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Scritches for the Archivist

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It becomes a ritual.

 

Probably because Jon’s close to chopping all his hair off due to sheer irritation from it all, Tim thinks – he’d heard muffled ranting at inanimate objects, door handles and office chair arms and papers that catch and pull on Jon’s loose hair, and he’d woken up more than a few times to see Jon’s hair wrapped and tangled around his throat, which could not have been a good feeling.

 

So it becomes a ritual.

 

Martin makes tea in the morning, Jon fumbles his way through helping with breakfast to the best of his abilities, and Tim braids Jon’s hair before Jon leaves for work.

 

And on days when Tim doesn’t go home with Jon and Martin, Jon will often end up sitting in front of Tim at some point during the day with Tim’s hands in his hair.

 

Tim doesn’t mind, per say.

 

But he thinks he may never get the smell of bergamot off his hands, which is very disconcerting when he’s trying to cook.

 

//

 

Martin, for once, is the first to wake up. He is the first to carefully extract himself from the mess of limbs and men in Jon’s small bed, and God he suddenly has a greater appreciation for Jon’s limberness in clambering over Martin and Tim’s sleeping forms. Because it is significantly more difficult for Martin. Which is probably exacerbated by the fact that he has to stoop in order to avoid braining himself on the ceiling, but nonetheless.

 

He wants tea. And perhaps some time to knit before anybody else wakes up.

 

Martin makes it halfway through his cup of tea and eight rows through the jumper sleeve when he has a rather worrying epiphany.

 

First, he thinks he forgot to slip a stitch properly multiple rows back. Second, he’s close to finishing a skein of yarn and hasn’t wound up another.

 

Third, this jumper is intended for Jon – sized for Jon, and he’s already finished one sleeve at roughly the appropriate length. Which had truly meant nothing when he began planning it, began working on it; yes, he had been casually pining for some time, and profoundly guilty about his actions during the Leitner, but it was just a jumper.

 

Now, however?

 

Now, when they were officially dating, as declared both by the three of them and by Sasha’s teasing?

 

The jumper would be a bit… problematic.

 

Martin puts his knitting down on the couch next to him, carefully settles his mug of tea on the floor next to his left foot, pauses his podcast, and buries his face in his hands.

 

The jumper curse is just an old superstition, he tells himself. Nothing to worry about. Jon had been appropriately appreciative of the socks Martin had given him, nice thick socks with honeycomb cables to protect Jon from blisters from his boots. Jon had been appreciative, giving Martin a small smile that had made Martin’s heart skip a beat, and Martin knows that Jon has been making heavy use of them. Enough use that Martin wants to make another pair or two, with different cable patterns and colors and maybe intarsia cables because Martin hasn’t felt Catholic self-hatred in a while and intarsia cables are a good way to induce that, and –

 

Clearly, that means that the jumper would be appreciated. Probably used constantly, judging by how much Jon wears the cheap jumpers and cardigans he bought from Amazon.

 

Clearly.

 

Clearly, the jumper curse is just a superstition.

 

But what if it wasn’t?

 

//

 

“Sasha, do I want to know why you have ‘Martin’ written in capital letters above a long list written in shorthand?” Jon asks mildly, holding a battered green spiral bound notebook.

 

Sasha yanks the notebook away, tossing a glare at him as she pointedly snaps the notebook shut with a very unsatisfying sound. “None,” she says primly, “of your business.”

 

“I find that very unlikely,” Jon says, and Sasha resists the urge to hit him.

 

But, well – Tim’s out extracting information from Christie Waters’ stepbrother, and Martin’s making tea.

 

The notebook makes a very unsatisfying sound when she hits Jon on the top of the head with it, and he gives her a very unimpressed glance that eerily mimics the kind that her gran – the Welsh one, not Angela – gives Sasha when Sasha hits her head on a doorframe, a glance that calls her ridiculous and silly but is ultimately unsurprised at said aspects, just disappointed.

 

“And why is there a page dedicated to Tim?” Jon asks, dancing out of the way when Sasha makes to hit him again.

 

“None of your business,” Sasha repeats firmly.

 

Doubtful.”

 

“Don’t you have a statement to record?” Sasha snaps, opening a drawer in her desk at random and shoving her notebook in beside the stapler.

 

“I also have information to extract from you.”

 

Sasha folds her arms, leans forward, looms over Jon.

 

Jon’s unimpressed expression returns.

 

His hair is braided today, Sasha notes – not as neatly as Jon himself manages, and there’s a pin keeping a stray lock tucked behind his ear, but definitely neater than she could manage. Which is a low bar, but a metric nonetheless.

 

“Jon,” Sasha says, mimicking his expression, “if you don’t fuck off, I will replace all your pens with dead ones, one by one, and break your stapler.”

 

Jon pursed his lips, and gave her a considering look.

 

“…Yes, I can believe that.”

 

“Great, now fuck off. Your pens are at stake, Jon.”

 

Jon leaves, and Sasha sighs in relief.

 

Can’t have him digging too deeply into her investigations. And it’s not like she has a literal red string board.

 

Yet.

 

Not for Martin, anyway.

 

//

 

“So!” Sasha smiles pleasantly as she sits down across from Martin, clasping her hands together and resting them on the table in front of her. “You like the tea here?”

 

Martin grimaces, and glances down at his cup. “…Not really? It’s okay, I guess.”

 

“Shame.” Sasha shakes her head, and looks directly at Martin with a pleasant smile on her face.

 

She’s wearing makeup, Martin notes. Red lipstick and sharp eyeliner.

 

And she isn’t saying anything, just staring at him.

 

“…Is there a reason I’m here?” Martin asks, shifting awkwardly once the silence has gotten thoroughly uncomfortable.

 

“Yes.”

 

“…Are you going to tell me what it is?” Martin asks. “It’s Saturday.”

 

“So it is.” Sasha’s smile widens, and Martin thinks that this is how people feel before they get mauled by a wild animal.

 

“Sasha?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“Why am I here?”

 

“Well, since you asked so nicely.” Sasha leans forward. “You’re officially dating Jon.”

 

Martin smiles, though it quickly shifts from genuine to awkward when Sasha’s expression remains exactly the same.

 

“And since gran can’t really come visit herself, and we thought that dragging you to Bexley would be rude.”

 

“Um,” Martin offers intelligently.

 

“Did you hear about the statement surrounding my gran?”

 

“No?” Martin is relatively certain this is exactly what people feel like when people are about to get mauled.

 

“Shame. I’ll show it to you on Monday.” Sasha shakes her head. “Anyway, it’s a genuine statement.”

 

“Oh dear.”

 

“Mhm. So, I’ll say this quickly.”

 

Her smile has not changed, and Martin feels vaguely faint.

 

“If you fuck Jon over, what she’ll do pales in comparison to what I’ll do. Okay?”

 

Martin squeaks inarticulately, and Sasha’s smile turns genuine as she reaches over to clap him on the shoulder. “Great! See you Monday.”

 

And with that, she leaves.

 

Meanwhile, Martin’s life decides to flash before his eyes, which he feels is definitely justified. All things considered.

 

Did he want to know what the statement entailed?

 

 “You okay, mate?” the barista asks as she wanders by, clearly having just gotten off her shift.

 

“…Fine,” Martin squeaks.

 

“Uh-huh.” But she doesn’t press it, just leaves Martin to his terror and mediocre tea, which he can appreciate.

 

//

 

“Package for the Jonathan Sims.”

 

Martin stares blankly at the two burly men who do indeed have a massive package between them. “Uh, what?”

 

“Says right here,” says the second man.

 

“I’m not sure –”

 

“We’ll just leave it with you,” says the first.

 

“Make sure he gets it,” finishes the second.

 

“Okay, I will, but you really have to actually –” Martin tries.

 

But they leave before Martin can get his words out – which is probably for the best, because Martin isn’t sure what he was actually trying to say.

 

He sighs, and looks down at his knitting.

 

Really, they couldn’t have waited to deliver it until after lunch break?

 

//

 

Gideon flicks the lights on in Artefact Storage, and pauses.

 

There’s a table.

 

A massive table.

 

A very interesting table, he thinks, as he approaches, and he shivers unconsciously as he approaches it – because he left his hoodie on the cart, Gideon tells himself.

 

Definitely.

 

It’s a very interesting table. 

 

//

 

“Gideon,” Jon says as he sidles past the cleaner in question.

 

“Hm.” Gideon doesn’t take his headphones out, and Jon grimaces as Gideon exhales a lungful of smoke that reeks of artificial blueberry and will absolutely linger in the Archives for hours.

 

“Must you do that inside?”

 

“Hm.”

 

Jon sighs, and walks away.

 

Really. Is that how obnoxious Jon was, when he first started at the Institute and couldn’t manage conversation with anybody?