Cherry Blossom Procession 4 1a

[02:19] <AdEvaGM> [Within a few minutes, the Federation guests would be led to a large audience hall; a long, wide space of fine wooden floors and a light, airy feeling. The sun shone through open doors and windows, gleaming off the myriad wine glasses that had been laid out on ornate wooden tables for the benefit of the guests.]
[02:28] * Yanmei strode in with a little bounce in her step, still chatting happily with Minerva. "…I wish we could have seen more of it…" She snagged a random glass of the wine for now, but didn't take a sip from it yet.
[02:35] <AdEvaGM> ["The positioning was rather strange, I thought so myself." Said Minerva, who also took a glass of wine. "But I suppose we're just outsiders, aren't we? Looking in on something private and intimate."]
[02:54] <Yanmei> "Yeah…" Yanmei gazed aroound the room, carefully, getting a feel for the faces, familiar or not, beyond the scope of the countries involved in the war. "Still, it was nice enough for them to invite us at all? They haven't seemed exactly… warm."
[02:57] <AdEvaGM> ["I know what you mean." Said Minerva quietly to Yanmei. "Hedging their bets, no doubt. Maybe they set all this up to see which of us- UN, UEF- would cause a scene first."]
[03:06] <Yanmei> "We're not giving them the satisfaction," Yanmei scoffed. "Well. I'm not, anyway. I can't vouch for Kuzmin, for example."
[03:08] <AdEvaGM> [Minerva's expression wrinkled most magnificently. "Yeah, so long as he doesn't try to hit on Her Majesty the Emperor of Japan we should be good for the afternoon… I wonder how much of that wine it'd take to get him three sheets."]
[03:09] <Yanmei> "He's Russian. So probably… hmmm. All of it?"
[03:15] <AdEvaGM> ["Damn. Okay." Said Minerva seriously. "If he ever does try to make a pass at her, though, someone has to run interference."
[03:28] <AdEvaGM> [The UN delegation had caught up. They began filing into the room, again Ezra and Sarah first, followed by von Brandt and Mary- arms linked- and then Aline, the Ayanami, and Agatha. Finally at the back came Gadhavi and the others.]
[03:33] <Yanmei> "Before we get into that, we both know that half the fun of these parties is getting out and meeting new people. So~ Which famous person do you have your eyes set on first?" Yanmei was speaking to Minerva, but was slowly starting to left her eyes drift toward the newly-arrived UN personnel.
[03:37] <AdEvaGM> ["No idea. Her Majesty would be the obvious answer, wouldn't it?" Said Minerva, her gaze turning toward the UN delegation as well. "I'd say Juno Lorenz, of course- she has the most gorgeous eyes, honestly, and she's so fierce- but she once tried to assassinate Mazarin for being a bloody tyrant and so I assume I'm Satan himself to her."-
[03:40] <AdEvaGM> [The UN delegation had begun to disperse now, Ezra and Sarah striking out for neutral territory; as they went, they caught Mana's eye.-
[03:41] <AdEvaGM> [Mana stared at them, took a few faltering steps, glanced back with a frown at the Federation line and, on realising that no one was going to stop her, ran across the room, met Ezra and Sarah halfway, and threw herself at them. They both caught her, and in a second they were a big knotted mess of hugs, kisses, laughter and a few tears.]
[03:49] <Yanmei> "Fantastic. I bet that's going to be an amazing reunion." And speaking of reunions… Yanmei watched Mana with a slight frown, quickly turning away after the hug. "Hmm. I guess Lorenz has a relative with her today."
[03:55] <AdEvaGM> ["That's her father, Keel Lorenz." Said Minerva. "He's an influential man. Held a lot of power in the European Union before it collapsed, and he's spent years trying to turn the Central Democratic Alliance into a new Union. He's an ardent democrat and Unionist, you know… I actually remember being told that he and SEELE were almost enemies at a few points." Minerva sighed. "He teaches, or taught, once… Raised his daughter to believe in democracy like luscious Mr. Leon believes in God."]
[04:02] <Yanmei> "Luscious, huh~?" Yanmei smirked. "But that's very interesting. I don't suppose he thinks your the devil incarnate too? Someone who's been around that much is probably going to have a ton of stories. And information and such."
[04:05] <AdEvaGM> ["Undoubtedly. And I suspect he thinks me the devil, yes, but then again he never tried to firebomb Kuzmin. You know that, right? Juno Lorenz tried to kill Mazarin and Kuzmin both at the same meeting using a firebomb?"]
[12:52] <Yanmei> "I was not aware of that, no? Mazarin doesn't talk much about assassinations." Yanmei stared over at Juno Lorenz suspiciously. "You don't think she'd try the same thing here, do you…?"
[12:56] <Minaplo> ["Mmm… I don't think so, no. If she's following the Caines' lead, then she'll probably try to maintain the peace. Can't imagine her being very friendly though."]
[13:02] <Yanmei> "Hmm." Yanmei's eyes narrowed. "Well. No guts, no glory, as they say. If they leave Caine's orbit, I think I'll stroll up and have a little chat."
[13:04] <Minaplo> [Minerva chuckled. "Good luck."-
[13:04] <Minaplo> [The hairs on the back of Yanmei's neck were starting to prickle… She felt as though she were being watched by someone unseen.]
[13:05] <Yanmei> Assassin?! She spun around abruptly.
[13:09] <Minaplo> [There was no one there.]
[13:18] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei turned in Minerva's direction again with a distracted expression. "Heh. I must be imagining things?"
[13:19] <Minaplo> ["Oh?"-
[13:19] <Minaplo> [Although now, Yanmei would notice in the corner of her eye… A young lady in the corner, trying to look as small as possible. She was staring at Yanmei intently… It was the Ayanami from earlier.-
[13:19] <Minaplo> [… Then the realisation hit her. It was Sophia.]
[13:22] <Yanmei> In a freakin gown, no less! Yanmei stared, and then broke into a little grin. "Maybe not. I've just spotted someone I recognize?"
[13:24] <Minaplo> ["Oh?" Minerva turned around.-
[13:24] <Minaplo> ["Ah…"]
[13:30] <Yanmei> "Yeah. Let's catch up later, shall we?" She gave Minerva a little pat on the arm as she turned to go. "Happy hunting!"
[13:31] <Minaplo> ["Hah! Thanks."-
[13:31] <Minaplo> [Sophia watched Yanmei with a mix of caution and eagerness.]
[13:34] <Yanmei> And Yanmei walked over to her slowly, careful not to make any sudden movements. She was smiling warmly and encouragingly. -
[13:36] <Yanmei> "Hey! I almost didn't recognize you today. You look incredible? Like, wow…"
[13:38] <Minaplo> ["…" Sophia shyly smiled, only a little one at first, but then it grew wider and wider.-
[13:39] <Minaplo> [All of a sudden she leapt forward and threw her arms around Yanmei; she squeezed as tightly as she could, which was very tight indeed.]
[13:47] <Yanmei> Yanmei handled this as a graceous Chancellor should have… by not dropping her drink or flailing at the incredible pressure around her torso. "Can't breathe," she managed, but she was laughing too, her free arm draped around Sophia in return.
[13:55] <Minaplo> [Sophia pulled away, but only a little; she still had an arm around Yanmei's back. Eagerly, she took Yanmei's palm with her free hand.-
[13:55] <Minaplo> [There was a phone.]
[13:59] <Yanmei> Just like old times~ Yanmei peered quickly back and forth between Sophia and the phone, eager to read her face and the texts she was going to send. "How have you been? Did Ezra Caine give you the letter I wrote?"
[14:16] <Minaplo> [Sophia nodded eagerly, her expression warm and fond. The phone vibrated.]
[14:26] <Yanmei> "I missed you too? How have you and your friends been getting along? Have things gotten a little less boring, at least?"
[14:27] <Minaplo> [The phone vibrated yet again.]
[14:28] * Yanmei grinned. "What do you think about those two?"
[14:32] <Minaplo> [Sophia frowned thoughtfully; the phone vibrated.]
[14:35] <Yanmei> "Of course? Let's go." She cast a quick glance around before leading the way, heading out to the hall and beyond.
[14:39] <Minaplo> [Sophia led her out into the field; after a moment's pause, she made a beeline for a nearby garden, in which lovely chrysanthemums and azaleas bloomed around a fine and tall katsura tree, about twenty metres tall; the instant they arrived, Sophia kicked off her heels and began to rapidly climb the tree with the grace of one born to it.]
[14:42] * Yanmei followed her to the tree and kind of… hovered around the base of it awkwardly, peering upward in surprise. She was much less graceful at those sort of things, and wasn't completely sure if she was even supposed to follow.
[14:44] <Minaplo> [Sophia climbed upon a sturdy branch that looked as though it could bear the weight of ten Sophias; once secure, she looked down and beckoned Yanmei to follow.]
[14:48] <Yanmei> "I'm not sure we're supposed to," Yanmei called up to her. "Is it okay if we talk on the ground instead? I know you like high places, but…"
[14:49] <Minaplo> [Sophia began patting the branch furiously.]
[14:50] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei peered around cautiously. Anyone around? Any garden snipers, or gossiping diplomats?
[14:51] <Minaplo> [Yanmei would realise now that Sophia had picked this place quite cleverly; there were enough plants and hedges around that it made seeing Yanmei very hard from the hall.]
[14:52] <Yanmei> "Hmm." She gave one last sweep of the area, and then tried her best to follow, at a slower and much clumsier pace. All the while, she prayed that her uniform wouldn't wrinkle or stain…
[14:53] <Minaplo> [Sophia, meanwhile, watched from above.-
[14:54] <Minaplo> [Once Yanmei was in reach, Sophia helped pull her up and onto the branch, one arm locked around Yanmei's waist- which remained there even once Yanmei was settled.-
[14:54] <Minaplo> [Sophia seemed much more at ease here. She was smiling more freely, and when she turned to look around she did so smoothly instead of darting her gaze back and forth.-
[14:56] <Minaplo> [Now, Yanmei would be able to soak in just how high they were. between the branches and the large, heart-shaped leaves she could see the fields and vibrant gardens and clear pools of the Imperial Palace in all directions, not to mention the palace itselt, pretty and set-piece like a model diorama.]
[15:05] <Yanmei> "W-whoa." She peered out shakily. Even in this state, she could appreciate a good view when she saw one. "Is this your first time at the Palace? How did you even know this view was here?"
[15:06] <Minaplo> [Sophia smiled; another text.]
[15:10] * Yanmei peered down at the phone clumsily. "Well, yeah, it is pretty high up? Second only to the roof, I guess? Anyway, good eye."
[15:14] <Minaplo> [Sophia beamed; however, after a moment she frowned, scratching irritably at her dress.]
[15:19] * Yanmei checked her phone again. "Well, Augustine wasn't wrong? It does look really pretty on you~ And it's only for a few hours, right?" She tilted her head. "Besides, it's a change from the usual."
[15:19] <Minaplo> [Sophia scowled.]
[15:25] <Yanmei> "Hey, don't do that. Not unless you can replace it with, like, a suit or a uniform or something."
[15:30] <Minaplo> [Sophia frowned and looked down; her gown was low-cut just enough that Yanmei could see the small red gem embedded in her chest, the one that generated her angel silk.]
[15:33] <Yanmei> "Why not?"
[15:39] <Minaplo> [Sophia shrugged.]
[15:47] <Yanmei> "And you can only generate the battle armor robe thing, huh?" She peered curiously at the gem. "Shoot. I don't know how to get around that, then. You might have to put up with the dress until the end of the night? You could always ask your boss if it's okay to go back to the Domacles early if you get too tired of it."
[15:48] <Minaplo> [Sophia frowned.]
[15:50] <Yanmei> "Oh. Huh. Do you want to try?"
[15:52] <Minaplo> [Sophia was silent for a few seconds; then she nodded.]
[15:57] <Yanmei> "O…kay. Okay. Take the dress off carefully, then. If it doesn't work, you'll still be able to slip back into it." Yanmei took another quick look around. With her luck, she'd spot Kuzmin peering curiously into the branches from afar with binoculars. Or worse, the paparazzi.
[16:07] <Minaplo> [Sophia let Yanmei go; then, with an easy grace, leapt to her feet. Her balance was perfect.-
[16:08] <Minaplo> [To Yanmei's fortune, there didn't seem to be any lecherous Soviet Premiers nearby; and the paparazzi had been prevented from even entering the grounds.-
[16:10] <Minaplo> [This was fortunate, because Sophia quickly and easily shrugged her dress off; it fell in a pile around her feet. She stepped outside of it, kicked it onto Yanmei's lap, then stood there for a moment, her eyes closed, naked as the day she was born.-
[16:11] <Minaplo> [A few moments later, and the gem glowed; then, fluidic fabric began to spin out of it, spreading across her body like water. It fell around her feet and legs first, then stopped for a moment, only to cover the rest of her body below the neck.-
[16:11] <Minaplo> [It quickly solidifed into a proper outfit, and with that Sophia sat back down and put her arm around Yanmei's waist.-
[16:11] <Minaplo> [… Although Yanmei would notice that Sophia's new outfit was a rather convincing copy of Yanmei's own uniform, albeit infinitely gentler to the touch.]
[16:14] * Yanmei had politely closed her eyes once the dress was secure, and was now curiously peering at her outfit. Rather tentatively, she touched the fabric. "Huh. Somehow I thought it would take longer? It's a good job!"
[16:20] <Minaplo> [Sophia beamed. She shimmied a little closer, now, and rested her head on Yanmei's shoulder.]
[16:23] * Yanmei patted her lightly on the head with her phone hand, before turning the thing to look at the latest message. -
[16:26] <Yanmei> "You do. And you look very fashionable too, if I do say so myself~ There's only one thing, though…"
[16:27] <Minaplo> [Sophia tilted her head away from her slightly. "…?"]
[16:33] <Yanmei> "Even though I think it's very awesome, your boss might not think so? While we're out here, wear it as long as you want. But when we go back inside, you might have to cache the jacket first."
[16:34] <Minaplo> [Sophia pouted.]
[16:35] <Yanmei> "Oh. Um. Then I'll find a bag for you to carry it in. The dress too."
[16:35] <Minaplo> [Sophia paused; then nodded. Satisfied, she rested her head back on Yanmei's shoulder.]
[16:40] <Yanmei> "We'll have other opportunities. Don't you worry? Although it might not necessarily be in this city."
[16:42] <Minaplo> [Sophia smiled, and closed her eyes.]
[16:49] <Yanmei> "Easy to please, huh?" Yanmei smiled. "How's Ying doing? And your new followers? Are you all being treated well?"
[16:49] <Minaplo> [Sophia nodded.]
[16:57] <Yanmei> "You mean… you can't tell if they understand what you're teaching because they're quiet?"
[17:00] <Minaplo> [She shook her head.]
[17:05] <Yanmei> "Oh. So it's a sneaky quiet." Yanmei peered down at the leaves beneath them thoughtfully. "Do Agatha and Augustine understand that they're not swiping things or pouncing on people to be mean?"
[17:19] <Minaplo> [Sophia nodded.]
[17:26] <Yanmei> "Hmm. Can you teach them not to do that to Augustine's phantoms, then? If they really are that mean."
[07:53] <Minaplo> [Sophia looked pensive.]
[07:56] <Yanmei> "Well… here. Have they ever said why they get mad?"
[07:59] <Minaplo> [Sophia shook her head.]
[08:02] <Yanmei> "You could ask them - or Augustine. Then maybe from there, you can work out some kind of compromise."
[08:04] <Minaplo> [Sophia frowned thoughtfully.-
[08:04] <Minaplo> [Eventually, she gave Yanmei a firm nod.]
[08:12] * Yanmei nodded back with a little grin. "Speaking of Augustine… it sounds like you guys are getting to be friends."
[08:13] <Minaplo> [Sophia nodded solemnly.]
[08:16] <Yanmei> "Confusing how?"
[08:18] <Minaplo> [She shrugged.]
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[08:20] <Yanmei> "I don't think it's just you. He's a little odd? At least he's not mean and aggressive."
[08:21] <Minaplo> [She nodded slowly.]
[08:22] <Yanmei> "Yeah. I always thought Agatha seemed to be. I'm glad. The others though… seem less nice?"
[08:23] <Minaplo> [Sophia drew her legs up to her chest, and snuggled closer to Yanmei.]
[08:28] * Yanmei winced. "Joan is Troubled. When she was with us, she was very violent. Also she hates me very much, so I was never able to see her good side. You know. If she even has one?"
[08:28] <Minaplo> [Sophia turned her head upwards towards Yanmei's face. There was a baffled expression in her frown and narrowed eyes.]
[08:29] * Syntax is now known as Sept
[08:29] * Vera (moc.rr.ser.yabapmat.551cfh1322356|areV#moc.rr.ser.yabapmat.551cfh1322356|areV) has joined #nervfrance2
[08:31] <Yanmei> "Heh. It's not that strange? We've fought each other a few times before. She held a grudge. So do I, actually. She was really horrible…"
[08:35] <Minaplo> [Sophia was paying full attention now.]
[08:38] <Yanmei> "She killed a lot of people I was close to. Some of whom I was responsible for? And she tormented me personally once when I was stuck in the Synfront for a while."
[08:40] <Minaplo> [Sophia's face hardened.]
[08:43] <Yanmei> "No. The best thing to do is to stay away from her."
[08:43] <Minaplo> [Sophia's mouth pressed into a hard line.]
[08:46] <Yanmei> "No. She'd definitely go berserk. No phantom-punching. Leave her alone."
[08:46] <Minaplo> [Sophia huffed.]
[08:52] <Yanmei> "Thank you." She relaxed a little. "You're very sweet, Sophia, but it's not a good idea to get in trouble over her. What about the other Prime? That smug one who looks like Blanc?"
[08:53] <Minaplo> [Sophia snuggled defiantly against Yanmei's shoulder, like a sleepy baby.]
[08:55] <Yanmei> "Oh. I don't know much about her, but that is what she seems like from a distance. Does she keep to herself, mostly?"
[08:55] <Minaplo> [Sophia shook her head just a little.]
[08:58] <Yanmei> "Ugh. That sounds like a bad situation for them. Do they play with your Phantoms too?"
[08:58] <Minaplo> [She nodded.]
[09:01] <Yanmei> "I'm glad. It seems like you're turning into a good Phantom-Mom."
[09:01] <Minaplo> [Sophia beamed.]
[09:03] * Yanmei laughed. "I don't know about that? I have trouble looking after just one little girl sometimes."
[09:05] <Minaplo> [Sophia frowned, biting her lip slightly.]
[09:10] <Yanmei> "Maybe someday," She said quietly. "But. Er. You know I can't have Phantoms, right? Not the way you can. There's no way for me to, like… link with them."
[09:11] <Minaplo> [Sophia frowned; for a second she looked sad, then suddenly perked up.]
[09:13] * Yanmei blinked and the rubbed her chin. "I guess someone's going to have to look after them at the end of the war. God knows she won't."
[09:14] <Minaplo> [Sophia nodded eagerly.]
[09:22] <Yanmei> "There actually might be many of them like that after the war? Abandoned, or trying to somehow fit in when there isn't a war going on." She was quiet for a moment, frowning. "Do you think Augustine would want to work with Phantoms too? He seems very patient."
[09:22] <Minaplo> [Sophia nodded.]
[09:26] * Yanmei grinned a little. "We could open a school for Phantoms. One with lots of cats and therapists. Nice ones. Augustine could be the headmaster or something."
[09:28] <Minaplo> [Sophia nodded furiously and squeezed a little tighter; all things considered, it felt to Yanmei as though she were being rubbed up against.]
[09:37] <Yanmei> "Sounds like fun." Yanmei was still grinning. "Maybe art lessons too? Since yours seem to be good at drawing, right?"
[09:38] <Minaplo> [Sophia nodded.]
[09:45] <Yanmei> "That's pretty impressive? I get the sense that come into the world not really knowing much."
[09:46] <Yanmei> ^they come
[09:46] <Minaplo> [Sophia smiled.]
[09:51] <Yanmei> "I don't doubt it." She hesitated a little bit. "Um. Out of curiosity-" But then she stopped completely, distracted. There were voices somewhat audible now, coming from below.
[09:59] <Minaplo> [Sophia had to tear her attention away from Yanmei. She looked down-
[09:59] <Minaplo> [And instantly scowled furiously.]
[10:00] <Yanmei> "Maybe we should go," she murmured.
[10:01] <Minaplo> [Sophia hung her head.]
[10:05] * Yanmei patted her lightly on the shoulder. "It'll be okay? We'll just find someplace else." Although… Hm. She peered down, feeling awkward. "I don't suppose you can fly, can you? Or… float?"
[10:07] <Minaplo> [Sophia frowned.]
[10:12] <Yanmei> "Him. All right. We'll do down stealthily. Obviously, I'll have to go down a little slower than that? But you can probably slip down and go on ahead if you want."
[10:12] <Minaplo> [Sophia abruptly tucked her arms in under Yanmei's legs and back- then stood up, holding her in a princess carry.]
[10:17] <Yanmei> "W-wait." Yanmei was definitely caught off-balance. She stared up at her in wide-eyed alerm. "Are you really going to-"
[10:19] <Minaplo> [With the lightest of leaps, Sophia jumped.-
[10:19] <Minaplo> [She aimed for the side of the katsura tree opposite Sera and the others; she then landed perfectly on her feet, not even staggering a little.-
[10:20] <Minaplo> [She looked down at Yanmei- still tight in her arms- and smiled fondly, her eyes shining.]
[10:27] * Yanmei gaped at her. That had been… too fast for her to actually scream. Surely, too fast for their visitors to even notice? "You're quite good," she remarked.
[10:30] <Minaplo> [Sophia smiled even wider.-
[10:35] <Minaplo> [Colour started to fill her cheeks as she held Yanmei's gaze. She stared, quivering slightly; she took in a breath, then-
[10:35] <Minaplo> [… Leaned in and pushed her lips to Yanmei's.]
[10:44] * Yanmei went wide-eyed again… although this time, it was with visible confusion. She didn't pull away and she didn't panic, though.
[10:50] <Minaplo> [Sophia's smile widened.-
[10:52] <Minaplo> [She paused, glanced around the tree, then; keeping herself and Yanmei close to the ground, dove behind a nearby hedge, sprinted silently through the cover, and into a smaller tranquil little garden built around a carp pond.-
[10:52] <Minaplo> [There, she laid Yanmei down on the soft grass and knelt down next to her. With trembling hands, she tapped Yanmei's phone.]
[11:09] * Yanmei stared down at the screen, processing for several long second. "It sounds like you've thought about this a lot," she said quietly. "And you even asked Augustine for advice. It's… a lot to take in?" She took one of Sophia's hands gently in her own. -
[11:10] <Yanmei> ^seconds
[11:11] <Yanmei> "I adore you, Sophia. You must know that? But I'm not sure about this."
[11:12] <Minaplo> [Sophia's face fell.-
[11:13] <Minaplo> [She shuffled forward a little; she took a deep breath. She clasped Yanmei's hand in both of her own and rubbed it against her own cheek.-
[11:14] <Minaplo> [Then she leaned forward a little and stared into Yanmei's eyes.-
[11:14] <Minaplo> [She opened her mouth. "Yan…mei. Love."-
[11:15] <Minaplo> [Her voice sounded… Odd. It was a whisper, yet rough and raw at the same time. There was a curious tremor to her voice, as though she had to force herself to whisper.]
[11:20] * Yanmei hugged her. Quickly. Because her eyes were starting to sting a little with tears, and she didn't want her to see that. -
[11:30] <Yanmei> "You're amazing," she croaked. "Amazing. For me you…" she trailed off, briefly, and when she resumed, her voice sounded more even. "I don't want to hurt you? Really, I don't. But we can't. It's not because Isaiah's my Eve and it had nothing to do with Augustine either. I will be your best friend, and I will love you dearly, but that is the best I can offer."
[11:40] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[11:42] <Minaplo> [A new sound from Sophia's tortured throat: a cough. Then another. She convulsed slightly and broke into sobs.]
[11:45] * Yanmei held her more tightly. She murmured more apologies, and rubbed her back and tried to comfort her.
[11:49] <Minaplo> [But she was shaking violently now.-
[11:49] <Minaplo> ["Want… L-Love." She croaked. "Lone…ly. Our… Phantoms. Ours…"]
[12:05] <Yanmei> "It will be okay," Yanmei said, her voice warm and quiet. She was still stroking her. "It will be okay. You have friends and family, and you won't be lonely forever. You're too amazing to. I'm so, so sorry…"
[12:12] <Minaplo> ["Our… Phantoms!" She gasped. "Dream… Love…"-
[12:12] <Minaplo> [She pulled away- but only to grab at her dress, the one she'd taken off and given to Yanmei.-
[12:13] <Minaplo> [With quivering hands she shook at it violently; little folded sheets of paper began falling out of pockets Yanmei hadn't even realised existed. Sophia grabbed the nearest, unfolded it, and thrust it into Yanmei's hands as though it were a key to unlock a very important door.-
[12:14] <Minaplo> [It was… A drawing. A Phantom's drawing. it was childlike, with lots of primary crayon colours and rough characters drawn in passionate but unskilled hands.-
[12:15] <Minaplo> [This one… A green hill, on top of which were Sophia and Yanmei, holding hands inside a red love heart… Isaiah was there too, as were twenty other little Phantoms, as well as Ying the cat.-
[12:16] <Minaplo> [Sophia's face was wet and glistening with tears; her expression had contorted into one of desperate heartbreak, and she could not close her mouth for sobbing.-
[12:16] <Minaplo> [She shakily grabbed another picture and unfolded it. It was much like the first.-
[12:16] <Minaplo> [She grabbed another, then another-
[12:16] <Minaplo> [Picture after picture until Yanmei had a stack of them, a stack of pictures from childlike minds illustrating a fantasy future they would never have.]
[12:30] <Yanmei> And Yanmei looked at each and every one of them, the stinging in her eyes returning, full force. "I didn't know…" she whispered. "How do I make them understand? I…?" She stopped there. Tried to collect herself, with marginal success. -
[12:31] * Raphael (ua.ten.letxof.dlq.88-591-291-271-epc|leahpaR#ua.ten.letxof.dlq.88-591-291-271-epc|leahpaR) Quit (Quit: <Suzune> don't be silly <Suzune> DnD doesn't have sex crime laws)
[12:33] <Yanmei> "I want to meet them all. And I meant every word about the school idea. Just because it's a little different from the dream… doesn't mean our future is bad, does it…?"
[12:36] <Minaplo> ["Don't… Know. What." She said painfully. She wiped at her eyes with uncharacteristically ham-handed movements.-
[12:37] <Minaplo> ["My. Dream. With. You. Protect. You. Don't… Know things." She admitted, slowly, her gaze flashing toward the ground. "Don't… Don't… Understand world."-
[12:38] <Minaplo> ["Don't… know me." She said, shaking her head vigorously. "Don't know who… I am. Know… I love phantoms… Love you… Don't know. Who I am."-
[12:38] <Minaplo> ["Who am I…?"-
[12:39] <Minaplo> ["I… am one who loves. You." She stuttered. "And. Isaiah. And. Liz-ziy." The word sounded painful for her to say.-
[12:40] <Minaplo> ["Who am. I? Why can't. I be a part…?"-
[12:41] <Minaplo> [Her eyes filled with yet more tears. "I. Stupid…? Stupid. Sophia."-
[12:41] <Minaplo> ["Stupid Sophia…"]
[12:47] <Yanmei> "You're not!" Yanmei tried to wipe her tears too. "Don't say that. It's not your fault?" -
[12:58] <Yanmei> "You've… been discovering who you are this entire time, haven't you? You know enough to teach your phantoms, and to love them, and to love me. There's nothing wrong with what you did or what you feel even if it didn't work out this once. You're doing well and you're going to be just fine."
[13:04] <Minaplo> ["J-Just fine."-
[13:06] <Minaplo> [But she didn't look fine. She looked utterly lost. She stared at Yanmei with a helpless longing. She didn't understand…-
[13:07] <Minaplo> [She twitched, as though she intended to run. But… Where would she go?-
[13:07] <Minaplo> [In a situation this devastating, Yanmei might run to her best friend, or to Isaiah…-
[13:07] <Minaplo> [… But Yanmei knew that the only person Sophia would go to, could go to, the only one she trusted…-
[13:07] <Minaplo> [Was Yanmei herself.-
[13:10] <Minaplo> [Sophia did the only thing she could: she wrapped her arms around Yanmei, rested her head against Yanmei's chest and sobbed. "Love you…"]
[13:38] * Yanmei held her tightly, shutting her eyes. She was quiet, seemingly letting her just cry it out. Something about this hit home the same way the pictures had, and a tiny idea was starting to slowly take shape beyond her sadness and despair. "You want… love," said said quietly. "Family. Acceptance. Love." She said again, her brow furrowing. "It won't be exactly the thing you want but… I want to make a place for you and your Phantoms. A place where there's family love. Isaiah and I will be there and your girls too, and maybe Scholastica's. We'll teach you guys things and we'll be patient, and we'll find other people to do the same too? We can all be close, and the world won't be quite as scary anymore. We can do that, and then help others who are scared and lost too. Would that be okay?"
[13:40] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[13:41] <Minaplo> [She didn't respond at first; all Yanmei heard and felt were her sobs and shakes.-
[13:41] <Minaplo> [… But eventually, Yanmei would feel Sophia nod, several times. "That… Want."]
[13:44] * Yanmei rubbed her back again, trying to give more comfort. "I'm sorry I didn't understand your feelings before. I'm sorry for making you cry."
[14:39] <Minaplo> [Sophia nodded feebly against Yanmei's chest. "Don't… Sorry."]
[14:44] * Yanmei nodded, perhaps a little awkwardly, and went quiet as if letting Sophia have some time to collect her thoughts. Secretly, though, she was wading through her own.
[14:48] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[14:48] <Minaplo> [Eventually, with what seemed like great reluctance, Sophia pulled away, enough for Yanmei to see her wet, tear-stained face. She gave Yanmei a faltering, watery smile. "Love you."]
[14:53] <Yanmei> "I love you too." She fished a tissue out of her pocket and held it out to her.
[14:53] <Minaplo> ["…" Sophia took it and began dabbing at her face awkwardly.]
[14:55] <Yanmei> "Do you want us to hang out here for a while longer together?" She glanced out toward the pond. "It's really calm here."
[14:56] <Minaplo> ["Ye-yes." Said Sophia, nodding. She settled back down against Yanmei's chest and closed her eyes.]
[15:04] <Yanmei> So they sat a while, far away from the bustle of the reception hall. At first, there was just a nice silence… and eventually Yanmei started to talk a little. Mainly little stories about her first year in France… about how weird everything had been to her, and out out of place she'd felt at school and at NERV. -
[15:08] <Yanmei> "I couldn't even speak the language. They gave me a translator, but she could only help me so much? Anyway, they made me take so many grueling French lessons. It was hell."
[15:09] <Minaplo> ["Words… Tough?"]
[15:14] <Yanmei> "They were really tough." Yanmei nodded. "Back then, I wouldn't have dreamed coming as far as I have. I've even made speeches in front of tons of people, all in French."
[15:15] <Minaplo> ["Saw speeches!"]
[15:18] <Yanmei> "Yeah?" Yanmei laughed. "I guess they spread around pretty fast. Um. Anyway, even with all that, I'm completely amazed with what you're doing tonight? Like the way you're using your voice. You must've practiced hard at it."
[15:23] <Minaplo> [Sophia blushed; she looked around nervously.-
[15:23] <Minaplo> ["… Yes." She admitted sheepishly.]
[15:25] * Yanmei giggled and patted her hand. "Is it hard to keep it up? If it's uncomfortable, you can use the phone for a bit."
[15:27] <Minaplo> [Sophia nodded; she quickly tapped Yanmei's phone.]
[15:28] * Mogatron (~ten.dshqrabme.pchd.85-252-6-67-ho|alliztahc#ten.dshqrabme.pchd.85-252-6-67-ho|alliztahc) has joined #nervfrance
[15:30] <Yanmei> "I understand? Just use whichever way feels right for you. Telepathy sounds hard to pull off too."
[15:36] <Minaplo> [Sophia nodded with a frown.]
[15:40] <Yanmei> "No wonder he recommends using it. Must come in handy," she said, peering at the latest text message. "That reminds me… I'm surprised Augustine didn't come with you guys tonight. He was at the Summit a couple of weeks ago, and he didn't look bored or annoyed or anything."
[15:42] <Minaplo> [Sophia shrugged.]
[15:46] <Yanmei> "I see. Please give him my regards?" -
[15:49] <Yanmei> The phone… suddenly lit up again! This time, it wasn't a text message, though. It was ringing. Yanmei startled, nearly dropping it, before shakily tapping the button to answer it. "Y-yes~~?"
[15:50] <Minaplo> [Sophia scowled at the phone, as though it had personally betrayed her.]
[15:52] <Yanmei> "Oh, hi~! I'm in the garden, you know? Chatting with someone. How's the party?"
[15:54] <Yanmei> "Oh." She looked up suddenly. "Damn. Okay, I'll be right there?"
[15:57] <Yanmei> Yanmei hung up and gave Sophia an apologetic look. "The Princess is coming to greet everyone in the main hall. They need me to go back."
[15:59] <Minaplo> [Sophia's frown deepened; but after a second she sighed, gave Yanmei a little smile, and pulled away.]
[16:00] <Yanmei> "Are you hanging out here? We could go back together…"
[16:05] <Minaplo> [Sophia eyed the audience hall mistrustfully… Slowly, she got back up.]
[16:06] * Yanmei nodded. "If you ever feel like you can't take it, you can always zip back out here, right?" She offered her a hand.
[16:08] <Minaplo> [… And with a smile, Sophia took it.]
[16:11] <Yanmei> Yanmei led the way for them both, back to the bright lights and cheerful chatter inside.

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