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Elias cannot see.

It isn't just the blindfold — expensive, buckles and foam padding, aligned so perfectly with his skin that there isn't even a sliver of light. Restriction of his physical vision alone doesn't bother him. But the room is empty of eyes — of anything except what they need. There's Peter, who has always been all but invisible to his extrasensory abilities, mind as fog-shrouded as his ship. And there's Jon, a presence so radiant that Elias can barely stand to be in the same room as him. There's no detail, there, no concept of his location or stray thoughts, just raw, hot power.

When the blade touches him it's cold and unexpected, and his skin flinches involuntarily, goosebumps sweeping over him.

"Higher," says Jon, and he sounds resigned, not particularly interested in this little scene but aware they have to play it through. The blade touches him again, another rib up.

"Here?" asks Peter, and Jon must make some sign of assent because it sinks into Elias. The intrusion registers first, the unpleasant sensation of something hard penetrating him where it shouldn't, and then the pain follows a delayed second later. He doesn't scream, but he tenses against his restraints, breaking out into a cold sweat. His skin doesn't know what's happening.

When they sink a blade into his opposite side it makes him think ludicrous thoughts about balance, and his eyes are closed tight behind the blindfold, his throat bobbing. There must be so much blood; he can feel it, dripping down to his hips.

The next one makes him pant, loudly — it feels thicker, somehow, though Peter is very precise with it. It doesn't hurt as much, but he's so aware of it, of the damage it does just by taking up space in him where it shouldn't. He tosses his head: no no no.

"Elias," Jon says, sounding a little troubled. "Do you need a break?"

"No," he promises, the word wet and hoarse. "More."

Peter runs a hand over his thigh. "Here?" he asks, and Jon says, "Yes, carefully," and apparently Peter takes that to mean go slow because he does, agonizingly, the blade pressing a dimple into the skin before it opens for it, and Elias could swear he feels each layer of muscle and tissue parting. He makes a low grunting noise of pain, like an animal. He's bound very well, but he can't help trying to wriggle away from the pain, and when he does all the blades sing at once and he nearly whites out.

"Shhh," Jon murmurs, that low familiar voice, his hand in Elias' hair, "Only a couple more."

"Look good like this, Elias," Peter murmurs, and his hands are always a little clammy so the touch of them against Elias' overheated skin is a shock in its own right. He palms over the flutter of Elias' bare abdomen, down between his legs.

Elias isn't ashamed of liking this. How could he not, when it's Jon? Every time his Archivist speaks it's a ripple of power over his skin, trailed down his spine, tingly. The pain is terrible, brutal, but also strangely freeing, each new blade letting loose a rush of endorphins. And the scent of copper in the air has always turned him on — that it's his own blood hasn't changed that any.

Peter still laughs, rough and mocking, hand drifting lower to push into him here, too. It's not the same pain, no perfect sharp entering — instead his muscles have to stretch, unexpected, and he whimpers and tries to part his legs wider.

"Elias," breathes Jon, and oh, now he's interested.

"I think I'd quite like to fuck him like this," Peter informs Jon cheerfully. "Yeah?"

"I—" Elias doesn't need to be able to see to know Jon just flushed, he's always been a little repressed. "I mean, I don't see why not. If Elias doesn't mind."

"Please," says Elias dryly, because they didn't stop up his mouth. "Go right ahead."

"Hm." Jon doesn't sound certain, like maybe that consent wasn't enthusiastic enough, so Elias rocks encouragingly onto Peter's fingers, arching as best he can. Putting on a show Jon won't properly appreciate.

But: "You still have more blades," he reminds them.

"Quite right," says Jon, and then, "Peter. Focus please."

Peter heaves a discontent sigh and withdraws from Elias' body with a wet noise — Elias remembers belatedly that the man probably has blood all over his hands. There's a moment, and then he's being handled again. "Here?" Peter asks.

"Lord, no," says Jon. "You'll perforate his bowels. Left. More left. A little higher — yes, there. Angle towards the window, please." The detachment of his tone is calming, and Elias sinks into it even as the blade sinks into him. He swears softly, something he habitually refrains from doing, trained by a childhood of soap in the mouth and rulers on his knuckles. It makes sense to him, that he should sin and be punished, even when his only god is the slight man with Elias' head in his lap.

As if in answer, Jon pushes fingers into his mouth, makes a shushing noise. Elias sucks gratefully, making jagged noises around them as Peter flicks the handles of the knives. Everything is white ascendancy, everything is bleeding human flesh, everything is sensation and there is no room for anything else. Even the purpose of this ritual is forgotten to him now.

He takes two more blades before he starts screaming. The noises are animalistic against Jon's hand. He writhes, and the movement hurts so he stops, but the hurt doesn't cease when he's still so he writhes again, unable to control himself. He's drooling and crying and bleeding and, with a little help from Peter's merciless fingers, he's coming convulsively, slick mess over the skin of his thighs.

"Good," says Jon. Elias can feel his avid attention. "That's enough. Take them out."

Peter does so slowly, lingering like a lover, letting Elias feel each gradual centimetre as it draws back out of his body. The one in his abdomen is removed only to be replaced by Peter's fingers, ungloved and uninvited, fingering into his body like he had been elsewhere and Christ that could not possibly be sanitary, but he can't do anything except take it, undignified, as Peter plays at being an amateur surgeon with a hand in his guts.

"Hm. Warm," Peter remarks cheerfully, as though this is at all unusual. "Maybe I should fuck this hole instead," he adds, and Elias knows he's trying to get a rise but he still spasms in fear-panic.

"Peter Lukas!" scolds Jon, hand soothing over Elias' face. "It's all right. He won't. It's all right."

"I'd let him," Elias confesses honestly — he's never been a liar, but like this he's stripped clean of all disassemblement, all withholding and pretense.

"I know," Jon says, kissing his forehead as Peter draws out more blades. "But I won't. This isn't about him."

Peter chuckles, low. "You two are disgusting. Really, it's enough to make a man miserable." If he could, Elias would roll his eyes at the masochistic enjoyment he can hear rolling around Peter's tone. Sometimes being the Lonely's Avatar made him particularly predictable. But then, couldn't the same be said for Jon and his hunger to avail himself of new experiences?

(These are all free-floating thoughts, and yet Elias is unable to latch on to any one with particular permanence.)

Now that the injuries are clear, he's healing at an alarming rate, can feel the rush of it, but his wounds closing themselves up doesn't help him regain coherence, doesn't make him feel any less of a mess. But it's good, it's so good to just be singular. Aware of his flesh and its human limitations and nothing else. Jon's bright power is a comforting presence, as though the Eye is also in the room with the three of them, but it doesn't — intrude. A rare, heady indulgence amidst the gratification of punishment: Elias cannot see.