Jarvis paused before the doors to the Operations Room to defragment his report into something useful for Clu.
The sentries standing guard at the portal exchanged a look, but Jarvis ignored them. They were just rectified conscripts, too self-important for their actual permissions.
Once he was certain his report was prepared most efficiently, he activated the door with a short command and entered the Operations Room. The Monitors looked up from their stations long enough to register his presence before returning to their work scanning the major dataflows for irregularities. Jarvis frowned faintly, performing a full scan of the room to confirm what his quickscan had told him. Clu wasn't here.
But he'd been told to report here at this time, which must mean--
The behavior of the Sentries made a bit more sense. Jarvis firmed his shoulders and crossed the room in the purposeful stride he'd copied from the Administrator, passing from the Operations Room into the Throne Room. His eyes sought Clu immediately, finding him sprawling out in his throne. The doors slid closed behind him with a pleasant hum, cutting them off from the less worthy.
"The daily report, my leader," Jarvis said quietly, taking one step forward and then stopping, waiting for permission to approach. The aura of the room was unsettling. Relaxed. He regretted the lack of trouble even though he'd been pleased enough to collate the data confirming it when he'd collected the singular datastreams into a cohesive report on System stability.
Trouble would mean parameters in which his input was meaningful.
Trouble would mean parameters in which he didn't have to wait to be acknowledged and restricted to necessary processes only, but could forge ahead and prove himself. Trouble would require that one to be elsewhere, and not here. Not...
Feeling his process speed slow with his preoccupation, Jarvis focused on his leader: the curve of Clu's shoulder and the arm he was leaning so casually against the armrest were spectacular in hi customary black. Jarvis could almost ignore the low hum from the Security conscript if he wasn't looking at him. The sound blended into the background hum of a Carrier running at peak efficiency and Jarvis took the moment to appreciate the languid strength in Clu's pose. His constant connection to the Grid was an impressive hum of constant flow: the palpable authority tingled along Jarvis' management functions, teasing him with commands he could be following. His domain was so vast that he couldn't help but rely upon the task managers to sort and present data efficiently while he kept his processor focused on larger issues.
The helmet edged into view as Clu inclined his head and waved Jarvis forward. Jarvis approached with pleasure, momentarily distracted from his presence by the deep hum of Clu's functions. "My leader."
"How do the numbers look today?"
Jarvis took two steps forward and smiled. "The data pushers report efficiency levels within our established parameters for this mark. There was some trouble with that Gridbug attack--"
The hum he'd half-convinced himself was standard background processors operating increased in volume and Jarvis looked down automatically. It wasn't often, but occasionally the drone would fail to meet specifications during his time in the office and Clu would send him away. Unfortunately, the program wasn't moving, which regularly brought an end to these sessions. Clu's leg stretched out comfortably, heel resting a fractal away from Rinzler's docked Identity Disc. In his periphery, Jarvis could see his other leg bent and propped up against the far armrest and Clu's solid thighs spread wide in his sprawl.
Jarvis lost sight of his goals, his desire to be chief among Clu's assistants, his need for Clu to truly understand what he was capable of, what he would do for him. He wanted, in that moment, only to lean his head against the throne and feel the solid, reassuring press of Clu's bent foot against his temple and the seat of the throne against his mouth.
"Go on," Clu murmured, disrupting Jarvis' useless process.
Jarvis dropped his eyes, processing speed stuttering with shame before he took a breath and forced it steady. Clu was focused on him, not that defective Security program. He had no reason to be jealous of the null's position: Clu had use for him, and as more than...furniture.
He would show him. "Of course, my leader. I was processing a new datastream. The Gridbugs," he continued. "They were seen to easily by the Sentries, who responded within our optimal predicted time frame to the nanocycle."
"Music to my ears, man," Clu murmured. Jarvis smiled. "Anything else?"
Smile dimming, Jarvis mentally cataloged the daily reports. "No, your Eminence," he said. "Everything is currently falling within acceptable boundaries. I could prepare a detailed report for your perusal, if you would prefer to view our status in more depth...?"
Clu waved the offer away. "No. If we're good, we're good."
Jarvis watched him rise curiously, eyes processing and storing the shift of his shell as he dropped his leg off of the seat of the throne and stood, shuffling Rinzler to the side. The Security program didn't respond, as immobile as any of the genuine nullcode in the room as Clu moved to the minibar and accessed the energy stores, sliding out a tube of refined energy. The faint blue glow of it shaded his face when he lifted it.
"Death to the Users," Jarvis murmured automatically. His eyes lingered on the glass as Clu raised it to his lips and shaped his mouth to it. Clu swallowed once, twice, throat visibly working to take the volume he was consuming, and he set the glass to the surface, drained.
The surface cleared automatically, pixels shimmering as the automatic protocols activated, separating the remnants of energy from the containing code and recycling it back into the main supply.
Clu sighed and stretched, stretching his head to one side and then the other. "Yeah, that's what I needed," he muttered, clearing the distance back to the throne in a few easy strides and settling in, back to the backrest properly this time.
The sound of the conscript's gurgled processor increased, but Jarvis was able to distract himself the crori Clu's overcoat fell open. Unfortunately, Clu propped both of his legs up on Rinzler's back before Jarvis had a time to appreciate the unimpeded view, and he sighed faintly in regret.
Clu glanced his way, brows arching faintly before he nodded and lifted a hand. "Good work on the report, man. Keep it up."
Jarvis swallowed his disappointment and ducked his head obediently. "Always, Your Eminence."
He didn't meet the gaze of either sentry when he left.