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Protocol

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After a long day at the tower, Zach decided to head home. 

 

I mean… was it really a decision? No, more like the LDs forced him to go because it was midnight and he had 0 period bright and early tomorrow. 

 

Zach bid farewell to the few interns still on the floor before heading to the elevator. He didn’t say anything, but FRIDAY knew to take him to the lobby.

 

“Goodnight FRI, see you on Wednesday,” Zach said to the AI sending her a wave.

 

“Goodnight, Mr. Cooper.”

 

Andrea was gone at the point, of course, and Zach felt a little empty to leave without Andrea’s usual goodbye. He stepped through security when suddenly alarms started going off. The remaining security guards immediately moved to block his exit.

 

“Protocol My Precious. Protocol My Precious,” FRIDAY called loudly through the ceiling.

 

“What the..” Zach murmured as Charlotte, one of the on shift Omega LDs, came running out of the elevator.

 

She looked at the commotion near the door and a confused look struck her face. “Zach?”

 

“Charlotte? What’s happening?”

 

The LD slowed down to approach Zach and the security guards. 

 

“It’s okay, boys,” Charlotte said to the security guards, shooting them a smile.

 

“Lottie, it's the protocol,” The security Zach recognized as Monty argued. Charlotte crossed her arms and shot him a look.

 

“It’s fine, Mo. I’m sure it was a mistake,” Charlotte said, smiling gently at Zach. Zach gave a nervous smile back.

 

The guards hesitantly let go, yet still blocked the entrance.

 

“Zach, is it possible you took something from a lab or a tool before you left?” Charlotte asked the boy, keeping her voice calm and encouraging.

 

“Um, I don’t know. Let me check my backpack."

 

He fumbled to open it and started digging around. His hand hit a cool, metal object. A frown hit his face as he wrenched it out. It was a pair of tongs.

 

The blood drained from Zach’s face. “Shit, I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to take it. Here-”

 

He shoved it out towards her.  “Take it!”

 

Charlotte giggled slightly and shot him an amused smile. Gently, she took the tongs from his hands.

 

“It’s alright, Zach. I know it was an accident. Just be sure to check your bag before you leave next time, okay?”

 

“Yes, of course. Thank you, Charlotte,” He said, giving her a short hug. She hugged him back then pushed him towards the door.

 

“Goodnight, Zach. Get home safe,” She called, her eyes not leaving him as he walked out of the entrance.

 

He sighed out in relief. That could have been a disaster.