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I take thee by the Hand

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Martin was, quite probably, the absolute worst assistant the archives had ever seen. He was clumsy, and always talked with a whispering sort of mumble, and he kept eating bugs, which was...actually quite useful. Jon hadn’t seen a single insect in the archives for over a month. Still. The point was, Martin was a terrible assistant, and Jon made an effort to avoid him as much as possible.

Until now.

Now, here he was, in Jon’s office, and Jon was seriously considering putting up a sign on the door that said No Martins Allowed.

Martin shuffled his feet a bit, then shuffled more of them. He looked around the room, clearly nervous for whatever reason.

Jon cleared his throat. Martin reared back so far he nearly toppled over, flailing his arms. Jon sighed. It was always something, with Martin.

“Did you need something, Martin?”

“Oh! Um, yes,” Martin said. “I was—well, I was wondering if, maybe, you’d like to go, or, um, take a break? It’s just, well, you’ve been working for a while.”

“Thank you, Martin, but I don’t need to—” Jon glanced at the clock. ”Good lord, is that the time?”

“I think so? I mean, unless your clock is broken, but then, my phone says the same thing and it’s working fine, so, um. Yeah.” Martin trailed off.

It was, in fact, the time, which meant Jon had been working for over sixteen hours, and, more importantly, meant Martin should’ve gone home three hours ago. Jon fixed him with a look.

“Why are you still here, Martin?”

“Um.” Martin tapped his feet on the floor. “I was going to leave? But then it was raining, and I hate being in the rain, and I can’t use an umbrella. So I thought, I’ll just wait until it stops raining, and then it did, but I saw you hadn’t left either, so...I came to talk to you.”

“Well. That’s—thoughtful, I suppose. But I’m rather busy, so you might as well go home now.” Jon turned his attention back to the statements he’d been looking at before Martin interrupted him.

“Oh, um, okay then? I’ll just—go,” Martin said, and made no move to leave.

Jon ignored him.

Martin still didn’t leave.

“Is there anything else, Martin,” Jon snapped.

“No! No, sorry, I’ll leave you alone,” Martin said.

“Hmm, good. Goodbye, then,” Jon said, and added, ”Lock up when you leave, I doubt I’m going to finish this mess anytime soon.”

“Alright,” Martin said, softly. 

Martin left, closing the door behind him, and Jon let out a sigh of relief. He adjusted his glasses—a pointless endeavor, he broke this pair a week after he got them—and got back to work.

 

---

 

Jon woke up with a pounding headache, something warm and heavy on his back, and the scent of tea in the air. He blinked groggily, but his eyes refused to focus. He wasn’t wearing his glasses, he realized. After a few more seconds of bleary blinking, he located the glasses shaped blur in front of him and put them on.

The weight on his back was a blanket, it turned out, made out of some sort of nicely-textured white yarn. There was a mug of tea on his desk, as well as one of the packaged sandwiches from the canteen. 

Martin.

Jon had told Martin to go home, but clearly he hadn’t listened, if he’d still been there when Jon fell asleep. Jon knew he’d been awake until at least two thirty, which was hours after Martin had talked to him. 

Why would Martin stay that long? He was always complaining about how cold the archives were—or, well, technically he hadn’t complained, so much as mentioned it once or twice, but the point remained, Martin didn’t like the cold, and the archives got very cold at night. 

Jon stood up, bracing against the desk until the lightheadedness passed. He checked the clock; almost noon, but Martin usually took his lunch breaks in the archives, so he shouldn’t be too hard to find. He left the sandwich, but grabbed the mug, wincing slightly at the unexpected heat.

Jon found him at his desk, quietly typing away with an empty mug by his side.

“Martin!”

“Wha-” Martin jumped, looking very much alarmed.

Jon thrust his mug at Martin, nearly spilling the contents. “What is this?”

“I, um, it’s—it’s tea?”

Jon scoffed. “I know it’s tea! Why was it on my desk?”

“I...put it there? I thought it would be a nice thing to wake up to,” Martin said. He had the audacity to sound aggravated. “If you don’t like how I make tea—“

“Oh come off it, you know that’s not the problem! I told you to go home,” Jon said, “And instead you wait until I fall asleep to—make me tea? Why on earth would you stay that late?”

“I...didn’t?”

What?

“What?”

“I did go home, Jon,” Martin said exasperatedly. “As soon as you told me to. I went home, got some sleep, and came back. I do work here, you know.”

“but then—“

“I checked in on you when I arrived, and I saw that you were sleeping. I thought—well, you looked cold, so I gave you a blanket. And a sandwich. And, um, made you some tea.”

“Oh,” Jon said. “Um. Right. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome? I mean, it wasn’t any trouble, but, um.” Martin looked uncomfortable.

Jon felt uncomfortable. He didn’t know why he’d jumped to the conclusion he had. Martin was nice, but no one was that nice, and Jon wasn’t sure Martin even really liked him. Few people did. He fidgeted with his mug a bit, before something occurred to him.

“Wait. If you made me tea when you first got here, then how is it still hot?

“Oh!” Martin skittered sheepishly. “Well, I noticed you hadn’t woken up, and your tea was going cold, so I replaced it.”

“That was nice of you,” Jon said, and cringed inwardly. God, he was terrible at thanking people. He never sounded sincere. “You shouldn’t have bothered.”

That was even worse. Jon hated everything.

“It wasn’t a bother! I was glad to—that is, I didn’t mind,” Martin said.

“Well, in any case, thank you, Martin.” There. That wasn’t too bad.

“Anytime! I’m glad you like the blanket,” Martin said. He seemed almost proud.

Jon looked down at the blanket. He’d forgotten it was there, honestly. It was a nice blanket, though. A nice...white...blanket.

“Martin,” Jon said, and his voice sounded odd to his own ears. “Martin, did you make this?”

“Oh, yes, I did! I’m quite happy with it, actually, I think it turned out quite nice.”

“Quite nice,” Jon echoed vaguely. He held back a shudder. “I didn’t know you, ah—I didn’t know you knit.”

“What? I don’t knit. I made it—“

“Crocheting then. A very impressive skill to have, good job, moving on.” Jon turned around, a bit too abruptly for it to look casual. “I’ve got to get back to work now, thank you for the tea and—thank you.”

“Oh—goodbye!”

Jon walked at a very reasonable pace back to his office and closed the door in a manner that didn’t in any way resemble slamming it.

He sat down at his desk and flung the blanket off of him. The sensation of fingers at his neck didn’t stop, and now he was cold. He looked at the blanket on the floor.

It was a very nice blanket.

He picked it up, and, after checking it thoroughly, wrapped it (carefully, loosely) around his shoulders again. He relaxed, in spite of himself. 

He unwrapped the sandwich, took a bite, and got back to work.

The tea, as always, was perfect.