[ so here’s the thiiiing. i’m super busy at work because fan expo is next week (that’s the BIG comic convention here) so things at the shop are hectic while we prepare our booth. I’m pulling extra hours, so I’m tired as fuck when I get home, and next week I will be working at both the store, and the con. On Saturday is our midnight madness sale, so I’ll be exhausted. I’ll still lurk and stuff, but you guys probably won’t see much of me until the end of the month. ]
Seraph’s eyes widened as she advanced towards him, the first real example of emotion flashing across his face as he was suddenly struck with blind panic. Her words only served to distress him more, a confirmation of how sick he’d become and a reminder as to who caused these disturbances in him in the first place.
He jolted in alarm when Silje reached out to him, wanting to run away and escape or shield himself, wanting to at least have the strength to turn his face away or distance himself with a step or two between him, but he couldn’t. There was no real reason to recoil, after all, the Company had never done anything but help him in the past. He’d never been lashed out against, and rarely was a harmful word directed at him without cause. So he didn’t move, couldn’t move, remaining frozen to the spot he stood on, and felt a violent chill shoot up his spine at Silje’s gentle caress.
"… I…" He couldn’t look at her. Averting her eyes, Seraph blinked rapidly, trying to find something else to focus on as he struggled with her proximity instead. He didn’t… want this. Any of this. He was confused and disoriented, too anxious to comprehend what she was saying. Revealing Chase’s location left like a betrayal on his part after promising his safety, but his loyalties eternally lay with BLI. They were his creators, his saviors… they helped him. And Silje was offering to help him again, on their behalf. He couldn’t say no…
"… don’t hurt him," he mumbled vaguely. "I don’t want him to hurt like I do… I…" He closed his eyes and sucked in a breath, his head twitching slightly to lean into Silje’s touch a little in an attempt to ease the thrashing of his thoughts. "I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to… Help me… help him…" He nodded, his movements slow and disjointed. "I’ll take you, just… please…"
"I’ll help the both of you," Silje promised, keeping her voice level and soft. It was the voice she used to speak to Chase, or when she was babying Imogen, a timbre reserved for a faithful pet. "No harm will come to him; that’s the last thing I want." The woman smiled gently, glad to feel Seraph slowly ease into her touch. Her perfume, a light sweet scent that was neither overbearing or stuffy would fill Seraph’s senses while she brushed her thumb over his jaw, trying to calm him.
"Chase will be safe, and you will be rewarded. Whatever it is that still hurts you, Raphael, you know I have the power to remove it. The Company takes care of her own, so… Tell her what you need."
She met the Exterminator’s gaze one more time, needing to duck her head to do so, as he seemed determined to avoid her eyes. “Take me to him, dear. Everything will be fine.”
Seraph didn’t know how to answer, at first. He was in a state of disbelief, repeating her words over and over in his head as if he’d somehow missed what they meant. The implications seemed clear enough, but he could only barely process it. Despite this, his expression didn’t change, although his fingers twitched slightly at his sides. His gaze shifted, not to her, but to fixate on the opposite corner of the room now.
"… Intentions," he repeated slowly, muttering to himself rather than addressing her. "…yes…" He wondered if he even had a plan… This whole thing had seemed rather impulsive. It was very unlike him, acting outside of an order or according to the agenda set for him. Thinking for himself was strange, acting for himself or even for others even more so. His thoughts wandered as he continued to struggle with her question, until finally he glanced at her, his teeth grit.
"… I intend to keep him safe, ma’am."
Silje thought over Seraph’s words, her gaze drifting from him to the empty flower vase on her desk. There was silence from her end, indicating that for once in her life, she wasn’t sure how to proceed. She was furious with the medical team, appalled that they would undermine her this way, and although they already had faced her wrath, she still felt the need to prove her point by keeping the boy alive and healthy. She was practically his mother after all. His family.
She looked back to Seraph, studying him in all his discomfort and ache, icy blues missing nothing, To go against an order, to go against the grain of the Company. Seraph was as disturbed as he was excited by the concept, though the idea of him caring about something… Silje still couldn’t quite piece the connection the two of them felt for each other. Unless…
Silje supposed she had mothered Seraph just as well, not that he knew very much about his past— aside from what that terrible boy from the desert had told him.
"Good," she replied, tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ear and her handbag under her arm. Perhaps some praise would ease the Exterminator.
The woman moved away from her desk, heels clicking against the hard floor as she approached Seraph, getting a closer look. “You’ve become so unstable,” she chastised, shaking her head. “Though it’s hardly your fault… That awful boy, thank goodness he’s gone now. He filled your head with nonsense. It hurts, doesn’t it?”
Silje reached out, touching a pale hand to Seraph’s cheek, fingers gently pushing his hair behind his ear. “I want to protect Symptom just as much as I want to protect you, dear. Will you take me to him? I know this is difficult for you, breaking rules, but in exchange…” The woman trailed off, meeting Seraph’s eyes. “I could help with that hurt.”
Seraph very briefly kept his eyes on the floor as he entered the office. The room was quickly starting to be associated with a heavy feeling of apprehension and dread, wrapped with the thought of facing the consequences of actions he somehow thought he could get away with. He’d spent the entire shift chastising himself, only waiting for whatever punishment was sure to be inflicted on him for going against the Company.
It was only when Silje spoke that he raised his eyes to look at her. He took a moment to wish he were seated instead of standing rooted to the spot, which somehow made him feel even smaller than he already did. He only nodded once and glanced away again, fixating on a high corner of the room.
"… They were going to kill him," he replied dully. He wasn’t trying to explain himself really, he knew it was wrong to do it. He was wrong to do it. But he offered the words as his answer anyway. He wasn’t expecting her to understand. If anything, he was hoping for another couple of seconds before he was made to follow her orders to turn him in.
Silje hummed out her reply, indicated that she knew very well of of the Company’s plans for her dear friend, Symptom. “And what are your intentions for him, Seraph?” She tilted her head, the slightest bit of curiosity trickling into her tone of voice as she spoke. It fascinated her now, how the Exterminator before her was behaving. Just how many doses had he missed? He was uncomfortable, yes but gave nearly no other clues to hint towards what exactly was going on inside of his head.
"If it makes you more comfortable. I’m in the process of cleaning up this mess. Although medical has no idea of his whereabouts, I have made it clear to them that overriding my authority is an executive decision they will never make again. Now. I’ll ask again, how do you plan to proceed?"