And with this heart-to-heart going on, the male co-star of this revealed romance exits stage left to replace Faye at the vending machine, assumedly getting something for Kammy.  While he’s there, Paul feels a hand slowly placed on his shoulder.  It’s Faye’s mom Ally J.

    “Well, if it isn’t the brave knight!” Ally watches the items inside the vending machine as the chosen snack begins the moving process.  “So, when did you ask her out?”

    Almost forgetting candy exists, Paul eagerly turns to Ally and happily details the day and what he said to Kammy, as well as how he was responsible in talking to her parents first and so forth.  It isn’t until Paul hears the purchased item abruptly end its testing of gravity that he is reminded that he bought something.

    Ally continues to watch him, trying not to laugh at his zeal, then as he stands back up, ready to return to the others, Lady Worley confesses a concern of hers to the boy.  “Paul, I must admit that I am gladder than I thought I’d be that Kammy said yes.  I knew I’d be excited for you, but I suppose with how hard it’s been for you to become more comfortable with socializing, it just relieves me to see you being blessed with such a wonderful friend.  It always amazes me how Kammy, ever impatient and particular, finds it a precious joy to patiently walk you past the barriers of your comfort zone while, at the same time, that girl’s temper and frustration is all but gone lately as you have become her hero as well.  I’m proud of you, and I just wanted you to know that.”

    “Thank you, Lady Ally.” Paul’s face is very red, and his heart races with confidence as it’s rare for him to hear such things said about him by other people besides Kammy and his parents.  These things are said, of course, but you know how deaf an introvert can be to these praises.  At any rate, Paul makes his way back to Kammy, eager to tell her what Ally said.

    “Oh, one more thing, if you don’t mind,” Ally quickly inserts, “Paul, I guess it’s just…I know your mom is very busy, and maybe it’s not my place, but if you need a kind voice of advice or encouragement, I feel like you could use all the cheering you can get.  Don’t be afraid to talk to me, alright?”  Paul gives a quick and hearty, “Okay, Lady Ally!” then returns to his conversation with Kammy.  What he heard has made his day, which is already great with his Crystal Gem hanging out with him all day, but these words are not as readily received by another set of ears.  Paul’s mother Mercy just so happened to overhear this conversation.

    Moments later, Cat and Jo find themselves looking at the downcast expression of a short, orange-haired young woman plopping herself down in front of them, ready to ship herself to the Tadpole Galaxy’s Azuloth System.  “Guys,” Mercy begins to ask, “am I really that lazy?”

    “Depends on the context,” Jo advises.

    “On the context of my kid,” Mercy specifies.

    “What’s got you so down, Mermaid?” Duplica plays with the orange hair of this dejected parent and waits for the explanation.

    Mercy explains, “I overheard Ally J. talking to my son, telling him how proud she is of him for being responsible with how he asked Kammy out.  She wants to be a voice of encouragement since I’m so busy.  We all know, even Paul knows, that was very nice of her.  I’m not busy.  I specifically retired from the System Guards because it’s not my thing.  I mean, I like saving people, but the paperwork is just annoying, you know?”

    Duplica laughs a little and pokes her friend on the scalp.  “Hey, what does Paul’s mom do all day?”

    “She has a job.”

    “Why?”  Duplica appropriately draws a y in Mercy’s hair, knowing the girl’s going to laugh at some point.

    This is subtly challenged with Mercy swatting the hand away while she keeps her head on the table.  “Paul’s mom works, as does his dad, so we can take care of our son.”

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