Actions

Work Header

metamorphosis

Chapter Text

“Martin,” he says, shaking. “Martin, look at me. Look at me and tell me what you see.”

“I see… I see you, Jon.” A bitter laugh. A warm embrace. “I see you.” There’s hesitation in his voice as he adds: “J-Jon… Jon, what is that? What are those?”

“Don’t worry about it. Come on, let’s go. I know the way home.”

 

--

 

He’s been gone for maybe ten minutes. That’s all. That’s what he tells himself, to try to convince himself it wasn’t his fault Jon is currently crouched on the floor like a feral animal, snarling. Martin had just gone outside for a walk. There’s no way he could have known. That doesn’t stop the guilt from forming in his throat.

They’ve been at the safe house for a little over a week now. Jon’s been… well, he hasn’t been great, but he’s been okay. The lack of statements eating at him. Martin’s depression, a beast that’s always been there, if passive most of the time, has also been eating at him. Martin and Jon have been pierced by two very different traumas, and yet they’ve tried. Tried to hold each other through the worst of it. To make this work.

Jon hasn’t told him anything about the eyes yet, the ones he’d seen back when- back when Jon had saved his life. God, all those eyes. They were everywhere. But just as soon as he’d caught a glimpse, they were gone. Concealed. What had Jon said? ‘Don’t worry about it.’ It’s not that, not that Martin worries, worries about his safety. It’s not that he’s disgusted or frightened. He’s just sad because he knew this would happen eventually. Sooner rather than later. He always had his worries but hoped against all hope that maybe he’d be wrong. That maybe Jon would be afforded a break.

He’s wrong yet again, looking at the mess of a man on his floor. “Jon…” he breathes out, trying to decipher whatever is happening. “J-Jon, what’s wrong?” There’s a part of him that aches to touch, to comfort him and just wrap him up. Maybe if he manages to shield Jon with his entire body, completely engulf him, then the world will stop hurting him. Hurting them.

He tries just that, tries reaching out a hand that’s violently rebuffed. Jon flinches away from him as if hit, and yeah, that stings. Martin tries not to take it personally.

“D-Don’t,” Jon stammers out and Martin has to crane his ears to hear him it’s so faint. He sounds like he’s trying to hold in something, is he sick? “D-Don’t touch me… Ma-Martin, j-just don’t… Please…”

“I don’t understand.” He doesn’t. Jon was fine before. A little irritated maybe, sleep-deprived absolutely. But not this famished mess in front of him – or had he been just acting okay? Had Martin been this oblivious that he couldn’t even spot Jon’s wellbeing anymore in his own lonely fuelled depressive fog? God, he’s so stupid. Why didn’t he see this?

“Please, just… just leave,” Jon wheezes out. He’s very strategically shielding his body, but Martin can see the eye on his shoulder staring at him, regarding him hungrily. And the other one, being obscured by his curly hair. Jesus. “I, I don’t want. Want to hurt you.”

Oh. Oh.

Oh well. Martin’s never really cared much about his wellbeing, and he cares even less if the people he loves are involved. So the decision to crouch down next to Jon comes fairly easily. “You’re hungry, aren’t you?” He supplies and Jon whimpers as if the sheer utterance of that word will make him lose it. “You’re weakened. Let me help.”

“M-Martin,” Jon punches out, and there he is. He’s finally started to turn and look at him, look at him with all his eyes. They’re distinctly Jon’s and Martin has the baffling thought of kissing them, kissing the closed eyelids. They’re strangely beautiful, even as feral looking as they do right now. How far gone is he? “You- You don’t understand. Last time, I was- I was this hungry, I assaulted someone in an alley. I… almost killed him. Lost control.”

That should phase Martin way more than it currently does, but fear is hard to feel after you’ve been stuck in a desolate barren wasteland. Completely void of anything real. Especially not fear directed at the person who’d pulled you back out, who’d come back for you. So, Martin just replies with: “But you didn’t.”

Jon just exhales as if he’s physically hurt him. Martin aches to hold him or to at least touch him in some way. Hold his hand. Anything. “You- It attacked you!” Martin blinks at that, confused. “When I, when I was, was testing to… to see how far my reach could go, it… it smelt you and latched onto you in your sleep like a leech. It… I barely, I had to-“ Jon is hyperventilating, or starting to. Martin knows the feeling well, that oppressive weight on your chest, threatening to burst with every shuddered breath. He chooses to ignore that last comment because currently, it doesn’t make any sense to him whatsoever.

“Jon, it’s okay,” he tries to reassure him just as there’s a change, like a click of the tape recorder. It’s subtle, but Martin is leaned so far into Jon’s space he notices it immediately and shudders.

Because… Because the eyes staring back up at him, huge and dark like the ocean, are not Jon’s eyes anymore. They’re someone else.

“Hungry,” it punches out with Jon’s tongue. With Jon’s mouth. But it’s not… Jon. It’s not. Martin realizes that sooner rather than later, because never in a million years would he have foreseen Jonathan Sims pouncing on him. But this Jon does. Clambering up and over his body like a cat, all agile, sitting on his stomach with both of his thighs reigning him in. The movement barely takes a second. It’s… not comfortable, not in this context, but. Martin can’t help but push out a soft “oh” at the weight pressing down on him, blush forming from his ears all the way to his neck.

This Jon pins Martin's hands to the wooden floor with nails that feel distinctively like claws. They’re both panting, one in surprise and … something else. And the other in hunger.

“O-Oh,” Martin stammers out, experimentally shifting his hips to see if he’s got any leeway. There isn’t. He’s stuck. A thousand eyes staring down at him, regarding at him like they’re curious to see what he will do next. He breathes out, trying to calm himself. “O-Okay…?”

“I want your statement,” this Jon says, voice all normal, but there’s something in the way he says it that gives it away. It sounds like a record like it’s rewinding something Jon’s said before. Martin shudders, and this time it truly is in fear. “We want to see.”

“Al-Alright,” he swallows thickly. “You can have it. You, you can see all you want. I won’t fight you. But, but – You have to promise me something.” The Jon on top of him crooks his head to the side in curiosity. Martin takes that as permission to keep going. “You … You have to promise to bring him back in one piece. Jon. Jonathan Sims? The man you’re- you’re living inside of right now. He’s… He’s important to me. He’s important to a lot of people.”

“We are Jon,” the thing says, all mechanical, and Martin almost has to laugh. He barely restrains himself. “We became Jon, Jon became us.”

“S-S-Sure,” Martin stammers out. Now that the reality of the situation’s kicked in, it feels a whole less threatening. He’s just helping out Jon. “But- But the Jon from before? The one from, ummm, five minutes ago? That Jon? I would like him back, please. He’s important to me.”

“He’s important to us.”

‘Oh please,’ Martin wants to angrily retort. ‘He’s as important to you as a finely tailored suit is to a businessman. You wouldn’t give a damn if you ruined it, tore him away at the seams. You’d just get another.’

But he doesn’t have a death wish. At least not anymore.

“A-Alright then,” is what he says instead, trying to appease to a God. To fear itself. It feels surreal, but when is his life not? “That’s – Glad we got that settled. Ummm, so he’s important to both of us. That’s good… I, I would still like him back, please.”

The Jon on top of him just grunts in annoyance. He still hasn’t moved an inch, Martin’s not sure he’s even breathing. He’s still as a statue, back completely straight. God, Jon, what happened to you…

Martin tries to go for boldness. “I, I won’t give you my statement, my memories, if you don’t promise. Promise me, okay? You leave him alone. Just for a bit. You let him be. After… After I’ve fed you.”

He expects a snarl, expects claws tearing at his flesh, taking what they want even without his consent, because this is a God, for Christ’s sake. What does a weak human promise mean to the Eye? Absolutely nothing. Martin seems probable more like an ant to this, to this thing than anything remotely worth listening to. This entity that’s decided to shove itself into the tiny body of a human, just to see how it would feel to walk in this skin. So that’s what he expects, what he prepares himself for.

He doesn’t expect the Eye to nod. “We promise.”

Martin exhales in relief. “Alright… Where do we begin?”

 

--

 

The first thing he realizes after waking up is that there’s no longer a weight sitting on his lap. The next is that his head is hammering like someone’s jabbed an ice pick in it, which ought to be expected. He did just … suffer through whatever the hell that had been. It hadn’t been… entirely unpleasant, but it at times also had felt like being peeled like an onion. Being probed and prodded, and not in the- not in any pleasant way. His neck is also incredibly stiff, and he’s cold. Lying on a wooden floor isn’t as fun as he’d pictured it.

The very last thing he hears is the crying. It takes him even longer to figure out where it comes from.

“Jon,” Martin exhales in relief, looking at the man sat down next to him. He’s shuffled away from him, but still close enough to touch if necessary. His tears barely make a sound, but just the fact that his eyes aren’t as large as life as they had been before fills him with relief. The other eyes are also gone. It’s just Jon now, the Jon he knows. Martin smiles a genuine, albeit tired, smile. “You came back.”

“Why-Why would you do that?” Jon asks, looking at Martin as if he’s made a mistake. He looks good though, or at least not hungry anymore, which Martin counts as a win for himself. He understands where the anger is coming from. “A-Are you insane?

Martin shrugs. “Don’t think so.”

“Wh-What – I, I mean … What?” Poor him, Jon looks more out of the loop than Martin is. He’s surprisingly calm considering. His face won’t stop smiling for some dumb reason. “I could have- could have killed you, I-“ Martin just takes his hand, the left one, the one that he knows aches less, and considers that his answer. That shuts him up, Jon freezing like a deer caught in headlights. Martin isn’t holding it, not yet, or intertwining their fingers, even though he really, really wants to. For now, he just places his palm on Jon’s and wills his warmth to flow through to him. His fingers are freezing.

“It’s okay,” he says, because he feels like it needs saying. “Truly, it, it is. It… It wasn’t all that bad.” He snorts, feeling a little lightheaded. “It… it tickled.”

“What?” Jon asks but doesn’t recoil or free his hand. Martin scoots closer, just so he doesn’t have to stretch his arm out that much. He’s stopped crying. Martin desperately wants to wipe his tears away, though he knows they’re not that far yet. If they ever will be. Martin hopes so.

Martin shrugs again in explanation. “It felt… It felt excited. I don’t, don’t know how to explain it. Yeah, it wasn’t great, but there was a certain… a kind of giddiness to it.” He smiles weakly. “Reminded me of a kid in a park… Okay, you know how you feel when your parents took you to the carnival for the first time?” Jon just blinks at him, perplexed. Must be a no, then. Martin stores that information away for later. “That’s what it felt like. Excitement. Eagerness to learn, to try out all the roller coasters. I think the Eye’s quite new to this.” He laughs again. Can’t help it. “I didn’t even have to tell my story, it just … opened up my brain and gently collected the threads of it for me. It was honestly probably the better experience I’ve had with. With the Gods.” He wonders how much gentleness, how much care not to hurt him, had come from Jon and not the Eye. Quite a lot, most likely.

“Huh,” Jon just says, as if he didn’t quite hear him.

He’s suddenly acutely aware of two things: 1. Jon knows his entire life story now, or at least the supernatural parts, and 2. His foot has started falling asleep and it feels a little like ants are walking under his skin. Martin starts blushing furiously from ear to ear. “Umm, Jon?” He starts, clearing his throat but not yet letting go of his hand. “Could we- Do you think we… Can you stand?”

Jon widens his eyes in all the ways that make him Jon, scrambling up on his feet. “Of- Of course, I, I’m sorry, I… Your neck must be, must be cramping up. I, uh…” He almost trips. It’s endearing as all hell.

Martin just smiles and follows him back to his feet. It feels weird to stand after such a long time spent lying on the floor. With someone, someone else on top of him … Martin shakes the thought away hastily.

“Martin… How are you feeling?”

How is he feeling? Hmm. “I feel … fine. Not worse off than before. I mean… Yeah. That’s how I feel.” He laughs but accidentally starts coughing. Okay, maybe a little worse for wear. “I,” he wheezes, and Jon is looking at him as if he might die at any moment from a scratchy throat. “I might need a glass of water.”

Jon’s answer is faster than lightning speed. Martin barely has time to blink before a full glass of pure, cold tap water is thrust in his hands, almost a little too enthusiastically.

“H-Here,” Jon says, panting. From the looks of him, he could also use a glass, though Martin doesn’t push.

“… Thanks.” He drinks and the water feels like heaven sliding down his throat. He hadn’t had to talk before, but it feels like he did. Like he’d been monologuing for ages and now his body’s spent. Jon looks at him drinking the water all the while, probably follows the movement his Adam’s apple makes with his eyes. His one pair. It’s… it’s not unwelcome. He finishes the glass in one go, decides to hold it in his hands just so he has something to do with them. Jon isn’t saying anything, just looking at him curiously, which makes Martin … not nervous, but uncomfortable. Just a little. “So…” He starts, just so he has something to say. He doesn’t finish his sentence though, just lets it hang in the air.

Jon picks up the strand. “Why aren’t you running?”

Martin blinks dumbly. “What? Why on earth would I do that?” Why should he ever feel the need to run? From Jon? It doesn’t make any sense in his mind.

Jon just looks at him like he can’t believe what he’s seeing like he’s not real. It’s an intense stare that almost drives Martin to back away a little. Almost. He stays rooted right where he is.

“It’s… Look, it’s not like I hadn’t had my suspicions. I understand why you, why you didn’t come to me, though, I mean. It’s not like I gave you any reason to, to want to confide in me these last few months. And I’m sorry about that. But I did see what- how you got us out. I just… I didn’t want to pressure you, and then we spent all this time crammed together on that train, and then we arrived here and there was only one bed, and then we had to buy groceries, and then.” He’s rambling. He tends to do that. “It just never came up.”

“Me being a horrifying monster never came up?”

“You’re not a monster, Jon,” he replies, walking closer. He needs him to hear this, needs this to get through his thick skull. “That wasn’t you. That was- that was the Eye.”

“You don’t know that,” Jon whispers. He looks close to crying again.

“You’re right, I don’t. But if, if it was? Then that’d be alright, too. We’ll deal with it.”

What he doesn’t say is that he finds the whole transformation quite… beautiful. In a grotesque sort of way. Martin’s always liked Jon’s eyes, the colour of them, the shape. And now he has more of them to look at. Yes, it might be … unorthodox, but. Nothing makes sense in the world they occupy, not anymore. Jon just has more eyes now. That’s okay. Why on earth would that bother him?

Jon looks as if he heard all that. “Martin,” he whispers, tentatively. Gently. There’s a hint of fear in his voice. “Can I- Can I kiss you?”

Oh.

Martin doesn’t know what to say. Not, it’s not like they haven’t… they haven’t kissed. They have. It’s just been… sparse. In the confines of their bedroom, when one of them had had a nightmare and could barely breathe. When Martin woke up with burning loneliness etched down to his very bones, shivering all over, Jon would engulf him like a blanket and kiss his entire body, whispering “It’s okay, you’re okay, I’m here, we’re fine” over and over. And yes, sometimes he would kiss his lips, but… He’s not exactly sure how they even agreed on this method of comfort, it just happened organically, not that he’s complaining. It’s just … when he gets like this, it’s hard to feel anything as real. To be present in the moment. It’s like there’s a fog surrounding him, and Jon is merely kissing the air.

He hasn’t consciously felt Jon’s lips on his own. And that’s new. Does he want to, though? Abso fucking lutely. But Martin is also acutely aware that, that he tends to have bad breath and that he, he hasn’t brushed his teeth in over… What? 7 hours? He hasn’t even got a mint. So his breath must reek.

“Oh,” Martin exhales, red as a tomato. Jon is still patiently waiting for him, for his answer. Like he’s been doing for the last few months. God, he loves this man. “I … I mean, y-yes, if, if you want to?”

That’s all the answer Jon needs apparently, lunging forward and grabbing Martin by the cheeks and kissing him. All the air leaves Martin’s lungs. He lets the glass fall, though he can’t hear it shatter on the ground. Too focused on… on the warm lips pressing down on his own. They’re a little bigger than his own, Jon’s upper lip is in between Martin’s. He’s half kissing his chin. Or well, it’s not so much a kiss as it is … it is Jon pressing his lips to Martin’s, not moving. The pressure is almost a little too much accompanied by the death grip Jon has on his head. Like he wants Martin to know. To thank him. However awkward and stilted it is at first. Both of them still have their eyes open, looking cross-eyed at each other.

They stand like that for a few seconds, just pressing their lips together. It should be awkward, but it isn’t. It isn’t.

It’s probably the best kiss Martin’s ever had, just because it’s Jon. He hasn’t had that many. Jon’s not the only one out of practice between the two of them. But that doesn’t mean he’s not willing to learn. So he gently, praying that his breath doesn’t taste nearly as bad as he fears, opens his mouth and starts nibbling on Jon’s upper lip. Starts sucking. Easing some of the pressure.

The reaction is instantaneous, Jon melts around him like butter. His lips reply a second later. Not letting go of his cheeks, but… stroking them a little. Cusping Martin’s head as if it’s precious. As if he’s precious. It’s so sweet, so gentle, that Martin almost wants to fall back down to the floor. He grabs Jon’s shoulders, holding on for dear life, then lets his fingers travel down until they’ve found his waist and squeeze. God, his waist is so – It’s. It’s interesting. If Jon lets go of him now, stops kissing him, he is going to fall on his ass and will die of embarrassment.

But Jon doesn’t stop kissing him. He just creeps closer, moves along with Martin’s hands like a cat, craning to get more in his space. It’s only when their bellies start pressing together that they realize. Just how good this feels. How right. Martin isn’t sure who it is, but one of them sighs into the kiss like they’ve been waiting for this for ages. It’s Jon. It must have been Jon. Because when Martin starts moving next, starts repositioning their lips, he suddenly has a little more room to work with. Because Jon’s mouth is hanging open slightly like he’s waiting for him what to do. It’s almost a question.

Martin smiles into the kiss and decides to answer. He’s … He’s not very good at French kissing, he’ll admit. But he has enthusiasm and patience, which should make up for it. So he puts Jon’s bottom lip in between his own and pulls. Jon follows his command immediately, grunting very quietly.

The next time their upper lips connect, Jon’s is still hanging open considerably. If it were anyone else, Martin would feel bad for taking control, gingerly placing his tongue inside and giving his upper lip a little flick. It’s not anyone else though, and Jon actually moans at that. Which is… not expected, but entirely welcome. The sound makes his own body run hot, like a current. He hugs Jon closer towards his body, almost completely engulfs him in a bear hug. It’s still not enough, he wishes he could crawl inside and make his home in Jon’s warm skin, however creepy that sounds. Jon doesn’t find it creepy apparently, because he slides his one hand down towards the nape of Martin’s neck and squeezes just as hard. Takes hold of his neck hair and pulls a little.

Martin almost yelps, just narrowly missing it by pushing his tongue back inside Jon’s mouth. God, he hopes that Jon didn’t hear that, but judging from the smug grin he can feel, he most certainly did. Jon snickers in between breaths. Martin just starts sucking on his lip again, telepathically telling him to shut up.

Jon follows his command. God, the hand on his neck is so warm. Jon is so warm, it’s intoxicating. For all his scars, which they both share enough of, he is incredibly soft. He wishes Jon didn’t wear a stupid shirt though, because that leaves him with precious little exposed skin. He doesn’t even feel sorry for the bastard when he decides to let his hands snake its way under his shirt, making Jon yelp visibly. Serves him right for that move earlier.

Jon separates them just a breath, just enough to whisper “You’re cold” into Martin’s lip that has already taken a hold of his again. Yes, he is. Martin Blackwood has always run cold, especially his hands. If he didn’t know any better, he’d say he was a vampire. ‘Cold hands warm heart’ his grandmother always used to say. He just thinks it’s got something to do with his blood circulation, that’s all. Not some secrete metaphor about his empathy.

Martin just grunts, annoyed, and places his hands more firmly on Jon’s exposed, warm skin. The touch feels like it burns but in a good way. “Deal with it.”

Jon laughs and starts wrapping his arms securely around Martin’s neck. “I,” he says in between shallow kisses and grins, “I think-“

“Shut up,” Martin pants, and meaning it. “Or I’ll put my hands worse places.”

That hadn’t meant to be a turn on, it’d been meant as a joke truthfully. Martin wouldn’t do that. But Jon responds to that statement like fire, widening his eyes a little and going back in like his life depends on it. He honest to God moans again, which Martin wants to hear again, over and over, until his ears fall off. They’re both a little overwhelmed.

Jon pushes his fingers into the neckline of Martin’s shirt, feeling for his shoulder bone, just as he reciprocates the French kissing from earlier and licks Martin’s lower lip, warm and fast, just for a second, before he retreats. Both of those moves combined have Martin losing his mind and he’s positive he might never get over this. A small part of his conscience also thinks ‘God, I hope I don’t have anymore back acne’ and he almost wants to laugh. He doesn’t.

His hands land on something on Jon’s skin underneath his shirt, where his shoulder blade should be. It’s… a little bump. Like a pimple, but bigger. Now that he feels it, he can feel the other bumps as well, littered all over Jon’s body. His closed eyes. Martin opens his eyes, coming to a halt. He’s trying to gauge Jon’s reaction, trying to see if he’s embarrassed or scared. He doesn’t want to do anything Jon doesn’t want to do, and he feels like this is different from just regular making out.

Jon’s eyes in his head open wide, along with the ones located on his neck. The eye Martin is currently cupping with his hand is mercifully closed, he doesn’t want to jab his eye or anything. Its eyelids flutter inconspicuously, though. Like it doesn’t know what is happening. Jon looks mortified. “I’m, I’m sorry…” he stammers out, trying to untangle his arms from Martin’s neck. Martin doesn’t let him, just closes the gap between them and gently connecting their foreheads, nuzzling closer to him like a cat.

“Don’t be,” Martin whispers into the space between them. He means it. “You have nothing to apologize for.”

“It …” Jon exhales shakily. “It must seem … grotesque.”

Martin smiles and through a spout of bravery, decides to gently rub circles into the closed eyelid. Jon’s owns flutter shut for a moment in ecstasy, just a second before he’s back again, which he takes as a good thing. “It’s a little,” he admits, then smiles harder. “But I like it.”

“What?” Jon looks at him as if he’s speaking in tongues.

Martin grins. “Jon, I … Surely I’ve told you this, but… I’ve always liked your eyes. Your eye colour. And this… this doesn’t have to change anything. Not if you don’t want it to.” It could if Jon said anything. Martin would just leave the room to wait for him to compose himself and then return. And it’d be like nothing ever happened. But he wants him to know that it doesn’t have to be like that.

“Well, then…” Jon looks conflicted, but not scared. That’s a good thing. “It saddens me to tell you that you have abysmal taste. My eye colour is incredibly boring.”

Martin laughs loudly in response to that. It is true. His taste has never been the best to hold up under scrutiny. “I like you.”

“Case in point.”

They both grin and smile at each other, like a couple of teenagers. The eyes on Jon’s neck blink at him, which prompts Martin to ask: “Do you… I mean, do you think that … it will want to… participate?”

Jon gives him a Look. “Are you asking me if you think The Eye will want to possess me again to snog the living hell out of you?” Well, if he put it like that. Martin winces. “The answer’s no. No, it won’t. I think…” Jon snorts. “I think I’ll be able to restrain its raging crush on you at the moment.”

Martin smiles warmly down at him, back to nuzzling his head. God, Jon’s so warm all over. It’s incredibly intoxicating, and Martin never wants to stop. “Good,” he says. “Because I’m probably the single most monogamous person you will ever meet.”

Jon just laughs harder at that.

 


 

It’s only after when they’re both enjoying the quiet of the cabin while wrapped around each other on the frankly less than stellar couch, that Martin dares to address what’s been bugging him for a while. Jon’s hair is still ruffled, as is his shirt, and his lips are red and slightly swollen. He’s smiling, as well, while reading his book about ancient mummification (seriously? Out of all the books in the cabin?). It’s a good look on him. Martin muses he must look the same, although his tongue is also swollen from Jon accidentally biting down on it during their… their kissing. Martin had just wanted to deepen the kiss, and Jon had. Well. He’d apologized profusely for it, “just instincts”, which in turn had just made Martin laugh harder. He might have a slight lisp now but detecting errors in one’s voice is always incredibly hard. He doesn’t care either way.

Jon’s legs have been positioned on Martin’s lap and he’s absentmindedly stroking his left ankle while reading. He’s only half interested in this copy of Louise Glück’s Meadowlands, though. He has something else on his mind.

“Jon?”

“Hmm?” Jon’s expression is so open now, all the time. It makes Martin’s heart swell uncontrollably as if he might combust.

“I …” God, how does he say this? Where does he start? “I just… I wanted. I wanted to… to apologize.”

“Oh,” Jon exhales, perplex. “For what?”

Martin sighs forcefully. “I – I wasn’t there for you when all this… first took place. I know that, that you don’t need me to hold your hand or anything, but… I’m just sad I wasn’t able to be there for you.”

“Oh,” he repeats, clearly at a loss. “That’s… That’s alright. I mean, you couldn’t have known.”

That thought doesn’t comfort him. “Still. You deserved people who were there for you.”

“So did you. And actually…” Jon laughs bitterly, suddenly remembering something. “I wasn’t completely alone. Elias was there for me.” That name is filled with bitterness and Martin knows something happened there, knows that it was bad.

“What did he do?” he asks, clenching his teeth. Elias is still a sore spot for him, as it is for Jon. No matter how many months he’s rotted in prison now.

Jon coughs looks down at his hands. “He… He paid me a visit. Clarified a few things for me, how… how I came to be… this. It’s almost, almost as if he took credit for it as if I was his property.” Martin clenches his fist. “Then he let me down a less than admirable route. Should have known, but I … I didn’t think. I was desperate.” He’s gotten quieter with every word, another indication that whatever it had been, it had been bad. Had it been that one statement, the one with the girl in the café? Martin knows, he knows now how hard it’d been, so…

“It wasn’t your fault,” he replies, almost automatically.

Jon just snorts bitterly. “I think self-mutilation counts as mistakes entirely born out of my bad decisions, Martin. No one put the knife in my hand.”

Wait, hold up. Back the bloody hell up. “You- You what?” Jon is quiet, awfully quiet, and doesn’t respond even when Martin squeezes his ankle in a silent question. Martin looks at him, really looks, scans his entire body for scars, for anything that might require medical attention. “Why, how could you?”

“With breaks in between,” Jon replies sarcastically. “I kept passing out.”

Martin makes to stand up, but he can’t because of the weight on his lap. So he chooses instead to glare him from this position. “This isn’t funny, Jon. What. Did. You. Do.”

Jon doesn’t reply straight away, apparently battling for words. His face has started to ashen as if the sheer memory is enough to bring him to his knees. That’s something, at least. Remorse. “It’s surprisingly easy to spool out your eye out of your socket, did you know that?”

He… What… Oh. Oh, God. He’s… He’s getting nauseous just thinking about it. “Oh, Jesus-“

“Don’t worry, the Eye punished me plenty for it. I’ve learned my lesson.”

Martin shakes his head feverishly, trying to banish the image out of his head. He doesn’t want to think about how low Jon must have felt, how … Oh. Oh. Shit. Shit.

“You came to me before, didn’t you?” Jon doesn’t answer, which is reply enough. “My God, Jon, I-“ He couldn’t have known. Couldn’t have. So why is he still feeling like he failed, all this time? Like all his scheming had been for nothing? What’s the point of working for Peter Lukas if Jon suffered, nonetheless?

“You mustn’t,” Jon stammers out, seemingly backtracking from his earlier statements. “You couldn’t have known! And anyway, I- It all healed, see! All the damn eyes grew back all the same, so I didn’t even bother with a second try.”

Martin shudders. As if that’s what he’s upset about. “That’s not the point.”

“Martin, please, it’s not-“

“If you say you carving out your own eyes was no big deal, or that I needn’t have bothered, then I swear to god, Jon, I will push you off this couch! Christ!” Jon is quiet after that, looking at him with big eyes. “It’s not about punishment! Or what the Eye wants, or, or Elias!” He’s gesturing wildly, well aware he’s screaming. “It’s about you endangering your life thinking no one would care, time and time again, just to what? To make a point?”

“I wasn’t-“

“Did you not think of what would happen if you hadn’t woken up? After I … I swear to God, Jonathan Sims, you are insufferable.”

“I’m sorry-“

“I’ve lost you once already. You were lying dead in a hospital room for six months, and now that you- you…” Martin needs to calm down, his voice keeps shaking suspiciously. He doesn’t want to cry right now; he’s always hated being the first one to bawl during fights. It defeats his whole argument.

He pushes Jon’s legs off his lap and, accompanied by Jon’s surprised yelp, scoots closer to cup his face in his hands urgently. Jon looks at him like… like he can’t believe what he’s seeing. Martin is angry, but not really. Mostly he’s just terrified, terrified of Jonathan Sims’ callousness for his own life. It’s something he’s had a problem with for a while. “Jon,” he exhales urgently, trying to make him see. “Don’t you realize how important you are to a whole lot of people? To me?”

Jon’s voice is shaking. “I…”

Martin laughs out an exhale, shaking his head. “For such a smart person, you really are stupid sometimes. It’s not about any repercussions with your deity, it’s about me not wanting to see you hurt. Hurt yourself. Because you don’t deserve it, you don’t.” He nuzzles his cheek against Jon’s, closing his eyes while Jon’s remain open and wide-eyed. “Please don’t mess with your eyes again, alright? For me.”

Jon swallows thickly, and when he speaks it’s clear that he’s trying not to cry: “I didn’t… didn’t realize you liked them this much.”

Martin laughs wetly, wiping his own wet cheek with his sleeves. “Told you,” he sniffles. “They hold a certain charm.”

“Martin,” Jon whispers, separating their faces if only to look him in the eyes. Jon’s eyes are suspiciously wet, and Martin swears he can almost pinpoint the exact locations his other eyes had occupied earlier. He wants to trace the spots with his lips now that they’re vacant, wants to see if they’ll reveal themselves for him yet again. Later. “I… Martin.” It’s clear what he wants to say, both of them know it, and yet. Yet. It’s not that easy, at least not to Jon, who is clinging to words that fly away from him as soon as he tries to put them in his mouth. “Martin.” Martin smiles.

“Yeah,” Martin replies, sniffling. He laughs. “Yeah.”

He reconnects their foreheads, willing Jon to understand, and lets their unspoken words fall over them like waves in the tide. They’ll catch them someday. He’s sure they will.

They’ve got time.

 


 

"I’ll give you my heart to make a place

for it to happen, evidence of a love that transcends hunger.

Is that too much to expect? That I would name the stars

for you? That I would take you there?"

Snow and Dirty Rain, Richard Siken