Actions

Work Header

Somewhere Warm

Work Text:

The sharp sound of Sir Reginald Hargreeves’ whistle cut through the ruckus and brought all six members of the Umbrella Academy to attention. They stood, as always, in numerical order, arranged in a line sharp enough to cut throats, sneakers emitting not a single squeak on the polished floors of the gymnasium. Seven, who on occasion assisted Reginald with his notetaking, had today been replaced with Pogo, though such a substitute wasn’t unusual. She was probably busy.

Reginald paced slowly before them, a drill sergeant before his cadets, monocle gleaming, and lips pursed as he surveyed them with the kind of clinical coldness that they had all grown to expect from him. Inspection done – though to what satisfaction, it was impossible to tell – he planted himself before them, posture ramrod straight, hands clasped tightly behind his back.

“Children,” he began, voice clipped and severe, “today’s exercise will be in observation, deduction, and recovery. Something has been taken from this house, moved to an external location, and awaits retrieval. Your task is to uncover exactly what is missing, determine its location, and bring it back.”

Five could feel Two’s smug grin growing from here. Two had a penchant for these sorts of cops-and-robbers, sleuth-like tasks. He would be Five’s main competition; no matter, Five would win. He was smarter.

“Will we be working individually, Father?” One asked.

“No. You will be divided into two teams of three to compete.”

Five huffed a frustrated breath internally. How would Reginald divide them today? He hoped it wasn’t the classic odds-and-evens; he could barely stomach One and Three on a good day, and detested working with them as he would always be outvoted due to their bias. But he didn’t like the idea of top-numbers-bottom-numbers either; while he liked Four and Six, they were more or less useless at tasks such as these (Four moreso). Or would it be a selection of teams designed to either heighten their advantages, or demonstrate their flaws? Reginald was a pro at manipulating the politics of their friendships and alliances with each other, often forcing them into situations that put immense stress on their interpersonal relationships. Five wished he could be on a team with Seven; her observational skills could rival Two’s, and she was probably the most familiar with the house. Plus, they’d have fun.

He dismissed the thought almost immediately. He would rather spend all day having to witness One and Threes disgusting goo-goo eyes than have Seven exposed to their training regime. She didn’t deserve that.

“Number One through Three, and Number Four through Six.”

Five had little interest in games he couldn’t win – he was all or nothing like that, either determined to be the best of the best or refusing to care. It seemed like today would be a refusing-to-care kind of day. No matter. He wouldn’t mind taking it easy.

Reginald pulled a stopwatch from his pocket. “Time, as always, is of the essence,” he continued. “Do not disappoint me.”

With a sharp nod of his head, the children were dismissed.

“Number Five – a moment.”

Six shot him a sympathetic look as the rest of his siblings filed from the room. Five stayed where he was.

“Yes, Father?” he said, tone bordering on disrespectful. He clasped his hands behind his back, mirroring Reginalds stance, so that the older man couldn’t see the way they had balled into fists.

“You’ve been sloppy, Number Five,” Reginald announced. “I expect more of you.”

“Of course, Father.”

Reginald nodded again. “You will find todays task, I hope, to be sufficiently motivating.”

What did that mean?

“Dismissed.”

Five exited the gymnasium, the seed of dread already planted in his stomach.

 

***

 

“This is bull,” Four whined as they swept through the upper landing, trying to deduce whatever had been taken. “This house is full of so much useless junk! How are we supposed to figure out what’s missing?”

“It has to be possible,” Six placated, paying close attention to the accoutrements on one of the decorative sideboards along the hallway. “It’s gotta be something of significance. And there’s gotta be clues. Dad wouldn’t give us a puzzle that can’t be solved.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t put it past dear old dad,” Four said, turning what looked like a rat’s skull over in his hands that he’d plucked from the sideboard Six had been studying. “There’s nothing he loves more than setting his children up to fail. He’s a softie that way.”

Six rolled his eyes. “What do you think, Five?”

Five had been far away, trying to solve an equation in his head while his brothers bickered. “I think that I don’t care.”

Four clapped his hands, delighted. “Yay, Five! Let’s let the other guys figure it out. We can go throw rocks at the windows – ooh, let’s rip random pages out of the textbooks and blame it on Two!”

“Four,” Six said in his best disapproving tone. Four latched onto his arm, tugging and begging. He had no pride, Four, but Five didn’t always think that was a bad thing. The rest of his siblings had enough to compensate – him included.

“Let’s go to the library,” Five suggested instead. “We can pretend to be checking it for clues, but we can read or whatever.”

Plus, maybe Seven would be there.

Four pouted, but Six was satisfied with the compromise, and they beelined to the library. Seven wasn’t there, but they happily passed a few hours amongst the books, reading and arguing and, in the case of Four, drawing dirty pictures in the margins.

 

***

They hadn’t made any progress by lunch, and based on their frustrated scowls, the other team hadn’t either. The six of them sat informally in the kitchen, as was typical most days; dinner was the only formal meal they observed as a quote/unquote “family.”

“Nothing, huh?” Five provoked around a mouthful of chicken sandwich.

“S-shut up, Five,” Two stuttered. “As if y-you g-g-guys have found anything.”

Five just shrugged and kept eating.

Seven still hadn’t made an appearance by the time they had finished eating, and Five inquired about her to mom as she cleared away their plates. Grace paused for just a heartbeat, before telling him that Seven was very busy today. Five nodded, taking her explanation at face value. Sometimes Seven’s curriculum put her schedule out of sync with theirs; it was nothing unusual.

Pogo came by for an update, his expression inscrutable as they informed him of their lack of progress. One, Two and Three shot off as soon as Pogo had left, determined to comb over the objects in the house once more. Four, Five and Six followed at a much more sedate pace, though they each cast more than one anxious look to each other the more time passed. If none of them were able to complete the task… Five shuddered to think about the ramifications.

As time wore on, they each applied themselves with a little more dedication, a little more desperation. When, by dinner, they had yet to solve the puzzle, they trudged to the dining room with heads cast down, dejected and wary of what was to come, all six of them fidgeting nervously as they stood behind their seats.

Reginald swept into the room, and Five looked around for Seven, who was running late. No doubt their father was already in a mood; Seven’s simple tardiness would push him over the edge, make him lash out with more viciousness than usual. Five was trying to think of how to cover for her, when Reginald commanded them to sit.

They all hesitated. Seven’s seat was still empty.

“I said sit.”

They snapped into action, the sound of chairs scraping along the tiled floor filling the room as all but one of the children present took their seats. Making their father ask twice was already pushing it - three times and they'd no doubt find themselves on the pointy end of some particularly gruelling punishment. Five remained standing.

“Seven isn’t here,” he said.

Reginald glanced up at him, and then back down at the metal dome covering his plate. Grace stepped forward and removed the covering, revealing roast beef and vegetables. He picked up his knife and fork. “Apparently, Number Seven will not be joining us. You will be seated, Number Five.”

The dread in the pit of his stomach bloomed. The back of his neck felt hot, and his grip on his chair grew so tight that the wood creaked.

“What have you done?” he almost yelled.

Reginald looked up sharply. “Number Seven’s absence this evening is not of my doing, Number Five. Rather, you will find that it is yours.” He swept his cold eye over all of them. “All of yours.”

He watched the expressions play out over his siblings’ faces. One, confused. Six, pale. Four was looking around, as though scrabbling for understanding.

“Now sit, Number Five, so we can enjoy our meal.”

He wanted to grab his dinner knife and hurl it across the table at his father. As it was, he grit his teeth and said, “may I be excused? I would like to complete todays exercise.”

Reginald regarded him for a long moment. Five was seconds away from realising his knife-throwing-father-killing fantasies when Reginald gave one sharp nod. “Your dedication is noted. You may be excused. Four, Six, you also. This is a team exercise,” he reminded them sharply.

“May we also-“ One started, but Five had already vanished.

He appeared outside Sevens room. The door had been closed all day, and he hadn’t thought anything of it. He banged on it with his fist, hoping to God he was wrong. “Seven?” he called. Bang bang bang. “Seven? Are you in there?”

No response.

He opened the door.

Her room was the same as always. Small, bare. Her bed neatly made; her desk compulsively clean. Her music stand was placed neatly in the centre of the room, and her violin was still in its case. He hadn’t heard any music all day. Why hadn’t that tipped him off?

Idiot, moron, stupid, he cursed himself, searching her room frantically for any signs of Sevens location.

“Five?”

Six’s voice was timid, gentle. Five wanted to snap at him but managed to reign in his temper as he turned to the door where Six was standing, Four hovering over his shoulder.

Six swallowed. “Is she-“

“Gone.” Five laughed bitterly.

Four was fidgeting, shifting his weight from foot to foot. “He wouldn’t – he wouldn’t take her somewhere dangerous, right?” Four asked, eyes darting between Five and Six, looking for some kind of answer, some kind of consolation. “Not Seven, she can’t- she’s so-“

Five snorted again. He felt like there was a tempest beneath his skin. He wanted to rage, to destroy, to unleash his most violent of impulses (tantrum, mom would say fondly). But that wouldn’t help him find Seven. Reginald had said that something had been taken to an external location, so it was off Academy grounds. Autumn was just around the corner, and while it wasn’t completely dark yet, it would be soon, and the nights were getting colder already. Five hoped that wherever she was, Seven was at least indoors.

How long had it been now? Ten hours? Eleven?

There was a stampeding of footsteps, and the other three siblings appeared, all five of them cramming themselves into Sevens doorway.

“Is she-“ One began.

Instead of answering, Five kicked the bed, biting back curses at the resulting pain in his foot.

“Two,” he ordered, limping only a little, “get in here.”

Two pushed his way to the front of the group. Five gestured to the room. “What do you see? Any clues?”

Two looked at him, brows furrowed. “We’re on d-different teams-“

Five had grabbed him by the collar and shoved him against the wall before anyone could react. “Do not test me,” he enunciated clearly, tightening his hold on his brothers’ clothes. They stared each other down for a moment, before Five dropped him. “Three, rumour Pogo. He knows something.”

“I’m not supposed to-“

The thump of Fives fist crashing into the wall silenced her. “Let me be clear,” he said to his siblings, voice dripping with malice. “If any one of you idiots refuses to cooperate, I will personally deliver tenfold the suffering Seven has experienced today on each and every one of you. Capiche?”

One frowned at him. “Five, you can’t-“

“Oh yes he can,” Four snickered. “Seven is his favourite.”

“Five,” Two cut in, saving his brother’s life since Five had been about to decapitate Four – and maybe One as well. “L-l-look at this.”

Five joined Two at the window. Two gestured at the glass, but Five couldn’t see anything. “What?” he snapped. “I swear to God, Two-“

Two was shaking his head. “Look h-here.” He exhaled softly onto the pane of glass. The condensation of his breath painted a gentle cloud, drawing attention to a shape – a cleanly drawn circle, traced by a twelve-year-old finger.

“What does it mean?” Five prodded, shoving Two out of the way. He was antsy – it was getting darker and colder by the second. Two protested with an indignant grunt but let himself be pushed aside.

“Maybe try lining it up with something?” Six offered, still standing by the door. “It could be a clue.”

“Or it could be a random smudge,” One said. “Seven couldn’t-“

“Shut up, One,” Five said flatly, as he peered through the window, trying to line up the circle with the skyline. He even bent his knees a touch, trying to emulate the slight difference in their height, but there was still no match.

“The music stand,” Six said abruptly.

Five picked up his meaning immediately. He placed himself behind the stand, where Seven would usually be if she were practicing, and bent his knees a little once more.

The circle traced on the glass lined up with the top of a building – a new one, two blocks away, and still under construction; covered in hideous scaffolding, with a crane perched delicately on top. And the circle highlighted its roof perfectly.

She was always so much sharper than anyone gave her credit for.

“She’s there,” Five said, and was almost ready to jump when a hand snaked out and grabbed his elbow.

“Wait!” Six said desperately, before Five could break his fingers. “Five, you can’t just jump to somewhere you’ve never been – we don’t know what dad’s done. And we’re supposed to be a team, okay? We have to work together.”

Five glared down at him.

“Please,” Six persisted. “For Seven. You’re not the only one who’s worried about her.”

Five could give him that. Six and Seven were close, sharing a love of literature, often found in the library with their heads bent together over a book, whispering and giggling. Four and Seven got along fairly amicably, though Four was easily bored by how quiet Seven could be. Even Three looked shaken by Seven’s disappearance.

“Fine,” Five allowed. “Let’s go.”

He set off at a fast pace, pushing through the crowd of his siblings, down the stairs, and out the front door without another word, not checking to see who was keeping up with him. They were out on the street in moments, Five almost sprinting toward the building in question; he could hear from the five sets of footsteps behind him that his family was in tow.

They made it to the foot of the building, craning their necks to appreciate the height. What was it, fifty stories? Five was about to blink in, when One’s voice grabbed him.

“Five, wait,” their leader said. “We need a plan.”

He whirled on him, jabbing One in the chest hard with his finger. “The plan, you moron, is to save our sister!”

“We need to-“

“I don’t have time for this.”

He was gone.

He could only jump where he could see, so it was to his intense chagrin that he couldn’t go straight to the top. There was no working elevator, just the long drop where one would someday be installed, so he jumped to the top of each stairway, rapidly depleting his energy, becoming more and more disorientated the darker it became.

Finally, he shoved the heavy metal door open to the rooftop. He was immediately hit by the wind, cold and sharp and cutting through his bones. The crane lumbered over him threateningly, and the piles of brick and rebar cut imposing silhouettes in the dark.

“Seven?” he called, pitching his voice as best as he could over the sound of the wind. “Seven, are you here?”

Silence. Nothing but the whistle of the wind, the creaking of metal, the-

“Five?”

Her voice, as faint and thin as it was, unleashed an intense flush of relief within him. He looked around, squinting desperately in the dark.

“Where are you?” he yelled.

Barely legible, he heard; “up here!”

And his stomach dropped.

Dangling from the tip of the crane from a metal chain like a fish at the end of a rod was a cage. Suspended some thirty feet from the ground, it swayed in the high winds, and he could see, just barely, peeking out from between the bars, a tiny hand waving.

He’d never attempted such a risky jump before; to teleport himself from the ground to thirty feet in the air in the hopes of grabbing hold of a moving target without plummeting to his death? It would be lunacy to try.

“Five?”

She sounded so scared.

He jumped.

The next moment he was scrabbling to grab hold of the bars of the cage, feet kicking in the air for purchase. For one terrifying second, he thought he would fall – and then Seven was there, reaching for him, small hands gripping onto his wrists with surprising strength. She helped him steady himself, hooking his elbow around one of the bars, shoving his feet into the gaps so he could support his own weight, all the while the cage swung wildly in the air. Neither of them spoke while the motion settled, the cage returning to its steady rock-back-and-forth in the wind.

“Five,” Seven breathed. While she wasn’t crying, tear tracks gleamed down her face, and her nose was a bit snotty. She was also shaking like a leaf. “You c-came.”

“I’m sorry it took so long,” he managed through clenched teeth, struggling to hold onto the cage. It was small, with just enough room for Seven to stand without hitting her head, and sit if she pulled her knees to her chest. How long had she been up here, in this tiny, cramped space? Eleven hours? Twelve?

She reached out to clumsily pat his hand, and he hissed.

“Shit, Seven,” Five breathed. “You’re freezing.”

She smiled miserably, teeth chattering, and Five manoeuvred himself with care to shed his jacket and press it through the bars to his sister. Every movement caused the cage to swing, so it took him longer than he would like. She accepted the garment gratefully but was almost shaking too badly to thread her arms through the sleeves.

“Can you g-g-get me o-o-out?” she chattered. Her skin was so pale, her lips almost blue.

“I will,” he promised, “I will, Seven, I just need to- to-“ he looked around wildly, trying to find a solution. The crane – he could operate that. But he knew that the longer the chain got, the more wildly the cage would swing. He would need to weigh it down further – Seven’s tiny bodyweight wasn’t enough. And the cage itself – was it locked? No, it was welded shut. He cursed, the worst ones he knew. Seven didn’t even look shocked by his foul language – she must be really cold.

“I need our braindead siblings,” he finished.

“T-t-they c-c-came t-t-t-t-too?” she asked. She looked surprised that they would spare her the thought. He didn’t have time to correct her now, just nodded.

“I’ll be right back,” he swore. Her trembling hand gripped his sleeve through the bars, her eyes wide and wild.

“P-promise?” she said, voice strangled. He covered her hand with his own, rearranging so his other elbow could take his body weight. God, her hand was like ice.

He looked into her eyes, unflinching. “I promise, Seven. I promise.”

She nodded and released him.

He jumped back to the ground, stumbling on the landing. He was headed for a new personal record for the amount of jumps in one day, at this rate. He yanked the door open, racing down the stairs, barrelling straight into One two floors down.

“Took you long enough,” Five growled. “Come on.”

“Did you find her?” Six asked, scrabbling to keep up with him as he lead his family upwards.

“Roof,” he said. “She’s in a cage. We have to hurry up, she’s freezing, she might – we have to get her out soon.”

His urgency and concern were contagious, his siblings racing up the stairs behind him. It was like all those drills they’d do in the narrow stairwell back home – the six of them competing to reach the top first, where Reginald and Seven waited.

They burst onto the roof, each of them breathing hard.

“Where is she?” Two demanded. Five pointed to the dangling cage.

“Oh my god,” Three breathed. Two swore.

“Seven!” Six yelled. “Seven! We’re here!”

She didn’t respond. Five’s pulse raced.

“Two,” Five barked, “we’re gonna figure out the crane. Once we know how to work it, I’m gonna jump back to the cage to help weigh it down.”

“I should work the crane,” One protested. “I have more-“

The look Five shot him caused him to clam up immediately. “You’re staying down here. The cage is welded shut, you’ll need to break her out. And you can catch her in case – just in case.”

One nodded.

The remaining siblings without tasks swapped worried looks, but Five didn’t have time to give them busy work to make them feel important. He and Two squeezed into the car of the crane, trying to figure out how to make it lower its cargo. An experimental wrong button caused the long neck of the machine to move, jerking the cage along with it. Seven cried out. They proceeded with much more caution after that.

When they had made sense of the controls, Five readied himself to make the jump up to Seven once more. “Don’t fuck this up,” was his last instruction to Two, before he was gone.

An inopportunely timed gust of wind interrupted his calculations, and he missed the cage by three feet. He caught sight of Seven’s terrified expression, heard her cry, before he plummeted toward the roof. Three screamed, and Six yelled his name, but Five screwed his eyes shut and jumped again.

This time he made it, fingers hooking around the bars. He could feel Seven gripping his wrists tightly as the cage bucked wildly, holding onto him for dear life as the swinging settled.

“That was close,” Five admitted as he readied himself.

“F-Five you s-s-s-shouldn’t h-have-“

“We’re going to lower you down now, okay?” Five interrupted, not in the mood to be lectured about his own wellbeing when his sister was freezing to death before him. “Hopefully the two of us can weigh the cage down enough, but it might be rough, so hold on tight. Alright Seven?”

She nodded, still gripping onto his wrist. He let her.

“Two!” he yelled. There was the grinding of gears, and with a jerky motion, the cage began to descend.

It was terrifying. Although the ground was getting closer, the added length of the chain and the movement of the crane, plus the fact that that fucking wind had decided to pick up, meant that the two of them were swinging with a previously unfelt reckless abandon. Five clung desperately to the bars, Seven holding onto him as tightly as she could.

“Five!” she yelled above the wind, bringing her face as close to his ear as she could. Her cheek was ice. “Five, y-y-y-you need to t-t-telep-port d-down! You’re g-g-onna g-g-g-g-get hurt!”

If he did, it seemed like the cage would be lashed by the wind so fiercely that it would swing the full 360 and wrap around the neck of the crane, like they’d often tried to do on the swing set – go all the way up and over. Five shook his head fiercely, and honestly, a little annoyed; he was saving her, not the other way around. Didn’t she get it?

They were ten feet from the ground when there was a sudden thump and an added weight bore down on the cage. He turned his head to the side, and number Three was there, clinging to the opposite side. Her presence helped steady their course. Five chanced a glance down, and saw that One had tossed her up; he now had Four braced on his back, the skinny boy reaching up and gripping the bottom, leaning back in time with One to guide the cage down.

Finally, finally, finally, One himself was able to grab the cage and rest it on the rooftop. Five’s fingers had gone numb and cramped, but he managed to separate himself from the cage along with the rest of his siblings. One didn’t waste any time in bending the bars aside, making a hole big enough for tiny Number Seven to climb through.

She had barely taken a step when she stumbled and fell, and would have hit the ground if Five hadn’t caught her by the arm. But her lack of coordination dragged them both down, and all he could really do was soften her landing on the concrete rooftop.

“M-m-m-my l-l-l-legs,” was all she could chatter. Five set about rubbing feeling back into them. She was in her uniform; Reginald hadn’t even let her wear pants.

She was so cold.

“Jackets,” Five snapped. “Now.”

They all rushed to shuck their jackets, piling them on top of tiny Number Seven, but it did nothing to ease her shakes.

“I can rumour her to forget the cold,” Three volunteered.

“Don’t,” Two said, before Five could say anything. “We n-n-need to m-make sure she d-doesn’t go into hypothermia and w-we won’t be a-a-able to t-tell if she can’t tell us how she feels.”

Three just nodded.

“We gotta get her back,” Five said. He wished, wished he could jump with someone else; that he could deliver her into the care of their mom in a flash. But as exhausted as he was, and as fragile as Seven was, it didn’t seem like a great time to try. “One-“

“Got it,” One said, scooping Seven into his arms. Three re-arranged the jacket pile to cover Seven as much as possible.

“We gotta keep her awake,” Six said, voice stressed. “Okay, Seven? You gotta stay awake.”

“O-o-okay,” she mumbled, but her eyes were already half closed.

They moved as fast as they could, although it was truly dark now, and a construction site wasn’t the easiest of settings to navigate blindly. One had to take the steps slowly so he didn’t fall with Seven in his arms; Four kept up a constant stream of chatter, as did Three, asking Seven questions to make sure she stayed awake. What was she learning on the violin? How were her lessons going? Can she say something in Russian?

They finally made it back onto the street, and progress was much quicker on flat terrain, with the streetlights to illuminate the path. In minutes they were back at the Academy, rushing through the doors to find Reginald, Pogo and Grace awaiting them in the foyer.

Reginald pulled the stopwatch from his pocket, hitting the button with his thumb. “Twelve hours and thirty-three minutes,” he announced. “An embarrassing outcome. Not only is the time unacceptable, but you have directly disobeyed orders in working together as a team. I am very disappointed, children.”

They stared at him mutely, the only sound Seven’s teeth chattering from where she lay in One’s arms.

“Number One, take Number Seven to the infirmary,” Reginald ordered. “Grace will see to her.”

One did as he was instructed, following Grace from the room. Five went to follow, but Reginald’s voice stopped him.

“The rest of you, to bed. There will be no make-up supper. Your performance today has been abysmal. Extra training will be scheduled until I am confident that next time will not be such a catastrophic failure.”

Next time?

Five had become disillusioned with his father some time ago. He had begun to dislike him in the last year. But now, for the first time, standing in that foyer as Seven’s weeping faded into the distance, he hated the man.

“Dismissed,” Reginald said with a clap. The children blinked, as though woken from a bad dream. Five just stared at his father with open loathing. “Number Five. A moment.”

Ben shot him that look again, as he followed their siblings up the stairs.

“Yes, Father?” he said, tone absolutely dripping with disrespect this time round. Reginald regarded him coolly.

“Despite today’s slovenly efforts, I am glad to see that you are able to apply yourself when sufficiently motivated.”

Those words again. Five felt like ice water had been tipped over his head – like he had been the one stuck in that Goddamn cage, freezing to death. Only he hadn’t – Seven had. He’d tipped his hand, and now his father knew:

Five would do anything for Seven.

“Leave her alone,” he seethed. Ironic, considering the fact that Seven was always alone; unless, of course, their father needed bait to punish the Umbrella Academy.

The children often theorised on what exactly their father was; robot was always the most popular belief, though Five himself had ruled that one out through observation. Alien was much more likely. It was in the way Reginald never seemed influenced or emotional or human in any way, shape, or form. He made you feel like a sample in a petri dish on the good days; like a mongrel in an alleyway on bad ones.

His expression didn’t change, not a twitch of the lips or a flicker in the eye, as he looked down on Five. “Then perhaps you can find that motivation within yourself instead, hmm?”

Fall in line, he was saying, or Number Seven will pay the price.

He was clenching his fists so tightly he thought his metacarpals would snap under the exertion. He swallowed his rage, set his jaw, and finally looked his father in the eye. He wondered what Reginald saw there, but nothing on the older mans face gave him away.

“Of course, Father,” Five managed, fairly vibrating with rage.

Another nod. “You are dismissed, Number Five. To bed with you.”

Five jumped before he could give into his baser impulses and cave his father’s head in.

***

It was late at night when she heard Five teleport into her room; he insisted that it was impossible, but Seven was firm. She could always hear it, the sound of displaced air when he arrived, or the rushing of the atmosphere to fill the vacuum when he departed. She rolled over in bed and caught him hovering above her, expression stricken.

“Hi, Five,” she greeted shyly. She sat up, pulling her legs in so he could sit on her mattress. He moved her desk chair instead, placing it next to her bed and straddling it backwards.

“Are you…” he seemed to struggle for the words. “Okay?” he finished lamely.

“I’m fine,” she said, trying to muster up a smile. “No hypothermia. Mom spent a long time warming me up, though. And I was dehydrated, but I’m okay now.”

He nodded but didn’t look too relieved.

“Are you okay?” she asked. He barked out a laugh, and she shushed him.

“You’re seriously asking about me?” he said, incredulous. “Jesus, Seven! I wasn’t the one locked in a cage for twelve hours!”

She dropped her gaze, drawing patterns on her sheet. Five’s breath caught, like he knew what she was going to say next.

“No one noticed I was gone,” she said simply. It was a statement, not a question. “I get it,” she continued, before Five could object. “Everyone gets pretty busy, and I don’t see you guys a lot anyway so it just… I get it,” she repeated, quieter.

Five leaned forward, moving his legs to one side of the chair back so he could close the distance between them without actually getting on her bed. “Never again,” he promised, expression earnest and desperate and… something else. “This will never happen again. I swear it, Seven, I promise. I’m gonna keep an eye on you, okay? I’m gonna look after you. I know I screwed up royally today, I know, and I’m so, so sorry. But it’ll never happen again. Do you hear me?”

She nodded, but he caught the doubt in her eyes before she managed to duck them behind her hair, trembling.

“You still cold?” he asked.

“A- a little-“

“Move over.”

She scooted closer to the wall and Five pushed the chair back beneath the desk, before lifting the blankets and settling into bed next to Seven. He used his arms as a pillow so she could have the real one, their knees brushing.

He placed his hand on her forehead, studying her pragmatically. “You gotta stay warm, Seven.”

“I know,” she responded, letting herself be a little bit mulish. Five smiled. He looked relieved. He gave her a pat on the head, ruffling her hair.

“One day,” he said, as she began drifting off to sleep, feeling warmer and safer and for once, less alone, “we’re getting out of here. You and me.”

“I’d like that,” she mumbled softly. “Where will we go?”

“Anywhere you want. Any time you want.”

“Somewhere warm.”

A slight rustling of sheets, and she felt a warm hand cover her own.

“Somewhere warm,” he promised.

They fell asleep.