Cherry Blossom Procession 4 2 33

[21:10] <Yanmei> Another day, another rash of meetings. Yanmei was using an hour-long lull in between them to rest in her office. Her arms were folded on her desktop, and her head rested on top of them, but sleep never came. There were too many upsetting things whirling around in her head, and they simply wouldn't shut up long enough to let her doze off. So she simply sat there instead, quietly, thinking.
[21:20] <Sept> Into that half-rest, then, broke the sound of a buzzer from her secretary, denoting a visitor. And not long after, a redundant knock on the door, followed immediately by Sera entering the room, making sure the door closed behind him.-
[21:23] <Sept> If his hurried manner wasn't enough of a sign, his appearance - slightly messy hair, still-damp casual UEF coat - confirmed he'd clearly seen better days.-
[21:24] <Sept> "Hey, Yanmei. Everything okay? I'm not interrupting… anything, am I?"
[21:31] * Yanmei had shot upright at the first interruption and was now casually trying to pretend that she hadn't been resting at all. She cleared her throat and rubbed her eyes quickly. "No, no, not at all? Come in. Have a seat." -
[21:32] <Yanmei> She did a slightly slower pan of him, processing his appearence and quick movements. "Is… everything okay with you?"
[21:42] <Sept> "Sure. Of course. Anyway." Sera took off his coat, leaving him wearing just the long-sleeved t-shirt underneath as he settle down on one of the chairs in front of her desk.-
[21:43] <Sept> "It's this whole situation. It might get very difficult soon, so I need some help, right?"
[21:49] <Yanmei> "Which situation? There are a lot of them all piled up on top of each other? The Black Moon, Russia, China, Freya and de Orleans…"
[21:53] <Sept> "Yeah! That one. Did you hear about Tsubaki?"
[21:54] <Yanmei> "Yeah," she said gravely. "You must be pretty worried about her, huh?"
[21:56] <Sept> "Well, yes. That's true," Sera said, busying himself with getting the coat out of his hands by draping it over the side of the chair.-
[21:59] <Sept> "But it wouldn't have happened if I was more worried about her. But that's that. Has the plan with Pillars progressed at all?"
[22:10] <Yanmei> "It hasn't, outside of the fine details around actually building a weapon we can use against Mary Caine in her moment of weakness. But back up a minute there, to that stuff about Akagi's breakdown." She frowned slightly. "Are you sure you're ok? We don't know what happened to her yet, so there's no reason for you to feel like you could have prevented it."
[22:19] <Sept> "No, it was… Well, you heard from someone else. Tsubaki's situation won't get any worse, so you don't need to hear about it now. I think."
[22:26] <Yanmei> "I most certainly do! How do you expect us to help her if we don't know what happened? How do you know it won't get worse? Did she say anything to you before she lost it?"
[22:29] <Sept> "Okay. Fine. We can do this first."-
[22:29] * Sept shifted in his seat, slowing down a little.-
[22:31] <Sept> "Basically, we broke up. She needs someone else who can give her what she needs right now to stay stable. I can't make her the kinds of promises she needs, under the circumstances."
[22:34] <Yanmei> Yanmei's eyes were wide now. "You broke up? So… you were dating? Since when?!"
[22:35] <Sept> "…"-
[22:35] <Sept> "N-No. We weren't. Please try to focus on the essentials here."
[22:39] <Yanmei> "I am." But it seemed like it took Yanmei a few quiet moments to grapple her way back to a more focused place. "Ok. So you weren't secretly dating. Then what you guys broke up was your sibling-friendship relationship?"
[22:43] <Sept> "Well, yes. At least, I don't think it'd be very good to continue like this. Ezekiel seemed to agree."-
[22:43] <Sept> "To the extent he ever agrees with anything explicitly."
[22:48] <Yanmei> "Huh. But maybe I'm missing some details? Why was it so bad to continue? Even if it wasn't stable, you both were better off with it, right? You certainly both cared about each other."
[22:53] <Sept> "Obviously! And I should hope if I'm given the chance, I can fix things with her. But with things being the way they are, she needs someone she can always rely on."
[23:04] * Yanmei leaned back in her chair thoughtfully. "All right. I don't know how we can actually give her that, but that's valuable information I can pass on to her family, psychologist and her other friends. Thank you. One question, though. Did you explain to her why you're not a person she can always rely on?"
[23:09] <Sept> "Hrm. Because I wouldn't always save her if she was in Freya's place. Which brings us back to a different topic."
[23:18] * Yanmei raised a cynical eyebrow. "Am I to take that to mean that you wouldn't at least try to fight for anyone close to you who was in Freya's position?"
[23:21] <Sept> "Of course not. But what kind of person could sincerely make that promise?"-
[23:26] <Sept> "I've had enough debate and suspicion for the week. If you have questions, I'll answer them. If you know I'm wrong, tell me so. Just dispense with the disbelief that I might make a rational decision under stress. I've always looked at the facts first, even if it puts me in danger."
[23:52] * Yanmei took a deep breath. "Sera. You're only rational when it allows you to gloss over what other people are feeling. Don't even pretend that you haven't acted on raw gut emotions under stress instead of logic, because you most certainly have? I suspect that part of the reason you want to talk about Freya and de Orleans today is because of some of those raw emotions. But we are talking
[23:52] * Yanmei about Tsubaki here, so let's finish that up." -
[00:02] <Yanmei> "I think you were wrong, and not because of the way Akagi acted afterward or the cost to the UEF or any of that calculated bullshit. It's because you adore that girl, and you've worked tirelessly to help her in the past? I don't know how the conversation went down, but let's disregard the Pillar part. She's not a Pillar, so she's never going to be in the same situation that Freya is, so
[00:02] <Yanmei> none of that even matters? Maybe she was just asking 'Am I worth fighting for?' And even if you said 'No' to her in that moment, your actions in the past suggest otherwise. So what is even the damn problem here?"
[00:13] <Sept> "Hmmn. Okay." Sera sunk half an inch into his chair. "I'd do my best to save you, exhaust every possibility, but if it was impossible, I'd choose to save the world."-
[00:14] <Sept> "It's not fucking Shakespeare, but that's what I told her. Is that ambiguous? If no one but Freya is ever going to be in that situation, then why does it matter?"
[00:25] <Yanmei> "Sometimes you just want to hear that you're important. Not because of your job, or the fact that you're a chess piece in whatever stupid game the world leaders are playing, but because you're you. Ever see those terrible action films where the hero's outnumbered, outmatched, and then still charges into the bad guys' den to save his lover? It's stupid. It's irrational. Anyone who tried it
[00:25] <Yanmei> would get killed in three seconds flat unless they're an Ayanami or an Iron Guard or something. But what makes it romantic is that the hero put the lover's safety so far above his or her own. It gives the feel that their world isn't worth it if this person isn't in it." -
[00:26] <Yanmei> Yanmei frowned. "Not everyone needs that sort of validation. But Tsubaki's had it rough. I don't think anyone realized how isolated she must have felt until she acted out just now."
[00:32] * Sept paused to think for a few moments.-
[00:35] <Sept> "I don't know how much you interacted with Tsubaki up until now. But it was plain to see how at the end of her rope she was when we finally found a way to help her. She still isn't free, but she's got a hell of a lot of a better chance to live her life now than before."-
[00:41] <Sept> "Anyway, it's a proven fact you're a fan of the romantic sacrifice. It's- I guess I'm intimately familiar with the fantasy, too. But it's not something I can say lightly. Because the day I can sincerely make that promise is the day I'm free."-
[00:42] <Sept> "I can't do for her what you did for Isaiah, and I can't lie to her."
[00:46] <Yanmei> "Does she know why you aren't free? Like, your situation in Elisha's plan?"
[00:50] <Sept> "Yanmei, she's the ghost of this ship. She's heard all of it."
[00:56] <Yanmei> "You're sure? Because it's not something we go around talking about openly. Even now we're, like, talking about it, but not talking about the details. Has she ever acknowledged it to your face? Or… grieved?"
[01:02] <Sept> "…no." Sera looked away briefly, fiddling with his coat over the armrest. "I think you're right. I hate talking about it."-
[01:03] <Sept> "If I apologize to her and try to explain, it looks terrible, like I'm asking for pity. Is there a way to fix that?"
[01:08] <Yanmei> "Apologise first." Yanmei glanced down at her desk. "Then just tell her that you want her to understand where you're coming from, and there's no way to do that without bringing up a secret. She might refuse to hear you out or yell at you for keeping the secret for so long, but I don't think it will come off as distastefully as you think it will?"
[01:15] <Sept> "Great. I think that's good advice, even if it doesn't work out."-
[01:15] <Sept> "So, can you tell me about Freya now?"
[01:24] <Yanmei> "What did you want to know? The situation hasn't changed much. Freya and de Orleans are both still under watch by people who are not Akagi, and plans are being made under the assumption that they and the Deva will, um. Fall."
[01:30] <Sept> "Yes, so. I want-" Sera took a breath and reconsidered.
[01:30] <Sept> -
[01:32] <Sept> "This looks bad in multiple ways, and I'm aware of it. I'm not bringing this to you alone because I think there's less opposition, and I can defend myself in front of your Board if needed."-
[01:35] <Sept> "But I need you to grant me time to investigate alternatives, or uses for Freya that outscale her use in this plan. I need her help in the work, and I want to be able to contact sources outside the UEF if needed."
[01:44] <Yanmei> "I am open to alternatives, but I'm not sure that the rest is feasible. Please remember that this is our first and possibly only shot to eliminate Mary Caine? It could end the war in one swoop. What happens if Freya goes missing while she's doing this contact work, or if she's captured by the UN? It's risky."
[01:46] <Sept> "We can negotiate, maybe. I can find assurances. And…"-
[01:46] <Sept> "What happens if people find out you kept her against her will?"
[01:48] <Yanmei> "Nothing good. But nothing good will also happen if people find out that we could have ended the war and didn't."
[01:50] <Sept> "Y-Yeah. I think I don't need her off the ship at any point. If we found some lead, I could consult… Ezra, I guess. Unless we find people who're more trustworthy."
[01:53] <Yanmei> "Do you have a plan? What exactly do you want to do?"
[01:57] <Sept> "Um. Maybe it's for the best if she told you herself. I promised to let her do that, so just… remember that if you let me help, she can accomplish a lot more?"
[02:02] * Yanmei pressed her hands together. "How would she come up with a plan for this unless she knew about her status as a Pillar in detail?"
[02:03] <Sept> "Well. That's an unfair question considering what I just said…"
[02:04] * Yanmei groaned. Loudly. "Sera…"
[20:22] <Sept> "It's- not a hopeless proposition, okay? It's not just a ploy."
[20:27] <Yanmei> "How did she take the news? I'd imagine she was pretty upset."
[20:29] <Sept> "Well, yeah. But she doesn't have time to mope around."
[20:31] <Yanmei> "No, I guess not." Yanmei sighed. -
[20:35] <Yanmei> "Look, I want you guys to go for it and succeed. It would make this situation easier on everyone if there were multiple targets instead of just the three we have now. Is this plan something you can pull off in two months?"
[20:42] * Sept straightened up in his chair and nodded. "It'll have to be. That's… enough for us. Thanks."
[20:47] * Yanmei nodded back. "I'll try to visit Freya later today and get more information from her about what she wants to do. Does Raskova know about what's going on too?"
[20:49] <Sept> "Not yet. That's up to Freya."
[20:51] <Yanmei> "Ok, good. Means I don't have to worry about being murdered in my sleep yet."
[20:54] <Sept> "Hehe. You have a bit of time."
[20:59] * Yanmei flashed a tired half-grin. -
[21:00] <Yanmei> "Speaking of time… You two should probably pay a visit to Dr. Delgado before he leaves. Did you hear about his retirement?"
[21:04] <Sept> "Oh!" Sera perked up even more at that. "He's leaving the ship, too?"
[21:05] <Yanmei> "Yeah, but not because he wants to? It's his health."
[21:14] * Sept seemed to consider this for a moment, as if there could be some hidden meaning to it.-
[21:15] <Sept> "…that's pretty reasonable. I'll make sure to see him. I like him a lot."
[21:17] <Yanmei> "Be careful, though? During my visit he gave me homework to complete for the new guy that's going to be replacing him. Can you believe it? And after I brought him a get well gift too…"
[21:18] <Sept> "Maybe he didn't like the gift…?"
[21:19] <Yanmei> "He probably had it all planned out before he even saw the gift," Yanmei scowled, folding her arms.
[21:22] <Sept> "Oh. So what do you mean by homework? Wouldn't the new guy be having all the files he needs?"
[21:27] <Yanmei> "Yes. But this was a special exercise to demonstrate that I was actively working on my 'problems'. Hmph. Like I even have any problems…"
[21:33] <Sept> "Oh," Sera said again. "That sounds like a bit of a late start for him, too."
[21:40] <Yanmei> "Who, the new guy? I guess. I'm going to see if I can just have the one meeting with him, as a courtesy, and then discontinue having regular sessions. Both of us are probably going to be way too busy for it anyway."
[21:42] <Sept> "No, I mean Felix. It's an unusually… active measure for him. Or maybe he just gave up on analyzing me?"
[21:46] <Yanmei> "It doesn't seem like him to give up either. I'm sure you can ask when you see him?"
[21:50] <Sept> "Sure. I mean, we still talked, but it was always about nothing." Sera stopped and blinked.-
[21:52] <Sept> "Should I get- I mean, I should probably get going. Organize all this stuff that's happened. Um. I expect you to be nice to the new guy, though? Even if it's difficult."
[21:56] <Yanmei> "Well, yes. I wouldn't want him to quit when we have a lot of other people who'll depend on him. That would be selfish?" Yanmei rose politely to see him out. "Good luck with everything, okay?"
[22:00] * Sept took a deep, slow breath before looking back up at her with a slight smile and getting up. "Yeah. Thanks. Likewise?"-
[22:01] <Sept> He collected his coat, slung it over a shoulder and headed out.

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