Right. Martin, do you trust me?
Martin doesn’t know what to say. What to do. Of course he trusts Jon. Of course he does. But he’s scared. What will happen next? What might come out of these overgrown woods, what might be hunting them even while the birds still trill in the trees? Shouldn’t the birds go silent when there’s a predator about? What? Ah, Christ, this can’t be good. Yes?
Then it’s very – listen, – look at me. The next couple of minutes are going to be quite unpleasant for one of us, and I’m sorry.
Martin feels the cool touch on his cheek where Jon cups it. Stares into the eyes of the man he loves who is looking at him with an overwhelming intensity that for years was directed towards only the words written on the dusty files that they had tended. He has learned in the past few months that the gaze can also be turned on him with that self-same intensity. He hears the words and he knows, he knows that Jon has apologised more to him since Scotland than he did in the entirety of them knowing each other for years before but still this feels different. Uh- Sorry, what?
Jon’s eyes flick side to side, watching the trees, the brush. Watching. You need to remain very calm, and don’t make any sudden movements.
Martin can feel his heart rate kick up, like Jon just shifted it into high gear inside of his chest with those words as he pulls his hands away, steps back. Martin reaches out to pull him close again but he’s too far, just out of reach. Oh, okay, now I’m worried; what d’you –
And then Trevor Herbert springs from the underbrush, catching Jon up in the mock of an embrace from behind. One arm across Jon’s chest and one swinging up to his throat. Martin sees the shine of steel, glowing green in the light of the Eye, in the glint of Jon’s eyes as it sweeps across Jon’s throat.
It sweeps through the scar that was left there so long ago by Daisy and slashes it open, a deep gash that lays Jon’s throat bare, viscera spilling and blood spraying from the arteries. Trevor drops him and fades into the black and Martin rushes forward to where Jon lies in the muddy forest floor. His eyes are open, staring, bulging from their sockets as he tries to breathe, tries to speak. And Martin knows, he knows that this is a mortal wound, a wound that can’t be fixed. He covers it with his hands, feeling the hot spray of Jon’s heart’s blood as it soaks him up and down his chest and face and arms.
He looks down into Jon’s face, the scars that stand out dark against the pallidness of his skin, the bulging eyes, the way his lips move, reflexively still trying to speak even though his vocal cords are spilling out, twitching against Martin’s hand.
Except it’s not reflexive. It repeats. Jon’s eyes are calm, his hands still cool and strong as he grasps Martin’s forearms. His lips move over and over, blood spilling from them as they do, and Martin can suddenly understand what he’s saying.
It’s alright Martin, it’s alright, it’s alright.
And Martin kneels in the cold mud, feeling blood welling and swelling over his hands, never ending, past the point where Jon would be empty. He kneels there seeing Jon’s lips move and repeat, feeling his hands grasp with unending strength. Because he can’t die. Not even from such a wound as this that has stolen his breath, his blood, even his voice, but he still lives.
Martin hasn’t slept much since the end of the world and he’s usually glad when he does. Glad to get some rest, to feel like he might be able to continue on for whatever counts as a day in this bleak world that they traverse. Glad for a respite from this nightmare that he is living through.
But this time he is more glad to wake. To wake and see Jon looking down at him, a bemused quirk to his lips as he rests his hands against Martin’s head.
It takes a moment for Martin’s muddled head to connect the words with the voice. To realise that Jon is speaking the words, his voice coming out warm and full of affection the way he’s grown used to. That he’s not just mouthing the words from a mouth that’s been severed from his ability to speak and that no blood spills through his lips as he makes the sound.
Martin shudders, closing his eyes against the afterimages of his dream and when he opens them again he sees that Jon’s expression has shifted from bemusement to concern. The hand on his head has shifted from a gentle scritching to a worried caress.
Martin hears a soft, familiar scoff and suddenly realises that they aren’t alone.
He gathers his strength and pushes himself up to sit, feeling the arm that had trapped his hand slide around his back as he does. He gives into the tug and leans against Jon, feeling meagre body warmth soak through his jacket as he leans against Jon’s slight body. Feels Jon’s eyes on him as he looks across the small campfire they lit at Basira.
Her face is impassive as ever but Martin can see the hint of jealousy, of longing, of annoyance behind her eyes.
“Glad you’re finally awake,” she grumbles. “Now we can plan what’s next.”
Jon turns his concerned gaze away, eyes sharpening as he leans forward just a bit.
Martin leans his head down to rest against Jon’s shoulder. Feels the rumble of his voice as he talks, the grasp of his arm as he embraces Martin. His embrace is cool, Jon’s touch is always a bit chilly, but his voice is strong as he begins to discuss his plan.
Martin closes his eyes again, willing away the sensation of hot blood spraying against his face, sinking into the sound of Jon’s voice, strong and sure. He tries to concentrate on that voice. Tries to drown out the words that echo in his head. The words that sparked a nightmare that even in this apocalypse is too horrible to consider.
I had hoped you’d go for me, but – well.