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Object Lessons
Summary: Leo Stenbuck, shaken by the death of Lamia Loveless, visits Soma Peries in the hospital.
Who: Leo Stenbuck, Soma Peries
When: February 15, 2010
Where: Vaguely Defined Military Hospital


For one such as Soma Peries, Super Soldier, a near-death experience is not new. That doesn't make it any more pleasant... it just isn't the first time she was almost killed in battle. There have been worse instances, in fact. The cockpit wasn't breached this time, though several explosions did melt through part of her flight suit.

Lying in bed is not something Soma is really capable of, however. The doctors here seem to know this, as they brought her workout suit: a skintight sleeveless white bodysuit that ends about mid-thigh, showing the quickly-healing burns on her arms. Any visitor will find her lying on the floor in the midst of a workout, doing situps while occasionally glancing aside at the monitor connected to her body by several electrodes. She may be forced to stay here, but she's not going to be -idle-.


About halfawy through Soma's quite probably ill-advised workout, there is a series of knocks on the door into her hospital room; after a moment, the door cracks open and none other than Major Leo Stenbuck sticks his head in. "Peries?" he begins, as he does. "Are you aw-" He freezes halfway through his sentence, eyes dropping to Soma's place on the floor.

Leo isn't sure what he expected her to be doing while in recovery, but situps was definitely not on the list. "Uh." It is at about this point, with Leo staring dumbfoundedly at the white-haired girl, that it becomes noticable that his eyes and nose are both bright red. It isn't hard to guess that he's been crying.

To be honest, she probably -shouldn't- be exerting herself this much, but Soma would go crazy if she had to lie around idly. As soon as the door opens, she glances toward it... and once she sees who it is, she rises quickly to her feet. Her right hand quickly snaps up to her forehead, unfortunately showing off those burns pretty well. "Sir! Please forgive my appearance, Major."

The room is pretty plain, aside from the monitoring equipment still attached to Soma. And that one bright pink balloon tied to the foot of her bed. When he stares at her, amber eyes drift downward. Well, she's not exactly in uniform, but there's nothing too unpresentable about her workout suit. "Major? Are you well?" Yes, she noticed that redness.


It does not really count as being to Leo's credit that he doesn't stare at Soma's chest or hips or what have you, because he's just staring at the burns, instead. Besides, there's not much in either of those places to look at! "I-I'm fine," Leo stammers, still recovering from entering a hospital room to find the recovering patient... performing vigorous physical exercise.

"It's just... ugh," the boy sighs, pushing the door open further. He lifts one foot to fully enter the room, and then hesitates. "Uh... can I come in?" he asks, after an awkward pause.

Just because there's not much there doesn't mean there's nothing to look at! The makers of these clothes obviously were more concerned about Soma's ease of motion rather than her status as a young woman. The uncertain reply is met with a confused look, as Soma slowly lowers her hand. "Of course, Major. You should not need to ask permission."

There's something wrong. She doesn't remember Leo being timid when it comes to his subordinates. She reaches up to remove some of the electrodes from her forehead and shoulders. "Did you need something from me?"


"No..." Leo finally steps into the room, shutting the door behind him. "But, uh... just..." The boy steps uncertainly over to the edge of the hospital bed, takes a seat on the edge of it, and proceeds to... stare at his feet in silence, for several long seconds.

Eventually, without looking up, he says, "I don't know if you... knew her, or maybe you already heard, or- but, uh... Lamia- Lieutenant Lamia Loveless..." Leo scowls, as his speech degenerates closer and closer to babbling.

He pauses again, and manages, after a few heartbeats, "She died yesterday... killed by Vindel Mauser."


As she removes the rest of the sensors, Soma keeps her eyes on Leo. Even if she is technically off duty and out of uniform, that doesn't give her any reason to lessen her respect for a superior officer. She is rather perplexed by his attitude, however.

Once the electrodes are all gone, she steps over to her bed. "Major?" And he finally begins talking. "I am afraid I did not know her, sir." Slowly, realization begins to dawn on Soma. Is Leo... did he really come to -her- for emotional comfort? Slowly, Soma blinks. She is not really the type to give any sort of advice on this matter. "...her record was exemplary." She's -trying- to be supportive. "You knew her well, Major?"


The question elicits, of all things, a short, bitter laugh from Leo. "No," he says, after a moment, still without looking up. "We were... acquaintances, I guess. We'd talked a few times." He sighs, and reaches up to rub at his eyes with one hand.

"I know that... lots of people die, here, in the military," he explains, voice only a little shaky. "Most of them I don't know. Or I'd have, you know, only ever said a few words to them, or just seen them in the mess, or something. But her..."

"I don't know. She wanted to borrow some books from me, one time. I said yes, but we were both busy, so it never ended up happening. And now I feel... I guess guilty about it?" Leo sighs. "... sorry. I'm babbling."

He shifts uncomfortably, and lifts his eyes to look at Soma; he can't quite manage eye contact, so he settles for staring at her burns again. "I came down here because... I wanted to check on you, I guess. Because I don't want you to end up like... her. Like Lamia."


He's babbling. Soma realizes it before Leo admits it. She waits patiently, though, listening without interruptions. There is an occasional nod of acknowledgement that she's listening, but the Super Soldier gets the idea that Leo might just need -someone- to talk at about this. "It is unrealistic to expect to know every soldier who has died in the service of the EFA, Major. There is no need to feel bad for not being familiar with them all."

Borrowing books? Soma pauses and shakes her head. "No apologies necessary. You are emotionally distraught over this..." She shifts slightly, lifting a hand... and blinks as she notices he's staring at her arm. "I heal very quickly, Major. The nanites in my body ensure that." Another pause, and she gives him a somewhat incredulous look. "You were... concerned for my well-being?"


Nanites, huh? Leo's brow furrows slightly; that's the first he's heard of any Cyber-Newtype being infused with nanotechnology; nanotechnology, as far as he knows, has been considered an awfully dangerous game since the early 21st century AD, an idea merely reinforced by the entire Devil Gundam brouhaha.

He supposes he shouldn't be surprised that the Cyber-Newtype program is as much 'let's do some weird shit to a little girl and see what happens' as it is actual replications of past experiments. No wonder there are so many problems with it. Leo mentally ups his count of 'how many times the guy who invented Cyber-Newtypes should be punched in the face' to three.

"Of course," Leo says, though it takes him a few moments as he works out his feelings on the new detail of Soma's enhancement. "I know we haven't... talked much, but I still don't want you to get hurt."

"And... that's another part of why I came down here," he admits. "To talk, I mean. Just... so I could get to know you more, I guess. I mean... technically, you're pretty much my direct subordinate. So..."


When the Devil Gundam was active, Soma was under quite a lot of observation. Her own nanomachines never did anything they were not supposed to, however, so there was never an issue. Soma herself doesn't have any problems with what was done to her. The nanites have saved her life on several occasions, between the rapid healing and the resistance to vaccuum.

Besides, Leo has no idea what was done to Soma. If he thinks that nanomachines are the limit of the experiments, he will learn more... eventually.

"I appreciate the concern, Major." Even if not much of the stated emotion really reaches her face or her voice. Soma has been affected somewhat by her time on the Nadesico, but she's still rather stunted emotionally. "My arm..." She lifts it slightly, looking down at the burns. "It will heal quickly. I am certain that I should be cleared to return to duty by tomorrow." It will take a little bit longer to fully repair the Smultron, but she'll worry about how she'll launch when the timy comes.

"I see." Soma gives a quick nod. "I appreciate the efforts, Major Stenbuck. I can understand that knowing me better may help assist you in using me more efficiently in the field."


"Yeah," Leo agrees with Soma's assessment, obviously unenthused about some part of it. The 'using' bit rubs him the wrong way, if only because of Soma's nature... but, he argues to himself, the same word would be used if he were directing anyone else on the battlefield. "Well, I'm glad you'll be better soon."

"But, uh... until then..." Leo scoots over a little and pats the bed next to him. "Sit down." Once she has, the boy shifts awkwardly, and prompts, "So, uh... tell me about yourself."


Of course, Soma means it in the manner of using a soldier. She knows exactly what her rights are (not many) and has no desire to be thought of as any more or less than what she actually is. There is a bit of pride in her actions at times, but that's only because she knows how good she is. Most of her disdain is directed at the enemy anyway.

"I am looking forward to returning to the field. There are several operations in China I wish to plan." Since she is in charge there, she's going to make the most of it.

There is a brief pause as Leo pats the bed. Soma blinks slowly, but the intent does finally register. "...yes, sir." She isn't really sure what he means to accomplish, granted. It almost sounds as if he wants to get to know her outside of any battlefield context, and that puzzles her somewhat. Still, she does sit down next to him, hands resting on the bed on either side. "That is a very broad request, Major. Unless you wish to be here for a long time, I would recommend being a little more specific." She hopes he doesn't want her life story, anyway.


Leo laughs again, this time less bitter and more nervous. "I guess you're right. Um..." He reaches up to scratch at the back of his neck, and, distracted by his contemplation of what to ask, ends up letting his eyes wander away from Soma's burns and towards the rest of her body.

He gets distracted from the whole 'thinking' thing, and ends up ogling the Super Soldier for a good ten seconds before he finally realizes what he's doing and looks sharply away.

No. Bad. Cyber-Newtype. Off limits.

"Well, you were exercising when I got here," he mumbles, eyes fixed firmly on the opposite wall. "And you're in pretty good shape. What sort of stuff do you do when you, uh, work out?"


Anyone who would not realize they were being stared at for that long would have to be blind. "Major Stenbuck, you are distracted. I can change if you prefer." She glances down briefly toward her arms. "I know the injury looks severe, but you should not overly concern yourself." Maybe she didn't notice just where he was looking? Well... probably not likely. She does have a little tact... maybe she's trying to help Leo save face.

"It was useful to pass the time. I do not have access to all of my strategic planning material here." Of all the things he could ask, he wants to know her exercise plan? Strange. "My regimen was set by my handlers in the Cyber-Newtype labs in Neo-China. It involves a combination of standard aerobic exercises, along with Tai Chi for flexibility."


Flexibility, huh?

Leo grits his teeth for a moment.

"I'm fine," he assures Soma, although he still refuses to look back at her. "You just... it looks painful. Let me know if you need anything, or... or anything."

Pause. "Um, anyways... I see. What sort of stuff do you do when you're not exercising or, uh, doing 'strategic planning'?" he asks. "Not that any of us have a lot of free time to waste, these days... well, maybe the pressure'll drop, with the whole ZAFT thing."


Being in good shape is of no use if one has trouble moving. It's important!

"...very well." She doesn't believe him, but she did offer, and asking again won't really help the matter at all. "You are correct. I do not have much free time. Much of what I do have is spent in practice. I am sometimes called back to the labs to check on my body's functions." After a moment of thought, Soma adds, "I have also had to spend time avoiding Captain Misumaru when she is 'in the mood to dress me up,' as she puts it." If that was a job, Soma doesn't really show any signs of amusement at it.

"And although I consider it a form of training, Ms. Ruri assures me that time spent on some of the simulators counts as recreation." Another pause, and Soma corrects herself, "I am sorry. Ruri Hoshino, I mean."


At 'in the mood to dress me up', Leo's shoulders suddenly tense. He doesn't interrupt, but he does cross his arms over his chest and lift his eyes to stare at the ceiling, frowning.

"I know who you meant," he says, surprisingly softly, after Soma corrects herself about Ruri. He pauses, and then continues, "You shouldn't let... Captain Misumaru... 'dress you up', if you don't want her to. You shouldn't let anyone do things to you you don't want done to you."

"You're not a doll, or a toy," Leo insists, dropping his gaze back down from the ceiling, all the way to the floor. "And you're not just an... object, either, no matter what the law says. You're a girl."


To this point, Soma has managed to avoid being put into a dress. She -was- made to wear a suit once, but that wasn't quite as bad. At least it wasn't pink. Yurika did manage to sneak in a bright purple handkerchief though. She was very proud of herself.

"I know I am not a doll or a toy. The Captain means well..." Soma pauses, trying to choose her words carefully. "She believes I should act more like a young woman my age." Amber eyes shift to look at Leo. "I am a soldier first and foremost. All other concerns are secondary to that."


Soma's words do a great deal to placate Leo, but he still looks agitated, and scowls crossly at the wall on the other side of the room. "It's good that you take your job seriously," he agrees. "I've always liked that, when working with you. But..." He falters, and sighs heavily.

"She's right, sort of. It is important to... have something that isn't work. To, to be a... you know, a girl, while you still can. But no one can make you," he explains, scowl softening back into a thoughtful frown. "You have to want to do it. And no one can make you do that, either."


As far as Cyber-Newtypes go, Soma is probably the most well-adjusted. This does not necessarily say all that much, though.

"I have made the attempt before, Major." Soma closes her eyes briefly and shakes her head. "I am not suited for such a thing. I was created to be a soldier. It would be irresponsible of me to put anything else in front of that duty." She presses her lips together firmly for a moment before continuing, "I appreciate the concern, but it is not needed. I do not have expectations for myself besides my duty."


Leo opens his mouth to press the point... but, astonishingly, realizes that that would be a little hypocritical of him to do so now. "Okay," he says, a slight note of defeat in his voice. Of course, he's too much of a stubborn douchebag to drop the issue /entirely./ "But... if you decide you do want to dress up or, or do whatever girls do, you're not going to get in trouble or anything. Just because you were... created... to be a soldier doesn't mean it's the only thing you can be. You're still a human being."

Leo sighs, and uncrosses his arms. "I should get out of your hair. There's work that needs doing, and... stuff. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me," he says, reaching down and giving Soma a pat on the leg. He immediately regrets it; he feels a sudden combination of awkwardness and 'fear of sexual harassment lawsuit.'

Then he realizes that it's impossible to sexually harass a Cyber-Newtype, because, you know, no human rights. That upsets him again. Guy who invented the Cyber-Newtype, punched in the face, four times.

"Think about what I said," Leo says stiffly, rising to a standing position.


He gave up that easily? Soma is a bit surprised, but also somewhat relieved. It's always a little uncomfortable when people try to push things like rights onto you and don't seem to understand that you don't want or need them. "I am aware of this, Major. My choices of action are not intended to avoid trouble. I do not make decisions I do not wish to make." There are a few orders she dislikes, but in the long run, she doesn't regret obeying what she's told.

"You are welcome, Major." If Soma is bothered by the touch, she doesn't seem to register it. She does glance down at the hand, but there doesn't seem to be any ill intention behind it, so it isn't even worth bringing up. "I will think about it."

When Leo rises to his feet, Soma does as well. She brings her hand up again for a quick salute. "I wish you success on what work that needs to be done."


This time, Leo returns the salute. "I appreciate it," he says, one corner of his mouth turning upwards in a grin. "But it isn't necessary. Just a bunch of paper pushing. In any case... get well soon, Lieutenant Peries. I'll see you later."

Leo turns and strides over to the door. Door opens, Leo steps out, door closes.

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