Seven's smugness does him no credit, but he still takes pride in being the only one with access to the CCTVs. He can still recall the swell of joy when Rika and V approached him, an overwhelming sense of satisfaction. He knew it would be no small task on top of the intelligence agency, another burden on his shoulders threatening to crush him. He knew it would eat away at his time. He knew that somehow, some way, he would have to strike a balance between one without neglecting the other. So he would have guessed his employers thought him cocky, to accept both responsibilities.
But as it turns out, his reputation precedes him. He's top-notch within his field. And his ingratiation to V motivates him more than the worst death threats from the agency's clients and higher-ups, enough to keep him speedy, efficient, effective. He knows he's constantly treading on thin ice, but it's worth the risk.
That said, there wasn't much to keep an eye on with Rika gone. His security system was air-tight, he made sure of that. Besides, staring into empty hallways is a terrible bore. Simple to entrust the apartment to his own automated designs, or rather, he could have, until the untimely arrival of their new comrade.
Maybe that's what rubs the other members the wrong way - they never took issue with his access until now, but he's the only one to have seen her, from the moment she set foot in the apartment. Silly, when a simple Facebook search would have netted them plenty of dirt if they really wanted it, so he can't for the life of him suss out why Zen is so jealous. (Haha, yes he does. He's seen her in her jammy-jams. Even that's not on her internet footprint.)
And he likes her. Not just her pretty hair or her bright chiming laughter on the phone at his impressions, or how she follows along with his roleplays in the chatroom or how she responds to his private messages lightning-fast like she's been waiting up for him or-
Yes. Not that.
Well. Maybe that a little.
But she's good. Kind, caring. In the conversations he doesn't hijack, she's sweet as can be, and in the ones he does she's accommodating. He shouldn't be surprised that she's not one-dimensional. But all her dimensions are flawless, as far as he can tell. He whines to her about it sometimes, that it's not fair because he's supposed to be the only angel and she's stealing his thunder. "I'm actually just a succubus," she replies saucily over the phone. "It all looks good until I suck you dry, buddy."
Critical hit. Time for a cold shower.
He was clear about relationships, right? He thinks so. He told her he was married to binary. She seems to understand to some degree, but that doesn't stop her from brazenly flirting with him anyway, and it's enough to bait him. Always waiting for her name to crop up in a chatroom, always excited to hear her voice on the other line. It's a problem now, but he can't bring himself to correct it when he likes it this much.
They had settled into a routine, though. And one part of that routine was with the camera.
It had started innocently enough, of course, soon after she arrived. He preferred not to feel like a creepy voyeur from some dated horror flick, so he kept his monitoring to a healthy minimum out of respect for her privacy. To her credit, she didn't seem to mind or even spare a thought to his watchful eye, save for the occasional wave when she remembered it in the first place.
But one evening, he is adamantly restricting himself from fooling around on the messenger app to bulldoze through a few hours of work and save his hide from another lecture in the Vanderwood series™ , tossing only the occasional glance at his monitor. Routine, really.
It catches his eye almost immediately.
She's centered in the hallway, standing on her tiptoes, arching her back to be in full view of the camera and holding up in one hand a sheet of paper with a hastily scrawled message in bold letters. Her other hand is swiping across her phone, tapping on the screen impatiently. As if she's waiting for something. Or someone.
God Seven, please go online!
How creative she is today. He grins, reaches for his phone buried under piles of documents, swiping unflinchingly past the reminders plastered on the lock screen not to unlock it.
707 entered the chatroom.
YOUR GOD HAS ARRIVED!
My God!!!! God Seven!!!!!! Gracing me with your presence!!!!!
Nice penmanship btw!
What can this deity do for you!
lololol. Maybe I was just bored
He glances at the screen, where her sign is abandoned on the floor. She's still standing in view, mouth quirked into a smile as she taps her thumbs against her phone.
While I would ♥♥♥love♥♥♥ to chat, princess
T_T T_T T_T
I don't feel so divine all of a sudden
lmao no rest for the holy
Can u feel
my holy light
Thru the cameras!!!!!
She glances up at the camera, plastering on her best shocked face and grasping at her chest as if something had pierced it.
You got me. Arrow of divinity
I am bathed in his purity
as if you're pure.
Am extremely pure!!!!
I'm just a pure boy
Nobody loves me
Okay sorry lol.
So the truth is
I kinda need your permission about something.
I will consent to you being my best man
When I marry
kk I have to get you some catnip
because there's no way you're getting lucky w/o getting her in a frenzy
But for reals
The hacker group chasing you that you recommended actually contacted me lol
They're asking me stuff about you. Like, your real name and age and stuff.
How do you want me to handle this?
I trust ur judgment, honestly...
Don't tell them anything real? haha
Ya I figured, but do you want me to do anything with your biography. Or are you letting me wing it?
Make me into any kind of man you want ♥♥♥
I'm so bold
I'm gonna make you into a beautiful old grandma
He chokes on his Ph.D Pepper, hacking as the laughter bubbles from his chest. He wipes his mouth as it recedes, and glances at the screen. She's waving cheerfully, no pretense of joking visible.
A cute granny! :)
I'll take your current cuteness...
and mold it into the perfect elderly lady hacker.
So cute lololol
He groans. God. She's cuter. Much cuter. Augh.
As I'm one of those grannies with a million cats
A million Ellys ♥
That's good enough for me!!!
Make my dreams
come true!!! ✩꒳✩
Obviously I wasn't going to give them anything sensitive
Just wanted to see if there was any way you preferred me to play this
Just in case.
Thank you lol
Is that all?
Ya that's all. Sorry to interrupt your important haxx
See ya God Seven. ;*
MC left the chatroom.
She beams into the camera and gives him a salute. He knows she can't see, but he can't help salute back.
From that point, she starts using the camera to get his attention. Part of him regrets giving in that first time because, really, he can't afford any more distractions, not when Vanderwood is breathing down his neck every hour. But the rest of him can't help feeling gleeful, and it feels all the more private knowing that only he has access. It's the first secret he's enjoyed keeping in his entire career.
She starts decorating her signs. They're all adorned with simple messages - Go online God Seven, Good morning God Seven, I'm sooo hungry God Seven, I really really really gotta pee God Seven - but she adds swirls and streaks of orange and red and gold to each, blooming around borders and looping through letters in bright bursts of color, winking at him through the camera. Sometimes she does a jig with them in hand, dancing across the screen, waving them overhead. How endearing could a person even be? He has no way to respond, of course, aside from the messenger. But it's cute, like her, so he can't really discourage her.
Then the messenger got hacked.
Now, with his assignments piled up a ways from his desk and his eyes glued to the security cam window with maddening anxiety chipping away at his sanity, it's hard to find any cheer in the camera. She tries a few new signs - Hang in there buckaroo, If you're happy and you know it eat some chips - but they just feel heavy, like a rock sitting in his stomach. The very idea that she's in danger and she's trying to cheer him up makes his head spin. He doesn't know how he could have deserved to meet anyone so selfless. He probably didn't. Doesn't.
When he stops responding, she stops making new signs.
He should be glad that she's giving up on talking to him like this. Nothing good will come of it, he's known that from the day he left home, from the moment he lost Saeran, that he can own nothing and keep nothing. But he still feels a disappointed ache, deep in his bones, missing something he had no right to relish in the first place.
He's running his fingers through his bright locks, tousling them in frustration while hunched over his keyboard. Ideally he would have finished his work hours ago, but it's two in the morning and he's hardly made a dent and he can feel Vanderwood's comments growing more biting by the minute, each nagging reminder that he needs to push his feelings down just making them push back, like cracks in a dam ready to burst.
He drums his fingers on the desk, chews an eraser to pieces, crumples post-its and memos before smoothing them out again, worn and crinkled.
And his eyes continue to dart. To the moniter. To the wall of code. Back and forth, like a pendulum.
Finally, something catches his eye. He straightens, pursing his lips.
She's standing in the main room, clad in her pajamas and staring directly into the camera again, waving meekly. Her hair is in a sloppy bun, and there are dark circles under her eyes as if she's been waiting up for hours. She looks like she's muttering something, practiced and quick - he's had the audio on mute to concentrate, so he can't be sure - before she reaches towards the chair next to her. She picks up the first sheet from a surprisingly dense pile.
She holds the first one up.
Seven. Can you see me? Can you hear me?
He swallows, plugs his headphones into the audio jack and flips on the audio for the security cams.
"...hear me? Testing, testing. If you can't I'm going to look so dumb. I know you're watching, though. You're diligent like that, you always are."
He feels a brief wave of irritation, that she's still distracting him, praising him so needlessly, but it crests and recedes, giving way to immediate shame. He can't blame her, not really. She's doing what she is best at in a tough situation, trying to find humor wherever she can, and all he's doing is sitting there grinding his teeth. Some help he is.
She holds up another sign - this one more detailed, longer, with smaller print.
I hope you have a zoom function. If you can't read this, and can't hear me either, this will be a colossal waste of time.
She says it, too, transcribed exactly. Her hands are a bit shaky - how long has she been practicing this, he wonders - but her voice is steady and unwavering.
"First of all. I'm sorry for this situation. I know you'll just interrupt me if we are in the chatroom, nooo, don't be, this is all my fault, rabble rabble rabble, but now you get to shut up and listen, buster, so listen good."
He feels himself already protesting, reaching for his phone to call her, because this is so asinine, really, but he doesn't want to interrupt her, not now. Not when she's looking right at him so earnestly with those big shiny eyes. Damn.
"I know you feel responsible that I'm in this mess. You're not. No," she says, raising a finger preemptively to shush him, and he can't help but admire how well she already knows his knee-jerk responses. "No, don't try it. You didn't do this. You're protecting me. Like you always do. I'll never be able to express how grateful I am for that."
She continues fluidly, flipping through each sign seamlessly with her speech.
"Don't think I forgot our chat earlier. How you're dirty and dangerous, suspicious and untrustworthy and not the bright and happy Seven I know. And that it's better distance yourself from me. Pardon my French, but that's a load of merde. That's the French word for shit, by the way, I looked it up and everything."
He laughs, but it's sharp and grating because he's in too deep, sunken so deep into his own guilt. He shouldn't have said a word.
"I'm not saying you're not naturally funny and silly, because you're hilarious. But it's okay if you aren't always that guy, you know. I - um, well, all the members -" her cheeks tinge pink, and his heart skips a beat, "- we love you. You don't need to hide from us. Even if you think it's for our benefit... It's- fuck," she suddenly curses, running her fingers through loose strands of her hair and shuffling through the papers. "I swear I wrote it down to say it better but these signs aren't in the right order. Um."
She tosses a few cards aside in frustration, before she finally finds the right ones. She straightens to look him in the eyes, clearing her throat.
"We care about you, Luciel. You, not just Seven. And we know you care about us, too. That makes you a good person, whether or not you believe it. Please don't say such sad things like you're unclean or undeserving of friendship and love. That's not true. You deserve so much more than you think you do. I wish I could make you believe that." She pauses again, her shoulders hunched, voice finally breaking. "How can I make you believe that?"
She can't. But he still finds himself holding his breath.
"I really like you... Um." She fidgets with the signs, lashes lowered. "I know it hasn't been long since we've met... But you're probably the sweetest person I know. I can see it behind the spazzy bluster. Which I love, don't get me wrong, I'm always down for a good key-smashing to piss off the others, but it would be such a shame if you hid the other parts of you from the world."
Her voice is softer, lower. "There's so much good in you, Luciel. Tons and tons. Please don't hide it. From me. From anyone."
She drops the rest of the signs. There must have been more, and he's maddeningly curious to know what they say, but she looks so tired.
"Um. Sorry. I actually had more I wanted to say but... I guess I don't want to take advantage of your feelings just to express mine, you know? That's not fair. And I won't force you into anything, for the record. A relationship, or... Or whatever it is we have going. As long as you're my friend, I can take whatever hits come my way."
And something tugs at him, from his instinct to buck against everything she says. The very notion that he could be in someone's life without inadvertently hurting them - she doesn't understand that it's a pipe dream. He can feel the lump in his throat rising. He barely notices his vision blurring.
She holds up one last sign.
Thanks for listening, Sergeant Seven. Over and out.
She salutes him. But rather than retreat to the bedroom, she grabs the chair with her signs and walks towards the camera, dragging it behind her. She's hidden from view for a moment - he can just hear the screech of the chair against the hardwood floors, a couple muttered curses -
And then it's her face on his screen, and she's close, closer than ever, he can count every freckle, every eyelash, every out-of-place strand of hair.
He can see her lips press briefly against the lense. Something white-hot shoots through him, straight to his gut.
She draws back and makes a face at him.
"Ew, that probably wasn't sanitary. Gross. Sorry."
And as usual for Agent 707, through the tears, he laughs.