M21 - 성탄절 실내복

Morning, December 25th.
I enter the banquet hall, where silence has settled back in after the hubbub from the previous night.
There isn't too much litter on the floor. Did someone clean up?
Just as I'm wondering who that would be, A T-Doll comes over to greet me.

M21 Good morning, Commander!

Commander Oh, it's M21. Good morning.
What are you doing here?

M21 A few girls fell asleep here last night, so I stayed behind to take care of them.
What about you, Commander? What brings you here?

Commander M14 asked me to come and collect the presents left behind by a few T-Dolls last night.
They'd be sad if they woke up to missing Christmas presents.

M21 I see.
I've already picked them all up and put them on the table over there. M14...is kind-hearted as ever.

Commander So are you.
Taking care of the others all night. You haven't had much sleep, have you?

M21 looks a bit embarrassed. She drops her gaze and fiddles nervously with her hair.

M21 Ahaha...I'm fine.
I only came very late at night.

Commander Because it's so cold outside, right?
And the dress you're wearing... I mean...

M21 Yeah. That's why I only arrived just before the feast started.
It was really lively last night, and the food was great. But I felt sleepy after eating so much so I fell asleep, and woke up just as it struck midnight.
Then I couldn't go back to sleep... And since I had nothing to do, I just put some blankets on them and tidied up the place.

Commander ...You're more talkative than I expected, M21.

M21 Oh, huh? Really?
M-Maybe I'm still feeling festive from last night, that's why I'm talking so much... Haha...
Umm... You haven't had breakfast yet, have you, Commander? Would you like anything to eat? There are some snacks and cookies left.

Commander Sure. Let's have some together.

M21 and I sit down by the tidied table.
M21 soon serves up two cups of steaming hot milk and several platters of snacks.

M21 Should we wake the others too, Commander?

Commander No, let them sleep. Who knows what would go wrong with their Neural Clouds if we wake them too early.

M21 Come to think of it, did something happen before the feast?
They looked miserable when I arrived.

Commander It's good that you came so late. They kicked up quite a fuss last night.

I told M21 all about their attempted robbery on Santa Claus.

M21 Is that so...

Commander Somehow you look...regretful?

M21 Just a bit... It must've been really funny, right?
Ah, well... I'm not saying it's a right thing to do, but it just seems kinda fun...

Commander So you like things lively, eh...?

M21 Well, not exactly...
Oh right, Commander, would you like to hear a joke? Should I tell you one?

Commander Sure. Let's hear it.

M21 Since it's Christmas, let's have something festive.
Commander, would you be my Christmas?

Commander Uh...sorry?

M21 Then I could "Merry you"!

...M21 bursts out laughing while making air quotes with her fingers.
...But then she freezes.

Commander ...

M21 Oh, I'm sorry! That was rude of me!
I've always been practicing with a wall and I forgot I'm now telling the joke to you, Commander!

Commander Does telling jokes require practice...?

M21 I had wanted to make a few friends with it...
Looks like I messed it up...

M21 rests her head forlornly on the table.

M21 M21? You okay?

M21 Why do my jokes always fall flat...?
I really enjoy hanging out with others, but somehow I just feel like I can't fit in.

Commander M21...

M21 It was the same last night...
I didn't have anyone to talk to, so I sat in the corner all alone and ended up falling asleep.
Is my Neural Cloud...not suited to fitting in with others?

Commander Don't be silly.

I tap her head gently with my knuckle.

Commander We're talking just fine, aren't we?
Don't think too much. Just show everyone your true self.

M21 Hahaha...you're right.
I meant to tell you a joke, but ended up complaining...
I'm sorry, Commander.

Commander I should be the one to apologize. Sorry for not getting to know you better until today.
I think as long as you sincerely wish to make friends, try to loosen up a bit and just let things run their course...

Before I can finish, voices speak up from the other end of the banquet hall.

Griffin T-Doll Yaaaaawn... So tired...

Griffin T-Doll Huh? Who put blankets on us?

Griffin T-Doll Look, the commander's over there! And M21!

The stirring T-Dolls come over and sit around us at the table.

Griffin T-Doll Wow, there's even a big breakfast!

Griffin T-Doll M21, it was you who took care of us last night, right? Thanks!

Griffin T-Doll Your dress is gorgeous! Where did you buy it?

M21 stares at the chattering T-Dolls around her, bewildered.

Commander See? It's okay to let things run their course, right?

M21 finally smiles and gives me a firm nod.

Commander I've eaten my fill.
And I have some other things to attend to, so I'd better be on my way.

M21 Commander!

M21 stops me before I reach the door.

M21 I'll work hard and learn how to tell funny jokes...
Once I've come up with new ones, will you hear me out?

Commander Of course. It'll be my pleasure.

M21 Then I'll hold you to it!

I leave the banquet hall and the T-Dolls' lively chatters behind.
This year's Christmas has come to an end in peace and tranquility.
I hope they've had a taste of real joy in this short period of respite -
I'm sure I'm not the only human with that thought.