Jon tapped his fingers on his desk slowly, while he listened to the clock behind him tick on. Slowly. So, so slowly. He sighed, trying to relax his shoulders past their usual home of “right near his ears”. His boredom started to reach and stretch into that little part of his mind that could See™, but he quickly sucked those boredom tendrils back in.
After his “encounter” with Peter Lukas, nothing much had happened in the institute. Elias had disappeared after his brief meeting with him in the Panopticon, Basira had returned with a slightly more aggravated than usual Daisy in tow, and life at the Magnus Institute had gone back to whatever semblance of normal it had had beforehand. And it was driving Jon insane. He was constantly worrying about where Elias was, if Julia and Trevor were still staking out the institute, and what if Peter Lukas hadn’t been lying about the Extinction, and he was just about to miss the ritual-
A knock at the door interrupted his thoughts, and Jon looked up quickly. Martin’s round, perpetually slightly worried face peeked through the crack in the door. Jon looked up and smiled, shoulders dropping at least halfway back to their anatomically correct position. “Martin,” he said excitedly. “How are you feeling today?”
“Fine, Jon,” Martin replied. He nervously tapped his fingers against the doorframe, looking as if he had marbles in his mouth, and he was rolling them around trying to find the right one.
“We’re still on for tonight, if that’s what you were wondering,” Jon said hurriedly. “Unless-”
“Oh, no- that’s not what I was here to talk to you about,” Martin interrupted. “I mean that’s good-”
“Well, there’s another- thing- that’s come up,” he finished.
“Oh lord,” Jon groaned. “Is it those two again? We should make sure Daisy and Basira know, and get ready to pull the fire alarm-”
“No, no,” Martin interrupted again. “It’s not them, but Rosie said we might have to watch out for anyone taking the east route since it’s full of alleys that they could be hiding in, but that’s not the point.” Martin drummed the doorframe again, taking a second before he said, “Someone wants to give a statement.”
Jon’s reaction was immediate- his shoulders shot up and he slumped in his chair, trying to make himself smaller than he already was. But his eyes seemed to light up, with a ferocity only seen in wild animals and slighted moms at soccer games. “Martin, you know I can’t- I said I wouldn’t- not to another person. Especially after-”
“Yes, I know, and I told them that I could take the statement for them, but the older one started talking about “taking it to the top”, and, well, I feel that, well, I think that we might need a little help from the Eye.”
“What does that even mean- wait. The older one, as in, there are multiple people trying to give a statement?”
“I said, three. Three people are outside waiting to get their collective statement taken.”
Martin quickly slipped into Jon’s office and shut the door to keep the very loud curse Jon let out inside.
“Come on, Jon. It won’t be so bad. You might not even have to compel them or anything-”
“Oh, I won’t have to compel them? That makes it so much better, Martin, that I don’t have to compel them. It’s not like you’re basically showing me, no, giving me, a five-course meal when I’m on a diet-”
“And I know that when- if- I give in, everything will be ruined again. And- and I’ve been making progress, I swear, and-”
“Jon.” Martin brought his hands down on Jon’s shoulders heavily. Jon shakily breathed in, grounding himself through the added weight, and the warmth of Martin’s hands. “Look at me.” When Jon refused to look up from the hole he was drilling into the table with his eyes, Martin gently cupped his chin and raised his head to meet his eyes. “If you really don’t want to take their statement, you don’t have to. I’ll do my best, or get Rosie to send them along. But, their situation is a bit immediate, and they need help. And I know, that you’re worried about what happened before, but I trust you to, you know, rein yourself in.”
Martin suddenly realized the position he was in, and flushed red, quickly trying to extract his hand from its position on Jon’s face, but Jon moved quicker, pressing his own hand into Martin’s. “Okay,” he muttered quietly. “I’ll do it.”
A slight smile spread across Martin’s face, and he rubbed his thumb in circles on Jon’s scarred skin. “Okay,” he said softly. Martin reluctantly pulled his hand away and moved toward the door. “By the way, if you do scar or retraumatize them awfully, you shouldn’t worry about them too much.” Martin opened the door and stepped into the hallway. “They’re Americans.”
Jon shifted in his chair, waiting for his customers? Patients? To step in. He caught a tape recorder in the corner of his eye, and moved to grab it and place it in the center of his desk. It wouldn’t hurt to seem a bit more professional, he thought, as he willfully ignored the state that his office was in. He heard multiple voices and what sounded like the footsteps of a monster with thirty feet coming down the hallway. “Come in,” he said sharply, before Martin could knock on the door.
Martin opened the door and let in three men in their early 30’s. The contrast between them startled Jon, and it took a while to let the wild picture in front of him sink in.
The tallest man had bright purple hair and a beard, and what looked like eyeliner behind his glasses. He was wearing what could only be described as a cowboy shirt, and the look was completed with his dark brown cowboy boots. The oldest looking of the three was wearing a garishly neon Hawaiian shirt with a bright green fanny pack, with some weird designs on it. The shortest and youngest-looking looked like he could work in the financial department of the institute. He looked absolutely normal. No, not normal- boring.
But that wasn’t the whole deal. Because each one of these men was talking. Whether they were talking to each other or to Martin or Jon or just to thin air was incomprehensible, and Jon felt a migraine coming on.
“So you’re the big boss, right? The big dog of this little establishment,” the purple-haired man said.
“Well-” Jon started.
“C’mon Trav, the big boss boy wouldn’t have this small of an office,” the Hawaiian shirt man interrupted. “Not that there’s anything wrong with your office,” he said quickly. “It’s homey and cozy in here but I would expect-”
“A penthouse office in the middle of Central London?” the youngest one interjected. “Are you kidding me? How many stories did you see on the building when we walked in, Justin?”
“How many stories a building has has nothing to do with it, Griffin! I”m just saying that-”
“That you’d expect a weird cryptid magic institution to have nice offices? This is probably one of their front offices, and they have the nice ones, you know with the haunted stuff and ghost circles and-” The purple-haired man broke off and turned to Jon. “Not that we have anything against haunted stuff or ghost circles, but-”
“But that’s not what we’re here about, we discussed this, that we weren’t gonna get sidetracked and now look at you trying to get a job here-”
“I’m not trying to get a job here, I’m just saying-”
Jon desperately looked up at Martin, pleading with his eyes for him to stay. Martin smiled, a little too cruelly for his liking, and waved to Jon as he left, shutting the door quietly behind him.
“Gentlemen,” Jon began, raising his voice over the din. “Please- can we start with names?”
“Oh, of course,” the oldest one said, pushing the other two over to the chairs in front of Jon’s desk. “We’re the McElroy brothers-”
“You might have heard of us from our great bits in Trolls 2,” the youngest one said brightly.
“Trolls World Tour, Griffin, I told you. And I don’t think he’s even watched Trolls 1 so-”
“How would you know that? You don’t know him, he might be the biggest Trolls fan in England-”
Jon cleared his throat, and when it didn’t stop the deluge of conversation, cleared it again. By the time the three men heard him, it sounded like he was trying to hack out a hairball. “Gentlemen-”
“Yes, I’m sorry,” the older man said, shooting the other two a dirty glare. “Like I was saying, we’re the McElroys- I’m Justin McElroy, and these are my two dipshit brothers Travis,” he said, pointing at the purple-haired man, “and Griffin.”
“You didn’t let us introduce ourselves,” Travis pouted. He turned to Jon. “We have this thing we like to do, and I get to say that I’m the middlest-”
“That doesn’t matter Travis, we’re not recording an episode of the fucking podcast,” Griffin said exasperatedly. “Sorry for being blue, but we’re here to talk about some real nasty shit,” he said, whispering the last word.
Jon took the opportunity to jump into the conversation. “Yes, what are you here to talk about? Martin said it was rather urgent.”
For once, there was silence in the room, as the three brothers shared glances. The silence went on for a bit too long, until Griffin elbowed Justin in the side. “Ow- I guess since my brothers have decided that they have lost all use of their vocal cords, which is great for our careers, by the way, that I’ll explain.” Griffin rolled his eyes and Travis stifled a giggle.
Jon, out of habit, reached to turn on the tape recorder, and was only mildly surprised to see that it was already running. Maybe there was a statement here after all. “What is this regarding?” he asked seriously, willfully ignoring the glances at the outdated technology.
“Well,” Justin started, “it’s about, I mean it’s a bit hard to explain.” He stopped abruptly and ran his fingers through his hair. “We-”
“We saw our video game monsters last night,” Griffin interrupted.
Jon sighed, deeper and fuller than he had ever sighed before. “Statement of the…McElroy brothers, regarding,” another deep, deep sign, “video game monsters come to life. Statement recorded direct from subjects, 1st October, 2018. Statement begins.”