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It’s not a surprise to anyone when Martin Blackwood is the next Head of the Magnus Institute. Well, except to Tom, but Tom is an outlier and only heard about the murder six months after the fact and didn’t even realise they had a new boss. To anyone else, it has been obvious for a year already that the Lukas guy wasn’t really doing much of anything and Blackwood was the one actually sending the memos and signing the forms, behind his PA title. Which is fine! He was good at it. At this point, all that’s asked of a Head Director is not too much murder and if possible preventing any external attack on the Institute, either. Martin smiled benignly and said he can’t promise the latter but he’ll do his best for the former, which, you know, is better than when Lukas was in charge and he claimed the opposite.

So no one’s surprised when Martin actually gets to officially put his name on the plaque of the Head Director office door (not even Tom, who hasn’t seen it).

And it isn’t surprising, either, that the Head Archivist is more often in his office than not, and neither is the shouting. He’s always been an HR nightmare with belligerence issues towards hierarchy. Rosie says this is happening more often than it did in the time of Elias, as best as she can tell because he’s never learned to book appointments, but hey, that’s only fair, he and Blackwood have always been close.

God, the horror stories about Sims as a boss, can you imagine getting to be his boss now?

It’s not surprising, either, that Blackwood is never heard shouting back. Always had the patience of a saint, Martin. He’s even learned to ease up a bit, seems like: all of Sims’s shouting doesn’t seem to be able to take down Blackwood’s light-hearted smile. On the contrary, Blackwood looks perhaps a little oddly pleased with himself, sometimes, but who wouldn’t be in his position?

And the only thing surprising about them being seen snogging in a corridor is that Martin was the one doing the pinning. Sonja refuses to pay up the fifty pounds she owes Noor, says it’s got to be an exception, insists that they’ll catch Sims on top. So far the exception has happened three times to general knowledge, but sure, Sonja.

No, there’s nothing actually surprising about Martin Blackwood grabbing Sims by the scruff of his collar and kissing him long and deep against a wall and Sims completely melting into mollified silence. They’ve always been close, after all, and the door of Martin’s closet has been see-through for the last decade.

It’s just. A bit disturbing, is all. The betting pool had loads of options but everyone was agreed on the assumption that it’d be difficult to know, when (if! Stoker used to insist) it eventually happened, because Sims is such a secretive tight-arse and Martin such a nervous wreck that they would definitely keep it on the down-low. Martin being in charge is one thing, his being this — confident? cocky? preening?, is another.

That’s what directorship does to you, philosophises Kala from HR. Actually, shouldn’t that be grounds for sexual harassment, notes new girl who replaced Hannah whose name no one remembers but isn’t it Ashley or something? No, because Sims hasn’t filed a complaint, pipes in Sonja, probably because he’s the one holding the reins of this relationship, blah, blah, God, Sonja, just let it go and cough up the fifty pounds.

It’s all a little unexpected, but at least it’s a relief to know creepy disaster basement monster Sims is finally being kept on a tight leash. A metaphorical one. Most likely. It’s always the nice ones, reminds Noor triumphantly, but that’s going a bit far. Martin’s smirks aren’t that smug.

Martin’s changed, sure. He doesn’t have the time to fix everyone a cup anymore and instead he’s the one getting his coffee brought to him now. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially when it involves this sort of promotion. In fact, there’s a general consensus that he’s looking pretty cute now that he’s taken to wearing nice suits and ditched the nerdy glasses. He might be wearing coloured contacts? It’s a nice touch, makes him look sharper, very professional.

Sims is a lucky guy, really has no business looking so shattered when Rosie congratulates him on the boyfriend. God, some people are just never happy with what they get.

“That’s not,” he tries, at which Rosie gets a pass for rolling her eyes in his face, because, three times, pal. “Never mind. Please, Rosie, tell J— Mister Blackwood that he can shove his assignment up his arse.”

“Uhh, tell him yourself. Please don’t involve me in your private life.” Except for Sonja, they’ve all already seen quite enough of it, thank you.

“Jonathan,” says Mister B. from his office door, very gently. Rosie’s eyelashes flutter, also understandably, she’s quite forgiven. Martin’s changed all right. Is your voice turning into velvet also a side-effect of directorship? “Jon. Please, let’s not make a scene.”

Sims inhales and looks up at him, glaring (smouldering, Sonja will insist later) through his eyelashes. Martin just smiles, the sweet, vaguely awkward smile but with the nerves taken out and replaced by slightly patronising charm, get a grip, Rosie.

Sims doesn’t swoon.

No, what Sims does is drop the bombshell of: “I’m getting him back,” to which Mister B. replies mildly, silk whispering over steel: “And when you’re done being a child, I’ll be here, waiting,” and who the fuck is that about?

Sounds like it’s time for Ashley-or-whatever to go find a jar for the new office betting pool.