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Elias’ hand is gentle but unyielding in its grasp on Jon’s throat. Keeping his back flush up against Elias’ chest while the other hand touches him wherever he pleases.

It’s awful. He can’t help shivering, can’t help the soft whine that rips out of him as those possessive fingers trace up his thigh. Elias presses a soft, wet kiss behind his ear.

“Please,” Jon whispers, “Please, Elias.”

Elias smiles against his neck, traces the pitted Corruption scars with his tongue. It’s awful. Jon keeps his hands twisted in the hem of his jumper, keeps his eyes on Elias’ desk. If he concentrates hard enough on the dark whorls of fine wood or the same four lines of meaningless expense reports, maybe he can block out the heat of Elias’ body, the breath in his ears, the horrible crawling of every inch of his skin. His body begs him to get away, to fight, to scream.

He can’t. If he makes a fuss, someone will hear, and the only thing worse than submitting himself to this is the idea of being seen like this.

“My Archivist,” Elias murmurs, so saccharine and fond that Jon wants to be sick. Elias sucks tingly marks into his skin and slides a warm hand between his legs.

“No, no.”

He knows, objectively, that it should feel good. He should be grateful that anyone cares for him anymore. That anyone wants to touch him like this even if it feels so rotten. It feels the same as ropes and plastic fingers and cold lotion. It shouldn’t, but he’s always been like this. Difficult. Skittish. Ungrateful.

“Stop it,” he says, miserable. The expenses waver and blur and there are tears, now. God, how pathetic he must look. “Please stop, please.”

“Hush, Jon,” Elias purrs, kisses softly back up to his ear, grazes it with teeth and tongue. “My lovely Archivist.”

Elias pushes him forward, bends him over the desk, and he sobs. Elias shushes him, slipping warm hands under his jumper, under his shirt, under the waistband of his trousers.

“I’ll teach you, Jon,” he murmurs, kissing now at Jon’s shoulder, pulling aside his clothes to get at his skin, “I’ll show you how to like it.”

Jon wants to scream, hates the helplessness of it all, the hard line of Elias’ cock against him, the cool air rushing in to bite every bit of exposure as his trousers come down. He chokes back all but a weak whimper as Elias slides his pants down, too, and sucks in a breath at the sight of him.

“Stop, just stop, no more, Elias, Elias--”

He’s sobbing openly now, he can barely breathe for it and can’t see at all. Not that he needs to, not that he wants to. He sobs his name like a prayer to an uncaring god. It may as well be.

Then Elias touches him and he wails. He doesn’t want to be seen, to be Known like this. The piece of himself that will always feel wrong, even when there are good days it’s there nagging at the base of his consciousness.

Don’t!”

Elias wraps an arm around his chest, pulls him close and rocks him gently.

“Hush, relax, relax for me. You’re alright,” Elias coos.

“Please, don’t touch me there,” Jon sobs, “Please, stop.”

Elias hums in his ear, rubs little circles into the inside of his thigh, massages the seam where his body goes soft and wrong.

“You’re alright, Jon, I’m going to make it good for you.”

His fingers slide there again.

“You’re doing so well, you’re so wet for me.”

“I’m not—I’m not, don’t touch me--”

Elias slides his cock between Jon’s legs but doesn’t penetrate him, just drags through the sick, slick heat nestled between his folds. Fucks into the tight seal of his thighs. On every stroke it slides against his cock, and he hates the tingly heat, the electric buzz of pleasure settling into his bones. Jon hangs his head and shakes and cries and cries and cries until Elias’ quiet moans turn strained, until his hips stutter and there are splashes of sticky, cloying heat all over Jon’s thighs.

He expects Elias to let go. He wants Elias to pull away.

He doesn’t.

“Good boy,” Elias says wet into his ear, and his hand, oh god, his fingers press rudely against Jon’s cock.

“No,” he manages. He barely recognizes his own voice, choked and snotty as it is.

“Cum for me, Jon, let me see you.”

He tries not to, he really does. But Elias seems to Know just how to touch him, things Jon doesn’t and can’t prepare for. He tries so hard to focus on anything else, to think about the uncomfortable stickiness of his thighs, or the pain of biting his lip. This is all he has left that’s his, something no one else has seen. Something secret and sacred. Just the sort of thing to feed to Elias’ ravenous god.

And then it’s happening, and his legs are shaking and he’s gasping and making humiliating noises and Elias keeps touching him through it. More, until he’s digging his nails into Elias’ forearm and trying to squirm out of his grasp as it turns painful, as the rush of sick ecstasy turns to bone-deep exhaustion.

“You’ve done so well, Jon.” Elias sounds so proud and warm and Jon feels like clawing his skin off. “My Archivist.” He presses kisses into Jon’s hair, his ear, his cheek. Rights Jon’s pants and draws him into his arms. He’s too weak to resist, still trembling with aftershocks of the forced orgasm.

“Next time we’ll do this properly.”

 

Chapter Text

 

A hand clamps over his mouth before he can even open it.

“Can’t have you trying to compel me, can we love?”

He thrashes, claws at the cold, cold hand but for all his faults Peter Lukas apparently works very hard at sea. His hands are rough and strong, much too strong for a half-starved, sleep-deprived archivist who was already slight to begin with.

He struggles anyway. Squirms against the leg that slips between his own, tries to bite the hand that gags him. If Elias doesn’t already See this happening, Jon wants him to Know that he tried. That he fought.

“Easy, Archivist.”

Jon bites down hard and he jerks his hand back, laughing. His skin tastes of salt and dry ash.

“Fuck you,” he snaps. Not the most clever response, but heartfelt. “Let go of me. Elias will--”

The salty hand smacks him across the mouth, but there’s no anger in his empty, Lukas-grey eyes. Jon squirms, but the hand seals over his mouth again and this time it grips his face hard and painful.

“Oh, yes, Elias,” Peter chuckles. “Mustn’t upset your Elias.”

White pain blooms across Jon’s scalp as his head is ground slowly back against the wall, brick digging at his skull.

“Oh, sure, he’ll be livid I played with his pet Archivist without asking, but I reckon I’ve got Elias all figured out. You know, he gave me this long spiel about destiny and Knowing who was right for the job, but you know what I think?” Peter laughs and it almost sounds friendly. There’s nothing sinister to his voice but the words, and that makes it worse, somehow. Like Jon’s the unreasonable one.

“I think he chose you because you were pretty.”

Jon tries to bite him again, color rising in his cheeks. Digs his nails into the back of his hand. Peter doesn’t even wince.

“His last few toys have all been a bit on the waifish side. Skinny, you know, little things. All elbows and knees and big eyes.”

An oily little tendril of Knowing slips behind his eyes, of Elias pawing all over consumptive little things until he got bored of them, or until being Seen became too much for their weak hearts to bear. A shadow of alien excitement at seeing the scrawny new research assistant. He shudders, tries to push the knowledge away. It makes him nauseous to be thought of that way. Like a particularly enticing canapé, or a new doll Elias is delighted to be able to play with as rough as he likes. Beyond that, a sick curl of affection.

He also Knows a little of Peter Lukas. It’s mostly just cold, damp fog, but he can see the shape of his intentions clear enough. Partly, Peter is enjoying toying with him, but mostly?

Mostly he’s sticking around because he just hasn’t yet decided if he’s going to fuck him.

“He’ll be insufferable if I rough you up too much,” Peter muses, turning Jon’s head this way and that. “Shall we see what hits his limit? When do you think he’ll stop enjoying the show too much?”

Jon whimpers, his guts twisting up into cold knots, eyes burning with tears. Not this again, it was bad enough with Elias but Peter Lukas won’t even be gentle with him. Sickly sweet and humiliating as it was, at least Elias didn’t physically hurt him. He didn’t have to feel the shape of his hands in dark, inescapable bruises for days after.

“I think he’ll let me get my fingers in you, but after that it’s anyone’s guess.” He starts to rut against Jon’s hip, just slightly, starting to excite himself with all his choices. Jon tries to beg but it comes out hopelessly muffled. “Maybe get my mouth on your pretty cunt? You think he’d like that, watching me make you squeal? Or would he be jealous I got the first taste of you?”

Jon shakes his head, frantic, fear seeping into his guts and making his throat tight. He thrashes, panic overtaking any sense of strategy.

“Maybe he’ll even let me fuck you if you’re cute enough.”

He sobs, an awful broken sound he hates as soon as it escapes. Helpless. Helpless. Peter licks the tears from his cheek with a deep, satisfied groan. Like Jon's suffering tastes divine, bitter-salt-sweet hopelessness, and isolation thick and rich like butter. One of Peter’s hands grabs his ass—much too hard—and pulls his body closer, grinds his now quite solid erection against him.

“God, if you weren’t spoken for. I’d already have you, Archivist, I’d have sunk my hooks in you years ago. I’d have had you begging for me. Have you desperate for touch but hating how I gave it to you. Thanking me for fucking your miserable brains out. Wishing I’d let you die.”

Peter sucks disgusting, noisy kisses against his neck and then bites once, twice, then so hard Jon nearly screams. The grip on his face moves down to his jaw, frees his mouth in time for another and this time he does. He kicks and cries and writhes until Peter pulls back, flushed and grinning with bloodied teeth.

“Ask him to save you. See if he comes.”

Elias,” he sobs.

“You can do better than that, love,” Peter says with an easy smile.

He can’t, though, can he? He can barely stand for trembling and his throat is so thick with misery he can hardly push out another pathetic plea.

“Please, Elias, please help me.” Every word rings hollow in the empty space, every word makes him feel more alone. No, not alone.

Forsaken.

Peter moans, like he can feel the word enter Jon’s head. Grinds his cock against Jon’s hip with a fervor bordering on desperation.

“Help me,” he whimpers, and resigns himself to Peter’s attentions. It doesn’t take long for Peter to shove him roughly to his knees.

“Stop, don’t--”

He gets another smack across the mouth, harder this time, hard enough to knock his glasses askew. Through the sting and the tears he barely registers the sound of a belt, of a zip, and then Peter grabs his hair and wrenches his head back.

He screws his eyes shut in time for Peter’s deep sigh, and the hot splash of cum across his nose, eyes, and cheek. His glasses protect him a bit but some still dribbles onto his eyelids. For a horrible moment he thinks he can See himself, red-faced and bruised and snotty from crying, with cum on his face in a final humiliation.

He retches, and by the time he’s done vomiting he can barely breathe for sobbing and Peter Lukas is long gone.

Used and abandoned, again. Alone in his misery, with no-one the wiser.

Who would he tell, anyway? Elias already Knows, surely, probably watched the whole time. Tim? What would Tim care? He’d probably be glad something terrible had happened to him. Had been done to him. Basira barely knows him, why would she care? And Martin?

He shivers. Martin would fret and stress and hover even though there would be nothing he could do. Martin doesn’t deserve that kind of baggage.

No, best to keep to himself.

Chapter Text

 

He doesn’t know why he comes when Elias calls.

No, that’s not entirely true. He knows that partially, he’s hoping he’s finally decided to tell him something more substantial, or even that the next shred of information will be just what they need to finally end this nightmare. Even if they are, in all likelihood, only striking the set for a new one.

What Jon doesn’t understand is the other part of him, the one that can’t even stomach his own reflection, that can no longer stand the texture of brick or the smell of Elias’ expensive cologne. He doesn’t understand why that part of him lets his legs carry him back into Elias’ office. Lets Elias lock the door, lets him crowd into Jon’s space so close to that damned desk .

This time Elias takes his face in his hands, faces him with open fondness .

( Much gentler than Peter, Jon registers dully, like it matters how gently a spider cradles a bluebottle in soft silk. How delicately it bites. How sweetly its prey dies.)

Elias studies his face with hungry eyes, probes the yellowish bruise at his mouth and tuts irritably.

“I...” Jon starts, mouth dry and eyes burning. “I’m sorry.”

He doesn’t know why he thinks Elias will be angry with him. Perhaps because his cries for help went unanswered. Perhaps because he’d prefer him to be unreasonable, and thus easier to hate.

“Hush, Jon, you’re alright.”

He hates how secure he feels in his arms. More than that, he hates how the edges of the assault are bleeding into this, both souring this moment and mellowing the previous. Like if he doesn’t cling to the lingering hurt it will fade so much that he forgets why he ever feared Elias, and that would be worse than anything. He keeps his hands stiffly at his sides. Pushing Peter away didn’t work, and he gets the feeling Elias will find it sickeningly endearing.

“He’s such a beast,” Elias says, irritated, smoothing a hand over Jon’s hair. “No respect for boundaries.”

He almost believes that. Like Elias hadn’t bent his boundaries over his desk. Violated them with mouth and tongue and wandering hands and. Other things.

“You surprised me,” he says, presses a delicate kiss to the bruise that still makes Jon’s whole body go rigid. “I thought you could stop him. You should have been able to.”

He feels sick. Shame has been a constant companion since the first time, only feet away from this spot, but it seems heavier now. Tinged with something horribly like guilt.

“It’s not your fault, Jon,” Elias murmurs, like soothing a child, fingers carding into Jon’s hair. Sliding to the back of his head to hold him in place. “You weren’t ready.”

Ready for what , he wants to demand, but oh god, their faces are so close and if he opens his mouth he won’t be able to close it again before Elias is upon him.

His resolve cracks as their mouths meet. His hands fly up to Elias’ chest and he pushes as hard as he can, if he can’t push Elias away maybe he can push himself back, it’s wet and warm and he can smell—can taste— it’s too much, it’s too much. Elias holds his head fast, brings him up and off balance, kisses him with pleased little noises like he simply doesn’t notice Jon doing his best to struggle while keeping his lips firmly together.

It’s too long, an eternity, before Elias pulls back, lips wet and eyes dark. Jon’s knees go weak with despair.

“No—Elias please, Elias please .”

“Lovely,” Elias murmurs, thumb slipping up under Jon’s glasses to wipe the tear from his cheek. Perilously close to his eye. “So lovely.”

He doesn’t even try to control his breath. What would be the point? Maybe he’ll manage to hyperventilate, can be unconscious for Elias’ affections.

Stop,” he gasps, and that’s all he gets out before their mouths come together again.

It would be good. With anyone else it would be so good, the slick warmth of soft lips, the careful, rapturous attention, the luxurious slide of tongue.

Here, now, it’s disgusting. Elias moans softly and Jon wants to spit the sound out of his mouth, can feel it sliding oily down his throat to poison his insides.

“Come home with me,” Elias whispers against his mouth. “Let me have you, Jon, let me take you to bed like you deserve.”

Let me fuck you, he hears, Let me use you up, let me destroy you like you deserve.

“Elias, no,” he says, hears the plaintive whimper in his voice even as he tries to keep steady, “Please, please don’t make me.”

“Hush,” Elias says again, so soft even when his hands are the newest source of Jon’s nightmares. Sliding down his back, sneaking under his jumper.

“No one has to know, Jon, no one has to see you.”

You can come quietly or you can let everyone see me make you. You can come with me or I can have you here, on the floor, and everyone will hear you begging me to stop .

Tears slip from the corner of his eye and Elias’ soft smile feels like broken glass under his skin.

Chapter Text

“Off, if you’d be so kind.”

Jon clutches the hem of his jumper and tries to push it back down. At least neither of them have seen all of him, or even most of him. His body is still mostly a secret, if only to Elias’ mortal eyes.

Elias pries his hands away.

“Come now. I’d hate to have to cut it off you.”

He sounds disgustingly contrite, like it would pain him and Jon is insisting that he do so anyway. Like Jon is the unreasonable one. He supposes he is, really. He’s the one who went home with him. He pulls off his jumper with shaking hands and lets Elias strip him of his undershirt and binder.

“Lovely,” Elias breathes. Jon doesn’t know how, but he Knows that Elias has found him exactly as he likes. Scrawny and sunken, with tiny breasts that barely need binding. He makes himself sit still as Elias palms them, rolls his nipples slowly, delicately kisses down his chest. He’s grateful that he’s not especially sensitive there. He can almost pretend not to feel Elias’ mouth.

“My perfect Archivist,” Elias says. Sickeningly fond. “Lay back.”

Jon leans back shakily, onto his elbows then his back. The sheets feel terribly expensive. Such a strange thing to focus on, he realizes, but supposes it’s better than anything else.

He vaguely remembers What The Ghost having a sponsor that sold sheets, maybe these were—hands undoing his belt, lifting his hips—those, but unlikely. High thread count, probably in the thousands—lips, tongue on the soft skin of his belly—and he is for some reason aware that this particular shade is called ‘sage’ and that Elias has another set in black.

Teeth dig into his hip and he yelps, thinking of a bloodied grin and the smell of salt.

“I want you to feel this,” Elias purrs. His teeth are clean and he lavs his tongue over the bite like he thinks that will soothe it. “You’ll like it.”

That fills his belly with ice. Elias pulls his trousers and pants off and he finally lets himself squirm, backs up the bed away from him.

“I—I won’t,” he protests. Elias catches his ankle and holds him fast.

“Of course you will,” he says, pulls Jon back down and kisses into the inside of his thigh. “I promised I’d do this right, didn’t I?”

“Please don’t,” Jon says, weakly.

Elias noses into the join of his hip, into the thatch of dark hair he tries so hard not to think about, and breathes deep like he’s savoring the smell.

“Stop it. That’s disgusting.”

Elias breathes warm air over him, looks up with a crooked, patient smile.

“It’s perfectly natural,” he says, and his tongue darts out to--

Jon keens and throws his head back. He can’t watch this, but he also can’t escape. The thought of Elias’ teeth so close to—well. He keeps still and stiff, shaking in every limb. It feels too strange to be enjoyable, even with the occasional jolt of too-much when Elias catches his cock. It even sounds horrible, all slick and wet interlaced with the soft, greedy sounds of Elias’ enjoyment.

He has no choice but to wait for Elias to get bored. When he does, Jon remembers what probably comes next and tears spring to his eyes.

“I-I think that’s enough, don’t you?” He tries, cowering as Elias kisses back up his body—when did Elias take his shirt off? His trousers?

Elias insinuates himself between Jon’s legs, kisses slick into his mouth. It doesn’t taste like much of anything but Jon still wants to gag.

“I don’t think we need protection,” Elias says idly, and of course that would be too much to hope for. Like it was too much to hope that Elias might be content to keep rutting against him like he had before. He wants to push away but he’s trapped, caged in Elias’ arms and tangled up with him. This can’t be happening, he must be passed out in his office having the worst nightmare of his life. He pushes against Elias’ chest.

“I don’t—please don’t, I’ve never—I don’t want to, I’ve never wanted to—”

He can’t even string together a real sentence. Pathetic. He should just lie back and let Elias have him. He’s lucky anyone wants him like this. Elias even pretends to ask permission.

“Please, Elias, I can’t do this. Please don’t make me do this.”

He can feel it touching him, bumping hot and slick against the seam of his hip, then pushing against—into him.

No,” he wails, “Please, no, stop

Elias’ eyes are so sharp and so dark, not like eyes should be. Awful and predatory and Seeing.

“So lovely,” Elias murmurs, moans low and long as he pushes in. It hurts, part of Jon is actually surprised that it physically hurts. He supposes he’s grateful, in a way, that Elias won’t be able to make him ‘enjoy’ this. Grateful under layers and layers of panic and pain.

“There you are, Jon.”

“It hurts,” he sobs, “Please, it hurts.”

“Relax for me and it won’t. You’re alright, Jon, just relax for me, let me make you feel good.”

Elias reaches between them and digs a thumb into Jon’s cock. He yelps, grabs his wrist, but Elias pries his fingers away and keeps it up. Rubs him just so, just the way he would like if this was anything else, anyone else, if he wasn’t fundamentally broken. It makes his stomach burn and his toes curl and the awful stretch subside just a bit as his insides begin to relax and he hates it.

“There you are.”

It feels horrible, being full, being stretched. Like little silver bodies burrowing into his flesh, pushing apart places that aren’t meant for them. Like he’ll never be able to dig Elias out of him.

Elias sucks those wet, tingly kisses into his neck and starts to move, pulls back a bit and drives deep, and Jon cries out. He can’t help it. He doesn’t know if it’s the fear or despair or the pain or even the sick pleasure but he lets his head fall back and screws his eyes shut and screams. Cries and cries until he’s out of breath and his chest is heaving and Elias is making soothing little noises into the skin behind his ear as he fucks him deep and slow.

“Let it out, Jon, it’s alright. I’ve got you.”

Got you like cancer gets you. Like a snake gets a mouse. Got me like that Thing got Sasha .

“You’re doing so well for me,” Elias groans, “God, you’re perfect, you feel so good.”

He clings to that. Forces himself to focus on the pathetic wail of joy that goes up in his bones at being praised. Elias licks into his mouth and he stays still, lets Elias kiss him as much as he wants.

Elias’ hands find places on his body he’d never wanted to be touched but they light up like they were always meant for this. Like he’s just carrying around little points of pleasure for Elias to peruse. Covered in buttons for him to push. Elias sucks under his jaw, drags blunt nails over his hips and squeezes his tits, digs a mean thumb up under his cock and Jon shrieks. Denials still sticking desperate to his lips as he cums.

“No, no no no!

Elias fucks him more roughly after that. It hurts more now, sensitive as he is and still shuddering through the last of his orgasm. He never wanted to hear what Elias’ pleasure sounds like but now it’s almost familiar. Heaving breath and soft moans, whispered, breathless praise half-buried against Jon’s mouth.

So lovely, so tight, so pretty, so good for me. Perfect, brilliant, divine.

“I’m so close,” Elias moans, and Jon simply lays still and weeps.

He doesn’t have the energy left to beg. He wants to, but why? It won’t do any good. It has never done any good. He manages to sink far enough into despair that he almost doesn’t feel Elias’ grip on his hair turn harsh and tight. He yelps, fresh, sharp pain singing into his nerves, and Elias drives deep with a familiar sound.

He tries not to register it but he can feel it inside him, oh god, he can feel Elias cum inside him. It’s awful, it’s disgusting, he’s disgusting. He barely recognizes the pathetic, broken sob as his own.

Elias hums contentedly into his neck, blissful and languid as he pushes himself up to his elbows. Jon turns away as much as he can—god, he can feel Elias inside him when he moves—and presses shaking hands to his face.

“You did so well for me, Jon,” Elias says, toying with his hair. “You were wonderful.”

All Jon can think that isn’t pain and skin and despair is that if the Unknowing happened right now, no one would ever see him like this again.

 

Chapter Text

The next time he sees Peter Lukas is in his office.

“Not here,” he says, and it comes out so weak and pitiful that he almost thinks he deserves whatever comes next.

Peter presses in behind his chair, plants his hands on the desk, traps Jon between them. Mouse in a cage to be poked and prodded until there’s nothing left.

What do you want?” He snaps, and too late he feels the sparks of compulsion through his teeth, the static on his tongue. Peter shivers, noses into Jon’s neck. Hysterically, breath quickening to panicked bursts, he thinks of saying Statement of Peter Lukas, regarding exactly how he wants to rape me.

“I want to taste your cunt. I want be the first to fuck your pretty arse,” he says, wet and wicked in Jon’s ear. “I want to pierce your little tits and your tongue and your cock, so every time you so much as move it reminds you of what you let me do to you.”

Jon says nothing. He can’t, his tongue is leaden and his eyes are stuck on the desk in front of him. On the running tape recorder. Is Elias listening?

“I want to hollow you out, I want to scatter all your little secrets until there’s nothing left for Elias. I want to taste it when he drops you.”

Peter moans, long and low, bites delicately at his ear. “It rolls over my tongue like milk and honey, Archivist. That kind of hurt tastes like heaven to me.” He grins against Jon’s skin, and Jon shudders as he feels the wicked mouth open and start to suck kisses into his neck.

“You know,” he says, working down towards Jon’s shoulder, where the half-healed bite still lingers, “I usually don’t do this. I prefer a willing partner, really. But there’s just something so sweet about you , knowing absolutely no one will help you. Gets a man’s blood going.”

He pauses, breath cooling the horrid wet patches he’s left all over Jon’s neck.

“You were begging by this point last time, Archivist.” His tone is light and conversational, curious and amused.

“It won’t do me any good.” He almost manages to keep the tremor out of his voice. “There’s nothing I can do to stop you.”

Peter laughs.

“Of course there is! You could scream, for instance. No dark alley this time, love, your whole staff is just beyond that door there.”

But he can’t.

“You could even try to run. Might get to the door, might even make it out.”

But he can’t.

Martin would be distraught. He frets so much already, the stress of knowing Jon’s attracting this kind of monster into the archive might just kill him. Tim and Melanie would probably be equal parts glad and angry, but the anger would be for much the same reason as Martin’s worry. Jon’s bringing them into the archive now, and if he’s so bloody irresistible then what’s to stop other creatures from seeping in.

Maybe, he thinks with a misery that seems to creep into all his thoughts lately, maybe they’ll scold him for getting laid while the rest of them suffer.

Best to keep quiet. Not to distract them from their work as he’s been. Peter grins against his skin. One hand leaves the desk to rest on Jon’s thigh.

“You know what else I want, since we’re sharing?”

Jon can feel his mouth trembling as he holds back desperate tears. God, when did he become this pathetic?

“I’d love to knock you up.”

Cold terror cuts through the misery.

“n-No,” he stammers, “No, you can’t, you wouldn’t.”

He can’t, he shouldn’t be able to, but such horrible, impossible things have happened since his surgeries that it’s anyone’s guess what’s impossible anymore.

I’m sure you’ve already had all that taken care of, but wouldn’t that be lovely? Elias enraged but too curious to let you get rid of it. Everyone watching you swell up, knowing what I did to you. Watching you scream through the birth, finally getting to see whether it’s mine or Elias’. Assuming you wouldn’t just Know.”

The invasive touch turns to a firm grip, roughly massaging up his thigh. Jon whimpers, presses his legs together but Peter is so strong and he’s so skinny.

“I think I’d like to have a go anyway. Fill up your pussy two or three times and see if it takes.”

Oh, god, he wants to scream. He shakes his head, presses back into his chair but it just presses him closer to Peter’s body.

“Please,” he whimpers.

“There you are,” Peter says smoothly. “That’s more like it. Do you think your Elias will help you this time?”

He presses his hands to his face, tries to stop the tears that spring from his eyes. Increasingly he wishes they’d let Nicola get on with it, or that Jude Perry had burnt him to a crisp after all. He heaves a shuddering sob, and once that starts he can’t stop. Weeps into his hands, bent almost double with the force of it. He can’t breathe, can’t think anything but how much he wants to die rather than let anyone do this to him again.

His office door opens. He looks up out of reflex, ice in his stomach and knots in his throat.

Tim’s cold eyes take in his no doubt ugly, snotty face, his reddened eyes and wet cheeks. He says nothing, only looks mildly disgusted, and Jon realizes he can no longer feel Peter Lukas’ presence.

“Statements you wanted,” Tim spits, and tosses a stack of folders onto the floor. He slams the door behind him, leaving a ringing silence.

Jon lays his head down on his desk and cries himself sick.

Chapter Text

Recently, Jon has begun to hope that he’ll die stopping the Unknowing. It would be better than whatever sick pride he’d have to endure from Elias. An unceasing nothingness sounds divine compared to the looks he’s sure he gets from the rest of the staff.

They have to know. By now, they all have to know. Gossip travels fast and Elias hasn’t been especially subtle about bringing Jon home at the end of the day. From the part-time library staff all the way down to the Archives, he feels eyes on him and they must know what’s been done to him, they just don’t care. Tim and Basira and Melanie and Martin, sweet fumbling Martin, which is the worst of all.

Even Martin doesn’t care that twice, twice their bastard boss has...well.

(It’s just a little easier when he doesn’t put the word to it. Assaulted, he thinks instead, or attacked.)

Because obviously, how could any of them not know? Sure, they don’t spend that much time together these days, but how could they not notice the violent flinch he can’t contain when someone’s hand moves toward him, or the way he’s taken to locking his office door (as if that will help him) or the bone-deep despair that should be thick enough to taste in the air around him?

(He’s afraid to go back to his flat, now. He’s afraid that one of them will show up and ruin the last shred of sanctuary he has. He can never go there again, if he wants it to stay sacred, but knowing it exists helps a little.)

Jon,” someone says, loud and close, and he flinches.

Martin’s concerned face is much too close, and his hand is closer, reaching for Jon’s shoulder, and he feels like he can’t breathe.

“What,” he manages to snap. Anger is so much better than his usual cocktail of helpless-hopeless-misery-terror.

“I’m sorry,” Martin says, as a reflex and, mercy of all mercies, withdraws from his space. “I just--I found three more people who say they’ve heard calliope music in the last fortnight.”

Martin waves a few papers, an inelegant olive branch.

“I could, er, add them to the--”

“You already know what to do with them,” Jon says. He can’t stand to be the focus of those eyes. If he could meet them he’s sure they would be full of patronizing pity. Martin has been the hardest to accept, this past week or so. Why doesn’t he care?

“I...Right. Yeah.” Martin sounds...hurt, maybe? It would be hard to tell even if Jon could look him in the face. “Okay.”

Martin doesn’t move to leave.

What?” Jon says, more forcefully. Just leave already, just fucking leave me alone and take your idle pity somewhere else.

“N-Nothing,” Martin squeaks, and flees.

 

At ten o’clock, well after both Archives and Archivist are abandoned for the night, his tape recorder clicks on. There’s a faint squeal to the soft static that sends a chill up his spine. Or maybe the room is actually colder, because a rough hand lands on his shoulder.

“You were very unkind to that poor young man.”

“Leave me alone,” Jon says, much bolder than he feels, and tries to shrug off Peter’s grasp. “Don’t touch me.”

He stands. He’s not taking this lying down in his own office, in his own Archives. This place is his.

Get Out.” There’s power behind it that shocks him. Something electric on his tongue. Compulsion but heavier, blunted, a push rather than a pull.

Peter actually takes a step back, looking faintly stunned. Jon sways a little, breathless, and takes a shaky step around his desk, towards the door.

Peter hits him in the stomach, hard.

It actually doesn’t hurt much, compared to corkscrews and hot wax, but it knocks every bit of breath from him and leaves him weak and staggering. By the time he can breathe again, he’s already on his back on the ugly old rug by his desk with Peter between his legs.

“Elias was right, I suppose,” Peter says.

“Get off me,” Jon snarls, shoving at him, but whatever that new power was is gone now. Anger and resolve are quickly drowning in rising panic.

“I’m impressed.” Peter slaps his hands away and keeps undoing his belt. “I must admit, you almost had me.”

“Stop it!” Jon’s scrabbling heels find no purchase on the edge of the rug, give him nothing but the odd squeal of rubber on tile as it rucks up. Peter works his belt out of the loops and starts pulling his trousers off.

“Get off!”

He seizes two handfuls of Peter’s hair and pulls as hard as he can.

And Peter moans, eyes rolling and fluttering shut, leaning into Jon’s hands.

“Oh, fuck,” he groans, his face a portrait of pure, honest pleasure. “Fuck, Archivist, do that again.”

Jon’s stomach lurches and he recoils, horrified. Of course, of fucking course. Every strategy at his disposal only makes it worse.

“Tease,” Peter pouts. Jon slaps him. It barely even makes a noise. Jon wriggles as Peter yanks his trousers down to his knees. He’s tangled in his own clothes before he realizes what he’s done and Peter’s pulled his underwear down, too, and he wants to kick himself for effectively helping Peter hobble him.

“Pretty down here,” Peter says absently. This time, Jon watches as he lowers his mouth to him.

It was disgusting and uncomfortable when Elias did this but Peter is worse. Peter is good at this.

“Stop, stop stop stop that’s—I can’t--” He can’t get out a coherent thought, can’t do much of anything but babble and beg and writhe and shake as his body winds tighter. Soon he’s so close he can feel it burning in the soles of his fucking feet. He tries to think about spiders, about the sting of beard burn on the inside of his thighs, about worms and the Unknowing and the smell of his own burning skin. Anything to try to dampen this sick ecstasy. Tries hard not to think of Elias, no doubt watching from his office.

A broad, slick thumb pushes into his ass; he gasps a breathless oh and he’s cumming without warning, trying to breathe as his body locks tight. Everything seems to tilt and curl as it shakes through him, he stares down at Peter’s curls and tries not to grind down onto his mouth, tries not to shriek at this new, unconscionable violation.

It seems to take ages for the shocks to die down, for his muscles to unwind, and when it does he’s shaking in every limb. This can’t be happening.

“That was a big one,” Peter says, rests his head on Jon’s thigh and looks up at him like nothing’s wrong with this. “You like it in your ass, don’t you?”

“No,” Jon snaps. Tries to snap. It comes out like a whisper, like a whine. Like a plea.

“Don’t tell me you’ve never tried.” Peter’s cold eyes bore into his, and the smirk on his slick-smeared face says he knows full well that’s the case.

“Fuck off,” Jon says, tries to push him away. His arms are even weaker than usual, and shaking so badly he barely manages to hit his mark at all. Peter goes easily, tumbles back onto his ass with a breathy sort of chuckle.

“I’d quite like to explore that further,” he says, with the same tone he might use when suggesting he might like to try Thai food. “Come here, love.”

“Don’t call me that,” Jon says. “Leave.”

Peter laughs.

“You have two options, Archivist. Either you come here and let me play with you--” he pats his lap condescendingly, “--and get you nice and slick and loose, or I take you now and most certainly hurt you very badly. Would hate to send you to A&E over this.”

Jon glares but slowly manages to force himself to crawl into Peter’s lap.

Excellent.” He stays stiff and lets Peter arrange him, bent over as though he’s about to be spanked, and doesn’t his stomach just roil at the thought of that?

“Since you’ve been such a good sport, I’ll be using a lot of this.”

Peter sets down a large tube of lubricant on the floor in front of Jon’s face.

“Aren’t I considerate? You ought to thank me.”

Jon grinds his teeth and squirms.

“Well?”

“Thank you, Peter,” he hisses. Fuck you, Peter, he thinks.

Objectively it should feel awful, and mostly it does. There’s pain, certainly, a rough ache of gently pulled muscle, though there’s enough slick to avoid the burn of dry friction. And there’s the misery of being violated so intensely, rough fingers rubbing along his insides, stretching as far as they can. Forcing him to take more than he thought he could.

But physically? Physically, it feels.

Well.

There’s no way around it; it feels good. After only one of Peter’s fingers he has to bite his knuckles against the noises that escape him. Two has him tasting blood and pushing both his palms against his lips to muffle himself.

“This is a new side of you, isn’t it?” Peter says, conversationally, as though Jon’s not mewling a steady chant of oh god oh god into his hands, as though his hard cock isn’t digging into Jon’s side. He shakes his head frantically. This is so much worse than pain. This is worse than anything.

“No? I suppose I’ll let you go, then.”

There isn’t even time for relief. Peter spreads his fingers a bit and starts to pull them out, turning them, stretching him, and Jon wails before he can stop himself. There’s no conflict, he wants this to stop, but Peter seems to take his incidental pleasure for enthusiasm. Or pretends to.

“Should have known you’d like this. A lot of guys like you prefer it.” Peter rubs the rough pads of his fingers along slick, sensitive places that make Jon’s knees shake, sinks deep until the webs of his fingers strain against Jon’s rim. “Less dissonant, or, what’s the word? Dysphoric.

Peter starts to finger him properly with deep, quick strokes that make filthy noises. Jon can barely breathe.

“Elias could have saved himself a lot of trouble if he’d thought this through.”

Elias thought things through as much as he needed to, Jon thinks, He thought through how he wanted to use me to get off.

“I hate this,” Jon says, petulantly, miserably, honestly.

“Do you now?”

“I hate you,” he says, eyes burning with unshed tears. “Get out.”

“If you’re going to be a brat, I’ll just move on.” Peter sounds amused rather than angry. Jon tries to elbow him in the ribs before he’s rudely shoved off and sent sprawling on the dirty rug. He makes a last, desperate break for it. Scrambles forward on hands and knees.

Peter settles behind him with two hands on his waist.

“No,” Jon gasps.

“You know I won’t let you get away now. You’re not stupid, love.”

But he is, isn’t he? Stupid enough to let Elias get him alone twice. Stupid enough to make his own staff hate him so much they probably wouldn’t give a shit if they saw this.

“Please, no, you can’t--”

Peter spreads him open and starts to slide in with shamefully little resistance. He wails.

It feels very different from fingers.

In a way it feels the same as when Elias did this to him. Rougher hands, aching knees, staring down at his hands braced on the floor and trying not to scream or cry, those are different. But it’s the same horrible feeling of stretching, intrusion, even if something about the nerves here sets a constant burn of shameful pleasure into his belly, even (or especially) if Peter started to rub his cock in rhythm with his hips. It hurts the same way.

“Stop,” he gasps, struggles to stay upright with every rough thrust. “Stop, it—it hurts, please!”

“Does it,” Peter says vaguely, sucking bites into Jon’s neck. His whole body is tingling, throbbing, and he hates more than anything that the pain won’t crush the pleasure. Even Peter’s brutal pace doesn’t hurt enough to stop the slow crest building in him.

“I—I’ll give you anything,” Jon stammers. He can’t do this, he can’t finish like this, he’ll die. “You—you don’t—you don’t have to do this, I’ll get you off however you want.”

Peter doesn’t even respond. He tries to go away like he did with Elias but something keeps him in his body. Every time he tries to drift, to put fog between himself and what’s happening he’s shoved back in, feels even more intensely than before.

Beholding, he realizes. Of course the Eye won’t let him miss a moment of this.

Please,” Jon whimpers, his thighs are shaking and coated in slick and he’s so close and he hates it. “Please, don’t make me--”

Peter groans raggedly into his shoulder and licks up under his jaw. Grinds his knuckles into Jon’s cock.

“Stop, please, I’m cumming--”

God help him, he is. Shuddering, suddenly too weak to hold himself up as he shakes and whines and feels himself gush, making a mess of his thighs and the ugly old rug as it roars through him.

“Again, already,” Peter says. “Greedy slut, aren’t you?”

Jon wants to tell him to shut up but that would involve being able to breathe through the increasing pain of overstimulation. Peter’s fingers are still insistent on his cock.

“Too...much,” he manages to pant, face pressed up against the horrible carpet. “No more, too much.”

Vaguely, he Knows that Peter isn’t even thinking about him. He’s thinking about how angry Elias is, right now.

He’s Watching. Jon curls up as much as he can with Peter still holding his hips. Shame and horror twist into each other and tie him in knots because Elias is watching, has seen everything and done nothing.

Peter shudders and wraps his arms around Jon’s waist and cums with very vulnerable, very human noises breaking in the back of his throat. Whines faintly with his forehead pressed to the back of Jon’s neck.

“Fuck,” Peter gasps, rutting into him, “Fuck, you feel so good.”

There is something desperate and broken inside Peter Lukas in this moment. Jon never wants to see it again. It’s too raw, too real, uncomfortably dissonant from the monster that has twice forced himself on Jon.

The office door opens and Jon claws at Peter’s cold hands, scrambles to get away before someone sees--

“Peter.”

Elias does not look or sound pleased. He also looks ever so slightly rumpled. A lock of hair out of place and a missing jacket might as well be a plastic head for how alien they look on him. As does the stormy expression on his face.

“Elias,” Peter says, still ever so slightly breathless, and pulls out fast enough to hurt. Jon yelps. “I was in the area. Thought I’d drop in.”

“That’s quite enough,” Elias says icily. “Now get out.

There’s a shriek like tinnitus and the room warms a few degrees and Peter is gone. Jon tries to right his clothes with shaking hands. Elias’ eyes are still thunderclouds and Jon is afraid. They turn on him, finally looking directly at him, and he’s terrified.

“I-I’m sorry,” he stammers. “I-I tried to stop him.”

Elias’ face thaws just a little.

“Please, forgive me.” He doesn’t know what he’s afraid of exactly, but Elias is angry and he has no idea what kind of punishment he might feel like doling out.

He crouches on the ugly rug and extends a hand, palm up. Coaxing, like courting a stray dog.

“Come here, Jon.”

He has no choice. He’s more afraid of what will happen if he refuses than being touched—oh god, what if Elias wants a turn? He can’t bear it, he thinks he’ll break if Elias makes him do this again.

He’s taken too long; Elias grabs him roughly by the arm and pulls him closer.

“I told him not to touch you again.”

“I’m sorry,” Jon says. It’s all he can think to say that may not get him hurt.

He blinks, the world lurches, and he’s in Elias’ arms. Face pressed against a warm shoulder. Tears well in his eyes and he hates himself but it’s such a relief to be touched by a warm hand. Being with Peter feels like everything is cold and rough and every comfort is worlds away. He breathes in the nightmare-sanctuary smell of Elias and tries not to let the whiplash make him dizzy.

“Oh, Jon,” he purrs, stroking Jon’s hair. Jon can do nothing but accept it and cry as Elias begins to rock him slowly. He hates that it’s the most comforting thing that’s happened to him in months. Hates that his hands cling to the sides of Elias’ vest.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t want to,” he sobs, stupidly, like what he wants has ever made a difference.

“I forgive you,” Elias murmurs sweetly, presses kisses into each fresh bruise and scratch. He rocks for a little while and then says, softly, with a curl of a smirk Jon can feel against his skin:

“I also forgive you for both of your orgasms.”

“I--I tried,” he sobs through hot shame and humiliation. “I didn’t want to—he made me—I tried.”

“I know you did, Jon. I’m not angry with you.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I forgive you.” Elias says again, presses a kiss to his temple and stays there. “My Archivist.”

Chapter Text

He’s naked in Elias’ lap. Elias doesn’t acknowledge him, keeps droning on about efficiency or morale or donors while his hands wander. Jon’s torn between covering himself and swatting them away. Are there too many?

He doesn’t know the faces around the conference table but they are all Watching him with such pure, blank intensity that he thinks he feels his skin blistering. He recognizes Martin’s soft eyes in a strange face, watching with mild disdain, and that is the worst of all.

Jon jerks awake. Frantically he clutches at his clothes, casts his eyes around the dim room to make absolutely sure he’s alone in his office. Which he is, of course. He’s always so alone, now.

It’s always nightmares. Whenever exhaustion catches up with him, he pitches headfirst into much more personal terror than he’s used to. He finds himself wishing for spiders, sometimes.

He tries so hard to keep his hands busy and his eyes open but he sags eventually. He doesn’t remember laying his head down on his desk but in between blinks he’s gone.

Sitting naked across from Elias, feeling very much like a schoolboy in the headmaster’s office.

Tell me what happened.”

You raped me.”

Elias makes a little noise. Something like pity.

Is that so? Tell me what happened.

He’s being Compelled. He feels it even as he stammers, “I can’t, don’t make me. Please don’t make me.

What Happened To You?

Words come calm from his spasming throat, even as he tries to cover his mouth with shaking hands. Pulled up smooth and slick as oil between his teeth.

“I let you fuck me,” he says. Elias’ eyes sparkle. “I would have let anyone touch me after Peter. I didn’t want to, but you didn’t even have to make me. I just let you.”

He feels sick. He chokes, gags, pitches forward and vomits on the floor between them. Slimy and white.

“I don’t want to talk about this,” he whimpers.

Continue.

“I hated it,” he chokes out . “It hurt and I hated it. When you told me how good I was being, I tried to like it. I tried so hard to be normal for you but I was miserable and I knew you could tell. I think you liked it. I Knew you liked it.”

Elias’ expression is impassive but his cheeks are flushed and his eyes are alight with hunger.

“I let you come inside me again. That was the worst, because then all I could think about was Peter telling me how much he wanted to impregnate me. I know it’s impossible, but that scared me more than anything. I lay as still as I could and let you touch me however you liked until you left.”

“Do you still think I raped you?”

He tries to keep his mouth from trembling as he answers. There’s no Compulsion there, only smug satisfaction. He feels scolded, he feels scalded. Raw and weak.

“No.”

Chapter Text

 

“Come here, Jon,” Elias says, sickly sweet.

Jon feels his mouth tremble but he stays by the door.

“No.”

Elias sighs.

“I thought we were past this. Come on, Jon.”

No.” Jon puts as much force behind it as he can. “I...I want to stop.”

Elias looks at him like he’s a misbehaving puppy. Like his refusals are endearing. He very calmly sets down his pen, closes the folder he’s working out of, stands and takes off his jacket.

“I can't do this anymore,” Jon says, shrinks back as Elias comes closer. He wants to bolt, clutches the door handle so hard it hurts, but his hand won’t move. Oh, god, why won’t his hand move?

Jon,” Elias says. He’s so calm. His steps are even, unhurried as he carefully rolls up his sleeves. He knows Jon can’t get away. “What brought this on? You seemed perfectly content the other day.”

Jon loses track of now-Elias, consumed by then-Elias, his hands, his voice. His face burns with shame. He had begged again, that time. Begged Elias for mercy as he held something small and powerful against his cock, screamed and cried as the awful buzzing made him cum over and over until that part of him went numb. He can see the scratches on Elias’ forearms as now-Elias brushes a lock of hair out of his face. Cloying and achingly gentle.

“Don’t touch me,” Jon snaps. He has the powerful urge to bite that hand. He doubts Elias will find it as amusing as Peter.

“Don’t be rude,” Elias says, with a hint of warning. “I’ve been very lenient with you these last few weeks.”

“Oh, have you? I thought you liked a bit of fuss from your toys.” It stings more than he wants to admit, it's stung since the first time he saw Peter. That he’s not the first or the only. That Elias would have left him alone if he were lucky enough to be built like Tim or Martin. “That’s what I am, right? That’s why you let Peter Lukas play with me? You could have helped me any time you wanted.”

It hurts so badly to say that he can’t help but say it again. Throat thick with welling tears. Elias’ face is an unreadable slurry of emotions.

“You could have helped me. You could have stopped him, but you were too busy having a wank in your office!”

Oh god, he Knows that. He doesn’t have details but he Knows Elias touched himself, watching Peter attack him. He feels sick.

And sees stars as Elias grabs him by the hair and slams him back against the door. He’s never been violent before and Jon’s distantly proud that he managed to touch a nerve, even as Elias drags a pained yelp out of him. Forces his head back, back, until he’s staring up into Elias’ stormy eyes.

You could have stopped him. You nearly did, you were so close, Jon, do you have any idea how proud I was of you?” Elias shakes him, sends sharp stabs of pain through his scalp. “You were so close, but you let him have you.”

Jon grits his teeth and grabs for anger through pain and fear.

“I want to die every time you bring me here.”

“Would you rather we started meeting in your office?” Elias says, nastily.

Jon’s heart drops through the floor. All the fire goes out of him at once.

God, he’s a coward, isn’t he?

“You wouldn’t, you—you can’t.”

Elias smiles coldly.

“This is my institute. Do you want me to come down there, Jon? You want me to bend you over your desk and let all your little friends hear you squeal?”

“No, please, i-I’m sorry,” he says. Pathetic. “Don’t—you don’t have to do that.”

In his mouth, it tastes like I’ll be good.

“Are you sure? With the Unknowing approaching, I’m not sure you can keep sparing the time to come up here.”

“I-I can make time, I’ll—I’ll stay up later to make it up.”

Elias slips a hand between his legs and with great effort, Jon manages not to struggle.

“I suppose you’ll have to. It would, after all, be terribly unfortunate if one of your assistants were to interrupt us. I’m not sure I could be held accountable for what happened to them.”

“No, Elias—Elias please, don’t hurt them, I-I’ll--” He doesn’t know what to promise, what to say to assure Elias.

And then he does. He Knows what Elias wants him to say.

“Please, I want to keep doing this here.”

Elias smiles.

'How cheerfully he seems to grin', Jon thinks, 'How neatly spreads his claws'.

“Do you, Jon? You don’t sound sure.”

“I…yes. I. I want to do it in your office.” He takes a breath, fights through tears. This is what he deserves. Maybe this time can be different, maybe this time he’ll finally like it. “Please, fuck me here, in your office.”

Elias sucks in a breath. Bites his lip, just a little at the corner, and Jon knows by now that he’s not leaving for quite some time. He lets Elias kiss him deep and slow, rests his trembling hands on Elias’ chest. He thinks he’s at least growing to appreciate this, the quiet intimacy of mouths. Hot and slick, shared breaths and the plush pressure of teeth and tongue. If it was anyone else, he’d probably even want it.

“Jon,” Elias whispers against his lips. Soft and reverent. Then the twist of a smirk, the sparkle of eyes as though they’re sharing a joke.

“On your knees.”

Jon goes down without a fight, and wonders how many cups of Martin’s tea it will take to get the taste of shame out of his mouth.

 

 

It’s almost a month until he actually hears them talking about him. First, through his still-locked office door, he hears tone.

The harsh, bitter current of Tim’s voice (and that hurts, because, wildly unprofessional as he was, Tim used to light up a room).

Melanie, hissing angrily like a feral cat (and that hurts, because she has every right to be angry but it won’t help her, might never help her).

Basira, bored (and that hurts, because she shouldn’t even be here but she’s completely resigned to it).

Martin, sweet and sad (and that hurts because Jon misses the spot of clumsy sunlight that he’s systematically trodden on at every available opportunity for years , because he is a monster).

Martin, saying something he can’t make out that sounds concerned (and that hurts because Martin is always, always worried about other people, even when he was being eaten by fucking worms).

Martin, saying his name.

(That hurts, and he doesn’t know why).

Something something Jon, he hears, and he didn’t even notice that he was moving until he’s pressing his ear to the door.

“--wrong,” Martin is saying.

“Something’s always bloody wrong, Martin. Everything about this is wrong.” Jon can practically see the wide gestures Tim is making. He talks with his hands, and with his whole arms when he’s cross. “He’s fucking Elias. So fucking what. They deserve each other.”

“What do you mean so what ,” Melanie says, enraged. “That little bastard--after everything Elias did to us--”

“Yeah, he’s Judas Iscariot,” Basira says, and Jon hears her turn a page. “And it’s none of our business.”

Jon ignores the twisting in his guts. They could hardly have missed the marks Elias leaves, as carefully as Jon tries to hide them. He felt the weight of Tim’s hatred on him just this morning, finding his handsome face twisted with disgust and his hardened eyes fixed on the bruise that peeks above Jon’s collar.

“Will you just listen to me!” Martin says. His voice rises and breaks a little in the middle. Jon winces. Martin shouldn’t be defending him. He doesn’t deserve it—after all, they’re basically right. He is sleeping with Elias. The details—the disgust, the shame, the pain—are just. Extra.

“Something is wrong , Tim. Jon doesn’t—Melanie, you told me he doesn’t do that with anyone.”

Did she? Jon shakes himself. Of course, why would she pass up the chance to humiliate him? Tell everyone he’s...wrong. Frigid.

But what is Martin trying to say?

“He hates Elias as much as any of us, he wouldn’t do that even if he was interested in that sort of thing.”

“Yeah, and it’s just coincidence that when he started going up to Elias’ office he started showing up with hickeys.” Tim sighs. His voice softens, edged with exhaustion.

“Look, Martin. We all know how you feel about him. I know this must be hard for you.”

“That’s not what I’m saying, Tim. I think...” Martin takes a steadying breath. “I think something else is going on.”

A book closes. Jon’s mouth hangs open. It can’t be that only one of them considered—surely everyone could tell.

“Martin,” Basira says, carefully, but sounding much more engaged. Jon digs his nails into his palms. He wants to turn away but he needs to listen.

“Are you saying that Elias is--”

Jon slams the door open. He can’t stand to hear another person say it, even if he now knows it to be untrue. Elias isn’t doing anything to him, he’s just ungrateful.

Eight eyes snap to him. They’re all curious and pitying and that look makes his stomach roll.

Melanie opens her mouth. Jon borrows the vitriol from her, breathes it in and spits it out. Slips on a mask to send them scattering.

“Don’t you all have something better to do than stand around gossiping ? It’s only the end of the bloody world out there.”

He regrets opening the door. He regrets listening. He regrets being born.

Get to it,” he snaps. Stalks between them, shoulders Tim roughly aside. Christ, but he needs a cigarette.

Tim scowls, settles back into something infinitely better than that awful, cloying pity. “Fine.”

Jon doesn’t look at Martin. He can’t.

He slams the side door as hard as he can. He half-expects Peter Lukas to be waiting for him in the alley again. He hasn’t been back since the time in Jon’s office, but the touch of rough brick, or the sudden move of a body, or the feel of cool air on his neck bring his cruel hands back so vividly that Jon may as well have seen him every day.

He wonders, halfway through his first cigarette, if other Avatars will be able to sense it on him. If he’d met Jude Perry, say, yesterday, would she have known? Surely this kind of despair would be palpable to someone so deep in Desolation. He huffs an entirely joyless laugh. She’d have loved to rub it in his face.

He’s almost finished with his second smoke when the door opens.

“Jon.”

Martin’s tone surprises him enough to actually look at him. Usually, Martin says his name like it’s a question. Jon says nothing as Martin comes out into the alley and steps in front of him.

“I want to talk to you.”

Chapter Text

Jon wants to be sick. He wants to run. He wants to scream. He wants to tell Martin every horrible detail because there has to be some relief in it, right? Why else would they get so many statements?

He does none of it.

“I’m sorry you had to hear us,” Martin says. “They shouldn’t have been gossiping like that, and I should have...I don’t know, brought them somewhere else? We certainly shouldn’t have been yelling about it outside your office.”

One of the knots in his stomach loosens just slightly. He dares to hope this is all Martin wants.

“But,” Martin says, and Jon’s knees threaten to buckle. No, this isn’t happening. It’s too late, he’s already ruined. Why couldn’t Martin have done this sooner, when there was still something in Jon’s soul that wasn’t shattered and ground into dust?

“Don’t.”

He’s shocked by the sound of his own voice. Cracked, and hoarse, and trembling.

“This is none of your business.”

“I’m worried, Jon, we all are—I admit, for different reasons,” he adds, when Jon scoffs. “Elias—you hate him as much as any of us. I can’t believe they’d just accept that you might be sleeping with him.”

“I am, ” Jon says, before he can say anything else. “I’ve...I have. Slept with him, a number of times.” He hasn’t been keeping count but he Knows that number is fifteen. Each time chipping a piece of him he’ll never be able to fix.

Martin looks stricken.

“Tim’s right, okay? He’s right. I’ve been letting our evil boss fuck me whenever he wants for the past couple of months.” He tries to sound like he used to. Tries to put on the harsh, dismissive voice that, now he thinks about it, Martin probably never deserved. “Are you satisfied? Go tell them they were right, lord knows Tim could use something to gloat about these days.”

Vaguely, he sees Martin’s mouth form the words letting him, but he can’t tell what that means. His knees feel weak and his skin is crawling. Turns out, talking about it is making it worse. He slides down the alley wall and sits heavily on the hard ground. Fumbles for another cigarette. He doubts he’s going to live long enough to regret chain smoking. Maybe Elias will hate the smell. If he just smokes enough, maybe even Elias will find him too repulsive to touch.

“Jon,” Martin says, like he’s just figured something out. “Can I ask you a question?”

Martin’s face is screwed up. Some weird form of determination, he thinks? Maybe anger? Disgust?

“If you must.”

Martin takes a deep breath. Crouches at Jon’s level, though he keeps the span of the alley between them.

“Did you ever actually want to have sex with him?”

He can’t breathe.

“I’m the one who goes to his office, Martin. Sometimes I go home with him.”

Martin looks pained. Probably frustrated, definitely disgusted.

“That’s not what I asked. I asked if you wanted to.”

The short answer is no, of course not, he’s never wanted to. He’s hated every second of Elias’ hands on him.

The long answer is that it doesn’t matter what he wants. It only matters what he does.

“It doesn’t matter.”

Martin lets out a little breath, a punched-out little noise like breaking china. It doesn’t sound like it, per se, but it feels like the shattering of something delicate. He should have prepared for this. Should have stood in front of his mirror and forced himself to look at the pathetic creature therein and lied and lied until it felt as natural as breathing.

“Oh, Jon.

There’s the pity. He can’t stand Martin’s pity. Or perhaps he’s afraid, now that he knows Elias is capable of this. If he could bear to talk about it, he’d assure Martin that he should be safe, that he’s not Elias’ type.

“What exactly do you hope to accomplish, Martin? What difference does it make?” He grabs desperately for anger. For indifference. Please, anything but this crushing misery. “There’s nothing you can do. This is something I’ve got to fix myself.”

“God, Jon, this isn’t something you did. It’s not your fault.”

He looks into Martin’s round, soft face and he feels shattered. He can't even begin to explain why that's not true.

“Martin. There is nothing you can do to help me.” After all, the ground they stand on was built on millennia of awful truths. He just hates having to speak them, and the way Martin’s face crumples. “He probably already knows you’re talking to me. You can’t stop him.”

There are tears on his face. When did they get there? His throat is thick, when did that happen?

“I can’t stop him,” he says. This truth he has never accepted but now? Now he must. “No one can.”

Jon.”

He rakes his shaking hands through his hair. He still hasn’t managed to get it cut.

(Every time he thinks he might be able to slip out, do something normal, something comes up. It’s no stretch of the imagination to suppose that’s Elias’ doing. He loves a handhold.)

“Please, Martin.” He can no longer look at him. “Please, just leave it alone.”

Martin takes a deep breath and nods.

“I can’t promise that, Jon. But I’ll…I’ll give you some space. And I won’t be telling anyone, not unless you ask me to. I’m not a--”

Jon can practically taste the word monster on Martin’s tongue.

“Well. I wouldn’t do that.”

The door closes behind him with a hollow noise and Jon can think of nothing else to do but light another cigarette.

 

“I saw Martin was feeling nosy today. He can be irritating, can’t he Jon?”

He’s lying in Elias’ bed again, on his side, Elias behind him with his hands on his tits. He buries his face in the pillow, twists his hands in the sheets. Black, this time, all bunched up where Jon clutches them to keep from struggling. Elias’ slick body presses against his, face tucked into the curve of his neck in a mockery of lovers as he fucks him deep and slow in a way that doesn’t even have the decency to hurt.

“He’s—he just worries,” Jon says, choking on a whine, “I—fuck—I think I’ve put him right.”

“For now.” Elias sighs softly, another of those vulnerable sounds that Jon hates more than cruelty. “If he persists, I may need to intervene.”

“Please don’t,” Jon says. There’s no fight in it. There is nothing he could do to stop Elias if he set his mind to that.

“You know, Jon,” and this is an awful tone, light and playful, and Jon knows from experience that he will hate what Elias has to say. “I think if he’s so determined to pry I may simply show him.”

“Please don’t,” Jon says again, his guts writhing. Show him, like he threatened to show Melanie what happened to her father. “Please, I’ll handle him.”

“You don’t think Martin would like to Know what you sound like? What you’d look like under him?”

Martin’s stricken face floats before his eyes. How much worse would it be if he knew he was right? How much harder could his sweet face crumple up if he could hear Jon’s pathetic begging, see his ugly, snotty face as he cries and all the bites and bruises scattered under his clothes. See all the secrets of his body that he’s spent so much of his life trying to conceal.

See him cum despite the fuss he makes.

This is another clear threat. Keep him in line, or I will show him how pathetic you are.

Elias presses his fingers to Jon’s cock and he gasps, wriggles. He can’t get away, he knows that, and he usually doesn’t try. But now, he can’t help it. This weird clash of intense pleasure and misery-fear makes him feel sick and dizzy and confused as his mind pulls back and forth between the two.

“s-Stop,” he manages. “I-I’ll take care of it, I—oh, god.” Elias’ mouth feels so tingly-gross on his neck, his cock such a dizzying mix of good-wrong inside him. He hates it, he hates all of it, but maybe if he tries very hard to want it…

“You’re thinking too much,” Elias croons, “Just let go, Jon, just let me make you feel good.”

No,” he whines. Sobs. God, he’s crying again. Why does Elias even want him? Why would anyone?

“Breathe, Jon,” Elias murmurs. He always knows just how to touch him, just how meanly to pinch his cock, when to dig his fingers up under its protective hood to get at the most sensitive spots. Jon feels himself start to shake before he feels the beginning of the crest.

“Please, please please,” he sobs. “Elias!

Elias moans in his ear, and Jon hates distantly, as it becomes harder to think, that he knows just what face Elias is making. Knows in a completely human way how his brow buckles, his eyes screwed up shut, his hips snapping faster, harder, with something bordering on desperation.

For the first time, he and Elias reach their peak in unison, and he’s plunged into alien sensation.

Slick, velvet heat around his cock, so soft, so tight, sweet whining in his ears, the taste of fear and despair heavy in his mouth. He could stay like this forever, keep this little body chained in his bed. Skinny frame swelling with his child, helpless in the force of his love, Seeing and being Seen in an infinite ecstatic loop , his Archivist, his Jon, my Jon, mine mine mineminemine--

He can feel the door between them slam, feel the eye seal shut. There’s an awful, aching sense of loss, and then pain. Oh, such pain. He screams and screams and screams, clutches his head, and by the time he’s back to himself his head is throbbing and the sweat has already cooled on his skin. He can smell blood, feel it crusting around his nose.

Elias is cradling his face. Looking down at him with something sickeningly close to adoration, and he beams when Jon's eyes manage to focus.

“Beautifully done,” he says, “Oh Jon, that was excellent, I’m so proud. A few months ago that would have killed you.”

Jon looks into his eyes, hazy as he feels, and feels a sharp shard of cruelty sink into his throat.

You think you love me,” he says. Elias’ face falters, falls into something stricken and confused. Hurt. “You don’t.”

Elias lets him go. Stares, gapes stupidly as he dresses and follows a few steps behind as he stalks out of Elias’ horrid, pretentious flat.

“Jon—Jon, wait, I—I don’t--”

He doesn’t care what Elias has to say. Part of him wants to submit, to crawl back into bed with someone who at least thinks he loves him, twisted and monstrous as that alleged love may be. It’s very likely to be the best he’ll ever get.

Instead, he rips his wrist out of Elias’ grip—proof of how shaken Elias really is. He’s never been able to pull away before.

But oh, god, does it feel good to finally get something over on him. He can feel, even deeper than Knowing, that he’s torn something in Elias. Something soft and vulnerable and ugly and human, and he can feel shreds of it between his teeth. Pieces that can’t be replaced, no matter how hard Elias tries to repair the damage. Maybe it’s monstrous of him, but it tastes divine.

Chapter Text

He gets one week of peace. Well. Not peace, really, with the mad scramble to find the site of the Unknowing. But he gets a week without having to even smell Elias. It's almost nice. He even feels good enough to go back to his flat.

At the end of that week, he goes upstairs for a much-needed coffee, and Peter Lukas is there, looking winded and leaning against a vending machine.

"What are you doing here?" Jon asks, with more bravado than he thinks he's really ever felt.

Peter looks up at him sharply, almost seems startled, then schools his face back into that aloof amusement.

"Just having a chat with Elias," he says. “I must say, whatever you did last week, I applaud you. I haven’t seen him so angry in quite some time.”

Peter’s voice is rough, and he coughs into his hand. His eyes are bloodshot, and at more than one spot a vessel has burst entirely. His lip is bruised and his shirt has blood on it. Jon also notes with distaste that his zip is undone and two of his belt loops seem freshly snapped.

“So that’s how this is?” Jon says. He's so tired. “He hurts you, you hurt me to get back at him or blow off steam or what have you, he hurts you again. He hurts me, and hurts me, and hurts me.”

“Something like that.” Peter stays there, still and quiet, for a moment, and Jon can’t help but notice he seems much more…there, than usual. “So what did you do?”

Jon lets himself smile, though it feels stiff and false. These cruel delights are the best he’ll get these days. “Told him a truth he didn’t want to hear. Ironic, really.”

Peter laughs hoarsely and rubs at his throat. There’s a band of bruises there, fresh purple and old yellow, stark against his ghostly pale skin. Jon remembers the desperate melancholy that had flavored his thoughts of Elias, and thinks that perhaps Elias is even crueler than he knew. To take something as blissfully Lonely as Peter Lukas and bind him with something as awful as affection.

He can see it there, in Peter’s usually empty eyes. Something at once fragile and utterly broken. It has the flavor of something young and vulnerable that could have, should have, been nurtured into something beautiful and strong. Instead handled much too roughly, wounded and left to fester. It unnerves him to see something relateable in a man he hates and fears.

If it weren’t for him, you could have gone your whole life without having to feel.”

Peter’s usually pallid skin goes even paler, then blotchy red high on his cheeks, then he slaps Jon with such force that his lip splits and his ears ring. His face is twisted with a rage Jon honestly thought had been frozen out of him.

“That is not,” he snarls, “For you.”

He stalks out, slams the door, and Jon’s in such stunned pain that it takes him a moment to realize he’s never seen Peter actually use a door before.

He feels vindicated, somehow, be the one to dig his fingers into the wounds Elias has left. The cold victory slides back into miserable numbness after about an hour at his desk, then into horror and shame after two.

It’s so easy to hurt people. He’s hurt Elias, and now Peter, and while they’re both fucking monsters where does it end? What if the next thing to slip out hurts  Melanie, who has already suffered so much because of him? Or Tim, now that he's around again, whose eyes are so hard with grief and anger?

Or Martin? Martin, who still thinks he can help him? Martin, who still thinks he can save him?

 

The walk to Elias’ office feels like the bones of his feet are full of sand. A clawing, vibrating fear and he shakes and shakes and reaches to knock with a hand that is trembling so bad he barely feels connected to it at all.

He knocks. Waits. Knocks. Waits.

Silence. A deeply inhabited, deliberate silence.

“Elias?”

His voice comes out small and utterly pathetic.

Silence.

“Elias, I. I want to talk.”

He Knows there ought to be rustling papers, the heavy clack of computer keys. Anything but the ringing, deafening quiet.

He presses against the door. He can’t open it. He doesn’t know why.

“Please help me,” he says. It’s heavy and familiar in his mouth. Once again, Peter has made him beg for Elias’ aid, knowing full well it will not come.

“I’m scared,” he whispers. “I can’t control it and I’m scared.”

He will not apologize to Peter Lukas. But he will, once again, beg Elias’ forgiveness. He feels like a naughty child, locked out of his parent’s bedroom after too many nightmares. Locked in his room after an especially bratty outburst.

“I’m sorry,” he says, like pulling teeth, like peeling skin. “I’m sorry for everything. I’ve—I’ve been awful, and I hurt you, and I’m so, so sorry Elias, please let me make it up to you.”

He’s not sure how much he believes. He just keeps babbling whatever he thinks might appease Elias, might earn his forgiveness, might get him to teach Jon how to stop himself hurting everyone he cares about.

He stands there, pressed against the door, apologizing until his voice is hoarse, then until it hurts, then until he starts to cry.

“I’m sorry,” he whispers through choked sobs, feeling utterly forsaken. “I’m sorry, Elias, please help me. I’m so scared and no one else understands.”

He hiccups a breath, knees weak. Supported only by the cold, uncaring office door.

“You’re the only one who wants me,” he murmurs. Everyone else hates me and it’s all my fault. I’m a monster and no one else can help me build my cage.

He sinks to his knees, head pressed to the wood in supplication, hands clasped as though in prayer. His glasses are cloudy with tears but he doesn’t bother to wipe them.

“Please,” he sobs, “Please forgive me. I don’t know what to do, I’m so lost. I know I don’t deserve it but I need you to help me. Please help me. Please let me in, please.”

The smell of Elias’ cologne leaking under the door makes his skin crawl and his stomach turn. He feels wretched, is wretched. A horrible little monster afraid of his own tongue.

He doesn’t register the door opening. It takes him a moment to realize what it means that he’s now looking at a pair of exquisitely polished shoes. He doesn’t look up. He doesn’t deserve to manipulate Elias with pity.

“You’re right, Jon.” Elias’ voice is cold and frightening and he clings to it like a lifeline. “You don’t deserve my forgiveness.”

A cool hand cups his chin and raises his head. Elias’ face is a mask of disappointment.

“But, because I’m very generous, I’m going to let you earn it.”

“Thank you,” he whispers. His throat hurts so badly. The window far behind Elias is dark; how long has he been here? How many hours has he knelt here, begging for something he has no right to? Something he knows he does not want, but must surely need?

“Remember this, Jon.” Elias rubs his thumb delicately over Jon’s split lip. “No one loves you like I do.”

Jon’s lips sting with salt as Elias works the cut open with his thumb nail.

“No one loves me like you do.”

Chapter Text

Jon,

I’ve decided to give you your first chance to rebuild my trust. At six thirty this evening, you will come up to my office. Your coworkers should be gone by then. If they are not, tell them you are meeting with me. You will knock twice, and then you will sit and wait for me quietly until I let you in.

Elias

P.S. Leave your binder in your desk.

Jon feels like he’s been punched. He reads the email over and over, hoping the postscript will change. It’s hot and besides his binder he’s got nothing on under his shirt. Nothing to cover himself. Elias must know that. Of course he does. This exposure, this humiliation, is just part of Jon’s punishment.

And, he thinks miserably, feeds Elias’ fixation with his chest. Thank god he wore a jacket today. That should afford him some small dignity before Elias strips it away.

He doesn’t manage to eat anything all day. All he manages are increasingly plain cups of tea as the deadline twists his stomach into knots and the thought of milk makes him queasy, sugar outright sick. By six fifteen, even the gentle bitterness of plain black tea is too much.

By six twenty-five he’s sure Martin is the only one left. He waits until Martin goes to the bathroom and slips out, kicking his bag under the desk. His reasoning being that if his bag is gone, perhaps Martin will assume he’s simply gone home.

Climbing the stairs is hard. His legs are wobbly and his hands are shaking, one white-knuckled on the banister, the other clutching his jacket closed. He’s small there, and barely noticeable unless one is looking for it, but it feels like an exposed nerve. The wrongness of his body on display.

He knocks and gets no answer. He knew this would be the case but it still hurts to know (or does he Know?) that Elias is right there and choosing to make him wait.

He sits in the uncomfortable chair outside the office and tries desperately to think about literally anything else. Keeps fidgeting with his jacket despite his best efforts. He knows no one can see him (with one notable exception) but his shirt is white and he fears the nervous sweat starting to soak the fabric and the effects of air conditioning on certain parts of his anatomy.

At almost seven, Elias opens the door. His eyes are cold and hungry and, predictably, linger on Jon’s tightly crossed arms. On what he knows is beneath.

“Ah, Jon,” he says, as though he wasn’t sure Jon would show up. “Come in.”

Jon fucking hates the gentle hand at the small of his back. The heavy sound of the door. The stark, ringing absence of the sound of its lock. Anyone could just walk in. Anyone could just...see.

Elias hooks a finger into the neck of his jacket.

“You won’t need this.”

Jon lets him take it off, shrugs it into Elias’ hands. He doesn’t see where it goes. Just stays where Elias left him and watches him take off his own jacket and roll up his sleeves.

And Jon Knows, for a flash of a moment, Sees a pale shade of the past. Peter Lukas slumped on the floor and weeping and shaking, mouth bloody and throat bruised. Knows that Elias watched and that, for Peter, that was the worst part.

“You worked him into sensory overload until he had a panic attack, and then you just watched him until he came out of it. He felt stupid for trusting you to stop when he asked.”

He feels a cold sort of pity for Peter. Agrees that he was very stupid indeed for ever trusting Elias.

Very good, Jon.” Elias says, pressing himself against Jon’s back, pressing a kiss into his hair, “But not why we’re here.”

He starts to unbutton Jon’s shirt, slowly, and slips a hand in to grope one of his tits. He hums softly, nosing behind Jon’s ear. Jon’s skin crawls.

“You know, Peter had a point about piercing these.” He pinches Jon’s nipple much too hard and he barely bites back a yelp, fuck that hurts. “I think you would look lovely in gold.”

He really wishes Elias would just get on with whatever punishment he’s cooked up. Maybe he’ll get lucky—maybe it will only be pain.

Elias kisses his neck and draws back.

“I suppose we ought to get started,” he says. His eyes glitter greedily but Jon seems to have hit his personal plateau for how frightened Elias can make him. Besides, he deserves this. He needs this.

He waits for Elias to elaborate. Perhaps remove his belt, or retrieve a switch like an angry headmaster. Make him bend over the desk, or go to his knees.

Elias simply steps aside and opens the door to his office’s adjoining bathroom. Jon’s stomach drops right through the floor. He doesn’t know what that means and that alone is terrifying.

“I-I don’t understand.”

“I do hate to make a mess of my office. So, for the sake of cleanliness, we’ll do this here.”

What kind of sick thing is Elias going to make him do? All kinds of depraved things go through his head and he has to grind his teeth against gagging at the idea of what two people could to in a bathroom. He needs this. Maybe Elias plans to slice him up.

“Come, Jon.”

Like beckoning a dog, and he can’t help but obey.

“It took some time to figure out just how to make you understand how deeply you hurt me. How to make you feel as you made me feel.”

Elias slips his glasses off. He doesn’t know where he puts them and the extra helplessness twists in his guts. He feels sick, he feels faint. Feels actually, physically nauseous.

“I could show you exactly how painfully your father died, but you never did know him, did you? You hardly have memory of your mother, so I can’t use that, and you already know what a burden you were on your grandmother.”

Jon stays stock still. Clenches his jaw. It stings, yes, but it’s nothing new. And he must weather this. He must earn Elias’ favor if he ever hopes to muzzle the terrifying thing he can feel himself becoming.

“Physically hurting you doesn’t work very well either.”

Works fine on Peter, Jon thinks. He doesn’t particularly care if Elias can somehow hear it.

“I thought I’d Show you some things. You won’t like them, but I do expect you to whether them.

Elias grasps him by the back of the neck.

“If you struggle, it will only hurt more.”

And he Sees himself. Face ugly and screwed up in pain and pleasure as Peter rapes him. Watches himself gasp and beg and cum, wet and sloppy, and collapse onto Gertrude’s horrible old rug.

“Oh god,” he gasps. This can’t—he can’t do this. He wants to die. He wants to die.

Watches himself tremble and take Elias into his mouth for the first time and winces at the taste--

Jon retches. Only Elias’ hand on his neck, firmly maneuvering him over the toilet, keeps him from being sick on his shoes. A lot of it still ends up down his front, thin and watery. Just bile and tea.

“Please, not this,” he whimpers. “I’ll do anything else.”

I don’t want to do this either, Jon, but you’ve left me very little choice.” He is lying. Jon can hear the smirk.

He Sees it again, hands in his hair, holding him down as he chokes and chokes and Jon Knows that Elias loves the ripple of his throat as it tries desperately to eject him.

This time Jon falls to his knees. Vomits violently into the bowl, bent almost double, hands pressed to cold porcelain. He can’t breathe, it’s in his nose and his stomach hurts so badly and Elias is watching.

“No more,” Jon sobs. “Please, Elias, I can’t--”

“You can and you will. You’re doing well, Jon.”

“Please, Elias,” he whimpers. Tears and snot and bile combine into a horrible acid slime that coats his sinuses, his tongue, his mouth, his chin, his bared chest. Dripping all over the floor as he tries to crawl away.

He retches again, and Elias pulls him up by the hair to aim his face into the bowl.

“Please,” he manages, and heaves. There should be nothing left but that thin fluid still comes up.

“Again.” Fingers tighten. “You might remember this feeling.”

Slipping sideways, down through Elias’ hand into his mind as Elias slides into Jon’s.

“No, no--”

This is his favorite part. Watching his Archivist frantically try to wash the seed out of his cunt. Each time he tries to finish deeper, deeper, hoping he’ll eventually get to watch Jon realize he can’t get it out. Wondering if one day, after his transformation is complete, it will finally take root.

The connection severs and he screams— more misery than pain this time, but still plenty of pain. Blood drips from his nose and adds to the pathetic mess he is. Adds the taste of metal to his tongue and he gags again.

“Please,” he blubbers into the bowl. “Pleasepleasepleaseplease--”

“One more should do it, I think.” Elias pets his hair, his back.

No,” Jon wails.

It slams into him like a freight train, but it’s very simple. Tame, even, without the burden of context.

Just Martin, standing outside Elias’ office door.

 

Chapter Text

No,” Jon gasps. This can’t be happening, it must be from another day, Martin wears that jumper a lot but today’s fresh ink stain is stark against the skin of his hand. He’s here, now, and Jon can’t stop himself breathing harder, faster. He can’t get enough air, he can’t move, he can’t think. Martin can’t be here.

“I’d wager he thinks he can surprise me,” Elias says, carding his fingers through Jon’s sweaty hair. Reduces at least half Jon’s mind to don’t touch me don’t touch me don’t touch me.

“Do you think he knows you’re here, Jon? Do you think he came to watch? I’ve seen the way he looks at you,” Elias says with an air of irritation. “Nasty little man.”

Stupidly, all Jon can think that isn’t no not now not like this is that Martin is quite a bit taller than Elias. His other thought isn’t even a thought, just a certainty like knowing how many fingers he has. It’s that Martin would never.

Elias? I need to talk to you. Now.”

“Looks like he just wants to inconvenience me. Should I give him what he wants, or should I teach him not to intrude?”

“Elias,” Jon gasps out. Hopes somehow that the babbling he has no breath for somehow spills out into his mind.

“Use your words, Jon, or I will decide for you.”

He can’t. He tries but he just can’t breathe, can’t stop his frantic wheezing for longer than it takes to retch once more.

"Now, Jon.”

“Don’t,” he finally manages to wheeze. Gasps the words between ragged, shallow breaths. “Don’t hurt him. Please, please don’t hurt him.”

“Mm,” Elias hums, sounding somehow disappointed. “You ought to be quiet, Jon.” Elias says. Stands up and leaves him clutching the toilet for support.

“He’ll hear you. You wouldn’t want him seeing you like this, would you?”

He thinks he’d rather die. Death actually sounds sweet right now. Release from a body so disgusting, so fundamentally wrong, so newly twisted and increasingly inhuman, feels like the promise of sunlight.

“Elias.” Comes Martin’s voice again, and he sounds…angry? “I can hear you. You have thirty seconds then I’m coming in.”

“Yes, Martin, I hear you.”

Jon squeezes his eyes shut and tries to breathe. It’s slow going and he completely misses everything Elias and Martin are saying. They must be winding down by the time he’s tapered himself off into muffled sobs, hand tight over his mouth.

“You’re not getting away with this,” Martin is saying. Getting away with what? Surely by now Elias has proved he can do anything he wants with no repercussions.

“No one believes you,” Elias says, so oily smooth that Jon almost gags again. “Not even Jon.”

He doesn’t know what they’re talking about. It must be truly heinous if Elias thinks even Jon won’t believe it. He doesn’t try to work it out, just leans on the toilet and sobs and feels every bit as disgusting as the bile spattered on the floor.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me.”

A door shuts, and he’s finally alone again, and he lets out the low, wounded animal noise he’s been holding in. He sees himself every time he shuts his eyes, pathetic and ungrateful and thoroughly used.

“Jon?”

N o .

He freezes. No, this is—Elias wouldn’t just leave Martin in his office, would he?

Soft, measured footsteps, like a man afraid of his own presence. Definitely Martin, oh god, why did it have to be Martin. Anyone else would have believed he’s just sick. He curls tighter, presses his forehead to cold porcelain rather than see Martin seeing him. Maybe he can just sink through the floor or disappear entirely if he can just fold himself small enough. He certainly feels small enough.

“Oh, god, Jon.” The radiating heat beside him must be Martin kneeling. “Jon, what—no, no never mind. You don’t have to tell me. Can you sit up?”

A blur, much too close to him, the color of Martin’s hand. He shakes his head mutely, scoots away from Martin.

“Do you want your glasses? They’re here on the sink.”

He doesn’t respond but still finds them pressed into his hands. He puts them on by reflex alone and regrets it. Seeing the murky mess he’s made. Seeing the sheen of sick all down his front. He gags, and his body heaves but he seems to have finally emptied himself out. Distantly, over his own retching, he hears the sink.

“I’ve, er, I’ve got a towel for you.”

He makes himself look. Martin’s face is crinkled up with what might be worry, or maybe it’s just the smell.

“Would you rather clean yourself up or can I help?”

Jon snatches the wet cloth from him. Martin’s eyes flick down to his chest for a moment, because of course they do, he’s disgusting, and worse than that he’s outed. Martin snaps his head to the side so fast Jon hears his neck crack.

“s-Sorry. L-Let me know when you’re done. I’ll find something for you to cover up with.”

He takes his time, tries to control his tears, but he only succeeds in reducing the flow to a slow, miserable drip. Scrubs his chest and throat and chin until the skin feels raw but not clean, never clean. He hasn’t felt clean since...well. Probably before Prentiss, to be frank.

“How are you coming along?”

Jon can’t speak. He tries but his mouth won’t open. Instead he just sort of...tosses the towel aside.

“Okay,” Martin says, so fucking patiently that Jon wants to scream. “It’s okay if you can’t talk to me right now.”

He crouches beside Jon again, and Jon Knows he’s decided not to look anywhere but his face.

“I couldn’t find your jacket,” he says, “So it’ll have to be my jumper. Sorry.”

Sorry, he says, like Jon isn’t literally taking the shirt off his back. He seems to misread Jon’s expression.

“I’ve got a shirt on underneath!” He says quickly, lifting the hem of the jumper to show the white shirt under it. “I wasn’t—it’s actually air conditioned up here, so I just put it over my work shirt. I was going to take it off once we got back to the basement. It’s lovely and soft, so if you’re hurt anywhere it won’t--”

Jon takes the jumper and pulls it on while Martin rambles. It’s warm and soft and he doesn’t really know how to process it. His body apparently thinks that more tears are appropriate.

“--picked it up in a charity—oh. Oh, Jon. Can I touch you?”

He reels for a moment. He can’t remember the last time someone asked. He finds that he has absolutely no idea what to do with this, so he just nods. He expects Martin to grab him under the arm, for efficiency’s sake, so he doesn’t fall over on the way out, but what he gets is an arm around the shoulders. Easy to break from. Warm and solid, with much more give than Elias or Peter’s. A soft, pudgy hand on his upper arm.

“m-Martin.”

“Jon?”

He feels dizzy again, and his breath quickens. God, no, not again, not in front of Martin. Hasn’t he been humiliated enough?

“I’m sorry,” he manages. He’s going to make a mess of Martin’s clothes. He’s keeping Martin much too late and Martin had to clean up after him and see him like this and smell him. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry...”

He finds himself muffled against Martin’s shoulder. Soft and warm through his thin shirt.

“It’s okay, Jon. You don’t have to apologize, not to me.”

He doesn’t know what to do but clutch Martin’s soft body with his dirty hands and weep into his shoulder. His glasses are mushed into his face and the snot that soaks into Martin’s shirt is more than a little bile and he feels so deeply, deeply awful that being touched almost hurts.

“Please help me,” he sobs. Martin strokes his hair, feather-light and questioning. A request, rather than a demand.

“Of course, Jon,” he says, like it’s the most natural thing in the world. “Whatever you need.”



Chapter Text

Jon doesn’t know how he got down to the cot.

Intellectually: he walked down from Elias’ office, down through the Institute and into the Archives, leaning on Martin to keep his feet under him.

Practically: He really only remembers the leaning. The heat of Martin against him, a big arm around his shoulders and a soft hand in his. He remembers Martin making soothing noises, probably words but he couldn’t decipher them, being guided down onto the cot and then...bereft. There is a fog around his head and the only things it has room for are Martin and pain.

“Jon, can you hear me?”

He can’t look up. He wants to but he feels like a human brain atop a broken doll. The only parts of his body he’s at all aware of are the ones that hurt. His throat, scoured raw by bile. His stomach, cramping and empty, and the sore muscles there. His head, pounding with pressure like it always does when he’s been crying. And the nebulous ache in his chest, which he cannot explain, but if he had to guess, he’d say that the weight of his own misery has physically broken his ribs.

Martin’s soft fingers barely graze his chin and he lets them lift his face. He can’t seem to move on his own and he’s grateful for the assistance.

Martin’s face is so soft, his eyes so gentle, that Jon feels like crying again. How is he supposed to react to tenderness? Has he ever known?

”I’m going to ask you some things and I need you to answer. Can...can you nod your head?”

He tries. Really tries but it’s hard enough to register that he’s even got a neck. So he just stares blankly at Martin, feeling the shadow of something that could be embarrassment.

“Okay, can’t move your head.” Martin takes a breath. “Okay, can you...can you squeeze my hand?”

This he can do. Squeezes Martin’s soft hand with barely any pressure at all. It’s a dull shock, and it fills him with muted alarm because if he comes up out of this he’ll start to feel it all again.

“Great, that’s really good. Can you squeeze once for yes, twice for no, and if it’s too much just squeeze as long as you can, okay?”

He squeezes once, feeling the give of Martin’s wonderfully pudgy hand. This might not be so bad—to be just eyes and a hand and an aching throat and sore stomach. Nothing else. It’s nice to just be this, something Elias could never touch. Something for no one but Martin to even lay eyes on.

“Okay. We can start simple; do you know where you are?”

Squeeze. He knows the Archives.

“I’m sorry I have to ask you this but I need to know if you need to go to the hospital. I’m going to have to ask about what happened. Are you ready?”

Squeeze.

”Okay. Are you ill?”

Squeeze squeeze.

”Were you poisoned?”

Squeeze squeeze.

“Did Elias do this?”

Squeeze. Despair and disgust try to push through but he doesn’t let them because he is not himself at all.

”Did he hurt you physically? Are you injured?”

Squeeze squeeze. Dread. Terror. He tries to push them out but they’re so strong.

“Did he rape you tonight?”

Jon squeezes as hard as he can, as long as he can, and realizes with despair that he’s Jon again. Wretched, awful, disgusting Jon, who feels.

“Jon?”

Tears burn his eyes and his sore mouth.

”Is there anything else I should know? Anything that puts you in danger right now?

He manages to shake his head, this time.

”No,” he croaks. “He just...he just showed me things. Like Melanie.”

“Oh, Jon.”

He pitches forward into Martin’s arms. Tries to burrow into his smell, his warmth. To drive his self-ness away and get back to that sweet, numb place. Martin holds him, rocks him until he's out of tears. He doesn't feel better, he just feels sore. Just as miserable, but with a worse headache and drier eyes.

"Let me make you some tea," Martin says gently. "Wash the taste out of your mouth, yeah?"

He nods, stiffly uncurls his hands from Martin's shirt and lets him go.

Everything he tries to focus on swims and bucks, threatens to dump him back into those memories and their new dimension, until he lands on Martin’s jumper. He finds purchase there. Catalogs its many facets.

Soft cream wool, with a fine, intricate cable knit. Very large, stretched out a bit around the hips. Snagged somewhere at the left elbow, delicately repaired with goldenrod thread. Warm from Martin’s body. Smelling deeply of coffee and strong black tea, and earl gray, and that one with cinnamon and orange peel he doesn’t know the name of. Basira and Tim’s favorites, and Melanie and Martin’s, and his own. Cheap deodorant, surprisingly floral shampoo. Fabric softener. A hint of ink. A touch of stale sweat, if he strains, but it’s not so bad. A very human, purely Martin undertone.

He breathes deep and slow. The smell helps him remember the right rhythm. By the time he hears careful steps, he can look up at Martin, watch him come closer with two steaming mugs.

”I wasn’t sure what you were up for, with your stomach and all, so I brought chamomile and cinnamon. I’ll drink whatever you don’t want, so don’t worry about waste.”

”Thank you, Martin,” Jon croaks. Reaches for cinnamon. He needs the comfort and his stomach feels sore but not delicate. Martin gives it over and sits next to him on the cot.

”We’re going to need to talk about this.”

”Yes,” Jon replies. The tea is perfect, as always. “But not now. I...I can’t, right now.”

He still feels miserable. Tired, drained instead of manic and terrified, but not really that much better.

“No,” Martin agrees. “Not now.”

They sit in exhausted quiet, sipping their teas. Jon leans against Martin’s side. He’s changed his shirt. Jon feels a pang of guilt at that—the other is probably ruined.

”Are you going home tonight?”

Jon almost laughs at the absurdity of calling anywhere home.

“No, Martin. I don’t think I am.” And, because maybe saying the thought aloud will stop it slamming against the inside of his skull at all hours:

”I’m afraid that I’ll go back to my flat and he’ll be there. And I won’t have anything left he hasn’t touched.”

Martin nods.

”Do you want me to stay with you?”

He ought to say no. He’s taken up enough of Martin’s time. But his honey-brown eyes are so soft, his expression so gentle. His hand so warm.

”Please.”

In the end, he falls asleep at seven forty-six, watching cat videos on Martin’s phone with a duvet around their shoulders. When he wakes, gasping, at one o’clock, Martin reaches up from the floor and laces his fingers with Jon’s. Coaches his breaths in a soft, sleepy voice, and when Jon eventually manages to go back to sleep he doesn’t let go.

 

Chapter Text

Morning is awkward and uncomfortable. Jon changes clothes in his office, Martin in Document Storage, and after a few cups of tea Martin breaks the silence.

“You need to tell the others,” Martin says. “No more than you’re comfortable with, but at the very least they need to know he’s hurting you.”

It’s still kind of hard to process that they couldn’t tell. Maybe he should be proud he’s played it off so well (admittedly by avoiding everyone where possible), or maybe he should kick himself for being so self-important. He’s really not sure. Mostly he just feels tired and sore. Going back to Elias is going to hurt more than usual after such tender treatment.

He knows he’ll have to. He always has to, no matter what he does. He’s got no illusions that he can somehow escape. He just wonders if Martin will still be sweet after.

“I very much doubt that will go well, Martin.” There will be shouting, he’s sure, and recriminations and probably insults, which he deserves but are deeply unpleasant.

“They need to know, Jon.”

The best that will do is get him some nasty looks when Elias inevitably calls for him. The worst...the worst is that Daisy will finally finish the job, which looks more appealing by the day. What has he actually got to lose?

“But alright. I’ll talk to them.”

Martin nods solemnly and squeezes his shoulder.

“Tell me when you’re ready and we’ll all talk in the tunnels,” Martin says.

 

An hour and a half later, they’re all standing in the tunnels. A semicircle that Jon has to fight not to picture closing in on him.

“I know that most of you think I’m sleeping with Elias,” was not what he wanted to say. Tim and Melanie scoff. Daisy grumbles. Basira is silent, spearing him with an unimpressed look that tells him she doesn’t appreciate him interrupting her reading. He doesn’t know what he wants to say.

“I-I don’t know how to say this.”

Tim sighs. “Just start from the beginning, I guess.”

“You don’t have to give any details you don’t want to,” Martin says, quietly. Brushes his knuckles over the back of Jon’s. Physical shorthand for a hand in his.

Jon takes a deep breath and thinks, stupidly:

Statement of Jonathan Sims, regarding an unconventional relationship with his superior.

“Elias...” This is so hard, why is it so hard? He wishes he could compel himself, make the words flow calmly from his lips with gentle ease. Instead, he keeps his head down so he won’t have to see them looking at him, and forces himself to speak.

“Just after I was kidnapped, after I got back, I went back to his office. I was having a rough time, after the Circus, and I just. I just thought that maybe shouting at him would make me feel better, but when I saw him I couldn’t...the way he looked at me, like he was hungry, it made me sick. He grabbed me and...”

He shudders. Looks down at his hands and curls them into fists to stop the shaking. It doesn’t help.

“And I wasn’t strong enough to get away. I’m still not strong enough to get away. That’s what he likes.”

He rubs his eyes and wills himself not to cry in front of his coworkers. His friends.

“I thought maybe when I got back from America he'd have...I don't know, forgotten? But it. It just kept happening. He calls me and I go and I know what he’s going to do but I go anyway. At first I guess I was just scared he’d come down and do it in the Archive, but now...”

He sighs.

“Now it’s just easier. It doesn’t hurt as much when—never mind. It’s not important.”

“How many?” Basira says. Her voice is tight.

Jon shrugs, trying for casual.

“Seventeen, by my count.” Peter Lukas makes nineteen. He’s got no reason to tell them that.

Seventeen?” Melanie shouts. Jon flinches, and she quiets, which he has to strain to see as related. “Jesus, Jon, why didn’t you tell us? You didn't think some of us might like a heads up?”

He shakes his head. "He doesn't want any of you."

"He tell you that?"

Jon forces a brittle smile. "I just...Knew it. I'm." He laughs. He can't believe he's saying this. "I'm his type."

"You still should have told us." Tim's voice holds a tension and Jon's torn between fear that he'll snap and knowing that he has every right to. He forces a weak smile but that doesn’t seem to help.

“Until a couple of weeks ago I just sort of assumed you all knew.”

“Fucking hell,” Tim says. Jon flinches, withdraws a few steps. See, Martin? This is exactly what he knew would happen. He’s just bothering everyone. Making them upset, wasting their time when the Unknowing is so close he can almost smell plastic and cloves.

“Seriously?” Melanie says. She sounds offended and Jon doesn’t understand why. “And you thought, what, we were all fine with it?”

“More or less, yeah. I'm not exactly popular these days, am I?”

“You really think that little of us?” Basira says.

Jon looks up into her angry face, panicking. Fuck, this isn't going well at all. He knew this was a terrible idea. He wants to run. How is he fucking this up so badly?

“No, no that’s not—It wasn’t important. It's really no more than I deserve.”

“Jon,” Martin says sharply.

“What?” He rounds on Martin. Martin, who is supposed to be helping. “I’m the one who goes to him. I’m the one who lets him...”

He chokes. He doesn’t know what to call it anymore, though what else could it be but sex? Painful, miserable sex that makes him feel disgusting, but sex. He agrees to it, and that’s all there is.

“Jon...” Martin says, in the voice he uses to remind people not to put foil in the microwave. “Jon, you do know this isn’t your fault?”

Jon looks at him blankly. Martin’s face crumples. His shoulders sag.

“It’s not. He's...” Jon watches Martin flounder for the words.

"Raping you," Basira says, flatly.

Jon winces. "Sometimes? At first, I suppose, but now I'm not really sure.”

"Do you like it?"

"Not especially, but--"

"Do you want to do it?"

"Well, no, but I--"

"And he knows, and he makes you do it anyway?"

"Makes is a strong--"

"You don't like having sex with him, and you don't want to have sex with him, and he forces you to do it anyway. I really don't see where the confusion is."

Having it laid out like that makes it sound...simple. It can't be that simple.

“It’s—it’s not that simple.”

Melanie growls.

“Why are you defending him?”

“I’m not!”

Silence, and five stern faces. Piercing eyes like spears. Like pins fixing him to a board.

“a-Am I?”

Is he? Surely he’s just explaining himself. He turns his eyes back to the floor. They’re angry. Of course they’re angry. Daisy still hasn’t even said anything and he can practically feel the knife at his throat again. Would she kill him for this? Would she kill him for giving himself to Elias, for choking on his cock while she ran herself ragged to protect Basira from him?

(Would she kill him if he begged her to?)

“Jon, do you hear me?”

He does but he’s not sure he can do anything about it. His lungs are working too fast. His hands are...are they his hands? He can feel them, rictus claws, nails digging into arms that he can also technically feel, but he can't move them. He can't move anything. His chest hurts and he feels like he's suffocating. Is this a heart attack, is he dying? He thought he'd be glad to die but oh, god, he doesn't want to die here like this, with everyone watching. He can’t move, and he doesn’t try. He knows in some way he can’t understand that if he moves he’ll shatter.

“Jon.”

She’s angry, they’re all so angry. They’re all upset because of him. They’re all upset with him. What has he done? He could have stopped this every step of the way but he was weak and now they all know and they hate him for it.

His face is wet and his vision is swimming. Why can’t he stop crying? Why can’t he breathe?

“Jon!”

“Yelling at him is just gonna make it worse!”

“Give him some space.”

“Jon, can you look at me?”

Why would he want that? Hasn’t he seen enough of Jon’s pathetic face? Isn’t Martin just sick of dodging around his breakdowns? He feels dizzy. Barely has the presence of mind to ease himself down, to sink to his knees rather than fall. (Surely this means he’s choosing this in some way. Surely people having real panic attacks can’t control their bodies at all. Is he just manipulating them? Trying to earn some clemency through pity?)

“I’m leaving,” he hears Melanie say, “I don’t...I can’t be here. Something's wrong, and I think I’m gonna make this worse.”

“If that’s what you need to do,” Basira says.

Martin’s battered trainers come into view. At least, through the tears in his eyes and on his glasses he assumes that’s what they are. The thin rime of salt on the lenses can’t cover that distinct sunny yellow.

“Jon? I’m going to touch your hand.”

No, he thinks, please don’t. I’ll break. I’ll fall.

He doesn’t know what to do with gentleness. He doesn’t know how to process Martin’s soft hands delicately prying his fingers away, lifting his nails from his skin. Jon’s hand is engulfed in warmth and he registers dimly that his hand is almost totally swallowed up by both of Martin’s.

“Remember what we did last night?” Martin says, gently, but there’s strain there. He sounds pained. Perhaps his knees are hurting from the concrete. Jon’s are.

“Jon? Once for yes, twice for no? A long one if you really don’t want to say?”

He barely moves his fingers. It’s awful, moving his fingers. He feels unbalanced and moving is tipping him over.

“That’ll have to do. Is it okay if Tim and Basira stay?”

Squeeze. Out of his periphery he can sort of see Martin nod.

“Okay. Basira’s going to help you control your breathing,” Martin says. It’s nice to be simply told what’s going to happen. So much simpler than the illusion of choice.

“Try to match me,”she says. Her voice is soft, but not the grating hiss of a whisper. She takes a slow, deep breath, and Jon can barely hear it for his own harsh wheezing.

“Here, give me your hand.” His other hand finds itself in cooler fingers, calloused and strong, slimmer. He lets the hands guide his to someone’s chest. Feels velvet. Basira’s, then.

She breathes deep again, and this time he can feel the rise of her chest and, haltingly, tries to match. She breathes out and he gasps out a few breaths.

“Good, keep going. Just like me.”

It’s hard, and slow, and though he can calm his breathing eventually he cannot stop the flow of tears or move.

“You’re doing great,” Martin says, soft, with a gentle squeeze of his hand. Basira guides his other back down on top of Martin’s. “Can you answer some questions now?”

Squeeze.

“From Tim and Basira too?”

He hesitates. Squeezes. He must choose to trust them. Whatever happens, he can’t go on unless he chooses to trust them.

“Okay. Do you know where you are?”

Squeeze.

“Can you move?”

Squeeze squeeze.

“Do you know what upset you?”

Pause. Squeeze.

“Did you feel unsafe?”

Squeeze. Tim makes a noise he can’t place. Like a sigh, but without his now-usual irritation.

“Did you think we were going to hurt you?”

Squeeze squeeze. Then, thinking about it, squeeze.

“Does that mean you don’t know?”

Squeeze. Martin’s so smart.

“Okay. Okay, that’s fair.”

Tim makes that noise again and then speaks, sounding tired and strained.

“Was it because you thought we were angry?”

Squeeze. Thought? Surely they were. They all looked it.

“Did you feel like we were angry with you?”

Squeeze.

Tim crouches somewhere close. Jon can smell his aftershave.

“Do you feel safe now?” He asks.

Squeeze.

“Jon,” Tim says. It’s been such a long time since he said Jon’s name with anything but venom. “We’re angry, but not with you. We’re upset that you didn’t trust us, but we’re not angry with you for being assaulted. Do you understand?”

Squeeze. Then, with massive effort, “Yes.”

It’s only half a lie. He understands that Tim means it. He just doesn’t understand why.

“Can you look at me?”

It’s easier than speaking. Tim’s handsome face is solemn.

“I still don’t forgive you, you know.”

Martin gasps. “Tim--”

He holds up a hand and Martin quiets.

“I don’t like you much these days. I don’t like you at all, really. But you? You don’t deserve this. No one does.”

And then, quieter. “I’m sorry I didn’t notice. I didn’t want to.”

Why on earth would Tim apologize?

There’s a sound, just faint, from across the room and he jumps. Daisy, oh god, Daisy’s still here, he’d forgotten. But when he looks, she’s scowling but not...openly hostile. Which, he supposes, is the best he can hope for.

“So what do we do now?”

Basira straightens, stands. She makes to clap her hands together, then looks at Jon and rubs them instead. He’s privately very glad, he still feels quite shaky.

”Alright. First: new rule, you don’t go anywhere alone.”

What?” He stands unsteadily, sputters. “That’s not—that’s not fair.”

“This isn’t a punishment,” Basira says. “We can’t protect you if we’re not around.”

Jon blinks. He must have misheard.

“Protect me? You can’t--”

“We can do a lot of things. So, yeah. When you leave your office—the breakroom, Artifact Storage, anywhere without a clear line of sight, at least one of us is going with you.”

“I...I suppose I don’t have a choice.”

“You really don’t.”

Basira looks to Martin and they share a long look.

“Second: we bring you in on the plan.”

“What plan?” What kind of schemes—he corrects that course of thought immediately. What kind of plans have they all been making without him? “Is this about the Unknowing?”

“Not really,” Daisy says, casually. “We’re taking Elias down.”

Chapter Text

He's naked again, and weak, and helpless, and Elias pushes back from his desk to put the place they're joined on display. This is Jon's office, but it's not, is it? It belongs to Elias. The institute is his, and this is his space in his Archives and all his assistants belong to him and Jon belongs to him, as much as any of his expensive silk ties belong to him.

He can see nothing of the other people, the people he wants so badly to call his friends. Only their eyes, harsh and calculating and judging. Seeing much deeper than his body, and finding him wanting in all ways, seeing all the ugly little marks. All except one.

Martin's eyes are sharp and his face swims into Jon's view and the expression is so, so much worse. Naked desire, greed, hunger. He's seen it on Elias too many times to count, but to see such a terrible look twisting Martin's sweet face breaks something inside him. The weight of his gaze, roaming greedily over all his most intimate places, feels like knives.

"No," he whispers.

"He wants you," Elias says. "He wants you so badly he can taste it. Porky little worm, trying to turn you against me."

"Don't talk about him like that," Jon gasps.

Don't look, he wants to say, don't look at me like that please Martin please, but all that comes out is a whimper.

He jerks violently, and the tangle of blankets is too much like grasping hands. By the time he frees himself he's close to screaming, but he has to be quiet because Basira is sleeping mere feet from him and the low hum of the air mattress will give him no cover.  He tries hard not to think of her eyes in the dream, so harsh and cold. Basira has said she will help him, and he has to trust her.

He still tries not to wake her, though, as he wheezes his way through ugly tears. Bad enough she has to sleep in the Archives, all because he's too scared to go home.

("I don't really go home anymore," he had admitted. "It doesn't feel safe." Basira nodded as though she understood, which was surely impossible because Jon himself was still trying to get a grasp of it.)

"Hey."

He startles badly, heart pounding in his throat. It's Elias, it's Elias or it's Peter and he's--

It's Melanie. Sitting in the half dark where Basira ought to be, sitting backwards in a chair he doesn't remember leaving here.

“Ah,” he tries to say casually, but it comes out as sort of a squeak. “M-Melanie? Where's Basira?"

"Bathroom," she says, vaguely offended. She could probably tell that his real question was have you killed Basira.

"Sorry. You’re just, er. You’re looking at me like--”

“Like I want to kill you, yeah." She doesn't deny it.

"How long have you been...?"

How long have you been sitting there watching me blubbering like an idiot over a dream?

"Not long. Look, I hate you right now but--”

Jon snorts, wiping at his face.

“Yes, I’ve been getting a lot of I hate you but these days.”

“Shut up,” she snaps, and he flinches. Scoots back, away from her. A look passes over her face somewhere between joy and frustration and disgust.

“I’m angry and I hate you but that’s...that’s not...right? I realized when you told us about Elias and I was so angry I wanted to rip your throat out.”

Jon stares. Waiting for her to say something that isn’t obvious.

“You don’t get it. I shouldn’t have been angry with you. A few months ago I’d never have been angry with someone for…you know, something like that happening to them. Even you. I shouldn’t be angry with you for being attacked. It's not...it's not me, but I can feel it becoming me.”

It’s a fight, a real uphill battle, to realize what she’s getting at.

“I...I think I understand. Do you think this has something to do with what happened in India?”

“Yeah. Yeah I think it does. After this, if there is an after, I think I want...help. I...I feel like I'm losing the parts of me that aren't just anger."

“Anything you need.” Jon says, and means it. “Anything. If we get back I’ll pull together everything we have on the Slaughter. You might ask Martin to start now, actually.”

She grinds her teeth and nods tensely. He notices she’s keeping her hands white-knuckled on the back of the chair. Where he can see them.

“I’m, er. I’m gonna keep my distance for awhile.” She pushes her chair back with a horrid scraping. “I want...something in me wants to hurt you, and all of me still thinks you’re a prick, so stay out of my way.”

“...thank you?” he says to her retreating back.

“Fuck off,” she says, and he supposes that’s fair.

Days later, Jon has to fight with everything he has to pay attention to what Elias is actually saying. Has to keep ripping his eyes away from his hands, his mouth, that awful desk. He's been waiting for the other shoe to drop for so long his whole body feels coiled taut and ready to snap.

“Yes, if you die I’m afraid you probably won’t be able to claim your expenses,” Elias says with a bland smile. There’s a glitter of cruelty in his eyes, though, one Jon recognizes well. He takes such malicious joy in expressing how very little their lives mean to him.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me.”

Jon lets some of the tension drain out of his shoulders. Elias is distracted, and Jon's leaving, he’s not going to--

“Ah, except you, Jon. There are some things I’d like to go over with...just you.”

His blood might have literally turned to ice. The cold terror in his chest, the shaking in his hands, the numbness that keeps him frozen to the spot, these must all be markers of some impossible disease. Emotional hypothermia.

Turning, he knows Elias can see the fear on his face, because his eyes have that hunger to them. Drinking him in, like he can’t wait to taste it on Jon’s skin. He can’t imagine how thorough Elias will be now that he might not get to have him again. He thinks he might collapse. He can't feel his hands.

He wills his mouth not to tremble.

“I--I,” he tries, but he doesn’t know how to refuse without making Elias hurt someone. Surely he can't. Surely even he isn't selfish enough. Just one more time, just one and he'll probably die before Elias can touch him again. “Alr--”

“Shouldn’t we all stay, then?”

Martin’s voice, soft but deafening in Jon's ears. Soft, mild Martin, who knows exactly what Elias plans to do.

Soft, mild Martin, who keeps his slightly confused expression as Elias’ expression goes tight and forced.

“That won’t be necessary, Martin. It’s nothing so serious as all that.”

“Then it can wait,” Daisy huffs. “Like you said, it’s three bloody hours up to Yarmouth. We’re wasting time.”

Elias actually looks taken aback. This isn't--what are they doing?

“Well—I meant--”

Basira takes Jon by the elbow. “Come on, Jon.”

The sound of the door behind him, closing with him on this side, is the sweetest thing he's ever heard but it's not possible. It's not possible.

“Do you think he bought it?”

“We’ll talk about it later,” Martin says, hurrying along behind them.

“I--I doubt there’ll be time," Jon stammers, tries to keep up. He feels strangely boneless. "We need to go.”

“You’re not goin’ anywhere like this,” Daisy says. “We’ll waste more time fixing whatever you miss when you try to power through.”

He supposes she has a point. He’s shaking in every limb, though to his credit he actually makes it back to the Archives before his knees give out.

“Careful,” Basira says, and deposits him on the shabby breakroom sofa. Martin sets about making tea.

“Breathe.”

He has to focus but he manages it. Tim's already here, he realizes belatedly. Waiting for them.

“What happened,” he says, warily, after one look at Jon’s face. He must look a mess. He feels pale and clammy and strangely deflated. He doesn't know what to do with himself, like relief has washed out all his purpose.

“He tried to keep Jon after,” Martin says simply, and Tim’s jaw clenches.

“Of course he did. Bastard. It’s soon, then?”

“We’re packing as soon as Jon’s steady enough.”

Tim flops down in a chair across from him.

“I—I’m okay,” Jon says. Feels the skeptical eyes on him from all sides. He realizes he's been crying. “No, I mean it. I...I think I’m okay. Just...I would’ve done it, if you needed--”

“We’d never ask,” Daisy snaps. And coming from her, it actually means a lot.

 

"I hate this plan," Jon says for what feels like the hundredth time. Fiddling with his bag in the doorway.

"I know, Jon." Martin’s tone is patient. Soft, and concerned. He’s right to be concerned, Elias is powerful and terrifying and beyond those has shown himself quite capable of violence.

“What do you think he’s going to do?”

It makes sense that Martin would want to be prepared.

“He’ll probably get into your head,” Jon says, truthfully. “Make you Know things like he did to Melanie. Maybe skip right to Showing you things.”

“I know that, Jon, I meant--” Martin sighs. Brushes his knuckles against the back of Jon’s hand. “I meant, what...What are you so afraid he’ll do to me?”

Ah.

“He...” The words feel stuck in his throat. Spiky and bulging. “He’s threatened to...to Show you things he did to me.”

Martin inhales sharply. He doesn’t know what that means. He’s getting tired of being confused. Can’t just one person react predictably?

“He threatened to Show you specifically, and I’m afraid that means he knows, somehow. Like he was trying to, I don’t know, make sure I knew he was onto you?”

Martin nods. Sighs.

“You know that wouldn’t change anything, don’t you?” he says softly. No, Jon very much does not know. It must show on his face.

“I mean if he did show me that, it wouldn’t change anything. It’s not going to change how I feel about you or my opinion of you or anything. I wouldn’t respect you less just because he violated your privacy.”

Jon huffs a laugh. Martin doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

“He’s Shown me, Martin, believe me it’s...it’s bad.” I’m pathetic, he wants to explain, if he Shows you how disgusting I am you’ll never look at me the same, if you can look at me at all.

“I don’t care, though? Obviously I care that it happened to you, but it won’t matter to me.” Martin’s eyes are overbright. His hand squeezes Jon’s. “If anything it’ll just make me hate him more.”

He really believes that, doesn’t he?

Jon wishes he could.

Basira calls out something impatient and rude. Honks twice.

“Be safe, Martin.”

Don't let him hurt you, he means. Please don't let him hurt you, I couldn't bear it.

He turns to leave but Martin holds his hand fast.

“Come back. All of you, come back, okay?”

He doesn’t know what to say. He doesn’t want to lie to Martin.

 

“He's going to love what I have to show him."

"He’s not,” Jon whines, trying to hide his face. The desk is so small, and Martin’s wanting eyes are so close and so wrong. "He's not like that."

”Isn’t he, though? He just so happens to come along in time to pick up the pieces, isn’t that awfully convenient? He’s the one using you. Look at him,” Elias says, pushes him down over the desk so his face is even closer to Martin’s. Those eyes...

”He’s awful, Jon. Don’t be ashamed, you’re not the first to fall for a fat pervert’s trap—“

Those are not Martin’s eyes.  

”Don’t talk about him like that!” Jon snaps, and he finds he can push himself up and away from Elias.

Elias, whose nose is bleeding. That’s...that’s not normal. 

“Jon,” he huffs as a weak little puff of laughter. Raises a hand to his nose, looking shocked and amused and pleased in equal measure. 

Is this...Is Elias actually here

”What gave it away?” He asks, chuckling, like this is a joke they’re sharing and not a violation to rival everything else he’s done.

”You didn’t get the eyes right,” he says, feeling sick, feeling hot anger that cuts through thickets of despair. “You don’t know him at all.” 

This time, pushing up out of sleep in a cutesy bed-and-breakfast, he's finally more angry than scared. He's finally ready.

Chapter Text

The music swells, and pushes everything from Jon's mind in a rush of ignorance and terror.

 

The knowledge feels cold and oily as Elias pushes it into his head, like it's contaminated by Elias' touch. Martin struggles, and then he Knows that Elias was watching the first time he tried to help Jon. And that he had raped him that night, drawn it out as long as he could last and whispered in his ear about nosy assistants and punishment to keep him in line. Relished the sight of Jon crying into his expensive sheets and cast his eye to Martin, weeping with enraged helplessness.

Martin's heart feels sick and sore but it's not broken. He feels like, in the heart department, he's been walking around on a broken ankle for years. Eventually it will collapse, but until then he can weather another crack.

“That’s none of my business,” Martin snaps. “I hope you’ve got something better than that pathetic dig at my feelings for Jon.”

I dare you, he thinks, I dare you to say something about him, after all you’ve done to him.

“It’s baffling, really. Such loyalty to someone who really treats you very badly.”

That’s fucking laughable coming from someone like Elias.

“Oh, is that supposed to be, what, a revelation?”

Elias lets out a breath. There’s a sharp, cruel gleam in his eye that sends a chill down Martin’s spine.

“I suppose I should count myself lucky. I’ve got just the thing to shatter that precious image you have of him.”

 

He—he’s a him, and that’s a start. He is, and he's a him. He knows he’s a him, remembers fighting tooth and nail all his life to be a him. And if he’s a him...what comes next? He doesn’t...he can’t grasp any of it. It slips away like...like…

Like what?

 

Martin fights, he fights as hard as he can but it’s like trying to push against water. He can’t resist, he simply Sees.

Jon, bare and sweat-slick beneath him, face screwed up and streaked with snot and tears, looking utterly miserable. Elias loves the way Jon’s tiny breasts shake when he thrusts, the pattern of bites and bruises he’s left all over his neck and shoulders. Elias is close, and Jon can tell.

Elias, no, god, no,” Jon whines, sobs, begs. “Please, not again, not inside me.”

Martin wants to be sick.

“He still had quite an orgasm after that. He can take a lot of...”

Elias’ eyes trail deliberately over Martin’s plain face and pudgy body.

“Unpleasantness. That’s what you want, isn’t it? To see him under you?”

“No,” Martin manages. His throat is tight. Not like that. Never like that.



“Do you even know what a hand is?”

He thinks he remembers. He knows the feeling if not the thing. Hands are…

Hands are pain and fear, and violence, and touching grabbing demanding what he does not want to give. Hands are taking and taking and forcing. He must be a horrible creature, if he has hands. Hands are for hurting.

“N-No,” he stammers. “No, I—wait, I don’t...I...”

“Pathetic.”



Jon, with Elias’ hand between his legs, moaning and wailing as he comes.

“He likes it in the back, did you know that? No, of course you didn’t. Even he didn’t know.”

Three fingers in Jon’s ass, dripping with lube and Jon’s slick, twisting, stretching. Jon’s cries are high and strained. He sounds frightened, he sounds helplessly pleasured. He sounds miserable.

Hot tears spill down Martin’s face. Guilt sits so heavy in his guts, he shouldn’t see this. This isn’t right, this is sick.

“I don’t care.”

Elias leans close to him. “Of course you do, Martin. That’s your weakness.”



“If our earlier conversation was anything to go by, I hardly think you can blame your faults on the ritual. Your problems go far deeper than that.”

Deep like worms, deep like foreign heat and force and a mouth that says it loves him.

“Just—just give me a moment, Jurgen, please.

Please, please, please. What good has begging ever done him?

“You think that would help? Honestly, if I wasn’t so dead I’d be impressed. I always thought my own hubris to be quite exceptional, but you’ve managed to somehow deliver more bad decisions into two years than I managed in a lifetime. You left me to get my head bashed in and proceeded to start sleeping with the man who killed me.”

“I didn’t,” he stammers. He thinks he remembers tears. He thinks he can feel them on his face skin hands eyes eyeseyeseyeseyes. “I didn’t—he made me, he made me.”

Laughter from all sides. Is it laughter? Can anything that sounds so wrong be put into any one category?



“He’s not yours,” Elias says, malice in his cold eyes. “He will never be yours.”

“He’s not yours either. What are you trying to do here, Elias? I already know you hurt him.”

“Clearly not too badly, considering he always comes back to me.”

“You’re a monster.”

"You couldn’t begin to understand. You don't love him like I do."

"God, I hope not."

Elias’ mouth twists into a scowl.

“Hm. I suppose I’ll just have to go with what I had prepared.”



Oh god, there are hands on him. So many.

Hands. He knows hands, he knows they’re on his skin, skin that’s his, skin he’s wanted to peel away so many times.

Something—someone--comes barrelling in and suddenly there is one pair and it hurts.

“Wait, no--”

“I’ll kill you! All of you!”

Jon writhes, tries to get away from the pain and the blows. He’s still blurry at the edges but he Knows Tim even though every part of him screams that he’s being touched, that he’s being held down, not again, not again not again!

“Tim--” He chokes. He’s drifting in a new and awful way, looking up at PeterTimEliasEliasEliasElias, cold eyes and hands that hurt in ways he could never have imagined. Oh, god, he’s on his back looking up at Elias and the music around him is labored breaths and filthy slick noises and moans and he’s helpless he’s in so much pain he just wants it to stop.

His flailing hand finds hot, dark skin.

Dark?

Pitted worm scars. He digs his nails into them and the howl of rage and pain sends such blissful certainty down into his bones.

Tim!” He screams. “What do you see?”

“I see my asshole boss!”

Tim’s eyes—Tim has eyes, and he knows it now—go wide and clear.

“No, wait. Wait.”

He’s saying something. It’s hard to focus, the sound-feel-smell of Nikola’s voice drags all the sureness out of him and all he knows is pain and terror and a final burst of static behind his teeth.

“Tim! What’s in your hand?

Hands are for hurting, he means, hands are destruction.

“That’s quite enough from you.”

White agony. Dizzy, throbbing.

Head injury, something supplies.

“Jon. I don’t know if you can hear me, but if you can...”

“Tim,” he whimpers. Clutches for some, any part of him. Anything solid, anything sure. Is given a warm hand. Perhaps they’re not just for hurting.

“I don’t forgive you. I think with more time I could have.” A squeeze. A lovely pressure.

“Thank you for this.”

Jon almost smiles. He Knows he’s going to die here, and that’s something of a relief. There might be words, there might be a heroic last stand, but all he feels is quiet, and then deafening heat, and then blissful nothing.