By the time Jon's returned from his journey through America, Martin's just gotten used to letting himself into the Archivist's Office. He's pretty sure everyone is honestly? It was the quietest place to read statements, and he'd well learned his lesson about recording in the bullpen after that thing with Basira not-even-remotely-eavesdropping on him.
So, he'd been using Jon's office, because frankly someone ought to if he wouldn't deign to be around.
Martin was working on not being cross about Jon's extended absence. It wasn't fair. The man had been kidnapped multiple times in a few months. That was too many times. Any number over once was too many!
Point being, Martin didn't think about letting himself in, because he hadn't thought about it in weeks.
Jon being present inside was a novelty. And Martin had a moment of going still and remembered oh right he's actually home as he stood on the threshold.
Then, he lingered there because Jon was being… weird again.
His back was to the door and his hand was resting on the highest shelf he could reach, his fingers curled over the ledge as he sort of leaned away from the books. His other hand wrapped up, clasped firmly to the junction of neck and shoulder, and he sort of… leaned harder, further, gripping the shelf, and letting out a low muttering, "ow ow dammit, ow."
Then he took his hand off the shelf and tried to reach even higher, fingers pulling into a mean looking claw as he bent and let out another, more adamant stream of "ow ow ow, fuck, ow."
"What," Martin said, "are you doing?"
Jon stiffened and spun on his heel, and that seemed to be bad. His eyes shut and his hand clapped harder on his shoulder. "Ffffff— aaah, Martin. Hello."
Martin put the stack folders he'd been carrying on the desk. "What on earth are you trying to do?"
"Trying, mostly failing, to… reduce some of the pain in my arms." His lips pulled back from an angry sneer. "I am… feeling the effects of being tied up for extended periods of time by my various captors."
"Oh. Oh, goodness, that sounds awful. Are you okay?" He stepped in gingerly, hand lifted into the nebulous space between him and Jon's shoulder. "How bad is it?"
"I dropped a tape recorder and broke it. The tape's fine of course, but." He inhaled through his teeth in annoyance. "I'm trying to stretch it out."
"If you're already to the point where you're losing grip in your hands, you need more than stretching, Jon." Martin pointed at the offending shoulder. "May I see?"
Jon frowned deeply, a suspicious look in his eyes. "What?"
"Let me see where it hurts, just for a moment?" He lowered his hand. "Unless you wanna simmer in the pain some more."
Jon's uncertain stare continued for a moment before it broke all at once, his head hanging in what seemed like weariness. As he chin lowered, he jerked, and straightened. "God— yes, fine, poke and prod away, what do I care. You can't make it worse."
That actually seemed to be accurate. Moving slowly, Martin stepped into Jon's space, carefully nudging Jon's hand aside so he could get a feel for the problem. Already, Jon was in his shirtsleeves and had unbuttoned enough to maneuver under the collar of his shirt. Martin tucked in the same way, fingertips finding the same spot he'd been gripping.
"Oh you, you're on the verge of pulling a muscle here, Jon!"
"Yes, I can feel that much, Martin," he snapped back, voice tight with pain. "Be careful, for god's sake."
"I know what I'm doing. Just— okay. Don't move unless I move you, all right?"
Finding the point he wanted, Martin rubbed his thumb against the taut span of tendon in Jon's neck before starting to push in, just the single point of his thumb. Jon hissed, and Martin quickly said, "Don't, don't move, do not move," settling his other palm on Jon's arm.
"Trying," Jon grit out.
"Just hang in there. Christ, how did they tie you up?"
"My— my arms back, elbows almost together through the back of the chair. Then, the twelve hour flight to China…"
Martin shook his head. Dreadful. Absolutely terrible. He started to push harder into the tendon, pinpoint and as heavy as he dared. Then, he simply held it like that, counting his own breaths.
"That," Jon said, "is incredibly sore."
"Give it a sec."
Bit by bit, the tightness started to unspool. There was no room for it as Martin forced it out. Once it began to come undone, he shifted his hold on Jon's arm and pulled it up and back slowly.
Breath hitching, Jon let out a fast and vulgar, "Oh my fucking god, Martin," as he was held in place and the taut muscle finally gave way.
Moving him back into position, Martin let go and stepped back. That was— it was interesting, definitely. "You move like an automaton. It's really not great."
Leaning on the desk slightly, Jon turned, reaching up to rub his shoulder idly. "Where did you learn that?"
"Oh. Well." Shrugging, Martin tucked into his pockets. "You know the CV thing? Well, I had a lot of odd jobs before that? Doing this was, uh, actually the job I had right before coming to the Institute?"
He lifted an eyebrow. "Secret chiropracty."
"No, that needs degrees. I just did chair massages?" A sheepish grin took over his face. "It was great, honestly? Like, the Institute paid better, or I'd have stuck with it. If you're good, people will tip like fifty percent. And it's nice. People need help taking care of themselves."
"I can't imagine it," Jon murmured. "Letting a stranger all over you. That's a rather big show of trust." His hand slipped under his collar again, pressing into his upper arm.
"What are you doing now? Are you just a mass of knots?"
"Oh, probably," Jon groused. "Fingers are still tingling."
"Do you need help?" Martin asked before he could censor himself.
Jon was still, and not quite meeting Martin's gaze anymore.
"I just think," Martin went on, because he had no sense of self-preservation, "that your plan for the Unknowing, it'll be harder if you're having trouble with your hands, you know?"
"That's sensible," Jon said quietly. "I, uh, I've never had a… had anyone do that before? I'm certain I'd be a terrible participant."
"A massage," Martin said with some humor. "The term is massage. If you can't even say it, then no, you probably couldn't handle—"
"A massage, yes, fine." His face flushed. "How… If I were amenable, how would be best?"
The bed in the sealed storage room was a monument to practicality by this point. Everyone used it. Martin had added one of those egg-crate cushions to it when he was living in the archives. There were new, nice flannel sheets from Basira, he thought. Melanie had moved in extra pillows. It was the prime nap location for the team.
There was a weird charge in the air as they both entered the storage room and shut the door behind. Martin was very specifically not thinking about what he was going to do. Putting his hands on Jon was exciting, obviously, but he didn't want to make it awkward. Especially when Jon was clearly wound up so tight he was liable to snap something.
With a no-nonsense air, Jon started just unbuttoning the cuff of his sleeves. "Why do you carry a bottle of oil with you?"
"Sort of a personal question," Martin pointed out in a strangled tone. Which actually made it sound even worse than the truth. "I, I mean, it's a… neat trick to show people. When you meet people."
Jon's brow furrowed with confusion before his expression suddenly cleared, understanding flooding in. His cheeks darkened. "Oh. And that… works?"
"Yeah," he said mildly, not quite willing to go into detail about the men he'd worked up with some judicious application of almond oil. "I'm pretty good at it?" He cleared his throat. "Anyway."
"Right." Jon finished unbuttoning his shirt and slid it off. There was a very soft-looking, sleeveless undershirt beneath it. He touched the hem. "Do I have to…"
"No, you could, ah, leave that. It looks like I'll have enough access. I might reach under it a bit?"
Nodding, Jon seemed to relax. "That's fine. Okay. I'll… on my stomach?"
They pulled the bed a bit away from the wall before Jon laid down on it, pushing most of the pillows to the floor to make room as he settled in. Without his shirts and jackets, he was narrow like a lamppost, lean as a racehorse. He tucked his arms up to rest his head on before wincing and fairly flopping onto his side.
"Oh my god, Jon, seriously?"
"Kidnapping. Tied up. Not my fault." He breathed out hard. "Shoulder blades feel terrible, and my… mid-back?" He sounded nervous about making requests.
Martin just had to be, you know. Professional. He liquored up his hands with oil, rubbing to warm them. Sweet almond and vanilla scented through the air. "Right. Not lower back?"
Jon grimaced. "Lower back too."
"That's fine. Okay, I'm gonna move you around a bit, like before? Just lemme know if it's not alright for any reason."
"Right." With a little nod of determination, Jon took off his glasses and set them aside.
Standing at the head of the bed, Martin braced himself, and got to work. It was fine. Just a nice throwback to when he did this all the time, helping nice clients drag the tension out of their tired bodies. He was completely impersonal as he fit his hands under the worn fabric of Jon's shirt, his palms cupping the arch of Jon's shoulders, his thumbs pressing into Jon's neck. Martin spread his hands for a moment, just permeating the area with oil before he started to push down, weight against the smooth slope of his shoulders.
Jon started to slide his arms up. "Don't move," Martin said sternly.
An amused exhale was muffled against the bed as Jon moved his arms back to his sides. Good. Martin started to shift weight between his hands, pushing down on the right side, then the left, rocking Jon's shoulders like a boat on a gentle wave.
Jon's next sound was a surprised gasp as this went on. "Oh."
"Yeah," Martin said, his voice pitching low. Something about the situation demanded soft tones. "Sustained pressure can be really good when you're wound up."
"I can… already see the appeal of this, I think," Jon said thickly.
If his hands weren't full of dark, supple skin, Martin would have preened. He was very good at this, thanks.
He pushed down from Jon's shoulders, down his back, mostly taking stock of the network of corded knots that made up Jon's musculature. It was not pretty. He spent some time just massaging the planes of Jon's back, as far as he could reach under the neck of Jon's shirt.
"Okay, this is obnoxious," Jon said, and suddenly got his hands under him.
"What?" Martin whipped his hands back. "Sorry, should I—"
"No. It just seems ridiculous to stretch out a perfectly good shirt." He shimmied, drawing the shirt up his chest until he could flick it off to the side, and slumped back down.
God, that was a lot of very satiny looking skin. Martin could see the faint bumps of Jon's spine as it curved to the small of his back. For a second, he was scared to touch, like he'd somehow marr Jon's body and ruin this.
Then he got a goddamn grip, re-oiled his hands, and leaned over Jon to press down on his back.
He struck something bad, making Jon tense and hiss out. Stepping to the side of the bed, Martin skated his fingers over Jon's side, tracing the hurt. "You have an enormous knot here."
"I can feel it," Jon complained. "It's like someone hit me."
"I bet." Hitching his hip on the edge of the bed, Martin worked at the knot, warming it up a bit before kneading around it. One hand pulled up against Jon's skin, then the other, a steady rocking movement that tugged the knot loose.
Jon pressed his face against the pillow, humming low in his chest. Martin could feel it under his hands, the vibration there. He stroked up the plane of Jon's side, coaxing out the remnants of the knot until things felt mostly smooth to the touch.
Taking hold of Jon's wrist, Martin repositioned him, drawing his arm up. Bending Jon's arm back, he folded it across the small of Jon's back. That caused a twinge, Jon's body twitching.
"This isn't even the worse side," Martin murmured.
"Still hurts," Jon said, huffing out a breath.
"Yeah, I know." He cupped Jon's shoulder around the front, pulling him gently backward and up from the bed. His fingers found the fucking rock Jon was smuggling in his shoulder blade and started to press on it with his fingers, more pinpoint pressure.
Jon bent a leg and dropped it heavily against the bed. "Goddammit."
"Nnnnno, but you're," Jon exhaled like a punch, "right up against what I can handle."
"That's where I want to be, unfortunately."
"People paid you for this," Jon complained, doing that leg thump thing again.
"Yep." He switched to the heel of his hand, stroking the same spot for a moment, then pressing his fingers in again. "I mostly did the relaxing kind of massage, but the big tippers were people in a gordian knot like you."
"Thank you for the torture, here's twenty pounds."
"More like double that, at least." He moved his hand to Jon's head, carefully urging him to move, stretching out away from his shoulder. "Hold. Keep breathing."
He'd apparently forgotten; his next breath was sudden and deep.
Martin held him there for a moment before deciding honestly he'd done all be could for Jon's shoulder. He released, and mercifully rested him back on the bed.
Jon's cheek pressed into the bed, looking almost dazed as he breathed. He drew up his arm, flexing his fingers, making a fist, and finally letting it hang over the edge. "Alright. That's… better."
With a satisfied hum, Martin picked up his oil and coated his hands again. "Other side."
Ignoring Jon's faint complaints, Martin circled around and started the process again on the other side. It was remarkably worse. No wonder Jon was dropping things; there was half a dozen discrete spots where he was tight as a bolt.
After he stretched out Jon's arm the same way— folding his arm back, forcing the knots out of the shoulder blade, gentle neck pull— Martin rolled him onto his side. With the work so far, he seemed to handle it fine, going so far to tuck his arm under the pillow under his head.
Taking the worse arm, Martin drew it onto his shoulder, resting Jon's wrist and hand there, and re-oiled again to start pulling at his arm muscles. It was like trying to pull taffy, all stubborn resistance and locked tension.
"I can feel that in my fingertips," Jon said, a little marble mouthed. His eyes were lidding as he idly watched Martin work.
"Well. Hand bone's connect to the wrist bone, wrist bone's connected to the," he stopped when Jon actually smiled. "It's all connected. This knot up here," he pressed down on a spot high on Jon's bicep, "is probably the culprit."
Jon hummed agreement, but otherwise went quiet. Everything around them felt quiet, like a thick quilt cast over the room.
When the worst of the damage was… not fixed but acceptable, Martin took Jon's hand in both of his. He pulled Jon's fingers gently back, one by one, curled them, uncurled, and dragged his thumbs firmly against the soft flesh of his palm.
A low, pleased sound came from Jon's parted lips, his eyes completely shut and calm. He looked tired, but much less wound up than before.
"Big hands," he mumbled, his fingers twitching against Martin's.
"Oh. I guess?" Compared to Jon's, almost certainly. He lined them up palm to palm for a moment to see.
"S'nice," Jon said.
He has no idea what to say to that, so didn't. With a nudge, Martin finished rolling Jon onto his back and rested his loosened hand on his sternum. He went very peaceably, head lolled against the pillow.
"Request," Jon said, then swallowed. "Can I make a request?"
He was so damned polite about it, Martin's face went hot. "Sure."
"The… shoulder thing, pushing down? That more?"
A fond smile broke over Martin's face. He was fairly sure he'd never seen Jon this drowsy. Tiredness tended to manifest as irritability or desolate exhaustion for Jon, as far as Martin had observed. Seeing him pliable and soft was incredible.
Moving to the head of the bed, Martin tapped just a little oil into his hands before laying on and pressing down on Jon's shoulders. One side, then the other, finding that same slow rolling wave motion.
He really was whipcord lean; his clavicle rose like a mountain peak, catching Martin's fingers as he worked. The angles of him seemed so stark, even in the low light of the storage room.
Really, Martin didn't have to do anything else. He knew this. Jon seemed to be on the verge of fully passing out, and he deserved the rest, of course. But it hadn't been one of those relaxing massages at all. It was effort and unpinning.
Cupping Jon's head, Martin turned him until his cheek was pressed flat to the pillow. Held him in place for a long moment, then dragged his blunt fingertips from the base of his neck up into Jon's hair.
By the time he turned Jon's head the other way and did it again, Jon was unmistakably out. Completely dead to the world, his breathing deep and steady. And again, Martin had seen Jon sleeping at his desk or curled awkwardly in his chair to catch a nap. It was nothing to the long-limbed sprawl of his body now. He looked younger, but also much more tired. He looked like a man who was sleeping for the first time in months.
Thank god he was asleep, because the tender look Martin gave him was probably mortifying. No one needed to see it.
Moving quietly, Martin drew the blanket over Jon's body, lingering to watching him breathe deep and steady for a moment.
Then, he slipped out of the room, shutting the door silently behind.