Mechanical Pets

Summary: Lacus asks for Athrun's help when the mechanical pets he's built start acting up. Set a little after the "From the Stars Valley" OVA. KxL if you tilt your head and squint.

AN: I could be designing a rocket nozzle for a Mars lander right now, but I decided that explaining why Lacus decided to become a submissive house wife was more important. Perhaps I need to get my priorities straight.

Pink-chan and Torii will not speak to each other.

Lacus knows what Athrun's response to her query will be even before the words come out of his mouth. "They only have rudimentary language subroutines. They're never really communicating with anything."

But despite what Athrun believes he did and did not program into Kira's bird and her Haro, Lacus knows there is something awkward between the two machines. They may not be able to speak in ways humans consider conventional, but they do communicate. Just not with each other. The lack of interaction is painfully obvious to her, and she needs an expert opinion on the matter. Unfortunately, her expert tends to be too analytical. She has, on occasion, broken him of this habit, but he has never truly left his practical nature behind. She is reminded of this as he reiterates, "It may sometimes seem like they have…emotions, but it's mostly randomized responses to some stimulus." There is a gentleness in his voice, though; she knows he's trying not to offend the friendship she's developed with the round device.

The Haro does take offence, however, and begins chirping its refrain, "I won't accept that! I won't accept that! I won't—" until she clamps her hands firmly against it's pink wing flaps. It quiets down, but continues squirming between her palms.

"You mustn't cause so much trouble, Pink-chan," she instructs, before smiling lightly at Athrun. "I don't think he likes when you say that."

And as always, Athrun stares at her blankly before returning a smile at her innocence, keeping the fact that Pink-chan can't like anything to begin with, since it doesn't have the programming to do so, to himself. Instead, he looks back out of the glass windowpanes that open to Reverend Malchio's front porch. Everything is still outside, except for the quiet creaking of the rocking chair as Kira slowly swings forwards and backwards, Torii perched on his right shoulder.

Lacus watches them, too, for a moment, before deciding to press the issue a little further. "They are both usually very friendly creatures, though. I never expected that they would ignore each other like this. Especially since Pink-chan misses his other friends very much."

Athrun looks confused at first, but then understands the problem. "The Haros I specifically designed to interact with each other, since I made a lot of them." He scratches the back of his head sheepishly, "Maybe too many."

"No, they were very good company for me, and each other," she assures him. "I wish could be the same now as well."

Athrun hesitates. He's searching for the appropriate words, she realizes, a way to help her understand. "Torii was the first of these robots that I ever built. He's capable of interacting with humans, but I suppose with other machines it doesn't work the same way. He just doesn't realize he should react to them." He looks at her, gauging her reaction, continuing when he sees that she has understood what he's saying. "I wish I had a better answer for you."

"No, it's alright," she says, her voice slightly deflated, "I understand. I'm sorry to have bothered you with this," she adds after a beat, looking back outside.

"No, it's no bother."

"I just thought there truly may not have liked one another," she begins explaining, but then puts her hand to her cheek in embarrassment. "I'm just being silly again, aren't I?"

He shakes his head firmly. "You're not. You shouldn't think that."

She tries to look placated by his words, but can tell that she has not convinced him when his forehead wrinkles and his face becomes pensive.

"If you'd like, I could reprogram them both," he tells her suddenly, breaking out of his thoughts.

"Reprogram?" She echoes, already contemplating what he's offering.

"Increase their interactivity, especially with each other."

"I wouldn't want to trouble you…"

"It would be no trouble, if you want me to."

A part of her says yes immediately. Since their arrival at the Reverend's secluded home, she's tried to make everyone feel a little more secure. Most of them lost everything in the war. The hurt radiating from everyone had been quite poignant in the beginning, and though it has slightly dissipated over the last few months, its shadow still remains. She dries the children's tears, chases away their nightmares with her songs, helps Reverend Malchio prepare meals, makes sure Kira doesn't stay outside for too long after it's become dark and cold...

They have all had many problems since returning to Earth, since even before then, and though she knows she conceals it well, she's has been fraught with worry. About anything, about everything, about everyone. Athrun's offer presents her with an immediate solution to one of the many things weighing on her. Life will be much simpler, for her at least, if this one problem is resolved.

But there is another part of her, the part that has wished for a simple way to mend these broken hearts, the part that hasn't found a cure other than time and hope, that forces her to stare out the front windows.

She watches Torii flap his wings on Kira's shoulder, causing his brown hair to flutter as metallic feathers brush against it. Kira doesn't say anything to the bird, but turns his head enough that she can see a small smile forming on his lips. She finds herself smiling as well. Time and hope.

"Lacus?" Athrun says, drawing her attention again. "Would you like me to reprogram them?"

She shakes her head, feeling confidant about her answer. "No, it's alright."

"Are you sure?"

"I am." She pats Pink-chan gently. "They will learn to understand each other on their own."

Athrun frowns imperceptibly, and opens his mouth as if to say something more, They can't learn, because they don't know how, but instead looks at her petting the pink Haro and then follows her gaze to Kira, now coaxing Torii onto his hand.

"Aa," Athrun agrees, a faint smile playing on his lips. "They'll figure it out on their own."


AN2: If you think this was a Torii x Pink-chan piece, I've completely failed as a writer. Reviews, good or bad, are always accepted.