Jon isn’t alert. Not as alert as he should be, and certainly not about the right things.
He feels dazed as he walks along the streets, watching all of the people passing by him, the couple laughing in their booth in the restaurant, the single parent and the gaggle of children following her, the elder waiting at the other side of the crosswalk.
So it really isn’t a surprise when he doesn’t notice the man trailing him with intent eyes, being less than subtle.
When he passes by what seems to be an empty alleyway, someone reaches out and pulls him in, his yelp muffled by the hand over his mouth. He can feel their breath on his neck and he begins to struggle.
“Be still, Archivist. You will not try to run and you will not call out, or the consequences will be quite dire,” the man says, and Jon shuts up at the cold metal being pressed into his back.
Not that he thinks that’s the only threat now, considering what he was just called.
“Do you understand?”
Jon nods frantically, and the man chuckles, low and dangerous.
Suddenly, his vision is taken from him all at once - though he does not feel anything covering his eyes, so he assumes that it is of an unnatural nature. The knife still pressed against him, a hand joins it, not so gently guiding him to some unknown location.
“You really are quite cocky, to be going out in the open unprotected. Then again, your kind has always been quite foolish. It’s to be expected,” his assailant says, pushing him just hard enough to make him stumble a bit.
Eventually they stop, and he hears low voices talking, and then the creaking of an old, metal door, before he’s directed forward, and then shoved roughly onto the floor.
It takes him a few moments to realize his vision has been restored - it’s so dark here - but he can see. Vague figures surrounding him, moving, almost writhing. The outline of the room, tall and spaciously. An empty warehouse, if he were to guess, but before he can think anymore about it, someone is grabbing him by the scruff.
“We’re going to enjoy this, very much.”
And then there are hands all over him, pulling and tugging and groping. He shouts, tries to push them away, until someone is pinning both of his arms to the ground, someone else straddling him, pulling off his clothes article by article. He cries out.
Things get quite fuzzy by the time they’ve torn his boxers off his body. He barely even registers that he is looking at the scene from an outside perspective until he sees the look on his face, empty and wide-eyed and tear streaked. He watches them fuck him in a brutal way, twisting his arms, stepping on him, taking turns using him like a well used toy. In his detached state, he does not comprehend what the new door that appears part way through means, nor does he understand the tall, gangly man that peaks through it.
He does, however, understand the proceeding shriek that rings out throughout the building and his eyes as the creature tears into one of the attackers.
Jon watches as the twisting monster, one by one, takes the men covered in darkness, and rips them to shreds. He watches as they scream, watches as Michael laughs, uncaring. Watches as one of them tries to slip into the shadows, only to be cruelly pulled away, pushed into the floor and then torn apart.
Watches as blood spills out onto the floor.
And then he wakes up.
“Archivist? Archivist? Archivist, do respond, or I may be forced to be worried for your well being.”
Jon blinks, slowly, readjusting to his sight. He groans - everything is so bright - he moves, only to groan at the accompanying protest of his muscles.
Michael smiles in response - that awful, wide smile that makes his teeth hurt.
“Michael, why… Why are you here?” he asks, carefully holding his pounding head in his hands.
“You were being attacked,” they reply.
Jon squints, looking at the room beyond him. From the multiple corpses scattered around in various states of unrecognizably mangled, it seems he wasn’t simply dreaming his assault - nor the creature sitting in front of him rescuing him, and doing it quite joyfully he might add, from the amount of blood that soaks their shirt, dripping from their hands and even hair.
He tries to push himself up from the wall he’s leaning against - how did he get there, did Michael put him there? Only to cry out at the pain that immediately greets him.
“I don’t understand,” he gasps, “why did you save me?”
Michael tilts their head, blond curls unnaturally draping across their shoulders.
“They were getting you dirty. I...didn’t like it. I thought I would, but I didn’t,” they say, their brows furrowed.
“Yes. They were ruining you, both your body and your mind. I believe they were planning on breaking you, Archivist,” Michael says casually, “something I think I would quite like to see.”
Jon shifts awkwardly, unsure of how to take such a statement.
“But...not by them, I suppose?” he prompts.
They only hum, as if in thought, but never supplying a response. Jon huffs, and they share a moment of awful silence.
“This… Place isn’t safe for you,” they say finally.
Jon makes a noise of agreement, before steeling himself and lifting himself off the ground. He can feel all of his muscles protest, and he nearly falls over once more, but he instead leans against the wall.
“My….my clothes,” he says weakly, “where are my clothes?”
Michael blinks before, without looking, pointing to several feet away.
Jon limps over to the spot, and, with great difficulty, manages to clothe himself. As he does so, his eyes catch on one of the bodies of his assailants. A deep red pool surrounds them, soaking into their clothes, staining their faces. Their eyes are open, cold and empty and dead.
He can see that their arm is bent in an unnatural, spiraling way, their stomach sliced open and spilled across the floor.
He can almost feel the pain they felt when they died, pants around their knees, terror filling their mind - he can hear the way they talked to their wife and children. He remembers the day they were born.
The sound of Michael saying his name - the name he was given when he was born, the one that still makes him feel like a human, not a title that turns him into a ceaseless, relentless watcher - jolts him out of whatever strange space he was in. He realizes he’s been shaking.
“Sorry,” he says gently, though he’s not quite sure which part he’s apologizing for.
Michael makes a noise, and he cannot quite discern what emotion it is supposed to convey, but then the creature has walked up to him, staring at him intently.
He flinches when they reach for him, bracing for the impact, his death, whatever, but when they grab his hand in their own, it’s not sharp like he expects. It does not feel human, that is for certain, but it does not hurt.
He twitches curiously before intertwining their fingers together. The feeling, Michael’s hand so big compared to his, and so wrong, breaks something in him. He lets out a sob, and once he has started, he cannot stop. Hot tears run down his face, and he knows that blood is being smeared all over him, but he pulls the man’s hand closer to him anyway, pressing it against his face and crying loudly. They look uncomfortable at this, but do not pull away, and use their other hand to reach up and awkwardly pat his hair.
“I’m sorry,” he murmurs repeatedly, and the monster only continues to stiltedly pet him as the realization of what had just happened to him tears through him like a knife.
Once he has finally calmed enough to slow his sobbing to quiet whimpers, Michael says “Let me take you somewhere where you’ll be safe for now, Archivist.”
He is gently guided to a door - he cannot find it in himself to be scared, now, and before he knows it, he’s out of the hallways and in what looks to be an unfamiliar apartment. Michael brings him to the couch and tenderly sits him down.
“Whose apartment is this?” Jon asks, trying not to doze off in the comfort of the seat.
Jon gives them a confused and judging look.
“I do not have any pets, Michael.”
Michael just laughs, and he winces, closing his eyes and waiting for the ringing in his ears to die down.
“You could have fooled me. See, here he comes now.”
Jon watches as a familiar figure comes sneaking out of the hallway, looking guarded and shaking with a knife in their hand.
“What the hell is - J-Jon!? What are you doing here - i-is that Michael?”
Michael waves at Martin, friendly and jovial as ever.
Jon gives the creature a look, deciding to discuss their calling his assistant a pet later - right now, he needed to calm Martin down, who is looking more panicked by the second.
“It’s - it’s okay, Martin, he’s - they’re not here to harm you. I promise.”
Martin gulps, gripping the knife in his hand harder.
“Wh… What about you? They, um, they haven’t hurt you? Or anything like that? God, is that - is that blood?”
Michael grins wider.
“It’s not his,” they purr, “if that’s what you were thinking. You should keep a closer eye on your Archivist, he’s not very good at protecting himself.”
“What does - what does that man?”
Jon bites his cheek and looks away. Martin drops the knife and rushes over, apparently not caring whether or not the monster is so close by anymore. He kneels down, taking one of Jon’s hands in his own, who flinches. He lets go, absentmindedly wiping the blood on his pants before wincing.
“You - you have bruises. What happened? Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, Martin.”
“He was taken into a dark factory by the dark men and then assaulted,” Michael chirps helpfully.
Jon feels his stomach sink as he sees the look of worry dawn on Martin’s face almost immediately. He considers glaring at the creature giving away all of his vulnerability, but he doesn’t look away.
“What did… Jon, oh god, I’m… I’m so sorry, I don’t - is, is there anything I can get you?”
“I’ll be fine, Martin, I just… I just need a while,” Jon grits out, taking a shuddery breath.
Martin simply nods, and there’s a moment of awkward silence before he comes in closer and wraps Jon in a tight hug. The Archivist tenses up at first, making a choked sound, before he melts into the warm, soft touch. Martin quickly pulls away.
“I’m s-sorry, I should have asked first, I-” The assistant’s apology is cut off as Jon hugs him again, tight and desperate, fingers clawing into his back as if he would run away otherwise.
They sit there like that, the only sounds being their gentle breathing, and they both nearly forget that there is a third ‘person’ in the room until they hear footsteps coming near, and suddenly there is someone else putting their arms around them. Martin tenses, but Michael only sighs contentedly, resting their chin on top of Jon’s head, gently rubbing Martin’s back (though he has yet to decide whether their touch is calming or very alarming).
He’s still worried that the creature’s intentions are less savory, but nonetheless they shift so they’re all curled up on the couch, Jon in the middle, squished in between the other two. And when the Archivist has fallen asleep, looking more peaceful than Martin has seen him, limbs tangled with Michael’s and his assistant’s, the man decides he can worry about the blood getting on his couch and clothes later.
After all, he would hate to disturb Jon when he looks so happy, despite the circumstances.