Cherry Blossom Procession 4 2 27

[20:35] <Sept> Sera was sitting by the edge of the market square, now barren except for the architectural monument, a few meters high, on the opposite end. It was a nice, sunny day in Paris-2, but this part of town was quite deserted, much like it had been with the imposing figure of EVA-01 standing in it, penned in by banners and bunting. This time, it was due to the utterly symmetrical Angel floating
[20:35] <Sept> above it.-
[20:37] <Sept> Sera was sitting by the edge of the square out of spite. He was furious, and had been looking forward to visiting the local market. So now he sat there, listening to Ramiel's constant hum and looking up at the quite beautifully refracted wrong sky above him.
[20:59] <Mianplo> [Every so often, the Angel let out a louder, high-pitched trill that set all the glass in the square humming.-
[21:00] <Mianplo> [And so Sera would wait there for awhile, just killing time by himself…-
[21:00] <Mianplo> [Then a light flashed a few dozen metres away. When it cleared stood Tsubaki, wearing a white shirt, a sweater and a pair of jeans.-
[21:01] <Mianplo> [She looked around, saw him, then walked over at her own pace. "Hey. Okay if I sit with you a bit?"]
[21:04] <Sept> Sera smiled as he saw her, and nodded.-
[21:04] <Sept> "Of course. If it's not too crowded for you."
[21:13] <Mianplo> [Tsubaki laughed gently as she sat at Sera's side, close enough for her knee to touch his.-
[21:13] <Mianplo> ["You picked a hell of a spot, though. Is this right under the Angel?"]
[21:13] <Sept> "No," said Sera firmly. "He's over my spot."
[21:23] <Mianplo> ["Oh yeah?" She said with a sly grin. "What makes it your spot?"]
[21:33] * Sept sat with one arm behind the back of the bench and kept his eyes forward, looking at the building on the other side of the square, as if imagining the stalls and traffic in between.
[21:33] <Sept> "This is the spot where they first showed an Eva to the public. I like it because it's small and normal when there's not a scary thing standing in it."
[21:33] <Sept> "But now there's a scary thing floating over it."
[21:38] <Mianplo> ["… Yeah." Said Tsubaki. "I should tell Shinji to knock it off, park it in the ocean or whatever."-
[21:38] <Mianplo> ["So the first Eva, huh?" She said, turning to Sera. "01?"]
[21:39] <Sept> "Yup."
[21:41] <Mianplo> ["Tell me about the day."]
[21:49] <Sept> "Huh?" He turned to look at Tsubaki, now, as if she'd only just got there.
[21:51] <Mianplo> ["About the day you first saw 01."]
[21:55] <Sept> "Oh!" Sera's expression lightened, and he drew up his feet to sit cross-legged, facing more towards Tsubaki.-
[21:55] <Sept> "Well, you know I was living with Freya, then, right?"
[21:56] <Mianplo> ["Of course." She said with a smile.]
[22:03] <Sept> "Well, she was out working in the morning, and I got curious about the big thing and all the commotion. I saw the parades and stuff, so once Freya got back, we snuck up to…" Sera traced a path around the square with his finger, ending up at a gap between two apartment buildings, a narrow promenade with greenery lining one side. "There, in the afternoon. There was basically no one around
[22:03] <Sept> because of the Eva and the cold."
[22:11] <Mianplo> ["And what'd you think?"]
[22:15] <Sept> "Well, I liked it, obviously," he said, frowning a little. "So it didn't take a lot of prodding to get me to take a closer look. I probably said something stupid about being its friend."
[22:16] <Mianplo> ["That's really cute."]
[22:18] <Sept> "I had that going for me."
[22:18] <Mianplo> ["Still do."-
[22:18] <Mianplo> ["So what happened when you took a closer look?"]
[22:21] <Sept> "Hehehe. Yeah, it reacted a bit when I touched it. So then, obviously, because Dorian and Aline were watching - because it was all set up," Sera said by way of explanation, glancing at Tsubaki before turning back to look sideways at the square.-
[22:22] <Sept> "So obviously they come out and they're all 'oh congratulations, you're the fucking chosen one, wanna visit him at our base'…"
[22:24] <Mianplo> ["And you said 'yes'."]
[22:26] <Sept> "Yeah. That's all it took. I was such an idiot."
[22:30] <Mianplo> ["Hehehe. What'd you have done differently?"]
[22:34] <Sept> "Run away? Say no? Why'd I ever want to involve myself with a shady military organization like that?"
[22:37] <Mianplo> ["For the thrill, the stories, the pay?"]
[22:40] <Sept> "…I guess."
[22:42] <Mianplo> [She playfully nudged him. "C'mon."-
[22:43] <Mianplo> ["… Must've been fun, though. Just you and Freya."]
[22:47] <Sept> "Yeah! I mean, even if I'd stuck with it, they still would've got me eventually. But, you know." Sera shrugged.-
[22:47] <Sept> "It was fun while it lasted," he agreed, in conclusion.
[22:48] <Mianplo> ["Yeah…"-
[22:48] <Mianplo> ["… So I know about Freya's mother." Said Tsubaki. "I know that Freya's a pillar, too."]
[22:51] <Sept> "Ah."
[22:54] <Mianplo> [Tsubaki didn't say anything.]
[22:55] <Sept> "Yeah. My… statement stands, I guess?"
[23:03] <Mianplo> ["Is that all you're gonna say?"]
[23:06] <Sept> "What do you want me to say?"
[23:14] <Mianplo> ["I guess I dunno."]
[23:20] <Sept> "Me neither."
[23:22] <Mianplo> ["What are you gonna do…?"]
[23:29] * Sept tapped the side of one of his shoes anxiously.-
[23:30] <Sept> "Well, I have to be the one to tell her. No question."
[23:40] <Mianplo> ["Guess you're the only one who can. I'm sorry…"]
[23:52] <Sept> "Guess so." Sera stayed quiet for a while, looking up at the upside-down sky.-
[23:52] <Sept> "Thank you."
[23:59] <Mianplo> [She found his hand and took it tightly.-
[23:59] <Mianplo> ["If she doesn't want to… What then?"]
[00:04] * Sept sat up a bit more straight, took her hand in both of his and held it on his lap.-
[00:06] <Sept> "Sorry. That's just… not possible."
[00:27] <Mianplo> ["That's… Pretty sad."]
[00:31] <Sept> "Sure. I hate it. But what are we gonna do, find someone else? It'd be a waste."
[00:34] <Mianplo> ["Yeah."]
[00:41] <Sept> "…"-
[00:43] <Sept> "That's why our way is better, though," Sera eventually said. "We have all these important rules and promises, and it makes everything really simple so we all know where we're going and we can trust each other."
[00:49] <Mianplo> ["H-Heh. Yeah. Nice and simple."-
[00:49] <Mianplo> [With a free hand, she wiped at her eyes.]
[00:57] <Sept> Again, Sera fell silent, looking out at the square and surrounding streets, Tsubaki and Ramiel in turn. His grief and frustration were plain on his face, but his eyes remained dry and his voice hadn't wavered.
[01:19] <Mianplo> [Her fingers wrapped gently around his, and she rested her head on his shoulder.-
[01:19] <Mianplo> ["This won't keep happening." She said quietly to herself.]
[01:20] <Sept> "Why do you say that…?"
[18:47] <Minaplo> ["Because I'm gonna stop it."]
[18:50] <Sept> "…"-
[18:51] <Sept> "I can't help you, you know."
[18:52] <Minaplo> ["Not this time, maybe." She said smally. "But next time, the next time something comes along and tries to take away someone you love…"]
[18:55] <Sept> "I… hope so. I don't know, I- I'm sorry."
[19:00] <Minaplo> ["Y… Yeah." She mumbled.-
[19:00] <Minaplo> ["Why does it keep happening to you…?"]
[19:08] <Sept> "I don't know if it does. It's… probably stupid to think it's me. But it's all so connected, I always think there's something I could do if I wasn't me."-
[19:09] <Sept> "But then everyone does that, see? That's normal. I'm not special. Except for the obvious."-
[19:09] <Sept> "I hate it," Sera concluded.ยจ
[19:21] <Minaplo> ["Maybe it is you." Mumbled Tsubaki. "Maybe if you weren't you, you'd try to protect her no matter what. Maybe you'd be okay with being selfish this time."-
[19:22] <Minaplo> ["I don't want to believe that our only choices are to do the right thing or to give up the people we love. There has to be a way to have both."]
[19:30] <Sept> "I know," Sera nodded.-
[19:30] <Sept> "But even then, if it's even a little bit more difficult… There's so many people on Earth."
[19:31] <Minaplo> ["S-So what…?"]
[19:33] <Sept> "I-It's just common sense."-
[19:36] <Sept> "If the way for us to have everything makes it even one tenth of a percent more difficult to save everyone from Lilith, if we delay a plan by a few days… One tenth of a percent of everyone is at least two or three million people."-
[19:36] <Sept> "We're not worth two million people. We're not even very good at being one…"
[19:43] <Minaplo> ["And what if having those people around us makes it easier?"]
[19:44] <Sept> "W-Well…"
[19:46] <Minaplo> ["I know I've been in situations where I only won because I knew I had people back home, waiting for me." Said Tsubaki fiercely. "People who meant something to me."-
[19:49] <Minaplo> ["Most people don't mean anything to me." Said Tsubaki. "That doesn't mean I think they're worthless, I just don't know them. But the people who I know and love are my world. They're the people I see the whole human race through, giving it meaning. Without them- my heart doesn't have a reason to fight, and so I won't fight as hard, or keep going for as long."]
[19:55] <Sept> "I don't know that," Sera argued. "If everything depended on it, I could still fight, and give it my everything, and win! It's- it's not that convenient!"
[20:00] <Minaplo> ["Then what keeps you fighting? You've never once been on the battlefield and thought, 'without Yanmei I'm nothing', or 'without Aline I'm nothing', or 'without Tsubaki I'm nothing'?" At this point she'd let him go, and was staring straight at him; her hands were balled into fists.]
[20:13] <Sept> "I can't think like that now! You know you're important to me, but if I can't be with you after the war, I'd be lying to more than myself, and I can't stand that!"
[20:15] <Minaplo> ["But if you don't think like that, then you might lose!"]
[20:22] <Sept> "You know me that well, huh! So if the way I act is already selfish, then what do you think is holding me back?"
[20:32] <Minaplo> [Tsubaki let out a scream of frustration.-
[20:33] <Minaplo> ["That's not what I'm saying! I'm saying you can afford to be a little selfish! You don't have to equate selfishness with someone else losing out, with doing less- you're talking about it as though it's this terrible thing that'll kill people, but everyone is allowed to be a little selfish, you-!!!"-
[20:34] <Minaplo> [The sky had been sunny, but now it was starting to dark with alarming haste; clouds had formed out of the air and were quickly becoming black and heavy.]
[20:47] * Sept turned away from Tsubaki and ran a hand through his hair in equal frustration, leaving it asymmetrically messy on one side. He continued arguing his point to the square, instead. "I-I know I can rely on you, but we're also talking about trying to save Freya, and that's not 'a little selfish'!"
[20:57] <Minaplo> ["Then not Freya, then! Anyone you care about!" Cried Tsubaki. She'd leapt to her feet, her hands held up to her chest; they vibrated with fury. "Just don't let me believe that you'd let me die and do nothing, no matter how proper it was!"]
[21:10] * Sept stayed sitting down, barely reacting to Tsubaki's escalating ferocity. "I wouldn't do nothing, I'd do my best to save you a-and exhaust every possibility, but…!"
[21:14] <Minaplo> ["But what?! You'd just keep tick-tick-ticking along after like nothing had happened? Just decide the score card didn't balance out, cut your losses and let me go?!"-
[21:15] <Minaplo> [She let out another short scream that turned into a painful sob.-
[21:24] <Minaplo> ["My father only had me to test a hypothesis! My mother only loves me because I'm proof that he loved her! There was no one to see me off when I got on that train to Eden, and when I came back I was just one more burden for Ritsuko, because I was the container for a god and a reminder of my parents' mistakes! Misato does her best for me, but I'm still just a subordinate pilot
[21:24] <Minaplo> to her, something she can use to save the world! The very first real friend I ever made of my own choice, the first person to love me for who I am, was Mana. You were the second."-
[21:25] <Minaplo> [The black sky rumbled; at the same time a bolt of lightning burst forth and struck Ramiel, the energy sparking harmlessly off its side.-
[21:26] <Minaplo> ["All I want is to matter to someone." Said Tsubaki through her tears. "That someone might want to give up anything for me…"]
[21:54] <Sept> "Tsubaki…" Sera fumbled for words, looking up at her.-
[22:00] <Sept> "I… I'm not that person. I want to be, and I might need your help. There are things - unimportant things - that I want to do, too, for me. Before this is over. But. I can't. Not now."-
[22:01] <Sept> "I'm sorry. It's not what anyone wants, I'm sorry."
[22:11] <Minaplo> ["S…"-
[22:13] <Mianplo> [Tsubaki couldn't look at him.-
[22:13] <Mianplo> [Her head was bowed, her face and eyes hidden by long ribbons of white hair.-
[22:14] <Mianplo> [When she spoke, it was in a soft, trembling voice, as though she didn't trust it.-
[22:14] <Mianplo> ["I would've given you everything."-
[22:15] <Mianplo> [And then she was gone, as quickly and easy as that.]
[22:21] <Sept> After she disappeared, Sera looked around at the square, rested his head on his hands and exhaled slowly.
[22:25] <Mianplo> [A second later, it began to rain.]
[22:30] * Sept stood up, put out his hand to make sure it was raining. He stretched, and paced back and forth by the benches. On a neighboring one, an empty bottle of beer had been left over from someone's night out.-
[22:31] * Sept picked it up, felt its weight… aimed across the one-way street at the window of an office space ("For Rent").-
[22:32] <Sept> He set the bottle back down on the bench and kept walking. Who would that help?
[22:34] <Mianplo> [After twenty minutes had passed- and the rain had blown itself out- he'd feel the slight change in air pressure that usually signified someone jaunting in.-
[22:34] <Mianplo> ["Sera de Pteres." Said Ezekiel.]
[22:36] * Sept gave his face a rub before turning.-
[22:36] <Sept> "Yeah?"
[22:38] <Mianplo> ["Myself and a few others just had to restrain Tsubaki Akagi after she lost her temper and attacked an Evangelion." Said Ezekiel calmly. "I came to inform you, to see if you knew what might have precipitated the event, and to see if you were alright."]
[22:40] * Sept took a deep, quick breath and exhaled, again.-
[22:41] <Sept> "Yeah, we had a fight. I'll take responsibility. Is everyone okay?"
[22:42] <Mianplo> ["Thirteen technicians were injured." Said Ezekiel. "Tsubaki herself is currently near-catatonic."-
[22:42] <Mianplo> ["The Evangelion itself suffered superficial damage."]
[22:44] <Sept> "I understand. 01?"
[22:44] <Mianplo> ["No. 06."]
[22:46] <Sept> "You lost me. Why would she do that?"
[22:47] <Mianplo> ["Tsubaki is an Eve. The soul within Evangelion unit 06 is her A-Type Adam." Said Ezekiel. "… I believe, judging from what she said during the event, that she was attempting to seek communion with him."]
[22:48] <Sept> "…"
[22:52] <Mianplo> [Ezekiel looked up toward Ramiel; raindrops were still pouring off its smooth sides, creating a vibrant cascade of shimmering illusions and rainbows as it fell. It was beautiful.-
[22:58] <Mianplo> ["There aren't enough stars in heaven to homage the loving grief of the soul." Said Ezekiel. "We burn brightly, seeking understanding in the fire of another, and those who cannot see it fade, and are lost."-
[23:05] <Mianplo> ["We who live in this time of ending may yearn for the return of ancient days, but we must remember that when we faced our damnation, it was not unknown to us; it was the lost who broke us."-
[23:05] <Mianplo> [Ezekiel sighed.]
[23:12] <Sept> "…right," Sera said, taking a moment to unpack this.-
[23:13] <Sept> "So I think you mean that literally as a historical point of view, but what you're really saying is I should be- what? Pursuing a relationship with Tsubaki?"
[23:17] <Mianplo> ["I am not Armin, so I refrain from advising you as to the nature of your relationships." Said Ezekiel.-
[23:21] <Mianplo> ["I am merely in lament." Said Ezekiel. "Nothing more or less. Standing here in this place, with this old soul hanging above me, I am reminded of who taught me to feel gentle pity for others."-
[23:21] <Mianplo> ["It is a teaching that I use commonly in this time and place."]
[23:25] <Sept> "You mean." Sera paused, trying to straighten out his damp hair. "You mean during the time you've been with us now?"
[23:27] <Mianplo> ["Yes."]
[23:40] <Sept> "Well, I… appreciate your lamentations, and share your concern."
[23:40] <Mianplo> [Ezekiel nodded.-
[23:41] <Mianplo> ["I will discuss matters with Armin, so that he respects your actions in this."]
[23:44] <Sept> "Mmh. Thanks. I can put this right, eventually."-
[23:45] <Sept> "Maybe I could ask you for advice on something else?"
[23:45] <Mianplo> ["Of course."]
[23:48] <Sept> "Is it a fool's errand for me to try to understand Angels? How and why they came to… 'attack' us?"
[23:49] <Mianplo> [Ezekiel turned back toward Sera.-
[23:51] <Mianplo> ["The Angels had no real choice in the matter." Said Ezekiel. "They were compelled by Adam's High Destiny to seek her revival by any means necessary. Thus they sought to destroy humanity, which hid from them Adam's body and Adam's soul."]
[23:56] <Sept> "Simple…"-
[23:57] <Sept> "But I guess you're right. I'll have to find another way to get rid of whatever baggage I have with them."
[00:00] <Mianplo> ["What other concerns do you have?"]
[00:01] <Sept> "No, that's everything. Thanks for listening. Let's hope she recovers soon."
[00:03] <Mianplo> ["Yes." Said Ezekiel. "I will leave you to your devices. I am sure you know best."-
[00:03] <Mianplo> [And with that he too was gone.]
[00:05] <Sept> "Right." Sera gave one more look up at Ramiel's stupid splendor, and took off to find someplace less deserted.

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