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Martin K. Blackwood

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Martin and Jon were curled up on the safehouse’s lone couch, Jon’s head pressed against Martin’s shoulders, their hands intermingled. The tea that Martin had brought out for the both of them some time ago had doubtlessly gone cold by now, but that didn’t matter much; Jon was warm enough that his sheer proximity was more than enough to make up for the absence of hot tea.

Jon turned his gaze upwards towards Martin, and Martin could feel the weight of that gaze upon him. It wasn’t a Beholding thing, he didn’t think--there was none of that strange gleam in Jon’s eyes, none of that hunger hiding behind them--just Jon, looking up at him, eyes wide and curious.

“I’d like to ask you something.” Jon’s voice was as soft and sweet as the afternoon sunlight streaming in from the window behind them.

Ask-ask, or...?”

Jon shook his head slightly, a gesture that Martin felt against his shoulder more than actually saw. “Just ask. Lowercase ask.”

Martin let out a soft, shaky laugh. “Go right ahead then.”

“W-” Jon stopped himself, took a deep breath and let it out; his breath was as warm as his body, hot air pressing against Martin’s cheek as Jon exhaled. “I’d like to know your middle name.”

Martin hadn’t been moving much to begin with, too concerned with being a steady headrest for Jon, but when he heard those words he froze entirely, a half-taken breath sitting uncomfortably in his lungs as he considered his options.

Because the truth was this: Martin K. Blackwood didn’t actually have a middle name, middle initial notwithstanding.

He’d had one, once, but that had been a long time ago, before the Institute and the Archives, before he’d even been Martin. He’d been given his grandmother’s name as a middle name at birth, and it started with a K and was horribly feminine, so once Martin knew that that didn’t fit him, and knew why that didn’t fit him, he’d given it up immediately.

Settling on Martin instead of his birth name hadn’t been terribly difficult for him, but he’d agonized over the middle name for months, wanting to keep that middle initial but having it stand for something more masculine. He’d torn through baby name books looking at every K name anyone had ever considered giving to a baby boy, and when that failed him Martin had briefly considered having his middle name just be the letter K, but no, that was awkward and would lead to the sort of questions he’d much rather avoid, thanks.

So when the time had come, he’d made his full name be Martin Blackwood, no middle name; he figured he could still add in the middle initial K for things like poetry, because he liked the sound of it, and his poetry probably wasn’t going to see the light of day anyway so nobody’d ask pesky questions about his middle name because of it anyhow.

Which had been a brilliant solution up until Jon went and asked the very question he’d been hoping to avoid all these years. (Well, not asked, exactly, and certainly not Asked, but made his curiosity clear in such a way that avoiding the not-quite-question would be more suspicious than just answering it.)

Apparently Martin’s uncertainty and hesitation had been made obvious to more than just him, because Jon continued. “You know I won’t judge, whatever it is. Even if it’s just the letter K, like Harry S Truman, or, or K-A-Y--that’d explain some things, actually...”

“No.” Martin said, and then paused, because he hadn’t actually figured out what he was going to say beyond that. The logical thing to do would probably be telling the truth, but... but Martin knew it was a silly thing to do, to just take on a middle initial that stood for nothing (and emphatically didn’t stand for one thing in particular) solely because you liked the sound of it, and much as Jon said he wouldn’t judge, and much as Martin wanted to believe him, that didn’t stop his anxiety or untangle the mess of knots in his stomach...

So Martin took a deep breath and did what, perhaps, he did best: he lied his ass off.

“It’s actually spelled K-H-A-Y-E.”

Martin kicked himself as soon as he said it, because adding just the H or just the E might be plausible, but Khaye, now, that didn’t even seem like a name... but he couldn’t take it back now, couldn’t very well claim he’d misspelled his own middle name, not without the whole charade falling apart, so he pressed on. Besides, Jon didn’t look at all suspicious--surprised, maybe, and eager to hear more, but not suspicious in the slightest.

“Still sounds just like K, though, so you got that bit right, anyway. It- it was my grandmother’s name.” Martin knew well enough by now that sometimes, the best way to lie was to tell a bit of the truth along the way.

“Does, uh, it...” Jon pressed the hand that wasn’t intertwined with Martin’s against his face for a moment, closing his eyes as he considered his words. “The meaning. I assume the name Khaye has some meaning.”

“Honestly? If it does, I have no idea. My grandmother passed away before I was born-” That bit was true; the middle name had been given to honor her, which might have been one reason that Martin had fought to find a way to keep that middle initial even after he’d figured out that the name behind it didn’t suit him. “-so it’s not like I could, you know, pop over and ask her about it. And I’ve never seen it in any baby name books, either.” That bit was technically true, too, because the name didn’t exist, at least as far as Martin knew...

Jon smiled slightly. “Fair enough. I don’t even know why I got named Jonathan, so...”

“I did, uh, think about changing it when, when I changed my name to Martin, but I figured a name that obscure, who’s to say what gender it is, right? And I liked the sound of the K, and I couldn’t find any good male K names to replace it with.”

“What about Kevin?” There was no compulsion to the question, just a gentle curiosity, and Martin half-suspected that Jon didn’t even realize he’d asked a question outright.

“I considered that, actually, but Martin Kevin Blackwood sounds atrocious.”

Jon snorted with amusement. “You’re right, I didn’t think that one through, that does sound pretty bad. Martin Khaye Blackwood, on the other hand-” Martin could swear he heard Jon sounding the name out, saying it as a name rather than a mere initial, even though the whole point was that the two sounded identical. “That sounds lovely.”

Martin could feel his face turning hot and pink, and he wasn’t sure whether it was doing so more out of love or embarrassment. “Well, I’m glad you approve.”

“Of course I do. You decided on it, after all.”

Jon stretched upwards and planted a kiss on Martin’s cheek, and it was warm and sweet and soft and gentle, and in that moment any thoughts Martin had about coming clean to Jon evaporated, because this moment was too precious to ruin that easily.

It was just a little white lie, after all. He’d told bigger lies plenty of times before (though rarely to Jon, and never in the safehouse). And maybe if it came up again, he could confess, tell the truth about it all...

But middle names were such an inconsequential thing to begin with; it probably wouldn’t come up again anyway. And that was fine too.

Martin would tell a thousand white lies if they all led to kisses like that, after all.