Sebastian follows like a wave cresting over its predecessor, smashing apart against the shore. He tensed, shifts Jim with the bend of his back, ankles dragging against the couch, toes curling as his hands, slick pads dragging over Jim’s waist.
He tangles his fingers into Jim’s hair, presses feverish, crushing kisses against the man’s cheeks and jaw and lips as he waits for the feeling to subside, lit with a strange and hot desperation.
He can’t think, not now, not here, but something’s wrong, he knows it, he can feel it. It’s as though for all his effort Jim has managed to sink something into Sebastian, infected him.
The waves pull away from the sand and he sees that the shore is nothing but broken glass. He barely has time to let the peace of them sink into his bones before he’s suddenly frantic, before he’d dead afraid of losing it.
It’s never been like this before.
God Almighty he knows why.
Jim touches Sebastian’s face, fingertips tracing over the man’s jaw as he’s kissed, too wiped out to really reciprocate even in desperation, just tilting his face into the contact and breathing in the scent of the sniper. Eventually, he pulls free of Sebastian’s grip to lay his head on his chest, listening to the wet thud of his heart as it slows.
His hand rests a few inches from his face, fingertips tracing over Sebastian’s skin, mapping tiny little scars here and there by memory. His eyes are closed. After a while, he simply sighs, eyelids flickering a few times. Jim makes a dead weight on Sebastian’s chest, too exhausted to move from on top of him.
“Sebastian,” His voice comes quiet, subdued either through sleep or some kind of emotion, inflection lapsing into the hitching tones of something that might be his actual accent, strangely melodic, “Sebastian, I am afraid..”
It’s never been like this. Not once. Jim moves like he wants to sink straight into his skin, like he can’t bear to stop pressing against him for even a moment. Sebastian’s body responds without the least prompting, arching up, rolling, pressing against the man’s cool skin.
He might not mind if Jim swallows him whole.
He can’t keep his hands away. His fingers search every inch they can reach, map out the dips in Jim’s spine and the hollows between each rib, desperate to pull out every whimper, every sigh, every plea that he can. They ghost against flesh, tracking the shift of muscle, trembling against his touch.
They’re barely moving except to shift, rising and falling, against each other. He kisses Jim like a man parched, stumbling upon an oasis, following his mouth when he tries to draw away.
Not a single bruise is left in the wake of his touch.
He’s unusually quiet. Feels like someone’s flicked off a switch in his head and the world dissolves into white noise around him, the sounds he makes tiny and easily missed, gasped into Sebastian’s mouth and the salt of his skin. Jim isn’t sure this is by design or necessity, they’re both exhausted, it’s a wonder they can move at all.
He closes his eyes because he can’t keep them open, delirium driving everything into sharp edges and soft, blurred lines. He shakes against Sebastian, for once letting himself trust the man completely, that he will hold the pieces together— that he can. Flattening himself down, Jim points contact with everything he can, forehead leant against Sebastian’s as he bends like a bow pulled tight, swallowing shared breath.
He comes to a peak with a stilted gasp and pulls tight, wasted muscles shaking with the effort of it, piles of leaves scattered and kicked over as he trembles, eyes tightly shut. Maybe Sebastian is right, and his heart will give from all of the chemicals before he gets chance to close his eyes; he’s aware of it in the kind of way that he’s never really noticed before, feels the hammering like a physical pain.
“Then have me,” he whispers against Jim’s skin. He stretches back, pulls Jim down with him, one hand on the back of his neck and the other against his hip. Their life is complicated, twists and sharp edges, all explosions and circumstance, the difference between ally and enemy nearly indiscernible. This- this isn’t.
This is the simplest his life gets, the absolute desire to give Jim everything.
He strokes Jim’s skin with slow circles of his thumb, slipping under the hem of Jim’s wrinkled button-up. He licks his mouth open, maps the corners of his lips with his tongue, the edge of his sharp teeth, the ridges in his hard palate. Sinks his fingers into Jim’s hair. Memorizes.
He’s never taken the time, before. Usually, if there’s any of that going on, Jim’s doing it and he’s either tied down or drunk/drugged out of his mind. Usually they’re messy, fast, furious. Clawing and biting and destroying furniture if not each other.
He’ll take the time now.
Jim falls against Sebastian’s chest, mouth parts like an ocean, and really, that’s ridiculous, he needs to sleep. His palms lay flat against the cage of Sebastian’s ribs, feels the wet race of his dark tiger’s-heart and could dance to it. This is the way the world ends, this is the way the world ends. He remembers laughter, and blood, mapping the rise of Sebastian’s throat beneath hit tongue, thinks, if he has to die, it was always going to be like this.
He finds himself wondering idly what Sebastian will do— It doesn’t matter, Sebastian isn’t real, he never was. That’s a funny thought. I made you. He whispers it into the curve of his lips, into the angles of his hipbones, into every rib in his chest, carved it deep and made it stick. I made you. He feels like a wave, rise in tumult, messy and relentless, crashing against foreign shores. His sleeplessness has stolen away his waves, gathered the wind up in a bag and thrown it away. He feels strangely calm. Perhaps it was you who made me all along.
He’s delirious. Of course he is, coming on five days without so much as dropping off, he should be propped up on sticks by now, not animated just enough to strip them both bare and slide together like he can consume them both and somehow manage to carry the sniper with him. Like he could take him in more than just this, tucked against the cradle of his hips, awash with childish worry. “Ah,” he says, tells it to Sebastian’s jaw, angle awkward but enough.
[Anon, while I would love to do this and creep the fuck out of Seb and James, we’re rather in the middle of a plotline right now, so it would interrupt the narrative of that.
I’m more than happy to consider it when everything is back to normal for them, but until then, it’s not possible.]
Sebastian’s eyes shift under the touch of Jim’s lips. Exhaling a soft, surprised breath, he folds his fingers around Jim’s, pressing the cold digits to his neck. He waits until Jim moves away again, lids flicking apart. Cool blue stares at Jim, taking in his expression- soft, unbelievably, he’d even go so far as to say ‘tender.’
It’s half a miracle they’d gotten as far as they had without the slightest verbal hint as to how attached they really were. (Despite the fact that he’d handed over his dog tags years ago.)
Well. Sebastian’s never been much of one for Emotions and How To Handle Them, and even less How To Communicate Them. And so he does the simplest thing he can and leans up, pressing chapped lips against Jim’s mouth.
He wonders, vaguely, if Jim knows he’s the first person Sebastian has ever considered to actually be his lover.
Jim knows there’s going to be a moment where he physically cannot remain awake any longer, knows it’s fast approaching. He heaves a soft sigh and reaches to wind his arms around Sebastian’s shoulders, the metallic clink of the tags unheard for how used to the noise he is. He’s worn them ever since he’d been given them, where reasonable, the metal warmed to the centre of his chest most days.
Returning the kiss with a slow, almost innocent gesture of his own, Jim leans into Sebastian before he pulls away, tucking his face into the man’s throat, inhaling his scent. “Need you.” He simply sighs, because he’s exhausted, far too exhausted to really be thinking about sex at a time like this, but he thinks, some part of him might even be ready.
Resolved, if nothing else. Not to die, but rather to fight. He kisses Sebastian again, warm in gesture if not his actual body temperature.
It takes Moran a minute to regain his bearing, eyes dry and refusing to open properly, nightmarish flashes of dreams rapidly fading into obscurity. Alarms light at the back of his brain when he finally manages to focus on Jim’s face, heartbeat heavy in his ribcage. The man is practically translucent except for the red patch on his shoulder where Sebastian had been resting his head, significantly warmer than the rest of his skin. It only makes the circles under Jim’s eyes starker, his eyes darker, glassy. How long had he been asleep?
Sebastian’s eyes flutter shut again; he presses against the touch, turning his head to catch Jim’s fingers with his teeth, tracing the whorl of fingerprints with his tongue. They’re cold. He can practically feel the vibrations of chemically-forced energy running through Jim’s veins, can certainly feel the hard trembling against him. “When did you last eat?”
He makes a quiet, but definite noise that denotes a refusal to answer that question. Perhaps not permanently, only for this moment, Sebastian’s tongue against his fingertips warm and wet. For some reason, it makes him smile, and maybe that’s the sleep-deprivation talking. Jim shakes his head slowly, frees his fingers when he’s spoken to, and resumes gently tracing the lines of the assassin’s face.
“Be quiet, Moran.” He murmurs, leaning in ridiculously close and staring intently at his closed eyes. It becomes evident after a few moments of this that he’s actually counting the number of eyelashes framing each lid, only moving once he’s finished to press a gentle kiss against the soft, paper-thin skin, childlike in the quiet intensity he shows through the gesture.
Sebastian expels a breath, shifting his head until its comfortable, laid on Jim shoulder. He nips gently at the cool skin, squeezing his hand. “It’s been a while since you called me that.” Funny what the mind notices in this state of perpetual crazed half-sleep.
Despite Jim repeatedly telling him to sleep, telling him that he’d be nearby, Sebastian just can’t do more than the bare minimum. He doesn’t have an alarm to wake him- he’s just permanently uneasy. Normal people have trouble sleeping the night before an important event, constantly afraid that they’ll sleep in and miss it. That’s happening to him now, only he’s not afraid of missing a plane: some part of him is convinced Jim’s completely lack of sleep and constant ingestion of uppers is going to cause him to have a heart attack- he can’t be asleep when that happens.
So he snaps awake again before his body has had the chance to do much more than recover. He can sleep pressed against Jim, though, some part of him keeping track of the steady (if too-fast) heartbeat. The trouble is, staying curled with Moran too long is likely to push the other man into falling asleep himself, so Jim keeps leaving.
“I missed it,” Jim answers, truthfully, because why not? It’s his fantasy after all, he can do as he pleases, even if it’s admitting he enjoys calling Sebastian slightly ridiculous pet names. He seems sane enough, together enough, but he turns sometimes and looks at Sebastian with huge dark eyes like there are a hundred thousand things that he’s not saying at all.
This time, he stays the afternoon through, fingers tap-tapping away at his laptop while Sebastian breathes against the back of his neck, warm and vital even in his exhaustion. It’s hard to believe that any of it’s not real. Harder to believe that this, his life, his legacy, every second he’s fought tooth and claw, ripped and torn and fight his way to grasp hold of— None of it matters. The only time he leaves Sebastian’s side while he sleeps is to stretch his legs and use the bathroom, returning to the sniper’s chest and occasionally curling up against it, only to knock back more tablets like they’re cheap tic-tacs when he begins to doze.
He can feel when Sebastian wakes, notes the jolt, the soft intake of his breath, and that’s when he turns, tracing his fingertips over the other man’s face, his eyes dark and intense.
Sebastian doesn’t function as well as Jim does, without sleep. He’s tried following Jim’s regiment of drugs but when his hands start shaking so hard he drips ash when he smokes, he forces himself to stop. He keeps dozing off and every time he wakes up without Jim nearby the panic sets in.
He’s not getting enough sleep for it to make much of a difference; he can’t really jump up and run. He still forces himself to get up, moves with determined steps. Jim’s not in the bathroom, not in the office. He bites his tongue, the shock of pain giving him just enough adrenaline to get him moving faster.
He sees him from the stairs and sags against the handrail, trailing a hand through his messy hair. He just watches for a minute, letting his heartrate slow.
He’s been useless the last few days, breathless and sick with the ache of worry, of uncertainty. While Jim works he merely watches. He’s not allowed to leave the house, not that he wants to. He makes James fetch groceries, not because there’s no other way to get them but because he doesn’t like anyone seeing them like this and he’s going to keep it minimal if he can. He can’t tell if that upsets either of the Moriarty boys right now. He’s not sure Jim even has an opinion.
Eventually he makes it down, dropping next to Jim heavily and pulling the man back against him, pressing his nose into the crook of his neck and shoulder. He’s curled against Jim’s back, can feel the ridges of the man’s spine against his ribs. Is that enough? He presses his dry lips to Jim’s clammy skin. How is he supposed to convince him?
Jim doesn’t ask that Sebastian remain awake. He doesn’t even request that he stay in the same room, only that Sebastian keeps within a few seconds’ reach in case Jim needs him. All he wants is for things to resume as normal, to be able to anchor himself here and remain here, rather than inside his waking nightmare. He gets a lot of work done with not sleeping, occasionally seats himself in Sebastian’s lap to do it, keeps out of the way mostly, a ghost in his own home once more.
This time it’s of his own design. He keeps mostly to himself, mostly away from James, not for any ill-intent he has for the boy, but because James has questions that Jim doesn’t have the answer to, and Jim doesn’t like having the answer. He’s certain that by now James will have come to the conclusion that something is terribly amiss, the boy is intelligent enough, would have seen his state of being, noted an attack, and the lack of police intervention. Whether James assumes Jim is ashamed of it, or simply if there is another reason for not getting the police involved, his brother will know.
Jim doesn’t have time to explain everything, even though these days he has nothing but time, and not even that. When Sebastian appears, Jim looks up, actually gives him a wan little half-smile, waits for him to come close. He leans back against Sebastian’s chest, feels the throb of his heart through his shirt, fingers seeking out Sebastian’s and staying there, interwined. It’s funny, knowing that the man worries for him, that someone worries for him, and maybe that just makes it doubly sad that it’s in his own mind. That out there is the real man, the one who doesn’t know him from Adam, cares, perhaps, but doesn’t love with all the vicious protectiveness that his tiger does, wouldn’t walk in hand through the gates of hell with him.
He heaves a soft, weary little sigh. “Sleep, kitten. I’ll be here.”
After that, he doesn’t sleep. It’s a logical conclusion, to his mind, he loses his grip on what is real when he closes his eyes, so the simple answer is to remove the variables that are causing him distress. It makes absolute perfect sense. So he just doesn’t. Jim Moriarty just decides to cease to sleep. To anyone just looking at him within the first day, he appears to come out of his shell, starts talking.
He’s a little subdued and sad looking, but that’s about the only thing that suggests that anything’s wrong at all. Of course, he doesn’t really let Sebastian get outside of the house without him, like he’d physically tie them together if he could. That’s unreasonable, so he doesn’t. He quashes the mounting despair that he’s living a lie, swallows it down and locks it away the same way he does for everything else, and gets on with it.
Two days sees him looking a little haggard, though, immaculate as usual, but eyes darkening like bruises, his skin more pale. He has coffee, adrenaline, cocaine, taurine, caffiene tablets, loud music, and if all else fails, a gun.
As time passes it becomes obvious. He’s wired as hell, as natural sleep energy depletes further, replaced by chemicals, he develops jitters, shaking and twitching restlessly, constantly moving, swaying, jerking. Often in silence, but he’s thinking. How. How. How can he fix this, what does he have to do to claw his life back. He’s a train off its rails, he needs everything to fall back into control. Needs it.
He doesn’t really leave his room, or, beyond that, his office, throws himself into working, a distraction. They can manage without Sebastian, and they do manage, because Jim isn’t letting the sniper out of his sight. Protect your assets.
As of now. He’s since gravitated to the lounge, curled up at the end of the couch with the windows thrown open, a cold breeze blowing through the flat and rendering it frigid. It keeps him awake. He’s fine. He’ll be fine, they’ll be fine, he’s not insane, but similarly, not willing to risk it, but even he knows he’s losing time. It doesn’t matter; If he doesn’t sleep, he’ll die, but he’d rather die than let everything slip away.