For Ameliorating Working Differences

1[19:23] <Dorian> [[Session 19: NEON GENESIS EVANGELION. Date: 30th November-5th December. Episode Title: For Ameliorating Working Differences.-
01[19:24] <Dorian> [It was morning on the 30th of November. Two days ago, the snow had started to fall on Paris-2, blanketing it in a lovely white mantle of soft snow.-
06[19:27] * Dorian was sitting in his apartment, a thick tartan blanket covering his lap, thick woolly gloves on his hands. He awaited the arrival of his 'guests'… Or perhaps, his prisoners.-
01[19:27] <Dorian> [He wasn't alone. Isaiah reclined in a nearby sofa, looking a little sleepy but peculiarly amused.-
01[19:28] <Dorian> "I wonder how much we can get away with this week, Gabriel-Wei."-
01[19:28] <Dorian> ["I imagine you could get away with a fair bit, sir. But surely there's more to this than just your amusement?"-
01[19:29] <Dorian> "Naturally, naturally." Said Dorian, waving his hands. "There's a logical reason behind the synchronised dance interface pads, the embarrassing uniforms, the awful music routine and the backbreaking physical demands."-
01[19:29] <Dorian> ["Oh?"]-
01[19:30] <Dorian> "To make them hate -me- instead. They should be here any minute now."
06[19:36] * Yanmei stared up at Dorian's apartment building with a wretched expression on her face. There was a very large suitcase resting next to her, and she herself was bundled in her usual coat and an abundance of pink, including a matching scarf, gloves, and *super cute* earmuffs. She exhaled a long, tired puff of condensation.-
[19:39] <Yanmei> There would be some reprieve from this, at least. With poor, softhearted Isaiah around, she could probably charm or plead her way to additional favors and exceptions this week. Still… why did they have to go through this at all? Finally, she made her move, hefting up her luggage, and moving for the lobby and eventually Dorian's apartment proper, where she would knock.
06[19:39] * Aline was wearing a more modest outfit than on other outings - she didn't want to ruin her good clothes with whatever the hell she was going to be put through. So instead, a simple (recently-washed) track suit in modest red, with a black jacket for warmt. She looked as though she was going to PE class. She probably was. Instead of a suitcase, Aline was lugging a big adjustable-opening
06[19:39] * Aline sack over her shoulder, heavy mostly with clothing. She did, though, slide in behind Yanmei, almost wordlessly.
01[19:42] <Dorian> "Go grab the door."-
01[19:43] <Dorian> [The door slid open, revealing one Isaiah Gabriel-Wei. "Hey, Yanyan~! And Aline too! You're both here on time!"
01[19:44] <Dorian> ]
06[19:44] * Aline meekly waved. "Ah… hi…"
[19:45] <Yanmei> "Naturally~ Good morning, Isaiah."
01[19:46] <Dorian> ["They're here, sir!" Said Isaiah, letting them enter.]
[19:48] <Yanmei> "Hello, Major." Yanmei kept a grip on her things, and tried not to look too obvious about examining the apartment. She'd never been here before.
01[19:50] <Dorian> [Dorian's apartment was, first and foremost, neat and tidy. Everything was where it should be. The furniture was attractive and simple, but of high quality; a very large television sat against one wall; the colour scheme was a light blue. All in all, it wasn't ostentatious, but it was comfortable and appealing.]
06[19:50] * Aline filtered in behind Yanmei, and only cursoirily looked at the place. She wasn't that interested, and she'd get used to it, anyway…. And she remained silent, mostly.
01[19:53] <Dorian> "Welcome to your home for the next week." Said Dorian.
[19:55] <Yanmei> "Thank you for having us!" She peered around for a place that might be a bedroom, a slight gleam of hope in her eyes. "The first order of business is probably to unload our stuff and take a nap, right~"
01[19:55] <Dorian> "A nap?"
[19:56] <Yanmei> "Of course. To gain energy for this whole training thing."
06[19:56] * Aline actually looked at Yanmei strangely, too. "…Energy that was lost by going all of… uh, 4 blocks?"
06[19:57] * Dorian looked over at Isaiah.-
01[19:57] <Dorian> ["Do you want me to…?"]-
01[19:57] <Dorian> "No, not yet. But consider the Record to have begun."
[19:59] <Yanmei> "Actually, I got a ride. It's way cold, you know?" The odd exchange between the two did snag her attention, but she kept quiet about it.
06[19:59] * Aline …blinked at that. "…I… see." But she shrugged amply.
01[20:01] <Dorian> "Anyway. First things first, I want you to familiarise with the apartment. Where the two of you will sleep, the bathroom, the kitchen… So on and so forth."
06[20:05] * Aline almost immediately began to walk around the apartment, poking around to identify rooms, get a feel for the layout, etc. She didn't really linger around the people at the entryway at all.
[20:07] <Yanmei> "And after we've done that? What comes next?"
01[20:07] <Dorian> "Then Isaiah and I will explain to you special rules."
[20:08] <Aline> A tentative "Ah, okay." came from the bathroom, quickly moving around the apartment.
[20:08] <Yanmei> "I see." And Yanmei began her own investigation.
01[20:10] <Dorian> [The apartment was simple enough. There were two bedrooms; one included a large doublebed with an ensuite, the other… Was mostly empty except for three small single beds side by side. A large bathroom sat next to it as well, including a bathtub reminiscent of a spa. The kitchen was in top-notch, and rarely used, it seemed.]
06[20:11] * Aline had more or less finished as Yanmei headed back, and… waited in the hallway, now.
[20:16] <Yanmei> "All finished." Yanmei announced as she too made her way back. "It's a very nice place you have here, Major."
01[20:17] <Dorian> "Yes. Yes it is." Said Dorian cheerfully. "Alright. Isaiah is going to go cook some chicken nuggets in a minute. But shall we go over the rules?"
06[20:18] * Aline nodded politely. "That'd be fine."
06[20:20] * Yanmei nodded as well.
01[20:21] <Dorian> "Alright. Wakeup hour is 0600 hours. Bedtime is 2100. Breakfast is at 0700, lunch at 1200 and dinner at 1800."
06[20:24] * Aline twitched a bit, but didn't say anything further. Yet.
06[20:25] * Yanmei seemed to be keeping herself calm, waiting for him to continue.
01[20:27] <Dorian> "All operations are to begin at 0900, and end by 1730. Gabriel-Wei will push two of the beds in the spare room together. These will be your beds."
[20:30] <Yanmei> Now, a slight ripple of discomfort spread across Yanmei's face.
06[20:35] * Aline seemed a lot more placid than before, simply nodded. Of course, this was only comparative…
01[20:36] <Dorian> "All instructions given by myself and Gabriel-Wei are to be obeyed." Said Dorian. "You are also both expected to wear the uniform."
[20:37] <Yanmei> "Uniform?"
06[20:39] * Aline had the same question but with different emphasis. "The uniform?"
01[20:45] <Dorian> [Isaiah emerged from a sideroom, carrying two coat hangers; one in each hand. Each coat hanger contained two identical uniforms; a puffy white shirt that buttoned up at the middle, with long, tight white breeches; over which were a pair of long-sleeved, high-collared blue jackets, with gold buttons; and a frilly white cravat around the neck.]
06[20:47] * Aline …raised a brow. "I knew you had a long history with the military, but I didn't know you considered it to go back… centuries, sir."
[20:48] <Yanmei> … This was clearly revenge for all the pink shirts she'd tried to coax him into wearing over the months. A jaw muscle or two twitched, but she managed to keep an expression of overt horror from sliding onto her face.
01[20:49] <Dorian> "Funny, Aline." Said Dorian. "But this was actually Isaiah's doing."
[20:51] <Yanmei> "Isaiah?" Betrayal! She twitched her gaze beyond the outfits to the boy holding them. "It, um… doesn't seem that workout appropriate. Maybe we could go with a t-shirt and shorts design instead?"
01[20:52] <Dorian> [Isaiah reddened. "Dorian wanted maid uniforms… I was doing you both a favour."]
06[20:53] * Aline shook her head, muttering a bit. "…Psy-ops. Interesting. …Despite the inherent humiliation factor, I'm… I… I'm actually not sure what I was going to say."
01[20:54] <Dorian> "These are for indoor work. All outdoor work will use your workout clothes that you brought… Unless you break the rules, or your Record Points fall below a certain threshold."
[20:56] <Aline> "…Record points?"
06[20:57] * Yanmei had softened her gaze a little, somewhat apologetically at Isaiah's reply. Now she glanced to their Operations Director again.
01[20:58] <Dorian> "Record Points are a scorekeeping system put in place by Isaiah and myself. Simply put, if you break the rules or act in a discordant manner, you will lose a point. If you show good teamwork and try to help one another, you will gain a point. If your points go over 10, you will gain a reward. If they fall below 0, you will be… Punished."
[21:02] <Yanmei> "I have a question, Major."
01[21:02] <Dorian> "Oh?"
06[21:02] * Aline turned mostly just to watch.
[21:06] <Yanmei> "It's one thing to house us together temporarily to learn a difficult fighting routine in a short amount of time. But, this system and these rules seem to be going well beyond that. What is your objective for this week, exactly?"
06[21:08] * Aline opened her mouth to talk, but closed it. This was to be handled by him.
01[21:10] <Dorian> "The objective is to ensure that the lessons you learn from these activities stick with you. They are abnormal circumstances and it is within these circumstances that relationships change. I need the two of you to be my anchor. I can rely on both of you, but I need to know that the two are capable of working together beyond simply following my orders- that you can work as a team, covering each other's backs, continually, in and out of the plug, for long periods of time. There might very well be situations where the two of you will be on alert for weeks or months endlessly, with little break, and I need to know that the two of you are going to be able to withstand that together."
06[21:12] * Aline then curtly nodded. "I admit I'd have gone for other forms of stress than humiliation, it's… yeah. Psy-ops. Psychological operations, in this case to attempt to basically accomplish a type of training that normal training can't accomplish." A slight sigh. "…That's why I've been keeping that stiff upper lip, you know."
[21:14] <Yanmei> "I see," was all Yanmei said.
01[21:14] <Dorian> "I think a little less pride does a person good. Especially good is to be humiliated together, but it doesn't matter so long as whatever is suffered is shared." Said Dorian without a trace of irony.
01[21:19] <Dorian> ["There are other rules to cover too." Said Isaiah.]
[21:19] <Yanmei> "Oh?"
06[21:19] * Aline tilted her head at that. "…Ah?"
01[21:22] <Dorian> "Passive-aggression is banned." Said Dorian. "And Isaiah and I are both quite good at spotting that."-
01[21:22] <Dorian> [Isaiah nodded quietly.]-
01[21:23] <Dorian> "Furthermore, att the end of each day I will be reviewing how the two of you performed for the day. If I must, I will add rules at this point. At the end of the week, I will do a grand review. If I find that the Record Points are below the target of 20, -or- I suspect that the results are flawed… We will continue this arrangement for another week. Rinse and repeat."-
01[21:23] <Dorian> ["Ah, sir- for Christmas- the Ikaris, they invited us-" Began Isaiah.]-
01[21:24] <Dorian> "Well aware, Isaiah. Unfortunately, if I deem it necessary I will have to write the Ikaris a letter telling them of the regretful circumstances and could they please postpone their arrangement."
6[21:24] * Aline pursed her lip, and nodded a little. "…Ah."
06[21:27] * Yanmei flicked her eyes briefly to Aline, seeing as she was the one with an actual connection to that family, but seeing no spectacular reaction, settled on Dorian again. "Would those be all the rules, sir?"
01[21:27] <Dorian> "That's it." Said Dorian. "Now then. Pilots, go dress. Isaiah, go cook something."
06[21:32] * Aline slowly nodded, and… took one of the outfits… Stopping to ponder which room she was supposed to go to. Oops.
[21:33] <Yanmei> A week of this. It would be even harder than she thought. With slight reluctance, she claimed one of the outfits as well. "Take turns changing in the bathroom, then?"
01[21:33] <Dorian> "Why take turns? It's a big bathroom."
06[21:35] * Yanmei went completely rigid for a moment, but she tried to grope her way to a more comfortable position soon enough. "Heh. That's a good one."
06[21:36] * Aline tugged at the outfit's cravat a bit awkwardly. "…Psy-ops, stress, humiliation. That's why I didn't just run off. I figured something like that would be protocol, so…" She shrugged. "I doubt that's a joke."
06[21:37] * Dorian took out a notepad and started to write something down.
[21:38] <Yanmei> "Wait a minute." Yanmei shook her head. "The other stuff I can deal with. But…"
01[21:39] <Dorian> "You know, Saint Cyr had shared showering rooms." Said Dorian icily. He continued to write.
06[21:43] * Yanmei watched the pen move. Her face shifted, as if she might try biting her lip, but she shifted it back to the way it was deliberately instead, and threw her shoulders back. "Fine. Fine, then."
[21:43] <Aline> "…You can look away if you need to. Or I can hide in the tub. Something." …Aline frowned, but it sounded… almost desperate. "I remember hiding very carefully in the locker rooms at PE class when we were changi-" But then she just sighed. "Right."
06[21:45] * Dorian continued to write, seemingly oblivious to the actions of the two.
01[21:49] <Dorian> [Time would pass, and before long the two uniformed pilots would be sitting at the table, opposite Isaiah and Dorian, a shared plate of delicious-smelling bacon sitting in the middle.-
01[21:49] <Dorian> "So I've designed our first task."
[21:50] <Aline> "Oh?" Aline said this while blushing and tugging at parts of the uniform. She couldn't shake her gut reaction of feeling ridiculous.
06[21:54] * Yanmei looked puzzled. She was arranging a napkin on her lap to prevent falling bits of food from getting on her uniform. If she was going to look ridiculous, she would at least do it impeccably. "
[21:55] <Yanmei> - "What did you have in mind, exactly?"
01[21:56] <Dorian> "Isaiah. Unleash the challenge."-
01[21:56] <Dorian> [Isaiah eyed Dorian for a moment, then… Took out a stack of cards.]
06[21:57] * Aline stared onwards, and critically eyed the cards.
[21:57] <Yanmei> A game? Yanmei looked even more puzzled now.
01[21:59] <Dorian> "This is an old game." Said Dorian. "One of you is given a card. It has a phrase on it, and a list of words you are not allowed to say. You must make the other person guess the phrase. You will be timed."
06[22:01] * Aline simply nodded. "Alright."
[22:01] <Yanmei> "Ah." Yanmei relaxed a little bit. Maybe this would be a chance to test her acting skills. It didn't sound too painful either.
01[22:01] <Dorian> [Isaiah held out a card to Yanmei. "You have sixty seconds. If you pass it, you have to take another card, alright?"]
[22:05] <Yanmei> "Got it. Are you ready, Blanc?"
[22:05] <Aline> "Yes, ready!"
01[22:05] <Dorian> [Isaiah took out an hourglass, and flipped it over.]
[22:09] <Yanmei> "Outwitting an enemy requires this!" She pantomimed holding a something and writing on it.
01[22:15] <Dorian> ["No gestures." Said Isaiah.]
06[22:19] * Aline held her chin, thinking. "Strategic planning?"
[22:22] <Yanmei> "What you actually implement."
[22:23] <Aline> "Strategic battle… plan?"
[22:24] <Yanmei> "Simplify that phrase, Blanc."
[22:26] <Aline> "Battle plan." Aline sounded a bit more confident.
[22:27] <Yanmei> "Simplify it another way."
[22:31] <Aline> "Battle strategy?"
[22:32] <Yanmei> "You're using too many words."
[22:33] <Aline> "Strategy…?"
06[22:34] * Yanmei breathed a little sigh of relief and flipped the card over to reveal that very word. "There you go!"
01[22:34] <Dorian> [Isaiah put another card in front of Yanmei.]
[22:35] <Yanmei> "Twice in a row, huh?" Yanmei examined it.
06[22:35] * Aline nodded. "Sorry…" But then she took a breath to ready herself for the next part.
[22:38] <Yanmei> Oho. Yanmei grinned. This would be easy. "The mall has cute ones."
[22:40] <Aline> "Shoes?~"
[22:41] <Yanmei> "Flowy. Pretty~ Uh… beware updrafts?"
[22:43] <Aline> "Skirts!"
[22:44] <Yanmei> "Comes with a built-in top."
[22:46] <Aline> "/Dresses/." She said, not the least bit… stressed.
[22:48] <Yanmei> "Hah." Yanmei smugly flipped her hair, turning the card around to reveal the word 'Dress'. "Well done, Blanc. This game is totally childsplay."
01[22:48] <Dorian> [Isaiah gave Yanmei the next card.]
06[22:48] * Yanmei took a look.
06[22:48] * Yanmei stared.
[22:50] <Yanmei> "Erm… annoying? Watchful eyes."
[22:51] <Aline> "Spy?"
[22:53] <Yanmei> "Uh… security and undercover spies. Sunglasses?"
[22:56] <Aline> "Section 2 Agent."
[22:57] <Yanmei> "I think that works." Yanmei flipped the card to reveal 'Section 2'.
01[22:58] <Dorian> [Isaiah quickly slipped Yanmei the next card! Probably her last…]
06[22:59] * Aline did smile, though~
06[23:00] * Yanmei scowled visibly at Dorian for a moment after looking at the next card. "Special guy. Not a Jerk."
06[23:02] * Aline smirked. "Alexandre Fontaine?"
6[23:02] * Dorian let out a grin.
06[23:03] * Yanmei seethed. "No!! Never, never, never! Lies!"
01[23:03] <Dorian> [Isaiah quirked an eyebrow.]
06[23:05] * Aline blinked. "…Is that part of the game or…?"
01[23:05] <Dorian> [Isaiah flicked the hourglass. "Time's up."]
[23:06] <Yanmei> "Uh…" Yanmei tried to collect herself and try again… but it was too late. "Aw."
06[23:06] * Aline looked… basically upset at that. "…Sorry…"
[23:08] <Yanmei> "Nah, you did OK, Blanc. And we had less time for that one?" She held up the card. The word "boyfriend" was written on it.
01[23:08] <Dorian> [A little ':)' was drawn on the bottom.]
01[23:08] <Dorian> "Three points. Not bad." Said Dorian, grinning like the awful troll he was.
01[23:10] <Dorian> [It should also be stressed that the words 'Shinji' -and- 'Alexandre' were both taboo for that card.]
06[23:10] * Aline shook her head. "And here I thought you were required by it to be more… gentle on him. The word jerk sorta set me off on that, actually."
[23:12] <Yanmei> "There's no hiding his jerky nature. And I specifically said 'not a jerk,' invalidating him as a choice."
01[23:13] <Dorian> [Isaiah looked a tad uncomfortable. "L-Let's hurry on. It's your turn, Aline. Tell me when."]
06[23:15] * Aline slowly… nodded. "A… alright. Go ahead."
01[23:15] <Dorian> [Isaiah gave Aline her card, and flipped the hourglass.]
06[23:20] * Aline stared at the card, then looked up. "Name. Female. One of us."
[23:20] <Yanmei> "Eh? Aline?"
[23:21] <Aline> "Increase unit number by two."
[23:22] <Yanmei> "…Asuka?"
06[23:22] * Aline nodded, showing the card. "Missed the last name, good enough."
01[23:23] <Dorian> [Isaiah gave Aline her next card. "She'll need to say the full name in the future though…"]
06[23:23] * Aline nodded. "That's fine."
06[23:25] * Aline smirked. "Mrow~. The child of, actually."
[23:29] <Yanmei> "'Mrow'? Uh… kitten?"
06[23:30] * Aline displayed the card immediately. "Yup!"
01[23:30] <Dorian> [Isaiah quickly dished out the next card.]
06[23:32] * Aline eyed the card, then spoke quickly. "Natural satellite of Earth."
[23:33] <Yanmei> "Moon~"
06[23:35] * Aline raised the card again. "But of course~"
01[23:35] <Dorian> [Isaiah had the next card ready, and slipped it to Aline.]
06[23:38] * Aline smirked, though it was less of the smug, amused smirk and more of an 'oho.' one. "Natural law. Forbids creation, destruction."
01[23:38] <Dorian> ["Buzz." Said Isaiah.]
06[23:38] * Aline blinked. "B-but I didn't use any of the proscribed words!"
01[23:39] <Dorian> ["You mentioned part of the actual phrase, though." He pointed at the very first word.]
06[23:39] * Aline blinked. "…Oh. Right. Does that mean I need a new card or that I failed or… uh, how does this work?"
01[23:40] <Dorian> ["First time warning. So keep going!"]
[23:40] <Aline> "Right! Go on, then." She eyed at Yanmei.
[23:41] <Yanmei> Natural law…? "Erm. Energy?"
[23:43] <Aline> "Why those two things forbidden?"
[23:45] <Yanmei> "Natural… physics?" Was that a made-up phrase?
06[23:46] * Aline remained calm. "Word, 'saving limited resources', noun."
[23:48] <Yanmei> "Conserv… conservation?"
[23:50] <Aline> "Rule about that, guess one."
[23:51] <Yanmei> "Ah… aha!" A certain other conversation jumped into mind, although she would rather die than reveal the other participant. "Conservation of Energy?"
[23:52] <Aline> "Partial. Beginning needs 'rule' word."
01[23:52] <Dorian> ["We can accept that." Said Isaiah.]
06[23:52] * Aline breathed a sigh of relief. "Oh!… Okay!"
[23:53] <Yanmei> "Phew. Good." Yanmei grinned.
01[23:53] <Dorian> [Isaiah quickly slipped Aline another card!]
06[23:54] * Aline got ready to read that!
[09:56] * Aline tip-tapped her fingers, then raised it. "Major national capital. Western hemisphere."
[09:57] <Yanmei> "Paris~?"
[23:58] <Aline> "New world. 20th century superpower."
[00:00] <Yanmei> "Paris-2, then?"
[00:01] <Aline> "Pre-Impact. Not this continent." …Aline was trying to maintain calm, but did seem to be speaking a bit slower.
[00:02] <Yanmei> "Ohhh~ Washington D.C.?"
06[00:02] * Aline nodded. "I suppose the state or the general would've worked too."
01[00:02] <Dorian> ["We left that one open-ended." Said Isaiah, putting the next card down.]
06[00:03] * Aline took it~
06[00:04] * Aline read the card… then spoke simply. "The opposite of 'something'."
[00:04] <Yanmei> "Nothing?"
[00:05] <Aline> "Yup~"
01[00:05] <Dorian> ["And that's all the time." Said Isaiah.]
06[00:06] * Aline clapped her hands lightly. "Well, that was fairly precise, then."
01[00:06] <Dorian> "You both did well." Said Dorian. "Now. Could I have the smiley face cards please?"
01[00:06] <Dorian> [Isaiah flashed Yanmei an encouraging smile. "Well done."]
[00:07] <Yanmei> "Thanks," She grinned back. "You too, Blanc."
06[00:08] * Aline nodded! "And it wouldn't have mattered if you weren't able to guess my thought patterns. Mutualism, ho~" …She did hand over her two smileyface cards.
06[00:08] * Yanmei slid her smileyface cards across the table too.
01[00:09] <Dorian> "Each smileyface card was worth half a Record Point. This makes two points, bringing the total to two." Said Dorian. "So! Did you feel good about that?"
[00:10] <Aline> "Fair bit, anyway!"
[00:11] <Yanmei> "It wasn't too difficult," Yanmei said. At the same time, she had a feeling that saying it would jinx them.
01[00:12] <Dorian> Dorian grinned. "Now, Yanmei, I want you to imagine what it'd be like if you were playing with Asuka. Aline, imagine what it'd be like playing with Sera."
06[00:12] * Aline …considered that heavily. "…And tell you the results of that?"
01[00:12] <Dorian> "No. Just consider it."
[00:13] <Aline> "Ohhh okay."
06[00:14] * Yanmei recalled the 'friendly tennis match' from a while back as an example of Asuka's way of handling games. She looked faintly pale.
06[00:15] * Aline on the other hand sort of had a vague expression of… apprehending when something was supernaturally difficult.
01[00:16] <Dorian> Dorian grinned. "Now that we understand that the alternative is vastly worse, let's proceed onto today's physical activities. Yanmei, did you bring your brace?"
[00:19] <Yanmei> "I did." She had barely touched her plate, but now she frowned down at it a little. "It's going to be strenuous enough to require it?"
01[00:19] <Dorian> "Just in case."
01[00:20] <Dorian> ["The task is synchronised dancing on a lightup pad." Said Isaiah.]
06[00:21] * Aline put two fingers together. "That sounds pretty strenuous."
01[00:22] <Dorian> ["I'll make sure to get you a nice lunch, Aline." Said Isaiah apologetically.]
06[00:23] * Aline shrugged. "Oh, I was just noting! Full practice with that greatsword is probably just as bad anyway."
[00:23] <Yanmei> "I'm sure it'll be fine? Although I guess we'll need to change again."
01[00:24] <Dorian> "Synchronised dancing is an inside activity!"
06[00:25] * Aline looked down. "…Was going to say. Lightup pads aren't very good in the snow so we'd probably have to keep these on." She did shrug. "Between an embarassing outfit and having to fight the embarassment of changing together… Eh."
01[00:25] <Dorian> ["They're flamboyant outfits, but those tights -are- pretty practical…"]
01[00:26] <Dorian> "That was the argument you made when you debunked my maid uniform request."-
01[00:26] <Dorian> ["I know."]
06[00:27] * Aline did… stop, there. "…Yeah, I mean, I feel like I'm fresh out of Elba about to go on a spree of ill-advised conquests, but at least I can move!"
01[00:27] <Dorian> "Har."
06[00:28] * Aline just grinned in response~
06[00:30] * Yanmei repressed grumbles. Why did they have to be so stubborn about the uniform? "All right, already. Let's just get started?"
01[00:32] <Dorian> [The two girls would be led by Isaiah to a part of the living room, in front of Dorian's luxurious television, which was lit up with a standard rhythm game selection of songs and directions just waiting to be released. Two glowing pads- each with nine directions- sat below them.]
06[00:34] * Aline stepped up to them, but… paused. She'd let Yanmei choose her 'side'.
06[00:35] * Yanmei picked the right-side one and flashed a little smile. "Ever play one of these before?"
06[00:36] * Aline shook her head. "No! But I read about them, so I at least know how it works. Though with 9 pads like that… almost seems like a cross between some Japanese dancing arcade game and 'Twister'."
01[00:36] <Dorian> Dorian's eyes lit up behind his glasses.
01[00:36] <Dorian> ["Anyway. When I press the button, a song'll start playing and the actions will appear. Today we'll use the TV, but later on it'll just be the music." Said Isaiah. "Say when!"]
06[00:38] * Aline walked over to the left side, took a deep breath, exhaled, and… "When, start on Yanmei's mark!"
[00:39] <Yanmei> "Count of three." She stretched, and took her position on the mat. "One… two… three!"
01[00:42] <Dorian> [And so they began.-
01[00:43] <Dorian> [… But it wasn't exactly easy sailing. Yanmei seemed to do well with the rhythmic part, and she wasn't too bad at trying to go with Aline's own pace. But Aline was having real trouble with the actual actions, and it was affecting how well she could pay attention to Yanmei…]
6[00:46] * Aline actually, specifically, was hitting the point where hand-eye coordination and hand-/body/ coordination… didn't line up. She could pop an Angel's core at 50 Eva-paces but try to dance and… She ended up hitting the center pad when the correct one was upper-right.
06[00:47] * Yanmei couldn't slow down and keep up the rhythm, but she tried to make her own motions more simple, at least, throwing little glances in Aline's direction in the meantime.
01[00:53] <Dorian> [And so they continued! Hours started to pass…-
01[00:54] <Dorian> [Their timing started to get a little better, at least, Aline started to pay more attention to Yanmei's rhythm. Yanmei herself was performing the dance flawlessly. Everything was going well…]
06[00:57] * Aline /was/ paying more attention. Time was beginning to slow and speed around Yanmei's actions from Aline's perspective. It wasn't literally screwing with her perception of time, but she was able to match it. She was in the zone. She was doing it /and/ making it happen. She was… Was… Hitting the right-center button in a rush to recover from a misstep. Aline had it in the bag. It was
06[00:57] * Aline a done deal. Wait. Wait no. Time slowed more. She felts something wrong. Was the button supposed to be that high up? Correct for it, quickly! No! Too far! The girl let out a sudden yelp as what seemed to just be a quick step turned into her foot coasting onto the floor beyond the pad, catching against the edge… and sending her careening straight for Yanmei!
[01:06] <Yanmei> "Ah?" Something fast-moving was on the edge of her vision. Yanmei turned to look at it more full… just in time to get a flailing arm to the face. That wasn't all, naturally, as the rest of Aline followed along with the momentum, shoving her off the mat entirely and seemingly coming to a halt where she had been standing. The replaced Yanmei staggered and fell hard on her rear, clutching her cheek, dazed.
01[01:07] <Dorian> "…" Dorian stared.
01[01:07] <Dorian> ["I-I…" Isaiah rushed to Yanmei's side. "Are you ok?!"]
06[01:08] * Yanmei blinked at Isaiah, and then flushed red, glaring back at her dance partner. "Wh-what the hell, Blanc?!"
06[01:09] * Aline was left in a heap at Yanmei's feet, herself pretty dazed, and sort of just twitching on the floor for the first few seconds, and then weakly pulling herself up to sit in front of her. "I was trying to synchronize and then the righthand step came too fast and I overshot it then overcorrected and my foot flew off the pad! I'm sorry, I… I-I-I need agility training apparently! M-most
06[01:09] * Aline of my… my dodging techniques are profile reduction so they don't help!"
01[01:10] <Dorian> [Isaiah put a hand on Yanmei's right shoulder, giving her a gentle squeeze. "I'm sure it was just an accident. Nothing to dwell upon."]
06[01:12] * Yanmei gazed at Isaiah again, and sighed. She wasn't any less angry, but she wasn't going to act like a baby about it in front of him and Dorian. "E-even still." She climbed to her feet as well now, rubbing her face with her sleeve. "Please be more careful."
01[01:12] <Dorian> [Isaiah moved to Aline now, offering her a comforting hand up.]
06[01:13] * Aline nodded swiftly, taking the hand when offered. She was herself trying to hold in knee-jerk reactions, but doing a worse job at it. "I'll uh try… sorry sorry sorry…"
01[01:21] <Dorian> "Ah, well. Let's keep going."-
01[01:26] <Dorian> [And so the dancing began once more. The two girls seemed to be a little more in synch, at least with how they paid attention to each other… When suddenly…]
06[01:32] * Yanmei was still seething a bit from the earlier collision, actually. Not only was her timing off, but her movements had a sharp snap to them now. During a frantic looking arm motion that she embellished, in fact, she suddenly felt a slight pressure relieve itself from her wrist, and… glanced just in time to spot her wristwatch sailing through the air, on a direct course to poor Aline!
6[01:38] * Aline was dancing, herself, and well… she was still not reacting fast or well enough compared to what she was /feeling/… So when something suddenly hit her in the face, hard… and knocked off her glasses to the side… in mid-step… Aline lost balance /again/. "Noooo not agaiiiin!" …She tried desperately to wheel around in the air to not fall, but she completely forgot about her
06[01:38] * Aline equilibrium, and ended up instead grabbing onto Yanmei. When the both of them landed, Aline was surprised that it didn't hurt as much as last time. Something must have cushioned her f- …A glance down. Something purple and fleshtone underneath. A particularly impolite cravat wrapped around one hand… which was dangerously close to where said cravat used to be in the first place.
06[01:38] * Aline "…S-s-sorry!" …In her haste to apologize, Aline didn't get off of Yanmei yet.
01[01:38] <Dorian> "…"
01[01:38] <Dorian> ["…"]
[01:39] <Yanmei> "…"
01[01:40] <Dorian> "What would Shinji think?"
01[01:40] <Dorian> ["M-Major-!"]
[01:41] <Aline> "Erm… what's ev…" Aline's hand pressed down. Squish. "…Eep!" The girl lit up half of her own dance pad as she basically /exploded/ off of Yanmei. "A mistake! Mistake!"
01[01:42] <Dorian> "I don't understand. The rhythm shouldn't be this hard." Muttered Dorian. "Yanmei?"
06[01:43] * Yanmei could -breathe- now, and was sitting up again, red faced, and twitching slightly with humiliation and the difficulty of exercising restraint. "M-Major?"
01[01:44] <Dorian> "I want you to repeat the exercise with Isaiah." Said Dorian seriously. "I want to see if this is just the two of you having trouble, or the rhythm's problem."
06[01:44] * Aline for her part was busying herself with crippling shame and vacantly palming the floor for her glasses - which she'd find. Eventually.
[01:46] <Yanmei> "Yes, Major," she grumbled. She didn't look at Aline. Couldn't actually, without turning red again… she could already feel it. "Let's try it, Isaiah."
01[01:47] <Dorian> [Isaiah nodded, still shocked by… Well. He gently helped Aline away from what was clearly a danger hotspot before taking her pad.]
06[01:48] * Aline then slunk off, still holding her glasses in her hands rather than putting them back on, just… sitting on a chair or couch or something, curled up slightly, like she was hiding. Or just feeling terrible.
01[01:51] <Dorian> [The cue started up once more for Isaiah and Yanmei. Isaiah himself had long since mastered the rhythm, and moved it gracefully, even managing to focus on both the movements and Yanmei at the same time. Yanmei…]
[01:56] <Yanmei> Started off matching the boy almost perfectly, even seeming to take on some of his physical mannerisms. But then, on a pivot, disaster struck in the form of extreme gravity! Yanmei wobbled, arms pinwheeling as she tripped, her own mat sliding out from under her and even launching into the air! For a horrible moment, it looked as if she would wipe out the nearby Isaiah in the process.
01[01:59] <Dorian> [… Luckily, the boy really did know the rhythm, and furthermore right now he was in the -zone- of dexterity. He deftly dodged Yanmei's pinwheeling arms of death, leaning back with just the right level of gravity to then reach out and catch her as she fell, saving her yet another crashing to the ground.-
6[02:00] * Dorian was, on the other hand, moving to console Aline. "It wasn't your fault, Aline." He said gently, patting her on the head… Then, a 'whoompf'. If Aline looked up now she'd see her commanding officer's head and shoulders obscured by a flashing rhythm dancing mat.
06[02:01] * Aline looked pretty morose. "It feels like she thinks it i-" …Then she just stared dumbfoundedly. Assuming she wasn't about to get smacked in the head, herself.
01[02:01] <Dorian> [Luckily Aline was spared.]
06[02:04] * Yanmei gazed up at Isaiah in confusion in the meantime. "Ah. Hello." Now it was her turn to be embarassed. Or moreso, anyway. That was… good heavens, what a spill. Maybe Blanc wasn't completely to… her thoughts trailed off.-
[02:05] <Yanmei> That was because she had regained enough of her balance to attempt standing, and could spot what had happened to Dorian. "…"
01[02:05] <Dorian> ["I had no idea you were such a klutz." Said Isaiah fondly, smoothing down Yanmei's messy hair.]
06[02:06] * Aline …continued to sit there… and maintained the same dumbfounded look as she basically tossed the mat off of Dorian, onto the floor, with a single hand's swipe.
01[02:07] <Dorian> "…" Dorian's face was stony. "Thank you. It was the spin. Right. That's enough for today. Isaiah gets to reconfigure the rhythm tonight."
[02:08] <Yanmei> "Th-that is… I was just… just…" She had the decency to look mortified now. Her voice shrank down, too. "…Sorry, Major…"
01[02:08] <Dorian> "It wasn't your fault." Said Isaiah. "You all keep screwing up at the same place, so…"
[02:12] <Aline> "Ah, so a… mis… design in the… right."
[02:13] <Yanmei> "Yeah. Yes, of course," she made a halfhearted grab for more dignity, which amazingly hard to come by. "Still, I feel responsible, so… Sorry about the watch too, Blanc."
[02:15] * Aline nodded. "Yeah. It's… it's just both of us. And the system itself. Nobody really needs to feel bad or blame someone or… anything like that. Even if we want to." …Her voice was still a bit glum, but what can you do?
[02:19] <Dorian> [Dinner was a suitably awkward affair, but at least everyone had the chance to focus on Isaiah's teriyaki chicken noodle dish instead of distractions like 'speaking' or 'conversation.-
[02:20] <Dorian> [And before long, it was time to sleep. The lights were off. In the bedroom, two beds had been put together- Aline and Yanmei's shared bed. They had been granted pyjamas, which were loose and could have, honestly, been a little warmer.-
[02:23] <Dorian> [Unbeknowst to any of them, Dorian had also decided to turn the thermostat down. The girls would undoubtedly feel the wintry chill. Isaiah was already asleep. (Isaiah would hardly be bothered by the freezing air. The boy always seemed to be very warm and snug when he was asleep, as Yanmei could attest to. This time was no exception.)]
[02:25] * Aline found herself sitting on top of 'her' bed, shuddering and holding her arms in close. "…S-s-so cold tonight…"
[02:28] <Yanmei> "W-was it this cold before?" Yanmei was trying to lie down, at least, but the thin sheets she was clutching to herself weren't cutting it.
[02:30] * Aline shook her head. "It… d… it doesn't /seem/ to have been." She had… eventually decided to lay down, after seeing Yanmei do it.
[02:34] * Yanmei shook her head, still shivering, and glanced at Isaiah. "I guess we should be taking it on the chin? He doesn't seem to have a problem with it…"
[02:39] * Aline stared over at Isaiah as well. "…Why /does/ he not have a problem with it?" The tone wasn't accusatory, but just… baffled.
[02:45] <Yanmei> "He… exudes a lot of body heat. There were times in the hospital, I remember, when I thought he was running a fever when he was recovering, but he was actually just fine. P-plus… I think the Major let him actually dress for the cold."
[02:46] <Aline> "…Right…" Aline pondered that last bit, especially. "I can see the likely… uh, manipulation here. It… it might end up being too cold for either of us to sleep. Intentionally."
[02:47] <Yanmei> "He really had fun putting this together, huh?" She sounded actually a little bitter, a little unhappy.
[02:52] * Aline sighed, leaning back into the bed. Letting the change in posture be the most she can try to become more comfortable. "But are you more upset because he's going out of his way to torment us for the sake of the training whatnot, or because I'm involved /while/ torment is the order of the day?" She didn't sound… as bad as she would when normally upset, but small notes of it were
[02:52] * Aline still there
[02:57] <Yanmei> "I'm more upset that he's making us do it at all," she admitted, and was facing a little bit away, but she was still talking. "And I'm upset at myself. For being upset. This is nothing compared to what Atticus and Alexandre and the others went through. But I've already nearly lost my cool a couple of times, and I feel like dropping out and running away. It… makes me a little sick."
[03:05] * Aline sighed, starting to curl up a little in a vain attempt to get warmer. "Well, it's… I mean… God this is hard to say. I'm confused as to why it'd be this bad between us - he isn't just doing this for kicks, even if he might be amused by what he does /for/ this. I remember when I did stupid things like try to hit Alexandre because I didn't like him singling you out. Where I tried
[03:05] * Aline to, maybe again stupidly, be your 'knight', the noble, if a bit naive, soul out to protect you. You got into stuff I didn't care for, but that… that didn't change it. Something else changed this. I don't know what. But…" Aline was now basically a rolled up little ball, completely. "If you know you're going through things intentionally designed to, rather than just be as horrible as
[03:05] * Aline possible, get at /you/ personally (and me, personally)… why should you be so.. put off by being upset about it? Maybe annoyed that the attempt worked, but… what's so bad about being upset?"
[03:13] <Yanmei> "We all have to grit our teeth and go along with things we don't like, right, Blanc?" Yanmei shut her eyes. "But this isn't like piloting or melee practice. It feels much more personal somehow? If it was someone else… de Pteres, or Alexandre, or someone else I've clashed with, it would probably also feel like a personal attack somehow. It's hard to put into words."-
[03:14] <Yanmei> "I'm used to acting more becoming when I'm in a bad spot too. Maybe that's part of the reason. I'm sorry about today. Tomorrow, I'll figure out a way to keep control of myself better."
[03:20] * Aline …laid there, but her tone sounded a bit more… affirmative. "It /is/ a personal attack. It's just… You eventually just hurt yourself by… well, holding back your reactions isn't that bad, but… I don't know, I don't even comprehend what it's like to be unable to bear feeling bad about something. But I guess I'm used to feeling like crap even when I have no reason to." Another
[03:20] * Aline long sigh. "I'd be okay with you being mad at me or complaining about something, but it's like… were you actually /shocked/ that I might have not meant to fall like that? That's… something beyond just being mad. But it's not like I think you hate me for it - though I /did/ feel terrible. I just don't… understand… what you were even thinking. I was just ashamed. Very, deathly,
[03:20] * Aline ashamed."
[03:27] <Yanmei> "But I -wasn't- thinking." Her voice sounded a little strained, as if she couldn't stand admitting that aloud. "I got hit, and felt those things… embarrassment, anger, and frustration… and I just reacted. That's what I mean about not being in control of myself enough. And it's caused problems this time too. I'm sorry for making you feel that way."
[03:30] * Aline …pondered that. "Ah. I… I guess I don't know what has to have happened in your life to make blaming someone the unthinking response." Aline's own voice wavered. "I can tell you all sorts of reasons why /my/ unthinking response to just fold and apologize or even just want to hide or break or cry… why that came into being. But I doubt anyone's really interested in a tour of my
[03:30] * Aline bad feelings. Well, almost anyone."
[03:34] <Yanmei> "It's not even blame. Not really. And." Yanmei shifted aound a bit, "You can talk about it if you want to."
[03:38] <Aline> "…Oh. Well, it's pretty simple, mostly. I don't like having to hurt people - that's because of how my sense of morals developed - and I used to get picked on a lot when I was younger." Aline sighed for now the third time since they got in here, one full of burden. "It was only when I first got to be a teenager and started doing well in clubs that people didn't bother me as much. Kept
[03:38] <Aline> saying I was too weak, or poking fun at my glasses, or that I was some sheltered city kid that didn't have to struggle at all - my dad's pay meant we had one of the better apartments in the better neighborhoods, and the fact that he helped build the topside stuff in Paris-2 meant we got in /real/ early. But… er, basically when I wasn't making the mistake of thinking I was worthless, I
[03:38] <Aline> was just desperate to get them to stop."
[03:41] <Yanmei> "Did breaking down do that back then? Or did it just make things worse?"
[03:43] * Aline curled a bit tighter. How she was even capable of that was anyone's guess. "Sometimes they got tired of it. But most of the time it made it worse… until someone like a teacher or my dad or even just an older kid who wasn't so stupid would bail me out. Of course if I tried to hide or if it was just a misunderstanding, they stopped."
[03:46] <Yanmei> "I thought so. That's just the way a lot of kids are? If you give them a reaction like that, it makes them want to do it more. Which makes you feel worse, and if that's the way to cope with feeling bad… A vicious cycle, no?"
[03:50] <Aline> "It /is/ my unthinking response, though. Not that hating the idea of feeling bad is much better. It's… all just stupid." Aline's voice gained a concerned - or maybe scared-and-confused - tone to it now. "…I have trouble telling, sometimes, how people think about things and see things. That's why I hate being involved in politics so much, because I'll… I'll just see it the one way,
[03:50] <Aline> and even I do everything I can to make sure I'm right, I'm still forgetting that I have to deal with all the /people/ standing in the way of whatever that one solution is. And… and that's why, for all that it hurts, for all that it can be terrifying… I'm not that upset about being the one the Angels talk to. They're simpler."
[04:03] <Yanmei> There was a very long pause from Yanmei's side of the bed. "…Come again?"
[04:04] * Aline similarly paused for a good long while. "…Ab-bout which part?"
[04:07] <Yanmei> "The… Angels." She collected herself quietly. "I understand about your fear, though? Of course you're going to get hurt when you deal with people. Especially if your wants differ from theirs. Or your perspective. Humans inflict pain on other humans for less than that. But that's just the way things are. Human nature? Or maybe everyone has a monster lurking inside of them. That last part sounds a bit dramatic, though, woul
[04:08] <Yanmei> -wouldn't you say?"
[04:11] <Aline> "A… little. But after what I did with those terrorists… I could believe it. It's just…" Aline sounded helpless, or maybe just uncertain. "I know where they stand. What they want. They don't have the complications of society or anything, they just… are something, and will be what they are for as long as they live. Even that dream about the one that hated me and did horrible things
[04:11] <Aline> to me and Tsubaki… at least, once I spent enough time understanding, I knew /exactly/ why, and it was almost the only reason. That kind of certainty… you can't get it with humans."
[04:18] <Yanmei> "It's funny to think of aliens as easier to predict than humans are." Yanmei mused aloud. "To be honest? I haven't considered their thought processes at all."
[04:24] <Aline> "Well, of course not. You're not the one they just /can't stop talking to/. Or, I guess, the one weird enough to listen - Even if he was just talking to his weird other-self illusion, Sera sounded defensive and scared of an alien presence." Aline shifted in the bed a little, thankfully not jostling Yanmei too much. "I guess having to deal with them /staying/ in there makes me a bit more
[04:24] <Aline> okay with it than he is, too."
[04:27] <Yanmei> "Staying?" She was trying hard not to sound as creeped out about that as she was compelled. "I something like that really okay? They're the enemy, aren't they?"
[04:35] * Aline …shrugged openly. "Yeah, staying. In my head. I'm some kind of glue for mental impressions or whatnot. But…" Aline was… lecturing, yet… a bit wistful. "That's the weird thing. They're only our enemy because what they want to do, would end our form of life - and what we want to do by stopping it, would end theirs. They're still, in their own strange way, 'people'. Sam…
[04:35] * Aline Samandiriel was /nice/ once I had to deal with his consciousness outside of his body. The dream was all symbolic and stuff, and… well…" Her mood drooped a little, reflecting a sort of bittersweet melancholy. "He appeared as a kid, and we had (imaginary, of course) shakes together and talked about what love meant and I helped him confront the horror of impending death and it was all
[04:35] * Aline really sweet. It's just that without the levelling of the playing field, and with our literally mutually-exclusive existences… we're destined to fight. Human wars are, in some senses, the same way. Usually some grievance or impossible-to-sort problem that brings decent folk into a mess, even if mad-eyed… /assholes/ are the ones that wanted it to happen."
[04:44] <Yanmei> "Mad eyed-assholes?" Yanmei sounded amused. "For someone who's so sensetive about human-Angel politics, you're simplifying ours a great deal, aren't you? But then, I'm having a hard time seeing your Samaderiel as anything as a horrible monster.
[04:46] <Yanmei> " I hear your words well enough, but all I remember is being trapped in a dark, broken entry plug for seven hours while rescue crews sawed me out. Or behind close enough to the shard that wrecked it to reach out and touch it, and being told through emergency phone that I was nearly killed. Again. And that was the nice one, huh?" She was smirking in the darkness to herself. "Forgive me for being less-than sympathetic about i
[04:47] <Yanmei> - its plight."
[04:52] * Aline waved her hand a little. "That was an exception, actually. Most of it is just plain folk that can't handle a problem between each other. I just have to remember that monsters are real. All the tyrants and dictators, that sorta thing." She… paused, but then resumed not too long after, having gotten her breath back. "You have to remember that I was the one that finished it off. It's
[04:52] * Aline just respect for the fallen that aren't complete, well, assholes. Like whatsit… Voriel. That one, total asshole. I'm not asking you to cry for something you'll likely never meet in a way that isn't 'actively trying to kill you'. I'm just saying that… that's… that's the world I have to live in. And it is a /world/ apart. I can't take you there. You wouldn't /want/ to go there. Even if
[04:52] * Aline we were just classmates or something and there was none of this fighting aliens stuff, I'd still have my problems with people. It'd still be in ways that probably don't make any sense to people that aren't me. So I'd still be in a world you can't live in. I…" Aline's voice broke slightly, but she was… holding back the reason for it. No need for an outburst now. "I just wanted to share.
[04:53] * Aline We can't learn to tolerate one another's mere /existence/ if we continue to know nothing about each other."
[05:01] <Yanmei> "You're doing it again, Blanc." Yanmei was staring at Isaiah's bed. He was just a lump in the darkness now. One that she couldn't see. "You presume so much about other people's limits. What they are or aren't capable of perceiving. What they can or can't disregard. What they have or haven't experienced." -
[05:08] <Yanmei> "Even without bearing their souls to each other up close, people who are completely different from each other have formed bonds. Even when they don't completely understand each other, they can still get close. Is the risk of being hurt so scary that you don't realize that?"
[05:15] * Aline rocked back and forth a few times. "I only make the presumptions I do because I can't go on with what I do without filling in those blanks somehow! And I… I'm willing to, but it's not just the /risk/ of being hurt, it's having /been/ hurt. Being so angry at me whenever I make a mistake, taking offense at things I had trouble even imagining as offensive, not caring about anything
[05:15] * Aline I like, fighting, spending more time either mocking me or pointing out how little my ideas make sense from your point of view than listening… Risks increase to near-certainty when you have that much history of them!"
[05:24] <Yanmei> A long pause. "Fair enough. But… those were also my true thoughts. I think? Or further misunderstandings wrapped around those thoughts. I don't remember doing some of what you just said." Her voice carried, calm and even. "Maybe it's not just a matter of fearing risk. It's just that your skin is a little thin? But as someone who gets angry when people make wrong assumptions about me, I shouldn't be throwing theories aroun
[05:28] <Yanmei> -around like that either. It does seem that whenever I say what I'm thinking, or when I get angry with you, you kind of freak out."
[05:37] * Aline shivered, the heat of her emotions doing very little to change how cold the room was. "It does happen a lot. And usually you tell what you're thinking when it bothers you - or at least it looks like that to me. I guess I just… feel like I can't measure up. Maybe I'm ignoring the actual honest, good opinions that aren't just 'because we both happen to be happy about something'
[05:37] * Aline kinds of stuff. I wouldn't be surprised about that, it… it's sometimes hard for me to actually even remember things that'd cheer me up when I feel bad. That's just a… just a consequence of the depression, which can feel just as… alien as the /real/ aliens do." A halting, awkward breath. Aline must be far less composed than Yanmei is. "So, in a weird paradox, even though I can take
[05:38] * Aline horrors that most people don't even have a /chance/ of running into - I mean, even just simple stuff like worrying about someone they love being kidnapped by a person who does /not/ care about their wellbeing - but… not seeing any signs that someone cares, when I /want/ things to be alright with that someone… terrifies me. Even though I should be used to it, I /grew up/ with it!"
[05:52] <Yanmei> "Back then, when I was bothered, and demanded to know why you didn't reveal the details of the kidnapping to me before, I was called entitled for it. You told me why, and even though some what you said -really- angered me, I stayed in control and accepted it, and I was accused of being cold and hurting people." Yanmei chuckled quietly. "'I really can't win.' That's what I was thinking to myself back then.-
[05:55] <Yanmei> " Just because I don't give out hugs like candy to people doesn't mean that I don't care. Just because we're not best friends forever who snuggle and confide everything in each other doesn't mean that we can't define a bond some other way. Even enemies can forge understandings with each other. Not that I'm saying we're enemies, of course?"
[06:07] <Aline> "I know, I know. I don't even 'ask for' hugs when I'm not /already/ feeling so terrible that I'm crying in a corner because I can't take it anymore. It's just… just…" Nothing came, for a few seconds. "When I ask you to be nice but be yourself, I just mean… to be aware of not just… doing outright hurtful things. Even if we both have to ask what the hell those thigns /are/. I don't
[06:07] <Aline> mind if you get angry sometimes, or complain about things. It's just because I keep seeing fleeting or grudging kindnesses, that I… er, freak out like I do. Though I guess that could get out of hand, because when I feel bad enough, I'd tell myself that it's okay if you started hitting me, just so you'd get it out of yourself. That can't be very smart of me to tell myself… right?" But…
[06:07] <Aline> she drooped, though it was almost impossible to tell from how she was curled up. "When you feel like crap and are at high risk of taking it out on people… say so? I think that… that's what happened that time. You must've been stressed or tired or something and I had no idea! I thought it was kinda-sorta business as usual, and you were just in a bad mood rather than mentally exhausted!
[06:07] <Aline> I would've been more careful about interpreting things if I knew that." A final sigh. "Either way, the reason why I avoided you, why I stated that reasoning that you were so angry at… it's because I'm screwed up, Yan-Yan. I don't know how that can be changed. I just need to have more of a clue of what's going on with other people's feelings. I really failed there before."
[06:16] <Yanmei> "Blanc? If I told you that I thought we would end up hurting each other a lot this week, would you freak out?" asked Yanmei softly. "You say things like 'just say when you feel awful,' but doing that is…" she sounded distinctly uncomfortable then and trailed off for just a little while.-
[06:20] <Yanmei> "It's like changing in public. Doing it in front of something else," she concluded. "It's like asking you to be not so sensitive to how other people act toward you. You can -try-, but…"
[06:25] <Aline> "…I expected us to hurt each other a lot. I can't make myself ready for it when it happens, but I expected it." She… turned about, slightly. It was dark so she had no idea what she was even looking at, though. "…I guess you can just say it as an excuse if I get upset? I don't know. I… I need practice reading you. From how often you complain about me misguessing things about you,
[06:25] <Aline> I'd assume I suck at that, too." Aline rolled over completely, looking at… probably Yanmei's side. "I get what you mean, though. Sorry. I don't know what else to say, now… I guess we should just shrug and carry on, then?"
[06:32] <Yanmei> "I don't know myself," she admitted. She heard the slight change in the direction that Aline's voice was being projected in, and rolled over too, trying to respond to and mirror it. "I'm okay with being hurt or getting angry. I was going to say that maybe this week would just force us to work together in spite of that, or help us to get used to it, or something. At least figure out where we stand with each other? But it's s
[06:34] <Yanmei> - But it's still a problem for you, isn't it?"
[06:36] * Aline nodded, now knowing the gesture could be seen. "As long as we don't /mean/ to hurt each other, I'll live. Okay? I'll even be happy."
[06:38] <Yanmei> "I see. Well." A faint smile through the darkness, a worried, doubtful one, although it couldn't be seen. "I guess that's the best we can do for now."

-DAY TWO-

[14:18] <Dorian> [And naturally, the first thing that happens is that the alarm blares at 6 AM.]
06[14:21] * Aline would greet the day with… well, pulling herself up blearily and grabbing off to her side instinctively - at an end table that wasn't there. "…Blugh. Need to get used to that."
[14:22] <Yanmei> It was not a welcomed sound for one who had spent half the night awake and shivering… like Zhang Yanmei! She nevertheless made a grudging, pained, slow effort to sit up swing her legs over the edge of the bed.
01[14:22] <Dorian> ["Good morning!" Said a bright, cheerful voice from the doorway. Isaiah was standing there, an apron over his neat clothes, looking as though he'd slept well. Which he had. "I'm cooking pancakes~"]
[14:24] <Yanmei> "That's… that's nice, Isaiah. Hmmf."
01[14:25] <Dorian> ["How many would you girls like?"]
06[14:27] * Aline finally grabbed onto her glasses, and began to look a bit more coherent. "…3? I guess."
[14:29] <Yanmei> "Just one for me," Yanmei mumbled. What she really wanted was a hot mug of tea or coffee.
01[14:29] <Dorian> ["Alright." Said Isaiah cheerfully. The slipped out.-
01[14:30] <Dorian> [… Then stuck his head back in. "Oh yeah. Dorian wanted me to tell you that we're running low on hot water, so there's only enough for about 3 or 4 minutes of showering."]
06[14:31] * Yanmei actually drooped pre-emptively at that. "3 or 4 minutes… each?"
01[14:32] <Dorian> ["To share."]
[14:35] <Yanmei> "…"
01[14:41] <Dorian> [Isaiah gave her an apologetic smile, before slipping back out.]
06[14:49] * Aline somewhat sighed, as she stretched and tried to wake up. "…He sure seems to love the naked-together form of embarassing us."
06[14:55] * Yanmei flipped her hair, a determined one sliding in place over her dejection from before. "Take the first shower, Blanc. I'll go second."
[14:56] <Yanmei> ^determined look
06[15:01] * Aline …looked at Yanmei concernedly. "…You're just not going to accept that, are you? I don't mind that you're determined, but… Aren't you the one that this whole thing is making more miserable?"
[15:05] <Yanmei> "He han't given us a direct order to do that, so it should be okay." She flashed the other girl what was meant to be a reassuring smile. "Anyway, it's just a cold shower. Not the end of the world?"
06[15:09] * Aline …pondered. "…Actually… how good are you with baths?" A catlike grin, a rarity, but one that meant she was /up to something/. "3-4 minutes of hot water might make a shallowish bath, but… If we both go quickly, it'll not be freezing!" Then she patted Yanmei on the shoulder, just once. "You're tougher than I am, but it's still ridiculously cold out. You /know/ he's going to
06[15:09] * Aline make us do outdoor exercises shortly afterwards."
[15:12] <Yanmei> "Yeah, that sounds like something he'd do," Yanmei mumbled. "All right. As long as it's not simultaneous, the bath idea should be ok."
06[15:13] * Aline poked Yanmei in the nose. "Look, it's not like I'd molest you~ But making you uncomfortable'd be terrible. Let's do this!"
[15:17] <Yanmei> "Wha-" Yanmei rubbed her nose. It was too early to have a sense of humor. "That's not what I… Well, ok. We should try to hurry and get to breakfast, at least?"
06[15:19] * Aline nodded. "S'was a joke. Also just mean that you're uncomfortable with the basic idea. But yeah. Doing this, us, let." She began to march out to the odor of pancakes!
01[15:21] <Dorian> [Breakfast was quite the affair. Isaiah and Aline had 3 pancakes apiece; Yanmei had a single pancake, and was granted a cup of coffee from Isaiah, who knew her well enough to realise she'd want that- and Dorian had the rest. That is, out of the 20 pancakes Isaiah had cooked over the hour, Dorian had… 13.-
01[15:24] <Dorian> [The Major was in a congenial sense of humour that morning. Probably because he'd, unbeknowst to the girls, had slept in a warm room and had a 40 minute shower.-
01[15:25] <Dorian> [Their first task that morning would be simple, he said.-
01[15:25] <Dorian> [And so it was that both girls would be asked to dress in their outdoor activity attire, and assemble outside of his apartment block.]
06[15:30] * Aline was, actually, in that same red tracksuit and black jacket from day 1, and seemed to be giggling to herself. That, and muttering something like "Atashi wa niiito~" Now she was making jokes in Japanese. Maybe.
06[15:31] * Yanmei would do just that, sharing the bathroom with Aline again with their 'no peeking' policy from the day before in place. She appeared in one of the skiing outfits she had worn on the Alpine trip, mostly pink, with some gray. She was trying not to look too wary.
01[15:33] <Dorian> "Well then." Dorian handed the two girls a compass each, and two sheets of paper.
06[15:35] * Aline would, naturally, staaaare at said paper. And vaguely glancing at Yanmei.
[15:36] <Yanmei> "Are.. we going to be looking for something?" Yanmei asked, blinking down at the compass.
01[15:42] <Dorian> "Orienteering." Said Dorian. "The two of you will be following these directions, recording what you see."
[15:47] <Aline> "…Oh. We get clipboards too, right?"
01[15:47] <Dorian> "Of course."-
01[15:47] <Dorian> [Isaiah handed the girls their clipboards.]
[15:48] <Yanmei> "Hm." Well, this was another exercise that seemed like it would be more of a game than torture. She started to relax a little.
01[15:49] <Dorian> ["I'll be going with you." Said Isaiah.]
[15:50] <Yanmei> "You will?" Yanmei brightened further.
01[15:51] <Dorian> [Isaiah nodded!]
[15:53] <Aline> "Oh, interesting. Well, either way…" Aline looked around, slightly. "Well, fair enough then. Anything else to know before we start?"
01[15:54] <Dorian> "You're not allowed to ask for directions, obviously. And you have a time limit of two hours."
06[16:00] * Yanmei nodded politely, following along.
06[16:04] * Aline nodded quickly. "Alright!"
[07:46] <Dorian> [And so the two girls, accompanied by Isaiah, headed off…-
[07:46] <Dorian> [… However, compasses are not as easy to read as they seem, and mistakes can be made with astonishing ease.-
[07:47] <Dorian> [Thus it was that the party found themselves staring at a rather dank and dark alleyway, the flickering neon light of "Liang's Guns and Munitions Shop" visible amidst the gloom.]
[07:50] <Aline> In particular, Aline more than a few times commented that the maps didn't really look like the roadmaps she was used to looking at, so she was just guessing at best, but… "Uh…" The girl looked left and right. "…Oh! I know this place!" Aline beamed happily. "…The guys at Armory-2 told me to never, ever buy guns or ammo from them."
[07:50] <Aline> It is worth noting the second sentence was delivered with the precise opposite of cheer.
[07:52] <Dorian> [Isaiah blinked a little. This is where he'd ended up buying Yanmei's various ammo and guns from…]
[07:52] * Yanmei had thrown her shoulders back, and to show that she wasn't worried about their surroundings, was wearing a confident expression as she stared up at the sign of the shop. "Is that so? Well, at least it's familiar?"
[07:52] * Aline shrugged. "…I actually didn't look up where it was. To be honest I only went for relatively tame civvy stuff. Sorta."
[07:53] <Dorian> ["I've been here before, actually…"]
[07:54] <Yanmei> "You have?" Yanmei blinked at Isaiah, and then grinned. "Then you know how to get back to the Major's apartment from here? We could retrace our footsteps and try again."
[07:54] <Dorian> ["I do. We should hurry!"]
[07:56] <Yanmei> "Of course. We're counting on you!" She winked at him.
[07:56] <Aline> "Yes! Yes indeed! Thanks~" Aline smiled broadly, her cheer resuming.
[07:58] <Dorian> [Isaiah led the way back!-
[07:59] <Dorian> [… Unfortunately, truth be told Isaiah didn't know the way back as well as he thought, and the dark, overcast winter skies were making it harder, too.-
[08:00] <Dorian> ["It… Should be just around here.-"-
[08:00] <Dorian> [And that's how the three of them came to be standing in front of a primary school.-
[08:01] <Dorian> [Both pilots could feel the stares on them from the nearest class room. Even though they weren't even on the premises- the kids could just somehow -sense- them.]
[08:02] * Aline …tapped her foot idly. "…Oh god. If we get celebrity-mobbed by primary students…" She pulled out her map, thinking. "Hmmmmmm. Hmm." Then, she looked around. "Landmark landmark landmark where is a tall landmark can we see one?"
[08:04] <Yanmei> "Hm." None of this looked familiar at all. Unfazed by the idea of being mobbed by little kids, she flipped her hair and smiled charmingly up at the windows of the school. "Maybe we should just hail a taxi. But that would be cheating, wouldn't it?"
[08:05] <Dorian> ["I'm not quite sure how we ended up here…" Murmured Isaiah shamefully.-
[08:06] <Dorian> [Landmarks. Well, this was Paris-2, so you could easily see the Eiffel Tower in between the apartment blocks and highrises. Of course some of those high rises could pass as landmarks… Although they -did- all look the same, albeit different lengths.-
[08:06] <Dorian> [Dingding. A lunch bell rang.]
[08:07] <Yanmei> "Don't worry, Isaiah." She reached out and rested a hand on his shoulder and smiled gently at him. "We all made mistakes today. It'll be okay!"
[08:13] <Dorian> ["I know, but…"-
[08:14] <Dorian> [The three of them are able to make their way away before being mobbed by curious preteens. Luckily, Yanmei is able to figure out where they are thanks to the prefab highrises- and even luckier, Dorian's apartment is actually only about two blocks away! They arrive back at the front door after only five minutes.]
[08:17] <Yanmei> "Whew. Made it!" Though she was careful to keep an eye out for looming Dorians. Would they get scolded or smirked at for coming back so soon without results?
[08:18] <Dorian> [No Dorians present.]
[08:18] * Aline …stared at her map again. "Okay. I was staring at this map almost the whole way through, and I /think/ I get what all these little symbols mean now. So… why don't we just hustle?" She tapped the map with her compass. "You can see it too, right Yanmei? The next target point?"
[08:19] <Yanmei> "Yeah," she was looking at her own map now. "This time we'll get it right. Let's move it. Gotta make up for lost time?"
[08:20] <Aline> "Absolutely! And perfectly! Absoperfelutely!" …Aline, stop breaking the flimsy narrative translation convention.
[08:20] <Dorian> [So they'd head off. Before long- :| - the two of them would find themselves staring at the facade of Saint Francis d'Assisi Catholic Church.-
[08:20] <Dorian> ["Well done. This was the first point." Said Isaiah.]
[08:22] * Aline was already scribbling the notes on her recording pad~ Though it really looked more like a crushed jumble of abbreviations with the fact of it being a church being the most obvious word. Close enough.
[08:24] <Yanmei> "It's… pretty impressive. I've actually never visited this place before?" Yanmei was writing stuff down too. A single word, anyway.
[08:30] <Dorian> [They would soon be off once more. This time the directions were more complex, requiring two steps, and it was at this point understood that each compass was -slightly- differently calibrated from the other. Yanmei nearly headed in the wrong direction, but Aline's flawless direction-keeping soon put them…-
[08:30] <Dorian> [On the Rue de Saint-Denis, in front of the Rue de Saint-Denis Shopping Centre, a large and spacious shopping centre to be sure.-
[08:30] <Dorian> ["This was the second point!"]
[08:32] * Aline nodded, folding her arms triumphantly! "And to think, that our instruments were made to betray us! Probably designed to get us to compare notes and notice the discrepancy. But… Ah, we both noticed that soon enough." Scribble-scribble. Rue de St-
[08:32] <Aline> *D. /Close enough./
[08:34] <Yanmei> "Well done, in any case, Blanc." Yanmei wrote down her descriptive word… and tried to eye the shops more carefully, making little notes about one or two in the margins.
[08:37] <Dorian> [And so the group would be off again… Coming to an intersection in 5 minutes.-
[08:37] <Dorian> ["This was the third point! Good work!"-
[08:38] <Dorian> [… Of course, the special thing about the point was that the intersection was banded with a large black box. "CAUTION- ELEVATOR" signs were written along it, with other instructions… it was an Evangelion launch port.]
[08:41] * Aline whistled, and… briefly eyeballed for where the Eiffel was from here. So she could place it relative to the Seine. At least the /river/ wasn't recessive, so she could use /that/ to understand where her personal preferred EVA Launch port was. Either way, using such ~triangulation~, she'd attempt to do her best to report which port it was, and show that fact to Yanmei.
[08:41] <Dorian> [The giant '03' written on the port might help, too.]
[08:42] <Aline> There is that, yes.
[08:43] <Yanmei> Yet another word gets written down, and Yanmei glanced down at her watch… only to be interrupted by Aline's report. Very nice, but… what did that have to do with their current task? She smiled and nodded politely in any case.
[08:43] * Aline shrugged. "Oh, uh. I had tried to gauge stuff based on our EVA points-of-view. Made it feel more familiar to me."
[08:45] <Yanmei> "I see." Yanmei thought about it, and sighed. "An EVA's vantage point would make this job a bit easier, wouldn't it?"
[08:45] * Aline waved one hand. "Except for the whole recessive buildings thing. Pity, that."
[08:51] <Dorian> [The next destination was full of complicated directions that seemed to wind in on each other… And even worse, were structured using different symbols and clues than the others. In fact, it threw Aline -completely- off, which is probably what Dorian intended…-
[08:51] <Dorian> [Yet Yanmei had next to no problem reading them. In fact she seemed to grasp them intuitively, bringing the three of them to…-
[08:53] <Dorian> [The Bibliotheque Nationale de France.]
[08:54] * Aline scribbled more notes, which thankfully we will not attempt to go over. "…Tricky Dorian."
[08:56] <Yanmei> "I'd say we're making decent time, all things considered." Yanmei briskly wrote doen her description. "Are you guys having fun? Let's keep going."
[08:59] <Dorian> ["This is the fourth point, yeah. The next one is the last~"]
[09:01] * Aline nodded enthusiastically. "Yeah!"
[09:01] <Dorian> [And… They would find themselves standing outside of Dorian's apartment once more.]
[09:01] <Dorian> ["This was the 5th point. And the last! Well done, girls!" Said Isaiah cheerfully.]
[09:04] <Yanmei> "Aha. Naturally, this would be the last one. Thank you for guiding us, Isaiah~"
[09:05] <Dorian> ["I didn't do anything."]
[09:07] <Aline> "…Yeah, he really didn't. Well, okay, he /did/ do something."
[09:07] * Aline grinned widely. "He confused a few classes of primary-school kids~"
[09:10] <Dorian> [Isaiah blushed shamefacedly. "It- I got muddled on the way back…"]
[09:11] <Yanmei> "Hehehe," Yanmei giggled. "Well we managed to get back somehow. And we wouldn't have if we weren't in that position."
[09:12] <Dorian> ["I-I guess that's true. Anyway." He coughed. "You get a point for passing, and an extra point for arriving thirty minutes early."]
[09:13] * Aline patted him on the shoulder. "Yeah, it was all part of the journey! Besides, probably made their day."
[09:15] <Yanmei> "Points, hm? I'd say we're probably doing pretty well with those so far." Yanmei sounded almost smug. There would be no chance of them repeating this week if things kept up like this.
[09:15] <Aline> "So it seems, interestingly enough!"
[09:15] <Dorian> [… There was a chill gust of wind down the street. It was starting to get cold- probably best to go inside.]
[09:17] <Yanmei> Indoors~ Yanmei was all too happy to move toward the building again, grinning. Maybe they would get a little break after this. Some time to themselves, to relax.
[09:18] * Aline had this sinking feeling that even if they did, it'd probably be fleeting. But, she went inside all the same.
[09:19] <Dorian> [Inside was far warmer.-
[09:19] <Dorian> "Ah, back already? How did they do, Isaiah?"-
[09:20] <Dorian> ["Very well, Major. Very well indeed!"-
[09:20] <Dorian> [And they were indeed allowed a break. For lunch, and a bit of time free. (Lunch consisted of spicy fried chicken burgers, with cheese and plenty of sauce and salads.)-
[09:22] <Dorian> [And then… It was back to the dreaded dance pads.]
[09:25] * Yanmei stared at hers for a moment before stepping on, her expression vaguely resembling one that only occassionally slipped out before sliding into an entry plug - revulsion veiled thickly behind resignation. The humiliation from the day before was still fresh in her mind.
[09:26] * Aline stared with… less of that. Much, much more of creeping dread. She had done far worse, humiliation or not.
[09:27] <Dorian> "Isaiah's coded the rhythm to be a little less intense. So you two should do well."-
[09:27] <Dorian> ["Say when!"]
[09:28] * Aline nodded. "Going when Yanmei goes!"
[09:29] <Yanmei> "…" Maybe if she stayed quiet and didn't 'say when,' they wouldn't have to start back up. But after a few seconds ticked by, she could tell that plan wasn't going to work. "All right. Here goes."
[09:36] <Dorian> [And so the rhythm began. And it really was easier! At least at first. Yanmei didn't have any problems with it, certainly, but Aline…]
[09:41] * Aline …didn't have a convenient trip to blame. She didn't have anything like that at all. She just… shut down, for some reason. Stepped on herself, twisted her self together. This time, /this/ time, Yanmei was no longer in the firing zone. Instead, Aline fell down the mat, and… proceeded to smack her head on the TV. She probably didn't break anything, though. Oh, and her head was
[09:41] * Aline fine too. But daaaamn did it hurt. And block the picture.
[09:43] * Yanmei froze in mid-dance, and… stared, as if she couldn't quiet believe what she was seeing.
[09:43] <Dorian> ["Ack!" Isaiah was quick to the rescue though, rushing to Aline's side and helping her… Well, away first. "Aline? Are you ok?"]
[09:44] * Aline rubbed her head as she pulled herself into a sitting position. "Ooog… Uh, well… cognition… er… seeing straight… I don't /think/ I concussed anything? Hurts, though!"
[09:45] <Dorian> "At least you didn't collect Yanmei with you this time."
[09:45] <Dorian> ["Hmm. You do seem ok… Give yourself 10 minutes, ok?"]
[09:46] <Yanmei> "Y-yeah," Yanmei muttered. She had lowered her arms, and was frowning a little. "You sure you're okay? Maybe we should stop."
[09:46] <Aline> "…Y… Yeah. At least." Aline… just laid back a little, still rubbing her head. "Sorry. I… I don't know /why/ I'm so terrible at this. It can't be all missing the synchronizations. I don't think it's physically /possible/ for that to be the sole cause!"
[09:48] <Dorian> "We should continue either way. You won't improve otherwise."
[09:49] <Aline> "Well yeah. It's just… confusing. I feel like just staring impotently at the TV and shouting 'Impossible!'."
[09:49] <Dorian> "It might be a morale problem. I think you're doing fine otherwise."
[09:50] <Yanmei> "It could be worse? At least you haven't broken anything, Blanc."
[09:55] * Aline slowly nodded, and proceeded to… just try to relax. She seemed a bit… in a daze, but not of a physiological sort. More distracted… Eventually, though, she stood up to ready herself for the next round.
[09:57] <Dorian> [And thus they continued. As far as keeping an eye on each other went, the two of them… it could've been better. They -were- a little out of synch.-
[09:58] <Dorian> [However… they'd both find themselves, eventually, coming to a stop as the music wound down… And nothing bad had happened.-
[09:58] <Dorian> "… You both did it!" Said Dorian, impressed. "A little out of time with each other, but you both finished the entire routine…"
[10:00] * Aline seemed to express genuine shock. "Y-yes, I… actually didn't trip and bowl someone over. Very impressive."
[10:01] * Yanmei chuckled. "Likewise. I think we did very well that time."
[10:01] <Dorian> [Isaiah gave Aline an encouraging hug nonetheless. "It's a really good improvement, though~"]
[10:04] <Aline> "Mm~" That was actually all she had to say on the matter.
[10:04] <Dorian> "Of course, we're not quite done for today. Let's continue."
[10:11] <Dorian> [And so, the two girls continued again. And when the song had finished, they repeated. And repeated. The routine continued, over and over, their reflexes and timing slowly improving…-
[10:11] <Dorian> [Until finally, as the day's end-of-work hour drew clear, the last three beats of the song began. Beep! They shifted together. Beep! A step to the right. Beep- A fistpump and a step forth. In perfect unison.]
[10:12] * Aline certainly felt /excellent/ about being capable of this! This was progress! This was kicking metaphorical ass!
[10:14] * Yanmei was more focused on the task instead of their success… until the music ended, and she could look back and reflect and compare it to their previous day.
[10:14] <Dorian> "That was a perfect finish." Said Dorian. "One point for success, and… Another for the spotless ending. Well done, girls."-
[10:15] <Dorian> ["Yes. You were both magnificent~!"]
[10:16] <Yanmei> "I… huh." It was still sinking in, and Yanmei blinked thoughtfully. "Thank you?"
[10:16] * Aline was just smiling, standing there at the 'finish'.
[10:21] <Dorian> [Dinner that night was no doubt a cheery affair. Isaiah had been busy, it seemed- a big, delicious and piping hot dish full of lasagna had been waiting for them.-
[10:22] <Dorian> [And so the day ended, as it had before- with all three of them in bed- Isaiah by himself, Aline and Yanmei sharing- and for the girls, at least, the hot food in their bellies did very little to stem the utterly freezing air around them. Once again, Dorian had sneakily turned the thermostat down. And once again, Isaiah was unaffected, snoozing happily away.]
[10:37] <Yanmei> Dammit, Dorian… Yanmei huddled on her side of the bed, shivering quietly. It looked like another night of no sleep? But… she eyed the distant sleeping Isaiah, recalling how warm she'd felt during those occassions when they'd slept in the same bed together.
[10:39] * Aline was laying in bed, staring up at the ceiling. Not because she was avoiding Yanmei, but because she honestly had nothing to say. Just thinking.
[10:41] * Yanmei finally, after some debate, sat up and started climbing out of bed. "I have an idea."
[10:42] * SyntaxTerror has joined #nervfrance
[10:43] * Aline blinked, sitting up now, too. "…What's the idea?"
[10:45] <Yanmei> "We have to wear the uniform pajamas, and we have to sleep together. But if we slept with a third person… one who generated a lot of body heat… things might be a bit more bearable?"
[10:48] * Aline …turned over instinctively to look at Isaiah. "…Er… Are you sure that's… entirely okay…?" Her tone suggested it was more than just a worry about the rules.
[10:50] <Yanmei> "The two of us have shared a bed before. But…" A realization, as Blanc had not. She stopped moving. "Hm."
[10:51] <Aline> "…Yeah." All Aline needed to say about this matter.
[10:52] * Yanmei slowly sank back down in her original spot, quietly defeated.
[10:57] * Aline frowned. "I'm… sorry. I didn't mean to ruin your big plan. I just… know that we don't even treat our…" Aline was stumbling on her words. "The… the people we love, the same way. Not even close. It's still love, both cases, but… very different. I'd feel like I was threatening you or something."
[11:01] <Yanmei> "Threatening?" The thought hadn't really occurred to her. Aline wasn't Kaworu Nagisa, after all. "I'm not the jealous sort, Blanc."
[11:05] <Aline> "Oh. I… have no way of knowing. It's…" Her head drooped, thinking of a way to put this. "It's bad to assume, especially about you, but… this is a 'better safe than sorry' concern, you know?"
[11:09] <Yanmei> "Yeah, I understand. If the situation was reversed, I'd probably think the same." This was a topic that was probably still like an open wound to her, given what happened with Shinji. Wasn't it better to change the subject? She very nearly fidgetted.
[11:15] <Yanmei> "I guess I'm more concerned with how he would take it? It would be better to ask his permission before dragging someone else over to, erm, cuddle with him.
[11:17] * Aline slowly nodded, though her gaze shifted left and right quite a bit. "There is that, too." She looked down at herself, and pursed her lips. "…He's pretty soundly asleep, though. And that's a tiny bed for three people. Er… Sorry, I'm just making up excuses. It, I mean, it's a mechanically feasible plan, just socially weird."
[11:23] * SyntaxTerror has quit IRC (Ping timeout)
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[11:26] <Yanmei> "Yeah," She agreed. She had resumed her huddled-up position. There was a long pause. "Erm. For the record, sharing a bed doen't necessarily mean we've…" another log pause. She cleared her throat.
[11:26] <Yanmei> ^long pause
[11:33] * Aline was /eminently calm/ about that. "Yeah. I know that. If you're serious enough about the platonic soulmate arrangement then, well. It's probably going to stick unless something really weird happens! …Which uh…" Aline blushed. "…Is another reason why I got so nervous about it. Because you have to be able to guess that I'm… not that way about Shinji, that you are with Isaiah."
[11:37] <Yanmei> "I picked up on the clues, yeah. And the body language before…"
[11:41] * Aline blushed even more, with a sheepish look on her face. "Hence the uh, 'have to be'… part." Aline did smile, though. "It's… okay. That's just how I am, right?" A brief look of stress and an unbidden sigh came up next… at which point Aline became shifty-eyed.
[11:46] <Yanmei> "Girlfriends and boyfriends want to do that sort of thing." Yanmei shrugged. "It's not that abnormal."
[11:47] * Aline was… surprisingly slow to respond, and closed her eyes a few times. She was even sweating (obviously a /cold/ sweat) a bit. "…I… know. I can be uh… exaggerated sometimes. And it still means that it uh… makes it more awkward."
[11:51] <Yanmei> Exaggerated? She was compelled to ask, but knew that she should not. Privacy was privacy, and that aside, she did not want clarifications on what that meant. "I see…"
[11:53] <Aline> "Yeah. Sorry for being…" Aline just up and stared off into space for a second. "Oh… Oh! Right. Sorry for being so nervous."
[11:57] <Yanmei> "It's fine, Blanc. Erm… silly question, with the nerves, and likely exhaustion from today, but are you okay?"
[12:00] * Aline started to frown, then… it twisted around, gaining a strained look with aid from her eyes that basically was a 'I feel bad but am also sorta leery about something as of yet unstated' face. "Not sure if you'd understand. I don't… uh…" Sudden violent shake of her head to regain focus. "…I don't mean to assume, but I am truly not sure if you want to know. I trust you to protect
[12:00] * Aline my privacy from others, but… this… this this… er…" A hand to her head. "Gah! This is more complicated."
[12:03] <Yanmei> "Er. So you're not okay," was what she could gather from that. "Look, I won't pry? Private contents, I get it."
[12:07] * Aline carefully shivered, as much from her own nerves as the cold. "Y-y-yeah. I know you're… more willing to keep it quiet, and let others do so too.. And for once… for once that's good. We can just say I'm going crazy a b-" A sudden /twitch/, and Aline just grabbed her head. And stayed like that for about 5-10 seconds, silent. "Uuuug… Definitely crazy. But yeah. I trust you, but
[12:07] * Aline this time… You're right to back off. Not for my sake. For yours."
[12:13] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei did't know what to say to that. She just rested there, her body tense. "Listen. Try not to lose heart, okay?" she said at last. "I didn't say this before, since I don't know the details and anything could happen at this point, and I don't want to get your hopes up, but… NERV knows 05's location. It's just a matter of figuring out how to approach." -
[12:14] <Yanmei> It was hard to make out features in the dark, but she gazed, hoping that would appease her somehow, make her relax and edge away from what was apparently an emotional or nervous breakdown. "So once we come up with a plan and execute it, it will be okay. You see?"
[12:41] * Aline nodded, and actually… okay, now she seemed happy, maybe a bit mellowed, and completely undistracted. Mostly. "Yeah. Yeah, we will. Even if it goes the worst it possibly could and he dies, I'd at least… know how it fell." The smile didn't waver. "Not that I'm going to let that happen at all. I might have to break 05 to pieces, but even… erm, even 05 is a victim here."
[12:45] <Yanmei> "Sacrifices?" Yanmei hated using that word, especially when Blanc was throwing around one like 'victim.' "EVAs bounce back pretty quickly. Taking off a few limbs is probably the safest way to bring 05 to a halt."
[12:46] <Aline> "It's… for psychological reasons. I know who 05's soul is." Aline said it with finality. "And unlike the other thing, I /want/ you to know. If you think you're ready for it."
[12:48] <Yanmei> "Try me." She had not even considered the personalities that had gone into the other EVAs. Most of those involved with the first few seemed as if they had been volunteers, but… 'victim' huh?
[12:48] * Aline paused. She took a deep heavy breath. Waited. Waited… "It's Rei."
[12:51] <Yanmei> "…" Was that some punchline or something? They wouldn't… she remembered the ruthless training Neospartans had undergone, Elisha Caine's plan for 04… in the darkness, her eyes widened. "They -wouldn't-" she said aloud now, a certain desperation filtering through.
[12:52] <Dorian> ["Mm…Mmf…" Isaiah shifted in his sleep, uncannily a second after Aline said the name.]
[12:55] * Aline responded back extremely simply. "They /did/. Shinji wouldn't lie to me, and he definitely wouldn't make mistakes about his own sister." But Aline frowned very pitifully. "…It must sound twisted. And maybe it is. But… Gendo's responsible for it. I'm sure. And… he lost his daughter that day. He chose the worst way I can think of to change a tragedy around, but… I'm sure that
[12:55] * Aline was part of his desire. No matter what master plan or other thing was in play, he… didn't want his little girl to die. The situation, whether dying or being in the EVA or /both/, is immensely painful to her, but… She isn't alone. It's a sick comfort."
[12:58] <Yanmei> "Don't-" Isaiah's shifting around made her turn her stare. Even in the darkness, there was a certain reflective bright-eyed horror to it. "Don't.. d-don't… " She shook her head. "Don't say any more!"
[13:00] * Aline blushed intensely. In her… emotional confusion she had /totally neglected/ that. "…Oh… oh… oh god sorry.."
[13:04] * Yanmei fought for some sort of composure. It seemed like something she had to do often. Something that she should be used to. "Th-they were close. He won't be able to take… Listen. Let's not talk about it anymore. Let's go to sleep, okay?"
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[13:07] * Aline noodded /very/ shakily. "…You should make sure he doesn't listen to something I'm… going to try there, then. I won't give up that easily. I'll stop after this one thing, but… I've been dreading and plotting for this battle for weeks. I've run every possibility through my head. I've run some /impossibilities/ through my head. And I still don't feel ready. But… just… I don't
[13:07] * Aline know. Hope. Pray. It's all I have left, now that the strategies are all set. I'm… so sorry. I'll, I'll stop now. I'll go to bed now."
[13:10] <Yanmei> "Thank you, Blanc." Althogh she left it unclear what she was thanking her for. She took another pause. "It will be okay. The three of us will fight like always. And this time, we know what… what our opponent is capable of in a fight."
[13:12] <Aline> "…Right. Right… We'll put together our knowledge. We must all be learning different things now. We'll know more than NERV does. We'll know more than the enemy does. It'll work." Aline's last expression, now basically fixated on Yanmei, was a sorrowful smile, not sure whether to cry from sadness or happiness.
[13:16] * Yanmei stared back, and offered a small smile of her own, hard to read save for the small bit of hope shining through for Aline's sake. "Of course," she said.

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