- let the blood stream
When the camera comes on the scene is a blur of motion before focusing on Jon’s office. Well, Jon’s somewhat empty office, the desk moved out of frame. The desk chair is there though and Jon is sitting in it- or strapped in, legs taped to the feet and hands cuffed behind him. Duct tape over his mouth completes the picture, or maybe that’s the way Jon manages to scowl through his budding fear.
“There we are,” a voice says as Peter Lukas comes into frame. Jon makes a muffled sound, angry and questioning, one Peter ignores as he looks into the camera. “Shame I can’t ask if the view’s good for you, but we’ll have to make do, yeah?”
Another grunt and Peter finally glances to Jon. “Let me guess- what’s going on, what are you doing, who are you talking to? I’ll answer all those, helpful fellow that I am, but let’s get that tape off-” his hands reach for the tape, pause. “Let’s try to keep the compulsion to a minimum, archivist. Simple questions, I have nothing to hide, but now is not the time for statements and I’d hate to have to drag this out. Understand?”
Peter waits and Jon glowers then shifts, nods. “Good, good.” And with that he rips off the tape.
“Ah! Lord-” Jon’s mouth is angry red where the tape was ripped away. “What on earth are you damn well doing? What is this?”
“No compulsion? I think I’m disappointed,” Peter muses idly, and Jon all but sneers as static builds on his tongue.
“What are you doing?”
“Ah,” Peter sighs, not the satisfaction of Elias at compulsion but a bracing wince after being struck. “Wow, that’s… awful, really. I think I like it.
“Don’t give me that look, I told you I’d answer. I’m sure Martin has told you I believe in a more… open approach. More hands on, if you will. Far be it from me to critique Elias on his management but sometimes you just- well, just need to get your hands dirty. I suppose Elias did do that, didn’t you, Elias? What with Leitner, and wasn’t that a surprise.”
“Lord, you like to hear yourself talk,” Jon snaps, handcuffs jingling at his struggles. “Why are you talking to- the camera. You’re making a tape for Elias?”
Peter flicks Jon’s temple as that, grins at the indignant sound Jon gives as a result. “C’mon now archivist, you’re better than that.”
“The camera- it’s just a mechanical eye. He can see us now?”
“There you go,” Peter praises. “I knew you’d get it. Part of my management style, benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise. Anyway, yeah, I mean I am recording but that’s not leaving the Institute. I thought Elias would want to see this.”
“See what? ”
Peter tuts. “Impatient. That is your nature though, isn’t it? Very well archivist, I’ll get to the point. Your development is a bit of a problem.”
“Lord,” Jon groans, shaking the chair again in irritation. “If I never have to hear about my development again-”
“Your more… mm, let’s say mental capabilities, they’re just fine. That curious brain of yours managed to stay on, yeah? But one little explosion and your body gives out as long as it did? Not a good showing, archivist, not at all. That’s something we’ll need to fix.”
Peter’s interruption silences Jon for a moment, though that moment doesn’t last. “What does that mean? My body is-”
“Alright, think of it this way, yeah? Your mind’s been through enough shocks and tumbles and general struggling it’s grown strong, adapted to your role. Your body’s the same, or should be, but you haven’t had the same strengthening influences, let’s say. Not enough… shocks,” Peter explains.
“Not enough- look at me! Prentiss, Perry, Orsinov- how many more shocks will I need to satisfy you?” hisses Jon, and Peter sighs.
“These are messy, sure,” Peter reaches over, grasps Jon’s chin and thumbs at a scar high on his collar. The Hive. “You are more than capable of getting yourself into dramatic situations and getting chewed out for your trouble- that I am sure is purely your nature. But I don’t mean a few interesting scars, I mean the shock of near death. The shock of toeing the line.”
Jon goes quiet then, staring up at Peter and swallowing against the other man’s grip. His irritation gives way to a genuine fear, the shift seamless behind his eyes. “What are you saying?”
“I’m saying I’m going to kill you, Jon. Not a lot, but a little.”
Jon begins struggling in earnest then, the loud clanging of metal cuffs against the metal chair. He cradles a shout in his throat, stopped only when Peter says, “I wouldn’t make too much noise. Martin should be in, do you really want him coming in to this?”
“He’s a good kid, Martin. I bet he’d throw himself to the sharks to help you. Elias wouldn’t let me poach him, ripe as he is for the Lukases, which is a crying shame if you ask me. Nothing worse than wasted potential, yeah?”
“ Fuck you,” Jon spits for lack of anything better to say. He stops struggling though, fingers curled in a tight fist.
“I’m more curious what Melanie would do, truth be told. Or Basira- always the quiet ones they say. Now where- ah, here we are.” On Jon’s desk, his desk pushed to the wall and holding the camera up to stare him down, is an assortment of things. Jon doesn’t want to name them but it’s in his nature to know, even when he doesn’t want to. Scalpel, needles, syringe, tubing, barbed pieces of metal-
“Don’t- listen, please this isn’t going to help. Is this to get to Elias? Or- or what? If you’re going to kill me just do it , don’t- don’t draw it out,” Jon tries and thinks of how far he’s come that he doesn’t bother pleading for his life anymore. To not die screaming, that would be more of a blessing than he expects for any of them.
Peter tuts, “Don’t be so dramatic.” And just like that he walks over, tilts Jon’s head up and cuts at his neck as Jon swallows. It’s a hot line of pain against numbed skin, still clammy and cold from his partial death, still too pale. He feels blood begin to seep down his chest and realizes it wasn’t the jugular, wasn’t a quick and sure death.
“Damn you-” he snaps, grits his teeth against the scalpel digging in again, a careful cut that pours sluggish blood down his chest.
“I like you,” Peter admits, all smiles Jon can’t see. “Gertrude was never this fun.”
Jon closes his eyes, ignores his warped reflection in the camera’s lens, how blood pools down down down to his waist. He didn’t even realize he was shirtless, his skin didn’t feel quite right when he woke up from his almost death. Even now the pain is a dull, almost pleasant burn. Where blood drips down his skin is only a hint warmer, the tacky thickness lost to dulled nerve endings. Maybe he won’t die screaming, he thinks. Maybe there’s something so fundamentally wrong with him now pain was no longer so fearful an ending note. Maybe he’ll die wishing he could be alive enough to scream.
He barely notices the next three cuts, only opens his eyes again when Peter wraps the barbed wired around his neck. “Dramatic,” he croaks against it, and that makes Peter laugh, pet his forehead with firm fingertips he can’t lean into. The wire doesn’t dig into his skin but its placement holds old cuts open, lets them continue to drip sluggishly.
“I could wrap it around your head, if you prefer heavy handed symbolism. Though we both know your place isn’t a holy one in this story, is it?” Peter pulls on the wire and Jon bares his neck further, a puppet on barbed metal strings. He can’t look down to see how much blood there is now but it drips down his fingers, soaks his waistband, makes soft, gentle sounds as it drips to the floor. “Elias might think so though, he’s always been a zealot like that. Guess that makes me the one who should be throwing silver at your feet.”
“More… Pontius Pilate,” Jon manages and Peter laughs, a startled a noise that jostles the metal at his neck. It’s starting to hurt and he’s almost glad for it.
“You know I’m glad I like you, yeah? Means it’ll hurt all the more when you’re gone. Nothing more personal than feeding your good a pound of your own flesh, right?”
Jon closes his eyes and wishes he had the strength to tell Peter to drop the damn religious metaphor. What strength he has goes to feeling his skin go cold, the lingering numbness ravaged by the chill that spreads unceasingly. When he shifts his neck it bites against metal, cracks open that first cut that burns against the could and feels . He shifts his whole body and feels fire in the marks, stark and terrible. Peter’s fingers petting his temple are searingly warm and when he opens his eyes no one is there, no one at all. He dies alone.
When he wakes it’s in a cot, the cot, where Martin slept during Prentiss and Tim during his depressions. Jon’s heart thuds hard because Tim , and his skin feels real in a way it hasn’t. Something warm wipes at his torso and he opens his eyes to see Peter cleaning him with a cloth long stained red. He doesn’t need to look up to know the camera is with them, still watching.
“Morning,” Peter tells him, chipper, and Jon thinks he’d like to tear something vital out of Peter as much as he’d like to curl into him and steal what warmth he could offer. It must show on his face because Peter shakes his head. “No gratitude in this place.”
“ Gratitude ,” Jon repeats, sluggish and drunk. He should be dead, he knows, but he isn’t. Pins and needles shoot up his arm when he moves his fingers.
“Elias and I always had different styles. He prefers to sit back and watch you go, natural growth and all. It worked, I’ll give him that, but it’s only going to get harder from here. Do you understand yet?”
“Not a very inspired one, but you’re tired,” Peter pats his head and Jon swats at him. His entire arm rings with pain as blood rushes through it. He shouldn’t have enough to move, to live, but here they were. He hopes, at least, that Elias is as annoyed by all this as he is. He has the sneaking suspicion Elias enjoyed the show regardless.
“Take a nap, Jon, but not too long. If Martin comes in and finds the mess in your office- well, that will be fun,” Peter runs a hand through his hair as he speaks, leans in like he’s giving a grumpy child a kiss on the temple before bed. “You’ll make a good monster one day, promise.”