When Jon was halfway through researching for a statement, Elias summoned for him. The call was louder and less subtler than it should have had to be, but Elias reminded himself to have patience. Jon was still new at this. His senses and, clearly, his devotion were still newly formed. He waited, and when Jon didn’t move, called again.
It took five more such calls, louder each time, for Jon to finally burst into his office. He had sprinted up the stairs with Elias’s displeasure shrieking at him like a fire alarm but wasted precious seconds to walk down the hallway. As if it would do him any good. As if he could hide anything.
Jon was angry, chest heaving; the flush on his cheeks was not entirely from running. “It couldn’t wait?” he asked. The words were spit out, presented out like a challenge, as if they could make up for the way he was curving towards Elias like a sunflower. Elias switched plans. If he was being honest, he had switched plans twenty minutes and four summonings ago.
Elias sighed. It was longer than normal, and perfectly calculated to set Jon on edge. “Jon, if you continue to act like a child, I will treat you like one.”
Jon growled, “What’s that supposed to mean?” His teeth were bared. The threat was almost cute. Jon couldn’t seriously expect him to believe that ever would — ever could — destroy a source of knowledge.
Snapping his fingers, Elias pointed to the space behind his desk. “Come.”
Jon’s cheeks flooded a dark red, and his eyebrows went up. He was challenging Elias so he wouldn’t look away. “Tell me why,” he snapped back, and Elias bit back a smile. He had good reactions for an Archivist, at least.
“Come here,” Elias repeated. There was a loose thread in it. Jon would pull. He let the smile click onto his face, and knew that Jon would take it as a threat.
Jon twitched forward, and his hands curled. Elias kept the smile wide, tilted his head. Jon stepped toward his desk.
“Down,” Elias said, pointing at the carpet in front of him.
“Are you treating me like a child or a dog?” Jon asked. His tone was sardonic, but he knelt at Elias’s feet nonetheless. Jon tilted his head back to keep eye contact. He’d found his relentless gaze to be a decent intimidation tactic, but unfortunately for Jon, it didn’t work on Elias.
The smile was genuine now — as genuine as it could get at this late point, with Elias walking the difficult line between all his layers of awareness, sight, and understanding. Jon’s gaze was barely perceptible, but having the angry attention solely on himself made something selfish and greedy crack open in Elias’s chest. It spread slow and messy past his ribs.
Elias stayed silent. Jon wouldn’t like the truth. Instead, he stroked Jon’s jaw with his left thumb until the anxious look faded from his eyes. It made them dull, and Elias ruthlessly quashed the flicker of disappointment that sight produced. Paranoia was a good look on Jon, but it could never last.
He eased Jon through the process, until his mind was as quiet as it would get. Jon didn’t relax — the seeds of suspicion hadn’t come to fruition yet, but when Jon tested his ability he would find that he no longer physically could — but the extra tension in his shoulders vanished. Jon was content to wait. Pleased, Elias hooked his thumb over Jon’s bottom lip and pulled. Jon didn’t react immediately, and didn’t think to shut his mouth until it was too late. Elias’s index and middle fingers crowded into his mouth, pressing heavily down onto his tongue.
Jon gagged at the faint remnants of disinfectant on his fingers. Elias smiled wider, stroking his hair in a way that appeared gentle, but he knew hurt. Jon’s shoulders tightened, but he didn't push him off. Elias rewarded him with slower, firmer strokes, settling Jon into his new position. A human wouldn't be able to taste it.
“You're doing well,” Elias said, and watched the conflicting impulses twist Jon’s face; the way that Jon’s body wanted to relax under his hands but Jon didn’t. Pushing at his hard palate, Elias forced Jon’s head up.
His anxiety spiked again. Elias waited.
As his curiosity slowly flooded out everything else, Jon’s tongue flexed under the fingers in his mouth. Elias permitted him the indulgence of not being looked at, as Jon’s shame flickered to life, burning brightly at his feet. Setting a precedent may well turn out to have been counterproductive, but if he was smart, Jon would understand the rarity of the gift. If not…well. There was some time still available to them before the ‘end of the world,’ as the staff had so charmingly dubbed it.
Elias turned back to his work as Jon slowly mapped the ridges of his fingerprints. Paperwork, obviously, because while the Internet and assorted electronica were beneficial to the Beholding, it was not their domain. He preferred to avoid conducting official business on it whenever possible. Always a good idea to keep adversaries from knowing as much as possible, friendly as they might be.
Jon sensed his attention wandering. Good for you, Jon, Elias thought, pride and annoyance mixing into a rarely-felt emotion. Had to develop the basics sometime. Elias patted his head, partly to take out his irritation and partly because, though Jon would never admit it, beneath all the simmering resentment and betrayal he liked the praise, condescending as it may have been. Jon shifted forward on his knees. And when that didn’t get a response, he bit down. It wasn’t very hard, but it was enough to draw Elias’s attention from the problem of whether or not Cheryl in Archival Storage should be categorized as fired or missing. He really should have seen it coming, but he’d had his hands full lately.
Elias hissed, because Jon wanted to hear it. It did almost hurt. He expressed his displeasure by pushing his fingers a knuckle further into Jon’s mouth, so that the webbing of his fingers stretched around Jon’s lips. With his other hand, Elias held Jon’s head firmly in place. Jon stilled. He had a strong gag reflex.
They both know Elias would go further, if necessary.
“Behave,” he added, and turned back to his work.
Jon swallowed hard. Elias kept his fingers where they were. If Jon wanted to be comfortable, he could stop misbehaving.
Eventually, Jon realized that Elias would not be moving any time soon. He tried to drift away into his mind, but each time he got close Elias pressed down, making Jon bite into his own tongue. Not hard enough to draw blood, of course — to damage this precious object would not bode well for Elias — but enough to hurt.
Jon huffed air through his nose, unhappy. Bored, with nothing to focus on but his own quickly fading pain, he swallowed reflexively around Elias’s fingers. A switch flicked on in Elias’s mind. He would be prouder if he thought Jon was even remotely aware of doing it. Still, it was progress. Jon wanted to Ask a question. Elias could see the shape and texture of it. Not the words themselves, but they didn’t matter.
“Yes, you may,” Elias said, before he could speak. It was a shame to pass up the opportunity, but he had already changed track once, and this meeting was not supposed to devolve so far. There was time enough to arrange a lesson later. Jon did genuinely need improvement, after all.
Jon shuffled forward on his knees. Elias slotted his fingers between the smooth enamel of Jon’s teeth and the giving flesh of his cheek, so that he wouldn’t accidentally make Jon vomit. That would be messy. Elias maneuvered the now-decently pliant Jon so that his head pressed against the inside of Elias’s thigh. If Jon was aware of the more suggestive nature of the position, he didn’t protest. Good.
There was a flare of arousal growing in Elias’s stomach. Had been for a while, if he was honest. Which was more difficult than it should be, he realized. He made a note and then pushed it aside, turning back to his work. Cheryl had made quite a mess upon termination. Jon sat quietly at Elias’s feet, leaving heavy warmth pressed to his spread legs. His eyes closed. Elias let him drift. He was thinking about work, at least. His thoughts were jagged and cold, pastel-hued. Martin, probably. Occasionally Jon mouthed at Elias’s fingers, but didn’t bite again. Elias didn’t care enough to look for the purpose.
He was content to keep Jon like this for now — to make him remember, when he truly became The Archivist, who held his tongue and claimed it for his own.
Elias realized that his pen has stopped moving while contemplating the picture Jon made at his feet, creating an unseemly spot on his papers. He started, annoyed, and the tension caused Jon to look up.
His eyes were too calm, too removed to be Jon’s, and the sight of it made Elias’s annoyance abruptly dissipate. This was what The Archivist would grow from. He was more certain of that than he had been of anything else in his life. It was overwhelming to look upon. Even weak and fetal like this, he wanted to fall before it. The promise of power it held was…intoxicating.
Elias didn’t think he’d have to kill this one.
He gave the order quietly, curious as to whether it would be obeyed or even heard. But the Archivist was more attuned to their Master than Jon was — or more willing to listen to it — and the creature started to move its tongue over Elias’s skin. The movements were slow and analytical. Its tongue was still warm, but there was nothing human to the thing kneeling at his feet.
Elias let himself shudder, and drew his hand slowly back until the Archivist was awkwardly propped up on its knees and Elias could rock against his hand. The angle wasn’t good. It didn’t matter. Much as he may have disliked the imprecise phrasing, this beautiful, terrible creature was a fragment of their God. Everything about the situation was divine.
The Archivist was quiet, and it did not close its eyes. Good. The possibility at least existed in Jon, then. It was focused on its goal, on what Elias had told it to do, but not solely on him. Following blind instinct, it crept down the stairs and into the minds of its assistants. Elias could almost taste the guilt that Jon would later feel. But when its attention lessened, he let it hear him gasp. The Archivist’s pressurized gaze sharpened in a clumsy parody of his own, and it redoubled its efforts.
When Elias’s breath caught, the Archivist watched him with impassive eyes. Its tongue laved against his skin. Its dull teeth were sharp against his knuckles. The pressure threatened to split the skin, but Elias knew it wouldn’t.
It set his blood on fire. This dangerous creature who would hurt so many, kneeling at his feet and retaining enough control to not draw blood.
He pulled his fingers out of its mouth, pressing his palm fully to his clit as he bent forward, right hand pulling at its hair. Jon’s spit smeared over the fabric. Slipping out of his grip, the Archivist sank back to its knees and set to categorizing, filing each part of Elias away in its mind. Its sight pricked against his skin with invisible needles, and Elias couldn’t help but feel proud. An impression, indeed, he thought, before his eyes blinked out and pleasure rippled outward in slow waves.
The Archivist watched quietly while he caught his breath. Elias was overwhelmed at the confirmation that this process with Jon was working. He got it right this time. He brushed his damp fingers over its forehead in a half-remembered blessing from childhood. Then he pressed a light kiss to the spot. The potential for an Eye sat there, and Elias wondered how much more pressure it would take to emerge. It wanted to. Jon’s recent headaches were certainly confirmation of that.
The Archivist didn’t speak in either protest or pleasure. Elias didn’t know if it could speak, other than to Speak, now that he thought of it.
But still, Elias indulged it while his breath slowed. He let it watch until he directed its head back down to his leg. It didn’t argue, but parted its lips. Elias could hear the words in his own mind. He didn’t want to be Asked like this, not while the boundaries between himself and the other extensions of the Beholding were too thin. He could not risk anything he might let slip getting back to Jon.
So instead, he slid his fingers back into its mouth, and the Archivist subsided. There was a terrible curiosity welling up in its mind, but it seemed content enough to sit against his leg and gnaw at his fingers.
Jon came back to himself in jolts. His compassion came first, dropping like a stone through a rotten fabric, ripping out all of the delicately woven information collected by the Archivist. Elias turned back to his paperwork, newly irritated. Why couldn’t Jon see that he was destroying the best of himself?
The resentment was - strange. Unfamiliar. Elias curled his fingers tightly around his pen. That was not an emotion he should be allowing himself to feel. It was small, and petty, and unbelievably human.
He looked away.
Jon’s sense of self came last. He startled, blinking rapidly as he swallowed instinctively around the intrusion in his mouth. How much of what the Archivist learned was he aware of? From the level of alarm in his eyes, Elias guessed not much.
Jon gagged, and Elias pulled his fingers out with a sense of lingering annoyance. He petted Jon’s hair to calm him down as he started trembling, using more force than necessary. Jon didn’t seem to mind, at least. He will get there, Elias reminded himself. Even Gertrude, as much as she may have disliked using her abilities, mastered them in leaps and bounds. Layer by tightly wound layer, his resentment fell away.
Jon was confused, and angry about being so. He pushed himself upright on shaking legs. The act of will was less impressive for the way he had to grab onto Elias’s desk so he wouldn’t fall over. His legs had gone numb, and were now stinging with pins and needles. Elias didn’t reach out to massage them away, though he could.
Jon swallowed compulsively, fingers fluttering at his sides. He wanted to touch his mouth, wanted to trace the lines Elias didn’t leave behind, but didn’t want to give Elias the satisfaction. It was par for the course, and didn’t sting the way Jon wanted it to. Elias stared expectantly at him instead. The last of his annoyance dissolved as Elias reaffirmed his control.
He stood as well, and Jon shuddered as they were pressed together before Elias moved away. Jon was aroused and Elias let his mouth curve into a smirk. Jon’s face went red, and the flush crept under his sweater as well. They really must do something about that. Stepping out from behind the desk, Elias gave Jon an escape route.
Jon took it. He didn’t quite run, because he knew Elias was watching and Jon was petty like that, but he fled all the same.
Elias readjusted his suit coat and sat down in his chair. He folded his hands and watched as Jon’s steps slowed when he started down the stairs. As he exited the stairwell, Jon glanced around himself surreptitiously. There were no cameras, of course, and Jon couldn’t help but feel alone. Elias let his sight fall heavily between Jon’s shoulders. He flinched, and Elias let himself smile.
He didn’t remind Jon again, but he knew Jon could tell he was still watching.
“Fuck you,” Jon whispered quietly into the empty bathroom, as he sat on the toilet and unzipped his pants. Elias let the insult roll off him. Jon would come around. He had no other choice.
Jon stroked himself back to full hardness. Shame burned faintly orange around his thoughts like staring at the sun through tightly shut eyes, and Jon hid his face in his arm, biting at his closed fist. Elias’s mouth dipped down at the edges. But watching still proved worthwhile. As Jon’s lovely voice turned to choked off moans, Elias let his own fingers dip inside his waistband. He closed his physical eyes, leaving his focus only on Jon.
Jon gasped in a helpless inhale of breath as he noticed the attention on him. His body went rigid, and he came over his hand with a curse that might have been a sob.
He washed his hands while glaring into the mirror above his head. It was a good instinct. Elias could admit that did enjoy a good looming. Jon ran a damp hand through his hair and over his face in a clearly useless calming gesture, then started to spit cut-off sentences into the mirror. Most of them started with profanity.
Jon’s voice was shaking, cracks forming around the edges as his volume rose. It was an interesting response, but Elias didn’t give his tantrum the dignity of being witnessed. He pulled back to his office, opened his eyes, and waited. He worked his way through the rest of the pressing matters — Cheryl would be reported as missing, because if they gave severance to every employee who was hollowed out by the Web and their own carelessness, the Institute wouldn’t be able to function — before he decided to check on Jon.
Always best to make sure the employees weren’t bleeding out in the bathroom, and all that.
Jon’s eyes were suspiciously red, but he was hard at work. The Archivist was recording a statement. At his side, Jon’s hand was clenching and releasing in a rhythmic pattern. It wasn’t enough to be picked up by the recording, but it was concerning. Elias frowned, and made a note for Rosie to schedule a meeting with Jon.
Someone had to make sure he took care of himself, after all.