Cherry Blossom Procession 4 1 39

(13:10) <Raphael> It seemed to Raphael that social engagements like this were similar to musical chairs - you rushed to find a tolerable partner, and those left out were either doomed to awkward encounters or simply lingering by the drinks. It was this dilemma Raphael found himself in by the time he herded Premier Kuzmin back into the main hall and found the people he would be quickest to drift towards
(13:10) <Raphael> otherwise engaged.-
(13:10) <Raphael> Chiisana was deep in conversation with Alexandrina and Matthias, he'd passed Aksel and Roku on their way to the gardens as he returned, and Misato was nowhere in sight. The latter brought a small flutter of panic, but he supposed everyone else had taken their turn at disappearing. He'd ask Minerva once he'd secured himself another drink…
(13:18) <Minaplo> [On approaching the drinks table, however, he'd hear a voice from behind him. "Mr. Guillory!"-
(13:18) <Minaplo> [It was Sarah Holt-Caine; she walked past him toward the table. "You grabbing a drink too?"]
(13:38) <Raphael> "I was, Marshall," he said summoning up a smile as he took up a spot beside her and gathered up another flute of red wine. "How have you been?"
(13:41) <Minaplo> ["Busy! You know how it is." She said with a warm smile. "Where's your date?"]
(13:47) <Raphael> "A fantastic question," he said mildly, glancing over his shoulder again. "Yours?"
(13:49) <Minaplo> ["See for yourself," Said Sarah, turning slightly and nodding her head toward Ezra, who, having successfully goaded her into doing magic tricks, was now going out of his way to distract her.]
(13:51) <Minaplo> <goaded Mana*>
(13:54) <Raphael> "We really bring a sense of decorum to these events."
(13:58) <Minaplo> [She chuckled. "Why don't you come over and say hello?"]
(14:01) <Raphael> "Are you sure, ma'am? I didn't want to interrupt."
(14:04) <Minaplo> ["Of course I'm sure."]
(14:16) <Raphael> "Mmm," he murmured. He found Minerva's face in the crowd - Back by the Canadian PM again, it seemed - and after a series of discreet nods and gestures turned back to Sarah.-
(14:17) <Raphael> "Seems as though I'm free to join you."
(14:22) <Minaplo> [Sarah smiled in amusement. "Great. One second-"-
(14:22) <Minaplo> [She grabbed two glasses of wine, and made her way back toward Ezra.]
(14:30) * Raphael followed with his own glass, sipping it as he crossed the largely empty no-man's-land between the UEF and UN parties.
(14:38) <Minaplo> ["Hi, Raphael." Said Mana warmly as he approached.-
(14:38) <Minaplo> ["Mr. Guillory. Good to see you again, sir!" Said Ezra, holding a hand out to shake. With his other he accepted a glass from Sarah.]
(15:21) * Raphael shook it firmly. "Likewise, Marshal. It's good to see Sergeant Kirishima smiling."
(12:27) <Minaplo> ["Is it?" Said Ezra. "Usually it means she's up to something. Nothing good…"-
(12:27) <Minaplo> [Mana poked her tongue out at him. "You're a jerk."-
(12:28) <Minaplo> ["It's been said!" Said Ezra lightly, knocking back his glass of wine.-
(12:29) <Minaplo> [Sarah handed Mana the other class of wine before clapping her on the shoulders. "She has such a lovely smile, doesn't she? Very sunny."]
(12:34) <Raphael> "Quite," he said, smiling a little in turn as he watched the trio.-
(12:35) <Raphael> "I apologise, I raised the idea of bringing Staff Sergeant Awala as well, but the party arrangements were a little delicate…"
(12:39) <Minaplo> ["Yeah, I can imagine." Said Sarah. "How's he going?"]
(12:42) <Raphael> "He seems to be managing well enough, ma'am. We have enough Impact Ferals to keep him busy when he's off-duty," said Raphael. "Captain Fontaine would have a better report for you, I'm sure."
(12:44) <Minaplo> ["Oh yeah, I suppose he would be busy with that, huh?" Said Ezra. "I'm sure everyone else is thrilled…"]
(12:47) <Raphael> "You'd be surprised. One of his armoured lions went to Eevi, and I think Asuka's jockeying for another. We carried our ideas of appropriate household animals on from NERV, I suppose."
(12:48) <Minaplo> [Ezra snorted. "Naturally…"-
(12:48) <Minaplo> ["Was that a thing NERV did?" Asked Sarah.]
(12:54) * Raphael nodded vigorously. "Yes ma'am. Even back then we had a wolf, a tiger and occasionally an Impact Feral penguin around the Geofront. Rei adopted a Banshee the day I met her."
(12:54) <Minaplo> ["A…A banshee?" Said Sarah haltingly. "Like the Angelspawn?"]
(13:05) * Raphael nodded. "I know how it sounds. He was one of the Twelfth's, but born prematurely. Rei took pity on him and tied him to her field before the Twelfth died."
(13:05) <Raphael> "There were… misgivings amongst most of us, but Rei and General Wellesley saw to him. These days he speaks three languages and works in Medical, amongst other things."
(13:06) <Minaplo> ["Huh." Said Sarah. "That's remarkable! Even a Banshee can actually… Make good."-
(13:07) <Minaplo> ["So long as it's not being raised by a crazy person, sure." Said Mana.-
(13:07) <Minaplo> ["Sad but true." Said Ezra. "I can't imagine it's always easy for him, though. They're not, uh… Exactly blessed with a gentle visage."]
(13:10) <Raphael> "… No," he admitted carefully. "It took me quite a while to come to an understanding with him, if I'm being honest."
(13:27) <Minaplo> ["Ah, well. That's to be expected, I guess, considering… What, you met Rei during the attack, so…" Said Ezra. "Your first interaction with Angelspawn and I can see why you'd be leery for a long while after. It isn't easy to shake."]
(13:34) <Raphael> "It's not. I will still admit it was unfair of me."
(13:41) <Minaplo> [Ezra tilted the empty wine glass toward Raphael appreciatively.-
(13:42) <Minaplo> ["In all honesty, fixing the kid's probably a heck of a lot easier than fixing the mother." Said Sarah with a short sigh.]
(13:46) * Raphael frowned. "I'm not sure I catch your meaning, Mars-"-
(13:46) <Raphael> He paused as the implication clicked into place in his brain. "… ah. You mean Joan."
(13:47) <Minaplo> ["I do." Said Sarah.-
(13:47) <Minaplo> ["Trying to improve Joan's mental wellbeing has been one of my goals for a while." Said Ezra.]
13:49) <Raphael> "Mm," he murmured. He took a pull of his wine rather than say any more.
(13:59) <Minaplo> ["Are you doing that for all the Solomon Primes?" Asked Mana.-
(13:59) <Minaplo> ["No. God no." Said Ezra, balking. "Whatever's wrong with Scholastica requires a hell of a lot more than we have to fix."]
(14:05) <Raphael> "The soldiers she abandoned during the battle in the Geofront didn't seem to have a high opinion of her," he said mildly.
(14:09) <Minaplo> ["Yeah, well. She's not really the sort of person to give a damn about what other people think. Or other people in general." Said Ezra. "Joan at least adores her Phantoms, but Scholastica routinely forgets to actually… Give them food."]
(14:09) <Raphael> "… Lovely."
(14:12) <Minaplo> ["That's about it, yes." Said Ezra. "Agatha, Sophia and Augustine are much better honestly. Especially Agatha for some reason."]
(14:14) <Raphael> "Agatha seems fairly well-adjusted, by most reports," he said.
(14:21) <Minaplo> ["Most reports are right." Said Sarah. "She's around here somewhere if you'd like us to introduce you…?"]
(14:42) * Raphael gave them a slow nod. "Possibly, ma'am."
(14:46) <Minaplo> ["When I see her I'll bring her over. Can't quite pick her out at the moment…" Said Ezra.-
(14:47) <Minaplo> ["On a similar topic, Mr. Guillory, how did your meeting with Aksel go?" Asked Sarah brightly.]
(14:53) <Raphael> "Oh, uh… quite well, actually," he said, switching gears. "Better than I would've expected."
(14:56) <Minaplo> ["Oh?"]
(15:02) * Raphael gave a thin smile. "A first time meeting with my clone compounded by the awkwardness of a 'meet the family' encounter. That we didn't succumb to either factor is a minor miracle, I think."
(15:03) <Minaplo> ["No kidding." Said Ezra. "But it worked out? That's great!"]
(15:06) <Raphael> "I'm fairly sure it did. Roku and Admiral Katsuragi made sure to vanish long enough so that the two of us had to sink or swim."
(15:16) <Minaplo> ["Ooh, that's rough." Said Sarah, grinning.-
(15:16) <Minaplo> ["Poor dumb Aksel. He was probably pissing himself." Said Ezra.]

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