Jim didn't know why he felt so nervous, the knot in his stomach refusing to disappear while he stood outside the café which he'd agreed to meet Sebastian outside of. It wasn't like he didn't know the man he was meeting up with, having seen him every day since he arrived outside Jim's office door. The sniper had been a mess, recently return from the army after being dishonourably discharged and depending on alcohol to pull through each day. Jim had given him a chance, watching as he went from the ghostly shell he had been when to Jim's best employee. And somewhere over the past few months, Jim couldn't help but fall for the sniper, eventually working up enough courage to ask Sebastian out for coffee. Jim had finished work early, disappearing back to his flat quickly to get changed before wondering through the busy London streets until he found the café which Sebastian had suggested. It looked nice, Jim had to admit. It was located only ten minutes away from his own flat and twenty minutes away from the office, though the café was well hidden on a busy street so there was little chance of them being seen. It had taken Jim a little longer to find it, not having really paid attention to many of the shops that lined the streets unless he had a use for them. Jim moved, sitting on a nearby wall. He was still early, he knew that but it didn't stop him from getting more and more impatient as he waited. Sebastian's still on a job, Jim reminded himself every so often. You still have half an hour. Jim murmured the reminders to himself every so often, ignoring the stares he often received from passers-by.
"You look bored," a voice chuckled beside Jim's ear. "Maybe I can help."
Jim looked up, meeting the bright blue eyes of Sebastian Moran. He couldn't help but frown slightly before giving Sebastian a smile. "Maybe," he replied, his tone slightly teasing. "But I doubt it, I meant to be meeting a date here in ten minutes or so."
"Oh really?" Sebastian replied in the same teasing tone. "And who's the lucky guy or girl?"
"Nobody important," Jim replied. "Just my sniper and bodyguard."
Sebastian gave Jim a smile. "What does he look like? Maybe I can point him out to you when I see him?"
Jim slipped off the wall, standing in front of Sebastian for a moment before beginning to walk around him. "About your height with blond hair and bright blue eyes. He's gorgeous, though I'm not sure if he knows it. He's muscular and is exceptional with a gun. Think you'd be able to spot him in this crowd."
Sebastian's smile widened. "Oh I bet I could find him easily, sir," Sebastian stopped Jim from pacing around him, bending down and gently kissing Jim's cheek. "Unfortunately he gave me the message that he couldn't make it so you will have to put up with me instead. Will I do, boss?"
Jim looked thoughtful for a few seconds before giving Sebastian a wide grin. "I guess you'll have too."
Sebastian gave him a grin back before taking his hand and leading him inside the café, taking him towards one of the empty two-seat tables away from the window so that they wouldn't be seen. He'd grabbed them two menus on the way through, uncertain whether Jim would want food alongside his drink. He couldn't help but be fascinated with the consulting criminal across from him; of course he'd figured out how Jim liked his tea. Occasionally he would arrive at the office a little while before Jim did, making a cup of tea and leaving it on his desk. Knowing that he always had the timing exactly right so that the tea would still be fresh and hot when Jim arrived a minute or so later. Sebastian always managed to find a way to sneak out so that Jim wouldn't know it was him doing it, coming back half an hour later to an empty mug and picking up whatever jobs needed doing that day.
Jim studied the menu quickly, looking through the list of food before deciding that if he was going to have anything that it would be something small and not from the menu. His eyes flickered towards the cake stand which stood only a few feet away. Sebastian watched Jim, noting the small changes in his facial expression as he thought. It changed altogether when the smaller man looked in the direction of the cakes.
"You can have whatever you want," Sebastian told him. "I'll pay this time."
"Alright, a slice of chocolate cake would be great," Jim replied. "And I'm guessing from the mugs of tea each morning you already know how I like that." Jim raised his eyebrow.
"How did you figure that out?" Sebastian asked, a little surprised but giving a laugh anyway.
"You spend the most time in my office and around me, it wasn't difficult to figure it out," Jim replied.
Sebastian nodded with a slight smile. "I should have been more careful," he replied, pausing as a waiter came over. "Two pieces of chocolate cake and two teas with milk, can I have mine with less milk and his with more?"
Jim smiled, handing in his menu and sitting back in his chair. His eyes flickered around the café, taking in what was happening at other tables, behind the counter and outside before they finally settled on Sebastian. Sebastian had been watching him with fascination, turning his head when Jim's gaze fell on him, acting casually. It wasn't exactly normal for the sniper to be sat across from his boss, especially in these circumstances. Not that he wasn't going to enjoy those few precious moments out of the office.
"So, what else have you observed about me?" Sebastian asked curiously, keeping an eye on Jim even when the waiter had come over to deliver their food and drink.
Jim didn't reply for a little while, cutting off part of his chocolate cake and putting it in his mouth as he sat back and studied Sebastian. He took a sip of his tea before answering. "You're my sniper, dishonourably discharged from the army though you have never said for what. I know that you don't like to talk about it and it is unlikely I will know what that discharge was for. You lived with your parents until you were 18 and you didn't always have the most stable relationship with them. You then went to study at Oxford University but you got bored of your course and so dropped out and joined the army, where you trained and became their most skilled sniper. Correct me if I'm wrong."
Sebastian studied Jim for a few moments, impressed as he watched his boss sit back in his chair with a smug grin on his face. Of course Jim was right, had hit every detail correctly with barely any input from Sebastian himself. Though he wasn't surprised, of course Jim would learn as much about him as he could. Sebastian couldn't help but swallow slightly. "And what details am I allowed to know about you?" he asked.
Jim drank his tea quietly for a few minutes, not sure what he wanted Sebastian to know. "I grew up in Ireland," he murmured before forcing his voice to talk louder. "I didn't have a very happy childhood and my teenage years weren't much better. I moved to London when I was sixteen, wanting to get away from my abusive father and a mother who never bothered to defend me. I had little money though somehow with the grades I had I managed to gain access to going to university for a little while before I decided it wasn't for me. I eventually started my own business, as a consulting criminal. Finding that my skills suited what I was doing perfectly. And here I am quite a few years later having tea and cake with my sniper."
Jim couldn't help but smile at the last part, looking down at his mug as he did so and fiddling with it slightly before eating some more of his cake absently. Sebastian had sat studying Jim as he talked, taking in how complicated the smaller man was. How little he gave away emotionally. Sebastian guessed that this was probably the first time that Jim had talked about his personal life to anyone. And the sniper couldn't help but be grateful. Knowing that Jim must trust him a lot to do so, even if it hurt Jim to talk about his past so openly.
"I'm sorry to hear about your childhood, but I promise no one will hurt you anymore, boss," Sebastian replied, determined to keep Jim as safe as possible.
"Call me Jim," Jim replied, allowing his eyes to flick up and connect with Sebastian's, his lips twisting up into a slight smile. "And I know you will," Jim paused. "There's something about you, Sebastian. And I don't know what it is. But I trust you, more than I've ever trusted anyone else."
"Well I'm glad," Sebastian replied with a wide grin. "If you didn't trust me, you probably wouldn't have told me so much about yourself."
Jim's smile widened ever so slightly. "How long have you been working for me. Colonel Moran?"
Sebastian couldn't help but pull a face at his rank title. "Around six months, more or less. Though it seems like I've worked with you for much longer. It's made a nice change."
Jim nodded, losing himself in thought for a few moments. He was hesitant as he looked at Sebastian from across the table. "Would you come home with me tonight? Back to my flat? I just…" Jim stopped, biting his lip. He didn't want to look weak. Especially in front of his sniper.
"You just what, Jimmy?" Sebastian had only meant to call his boss Jim, but the name just slipped out too easily for him to be able to resist saying it.
Jim looked at Sebastian, liking the name that clearly hadn't meant to slip out of Sebastian's mouth. "I just want some protection at home. I don't sleep very well on my own, and I trust you to protect me no matter what happens. You may even be able to chase the….." Jim couldn't help but pause again. "Chase the nightmares away," he finally finished.
"I would love to come and stay with you, for however long you want me too," Sebastian replied with a smile. "Now eat your cake and drink your tea, this is probably the best coffee shop in London and I'm not going to have you wasting anything."
Jim couldn't help but laugh slightly, chat resuming to normal between the two men as they settled to finish eating the pieces of cake both had as the steam rose from the mugs of tea. Both asking questions, finding out tiny details about each other, laughing over simple things as the hours slipped by, hidden away in a tiny coffee shop in the middle of London where nobody could see them. Finally away from prying eyes.