Cherry Blossom Procession 4 2 23

[19:39] <Raphael> Raphael was not a stranger to Doctor Delgado's office. Command had requested regular appointments during the stretch of time he'd spent in Shinji's shape, and by the time that was resolved Caitlin's return had required he keep visiting - both for her and for himself.-
[19:39] <Raphael> And so when he'd arrived after dropping a still off-balance Caitlin home and asked to speak to the doctor, the receptionist hadn't seemed surprised even though he lacked an appointment.-
[19:39] <Raphael> The way he'd waited to be seen - impatient, barely able to keep still, sometimes pacing - had meant she hadn't been particularly surprised by the sound of his raised, furious voice on the other side of the door when he finally made it inside, either.-
[19:39] <Raphael> After only ten minutes inside, the door had hissed back open again and Raphael stalked past her and into the hall without a word. She waited until she saw Doctor Delgado poke his head out of the door before she cancelled the call to security.-
[19:39] <Raphael> …-
[19:39] <Raphael> "Just give me the bottle," Raphael said half an hour later, after finally finding his way to Blue's for lack of a better option. He'd ordered three drinks in the span of ten minutes and decided it'd be simpler to deal with the rest himself.
[19:42] <Minaplo> [Blue had given Raphael his first drink without hesitation.-
[19:42] <Minaplo> [The second had gone to him quickly too.-
[19:42] <Minaplo> [Blue held back on the third a little.-
[19:43] <Minaplo> [But now Blue looked much more reluctant. He held the bottle, cap unscrewed, over Raphael's glass… But the request for the bottle meant that Blue simply pulled it back, rescrewed the cap and put it back on the shelf.-
[19:44] <Minaplo> ["Y'alright there, Guillory?" Asked Blue, frowning slightly.]
[19:48] <Raphael> "Fine, Blue," Raphael said. His voice was steady and toneless - whatever burst of anger had briefly possessed him seemed to have turned to something colder. He pulled a stack of notes (Nearly fifty francs) from his wallet and placed them on the bar.
[19:49] <Minaplo> ["… Yeah, sure." Said Blue, who knew all too well what the four letters in 'fine' stood for. He grabbed the notes and put them in the till. "I'll go deliver it to your table, in the private parlour."]
[19:53] * Raphael gave him a steady look for a second or two, before leaving his seat at the bar and moving to the parlour without further comment.
[19:59] <Minaplo> [A minute later, Blue entered, closing the door firmly behind him. He placed a glass down in front of Raphael, filled it, then stepped back.-
[20:00] <Minaplo> ["So not once in all my time have you had more than a few drinks here in my bar. Now you're drinkin' like a man who wants to get drunk. What happened?" Said Blue, his tone uncommonly serious.]
[20:11] <Raphael> "I'm tired, Blue. You open a bar and sometimes people will try to get drunk," he said, proving his point by downing half of his drink at once.
[20:12] <Minaplo> ["Sure. But why now?"]
[20:18] <Raphael> "Because everyone told me to stop waiting for the other shoe to drop and I listened, and now I'm paying for it like I knew I would."
[20:19] <Minaplo> ["Alright," Said Blue, topping Raphael's drink up. "Go on."]
[20:23] <Raphael> It really seemed as though he might not reply - he was silent for nearly a full minute. In that time he continued making slower progress on his drink.-
[20:23] <Raphael> "Caitlin's showing some of Roku's memories, and losing time when she does."
[20:24] <Minaplo> "Alright." Said Blue. "Which ones?"]
[20:24] <Raphael> "Aksel."
[20:25] <Minaplo> ["Kay." Said Blue. "And that's got you scared, huh?"]
[20:26] <Raphael> He didn't reply, he just offered Blue a single, sustained stare.
[20:31] <Minaplo> [Blue stared right back. Although his expression was serious, his actions were unhurried.-
[20:31] <Minaplo> ["What's it mean, then?" Said Blue.]
[20:34] <Raphael> "I'm sure your heart's in the right place, Blue, but just give me the bourbon and go," he said flatly. "I didn't quit Delgado's so that I could get the play the same game here."
[20:37] <Minaplo> ["Sorry, can't." Said Blue. "Old days, yeah, I'd give you your bourbon, go out, mind my own business. But now I got a duty of care. Maybe not to you. But I do to Miss Rei. I do to Katsuragi, too. And I have one to Suzie, and I have one to Caitlin as well. So right now I don't give a fuck. Bourbon stays. You stay. You play the game before you do something stupid. That's the way it works."]
[20:39] <Raphael> "The hell it does," he muttered. "I'm not going to do anything stupid."
[20:42] <Minaplo> [Blue remained silent. He simply looked at Raphael expectantly, as though waiting for a response.]
[20:49] <Raphael> "Forget the drink, then," he said eventually, getting to his feet. "I'm leaving. Lay a hand on me this time and I will make absolutely sure you're ejected from the ship."
[20:50] <Minaplo> [Blue didn't move as Raphael rose. He didn't move to stop Raphael from going to the door.-
[20:51] <Minaplo> [He didn't have to. The door was locked.]
[20:58] * Raphael rattled the lock violently, his hands shaking with barely-contained rage.
[20:59] <Minaplo> [The look remained extremely firm.-
[20:59] <Minaplo> ["Take yer seat, Guillory." Said Blue calmly. "Siddown, drink your bourbon and let's talk about this. Don't make it harder or longer than it have to."]
[21:03] <Raphael> "Oh yes, let's talk about this," he said acidly. "It's just a regular, healthy exchange of views in this situation I don't want and can't leave."
[21:05] <Minaplo> ["I made some of my best friends by forcin' em into situations they didn't want and couldn't leave. Isn't that how we met?"-
[21:05] <Minaplo> ["You wanted healthy, you shoulda stayed with old Felix. I'm not healthy, I'm the other thing." Said Blue.-
[21:05] <Minaplo> [He reached up, grabbed his hat, took it off and placed it on the tabletop.]
[21:10] <Raphael> Raphael rounded on Blue just in time to catch him set the hat aside. That seemed to bring him pause.-
[21:10] <Raphael> He sat very quickly.
[21:16] <Minaplo> ["T-Thank you." Said Blue, his voice taut with tense control.-
[21:16] <Minaplo> [Blue picked the hat up and placed it back on his head. Raphael saw his shoulders visibly sag.-
[21:17] <Minaplo> ["Now." He said, his voice much calmer. "That was just a reminder that I got all fucked up in the head by conditioning, okay?" Said Blue. "We're on the same page? Felix is cool and all, but this is something I live. Maybe I can help more than most."]
[21:22] <Raphael> "… Alright," Raphael said carefully. He watched Blue like a hawk, his glass close at hand.
[21:26] <Minaplo> ["Now." Said Blue, taking a fortifying swig of bourbon, "When Caitlin began showing Roku's memories, what was it like? Just detail the scene for me."]
[21:38] <Raphael> "She was practicing writing names…" Raphael said slowly, but he wasn't bothering to fight Blue any more. "I'd given her a tablet to write on. I asked her about Aksel's name when I saw and she had a sudden headache, then it passed and she acted as though the last minute hadn't happened at all."
[21:39] <Minaplo> ["Okay. So you saw a list of names, Aksel was in 'em. The other names- were they people she knew before or after the rebodyin'?"]
[21:40] <Raphael> "Yeah."
[21:40] <Minaplo> ["So's only Aksel's name that was out of place."]
[21:41] * Raphael nodded.
[21:41] <Minaplo> ["You asked her about it… DId she give any details? Any signs of knowing what it meant?"]
[21:42] <Raphael> "No. She seemed confused by it."
[21:43] <Minaplo> ["She did, huh?" Said Blue, and it seemed in that moment that he brightened, just for a second. "And then she lost about a minute of time."]
[21:43] <Raphael> "Mm."
[21:45] <Minaplo> ["Okay, thanks." Said Blue. "Now gonna ask you another question, or rather one I kinda asked earlier- what do you think it means?"]
[21:56] <Raphael> "… I don't know," he admitted. "We knew she had other markers from Roku, and now she has at least some of her memories. Maybe it's not completely her, or maybe Caine left another trap somehow."
[21:59] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, that's fair." Said Blue.-
[22:00] <Minaplo> ["Here's the thing, though." Said Blue. "Lotsa people these days talk about the soul. Soul's the seat of the memory, soul forms the boundary of identity, soul slices, soul dices, soul makes julienne fries."-
[22:02] <Minaplo> ["But sometimes folks just go around forgettin' about that thing betwixt your ears." Said Blue. "Like you. When you were Shinjified, you suddenly picked up the skill of eatin' with chopsticks. Where'd that come from? Even though it wasn't really his body, it was close enough. You probably got that skill from muscle memory, which is just real ingrained shit."-
[22:02] <Minaplo> ["Now that you're back to bein' Raphael, I'm guessing you're not as good with chopsticks, are you? Feels clumsy. But you're better at it than you were before Shinji, right?"]
[22:03] <Raphael> "Yes…"
[22:09] <Minaplo> ["Okay. So here's what I think. I think what happened today mighta been a good thing. I know, that doesn't match up to what you're feeling, but hear me out."-
[22:10] <Minaplo> ["Little Caitlin's soul has her memories, which is great, but she's not got an awakened AT Field soul like… I dunno, the Ayanamis or whatever. When she rebodied, sure, a bunch of her memories stored in the Field flowed back, but because she took some of Roku's body, she probably has little sparks of Roku's memories in there."-
[22:11] <Minaplo> ["But here's the thing. Y'got Caitlin's memories and Roku's memories. They clash, a discrepancy emerges… And then Caitlin loses a minute of time. She totally forgets about the discrepancy." Said Blue. "That suggests to me that the little sparks in her brain are being, well… Overwritten by Caitlin when they happen. Little by little her brain's starting to dance to the tune, and them
[22:11] <Minaplo> little sparks show up- then get snuffed out."-
[22:14] <Minaplo> ["I don't think it's conditioning or anything like that." Said Blue. He walked over and sat down opposite Raphael. "Here's why. When you're conditioned like I am or like June was, you become really fucking sensitive to triggers. I mean, I got command phrases, but sometimes I'd hear shit that mighta been a command phrase and then I'd near flip the fuck out for an hour or so."-
[22:15] <Minaplo> ["Yet, well. Let's be realistic. If Caitlin had some sort of conditioning or trigger or even a proper memory about all that… It woulda fired by now, because you and Aksel look the same." Said Blue. "But she looks at you, does she see the love of her life? She doesn't, does she? She sees her big brother."-
[22:16] <Minaplo> ["So yeah." Said Blue, topping up Raphael's glass. "To me it sounds like a little brain glitch, s'all. Sorta thing that might happen in this sitch."]
[22:23] <Raphael> "A little brain glitch," he repeated. He frowned at his glass, clearly not quite believing it.
[22:26] <Minaplo> ["That young lady's been through a heck of a lot." Said Blue softly. "She was stitched into that body with a bit of Roku, then she was a carrier for Iruel, then she was brought back… Yet despite that she's probably one of the cheeriest people I've fuckin' met recently. She comes into the bar and the whole room lights up. Even makes me happier."-
[22:27] <Minaplo> ["You don't get through that much fuckery without some little glitches here and there. But I don't think she's dangerous. I think she's just been through the wringer a bit, s'all. All she needs is time."-
[22:30] <Minaplo> ["I know how the Caines think." Said Blue. "They like to taint things, s'true. Make good things bad. Can't do good without doing evil, that sort of thing. But they also like to set up their combos so the right hook's the knockout. We go into space and kill Metatron, good. But she taints it because we all feel like we left the bases defenseless. Then the right hook- ambush, slaughtering
[22:30] <Minaplo> people."-
[22:31] <Minaplo> ["You try to help Caitlin get her proper form back, good. But she taints it by trapping it with an Angel, bad. Then the right hook- Angel damn near blows up the ship."-
[22:33] <Minaplo> ["If it were up to Caine, Caitlin wouldn't have glitches. She'd be perfectly sweet and normal and lovely, then she'd switch and stab someone to death. Trusting her- good. Tainted by it being a ploy, right hook- someone dies with a gunshot to the head or some bullshit."-
[22:34] <Minaplo> ["This… Doesn't feel like that. It just feels like random glitches." Said Blue. "No, I think Caine's done with Caitlin for awhile…"]
[22:43] <Raphael> Slowly and tentatively he started to nod. "… alright. That's… something I suppose."
[22:48] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, it's something." Said Blue. "I ain't sayin' you shouldn't have her checked out or whatever, you do what you gotta. But yeah, I reckon you're safe. Can't blame you for bein' touchy, though. Touchy's not so bad."-
[22:52] <Minaplo> ["Well, mostly." Said Blue. "Anyway."-
[22:52] <Minaplo> [Blue leaned back in his chair. "I need you sober anyway. Can't get you to deliver Caitlin her new dress if you're all drunk, huh?"]
[23:17] <Raphael> "… she bought a dress?" He asked as he looked up. His eyes were a little red, although they didn't seem teary.
[23:17] <Minaplo> ["Nah, made it for her as a surprise." Said Blue casually.]
[23:18] <Raphael> "…"-
[23:18] <Raphael> "Thanks."
[23:19] <Minaplo> ["Don't thank me. Pure business acumen." Said Blue airily. "That young lady sure does run around a lot. Always travellin'. People're gonna see her and go, hey, that dress sure is great, who made it? And that's when they come to me."-
[23:19] <Minaplo> [Blue winked.]
[23:25] <Raphael> "Did I mention Roku's setting Sho up with a little booth by her restaurant?" He asked.
[23:27] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[23:28] <Minaplo> ["Motherfucker." Swore Blue. "She can't do that!"]
[23:28] * Raphael tried to keep a straight face and didn't quite manage it. It wasn't a very happy smile, but it was still a smile.
[23:29] <Minaplo> [Blue sneered back, but Raphael could see there wasn't any malice in his eyes. "Yeah yeah, smirk it up, fucker. Drink your fuckin' drink and get the fuck out, stupid-ass French jackass with a weird nose fuckin' up my business…"]
[23:33] <Raphael> "Oh now you want me to leave," he muttered.
[23:34] <Minaplo> ["Nah, not really. But yeah, really, fuck off, go get your little sis that dress."]
[18:08] <Raphael> …-
[18:08] <Raphael> Raphael had taken the time for one more drink, and he'd long-since begun to feel the effects by the time he'd left the bar. Rather than submit himself to the steely-eyed judgement of Caitlin and Suzie, he found his way to Misato's empty quarters and fallen into a deep sleep without a second thought…
[18:16] <Minaplo> [It had been a sign of how far things had come that Misato's apartment had actually been fairly neat and tidy even before he'd entered.-
[18:17] <Minaplo> [(The apartment itself, that is. She'd still forgotten to take down a rack of underwear hanging ominously in the bathroom, a fact that he may have realised as he showered and prepared for work.)-
[18:19] <Minaplo> [Misato's apartment had a fridge, in which sat cans of mostly coffee. There wasn't much else in the way of kitchen equipment, either.-
[18:20] <Minaplo> [And so Raphael, now dressed acceptably and feeling the bite of hunger breaking through the stubborn fogginess in his head…]
[18:35] <Raphael> On the other hand, eight hours of sleep and some time alone had been sufficient to put himself back together. By the time he was ready to leave the apartment his posture and expression were both substantially more relaxed - to all outward appearances he seemed to be his normal self.
[18:38] <Minaplo> [And so the door opened, the first step in facing the outside world.-
[18:38] <Minaplo> [Unfortunately the outside world was here to face him.-
[18:40] <Minaplo> [Standing on the doorstep was Maya Ibuki. Her arms were folded, her posture was ruler-edge straight, and her face a mask of furious, indignant disapproval.-
[18:40] <Minaplo> ["Hmph."]
[18:46] <Raphael> "… Lieutenant Ibuki," he tried gamely. "Good morning?"
[18:48] <Minaplo> [Maya took a powerful step toward him; her right foot now cut across the threshold of the door.-
[18:50] <Minaplo> ["You brute." She said, her voice's edge hard and cutting.]
[18:52] * Raphael nearly took a step back on instinct. "I… think you have me at a disadvantage, ma'am. Is something wrong?"
[18:53] <Minaplo> ["Dr. Delgado!" Said Maya angrily. "He only wanted to help you! He only wanted to help everyone, he only wanted what was best for everyone on this ship, and now he's in the hospital because you took your selfish anger out on a man with a weak heart!"]
[18:58] <Raphael> "I…" He paused mid reply, going a little pale, "… what? He's in hospital?"
[19:01] <Minaplo> ["Yes!" Shouted Maya, taking another step back and driving a pointy finger of judgment into his chest. "He had a heart attack! He could've died, and it's all because you wanted to punish him for nothing!"-
[19:01] <Minaplo> ["Why?!" Said Maya, tears starting to bubble up in her eyes now. "Why did you do it…?!"]
[19:14] <Raphael> "I don't-… I wasn't punishing him, Lieutenant!" Raphael said, a little more heat in his voice than he'd intended. "Is he alright?"
[19:16] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, he is." Said Maya bitingly. "But he'll probably have to leave the ship after this. You'd better go apologise."]
[19:21] <Raphael> "Of course I'll apologise!" he insisted, now driven back past the threshold of the apartment.
[19:25] <Minaplo> ["Good." Said Maya, the tears starting to course down her cheeks. "H-He has a family, y'know… He likes you, too, and for that to happen-"-
[19:25] <Minaplo> [She began wiping furiously at her eyes. "I-I have to go-"-
[19:25] <Minaplo> [And as quickly as it had happened, she was gone, back down the hall.]
[19:26] <Raphael> … a few seconds later Raphael finally blinked, looking a little shellshocked and pale. He took a few careful steps out into the hall and glanced back and forth.
[19:27] <Minaplo> [Maya was gone.]
[19:43] <Raphael> Raphael's improved mood had all but evaporated. He took one more look around and checked his watch… there was an hour to go until his shift was due to start - enough time for a visit to Medical if he were to skip breakfast.-
[19:44] <Raphael> He hoped there was somewhere selling flowers along the Promenade.
[19:49] <Minaplo> [And in fact, such a shop had opened up the other day.-
[19:49] <Minaplo> ["G'day. You looking for flowers?" Asked Emily Unaipon, wearing a pretty sky-blue sleeveless top and a pair of jeans.]
[19:53] <Raphael> "Please," Raphael said, massaging his brow with one hand as he pulled out his wallet with the other. "How much for your largest arrangement…?"
[19:54] <Minaplo> […-
[19:56] <Minaplo> [And so Raphael would leave bearing a vibrant milieu of flowers the size of a small child.]
[20:04] <Raphael> He had them tucked under one arm, like a rolled up carpet or a small, misbehaving dog. He looked harried and tired despite the early hour, and after a moment to get his bearings he headed down the Promenade in the direction of Medical.
[20:07] <Minaplo> [The crowds his morning were fairly busy, and so Raphael found himself guided, most unconsciously, down a rather lightly-populated hallway…-
[20:08] <Minaplo> [… Unfortunately, one of those populations was Gilles de Orleans, walking toward him. He turned and smiled, tipping his old-fashioned homburg at Raphael.-
[20:08] <Minaplo> ["Good morning, General. Off to make up with one of your paramours, hm?"]
[20:43] * Raphael didn't even break his stride. "Good morning, Mr. de Orleans."
[20:44] <Minaplo> [And as though invited, de Orleans turned on his heel and began to walk abreast with Raphael.-
[20:45] <Minaplo> ["Yes, a very fine morning indeed. For one, it is a morning I can see, and so I think I would consider it a fine morning even if it were a raging storm." Said de Orleans.-
[20:47] <Minaplo> ["How's Ms. Sartre going?" Asked de Orleans kindly.]
[20:50] <Raphael> "Not your concern, sir," Raphael said, his voice growing a few degrees colder.
[09:39] <Minaplo> ["Oh."-
[09:42] <Minaplo> ["You're quite right, of course. I didn't mean to cast any aspersions." Said de Orleans humbly. "I mean, I just wanted to say what an admirable job you seem to have done considering your vast array of responsibilities…"]
[09:44] <Raphael> "Thank you." He kept walking, his gaze fixed ahead.
[09:45] <Minaplo> ["Oh, well, you know. It's something of an inspiration, I suppose. We were both similar in that regard- you had Suzanne, I had Padma… It's rather stressful. You can learn a lot by observing others in the same situation."]
[09:58] <Raphael> "… Happy to help," he said blandly. A muscle in his bicep had begun to tick and jerk from how tightly his fist was clenched.
[09:58] <Minaplo> ["Oh, well. You know…" Said de Orleans. "Us Frenchmen do need to stick together, after all!"]
[10:09] <Raphael> Raphael stopped very suddenly and stood still as a statue in the centre of the hall. When he turned to de Orleans, his expression was flat. "Can I help you with something, sir?"
[10:10] <Minaplo> ["Oh, no, not really. I would ask you to breakfast but it's apparent that you have some place to be." Said de Orleans cheerfully. "I was really just making conversation."]
[10:11] <Raphael> "Then yes, I do have somewhere to be. Have a pleasant day."
[10:12] <Minaplo> ["Hmmm."-
[10:13] <Minaplo> ["You know, Mr. Guillory, it really does sound like I've done something to offend you…"]
[10:22] <Raphael> … for a second he was helpless to respond. His jaw worked soundlessly.-
[10:22] <Raphael> "Are you looking for a fight? Is that what this is?"
[10:26] <Minaplo> ["A fight? No, no… I don't think so." Said de Orleans in surprise. "I just thought it wise to try to understand you, Mr. Guillory, that's all."]
[10:29] <Raphael> "I'm not here for the sake of your edification," Raphael said. "If you're bored or lonely the Chancellor seems entirely willing to tolerate you. Go deal with her if you absolutely must."
[10:34] <Minaplo> ["Well." Said de Orleans. "I must say that I wasn't expecting quite such a rude response, considering I'm trying to make an effort here…"]
[10:47] <Raphael> "Please. You're SEELE, you're not stupid. You saw you weren't wanted and pressed regardless, and now I have to be rude. That's not my problem."
[10:48] <Minaplo> ["I see. So this is a Seele issue…"]
[10:51] <Raphael> "Well spotted."
[10:55] <Minaplo> ["What a surprise." Said Shardlake.-
[10:58] <Minaplo> [The old man of Britain was standing a few metres away. He was currently polishing his glasses.-
[11:03] <Minaplo> ["You really should leave him alone, de Orleans. Killing old men is a new habit of his, apparently…"]
[11:09] * Raphael shut his eyes and sighed.-
[11:09] <Raphael> "And what do you want?"
[11:10] <Minaplo> ["Hm. What a question." Said Shardlake. "What do I want?"-
[11:11] <Minaplo> ["Well, it seems you and I have some similarities. We both hate de Orleans, for one. However, de Orleans and I also have similarities. We're both Seele, for example. And unfortunately, if there's one lesson I've had refreshed recently, it's that hating a fellow Seele is no reason to not work together."-
[11:12] <Minaplo> ["I don't need your help, Shardlake." Said de Orleans.-
[11:13] <Minaplo> ["Oh course you do." Said Shardlake dismissively. He placed his glasses back on and walked toward them. "So, Guillory. Let's review your case. You hate de Orleans because he is Seele. You hate Seele because…? Please, do give an inventive answer."]
[11:26] <Raphael> "I'll tell you what, gentlemen: I've reviewed my options, and this conversation is actually less appealing to me than speaking to the man everyone thinks I willfully attempted to murder."
[11:27] <Minaplo> ["Good for you." Said Romanov.-
[11:28] <Minaplo> [Romanov- where had he come from?!- was a few metres behind Raphael. Essentially, Raphael, de Orleans and Shardlake were a triangle- and Raphael was in the middle.-
[11:29] <Minaplo> ["You should try to keep that temper of yours in check." Said Romanov. "It can foul your concentration, sway your judgment… Make you do foolish things. Very foolish. Can't have Caine exploiting that weakness of yours, Guillory."]
[11:32] <Raphael> "Says the man who tried to kill the only person who even pretends to enjoy his company with a fusion lance," Raphael said. "You'll forgive me if I cite the Law Of Glass Houses."
[11:33] <Minaplo> ["Like Shardlake said, you learn to get over it." Said Romanov. "A little bit of perspective for you. Something to think about in the exceedingly unlikely event that you live to our age."-
[11:33] <Minaplo> ["Of course this leaves the central question unanswered." Said Shardlake, who had folded his hands behind his back. "Why would a man who owes his life to us hate us so?"]
[11:35] <Raphael> "Pilot Akagi, if you're watching this feel free to light the hallway on fire," he said conversationally, glancing up at the ceiling. "No need to avoid me, I'm not feeling particularly attached to my situation this morning."
[11:37] <Minaplo> ["It's probably misplaced blame," Said Romanov. The hallway remained spectacularly un-burned.-
[11:39] <Minaplo> ["Yes, I'd say so." Said Shardlake. "Typical for his ilk. Think we're omnipotent, think we're to blame for everything…"]
[11:42] <Raphael> "Did you know about the Eternity Drive?"
[11:44] <Minaplo> ["Oh, some." Said Shardlake. "Not all. Enough, though."]
[11:50] <Raphael> "Then pardon my native French, but fuck the lot of you and the horses you rode in on. That's enough," he spat.
[11:51] <Minaplo> ["Ha, horses." Said Romanov. For some reason, Shardlake laughed too.-
[11:53] <Minaplo> ["You two really should just leave it be." Said de Orleans.-
[11:53] <Minaplo> [But Shardlake did not leave it be.-
[11:55] <Minaplo> ["Yes, I knew something about the Eternity Drive. That upsets you. Couldn't imagine why. I didn't build the damn thing. I didn't use it. It made good sense to know about it, and it made good sense to build it. Does that offend you?"-
[11:55] <Minaplo> ["Of course it offends him." Said Romanov.]
[11:56] <Raphael> "I'm leaving now," he said moving to step around Romanov. It felt like the tenth time in a twenty-four hour span.
[11:58] <Minaplo> [Romanov raised his cane and roughly shoved Raphael in the shoulder back toward the centre of the triangle. He was much stronger than he looked.-
[11:58] <Minaplo> ["No, I don't think you are, friend." Said Romanov icily.-
[11:59] <Minaplo> ["You know, Romanov and I had a good long discussion." Said Shardlake, his tone idle. "We decided on a few things. First and foremost, we are, as per usual, stronger together than we are apart. I believe that was your wording, Romanov?"-
[11:59] <Minaplo> ["Quite right, Shardlake." Said Romanov.-
[12:01] <Minaplo> ["Secondly… We're quite tired of bearing others' responsibilities." Said Shardlake.-
[12:01] <Minaplo> ["Enervated by it." Said Romanov. "It made us rather hateful."-
[12:02] <Raphael> "Really, Tsubaki. Any time would be good."
[12:03] <Minaplo> ["So we decided," Said Shardlake, as Tsubaki remained stubbornly noninterventive, "To start spending a little less time saving everyone's lives and just a little more time practicing some self care. Setting the record straight, as it were."-
[12:04] <Minaplo> ["Setting it straight." Said Romanov, nodding.-
[12:05] <Minaplo> ["And as much as I dearly want to see you two vent your typically swollen Gallic spleens at each other, I'm afraid we simply cannot let you take your own little insecurities out on de Orleans. After all," said Shardlake with a smile,-
[12:05] <Minaplo> ["He's going to die to free your family. You really should thank him, Raphael Guillory."]
[12:09] <Raphael> "Two important notes, then," he said, after he'd finished offering the ceiling an absolutely murderous look. "One, I left what passes for your friend be until he insisted on making it an issue. If he'd read the mood as he's certainly capable of doing, that would've been that."-
[12:09] <Raphael> "Two, you're not a hero for fixing something you helped break in the first place. You're a functioning adult."
[12:09] <Minaplo> ["Aha." Said Romanov. "There we go."-
[12:10] <Minaplo> ["Yes, there we go." Said Shardlake. "Didn't your family die in Impact?"]
[12:13] <Raphael> "You're pushing your luck," he said from between gritted teeth.
[12:13] <Minaplo> ["Oh, don't." Snapped Shardlake. "'Push your luck'. For years, you and people liked you pushed your luck."-
[12:14] <Minaplo> ["I'm afraid he's right." Said Romanov. "We're not to blame for Impact, but we did save human civilization after the fact."-
[12:14] <Minaplo> ["Poor reason to hate us." Said Shardlake. "Practically ungrateful."]
[12:30] <Raphael> "I can live with that. Seems as though you two can't."
[12:32] <Minaplo> ["Well like we said, self-care." Said Shardlake. "No reason for us to keep bearing other peoples' misplaced responsibilities."-
[12:33] <Minaplo> ["Yes." Said Romanov. "We didn't kill your family, Guillory."-
[12:34] <Minaplo> ["If we did, you'd know it." Said Shardlake. "We prefer to kill people deliberately. Wiping out a continent… It lacks a certain je ne sais quoi," he said, tilting his head toward de Orleans.-
[12:35] <Minaplo> ["Perhaps you'd prefer to know who did cause Impact?" Murmured Romanov.-
[12:35] <Minaplo> ["Don't." Hissed de Orleans. "Don't do that to him."]
[12:38] <Raphael> Try as he might, he couldn't hide the small frown. His eyes narrowed.
[12:39] <Minaplo> ["I suppose not telling him would be the kind thing." Said Romanov.-
[12:40] <Minaplo> ["He would keep hating us for it." Said Shardlake.-
[12:40] <Minaplo> ["True, but it would be the noble thing to do." Said Romanov. "Bearing the regrets of the world, so on and so forth."-
[12:40] <Minaplo> ["But what about our self-care, hm?" Said Shardlake.-
[12:41] <Minaplo> ["I can't speak for you, but just getting some of this off my chest is very therapeutic." Said Romanov.]
[12:50] <Raphael> He moved to pass Romanov again.
[12:51] <Minaplo> [Romanov didn't block him this time.-
[12:53] <Minaplo> ["Thank God." Muttered de Orleans.-
[12:54] <Minaplo> ["What's the point." Said Shardlake with a sigh. "He's never taken responsibility for anything in his life… But what can you expect from a Frenchman?"-
[12:56] <Minaplo> ["For others to sacrifice for their good fortune, I suppose." Said Romanov. "We would not be so bitter about our treatment of us if we did not give so much."-
[12:56] <Minaplo> ["Agreed. Let us depart, Romanov." said Shardlake; he turned, and the two began to walk away.-
[12:57] <Minaplo> ["Do you know Mary Caine gave him back a sister?" Said Romanov.-
[12:57] <Minaplo> ["I did, yes." Said Shardlake. "I was a little surprised, myself…"-
[12:58] <Minaplo> ["Has she done that before?" Said Romanov.-
[12:58] <Minaplo> ["I can't recall. Maybe." Said Shardlake. "Usually she mostly just kills people. She's not really one for raising the dead."-
[12:59] <Minaplo> ["Who would you bring back, if you could?" Asked Romanov.-
[13:02] <Minaplo> ["Oh, I don't know, really." Said Shardlake. "Amanda, I suppose? I have actual time, now."-
[13:02] <Minaplo> ["Where do you suppose she is now, then?" Asked Romanov.-
[13:02] <Minaplo> [They both stopped to stare at de Orleans, who wilted slightly.-
[13:04] <Minaplo> ["Yes, I think so too." Said Shardlake. "Along with the rest of Impact's lost."-
[13:05] <Minaplo> ["Well then." Said Romanov. "We can cross that bridge after he dies. Who shall we speak to next?"-
[13:05] <Minaplo> [They both turned back around and continued to walk away.-
[13:07] <Minaplo> [("Ikari?") ("No, let's leave him. What about Katsuragi?") ("I'm afraid she's still on deployment, pity…") ("Fontaine?") ("No, she's a little frightening. Perhaps her son?")]
[13:10] * Raphael had stopped a few paces down the hall, letting them walk past. His posture was utterly rigid.-
[13:11] <Raphael> Once they were far enough away he picked up his phone and dialed a number.-
[13:11] <Raphael> "Pilot Akagi?"
[13:11] <Minaplo> [The phone was answered a moment later. ("Yes?")]
[13:13] <Raphael> "Can you use your AT field to mute people within the bounds of the ship?"
[13:13] <Minaplo> ["Nice. But no, I can't mute people for you."]
[13:16] <Raphael> "I suppose I should be glad your powers have some limits."
[13:19] <Minaplo> ["Don't get me wrong. I can, but I'm trying to be a responsible adult who doesn't just mute people, y'know…?"]
[13:20] <Raphael> Tsubaki would be treated to the faintly audible sound of Raphael swearing in French.-
[13:26] <Raphael> "Letting them damage people out of spite is not in our interests. If you want to make it difficult for me, tell Command I gave a direct order - Marshal Amatore-deForest will be angry with me by the end of the day, and nobody gets hurt."
[13:27] <Minaplo> ["Sure thing. You should go finish your trip to Delgado's. He'll help cool you down."]
[13:30] * Raphael sighed. "… I'm not about to inflict this on him as well. Thanks for your help, Tsubaki."-
[13:30] <Raphael> He hung up.
[13:31] <Minaplo> [de Orleans was already gone.]
[13:33] * Raphael let out another, much deeper sigh and glanced down at the bundle of flowers under his arm - he'd nearly bent them in half when he hadn't been paying attention.-
[13:35] * Raphael rubbed his eyes with his free hand and set off again. There was only half an hour until his shift now, but he had the feeling apologising to Delgado couldn't wait.
[13:37] <Minaplo> […-
[13:37] <Minaplo> ["Oh, good morning Raphael." Said Delgado as Raphael entered. Delgado looked tired and pale, but he seemed to be in good cheer.]
[13:48] <Raphael> Raphael seemed to have realized looking calm and composed was not in his skillset this morning, so he settled for a weak smile as he proffered his giant bundle of l-shaped flowers.-
[13:48] <Raphael> "… these are for you. I'm sorry they're a little… well, I'm just sorry in general, sir."
[13:51] <Minaplo> ["Oh, these are lovely, Raphael." Said Delgado, taking them with both hands. He smiled.-
[13:52] <Minaplo> ["I'm a little puzzled, though. What are you sorry for…?"]
[13:56] <Raphael> "Consensus seems to be that it's my fault you're here," he said, moving towards the chair by the bedside. "Even if that's not true, I'm sorry for my behaviour yesterday. I wasn't thinking clearly and I reacted poorly."-
[13:56] <Raphael> "I'm ready to apologize for either or both, depending on how you feel on the matter."
[13:58] <Minaplo> ["Oh, I see." Said Delgado. "Well, why don't you take a seat and I tell you how I feel for a change?"]
[13:59] <Raphael> "Yessir," he nodded, lowering himself into the chair and folding his hands between his knees.
[14:04] <Minaplo> [Delgado put the flowers on his bedside table and sat up a little higher.-
[14:06] <Minaplo> ["First and foremost, consider that you're hardly the first client to get hot under the collar at me. Those lovely people out there are leaping to conclusions because, God bless them, they're worried and that's what worried people do. So they blame you. In reality, of course, Doctor Tenma says it was all the heroic amounts of whiskey and brandy I drink, the large, fatty meals I constantly
[14:06] <Minaplo> eat and the fact that I take on a caseload that would tax a man half my age."-
[14:08] <Minaplo> ["I'm lucky I don't smoke anymore, or else I'd probably already be dead!" He said with a laugh. "I used to love to smoke, you know. Had a real taste for the cigars, the big Cuban ones, yes?"-
[14:09] <Minaplo> ["Hard to find now, of course, what with half of Cuba vanishing under the Caribbean, but, ah…"-
[14:10] <Minaplo> ["But trust me, Raphael, when Doctor Tenma asked me about things that might've happened recently to set this off, I didn't even think of you." Said Delgado.-
[14:10] <Minaplo> ["Thank you for your apology, though. But… You're hardly the first client to get hot under the collar at me. You were just a little frightened, is all. I didn't take it personally, and considering how composed you are usually, it must've been a very upsetting thing. I can't blame you for that."]
[14:18] <Raphael> "I appreciate that, sir," he said, giving the man a tiny smile, "Though I still hold responsibility for my behaviour, so at the very least let me offer my apologies for that."-
[14:18] <Raphael> "… they're confident you'll recover?"
[14:22] <Minaplo> ["Yes." Said Delgado. "However, Doctor Tenma, bless him, is more concerned with my long-term prospects…"-
[14:23] <Minaplo> ["He made it known in no uncertain terms that if I keep this sort of lifestyle up, I'll be in trouble." He sighed. "That means less fat, less alcohol… And fewer clients, or at least clients with such massive global responsibilities."-
[14:23] <Minaplo> ["In short: it's time for me to retire."]
[14:24] <Raphael> "… Oh," his eyes widened a little. "I'm very sorry, sir. I know how attached you are to your work."
[14:33] <Minaplo> ["Thank you, Raphael." Said Delgado. "I am, it's true. It'll be… Well, I'll have to adjust. I think it's too much to just simply retire. I'll probably take over my old practice, do some lighter work. Spend time with the wife back in Bordeaux."]
[14:36] <Raphael> "Well, that doesn't sound so bad at least."
[14:37] <Minaplo> ["No, it doesn't." Said Delgado warmly. "It doesn't sound so bad at all."-
[14:37] <Minaplo> ["I've already called for a replacement, too."]
[14:38] <Raphael> "Ah?"
[14:43] <Minaplo> ["Why, yes. He should be arriving in a few days. His name is Laurie Aherne… He'll not be taking all of my workload, but a fair bit. He's about your age, maybe a little older…"]
[14:46] <Raphael> "Oh. That's good, sir," he nodded. "A quick decision. You must trust him."
[14:47] <Minaplo> ["He's the one I gave my practice over to when I came here."]
[14:48] * Raphael nodded again.
[14:52] <Minaplo> ["He's faster than I am now, and I'm hoping, well… Maybe he can connect where I can't."-
[14:53] <Minaplo> ["Mind you," Said Delgado, leaning forward and lowering his voice, "I don't envy the poor bastard…"]
[14:53] <Raphael> "We're a sorry lot, sir," he said.
[14:55] <Minaplo> ["That's news to me." He said with a smile. "But I am very much throwing him into the deep end. Not many therapists have worked with Bioexotics or Evangelion pilots… Or world leaders."]
[14:59] <Raphael> "Or combinations of the three."
[15:00] <Minaplo> ["Or combinations, yes." Said Delgado with a laugh. "I'm hoping you'll all feel comfortable with him…"]
[15:02] <Raphael> "I hope so too, sir. I trust your judgement there."
[15:06] <Minaplo> ["Thank you, Raphael." He said.]
[15:09] <Raphael> "… I know I haven't always been the most helpful patient, but you've always done your best for my family. I'm very, very grateful for that."
[15:15] <Minaplo> [Delgado smiled.-
[15:16] <Minaplo> ["I appreciate that, Raphael. I really do." He said. "It's good to know that I can leave this place knowing I did something good."]
[15:18] <Raphael> "Did you doubt that, sir?"
[15:19] <Minaplo> ["No." Said Delgado. "But that doesn't mean it doesn't help to hear it."]
[15:25] <Raphael> "Of course."-
[15:27] <Raphael> "… I probably need to work harder when your replacement inevitably comes calling, don't I?" He said with a grimace.
[15:29] <Minaplo> ["I wonder about that." Said Delgado.]
[15:30] <Raphael> "Sir?"
[15:33] <Minaplo> ["You make it sound like you aren't working hard enough as it is."]
[15:40] <Raphael> "The last day proves I'm probably not."
[15:43] <Minaplo> ["Because you were a little frightened and lost your temper?"]
[15:50] <Raphael> "Yes. Broadly."
[15:53] <Minaplo> ["Ideally you wouldn't do that, then, huh?"]
[15:55] <Raphael> "Ideally."
[15:57] <Minaplo> ["So ideally, you wouldn't lose your temper when you were frightened- how come?"]
[16:05] <Raphael> "I… it's wasteful. It doesn't achieve anything."
[16:20] <Minaplo> ["That's true." Said Delgado. "Can't deny that…"-
[16:22] <Minaplo> [Delgado smiled. "I'm reminded of something, I think."]
[16:22] <Raphael> "Oh?
[16:26] <Minaplo> ["I once went to a conference in New York." Said Delgado. "And there I saw a, well, a meeting between a few therapists… Not such a big deal, but one of them was Albert Ellis. Rather, mmm, not aggressive, but abrasive man. He was, ah… Well, he had a sort of New Yorker's attitude, I think some people said. He could be pretty open about things, he didn't like to back down, he said what he
[16:26] <Minaplo> thought straight."-
[16:26] <Minaplo> ["Boy oh boy, was he giving it to this poor fellow, too, that day." Delgado punctuated it with a series of sharp chopping motions.]
[16:31] * Raphael nodded, listening intently.
[16:47] <Minaplo> ["I forget his name, but he'd said something about… A patient becoming a worthwhile human being, a worthy human being." Delgado shook his head, a wry smile on his face. "Ellis was livid. He said… I don't remember the exact words, but the basics of it was that too many problems were made because clients believed they had to be worthwhile, worthy people. It made them frame so many
[16:47] <Minaplo> things in terms of must, have to, essential…"-
[16:48] <Minaplo> ["To Ellis, it put unrealistic expectations on people, and when they didn't meet them, they twisted themselves inside. To Ellis, it was acceptable for people to just be… Human beings."]
[17:09] <Raphael> "I don't know… it seems to me that people can be broken in such a way that they aren't… sufficient? It seems an odd thing for a doctor to say though, I'll admit."
[17:17] <Minaplo> ["Quite… But all told, there's plenty of times where people are aren't quite functioning at their best because they think they aren't sufficient." Said Delgado. "'I survived when he didn't', 'I must always have the highest score, or else I'm a failure'. 'I must make sure the house is spotless'…"-
[17:18] <Minaplo> ["Human beings are best when they have goals and ideals to pursue, but that doesn't mean they necessarily have to be imperatives. Once you make something an all-or-nothing proposition, then you set yourself up to fail."]
[20:20] <Raphael> "… Mmm." He said uncertainly.-
[20:21] <Raphael> "So you would be happy with me to stay as I am now, sir?" He asked, smiling a little. "It seems as though you can tell me what you really think now."
[20:22] <Minaplo> ["Oh, well, in that case, it's time for me to reveal my feelings." He beckoned Raphael closer.]
[20:22] * Raphael obliged.
[20:23] <Minaplo> [He took Raphael's shoulders. The man's grip was rather weak… But not that weak. "Do you know what I really want right now?"]
[20:23] <Raphael> "No sir."
[20:26] <Minaplo> ["What I want, at this moment, more than anything, is for you to be happy." Said Delgado. His eyes were on Raphael's, and his voice was firm and ringing with conviction. "I want you to be able to look in the mirror and to be at peace with whatever it is that you see looking back."-
[20:26] <Minaplo> ["Whatever's preventing that, whether it's the image you see or the eyes doing the seeing, well… That's your job to find." Said Delgado.-
[20:27] <Minaplo> [He gave Raphael a smile and a wink. He patted him several times on the shoulder, let Raphael go, then leaned back in the bed.]
[20:29] * Raphael leaned back, his expression thoughtful. After a moment he inclined his head towards the doctor. "I can keep trying, sir."
[20:30] <Minaplo> ["Good man." Said Delgado.-
[20:31] <Minaplo> ["Now is that courageous young daughter of yours going to visit poor Felix at any point, or will I have to slink back to Bordeaux like a dumb mule?" He asked with a grin.]
[20:35] * Raphael smiled with a little more conviction that time. "I'll let her know when I leave. She'd better hurry, I imagine you'll be sick of visitors by the end of the day."
[20:36] <Minaplo> ["Rubbish." Said Delgado. "It's actually rather entertaining. Ms. Ibuki came in earlier, said a few broken words of comfort, burst into tears and left."-
[20:37] <Minaplo> [He reached into his bedside table and took out a tray of chocolates. "Want a chocolate? She left these behind… Honestly, if I knew this is what happened when you have a heart attack, I'd have done it decades ago. 26-year old Felix would've adored being wept over by pretty young ladies, given bottles of whiskey, free chocolates and a box of cigars…"]
[20:38] <Raphael> "… who's giving whiskey to a cardiac patient?" Raphael said with a frown. He grabbed the smallest chocolate he could spot. "Or cigars?"
[20:40] <Minaplo> ["That's confidential." He said with a wink.-
[20:41] <Minaplo> ["Do you know what isn't? Me. All these years of non-self disclosure and I realise that no one on this ship really knows about me." Delgado shook his head.-
[20:50] <Minaplo> ["I had a lot of fun as a young man, you know." Said Delgado with a fierce grin. "Did you know I spent three years in London during the Sixties? I saw the Rolling Stones before they became big. There I was, with, ah, what was her name… Miranda, dear Miranda. I was having a lovely little glass of brandy and Steve from down the road had just sold me the best little cigars you ever saw…"]

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