They’re moving again.
It’s fine. It’s just what they have to do. Neither Jon or Martin like this reality, but settling in one location too long never has any good consequences. The longest they’ve stayed in one place was six months, and well, while the little town survived, the blood left behind stays on their minds to this day.
But they have a system. Three months maximum in each location. They try not to live out of their suitcases as much as they can. If possible, they find odd jobs to sustain them enough not to rely on their surprisingly still abundant stash saved from all those years ago. Everything else they play by ear, Jon’s good eye for anything weird, and Martin’s strange ability to attract most supernatural entities within a five mile radius.
Their homes are never large. They’re never fancy. But they are their homes nonetheless no matter how temporary they are. After the first few moves, with only one notable exception involving Jon accidentally compelling a literal vampire landlord, they manage to find safe locations without any major complications and later on, without Basira’s help.
It’s not the most glamorous life, but it’s theirs. They travel around the world. They meet new people, no matter how brief the encounter. New foods, new sites, new everything. And for months at a time, they can comfortably settle back in a questionably smelly apartment all their own until they move onto the next home.
They’re wanderers, holding hands in spite of the world’s darkness and trying to find a small form of happiness within the cracks between the madness. By now, the mechanics of hand holding is automatic, far from the nervous stammering from before, and far more alien without the pressure than with it. Sometimes Jon taps gently against Martin’s. Other times Martin gently traces the top of Jon’s, scarred or not, finding the movement smoothing. But they both share a language of their own in just how they hold each other’s hands. There’s a difference between a gentle squeeze of reassurance when they’re huddled too close, too many people, too much at once within yet another train and the desperate, panicked clenching at seeing a sinister face peeking out of the darkness with a sharp and hungry smile.
Martin never gets tired of holding Jon’s hand. They’re always warm, despite how brittle he looks, and they settle in a way that feels like Jon places each finger in a precise pattern on his skin. It’s a bit dramatic, if he’s honest, but it’s so Jon and so lovely, even if it does feel like he’s being captured by a claw machine sometimes.
Jon finds holding Martin’s hand to be like holding a cushion between each finger. Soft but firm, but gentle in a way like they’re trying to support him rather than being simply held. He feels wanted, known in the good way. He only wishes Martin’s hands weren’t so sweaty all the time.
It’s not perfect, but neither let go.
They settle. They leave. They move on. They settle once more. Through it all, they take their moments on lumpy couches. They cough at the dust clouds from odd corners. More than once, they stop one another from yelling at yet another awful landlord, and the conversation of “Well, why don’t we just invest in our own set of safe houses?” begins again and ends once more with the issue about their awkward lack of available money. There’s huffing and sarcastic comments that sometimes bite too harshly. Sometimes they stew for days on end with a silence that neither can bare, but both too stubborn in their own ways to settle.
But in the end, they seem to find themselves quietly talking through it all. Terse conversations side by side on the awful couches leading to quiet nights cuddling in the dark. Loud arguments ending in weary smiles as one offers the other tea in forgiveness. Quiet but passionate confessions on stiff beds, as they hold each other close, close to tears, in tears, apologizing for the new insignificant misdemeanor and wanting nothing more than to hold each other close until the idea that they couldn’t tell whose limb was whose becomes a comforting one.
Through it all, they touch each other gently. Martin holds Jon like he’ll break if he hugs him too tight. Jon holds Martin like he’ll disappear if he lets go. Sometimes love feels fragile no matter how reinforced it is. You step out and become known, and the constant fear of it crumbling down around you becomes a terror lurking in the back of your mind, and even as you reassure yourself that you will be okay, the bad days lets that fear come to the forefront and sneer, “See, I was right.”
For Martin, the cold creeps in from time to time. Even with Jon and his warmth, it’s hard to want to feel when the pain’s so much. But he does. The cold is nothing but a comforting lie, no matter how tempting it can be.
There are too many people who haven’t wanted him in his life. Jon tells himself for the millionth time that Martin won’t get tired of him and leave. One day he’ll believe it.
See, trauma doesn’t heal easily. It possibly never will, and while love is helpful, it’s not a miracle worker. The bad days will still open up old wounds, and no matter how much they tell themselves they’ve moved on, their lives will always be a constant work in progress to becoming okay. That being said, that’s part of what love is. It’s working through the worst of it to make the bad days happen less and the good days even better. So even though love isn’t magic, there’s something to be said about the power of a gentle kiss on the forehead, followed by a long look in their other’s eyes as they whisper, “you’ll be okay, we’ll be okay”.
Their lives are surrounded by terrors beyond their comprehension, and they have no home to their name, but to have someone who loves you and you love back blocks all the signs that point that this life should be misery. For all of it they’re together. As they should be. As they always will as long as they are able. A promise made in a distant fog held together by their desire to not be alone, held stronger by their need to be with one another.
So yes, they’re packing again. It’s annoying to pack and sometimes they’ll have more arguments about the logistics of stealing Daisy’s safe houses. The train ride will be long, crowded, and stiff, and neither one of them will enjoy it, despite the excuse to cuddle. Later, Jon will get hungry with an ever decreasing supply of statements, and Basira and Martin will have the hundredth argument about the two idiots giving away their location again, in a tone that feels far too familiar to be truly chastising. They’ll also probably find yet another landlord with ridiculous prices, and they’ll stop the other from saying things they will get them kicked out like that one time in Liverpool. They will see monsters and run. They will hold hands and find their smiles.
They will find another place, another home, and they will move forward.