A Loon Is He That Will Not Sing O Water Hot Is A Noble Thing

[11:16] <Alphonse> [The next few days were light and fun for the guests at Misato's household. Surrounded by a bevy of would-be cooks, the quality of dinner steadily improved as time went on; there were trips to malls and parks, the heat staved off with copious use of ice cream and cold drinks; Rei and Alphonse continued to be unbearable; and Raphael and Suzie was given a tour of NERV Tokyo-2, which went well, although at one point he lost Suzanne only for her to show up at the cafeteria, sharing a milkshake with Akagi Tsubaki.-
[11:16] <Alphonse> [However, eventually that day came. The day of judgement. 18th of December… Hot Springs day.-
[11:20] <Alphonse> [The five of them bundled into Misato's car, and headed off for the Hakone countryside, off towards a well-known hot spring. Like always, Alphonse, Rei and Suzanne sat in the back, Raphael and Misato in the front. Pen-Pen had insisted on coming along, and was currently sitting lethargically on Suzanne's lap.-
[11:21] <Alphonse> ["So. Loooooking forward to it~?" Asks Misato, leaning over to smirk at Raphael.]
[11:26] * Raphael stares into that smirk absolutely straight-faced. "Of course, Captain. It will almost certainly be a day of fun and adventure." He will not give her the satisfaction, oh no.
[11:29] <Alphonse> [Misato's smirk doesn't disappear as she turns her gaze back to the road. "I hope I can trust you to handle Wellesley, of course~"]
[11:31] <Raphael> "Captain Wellesley will be a perfect gentleman, I'm sure." He says, swivelling in his seat to glance back at Alphonse. "Isn't that right, sir?"
[11:34] * Alphonse was holding a bag for Misato- a very shiny cooler bag it seemed. He looks up at Raphael and nods. "O-Of course, sir." He glances very briefly at Rei, his cheeks reddening slightly.
[11:36] <Raphael> "See, Misato? Nothing to worry about."
[11:38] <Alphonse> ["We'll see." She looks up at the rear-view mirror. "Make sure you look after that bag, Wellesley. It cost me 10000 yen, you know." She glances out the window. "I really busted my bank on that. But~ us girls will have all the cold drinks we want~"-
[11:38] <Alphonse> "What about the men?"-
[11:38] <Alphonse> ["Doesn't the countryside look great, Raffy?" Chirped Misato gleefully.-
[11:41] <Alphonse> [They arrived ten minutes later- the main compound- the lobby, checkin and so forth- was a large, solid wooden structure, homely and welcoming.-
[11:42] <Alphonse> [It would've looked like the perfect rustic getaway if it weren't for the NERV VTOL parked outside. Misato slowly pulled up next to it.-
[11:42] <Alphonse> ["That man has no sense of decorum…"]
[11:47] <Raphael> "… he does seem to enjoy making an entrance." Raphael says uncertainly, passing a keen eye over the VTOL as he steps from the car.
[11:50] <Alphonse> ["Tell me about it." Muttered Misato, stepping out of the car.-
[11:50] * Alphonse was next, holding the bag carefully- although a second later Misato took it off his hands.-
[11:50] <Alphonse> ["Thanks, Wellesley~"-
[11:52] <Alphonse> [Which left Rei to help Suzanne out of the car- luckily, Pen-Pen had the decency to not make this any harder than it had to.-
[11:52] <Alphonse> [Before long, they were all assembled before the car. "Well then~ shall we go inside?"]
[11:53] <Raphael> "We probably shouldn't keep the Commander waiting." Raphael says, nodding as he turns to smile at Rei and Suzanne. "Looking forward to it, girls?"
[11:55] <Alphonse> ["Yes~" Said Suzie, bouncing excitedly as much as possible. Rei nodded enthusiastically as well. "Are you, Raffy-kun?" Her eyes were shining expectantly…]
[12:00] * Raphael shoots a sidelong glance at Wellesley. "Of course, Rei. Finally meeting Commander Ikari will be…" He freezes as he searches for an appropriate word, and tries to cover it up by taking the lead towards the hot springs. "But, uh… we should probably be getting inside."
[12:02] <Alphonse> "Yes, let's." Said Alphonse, shooting Raphael a look that plainly spoke of dread.-
[12:10] <Alphonse> [The interior was as warm and inviting as the exterior. A kindly-looking old lady sat on the front reception desk, giving them a bright smile as they entered.-
[12:10] <Alphonse> [She wasn't alone, of course. Sitting on a chair nearby, still in his NERV uniform, was Commander Ikari himself. As they entered, he stood up, adjusting his shades.-
[12:13] <Alphonse> [Before Misato could say anything, however, Rei broke from the group, throwing her arms around him. "Papa~! I'm so glad you're here~"-
[12:13] <Alphonse> [He patted her on the back, smiling. "Hello, Rei."]
[12:24] * Raphael hangs back towards the door for now, putting on a pleasant smile and closely observing the interactions between the two.
[12:27] <Alphonse> ["Papa, these are my friends." She says, stepping back and smiling happily. "You know Misa-bachan already…"-
[12:28] <Alphonse> ["Commander." Misato gives him a nod.-
[12:28] <Alphonse> ["Captain Katsuragi. Thank you for inviting me."-
[12:28] <Alphonse> ["And this is Raffy-kun~"-
[12:28] <Alphonse> ["Group Captain Guillory." Ikari nodded to him as well. "Your daughter's told me much about you."]
[12:28] <Alphonse> <My*>
[12:29] <Raphael> "Likewise, sir." He says, returning the nod. "A pleasure to finally meet you."
[12:31] <Alphonse> ["The pleasure is mine. Thank you for caring for Rei in my absense."-
[12:31] <Alphonse> [Rei beamed, before turning to Alphonse, clasping her hands together. "And this is Al-chan, papa."-
[12:31] <Alphonse> ["Mm, the infamous Captain Wellesley. How do you do?"-
[12:32] <Alphonse> "I'm very good, sir." Said Alphonse in a carefully pleasant voice, hiding his trepidation more than anything. "I hope you are as well."-
[12:33] <Alphonse> ["I am, yes. And, ah…" He turned towards Suzanne. "This must be Suzanne Sartre."-
[12:33] <Alphonse> ["Huh? You know my name?"-
[12:33] <Alphonse> ["Yes. Both Rei and Tsubaki have told me about you recently. I hear you're quite the little fighter."-
[12:34] <Alphonse> ["I am." She said sternly. "One day I'm going to pilot a giant robot and punch Angels in the face."-
[12:34] <Alphonse> ["Indeed?"]
[12:35] * Raphael lets out a slow chuckle. "She's a very driven young lady, sir."
[12:36] <Alphonse> ["I can tell, Sir Guillory." Ikari nodded.-
[12:37] <Alphonse> ["Alright! Alright, I think that's everyone~" Said Misato cheerfully. "Let's get this started!" She headed over to the reception, speaking quickly with the old lady in Japanese. Raphael couldn't understand it, of course, but the words 'NERV' and 'Penguin' were recognisable to his ears.-
[12:38] <Alphonse> [Before long, the old lady (who seemed, for one reason or another, a little shellshocked) was leading them towards another room…-
[12:39] <Alphonse> [Which led to two doors. One to the left, marked with a female sign; one to the right, marked with a male.-
[12:39] <Alphonse> ["This is where we split up, Raffy~" Said Misato cheerfully, her super-advanced cooler bag slung over her shoulder.]
[12:44] <Raphael> "So it would seem, ma'am." He says, shooting a glance at the girls. "Keep Captain Katsuragi out of trouble, alright you two?"
[12:46] <Alphonse> ["We will." Said Suzie happily.-
[12:46] <Alphonse> ["I don't need to be minded-"-
[12:47] <Alphonse> [Rei smiled. "We'll keep an eye on her." She beamed at Alphonse. "I'll see you soon, alright?"-
[12:47] <Alphonse> "Alright." He said nervously.-
[12:47] <Alphonse> [And at that, the girls headed through their door, leaving the room to the men- and the penguin.]
[12:56] <Raphael> "Well." Raphael says, eying the other two for a moment (Although his eyes seem to sweep right over the penguin standing between them). "I suppose there's no point waiting out here. Shall we?"
[12:56] * Alphonse nodded wordlessly.-
[12:57] <Alphonse> ["Yes. The spring awaits." Ikari opened the door and entered- within was a changing room, with ten sacks for clothes, and a line of towels.]
[13:03] * Raphael glances around the room uncertainly for a moment before quickly beginning to unbutton his shirt. "… ah. I think we left the swimming outfits in the car, Captain. Suzanne's were in there too…"
[13:07] <Alphonse> "Oh, right, should I-"-
[13:07] <Alphonse> [Ikari took off his coat, dropping it into the sack. Next came his shirt. "You don't wear outfits to a hot spring, Sir Guillory."]
[13:07] <Alphonse> "…" Alphonse glanced up at Raphael with a face of horror.
[13:10] * Raphael 's face suddenly occupies that space of grim, focused determination that he typically wore in life-and-death combat scenarious. "… of course, sir. Captain Katsuragi must have… forgotten to inform us." 'As she was watching them pack their bathers'.
[13:12] <Alphonse> ["Indeed."-
[13:13] <Raphael> «Scenarios*»
[13:15] <Alphonse> [Next came Ikari's trousers, then his underpants. Undeterred by the two strangers sharing the room, he casually took down one of the towels and wrapped it around his waist. He kept his glasses, but the gloves he pulled off slowly.]
[13:19] * Raphael gives Alphonse a slight nod before following suit, still wearing that straight-faced look of staunch perseverance.
[13:21] * Alphonse hesitates. He is no stranger to bathing with others- the Companions were all expected to shower together, after all. But this is different. Very different. The idea of sharing a hot spring with Ikari Gendo of all people…! He finally relents, wrapping the towel around himself before he undresses.-
[13:21] <Alphonse> [Thump! Thump! Pen-Pen bangs on the door to the hot spring proper, eager to get out. he turns and glowers at Raphael. "Warrrrrrrrrk!"]
[13:25] * Raphael looks a little less tense with the undressing taken care of. For a moment he just glowers right back at Pen-Pen, not being keen on the idea of a penguin ordering him around, but he opens the door nonetheless in an effort to make the noise stop and holds it open for the other two to follow.
[13:29] <Alphonse> [The penguin is out like a shot, and a second later there's a gleeful splash.-
[13:29] <Alphonse> [Ikari follows as well, giving Raphael a nod as he goes by.-
[13:29] * Alphonse is next. "Thank you, Sir Guillory."-
[13:30] <Alphonse> [The hot spring proper is a wide semi-circle of water, steam rising luxuriously from its calm surface. Around the water are rocks, smooth and flat. Finally, a stretch of sand between the door and the spring.-
[13:30] <Alphonse> [A wooden wall separates the men's side of the pool from the women's; this wall is connected to the larger building, and encircles the pools completely.]
[13:36] * Raphael glances over all of the for a moment, and the nod of approval seems to suggest he finds it satisfactory. Still, he heads right for the pool itself and slips out of his towel and into the water in one carefully-managed movement.
[13:39] * Alphonse is next, quickly managing the same manoeuvre as Raphael, slipping into the water to his left.-
[13:40] <Alphonse> [Gendo is last, and is far more casual, taking off the towel, dropping it to the side before stepping in.-
[13:40] <Alphonse> [It's at this point that Raphael can hear giggles and voices from the other side of the divider.-
[13:41] <Alphonse> ["Ok, now, remember, Reirei, just like I showed you~ a lady has to be graceful. One swift movement-"-
[13:41] <Alphonse> ["One swift movement~"-
[13:41] <Alphonse> ["H-Hey! Reirei!" Suzanne's voice. "Don't leave me behind!"-
[13:41] <Alphonse> ["Sorry, Suzie, hold on-"-
[13:42] <Alphonse> [The next few words are obliterated by excessive splashing. "Gah! Suzie, that isn't graceful at all!" Whines Misato.]
[13:44] <Raphael> "… well, it sounds like they're having fun." Raphael says, eying the wall with a smile.
[13:48] <Alphonse> "It seems that way." Says Alphonse. "… Hey, Sir Guillory…"
[13:49] <Raphael> "Captain?"
[13:49] <Alphonse> "Do you reckon Ban-Ban's male or female?"
[14:02] <Raphael> "… I have no idea. And I don't plan on being the one to find out."-
[14:03] * Raphael stretches slightly, enjoying the warm water in spite of the awkward situation. "I don't think the angelspawn have any need for gender, though."
[14:10] <Alphonse> "I guess that's true…"-
[14:10] <Alphonse> [Pen-Pen sailed through the water, doing backstrokes, having the time of his life.-
[14:12] <Alphonse> [Ikari, however, had found the complementary bath products on the side of the pool. He eyed them speculatively for a second, before picking up a sort of gel, which he began applying to his arms.]
[14:15] <Raphael> A silence that stretches on for far too long, interrupted only by the sound of Gendo slapping gel over his arms and the faint sound of giggling from the far side of the wall. "So, Commander Ikari… how have you been finding Paris-2?"
[14:19] <Alphonse> ["Cold." Said Ikari. "And I am having some difficulty handling the idiosyncrasies of the Geofront HQ."]
[14:20] <Raphael> "Is that so, sir?"
[14:27] <Alphonse> ["There is an atmosphere of frivolity regarding many aspects of NERV HQ." Said Ikari. He finished with the gel, putting the bottle down, then sank into the water up to his chest. "A laxity of professionalism, perhaps."]
[14:28] <Raphael> "It does take some getting used to, Commander." Raphael says, quietly sidestepping the fact that Gendo himself employed Misato Katsuragi as Tokyo-2's OD.
[14:32] <Alphonse> ["Indeed."-
[14:33] <Alphonse> "…" Alphonse glanced at Ikari, then over to Raphael, then back to Ikari. "You…" He coughed. "You must be very proud of your daughter."-
[14:33] <Alphonse> ["I am, yes."]
[14:37] <Raphael> "Rei's grown a great deal since she first arrived in Paris." Raphael says, trying to fill the gaps in conversation. "She's made plenty of friends."
[14:41] <Alphonse> [A burst of noise from the other side of the barrier. "Come on~ You can tell me. You think he's cuuuuuuuute~"-
[14:41] <Alphonse> ["N-No, stop it, Misa-bachan, it's embarrassing…"-
[14:41] <Alphonse> [Gendo was silent for a moment, before he clasped his hands together.-
[14:41] <Alphonse> ["Yes, I can see that."]
[14:42] * Alphonse sank about another foot lower into the water, covering his neck entirely.
[14:45] * Raphael 's face clouded slightly in consternation, but he managed to let out a low chuckle. "You know what Captain Katsuragi's like. Always joking around."
[14:45] <Alphonse> "Y-Yeah. Always joking around." Said Alphonse sombrely.-
[14:47] <Alphonse> ["B-Besides, Misa-bachan, you shouldn't say anything." Came Rei's voice. "You think Raffy-kun's cute, don't you? You invited him to Japan because you want to be together forever with him and get married and have-"-
[14:47] <Alphonse> ["T-That's enough. Oh God, with -that- playboy? I'd rather date an Angel."]
[14:48] <Raphael> "Aaaalways joking."
[14:53] <Alphonse> "…" Something glinted in Alphonse's eye, and where there was once a nervous 16 year old boy… Was something else. Something -steely-.-
[14:53] <Alphonse> "So Captain Guillory!" Said Alphonse, his voice loud enough to carry across the barrier. "I hear you find Colonel Amatore-DeForest to be the most beautiful of all the Operations Directors."
[14:55] <Raphael> "… what do you think you're -doing-?!" Raphael hissed, almost forgetting Gendo's presence for a moment. Almost.
[14:57] <Alphonse> "She's toyed with me, disrespected me, she has lied to us about the garmentless nature of this outing, she has forced you to share a hot spring with a penguin, she has stated that you are less of a viable candidate than an all-powerful interstellar race of horrors and she is -bullying my Rei-." He hissed back. "It is time for vengeance."-
[14:58] <Alphonse> [Ikari watched them both, quirking an eyebrow at Alphonse.]
[15:01] <Raphael> "Point taken." Raphael murmurs, before raising his voice slightly. "She's a very charming woman, it's true…"
[15:01] <Alphonse> [There was a deep silence from the other half of the pool.-
[15:02] <Alphonse> "Intelligent, competent, and she doesn't lose her head in a crisis." Said Alphonse sagely. "You and her have worked quite closely together, isn't that right?"
[15:04] * Raphael hesitates for the briefest of moments, shooting a sidelong glance at Gendo before straightening his back. "Indeed. She's needed a lot of help lately. There's been a lot of late nights."
[15:04] <Alphonse> [Ikari is merely watching impassively.-
[15:05] <Alphonse> "A lot of late nights. And it's been a very cold winter in Paris-2, I hear. Very, very cold…"
[15:06] <Raphael> "Sometimes a few glasses of wine helps that…"
[15:07] <Alphonse> "A lot can happen with a few glasses of wine." Said Alphonse wisely.-
[15:08] <Alphonse> ["Well, did you know that Raphael kissed me, Rei?" Came a short-tempered voice. "Right on the mouth. He even used his tongue. I had to fend him off, of course. I don't traffick with any sort of cocky VTOL pilot like that. I prefer a man with a bit of class and refinement about him. Shame there aren't any of those in this neighbourhood…"-
[15:08] <Alphonse> ["… Raffy -lied-." Muttered Suzanne.-
[15:09] <Alphonse> ["But Raffy said- he said he didn't!" Said Rei, affronted.-
[15:09] <Alphonse> ["A playboy never lets others learn of his misdeeds…"]
[15:11] <Raphael> It's Raphael's turn to sink a little lower into the water now.
[15:12] <Alphonse> "No no no." Alphonse grabs Raphael's arm. "Now is not the time to sink, my friend. Now is the time to soar." He stood up to his full height. "Admit it, Raphael! A man of your distinction has no need to traffic with a -mere Captain-!"
[15:15] <Raphael> "I… think this might be getting out of hand, sir." Raphael mutters urgently.
[15:18] <Alphonse> "You're not going to let her win, are you, Sir Guillory? When you leave this pool, and you walk out into that lobby, and you look at those mocking brown eyes of hers, are you going to admit defeat, knowing you shied away from danger? Or are you going to lift your head proudly and say, I fear no evil nor humiliation nor the scorn of a…" He took a breath and said, as loudly as he could without yelling, "Mere Captain? Who routinely loses in aptitude tests to a sixteen year old boy from southern England?!"
[15:18] <Raphael> "…"-
[15:18] <Raphael> "Oh /no/."
[15:19] <Alphonse> ["…"=
[15:19] <Alphonse> [There was an almighty -thud- against the divider.-
[15:20] <Alphonse> ["Come over here and say that, you little pipsqueak! I'll show you who loses in aptitude tests then when you're a head underwater and six feet under the ground!"]
[15:21] * Raphael sighs, squeezing at the bridge of his nose with one hand. "Now you've done it, sir…"
[15:25] <Alphonse> ["Did they teach you how to comb your hair in military school, you hopeless pretty boy!? You might be able to beat me in a straight fight if you weren't so busy looking in a mirror and making speeches!"-
[15:26] <Alphonse> "Oh really?!" Alphonse replied, folding his arms. "Well maybe you'd be able to land a boyfriend if it weren't for the fact that you lost the top job to Dorian's second in command!"-
[15:26] <Alphonse> A beat.-
[15:26] <Alphonse> "-And- the boyfriend."-
[15:26] <Alphonse> [Thud thud thud! "I'LL KILL YOU, ALPHONSE WELLESLEY!" Thud thud!]
[15:29] * Raphael has now sunk below the water to the point where nothing below his nose is visible. He appears to be rather focused on the rapid laps Pen-Pen is swinning up and down the pool.
[15:30] <Alphonse> "Hmph. If you really want to prove me wrong, then why don't you save it for the Thunderdome, hmm?" Said Alphonse. "I'll just show you how deeply inferior you are~"-
[15:30] <Alphonse> [Thud th- She stopped.-
[15:30] <Alphonse> ["Fine." She said, and there was an edge of malicious glee to her voice. "Fine. I'll show you. I'll show you, Wellesley. You don't know what you're dealing with."-
[15:30] <Raphael> <Swimming*»
[15:31] <Alphonse> "A second rate OD?"-
[15:32] <Alphonse> ["No! You're dealing with the Director of Tokyo-2! And that means having to fight Shinji Ikari and the Berserk Eva!"-
[15:32] <Alphonse> "That doesn't scare me at all." He said smoothly. "I have Rei Ayanami."-
[15:32] <Alphonse> [Unseen to the boys, Rei sank in the pool, her face burning red.]
[15:35] * Raphael edges out of the pool just enough to cut in between the two, his voice admirably stern considering the situation. "Alright! I think that's enough, you two."
[15:35] <Alphonse> "…"-
[15:35] <Alphonse> ["…"-
[15:35] <Alphonse> ["…"-
[15:35] <Alphonse> ["… Wark."-
[15:36] * Alphonse coughed. "Sorry, Sir Guillory."-
[15:36] <Alphonse> ["…" Misato glowered at the wall. "… … Sorry."]
[15:37] <Raphael> "Mmm." Raphael murmurs. With that he sinks beneath the water once more…-
[15:39] <Raphael> … although a moment later Alphonse would feel a gentle kick to his side, followed by Guillory making rather pointed looks from the young captain to Commander Ikari.
[15:43] <Alphonse> "…" Alphonse looked over at Ikari, his face red with shame. "Sorry, sir. I got carried away."-
[15:44] <Alphonse> ["I can see that, Wellesley." His glasses were opaque in the midday sun.-
[15:44] <Alphonse> […-
[15:44] <Alphonse> ["Hahahahaha. Misato got in trouuuuble~" sang Suzanne. This comment was immediately puncutated by a splash. "Gah!"]
[15:46] <Raphael> His nose below the water, Raphael's instinctive snort of laughter rapidly devolves into a very unsubtle fit of choking and coughing.
[15:47] <Alphonse> "Are you ok, Sir Guillory?"
[15:48] <Raphael> It takes a second to pass, leaving Raphael rather red faced - perhaps not entirely from the lack of oxygen. "F-…" Cough cough. "Fine, Captain. Just fine."
[15:50] <Alphonse> "Good, good." Said Alphonse, nodding awkwardly. "Sorry for the trouble, sir. Not sure what came over me."
[15:51] <Raphael> "Protectiveness, from the look of it." Raphael says mildly.
[15:52] <Alphonse> "Whatever do you mean, sir?"
[15:52] <Raphael> "You didn't seem to like the idea of 'your' Rei being bullied, Captain."
[15:53] * Alphonse blinked, his face going red. "She's hardly 'my' Rei, Sir Guillory." He said in a dignified tone.
[15:54] <Raphael> "Ah. Pardon me, then. You must have misspoke."
[15:54] <Raphael> His apologetic tone does sound quite sincere, it must be said.
[15:55] * Alphonse gives Raphael a suspicious look, before he sinks a little lower. "Of course. That's what it was. I was speaking too fast, of course." He said.-
[15:56] <Alphonse> [There was a knock on the door leading to the stall, which opened just a little. The old lady from before said something, before withdrawing.-
[15:56] <Alphonse> [Ikari stood up, and out of the pool, wrapping the tool around himself. "A call from Headquarters. This won't take a minute."-
[15:56] <Alphonse> [… Step step step, across the sand. Then… Gone. For now.-
[15:57] * Alphonse stared at the divider, then let out a long, long sigh. "That was an awful first impression, wasn't it?"
[15:58] * Raphael reaches across to give Alphonse a reassuring pat on the shoulder. "It could have been better, but in the grand scheme of things there are worse things to show off than a fierce wish to protect his daughter."
[16:00] * Alphonse considers this, brightening up a little. "Yes, you're quite right. Still." A sidelong glance. "Just between you and me, I'm glad he's gone. It's so -awkward- with him here."
[16:03] <Raphael> "He is quite intimidating, I admit. And wearing sunglasses in a hot spring is…"
[16:05] <Alphonse> "Rei says they're special corrective lenses." Says Alphonse. "They still look strange, though. And he was just so…"
[16:06] <Raphael> "Watchful." Raphael says, leaning back against the edge of the pool and staring up at the roof.
[16:07] <Alphonse> "… Do you think he was evaluating me? As Rei's… friend?"
[16:07] <Raphael> "Honestly, sir? I get the feeling that he's the sort of man who's evaluating -everyone-."
[16:08] <Alphonse> "Yes. You're right. You're definitely right." Said Alphonse seriously.-
[16:08] <Alphonse> "… So… Did you really kiss Katsuragi?"
[16:09] <Raphael> "…" For now the roof appears to be uniquely fascinating to him.
[16:10] <Alphonse> "You don't need to hide any secrets from me, Sir Guillory. We're currently nude."
[16:13] <Raphael> "She's lying about the tongue." … "… Mostly."
[16:13] <Alphonse> "…"-
[16:13] <Alphonse> "…"-
[16:13] * Alphonse scooted a little closer. "So… What was it like?"
[16:14] <Raphael> "… I'm not having this conversation with you, sir."
[16:15] <Alphonse> "Right, right, of course."-
[16:15] <Alphonse> "… So what exactly is the protocol on initiating a kiss?"
[16:16] <Raphael> "… Oh. /Oh/. Right. Well…-"
[16:18] <Raphael> "… I don't think you want to use this particular example as a model, sir."
[16:19] <Alphonse> "Well, I mean, whoever said I was looking for a model?" Asked Alphonse hastily. "I was just curious as to the circumstances behind your kiss."
[16:19] <Raphael> "Alcohol and an urgent need to distract her. Is this in any way helpful?"
[16:20] <Alphonse> "…"-
[16:20] <Alphonse> "… Not really, sir."
[16:20] <Raphael> "That's what I thought."
[16:21] <Alphonse> "But hypothetically speaking, how -would- you initiate a kiss… With, you know. A normal person?"
[16:29] <Raphael> "Well… I'd say - hypothetically - you take them out somewhere nice and romantic, spend an evening devoted to making them happy and, if you feel the time is right - And in my experience, you'll know in your gut - … lean in and see if she responds. You shouldn't force a kiss. It's poor form." He coughs slightly at that last part. "Hypothetically."
[16:30] <Alphonse> "Ah. Thank you, sir. That seems simple enough."
[16:31] * Raphael smiles, giving Alphonse a respectful nod. "You're welcome, Captain."
[16:31] * Alphonse nods in return.-
[16:31] <Alphonse> "… So, where are you going to take Katsuragi for Christmas Eve?"
[16:33] <Raphael> "… as colleagues?"
[16:33] <Alphonse> "Well…" Alphonse glances at him.-
[16:34] <Alphonse> He coughed. "I-I mean, well. I-I hear it's important for a woman in Japan to have a date on Christmas Eve. You know." He coughed again. "A date."
[16:35] * Raphael frowns slightly at that, giving Alphonse an appraising look. "… hmm. Really? She hasn't said anything…"
[16:35] <Alphonse> "She's probably testing you, sir."
[16:36] <Raphael> "… for what?"
[16:36] <Alphonse> "… I have no idea, sir."
[16:39] <Raphael> "… This is quite a big set of expectations for a friendly visit." Raphael says, returning his gaze to the ceiling.
[16:42] <Alphonse> "Ah, well. You know how friendly visits can go."-
[16:42] <Alphonse> [On the other side of the spring, however…-
[16:42] <Alphonse> ["Alright, Misa-bachan, I think it's time-"-
[16:42] <Alphonse> ["Wait, no, Rei! Don't open that-"-
[16:42] <Alphonse> [There was a loud splash.]
[16:47] * Raphael frowns at the wall for a moment before glancing over at Alphonse. "What do you suppose that was?"
[16:47] <Alphonse> "I'm not sure, but-"-
[16:47] <Alphonse> ["Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan."]
[16:47] <Raphael> "…"
[16:48] <Raphael> "I suppose that answers your question, Captain."
[16:48] <Alphonse> "I… I guess so."-
[16:48] <Alphonse> ["… O-Oh God, it's so… It's so ugly."-
[16:48] <Alphonse> ["That's not very nice, Misa-bachan! Ban-Ban is very sensitive!"-
[16:48] <Alphonse> ["Baaaaan! Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!"-
[16:49] <Alphonse> [There was the sound of something bursting.-
[16:50] <Alphonse> ["… my bag… Rei, look what it did to my bag!"-
[16:50] <Alphonse> ["…" There was a plaintive knock on the divider. "Al-Chan, I-I um… I think we'll have to borrow your body wash…"-
[16:50] <Alphonse> "…" Alphonse's shoulders sank. "I don't even want to know…"
[16:57] <Raphael> "Yes, that's… that's probably for the best." Raphael murmured. He sunk down into the water and sighed, watching Pen-Pen hurtle from one end of the pool to the other like a waterlogged metronome.-
[16:57] <Raphael> In spite of it all, the water really was quite relaxing…

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