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Fallout
Summary: Soma Peries, having come to her senses, regrets putting her CO in a chokehold.
Who: Leo Stenbuck, Soma Peries
When: March 29, NCA 120
Where: Shirogane


It has been a very long day. Another full day of fruitless searching. Despite her requests to go back to the site of the battle, Soma was stuck on monitor duty... mostly because the Smultron was still undergoing repairs. She was sorely tempted to just requisition a GN-X III and fly out in that, but she held her patience. Some scans could be done from on board the Shirogane.

Of course, after nine straight hours staring at dozens of different types of scans, Soma was finding it hard to focus. As much as she wanted to continue the search, she knew that her time was better spent elsewhere, or at least resting her eyes slightly.

Well... for a given value of resting. Unable to simply go attempt to sleep, Soma took to pacing the hallways. It wasn't until a few steps after she passed Leo Stenbuck's room that she paused and looked back toward the door. A short hesitation... and she steps over to knock lightly on it. "Captain Stenbuck." Soma waits no more than a minute. If he doesn't answer, she'll just open the door and step in.


Leo Stenbuck's room is not, in fact, with the the rest of the quarters, in the gravity block; it is back near the engines, which means that A) there is no gravity to speak of and B) the room is constantly suffused with the low hum of engines and Tesla Drive. Leo doesn't mind either of these things, and in fact prefers the lack of gravity.

Leo Stenbuck himself is so the hell asleep. Having spent a sleepless night after the revelation about Ralla and and losing his temper with Louise - and then a big chunk of a totally unproductive day sitting at his desk staring vacantly at his computer monitor and holding his head in his hands - Leo is, finally, asleep, having passed out in the middle of a conversation (and an extremely prolonged embrace) with Latooni Subota.

Subsequently, the girl wrestled him into his bed and tucked him in - metaphorically, at least, and very possibly literally, too. She did not deign to undress him, for obvious reasons, and so he is sprawled out on his bed in full (and extremely rumpled) uniform, his blanket draped over him.

Of course, this is all just a shaggy dog story, leading up to the inevitable revelation that Leo does not at all answer his door, on account of being unconscious.


The lack of gravity is something that does not bother Soma one bit. She was born slash created in a colony with limited gravity, and her body was designed with the purpose of being useful in space. She can even survive exposure to the cold cold vaccuum for a short period of time... longer than any normal person could, at least. The thrum of the Tesla Drive likewise does not bother her. It is, in fact, reassuring, as it allows her to very directly keep track of the working conditions of the ship.

When exactly one minute has passed after the initial knock, Soma puts her access codes to use. She is technically second in command of GNX squad, even if she was never officially designated as such. She's the only full lieutenant, in any case. The door opens, the Super Soldier steps inside, and the door closes. Soma blinks several times to allow her eyes to get used to the dimmer light before she walks further into the quarters.

The sight that greets her is... not wholely unexpected. She knew Leo was upset over his actions, and having the squadron leadership taken from him, even temporarily, must have alo been a hit to the ego. "Captain." Another short pause, before Soma strides forward toward the bed. She leans over slightly, one hand reaching down to lightly touch his shoulder. There is a mental debate for a few moments, whether she should attempt to wake him or just let him be and bring this up later.


Leo's oh-so-helpful response to the touch is to groan and roll onto his side, burying his head as far as it will go in his pillow. At the same time, he reaches out to grab feebly at Soma's waist. "Nnnn... Louise..." he murmurs. "Five more... mmnnm..."


Maybe it will be better to just leave him here. Just let him sleep. He must need the rest, and Soma should really sleep as well.

When he turns over and grabs onto her, though, Soma stiffens up slightly. "Captain Stenbuck, wake up." One hand reaches down, firmly gripping his arm to try to pry it away from her body. She doesn't use a great amount of force... not yet, anyway. The other hand, still on Leo's shoulder, shakes him a bit.


A little bit of shaking does the trick; Leo groans again and then starts awake, his eyes snapping open. He jerks into a half-upright position and then drops back onto the bed, fumbling one arm under him to prop himself up.

"Y- wh- uh?" Leo stammers, blinking rapidly as he struggles to figure out what's happening. Someone's shaking him, and- what time is it? Is- "Rei?" he blurts sleepily.

No... not Rei. "Uhh...?" Leo groans, reaching up to rub at his eyes, struggling to make them focus. It's tough, thanks to just coming out of sleep and the dim light in his room.


Not Louise. Also not Rei. "It is me, Captain." Just in case her voice doesn't give away her identity through the mindfuzz of sleep, she pauses just a beat before adding, "Lieutenant Soma Peries."

Of note, her hand does not make any attempt for his throat. In fact, once he's awake, she removes her hand from his shoulder. His arm as well, so long as it's no longer around her. If it is, then the firm grip and pry continues. "I realize this may be a bad time, but I wished to talk."


Leo's arm shoots away from around Soma's waist the moment he realizes it's there, which is about the time she says her name. "Soma?" he groans, obviously confused. After a moment, he maneuvers around in bed so that he's sitting fully upright and twists to lean his back against the wall adjacent to the bed.

"Alright... yeah," the young man agrees after a yawn. "Sit down... what's up? -- did we find Ralla?" he asks suddenly, hope flooding into his voice even through the lingering sleep daze.

There is only a brief moment of hesitation before Soma turns and sits down on the edge of the bed. There is no chair handy, and there is no reason not to do something like that. It makes sense. Her head hangs slightly, however. "No, we did not. I have not given up yet, though." For a few seconds, Soma keeps her attention focused on the floor. "I apologize for waking you up. Captain, I..."

The Super Soldier pauses. She straightens up her posture and turns her head to look straight at Leo. "I apologize for my behavior. I believe I overreacted and should not have laid my hands on you." There are no excuses given, even though she has several. There's no need to give an excuse. She overstepped her bounds and that was that.


Leo sags with disappointment when the news is not, in fact, that Ralla has been found safe. He remains silent, however, until Soma gets her entire apology out, waiting patiently through her pause. He doesn't want to push her... and besides, this gives him time to get his mind fully started up.

Leo blinks several times in rapid succession once the apology has been made, and his expression softens; he scoots across the bed and swings his legs off the side, maneuvering to sit next to Soma, and once he has he lifts his arm to put his hand on her back.

"No," he says, gently. "You..." He pauses, and starts again. "You're right, that you shouldn't have reacted like that. But I should be the one apologizing, not you."

"I fucked up." Leo shakes his head, and drops his eyes to the floor. "That's all there is to it. I was pounding the 'team' thing into you guys so hard, and then I turned around and ignored it. I'm going to talk to Louise, later... I hope she can forgive me."

He pauses, briefly, and then continues, "Soma... it's not your fault, what happened to Ralla. It isn't Michael's or Louise's, either. It's mine. And after... last night, and what happened... I understand if you don't trust me to lead you anymore. If you want to leave... I'll get you assigned wherever you want to go."


The hand on her back is... well, it's not an inappropriate, but the contact is definitely unexpected. Very briefly, Soma tenses up, but she son returns to her normal posture. She's silent at first, as Leo speaks, amber eyes betraying nothing of the thoughts going through her head. When he pauses, however, she shakes her head, opens her mouth... and waits.

Finally, she speaks up. "You were not there either. Her disappearance is not your fault." Soma tilts her head just slightly, giving Leo a puzzled look. "Why would I ask to be reassigned to another unit? You are human, Captain. Humans make mistakes. I will not fault you for a temporary lapse in judgement."

There's another pause, as she struggles with the urge to look away, while forcing herself not to break eye contact. "I hope I did not injure you. I wished only to protect Warrant Officer Halevy and did not think about my actions. I..." Unlike Leo, Soma does not consider herself human. She is a Super Soldier. Unlike him, she is not allowed to make mistakes or lapses in judgement. "Striking a superior officer is not something that should be easily forgiven. I believe my reasoning was correct, but my choice of actions was not."


Despite being a teenage male - and, more damningly, Leo Stenbuck - Leo manages to keep his touching from seeming lewd. He's just... touchy, sometimes. At least with women.

Okay, maybe it's only not /overtly/ lewd.

Leo chuckles when Soma speaks about her choice of actions being incorrect, but there's not really any humor in it. He just sounds tired, and sad. "I guess we both fucked up, then," he summarizes, giving Soma a pat on the back. "But I forgive you. And I hope that I'll be able to earn the same kind of loyalty you show Louise."

With a heavy sigh, Leo reaches his free hand up to rub at his eyes, and then turns to look at Soma. "I'm glad you don't want to leave. So... I forgive you, you forgive me. We're square, right?"


The back is a fairly safe place to touch so long as there is no wandering taking place. Leo is not in danger... for now. Even -if- he is a teenage male, even if he is a Leo Stenbuck. The second pat on the back is friendly enough, though Soma really is not used to physical contact of any kind. "Thank you, Captain." She turns slightly, lifting her hand up in a brief salute. "Of course."

When her hand lowers, Soma's gaze grows a bit harder. "My duty to protect Louise Halevy continues, however. I do not want to hear again that you have hurt her." It isn't a threat. She really doesn't want to find out that anything like that has happened, because she'll have to take -some- kind of action. Her expression softens again, just slightly, and she glances away. "Permission to speak freely?"


Leo's face twists into a grimace, and he looks away again, a moment before Soma does. He doesn't want to hear that, either, probably even more than Soma does. He's made a lot of mistakes in his life, but hitting Louise is easily one of the top few. The only thing that leaps to mind that he regrets more is not telling Rei that--

Leo takes a sudden sharp breath at the memory, and hunches forwards slightly as the crack in his armor tears open, and all of a sudden it's like there's a knife buried in his heart. It was different, when he was waking up, and he thought that Soma was--

-- and he called her Rei, then, too, but she's /not/ Rei, he swore he wouldn't call her that, he made a /point/ of it because she's /not/, she's /NOT/, and--

-- Leo forces himself to take a long, slow breath, and squeezes his eyes shut. Just don't lose your shit in front of Soma, he demands of himself. Just stay calm until she's gone.

"Granted," he responds a little more sharply than he means to to Soma's request. After a beat, he adds shakily, "Assume you always have it."


Soma definitely heard Leo calling her Rei. On the bright side, she assumed it was because he didn't get a clear look at her. After all, he mumbled Louise's name in his sleep right before.

If Leo has any other feelings that may have led to this mistaken identity, however, then things might get a bit messy.

"...yes, sir." She doesn't like to make assumptions like that. it gives her far more freedom than she feels she should have. Still... she files that answer away for later. "I am... concerned. Yesterday, when I..." Soma lifts her hand slightly, looking down at it. "I felt an immense rage, but it was not all from within me. I am wondering if my exposure to those GN Tau particles at La Vie en Rose have affected me adversely." Although her eyes remain open, Soma refouses them to stare straight ahead at nothing. "The matter is less important when i am piloting, since my helmet blocks out unwanted Quantum brainwaves. Without it, however..."


Leo's brow furrows with concern when Soma starts talking, and it does a remarkable job of pulling his thoughts away from Rei... which, in turn, does a remarkable job of helping him calm down. He lifts his eyes to Soma again, and frowns thoughtfully as she explains.

He definitely remembers being angry, and for a brief moment, he wonders if that might have been what she was feeling. She is, after all, a Cyber-Newtype. But... surely if that was it, she'd recognize it, right? No... this must be something else.

It never even occurs to him to consider his meager abilities as an Innovator, and their potential involvement. Logically, he knows he has them, sure, but they're so far from mind that he simply doesn't consider that they might have something to do with it.

"Do you need to see a doctor?" Leo asks, obviously worried. "If this might become dangerous, then..."


Although Soma knows that she was broadcasting her anger at the moment she reached out to grab Leo, she definitely was not before then... and she was still feeling something then. "I have found that I am able to read those people I know well. I can sense Warrant Officer Halevy's Quantum brainwaves without much effort. I can often feel yours as well, Captain." Soma tilts her head just slightly, looking back at Leo. She isn't quite sure why... sure, he's her direct superior, but she hasn't spent enough time with him to really -know- him. Then again, the same could be said for many people. "Perhaps it is simply strong emotions of those with whom I am familiar."

At mention of a doctor, Soma pauses. "...perhaps. In this case, I would rather not. If I were to submit myself to testing for this, the process could take days. I do not wish to remove myself from my search for Lieutenant Triald for that."


Leo's frown deepens, and he lifts his hand off of Soma's back... but only to reach up and put it on her shoulder. "I know how you feel, Soma," he says, as gently as he can manage. "But if you think this might be something dangerous, please, go see a doctor. We've already lost Ralla... I don't want to lose you, too, especially not to, to GN cancer or something."

In hindsight, that may have been a little callous, Leo reflects, especially considering Louise's condition. But, well... it's a legitimate concern, if she was exposed to GN Particles. He sighs, and continues, "Ralla wouldn't want you to compromise your own safety to help find her.

"But-" Leo raises his free hand, finger raised towards the ceiling. "-I'm not /ordering/ you to see a doctor. I'm just asking you. If you really don't want to... you don't have to. Okay?"


"I do not think it is dangerous." When that hand rests on her shoulder, Soma turns her head to look at it. She does not, however, make a comment on its placement. Her gaze soon returns to Leo. "I believe that I will be able to function as normal again in a few days. The flood of particles was merely a shock to my system."

It isn't just the time, though. Something inside her... for some reason, she doesn't want to go see the doctors right now. They wouldn't understand. They -couldn't-... "It is not affecting me physically at all. I believe that the danger to myself is minimal."

Soma gives a brief nod. "I understand. I'll make sure to return to the doctors as soon as we find Lieutenant Triald. I appreciate your concern."


Although obviously still worried, Leo simply nods, and gives Soma's shoulder a (hopefully reassuring) squeeze. "Alright," he says. "But if it gets worse, or you start... feeling faint, or something, come straight to me, okay?"

He finally takes his hand off of Soma and reaches up to rub at his face; the other digs into the pocket of his uniform pants and pulls out a phone. He taps at the screen and squints down at it as it lights up. Shit. His circadian rhythm just got kicked in the nuts.

"I need to take a shower and talk to Louise," he sighs, dropping his hands into his lap. "You should go get some rest, Soma. Feel better, okay?"


"I'll be certain to do so." Once more, Soma glances at that hand on her shoulder. Once more, she proceeds to ignore it after that one look. "I do not believe it will be an issue, now that I know the sensitivity is there."

Soma looks away for a moment before rising to her feet. "Yes... I will be sure to rest properly so I can resume my search." She glances down at Leo's curret state of dress and hesitates. Should she... well, she probably should. "In the future, Captain, I recommend you not sleep in your uniform. It will become wrinkled and it may be rather uncomfortable." A quick salute is given then, and she turns on her heel to exit.


Leo opens his mouth to say something immediately, but hesitates; he turns to peer quizzically at Soma as she stands, and as she turns to leave, just shakes his head and laughs. "Thanks for the advice, Soma," he says, smiling.

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