There are many things that Sebastian Moran likes about Jim Moriarty. He likes the cleverness of his schemes, the cool, calculated ease of his business face and the way he dips into a madness almost tinged with hysteria, causing just the right amount of fear in their clients before resuming the nonchalant mask. He likes that he is known as Moriarty to everyone but Sebastian, and the fact that people barely dare to utter even that for fear he will take offence. He likes the brilliance of his mind, and the absolute chaos he creates; Jim is a storm who stirs life around him into a tempest, and that suits Seb just fine.
But there are things he doesn't like. Lots of things. He doesn't like being woken at 3am by Jim's insistence that he go to the nearest shop and buy some honey because Jim wants honey on toast, and no he doesn't care that it's three in the morning and why should it matter anyway? Jim, of course, is unconcerned by Sebastian's snap of, "I'm a sniper, not your bloody servant," and Seb ends up fetching the damn honey anyway. He doesn't like the way Jim breaks his things when he's angry, which is often, and nor does he appreciate Jim's habit of using him as though he is a human pillow whenever the inclination seizes him. He flits between moods and personalities like the whirlwind he is, and whilst it scares the clients and ensures that they stick to their word, it infuriates Seb on a regular basis. Other people would and have killed to be in his place, Jim has informed him several times. Somehow, Sebastian thinks if they knew what he was like to live with, they wouldn't be quite so keen.
However, there is one thing that Sebastian hates the most about Jim, just one thing, and frustratingly enough it's also one of the things he likes best. James Moriarty is many things, and one of those things is really bloody reckless.
It's because Jim is really bloody reckless that Sebastian has found himself in this position. They're standing in a a warehouse with seems to be storing barrels of something which smells like oil. Jim is on one side with Seb standing behind him, and three so called clients on the other, in a scene that looks as though it could have been taken from any of the spy novels Sebastian would have read as a kid had he been more interested in reading instead of perfecting his aim with his old catapult on his neighbour's cat. The clients are so called because they've gone back on their deal, claiming that their issue is sorted and they don't need to pay Moriarty because they didn't need his help in the end. Which never went down well with Jim at any time, and they'd happened to catch him at a particularly moody time. Sebastian had asked him – told him, even – to let him go on his own and not to get involved face to face, because "nobody ever gets to you, remember?" But Jim had refused to see sense, insisting he deal with them personally, and now look where they were.
One of the clients is a tall, gangly man with short reddish hair and a pinched, unhealthy face. He seems to be the leader. He's not holding any visible weapon, unlike his companions, both of whom have their fingers curled around the triggers of guns. Instead there is a cigarette in his hand; he has yet to take a drag on it, and Seb suspects it's there for confidence more than actual desire. Sebastian watches him carefully for any signal which could cause them to shoot. Jim is talking, appearing utterly unconcerned with the imminent threat of bullets. Seb isn't as interested in what he's got to say as he is in the distance between himself and Jim, compared to the distance between Jim and the gunmen. No room for approximates; this needs to be exact. He can just do it, he thinks. If they shoot – and judging by the taunting lilt to Jim's voice now and the vein that is starting to bulge in the leader's forehead, they soon will – Seb will be able to reach Jim in time to take him down. If Sebastian is right, and he's always right because he's the best, and he wouldn't be Jim Moriarty's second-in-command if he wasn't, then there's a fighting chance of both of them surviving this.
"Darling," Jim is drawling, and part of Sebastian thinks he really wouldn't blame them if they were to shoot now. "We both know who is going to win this in the end, so be a dear and hand over the money like a good boy."
"Don't try to intimidate me, Moriarty," the man snaps, and Seb can't help but feel a little impressed, because he's never seen anyone but himself stand up to Jim like that. "We've sorted this out fair and square. Now, if you don't mind - " The familiar clicking of the gun seems to echo throughout the warehouse. He stubs the cigarette into the ground and takes out a fresh one with a needlessly dramatic flair that Sebastian recognises all too well. It's the sight of the lighter which gives him an idea; it's the sight of two fingers pressing on triggers which spurs him into action without time to consider this idea. He lunges at Jim, ignoring Jim's enraged yelp, and lands heavily on top of him, twisting for his own gun. Four bullets are fired in quick succession. One for each gunman; the first ricochets harmlessly off the ground and the second skims over the top of Sebastian, almost catching him but not quite. The last two shots belong to Seb. One precise bullet finds the leader's arm and he swears loudly, dropping the lighter; the second cuts a clean hole through the nearest barrel of oil, sending a spray of it high into the air. Flame seems to burst out of nowhere as it comes into contact with the lighter, and Seb observes with a degree of cool satisfaction that these men won't be leaving this warehouse.
That doesn't mean he and Jim are safe; the fire swells and roars at them, the stench and heat of it oppressive. Sebastian rolls off Jim and stands, fluidly graceful, and Jim follows suit, slower, ignoring Sebastian's proffered hand. He looks irritated. At the back of his mind Seb wonders whether it's because he was thrown to the ground, or because he didn't get to burn the men himself. He looks around; their escape route seems clear, for now at least, and he starts towards it with a purpose.
"Come on," he says brusquely, hearing no footsteps behind him. He half-turns, annoyed. "Don't just stand there, we need to get out." It is an unspoken rule between them, that in situations such as this, Sebastian is in charge. Of course, being a rule, Jim sees fit to break it as often as he possibly can. It wouldn't be the first time Seb has had to forcibly drag him out of a crime scene before the whole place went up or the police arrived.
Jim is standing right where he left him, staring at him blankly. He hasn't moved an inch. Sebastian strides back over to him, scowling. "We need to go," he snaps, grabbing Jim's arm and pulling him hard. Jim staggers slightly and a pained whine escapes him before he can clamp down on it. Seb stops. Jim tries to yank his arm free and carry on walking, but Sebastian won't let go.
"Nothing, I'm fine. Like you said, we need to go."
"Sebby," Jim says, mockingly, but his forehead is tense and there's a crinkle at the edges of his eyes which betrays his pain. His weight seems to be shifted over to one side, and he didn't want to move...
"When I pushed you over," Sebastian guesses. "Your leg."
Jim huffs. "Ankle. You enormous brute."
Sebastian crouches down. He ignores the flames for the time being and touches Jim's ankle with a gentleness that a sniper should not possess. "Sprained," he murmurs. "You'll need to rest it."
"I can't very well rest it when we're in the middle of – ooof!"
Jim's snide comment is cut off when Sebastian rises, one arm winding around his waist, and hoists him over his shoulder with distressingly little effort. He flails and tries to kick but that hurts, so he settles for grasping at his arms and pinching him as hard as he can. "Don't - "
"Pinch me all you like," Sebastian tells him, walking back towards the exit. "This is the easiest way and you know it."
Jim glares into the small of his back. "If you ever mention this to anyone... " he threatens, or tries to, because really, what does he have against Sebastian except firing him? And they both know he never would.
"If I mention it to anyone you'll decapitate me, bury me, then dig me up just to get in a few extra cuts," Sebastian drawls. "Yeah, I know."
Jim digs his fingers in just enough to hurt. Sebastian ignores him. He knows the jolting movement of his walk must be uncomfortable, but Jim isn't a child, despite appearances, and he will just have to deal with it. Besides, he's clearly not adverse to hurting Seb right back. He can hear sirens beginning to wail in the distance, but he's not concerned. They'll be long gone by the time Scotland Yard arrives. All that will be left is a burning warehouse, a funeral pyre for three men who thought they they could face down Moriarty and live to tell the tale. Should have known better, Seb thinks. Even if Moriarty doesn't get you, Moran will.