caught you red handed in the biscuit tin

pg-13 | no warnings apply

Diana found Phi in the lounge, stocking what was shaping up to be a very impressive bar.

"Phi, is there already something going on?"

Phi seemed distracted by whatever was in the box she just opened. She pulled out a rather garish bottle covered in what looked like pink rhinestones.

"Do you know what this is? Vodka, cognac, lychee ... I think this bottle costs over $2,000. I love their gold passion vodka. This either tastes incredible or incredibly shitty. Do you think Akane would care if I tried it?"

"Um, but you're not of legal drinking age yet."

"Look, Sigma's totally going to be the utterly embarrassing, overprotective, boring dad. You want to be the cool mom, Diana."

Hearing Phi refer to her as 'mom' brought a smile to her face, but then she remembered why she had come looking for her to begin with.

"I finished putting the medications in the infirmary and was looking for Sigma when I walked by the command center. The red light was on. Is Akane already doing something?"

"Black Tot: Last Contingent - this rum is something like $4,000. It would be a crime not to try it. But no, Sigma's in there with Junpei, Carlos, and Sean watching Green Bay versus Chicago on the big screen. They have the light on because they don't want Akane to realize they're using her super-expensive surveillance room to watch football."

"Oh, are they now?"

Diana spun around to see Akane behind her, arms crossed, not looking particularly pleased. She inexplicably felt guilty.

"Come on, Akane," Phi said. "You had them hauling heavy medical equipment in here all morning. They busted their asses. You're not using it for anything right now. Let them have their guy time."

Akane scoffed and marched out of the lounge. Diana followed her, wringing her hands, anxious about what seemed to be shaping up to be an ugly confrontation. It had only been a month since Dcom, and she didn't want to see fighting breaking out already.

Akane punched in her access code and opened the door to the command center. Sure enough, there was a football game on the gigantic screen and the four guys - three guys and a robot - were camped out in front of it.

The picture was rather impressive. Giselle was supposed to be on the Ballet Channel next week, and Diana found herself wondering how it would look -

"What the fuck was that?" Sigma shouted.

"Language!" Junpei and Carlos yelled out in unison, pointing to Sean. It seemed like this wasn't the first time they'd had to police Sigma's cursing. Ever since Sigma had outfitted Sean with a new head, making him properly look like a ten-year-old boy, it had changed how people treated him. Even Diana became uncomfortable at times with the topics discussed in front of him.

"Why did that guy throw the ball over there when nobody was there to catch it?" Sean asked, apparently nonplussed by Sigma's outburst.

"That's why Sigma's pis- uh, angry," Carlos said. "His team's gonna lose. Meyer should have retired two seasons ago. Dude's getting old."

"He's just having a bad day! He's still got it!"

Akane cleared her throat, loudly. Junpei jumped up, knocking over his chair, while Sigma froze. Carlos and Sean just turned around.

"Hi, Akane!" Sean said. "Do you want to watch the game with us? They're teaching me about football!"

Her face softened a bit as Sean waved for her to grab a seat. "That's very sweet, but no. I would like someone to tell me how exactly someone managed to get cable set up in here ... Junpei."

"Why do you assume it was me?"

"It was you," Carlos pointed out.

Akane closed her eyes and held a fist to her chest, looking very much like she was trying to resist the urge to scream. "My brother and I went to great lengths to set up a clandestine headquarters where we could prepare to fight perhaps our biggest, and most important battle, a battle for the future of the entire human race, and you jeopardize it by inviting in a Comcast technician?!"

Junpei held his hands out in front of him. "Okay, no, first of all, this is Dish Network -"


"- and secondly, we just had the lady wire it upstairs in the bank. So the customers had something to watch while they were waiting. Sean and Sigma wired it down here for us. Security has not been compromised. I swear."

"Also," Sigma said as he picked up the remote. "Sean, close your eyes and cover your ears for a minute."

Sean did as instructed and Sigma changed the channel to 734.

"They've got The Horror Channel!" Junpei gestured to the screen like a game show host revealing a brand new car to a contestant. "Twenty-four hours a day of disgusting gore that I can't believe you actually enjoy given everything we've seen, but I love you anyway."

The man onscreen sliced off someone's hand with a chainsaw and Diana grimaced, averting her eyes. Akane was watching it with rapt attention, though.

"Is that Texas Chainsaw Massacre Twelve: Child of Leatherface?"

"And they have a Hitchcock marathon on Saturdays," Junpei wheedled.

"Okay, can you please change it back to the football or something that doesn't have bloodcurdling screams, please?" Diana was starting to feel ill just listening to it. Almost instantly, it switched to the game.

"Fuck, they scored another touchdown?"

Diana looked up just in time to see Carlos smack Sigma on the back of the head. "What did we say about language around the kid?"

"I have my ears covered," Sean said. "Although as sensitive as my sensors are, I still heard everything you guys just said."

"Okay," Akane conceded. "This only gets used during downtime."

"Of course," Junpei said.

"Any mission we need it for obviously takes priority."

"Absolutely," Carlos promised, his hand over his heart.

"And no more modifications to this place unless you've cleared them with me or Aoi first. Understood?"

The three men nodded, while Sean, still with his hands over his ears, said, "Yes, Akane, I promise."

Sigma tapped on Sean's arm. "Okay, you can stop now."

Akane narrowed her eyes at her fiancÚ, but didn't say anything else before leaving.

Diana shifted her weight from side to side. "Um, I have a question."

"If you want to know if they have the Ballet Channel, yes, they do," Sigma said. "And barring an emergency, you can be in here next week watching Giselle."

"Uh ... no, but that's good to know. Upstairs, it's not a real bank, is it?"

"Well, yeah." Junpei pulled another beer out of the cooler. "Didn't you see all the people up there?"

"I ... assumed they all just worked for Akane." She could feel her cheeks warm up in embarrassment.

"The bank employees do, but the customers are all civilians," Sigma clarified.

"We're not stealing people's money, are we?" She started to wring her hands again. "Is this how Akane is funding everything?"

Junpei shook his head. "Nah, Aoi makes his money off the stock market. I mean, I'm sure he's ripping off the bank customers with hidden fees and charging ridiculous interest rates on loans, like every other bank, but we're not stealing."

Any further questions Diana had were put on hold when one of the players onscreen was tackled particularly hard, his leg bending up unnaturally.

"Fuck!" Sigma shouted.

This time, Junpei and Carlos both smacked him on the back of the head.

"Guys, it's okay. I don't get offended or upset or anything and I really wish you'd stop hitting Sigma."

Junpei ruffled Sean's hair while Carlos tossed an empty bottle into the recycling bin. Sigma groaned as he put his head in his hands. Diana came up behind him and rubbed his back.

"I don't remember these guys being this bad," he bemoaned. "This timeline fucking sucks."

Junpei just sighed as Carlos threw his hands in the air.