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Huh.

Of course.

I’ve been so distracted with the demented rollercoaster of my own issues that I didn’t think about how your problems might be affecting you.

You don’t just get the perfect second thrown at you in mint condition, Moriarty. You knew he had some previous damages.

He’s good though. He’s that rare combination of overall intelligence and elite soldier.

But - a bit suicidal and probably more than a little fucked up in the head.

I’ll have to dig into that. Can’t have him dropping any balls, not when I rely on him.

“Right. I’ve been a bit preoccupied, as you can imagine, but I do need you in top form. So - we have the psychiatrist on standby. Maybe we should have him come over and you could have a talk with him about how to deal with your issues.”

I don’t want to get into this - I don’t - I have enough on my bloody plate -

I have to. I rely on him - he’s all the Empire I got at the moment...

“Do you know what is going on? What your issues are? Do you have any diagnoses, or suspicions? What are your coping mechanisms, why are they failing? Have they ever worked?”

I see you frown at my questions.

“I need to know these things, soldier. You are my entire army at the moment. I need to know how you work.”

 

 

Well, you don't fire me or order me the hell off your island... that's something.

I relax for about a second and then you mention 'psychiatrist' and I tense up again.

And then the questions begin. You - want me to answer all this?

It's not like I've never been ordered to see a shrink before in my life... but it was easy to mess with them and not divulge anything I didn't want to.

I even ended up sleeping with one... during a session.

But this - you're not going to be seduced. You're going to see right through any deflection or manipulation.

My head feels like it's spinning... "I'm sorry, I've forgotten the questions..." I say weakly.

 

 

"First question," I say sharply, "Do you know what your issues are? Do you have diagnoses from psychiatrists, or do you have suspicions of your own?"

 

 

I want to fall on the floor and crawl under a table.

"Are we - starting now?" I hedge, and then shrink under your stare.

"I have diagnoses, sure - I'm no stranger to being ordered to undergo psychiatric examination," I say darkly. "But I wasn't exactly honest with the fuckers, so most of their diagnoses were bullshit. They liked "Oppositional Defiant Disorder" for me. Such a fancy way of saying I have issues with authority. I know, the irony is not lost on me... a military career, and then I work for you..."

I shake my head. "They also didn't like that I use violence and alcohol to deal with problems, but I think that's being short-sighted... my kind of violence can solve problems pretty efficiently."

 

 

I scoff. "You don't have Oppositional Defiant Disorder. You love orders, just not nonsensical ones. And you have a temper - sure - but you don't blame everything that's wrong with you on others - quite the opposite. You have not shown any issues with my authority so far - I just think you have an exceptionally high standard for what you consider 'authority'. Let me guess, in the army you did have respect for some officers - the ones who knew what they were doing and talking about. Am I right?"

You nod.

"So, coping mechanisms... violence - well, I'd approve of that, wouldn't I? And again, you don't strike me as the type to go into a red mist and beat up everyone and anyone - maybe when you were younger, but you're too disciplined for that now.

Alcohol... I've seen you drink quite a bit, but you don't seem to get drunk, clumsy, or irrational. As long as you can shoot straight if we're suddenly attacked by a battery of stonefish, I don't really see a problem.

So - you said you bullshitted the psychiatrists - what about yourself? Do you have any idea what's wrong with you?"

 

 

I wonder if I should head to the mainland for some supplies... surely we're running low on supplies? I really need to make sure we're not going to run out of booze anytime soon.

"I just - need to get myself a beer," I say pleasantly. "Would you like one?"

You raise an eyebrow, but you nod. I hightail it to the kitchen, and once again I find myself pressing my head against the refrigerator door - so nice and cool...

But I can't just hide here all night... I groan softly, grab two bottles, and return to the living room with considerably less speed.

I put your bottle on the table next to you. Then I throw myself in an armchair, and stare off as I drink my beer.

"What's wrong with me is in the past," I mutter. "Life only made sense to me in the military. There were problems there too, of course. But it's the only place I fit... when they left me alone to do what I do best. Then it got taken away from me, and life didn't make sense again. It - wasn't good. But I have a place now, so it's fine." I grip the bottle in my hand.

Oh god... don't take my place away from me. Don't send me away... Please...

 

 

Good grief. So much for my new keen and accommodating bodyguard. Ask him a question and he’s a surly teenager.

I chuckle softly. “Believe me Sebastian, if anyone knows how uncomfortable it is to talk about mental health, it’s me. James Moriarty, diagnosed psychopath, pleased to meet you.”

I lean back, have a sip of my beer. Nice and cool - I’m still sweating uncomfortably.

“But it’s not fine. Because you said just now that you’d dropped the ball because you are not quite 100%, and you need some time too. You even offered to leave because you didn’t want to compromise my security - tell me, would you really rather leave than talk to me?”

 

 

I close my eyes. Fuck. Nothing gets by you.

 

"No, of course not..." I groan. "I just really hate talking about this..."

 

I open my eyes and stare into the gleaming black pools of yours. It's a bit mesmerizing.

 

"You're right. I wasn't fine when you met me... and I guess I'm not completely over it..."

 

It feels like forcing water through a rusty pipe to speak to you about this. I want to flip the table and then throw it through the window. But I won't.

My hands tighten into fists. I want to punch a wall. But I won't. I force my hands to open and lay them on my thighs.

 

"The Regiment was everything to me..." I say hollowly. "Everything. It was my life, and it was always going to be my life. To be thrown out-" I tense my jaw, try to breathe in deeply. It feels like the air is trying to get around a jagged shard of glass skewering my diaphragm.

"There was no life outside of the Regiment. I tried - but nothing mattered. It felt like drowning. Every day felt like drowning..."

My heart is racing, my chest is tight, and I'm struggling to catch my breath.

 

 

Whoa. You're really badly affected by it.

Sorry Tiger, but I need to know more.

"So why were you chucked out?"

 

 

I shoot you a look, and you merely stare at me expectantly.

I groan and cover my eyes. "Fuck, Jim! It's not exactly something I want to talk about! It would be like taking a wound and rubbing salt into it... and then adding a squeeze of lemon! Let's just drop it..."

 

 

"Sebastian." I say sharply. "I'm not running a democracy here. I work on information. If you have a weakness, and you blatantly do, I need to know about it."

 

 

I turn and glare out the window. Anyone else I’d be telling to fuck right off, and then shoving them against a wall for pushing me. No one pushes me. Ever.

But - you did just ask if I’d rather leave or talk.

And - I would rather die than leave.

And somehow... reminding me of our dynamic makes me feel safe like nothing else in this world.

It’s not a democracy... because you’re in charge.

And I want you to be...

The tension leaves my body. I sigh heavily.

I stare off for a long moment, then turn to look at you.

“I haven’t talked to anyone about this. Even my patrol, although they knew the basics. Dismissal with disgrace,” I say, my jaw tightening. Rage and grief move through me in waves and I find myself trembling.

I look out over the sea, remembering. I light a cigarette and blow smoke, staring off.

“I just couldn’t take an idiot’s decision lying down...” I say softly. “I couldn’t. Not when the life of a member of the Regiment hung in the balance. Not when the superior officer wanted us to delay the rescue plan, even though we had been on the ground for weeks and he’d just arrived. I went rogue. He tried to stop me, and - I knocked him out. And then I got it done. It did get a little... messy.” I smile faintly. “Not international incident messy... But word travelled fast. The army couldn’t very well do nothing when a popular operative disobeyed an order, assaulted a superior, and became famous in the ranks for the crazy escapade he pulled off...” I smile to myself, then take a drag of the cigarette and exhale. “I could have got 10 years for countermanding a direct order. At the time, it didn’t seem unreasonable to potentially get 10 more for the assault. No one was going to stop me from carrying out that rescue mission. Not our side. Not their side. Certainly not that peon I laid out...” I put my head in my hands, and hunch over. “I gave - everything. Everything I was, everything I had. And they cut me loose...” I whisper.

 

 

I feel relief at your words. I assumed it would be something like that. No 'I went loopy and killed my mates after I'd had a nightmare'. No 'I chickened out and deserted in the middle of a critical operation' (I couldn't have imagined that anyway).

Disobeying orders - well, we can't have that, of course, and I'll have to have a word with you about that.

Knocking out a superior officer - I somehow doubt you would, working for me.

Some light murder, by the sound of things - again, not really a problem in my opinion.

You are extremely upset. Interesting. I've seen soldiers with PTSD before, but never ones who were traumatized by being *dismissed* from the army.

So that is why you were doing less than legitimate work.

"Right. Well, it seems like their loss to me - cutting off their nose to spite their face.

It doesn't sound like the cause of your dismissal was anything that I need to worry about - unless you think you may disobey direct orders from me, in which case we will have a more serious issue on our hands. I don't do dismissals - and I'd hate to lose you."

 

 

I don't do dismissals...

Slightly chilling, Jim... Not that I would dream of disobeying a direct order from you.

"You don't need to worry about that, Boss," I say firmly. "I don't fail at missions, and you are my mission. And I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that no one will do for you what I can - no one can protect you like me, no one can pull off impossible shit like me, and no one will be as loyal to you as I am. I won't even say loyal to the grave because I don't intend to die and leave you defenceless..."

No one will fuck like me, either... or enjoy your various dark appetites... but I'm confident enough in my appeal and my skills that it doesn't need to be said.

 

 

"Oh, but I *do* worry... like I said, you are my entire army, and I need to be able to rely on you - including in the unlikely event that I give orders you disagree with, or even think may be endangering myself. What will you do then, my recalcitrant Tiger?"

I'm relieved that you don't intend to die.

Of course I would be. Like I said, you're my whole army.

 

 

I drink my beer. “I can see why you’d worry, given everything...” I say slowly. “If I disagree with anything, I’ll tell you why. Then you’ll make the final call. If new factors arise and for some reason, I can’t communicate with you... I may have to make a judgement call. Outside of that, you’re the boss. I understand that completely.” I exhale smoke from my fag, and bring it over to you. “What you say goes,” I say quietly.

I watch you as you smoke. I can’t help thinking about orders that may endanger you. I already know I won’t handle that well... even as I carry them out. The danger of what lies ahead of us hits me. I don’t care about the outcome for me. I care more than I can express what happens to you...

 

 

I smile.

"Good. As long as we're agreed on that."

I'm sure you don't mind if I test this then?

"Once I'm recovered, send Hammad on his boat, and kill the doctor."

 

 

I'm about to take a drag from my cigarette, and I almost drop it.

Really?

She seemed like a nice lady. 'Seemed', I notice I said...

But my loyalty can be to random seemingly nice people, or it can be to you - my beautiful psychopathic boss who doesn't give a toss about possibly innocent people dying. And to be honest, I never troubled myself too much about the plight of random innocent people. What kind of assassin would I be?

I give you a half-smile, and stub out my cigarette. "If that's what you want, Boss... that's what you'll get. But if someone comes asking about her, what do you want to do?”

 

 

“She’s a divorcee with no children, estranged from her family, with not many friends, or much of a moral compass, loyal to the guy who pays her a lot of money. Until she sees a handsome guy who appears to be in danger, and her romantic rescuer side takes over, and she makes the stupid decision to offer to run away with him.

No one is going to miss her much. And if they do - lots of people go missing. There’s nothing linking her to us, or this island. Hammad *should be* clued in enough not to ask questions. If he does, just smile at him and tell him she made a mistake. I’m sure I’m not the first crime lord who rents this island anyway; he shouldn’t ask.”

I’m observing you closely for any signs of confusion or reluctance. Can’t have those in my second in command.

 

 

I regard you, impressed. “You researched her?”

Makes sense that you would want to know about your employees. Information is clearly very important to you as a mastermind – especially in the vulnerable position you currently find yourself in.

"Sure thing, Boss. You want it done now?"

 

 

"Once I'm recovered, I said," I reply sharply. "Do I look recovered to you?"

 

 

“Actually...” I regard you. “Maybe it’s all the murder talk, but you seem more like your beautiful old self again. If you didn’t have your foot in a pot of water, I would have no idea there was something wrong with you, at first glance.” I look at you closer. “You’re paler than usual. And you look fatigued, but it’s pretty late... about 4am? Do you think you can sleep?”

I’m fucking exhausted, but I’ll stay up as long as you do.

 

 

"Some good murder does perk me up. But I'd prefer to be declared free from stonefish venom before I indulge. Bloody hell - I don't usually spare my body, but it's really been through the wringer this past week. I should eat healthy and hit the gym and the pool and stuff - and stay away from *nature*," I frown.

"I am not sure if I can sleep - my foot really hurts, and it's only going to get worse if I try to take it out of this pot. Maybe if you prop some pillows behind me, so I am in a sort of half-sitting position, and I can leave my foot in... I might doze off until the water cools too much."

No way am I going to, but you are tired -

what the fuck do I care?!

 

 

You poor thing… you’ve already gone through so much, and now this. But I know better than to express any sympathy.

I fluff some pillows and slide them behind your back, then I bring you water and tea to keep flushing you out. Of course that means you’ll need to visit the bathroom soon, but – it will be well worth it to get this venom out of your system as soon as possible. Then I can send Hammad on his merry way, kill the doctor (sorry, lady), get rid of the body, and then maybe you’ll be in the mood to watch a film together. Or have a long nap. Together. I settle myself in an armchair by the sofa, and drink good, strong tea to stay awake and keep vigil over my poor, not-so-sweet Boss.

I pick up a book I found in the library – a spy thriller. Hopefully exciting enough to stay awake. “It’s good to have you back, Sir…” I say quietly, as I turn to page one.

 

 

I feel a little stab of disappointment when you fluff up the pillows rather than sitting behind me and supporting me yourself.

What the *fuck*, Jim. Father James has really done a number on you.

“Go to sleep, Sebastian. Leafing through those pages you’re louder than a herd of rhinoceroses. Not to mention your brain creaking to read the big words. Stay here, but don’t you dare snore.”

 

 

I point at myself. “Oxford drop-out, yeah? Big words don’t scare me…” I grin at you cockily. “I don’t mind staying awake, Boss-“

You sigh and roll your eyes, and I hold up my hands placatingly. “Alright, I’ll close my eyes for a bit. If you need anything, and I mean, anything, just wake me up.”

 

“You’ll be the first to know,” you say, sounding grumpy.

 

I lean back in my armchair, throwing my book on the table and closing my eyes. “And I do not snore,” I say loftily. “I’m a world-class sleeping companion. That gets taken away from you if you snore or steal blankets…” I say drowsily.

 

 

Oh *really* Seb? And who would you steal blankets from? Huh?

I should have asked for my phone. But I decided I was going to give my mind some rest -

- and then got it buggered by injecting it with venom. Great work, Moriarty.

I drink some more water to flush it out. No way I'll be able to sleep like this.

Should I try looking into the mind map? Just - a casual stroll through the burnt-out neighbourhoods? See if there's anything worth salvaging?

I wasn't going to...

Sod it.

 

Right, here's the past week - lots of fear and vomiting. And that all-encompassing need to get back to the church, even if it killed me. Your stable presence comforting but also frustrating.

Further back. In the church. Constant low-level anxiety at not being good enough. Drinking. Trying to sense God. Feeling that I'd lost the connection I used to have. Visions of violence - wait.

Zoom in. Visions - yes, those were memories of my previous life. That's why they were so mixed emotionally - I felt a deep aversion but also the exhilaration and excitement. The aversion made me physically sick - like in Clockwork Orange. The memory of the excitement made me feel guilty.

Focus on the visions - were they more frequent towards the end? … Yes, James thought so... was that me coming back?

Back further... fewer visions... still anxiety, drinking...

 

Damn it. I need the loo. Shouldn't hold it in, it's getting rid of venom.

 

Pause.

 

"Sebastian?"

 

 

The cat is tangled up in weeds on the shore, and it’s furious because it’s trapped and wet. I’m trying to untangle the weeds from its legs, but it’s hissing and swatting at me. I have long scratch marks that are bleeding… and I’m afraid I’m going to faint. Did you dip your claws in venom? Why would you do that? Don’t you know how much I care about you? The cat looks sad and meows my name.

 

“Yes, kitten?” I mumble. “I’m trying…”

 

Then I open my eyes, and find myself in the living room blinking at you. “Jim?” I ask. “What do you need?”

 

 

Kitten?!

Oh - a dream. Alright then.

“I need the loo. And a top-up of hot water.”

 

 

"Right..." I get up, feeling groggy. I lean down, pick you up and carry you to the bathroom, your foot dripping water down the hall.

 

"You don't have to carry me," you protest. "I just need to lean on you!"

 

"Well, we're halfway there now... if you really want to hobble, you can do it on the way back," I yawn. I put you down in the bathroom, and wait in the hall for you.

Did I dream - you were a cat? Scratching the hell out of me? Hm... Seems appropriate.

And did I call you Kitten?? Well, you didn't say anything about it, so I should be safe...

 

 

I do not like being manhandled like this. I mean, it's good to know you are strong, but I am not a baby. Or a kitten.

I flush some venom out, hobble to the sink and brush my teeth, then call you back in. I insist on just leaning on you as we head back to the living room. You head to the kitchen to boil some more water, and I lean back onto the pillows.

 

So - back to August last year. I can remember that - but vaguely, like a dream, rather than the usual clarity with which I remember things. Further back. It's like wading through treacle - with an elastic band pulling me back. I can't go there. I just can't.

Try harder.

I pull, trying to break the elastic -

Nothing.

Fucking hell. I am not the master of my own mind, and it's *infuriating*.

 

I'm vaguely aware that my foot is lowered into some hot stuff. Initial pain, then slow relief.

 

 

You're concentrating on something, and it seems to be frustrating you... rising above the pain? Not sure. You don't say and I don't ask.

After I put your foot in hot water, I re-settle into my armchair. I glance at my book, but instead I close my eyes. I think I know how to get that feral kitten free...

 

 

I approach from the other side. New Year's 2013. Some deals. Some travel. The usual. Again, it doesn't end abruptly - just sort of - crumbles. I remember an afternoon here, two hours there... and then... darkness.

I will have to do something else to penetrate into that empty black space between March and July 2014.

Drugs? Memory-enhancers? I have a few dealers in my - *used to* have a few dealers in my web.

Kidnap Mycroft Holmes and force him to tell me what happened? Sounds *so much* better...

I indulge in a few fantasies of what I'll have you do to him... and slowly drift off...

 

 

The feral kitten is free, and purring in my lap...

he morphs into a dark-haired man, and we kiss languorously on the sofa.

"I need you, Sebastian..." he murmurs. His voice is so familiar.

Now we're kissing on the beach, and I know I should stop because the stonefish have declared war on you. I hear them whispering, and then I hear a woman say, "I have a boat... come to safety, Sebastian..."

But I don't want safety... I want you...

I want you...

 

 

I awake again because my foot hurts. I'll live, though. No need to wake the sleeping Tiger.

I look at you, asleep in the chair. Your head is at an angle, a cushion stuffed under your cheek. Your mouth is slightly open. You indeed are not snoring.

The sun is up, and shining in through between the blinds, falling on your hair. Aggressively light from the bleach, somehow it still looks good. Contrasts with your reddish stubble. I don't think I've ever seen a man remotely as handsome as you. Is this clouding my judgement? Am I thinking, as it were, with my cock? I don't *think* so. But my mind has not been itself recently. Keep an eye on this. Don't just trust him because he is the only one you have and because he is hotter than the sun, but remain critical. If he keeps on making errors like with the doctor -

(Then what? You're not going to get rid of him, are you?)

-... take appropriate steps as seems prudent at that time.

 

So. Take stock of mind map.

Crumbled from February 2014. No memories at all after 23 February.

First day I can remember as James is 21 July, when I was pretty settled in the priest life.

So. There is a period of five months that is a total blank. In which - my nether region was severely damaged, as was my brain. I can deal with torture, so I assume there was something else used as well. I like to think I could withstand brainwashing, what with my mind being quite superior, so I assume they used some kind of experimental drug as well as the torture. And probably I received a drug in the church as well, to ensure my mind wouldn't come back. That would explain the physical discomfort when I was away from the church.

All in all, a very clever setup, Mycroft Holmes. I take off my hat to you.

 

They will never find every piece of your brother.

 

 

I return from dumping the doctor’s body in the deep sea, weighted down with rocks.

You’re waiting for me on the shore, waving. You look so happy to see me.

I’m going to do it – I’m going to tell you how I feel.

 

“Jim!” I call out as I dock the boat. “I have something to tell you.”

 

“What, darling?” you ask, with a coy look on your face. “I can’t hear you…”

 

“Jim – I need to talk – about us…” I call to you as I walk up the beach, then stop when I see a stonefish inching towards you. And further off, there are priests with sunglasses hiding in the jungle. Carrying guns.

I’m trying to get to you in time… why did I fuck up with the doctor and have to leave you alone?? The stonefish is inches away from you, its spikes are bristling, and it appears to be preparing to pounce. Do stonefish pounce?? And there's a bishop taking aim at you with a gun...

 

“Jim!” I shout. “Watch out for the bishop!”

I wake up leaping out of my armchair, and blink at you in confusion.

 

 

"Pray tell me what the bishop did?" I ask you, amused.

 

 

“The bishop? Oh- he and some priests were hiding in the jungle with guns...” I shake my head to clear it. “Need anything?”

 

 

"Oh, that sounds like fun. I'd love to have a game of Hunt the Bishop. He was a right cunt - in Mycroft's pocket, no doubt. Maybe after my foot is better.

Speaking of which - could you get me some more hot water? I don't want to jinx it, but I do think it's getting less... or I'm just getting used to it."

 

 

“Sure thing, Boss...” I hurry off to get you more hot water. As I’m heating it, there’s something pulling at me. I’m trying to remember something... from my dream?

The attacking stonefish? No...

Killing the doctor? Nope.

Priests, bishops... no. No.

Something I wanted to tell you...

I need to talk - about us.

My heart starts to race. What-

Suddenly the kettle whistles loudly and I jump.

Fuck! I grab the kettle and fill the pot.

It was just an anxiety dream... obviously I have nothing to say about ‘us’. Laughable thought...

I sigh and bring you the freshly filled pot.

“We can hunt a bishop, a knight, a queen, all the pawns... whatever it takes until you’re safe... and oh yes, had your revenge,” I grin at you, and lower your foot into the pot again.

 

 

"Hmmm, a chess metaphor... Mycroft is the Queen, indubitably. And Sherlock is his King - the most important thing in the game that the Queen tries to protect but that's not powerful of itself. Bishop White - Sherlock's boyfriend is his Knight in shining armour - literally, he's an ex-army Captain. The Holmes Mansions are the Castles. Everyone else is a pawn.

On the black side - I'm the Queen and King, and you are all the other pieces. We should get ourselves some pawns..."

 

 

“So I’m your knight in shining armour...?” I smile at you innocently. “Ex-army captain? Please...” I scoff. I relish the thought of showing you what I’m capable of. I hope your plan allows me to be a badass. “You may already have some men in mind for pawns, but I have contacts too if you need them.”

 

 

"Depends if you were identified or not. If you were, your contacts are likely being watched as well as mine and we have to start from scratch, except that we will be hunted whilst starting from scratch. A bit like raising up an army while hiding in enemy territory. Oh and all the world is enemy territory and every person is potentially your enemy.

Not too hard, I expect?"

 

 

I shrug. “Being behind enemy lines and searching for pawns to hire... been there, done that. You just have to have back-up plans in case of an inevitable double-cross, as I expect you know. I’m with you, Boss...” I feel the strange urge to cover your hand with mine. But I’m not suicidal (any more) so I ignore it. I really need to get this little crush under control...

 

 

"Good. I've built my Empire from scratch before - but that was back when no one knew me from Adam. I just had to be sure not to get caught or cross the wrong guy too soon - now I'll have to assume that every person might run to Mycroft the moment I turn my back. And I can do some things with money - but he'll always offer more. However, not everyone will know that. And there's fear - no matter what he tries, Holmes will never be as scary as I am. But I have to make sure everything remains very hush-hush -

ugh. I am supposed to *rest* here.

Distract me, Tiger."

 

 

“Distract you, hmm... do you enjoy the recitation of fine poetry?” I place one hand on my chest and hold the other up. “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate...

Rough winds do shake-“ I duck as a book comes hurtling at my face.

“- the darling buds of May,

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date!” I finish grandly. “Not a fan of poetry?” I stand and move towards you, grinning. “Do you want to play cards? Watch a film?” I glance down at your body, still in your bathing trunks. “Have a very thorough sponge bath?” I say in a husky voice. “I’ll use my tongue on the delicate bits...”

 

 

“Good idea. I’ve been sweating like a pig these past hours. There’s a shower with a seat two rooms up, let’s go there and show me your bathing skills,” I grin. “But make me a coffee first.”

 

 

“As Sir wishes…” I leave with a smirk, and prepare coffee for both of us. If you’re not going to sleep any time soon, I need to be alert. And I want to be at my best for this bath which I’m very much looking forward to…

I bring you your sugary coffee, and return to the armchair with my mug.

 

 

"Let's play a drinking game," I suggest. I see your eyes light up - really Sebastian? It's ten in the morning...

"With coffee," I clarify, and you look disappointed.

"I tell you things about yourself. You tell me if I'm wrong. We drink coffee while doing it."

You nod. "Alright..."

(Why are you doing this Moriarty? Showing off?)

Of course not! I just need to ensure that the information I deduced is correct. My brain is not itself. I might have got something wrong and act on the wrong information.

"You're the only child of Lord Augustus and Lady Susan Moran, born 12 December 1977, which makes you 35. You went to Eton, but were a difficult child. Something happened between you and your father which makes you hate him with a passion."

You pale, open your mouth. "How do you-"

"You spoke about travelling as a child with Lord Moran earlier, so you are obviously his son. Your dad's in the Who's Who, and his entry includes the mention of the birth of a son on 12 December 1977. Interestingly, we never hear anything more from him, which suggests a split. Your accent is cultivated working-class, though you slip into posh when you get upset or angry. The accent is not just put on to seem one of the lads - you cling to it with a determination that betrays fury. You hate your dad and all he stands for - also clear from the way you pronounced his name - but in a manner that is not simply explained by the usual male parent-child rivalry - he really really messed you up in some way.

And of course you went to Eton. Like Lord Moran's son would go anywhere else.

Then you went on to Oxford, where you read History. You-"

"How - Did you look me up?"

"Well, your dad would want you to do something useful and promising, like Political Science or Law, so you'd not do those. You'd piss him off by doing something he'd think was useless and an indulgence. You're not an academic, but you love stories, and you know an awful lot about the reorganization of army hierarchy under the influence of technological innovations during 1915 and 1916, so I'm going for History."

 

 

I stare at you, dumbstruck. Then I take a moment to sip my coffee.

“Well… were you anybody else, I would think you psychic, Boss… or that you were an agent who’d done his research…”

As I drink my coffee, I realize I love you knowing things about me… not meaningless things about my family and where I went to school…. You love stories echoes in my mind. I want you to know things about me… how I like my coffee, my favourite colour, what makes me feel better when I’m sick. What is that?? Not an employer-employee relationship. Get your shit together Moran, I tell myself for the thousandth time. But I realize with a sinking feeling in my stomach it will do no good.

“That’s amazing. Really. But you already know I’m not going to be able to do the same thing… not with those kinds of details. I read people differently than you.” Jesus. Shut your gob, Sebastian. He does not want you to read him. He likes to remain aloof and mysterious… See?? Exactly what he wouldn’t want to hear…

 

 

"That's alright. I'll tell you what you need to know about me.

So, there's an army recruitment centre in Oxford, where I suspect you entered one day because you wanted to do something more practical and physical. You joined the parachute regiment, then from there applied for SAS selection."

"How did you know I joined the para-"

"Your knee injury. You also hurt your ankle. Common injury for beginning paras. HALO exercise, I suspect? It was when you were young, so probably before you joined the SAS."

You nod.

"Selection I'd assume you passed at first try. The Regiment was everything you'd ever dreamed about and you excelled. Mobility troop, specializing in demolitions, I'd say, but doing every other course you could get your hands on. You liked to party, but mostly you liked to train, train, train. I'd guess you have at least one child somewhere, but you don't want to have too much contact with it, because you feel you'd be a rubbish father. You were popular with your mates because you were competent, fiercely loyal, relatively easygoing, and smart. You were deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Djibouti, and Yemen; probably more. You excelled as a sniper. You lived, loved, and breathed the Regiment.

Then you were dismissed, which was the worst thing they could have done to you. You'd rather have been shot somewhere. You didn't go to Daddy, which again shows your irreconcilable rift. You couldn't do the usual ex-SAS thing of getting a highly-paid security job, because you'd been dismissed - so you turned to the criminal world, who care less about your references and more about your skill. You excelled, again, and got some good jobs, but you were more and more dejected - you missed the camaraderie, the excitement of *properly* challenging missions, rather than just 'go there and kill that guy', 'come along and look threatening', 'go there and pick up that'."

Your face is looking dejected.

"They did you a favour, Seb. You could have stayed and done your full service jumping through the hoops those idiots set for you. You'd have got more and more irritated at the total incompetence of the people at the top, who send good soldiers in to die with too little information, for all the wrong reasons. You're smart - you know how the world works - no wonder you got pissed off.

Instead, they gave you the perfect training ground to become what you were meant to be - mine. My second in command. My full fucking army. You have exactly the skills I need, and I promise you, it won't be boring, your orders won't be stupid, and the sex will be better."

 

 

I shake my head. "Wow. That's astounding. You're right about everything except a child. I never wanted to procreate, and I was extremely careful. Given everything that I went through as a child, I didn't want to mess up a kid. And I was bound and determined to be the last of that blasted name... one more way to stick it to his lordship..." I sneer. "But everything else - amazing." I clap. "And I know you're right... about how working for you will be infinitely better..." I say slowly. "It will just take some time to get over it. But the sex - no comparison. I've already forgotten the past."

I wink at you, realize I can't take that back. Fuck it - if you deduced everything about me with such accuracy, you already know I'm fucking into you.

 

 

Damn. No child. That was an educated guess - I figured if you'd been sleeping around, maybe even had long-term relationships with women, you'd get *someone* pregnant.

"I was right about you being bi though?"

 

 

I shrug, making a face like ‘whatever’. “If you want to slap a label on it... I never really cared enough to think about it. I just slept with whoever I found attractive. When you’re living on the edge of life and death like I do, it doesn’t really matter. They’re both attractive in their own way... but there’s an ease with men, you could say. I can just be myself... rough edges and all.”

I finish my coffee. Didn’t mean to say all that... what is happening?

 

 

"Are you saying I'm *easy*, Sebastian?!" I say, my face mock-shocked. "I'm disappointed. I should play more hard to get. But you're right though - men tend to be more straightforward. Not that I ever tried women - it's just something I observed." Hold on, I thought we weren't going to volunteer information about ourselves? Whatever. It's not like it's a secret I'm gay.

I can't help but wonder though -

"Earlier you said you read people differently than I do - and I am aware that my level of deduction is a rare feat. But - what can you read from me? I won't promise I will confirm or deny - but if I feel it's fine for you to know, I will."

That's a step further away from the not volunteering information.

But - if he's going to be my close right-hand man, he should know some things about me. It's all fine and good being enigmatic and mysterious, but if I want you to have my back whatever happens, the better you know me the, well, better.

 

 

I regard you. Well, you asked, so I have to give you something...

Usually what I read in the field is if someone is being honest or has something to hide... if they’re anxious or confident... if that confidence is well-founded... how dangerous they are (or how cocky and stupid)... and their motivation overall. There are a few basic categories. In your case... hmm...

“You’re extremely confident and it’s very valid... generally you’ve been able to get out of any situation with your mind, killer instincts, and resources. This last situation was a fluke, which is infuriating to you because the one thing that matters is your invulnerability. Power, influence, money... they’re all tools. But you do enjoy them, and you enjoy the game overall... you... have a hunger for it. The hunt. Nothing can get in the way of that. Especially feelings.” I pause. Tread carefully, Sebastian... “Your mental health can be a vulnerability... but it can be managed, and even used to your advantage. Nobody wants to take scary-crazy head-on, do they... so plotting against you would be undertaken by rank idiots, or... people of extreme well-founded confidence. But - no one is completely infallible, not 100% of the time... and that goes for your nemesis, too.” I look at you, not sure of what you’re thinking. “You’ll enjoy plotting against him,” I say softly. “It will be a pleasure to make him pay...”

 

 

I look at you, appreciatively. You don't keep your eyes in your pocket. I am not sure how much is speculation, but you got me quite well. A bit *too* well, if I'm honest. I didn't think I was so bloody transparent.

"You're right, broadly. I am confident because I *am* faster, smarter, better than anyone else. It can make things boring... so it was a delight to meet an opponent who was a bit of a challenge. Too bad he didn't play nice. And yes, I do look forward to not playing nice back...

How did you know about the scary-crazy?"

 

 

“It’s in the eyes, Jim... you don’t survive covert ops or war zones without recognizing it...

you have the gaze of a hunter, a killer, a psychopath... you’re not someone to be crossed, but you enjoy making people pay for that mistake. Like a cat with a mouse.” I shrug. “I don’t mean anything negative by it. I have my own brand of scary-crazy. Quite honestly, I’m looking forward to when we’re both coming out to play...” I grin at you carefully. I really hope I didn’t say too much. But it’s been so enjoyable talking about us, even if it’s still us as individuals. Somehow I feel closer to you... but I understand you well enough to know that doesn’t mean anything to you... and that I need to back the fuck off before things get potentially dangerous.

“I’m your scary-crazy tool to be deployed at will, Boss...”

 

 

"Oooh, I *do* look forward to that," I smile. I feel my eyes lighting up. Are they lighting up scary-crazy? Damn it - now I'm self-conscious.

Oh fuck it. You've seen some of the scary side of me and plenty of the crazy side.

But you - fearsome killer - seeing you go scary-crazy sounds like a *scrumptious* treat. Too bad I can't just call it up at will - I'm guessing it's a heat of the moment in a battle thing, rather than something you'd invoke when, say, dealing with a wayward doctor. And I *definitely* don't want to call up your scary-crazy side against *me*.

There's something else there, that I meant to put my finger on - something about how you see me -

It's gone. Oh well, it'll be back if it's important.

 

 

Your face lights up, and I want to swoon with pleasure. Sure it's inspired by the thought of me being your personal terrifying killing-machine, but still - I made you light up!

I flash you a fierce smile.

Reading you went OK, I think... I avoided land mines and didn't come off as an incoherent idiot trying to impress you. I have utmost confidence in my skills, but - you have a way of making me nervous... mainly because I'm afraid I'll let my feelings show... and there mustn't be feelings, and I understand that, so get the fuck over it, soldier... why is this still an issue??

I grab my pack of fags, and light one up. I take a drag, and exhaling I offer it to you.

 

 

I shouldn't - I don't smoke - oh well.

It's a nice little ritual we have developed. And I like the taste of these cigarettes. And it's good to take a puff and give it back.

When we've finished the fag and the coffee, I remind you, "So what about that sponge bath?"

 

 

Now it's me lighting up... "Oh, right away, Sir... do you prefer the living room or the bedroom?" I ask gallantly, all the while eying your body like I'm going to devour it.

 

 

What - oh, you meant an *actual* sponge bath?

"I think I am up to have a shower – there’s a sit-down shower two doors down," I gesture. "Much as I appreciate the thought of a sponge bath, I would really like a proper shower."

 

 

"Right, of course..." Jesus, you mentioned that, didn't you. I hope you get some sleep today, because then I can sleep too. I can't wait until you're fully recovered, the doctor is out of the way, and it's just the two of us again...

I rise and lean down next to you to help you stand up. Your arm goes around my shoulder, and you carefully lift your foot out of the pot.

 

 

"I *do* think it looks better - it's still very red, but that's also the heat. It's blue, but it's less swollen," I say. "And it's less painful, I think. When we've had our shower, get the doctor over to look at it."

I can't wait for this nonsense to be over. I hate being weak and dependent.

 

 

I help you hobble to the bathroom down the hall. You seem irritated as hell, but I don't offer to carry you - you are clearly not shy, and will tell me exactly what you want in no uncertain terms.

In the bathroom, you step out of your trunks while I'm fiddling with knobs and getting it to a nice hot spray of water, the way you like it. When I'm satisfied, I nod at you and you take a seat in the shower. It's nice and roomy, and I shrug out of my clothes - then I select a body wash with a light gingery scent.

I lather up my hands, and begin to bathe you gently. You don't like to be coddled, but you definitely have a sybaritic side to you - being bathed by a hot, naked man with luxury products never fails to leave you sighing with pleasure. And it's a sensual extravaganza for me, washing every inch of your beautiful porcelain skin. I can feel you relaxing under my hands, as I wash away all the sweat from the last day, and the memories of pain and anxiety and confusion - for both of us. Leaving behind Father James, and fears of Satan, as the water pours off you and circles into the drain. I clean myself up too, feeling refreshed. Then I shampoo and condition your matted hair, until it's clean and shining. Then when you're squeaky clean and your muscles are buttery-soft under my strong hands, I lower myself to my knees and look up.

Your cock perks up and I smile.

"Shall I do something about that, Boss?" I say in a husky voice.

 

 

I feel *so* much better. The pain in my foot is still there, but decreasing, and it's so good to be clean again. Not to mention being washed and massaged by the hottest guy I've ever seen... I practically purr.

And then you're on your knees in front of me offering to suck my cock. Paradise island indeed... as long as you stay well away from murderous wildlife.

"Why don't you..." I say lazily, spreading my legs.

 

 

I flash you a hungry look before lowering my head towards your cock.

I flick my tongue at your head, but I'm far too overcome by desire to tease - all that sensual bathing and touching your delicious skin has thrown my libido into overdrive. I take you in my mouth fully and start to suck you, letting out a deep moan.

Fuck you're so hot, fuck you get me so hot, oh god... Jim...

 

 

You seem *really* into this. I can live with that...

I've never seen cocksucking as an activity that is pleasurable for more than one party, but then I did feel much the same about fucking. Maybe I just had a bit of a skewed view of sex. Scrap the maybe. Growing up abused by my mum, working as a rent boy for a couple of years, then when I *finally* came into my power only getting off on hurting and fucking guys over whom I had total power *probably* doesn't make for the most balanced sex life. And lo and behold, out of the urban jungle came a Tiger who showed me the *beauty* of sex... It's like a fucking X-rated Christmas film...

Fuck and you're *good* at it... I'd employ you for that mouth only...

 

 

As much as I enjoy what I do to you... seeing and feeling your reactions is sooo fucking beautiful. As if you're making these sounds for the first time in your life... as if this level of pleasure catches you off guard, still surprises you. Which is shocking to me given how drop-dead gorgeous you are. But - given the glimpses I've had into your psyche, perhaps not all that implausible? And if so, then I'm the one who's given you this... but this pet theory of mine is for me, and me alone, to consider. And every time I do, it feels like a warm glow expanding in my chest. I have to keep myself from beaming like an idiot, because I'm sure it would be unwelcome and you'd think me a soft-headed, soft-hearted fool, not worthy of being your second in command. And I have to respect that - after all, you didn't hire me for the boyfriend experience. You want a black-ops soldier; that's what you shall have. A black-ops soldier who's currently on his knees, sucking you hard and fast, and oh god, you are not going to last much longer... I grin around your cock. Come for me, beautiful Jim... come for your Tiger...

 

 

I've given up the tough guy act, I'll let you hear what you're doing to me, because you deserve it, fuck yes you do... also, you should be allowed to come as well - you're so good at this... don't want you to get averse...

Fuck... fuck fuck *fuck*...

I arch my back, clench my fists, moan loudly - fuck - "yes - Tiger -"

Oh god -

Wave after wave of pleasure pours through me, out of me, into your mouth, and I swear you are grinning, with your mouth round my cock, like a cat who's getting the cream...

Fuck, I must still be brainwashed...

I've hallucinated myself the perfect second...

No, wait... if I were hallucinating paradise, there certainly wouldn't be any fucking *stonefish*... if I ever get to heaven, which I wouldn't even if it existed, I'll specify that there's to be no fucking nature anywhere in sight. Just Tigers...

I shudder as you keep licking and sucking - fuck –

 

 

Your orgasm is a symphony of primal sensation and sound... and when I look up at you, I see the most beautiful sight - you coming undone... you unravelling... you tumbling into ecstasy.

Fuck, I could never tire of this. You shouldn't be too difficult to convince of letting me suck your cock as often as possible. Not only it will be a pleasure, but... surely you'll be so transfixed, you won't desire another?

God, why did I think of that? I keep sucking you and licking you, my jaw tense.

Bloody well right you won't desire another! Not if I have anything to say about it, I think grimly... you're whimpering now. Oh - right. I give you a farewell lick before being merciful and stopping.

And if I have nothing I can say about it... then I'll just do what I do best, and neutralize the threat like the badass soldier I am.

I'm grinning at you fiercely from down on my knees, as you look down in a daze.

There's not a motherfucker on this planet that stands a chance...