Daily flashfics have been temporarily suspended due to unforseen circumstances, by the way, but will continue at some point.
He wakes up to the gentle noise of an alert chime and the strident voice of Emishi, an octave too high in its startlement. "I didn't do anything! Absolutely nothing! I wasn't even thinking of touching - " The blanket falls from his shoulders as he sits up, and the memories of - not a dream, never a dream, but the sleeping sense of something warm and comfortable that was really probably just the blanket, because Sakura had put it there when he fell asleep - fade into wakefulness. One screen is lit up.
"Nonsense," he tells Emishi, "you didn't do anything," and takes the keyboard. It it not where he left it. He wonders what Emishi did. In all probability, it had no effect. If it was important, he will be told; Emishi will not keep something that could be dangerous from him, and his understanding of the computer systems is patchy at best; Makubex explains things to him piece by piece, but that is all. He is surprised to see that the alarm is due to someone trying to get into the perimeter. The general location of his building he has never kept particularly secret, but he makes a point of keeping himself at the center of a labyrinth, and changing it frequently; the paths that are continuous will open only to a few. "See?" He pulls up the camera, and it shows the image of a man in a red vest with a tail of greasy hair hanging down his back. He carries a length of broken wood, and is attempting to pry open the door. His motions are not the motions of a determined intruder. He moves like an automoton, or a man too tired to do anything but the same thing over and over again.
Emishi leans on Makubex's shoulder, breath warm against the boy's ear. "Who's that?"
"I don't recognize him," Makubex says, although he does recognize one of the symbols on the vest, the emblem of a gang he broke up shortly after coming to power; some of them fled, he recalls, and he did not chase them. They were as much ghosts out there as they would be in here, dead, for the outside world is the land of shadows, the place that does not truly exist. This is what he told himself, and still does sometimes. "He won't get in. It's nothing to worry about."
Threat-assesment, he tells himself, not just threat-detection, would be useful even here at the highest level of security. Then he could get his sleep, if he wanted it, and Emishi could do as he pleased.
"Oh." Emishi sits back, and adopts an expression of thoughtful mischief that he has doubtless been practicing in private with a mirror. "So I don't have to go get rid of him, right? I can stay here!" The delight in these words is entirely out of proportion, in Makubex's estimation, to the actual attractiveness of the prospect.
"Yes. Did you want something, or were you just dropping by to be difficult?"
Emishi grins. It's the nice grin, the one that Emishi thinks Makubex can't tell from the trying-to-be-nice-while-really-wanting-t
His plan, on reflection, was probably something clever involving the bat, the keyboard, and some string, so it would swoop out unexpectedly at the wrong moment. Makubex picks it up and holds it close to his chest, tenatively. It's suprisingly accurate in the wing structure. It must have come from outside. Who would make a stuffed bat? "Thank you," he says, and it occurs to him to wonder if, or perhaps hope against, Emishi has ever been in the room where Makubex sometimes sleeps, and noticed the teddy bear. Or the pink blanket. At least he knows he wasn't responsible for the pink blanket. It was a gift from Sakura, and it was patched and rewoven, worn thin and soft and comfortable.
"Aww, Makubex-kun! I knew you'd like it!" Emishi, to Makubex's utter surprise, hugs him. It shouldn't suprise him; Emishi is quite physically affectionate, a trait that has only become more intense as time passes. On the screen the man has given up the motions of prying at the door with his scrap of board and has turned away, fled, back into the night with no hint of his motive or his plans. Nothing serious, or he would have been spotted long before. He won't be coming back, not in the state he so clearly is in. He won't last long, inside or Outside. Makubex closes his eyes against the overwhelming darkness.
The screen, untouched, flickers off, and the only lights are the LEDs that announce to anyone who cares to watch that the computers are on, and working, and accessing data, doing calculations, sending their signals out across the wires. This room is like a microcosm of the Castle; the rest of the Castle might as well be as unreal here as the rest of the world is inside the Castle, for only the images enter, showing up blindingly bright against the dark.
Makubex remembers a bouquet of flowers that Emishi gave to Sakura once, which she had kept in an old flour jar for weeks, until the petals fell wilted on the floor and let out the sweet smell of death. He hugs back.