Martin has been dreaming of spiders recently. More often than usual. And he remembers it in more vivid detail.
He's not afraid of spiders, he's never been. And in his dreams, he doesn't fear them either. Even when they're gathering around him, and he can't move, and they're eating him slowly, bit by bit. It doesn't hurt, and it doesn't frighten him.
It's quite disturbing when he wakes up, though.
It's not always like that. Sometimes it's happy dreams with soft spider snuggles. Sometimes it's just awkward, like this time he was trying to smuggle a cute spider family from an indeterminate South American country to England, and it was so hard because they kept getting bigger and raising their heads to see the customs officer.
One day, he knows he's not dreaming, and he sees a huge spider on his floor. Not a giant spider, but not the kind that should be found in English soil outside a zoo, either. So Martin keeps a respectful distance, even if it seems quite pettable.
And then he recognizes it. It's exactly the mother from his embarrassing customs dream.
"Hello?" he says, a little bit wary. "What are you doing here? I seriously doubt I saw you before today in reality, so... what happened? Have I been smuggling you from the dream world? Is that what the dream meant?"
At the same time, he scratches his mind for any statement like this, about dreams, or about spiders, and can't find any.
"You can stay here and eat any insects you'd like," he offers. "You won't eat my other spiders, I hope?" It's really a lot bigger than the usual ones who make their webs on his ceiling.
Why would I do this?
Did it reply? No, Martin didn't hear anything. It's more like... he knows what it means.
You have an appointment. It says. It seems you have forgotten it. And Martin's not sure he knows what it's about, but he still knows he doesn't need to ask.
Martin's walking. Somehow he doesn't know where he’s going, but he's still certain he's in the right place.
It's a very old house. There are spider webs everywhere inside. Martin has seen the walls before entering, so he knows they exist, but if asked he would say they're thinner than paper, and the real thing keeping the house together are the spider webs.
There's a giant spider waiting for him, in a giant web.
Except - Martin blinks, and it's a man. Then he blinks again, and it's a man's body on a giant spider's abdomen. He's all this at once, and in a way, it makes perfect sense. It still hurts Martin's brain.
He tries to look at his feet instead, but they don't seem very stable either, not totally human, and it frightens him even more. But he won't close his eyes, so he looks at the creature again.
"Hello?" he asks. "I heard about an appointment."
What has Martin's life become? This is even weirder than his normal office job, and that’s saying something.
"Hello, Martin," the man-spider says. "Long time no see."
Martin can't remember having ever seen him, and says that much. He's sure he would remember. He knows his name is Mr. Spider, though. This he doesn't say. It would make this situation even more confusing, and it doesn't need that.
"Of course, you couldn't know. We wouldn't send you undercover to someone who can read your thoughts if he wants to, except as a sleeper agent. But now, it seems both Elias Bouchard and your Archivist are underestimating you enough. They won't see that you belong to the Web, even if it becomes a little bit more apparent."
Martin wants to scream and deny it, but by the time he manages to open his mouth, he's already persuaded that it's all true, and he just wants to scream.
"I don't want to hurt my friends," he just says. He's not sure he has a choice.
"Oh, we're not asking you to hurt anyone! Only to deceive them a bit," Mr. Spider says with a jolly voice. "We're allies! We want to destroy the Hive, the Desolation and the Stranger as much as you do! We even help sometimes, and it just seems fair that for this, we gain a bit of information and influence."
Martin almost wants to laugh. "I have no influence at the Institute, and no information of any value. You lost your bet with me."
"You did get the Archivist to like you, though."
Martin blushes hard. They're friends, and they weren't at the beginning, so he guesses it's true, in a way. He's very thankful to Jon for this. But it's not what he really wants, it's so far from being what he not-so-secretly wants. (Everybody knows except Jon.)
"You falling so deep for him was unexpected." Everyone knows it, even the spider monsters Martin doesn't remember meeting. Another proof of it, sorely not needed.
"Too bad for you," Martin grumbles.
"Or good. Because it gives us a shared interest."
"What do you mean?" Martin asks.
"You know what I mean. With how you're already standing, we have the power to make him love you too. You want this, don't you? And we'd certainly get the influence I was talking about."
Martin's cheeks are getting bright red. "You won't hurt him or the others? Only information and influence?"
"No, though we'll let you hurt him if you want. He has been unfair to you. You're more than what he sees in you."
"And what if I say no."
"Then you'll be useless."
"You'll kill me?"
"That’s a big word. We can still use your body as a vessel. Of course, that would be obvious. You could no longer infiltrate the Archives and get them to be friendly. And the feelings you have now would have to go away, even if we can work with the memories."
Martin can imagine. He's read spider statements. Even now, he's not afraid, just terribly sad. He knows he belongs here. In this nest of manipulation and threats. He was already good at lying, for such a nice kid. He still feels like diving in a pool filled of deep shame, when he asks: "What do I have to do?"
The monster is vibrating out of pleasure, and as it transmits into his web, Martin feels like he's vibrating too. It feels strangely good. Like being part of something, still himself, but connected. He feels like he has been missing it for a long time.
"Ten days in a row. You'll have to touch his bare skin. Outside of the Archives, otherwise Elias is bound to notice. Make it seem natural if you can."
Martin blushes. It's more that he has done... ever? He took Jon's hand when he found it bleeding in his office. He supported him when he couldn't walk... but never two days in a row, let alone ten.
Is a spider trying to tell him that if he wants to seduce Jon, he's got to actually flirt with him? Well, it's probably right.
"I'll try," he offers.
"Do it. Or we'll think you're sabotaging us, and we'll catch you again."
Martin swallows hard. Ten days in a row, that means also during the week-end? Can he do that? But well, what is the alternative?
"Okay." His heart is beating far too fast, and he's feeling unwell. His promise seemed marked into his skin as a traitor's brand. But he knows that Mr. Spider tells the truth. He's a double agent, and he's bred for being a traitor either way.
Martin feels even more like a stalker than usual. But he thinks this time, he’s found a pattern about how Jon comes and goes into the Institute. It's not the first time he’s tried to find one, but it has changed since Jane Prentiss.
He starts on a Monday, to put the problem of the week-end as far as possible from him. And he actually manages to be in the same underground subway as Jon.
"Hey!" he says. He wishes it was an accident. He wishes he didn’t have to feel guilty about it, when Jon looks at him and shows a small smile.
He walks to him, and puts his hand just above him on the metal bar. It doesn't count as flirting, but it certainly counts as body contact. He did it.
He thinks he feels a very tiny spider crawl on his hand, then onto Jon's. But he can see nothing, only feel the very sweet hairy legs.
He searches for a subject of conversation in his head, anything but spiders. He doesn't want to stop here. He wants more of this opportunity, just for himself. He wants to put his hand on Jon's, but him palm feels really sticky right now.
"Hey, Jon," he asks in a flailing voice, "would you go out with me for some drinks on Saturday evening?"
Jon looks at him like Martin had grown some new legs, and when he thinks about it, maybe he has. Or he will.
"With the others?" he asks.
"If you want, sure, I can invite them too!"
"I'm not... not sure I want to see Tim, actually, or..."
"Just you and me, then. Just to talk."
"Well, okay," Jon says. He doesn't look really convinced or enthusiastic. But he didn't say no.
Martin manages to do it the days after. When he doesn't meet him in the subway, he waits for him not far from the archives, and when he doesn't manage that, he waits for him after closing. Jon looks more and more suspicious. He's right, of course. Martin wonders. Does Jon think he is flirting badly, does he guess the truth? Anyone would think he's flirting. But it's been years, and Jon never noticed... while he certainly notices supernatural things.
He waits for Saturday with nerves tensed as bow strings.
He seems to see spiders looking at him everyone. Maybe they come from his brain. Maybe they come from his body. They want to know what happens next, too.
Martin is waiting. Of course, he's waiting - he's come before the hour he gave Jon, as if he wanted to wait.
As if he wanted to think.
It's not right, what he accepted to do. He almost hopes Jon won't come.
The spiders will kill him. He doesn't want to die. But it's still what he deserves.
He can blame himself for a very long time, enough to not even see that Jon has arrived. When he sees him, a bit awkward but here, his heart catches in his throat. It's not only the weird ritual. He wants to touch him. He wants to kiss him. He can't blame only his self-preservation instinct for accepting this horrible compromise.
They order drinks, and Martin can't find a subject of conversation at all. He feels like he would be lying any way.
Jon has to break the silence. "What did you want to talk about?"
"I love you," Martin says. It's a surprise for him too. Not what he had planned at all.
"I've been in love with you for years. I think... I’d hoped you would notice. But you never did."
If he can love me, Martin thinks very clearly, I was the most stupid person ever, and I should have done this a long time ago. And if he does, I'm not giving him over to the spiders. I'll die instead.
"Martin, I'm sorry but I'm... really not looking for a relationship right now." Jon blushes and stammers. Martin feels his heart break. And he also feels the bitterness that allows him to touch Jon's hands with the tips on his fingers, to send a new invisible spider running under his skin.
"I always knew it. I guess it's why I didn't tell you," he says. "Forgive me."
For what I'm doing to you, he thinks. Jon makes a strangled noise, then he nods. He doesn't seem like he knows what to say, and Martin is afraid he'll leave.
"No, I wanted to know... You will hate this - I wanted to ask about spiders. You no longer have to convince me they're not as cute as they seem." Jon has this expression conveying that to him they are exactly as cute as they seem, meaning not at all. "What are they, exactly?"
Jon gives him a weird scornful look, like Martin has found the second most distasteful possible subject of conversation after his unfortunate crush. "Why spiders?"
"There was one in my room, bigger that usual, and... I think you might be right about them. That we should not trust them."
"Sure you shouldn't." Jon bitterly laughs, and he's totally right. Martin knows this, because he is one of those spiders right now. All the other ways he has to refer to himself take too many painful words.
So he hears Jon tell him all that he knows about creatures like him, and the contempt he feels for them, and Martin absolutely deserves all the hurt. He hears him talking about this orphanage statement he hid from him where the spiders were so hateful that Jon found himself actually rooting for the Lightless Flame cultists. He alludes to a childhood trauma. And then - maybe he's a bit drunk - he gets into the cosmology stuff, and all these things Martin only guessed and would have loved to know a long time ago.
He's so bad with timing.
It's later than midnight when they leave. So Martin guesses it counts when while taking their coats, he touches Jon's fingers, and tries to pretend in his head that nothing happened, that Jon is the Avatar of the Archives God and Martin is still his devoted assistant who would never betray him.
Mr. Spider sits in a huge web in the corner of his room. Martin wonders if he's meant to be surprised in these situations. Or if it's part of his life now. Why can't they send him normal, cute spiders like the first time?
"You've done your part well," Mr Spider says. "Jon will come to you Today."
"What?" Martin asks. The ten days stopped Wednesday, and after that, nothing happened. Jon avoids him, as to be expected. Not enough to stop him from completing his ritual, though, as in a nightmare, with intense guilt gnawing at his insides. But it didn't work at all. Martin wishes he could feel good about it this time, about always failing at everything, because it's against Jon. He doesn't. He still agreed to do it.
"He'll be soft and pliant," the monster explains, without taking offense at Martin's confusion when he's just awake and still in bed in his pyjamas. "I can't stay - it'll break the trance, because he fears me very much. I'll just leave a few spies. But you can do whatever you want with him, or suggest to him whatever you want about what your relationship is, and he'll accept it as normal, and good, and desirable."
"Wh.. what?" Martin's cock twitches and his cheeks burn bright red.
"I said we'd give him to you, didn't I? Seems fair."
It's more than fair. It's too much. Maybe Mr Spider should have told him in advance. Or no - he wouldn't have been able to face Jon at all.
"You'll just have to give him this order," and the spiders crawls to Martin's bed, gives its instructions in his ear. Martin nods. He's scared. He's still ashamed of what he has done, what he will do. He will do it anyway, and he knows it's his own mind. No spider has gotten in it for now.
Jon looks weird when he shows up at Martin's door. His moves are erratic and his eyes glassy.
"Martin, Martin," he asks. "What happened to me?" There's absolute trust in his voice, and it's painful.
Martin feels like there are long strings of spider web going from his hands to Jon's body and brain. Once again, he can't see them, just feel them. They're very sensitive and sweet. He feels a surge of lust grip his body.
"Kiss me," he asks in a somehow hesitant voice.
But Jon doesn't hesitate at all. He just gets close, tilts his head up, and puts his lips on Martin's.
Martin dreamed of this hundreds of times. Not like this. With Jon actually willing. But the softness of his lips, the eagerness of his tongue, are all the same, and it makes Martin moan and almost cry. His hands get on Jon's neck, on his face. Jon answers the same, and soon, they're making out on the sofa. He's so warm, and soft, and Martin could stay like this forever.
"I love you," Martin sobs. "I love you, I love you so much."
Jon doesn't answer, and Martin almost panics. "You love me too... don't you."
"I do love you, Martin," Jon says solemnly, and it's good, even if it hurts, the feeling that it wasn't true the minute before.
Martin remembers the deal he's made. He can do this part now.
"Do you feel bad about your compulsion powers?" he asks. If Jon asks how he knows, he can still pretend Basira told them all about it.
For one second it's really Jon, without any influence, and it makes Martin shiver.
"You won't ever use them on me," he says. Of course, he's a traitor now, Jon can never know. "You will, though, feel less wrong about it, because when I ask you questions, you'll always answer the absolute truth. So it balances a bit."
"Yeah..." Jon says lazily, stroking Martin's hair, kissing his neck.
And it's done. He fulfilled his part, and Jon belongs to him, and he's the worst traitor in the world and he wants to cry.
And then he feels it. His reward for this step taken. The power of the Web, of his real Master, beating inside his veins. The intoxication of control, of the strings he’s captured Jon in. His pain dissolves in it. He can only think of Jon's body against his, of the softness of his lips, of his beating heart, that he got for himself.
He could do anything with him. He could fuck him right now, willing or not, he could humiliate him, he could make him pay with his tears for Martin's own broken heart...
It's terrifying and tempting and horrible.
"I'm gonna make you incredibly happy" he says instead. "Even when we're apart, you'll be happy to know I'm waiting for you. Always." Jon purrs against his skin. It's okay. Martin's got this.
Martin hadn't planned any of this, of course, and he has nothing good enough to eat at home. So, restaurant it is.
They're holding hands while waiting for their order. Intertwined fingers.
"We can do that at work, too?" Martin marvels. "During pauses, of course. Can I kiss you too? Little pecks, I mean? When nobody's watching?"
It's cheating, because of course Jon can't say no. He can't even figure if he would like it or not. Not while Martin is wielding his silver webs. And Martin will make him enjoy it.
While they're eating, Martin looks at Jon the whole time. He loves his deep eyes, he loves his thin, long fingers, he loves his mouth and his messy, greying hair. And now he does what he never did before this day - he lets himself want him, because it no longer hurts. He lets himself feel the whole depth of his insane passion.
He could have Jon kissing him here, in public, with tongue and hands. He could go under the table, open his trousers, and Jon wouldn't protest at the baseness of it, and...
He won't do it. Evil as he can be now, he's too much of a polite person. Or not person. It doesn't change anything about politeness.
He keeps this fantasy going, though, him sucking Jon's cock, without anyone noticing. Maybe someone does, and then Jon would take revenge if they caused a scandal, asking them politely what their most shameful sexual fantasies are, and...
Martin is so hard he could burst. Fortunately, he was lost in his thoughts long enough for Jon to finish his meal, and now they can walk home, Martin holding Jon's arm, giddy from arousal and anticipation.
They have just passed the door that Martin closes it, pushes Jon against it, and gets on his knees. He's drunk with all the power he refrained from using, getting out now. A thick, heavy web against Jon's helpless body.
"Do you want me?" he asks
"Martin, it's just not something I do."
That's okay. That can be changed. And this way, Martin will be the first to have him. "You will want me, though," he says. "You will tremble in lust, and love every second of this. You will come in my mouth, and feel better than you ever did."
And then he opens Jon's trousers, and kisses Jon's now erect cock.
Oral sex has always been Martin's favorite thing, and - wait, is it the right time to remember that spiders mate with the pedipalps around their mouths? Maybe. It doesn't disgust him at all. It seems right.
He starts licking tentatively, and Jon already moans. This has been Martin's prime fantasy for so long. When he was hiding in the Archives' room, and Jon was working late, and he was touching himself thinking about scenarios where Jon would require for Martin to come to him, to get under his table and suck him off as stress relief, fuck his mouth, use him. He would have preferred fantasies where Jon was nice and tender, but at the time he wasn't able to believe in them long enough.
Martin lazily follows the veins on Jon's cock, then he starts sucking the head. It feels so good in his mouth. Like it's meant to be there. He tries to take it as deep as he can, thrives on the way he chokes himself. He strokes Jon's shivering thighs, and when Jon finally comes in his mouth, he supports him so he doesn’t fall, as he greedily swallows all of it.
It's the best thing he’s had in his life.
And he will have to explain to Jon that it's actually something they do at work. Because they sure will do it now.
Jon strokes his hair now, and Martin feels both incredibly aroused and incredibly satisfied.
He clings to the door handle, manages to get up. "I love you," he says, in between kisses on Jon's lips, his eyes, his forehead. "I've wanted this for years." He's still fully dressed, but his hard cock feels Jon's heat with a layer of clothes between.
There's a painful memory coming back at this point, of how it's meant to be ethically so wrong. He puts it all on the back on his mind, hidden behind the spider webs growing here.
"I feel like I should do something for you, shouldn’t I?" Jon puts a hand on Martin's groin, and Martin, surprised, almost comes only from that. His heart beats fast. It was Jon's idea, and only Jon's... not really, he still had to convince him they were together. Still, it means something to him.
"I'd love that," he says, kissing him again. And he leads him to his bed.
"Use your mouth and hands, please. Go slow." Martin asks. And then, he adds "You'll come when I come." Yes, Jon is spent. But he feels like the power he draws from doesn't stop at such details.
Martin tries to make it last, he really tries. But he wants it too much, and Jon is being so good to him. He comes in less than five minutes, with Jon's tongue greedily licking his asshole, in Jon's hand softly squeezing the head of his cock.
He'll have to clean at one point. His semen, and Jon's, but not now, not now.
Now that his lust receded, he just wants to cuddle and talk and play at not being a monster. He clings to Jon, who opens his arms for him and kisses him just under the ear.
"Do you want to sleep?" Martin asks. "Or to talk?"
"Talking seems good. We haven't talked enough recently," Jon answers. He jokes, "about anything but spiders."
Martin faintly laughs. He doesn't even need to look, he can feel all the spiders in this room, all eight of them, not counting himself. He can feel them laugh too, though the vibrations of the Web, and he hates how good it makes him feel.