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Anew Feeling
Summary: Lyle and Anew have a heart-to-heart; Lyle asks Anew out on a date.
Who: Lockon Stratos, Anew Returner
When: 18 May NCA 120
Where: Anew's Room, the Ptolemaios


PTOLEMAIOS II

IN SPACE

RIGHT NOW

With preparations finally actually sort of moving ahead for the Allelujah Haptism rescue operation, things are starting to look up for the members of Celestial Being. Add in the surprise return of Setsuna F. Seiei and Sumeragi Lee Noriega during the recon mission to Mercury undertaken by Lockon Stratos, and there's a distinct possibility that the group might be starting to properly congeal once again, and not a moment too soon, at that.

But, right now, Lyle isn't overly concerned with the rescue of some guy he's never met before; right now, the sniper's focus is somewhere else /entirely/. Rather than wearing his whole Celestial Being uniform, he's wearing just the pants and boots and belt, and tucked in at the waist a tight black t-shirt, as he makes his way through Ptolemy's corridors towards the quarters of one Anew Returner.

At his heels, of course, is Haro.

"LOCKON, WHERE YOU GOIN'?" the orange partner robot wonders as it bounces along behind the sniper. "LOCKON, WHERE YOU GOIN'?"

Grinning, Lyle looks back over his shoulder at Haro. "Obviously, I'm going to go visit Anew!" he says, as if that would explain anything to the robot, artifically intelligent though it is. "I finally figured out how to properly thank her for making me dinner."

Haro considers this, eyelights flashing briefly. It's probably safer not knowing just what the little robot is thinking about it, though.


It's not often that Anew Returner is alone in her quarters. Most of her time onboard the Ptolemy is spent piloting the ship or checking over their medical supplies in the medbag or reviewing Gundam schematics to make sure that Celestial Being's mobile suits are running at normal specifications after a battle. The few times she's not running from one side of the ship to another to complete an assigned task she usually spends chatting with Feldt.

Or occasionally eating, when she remembers.

Right now, though, Anew is in her quarters, alone, sitting on the edge of her bed. "Oh!" She frowns, and shifts her hand to a more comfortable position. "This is difficult." Anew's fingers work diligently between the folds, her hands moving rhythmically back and forth, back and forth. Elation fills the innovade's young face as she finishes.

"I'm finished," she sighs contentedly. She had been thinking of doing it for awhile, but with Sumeragi-san missing, it was difficult to find the time to do it. Even if she had the time, she'd find it difficult to focus, with Sumeragi-san on the forefront of her thoughts.

Now she finally had. Anew sets aside the crocheting needles and lifts her finished product: a floppy crochetted flower. She'd wanted to make one for Feldt for some time; now, she finally had. She could only hope that Feldt would like it.


No sooner has Anew Returner finished... Crocheting a flower... Than there somes a sound! The sound of somebody pressing her quarters' doorbell from without.

Outside the door, Lyle stands, the unruly-haired Gundam Meister grinning slightly to himself. He's pretty satisfied with his own idea, here, and he's sure that in the coming days, it will help make it easier to deal with the deadly danger of trying to snatch Allelujah Haptism from the horrible prison on the surface of freakin' Mercury.

Haro bounces one last time before rolling to a halt alongside Lyle's foot, like a spherical orange robot cat, or something. Both of them wait there, like that, for Anew to come to the door.


There's a buzz at the door, and Anew jolts at the sound; it's not often that she has any visitors. Anew rises to her feet and heads towards the door; the crocheting needles and yawn are left on the bed alongside the freshly-crocheted flower for Feldt's uniform.

She presses a button on the panel next to her door. With a mechanical zhiir, it slides open, and Anew finds herself face-to-face with Lyle Dylandy and his little pet Haro, too.

"Lyle," she says, eyes wide with surprise; of all the people onboard the ship she wagered to see her, she was expecting Feldt. Not Lyle. Her eyes dart down to his feet, where Haro sits diligently--for the time being. "Haro-san," she says in greeting.

Her expression softens. "Is there a reason the two of you are here?" she asks. Her tone is curious, not annoyed as her choice of words may suggest. "I don't believe my shift begins for another hour."


"HELLO, ANEW!" Haro pipes up in its chirpy, electronic voice, hopping up and down over Lyle's shoulder again, flappy things flapping frantically. "HELLO, ANEW!"

Lyle only gives a bit of a defeated sigh as his partner robot manages to totally snipe responding first to Anew Returner out from under him. But, the Gundam Meister is undeterred! "Oh, this isn't about work," Lyle says, waving off Anew's last remark. "I just felt like stopping by to see you," he explains further. "You don't mind, right?"

"ME TOO!" Haro feels compelled to note. "ME TOO!"

The sniper jerks a thumb over his shoulder. "Yeah, this guy felt like it, too," he confirms, because sometimes he does actually indulge Haro's eccentricities.


Anew's lips tug into a soft smile; her eyes flicker up from the cheerfully chirping Haro up to the laid-back Gundam Meister. She shifts where she stands, as if about to make room in the doorway for the two of them, then, as if second-guessing herself, suddenly stops.

"It's not a problem at all," she reassures the two. "I was just finishing things up. I--"

She hesitates for a second, mentally fumbling over what to say or what to do; she never has this sort of trouble with anyone else but him for some reason. Then suddenly, she lets the words slip out:

"Would you like to come in?"


Neither Haro nor Lyle are entirely clear on what's going on beneath the surface of Anew Returner; Lyle Dylandy is actually pretty good at reading people, but there's something about the lavender-haired young woman that makes her more difficult to figure out than most people. Maybe that's why he's interested in her? Or maybe he just finds it part of the challenge. He grins that half-smile of his, and he watches Anew as she second-guesses herself, hesitates and fumbles, studying the way her expression changes as she does it.

Purely out of professional interest, of course. He's a spy, after all.

On the other hand, Haro takes the invitation at face value, and immediately rolls its orange self into Anew's quarters, more than happy to make itself at home. Haro rarely gets to go into the quarters of people who aren't Lockon, after all, except for those times when Feldt kidnaps him for whatever purpose. Lyle instead hesitates in the doorway, although he does move a bit closer to Anew. "Inviting a guy into your quarters, Anew?" Lyle jokes, teasingly. "What will everybody else on the ship think?"


She might be bright and talented, but the one thing Anew Returner lacks perception. When it comes to engineering, she's fine; her eyes are good enough and her brain is sharp enough that she can pinpoint the malfunction with little difficulty. But human beings are an entirely different matter entirely; things that others would have picked up easily, she struggles to understand.

So it is little surprise that she is unable to process the Cheredium Gundam pilot's words the way others might. "What will everbody else think?" she echoes, and then comprehension dawns at her face, as she realizes what he's implying. It's then that her expression changes, her cheeks red with embarassment. "You'd better not be teasing me!" Her words are surprisingly forceful, though Anew sounds more like a protesting child than she does a woman.


Sometimes, it's a little /too/ easy to tease Anew, isn't it?

Not that this is going to stop Lyle, in all probability.

"Ha ha ha!" Lyle can't help but laugh, lifting his hands defensively, palms outward towards the lavender-haired young woman. "I'm just joking around," the tall pilot explains, grinning good-naturedly at Anew Returner. "I don't mean any harm by it, it's just that you look cute when you start blushing... I can hardly help myself!"

Which is probably just going to make it worse.

Figuring that this might be as good a time as any for a change in topic, Lyle looks past Anew to peer into her room, where Haro has of course made itself at home, settled on the bed and watching Lyle and Anew with those little robotic eyelights. "So... What were you doing, anyway? I've been wondering just what you do with your free time. What sort of hobbies you have, what you like to do for fun... That sort of thing."


Anew is even cuter when she's pouting--as she is right now. There's a childlike petulance surrounding her when she's pouting. It's completely unlike the serious girl who furiously taps away on the console mid-battle, or stands in the medbay reviewing vital stats when someone's injured. Of course, that's not the only time Anew is childlike; there's an innocence that surrounds her when she's surprised, when people catch her off-guard. And Lyle Dylandy is very talented at evoking feelings from her that others may have more difficulty pulling forth.

Anew opens her mouth to protest, but before she can, Haro bounces cheerily into the room, and Lyle follows in after him. She frowns, but Lyle suavely segues the conversation elsewhere, and the incident is temporarily forgotten.

"I was crocheting," she answers, stepping in after him; the door shuts automatically behind her, with the same mechanical 'zhiir' as before. She sits down on the edge of the bed and picks up the finished product, a pastel purple and yellow floppy flower. She holds it in her lap and gazes down at it. "I made this for Feldt-san," she says. "I'd been wanting to make it for awhile, but with things the way they were, I didn't have the time."

She runs her thumbs over the flower for a second, then continues. "Other than cooking, I don't really have any other hobbies."


Yes, and now Lyle Dylandy, superspy, has successfully infiltrated Anew Returner's personal quarters!

He studies the room, greenish blue eyes taking in the surroundings, trying to get a feel for them. You can tell a lot about a person by how they appoint their quarters, after all... Which is why his own onboard the Ptolemaios II remain largely spartan, his personal things still in storage back on Earth. It keeps him an unknown factor to the rest of Celestial Being, the group he's operating as an agent inside of. It helps to make sure that he doesn't get too close to the independent armed organisation.

And, clearly, it is totally working great.

"Crocheting?" Lyle repeats, sounding surprised. What an... Old lady hobby to have! The sniper nods his head slowly, though, and rather than casting any aspersions on how Anew spends her time, he looks at the flower on Anew's lap. "Well! I think it looks cute," he says.

"GOOD FOR FELDT!" Haro pipes up, sitting on the bed. "GOOD FOR FELDT!" So there you go, the robot approves.

The mention of cooking, though, reminds Lyle of the specific reason why he came here. "Right, right! About that, I've been thinking... I really appreciated you making dinner for me before, and I wanted to return the favour." He laughs, briefly. "But! I'm not much of a cook, myself, so here's my idea. Once we've rescued Allelujah, and everybody's safe and sound and back together again..." He holds out his right hand, making a 'gun' with his thumb and forefinger as he points at Anew. "...You let me take you out somewhere nice, for dinner."


Anew's room is sparsley decorated, though her longer commission onboard the Ptolemy would have afforded her more time for interior design than he. However, the room is not entirely bereft of decoration. There's some flowers neatly arranged in a simple vase on the desk, though they appear to be wilting slightly. Two hardcover books are stacked on the same table nearby. On a small stand next to her bed is a digital clock, shaped in the form of a black cartoon kitten.

Her cheeks flush pink at the compliment. "Thank you," she says, smiling down at the purple flower. "I hope Feldt-san likes it." Though with Lyle and Haro-san's resounding approval, Anew feels a little more confident that she will.

Anew's eyes light up with surprise at Lyle's proposition. Aside from Feldt, there wasn't anyone onboard the Ptolemy who had taken anything more than a professional interest in her. This is a first.

"It's fine," she says. "There's no need for you to pay me back. I'll do it anytime."


Unfortunately, Anew is too dense to realize that Lyle's invitation may be more than just a platonic demonstration of gratitude.

True facts: In Lyle's head, this whole situation played out differently. In his mind, Anew accepted straight out, and the two of them went on to enjoy a romantic dinner date at a nice restaurant at some point in the near future, and it was pretty awesome.

In reality, though, what happens is this.

At Anew's not-quite-acceptance, Lyle's confidence wilts slightly, like the flowers in the vase on the desk, his pointing finger even drooping slightly along with his posture. Could it be? Could Anew Returner really not think of him that way? Maybe she really just doesn't think about things that way. Or maybe...

"LOCKON MISSED!" Haro pipes up from the bed, sounding cheerful as ever as its eyelights flash and its flappy things flap. "LOCKON MISSED!"

His partner robot's mockery cutting him to the quick, Lyle... Actually starts laughing, ruefully at first, before he starts to actually get into it. "Ah... Ha ha ha ha ha!" the sniper laughs, holding his sides and doubling over slightly from mirth. "No, no... It's not funny, I shouldn't laugh..." the counterfeit Meister says starting to calm down. "Sorry, sorry. It's just..." Taking a deep breath, Lyle straightens up.

"Anew," Lyle says, regaining his composure. "I'm asking you out on a date." Perhaps the direct approach is the ideal one.


The crocheted flowed slips out of her hands and onto the floor; Anew slowly turns to face him, her mouth slightly agape. "A date?" she finally manages to get out.

Macua's words suddenly spring to mind, and she feels embarassed. Less embarrassed about being asked on a date, and more embarassed that she lacked the comprehension to understand what his invitation meant to begin with. Were men this easy for other women to read?

Anew leans down to pick up the flower, then holds it in her lap. Her eyes are no longer on Lyle, but down on Feldt's flower. Her mind is filled with uncertainties. There were no provisions against crew members dating one another as far as she could remember from the Celestial Being handbook, but there was no telling how a date might effect their professional lives.

But Lyle was always so nice to her. If she had to go out on a date with someone--not just anyone onboard the ship--she would like for it to be him.

"I've never been asked on a date before," she says, slowly, deliberately. "I'm not sure what's involved, but..." She turns her gaze back towards him. "Yes. I'll go on a date with you."


If it's any consolation, Lyle is finding Anew's obliviousness both cute and endearing. Of course, some people must live relatively sheltered lives, right? Anew Returner didn't develop such a wide variety of in-depth technical proficiencies by not studying, and given the pain it seemed to cause her when he asked about her family, Lyle doubts she had a normal home life, either. Quite likely, an even worse one than his own!

So, he's more than willing to cut her some slack, on this front.

"Really? Never?" Lyle says, sounding mildly surprised. "I guess guys just figured you were out of their league." From what he's been able to tell, she's smart, charming and attractive so... What's not to like? He knows that some guys can be intimidated by that sort of thing, but clearly, Lyle Dylandy himself is not among them... After all, he's in a line of work that involves life or death battles in giant humanoid war machines. He doesn't have /time/ for not going after what he wants.

"It's pretty simple, though. We dress up nice, I tell you how pretty you look... Maybe bring you flowers... And then I take you someplace nice for dinner," Lyle explains. "It's a time-honoured process."


"Oh," Anew says with a smile. When he puts it that way, it sounds so uncomplicated; her fears suddenly seem unwarranted. She imagines that all of this would be nice, and though she doesn't know what she'd wear, she wouldn't mind receiving flowers or going out to dinner. It wasn't often that she ate outside of the Ptolemaios; in fact, she cooked onboard the ship more than she ate outside of it.

"Then I'll do my best," she says. "To do my part." Lyle was already expected to do so much; there had to be more that she had to do than what he was saying. She makes a mental note to ask Sumeragi-san at the earliest opportunity.

"Lyle," she says, turning back to face him. "What are your hobbies?"


It's true, dating is nothing to be afraid of! Millions of people do it, every day.

Anew's commitment to do her part gets an amused grin from the Gundam Meister, who shakes his head ruefully. "Oh, I don't doubt that you will," Lyle says, although he now has a sort of vague concern that Anew is taking this too seriously, like it's some sort of assignment with a definite pass and fail structure to it, or something. Like it's an exam.

Which is the wrong way to be going about it, in his thinking.

But before he could even think of raising these points, Anew surprises him by turning his earlier question around on himself. For a moment, Lyle looks surprised, before he comes up with a proper response. "Hmm, well... I like to read. Go hiking, though obviously that's not something I get to do a lot of these days. Watch old movies."

"PLAY VIDEO GAMES, TOO!" Haro notes, totally ruining Lyle's mystique. "PLAY VIDEO GAMES, TOO!"


Lyle's first impression is probably correct. Already, Anew is planning to consult Sumeragi for a verbal interview, and when the Ptolemy lands next, do any necessary research at a library. If she had read more fiction, she might have had an easier time of it; however, her reading selections were typically research manuals and texts.

Reading is one thing the two of them have in common. However, she's never been hiking, and she can't ever recall ever watching any old movies. Though she had passed up video game arcades before, she knew virtually nothing abou them. If it weren't for the conversation with Macua before, she wouldn't have even known the very video game whose name she is about to utter.

"Like Burning PT?" she asks. "There's a girl in Katharon who plays it. She told me about it the last time we met, but I've never played it myself." Or any video game, for that matter.


On the other hand, Lyle's pre-date preparations will mostly involve getting Haro to help him pick out an outfit.

Surprisingly, the spherical orange partner robot is pretty good at coordinating clothes.

Though Lyle frowns slightly because of Haro's outing him as a sometime video gamer, there's little for the brown-haired Gundam Meister to do when Anew queries him about it but to be honest. "Yeah, that one's pretty good. I don't play a lot of games based on mobile weapons, though," Lyle notes, with a bit of a laugh. "It's too much like work."

He could never really get why people could enjoy playing a video game of what they do for a day job, as if combat simulations aren't enough as it is!


"That's what I thought, too," Anew says honestly. "I enjoy piloting the Ptolemaios, but I couldn't imagine having fun playing a video game about it."

Until a moment ago, she had believed that her disinterest in Burning TP was due to a lack of interest in video games altogether. It was a relief, then, to learn that others felt similarily and had an equally difficult time comprehending why someone would enjoy playing a work simulation recreationally.

"If it's something I enjoy, I should probably be doing that instead of a simulation." Somehow, though, piloting mobile suits seems less fun than piloting a ship. Thankfully, piloting the Ptolemaios was mostly enjoyable--mainly because the craft rarely saw combat. When it did, it was a highly stressful situation, knowing that the lives of all those on the ship were in her hands. The stress was probably much worse for mobile suit pilots. She imagined playing a game about piloting mobile suits would only serve to evoke those negative emotions.

Anew's eyes wander over to the orange sphere on her bed. "How did you and Haro-san meet?" It was a question that she had wondered about for some time; she had seen others with haros, but Lyle's relationship with Haro-san was different from their own. His haro was almost like a pet, or a good friend who accompanied him everywhere. There wasn't anyone else onboard the ship that he really seemed to be close to.

Anew briefly wonders if Haro-san will be accompanying them on their date, but the thought is short-lived.


Obviously, the solution is that Lyle will have to get Anew to try different things, until she finds something that's fun for her. It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it, right? Right.

"Exactly," the sniper agrees, nodding his head. "Of course, there's nothing wrong with cooking or crocheting as hobbies but hey... It never hurts to try new stuff." The flashes a grin at the lavender-haired young woman, studiously trying to avoid any serious and dark turns the conversation might take. The only question is, when the subject turns to that of the orange Haro, is this going to help Lyle's attempt, or make it harder?

Haro looks back at Anew curiously, tilting slightly to one side on the bed and giving its flaps a half-hearted flap.

Lyle, on the other hand, looks at the orange spherical partner robot for a moment, and then turns his attention back to the young woman. "Well, he used to be my brother's," Lyle explains, as if that made everything make sense. "When I inherited the job, I inherited him, too. He's been a big help to me, trying to be 'Lockon Stratos'."

"LOCKON IS LOCKON!" Haro notes, providing its own point of view on the situation. "LOCKON IS LOCKON!"


As Lyle's observed, Anew is kind of sheltered. She has never seen any need to explore interests outside of her own, nor has she ever had anyone to push her into trying new things. Lyle, in fact, has been the first onboard the Ptolemy to push her into trying something new.

Even if the first thing he pushed her into was a date.

Anew is not exactly perceptive when it comes to matters of the heart, but it's difficult not to notice Lyle's strange choice of words. Trying to be Lockon Stratos, she thinks. "But you aren't exactly Lockon, are you?" she asks. "You're Lyle Dylandy."

It's something she wondered about for some time--why it was necessary for Lyle to continue playing the role of Lockon Stratos. Until Lyle made his appearance, it was no big secret that the Cherudium pilot had gone missing in action. Disappearances were common on the battlefield; plenty of people defected, or were killed in action. So why did they feel the need to continue this charade?

Anew wasn't sure.

"Lyle is Lyle," she lectures Haro, her voice light-hearted. She smiles.


At Anew's question, Lyle looks momentarily surprised, mouth slightly agape and his green-tinged blue eyes wide, before he bursts out laughing again. It's not mocking laughter, or anything like that; it's just that what Anew just said... Isn't something most people bother asking him about. Most people either have no idea about the deception in the first place... And those who do simply accept it as a given.

Meanwhile, Haro tilts slowly to its other side as Anew corrects its assessment of the situation, flappy things flapping furtively. "LYLE! LOCKON!" it says, finally. "LYLE! LOCKON!"

This gives Lyle himself time to regain his composure, leaning against Anew's desk and pushing his carelessly touseled brown hair back out of his face. "As long as somebody remembers that, it's good enough for me," Lyle says, still grinning, looking like he might start laughing again. "But, you know... I'm both, really. I can't become my brother or anything like that... And I wouldn't want to. But the world needs Celestial Being, right? And Celestial Being needs Lockon Stratos."

The worst part is... That statement isn't entirely a lie from him, not anymore. 'Undercover' work can really mess with your head.


When Lyle begins to laugh, Anew turns to face him. Her eyes widen, her brow furrows with distress. Her lips tug into a soft frown. "W-What are you laughing for?" she manages to stammer out through his laughter, her voice taking on an almost child-like quality.

It's not until Lyle offers his explanation that Anew finally understands. Others may have easily been able to deduce that his laughter wasn't mocking without explanation, but not Anew Returner. She feels almost silly, not realizing it before. But those feelings of foolishness are quickly assuaged, replaced with a smile. Maybe it was what he said, or how she said it, but there was something about him that put her at ease, that made her feel like it was okay not to know everything.

"I'm glad you decided to join Celestial Being," she says. "Other than Feldt-san, I don't really talk to anyone else." Not that there was much of anyone else to talk to, until recently.


Whether or not Lyle is really 'going native', though, he's pretty sure that his interest in Anew Returner is totally his own. It's not like he's pursuing her in any way as part of the mission, either; it's purely a selfish distraction from keeping an eye on Celestial Being and ensuring that they remain cooperative with the rest of Katharon - his ostensible reason for taking up the mantle of Lockon Stratos in the first place, though as far as his new comrades know, he's just here because Celestial Being saved his life, and needed somebody to cover for his brother during his absence.

Which was, like, seven months ago.

"Maybe you should get to know them better?" Lyle suggests, honestly. "I mean, Lasse seems like a nice enough guy, and Old Man Vashti..." He can't really speak for most of the others, though. Neither Tieria nor Feldt seem to be big fans of him - more the latter than the former - and Mileina is just a weird, weird girl. "But, since you put it like that... I'm glad I decided to join, too."


"I'm not sure how to talk to them," Anew says, frowning slightly. She and Feldt just sort of wound up working together, and their relationship ('are we friends?' she wonders about the pink-haired girl) was a matter of consequence. Even Lyle had been the one to approach her; sure she had approached him with a lecture, but he was the one who kept talking--and kept HER talking, long after she would have normally stopped. "I don't have much in common with either."

What Anew fails to acknowledge is that she has little in common with Lyle Dylandy, either.

"It's difficult for me to make friends because I'm quiet," she says, almost matter-of-factly. Anew shifts her gaze up to the ceiling, her hands still in her lap. "But you don't seem like you'd have that problem. You talk so candidly, and you're approachable. You have normal interests, too."


Watching Anew as she talks, Lyle's expression conceals a tugging of sympathy for the lavender-haired young woman. No family, and she feels so isolated from the people around her every day... Well, that's something that the sniper can identify with, definitely, but there does seem to be a definite difference in the way they socialise, doesn't there?

"Anew," Lyle says, his tone turning more serious than it has been previously, as he moves away from the desk and over towards where the young woman is sitting. Yes, it's on her bed, which is probably HIGHLY inappropriate, but that's not where he's going with this! And Haro is here to chaperone them, anyway. So, the counterfeit Gundam Meister sits down on the bed beside its actual occupant, with Haro now sitting beside them, watching intently and inscrutably.

"Most people don't really have anything in common with one another, that's why you have to reach out, sometimes." Lyle too looks up at the ceiling, though he leans back on his hands. "I mean, here I am on a ship full of strangers... Feeling like an outsider for months. I didn't go through all the struggles the original Ptolemy crew did together, either. I'm just here, taking the place of my brother. Sometimes, you just have to work at it, you know? In the end, it's not the things that came easily that you value, anyway."

Lyle smiles, and turns his head slightly to look sidelong a Anew Returner.

"It's the things you really had to try hard to accomplish."


Anew stares at Lyle for a minute, slowly absorbing everything he has to say. And for a moment, she almost feels guilty. Until now, she had never realized that he had felt that. She had always looked out at the crew and imagined from what she saw that they were all tight-knit friends. Never had it even occured to her that Lyle, who had been the most recent recruit among them, had felt the same way.

And despite all of this, he still seemed optimistic.

A genuine sense of gratitude wells up within Anew Returner's body; she can't remember being so thankful for something in her entire life. It takes awhile for her to give voice to her feelings, but a moment passes, and she does:

"Thank you."

Lyle's words were words that she probably needed to hear; she needed someone to acknowledge that this was difficult, but that it was worth it. And sitting right next to Lyle, now, she can't help but feel that he's right.

It is worth it.

Even if she fails, even if she's hurt, even if she looks foolish in the process--if it means the possibility of having friendships like this, the effort would be worth it.

"I'm really happy," Anew says, after another moment has passed. "I knew that eventually, someone would ask me. For a long time, I worried about it because I wasn't sure how I'd reject another human being." Until now, she had no interest in seeing other people, nor was she the sort of person who could reject someone without worrying about their feelings.

"But now I'm sure that I couldn't think of anyone better to ask."

The cat clock on the table next to her bed releases a series of musical meows. "It's almost time for my shift," she explains, blushing. She maneuvers across the bed, and taps the cat clock on its head; the musical meow stop. "I should head to the bridge."


Maybe Lyle Dylandy missed his calling in life? Perhaps he should stick to helping people like this, instead of shooting up mobile weapons!

Nah, probably not.

Lyle can tell that his words have genuinely touched Anew, and he keeps watching her with that smile as she speaks. He doesn't rush the words out of her, letting her say what she has to say when she's ready to say it... While, sitting behind them, Haro continues to observe. It's difficult to say just what it is about the robot, since it doesn't have a real 'face', but when you look at it, it's clearly paying attention.

But then!!

The moment breaks as the cat clock goes off, meowing as cat clocks are wont to do. "Oh wow," the counterfeit Meister says. "I didn't realise we'd been talking that long... Guess I just lost track of time," Lyle says, slowly rising from the bed and then offering Anew a hand up as well.

If she doesn't take it, Haro will, promptly jumping into the Gundam Meister's arms.


Anew is so absorbed in Lyle that she doesn't notice that the haro is paying close attention to their conversation. Anyone else might have been put-off by the presence of a haro during a heart-to-heart like this, but not Anew. There's something that's somehow charming about the little orange sphere.

And besides, in his silence, she has managed to forget about him entirely.

"I didn't realize it, either," she says, turning around from where she was kneeling on the bed. It's the truth; it felt as though barely any time had passed at all.

And when she turns, she finds Lyle's hand extended towards her, a hand that she thankfully takes before Haro can bound into his arms.

Anew rises to her feet.


And really, the odds that Haro is recording or relaying any of this for any purposes creepy or nefarious are... Very, very low. Right?

Lyle helps Anew to her feet off of the bed, and grins down at the lavender-haired young woman, releasing her hand a few moments later. "Well then," the sniper says, "I guess I'd better let you get to work. After all, Feldt and Mileina deserve a chance to rest too, right?" Grinning a bit more lopsidedly than before, the counterfeit Gundam Meister starts towards the door, opening it before looking back at the room's actual occupant... And he is followed, shortly thereafter, by Haro.

"WORK HARD, ANEW!" the orange Haro says as it hops past Miss Returner. "WORK HARD, ANEW!"

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