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Martin's back hit the wall with a thud, and Jon cursed himself briefly for his carelessness. His hands were tangled in Martin's collar, forcing him back against the wall, and he'd been so focused on the place where their lips met he'd neglected to be gentle. Martin didn't seem to mind, though, moaning against his mouth and fisting a hand in his hair to draw him even closer. 

Tears pricked the corners of Jon's eyes, and his breath hitched. He shifted the direction of his kisses, moving along Martin's jaw to mouth at the soft skin under his ear. As a distraction, it was... next to useless. Martin's hand loosened in his hair, and his other came up to cup Jon's chin, drawing his head around until they were eye-to-eye. He swiped a thumb across Jon's cheek, frowning at the dampness.

"What's wrong?"

What wasn't? The world was ending in more ways than one; with Peter's protection gone the Lukases were liable to start using the Institute as a hunting ground at any time; most of the people he had considered friends were now watching him like hawks, ready to eliminate him if he made the slightest misstep; and despite the fact that Martin was back - despite the fact that he was here, now, warm and solid under Jon's hands the way he had been longing for during all the long months since he'd awoken, his thoughts kept drifting to questions and stories and the ever-present hunger to know all the answers about why the man had been gone.

"I'm not human anymore." It came out as a harsh whisper, and Martin's frown deepened. 

"That's not true."

Jon's laugh was slightly wild. "I think we passed denial on this one a long time ago, Martin. It's becoming a physical necessity for me to hurt innocent people. I'm a monster."

"You're not." Martin's hands framed his face; he glared in a way that ought to have been intimating, if it wasn't so obviously worried. "There's a lot more to humanity than - than being human. You may not be mortal, or, or, fragile, or - and you may have these powers, but..." Martin shook his head. "You. Are. Not. A. Monster." Each word was punctuated with a kiss.

Jon leaned into it, pressing Martin back against the wall again. He wished he could lose himself in it - abandon himself entirely to the press of lips against lips, the heat of breaths mingling, the thrill of exploratory tongues. But the ever-present questions surged through his mind, the need for answers almost overwhelming. He wouldn't do that to Martin; couldn't do that to Martin, couldn't hurt the man he lov-

...The man he had certain feelings for, which he was not yet ready to put a name to.


It didn't matter how much he didn't want to, the craving was still building, unable to be drowned out even by this. It certainly felt monstrous, no matter what Martin said. No matter how much faith he put in Jon. 

"Prove it." The words slipped out almost without his being aware of it, but he wouldn't take them back.

Martin blinked at him, dazed and breathless. "What?"

Jon kissed him again, deep and slow. He barely pulled back to speak, letting their lips brush with the words. "Prove to me that I'm still human."

"Oh." Martin's voice was faint. "H-how?"

"Whatever it takes. Whatever you need to do. I need-" More tears were slipping free, but he didn't bother to brush them away. He needed a lot of things, answers and surety and anchors. He needed- "I need you."

Martin breathed in, slow and deliberate. He took one of Jon's hands in his own, untangling it from his collar, and pressed a kiss to the back. "Okay, Jon. Okay. Let's go back to my flat, then."


The train was crowded, and they sat close to each other, pressed together ankle-to-shoulder. Martin still hadn't let go of Jon's hand, absently stroking the back of it with his thumb, but he hadn't tried to talk much since leaving the Institute. 

Jon was grateful for it.

He didn't quite know why he was doing this. He didn't- he'd never enjoyed- never wanted-

Was it punishment? Forcing himself into a situation he very much did not want to be in because it would somehow make up for all the pain he had caused others? Perhaps. 

Perhaps he just wanted to make Martin happy. He'd been fairly enthusiastic about the kissing, and Jon was well aware that for most people, an escalation of that was nothing but good.

Perhaps - and this seemed most likely - he just needed to get out of his own head. Kissing had distracted him from the need for statements a little; surely more would do... more? It worked for other people, so it was worth a try.

Even if, deep down - and really, it wasn't all that far down, every thought that wasn't about statements or self-loathing or joy that Martin was back was screaming at him to put a stop to this - even if, deep down, he didn't want to, surely it was worth a try?

Martin squeezed his hand, and gave him a small smile. Jon took a shaky breath, and forced one in return. 


They left shoes and jackets at the door of the flat, and Martin gestured for Jon to follow him to an inside room. He went, trying to steady his breathing. It wasn't too late to turn back. Just tell Martin this was a bad idea, and-

He wasn't going to turn back.

Except the room Martin led him to wasn't a bedroom. It was the kitchen.

He smiled over his shoulder as Jon followed him in. "I was thinking scones? They're pretty quick, and I've got some strawberry jam I've been meaning to open."

Jon froze in the doorway, struggling to understand what was going on. This was not what he had been expecting. "What?"

"Scones." Martin crouched down, rifling through a cabinet and pulling out a large bowl. "Mind grabbing the flour? It's in the cabinet over the sink."

Jon complied, fetching the flour as Martin bustled around grabbing other ingredients.

"I'm going to need a bit more explanation, Martin."

"You wanted me to prove you're human, yeah?" He held out a measuring cup, gesturing at the ingredients. "There's nothing more human than baking. We're literally the only species on the planet that does it."

"Oh." Jon took the measuring cup, looking at it blankly. "Oh." He could feel laughter building, carried on a wave of relief as he realized Martin's intentions. He leaned forward, bracing himself on the counter and shaking his head. "I thought-"

"You thought I was dragging you back here to shag you senseless?" He bumped Jon's shoulder with his own, smiling gently. "Come on, Jon. I know you better than that."

"You do." The laughter spilled out as he swept Martin into a hug, spinning them both in a small circle. "And scones sound lovely."

Martin took the lead on the scones, directing Jon what to measure and when to add it. The whole process was surprisingly relaxing, and Jon found he was losing himself to the rhythms of the kitchen, to measuring and stirring and rolling out dough. 

It was nice, having a task with such a clear beginning, middle, and end. Having some tangible result from the effort they were putting in. Jon was getting so used to hypotheticals and abstracts that he'd forgotten how grounding it was to deal with the concrete and everyday. 

Soon enough he was sliding a tray into the oven, and Martin set a timer so they could check on the scones. Jon leaned back against the counter, and Martin joined him, close enough so their shoulders brushed.

"Feeling better?"

"Yes, actually. I haven't done something like that in a long time. Something so... human."

Martin smiled at him. "Glad it helped."

"Me too." They were so close. It was the easiest thing in the world to lean over, brush his lips against Martin's. "Thank you."

"No problem." Martin pressed his forehead against Jon's, reaching a hand around to cup the back of his neck, holding him close. "Just as long as you promise to stay to help me eat them."

"Didn't have any other plans for this afternoon. You got tea to go along with them?"

Martin lurched backward, a faux-offended look on his face. "Jon. Who do you think you're talking to? Of course I've got tea."

Jon laughed. 

It wasn't a perfect solution, of course. The cravings and need were still hanging around the back of his head, and would return with a vengeance soon enough. But for one afternoon, sitting curled up on a ratty old couch with Martin by his side, eating homemade scones and drinking tea... Jon could forget the horrors of the outside world, and revel in the comfort and security of being completely human.