" The future must know where you’ve been
The past predicts the state you’re in
The present did and will not last, is. isn’t. was. Have. hasn’t. has "
Dr Sunshine is Dead by Will Wood and the Tapeworms
Jon stared idly into the fire as the night began to creep in around their recent hideout. He should be trying to get some rest for the day ahead, but he knew better than to put faith in their security. They were never really safe anymore, but they had learned to adjust. Beside him Martin slid his hand into Jon's and gave it a comforting squeeze. Jon turned back to him with a look of reverence. He turned Martin's hand in his and brought it to his lips. He laid a gentle kiss to the silver band on Martin's ring finger. He didn't need to look at Martin to know the look he was giving him. They both felt the same blooming love in their hearts, this was theirs.
Jon sighed and pressed another gentle kiss to the wedding band. Martin lifted his hand from Jon's grasp and moved to wipe at the tears forming in Jon's eyes. Martin pulled Jon close, pressing small kisses where he could as Jon clung to him.
"What if this doesn't work?"
"It has to." Martin replied, resolute. "We have to believe it will."
Jon breathed. "Okay….I'm just..." This plan scared him; what if it all went wrong? What if they lost each other? There were too many ways things could go wrong. Like every other minute of his life he was terrified.
"I know. Me too." Martin's voice was barely above a whisper. Jon held him tighter.
Neither of them slept that night, but they kept the other close.
Basira lead their group to their destination. Though once they got close enough it wasn't that hard to find; it was the only house left standing on Hill Top Road.
When the group awoke it was on a cool smooth stone floor with a surprising lack of cobwebs. Jon sat up and was surprised to recognize his surroundings. They were in the tunnels under the institute in the room with the worm portal. Only there wasn't a worm portal, there never had been, but the stone wall was broken and distorted in the place the portal should - would - be. Jon shut his eyes against his oncoming headache. Basira and Daisy had already stood up and were pacing the layout of the room. Martin stays sat beside Jon and waits for him to get his bearings.
"How do we know it worked?" Basira asks.
"It worked," Jon says through clenched teeth.
"Alright, do you know that or do you Know that?"
"I, uh, Know . And there's a lot to process right now. Give me a second."
It was like all his knowledge had been reset; the information was trying to update and rearrange itself with the current time. Knowledge from what is now the future they're avoiding wars with knowledge from his own past - which is now the present day. All of that on top of his own memories and thoughts and it all became too loud and too much. He fights for control to stop the ongoing flood of information.
Daisy kneels on the other side of Jon and pats his shoulder. After a few more seconds Jon straightens and moves to get up.
"Hey," Daisy stops him. "You alright?"
"Yeah, I just had to… find the quiet again." They share something akin to a smile and turn back to the room.
"Okay. So we're in the tunnels under the institute."
"Figured that much," Basira nods. "Any idea… when?"
Jon takes a moment to draw the information. "Late 2015, I was just promoted to head Archivist."
Martin huffs out a dry chuckle. "Convenient."
Jon gives a laugh of his own. "Right well…Shall we?"
"So what do you propose we do, Jon?"
"I don't know!" Jon ran his hand over his face. Basira was right it a way, they didn't have any other clear options. "It just… There must be a better way than to just show up and announce we're from the future."
They had found an exit leading to a trap door in the archives. Basira was suggesting they go right on in but Jon was having second thoughts. He expected another quip from Basira but she was no longer paying attention to him. He looked to Martin who mirrored his confusion.
"Where's Daisy?" There was a silent urgency to her voice.
"She was just - Oh no." Jon Knew exactly where she was. If they didn't stop her…
Jon broke into a run towards the trapdoor. He could hear the others quick to follow behind him. When he made it to the door he was not surprised to see it had been broken off its hinges. He scrambled up, pausing for a moment to catch his breath when he fell to the floor in the archives. Looking up he froze. Three very familiar faces stared at him in apparent shock. There was a fourth face among them that Jon didn't recognize for a moment. Then it clicked and he physically recoiled at the pain in his head as his memories started reverting themselves to include this version of Sasha - the real Sasha. There were more pressing matters at hand, Jon pushed through the pain struggling to compose himself. This gives Basira time to catch up and she doesn't hesitate like he does, but she gives him a gentle shove forward as she rushes by.
"No time. We have to get Daisy first." She yells.
"Right." Jon straightens and then notices the other figures in the room had started to move as well. Tim, who had been sitting in a desk chair, was now standing and his past self was now stepping in front of the others to get closer.
"Uh, right." He addresses the room this time. "So no doubt you have some questions."
Suddenly there's a firm hand on his shoulder, urging him on.
"We're from the future." A voice interrupts. "We'll talk about it later after we stop Daisy from committing murder ." Martin, his Martin, gives him a final push and nods. Jon nods back and breaks back into a run, this time without leaving Martin behind.
They both hear the cacophony of noise break out behind them as their words sunk in and neither slow down as it continues to echo behind them in pursuit.
Jonathan Sims, newly promoted Head Archivist of the Magnus Institute, lets out an exasperated sigh. He was quickly discovering how much of a hussle his new job was going to be.
"You're absolutely sure that it doesn't work?" Sasha looks back at him from behind what she was turning into her own desk. Tim sat in a wheeled office chair he found, watching Jon, while Martin was pretending to look busy with some boxes of files, and not eavesdropping. Jon takes another deep inhale.
"Yes, absolutely positive, Jon. Just like the other five past attempts - these statements just won't record digitally."
"Spoooky," Tim drones and Jon grimaces. "Face it boss, these statements are cursed." Tim shrugs, all nonchalant as he leans back in his chair. Martin stifles a laugh.
"Right, well -"
Jon is cut off by a loud noise from further in the archives, a sound like splintering wood. Cautiously, he walks in the direction it came from. Tim rolls his chair to get a better look while Martin and Sasha slowly approach as well. There was a trap door in the floor, in a back corner of the room he had yet to notice, and the door had been opened from below. The entrance into… what Jon could only assume is a basement is dark. Then a figure pushes their way out and into the archives proper. It is a woman, she looks both strong and frail at the same time. She's muscular and bears several scars but she looks pale and sickly. When she looks up to them there is a hunger and fury in her face. A stern determination that pushes her to her feet.
"Excuse me," her voice is just as gravelly as her appearance but she speaks softly. "I'll fix that later."
With that she makes her way through the archives. Jon can't help but think on how much her gait reminds him of a predator as she stalks her way out.
For a moment the archives are quiet as they process what just happened. Jon opens his mouth to speak but finds that he's at a loss for words. Before he can find his train of thought the sound of multiple footsteps filter up from the entrance in the floor. Jon looks at the others and braces himself for whatever is coming next.
There wasn't anyway to prepare himself for what drags its way out. The figure is…. familiar but not. It isn't until the man lifts his head from the floor that he recognizes why. The figure has his face and his body but it is scarred, his hair is longer, and he looks exhausted. The other Jon is looking up at the four of them in what could be best described as panic and disbelief. Tim stands up from his chair and Jon places himself between the figure at the trapdoor and his team.
Another emerges from below. This woman is much like the first in demeanor. She shoves her way past the other Jon who stands dumbfounded with a slightly pained expression.
"No time. We have to get Daisy first." And with that the woman takes the same path as the first, the one who must be Daisy.
"Right," and Jon pales at the sound of his own voice coming from the ragged other. Sasha does a quick lookover the two identical men in his periphery. The other Jon composes himself. "Uh, right. So no doubt you have some questions."
But their attention is drawn away as a fourth figure stands from the darkness, this one just as eerily familiar as the current. It's Martin but it's not ; this Martin is battered and worn down - it looks wrong on someone as kind and gentle as the Martin he knows. The other Martin places a hand on the other Jon's shoulder. Jon can't help but notice how the other him melts into the touch rather than pull away.
"We're from the future. We'll talk about it later after we stop Daisy from committing murder ." The other Martin's voice is firm and the other Jon is quick to agree. The two doubles start running after the other women.
For a beat there is silence.
"From the future? "
Martin was the first to break the silence, incredulous. Sasha seems to be speaking questions to herself. Tim walks towards the door.
"Tim, where are you going?"
"I'm following whatever this is to get some answers."
Jon opened his mouth to protest but his own feet were already moving to catch up with his pace. They all followed the others up the stairs.
This promotion was turning out to be a nightmare.
Daisy was in Elias's office. As Martin and Jon enter she has him pinned to the wall with a grip tight on his throat. Basira is cautiously approaching her and Daisy's growls only grow louder.
"He deserves to die."
"You're right. But not yet."
Martin doesn't dare get closer but Jon makes his way to Daisy's other side, reaching out. "Daisy. She's right. We can't. Not yet."
Her grip falters and she turns to stare at him. "How can you say that? After everything he did? Everything he did to you ?"
Jon fliches. "I am not defending him. But he has too many ties to people here at the institute. Killing him now - without a plan or countermeasures - would be… there's no need for innocent blood to be spilled."
She considers his words. Looking back to Basira she drops her hold on Elias and backs up, shaking. Basira is quick to grab Elias while Jon urges Daisy to sit in one of the chairs. He kneels beside her and grabs her hands. Her nails had sharpened into claws and she had begun to dig them into her own palms. He murmurs soothing words to help calm her. She doesn't respond but she doesn't pull away which is progress.
Meanwhile, Basira is restraining Elias's arms behind his back. Martin is pretty sure that there's fear in his eyes as he takes in his surroundings. "Right, so would anyone care to explain -"
Elias is cut off before he can finish. There's a crunching noise followed by a groan of pain. Martin is pretty sure his fist just broke Elias's nose.
"Shut up." Martin can't help but feel a little satisfied. Distantly, he is aware that a crowd has followed them into the office but he can't find it in him to care. Basira shoots him an impressed look before she pushes Elias to the floor.
There's a brief moment of silence before another person speaks up.
"What the fuck is happening?"
Tim is standing at the front of the crowd that has gathered in front of the door. He can't decide who to stare down, so his gaze keeps shifting around the room in bewilderment.
"Would someone please explain what the hell is going on?" This time there's a hint of desperation in his plea. "Because I'm convinced that I've totally lost it and this is the weirdest fever dream yet."
Jon doesn't fight back the weak bark of laughter that escapes at that. Even so, it comes out pathetic and broken. Martin finally takes a moment to actually take in the people in front of him. He had mourned Tim, now seeing the man here in front of him - alive - well… something long buried lets itself be known in his chest. He almost starts crying but he makes himself look at the others. Jon and his younger self look so… untouched . It's surreal seeing himself from an outside perspective and it's even odder to this version of himself. Then he notices Sasha and he lets the tears spill from his eyes. Basira is unaffected, so she is the one to speak.
"We're from the future. Or a future. A terrible one we're going to keep from existing."
"Yeah," Tim scoffs. "You said that. So, you expect us to just believe in time travel?"
Basira shrugs. "You work at the Magnus Institute."
The joke falls flat.
Sasha steps up.
"I mean they do have really convincing evidence." She turns to Martin, who blinks away tears to see her clearly. Her face softens and Martin had missed that - he hadn't been aware of it but he had missed that look. Behind him Jon stands from the floor and takes a few tentative steps forward. Martin only just realizes how crowded the office is once Jon stops by his side. He's grabbed the box of tissues from Elias's desk and offers it to Martin who takes a few to dry his eyes. Jon clears his throat and addresses the others.
"We know it's a lot to ask for your trust but we're not here to cause harm -"
"Except to our boss." His younger self interrupts.
"Yes well…he is the reason we're here."
A low growling starts up again from behind. When they turn, Daisy is still in the chair but shaking violently. It's not hard to tell she's slowly losing control again. His Jon looks at him almost desperately and Martin nods. He knows what Jon is asking and walks over to Daisy. She notices his approach and nods in consent. He places a hand on her shoulder and rubs it soothingly. As he does he reaches for the invisible threads tied to her and forces her to relax. Her shaking stops and she exhales.
Martin is surprised to hear his own voice next.
"Wait. So what did Elias do? "
"He's binded you to an evil fear entity for starters." Basira answers.
"He's also responsible for the murder of Gertrude Robinson." Jon continues.
"Also I'm pretty sure he's committing tax evasion right now." Martin adds, remembering all the paperwork from his time as Peter's assistant. "More importantly, he's not really Elias Bouchard."
"Then who is he?" The younger Jon demands.
"You wouldn't believe us if we told you."
The two Jons stare at each other. Martin can tell that his Jon's patience is wearing thin from exhaustion and stress. He spots the glint in his eyes too late.
"No. Why don't we just have Elias explain himself shall we?"
Martin moves to intervene but Daisy grabs his hand.
Jon has moved towards Basira who has Elias propped up in a sitting position on the floor. Jon grabs the tape recorder that has materialized on the desk and brings it to his mouth to record. Elias stares up at Jon, blood still oozing from his nose. Even bloody and beaten the bastard still looks smug - like he doesn't believe Jon could have any control over him. It's then that Martin decides to let Jon continue.
The recorder clicks on and there's a faint crackle of static as Jon looks down at Elias.
"Is all of this really necessary, Jonathan?"
Jon shrugs. "Perhaps not. But it sure does bring us some satisfaction."
"And now what?"
"Now you're going to tell everyone the truth about the institute."
Elias scoffs. "And what truth would that be?"
Jon is toying with him, holding back his powers to give Jonah a false sense of security. The static feedback crescendos. Jon begins to push his power out in earnest.
"You're going to tell them enough."
Elias is quiet.
"Go ahead Jonah, tell them your story ."
For a second Jonah doesn't move but as the compulsion hits the words spill from his mouth.
"What? Would you like a confession? Fine. I am Jonah Magnus. I built the Institute to serve The Beholding - a force that exists outside of our understanding and to feed off of fear. I killed Elias Bouchard and I killed James Wright before him and countless others. I did kill Gertrude Robinson. I killed her because she was too dangerous. She had figured out too much and for my plans I needed an unsuspecting pawn. I needed a new Archivist and that was to be you, Jonathan Sims. You had managed to survive an encounter with The Web as a child but had not been able to escape its hold entirely. I was going to use you. To mark you with all the fears; which I can only assume worked, based off all those scars you've managed to collect. And my my, Jonathan, how all that fear has changed you. You were to be my next ritual. I was going to change the world and you were to be the catalyst for its apotheosis."
"You'll have to tell me what it was like, the world of nightmares we created. It's too bad I underestimated you. Hmm… How did you manage time travel of all things? I can only assume when the walls of reality shattered it opened a lot more possibilities."
"That's enough. Basira -"
"How does it feel? To have the powers of a true Archivist?"
Martin clenches his fist as Basira gives him a swift punch to the throat. He pulls his strings and Jonah's eyes dart to him.
"It looks like I've also underestimated Martin." And Jonah remains quiet.
There is silence and Tim takes a breath. "So, you're telling me that you're Jonah fucking Magnus and were planning to - and apparently did - use Jon to...cause the apocalypse?"
"That is what happened, yes." Jon says as he clicks the recorder off and falls backwards to lean against the desk. He looks drained.
"So why didn't I come back from the future?" Tim asks and Martin wishes he had picked literally any of the other questions Martin can tell are buzzing through his head.
Jon hangs his head. Martin speaks up.
"Tim… you died. Sasha too."
The younger Jon takes a shaky breath. "I believe you but there's a lot I don't understand. There's more you're not telling us."
Sasha nods. "I have a few questions myself."
"Right," Daisy stands up from her chair. "Jon and Martin you go back down to the archives and give the others a rundown. Basira and I will wrap things up here."
Jon stays slumped against the desk. Martin offers him a hand.
Jon looks up at him then back down to his shaking limbs.
"Need help getting back down to the archives?"
Jon takes his arm and Martin supports his weight as they head towards the door where there's still a crowd gawking at them in confusion.
"Alright, we'll explain everything downstairs. Let's go." As they hesitantly start to file out Jon squeezes his arm. As the others have their backs turned Martin presses a light kiss to his cheek.
They could do this. Things were going to be okay.