#IlynaApartment – April 22, 2021

Ilyna nods at the first question, watching the battle at the castle with a fond smile. "We make a good team," she says, before turning her attention away from the castle and onto Halsi. It's been a wonderful day, but now that the castle is built and Li is content playing by herself for the time being, their awkward relationship gets to take center stage again. The asari's smile fades, and there's some signs of guilt

on her face while she struggles to find the words.

Halisi chuckles quietly. "We do." she agrees, falling silent as Ilyna looks her way. Her smile starts to slip away as she notices the look on the asari's face, eyebrows furrowing a little. She shifts, turning more towards Ilyna and crossing her legs while letting her right arm rest on the back of the couch. "What's on your mind?" she asks softly, uncertain concern on her face. There's certainly no shortage of options. It's been a

rough year for all of them. A few good days don't erase that.

Ilyna averts her eyes as Halisi asks, a frown showing up. She does not turn her body to better face her in turn. "I...," she says before shaking her head, lowering her voice. "It's.... It's nothing new, just the... conversation we keep having. Sorry, I don't mean to worry you." It doesn't help her much to admit it, as the guilt is still clear on her face.

Halisi lets out a sigh, gaze falling to the coffee table as she considers her response. She briefly glances Li's way - yep, still playing. "Ilyna... I like the way things are." she says, looking back to the asari, voice quiet, just loud enough to be heard. "Do you?" There's the faintest hint of a gentle smile on her lips, intent on keeping Ilyna's worries from spiraling.

Ilyna lets her gaze fall on the coffee table in turn, not looking up at Halisi even when she's spoken to. Her words doesn't quite stick. Maybe Ilyna doesn't believe her. "I feel like I'm holding you up because I can't make up my mind," she says, "and... it's not fair to you."

Halisi lets out an incredulous snort, almost smiling a little. She leans closer to make sure she can speak without Li overhearing, but it's rendered irrelevant as the girl gets up from the floor to run off to the bathroom. She looks after her as she disappears before returning her attention to the asari. "Ilyna. I assure you, if I felt you were being unfair to me I wouldn't be here. I can't understand what it's like for you, not

fully, but I do understand it makes things harder for you. Maybe even frightening. I don't need you to... 'make up your mind'. I've told you. I'm just glad you're in my life. You're a good friend." she says, words firmly spoken, still trying to catch the asari's gaze. "And if you ever decide you want to try being more, well..." she shrugs a little, letting out a quiet, slightly embarrassed chuckle and looking at the TV playing

cartoons at low volume for a moment. "I think I've made it clear how I feel." The doctor sucks in her lips and looks back to Ilyna. "And if you decide you don't? Don't be afraid to tell me. I'm a big girl, Ilyna. I can handle it." she smirks slightly, tone a little lighter, before falling back into a sincere expression. "It wouldn't change anything. I promise."

Ilyna does look Li's way when she gets up from the floor, trying to quickly compose herself, but this veneer of composure does not last long once the bathroom door closes. "I just can't bring myself to say that I don't," she says, finally looking Halisi's way, "even if it would be the wise thing to do." Her voice is low despite Li not being in the room. She averts her gaze for a moment, a thoughtful look on her face.

"I... have... said yes to someone before, though," she says. "I've mentioned her name a few times, I think, but.... When she left me...." She shakes her head as she fails to put words on it, and her breath starts to tremble.

Halisi frowns, silver eyes fixed on Ilyna's face. Her hand almost touches her shoulder, but she reconsiders, swallowing. "I'm not Alyssa." she says, tone firm but gentle. "And I don't know exactly what happened back then, but you're not going to lose me." she assures. It looks like there's more she wants to say, but she hesitates, giving Ilyna a chance to speak first.

Ilyna frowns, raising her brows for a moment when she realizes she may have unfairly maligned Alyssa. "It wasn't her choice, she... had a past with Eclipse, and it found her," she says, before letting out a sigh. The memory still stings, and her breathing is getting more uneven. "Does it... really not bother you that I'm... such a indecisive mess?" Ilyna asks, trying to meet Halisi's eyes.

Halisi sighs, once again fighting the urge to place a comforting hand on her shoulder, unsure if it would hurt or help. She nods somberly in acknowledgement of her words about Alyssa, she'd more or less understood as much already. She opens her mouth to respond, but as Ilyna speaks again she falls silent. The words bring a small smile to her lip. "The only thing that bothers me is seeing you agonize like this, Ilyna." The words are

quiet and genuine, meeting her gaze. The smile has slipped away, a faint, worried frown on her face. "You shouldn't have to. If you need me to give you some space to... make things less complicated, I'd understand." she offers a little sadly. She hesitates, just looking at her for a moment before swallowing and adding: "Although... if this is about the, uhm... asari authorities? I-... they don't have the right to control your

life like that. You're allowed to be happy, Ilyna. You deserve to be happy. So if-..." she pauses briefly, her hand making a stalling gesture as she searches for the right words, gaze briefly leaving the asari. "...if you do want give this... us..." she gestures at herself and then Ilyna. "...a chance? I would be willing to find a way to make it work. Whether that means keeping it to ourselves, or... well, I don't know

exactly." she admits with a shrug, the small smile that she flashes a bit nervous, and a faint sheen over her silver eyes. "I know things are complicated, in a lot of ways. But... I also know we could figure them out. If that's what you wanted." she says, the words simultaneously sympathetic and just a little bit teasing, despite the vulnerable look on her face.

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