Summary: Jim used to study heaven, but he tired of staring at rotting stars. He likes his corpses fresh, and unrecognizable. He likes his weapons clean.
Notes: This was written in a fit of I-can't-even and beta'd in a bout of grace by the ever lovely littlegoogle. I promise I will write some non self-indulgent l fic next; promise, promise promise.
Love is a war of lightning,
and two bodies ruined by a single sweetness.
Sebastian brings his women home often, on Saturday nights when the weather is warm and there is nothing else to do.
If he’s in, Jim will hear them.
The sequence is mathematical, thus: First, the front door, slamming open. Second, a repugnant flurry of loose, feminine laughter. Third, Sebastian, whose entrance deserves a term all its own because it tends to be bombastic—Jim likes bombastic; Jim feeds on bombastic—an explosion of tipsy charm and steady limbs.
Fourth, a jarring, uneven journey to his bedroom.
Fifth, the closing of the bedroom door.
Jim always stops paying attention after that. It’s a finite sequence, really—in the morning the women always leave, (in tears, even; that’s generally very amusing) and Sebastian always stays. Which tends to be enough.
“Where’s it go, then? Rhine-wards?”
“Someone knows his geography.” The rocks he kicks go plopping into the water all at once, and sink quickly to the bottom. “Were you top of your class, Seb? I’ll bet you were.”
“You implying something?”
“We’re here for a reason. Stop staring, turn around. Walk with me. Can’t you hear that? That hiss? It’s saying something.”
“Mad bastard.” Affectionate. “Translate, then.”
Jim simply smiles with all his teeth showing, and thinks of the sound a coffin makes when shut with not a soul around to hear, which is no sound at all.
Sebastian kills with anything on hand, kills slowly, kills quickly, kills at every speed imaginable. Crowbars—Jim does abhor the mess, but he isn’t entirely without admiration—and guns, always guns, and knives, and oh, fire’s the best of all.
Random points on a chart, and lines on a graph.
Jim used to study heaven, but he tired of staring at rotting stars. He likes his corpses fresh, and unrecognizable. He likes his weapons clean.
“Stop gawking out the window. One would think you’d never been to the Continent before.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. You’ve sent me, you idiot. Munich, oh-seven—you got all uppity when—”
“I don’t get uppity.” Jim watches Sebastian dissemble his rifle, only to put it back together all over again. The parts click in junction, snaps of metal and sparks of light, and Jim finds himself somewhat mesmerized. “I demand quality performance.”
“Today most of all.”
Sebastain gets drunk in a procedure mapped with exponential decay, descending glass by glass by glass. He sheds his clothing as he sheds his senses—jacket, and shoes, and tie—until he’s a pliant heap of skin and soft fabric upon the sofa. Jim settles down beside him, pets him on the head.
“Silly boy. You’re bored, aren’t you?”
“Rather.” A beat. “How much longer we goin’ t’ wait around?”
“As long as it takes. It’s his move now. He’s thinking.” Jim says this wistfully. He likes his games. He likes his opponents, for that matter—the worthy ones, that is. He likes them immensely.
Sebastian twitches beneath Jim’s fingers. “What’s so special about him?”
“Oh, well. Don’t you think he’s fun? And he’s brilliant, too. I don’t know what I’d do without him. I’ve never been chased quite like this before.” Jim sighs from between his teeth and tenses, nails digging into Sebastian’s scalp. He ignores the other man’s hiss and straightens, saying, “I wouldn’t expect you to understand.”
Sebastian lurches upright, somewhat unsteadily. “Right. Whadyoo need me for, anyways? I just shoot the damn things.”
“Jealousy is petty,” Jim snaps.
“Well, fuck you.”
The curve is beginning to bottom out. Jim breathes deeply, inhales the smell of sweat and whiskey and living flesh. He doesn’t like things which feel all too much, even at the best of times. Detach, detach, detach; mental and somatic don’t fit together, everyone knows that.
“I’d rather not,” he mutters, swiping a stray strand of hair out of Sebastian’s eyes. “Down, boy.”
“Oh, shut up—” Sebastian swats his hand away. “Shut up, you fucking bastard.” He lurches forward, pushes his face against Jim’s, and the odor of him, the fumes, dear God in heaven. Living person, all up and down Jim’s front. It’s ridiculously warm and uncomfortable. He wonders how anyone could breathe, could think, could function, in a position such as this one. There are elbows knocking against his ribcage and a knee bruising into his thigh. He rolls his eyes upwards, wriggles.
“Liquor makes you melodramatic, my dear.”
“I’m not good enough for you.” The words sound almost lucid. “That’s the problem, innit? Fuck. Five years. Fucking waste of time. If it wasn’t for that bloody discharge—”
“Yes. Let’s talk about that discharge.” Jim keeps his voice flat. “You never did tell me what it was for, and I never did bother to find out. Was it cowardice? Did you run? Or did you thieve, or did you cheat, or did you kill one of your own? Wild animals will do that, you know.” He pushes lightly on the body that’s crushing his own. “Get off of me.”
“Like hell I will.” Sebastian shifts. “You want t’ know? You really want to?”
“I always did love a mystery.”
Bits of spittle spray Jim in the face; he cringes, attempts to wipe the drops away. “Get. Off.”
“You’re fucking blind, you are,” Sebastian murmurs, pushing down all the harder. He licks his lips. His gaze is insistent. “Above it all, is that it? Or would you rather fuck him instead?”
Jim blinks twice, and feels like laughing. “That’s what this is about?” He pats Sebastian on the cheek as best he can, with his arm crushed as it is. “How pathetically saccharine of you. Now, don’t make me ask again.”
Sebastian slips back and away with no sound. He is resigned, now, and tired. He slumps down and knocks his head against Jim’s hip as he goes.
“Tsk. Oh, to bed with you, my dear,” Jim croons, slipping his fingers through Sebastian’s hair, curling them around the back of his neck. “You’re no good to me at all like this.” Kiss on the jugular; rake of nails on the cheek. He wants him, yes—he wants to devour him whole; he wants to burn him on a pyre and swallow his ashes; he wants him clean and, above all, impersonal.
This is just too much.
“You’re worse than women, James, you know that?”
“I should hope so.” Jim eases out from under Sebastian’s body, stands, and straightens his jacket. “You’d better be fit in the morning.”
“I would be, if you’d just—”
The lights go out.
“What’s the time?”
The sun has started to smolder.
“Soon enough. Honestly—a little patience never killed anyone.”
Sebastian gets curious, now and again, and at the strangest of times: halfway through kills, or on the chase, or in the silence between bombs. Or now, running from a smoking pool, multi-colored lights flashing in their wake.
“So. Umph. Carl Powers, eh?”
“Now’s not the time, my dear. It’s a very long story, simply fraught with tribulations—”
Sebastian hikes his rifle onto his shoulder, and lengthens his strides. “Bet you were terrible as a kid,” he says, smiling. “Every teacher’s worst nightmare.”
“You didn’t know me.” Jim moves past him down the road, his shoulders squared.
They arrive home just as it begins to rain, and Sebastian pushes the door shut behind them, shaking water out of his hair. He looks intent on something, setting his rifle down with a clunk and moving through the darkened flat with a forward lean. “Last week,” he says, pacing, in beat with the downpour. “Last week I dug out all your old papers. Couldn’t understand half of it. Asteroids?”
Jim sits in his armchair and draws his knees up to his chin. “Asteroids,” he says, nodding.
“Now it’s Semtex on little old ladies?”
The shadows are long and flat. Sebastian looks almost soft in the darkness. Jim stretches out, lets his feet drop down to the floor as he arches his back lazily.
“Hmm… You wanted to hear about Carl. Well, I lied before—there isn’t all too much to say, and, my dear, it would bore you to tears, how petty it was. Don’t we all make abominable mistakes in our youth?” He shudders. "But it was where I began. I’ve such a fondness for poetic justice. Circles and cycles.”
Sebastian’s eyes are wide. He looks like he understands. He must, because he’s nodding and stiffening his spine and his mouth is bowed and his hands are still.
“The only important thing you have to know about Carl—and here’s what makes him different, you see—” Jim continues, his lip curling up of its own volition, “—is that he really did deserve to die.”
The rain comes down, and Sebastian moves closer.
“I got sick of stars,” Jim snaps. “I got absolutely sick of looking at what I couldn’t have.” He thinks of Sherlock, millimeters away, he thinks of flames at his fingertips.
He looks up and sees Sebastian standing right in front of him, all breathing suspended.
“Believe me,” the other man murmurs, “when I say I sympathize completely.”
“Oh, Seb. Silly, silly fellow.” Jim reaches out and brushes the tips of his fingers against Sebastian’s knees. “I’d be nowhere without you,” he murmurs.
Sebastian’s head is bowed, and his lips are still, the face of one in concession of defeat.
“Fine day for an outing.”
They walk down to the falls together, shoulder to shoulder, and Jim has them take their time.
It is a fine day—blue skied, and cloudless.
They’re waiting to disappear when Sebastian angles his head to the right and looks across a million air molecules with scrutiny.
“Numbers, murders, and asteroids.” He clicks his tongue against his teeth. Cheeky. He’s in a mood. “Don’t you ever get lonely?”
Jim slides his eyes upwards.
Sometimes, he thinks— Sometimes I used to.