The room was dark.
Then again, it was always dark. Lambda had sensors that could easily peer through the gloom, but her power source wasn't yet complete, and would permit no more than five minutes before she was strained. As well, it always seemed that just when Lambda had almost adapted to the dark, the Professor would open her door and blind her.
Speaking of such, Lambda barely had a few moments of the widening shaft of light as warning to cover her eyes. Blinded once again, she stumbled to her feet before the Professor could even speak. A couple of empty florence flasks in hand, she wordlessly gestured for Lambda to follow her out of the room. Head down and shoulders slumped, Lambda submissively followed after Kokonoe as fast as she could.
For a few minutes longer, the two walked down the halls of sector seven. To Kokonoe, it seemed that Lambda was improving. She wasn't edging for any of the side-doors, and didn't appear to be too upset. It might cast a damper on her mood if she knew Lambda's actual sentiments. Even if Lambda knew by now that Kokonoe and especially Tager were marginally gentler than her previous masters, she had trouble escaping the notion that the feline woman possessed little concern for her actual wellbeing. Kokonoe never noted how Lambda was always off to the side in certain angles.
The fact of the matter was, Lambda was terrified to so much as tread on Kokonoe's shadow.
Nothing existed to hint at Kokonoe's level of compassion or acceptace or capacity for forgiveness. Lambda possessed fragmented, yet vivid memories of what atrocities she'd been forced to endure beneath her previous masters. Gleeful smiles at her agony, despair, pure unconstrained fear during those tests still lingered fresh in her mind. This place had the same kind of cylinders and consoles as where Lambda had been tortured for study and, quite frankly, for entertainment. Such imagery still evoked great anxiety for her.
Wrapped up in her nervous and distressed kind of stupor, Lambda failed to notice the glint, the shattering noise, Kokonoe's grunt of warning before it was too late. A little squeak of pain escaped her as she treaded heavily on the shards of a dropped Florence flask, soon followed by a wail. Tears blurring her vision, she stumbled against the wall and gave a piteous whine. When she indistinctly saw Kokonoe moving closer, Lambda felt herself nearing closer to uncontrollable bawling. She started to flinch away, before Kokonoe grabbed ahold of the ankle of her injured foot.
A hand placed under Lambda's other thigh, Kokonoe murmured softly as she helped the girl slide gently to the floor. Forked tail brushing the rest of the glass away, Kokonoe took out a pair of metal forceps from one of her coat's pockets. "Shh, shh...I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry, Lambda, please...Don't cry. It's okay, don't cry, okay? Please, don't cry..." Wincing at the low, distraught sobs of pain and fear, Kokonoe worked as gently as she could to pick the bloodstained shards out of Lambda's foot.
Thanks to Lambda's slight frame (And most likely, in part due her still-undernourished weight), the shards had fortunately only just pierced the sole of her foot. It took little time to remove the glass shards. Quickly giving Tager a call and shakenly cussing him out for some statement, Kokonoe never let Lambda out of her sight. "That's right. Hydrogen peroxide, cotton balls, and bandages. I'm playing nurse - The hell do you think I need it for? Lambda's hurt, dumbass, now just shut your goddamn trap and do it!" She snapped the communicator shut and more gently went to Lambda's side.
Lambda's cheeks were still drenched by tears. Her foot was bleeding badly, and she was giving Kokonoe the most terrible look. The way her crimson eyes resembled those of an animal who'd been beaten by its master gave Kokonoe a sickened feeling in the pit of her stomach, and it felt like her heart was clenched by something. She knew she was going to regret investing this much attention, getting attached at all; but if she didn't do something to earn back Lambda's trust, she'd never forgive herself.
Fishing around in her pockets, Kokonoe found it. Her last sucker. Carefully moving over to Lambda, Kokonoe embraced the girl perpendicular to her chest. She gently offered the candy to Lambda, and once it was accepted cautiously, Kokonoe began to rub her hand awkwardly up and down Lambda's back. She wasn't used to this motherly bullshit, and was afraid to say anything for letting a comment slip that would shatter Lambda's calm.
Crimson gaze turned up to Kokonoe's anguished face, Lambda wondered why Kokonoe looked to be in pain as well. Cautiously, quietly, she spoke up. "P...Professor...?" She gulped as Kokonoe looked sadly down at her. "Wh-why...Why do you look so, hurt? Did, did you...Hurt yourself, as, as well?" Oh, God. This was not happening right now. A choked wheeze broke from Kokonoe's throat, and she removed her glasses with her free hand and wiped the beginnings of hot, stinging tears from her eyes. She'd only been this close to tears twice she could recall - Once when she got the wind knocked out of her falling from a swing as a child, and when she found out that her mother had died.
Hand gently patting the small of Lambda's back, Kokonoe forced herself to replace her glasses and look Lambda in the eye. Her deep, dark red orbs were still meek and swimming and fraught with distress, but a new emotion had surged up: Overwhelming concern glowed in her eyes as her grasp on the sucker shivered. She went to offer it back, but Kokonoe used all of her willpower to keep gentle and move it back towards her. "I'm fine, Lambda. I just, feel...Shit. I feel like I should have been paying attention, and I should have done so many things better, and I should have - Ugh.
"The point is," she said wearily, "I want you to have that. You're the one who's hurt, and you deserve something sweet at the very least. I'm no saintly doctor, but I think you should have at least something that shitty and pathetic from me for being so brave." Goddammitall straight to hell, Kokonoe fumed inwardly. She never, ever spilled her guts like this about her feelings - Nor did she ever have these kinds of emotions to outpour. But here she was, practically gushing with emotions that were going to come back to haunt her, sooner or later. Finally, Lambda took the sucker and tried it, and Kokonoe was becoming more certain in how she comforted the girl, and where in the name of Jesus H. Christ was Tager?
As if on cue, those heavy, clanking footsteps came closer down the hallway, and a massive shadow fell over Kokonoe and Tager. Kokonoe didn't bother warning him of the glass shards - Even in the event he treaded on the glass, it wasn't as if he'd even feel it. On these smooth, seamless metal floors, the fine glass powder delivered in tonnage from the gigantic cyborg's armored boot would likely be far easier to vacuum up. Regardless, now was the time to focus on Lambda. Letting her sit in Tager's grasp, Kokonoe carefully applied some hydrogen peroxide to a cotton ball. She turned her gaze up to Lambda.
"Alright, Lambda," she said carefully, "I'm not going to lie to you: This is going to hurt very, very badly. It might hurt worse than the glass. But it won't last that long, and if I don't do this, your cuts are going to get infected, and you'll be in very bad pain for a much longer time, or worse." She watched Lambda's shaking eyes. "I just saw how brave you were. Please, be brave a little longer. Please, Lambda." Kokonoe watched as Lambda silently reached a hand out.
It took her an embarrassingly long time to realize what it was that Lambda wanted. After getting the cotton balls ready with hydrogen peroxide and holding them in forceps, Kokonoe began the process of dabbing at the red cuts in Lambda's foot. With a sharp intake of breath, her tiny hand squeezed as tightly to Kokonoe's as she could. Yet as Tager murmured softly, and Kokonoe rubbed her thumb in circles on the back of Lambda's hand, the girl began to pant, but didn't seem to be as distressed.
Though it took a minute to convince Lambda to release her hand, once she did, applying the bandages was a simple matter. From there, Tager agreed to carry Lambda the rest of the way. As Kokonoe walked ahead of them, occasionally turning back, she watched the girl's slender, pale legs swing slightly, watched her hands grip protectively to the stick of the sucker she was given, watched her red eyes finally dry of any tears.
Even though Kokonoe couldn't say for sure whether this trust Lambda now seemed to have for her was rightly placed, or whether that faith was intrinsically destined for betrayal, the pinkhaired scientist refused to dwell on it.
For if she didn't cherish this brief moment of peace, it could shatter in an instant.