Anew Friendship
Summary: Anew meets Lyle at the docking bay, and the two agree to dinner.
Who: Anew Returner, Lockon Stratos
When: 02 May NCA 120
Where: Aboard the Ptolemaios II

Living a double life can be difficult, sometimes; even - or maybe especially - when the two identities are part of closely connected groups. In some ways, this makes life easier for Lyle Dylandy amongst the members of Celestial Being... He doesn't have to pretend to be anyone, here. They all know that he's not the original Lockon, so he doesn't have to keep up that pretense in any form.

It's this oddly relaxed feeling that Lyle reflects on, as the GN-006 Cherudim Gundam docks with the Ptolemaios II, the hunter green and white mobile suit moving over to its usual spot on the hangar deck. There are regular checks and maintenance to be done, the same sort that Celestial Being's suits go through any time they leave and come back; the Meister himself isn't overly concerned with these.

Instead, Cherudim's cockpit opens, and Lockon emerges, tugging off the helmet to his green flight suit as he steps onto the catwalk. Moments later, the orange Haro comes fluttering out of the cockpit in turn, following the sniper like usual.

"WE'RE HOME!" Haro chirps cheerfully in the air, flappy things flapping and eyelights flashing. "WE'RE HOME!"

Anew's fingers are nimbly tapping away on the console when the alert first comes up. She glances at the alert for one second, then continues tip-tap-taping away with the same stacatto sound as before. For a moment, it seems that the alert is of no concern to the purple-haired pilot, but after one final tap of the console, she swivels around in her chair and makes her way to the docking bay.

Compared to most of the other members of the Ptolemaios II, Anew was a recent recruit. Lyle Dylandy, pilot of the Cherudim Gundam was recruited shortly after she arrived onboard the ship. Though it had been over a half year since he first joined Celestial Being, she scarely knew anything about him. She'd pieced together bits and pieces about his brother from the discussions of the other crew members, and was sure she knew more about the previous Lockon than the current one--despite never having met him.

When Cherudim's cockpit opens, Anew is standing there to greet him, her hands clasped behind her back.

"You have been gone for awhile now," she says. By the way she says it, it's more than just a comment on the length of his departure.

Things that Lyle Dylandy was not expecting when he clambered out of the cockpit: Anew Returner.

Haro, of course, keeps hopping cheerfully, because that's what the little bastard does, and while the EFA intelligence operative turned Karaba pilot turned Gundam Meister/spy (that's a pretty convoluted progression) takes a moment to look slightly surprised at Anew's presence and greeting, the spherical partner robot instead contributes: "HELLO, ANEW! HELLO, ANEW!" because if nothing else, a Haro is always a Haro.

Well, except for Bad Haro. Or Hanayo. But otherwise...!

Recovering himself, Lyle stands there with one hand holding his flight suit helmet, slung casually back over his shoulder as he grins and leans his other hand on the catwalk railing. "Why, Miss Returner," the sniper says, tone a bit teasing. "If you say it like that, I'm going to start thinking that you missed me."

Does Lyle Dylandy ever take anything overtly seriously? Well, yes, but not if he can help it; it's a means of keeping a safe distance between himself and situations, and other people. So it's not very surprising that Lyle is something of a mysterious entity, even with the months he's spent on the Ptolemaios II, especially compared to the whole big file they have about Neil, which is probably Feldt Grace's preferred bedtime reading.

Anew's lips tug upwards in a twinge of a smile at the sight of Lyle's cheerful orange haro. It's a refreshing change from the usually Serious Anew working the medical bay, or stationed on the bridge. "Hello, Haro-san," she returns.

And in that one moment of weakness, Lyle moves in for the finishing blow. Anew's reaction is immediate: her cheeks quickly flush pink as her eyes widen. "Of course not...!" Her expression softens.

"You didn't put in a request for your leave of absence," she says. "While Sumeragi-san is gone, Feldt-san is in charge of clearing leaves of absences." Anew of course, has been helping; Feldt had stepped up voluntarily, but was floundering under the amount of work that had to be done. Even now, Feldt was gone, too... recruiting others to join the Celestial Being cause in Sumeragi's absence.

Still, if it was a lecture that Anew wanted to give, she could have easily done so later. Why the greeting in the docking bay?

Haro finally settles down by this point, landing surprisingly softly on the catwalk and resting there for a moment; but its eyelights keep flashing, and it tilts slightly to one side, giving it the appearance of observing curiously, head cocked.

Sometimes, one wonders just /how/ intelligent the orange Haro's AI really is.

When it becomes clear that he might be in ~trouble~, Lyle's brows raise a bit, his mouth half-opening; at least it makes the grin falter. "Oh, well..." the secret agent starts, glancing around briefly. "...I just figured, since Feldt was so busy..." And is not a particular fan of talking to him... "...Well, it was just a little errand I had to run, y'know? Nothing major, or dangerous. Besides, I told Old Man Vashti..."

Who is not currently in the hangar bay to corroborate Lyle's story... Or, for that matter, to contradict it.

Sighing a bit, Lyle turns his greenish-blue eyes back towards Anew, considering. "Ah... Anyway, it's not like I want to make your job harder, so... I won't do it again. Though if that's what it takes you get you to come down and see me in purpose when I get back..." he adds, starting to grin again.

Anew doesn't know how to react in circumstances like these, so inevitably, every time without fail, with every teasing smile or potential pick-up line, she finds herself inevitably blushing.

As she does so again now.

If she were anybody else, she's sure this wouldn't be a problem. Others had experiences like these; they knew how to react, how to engage in verbal parlay in moments like these. They didn't have to stammer out hasty replies; they could more easily hide their embarassment.

"As long as Feldt-san knows, it should be okay," she says, once she's recovered. "Though right now, she's gone, too..."

She turns around, her hands still clasped behind her back. "We still don't know where Sumeragi-san is. Feldt-san is recruiting new members to Celestial Being. Allelujah-san is still missing." What is Anew trying to say?

"It feels like Celestial Being is falling apart."

Which is probably at least part of why Lyle does it, using his words to keep Anew off-balance. The last thing he needs to do is 'go native' over here, right?

The fact that Feldt is /also/ not on the Ptolemaios is interesting, and something that the sniper files away after Anew says it; 'recruiting new members'? Lyle has to wonder what's up with that. It's not like they've got a whole ton of extra mobile suits to go around, especially since they only have five GN Drives.

Still, it's something to think about.

"Hey, I'm sure Miss Sumeragi will turn up," Lyle says, though he's not entirely sure why Anew turned her back on him. After a moment, the counterfeit Meister moves up to stand alongside the lavender-haired young woman, still holding his flight suit helmet casually. "And that Allelujah guy... We'll get him back, don't worry. After all, me and Tieria are still around," Lyle offers, leaning into Anew's field of vision with what he hopes is a reassuring grin. "Nothing's gonna fall apart, what we're doing here is important, right? So, keep your chin up, Miss Returner. After all, we're all counting on you, too."

Why is he trying to cheer her up? Well, truth be told, Lyle himself isn't entirely sure.

Out of anyone onboard the ship, it is Feldt that Anew talks to the most. Even before Sumeragi was out of the picture, it was the two of them trying to cover for her in front of Katharon at the dinner held a few weeks ago onboard the Ptolemaios. It was then that she began to feel as though Celestial Being was falling apart. Without Sumeragi to guide them, everyone began wandering off on their own. Even Anew was at a loss; all she could do was stay on board the ship, and run the technical side of things the very best she could.

"Nn," she says in agreement, and she smiles. It seems that Lyle's words have done the trick. "I just wish I had done something while she was still here." It wasn't as if Sumeragi tried to hide her blatant alcoholism, but Anew didn't know what to do. So she did the only thing she could: hold her hair back while she was sick.

She turns to face Lyle, her expression softened. "And if you'd like, you can call me Anew."

When you're a super spy dude, working from inside a secretive ally of your own organisation in order to ensure that secretive ally remains useful and cooperative, it's important to form only shallow connections and maintain your objectivity; that way, you can more easily steer, say, an independent armed organisation dedicated to the eradication of war, in a useful direction.

Which is why Lyle Dylandy is mildly alarmed that he feels a sense of relief when Anew's expression changes to a smile after his encouragement. Uh oh.

Straightening up as Anew turns to face him, Lyle shrugs slightly. "I guess we've gotta keep an eye on Miss Sumeragi, but... Well, she needs something to kick her ass out of the mood she's in, I think. She needs a reason to fight, but the only person who can give her that is... Her."

The counterfeit Meister tilts his head slightly, regarding Anew with a smile. "Anew it is," Lyle says. "You can just call me Lyle," he adds. "Though, I guess if I'm on a mission you should stick with 'Lockon'." Yeah, nothing about this can end badly.

"Lyle," Anew says softly, more to herself than to him. Until now, she had only known him as Lockon Stratos, though she had heard his twin's real name plenty of times from Feldt. But Lyle... It doesn't sound as harsh as Lockon.

It suits him better, she decides.

"You must be tired," she says. After traveling, she often is; in those moments she finds herself unable to focus. Minutes pass before she's even realized she's spaced out. "I can fill you in on everything that has happened later."

Not that much has happened in Lyle's absence.

Pretending to be his brother, which is the current status of Lyle's association with Celestial Being as far as dealing with people outside of the organisation goes, is not something that he enjoys. It's easier, here on the Ptolemy, because they all know he's not the same guy. Some of them are kind of disapproving of that, but at least they understand it; regardless, it's always nice to be referred to by his own name. He doesn't give a tinker's cuss about the Meisters' code of secrecy or anything like that, anyway.

"Oh, a little, I guess," the sniper allows, with a bit of a shrug. "But you know..." Trailing off for a moment, Lyle regards Anew, and then he gets a bit of a grin as he glances away. "I'm more hungry than tired. Have you eaten yet, Anew? We could go get something to eat, down in the mess."

Look how smooth Lyle Dylandy is. He's Captain Smooth.

Though she has overheard talk about Neil's disappearance, what Anew doesn't know is the reason why. Nor does she understand why Sumeragi would go through the trouble of replacing Lockon Stratos with his twin. At first, she had thought that it was to continue the farce, so no one would know that Celestial Being had lost one of their Meisters... but then she heard that there was another Meister, Setsuna, who had disappeared even before she had joined Celestial Being.

So why only replace the pilot of the Cherudim?

"I haven't," she says. "I was thinking earlier of making something. But if you're hungry too, I can make something for the two of us."

Why, indeed?

Lyle's introduction to Celestial Being was a rather violent one; though he was aware of the organisation beforehand, it wasn't until he found himself an unwitting guest on board the Ptolemaios II after the rescue of Sumeragi Lee Noriega from Federation custody - via crash landing his Zeta Plus C1 into the Ptolemy's launch catapult, naturally - that he actually learned anything about the situation. Since the group was without a sniper, Lyle filled the role handily for a bit... Slowly becoming the replacement for his own brother, slowly coming to put on a charade of being the one and only Lockon Stratos.

It's a funny old world.

Anew's offer, as she sees his bet of 'whatever there is to eat in the mess, probably nutrient paste or something' and raises him 'dinner made by Anew herself', brings another smile to the face of the counterfeit Gundam Meister, as he looks back at her. "I'd like that," he says, no jokes or teasing now. "Just, uh... I'll just go take a shower and get changed, I've had this suit on for like four hours," Lyle adds, with a comically exaggerated grimace.

"IT'S A DATE," the orange Haro pipes up, because of course it does. "IT'S A DATE!"

Anew had been the one looking after Lyle in the medical bay after he arrived onboard the Ptolemaios. At the time, she hadn't understood why everyone was behaving so strangely. It wasn't until later that she learned that he was the twin brother of one of their comrades.

Anew wasn't the sort of girl who was easily embarrassed, but as the Haro cries out, her face once again flushes pink. For a second, she looks down at her feet, trying to surpress the blush.

It doesn't work.

"I," she finally manages. "I'll go get started!"

She quickly turns away from the Meister, still flustered and jogs towards the Mess Hall.

When Haro makes its cheerful interjection, Lyle's expression goes from 'smiling' to 'oh god' in about the span of half a second. He even says, quote: "Erk!"

He's not even sure what to do to deal with Anew's sudden embarassment, though his mind races as he tries to come up with something to say to defuse the situation; however, the problem is solved for him - sort of - when Anew excuses herself to go get started, and takes off at a jog. Lyle watches the young woman go for a few seconds, and then turns his attention back to Haro.

"Just for that," Lyle says to his partner robot. "You're not invited."

"LOCKON LIKES ANEW!" Haro counters, hopping up and down and flapping its flaps. "LOCKON LIKES ANEW!"

Lyle lets out a slow breath through his nose, eyes narrowing faintly.

A few minutes later, Lyle is headed towards the locker room, starting to unzip his flight suit, while inside the cockpit of Cherudim, Haro bounces around, having been locked inside. "NOT FAIR!" it insists in its chirpy electronic voice. "NOT FAIR!"

While Lyle undresses, Anew cooks. Hands usually spent making tapping buttons on consoles are carefully chopping tomatoes and dicing onions. There wasn't everything she needed on board the ship (as Anew quickly learned, there hardly ever was), but she made do with what she had avaliable. Before long, there's two pots on the ship's electric burner. One is filled with boiling water of pasta, the other with a rich, red pasta sauce.

Even as she stirs the pasta, she can't help but be worried. He would like it, wouldn't he? The fact of the matter was, that despite living together on the ship, she didn't know much about him. Favorite food, favorite color, favorite drink. Didn't comrades normally know these sort of things about one another?

She can't help but feel a little self-concious.

It isn't long before the sauce is ready and the pasta done and drained. When Lyle enters, Anew will just be setting their plates down on the table.

Normally, when Lyle gets food in the mess, it's 'whatever is already made', so it's mostly prepackaged meals, ration bars and the like; the Ptolemaios isn't like the enormous warships used by other groups, with their often frighteningly well-stocked facilities. They're a small organisation, and even the second Ptolemy is pretty small by mobile suit carrier standards. But one supposes that's where the mysterious 'woman's touch' comes in, huh?

Anyway, Lyle has time to shower off the sweat of travel in a sealed environment pilot suit, and subsequently change into his Celestial Being uniform. It's another one of those things he's gotten comfortable with that, perhaps, he really shouldn't have; but as he adjusts the unform's short jacket, he gives a bit of a grin in the mirror, and makes sure his hair is touseled /just right/.

Look, it's not every day an attractive woman makes him dinner.

So, Lyle steps into the mess hall, after poking his head in and peering around curiously. "I'm not too early, am I?" the sniper wonders. "Should I pop back out, come back in a few minutes...?"

Anew is a woman of numerous talents, but the skill most missed by the members of the asteroid base she was stationed at before working onboard the Ptolemaios was by far her cooking. Agents of Celestial Being weren't often hired for their cooking prowress, and much like the crew of the Ptolemaios, relied predominantly on prepackaged meals. The members of Celestial Being there, however, lacked the easy access they had to Earth.

"I just finished," she answers. His plate is set down on the table. "I wasn't sure what you liked and... there wasn't much onboard the ship I could make." It wasn't worth it to make meals for just herself, and she rarely had an opportunity to cook for others.

She turns to face him, and what she notices is not his perfectly toussled hair. It's the absence of his constant companion. "Where's Haro-san?" she asks.

Lyle grins as Anew tells him she's just finished cooking, and he moves all the way into the mess hall, over towards the table. "Oh, jeez, don't apologise," the sniper says with a bit of a laugh, waving a hand. "D'you know when the last time I ate a meal that wasn't freeze-dried was?" Technically, yesterday, he had some pancakes on the Argama; but he can't really talk about that sort of thing here, because his convoluted allegiance is a secret. Even and/or especially from the likes of Anew Returner.

Though who knows how long that will last.

At the mention of Haro, Lyle stops, and looks back over his shoulder. "Oh... He wanted to help out Old Man Vashti," Lyle Dylandy explains, which is a horrible lie.

Meanwhile, in the hangar bay, Ian Vashti scrubs his short dark hair with one hand, brow furrowed as he stares down at the locked cockpit of Cherudim. "What the hell? Why do those damn kids always lock these things when they come in? Are they just trying to make my job harder?" The brilliant engineer of Celestial Being crouches down, and toggles the cockpit release; the hatch slides open with a HISS, and then suddenly, the orange Haro bursts out, impacting directly with Ian's face.

"FREEDOM!" Haro cries, joyously. "FREEDOM!"

Sitting himself down at the table, Lyle watches Anew curiously. "You know, I'm starting to wonder if there's anything you aren't good at," the sniper says, completely free of guilt over his earlier treatment of his partner robot, and the trouble it is no doubt causing right now on the hangar deck.

Anew offers him a shy smile as she sits down, taking her place at the bench across from him. She can't help but feel a little relieved. It's not just the fact that he seems satisfied with what she made, it's also that Haro's absence did not necessarily make this a date.

It wasn't that she didn't like him, or that he wasn't worthy. As far as she could remember, she couldn't recall ever being on a date. And she didn't know what she would do if she actually were on one. She'd never been interested in dramas, so even fictionalized romances were of no use to her.

She twirls her pasta around her spoon, smiling wistfully at the compliment. "There's still a lot of things I'm not good at," she says. "I don't think I could ever pilot a mobile suit. And I've never handled a weapon, either."

Of course, Lyle - being a guy - attacks his food almost immediately. The sniper, with his characteristic deftness, gets a forkful of pasta, popping it into his mouth eagerly. He starts chewing, and then he starts nodding, because this really /is/ probably the best meal he's had in weeks, if not actually months. "This is great!" he says, once he's chewed and swallowed almost all of it (again, he's a guy). He leans forward a bit over the table, grinning toothily at Anew.

Honestly, Lyle's not sure if this counts as an actual 'date' either; he'd hope that an actual date would involve /going/ someplace, and not one of the rooms that they both visit daily, but perhaps the company is more relevant than the location. That said, his own dating history has been pretty much empty lately. You'd be shocked at how difficult it is to meet women - at least, ones that aren't trying to kill you - when you're living a double life as a secret agent inside two terrorist organisations simultaneously.

Seriously, it is not good for his social life. His best friend is a /Haro/.

"You know... That's probably for the best," Lyle says, a bit more seriously. "I mean, it's good to know how to defend yourself, Anew, but you don't seem like the sort of person who should be hurting or killing anybody." Thinking about that for a moment, the sniper continues: "Of course, neither should anybody else, really... But a gentle person like you shouldn't have to do it, right?"

Anew brings her fork to her mouth and listens as Lyle speaks; she's a slow and deliberate eater, Lyle's near complete eating opposite.

Thinking about it, Anew can't imagine handling a weapon, let alone using one. Her work with regeneration treatment forced her to see the effects of battle firsthand; she knew better than anyone what weapons were capable of.

Still, listening to him, she can't help but feel a little guilty. Lyle probably didn't enjoy what he did any more than she would in his shoes.

She sets her fork down, and looks across at him; her expression is solemn, perhaps even a little worried. "Are you okay with it?" she asks. "With fighting."

It's not that Lyle's sloppy about it, exactly; he's just a guy. He enjoys it, so he eats with vigor, but life as an orphan and often eating on his own has left him with... Let's go with 'casual' table manners. Not that he couldn't be proper if he wanted to, but in a relaxed situation like this? It's all good.

He even puts his /elbows/ on the /table/.

And gestures with his fork.

"Okay with it? Hm... I guess I'm just prepared, you'd say." He's military trained, so he's had some conditioning to teach him to deal with violence, of course... Not to mention plenty of practical experience. He knows full well that every time he pulls the trigger, somebody could die. Including himself.

Scooping up another forkful of pasta, Lyle considers. "I mean, I'd rather not, you know? But that's why Celestial Being exists... To create a better future, where we don't have to fight and kill one another anymore. If I have to fight to do that... Then that's what I'll do."

That said, he pops another mouthful of pasta into his gaping Irish maw, and grins at Anew around it and the fork.

It's difficult not to smile at Lyle. From the way he carries himself to the way he talks, every part of him emenates amiability. For some reason, she can't help but feel comfortable in a way she isn't around other people. He's able to bring down her shields completely.

"After everything is over," she says, though even she isn't certain that she will live to see Celestial Being's goals met, "What will you do then?"

She finds it difficult NOT to smile when he's acting like this--even with the dour mood of their conversation. Everything about him, from the way he carries himself to the way he moves to the way he talks emenates genuine amiability. For some reason, she can't help feeling comfortable around him in a way she isn't around other people. Questions that she would normally hesitate to ask pour forth freely.

"After it's over," she says, though even she isn't certain she will live to see Celestial Being's goals met, "What will you do?"

It's a question that she's asked herself before, and it was the one question she never had an answer to. No matter how many times she thought about it, she couldn't imagine a life without Celestial Being. It was as if working for them were her sole purpose, her only destiny.

There's certainly a disarming quality to Lyle's general behaviour; it's one of the ways he /is/ like his brother, that easygoing, charming affability. It's like some kind of far-future Matthew McConaughey thing. Except he wears a shirt more often. And doesn't make bad romantic comedies.

Settling back a bit on the bench, Lyle chews his mouthful of pasta - and he's really not getting over this 'actual cooked meal' thing - as he considers how to answer Anew's question. After it's over... Can it really /be/ over? Lyle isn't really sure Celestial Being - or even Katharon in general - have a goal that can be accomplished. But that isn't the point, not to him. The fact that they're actually /doing/ it, that people are striving, collectively, to make a better world, that's what matters.

Still... What if?

"Whew, that's kind of a heavy question," Lyle says, a bit ruefully. "I mean, maybe we'll have to answer for what we've done... We've been breaking a lot of laws, I dunno if you've noticed," he adds, jokingly. "But if I could do anything? I... Settle down, I guess. You know, get a regular people job, get married, have kids. That sort of thing."

Anew idly twirls her pasta around her fork; her interest is less focused on the food before her, and more focused on the man sitting in front of her.

His answer surprises her. There's not very many young people that'd give a response like that. Anew's never been a good judge of age, but... he doesn't look like he can be any older than 25. Still, she can see the attraction in his dream. A peaceful job, a family... those things perhaps best exemplify normal. And in a lifestyle as unpredictable as their own, it's impossible to have a normal life for more than a few hours at a time.

But this, right now, eating dinner and talking, feels the most normal that Anew can remember in some time.

There's still one part of his answer that Anew is wondering about.

"What about your family now?" she asks. "When all of this is over, don't you want to see them?"

Aside from his twin, Anew knows nothing about his family. But seeing him now, acting the way he is, she can't help but wonder what the people he raised him were like.



As the question is asked, Lyle doesn't make some big reaction or anything, but his whole demeanor and posture visibly changes. It would probably be worse, if this were Neil; for Neil, the events of that day were so much closer at hand. He was /right there/ when it happened. Lyle... Lyle was far away, at school. It was his own choice, to get some space between himself and the brother who always overshadowed him, the family who looked to Neil before him. Maybe it was just a child's biased view of things, but...

"Ah, well... They're not around anymore," Lyle explains, shrugging his shoulders a bit; for the first time since he's sat down at the table, he looks away from Anew, his greenish-blue eyes glancing at the far wall, flicking up to the ceiling. "When my brother and I were kids, there was a bombing. Our parents, our little sister..." Lyle shakes his head a bit, looking to Anew again; he smiles, but it's sadder now. "Well, it was a long time ago. I wasn't even around when it happened." But, in their own way, each of the Dylandy brothers is driven to fight by that event. Neil, for revenge; Lyle, to greate a better future, where that doesn't happen to anyone else.

If anything truly differentiates the brothers Lockon, that would be it.

"But, hey, this is no time for talking about sad stuff!" Lyle says after a moment, his tone turning hearty once more. "What about you, Anew? Obviously, you must've learned to be such a great cook from /somewhere/. You didn't just appear fully formed like this, right? Ha ha ha..."

If only he knew.

Anew knows immediately, from the shift in his demeanor, from the change in his posture that something is wrong. She didn't intend to dredge forth bad memories, but before he says a word, she knows that she did.

She fumbles around her head, trying to find some way to express her sympathy, to offer words of comfort. But before she can stammer off another line of dialogue, he asks her about her own family.

Anew stares at him for a moment, eyes wide, as if trying to process what he has just said, and then lowers her eyes thoughtfully. It's not normally an answer anyone would have to think about. But for Anew, it is.

"I... that is..." She lifts a hand to her forehead.

Not once since joining Celestial Being has she thought about it; not once has it ever come up in conversation. But it's strange... don't people normally think of their families? Why didn't it ever come up? Why didn't she ever think about it?

The more that she tries to think about it, the more difficult it becomes; her head is throbbing now from the weight of her thought. As much and as frantically as she searched for the answer, it was nowhere to be found.

Honestly, when Lyle Dylandy asked Anew Returner to have dinner with him, the last thing he'd expected was to cause an existential crisis for the lavender-haired young woman.

So, whoops on that one.

"Oh, jeez!" Lyle says, hurriedly, holding up his hands. "Don't worry about it, Anew. If it's tough to think about, just forget I asked... We're just having a nice, fun dinner here, right?" His own concerns, the negative emotions dredged up by talking about his family - both the dead and the living - quickly vanish in the face of Anew's obvious distress. He mistakes the cause of that distress, though; there's no way he could know that she can't remember, and that inability is what's causing the problems. He assumes that the memories are bad, worse than his own even, and really that's bad enough.

A moment later, Lyle is up off of the bench, moving to stand behind Anew on the other side, and simply puts a reassuring hand on her shoulder.

"It's okay, Anew," Lyle says, tone more serious than it's been the entire time they've talked. "You know why? The past doesn't matter. If you get stuck in the past, you can't move forward. What matters is the present, and the future."

The touch of his hand on her shoulder is enough to pull her out of it. She lets her hand slide away as she looks back up at him. "Lyle..." she finally manages.

He's right, the past shouldn't matter... but why wasn't she able to remember it? And even if she was unable to remember it, why didn't the thought ever occur to her to think of it?

"Thank you," she says, and she means it. "But I'm fine." Her second line is less convincing.

"I didn't mean for our dinner to turn out this way," she says. She turns her eyes away from him, and back towards her food, her head lowered. "It's been a while since I ate dinner with someone like this." It's a welcome change of pace from their usual lifestyle.

"If you'd like, I'll make dinner for you again," She directs her gaze back towards him, fork still in hand, "to make up for tonight. If you tell me what you'd like, I can try to make it."

The truth is, nobody's ever /really/ fine.

As it stands, though, Lyle's going to let Anew get away with saying so, unconvincing though it might be; her thanks do get a smile from the sniper, before he pats her shoulder and then moves back around the table to his side, sitting back down on the bench. "Hey, I don't mind," he says, on the subject of how the dinner turned out. "We both learned things about each other." From a 'facts' perspective, it was mostly Anew learning about Lyle, but he's figured out a few things about her personality and motivations that he didn't know before, things she might not explicitly have been trying to let him know, but...

Well, he's a spy. He's observant.

"I'd like that," he replies, when Anew offers to make dinner for him again at some point. "I'm not really a picky eater, though... I'd probably like anything you made." Lyle puts, of course, specific emphasis on 'you' in that phrase, treating Anew to another grin as he leans forward and takes up another forkfull of pasta.

One just hopes nobody else on the ship finds out, or they might all start elbowing their way in to to the meal.

Buncha vultures.

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