The library was comparable in size to the cafeteria or Salon de Marie, housing a literary armada of all genres in its many shelves. Located half way between the salon and the archives, it utilized the large, windowed hallway so many enjoyed walking. The room provided a quiet sanctuary for those wishing to spend their free time in imaginative worlds forged by books. Surprisingly, it had a more luxurious interior crafted with deep cherry wood and plush fabrics since Marisbilly Animusphere spent most of his free time reading before his untimely passing.
A walkway circled the room, with the large center it surrounds residing in a lowlands so one could see across the ocean of shelves from the raised area. Bookshelves lined every wall save for the large window at the far end, likely the inspiration of Salon De Marie's lounging area because of its elegant sofa and table arrangements. A second floor walkway provided access and helped solve a potential issue with absurdly tall ladders.
Carpet in ornate designs of red and gold covered the floor, matching the upholstery of the sofas and reading chairs. Large chandeliers lit the room with a warm glow, its candles eternally lit by magecraft. The lone entrance, with its wooden double doors, was centered on the wall opposite the large window. To its sides were an ornate staircase to the second floor walkway and a well-crafted librarian desk for checkout.
It is at this cherry wood counter that Gabrielle was checking out a book to read in her free time, titled "Well of Ascension". The book was currently in the hands of a male servant with light brown hair, whose fingers danced across a keyboard to log the item's checkout. A well-trimmed anchor mustache and light brown eyes made it dead obvious who the playwright was to anyone within Chaldea. A jade tie and vest were coupled with black formal pants and a white collared shirt.
It was a more modern approach to his standard battle regalia... if he were to ever fight that is. He handed the book back to Gabrielle with a smile. "Per chance, still not willing to flatter me, young master?"
"Sorry, Shakespeare, but I was forced to read enough of your works in High School," she laughed as he made a theatrical gesture of being stabbed through the heart. "Have a nice day! Oh, and show up to caster training sometime!"
"In due time," He laughed back before turning back to cataloging some new additions acquired on a recent singularity. Much to his delight, one was a finely covered book that housed one of his own creations, "Taming of the Shrew".
In the corner side of the room, sitting casually on one of the sofas by the window, sat a young man in his early twenties that watched the small scene. His Chaldea uniform was mostly clean, save for some small grease spots, with the orange tie denoting his presence in the Science Division. The young man adjusted his thin framed glasses and turned back to his book, one of many acquired from supply sorties. His standard business cut would have been dull were his hair not a strawberry blonde that glowed in the sunlight.
Letting out a sigh, he turned another page an-
"Didn't know you were interested in these books. I'll have to keep that in mind," came a teasing voice from behind.
He nearly jumped in shock at the quiet voice.
Fragment 12: A Sincere Understanding
The female servant chuckled as she silently took a seat on the couch opposite his, placing both her hands on the book she lay on her lap.
A tiny, amused smile flashed his way as she studied the cover of the book he held with her unique square-shaped pupils in light violet eyes. Specialized glasses sat lightly on her nose, their temples hidden behind long violet hair. The servant wore a black turtleneck sweater with dark denim jeans, a set much more concealing than her usual choice of clothing. The rider chuckled quietly at the discomfort she caused in her companion, who knew he had been completely caught.
"It's uh...for- I'm jus- Oh forget it," he grumbled as the servant across from him chuckled more, placing a few fingers to her mouth in a vain attempt to stop. "Just... please don't tell anyone, okay?"
"Of course, Anton," She smiled as she opened her own book. "Though that does make me curious. Finally going to do something about that little crush on Gabby?"
"Yea, regarding that. I... I guess I'm still not brave enough yet," He sighed as he put the small book about love tips down. "My probability of success would be low right now."
"Maybe, maybe not. One doesn't know until you try," She mused before beginning to read her book.
Nodding in delayed agreement seconds later, he let out a small sigh before picking up the book once more. The employee was glad Medusa was one of the few people who took the time to speak to him. It wasn't hard to conclude for the young robotics specialist that his complete socially awkward nature made it beyond difficult to bond with people... especially in an environment filled mostly with arrogant mages and supremacist scientists.
Of the remaining staff in Chaldea, most found speaking to him to be a chore and a half. Some even found it easy to pick on the poor engineer, getting some extra laughs when his nervous stutter always overpowered him. Most had since stopped upon the accidental revelation of his physical handicap by a talkative Nero. At least most people treated him fairly now, which he liked.
He could honestly only claim to be on fair terms with roughly six individuals, and two were servants. His friendship with Medusa was largely unexpected, taking him completely by surprise when the servant openly told him she considered the engineer a friend. Granted, it took two months of just sitting across from each other to do so. Both were usually engrossed in their own reading material, so it took some effort for the icebreaker to actually plow through that ocean.
Since then, it had been much the same as it was before except for added small talk and friendly banter on occasion. The two often silently read in each other's company in a comfortable silence. He was grateful for this small piece of stability, since even introverts needed social interaction to retain mental sanity. This was even more important considering how his past two weeks have been going.
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The Science Division's area was separated into many larger rooms for each specialty. Those rooms were then divided even more for offices and special equipment space. It was the same case with the adjacent Engineering Division since the two had similar backgrounds, at least when compared to Magecraft. In between the two divisions was a single large room dedicated to their combined specialty: robotics. While the room fell under both divisions, its custody resided with the Science Division due to the high-tech nature of its instruments, but it took employees from both to run properly.
The Robotic's Hanger was self-explanatory, and was both the control hub for Chaldea's mechanical workforce and repair center. It was much larger than most rooms to accommodate space for the individual repair stations, offices, and full assembly line that had not been activated in years. The precious amounts of remaining, high grade material were kept for maintenance purposes since singularities brought back too little. The future addition of a Chaldean forge with knowledgeable workers may solve that issue should the idea ever be implemented.
It is in one of the private offices that Anton found himself working on yet another robot mainframe, hunched over his desk while sitting on a folding chair. The circuit board lay on the desk in front of him as he swiftly worked the soldering iron. To the sides and over his desk was a tool & utility shelving unit that took up the entire back wall save for where the desk was placed. Besides the steel shelving unit and desk, the rest of the room was relatively bare of furniture except for an ordinary, beige couch the employee often found himself napping on during long shifts.
Anton sighed and waited for the next hit that never came; Babbage sure was loud with his attempt to remodel a utility robot to become more efficient in physical design. What arrived instead was a knock followed by his door opening without permission to reveal a well-muscled, middle aged man with a black, clean cut goatee. A pencil hung on the tanned skin of his right ear, clearly visible thanks to his complete lack of hair. He leaned on the doorway with crossed arms, partially glaring at Anton with ebony orbs as his foot tapped the ground beneath him.
A title plate hung next to his yellow tie marking his position in the room as 'Supervisor Damien Tavera.' The man clicked his tongue. "Were you burning time reading a book again? I needed that circuit board yesterday."
"I'm not supposed to be working on these, and you delivered it to me this mor-"
"Learn to read between the lines, Anton. You may have lost most of that stutter recently but you're still a friggin' idiot in my eyes."
Anton glared back at the supervisor before the man moved towards him, making the smaller employee visibly recoil backwards into his seat. The man gave a satisfactory, predatory grin as he dropped a small pile of paperwork onto his desk along with another circuit board. Anton stared right up at the tall man who was currently driving chills down his spine. Ever since he was promoted to supervisor three weeks ago, he never stopped displaying how superior he was to him, not that he didn't make a show of it before for that matter; He never did get along with the muscular giant in front of him.
"New repair request, and Tyler won't be saving you from the extra work. Get both of these by tonight. Skip lunch if you have to."
The man walked out of the office with a low chuckle escaping his smirk as he shut the door casually behind him. Anton released the breath he didn't realize he was holding and grunted in frustration, slamming his fist onto a clear spot on the table.
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Anton wasn't skipping lunch, but he was definitely still working on the circuit boards. His room proved much quieter than the office with Babbage's construction always ongoing, and it came with the added benefit of a friendly servant to keep him company. Said servant sat on his bed as she watched him work on his adjacent desk.
The room was bare as usual for employees. Its interior was the same modernistic design like the rest of his furniture, which included a table with chairs, a shelving unit, and a few dressers. The contrasting white and blacks almost made it feel monochromatic if it wasn't for the blue accents. A few personal belongings like book posters hung on his wall, but otherwise the room was perfectly kept and tidy. One would say sometimes it didn't look like anyone lived there based on how clean it was, save for the desk which was currently cluttered with the task at hand.
"Yea. As usual."
"It's alright, Fran. It's quieter eating lunch here anyway."
The robotics engineer turned to the pink-haired servant as she stared back at him sympathetically with a silver and gold eye. He had been curious about her different eyes when he first met her, until he found out the identity of the pink haired servant in front of him. After that, there were far bigger questions regarding her in general; At least the golden, horn-like lightning rod and electrical array around her ears made perfect sense.
What still didn't quite click with him was her usual wedding dress attire with white veil, but she wasn't wearing that combat attire; Her white sundress was simple and elegant. Doctor Viktor's monster was, to be honest, a very beautiful woman as opposed to the common interpretation. He had accepted that curiosity off a while ago, since he was more interested in learning more about the inquisitive and cordial servant in general... especially after they had become friends after a rather rocky start.
Correction, very rocky start. It wouldn't take an awkward genius like Anton to find the reasoning for Frankenstein's reaction regarding the facility. It did formerly churn out a robotic workforce without much attention or care. A few misunderstandings, plenty of assumptions, and no small amount of resentment later, the female berserker had to be held back by Mashu and Kojiro until Gudao could arrive to stop her potential rampage.
For a month after her summoning, she had been banned from going anywhere near the science wing, as if she would have gone there of her own cordial volition. Chaldea's third servant, since the Fuyuki incident, despised most of the wing's employees after its discovery due to a detached attitude. No one could honestly blame her after what she had gone through after her creation; It reminded her too much of her origins.
However, the programmer with high potential for Robotics AI had found her fascinating, regrettably as a one-of-a-kind creation at first.
The scientist in him wanted to know how such a flawless melding of flesh and machine was possible. He grew up in the age of millennials where his nanny was a computer screen, and his mother and father worked late hours at their respective companies. Anton grew up despising them since their idea of family time was to point him in the direction of technological studies so he could inherit the father's business in computer chips.
He was picked on for being too smart yet socially crippled, with his parents' only sympathy being a simple 'look to the future where they're slaves in your company.' As if he would have ever let that come true; It was their dream, not his. He just wanted someone who cared for once, so he could appreciate them in return.
And so after graduating college with a master's degree in computer engineering at age twenty, minor in robotics, he finally disappeared from their sight. He had to thank his few, solid friends he made for helping conceal him so well all across Germany. The search for him was impressive, with the two people he hated most in this world using every resource at their disposal to reclaim their runaway investment.
They had almost gotten him too, had the paid mercenary who found him in a friend's basement not had ulterior motives.
The woman magus was hired by the Science Division's current director, and offered to end the family's relentless search by faking his suicide on tape with the help of magecraft. In return, he would have to travel to a far secluded region and work within Chaldea's walls to upgrade their high-end robotics unit. Apparently, the young director was more interested in younger additions with potential than arrogant old ones.
Anton took it with minimal hesitation, only saddened by the fact his last true friends would never be told he still lived. But he was tired of running and hiding. He honestly never knew what he always wanted to do, but he always understood science and engineering were his natural gift. His parents were right about that one, regrettably, but he would never openly admit that until his deathbed.
It is this curiosity for the unknown and need to understand how things work that drove him ambitiously to new heights. He quickly became one of the division's top tier assets, though still an awkward youth. There was nothing that he couldn't analyze, decipher, then program or repair when it came to his specialties, and he resolved to prove it time and time again even if his heart was never fully behind it. But then this servant appeared, and he was at a total loss of understanding.
He had to understand her... and figure out how she worked...
Frankenstein did not take too kindly to that.
He had gone ahead and, without any permission, tried to use scientific tools to decipher her make and record readings, much to her displeasure. Once more, Gudao and several servants had to defend a robotics employee from the reaches of Frankenstein's wrath. He had been reprimanded for his reckless and completely immoral data collection that he had attempted, earning him some scorn from many of his colleagues that thankfully disappeared with time.
After much awkward apologizing to everyone, especially to Frankenstein while under the protection of Mashu, things had smoothed out. The initial situation was left as a bad memory and an example of what must never be done. The servant simply just avoided him instead of getting angry, with no sign of negative intent should they pass by each other. He had figured that he would never completely understand her, and went on to different things to figure out like how to not awkwardly ask Gabrielle's on a date.
How wrong he was.
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Anton froze and slowly looked up. The young man sat at a table in the empty cafeteria. He had thought the room was empty when he entered in an attempt to fix something that had been bothering him about his leg.
Taking a seat at the far corner, he had lifted the pant leg after rearranging the pile of paperwork he had to fill out for a robot reprogramming. As he grumbled about mages hating computers, he failed to see the approach of the female berserker. The battle-clad Frankenstein apparently caught sight of something that peaked her curiosity. What had brought her over, letting her curiosity overtake her usual avoidance for the previously churlish and detached young man, was currently unveiled from secrecy.
The employee grit his teeth in defeat as he looked down solemnly, the pant leg covering up the top part of the bionic calf that shined with stainless steel craftsmanship. It wasn't too spectacular considering what Chaldea's robots could do, but its silent running and ability to mimic the original human leg made it so that Anton kept his disability secret from everyone except Doctor Roman. He wondered if she saw the irony of the revelation upon discovering his secret.
"...I know, um, we're not on the best of... well, terms, yea... but... just please don't tell anyone I have a bionic left leg, alright? Just. Please," He begged in a quiet voice. "I... don't want anyone's sympathy."
"Uuu...why?" She spoke softly, earning his total shock. She stared with surprised eyes of her own.
"You can talk?" He immediately recalled his first thought as he saw her start to frown. "I-I didn't mean it in a bad way, I'm... well I guess I didn't thi- alright... I'm an asshole, I know. Sorry."
He sighed and leaned back in his chair, releasing the grip on his pant leg so it fell back over his bionic le-
"It...o...kay... for... give..." She said softly with a nod.
"Thanks... God I hate being awkward..." He turned his head toward her when he heard what he thought was quiet giggling.
"fu...nny..." She smiled softly at him.
"Honestly I'm... more perplexed you're not scorning my existence in every possible manner."
She shook her head. "Name...?"
Anton looked at her inquisitively as she tilted her head in curiosity. After all that they went through, he still never properly introduced himself to her. Sure his name was said a few times but- Yea, time to fix that.
"Anton. Anton Schneller."
She smiled at him. He perceived and assumed he was forgiven, but to be on more cordial terms so quickly for just showing a bionic leg was still surprising. Maybe she found someone like her and just took that as something to bond over? Is she really a human being or is it advanced computerized logic? This servant sure was difficult to understand.
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He was shaken from his thought by the soft poking of a finger on the center of his forehead. The employee shook himself from his thoughts upon hearing the soft giggling of the servant in front of him, who held a hand to her mouth. He chuckled and rolled his eyes. "I lost myself in thought again, didn't I?"
The berserker giggled again. "Al...ways...sor...ry...Uuuu."
"I think it's a solidified habit to apologize to you now."
Since that day in the cafeteria, he had gotten to know the berserker a lot more in those many months, at least through her actions. Frankenstein wasn't the best linguist by any stretch of the imagination, but after all of her experiences since her creation, she has gained the ability to at least converse on a very limited level. It was tough for some, but Anton didn't think too much about it considering her origin and how she spent more and more time with the otherwise reclusive man.
After learning her story from Gudao after his friendship with the berserker had solidified, he felt even more like an asshole upon learning her true story, and not the one told by books. He had strived to always treat her with the highest respect and kindness since. To be fair, it wasn't hard since she always treated him very well. Becoming friends also helped. A lot.
"You want your cheesecake?" He asked as he picked up the small package from his tray and held it out to her.
"Uuuu!" She cried happily but softly as she took it with a smile.
"You're welcome, as always." Anton was especially glad she was one of the few people he could now talk to without ever stuttering. They often hung out at lunch, whether at the cafeteria or in his room when he was stuck with more overtime tasks. She'd usually be found in her own room or being dragged around by Astolfo if not with him, much like he'd often be found working with new prototype coding if he wasn't with her.
It was a very beneficial friendship by its very definition; He was glad to make that discovery. Anton found himself content with spending his time with the female berserker, but he didn't liken it to the driving force that previously wanted a scientific analysis. The young man just enjoyed being in her company since it made him feel more... what was the word or phrase...
A knock on the door made him cringe as he turned to look.
Before he had a chance to say anything, the door slid open to reveal Tyler in his regular uniform, staring in frustration at his fellow employee. His hand gripped the side of the doorway tensely as he let out a sigh. "I knew it. That asshole has you working on more hardware again."
"It's alright, Tyler. I can handle this. I don't want to bo-"
"I'm a faster worker than you, Ant. You're the software genius. Hardware is more my neighborhood," Tyler stated firmly as he crossed his arms. The friendly wave, smile, and nod he gave towards Frankenstein were quick before he returned to his frustrated look. "Yes, you're lightning, but we both know I can get that done, and you can be enjoying lunch with Fran in the cafeteria without having a task in front of you."
"I bothered you too much in the past two weeks... I just don't... Just please, Tyler." He inwardly cursed at his stutter coming back. It always did when he got nervous or frustrated. "I don't mind eating in here with Fran. It's quieter here."
Tyler let out a sigh and walked over to Anton who didn't flinch at his friend's approach, simply watching as he looked at the circuit board. "You really have to stick up for yourself and push that guy off."
"He's the new supervisor."
"Damien is also king of shit-bags since he got promoted as far as I'm concerned. Too bad this shit isn't reportable."
Anton gulped. "You tried?"
"Sorry I didn't tell you, but yea I did. Da Vinci believes the man's only doing it cause we're short on man power and robots can't service each other. Pretty sure he's just fudging the details," He explained as he eyed his friend. "Don't tell me he doubled his hazing cause of tha-"
"No, he did not. I was just curious why he was glaring more intensely the past few days."
"Uuuu..." Frankenstein growled, making the two employees look to her. She was clearly upset.
"It's alright, Fran, I swear," Anton half smiled. "He's just an asshole. I've dealt with countless in my life. This is insignificant."
"Uuu... O...kay..." She replied in a low voice, still clearly not happy.
"Thanks," he said before turning back to his friend. "I'm serious, Tyler. I'm fine. Just go back and enjoy your lunch. Please."
"Geez... Whatever, bro, you win this round, I'll let you two eat in peace. My own lunch is probably getting cold if Brotoki hasn't stolen any of it in my absence. I'll see you back in the workshop."
As he was walking out, he stopped in the doorway to turn towards Anton with a sudden smirk, catching the young genius off guard with the sudden shift. "Oh, and don't forget about the jam at the Party Cave this weekend. You lost the bet, so you gotta do as I say, and that means living a little."
Tyler snapped him a thumbs up and his trademark wink before walking out the door as he closed it behind him. Anton cursed under his breath, making the servant tilt her head in curiosity.
"I hoped he forgot about that..."
"The definition of it."
"I... co...ome... help...?"
His eyes widened as he turned to look at the curious servant. "A Science Division party? You want to come to that?"
"Uuu... with... you..."
"But you hate them! I'm still surprised you give me the time of day."
"Right, right, we're friends. Sorry," He corrected himself. The young genius felt a warmth within him at the thought of his friend caring so much. But he couldn't allow her to do this. "Still though, just to make me feel less nervous? I don't think you should, honestly. They revive bad memories for you. You shouldn't go just for m-"
"...huh?" Anton asked, completely dumbfounded.
"Uuu." She spoke resolutely.
'Does she not have the words for the answer?'
Perhaps he'd never fully understand the servant in front of him.
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"Do you think you might love Gabby?" It was more of a tease than an inquiry.
He stared at her in shock. "I-I'm not adept at understanding these specific social constructs."
'Incredible. Way to sound like an idiot.'
Medusa chuckled in amusement as she crossed one leg over the other while staring at Anton who was squirming under her interrogation. She had chosen a conservative purple dress to wear at the library today. "But you've had the crush on Gabrielle for so long. Are you certain it hasn't grown?"
"I- well, I mean... Why are we talking about this anyway?"
The servant laughed quietly at Anton's expense as he pushed his glasses back into place with a finger, a slight blush on his cheeks. "I'm just... I'm not sure, alright? I'm not great at these things."
"It's alright, I was just teasing," Medusa stated before reopening her book. "And a little curious to be honest."
"About what attracts you to my master."
"I...well um..." he began, but couldn't finish. How could he phrase it? The whole love at first sight thing was an absurd notion to him. He believed undeniably in the chemical reactions that made up what was, at its base, just an over exaggerated mating ritual.
Yet when he observed her the first time when she was casually interacting with many employees he felt... he felt a fire of interest. He had felt it a few times before in High School, but the crushes never amounted to anything. This felt a little different, but it made him wonder if he was simply misinterpreting something else. Perhaps he should actually ask one of his friends about it.
The friends he made in Chaldea did more to help him improve than his private school buddies, though they currently hold the trophy for most dedication to protect their pal. Tyler was probably the biggest help with having someone to talk to, as he acted like an older brother to him since his introduction. Frankenstein and Medusa were the reason his awkward stutter mostly disappeared; Dealing with two prestigious servants, especially one with undeniable beauty, made holding his composure when talking to other people relatively easy.
Besides them, Doctor Roman, Janice, and Gudao, there was no one else he could honestly consider a friend.
Gabrielle was far from even being an acquaintance, so to put into perspective why he felt to differently about the crush was hard to explain. Was it just because she was hot? Was he envious and liked her very outgoing personality, the practical opposite of what he is? It wasn't like how he felt when around his friends, or especially Frankenst- Wait. Those last lines of thought. It all made sen-
"No answer?" Medusa asked curiously, looking up from her book once more. She patiently listened to him make thinking noises for a solid minute.
"I...I just... I think I have an idea, but I need some time before I can answer properly."
"I see. It's alright if you're shy to share. Just know I'll listen if you wish to." She said quietly.
"I'm not shy about it, Medusa. I just... well, when I understand I'll come to you."
She smiled kindly. "Very well. Sorry for prodding."
"It's alright. We're friends, right?"
She nodded with a small smile and turned back to her book. Anton was silent as she continued to read, his inner confusion hidden from presenting itself upon his features.
Maybe he would soon understand.
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"Uuu! Thank...you!" came the pleased, quiet sound from Frankenstein as Anton handed her the ice cream cone. Careful not to spill any drips on her cerulean strapless dress, the berserker held the cone over the table. Anton looked in amusement as she eyed the treat's texture with a soft smile.
"I'm still surprised. You've never had cookie dough ice cream since you arrived?"
"I hope this fixes that then," He stated as he watched the servant happily start licking the ice cream from across the cafeteria table.
Pleased with the result, he turned back to his salad and began eating it. Tyler gave him an earful at the lunch line and stated he needed more meat, and that vegetables are what their food eats. Anton was far from a vegetarian, but there was nothing wrong with following the food pyramid to the letter. He wasn't as chiseled as some servants walking around, but he wasn't exactly scrawny either; His only real leg was at least fit for having to keep up with its steel counterpart.
"Ah, there you are."
Anton felt his heart sink at the familiar voice as he turned to see the supervisor walk up to him and stop. Damien put both hands on his hips before looking towards Frankenstein and nodding politely. He turned back to Anton.
"I'm sorry, but we're a little overloaded and there's a processing unit for one of the robots that needs immediate repair. I know it's your specialty. It would be very inconvenient if this wasn't done before the party tonight. Mind lending a hand?"
Anton looked towards his supervisor who had a calm expression on his face, a perfect mask of what his words really said. Frankenstein looked between him and his superior with a slightly tense face, and from across the room he could see Tyler staring at them with a disapproving frown from his servant-packed table. Anton looked towards Frankenstein then back at the supervisor calmly. The false front the supervisor put up may fool everyone else, but it certainly didn't for those within earshot. He mentally steeled himself for the reaction he knew he would receive.
"I'll be right there."
"Excellent. I'll throw in proper compensation as usual. See you in the hanger."
'There is never proper compensation.' He thought as the supervisor began walking towards the exit. Anton kept his mind steeled and grabbed his salad and dri- Only for Frankenstein to stand up and level a glare at him. Her ice cream cone was discarded onto the table.
He knew this was coming. "Why."
"I'm sorry, Fran. I don't want to make a scene in front of ev-"
"Not... right... be...brave..."
"I can't, Fran... I can't-"
"No! I can't, okay? I can't. I'm not brave like you servants, alright? I'm sorry… I'll talk to you later," He shot out, feeling a chill, and a pang to the heart, at the shocked look on her face. Not wanting to see how angry the servant was going to be at him, he swiftly began leaving the cafeteria to the confusion of some employees who had seen the exchange.
What he didn't see was the servant's disheartened look that followed the employee even after the door closed behind him. Standing there, still watching. Her trance was only broken when she felt a hand place itself lightly on her shoulder. As she turned it was lifted and she saw Tyler with a small, sincere smile. There was a pained expression in his eyes as well.
"Maybe someday he will."
"Tell ya' what, I'll get you another ice cream. Same flavor."
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"I'm pathetic, huh?"
"There were lots of people who would have seen that. I don't blame you for not standing up for-"
"I made Fran angry at me! Again! Damnit, I just keep digging a hole for myself." He never gave her an answer about letting her join them, but he highly doubted she was going to even consider it now.
Tyler and Anton were sitting at a table booth in the party cave, one with only space for two people. The party, which just started, was mostly in the dance area next door, but some employees preferred the bar for drinks. Occasionally others would come in for a refill before quickly scurrying back out to the dance floor. Tyler and Anton would be among them, if not for how things had gone earlier. While some of his friend's buddies tried waving Tyler in, he only waved back and continued to keep him company.
"She wasn't angry, dude, she wa-" He stopped himself before he revealed something that might have been taken much worse. "She was just a little surprised is all. She's not angry with you, I promise."
"Still doesn't make me feel much better. I yelled at my closest friend who's always there for me. And I did it instead of standing up for myself. I'm pathetic."
"It's alright, dude. It's whatever. How about we handle this later? I'll get us a beer each, then we head into the cave. How 'bout it?" There was some silence as Anton silently brooded in front of him before there was a silent nod.
With a pat on the back and a trademark grin, which honestly made the young genius chuckle, Tyler left for the bar counter. He felt a little better just by barely a minute conversation and flashy smile, but only a little. It was a strong relief to him that his servant friend wasn't actually mad at him, but the pang in his heart for yelling at her was painful. Maybe tonight wouldn't be so bad so long as he could apologize to her... yet again... Though maybe not as profusely as the first time.
Loud laughing came from the cave as Damien and some of his friends made their way to the bar counter, plenty of glasses already empty in their hands. As the robot worked to fill the glasses in order of recipients, with Tyler being next, the small group put their containers down and began loudly talking among each other. Anton swore he would be getting a headache before he even entered the party cave.
"You're telling me you wouldn't let her ride you?" Damien hollered. "What are you, blind or something? She's a total ten. It's her class for crying out loud!"
"She's a servant. She'd probably break your dick off before you made a move," one of his friends said to more laughter from the group.
"Servant or not, Medusa is one fine piece of meat. Total trophy lay I tell you. I'd drag that onto me any day!" Damien boasted as he waved towards the robotic barkeep. "Hey, move faster! What, are your processors running slow?"
Anton felt his anger rising as he clenched his fists to control himself. At the counter, Tyler simply rolled his eyes and chuckled, passing it off as drunken banter. The group paid no attention to either of them even as Anton glared towards his supervisor with discontent. They were clearly, at the very least, tipsy and moving onto drunk but that still didn't help to quell his frustration. Medusa had always been so nice to him. But what could he even do about it? He didn't want to make a scene in front of all these people...
"Sounds like you need to get laid, Damien."
"No shit I do. Hell everyone does. Who doesn't want to get laid, am I right?" He boasted raising his hands to his sides to the laughter and agreement of his friends. "Except maybe that pushover in my section but whatever. Maybe he's just asexual and only needs to bud."
"Bud? Like coral?"
"Shit yea like coral!" Damien agreed while trying to calm his laughter. "That idiot hangs around with that babe and has no idea what he could have in his lap. Pisses me off. I should be in his position!"
Anton could feel his anger rising, but was still held in check by the chill that ran down his spine at the thought of having to deal with his imposing giant of a supervisor. He looked over at Tyler who was looking back angrily, currently waiting on the barkeep to fill two glasses that he ordered. The first one slowly filled with amber liquid as another of its arms poured the second. He cracked his knuckles but Anton shook his head subtly, making Tyler roll his eyes and give him an incredulous look ba-
"Gotta hand it to the kid, though. He's a programming genius. Definition of smart. Probably more than all of us combined."
"Pretty nice guy honestly, glad he shook the stutter."
"Oh come on, you all sucking his dick or something?" Damien stated flatly as he looked over at the barkeep finally filling Tyler's last drink. To Tyler's credit, he was doing a good job hiding his glare, even if he did want to punch the supervisor. "He needs to grow a spine if anything. And maybe find a better friend than that failed science experiment he hangs out with all the ti-"
"Frankenstein is not some failed experiment!"
The room fell silent as Tyler gaped with wide eyes towards Anton, who had thrown the napkin holder and its contents to the ground with a large clatter. He currently glared at his supervisor with the angriest look he's held for anyone save his own parents. Though it appeared Tyler was about to intervene, his own anger snapped first. To his friend's credit, he failed to drop the two glasses of alcohol he held as he stared at Anton with in surprised delight.
Yes... Tyler looked proud, but also worried as he glanced towards the supervisor. The man's look could murder and hide the corpse alone. Pushing some of his friends out of the way, he slowly approached Anton, who felt compelled to approach to the much bigger man without hesitation.
With a growl the supervisor came closer to allow his height to tower over his friend by a solid margin. Anton was by no means short by being a few centimeters short of a hundred eighty; Damien was just that huge. They stopped within arms distance of each other as the supervisor crossed his arms, the room still deadly silent save for the party noises coming from the next room.
"Well, well. You have a spine after all-"
"Take it back." Anton glared back evenly at the taller man who narrowed his eyes.
He scoffed. "About Frankenbolts? Not even any of the comments abou-"
"Yes, about Frankenstein, are you deaf?"
Damien narrowed his eyes and clenched his fists. "You've got guts to talk back to your superior, kid."
"You disrespected my friends. You can... you- you can eat shit for all I'm concerned!"
Some of Damien's friends raised eyebrows as Tyler quickly put the mugs on the counter before he could drop them; He looked absolutely stunned. Some employees in the far corner of the room laughed quietly, and silently rooted for the awkward employee. Damien was clearly not amused as he took a step further to puff his chest, making Anton flinch.
"So what if I disrespected your friends? What are you gonna do about it? Report me again?"
Tyler's hands moved onto both of their arms and slowly began to move them away. "Hey, easy now. We're here to have relax. Let's take it down a not-"
"Don't get involved, Tyler!" Damien roared as he pushed him away, causing him to fall backwards over a nearby chair with a clatter. "You ain't saving your shithead of a friend this ti-"
He couldn't finish his last sentence as he felt a fist connect with his jaw. Damien grunted as he stumbled back a step and felt the taste of copper in his mouth. He wiped his lips with his forearm and saw some blood on it, making him narrow his eyes as he looked towards the culprit.
Anton himself was hissing and holding his hand, having heard a crack as his punch connected with Damien's jaw, but it did not come from the supervisor. He was hardly an expert on medical knowledge, but judging by the pain coming from his thumb he had definitely broke it. His other hand held his injured one by the wrist as he slowly backed away from the supervisor, both anger and horror in his eyes as the larger man bared his teeth at him. Tyler was scrambling backwards to his feet, reaching for anything solid to help him to his feet faster.
"Now that is s a reportable offense, but I'm going to take much more pleasure handing it personally..." He growled out as he charged towards Anton, bringing his fist back swiftly and then throwing it forward with his entire weight behind it.
The blow connected with Anton's chest and he felt his breath leave his lungs as he flew backwards, slamming into the sofa backing of a nearby booth. He grunted at the pain he felt where he was struck and slowly tried to right himsel-
Damien grabbed him and lifted him by the collar of his uniform to throw him towards the opposite side of the room, over a table and onto the floor. Thankfully he landed on his bionic leg which absorbed more damage with less pain than the rest of his body would have. Anton began backing away towards the booths behind him, trying to get distance from the mad supervisor.
"You have no idea how much I wanted to do that," He laughed with a savage grin as he approached the downed employee.
"Please cease and desist!" Lex stated as its internal signal was activated to get help. Damien knew exactly what the beeping from the robot was all about.
"Hey, Damien, calm down man!" Tyler said as he tried to approach before halting with both hands in the air when he was met with the supervisor stomping the ground, throwing a punch that missed, and glaring daggers.
"You're going to get locked up for this! He's not worth it-" cried one of his friends as the supervisor rounded the table and pinned Anton with a hard step onto his chest, causing the man to yell in agony.
"He's not worth anything, but I have to make my god damn point!" He yelled as he glared towards his group, before bracing his fist. He rotated his torso with a yell as he brought his hand down from above to stri-
It would never connect. "Get off Anton!"
Damien yelled in agony as he was sent flying into the bar counter several meters away. Upon impact, he groaned in agony as the two discarded beers that Tyler ordered fell over and poured themselves over the now unconscious supervisor. The room was dead silent, and even the dance floor itself fell quieter as some employees looked into the bar to see what had transpired. Tyler quickly ran behind the bar in search of its first aid kit as some of Damien's friends went to check on his condition.
Anton coughed and grunted as he felt soft yet strong hands prop him gently against a nearby booth he was close to reaching. He grit his teeth as he tried to find a comfortable position but it seems he was frailer than he thought since every angle hurt immensely; Or maybe Damien was just that much of a monster. Groaning in pain he slowly opened his eyes to a slightly spinning room as he stared straight into the eyes of Frankenstein.
The amount of worry laced into her features was immeasurable, but that's not what stuck out the most. She was in her battle attire instead of her casual dress, appearing like an angel that just saved him. He found himself losing his concentration as he stared at the beautiful bride before him, whose concern melted him. Had he really tried to understand her as a machine, and not the wonderful girl he had been so previously blind of?
"Anton... are you hurt badly...?" She asked softly. He was stunned by her cohesion, and tried to mentally note asking her about it later, but…
"Everywhere hurts. He... he hits like... a rocket," he grunted out as Frankenstein glared towards the unconscious supervisor. "I'll... I'll be... okay though... Thank-argh-... for saving me."
Frankenstein turned back with her worried expression with a small quiver of her bottom lip. "It's my fault… I told you to be brave…"
"It's... alright," He said through his wheezing. "I needed... to do that. He mocked... me. My friends... You. He insulted you... I was tired-ghh- of running."
"Sorry…" She said as she wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him, much to his total surprise. He slowly hugged her back as Tyler rounded the bar with the medkit before stopping upon seeing the scene. His friend slowly approached instead of running.
"I'm sorry… forgive me…" The female berserker kept saying as he felt warm tears dampen his shoulder. Many gut wrenching, and some gut damaging, things had happened to him today, but none had compared to the idea of feeling her sad tears. That was something he never wished for again.
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Anton sat on the examination table in the medical wing. Like the other rooms, it was near blindingly white with its lone LED overhead at full power. The black and white cabinets that lined one side of the room hung over a counter with a long sink. A medical cabinet and several other instruments took up another wall while an eye chart and large forest painting took up the other two. He found himself staring at the painting to his right as the servant in the room went through the final paperwork.
The servant sat on a chair with perfect posture, adjusting his glasses with a finger before resuming to write on the clipboard. He wore a clean white collared shirt with a black cravat and matching formal pants; The assassin sure loved classic clothing. Attaching the pencil to the top of the clipboard, the servant looked towards the employee one last time with analyzing green eyes before scratching at the top of his blonde head.
"The bruising should subside within the next week, Mr. Shneller. Your thumb will take much longer to heal, though. Possibly six weeks at most."
"That's acceptable. I work mainly with my left hand."
"You're certain you don't want this sped up with magecraft?"
"Please don't… I'm not too fond of the idea."
"Very well. We will release you as planned today. Please try to refrain from working for the next week at least. If not for the injury, then any possible mental trauma that may still affect you. "
"I appreciate the concern, Doctor Jekyll, but… I am the lead robot programmer."
"And you can do that when you're healthy," Came the voice of Gudao from the room's only doorway as he stepped inside with Gabrielle. "Sorry you had to deal with all that. It should have been reported sooner that he was harassing you to this degree. I'm worried Tyler's report had been tampered with, and I will see it is looked into."
"I didn't want to cause unnecessary hassle, but I wound up causing more. I apologize."
Gabrielle sighed. "It's alright, Mr. Schneller. But please do not hesitate if it happens again. We've worked hard to make a solid community here, and any possible infringement to upset that balance must be dealt with. Neglecting to do so will not only hurt us but also those we truly care about. Our bonds in Chaldea are golden. I'm sure you understand."
There was a small silence before he gave a small smile and nodded. "I understand now, yes. Very clearly. Thank you."
Gabrielle blinked in confusion before looking towards Gudao who shrugged, but with a smile of his own. "Besides that, Gudao has an inquiry for you before you leave."
"In regards to the scuffle yesterday?"
"Partially. Damien Tavera was very clearly someone who should not have been placed in a leadership position. As he is now in the brig, I would like to know if there's anyone you would think would make for better leadership to encourage others in the division to work harder without be-"
"I thought you'd say that," Gudao chuckled. "I'm honestly a little worried about his carefree stance when it comes to most things, but he is in for consideration. The final decision rests with the council though, but thanks for the opinion."
"We won't take up more of yours or Doctor Jekyll's time. If you'll excuse us," Gabrielle said as she waved goodbye to the occupants before turning around with Gudao to leave through the doorway.
"Nice speech, Gudako. 'Our bonds are Golden?' Who are you, Kintoki?"
"Oh shut up, Gudork. It was heartfelt!"
The servant chuckled with the employee upon hearing the two masters retreating down the medical corridor.
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"I have an answer for you." They had been reading in their usual silence before he broke it. Medusa looked up from her book in surprise.
She stared inquisitively at the small smile of the employee in front of her. Since he still had to relax for two more days, he could often be found in the library or with Frankenstein in various locations. Sometimes he would even be found at the Robotic's Hanger just keeping Tyler company as he helped with the programming, promising his friend a beer a day for every lost shift. But today he had sat in the library for most of the time, thinking to himself and contemplating quietly with a smile.
Medusa looked extra curious. "About your feelings for Gabrielle?"
"Yes," He said simply as he looked directly at her. "The answer is there is no answer."
She looked at him and deadpanned. "You've never talked in riddles before."
"I'm not talking in riddles, Medusa," He said politely as he looked down at the book of love tips he had shamelessly been reading on occasion the past week. "I mean it. There is no answer, because there are no feelings."
"You mean yo-"
"I wasn't lying about finding an answer before."
"I wasn't implying that."
"Sorry, I assumed. That was improper of me... I was confused. It was definitely a crush, but it didn't develop into love. It grew into envy," He explained as he leaned back onto his sofa and stared at the ceiling, fiddling with the brace on his thumb with the opposite hand. "I wanted to be like her. Socially adept, making copious friends, receiving a lot of attention, standing up for myself without hesitation…"
He paused and smiled. "Being attuned to my emotions and understanding them. I confused it for bigger feelings than the combination of infatuation and envy it truly was. And yes, I did have a crush on her for a while, I guess I miscalculated into thinking it lingered."
"Ah, shame. So my little friend was simply misunderstanding his feelings," Medusa mused with a slightly disappointed frown before giggling. "And here I thought I could play pretend matchmaker like my sisters occasionally do in private. Ah, C'est la vie I believe the saying goes."
The servant smiled at her friend. "Thanks for the answer though. And once more for punching that lecherous pig."
He laughed, albeit a little too loudly and covered his mouth when some nearby readers glanced at him. "You're welcome, Medusa."
"I'm glad you've at least reached an understanding of yourself."
He smiled softly. "That's not the only thing I understand clearly now."
She looked at him inquisitively once more. Today's talk was turning very interesting for her from what he could see in her intrigued stare.
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"Uuuu..." Frankenstein mused softly as she looked at the appetizers that were placed in front of them. Even though she was created, she still had to eat normally to sustain herself since that was her design. Anton knew it made her feel more human and she enjoyed it. He paid his friend in a pink one-shoulder dress more attention than he did the food; She looked extra special today, he would gladly admit.
"Yea, looks especially delicious today," Anton agreed as he awkwardly held his fork in his non-injured hand.
He had changed into a formal black suit after returning from his first day back, much to the curiosity of his friend. The only downside to having that thumb broken was it belonged to his primary eating hand. Frankenstein giggled at the sight, as she did every night for the past week. Her gaze suddenly turned towards her female master in a stunning red dress as she made her way past their table.
"You... ask... ?" Frankenstein asked curiously.
"Yea, I'm going to make my move tonight. I really hope it doesn't end negatively," He stated as he put his fork back down. She had been reaching for her own before Gabrielle passed, and now watched curiously as her friend appeared to be getting ready to stand up. She smiled softly at him and he noticed a glint of jealousy in her eyes before she glanced back at Gabrielle. Internally he was also nervous but he felt more confident and calmer than he ever had before.
'You assaulted your supervisor, Anton. This is a cake walk. Just... don't stutter.'
Frankenstein looked to her left as, to her widening eyes, Gabrielle came back with a red rose in her hand as he stepped out of their booth. She presented it to Anton with a small bow and smile which he returned. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Frankenstein's surprise; She likely thought she was making the first move. To be fair, she was making the first move that he had requested earlier, but he thought Marie was going to be the one to deliver the rose.
He quietly smiled, knowing he was going to catch her off guard with his pleasant surprise. Now, with more understanding than before, he quietly took the rose from Gabrielle as she waved and walked off with an excited giggle. Frankenstein looked at the rose inquisitively before Anton sat back down across from her and readjusted his glasses. He put on his, hopefully, best smile before turning to the dear servant across the table.
Anton could almost see her heart skip a beat as he presented the rose to her. She was frozen in place, save for her arms that slowly brought her hands to cover her mouth as her cheeks reddened. He chuckled, knowing full well she understood, just like he finally did, as he observed the small shine at the corner of her eyes. She lowered her hands to show her smile turned from surprised to genuinely happy.
"Me...? You... It's for me...?" It seems it was her turn to stutter, and it was cute.
"Fran, have I ever told you you're the best thing that's ever happened to me?"