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If obsessive-compulsive disorder were as elementary as ‘being too tidy,’ then everyone would have it. The truth, however, is that it is far more complicated than the simple appeal of neatness. It is the raw, uncontrollable demand for repetitive behavior and reoccurring intrusive thoughts that make you feel the need to do things over and over and over again like clockwork.

Jon, of course, was not aware that the habits he possessed were unusual. After all, his childhood encounter with Mr. Spider more than justified his anxiety issues. It was likely that Jane Prentiss’s invasion on the Institute had made him paranoid, but he had always been a bit distrustful when it came to people anyway. Then, Leitner’s murder had only further exacerbated matters, followed by Elias’s confession and the unveiling of the Entities.

Yes, it made sense that he was overly obsessive about certain things. He had been through quite a lot since he became an Archivist. It was easy to convince himself that the habits simply stemmed from his trauma.

One such habit was excessive bathing.

It had been a staple of his routine since college, but the Prentiss situation had made it far worse. In truth, Jon was accustomed to showering at least three or four times a day. Oftentimes. he had no acceptable reason for it. He could be freshly washed, hair still slightly damp, and then feel the urge to shower again after he consumed a meal. He could step outside momentarily to grab the post or carry the garbage to the bin, and the need would arise once he was back inside.

Jon is not germophobic, so it had always bewildered him. Continuously subjecting his body to a stream of hot water made his skin very dry. He supposed that he simply felt… greasy? Contaminated? Dirty? He could not quite put his finger on it. All he knew for sure was that showering made him feel fresh and clean.

There was also the matter of locks.

Every morning, he locked the front door to his flat and double, triple, quadruple checked that it was fastened. He knew that it was an unreasonable action. After all, he had just turned the key in the door and jiggled the handle. It would not budge. Therefore, he could conclude that the door was firmly sealed shut.

But what if it was still unlocked? What if someone broke in while he was at work?

He grasped the door handle and turned it counterclockwise. He instantly met resistance; the lock was in place. Then, he turned it clockwise. He repeated the action, but this time he also shoved his shoulder against the door to ensure that it would definitely not move. It was still locked. Some of the anxiety in Jon’s chest eased, so he walked away.

But what if his cat had accidentally gotten out?

Martin would kill him. The kitten had been a belated present of sorts. Jon had always secretly liked cats; he had been quite attached to the one his grandmother had when he was a kid. Not to mention how taken he was with The Admiral. Once Martin found out, he immediately convinced Jon to go to a nearby shelter and adopt one. It was a long-haired tabby named Mittens. Jon had to admit that he loved the little fluff ball. There was something about petting a cat that settled his nerves and made him feel more relaxed.

The cat would never go outside on its own, but it could easily dart between his legs if he were not looking. What if it got out when he wasn't paying attention? What if it was out right now?

Jon was fully aware that this was unlikely. He had spent three minutes checking the lock; he would have noticed if Mittens was out. But he still stopped on the stairs that led to his second-story flat and looked back.

His doorstep was empty, and so was the hallway. There was no cat in sight. Still, he stared hard for a long time, repeatedly thinking ‘clear, clear, clear, clear,’ over and over in his head. Once he was satisfied with that, he sighed and continued descending the stairway.

The Archives were still not sorted to his liking. There were too many shelves packed with unlabeled boxes and stacks of countless books. Despite how often he cleaned, dust seemed to settle over everything within days. The bulb in the lamp on his desk was too dim and the pile of papers placed underneath it was uneven. There were new cobwebs in the corners of the room, although he had swept them away only a fortnight ago.

Jon flipped on the main lights, dousing the entire Archive in a stark brightness that highlighted all of its clutter in clear detail. His eyes trailed over the room in dismay. Jon walked over to his desk, where statements were already awaiting him. He exhaled heavily.

Even if he tried to disregard the mess, the back of his neck would tingle in anticipation. The mayhem would linger over his mind until he finally acknowledged it and did something about it.

So, Jon rolled his shirt sleeves up to his elbows and got to work. He started by gathering empty boxes from around the other offices, as well as a few plastic totes that he could put to good use. He brought them all into the Archive and decided to start with the front and work his way back. He set forth to do his task and began by removing all the items from the nearest bookshelf. He cringed at the brown dust that clung to his fingers, pausing to grab the bottle of hand sanitizer on his desk. Then, he sat cross-legged on the floor and proceeded to sort the loose files into order.

He was trying to decide whether to organize the books by physical height or alphabetical order when Tim barged in.

“What are you doing?”

Jon startled and narrowed his eyes at his assistant. Tim’s hair was coated in dust, and Jon suspected that he had just emerged from the tunnels.

“Organizing,” Jon said shortly. It was better to keep their conversations brief these days.

Tim glared at him. “Didn’t you just do this, like, two days ago?”

“Yes, but it looks a mess already.”

Tim was silent for a moment, watching him carefully. Jon tried to ignore him and focus on rearranging the books. They looked disorganized when he alphabetized them. It would appear neater if he put them together from tallest to shortest.

“Whatever,” Tim said. His voice was steely, but it had softened somewhat. “The Archive looks fine. I think you have a problem.”

He walked away without elaborating any further. Jon paused for a moment, thinking it over. The offhanded comment bothered him more than he let on.