i’m here now
no, i’m here, so just shut the fuck up pike. shut the fuck up or i swear to fucking god.
no, shut up.
yeah, or i’ll make you.
It was a weird time, a month into their affair - what else could he call it? How long could it last? It was exploitative and explosive and when he got into the room rented by Pike under a false name it wasn’t much of a surprise to see that the mini bar was open and there were already glasses in the sink. Sebastian looked around for Pike and instead of moving away from the door he slammed it shut. Pike raised his head up from the couch at the sound, made a noise himself and scrambled to stand up, one hand on the furniture to steady himself.
Sebastian narrowed his eyes.
“Sorry! Sorry, god, sorry mate, come on, just a bit of a dip right? I know it looks messy but-“
Pike froze, watched Sebastian, swayed. He steadied himself as he watched the hitman, wondering what would come next. He had a vague idea in the back of his mind and it rose up, came forwards as his heartbeat suddenly pounded in his ears, even in the tips of his fingers.
He was on his knees a few second later, the shirt he had half open around his slim frame pulled up over his eyes.
He remebered how it had felt
afterwards, rougher than he was used to, a different kind of shift over his open mouth, (a bout de souffle) he knew what the boy felt for him, how to use that, wasn’t that was people did
use each other?
“—says he’ll get us the phone records by Thursday. Yeah, I hear what you’re saying. We’ll have to be so careful, though, ‘cause you know the twat’ll sue first chance he gets. Yeah, I know. You just keep it hush-hush and I’ll keep the updates coming. Yeah, alright, get some sleep then, eh? Yeah, I will. Talk tomorrow. Cheers, mate.”
Langdale hit the end call button none too gently and his warm, casual tone instantly dropped.
“For fuck’s sake.”
He tossed the phone onto the pile of papers with an unsuitable amount of force considering how much the bloody thing cost. As soon as it left his hand, he was done with work. This story had been his sole focus in life for the last 48 hours - he’d eaten, breathed and slept it. And now? Now he couldn’t have cared less. It seemed so trivial now, caring about who got there first and whose name went where. He wasn’t consciously aware that there was a distinct pattern of things that were important to him suddenly seeming meaningless when a certain sniper was in the room, but there it was.
Resting his elbows on his knees, the reporter leaned forwards in the armchair he’d settled himself in and laced his fingers together, unable to keep his hands still. He now turned his attention completely, entirely, undividedly to Sebastian Moran, who seemed to have made himself quite at home.
Langdale had never experienced the simultaneous urge to both throw something at someone, and throw himself at them. He wanted to leap across the table into the criminal’s lap, get his mouth on him as soon as possible — but he didn’t know if it was to snog him senseless or rip his throat out.
In the end, he just stayed put.
“Why are you here?” His voice was colder than he was used to hearing it, sharp and harsh and not like him at all. “What d’you want?”
It was good to see the mess around. There were a few chinese takeout boxes on the table but no glasses, a pair of plates and an empty wine bottle in the sink. No other glasses or empty bottles lying around and it took a few seconds for Sebastian to realized he was slightly surprised. He hadn’t expected Langdale to be a mess but this was practically a man in a frenzy of work. There was almost no surface of the coffee table or even the chairs surrounding it that weren’t covered in papers.
Sebastian raised his eyebrows as Langdale threw the phone. His mouth opened only the slightest line before he shut it, his scar turning darker as his jaw clenched. He dropped his gaze from Langdale’s face to the bookshelves covered in first and third editions and typewriters. His hand passed over his mouth and through his hair, his eyes moving to the ceiling.
This was probably the worst idea he had acted on in a while. Sebastian looked over at the other man, his eyes going down to Lang’s hands, frowning before he sighed his hand still at the back of his neck. His scars felt itchy and tight, uncomfortable across his face and side. Chewing on the inside of his cheek Sebastian looked up at Pike’s face, trying to read the other man.
“Just wanted to come by. See what you were up to, how’re you doing.” Sebastian shrugged, licked his bottom lip, dragged it into his mouth. He made a lame gesture, his head turning to the coffee table. “Keeping busy, then?”
Two-and-a-half weeks sober was how he liked to phrase it in his head, but it wasn’t like that, of course. He hadn’t made any commitment to stop drinking altogether, after all — wouldn’t have claimed to. The fact that he hadn’t spent another night wallowing in self-pity and drowning himself in whiskey was enough of an achievement, he thought. The fact that he hadn’t downed so much as a single shot whilst all alone in his own miserable company was fantastic. He’d had a couple of glasses of wine at dinner with Kitty, and the instant, overwhelming desire to finish the whole bottle, and then another, was so severe that it had shocked him in a cold, sobering way. Terrified him a little bit, actually. He’d confessed to her then that he still hadn’t quite understood just how bad the whole thing really was.
It made him feel very sad.
Temptation had come in full-force the following weekend at the album launch. Usually an open bar at a function could only result in a blood-alcohol level that made the reporter more liquor than man, but on this occasion, he kept an uncharacteristically close eye on himself, on his intake. It worked out well. He spent much of the evening chatting with his new contact from NME, the one who’d so praised his most recent article. He was more than pleased to agree to contribute a semi-regular column for the magazine; this was the difference between entertainment journalism and gossip blogging. Avoiding the bar had allowed him to mix and mingle, chatting with a few very interesting musicians and avoiding a few others (the frontman of the band had a recent slap-on-the-wrist assault convinction for knocking a photographer’s teeth out. Langdale had written at some length about the man’s drug abuse in a less-than-flattering tone and was taking no chances).
All in all, it had been a good night, and he’d come home barely tipsy, carrying a feeling of optimism he hadn’t experienced for quite some time, and, more importantly — the desire to write.
He soon got his chance; it was early the next week that he’d gotten wind of a story that made him grin from ear to ear once he’d fully wrapped his head around it, eyes gleaming at the imagined headlines.
The press would, as they say, have a field day with it, and Langdale Pike would be the one to break the story — but he would have to work fast, and with discretion, of course, before some other fucker broke it first. It would mean a series of all-nighters, plenty of caffeine and a lot of time on the phone. He thought frequently of recruiting Kitty in to assist, knew she’d relish the challenge and would probably be a right proper bloodhound on the case, but it somehow felt like crossing a line. Friends again, they might be - didn’t know how he would have coped without her, these last couple of weeks - but he didn’t think he was ready to team up and make it a dynamic duo of investigative journalism.
Tonight, he was so engaged in the work that he hadn’t so much as glance at the liquor cabinet, let alone pace in front of it like he’d done so many times in the last couple of weeks.
He was up to his elbows in research. The glass table in his living room was barely visible under the clutter, covered in paperwork, his open laptop, empty coffee cups, and a notebook on which he was hastily scribbling details as he made phone call after phone call, his excitement about the story intensifying the more evidence he stockpiled. He might as well have been rubbing his hands together in feindish delight and cackling maniacally; this was just the distraction he needed. The tabloids would go mental, yeah, but he wasn’t going to the red-tops with this gem, fuck no. He was in the middle of a conversation with a press contact when he heard the knock on the door.
The truth is, he was so absorbed in the fervor of the story that he’d lost all real track of time, barely registering that it was almost midnight. It felt good to be overworked.
He picked up his notebook and pencil, wedging his phone between his ear and shoulder so he could continue jabbering away and jotting things down as he wrote.
“— photos before we print. If we can get her to go on the record, I swear to god, this’ll be—”
He opened the door.
It took a moment for the sight of Sebastian Moran in front of him to fully register, and then another few for Langdale’s heart to resume beating.
“Hold on a sec, Clarky, won’t be a minute, mate,” he said, and he was very pleased to hear his voice sounded breezy and casual.
He stuck the pencil behind his ear, covered the mouthpiece of his phone and looked straight at Moran, expression deadpan except for his eyes, which flashed angrily, months of pent-up indignation condensed into one look, jaw clenching as he hissed —
A split-second later Langdale had put the phone back to his ear, continuing to talk away as though there had been no interruption. Without so much as a backwards glance, he turned around and strolled quite casually towards the living room, leaving the door wide open for Sebastian to follow.
The door opened and Sebastian looked away from a rather heinous painting across the hall towards Langdale. He didn’t change his facade, affecting a calm, almost disinterested look on his face as Pike made his excuses to his friend. Their expressions matched for a second before Pike spoke and then Sebastian’s eyebrows raised, a small smirk trailed across his mouth and he wrestled with his impulse to laugh.
Well. He probably deserved that.
His hands were in his pockets still as he stepped forwards into the flat, which was only slightly messier than when he had left it last.
Papers. That was the big difference - Sebastian turned and shut the door, locked it - newspapers, a few magazines, notebooks. Dirty dishes had piled up, but neatly, coffee cups lined up like pawns in front of the sink. It hit Sebastian that Langdale was fine. There was a small sense of relief then, that he hadn’t destroyed something by coming here, that he didn’t need to worry about Langdale Pike, a grown man and capable human being. He stood in the middle of the open apartment for a few seconds before following Pike into the living room, getting a better view of all the chaos it contained.
He walked around to the dark couch, pushed aside a few papers gently, sat down and leaned back, crossing one leg over the other, draping an arm across the back cushions, in general acting much more relaxed than he really had any right to be. Glancing around he found himself less interested in exactly what Pike was working on and more interested in the man with the phone still in his ear. Without saying anything at all Sebastian watched Langdale, waiting for him to finish his conversation.
For a while it had been good. For a while he had been fine, his rebellion internalized after so long and Sebastian had thought he could handle it again. But then there was just Jim and him and there was nothing else at all. Nobody but him and Jim and side conversations that went away quickly because there was nobody else like Jim. The Irishman was Sebastian Moran’s center, his sun, the point upon which all others turned.
Despite knowing this, having pushed all thoughts of that week away, it was hard to forget how easy it was with the other him. The one that had no sway over Sebastian, that was more of an idea of control and understanding than really a man because Langdale Pike wasn’t really someone that Sebastian should have liked. It happened accidentally, like missing the last step on a flight of stairs, Pike became, of all things, likable. Funny, a bit too casual, gasped at all the right parts of the story, drank too much, found himself in the strangest of situations; between Sebastian Moran’s hands.
Where did that leave Sebastian? Not caught in between two masters, he only had one focus, a perfect circular orbital with all vectors going to from or outwards from Jim Moriarty, as if he were a cylinder and Jim shone out from him in focused, laser-like ways. The perfect marriage of idea and execution. Sebastian was acting as that now, fingering the trigger gently, breathing against the scope as if it were a lovers ear, caressing the carriage as if it where a body that arched up into him after the release of the bullet from the barrel.
Sebastian didn’t stand, rolled over, sitting down, smiling, and began to take apart his gun. He worked mechanically, noting the weather had cooled off significantly. He tilted his head up, hands moving automatically over the weapon. A light rain. He finished up and slung the bag over his shoulder and checked his phone. Jim wasn’t in London, off on a short trip through Lisbon with a small team that knew better than to ask Jim but were too afraid of Sebastian to send for help.
Riding the elevator down the sniper realized he was starving. Killing fever always made him hungry. Hiking the bag up on his shoulder he decided he didn’t want to eat in the small coastal town, grabbing a gatorade and a protein bar from the gas station, tearing open the package as he walked out to his car. He could wait the two hour drive back to London for a decent meal.
Driving on the highway gave him time to think. He was truly alone then, enclosed without anyone watching him. There was a stasis and a dynamic movement in the car, where he was moving and not moving and Sebastian saw something out of the corner of his eye that reminded him - it was gone too fast for him to really discern what had caught his attention - but he forgot about the meal he wanted and the gnawing in his stomach left quickly, replaced with a sort of strange groan.
He wanted to see Langdale Pike.
It happened that quickly, without preemption, a strange idea that occurred to Sebastian as he shifted lanes and sat back in the leather chair of his Aston. It was that simple and he didn’t even really feel as if it was for some quick fuck to tide him over until Jim came home. The thought of that replacement made him sick, but he just wanted to see Pike, to talk to him, drink a bit, that was all. It wasn’t angry or possessive or desperate, it was just a basic want of company that prompted Sebastian to turn off at the Piccadilly exit, park somewhere a few blocks away and ignore normal social etiquette. He didn’t text, or call or really do anything to indicate that he was going to show up on Langdale’s doorstep completely sound of mind and body at eleven fifty-seven on a chilly Thursday evening.
He stepped forwards and knocked on the door, stepping back and putting his hands in his pockets, staring down the hallway, making sure that his scar was turned away from the door and relieved that he was just wearing a jacket pant set and not a Valentino. Sebastian kept his hands around his keys and phone, turning it off deftly. Not the time. Frowning he took another step and knocked on Pike’s door again, wondering if he had company, or if he was even home at all. The thought annoyed him a little, although, he thought that might just be him getting hungary again.
Last year Sebastian met Anthea, and the Holmes brothers. He developed an intense distaste for the elder and held barely a passing interest for the second. He agreed to go for an interview with Langdale Pike and hasn’t had much more contact with the man.
He established his base in Adelaide, South Africa, and took more than a few pleasant business trips down to the Cape. He almost thought about picking up surfing, but then he brought Jim down to show off his work. They had to take care of some rival leaders and rented a boat, chummed off the back of the transom and Sebastian had to hold the men above the water.
Three men were fine, the woman lost a foot but her husband fell into the water and disappeared.
Sebastian has never thought about picking up any watersports since.