[fic] Digital Devil Saga, "The Python's Song" The Python's Song Digital Devil Saga 2 Uh, R!Serph-centric. Some Serph/Sera THIS IS SO NOT KOSHER GUYS SHE'S NOT VERY OLD ;; Uh, also some Serph/Argilla and Serph/Heat stuff, I guess. Slightly not-safe for work, definitely not safe for souls. Spoilers, duh.
Argilla stretches out in the bedsheets, her eyes hazy and content, a small smug smile on her face. Serph chuckles at her, spreads his hand against her stomach, over the sweat drying there.
"Do you have to go to work tomorrow?" he murmurs at her, low and teasing.
"I have to go every day," she says, and pouts her mouth at him. "You do too, you know that."
Of course he knows that. Stupid woman. He smiles at her. "But can't I wish we didn't have to?"
"Weeeeeelll," she says, and giggles. "You can hope that. I wish I didn't have to either."
"Trouble with ...your employer?"
Argilla sighs; the pleasure is slowly seeping away from her. "Dr. Heat is a nice enough man, I guess."
Serph chuckles. "Nice enough?"
"He's very... fair," she says reluctantly. "But I don't know. I don't think he thinks about things the right way."
Perfectly honestly, Serph says, "I agree entirely. He doesn't have a head for science. And his feelings on number 19..."
"Oh? What are they?"
"Well," Serph says, and kisses her ear. "Let's just say that while I might be the one to coax her, he's the one who wants to."
"That creepy little girl? Ahh, that's pretty sick."
"Isn't it?" Serph says. "That's where his tastes run."
"No wonder he never paid attention to me," Argilla says sourly.
Serph cups one of her well-sized breasts and smiles at her. "I just don't think he can be trusted," he says. "After all, who wouldn't pay attention to you?"
He encounters Heat in the hallway. He's coming down from the EGG monitoring room -- late at night there's nothing to watch but what games number 19's playing in her mind while she rests, and machines are set up to sound an alarm if things go into abnormal ranges; that Heat was there at all is surprising. At this hour it's normally abandoned.
Heat is clearly angry, and perhaps embarrassed; his face is red and he glares at Serph as they approach each other.
"Don't go in there," Heat says, grabbing at Serph's arm.
"Oh?" Serph asks. "Why not?"
"She ...wants some privacy." Heat glances aside.
Now, this is interesting. Serph's lips flick up into a smile. "Since it's me, I really doubt she'll mind."
"I'm telling you not to," Heat says. "Show some goddamn human decency!"
"Decency?" Serph asks, almost scoffing. "Really, Heat. Don't get so worked up. I'm just curious to discover what she might be up to."
Heat's hand has fisted in the front of Serph's dark shirt. "Your curiousity's not a good enough reason."
"You're just in charge of her physical health," Serph says. "I'd say my curiousity is right in my own job description."
Almost helplessly, Heat is shaking his head, teeth bared. "This isn't about work, Serph! This is about giving her some goddamn space to do what she wants in!"
"Don't treat her like she's a normal little girl," Serph says. He pushes Heat's hand from him. "Number 19 is our experiment. Remember that. She has no space to do what she wants, because anything could mean the end of what we're working for."
"Unless you want--" Serph says, and he puts a hand to Heat's cheek. Heat jerks back as if he were burned. Serph's fingers curl in the air. He leaves the rest unspoken.
Heat turns on a heel and goes.
Smiling, Serph takes the elevator to the EGG monitoring room.
Inside the EGG, Sera is curled up, connected to cables, nude and eyes closed. She's looking older again, Serph sees; taking her out to give her time to recover after attempts on God are certainly taking their toll. Two years old and she's already aged to what he'd guess to be eleven.
The monitors showing her body are still on but, it seems, the monitors showing what's going on inside are off. Serph slings himself into the chair, keys the controls to bring up the digital displays.
She's playing in the world she made to keep herself happy, her consciousness with her AIs as so often seems to be the case these days, and he tracks through the programme, moving the window to focus on her avatar.
...Ah. That would do it. Serph shakes his head at the memory of Heat's distress and chuckles.
She is only partly clothed, wearing undergarments -- both panties and bra to cover her already-budded breasts -- and curled on top of the bed with her AI of Serph himself. They're in the ship; he recognizes that much from the way the scene rocks, the pictures on the wall. Doubtless the rest of her so-called friends are in nearby rooms.
They're pressed together; the fake Serph's mouth is pressed to hers, infinitely gentle, fingers threading slowly through her hair.
The next day, while the techies are setting up everything for the day's test, Serph wanders into the break room with a yawn and a stretch.
Heat is already there; pale eyes glare balefully at Serph over the rim of his coffee cup.
Serph gives him a cheerful smile. "Good morning," he says. He nods to Argilla as she passes by with her own coffee cup, headed off to monitor Number 19; she gives him a smirk and a wink as she goes.
"Morning," Heat says, reluctantly. "Look, Serph, about last night--"
"I know," Serph says. "It's a shame she's ageing so fast, isn't it? Not many children have to go through puberty at her age."
Heat scowls. "It's not -- it is that," he admits. "But don't you think we're pushing her too hard?"
Serph's brows raise. "Not pushing her hard enough, I'd say. She has infinite potential, don't you think? She can handle her body's strain. It's your job to keep her in good health, after all."
A slurp of coffee that seems to not sit well; Heat makes a sour face. "There's only so much I can do. There's only so much anyone can do. Goddammit, Serph, if you think--"
Serph settles on the sofa beside him, within the curve of his arm. he can feel Heat stiffen and fight not to pull away too obviously. He chuckles. "Heat," he says. "She has to endure, otherwise..."
He doesn't need to say what. Heat's been here for enough of them that it should be obvious even to a sentimental man like him.
Heat slowly slides his arm from the back of his couch, cradles his cup in both hands. "If anyone can get her to pace herself, it's not me, Serph. Goddammit--"
"Oh," Serph says. "She doesn't need to pace herself. She just needs to keep doing her best for now."
After, they let her return to her room. It's getting dangerous to keep her out of the fluid, but she doesn't seem to mind the aging overmuch, and she'll be sent back to the fluid after a few hours anyway. In the meantime, she's decided to worry about her cat, just about the only thing Heat's done for her that she's actually accepted happily.
Argilla's there to take care of her; slowly she regains enough strength to come off the IV.
Serph says, "Argilla, do you mind going for a time? I know you're supposed to keep an eye on her, but..." he shrugs one shoulder. "I want to talk with her."
Argilla's nose wrinkles faintly. "I don't mind," she says. "But--"
Taking her elbow, Serph escorts her to the door. He leans in and murmurs, "I think this thing with the cat is a sign she's getting reluctant. I just want to encourage her a little -- let her know I think she's doing the right thing in continuing."
Shaking her head, Argilla chuckles. "Well, she listens to you, anyway," she sighs. "All right, just call me when you're done -- I don't mind the break anyway. She stares at me sometimes; it creeps me out."
"She does that," Serph agrees with a rueful sigh. "I'll let you know when I'm done."
With a wiggle of her fingers, Argilla heads off. Serph turns back.
Number 19 is seated on the floor with the cat squirming a little in her arms, flopping over to get comfortable, butting its head against her face. She's laughing, petting her hands down its soft ears. "Schroedinger's been a good boy, right?" she peeps in her high sweet voice. "Good kitty?"
"He misses you when you're gone," Serph says warmly. He comes and takes a seat beside them; the cat flicks its tail at him, then curls down in Number 19's lap, twisting so she can rub her oversized hands against its belly. "I know the tests take a long time."
"...Mm," Number 19 agrees. She ducks forward, presses her face to the cat's stomach. "I... I don't mind..."
"You're a good girl, Sera," Serph says. He shifts beside her, puts a fingertip to the cat's paw, making it flick. "I'm really proud of how you did today."
She seems to brighten, smiles at him over the cat's head. "I did good?"
"You did great," Serph says enthusiastically. The cat hops down and ends up on a chair, licking its shoulder.
She clasps her hands. "I'm so glad," she says, and then she sways.
He gets an arm behind her before she can hit the floor. "Sera, are you okay? I know this takes a toll on you, but bear with it."
Her fingers knot in his shirt. "I -- I'm fine."
"That's my good girl," Serph murmurs. He lifts her up; she's terribly light in his arms. "Things are hard right now, aren't they?"
Serph carries her over to the bed, lies her down carefully. He strokes a hand down her body; she shivers, and a flush comes into her cheeks. "You're growing up so fast," he says. "Between the demands we put on you, and your own body's demands, it must be so hard."
Squirming just a little, she says, "It's okay. I-if I can do this... then..."
"You need to rest now," he says. "Then we can give it our best again tomorrow, okay, Sera?"
He puts his mouth on hers and slides his hand down her body again.
"Stop worrying," Argilla says the next day. "She went into the fluid just fine. Her readings were as normal as always."
"Look, she's been having problems lately," Heat says. "That's all. It's better to double check, for her sake--"
She tosses her clipboard down. "Men like you are the worst," she almost spits and she stomps out.
Heat throws his arms into the air. "What did I do!"
Serph leans back from his own chair. "Who knows? Women, hmm?"
"Like you'd know anything about that," Heat says, glaring.
"Like you'd mind if I didn't," Serph shoots back, then smiles. "Besides," he adds, voice going softer, coaxing. "I think you have the wrong impression of me. Let's not fight, Heat."
Heat's eyes narrow. "Coming from you, that's something else."
Serph chuckles. "Well, he says. "It interferes with our work, don't you think?"