Right after “A.M.”, around day 5.


This was a damned boring job.


Ayan glanced up at the silent front portion of the Taurus as he worked on it, replacing every screw, every bolt, every part he’d taken from it during his flight to Yggdrasil. 


“You may just be more trouble than you’re worth, my friend,” He said, a flicker of movement in his neck muscles moving his bangs from his eyes.  “But it’s.. all for the greater good.”


The din of hangar noise was becoming increasingly familiar to the new Ensign, and he’d even taken to looking more like the other mechanics.  Hands stained with grease, sleeves rolled up or removed from his shirt, hair tied back tightly, constant crease of concentration showing in his brow…


And that damned song stuck in his head.  It’d been playing in a music store weeks ago, and now it was stuck in his head.  In an attempt to dislodge it, he’d even tried humming it.  But it wasn’t working.  The beat played on.


“Brown paper packages, tied up with strings..”  Ayan mumbled, “These are a few of my favourite things..”


The idea that worked quietly into his head blossomed as he bent to rub away a small spot of grease from the Taurus’ gleaming surface. 


Words fell in place like raindrops into a lake.  Ayan worked and reworked them as he sorted through the Taurus’ pieces, singing them to himself in a triumphant ceremony.


“Mobile suits flying and fantastic weaponry

Bright, noisy explosions and top secret military

Officers who cross-dress and might wear g-strings...

These are a few of my favourite things!”


The Taurus creaked slightly as he replaced another panel.  The song would be forgotten by the time he’d finished for the day, but it kept his mind occupied as he worked. 


Damn those mobile suits, those poker-faced mobile suits.  He’d had better conversations with those phone solicitors that would call repeatedly and offer newspaper subscriptions or free college educations. 


//I think it’s time for a break.//


Lance was in his little ‘office’ when Ayan sauntered in.  The God of the Hangar looked up from his desk, voice raspy and clipped.  “You’re.. here.”


“Of course,” Ayan replied, then quickly corrected himself.  “Yes, sir, I am.”  Getting used to the formality was one of the more difficult things to learn.  Even if Lance didn’t seem to react to the informalities too much.  Perhaps he hadn’t noticed.   He stretched his muscles before standing upright.  “Ensign Blayne, reporting in for the same reason I’ve been here day in and day out.”


Lance looked up from his drawing table, still a bit angry that Ayan had meddled with one of his suits.  “Then… get back to it… What’s the progress..?”


//That’s nice for a change.//  With as much vagueness as he could muster, Ayan gave a nonchalant, “Pretty good, Sir.  Bit by bit, you know how it goes.”  If he’d had looked up, he’d have seen Lance grit his teeth at the unintentional pun.


“I.. see…”


Feeling a little guilty at the smartass reply, Ayan straightened himself.  “We’re somewhere just below 60% complete, though I have no real means to measure the progress.  Take it or leave it.”


Lance busied himself with his drawing board.  “I’ll take what I can get…. You on the other hand had better get it back together.”  A failed drawing attempt brought a muffled curse from the mechanic, and he dropped his pencil in favour of rubbing his temples.


Optimism won over attitude, and Ayan was grinning as he turned on his heels to return to the hangar.  “I have plenty of time, Sir.  And plenty of soap.”


Lance blinked, watching him leave.  “….Soap?  What the..”


Ayan was unaware that Lance had followed him out of the office, digging back into his roots as he greeted the Taurus in Chinese as if it’d been days since he’d seen it.  “Ni hao ma?”


The Taurus sat silently.  Somewhere behind him, Lance tested the smell in the air. //..Soap?//


As if it had responded, Ayan continued, fingers running over the Taurus’ smooth surface.  “Wo hao, xiexie..”  Looking up at the mobile suit, the light glinted off it’s surface as if to answer him.   Ayan sorted through the tools for a moment before selecting one, circling the Taurus to continue working.  The song was gone from his head, but the emptiness had to be filled.


“Keep meeting people around here..”  He said quietly, “It’s not too bad.  But.. No offense.. I’d rather be sitting at that piano in the den then in front of your rear end.”  The Taurus was silent and Ayan grinned.


Lance had remained out of sight, but heard Ayan’s voice as he talked to the Taurus.  //He… he talks to them… But they don’t answer back… like they do to me..//


The sound of Ayan’s steady work rose around the hangar.  “What do you think about the guy running this place?”  He asked the suit, as if he knew it wouldn’t answer.  “Maybe I’m just uneducated about it, but he seems to have his shit together more than you’d think.  You know?”


The Taurus creaked lowly, and Ayan was grinning again.  “Not too bad for an amateur..” He said, the statement agreeable as another part was properly replaced.  “What’s next..”  Ayan knelt to examine the remaining pile of Taurus parts, one knuckle pressed to his lips in thought.  Lance remained silent, watching the new Ensign.


Ayan picked up an odd piece, examining it closely.  “Another chip in your pile.. I wonder if they’ll even use you when I’m done?  …How many battles will you see?  Being a test type.. Maybe none.  Or maybe just one, after which you’ll end up a pile of scrap.  What a waste.”  Piece selected, Ayan returned to his spot behind the Taurus.


Taking in Ayan’s words, Lance’s brows furrowed.  //…He didn’t touch the weaponry.. But he assumes too much for his own good… That Taurus was made for Duo to use at the moment…//


Silence fell, then Ayan’s simple, “Whoops.”


Instead of wincing at the sound, Lance closed his eyes and moved to slip back into his office.  “…I really didn’t want to hear that..”  He’d said aloud, ironically before realizing it.  //..Shit.. talked out loud…//


Ayan looked up in mild surprise, peering around the Taurus at the mechanic.  “Eavesdropping on our conversation, Sir?”


Lance froze in place, giving a grunt as he thought.  And finally, “……You said soap.”


Instead of bursting into laughter, Ayan kept his calm demeanor.  “Twenty minutes ago, Sir.  You heard everything after that… If you want to see what that “whoops” was about, it’s right here.  But.. Yes, I said soap.”


Lance turned around slowly, the shadows playing over his scars as his hair hung mercilessly in his eyes.  He walked over to Ayan, looking over his shoulder.  “…Why did you say soap?”


“As long as I have enough soap to wash the grease off, I’m good to go,” Ayan explained, holding up his grease-stained hands.  He pointed to a huge grease mark on the shiny surface of the Taurus.  “There’s the whoops.”


Lance surveyed the damage.  “…Soap is not going to work…”  Ayan raised a curious brow as Lance tested the substance by taste.  “You are going to need the pumice mixture… It’s in an orange barrel next to every dock lift… no water needed.”


Ayan looked at his hands.  “My hands don’t get as bad as the others’ do, though.  It just.. takes a lot of scrubbing..”


Lance was heading back to the office, already halfway there.  “..Use whichever.  The pumice mixture works the best.”


Ayan watched him, eyebrows raised as he murmured to himself, “Odd guy…”


The sounds of his work picked back up again, interrupted by the occasional trial lyric for his earlier song parody. 


“Pumice stone mixtures and mobile suits sketches.. 

Hoop-shaped blue earrings and all kinds of stretches..

Rebuilding this Taurus while I try to sing..”


He grinned.


“These are a few of my favourite things…”