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Old 2024-04-03, 00:48   Link #41
LightDragonman
Senior Member
 
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Man, been a bit since I updated this fic. Welp, here goes. Shorter post this time.

_____

"So I take it you managed to retrieve some valuable info from that Walkit carrier?" L-Elf said to Haruto, the command deck now empty save for the two men and Shouko.

Haruto nodded, before pulling out two data drives from his pocket. "This contains information on both what Rukino-san went through and the true natue of the Phantom ships."

"Glad you managed to scavenge them while you were there Tokishima, lest this plan that I have been working on not have come to fruition. Course, you did exactly what I thought you would, and A-Drei thankfully didn't pose a problem this time around."

".....Wait," Haruto asked, "Did you seriously just base this plan of yours on me doing what I did, when their was no guarantee that I would've even found this data? My main concern was rescuing Rukino-san."

"True, and I did have a back-up plan should you have only rescued her or not even come back. Luckily, my faith in your abilities and decision making was not unfounded."

Haruto could've sworn that he saw L-Elf smiling behind his clenched hands, albeit hidden behind the latter. Though he quickly brushed it off.

"I know you say you need to feed on Runes again, but I still need to work on the plan now that this data is ours. I can't exactly do that if I'm incapacitated, and we know how many Runes you need."

"...I understand" Haruto replied. "Just don't take too long, otherwise...I don't know if I'll be able to contribute to whatever scheme you've got cooking up."

"Don't worry Haruto. I'm not going to let you starve" L-Elf responded. "After all, you are my most important chess piece for this upcoming game, and I can't do anything if you're dead."

Shouko couldn't help but smirk at his statement. "Someone's a bit of a tsundere it seems."

"Now please leave me be. I need to go over these drives to figure out how to integrate them."

"Understood L-Elf" Haruto said with a salute. Though after looking at Shouko, he remembered he still had one other thing he came here to do.

"L-Elf, permission to speak to Shouko for a minute?"

L-Elf looked over to the girl in question. She seemed a bit nervous at the suggestion, and given everything that happened between the two of them, he wasn't sure what exactly to do. After all, he still needed to go over what the updated plan for the next battle was.

Then again, given everything that came as a result of keeping secrets in the past few days, he was also not as willing to let things fester. After all, if this new nation was to fulfill the dream of Lieselotte, they all needed to be much more open.

"Don't worry L-Elf" Shouko finally said, addressing him by his code-name this time. "I was also told to catch up with him under the advice of Inuzuka-san after all."

"...Very well. I'll let you two have a moment. Just remember that I'll need you back here quickly Shouko."

Shouko nodded, and with that, the two made their way out of the room, and to one of the ship's observation decks.

L-Elf couldn't help but feel a slight ache in his heart as he saw the two depart, but quickly quashed the feeling, returning to his task of reviewing the data Haruto had scavenged.


_____


It was a bit of an awkward walk for the two teens, as they didn't know exactly what to say, given everything that they now knew about each other. This wasn't exactly a conversation Haruto and Shouko were looking forward to having.

At the very least, the former saw Inuzuka and Raizo giving him a reassuring thumbs-up as he approached the deck, while the latter also saw Akira give her an encouraging smile, so they at least felt a bit more comfortable knowing that their friends at least had their backs on this. Though it did give Haruto a bit of pause when he saw Saki reach out to him with her hand, as if she wanted to speak to him, only for her to frown and turn away with her eyes hidden when she saw Shouko with him.

Luckily for them, the observation deck was currently unoccupied by the time they arrived to it. With them locking the door behind them, they looked outside the window into the vastness of space, still unsure what to say to start the conversation.

"S-Shouko, I have to-"

"Haruto, about what happened-"

They both blushed and let out an awkward chuckle as they both tried to start the discussion at the same time. At least the tension was let out a bit as a result.

".....Go ahead Haruto" Shouko said. "I'll let you go first."

Haruto took a deep breath. This was it.

".....Shouko, I know that I've hurt you too much. I lied to you about my true nature, as I was afraid that you would view me as a monster, and I wanted things to stay the same as they always were. And yet it just made things all the worse when you finally did learn the truth. And that's not even getting into what I did to your father."

He could feel himself tearing up. "I-It's all my fault for hiding things from you. Y-You placed your trust in me, w-when all I did was betray you for not giving that s-same faith. I-I understand if you hate me n-now."

He was trying his hardest to not break down, not helped by Shouko also seeming to become emotional. He fully expected her to yell at him at any moment.

To his surprise, he found her placing a hand on his cheek.

"...Haruto, I'm sorry as well" she said with a sniffle. "I saw the data that you sent to Akira, about you choosing to become what you are now for my sake. For me to treat you the way I did after finding out.....I was in the wrong as well."

"As for my father, I'm guilty of keeping that a secret as well" Shouko admitted. "I tried to keep it a secret, as I didn't want to lose our relationship, and I know how much knowing you caused it would destroy you. To be honest, I'd be lying if I didn't harbor some resentment towards you for what you did to me."

Haruto's face fell, and he struggled to hold back his tears. However, he noticed that Shouko too was beginning to cry.

"Y-Yet I know now why you did everything. It was all for m-my sake right?"

He nodded.

"A-And that's why I c-cant stay mad at you. You didn't e-even murder my father knowingly, s-so I don't blame you for t-that either. While you did h-hurt me, so did I. We both d-did one terrible thing to each other."

Wiping the moisture from her eyes, she stood tall. "That's why I forgive you Haruto. I don't hate you, nor do I want to see you suffer. We're still friends after all, and like you said, we share our struggles together."

Haruto was silent for a bit, before the two of them embraced the other.

"Shouko.....thank you. Thank you for forgiving me for what I've done. I promise that I won't hold any more secrets from you."

After a few seconds, the two finally released the embrace. Haruto then noticed that Shouko had yet another melancholy look on her face.

".....Haruto, about that childhood promise. Do you still remember it?"

".....Yeah, we both said that we would elope and never leave the other alone again."

".....Do you still think it is possible now?"

Haruto paused. So here it was. The other pressing matter he wasn't exactly looking forward to talking about.

"What do I say to her? Given everything we are now, I don't know how to break the news that-"

".....That silence says everything I need to know" Shouko said with a sad smile gracing her lips.

Haruto sighed. "It's true Shouko. While my feelings of love for you were true back then, now I simply can't hold onto them. I lied to you about my true nature, as I didn't trust you enough, and that alone made me realize that things simply can't work out between us, even if we promise to never hold things back from each other now."

"...I understand Haruto" Shouko said with a sniffle. "In truth, that's the answer I was hoping you'd give me. Given that you're now going to live far beyond my own lifespan, and the fact that I now have responsibilities as the PM of New-Jior, the only way for me to move forward is to let go as well."

Haruto gave a bitter chuckle. "Things sure have changed so much haven't they? What with me being an inhuman Valvrave pilot and you ruling an entire nation.....Yeah, we both have to move forward from our childhoods. I'm sorry that we can't be together."

She gave a bittersweet look at him. "At the very least, we'll always have that moment in the cave as children right?"

"Yeah, I'll never forget those moments we shared."

With that, it felt as though a weight had been lifted off the two teens back. After giving one more embrace, the two left the room.

"...Haruto, thank you for everything" Shouko thought. "I hope that, in lieu of being with you, what Mikhail and I are working on will give you new motivation."


_____


"So I take it you have worked things out with Haruto?" L-Elf asked as Shouko re-entered the command deck.

She nodded. "It's funny. I thought that I'd be much more saddened at the fact that we can't be a couple, yet now that we both came to that understanding, it feels like I'm now more content."

"That's the same thing I felt once I realized what Lieselotte truly wanted for me as well." L-Elf said, the ache in his heart now completely gone. "And now, I have something to show you, both for her sake and Haruto's."

"Then lay it out for me Mikhail!" Shouko said boisterously.

_____


And with that, one of several interactions during the downtime is complete. Though I may go back and edit Haruto and Shouko's conversation, as I'm not sure it's all that well done.

At any rate, while those two will remain friends, they're not gonna get together. Heck, the constant simping of Haruto for Shouko, despite all the evidence showing that they'd be better able to mature if they moved on from each other, was a huge complaint I had with the show. Even with Inuzuka's last request, that didn't do anything to endear me to the two being a couple, as that just sounds like one being forced together for the sake of a dying man's wish, rather than what actually makes sense.

So yeah, there's that. Any thoughts?
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Old 2024-04-04, 01:01   Link #42
LightDragonman
Senior Member
 
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
These next posts are probably going to be shorter. Anyways, onward to the next part!

_____


Saki sighed sadly as she looked at the WIRED network over a borrowed phone. While she had a sneaking suspicion as to what she'd find regarding her idol status, to see such rejection in front of her eyes was still hard for her to stomach. Everywhere she looked, former fans were denouncing her as a monster, her previous managers and sponsorships had dropped her and wanted nothing to do with her, and she even bore witness to videos of people burning her records and merchandise, or simply tossing them in the trash. Even here with the survivors, she was taken aback with how a few of them treated her with hostility, especially after so many of them had cheered for her and Haruto saving them in the nick of time.

"All that I worked for.....now thrown away like some sort of disease-ridden plant" she thought sadly. She struggled to hold her emotions as the fact that she had been used like this brought pain to her heart.

"...No" she said to herself, clenching her fist. "If that's how the world sees me, then I'll just have to fight even harder! I refuse to let it bring me down! This world may reject me, but I'll stay on the path, especially for Haruto!.......Haruto....

"I thank you for supporting the decision to give me a second chance" a male voice piped up. Saki turned to the source, only to narrow her eyes at it.

"A-Drei..." she spat, clearly not in the mood to see the one that caused her reputation to tank. "Again, I only supported it because Haruto did so. If you think that makes us friends, think again."

"I'm truly sorry for everything you went through Rukino Saki."

All he got in response was another glare. "Yeah, thanks. You weren't sorry when you captured me, nor were you sorry when you delivered me to be executed and tortured."

"Please.....I'm not that person anymore." he pleaded.

"I know you aren't. Shame that it took until now to see the error of your ways."

Not wanting to be in the presence of him for much longer lest she start to feel sick, Saki then left the hallway.

_____


Having been rebuffed, A-Drei sadly walked to the storage section of the ship. All the way there, he had to come face-to-face with more of the survivors. Every time he did so, he received more of the same sort of treatment.

"Murderer!"

"Dorssian scum!"

"You deserve to be shot!"

"I lost my friend thanks to you!"

"You shouldn't still be here!"

Indeed, everywhere he went, the hatred and contempt the surviving students of New-Jior and ex-Arus soldiers was palpable. Some even went so far as to spit in his face, and he even bet that he would've received worse had L-Elf and Haruto not made it clear he was still needed alive.

Speaking of L-Elf, his former friend had also refused to allow A-Drei to see him. He claimed it was because he still needed to work on his plan, but given how he had allowed Haruto and Shouko to speak in private with him, he had his doubts. Especially given the defiant look that was thrown his way.

"L-Elf.....am I still to be a part of your revolution?"

Eventually, the disgraced agent had finally made it to the storage room. Not even bothering to turn on the light, he entered it and collapsed against the far wall, burying his face into his knees, regret filling every vein in his body.


_____


Akira smiled as she watched Shouko enter the observation deck with Haruto, having given the former a reassuring grin through her phone. At the very least, she had high hopes that her close friend and fellow pilot would be able to be on good terms once more.

Just then, she heard the sound of her stomach growling. Realizing that she hadn't eaten since the rendezvous, she looked around the cockpit of Unit 06, only to find that she had run out of snacks.

"Oh no" she thought, panic beginning to set in again. "Am I going to have to go out amidst all these people?"

True, she had gotten better at interacting with others. But she was still not completely comfortable with it. Looking at the camera feeds, she also saw her brother was busy helping the wounded with Takahi and Rion, and she obviously did not want to intrude on Shouko's conversation with Haruto.

As her stomach continued to growl, Akira groaned as she realized that she had little choice, less she want to starve. Placing a cardboard box on her head, she opened the cockpit hatch and floated out of her Valvrave.

Based on everything she saw from her camera feeds, she knew the location of the closest storage room. She only hoped that one-eyed Dorssian agent wasn't at it just yet.

It took a bit for her to get to the room, as her view was obstructed by the box she was wearing on her head. Not to mention how she had to get past a whole bunch of ex-ARUS soldiers, many of whom were flabbergasted at the sight of a girl wearing a purple pilot suit with a cardboard box on her head.

Luckily, she finally reached the storage room. Quickly getting inside, she took off the box, turned on the light, and began looking through the food supplies. To her delight, it contained her favorite brand of potato chips, along with the chili sauce that Shouko showed her went great with them. She quickly grabbed a couple bags of the chips, along with a can of the sauce.

Unfortunately, just as she grabbed the latter, she looked to her right. To her horror, there was the one-eyed ex Karlstein agent, the man who had captured Saki and was responsible for the massacre, sitting with his back to the wall and his arms around his knees. Without the box covering her face, she was completely exposed to his sight, leaving her to panic and nearly drop her snacks.

"W-What do I do?! H-He saw my face!"

Trying her best to stifle her screams, she made a break for the exit.

"Scared of me huh?" A-Drei suddenly said, looking up from his knees. "Honestly I don't blame you. Everyone here is either that or hates me."

At that, Akira froze. While panic did have a part in it, as the agent was now looking right at her face, it was also confusion. Apparently, he didn't know that she had this reaction to pretty much everyone that she didn't consider a close friend.

"No matter, it's the most I deserve after all. Given everything that's happened under my watch. And all because I didn't trust my friend enough. Being an outcast both here and in Dorssia was inevitable I suppose."

Akira turned to look back at him. From his posture, she was reminded of how she would often curl into a ball when inside her hacker cave and even in her Valvrave cockpit when she was feeling nervous or upset.

Seeing as how she wasn't leaving, A-Drei continued. "You ever heard about the Karlstein Institute?"

Akira nodded. It was, after all, one of the places she and Saki had been sent to infiltrate while on Earth. She found herself moving over to take a seat by the agent.

"It's where L-Elf and I first met. We couldn't be any different. I was a former prince, and he had been an escapee from a Dorssian concentration camp. Yet we both agreed that the country needed to be changed. You may not know this, but Dorssia was initially meant to protect and defend its people before anything else. Beyond that, it did so with honor and compassion, as decreed by the royal family."

"Everything changed after Red Thursday in my country" A-Drei continued. "That was when the Royal family was overthrown by Amadeus and his forces. Myself being a prince, I too was cast out. Imagine, going from a life of comfort to having to struggle to survive. The Karlstein Institute has a huge death rate after all. They even start the training when the recruits are simple children. You wouldn't believe how many I had to see die right next to me."

A-Drei felt his eyes tearing up, as the images came racing back to his mind. Not at all helped by the children who's lives were lost in the massacre that he inadvertently helped facilitate.

He took a moment to collect himself. "But both myself and L-Elf managed to survive, ranking as the top students, with multiple kills and successful missions under our belts. After all, if we were to return Dorssia to its honorable ways of the past, we needed to survive to make sure that happened."

"Finally, we both, alongside X-Eins, H-Neun, and Q-Vier were sent to your Module. Our mission was to infiltrate and secure the Valvrave unit. However, both me and L-Elf actually planned to use it to turn against the others and start our revolution. Course, since it only works with you Jiorians, it would've been a fools errand, but we didn't know that at the time."

He chuckled bitterly. "Course, then L-Elf was hijacked by your ally Haruto and I lost my eye. Could you imagine how much it hurt to not only be betrayed by your closest friend, but to have them blind you?"

Akira simply shook her head.

"So after that, I swore to put him out of his misery. If only I knew that he was still on my side. But every time I encountered him after that, he only reacted with hostility, especially since he was going about it with that pilot of yours by his side. Only furthering my desire to punish him......what kind of friend am I to think that way huh?"

He began to get choked up as he continued. "Then of course as you know, it all led to the incident on Earth. I still wanted to believe in L-Elf, as that dream of a reformed Dorssia is one I never gave up on having. That's when I finally had someone at gunpoint, Rukino Saki, who could tell me once and for all what he was truly doing when he shot out my eye."

The guilt once again started to overwhelm him. "E-Every part of my soul was telling me, no, b-begging me to just ask her then and there. I saw the n-note L-Elf had left her after a-all. If she escaped with the R-Royalists, L-Elf's true reason for the revolution may have been fulfilled."

Akira was shocked to see a few tears roll down A-Drei's cheek. "B-But I was still doubtful. A-And more than a-anything, I s-still was c-conditioned to follow orders. D-Dorssian Code Of Conduct was to treat p-prisoners with respect a-after all, and I thought she'd be t-treated better than what s-she got."

He closed his eyes in sadness. "And you know what happened n-next. L-Look at what's happened since then. I-I ruined the life of the youngest of you p-pilots, cost L-Elf the chance to be with L-Lieselotte, and you all hate and o-ostracize me f-for good reason, as so many are d-dead. All b-because of me!"

At this point, his tears were flowing. "I-I hoped to revolutionize D-Dorssia with me a-as its p-prince to p-protect innocents. Y-Yet a-all I-I've done is take them."

Before he could stop himself, he buried his head Akira's shoulder, much to the latter's panic.

"B-By w-what r-right do I have to r-rule as a p-prince......BY WHAT RIGHT?!"

With that he broke down sobbing, repeating those last three words over and over.

Akira was startled, to say the least. This was the second time as of late that she found herself as the one a grieving person was leaning on for support, and this time, it wasn't even a close friend of hers.

Yet she couldn't help but be reminded of something similar now that she heard all of his story. Indeed, she herself had tried to do something to help her brother through hard times via hacking into those servers, only for it to backfire and result in her ostracization and her brother receiving more grief.

Feeling a surprising bit of sympathy for the agent, she awkwardly wrapped her arms around him, allowing him to let out all of his grief.

"I-I don't know i-if I can h-help you." she stammered. "B-But just know that I-I know what it's like to be shunned. No one deserves that."

A-Drei looked up at her, surprised to hear her say that. ".....Not even me, the one who caused you all so much grief?"

Akira shook her head. Remembering how Shouko would cheer her up, she then opened up one of the bags of chips and chili sauce containers. Dipping a chip into the sauce, she offered it to A-Drei.

"H-Here. It's tasty together."

Slowly, A-Drei accepted the snack. His eyes lit up slightly as he ate it, as it was indeed tastier than he thought.

".....Thank you pilot."

"M-My name is A-Akira" she said with a smile.


_____


Yep, and with that A-Drei has found a new friend.

I admit, the idea of him and Akira becoming friends is an idea that came from reading other fics where that happened. For some reason, it just feels right. Heck, I'd much prefer it to pairing him with Saki (why on Earth that pairing gets the most fan art is beyond me), which is also why I made it clear here that any chance of him being with Saki is flat-out never going to pan out.

Thoughts?

Last edited by LightDragonman; 2024-04-05 at 02:45.
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Old 2024-04-10, 02:34   Link #43
LightDragonman
Senior Member
 
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Sorry about taking a while for this update. Truth be told, this one is a bit hard for me to write, and I still don't think I'm finished with it (I want this part and the next one to be as good as I can make it).

_____


"Haruto..." Saki said as she saw him head to the observatory deck, her hand outstretched "...About what Kibukawa said about your Runes..."

As soon as she saw Shouko by his side though, her words got caught in her throat. She watched sadly as the two entered the deck, her eyes hidden behind her bangs. So this was it. He was going to patch things up with her, and given the strong feelings that the two shared, they were no doubt going to confess their love for each other as well. It was a bitter pill for her to swallow, even though she had tried to prepare for this outcome the minute they had made landing with the cruiser.

"Hey Haruto" she thought to herself. "When I heard that Shouko found out the truth about you and didn't take it well, there was a part of me that was a bit excited. After all, if she rejected you thanks to your nature, then that means I might have had a chance with you. I mean, how can I compete with your childhood friend?"

She chuckled remorsefully. "I'm a terrible woman aren't I? For me to have such selfish thoughts. Forgive me for them. No matter what your decision is, I promise to fight by your side. Even if you have to be stopped before the curse overtakes you again."

"...If I'm being honest though, I wish you wouldn't shoulder it all by yourself. But hey, at least now you'll have Shouko..." she thought, trying her best to remain strong.

Several minutes passed. Saki waited by the entrance to the deck, anxious to know what the outcome of the discussion would be. As she looked around, she also noted both Inuzuka and Raizo also in the same room, also with nervous looks on their faces. They too seemed to be awaiting the results, though they seemed far less melancholy than she was.

Finally, the doors opened up, and out walked both Haruto and Shouko, both with a smile on their faces. The latter made right for the command deck, which left the former to be greeted by Inuzuka and Raizo. Saki also once again tried to talk to him, only to pause once she overheard what was said.

"So how'd it go?" Inuzuka asked. "Based on the smile that both of you were sporting, I'm guessing it went well."

Haruto took a second before responding. "...Yeah, we're back on good terms. Turns out Shouko fully understands my new status as a Kamitsuki and is perfectly accepting of it."

"See?" Inuzuka said. "I told you it would all work out in the end!"

"You did well Aniki!" Raizo complimented.

Haruto smiled. "Yeah, I'm glad that me and Shouko don't have to be separated now at least."

This earned him a few more congrats from the fellow two pilots, completely oblivious to Saki, who did her best to hold in her tears.

"Ah, so that's it" she thought sadly. "Well, I can't say that this wasn't expected. I'm really no match for Shouko on this front huh?"

With a sad smile gracing her lips, she left the room, not wanting to have her heart broken further should she hear Haruto declare his love for his childhood friend again.

"Even still, I'll still support you and whatever decisions you make Haruto" she thought. "You may never know of my true feelings for you, but at least you can always count on me."

With moist eyes, she headed to one of the secluded halls, not even sparing a second glance at Akira and A-Drei, who she passed by on the way there.

"I've made it this far alone" she noted once she entered the room, picking up a water bottle. "Guess I'll just have to endure it more..."

_____


"So when can we expect the honeymoon?" Inuzuka asked Haruto.

"...Honeymoon?"

"You know, what you and Shouko are going to do after this next mission they have planned." Inuzuka clarified. "Given that you are good terms again, I'm looking forward to you both getting married!"

"You can count on me being your best man!" Raizo boasted.

"Oh please" Inuzuka snarked. "You, Haruto's best man?"

At that, Haruto nervously scratched his neck. "Yeah...about that..."

"Don't tell me that you held off on telling her your feelings again." Inuzuka groaned.

"No, it's not that" Haruto said, wondering how exactly they would react to what he was about to reveal. ".....Me and Shouko both agreed that, while we made that childhood promise and we are once again friends.....we aren't going to be together as a couple."

Inuzuka and Raizo were both flabbergasted at that admission. "...What?" the former said. "How could you both agree to such a conclusion? I was pushing for you two to be together for so long."

"Especially since me and Aina couldn't be together" he thought.

Haruto shrugged. "She's human. I'm now a Kamitsuki. I'll outlive her, not to mention the fact that I also have all these new needs thanks to my inhuman nature."

"But remember what Aina said" Inuzuka protested. "We're Holy Spirits! She was even willing to be with me despite out two different natures before....."

He had to stop to wipe his eyes. "The point is that shouldn't matter! How could you two not reconcile those differences?"

Haruto shook his head. "That may be, but look at it another way. She's the PM of New-Jior, and has to put the needs of all its citizens first. Meanwhile, I'm the head pilot of the Valvraves, and again, am not human anymore. And her becoming a Kamitsuki like us is out of the question. We have to move on if we are to do what's best for all of us."

".....Man" Raizo added. "When you put it that way, it does make a lot of sense."

"I still can't accept this!" Inuzuka said rather emotionally. "We have to make the best of what we've got! After all, I was unable to confess to Aina before she..."

"Inuzuka" Haruto asked, now suspicious. "Did you want me to be with Shouko out of guilt over Aina? Is that why you wanted me to go on a date with her rather than focus on rescuing Rukino-san and everything else?"

"..."

"That's what I thought" he said with a sigh. "Look, if we are to do what's best for New-Jior going forward, we have to move on from our childish desires. It's that that kept me from revealing the truth to Shouko for so long, and you saw how that turned out."

"Besides" he added while looking down, "the curse of the Valvrave is mine to bear alone after all. I can't let her or anyone else share in its pain."

Inuzuka struggled to form a response. ".....You're right" he finally admitted. "I just was so guilty over Aina that I thought you both being together would give me some peace of mind. But we have to move on."

"Though that won't stop me from keeping you in my heart Aina."

"Hey, at the very least, this means I won the bet!" Raizo said, trying to lighten up the mood. "Now pay up for losing your prediction on them being together Mr. Salesman!"

"Yeah, yeah" Inuzuka replied. "Just know that this is one of the few times my investments don't pay off."

Haruto found himself chuckling at the display. Of course they would make a bet over that. Leaving the two to dole out the results, he headed towards the break hall.

"At the very least, this does make it easier for me to take on this burden alone"
_____


As A-Drei got to his feet, watching Akira finally leave the storage room, he found himself feeling a lot less morose, now that he knew that at least one person didn't completely hate him on this ship. Though he still had a long way to go if he was to fully redeem himself in the eyes of the survivors.

He thought back to what Akira said to him before she headed on out.

"Just how exactly am I going to atone?" he asked her. "After everything I've done, death seems like the only possible answer."

"D-Don't say that!" Akira replied. "A-At the very least, t-try to fix what you've broken."

"And where exactly am I going to start on that front?" he asked himself, taking a quick walk outside the storage room for some air.

As he did, he noticed Saki briskly moving past him, though the look on her face was still evident. She looked like she was doing her best to hold back tears, and barely even acknowledged his presence, though the latter part was to be expected at this point, given the bad terms she was on with A-Drei.

"Just what exactly is going on with her?" he wondered.

His curiosity getting the better of him, he moved towards the room that she had departed from. Looking inside, he could both see and hear the one who had rescued Saki, Haruto, interacting with the two other Valvrave pilots. The latter were asking the former about when he'd go on a honeymoon with the New-Jior PM.

Thinking back to the heated conversation between Haruto and Saki on the moon that he had inadvertently listened in on, it suddenly became clear why the latter was acting so emotional.

"She must have feelings for him" he mused to himself. "No wonder she didn't want to reveal the truth about him hijacking L-Elf to me. Those feelings she holds are strong."

As he eavesdropped more however, his eyes widened as he heard that Haruto and Shouko weren't actually going to be a couple, given everything that happened between them and the former's new nature.

"She must not have heard that part" he realized. "If she did, then maybe she would instead..."

Not wanting to intrude on the conversation, he began making his way back to the storage room, his mind now racing.

"If there's a way for her and Haruto to be together, and I can nudge the two in that direction..."

As he was about to enter the compartment again, he looked back to see Haruto enter the hallway. Realizing the opportunity at hand, he made his decision.

"At the very least, I can make it up to Rukino Saki in some manner this way."


______


Yeah, honestly Inuzuka, despite being a cool bro character, rubbed me the wrong way in the show with how much he still insisted on Haruto get together with Shouko, even when Saki was in captivity (seriously, going on a date while the other one is being tortured is tasteless imo) and after everything that happened. Felt to me that he was just pushing for the couple to happen out of guilt over Aina, which isn't exactly healthy, so that's why I wrote that.

Oh yeah, and A-Drei is matchmaker for Haruto and Saki here, if only to atone to the latter. Makes way more sense than pairing him with her (again, why does that stupid pairing of A-Drei and Saki get the most fan-art again?)

Next up is something I've been looking forward to writing, but at the same time, one that I'm nervous about. Wish me luck.
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