Chapter Seven
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More Than Slightly Creepy

 

Smith stared at her for a long, long moment. She couldn’t look away. How could this be the same creature that killed countless humans to keep order within the Matrix? The way he was touching her...just resting his hands on her shoulders...that shouldn’t be cause for the rush she was feeling right now. Maybe it was the danger of being caught. Were her friends even now peeking through the keyhole at them? Dammit, she wasn’t a voyeur. She wasn’t!

Smith’s eyes lost focus for an instant, and she realized he was accessing more data files. He was a very inquisitive program. Gemini wondered if Smith’s teammates were the same, or if he was the brains of the operation. He’d already claimed to be more intelligent than another Agent called Brown. Yeah. No ego there.

“Sex is not dirty,” Smith concluded out loud.

If only everyone else in the world could come to the same conclusion. “A lot of people would beg to differ,” Gemini said.

“They are wrong.”

Now, that wasn’t very logical. He’d just formed an opinion of his own. Aside from the one about humans equaling viruses, that was the only opinion Gemini was aware of.

Smith was still staring at her. It wasn’t so easy to ignore his staring anymore. She’d once likened his staring to that of a cat, and the analogy still held. She imagined Smith as a large jungle feline, lithe and powerful, but also delicate and refined in every movement. Beautiful but lethal.

Damn Tommy.

He just had to ruin a nice time, didn’t he?

Still, it was nice that Smith came to her defense...

Aretha Franklin suddenly blared through the closed bedroom door. “...R-E-S-P-E-C-T...” Gemini jumped. “Shit! I hate that woman! Who dared to bring her ‘music’ into my house?”

Smith suppressed a little smile. Gently he pushed Gemini back into the living room. This would be interesting to observe. He didn’t want to miss it.

Marco was the culprit. Happily he stood beside Gemini’s stereo, telling Star that he admired Aretha’s spelling skills and singing along with the CD. He barely had time to notice Gemini’s reappearance when she stomped up, punched the STOP button, and removed the disc before it had time to stop spinning. She tossed the disc at Marco. It bounced off his chest and clattered to the floor.

“That’s it!” Gemini said. “I’m putting in Enya!”

“No!” Tommy wailed in only half-mock horror.

“You don’t get a vote,” Smith told him.

Tommy squeaked and jumped to his feet in front of the Agent. He was much shorter than Smith was, and not nearly as strong. He attempted to stutter an apology, but Smith ignored him and moved past the human to observe Gemini reclaiming control of her sound system. She was grousing about the graphic equalizer having been adjusted without her permission. Smith decided he preferred seeing her animated like this. Her quiet and introspective side was too sedate for his liking. It didn’t occur to him to wonder why he was deciding what he liked about the female.

Gemini relented a little and put in “Shine” by Collective Soul. Tyger stopped her steady demolition of the hostess’ vegetable and dip platter to play a little air guitar. Smith actually found that amusing. As plagues went, this one appeared to be of a relatively low infectious nature. The Agent couldn’t see why Gemini had been so worried this morning.

The fifth, and unexpected, locust to arrive was Jump. She brought nothing but herself, but that was enough. As usual, she was dressed in her Madonna Blonde Ambition look. Gemini told her for the umpteenth time that she needed to talk to Star about her fashion sense. Jump cheerfully told Gemini for the umpteenth time to cram it. Gemini made a face behind Jump’s back that made Tommy fall to the floor, rolling with laughter. Of course, Jump lived up to her name when she pounced on the laughing boy and stole his shoes. Tyger leaped from the couch to start a game of Keep Away with Tommy’s sneakers.

“Looks like we’re outnumbered, si?”

Smith looked over to see the one called Marco standing next to him. “What do you mean?” he asked.

“Two against five. We’re outnumbered by females, Seņor Agent. Just you and me against all that estrogen.”

“Two? Tommy...”

Marco waved a dismissive hand. “Tommy doesn’t count. He’s younger than all of us, and it shows. We usually treat him like one of those annoying little brothers...you know, the ones that say all the wrong and embarrassing things at all the wrong times but are too cute for you to kill them.”

“Too cute?” Smith said. He watched the two women as their game of Keep Away escalated. Tommy was yelping and threatening a variety of curses upon Jump and Tyger. “I don’t see it.”

Marco chuckled. “Gemini mentioned that she discovered you have a sense of humor.”

“I also have a gun. Equally as useful.” Why was this virus still talking to him?

Unfortunately (in Smith’s reckoning) unfazed, Marco folded his arms. “You need to work on your small talk skills, hombre. Gemini said...”

“Whatever she said to you is irrelevant. You have not been ordered to teach me.”

“Gee, Smith, whatever Gem has been teaching you, it didn’t include manners, did it?” Under the pressure of the Agent’s azure stare, Marco hardly twitched. Marco rolled his eyes. “She’s teaching by example again, isn’t she? No formal lessons...no black and white answers. Very irritating, si?”

Smith undid, then redid the buttons on his cuffs. “She informs me that life itself is never black and white. That this state of existence must be learned through experience, not by uploading streams of data. And yet, I have observed she desires quick answers...she has mentioned that she envies my ability to access instant information through the Mainframe.” Smith paused, regarding Gemini as she rescued one of Tommy’s shoes from Jump, only to stuff it down her own shirt and dare Tommy to retrieve it. Smith came very close to rolling his eyes. “Is she often like this?”

Marco nodded. “You should see her when she’s drunk.”

Smith raised an eyebrow. “Hmmmm.”

The Latino Watcher took a moment to consider the Agent in his friend’s living room. For whatever reason, the AI was being remarkably docile, but Marco knew just how dangerous Smith could be. That moment earlier, when Smith had scolded all of them for their innuendo, that moment had brought goose bumps to the back of Marco’s neck. Gemini treated Smith like he was benign, but Marco noticed even she looked pale after Smith’s little scolding. And he had been defending her. Marco knew he didn’t have such restraint. After the Agent had followed Gemini to her room, Marco smacked Tommy hard enough to hurt his own hand. Stupid Tommy. The boy couldn’t stop himself from putting those big feet in his mouth.

No one had been brave enough to try eavesdropping on the pair in the bedroom. No one was keen to come under that disapproving Agent stare again anytime soon. They all mumbled quietly to each other, wondering why Agent Smith was showing such protectiveness toward Gemini. Star said she envied Gemini that protection. Marco took exaggerated offense at that, and the conversation effectively segued into slightly safer territory.

Across the room, Gemini noticed Marco and Smith talking quietly. She worried about it for an instant too long, and was unable to stop Tommy from plowing into her, knocking them both to the floor. They wrestled in mock seriousness for a while. Gemini was soon too out of breath to laugh. Star cheered from the sidelines, while Jump pretended to take pictures with an imaginary camera. Tyger’s raucous laughter added to the mayhem.

Tommy pretended to choke Gemini. She gave herself over to the situation, making dramatic gagging sounds and breathlessly begging Tommy to stop. Suddenly he did stop.

The unmistakable click of a Desert Eagle safety coming undone filled the room.

Smith stood above them, his gun pointed directly at Tommy’s head. Behind him, Marco was mumbling something suspiciously like the Hail Mary. Star rushed to his side. Tyger and Jump slowly backed away from where Tommy lay on top of Gemini. She could feel her young friend trembling.

“I’ve...lost...patience with you,” Smith growled.

“Smith, no!”

Gemini rolled out from under Tommy and to her knees in front of the Agent. The gun was at her throat. She brushed hair out of her eyes and looked up at him. The sheer contempt she saw in Smith’s eyes briefly made her regret ever allowing him into her home, made her almost regret letting her friends come here. What insanity had prompted her to play house with an Agent? That jerk Scorpio was getting a piece of her mind after this... If there was an “after this”. It was like Smith forgot where he was, who he was, and what he was supposed to be doing here. All of his energy concentrated in his arm and the weapon gripped tightly in his fist. Did he recognize her? Did he care?

She stood. Slowly. Still between Smith and his intended target, Gemini leveled her best no-nonsense glare at the Agent. Chanting internally to herself that she did still have control, she placed her palm against the end of Smith’s gun.

“Don’t. Do. It,” she said, surprising her friends with the old fire they used to know her for.

[...Dammit...] Smith thought. The boy didn’t deserve any protection. Smith wanted to shoot them all in that moment. He’d been stifling the urge for most of the day. It would be so easy to just shoot them and walk away, be done with this mockery of his intelligence and abilities.

But his superiors wouldn’t like it. The Watchers would hear of it and they wouldn’t like it either. There was something bigger than Smith at work here. Something both sides hoped to gain by pushing him and Gemini together. Something that had to be accomplished by Smith being nice to these viruses.

Hell if he knew what it was, but it made him lower his weapon anyway.

Gemini let out a giant pent-up breath of tension. Helping Tommy to his feet, she discreetly mentioned to him that now was probably a good time to go. Marco came to the same conclusion on his own. Pulling Star with him, the couple left with subdued farewells to Gemini and thank yous for an...interesting visit. Tommy stuffed his feet back into his shoes and told Gemini to call him before he followed the others out the door. Tyger grabbed a last handful of baby carrots from the snack platter, and Jump insisted that their next get together absolutely must be at her place. Gemini wearily thanked them all and promised to stay in touch.

She took her time closing the door. She did not want to see the look on Smith’s face right now. After all, she’d just thwarted his programming.

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