Cherry Blossom Procession 4 2 24

[21:19] <Yanmei> Zhang Yanmei's sleeping and workout schedules were becoming more slipshod by the day. She'd managed to set up a punching bag into the corner of her office to help out with that in between especially frustrating meetings, but it hadn't been enough. She needed to punch more things than her schedule was allowing, and to run, and to lift weights to really feel satisfied, and it was a shame
[21:19] <Yanmei> that she wasn't doing those things more often. -
[21:22] <Yanmei> Even so, instead of going to exercise in the wee hours of the morning the way she'd planned, she was making a detour to the battleship's medical wing. She was carrying a small bottle of liquor with her. It had cost her quite a lot, given that rationing was still a major thing around these parts, but the gentleman she was visiting deserved that much at the very least. After a quick sweep
[21:22] <Yanmei> through security and the expected nurses on duty, she found herself in front of the man's closed hospital door, where she briefly primped and erected a smile before knocking.
[21:30] <Minaplo> ["Come in," came a rather weak-sounding voice.]
[21:31] <Yanmei> And so Yanmei did. "Hello Doctor~ Long time no see?"
[21:37] <Mianplo> [Dr. Delgado was lying in the bed. He looked pale and it was strange to see him in a hospital gown and not a suit. But he smiled as Yanmei entered.-
[21:37] <Mianplo> ["Good morning, Yanmei. How're you doing?"]
[21:42] <Yanmei> "Fine as always? Here. I brought you something." She drew closer to the bed and held out the bottle so that he could see it. It was mid shelf whiskey. Thoughtfully, she'd tied a bright yellow gift bow around the neck of the bottle.
[21:45] <Mianplo> ["Alcohol? To a cardiac patient? Oh my." Said Delgado, taking it with both hands with a wink.]
[21:49] <Yanmei> "Don't let the nurses see it, ok? Or Isaiah. I'm pretty sure he'll be visiting later on."
[21:50] <Mianplo> ["I see…" Said Delgado, putting it away under the bed.-
[21:53] <Mianplo> ["So, rather ugly scene, hm?"]
[21:59] * Yanmei shook her head. "I'm used to seeing people in hospital beds. You're lucid, have all your parts attached, and you're not crying, so this is a pretty positive visit so far? How are you actually feeling, though?"
[22:05] <Mianplo> ["I feel fine. Maybe you could persuade them to let me out and back to work?"]
[22:08] <Yanmei> "I can ask, but I can't make any promises," she said solemnly.
[22:08] <Mianplo> ["You can't twist their arm a little?"]
[22:10] <Yanmei> "Is there a super urgent matter that you need to get back to right away?"
[22:10] <Mianplo> ["Work!"]
[22:15] <Yanmei> "I meant something more specific. Like one of the Ayanamis being on the verge of a nervous breakdown or someone on the crew getting ready to go on a crazy mass shooting spree. I know your work is important, but surely it would be okay if you took a day or two off to heal?"
[22:22] <Mianplo> ["Yanmei, don't worry about it." Said Delgado with a smile. "I'm not truly… well, fine. But after three years of hearing that lie from you I feel it only fair I get some of my own in."]
[22:23] <Yanmei> "W-what makes you think that it's a lie?"
[22:29] <Mianplo> ["Yanmei, you have said that line to me nearly every week since 2014. No matter whether you'd spent that week being shot at by Angels, having your lover kidnapped or trying to manage exiles on Mars. I have next to no reason to believe it to be true, so I won't."-
[22:29] <Mianplo> [Delgado smiled. "I can be a really stubborn patient, you know."]
[22:40] <Yanmei> "Hmph. So you're turning all the tables now, huh? Giving people a taste of their own medicine? Something tells me that you're secretly enjoying it, too."
[22:41] <Mianplo> ["I'm not secretly enjoying it. I am very openly enjoying it."]
[22:49] * Yanmei folded her arms. "Well I'm glad I've lightened up your morning a bit," she said dryly. "And here I was, about to share an important story with you that wasn't at my own expense…"
[22:49] <Mianplo> ["Oh really?"]
[22:50] <Yanmei> "Yup. You know Shardlake and Romanov?"
[22:52] <Mianplo> ["Of course. You've mentioned them before, not that you intended to…"]
[22:55] * Yanmei decided to ignore the last part of that. "Two days ago they were sent to the brig, and they had to stay there overnight. For fighting. Possibly trying to kill each other."
[22:58] <Mianplo> ["Oh, I see…"]
[23:01] <Yanmei> "I don't know much about the details behind it, but it's totally childish, right?" she added smugly. "They're both at least eighty, so they should behave with more dignity. Like me~"
[23:04] <Mianplo> ["Hmm, why do you say that?"]
[23:05] <Yanmei> "It… just seems proper, that's all."
[23:06] <Mianplo> ["Proper?"]
[23:07] <Yanmei> "Like, it's rare to see two people that age really going at it, you know?" Yanmei rubbed her chin. "Maybe if it happened more often, their fight wouldn't stand out that much."
[23:07] <Mianplo> ["Have they fought before?"]
[23:09] <Yanmei> "No idea. As far as I know, this was the first time they fought while on the ship, at least."
[23:09] <Mianplo> ["Then it must've been an important reason."]
[23:12] <Yanmei> "Yes. It would be one thing if they were fighting to relieve stress. That's just healthy? But it really looked like they were trying to off each other."
[23:13] <Mianplo> ["So what was the reason?"]
[23:14] <Yanmei> "Don't know."
[23:16] <Mianplo> ["I'm going to be leaving this job soon, so I can say his wih a clean conscience: I'm really not going to miss the constant lies."]
[23:16] <Yanmei> That startled her. "You're… you're leaving?"
[23:17] <Mianplo> ["That's right." he said with a smile.]
[23:19] <Yanmei> "I didn't realize. We'll be very sorry to lose you…"
[23:19] <Mianplo> ["More lies?"]
[23:20] <Yanmei> "That was sincere!"
[23:20] <Mianplo> ["I can't tell with you anymore."]
[23:25] <Yanmei> "Would I have brought you a gift if I didn't at least like you a little?" she huffed.
[23:26] <Mianplo> [Delgado laughed. "Of course not."-
[23:33] <Mianplo> ["… But yes, I think it's time for me to go." He said. "Spend some time with my family, open up a smaller private practice maybe…"-
[23:34] <Mianplo> [He sighed. "I'm old, Yanmei. I'm not as quick and sharp as I used to be, and with my health, well, the way it is… I owe it to my clients that if I'm not able to give them the best service, then I must step aside and find someone who can."]
[23:39] <Minaplo> ["As a matter of fact, I do."]
[23:43] <Yanmei> "Who is it?"
[23:45] <Minaplo> ["I've been in this business for sixty years." Said Delgado. "… And perhaps that's not always a good thing. It might be better if you had someone a little younger, with some fresher ideas on how to do things."-
[23:56] <Minaplo> ["His name is Laurie Aherne. He'll be here in a few days. I trust him."]
[23:57] <Yanmei> "Laurie Aherne," Yanmei echoed slowly, trying to commit that to memory. "How do you know each other?"
[23:58] <Minaplo> ["He was a student of mine. When I joined NERV, he took over my work in Bordeaux."]
[23:59] <Yanmei> "Is he okay with all this? We are in the middle of a war, after all."
[00:07] <Minaplo> ["Of course. But…"]
[00:11] <Yanmei> "But?"
[00:12] <Minaplo> ["But we need to make a good impression on him. Especially you- if he feels disillusioned quickly, he might decide to leave."]
[00:17] * Yanmei frowned. "How does someone impress him, then?"
[00:17] <Minaplo> ["What ideas do you have on what you might do?"]
[00:20] <Yanmei> "Maybe invite him to dinner, along with some of the higher ranks. Wow him with how intelligent everyone is and how impressive our technology is. Then gently ease him into some of the biggest things affecting morale on the ship right at this moment and see how he reacts to that."
[00:25] <Minaplo> ["I see…" Said Delgado.-
[00:25] <Minaplo> ["I wonder though, would that impress me?"]
[00:26] <Yanmei> "…" For a moment, Yanmei looked lost. "Why did you decide to join us in the first place?"
[00:29] <Minaplo> ["Because it was an important task, something that needed to be done- and they felt I was the right person for the job. Doing a good job was important to me. Still is, of course."-
[00:31] <Minaplo> ["So I wanted to do the best for you pilots especially. I knew it would be difficult, but I hoped that you would all work with me."]
[00:42] <Yanmei> "That's a difficult act to follow," Yanmei murmured. "How do we convince him that this is important that the people here need him?"
[00:44] <Minaplo> ["He will probably be attempting to interview most of the key personnel… Which includes you, I suppose."-
[00:44] <Minaplo> ["So think. If you were there in the session with him, as a client, what would you do to convince him that you were serious?"]
[00:47] * Yanmei resisted the powerful urge to fidget, clenching her fists somewhat. "I suppose I would need to be polite and open and not fight him."
[00:47] <Minaplo> ["Yes, that's right." Said Delgado with a smile. "What do you think? Can you do it as a parting gift for me?"]
[00:48] <Yanmei> "I will try."
[00:49] <Minaplo> ["Try. What might that look like, then?"]
[00:51] <Yanmei> "It means that I will steer the conversations towards topics that are easy for me to be open about," she said after a long, thoughtful pause. "That might help."
[00:52] <Minaplo> ["What else might it look like?"]
[00:53] <Yanmei> "Um. Following through on suggested exercises or questions he might ask."
[00:53] <Minaplo> ["What else?"]
[00:54] <Yanmei> "Asking him questions to demonstrate that I have an interest in where he's coming from."
[00:54] <Minaplo> ["I see. Well, why don't we have a demonstration here and now? A bit of a warmup roleplay. May I start?"]
[00:59] * Yanmei seemingly forced herself to relax, allowing her shoulders and posture to sag ever so slightly. "Of course? This is no big deal at all."
[00:59] <Minaplo> ["Of course."-
[00:59] <Minaplo> ["So what was the reason for the two old men to fight?"]
[01:01] <Yanmei> Yanmei's eyes narrowed. Sly devil. "Romanov held Shardlake responsible for something terrible that happened to a relative of his. I should also mention that I told him I wouldn't gossip about it."
[01:02] <Minaplo> ["I see… Gossip's an interesting word, isn't it?"]
[01:02] <Yanmei> "How do you mean?"
[01:03] <Minaplo> ["Well when I say 'gossip', what comes to mind? How would you describe it?"]
[01:08] <Yanmei> "Like, spreading around information because it's interesting and having fun while doing it. It's different than grimly passing along intel during briefings and formal meetings, you know."
[01:09] <Minaplo> ["Oh, I see. So that's what this is? You're having fun talking about this, huh?"]
[01:13] <Yanmei> "A little, yes. What do the Germans call it…? Schadenfreude?"
[01:16] <Minaplo> ["Schadenfreude? Taking pleasure from other peoples' suffering…? You mean Romanov's suffering?"]
[01:29] <Yanmei> "In this case, maybe a little. Like… look. They both haven't been the nicest people, and now they messed up and ended up in prison for a few hours? That part of the story is fun to spread around. But if you go one step further and include details about why it happened and what happened to Romanov's family, those parts add to the entertainment package for better or worse. It becomes
[01:29] <Yanmei> shocking, I think, and seeing people react to that different shock is also entertaining for the person telling it."
[01:30] <Minaplo> ["I see."-
[01:31] <Minaplo> ["What do you think about enjoying that kind of thing?"]
[01:32] <Yanmei> "What do you mean? It's normal, isn't it?"
[01:33] <Minaplo> ["Mmm, I see. So if you were to, say, explain the whole story about Natasha and Orlov, that would also be enjoyable? Seeing people's reactions to it?"]
[01:42] <Yanmei> "Yeah, I guess. If you were in a perverse mood…"
[01:44] <Minaplo> ["Would you have to be in a perverse mood to enjoy telling me about Romanov's family?"]
[01:54] <Yanmei> "I don't know. I think that'd be in bad taste regardless of what mood I'm in?"
[01:56] <Minaplo> ["I see."-
[01:56] <Minaplo> ["Then it's probably for the best that you keep that promise, isn't it?"]
[01:56] <Yanmei> "I agree," said Yanmei simply.
[01:59] <Minaplo> ["Well, then. That wasn't so bad, was it?" Said Delgado with a smile.-
[01:59] <Minaplo> ["You know, I really am struck by something."]
[02:04] <Yanmei> "And what would that be?" Yanmei preened, combing through her hair with her fingers.
[02:05] <Minaplo> ["You're much more dignified and respectable when you act openly and honestly."]
[02:10] <Yanmei> "Is that so? Well, thank you."
[02:11] <Minaplo> [Delgado nodded.-
[02:12] <Minaplo> ["It's always intrigued me. You must know that, of course, from other people. Yet…"]
[02:15] <Yanmei> "It can be dangerous too, especially in my line of work?"
[12:00] <Minaplo> ["Oh?"]
[12:11] <Yanmei> "Back when I was just a pilot, by biggest concerns about 'openness and honesty' were that they would lead to my humiliation, and worse, that my private thoughts would end up under someone's microscope just like everything else in my life suddenly had been." She smirked now, humorlessly. "Those concerns seem almost quaint now."
[12:12] <Minaplo> ["You have new concerns?"]
[12:19] <Yanmei> "Not at all? But I'm sure you've noticed that I have many more enemies now, and many more people who are depending on me. Every time I slip up, it gives the former fresh ammunition and puts the latter at risk."
[12:22] <Minaplo> ["I see. And why is this your burden and not someone else's? What makes it yours?"]
[12:26] * Yanmei cocked her head. "I don't follow? How is it not my responsibility?"
[12:27] <Minaplo> ["Allow me to rephrase. What is it about you that makes your 'slip ups' so dangerous?"]
[12:30] <Yanmei> "People finding out about it. The damage done to my image and the image of the UEF?"
[12:30] <Minaplo> ["But why would people finding out do so much damage?"]
[12:37] <Yanmei> "Ugh. Look, it's a domino effect? People find out. My competency is called into question. Allies start pulling out of the Federation. The UEF's actions are scrutinized globally for flaws. I'm demoted in disgrace, but the damage is already done. Caine wins the war. The world ends again. Enemies and assholes alike mock me relentlessly in the afterlife or wherever we all end up. The damage is
[12:37] <Yanmei> real!"
[12:39] <Minaplo> ["I see…" Said Felix gravely.-
[12:39] <Minaplo> ["And the same would happen if Marshal Amatore slipped up, yes?" Said Felix.]
[12:41] <Yanmei> "Marshal Amatore isn't the face of the Federation? I'd be able to cover for her."
[12:43] <Minaplo> ["Oh, I see. So this is because you're the face of the Federation?" Said Felix.]
[12:45] <Yanmei> "Of course?" But she was starting to peer at the man suspiciously now.
[12:48] <Minaplo> ["But now you have me puzzled." Said Felix with a frown. "You say that this… Is because you're Chancellor, but this has been happening since before you were Chancellor. The same- unwillingness to share, the secretiveness."-
[12:48] <Minaplo> ["And obviously you've made mistakes in the past, or you've been open and honest in the past. So why hasn't the world ended yet?"]
[12:52] <Yanmei> "Because I was lucky in the past! Or I wasn't in as important a position." She folded or arms, eyes narrowing. "Anyway, I see what you're doing."
[12:54] <Minaplo> ["What am I doing?" He asked curiously.]
[12:55] <Yanmei> "You're analyzing me. On your sickbed, no less!"
[12:56] <Minaplo> ["I'm sorry, is that upsetting you?"]
[12:58] <Yanmei> "Not exactly? But wasn't this just supposed to be a friendly, casual conversation? This isn't one of our sessions…"
[13:01] <Minaplo> ["Well, yes." Said Felix benignly. "I'm curious, then, why you couldn't be open and honest during a friendly, casual conversation?"]
[13:05] <Yanmei> "I-I was. Just now," she mumbled. "I just told you all sorts of stuff."
[13:08] <Minaplo> ["But that took work, Yanmei." Said Felix softly.]
[13:10] <Yanmei> "…"
[13:13] <Minaplo> ["I'm not as young as I once was, Yanmei, you're going to have to help me a little here so I can understand." Said Felix. "Why do you think you act so secretive and reserved even in situations completely divorced from your official duties?"]
[13:15] <Yanmei> "Habit…? I don't know. It's not something I think about much."
[13:17] <Minaplo> ["Habit? You mean, you do it without thinking?"]
[13:21] <Yanmei> "Yeah. It's just… what I do," she said with a frown.
[13:25] <Minaplo> ["What are your thoughts on that?"]
[13:27] <Yanmei> "I don't think it's a bad thing, or even that unusual? Everyone has stuff they don't want out in the open."
[13:29] <Minaplo> ["Alright. Let's think about today, the story with the old men. What sort of things were your habit trying to protect then?"]
[13:31] <Yanmei> "I was just trying to generously not humiliate one of them out of the kindness of my heart."
[13:34] <Minaplo> ["Now I'm confused again." Said Delgado. "Because when you first told the story, you played up how childish and humiliating it was, but now you're saying you wanted to avoid humiliating them out of kindness…"]
[13:38] <Yanmei> "There are different degrees of humiliation. Talking about one dumb thing they did, that everyone probably knows about, is one thing, but talking about their secrets cuts deeper."
[13:40] <Minaplo> ["But you said 'not humiliate', not 'humiliate less'." Said Delgado. "I'm curious, because you could've just said from the outset 'I know, but I'm not allowed to tell you due to a personal agreement'."]
[13:40] <Yanmei> "But then, wouldn't you have wanted to know what that agreement was?"
[13:42] <Minaplo> ["Maybe I would have. But did I? When you said that earlier, did I keep pressing as to the reason?"]
[13:43] <Yanmei> "I suppose not," she admitted.
[13:44] <Minaplo> ["So what other reasons might you have to not say 'I'm not allowed, so on and so forth' outright?"]
[13:57] <Yanmei> "That could be taken in a lot of unflattering ways. Like I owed one of them something, or I was making deals with them or some such."
[13:57] <Minaplo> ["Taken in unflattering ways. By me?"]
[13:58] <Yanmei> "By anyone. I don't want to give the impression that they have any sort of power over me."
[13:59] <Minaplo> ["Why would a personal agreement suggest that they have power over you?"]
[14:01] <Yanmei> "Because that's how those things go! We certainly aren't friends, so why else would we make agreements with each other?"
[14:05] <Minaplo> ["See, now you have me puzzled. When I hear personal agreement, I think two equals, negotiating. I don't think of one party overpowering the other. You can negotiate equitably without being friends, yes?"]
[14:06] <Yanmei> "Hmph! If we absolutely had to, under duress."
[14:10] <Minaplo> ["Mmm."-
[14:10] <Minaplo> ["Might I follow a different thread for a moment?"]
[14:11] <Yanmei> "Certainly?" Did she look relieved for a moment?
[14:12] <Minaplo> ["Who do you not use your habit on?"]
[14:14] <Yanmei> The relief was short-lived. "Isaiah?"
[14:15] <Minaplo> ["Of course, he can read your mind. Who else?"]
[14:18] <Yanmei> "Marianne?"
[14:18] <Minaplo> ["When did you stop using it on Marianne?"]
[14:20] <Yanmei> Damn. "Whenever she scolds at me about it, I do stop it, you know."
[14:21] <Minaplo> ["So you're still using it on her until she asks you to stop, is that right?" He said curiously.]
[14:21] <Yanmei> "More or less."
[14:22] <Minaplo> ["Why do you think she asks you to stop?"]
[14:22] <Yanmei> "Because she finds it annoying."
[14:23] <Minaplo> ["So she finds it annoying. And you know she finds it annoying?"]
[14:25] <Yanmei> "Yeah, she's told me as much."
[14:26] <Minaplo> ["Hm."-
[14:27] <Minaplo> [Delgado settled back into his bed. "Well then, Yanmei, I think that's enough for today. I'm setting you some homework to give to Aherne when he brings you in."]
[14:28] <Yanmei> "W-what? Homework?"
[14:29] <Minaplo> ["Of course." Said Delgado. "I want you to, in between now and then, think about why you keep doing this habit even when other people find it annoying- then write those reasons down in a list to present to Aherne."]
[14:30] * Yanmei gave him a long, sullen look. "I thought I was supposed to try to make a good impression on him."
[14:31] <Minaplo> ["What, you think this won't?"]
[14:33] <Yanmei> "How could it?! He'll have only just arrived, and I'll be dumping all sorts of weird backstories and personal issues in his lap."
[14:34] <Minaplo> [Delgado chuckled.-
[14:34] <Minaplo> ["Yanmei, there's something you need to know about psychotherapists." He said. "We all know that absolutely everyone has weird backstories and personal issues. We're more impressed by those who are honest about it than those who aren't contemplative of those issues."-
[14:35] <Minaplo> ["If you want to make a good impression, then showing up with proof that you've thought about it will make him very happy."]
[14:37] * Yanmei still didn't look happy about it. "He is trustworthy, isn't he?"
[14:37] <Minaplo> ["If I say he is, will you actually believe it?"]
[14:39] <Yanmei> "I'm not sure," she admitted. "I'd probably have to see him in action."
[14:41] <Minaplo> ["That's what I thought." Said Delgado with a smile. "If it's any consolation, he has a wife and two children. They're all very happy together, so if you really suspect him that much, you can threaten to kill one of them."]
[14:45] <Yanmei> "What am I, a Caine? I'd like to think I have a teeny bit more dignity than that!"
[14:46] <Minaplo> [Delgado laughed.-
[14:47] <Minaplo> ["He is truly a compassionate man, though. Nonetheless, I'll leave that to you."-
[14:48] <Minaplo> ["Now then." He said with a smile. "Do you know what would be truly dignified? Sharing a drink with me." He said, gesturing toward the whiskey beneath the bed. "It would make me feel young again, drinking decent whiskey in the company of such a clever company, like I did during my wild days."]
[14:55] <Yanmei> "Your 'wild days' huh?" She raised an eyebrow. "Where do you hide the shot glasses around here?"
[14:57] <Minaplo> [He gestured wordlessly toward his coat, which had been thoughtfully brought in by someone. It now sat on a chair in the corner.]
[14:58] * Yanmei smirked, and quickly went to it to retrieve the precious contraband. "Well done."
[14:59] <Minaplo> ["It's an old trick of mine." He said, with a twinkle in his eyes.]
[15:03] * Yanmei went after the whiskey too, pouring a shot first for him and then for herself. "Cheers?" She said holding out her glass. "And good luck to the both of us."
[15:04] <Minaplo> ["Cheers," Said Delgado, clinking his own against hers.]

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