For Allaying Doubts

[23:32] * Yanmei shuffled around the kitchen of the apartment she shared with Marianne, and now, Isaiah, putting various things away. A multitude of soft drinks, wine and leftover cake had been brought home from earlier that day, and they needed to be unloaded, asap. And while they certainly could have indulged in them for dinner, she decided to put the question of what to have to her housemates.
[23:34] <Isaiah> ["Huwaa." Marianne stretched. "That was fun." She flopped onto a couch.-
[23:35] <Isaiah> ["It was." Said Isaiah, having finished up putting away some containers. "Would you like me to cook up something, Yanyan?"]
[23:40] <Yanmei> "Well~" She closed the fridge, putting the last of the cake slices in it. "I was planning to make teriyaki chicken noodles. Because… you know. You like it a lot, right?"
[23:42] <Isaiah> ["Oh… Well." Isaiah smiled. "W-Well. I mean, you don't have to- it's your birthday, so we can have what you want."]
[23:45] <Yanmei> "But I was planning to from this morning. Because of the cupcake, you know? And you did a lot today, even afterward, so I thought… 'what can I do to thank Isaiah?'" She chuckled. "It probably sounds a little lame, but is it okay if I do it?"
[23:49] <Isaiah> ["Oh…" Isaiah blinked, and blushed a little. "U-Um, that's fine. I-I appreciate it- would you like some help?"]
[23:50] <Yanmei> "Sure!" She pulled a pan from one of the overhead cabinets. "Aren't you tired, though? You're not pushing yourself too much are you?"
[23:53] <Isaiah> ["Well, I am, but I don't mind." Said Isaiah, cheerfully. He honestly looked happier than he had all night.]
[23:55] * Yanmei was also in a good mood. Probably better than she had been in months, humming a random tune as she pulled more kitchen tools into the open, and passed Isaiah a knife and some vegetables. "Here! You know what to do."
[23:56] <Isaiah> ["Right." He started chop-chop-chopping away.-
[23:56] <Isaiah> ["Off to have a shower~" Said Marianne. Before long the only noise was the sound of chopping.]
[23:58] * Yanmei for her part, started on the chicken itself, using a different cutting board and knife. "Isaiah? Did you two… talk before I came in today?" She didn't say it outright, but she was referring to him and her mother. "You must have been curious. I know I would have been."
[23:59] <Isaiah> ["A little." Said Isaiah. "I wanted to see what she was like."]
[00:02] <Yanmei> "Do you approve of her?" she chuckled, but… she was also looking over at him, her face hopeful.
[00:04] <Isaiah> ["She seems…" Isaiah pondered for a moment. "She's obviously very proud of you. And I think she has your best interests at heart. I think she's a lovely woman."]
[00:08] * Yanmei practically glowed, especially when he mentioned her pride. She resumed chopping, though it was slower, a little more meticulous than before. "I'm glad. I'm sure she would like you too. I wish we could all talk more."
[00:17] <Isaiah> ["That'd be nice." Said Isaiah, chuckling. "It… Was really good to see. You were really happy."]
[00:21] <Yanmei> "Even before I came here, we didn't talk much. A lot of the time, it was just me in an empty house. It's why I had to teach myself to cook, you see?" She twirled her knife to demonstrate. "It's been somehow even more impossible to get a hold of her nowadays. Her work is important."
[00:24] <Isaiah> ["She did say that, yeah." Said Isaiah. "But you're important too…" A pause. "H-Hey, Yan…"]
[00:25] <Yanmei> "Yes?"
[00:26] <Isaiah> ["Ah…" Isaiah chopped away at the vegetables. "I was wondering something."]
[00:26] <Yanmei> "Yes?" Yanmei worked with her own knife too.
[00:27] <Isaiah> ["Did… Did you like what I got you?"]
[00:31] <Yanmei> "You have to ask?" She giggled, placing her knife aside. She had to wash her hands in the sink first, but when she had done that, she hooked a finger under her collar, and pulled a little silver chain into view. "Tada~"
[00:34] <Isaiah> ["Y-You put it on already…" Isaiah… Started to laugh, quietly, covering his mouth.]
[00:35] <Yanmei> "Huh? Hey, what's with that reaction? It looks fine!" She pulled the whole locket into view peering down at it to make sure that it did indeed look fine
[00:40] <Isaiah> ["I-I just… Sorry." He looked down at his feet, even as he giggled. "I was afraid you didn't like it."]
[00:45] <Yanmei> "Of course I do. It's a gift that makes sense. And it's a lovely one too." She hesitated. "Did I… look as if I didn't like it before?"
[00:53] <Isaiah> ["Um." Isaiah looked ashamed as he returned to his vegetables. "It's just… Well. I was kind of afraid… I-I mean, maybe you didn't want a matching locket. It seemed like… Well, like I didn't put any thought into it, and I w-wasn't sure it could compete with a car… Or some of the other stuff you got. I mean, that sort of thing is important to me, but… Sorry." He said apologetically.
[00:53] <Isaiah> "Y-You just didn't seem as excited as I was. It's not your fault…"]
[01:01] * Yanmei blinked a few times, and moved slowly toward him. "I'm sorry." She looked down at his shoes. Hurting him again, this time without realizing it. She really was making an art of it. "I didn't mean to make you feel bad. It's a wonderful gift! Really it is. I'll wear it every day to prove it."
[01:03] * Isaiah suddenly hugged Yanmei, his head on her shoulder. "N-No, I'm sorry, it was my fault… I-I listened to that jerk again…"
[01:07] * Yanmei folded her arms around him gently, a little startled but… glad. So glad. He forgave her! "Jerk? Alexandre?" The first association that came to mind.
[01:10] <Isaiah> "N-No. Kaworu…"
[01:11] <Yanmei> "…" So he and Isaiah -had- been together! She frowned in spite of herself. "What is it? What did he say?"
[01:21] <Isaiah‘> "It wasn’t much. I… I really haven't tried to have much to do with him. I haven't said anything yet, just wanted to judge… What he says. But…" Isaiah shifted guiltily. "He said… Um. He said that you were just pandering to me, and that giving you a pendant back was… Childish."
[01:29] <Yanmei> "Childish?" Yanmei's eyes darkened a little. "He's the one who's childish," she said petulantly. "Don't listen to him."
[01:32] <Isaiah‘> "I-I tried not to. But…" Isaiah sighed. "He said I was just a toy. Something you had around to keep you happy because you didn’t have your mother, and- and when I saw you so happy…"
[01:39] <Yanmei> "That's not true at all!" She hugged him tighter, worried. "I would never… You're important too, but you're not a replacement or a toy."
[01:43] <Isaiah‘> "I-I know." Mumbled Isaiah. "I-I’m sorry. But he… He can sound so persuasive, and his words were in my head when I saw it and they wouldn't leave… Please forgive me…"
[01:46] * Yanmei shook her head. "It's not your fault. These mind games… I wish he wasn't so adament about playing them. I hate it!"
[01:49] <Isaiah‘> "How do we make him stop…?"
[01:50] <Yanmei> "We could find a way to hurt him back somehow. Maybe talking to Atticus Nelson might give us some insight into him." It would serve him right, too. He really did need to get hurt!
[01:53] <Isaiah`> "But… If we hurt him, wouldn’t he just keep trying?"
[01:55] * Yanmei felt the logic start to break up her anger. "Oh. I suppose? But it would feel so…" she stopped herself there, with an odd look. Slightly unnerved, slightly frustrated. "Never mind. We'll come up with another idea."
[01:56] <Isaiah‘> "…" Isaiah disengaged from the embrace, taking a step back and looking at Yanmei with concern. "… Is everything alright?"
[01:58] <Yanmei> "It’s… nothing," she mumbled. Now she looked outright ashamed. "I shouldn't be thinking those thoughts, that's all."
[22:17] <Isaiah> "…" Isaiah smiled a little. "… It's alright. It's natural."
[22:18] * Yanmei looked up, blinking in surprise. "It is?"
[22:23] <Isaiah> "It's… Not the right thing to do." Said Isaiah. "But… You know, people have hurt you at times. And I've wanted to hurt them when I found out. Like that jerk in maths club, even if he didn't do anything… Just him being awful about you was enough to make me hurt him."
[22:30] * Yanmei looked off thoughtfully. "I guess you're right," she said at last. "Even if he didn't do anything… getting mad and hurting him was an understandable response."
[22:36] <Isaiah> "Yeah." Said Isaiah. "I mean… I don't think it's a -good- feeling to have. Hurting people is… Well, it's wrong. But honestly, it'd be weirder if you -didn't- want to hurt someone who hurt me, or vice versa."
[22:39] * Yanmei nodded. "RIght. I know. I should know this, right?" She laughed softly, relieved. "I've felt really aggressive lately, and I guess it's messing up my judgement for those things?"
[22:41] <Isaiah> "You've been feeling more aggressive?" Asked Isaiah curiously.
[22:47] <Yanmei> "Yes, but it's okay." Yanmei grinned. "It's okay as long as I don't act on that aggression. And I can do that as long as I still have some willpower."
[22:51] <Isaiah> "Hmm…" Isaiah's expression is concerned, nevertheless. "I know you can hold it in. But… Maybe you're feeling stressed?"
[22:57] <Yanmei> "Maybe." Yanmei's grin faded a little bit. "But I feel happier because of today. People like me. If I was only good for hating and causing pain, the party wouldn't have happened, and Mom wouldn't have said that she was proud of me…"
[23:04] <Isaiah> "And I wouldn't love you like I do." Said Isaiah fondly. "That's what worries me. You…" He frowned. "You blamed yourself for hurting me. You said that it was your fault that Kaworu's acting like he is. And after you told me about… Well, I was afraid that you might've forgotten what I said."
[23:10] <Yanmei> "I haven't, but…" she remembered his anguished cries from the day she had told him about Rei. What he said and what happened next were very different. Atticus had said that she didn't have to worry about it, but how could she not?
[23:10] <Isaiah> "But…? What is it, Yanyan?"
[23:13] <Yanmei> "Sometimes it's just hard not to feel that way. And," she gestured vaguely, "then there are people… things in my head, too, and incidents that make that seem like the reality. I'm not sure which is which anymore…"
[23:15] <Isaiah> "…" Isaiah frowned deeply. "Yanmei, you're not alright, are you?"
[23:18] <Yanmei> "H-huh?" Her head snapped back in surprise. "What are you saying? Do I sound that bad?"
[23:20] * Isaiah stared, then looked away for a moment- before looking back, shame on his face. "I- no. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that, b-but… Yanyan, if… If you're not knowing which is which… T-That worries me." He said, his blue eyes wide with solemn worry. "Just… If this is something that's bothering you, I want to help."
[23:25] * Yanmei scrutinized him but only for a minute or two before a slight tinge of fear flashed across her face. Still, resolution gathered in those dark eyes of her, even when she started to slide her gaze to other places - the hallway that led to the bathroom. The kitchen ceiling and corners. "I've cried in front of you. I can trust you. I want to tell you what it's like."
[23:29] * Isaiah followed her gaze for a second, his frown deepening for a second before he turned back to Yanmei. "I'm here, Yan." He said in Chinese, quietly, moving closer to her.
[23:33] * Yanmei nodded, grateful for the closeness. In sudden inspiration, she flicked on the diswasher next to her for added noise. They had needed to do a load anyway. "It's not that I've been aggressive just lately. It's… all the time," she began in Chinese.-
[23:35] <Yanmei> "I've just been better at handling it. Especially after befriending you. It's just that lately I've had to confront those feelings lately? 04 has been saying stuff."
[23:37] <Isaiah> "…" Isaiah paled. Here was someone who knew what that could do. "What things?"
[23:43] <Yanmei> "For a while, now, it's been saying that I share the same malicious feelings. That we should hurt and destroy things together. It's always been easy to deny, or to ignore? But in the last battle, it showed me things when I was knocked out."
[23:45] <Isaiah> "… That nightmare. You woke up thrashing…"
[23:49] <Yanmei> "…sorry for that." She looked a little embarrassed about it. "I was being attacked in that dream. By… myself. Images of myself. It was using my own thoughts against me, Isaiah! Thoughts of resentment toward people that I couldn't deny. Thoughts of hurting people for poor reasons."
[23:50] <Isaiah> "Like… Like one of the Shadow Men…"
[23:52] <Yanmei> "Yes," she mumbled. "Like that. They were thoughts, feelings, that I didn't want anyone to know about. And they were -shouting- them."
[23:52] <Isaiah> "And you… You couldn't get away. You were alone and couldn't escape them…?"
[23:59] * Yanmei shook her head. "You were there. But I thought… you were asleep. You woke up eventually, but by then, it was too late."
[00:00] <Isaiah> "… Too late. They killed you? Or did they kill me?"
[00:05] <Yanmei> "They grabbed me. That's when I woke up, thankfully. And you… the you in the dream was a different you. It's hard to explain."
[00:05] <Isaiah> "A different me? Please… Try to explain anyway."
[00:08] <Yanmei> "When I met him in the dream, the Destroyer - 04 - he'd already killed you. But he brought you back to make a point. He was trying to convince me of something… that we could destroy the world and make a new and better one. The you he brought back was… he looked different somehow."
[00:10] * Isaiah seems troubled by this. "I-I see. A… A remade me?"
[00:12] <Yanmei> "Yes. He was so angelic, sleeping there through most of the dream. He only woke up at the end of it."
[00:13] <Isaiah> "… Creepy." Murmured Isaiah. "… But is that what 04's doing? Trying to use you to help him break the world?"
[00:17] <Yanmei> "I think so." Yanmei lowered her eyes, even her eyelids drooping a bit. "From what I can gather from the memories it showed me, breaking the world - destroying it so that it can be remade - was the purpose of its existence. It might just be its interpretation of things, but I can't put it past its creators to do that. Elisha Caine may have thought that it would be better to rebuild the present world."
[00:18] <Isaiah> "But… What about all the people living here? Already? That isn't fair to them…!"
[00:20] <Yanmei> "04 doesn't -care-. As for Caine and Fontaine, I got the same impression in the dream."
[00:20] <Isaiah> "…" Isaiah shuddered. "That's insane…"
[00:21] * Yanmei nodded quietly. "I'm not sure… how to verify any of this."
[00:23] <Isaiah> "… Even if we did, there's not a lot we could do right now. Let's… Let's try to focus on the dream you saw- with the shadows…"
[00:27] * Yanmei nodded again. "I've told you most of what happened. All that remains are the things that the Destroyer said about me. That I was only good for causing pain. That if I was going to hurt people, it should be for a good reason, like the one he had. I couldn't think of what to say to that. He was right, and I couldn't think of a way to deny it."
[00:29] <Isaiah> "It isn't true." Said Isaiah quietly, his eyes wide with sadness, sympathy and horror.
[00:31] <Yanmei> "It's not wrong, either." Her voice was laced with bitterness. Sadness. "I've hurt you so many times. Other people too. And it keeps happening."
[00:37] <Isaiah> "…" A moment of silence, before Isaiah reached out, putting his arms around Yanmei whilst still retaining enough distance to be able to look her in the eye. "I want you to listen to me, alright? To what I'm about to say."
[00:39] * Yanmei nodded, perhaps a little sullenly, worriedly.
[00:51] <Isaiah> "You -have- hurt me." Said Isaiah quietly. "I'm not going to deny it. But… You've never felt the need to get drunk and take your anger out on me. You've never forgotten to pick me up from school. You've never forced me into an Entry Plug. You've never called me names, or insulted me, or ignored other people who hurt me. You've never hurt me without apologising, or trying to make it up to me in some way. You've never called me scum." He said, and there was a pained tone in his voice. Reliving old injuries. "People hurt me all the time, Yanmei. Many do it deliberately. The others don't care. It's different to when -you- hurt me. When you do it, you feel bad. You try to make me feel better. Sometimes you hurt me because I need to be hurt, told painful things that I need to know." He pulled her a little closer. "Sometimes… We just hurt the people we love. I know I've hurt you. I hurt my mother when she was alive- she hurt me too, but we never let it ruin our love. We made up. We always tried to make each other feel better. So… That's how I know 04 is wrong. My heart- it still belongs to you, and it's because you make me the happiest person in the world sometimes- and because you're better at healing me than you are at hurting."
[01:09] <Yanmei> "You believe in me so much," Yanmei choked out. She struggled for a few moments with swelling emotions, but never quite managed to find her old composure. "If you didn't, I don't think I could… hah…" She shut her eyes, trying to force back tears. "I'm a better person because of you."
[01:22] * Isaiah pulled her into a full, protective embrace. "I'm stronger thanks to you, as well." He said quietly. "So… Please. Don't think of yourself as a monster. You're not. You're lovely, kind, and you're my angel. And I won't let you ever forget it."
[01:29] * Yanmei shut her eyes, and returned the embrace tightly. As long as he was around, she could believe that. Not a monster, not a monster. "I got it," She whispered hoarsely. "I know."
[01:34] <Isaiah> He didn't say anything more than that. He just held her…-
[01:35] <Isaiah> ["… Oh. I see dinner's coming along well." Came the annoyingly superior tone of Marianne, emerging in her pyjamas. "Should I just leave you alone or what?"]
[01:36] <Yanmei> "!" Yanmei pulled back abruptly, startled! "M-Marianne! This isn't…"
[01:39] <Isaiah> "I- uh-" Isaiah found himself backing into the kitchen bench. "I-Sorry-"-
[01:39] <Isaiah> [Marianne sauntered over, grinning smugly. "What's for dinner, anyway?"]
[01:41] <Yanmei> "Noodles. And," Yanmei huffed, a little red-faced. "You don't have to use that face, you know. Like you caught us in a scandal or something?"
[01:42] <Isaiah> ["So what were you doing~?"]
[01:42] <Yanmei> "That was a friendship hug! Friendship!"
[01:44] <Isaiah> [Marianne put an arm around Yanmei's shoulders. "I'm sure." She teased, grinning. "I'll have to tell Dorian~"]
[01:46] <Yanmei> "Y-you leave him out of this!"
[01:47] <Isaiah> ["Hee~" Marianne ruffled Yanmei's hair- extra messy this time- and started heading back to the couch. "You can snuggle after dinner. Marianne's hungry. Chop chop~"]
[01:51] <Yanmei> "Hmph. So demanding." Yanmei rolled her eyes a bit, and made a fruitless attempt to smooth down her hair. Mutter mutter. "C'mon, Isaiah. We should try to finish up?"
[01:53] * Isaiah was blushing rather hotly as he turned around to Yanmei. "… U-Uh. Yeah." He said. Quickly shooting a furtive glance over his shoulder, he reached out one last time to squeeze her hand before returning to the vegetables.
[02:15] * Yanmei returned to her chicken as well, head abuzz with the things that had happened before Marianne's appearance. Without Isaiah, 04's words might have been true. She would have to work hard now, to keep him safe, to keep her less savory urges from spilling out, to keep herself from becoming like 04. She knew she could do it.
[02:15] <Yanmei> She was not a monster.

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