). He can see that Sebastian’s a ruin of a man now—drunk, dazed and actively trying to drive himself insane—but he also sees past the ruin to the caged tiger within. The poor beast is smashing itself against the walls of its cage out of frustrated boredom.
Sebastian is a Project. Moriarty’s the only one who thinks he might be worth the trouble.
So he kidnaps himself a sniper, puts him in a lush flat full of soft furniture, and walks in alone and unarmed to meet him.
Get some sleep, he tells his new ex-Colonel, without preamble.
Sebastian’s already made the rounds of the flat since he was delivered there. He’s been given time to realize that the windows are shatterproof, and they are forty stories off the ground. The walls and front door are reinforced, and the apartment’s been carefully stripped of the kind of equipment that Sebastian could use to attempt an escape. There is one way out, and that door is set with an electronic lock that Sebastian does not have the skill to override and is clever enough to realize that damaging it would probably only trap him more effectively.
No escape routes. No distractions.
Sebastian won’t sleep until he feels safe and confident that nothing will happen until he wakes up. So Jim builds him a situation designed to get them both what they need in the minimum amount of time.
He takes in his phone, introduces himself as Sebastian’s new employer, and then curls up in a chair and runs his empire over his phone until Sebastian’s ready to obey.
The situation is clear. They’re safe, they’re watched and guarded, and even if Moriarty sleeps, the door doesn’t open without his signal. Nothing gets in or out. Might as well sleep.
Even then, Sebastian takes some convincing. Who are you? Why go to all this trouble? Why come in here yourself, and alone? Why do you give a fuck whether or not I sleep?
"Because, tiger, you function better when you’re well-rested. And I expect you at the top of your game. We will set up whatever situation is necessary to get you to sleep on a regular basis, especially before any job I have for you, but right now you are nowhere near functional, and my only interests are in getting you well-rested and loyal as quickly as possible. I would have drugged you, but I didn’t think that would do much to make you feel safe. So here you are, Tiger. You’re safe. You’re mine. And neither one of us is leaving until you have slept at least a solid eight hours."
Sebastian spends three hours pacing restlessly, keeping an eye on Moriarty and snarling intermittently. He’s unsteady on his feet, and his eyes keep tracking things that aren’t there.
But Moriarty does nothing but play with his phone, apparently ignoring Sebastian.
The fourth hour since Moriarty walked in, Sebastian starts cat-napping. He stands in the doorway, where he has a clear view of both Moriarty and the front door, and starts dozing—just a few minutes at a time, very alert for any kind of movement.
After a few hours of this, he relaxes enough to curl up in one of the big soft chairs, where he still has a view of both Moriarty and the door, and he starts sleeping in fifteen-minute stretches.
“Hungry, kitten?” Moriarty asks, after he wakes up from one of these. He orders them Chinese delivery, and keeps Sebastian informed on the movements of the delivery man and Moriarty’s guards, even though Sebastian only sees one of the latter when he appears at the door. The door locks again, and Jim lays out the food.
Wary as a stray cat, Sebastian joins him at the table and eats, and then returns to his chair and sleeps.
Moriarty sleeps in his own chair. He only moves when Sebastian is awake, and clears his movements with Sebastian before making them so as not to spook his new pet.
At one point, when Moriarty is asleep, Sebastian wanders over to him, trying to puzzle him out. When Moriarty yawns awake, he just smiles, completely unconcerned about Sebastian’s scrutiny or proximity.
Thirty-six hours into this, Sebastian falls asleep and doesn’t wake up when Moriarty gets up to take a piss, or when Moriarty has more food delivered. He just sleeps.
Jim stands guard. He scheduled time for this, and most of his empire is run over the internet anyway.
Sebastian sleeps for two days straight. When he gets up, he pisses like a racehorse, eats enough food for three men, and then sits down in front of Jim with a curious, patient gaze.
Moriarty smiles, and the two of them begin to discuss the terms of Moran’s employment.
Jim lets him set his own sleeping habits, for the most part. But whenever he has an important job and a day or two to spare in advance, he shows up at Sebastian’s flat, curls up in a chair within sight of the bed and tells Sebastian to sleep.
It works, for the most part, even if it is a particularly high-maintenance quirk of his new pet sniper.
One of these times, Jim clears three days in advance before he shows up at Sebastian’s flat. “I want you, Tiger.”
Sebastian tips his head like a puzzled cat, so Jim just shuts and locks the door, then gives him a kiss and a grope. It takes Sebastian sixteen seconds to catch on. When he does, he lifts Jim off the ground, pins him up against the nearest wall and kisses him breathless.
After the sex, Sebastian passes out and sleeps for a day, tangled around Moriarty. There’s no escaping that grip, and no waking Sebastian, so Jim just thanks himself for having the foresight to make sure his phone landed within arm’s reach of the bed, and runs his empire naked, from within Sebastian’s arms.
He curses out Sebastian for the inconvenience, but they both know he doesn’t mean it. The money Jim pays him is just a formality. This is the real cost of keeping a tiger, paid out in time and energy.
Sebastian wakes long enough to eat and fuck again, and then sleeps. Jim notes that he sleeps better like this. He’s more relaxed, and his dreams are more peaceful.
So Jim moves in. He spends all of his free time at Sebastian’s flat instead of his own, and offers sex most nights. It takes less than a week for Sebastian to adjust to the new routine, and once he’s sleeping a regular eight hours a night, his more unpleasant sleeping habits melt away.
He can still stay awake for days at a time when he’s on a job that requires it. When he comes back from one of those, he crashes for a day and a half, and it takes Jim another week to adjust Sebastian back to decent sleeping habits. But over time, Sebastian adjusts to that, too, and starts sleeping ten-hour nights for a week to make up the lost sleep.
He never sleeps without Jim around, but that’s not so bad either. Jim likes having a big, possessive predator in his bed, once he’s been properly tamed. It’s still an inconvenience some days, but that’s the care and keeping of an insomniac tiger for you.