As out of place as it felt, Jim was grateful for the soft, protective grip Sebastian held him in. He flexed his spine and curled into the hollow of his chest with a deep exhale. “Night…” He slurred, his eyes closing again. For what felt like hours, he lay awake, listened as Sebastian’s breathing slowed, hovering right on the edge of sleep himself. Eventually, the warmth of another’s body by his side lulled him into a light sleep that managed to persist till shortly after dawn.
He allowed himself a small smile as not-Jim curled up next to him. The other man muttered goodnight and Sebastian turned his head to press his mouth against Jim’s scar at the back of his skull.
It didn’t take long for them both to fall asleep, and for the frist time in a series of nights, Sebastian was able to sleep without the fear of waking up and wondering whether or not he should have a knife at his throat.
Jim was curled loosely on his side with his head shoved under the pillow, honestly trying to sleep and failing. Sleep would probably be impossible over the next few days while he tried to get adjusted to being at home again, and the fact he was still wearing the clothes they’d given him at the hospital wasn’t helping.
He looked over his shoulder when Sebastian spoke. “Uh… Yeah. If you want.” He tried to sound non-committal, then rolled back over with a shrug.
Sebastian let his eyes fall to the ground. He reached outside the door and turned off the hallway light, making everything in the apartment dark. After kicking off his shoes and deciding that just his trousers would be fine - his shirt had stayed on the couch - he slipped into bed next to Jim.
His hand reached out and touched the small of Jim’s back, before grazing lightly upwards to the mans neck, slipping in between his head and the bed, and holding Jim around the shoulders. Breathing lightly - almost not breathing at all, Sebastian moved closer to Jim, wondering why the man always felt so cold.
Jim gets the hint. He needs to stop. He sits back on the other side of the couch, legs folded loosely underneath him. He swallows that nauseous tension in his throat again when he notices Sebastian’s attention to the cipher at his hip.
“Maybe it is.” I’m not tired at all, but I’ll get out of your way now. Jim picks up Peter Pan again and pads quietly into what he assumes is his bedroom with it, lightly brushing Sebastian’s shoulder as he passes him.
Sebastian’s eyes stay closed as Jim gets up and from the couch and walks past him. After he left, Seb sat down and lay on the couch, pressing his palms into his eyes until he saw explosions in yellow and the off-green only he could see. He sighed, took a deep breath and put one hand behind his head, the other pinching the bridge of his nose.
And then, almost without his own voilition, he found himself standing in the doorframe of the bedroom, looking in on Jim.
“Do you want me to stay with you?”
Jim makes a quick pass over Sebastian’s chest with his eyes and freezes when he sees his own initials, in his own even handwriting, carved deeply just above the waistband of the man’s pants. He’d somehow been expecting to find his name somewhere in raised, raw-looking scar tissue somewhere, but had almost been afraid to actually find it, because he knew the memory surrounding it would be just as blank as the rest.
He avoids the spot like the plague, grips Sebastian’s shoulder and climbs out of his lap so he can turn him around. His hands are shaking, but with a deep, determined breath, he splays his fingers below Sebastian’s shoulder blades to still them and keeps up his passive observation.
He runs his fingers down each scar individually, noting the way each one rippled as Sebastian shifted. There was a definite beauty to the movement, that was undeniable. He lays a light kiss on the small of his back and lingers there, unsure what to do or say now.
Sebastian moved as Jim did, stepped up, and let Jim move him, his hands pushing and pressing against him as he stayed still, letting his employer run his hands over his back - examining scars and old wounds. Many he had gotten in service to Jim, others he had got servicing Jim, but it didn’t matter; they were all Jim’s now anyway.
Sighing, Seb let his head hang, shifted putting his hands on his hips, his fingers lightly pressing into the initials on his right side. He wanted to know if Jim remembered anything about them, but decided that it was worth hoping that he did rather than knowing he didn’t. When Jim kissed him Seb’s eyes closed and he wished that he could just go back to the time when that would have been accompanied by a hit or a slap or nails in his skin.
“I think, maybe, it’s time for you to go to bed.” Sebastian muttered softly.
Without his other senses to distract him, Jim is acutely aware of every movement Sebastian made. He wasn’t quite sure what it meant when he clenched up so suddenly, though he suspected something a little akin to heartbreak. He sighed and pressed on. This little necessary evil wasn’t exactly fun for him either.
Jim smoothed his palms over the evenly marked skin of his low back. He counted six of the smaller scars he apparently inflicted, each precisely measured out. There were other points of interest: a slight bump on his side where he suspected a broken rib didn’t heal quite straight. Possibly a bullet wound, but he found himself drawn to those in particular. “Mine…” He opened his eyes and glanced up at Sebastian. “Can I see?”
This wasn’t just difficult; it was torture. There was a time when Jim would have demanded he strip and then cut off whatever clothing wasn’t off fast enough. There was a time when Jim would giggle when his fingers reached the end of a scar because he was imagining what it would look like if it were longer.
Jim’s hands on him made him shudder, but he remained relaxed under the mans touches, breathing in and out deeply, still in control.
“Yeah boss.” He said, meeting Jim’s eyes. “They’re yours after all.”
What would this man say when he saw the initials just above his hip, right where the ‘v’ dipped down? Would he remember then, how he carved them into his flesh roughly and then, every few days after, would reopen the wounds, dig in his nails, wait until the blood trickled down his thighs and cock and then lick the blood up. Sebastian swallowed and he found that it would hurt him if Jim forgot the sort of pain he had inflicted. All Seb had was his memory, and even that was conditional. Jim couldn’t forget these things, he couldn’t.
Jim swallowed and licked his lips, his pulse jumping slightly when he’s settled down evenly on top of Sebastian’s lap. It’s more nerves than anything, and doing this sightless doesn’t make it any easier. He placed his palms flat against his shoulders, sliding down slowly over his chest, following the curve of his ribs. He pressed his thumbs into his sternum, just firmly enough to feel a slight give, before backing off and wrapping his arms around his back. He presses his face against his neck, lips finding and following the long trail of scar tissue across his jaw lightly while his hands worked between his vertebrae. He found several thin lines that felt more deliberate than anything accidental. “These?” He asked, nails rubbing light circles over one that stretched the entire length of his back.
Sebastian lets Jim’s hands trail over him, re-memorizing the lines and raised, paler skin that he had decorating his entire body. A masterpiece, he had used to say, just for me to see. Just for him. That’s what this was, a display of trust and something of an understanding. His own eyes closed. He held his breath as Jim pressed against his chest and then lets it out as he’s released.
When Jim’s hands travel to his back he sits up straight. When Jim’s mouth finds his jaw he tenses, his jaw clenches but he stays still, his hands moving to grip Jim’s knees instead of just resting there. Sebastian frowns, his eyes still closed.
“The one you’re on now was during my time in Afghanistan.” He said, “I was caught and held for three weeks.” Just a bit of torture. “The other ones, beneath that, those are yours. You so much liked the way the first one moved as I did you wanted to see my back striped.”
Jim shivered, Sebastian’s fingers were cold against his skin. They were familiar, though, and sure of themselves, something the former criminal craved. He brushes his knuckles against his jaw, light stubble and light pulse when he rests his hand near his throat. His skin is a completely unfamiliar canvas, though he knows deep down he was once able to trace every scar with his eyes closed. He does that now, and decides not to open them for a while because the world’s a little too much to handle at the moment. He might be able to tackle the little things first if he just blocks it out, like how incredibly important getting to know this man again is going to be.
Sebastian tilted his head forward, settling against Jim’s temple, his breathing steady as the man began to explore his skin, his touch making him shiver. The ropy scar across his jaw and over his eyebrow always made his shiver. He swallowed and let it happen, his hand spread out in between Jims shoulders - where on his own back a sharp line was drawn. He closed his eyes and moved Jim so the man was sitting so he was straddling Sebastian, kneeling on top of his lap. After he took off his jacket, Sebastian began to unbutton his shirt, shrugging out of it, looking at Jim, his hands resting on the mans knees but not inching any higher than that.
Jim wanted to apologize. He wanted to rewind time like a security tape to pinpoint the exact moment where he lost everything and erase it from existence completely. He wondered what it must be like to be an outsider looking in, like Sebastian, and know that moment, and exactly how futile it was to try and prevent in hindsight. It ached deep down to know he’d lost in most senses of the word someone so loyal that he would stay by his side even after he was no longer himself. Jim wanted to apologize, but there were no words big enough for that kind of ‘sorry’.
After several long moments, it occurred to Jim that maybe an apology wasn’t the best thing for the moment. He remembered someone telling him that sorry meant it wouldn’t happen again, and that he took that to mean he should never apologize if he planned on making his behavior a common occurrence. Same principal applied here, really. So what then? “Thank you…” He whispered, before the idea to tell Sebastian that had fully formed in his mind.
“Shut up Jim.” Sebastian muttered, clutching tighter at the man before taking a deep breath and letting go. His hand was at the mans neck, and then down his back and Sebastian swallowed as he took this liberty with this man that he didn’t know anything about but that he used to be Jim Moriarty. His hand went lower before slipping under Jim’s shirt, his hand moving up Jim’s back, skin on skin, fingers tracing the vertebrae he had memorized, the lumbar curve, the thoracic bones that made his hand stretch over the shoulders of the mans back, feeling the muscles and skin and the body and knowing that this at least was from the same man.
Jim let his head fall onto Sebastian’s shoulder with a vacant frown. “Oh…” In the hospital he’d often wished someone would take the time to actually look and talk to him like a real person, but now that someone was, he found himself wanting nothing more than to curl up and disappear. It wasn’t fair.
As immature as it sounded, that was all he could think at the moment: how incredibly not fair this was. Frustration welled up in him, which he took out on Sebastian’s shoulder, latching onto it through his shirt with his teeth and just clenching his jaw instead of screaming like he wanted to. It was pretty ineffective given the angle he was slumped at, but it did it’s job calming him down. He dug his forehead into the man’s shoulder till the pressure began to aggravate his headache and sighed. Not. Fair.
It was incredible to Sebastian that this man with whom had had been so close to and so integral to was just so absolutely wrecked. It was almost hard to breathe, everything was so wrong and awful right now. He hated it, he hated it, he hated it. Instead of following his instincts and running he simply clutched at Jim tighter, putting a hand on the mans head - feeling the muscles in his jaw and neck tense up like a spring - and closed his eyes. He didn’t know what to say so he opted for nothing at all.