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A Little Game of Cat and Mouse

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The ride to Haddington was relatively short. With the roads surprisingly lacking in any form of ice or snow, which Jonah noted was rather unusual for early December, they were able to arrive at Robert Smirke’s temporary estate within six hours. It wasn’t a particularly eventful journey, with Jonah’s wealth he was able to procure a relatively handsome, but simple coach for the expedition, that protected him and his assistant from the chill outside.

 

Jonah was hoping for a chance to have a lengthy conversation with Jon, uninhibited by the presence of their work, but his companion did not respond to any of his attempts. Jonah was initially displeased at Jon’s behaviour until he realised with surprise that the other man appeared to be sleeping.

 

Or at least, the closest state to sleep that Jon could manage.

 

Jonah would claim the other man to be a statue if not for the slightest of movement underneath his assistant’s eyelids emitting the slightest glow of green beneath his lashes, barely noticeable in the afternoon light. The scene was picturesque, in an odd sort of way. Jon was no Endymion, but there was something to be said about the beauty of dualism. The contrast between the tense posture of his shoulders and the familiar crease between his brows, somehow still present in his state of rest, added with his head carelessly resting against the wall of the coach, spilling loose hairs from his carefully maintained braid, made this image of Jon incredibly endearing.

 

When it became clear that Jon would not respond or wake from his slumber at command, Jonah silently took his journal and a pencil from his inner coat pocket and began to sketch. 

 

Jonah may not be a student of the arts, but he could certainly appreciate aesthetics. He’s sure Jonathan wouldn’t mind.

 

The carriage stops when he is midway through his third study of his muse. Jonah looks through the coach’s windows and notes that the sun was nearly completely down, but more importantly, they have arrived at Smirke’s Haddington estate.

 

The man had come up from London to see the completion of his work on the Whittingehame house. Jonah thought that was quite fortunate since he was not looking forward to a four-day journey trapped in a carriage. 

 

Jonah turns to attempt to awake his companion but finds that Jon is already righting himself and smoothing his hair back into a dignified order. He catches Jonah looking and frowns, “What?”

 

“Good morning, Jonathan.” Jonah grins at the faint blush of embarrassment that graces Jon’s cheeks, “I am grateful to see that you’ve awoken at an apt time. Though it makes me wonder if you were perhaps feigning your sleep the entire trip?” That was a lie, of course. Jonah knows that in the current state of their relationship, Jonathan would never consciously wear such a relaxed expression in Jonah's presence.

 

Jon brushes a stray hair back into place and nearly looks insulted by the unruly thing, “I set an alarm-”

 

“- A what?”

 

“- and I don’t sleep , I was conserving my energy and preparing. I would have been conscious the moment I needed to be.”

 

“And what event is it that you were preparing for, Jonathan?” Jonah questions while exiting the stagecoach. 

 

Jon does not answer and instead thanks the coachman holding the door for them. It wasn’t exactly proper for Jon to do so and definitely not normal judging by the look of bemusement upon the coach man’s face, but if Jonah was correct about Jon’s original station then there was no need to interfere.

 

Jonah holds out a gloved hand for the other man to take to help with his departure from the carriage, but Jon either doesn’t see the offered hand or completely ignores it and lands softly on the dirt road unceremoniously. 

 

Disappointing, but now that Jonah thinks on it, Jon's refusal was appropriate, especially in the presence of others. Jonah has been finding himself slipping recently. Perhaps being around Jon has loosened his inhibitions about the natural order of things. What would the rest of society think of his assistant if Jonah were to offer him his hand as if Jon were a gentle lady exiting a carriage? 

 

There were appearances to keep up, though Jonah couldn't help but feel as if their importance was lessened when the man next to him reminded Jonah how vast the world really was.

 

It was a strange world as well, Jonah notes when he sees the most powerful man he knows shifting awkwardly before the grand wooden door to the party within, “Do we just head in or are we supposed to knock?”

 

Jonah is hit with a not so surprising certainty that Jon has never been to an event like this before. Perhaps Jonah should have questioned Jon on this matter before, but well, there were other more pressing questions he desperately wants the answers to. Besides, Jon's inexperience might bring some amusement to what Jonah is certain, a very boring gathering inside, "No need to worry, Jonathan. Just follow my lead and everything will go just fine."

 

Jon grumbles a bit at that but Jonah pays him no heed as he uses the knocker thrice upon the door. 

 

There was not much of a difference between Robert Smirke’s meeting and the average dinner party. Much like anywhere else, once Jonah presented the footman with the written invitation, he and Jon were led into the estate by a footman into a parlour submerged in smoke and conversation. The footman cleared his throat and announced their arrival, “Gentlemen, a Mr Magnus and a Mr Sims.”

 

The weight of the room turns upon Jonah and Jon while the servant bows and makes his departure. The doors close behind them with a click and the chatter in the room withers into a slated silence. Someone coughs and Jonah’s eye is drawn towards the corner of the parlour where George Scott whispers into Mordechai Lukas’s ear who leers at Jonah across the room.

 

Jonah begins to question whether attending this event was a wise choice because judging by the tense atmosphere and the unease in his peers’ eyes, Smirke had apparently neglected to keep the identity of Jonah’s companion confidential. 

 

In different circumstances, Jonah might have revelled in this amount of attention. He always had a desire to be recognised as a man worthwhile, and to be centre of gossip was always better than to be not talked about at all, but something about their eyes set him on edge. Or to be more precise, the way that the other men were looking at Jon as if he were a rabid dog made Jonah particularly irate. He was never fond of disdain inflicted upon him due to whom he kept in his company.

 

At least the catalyst of his associates’ ire is seemingly unaffected. In fact, Jon appears to not even register the many glares sent his way and instead is sending one of his own towards the smiling Lukas.

 

Jonah thought he was the only one who could make Jon have such an expression. 

 

“Mr Magnus! Mr Sims!” Jonah turns to meet a friendly face, yes this was much better “I’m pleased to see you have arrived safely. Oh- and I also wanted to give you my thanks once again for the opportunity to come here, I haven’t been able to attend many gatherings like this in the past.”

 

“Think nothing of it, Mr Bennett,” Jonah smiles, “Besides, I fear without your presence this meeting would have been rather dull. But, might I ask how you have arrived here? I seem to recall offering you my carriage but your reply only said that you had made other preparations.” 

 

“My apologies, I must have forgotten to inform you properly. Mr Lukas offered me to ride with him in his coach, it was very generous of him don’t you think?”

 

Beside him, Jon snaps to attention, “You were alone with Mordechai Lukas?”

 

The tailor blinks, “Why, yes. We had arrived here together not only an hour ago, why? Is something the matter Mr Sims?”

 

Jon’s manner grows severe, “Did he try to do anything to you or make you any deals or -ah did the air around him seem wrong?”

 

Goodness, the way Jon is speaking about him makes Lukas sound like the devil. Well- now that Jonah thinks about it, the comparison isn’t too far off. Mr Bennett seems to disagree, “I am afraid I don’t quite catch your meaning, sir. Mr Lukas is a man of dignified character. I am not certain of what rumours you have heard about the man but I assure you, there is no reason to fear Mr Lukas.” Bennett’s brows furrow in thought for a quick moment before he relaxes, “There is only one solution to this Mr Sims: you simply must meet the man yourself.”

 

Oh no, this is not the direction this event should be going. The way Jon looks now, Jonah is sure Mordechai Lukas would be nothing but blood splatters by the end of the night and Jonah would really not prefer to have his assistant thrown in the gaol before Jonah can learn all he can from him. “I am not sure that is the wisest course of action, Mr Bennett. Might I suggest-”

 

“The simplest way to rectify any misconceptions is to go directly to the source. Wouldn’t you agree, Mr Sims?” Bennett states as he offers Jon his elbow.

 

“Jonathan, I must ask that seriously think over your choices before you do anything… drastic.”

 

Bennett chuckles, “Come now, Mr Magnus. You are acting as if our friend here will kill the poor man on the spot.”

 

What an astute observation Barnabas, that is exactly what he is worried about. “Of course not, I only worry that my assistant might not be ready to meet a man of Mr Lukas’s stature.”

 

“There’s no need to speak for me, Magnus.” Jon rolls his eyes and locks arms with Bennett “I am quite capable of making my own decisions.”

 

“Jonathan, you know that’s not what this is about.”

 

Jon turns his back toward him, “Mr Bennett, I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to be introduced to Mr Lukas.”

 

Bennett’s eyes grow wide and his smile is blinding “It would be my honour to acquaint the two of you.”

 

The beginning of a headache begins to manifest inside of Jonah’s head, “Jonathan.”

 

Jon’s voice steeps with barely contained contempt, “Magnus, do try not to follow.”

 

And with that, the two of them stroll over to what Jonah is certain will be a bloodbath, if Jonathan gets his way.

 

Across the room, Scott waves him over to where he can see Lukas bend down and kiss the top of Jon’s hand who looks like he is about to burst an artery. As much as it would be satisfying to see Jon attempt to slit Lukas’s throat, and perhaps well-deserved; something about the other man touching his assistant made Jonah very displeased, Jonah concludes that he should join their conversation to prevent any blood from being spilt. It would be difficult to find another patron as wealthy as Lukas for his institute, and really, it would be unfair to make Smirke’s staff clean up the resulting mess. It would also be troublesome if another blood splatter was to ruin Jon’s nice clothes that Jonah bought with Lukas’s money. 

 

His benefactor wouldn’t exactly be pleased if he were to learn that a good portion of his donations was spent in such a way, but technically it related to institute employee essentials, so Jonah didn’t believe it was too much of a misuse. But, it would be hindersome if funds were to dry up without such a large patron. 

 

Another reason why Jonah should prevent the inevitable confrontation.

 

His advances were stopped by a firm hand upon his shoulder, “Mr Magnus, I see you have decided to grace us with your presence.”

 

Jonah turns and is met with a familiar face, "Good Evening, Mr Smirke. I do hope my arrival was not too late, I do believe the event was stated to begin at six, correct?"

 

Smirke laughs, "My dear boy, do not fret so. I was only jesting, your manners are more than adequate." 

 

"Ha."

 

Now, Jonah Magnus did not dislike Robert Smirke, no, he looked upon Smirke with admiration not only for his craft but also for his diligence in studying the Dread Powers that be. The man was only half a decade older than himself, but there was something in his air that spoke of wisdom beyond his years. It was hard to find a mind that kept up with Jonah’s own, and before he met Jon, Smirke was the only one who seemed up to the task. In any other circumstance, Jonah would be eager to discuss his theories with Smirke immediately, but there were more pressing matters to attend to. Mainly, preventing his assistant from committing first-degree homicide.

 

Jonah is about to make his excuses and perhaps go fetch Jonathan and introduce him to his friend, but Smirke seems set on continuing the conversation, “It has been rather long since I have last seen you, hasn’t it? That’s the issue of being absorbed inside your craft, time seems to just slip away without your notice. Whittingehame has certainly devoured my sense of time this past month, but enough about me.” Robert states, his eyes growing eager, “I hear you have acquired a very unusual man in your company.”

 

As Jonah had expected, Robert Smirke was not immune to that pull in his chest, that urge to know and to understand the unknowable, “I would hope so, considering you were the one who invited him here this evening. But, yes, as you have no doubt read from my letters; I have met the most unearthly man-”

 

“Yes, yes but did you bring him?”

 

Jonah frowns, “Jonathan has accompanied me here, yes.”

 

Smirke’s eyes gleam, “Well, where is he then? Let me meet this astonishing creature that has you so fascinated!”

 

That wasn’t the word Jonah would have used to describe Jon, he was much more of a man than a monster, but perhaps Smirke hadn’t realised that by Jonah’s correspondence. He did have the tendency to be rather vague, after all. Jonah gestured to a very uncomfortable looking Jon “My friend is right over there, the man in the dark green coat, sat next to Mr Bennett?”

 

Smirke squints his eyes and then widens them in surprise, "Him? Why he looks rather normal for a being of his kind- well he's obviously not from around these parts that's for certain, but if I didn't know any better I would have assumed him to be completely human."

 

What was Smirke expecting? A being made entirely from eyes? Of course, Jon would appear as nothing but the charming man he is. "Why would he come off as anything less, Mr Smirke?" 

 

"I would have expected him to appear as anything but human. These creatures have tells, you see, to their true nature." Jonah is not certain he likes the look of contempt within the architect's eyes, but he lets him continue nonetheless,  “A creature of the I-Do-Not-Know-You can give the impression of being mortal but there is always something just slightly wrong there. The Deceitful will twist, The Dark will be empty and The Hunters will grow teeth and claws and fangs. None can truly hide their nature, none can truly appear as anything but a monster."

 

A weight settles within Jonah's jaw and his fingers twitch slightly, "Mr Smirke, I believe there was a misunderstanding in our communication. Jonathan Sims is still very much a man, a human one, outside of his … specialised abilities."

 

Smirke pauses and while Jonah does not have Jon's ability to read minds, he can tell that Smirke is searching for something. A flaw, a tell, “Jonah- would you mind if I were to be perfectly candid?"

 

Smirke has only addressed him by his given name behind the closed doors of his private library, on grounds when both were on equal grounds and both equally comfortable in the other’s presence. Having his name spoken so publicly, in a setting where Jonah cannot utter the other man’s name without looking like a fool, to be talked down to, as if he were a mere disciple- it’s aggravating, it’s insulting , but most of all it’s demeaning . A strategic play with the classes, a reference to their differences in station. A plot to make Jonah small and he feels utterly exposed. 

 

He could get angry- not a fit of volatile and hot anger, but perhaps a colder more calculated wrath. While Smirke may be leagues above him in wealth and reputation, Jonah was still technically the son of a gentleman, even if he was the youngest son and not actually in possession of his unprofitable estate. 

 

However, his yet to be realised institute depended upon the architect’s cooperation and funding for its success. Not to mention Robert Smirke was on the direct path to be granted a knighthood for his services and everybody knew it. 

 

So Jonah holds his tongue and acquiesces, “Of course.”

 

Smirke wets his lip, a nervous tick Jonah has come to notice, “You appear to be forgetting an important aspect of what you told me in your letters; the first encounter you’ve had with that crea- hm, man, he tried to kill you. ” 

 

“We have moved past that in regards to our partnership. Besides, Jonathan is unable to harm me due to the-”

 

“The involvement of his methods of disposal turning into spiders, which is not the blessing you seem to think it is. That is evidence of him being involved in not one, but two entities together. Him being of The Eye is enough, but to be involved with the Corruption or the Web?” The architect shifts his eyes rapidly as if he is afraid that Jon or some other incomprehensible being was listening. Smirke continues in a low raspy voice, an attempt to conceal a conversation that Jonah has no doubt Jon can hear, “Jonah, have you not realized that you placed yourself in a very dangerous position! One entity is enough- but two? You don’t even know if he has involved himself with the other powers- he certainly looks tattered enough for it!”

 

Tattered, Jonah seethes, he calls the most useful piece of information we have, tattered. “But what if that’s a good thing? We now have a man who has experience with these powers, not just knowledge from old tomes. He’s powerful, he could protect us-”

 

“You think that he would protect you? Jonah, he’d sooner feed off of you!” Smirke hisses, “You seem to forget what kind of being he is and the reason you have allowed him in your company. You told me you kept him nearby to study him, not to be employed as some sort of bodyguard!”

 

“Assistant.” Jonah interjects quietly, “He’s my assistant.”

 

“This is what worries me- you are letting his outward appearance fool you into thinking he is not a threat. You have been too lenient, Jonah. A creature such as he cannot be trusted, let alone be allowed to handle or organize important information that is essential to our understanding of the dangers he himself presents!”

 

Jon is a being of knowledge, why would he tamper with the documentation he is so fussy over. For goodness sake, the man doesn’t even allow statements about separate entities to even touch each other. “Why did you invite him if you had these fears, Mr Smirke?”

 

 The other man gives Jonah a look that was entirely too indulgent for the lecture he had just unleashed, “The very same reason I had stated in my letter; to assess the danger he poses to us. And he is dangerous, Jonah. I hope you do realize that.”

 

Jonah thinks about curly hair that is too endearing, and dark skin covered in scars and soft grumbles and late-night reading, “Yes, I understand.”

 

“Good,” Smirke lets out a sigh that Jonah can only assume is relief, “I’m glad we are in agreement. You do know how I fret over you.”

 

“Yes.”

 

Jonah hopes that Jon is having a more enjoyable evening than himself.

 


 

Jon is not having a good time.

 

He was never a big fan of parties, to be fair he never thought he would have to be stuck in a parlour with men two hundred years his senior who think a ‘vulgar mushroom’ is a scathing insult. But it was the principle of the thing, for these to be men at the front line of ‘protecting’ humanity from the Dread Powers they really didn’t seem to take the responsibility seriously.

 

Actually, the whole affair was reminiscent of a ridiculously posh university party, except you would replace the college kids with thirty to forty something-year-old bureaucrats claiming to be professionals and the overabundance of weed with cigar smoke. Both categories give him a headache and both categories make him want to escape to somewhere secluded and quiet.

 

But that wasn’t the main problem (though if he hears one more sexist comment he’s going to have an ulcer), the main issue at hand is that he somehow ended up sandwiched between Barnabas Bennett and a very talkative George Gilbert Scott, and across from Mordechai Lukas, who wouldn’t stop staring .

 

He’s supposed to be a scion of The Forsaken, why is he boring his eyes into Jon? 

 

Jon has peered into Lukas’s head, and he seems to be following whatever conversation is going on, but there is nothing about why he is looking at Jon like he is a- god, Jon doesn’t even know what this is supposed to be. 

 

How is he supposed to kill him or prevent him from becoming an avatar of The Lonely if he can’t read whatever is going through his head?

 

“I have to say, Mr Sims,” Scott interjects into Jon’s panicked musing, “you have certainly shielded us from our compatriots. They look like they think if they come over here you’ll bite their head off.”

 

Wow. What wonderful insight Mr Scott. If only Lukas was as easy to read.

 

"Mr Scott!" Bennett scolds, "There's no need to be so rude to good Mr Sims here!" 

 

Honestly, what is Lukas's deal? The man has barely spoken two words to anyone after he made that ridiculous introduction of his.

 

"Oh come off it, Mr Bennett. This is a place of free ideas, after all. I'm sure our friend here does not mind my honesty. Right, Mr Sims?"

 

Wait, was Mordechai Lukas feeding off of his discomfort? Is that why there is such a large girth between their small gathering and the rest of the party?

 

"Mr Sims, do not mind whatever words are coming out of this simple man's mouth. He's just jealous that you are more welcome here than he is."

 

If Lukas is already starting to manifest then it is imperative to stop him in his tracks now

 

"Hey!"

 

But how is Jon to deal with him? He can't very well kill him here with such a large crowd and Jon Knows that he is not strong enough in this timeline to subtly fry Lukas's brains out. 

 

He could try to do what he did to Peter Lukas, but there is no telling if Mordechai would resist his questioning. 

 

Jon should have come up with a better plan. He thought doing it Basira's way would be much more practical, but now he can see that he does not have her luck or her skill set to twist the tides into her favour without rigorous planning.

 

If only he could consult Basira or Daisy or Martin , they would know what -

 

"Excuse me? Am I interrupting?" 

 

Bennett and Scott stop their bickering and greet the newcomer enthusiastically.

 

But that’s not what matters.

 

What matters is Francis Mullens has a statement.

 

The Archivist has done well to sustain himself entirely on the written statements he had found in Jonah Magnus’s library, but now with a story that’s there right in front of him, fresh, new, still dripping with half repressed terror, it takes all of The Archivist’s effort to keep silent. To keep the questions locked away in his throat.

 

Don’t listen to the blood , he and Daisy would whisper to each other when the cravings (to rip; tear; claw, to watch; stalk; gorge) became too much to bear, Listen to the quiet.

 

But how can he listen to the quiet when everything is but quiet? When he can hear the fearful thump thump thump of Smirke’s heart across the room and hear the whisperings of horror from a man he knows does not deserve to be fed upon.

 

“Mr Sims?”

 

His name is Francis Mullens- there were strings around his hands- his father left but he didn’t know what it meant- and strings around his heart that just craved for one bit of- his mother wasn’t really there, too heartbroken over the loss of- Francis is bound and he cannot move or love who he wants because- His name was Jack and he was different - too many eyes and too many legs and too many threads-

 

A hand upon his shoulder, “Mr Sims are you alright?”

 

His mouth is dry, it feels like paper, “Y-Yes I’m fine, just a little tired.”

 

Jack once told Francis they would see the world but the money was too short- too many hairs and- If it was for the money he had no choice but to- and spindles and fat pocketbooks and teeth-

 

It’s Mordechai Lukas who speaks, “Nothing a bit of fresh air can’t fix, come along Mr Sims. The view from the balcony is rather impressive.”

 

The Archivist wordlessly follows the man he came here to kill out onto the balcony. The air is frigid and The Archivist can see his short puffs of air as clearly as the smoke from Lukas’s pipe drifting into the night sky and into the stars.

 

What a phenomenon, stars. Gigantic masses of plasma held together by gravity, so far away from the world to look at them is to look back into your own past. It was strange to see so many stars without constant light pollution.

 

It was strange to see stars at all. Strange to see a world not yet ruled by the Eye.

 

The Archivist is beginning to sympathize with Fairchild’s fascination with the sky. It’s so vast that you can begin to forget your problems, your ties, the insatiable pull to feed.

 

The Archivist continues to look to the stars and breathe in the cold until he can feel the tips of his fingers, and then his wrists and arms and legs until he can feel his heartbeat in his chest and he can remember his own name.

 

His name is Jonathan Sims. He is thirty-one years old. Two years ago (One hundred and ninety-nine years in the future) he was promoted to the Head Archivist of the Magnus Institute. He has ended the world, he has come back to fix it. He is out on a balcony. He is next to a man, what has he come here for?

 

Lukas!

 

“It appears you have come back to yourself,” Mordechai Lukas comments as he takes another drag from his pipe, “Did the crowds get to you?”

 

“...Yes.”

 

“Hm.” Mordechai nods and seemingly goes back to his own quiet contemplation of the night.

 

It wasn’t hard to see the resemblance between Mordechai Lukas and his descendent. Both he and Peter were broad-shouldered, tall and had very large presences for men who didn’t want to be seen at all. If one were to look closer, however, you could easily spot the differences in the bridges of their noses and in the set of their jaw, and in the differences behind their eyes. 

 

The younger; colder and forsaken from birth, centuries of family tradition dimming that last bit of spark until there was nothing left behind. However, In the elder’s eyes; there was still that undeniable presence of humanity, dim, but still, present all the same.

Jon shook himself from his thoughts. It doesn’t matter how similar or different they look- both men were not to be trusted.

 

It is with that truth Jon inhales and breathes out power into his voice, “ Why have you brought me out here? What are you planning?

 

“It looked like you needed to escape so I’ve offered you a route out and now I am planning to just wait out here until Smirke forces us back in again.” Lukas reports and then his eyes widen and he brings a gloved hand to his lip in shock before frowning down at Jon, “Well that was rather rude wasn’t it?” 

 

Lukas crosses his arms and tilts his head slightly to the left in consideration, “Smirke had mentioned you were a rather strange one with even stranger abilities, but to think you would use them on a perfectly kind gentleman like myself. To be quite frank, Mr Sims, I’m a little hurt.” 

 

Jon briefly brushes into the pouting man’s mind and he can plainly see that Lukas is not offended at all, in fact, he is emitting waves of amusement and Jon would prefer to go back inside now. He cannot handle another one, he cannot deal with another one. Jon’s eye twitches, “Smirke has talked about me?”

 

“Of course he has, you’re the most fascinating person that has ever graced our humble gathering. He only spoke well of you, I assure you, but he couldn’t help but include a few more interesting details about your capabilities. I was quite looking forward to seeing if you matched up with the stories, and I must say that you do not disappoint.” Lukas steps forward and brushes a knuckle underneath Jon’s chin, “I would go so far as to conclude you are even more captivating in person.”

 

That’s it. He has to die. 

 

Jon pushes away Lukas’s hand, who just leans steps back and leans against the railing and laughs.

 

But how is he to dispose of him? Needless to say, Lukas was much larger than himself, so it would be difficult to overcome him in terms of physical strength. He could try to push him off of the balcony, but the sound of the impact would draw unwanted attention towards his location, it would also be very obvious that Jon would’ve been the one who killed him. Being thrown in jail would disable him from taking down Magnus. He couldn’t risk that chance, not when the fate of the world was hanging in the balance. 

 

There was only one logical solution. He would have to draw upon the power of the Eye to dispose of Lukas, but would that even work? 

 

With how affable Mordechai Lukas is behaving, Jon doubts he would resist any sort of questioning.

 

“Did I startle you that much Mr Sims?” 

 

For the love of- “Will you please just-”

 

Oh. 

 

“There’s a spider on your hand Mr Lukas.”

 

Jon should really have a discussion with Annabelle to stop interfering in his plans in such dramatic ways. Honestly, it really wouldn’t be hard for her to just call and tell him that Mordechai Lukas was ‘off-limits’. But why now, there wasn't any problem before, so why?

 

The man in question visibly pales and moves to swat the menace off of his hand but the spider beats him to it and leaps onto Jon’s arm.

 

Jon lifts his arm and watches as the little thing scurries across the fabric of his coat and across his wrist buttons and onto the back of his hand. It raises its front two appendages and wiggles their tips and Jon knows what it is telling him to do.

 

Lukas looks disgusted and shivers, “I’ve always disliked those things .”

 

It wasn’t warning him off, it was sending him a reminder.

 

Jon hates many things about being The Archivist. Gaining joy and feeding off of the suffering of others, knowing every little secret that someone would want private, ending the world - all make him entirely disgusted. He hates the parts about him that are similar to Elias even more. 

 

He would do anything to stop himself from being even more like the man who ruined his life- but then he remembers Naomi and Barnabas and Martin and so many countless others and he steels himself.

 

“You dislike lots of things, don’t you Mr Lukas?” he begins, lowering his hand to the rail so the little spider can go on their way.

 

Mordechai Lukas furrows his brows, “What do you mean?”

 

"You dislike conversation, especially when it's long-winded, and you dislike the rules that come with your position, especially when the majority of those standards are only there to make socialization that more tiring, but most of all, Mr Lukas, you hate people . You hate how they surround you and pester you, just so they can try to matchmake, or to propose business deals, or to ask for the smallest of loans, just to rise above their stations- just to improve their life’s just the slightest bit.”

 

Mordechai turns to leave but finds himself rooted to the floor. Eyes, upon eyes upon eyes staring, probing, searching- he feels sick.

 

“But you never cared about helping your fellow kind, no it would be better off for them to just leave you alone. Why would you want the swarm around you if they would just abandon ship once all your money dries up, no, no, it’s best to distance yourself.  But how to do it? You can’t very well leave high society; isolation is one thing but ostracization would drain your wealth, after all, who would want to make business with someone who doesn’t have connections. But you came up with a very simple answer; you just needed to make yourself unapproachable. It’s easy to be a jackass, no one would bother you that way, and everyone knows that a man can be as vulgar, and rude and slimy as he wants as long as he has the pocketbook to back it up. Much more practical to show the worst sides of a mask than to show the slightest bit of anxiety or the fear of being known, even if deep that you want to be. And that’s a very lonely thing, isn’t Mr Lukas?

 

But Mr Lukas here is the thing, I See You . I know every little thing you hide behind your mask and I know every possible sin you could commit. Would you like to know your future?

 

Jon draws from within himself and from the vast knowledge of the Eye, and he pushes it all into the head of Mordechai Lukas. Images of long empty hallways, and weeping figures, and silent rooms and forsaken ships sacrificing even more forsaken passengers and thousands upon thousands of lonely people all being fed to the hungry god at its centre; devouring and hollowing out the insides of its victims until there is nothing left behind but broken memories and empty hearts.

 

The head of the Lukas family did not fizzle out of existence but is instead silently crying in pain and to Jon’s great surprise; in empathy . The man who had seemed so large only a moment ago shudders, “Why did you show me this?”

 

This didn’t feel any better, it just makes Jon feel worse, but it had to be done, “To make a point, but perhaps I went too far.” Jon hesitates but then takes a step forward, “Should I take it back?”

 

Mordechai remains silent and Jon is struck by how strange it was that this was the man who would feed an innocent man to his God in less than a decade. People can change remarkably fast, this Jon knows better than most.

 

“Knowledge cannot be entirely stripped away, but it can be moved. I can move these memories to the back of your mind, only to resurface when you are in direct contact with the Lonely.” Jon raises his burnt hand and covers Mordechai’s eyes with his palm, “If you attempt to feed your god I will make you remember and feel the pain you are experiencing today, are we clear ?”

 

Mordechai Lukas nods his head just once and Jon begins his work.