For For Celebrating A Friend

[19:19] <Dorian> [[Session 18: NEON GENESIS EVANGELION. Date: 28th November, 2015. Episode Title: For Celebrating a Friend.-
[19:21] <Dorian> [It's a sunny November day; the sky is clear and the sun is warm on the wintry, cold city of Paris-2.-
[19:22] <Dorian> [Zhang Yanmei would have, of course, woken up at some point- to an empty apartment. No Isaiah. No Marianne. All that she got would be a letter on the dining table, reading "Gone to work. See you after- Isaiah", and a single lonely chocolate cupcake.-
[19:22] <Dorian> [-Meanwhile-, deep below the concrete and bitumen of Paris-2 sat the world's most advanced defensive installation, operated by the world's most powerful paramilitary organisation.-
[19:23] <Dorian> [And in keeping with the fine traditions of that organisation, they were about to put said installation to a most frivolous use.-
[19:23] <Dorian> [So it was that Sera de Pteres and Aline Blanc were called into NERV HQ by none other than Dorian Lachapelle.]
[19:28] * Yanmei smiled fondly down at the little cupcake and took it into the livingroom with her, resting it on the coffeetable instead of eating it straight away. She turned on the TV, dropped onto the couch and reached for a phone to dial a number. Endless ringing, and then voicemail. She hung up without leaving a message.
[19:29] * Sept had hurried to the headquarters immediately after getting the message. "News?!" he yelled into the room excitedly before half-running in.
[19:32] * Aline arrived at HQ in a casual, yet not entirely-so, blue dress with a white coat over it, and had a… semi-light tone in her voice. "Ah… what's the event?"
[19:33] <Dorian> "Today we are having-" Dorian looked over at Sept for a moment, then back to Aline. "Today we are hosting a party for a very special member of NERV."
[19:35] <Sept> "…oh." Sera made a smooth U-turn and navigated back through the door.
[19:35] * Aline lunged out to grab him by the arm. "Ohhhh no you don't!"
[19:37] * Sept was caught off guard by Aline's involvement. Sullenly, he stopped and turned to hear out the rest of Dorian's plans.
[19:38] * Dorian stared narrowly. "Today is Yanmei's birthday. Now. We've all been a little stressed recently, and a party will help loosen us up a little- which is why we're having it here, in a wide space with plenty of room. Now, in about thirty minutes or so, I'll go give Yanmei a summons."-
[19:39] <Dorian> "If you don't want to participate, you're free to leave."-
[19:40] <Dorian> ["What's this about leaving, now?" Asked Alexandre, occupying the doorway Sept had came through. At his shoulder, staring at a nearby wall with big blue eyes, was none other than Akagi Tsubaki.]
[19:42] * Aline released her grip from Sera. "Just mention a party to him and he'll want to run, but…" She craned her head at Dorian. "Despite how I messed everything up between me and her, I'm still going to attend. If /I/ can get the courage to do it…"
[19:44] <Sept> "Oh, I… guess she deserves it," the boy mumbled, turning around at the voice. "Hello, Ale- TSUBAKI!" Sera ran at the girl, catching her in an embrace.
[19:47] <Dorian> "Good. That's what I like to see." Said Dorian approvingly.-
[19:48] <Dorian> ["…!" Tsubaki squealed in sudden surprise, hugging Sept back. "Nii-saaaaaaaan~!"]
[19:55] <Sept> "I was so worried…"
[19:57] <Dorian> ["Me too!" Said Tsubaki, her tone nervous and solemn. "What would I do if they kidnapped my nii-san?"]
[19:58] * Aline for her part… actually leaned back against a wall, nearby. "Mmm, what indeed…"
[20:01] * Sept hesitated for a moment, before just nodding and going with it. "M-mmh. I'm just happy you're here." After holding the hug for a while longer, he turned to Dorian. "You had… plans, then?"
[20:05] <Dorian> "I did." And thus, in half an hour, Dorian sent out his message. Or rather, his messenger.-
[20:05] <Dorian> [Yanmei would feel a knock on- no, more like a series of heavy thumps on the door.]
[20:08] * Yanmei had been nodding off a little… and now jumped slightly, heart pounding as it is wont to do when one is startled out of sleep. "Mph. Hold on." Rubbing her eyes, she trudged over to the door, and threw it open without looking through the keyhole. "Yes?"
[20:09] <Dorian> ["A-HA-!"-
[20:09] <Dorian> [Yanmei would see a blur of red hair before being put into a headlock. "Lazy idiot. Where have you -been-?!"]
[20:12] <Yanmei> "Guh?! Ah!" Yanmei yelped, and flailed. - Assault! Robbery! - before the voice and red hair registered. "Wait… Asuka?" She paused. "Who's lazy?! This is my day off? And why aren't you in Hamburg? Did you miss me that much?"
[20:13] <Dorian> ["Major Lachapelle wanted me here. In fact he sent you to get me. We've received new Entry Plugs and we have to test them right away."]
[20:15] <Yanmei> "Oh." Her disappointed expression was hard to see because… she was in a headlock, and it was only a fleeting thing. "Give me a minute to shower and get ready. Why don't you come in?"
[20:16] <Dorian> ["I will!" She released Yanmei, and beelined for the kitchen.]
[20:19] * Yanmei sighed and followed, because if anything, she was a good host. She set Asuka up with some cookies and wine before padding off to the bathroom for… forty-five minutes or so.
[20:20] <Dorian> [Asuka would help herself to the cookies, and the wine, naturally. By the time Yanmei emerged, the girl was tapping her foot and scowling. "Geez! What were you doing in there?!" … Then she smirked. "I guess it makes sense. Have to shampoo that second head of yours after all~"]
[20:23] <Yanmei> "I have a second head, now?" She found the sunglasses that she was searching for on the table, and put them on to complete her outfit - dark blue sweater dress, leggings, nice high brown fashion boots. She threw a black coat on over it, and checked for her keys.
[20:24] <Dorian> [Asuka had the keys. "That's right. You'd have to be to want to drive that thing of yours."]
[20:27] * Yanmei threw a little grin at her, and then moved for the door. "So you're saying you're expecting me to drive you by moped, huh? I can oblige~"
[20:28] <Dorian> ["Yuk. But if it gets us there… Urgh, it looks so uncool…"]
[20:32] <Yanmei> They would get there, and in one piece, which was even better. It wouldn't be long before they had descended, down, down into NERV HQ, en route to Command
[20:32] <Dorian> [… Yanmei would have to tolerate Asuka's kvetching, admittedly.-
[20:33] <Dorian> [But eventually, the elevator doors would open into NERV Command Centre. And instead of the austere metal plating and the flashing consoles, Yanmei would find herself confronted with…-
[20:34] <Dorian> [A large colourful banner, white, red, blue, green and yellow shouting "HAPPY BIRTHDAY"; balloons attached to railings and walls; The shrill sound of party horns and poppers; A crowd of people, shouting 'Happy birthday!' to her;-
[20:35] <Dorian> [And on the holographic screen, a picture of the three Evangelions, giant party hats affixed to each head.]
[20:40] * Yanmei mutely stared back, wide-eyed and stunned behind her shades. After a moment or two she thawed out from her shock, giving Asuka a look that mixed surprise, warmth, and accusations
[20:40] <Sept> Sera's lips did move along with the shout. An aural closeup might've revealed a faltering voice, but for now, the illusion was good enough, with Sera wishing her well with everyone else, holding Tsubaki's hand quite tightly.
[20:40] <Dorian> [Tsubaki looked up. "Is there something happening?" She was of course holding Sept's hand~]
[20:41] <Dorian> [Asuka just looked smugly self-satisfied.]
[20:42] * Aline was leaning back against a wall - again - also near the back. She wasn't as /awkward/ about this as Sera was, but she… was still edgy.
[20:43] <Sept> "Y-Yanmei's birthday! We're celebrating!"
[20:43] <Dorian> ["Oh!" Tsubaki looked over. "Yanmei seems surprised, too! Why didn't anyone tell her it was her birthday until now?"]
[20:44] <Yanmei> Recovering, Yanmei pulled her glasses off, and flashed a warm smile to the celebrators. "Well, well. It looks like you got me? Thank you, everyone!"
[20:45] <Dorian> [Marianne emerged from the crowd, pulling Yanmei into a hug. "Come on! Come on! We need to take you to the cafeteria. That's where we set up the food and the gifts~"]
[20:45] <Sept> "They w-wanted to keep it a surprise? S-some people like that."
[20:45] <Dorian> ["Oh."]
[20:48] <Yanmei> "Right, right!" Yanmei beamed at her! She did seem slightly distracted for a moment, scanning the crowds, but… maybe Isaiah was in the cafeteria already? Let's go!"
[20:48] * Dorian meanwhile rolled over to Aline. "You know, you could probably go a long way to smoothing stuff over if you go over there and just give her an enthusiastic 'happy birthday'."
[20:49] * Aline slowly nodded at that. "I know. I'm just… all of these people, and many of them don't even know there's trouble between us… I'll do it after the big messy stuff like the giftgiving."
[20:50] <Dorian> "Alright." Dorian gave her a friendly smile and a wink.-
[20:51] <Dorian> [The group started to move into the cafeteria. There were more people there, but fortunately for -some- people the NERV Cafeteria was large-scale, and often doubled as a sort of assembly area. It could rather easily fit a good thousand people if necessary. Today, there were tables covered with white cloths, laden with dishes from crisps to pastries to slices of pizza, along with drinks; all sorts of drinks. Wine; ice boxes full of soft drink; a milkshake dispenser.]
[20:56] * Sept would take his time with the moving, letting everyone else settle down at the new location before following. But when he did, he made sure to lead them both straight for the shake machine before pondering any other plans.
[20:57] <Dorian> [Sept would find that the moment he headed for the shake machine, Tsubaki would see it- and she, too, started heading for it at a slightly faster speed.]
[20:59] * Yanmei milled about in the thick of the crowd, greeting those she met with wide grins, whether she recognized them or not. "So who do I owe my thanks to?" she said to Marianne. She spotted a certain energetic VTOL captain, and waved.
[20:59] <Dorian> ["Dorian organised it." Said Marianne.-
[20:59] <Dorian> [Atticus waved with a grin, a meat pie in his hand. He started to head over.]
[21:00] * Aline had lingered about gathering up an assemblage of things - pizza slices, soft drinks… the works. She was sort of… moving carefully, but didn't quite want to go near Yanmei yet. What she /did/ do was scan across the crowd, though.
[21:02] <Yanmei> "Having fun?" she grinned at Atticus. She didn't see a secretary hovering by him anywhere. Maybe he was left at home?
[21:03] <Dorian> [The crowd was… Well, Aline recognised nearly all of them. Dr. Clement was there, as was Castillo-Delgado. She could spot Jeanne Simon sitting at a table, with a pizza; Frederic and Sophie whispering to each other and giggling, their eyes on Sept; Dr. Riel showing off her baby tiger to a crowd of cautiously enthusiastic S2 Agents; Asuka, of course; and Ariadne Delacour, a glass of wine in hand, eyeing Yanmei with anticipation.]
[21:05] * Aline would, noticing the /interplay/, decide to head over to where those two bunnies were /plotting/. "What's so funny, hm?~"
[21:06] <Dorian> [Sophie and Frederic broke into yet more giggles as Aline approached. "Look at him. He's so -different- now that Tsubaki's here." Said Sophie.]
[21:07] <Dorian> ["That I am." Said Atticus, grinning at Yanmei. "Happy birthday~" He gave her a quick embrace and a peck on the cheek. "Gotten anything, yet?"]
[21:07] <Yanmei> "Nope. I just got here. Any recommendations?"
[21:08] * Aline did notice that, and… nodded. "Well, other than 01 and Freya, she's about the most he even has. It only makes sense."
[21:09] <Dorian> ["The pizza's good. Don't forget your gifts, too! We put them in a pile on the table."]
[21:09] <Dorian> ["True." Said Frederic. "I dunno, it's just interesting to see him happy."]
[21:09] <Sept> The pair would be sipping at their milkshakes together in a mostly unawkward silence for quite a while. Sera glanced at a clock. Still a lot of time to kill. He looked at the people gathered - Maybe they should go congratulate Yanmei perso- no, looks like not. Riel? Nnnnoooo. Eventually, he'd just gently lead Tsubaki off in a sufficiently safe direction, clear of brits and predators.
[21:10] <Dorian> [Tsubaki is pretty easy to lead. "Hey, Nii-san?"]
[21:11] * Sept glanced briefly at his partner before returning to surveying the perimeter. "Yeah, Tsubaki?"
[21:11] <Yanmei> "Thanks for the tip~ Did you come alone, by chance?"
[21:12] <Dorian> ["How is 01?" Asked Tsubaki.]
[21:12] <Dorian> ["No, I didn't." Said Atticus. "Kaworu -was- here but he peeled off…"]
[21:14] <Aline> "Well yeah. It is pretty nice to see him that way. I guess he /really/ took my advice seriously, even now." Aline smiled softly. "Yeah, I was the one that first suggested the whole 'brothers/sisters among the pilots' thing. …This was before Shinji got tapped for the job so /don't/ make that into some kind of creepy joke!"
[21:14] <Yanmei> "I can't find Isaiah either." Her frown started to fade a little as she searched around. "He said he was coming to work today, too, so he should be around." A …bad feeling was starting to creep over her.
[21:17] <Dorian> [Sophie hugged Aline. "Eee, isn't she adorable, Freddy?" "She is~ Thinking we wouldn't turn that into a creepy joke. So adorable. So -naive-~!"]
[21:19] <Dorian> ["Isaiah? I didn't see him around…" Murmured Atticus. "But hey, I'm sure he'll show up, right? Anyway…"-
[21:20] <Dorian> ["Happy birthday, Zhang." Came a voice from behind Yanmei. A certain Alex's voice.]
[21:22] <Sept> "One is alright. We're good. Um. We've found out some things. No, nevermind that. We're good!" A brave smile. "How is 03? Have you had any trouble in Tokyo? Attacks, sabotage… bad dreams?"
[21:22] * Aline at first welcomed the hug, then… flailed a bit once it continued to the uncomfortable conclusion from Frederic. "G-g-g-wha hey!"
[21:23] <Dorian> ["Shinji got taken." Said Tsubaki sadly, bowing her head.]
[21:25] * Yanmei spun! Of course he would be there, but she was still a bit off-balance, mind bouncing back to a recent dream. She recovered quickly, at least. "Ah, Fontaine. Thanks."
[21:25] <Dorian> ["Quick, Sophie. Let's kidnap her. We can sell her online." "Yessss~ No wait! Let's adopt her."]
[21:25] <Sept> "I-I know. He was supposed to help you, right? Viviane got taken, too… We're trying to find both of them, but still nothing." A comforting squeeze of her hand.
[21:25] <Dorian> [Alexandre held a parcel out to Yanmei. "This is yours."]
[21:27] * Aline managed to pull out, though. "N-not online! The bootleg NERV merchandise trade online is /creepy as hell/. They'd /do/ things, horrible things!"… She fortunately had a certain levity to her voice that implied that it /was/ partially a joke.
[21:27] <Dorian> ["It isn't fair, Nii-san." Said Tsubaki sadly. She held his hand with both of hers and pushed his little finger back and forth. "I wanted to fight alongside him! I bet he could punch things -really hard-. That's what Ikari-sama said 05 was good for…"]
[21:28] <Yanmei> "Huh. Thanks. You didn't have to go this far." She accepted it. It wasn't ticking, right?
[21:28] <Dorian> [Sophie and Frederic looked at each other, then back to Aline. "… You… Yeah. Um. You haven't checked it recently, have you?"]
[21:30] * Aline pursed her lips and looked at them sheepishly. "Weeks ago, now. Has it gotten worse?… I was kidding, and I've already heard some of the /really/ bad stuff, so you don't have to try to protect me!"
[21:30] <Dorian> [Yanmei's gift was not ticking, no.]
[21:31] <Dorian> ["… Well, um." The two Bunnies eyed each other before looking back at Aline. "S2 say they found clips that purport to be… Flightlog snippets. Um. Online."]
[21:31] * Aline blinked, staring at them once she finished that. "…From… which battle…"
[21:32] <Yanmei> So she opened it, right then and there, looking as nonchalant about doing it as possible. "Let me guess… a book or something?"
[21:32] <Dorian> ["From the one with Voriel."]
[21:33] * Aline shook her head, with a bit of fatalism to her voice. "…All of ours, or?… Well, what was on them? I know some… weird stuff happened there."
[21:34] <Dorian> ["I would need to teach you how to read first, Zhang." Said Alex. "Open it and find out."]
[21:34] <Dorian> ["Ooh, zing." Atticus giggled behind Yanmei's back.]
[21:35] <Dorian> ["Uh. Just yours, actually." Said Frederic. "Let's just say that the stuff uploaded was the weirdest on the log."]
[21:36] * Aline …blushed extremely profusely, but then nodded. "Not… surprised. I guess the part on Sera's that was… er… similar, probably wouldn't have been uh… as… popular."
[21:37] * Yanmei scowled at one and huffed at the other. She was in no mood for comebacks, so she just pulled the wraping off.
[21:37] <Sept> "Punching… Mmh. We'll get him back, Tsubaki."
[21:40] <Dorian> ["Afraid not." Said Frederic sympathetically. "S2 managed to get most of it off, though."]
[21:45] <Aline> "Well, that's… that's good, I guess. It's like it's embarassing, but it doesn't /quite/ feel as pressing. Probably just the consequences of what I've been through lately." Aline did look left and right a bit. "I'm not sure I want to meet a stranger that's seen them, though."
[21:48] <Dorian> [The wrapping was pulled off to reveal… A box. Within the box was a gold wristwatch.]
[21:48] <Dorian> ["We will!" Said Tsubaki with wide eyes. "Nii-san! I have to show you something!"]
[21:49] <Dorian> ["It'd be kind of awkward, yes." Said Frederic delicately.-
[21:50] <Dorian> ["Heeeeey." Came a voice towards Aline. A familiar voice- Asuka's.]
[21:51] <Yanmei> "This is… in pretty good taste!" she couldn't help but sound a little astonished. Or impressed. Or both. "Not bad, Fontaine."
[21:51] * Aline turned around suddenly! "…Ah! Asuka, been a while since we've met. What's going on?"
[21:52] <Dorian> ["I'm glad you like it, Zhang." Said Alex with a small smile.]
[21:52] <Dorian> ["What's going on, what's going on, nothing!" Asuka grabbed Aline's cheeks. "Not a thing! I'm so -bored-, and I don't even get any phone calls from you slackers…"]
[21:53] <Sept> "Oh?" Sera took the straw gladly. Something else about Shinji might've slipped otherwise… "What is it, Tsubaki?"
[21:54] <Dorian> ["Sangouki~"]
[21:55] * Aline shrugged her shoulders a little bit. "…Oh."
[21:55] <Sept> "Here? Really? It must've been a lot of work to move!"
[21:57] <Yanmei> "Yeah, it's hard to believe that -you- picked it out. But… thanks."
[21:58] <Dorian> ["'Oh'?" Asuka frowned, huffing. "You should call me more…"]
[21:58] <Dorian> ["Uh-huh." Said Tsubaki seriously. "We had to use a biiiig ship. With lots of fighters!"]
[21:58] <Dorian> ["It's harder to believe you understand class when you receive it. But you're welcome." Said Alex.-
[21:59] <Dorian> ["Oho, I knew I'd catch you flirting~" Said Ariadne, pouncing on poor Yanmei now with a big hug.]
[22:02] <Yanmei> "You have a strange definition of flirting," but she hugged back. "Glad you could make it! You don't have too much work piling up, do you?"
[22:02] <Sept> "I'm sure. You're both really important, you know! I'm surprised they'd do it, after… that happened, though."
[22:03] <Dorian> ["First rule of being an attache is that you're never too busy to party." Ariadne grinned. "Here, this is your's. I had to split it with Marianne, but yeah…" She handed Yanmei a package.]
[22:04] <Dorian> ["They said that it was risky." Said Tsubaki, but she had grabbed Sept's hand and was now heading to an elevator. "But we had to do it! We are being deployed soon, Nii-san!"]
[22:04] <Sept> Sera's face grew serious, suddenly. "Wh-what? Deployed where?"
[22:05] <Dorian> ["I dunno!"]
[22:05] <Sept> "When?"
[22:05] <Dorian> ["Soon!"]
[22:06] <Yanmei> Another package was torn into, slowly and carefully. "Thank you! I'm sure it'll be great."
[22:06] * Sept frowned, looking worried for the rest of the elevator ride. What was going on?
[22:08] <Dorian> [Yanmei would rip the package open to reveal a box… Containing a set of keys.]
[22:08] <Yanmei> "…?" She glanced at Ariadnee quizzically.
[22:10] <Dorian> ["Marianne said you wanted a car…?"]
[22:11] <Yanmei> "…!!! W-wait. You bought a car?! And… it's mine?"
[22:15] <Dorian> [Tsubaki stared at the doors as they descended. When the elevator stopped, and the doors opened… Tsubaki led Sept into the next room, which was a massive hexagonal chamber… Easily 3-400 metres wide. Within the centre were six silos, each of them as tall as an EVA… And one of them was occupied, filled with frozen bakelite. An Evangelion sat within.]
[22:15] <Dorian> ["heehee. Enjoy it~" Said Ariadne.]
[22:19] * Yanmei gaped, first down at the keys she held, and then at Ariadne. "I… I don't believe it… I don't know what to say…"
[22:19] * Sept completely lost any train of thought he might've had as the doors slid out of sight. He stepped outside in stunned silence. "Wow."
[22:20] <Dorian> ["Sangouki." Said Tsubaki, staring up at it… With something close to rapture. "Mother."]
[22:20] <Dorian> ["'You're the best, Ariadne'?"]
[22:21] <Yanmei> "You are!" She surprised herself by throwing her arms around her for another hug.
[22:23] <Dorian> [Ariadne beamed- and Yanmei was soon joined by Marianne. "Hey, I helped pay for that too, you know!"]
[22:24] <Yanmei> "Of course!" Yanmei hugged her too. "You'll teach me to drive it, won't you?"
[22:24] <Dorian> ["Naturally." Said Marianne with a grin.]
[22:26] * Sept nodded, slowly. Then, he began to walk, circling the sleeping giant, as arduous a task as that was on foot. "One day, right?"
[22:26] <Dorian> ["Yeah. But not today. You can't wake Mother up today…"]
[22:28] <Yanmei> "What's it like? What color is it? How fast does it go?"
[22:28] <Dorian> ["It's purple." Said Marianne.-
[22:28] <Dorian> ["It's pretty similar to Mari's Renault, actually." Chimed in Ariadne.]
[22:29] <Sept> "That's alright." Sera nodded to himself and smiled. "There's no hurry for us."
[22:30] <Dorian> [Tsubaki walked over to the edge of the platform, and sat down, staring up at it. "Nii-San?"]
[22:32] * Sept took a few more steps before noticing the absence of Tsubaki's behind him. He walked back and sat down beside her. "Yes, Tsubaki?"
[22:33] <Dorian> ["What do you feel in 01…?"]
[22:34] <Yanmei> "Hm…" She was getting a clearer picture in her head now, and nodded! "Let's see it right after the party, okay? Is it in one of the employee parking lots?"
[22:34] <Dorian> ["It is." Said Marianne, nodding. "I'll drive you home in it~"-
[22:34] <Dorian> ["Well." Atticus took the chance to chime back in. "I don't think I can outdo a car, but…"]
[22:38] <Yanmei> "But~?" she turned a smile to Atticus. "Just being here is a pretty good present, you know."
[22:38] * Sept thought for a moment. "One wants to protect Paris. I want it, too. I want to help him. I feel like I can do that with him. I feel… I feel his responsibilities. Elisha's." Sera looked down at his hands. "But… it's not really Elisha, is it..?"
[22:38] <Dorian> ["Well, I -am- rather amazing." Said Atticus with a grin. With a flourish he presented a package to Yanmei.]
[22:40] <Dorian> ["Not Elisha…?"]
[22:43] * Yanmei unwrapped it a little faster this time, with a smile and another expression of gratitude.
[22:44] <Dorian> [It was a very fashionable gold-and-silver bracelet.]
[22:46] <Sept> "It's not all of him. It's like it's just… the good parts. And Yanmei has to… 04 has all the rest. All the anger and. And he's not like One at all and it's unfair…"
[22:47] <Dorian> [Tsubaki stared at Sept with large eyes. "All the bad… That is dumb." Said Tsubaki with a frown. "Wouldn't that make 04 top heavy with badness? He would fall over."]
[22:49] <Dorian> [Asuka put her hands on her hips. "When's -your- birthday anyway, then, Aline?"]
[22:52] <Sept> "I… I think maybe that's what happens when Yanmei, when 04… You know."
[22:52] * Aline blinked again, having… well, a fair amount of time went by for her in almost a haze. "Oh, oh… January 26th. I'm not sure what to expect for it, right now."
[22:52] <Dorian> ["When 04…?" Tsubaki didn't seem to know.]
[22:54] <Dorian> ["I'll keep that in mind." Asuka put an arm around Aline's shoulders and started guiding her away. "Mine's on the 4th of December. That's right! A week away~ You'll come, of course."]
[22:55] * Aline …paused for a moment, but then nodded calmly. "Of course. Hamburg isn't even that far away to begin with."
[22:57] <Sept> "Um. How do I explain it. 04… he's taken over for Yanmei a few times. Sometimes when she's been unconscious. It's like an animal, he just… he was -eating- the last Angel after, after just tearing it apart."
[22:57] <Dorian> ["Excellent~" Said Asuka. "It'll be great. What're you gonna get me?"]
[22:57] <Dorian> ["-Eating-?" Said Tsubaki with horror. "I bet Angel tastes awful."]
[23:00] * Aline shrugged slightly. "I like to take things down to the wire~ This gift I'm gonna give Yanmei, I came up with and made about 3 days ago."
[23:00] <Yanmei> "Thank you, Captain!" She usually stayed away from hugs, but today was a day to give them out. "It's just gorgeous."
[23:01] <Dorian> ["Then it's a fine pick for a gorgeous lady~" Meanwhile, Alexandre was rolling his eyes.]
[23:01] <Dorian> ["Which one's yours?" Asked Asuka, eyeing the pile in the corner.]
[23:03] <Sept> "Yeah, it probably does! And that's why Yanmei shouldn't have to be alone with that, I could… if we could just have the real Elisha again… Whole."
[23:04] <Dorian> ["Whole… How?"]
[23:06] * Aline smirked, actually. "No, I set it over there. I… I should go get it soon, actually!" She pointed to the counter normally reserved for the cafeteria staff. Something relatively long and wrapped was leaning against it on the opposite end.
[23:08] <Dorian> [Asuka looked over at Yanmei. Then back to Aline. "It looks like the Violet Pilot's taken a fair few for now, which means… She should be free soon! I'm curious to see what you made in such a short time."]
[23:09] <Sept> "I don't know. I don't think even Aline has any idea, I just… we have to try something to help her. If there was something, it could be our present to her… Maybe..?"
[23:10] <Dorian> ["…" Tsubaki frowned, deep in thought, which made her look even more spacier than usual. "We could try to make 04 nicer…"]
[23:11] <Sept> "…" Fiddle, fiddle. "You're right. It's the only way…"
[23:12] <Dorian> ["Giant milkshake…?"]
[23:13] * Yanmei was indeed moving toward the pile of gifts now, to either set down the ones she had already gotten or to investigate some more. Not without making a face at Alexandre, though. Jerkface.
[23:17] * Aline grinned. "Oh, you'll see~ I should go do it now, then, actually." …So she headed over to that counter, and picked it up. Whatever it was, it was… well. Not in a box. It was hard to tell /what/ the hell it was, actually, other than 'big' 'long' and 'sort of flat in some places'. But she decided that she had to do this soon-to-now, and thus marched her way over to the Gift Table
[23:17] * Aline with it in tow.
[23:19] <Dorian> [Asuka followed- at a distance!]
[23:19] * Sept laughed a little at the image, but also at the other implications. A sunset, the two of them, and 01 and 03… and the second biggest milkshakes aynone's ever seen. "I think he needs something more than a milkshake, though…" He looked up at 03, still firmly frozen in front of them. "I'm going to ask Ginevre to let me synchronise with 04, Tsubaki."
[23:20] <Dorian> ["Are you going to speak to the angry bad top-heavy Elisha?"]
[23:22] * Yanmei looked up at Aline's approach. Some of the gifts she had opened were on the table, but she had slipped the keys into a pocket. "Blanc! You made it too, huh?"
[23:22] <Sept> "Yeah. It's still Elisha, right? I'll just remind him… of who he's supposed to be."
[23:22] <Dorian> ["Nii-san…" Tsubaki stared at him. "You're so brave~"]
[23:23] * Aline began to nod, but… actually moved it into a bow. "Yeah. I… I wanted to give this gift personally, because it sorta has meanings that won't come out without me there to talk about them." …Nervously, the girl set it down on an empty part of the table.
[23:27] * Sept blushed a little. "…she is family, you know…"
[23:28] <Dorian> ["Family~" Tsubaki swayed side to side a little. "Nii-san?"]
[23:28] * Yanmei blinked down at it. Most gifts usually didn't require explanations? Still, she moved for it, and started to slowly unwrap it.
[23:30] <Sept> "Family." Sera nodded. "Yes, Tsubaki?"
[23:31] <Dorian> ["What if 04 does bad things to you?"]
[23:32] <Sept> "We can't worry about that. Because otherwise it'll keep doing bad things to Yanmei, remember?"
[23:32] <Aline> It was long and awkward-shaped, but as Yanmei removed more and more of the wrapping, it… well, sort of became clear. It was fairly long, and made mostly of /very/ hard crimson plasic of some sort, arranged in plates around a metal frame. There were a few parts that looked like moving parts, what seemed to be some hinges that let it open and close, and… some sort of flexible metal-and-plastic
[23:32] <Aline> assembly (capped in a rubberized head) at the bottom? Something. Aline, for her part, stared on with her hands clasped together over her chest. "So, figured out what it is yet?"
[23:36] <Yanmei> "Hrm. A… model of something?" she guessed. It was still pretty much a blind guess. She didn't think she'd ever gotten something like this before…
[23:39] <Dorian> ["…" Tsubaki nodded. "Right…" She turned back to look at 03. "I wish we knew how to put them together…"]
[23:42] * Aline shook her head. "No, but I didn't expect anyone to know what it was without being told. It's… well it's got a story behind it, but it's actually? A mechanical-assist legbrace. I got help from some of my dad's employees at his company's machine shop, and… checked some design specs from the internet, and basically I sorta modified a power-walking spring to work on only one leg!
[23:42] * Aline Your left leg, to be exact. It's adjustable of course, but I tried to get it as close to your leg measurements as I could." But she blushed, then. "The story, though, is that… after that blowup I was sort of wondering what the hell happened between us… And I remembered how worried I was when 00 first hurt your leg - how I paid attention to every little expression you made because I felt
[23:42] * Aline so guilty, and I thought… maybe I could do something for that. As a sort of reminder. So…" She unclasped her hands, laying them at her side. "…I actually managed to get some of the scrap armor from one of the times 00 lost its leg, cleaned it up, and integrated it into the brace. It's… since I /felt/ losing those legs, they sorta feel like they're mine too. So in a sorta weird way
[23:42] * Aline I'm… giving you 'my' leg, to try to make it easier to run on yours. It… it won't help with all of the pain but it /should/ speed your jog back up a little."
[23:43] <Sept> "Me too. Maybe Yui might know about something..?"
[23:44] <Dorian> ["… Ikari-Sama has been sad recently."]
[23:49] * Yanmei looked a little stunned, looking down at the metal and plastic contraption with a new eye. Of the things she thought she might find at the party, a superpowered leg brace wasn't one of them. "Thank you, Blanc! This is really sweet of you."
[23:49] <Sept> "Ah… I'm sorry to hear that. I guess we all have our problems for now."
[23:50] * Aline nodded, a bit misty-eyed, but smiling. "I… I wanted to think of the best gift I could to make up for that. I'm… I'm sorry. But, happy birthday… Happy birthday, Yanmei!"
[23:51] <Dorian> ["Problems…" Tsubaki stared up at 03 once more. "Hey, Nii-san?"]
[23:52] * Yanmei reached out to pat her on the shoulder, but… what the hell? Why not? She pulled her into a hug instead, brief and a little awkward, but a better way of expressing gratitude, she thought. "Thank you. I'll… I'll have to find some way to make up for that incident too. You weren't the only one at fault."
[23:53] <Sept> "Yes, Tsubaki?"
[23:53] * Aline gladly returned the hug, squeezing briefly, but letting go when she had the chance. "I know. I know…"
[23:54] <Dorian> ["Do you know how to fight?"]
[23:55] <Yanmei> "Hey. Have you tried any of the little pizzas yet? I know they had desserts around here too. Erm, milkshakes, I think?"
[23:56] <Aline> "Had some of the pizza. Didn't quite feel milkshake-ey yet, though." Aline said plainly.
[23:57] <Sept> "Uh? Yes. Yes, I do." Sera drew out a knife from its holster to demonstrate.
[23:58] <Dorian> ["Nii-San, I like fighting. Do you want to fight?"]
[23:59] <Yanmei> "Oh. Well, feel like grabbing a drink? It doesn't have to be a milkshake."
[00:00] * Aline looked a bit into the distance, then… "Well, yeah, I could have one. Tell you what, I'll drink whatever you feel it's appropriate for me to. I think I know well enough what my tolerances are like, right?"
[00:01] <Sept> "…would you like to? I'm not sure about sparring, but… if you want to, I can do it."
[00:01] <Dorian> [Tsubaki nodded. "Not to hurt each other, though. Just for fun."]
[00:01] <Yanmei> "Huh? Well, they probably have punch too, you know," she grinned. "Or soft drinks."
[00:03] <Dorian> "Yanmei!" Came a voice- Dorian's voice.
[00:04] <Sept> "Sure! I'd be happy to." Sera got up tentatively.
[00:04] * Aline turned around suddenly, though since she wasn't the one called out to, she left it at that.
[00:07] <Dorian> [Tsubaki stood up, offering her Nii-san a hand.]
[00:07] <Yanmei> "Ah, Major!" She waved at him. "There you are." She waved at him, took a few steps in his direction. "I wanted to thank you for this. Ah-" an aside to Aline, "the party was apparently his idea?"
[00:08] <Aline> "I /think/ so?" Aline said with an honest shrug-of-no-goddamn-clue.
[00:08] <Dorian> "Aline helped." Said Dorian, giving them both a wink. "But I'm sorry to interrupt. You're wanted in the Command Centre, Yanmei."
[00:10] * Yanmei looked a little confused. Wasn't the entry plug testing just a ruse to get her here? It wasn't true, was it? "I see. I'll try to be quick about it, then?"
[00:11] * Dorian nodded encouragingly. "Off you go then."
[00:12] <Yanmei> "Right. Please pardon me." She nodded in parting to both him and Aline and… was on her way!
[00:12] <Dorian> "Looks like it went well." Said Dorian to Aline.
[00:13] * Sept took the hand, and would presumably lead the both of them (or be led) to the armory!
[00:13] <Dorian> [Meanwhile, Yanmei would soon find herself in the Command Centre. As the party had moved away, it was deserted… Except for a lone figure sitting at a console. Isaiah.]
[00:14] * Aline waved as she left, and… contented herself with wandering about a little~
[00:15] <Yanmei> "Isaiah!" She quickened her pace happily. "What are you doing over here alone? Don't you want to have some pizza and hang out with everyone?"
[00:16] <Dorian> [Isaiah turned towards Yanmei, and he smiled, but didn't move from his chair. "I was -wondering- when Dorian would send you in."]
[00:17] <Yanmei> "Aha. So you two have been in cahoots from the beginning, have you?" She leaned against the consol. "What's going on?"
[00:19] <Dorian> ["I have to give you your present. Best to do it here away from everyone else, and this is about the only place for it anyway…"]
[00:20] <Yanmei> "…?" Yanmei looked around at the otherwise silent room.
[00:20] <Dorian> ["It took me a bit of effort, but…" He smiled and pressed a button on the console.-
[00:21] <Dorian> [The holographic screen flickered, before it reformed into an image. In the top left of the screen, the words "DIRECT LINK: NERV CHINA" flashed, as a woman appeared- the face of Zhang Mingzhu.]
[00:24] * Yanmei let her eyes widen a moment. "M-Mom?" She spoke it in Chinese, naturally, and wavered as if not quite sure if she should believe this. She had actually remembered, or… someone had actually gotten in contact with her?
[00:26] <Dorian> ["Hello, blossom." Said Mingzhu, giving the girl a smile. The woman looked… Happy, but she also looked tired and a little stressed, too. In fact she looked a bit like Yanmei had felt over these past few weeks.]
[00:28] <Yanmei> "Ehehe," hearing that nickname brought back a few memories. Yanmei beamed. "It's good to see you. They threw me a party, you know. Here in Headquarters."
[00:29] <Dorian> ["That's good to hear. You must be pretty popular in Paris. You're liking it there, no doubt?"]
[00:31] <Yanmei> "Of course!" Had to assure her. "I'm having the best time. If met so many new people. Like Isaiah." She gestured to the medic, who was no doubt visible on cam, presuming that there was one working at the moment. "I've been doing my best, too."
[00:31] <Dorian> [Isaiah smiled but otherwise didn't say anything.-
[00:33] <Dorian> ["I've heard." Said Mingzhu. "I've heard many reports from Paris-2, from the battles. Sometimes they play clips in the cities. You're a hero to the Federation."]
[00:37] <Yanmei> "Ah. You've seen clips?" She had a short-lived pang of bashfulness, but her mother's words helped her to get over that quickly, as a warm, pleasant feeling swept through her in its stead. Proud of her! It sounded like she was proud of her! "Thank you, Mom. I'm… going to keep fighting for you and a for everyone else, okay?"
[00:38] <Dorian> ["I know you will. Only the best become pilots. You're my daughter. I expect nothing less." She smiled a little more warmly.]
[00:41] <Yanmei> "Right!" Yanmei nodded shortly. "It seems like you've been working hard too? Things are always so hectic over there."
[00:43] <Dorian> ["NERV China's role has expanded dramatically recently. Which means my role has as well. Luckily, I have few distractions, so I don't mind working 14 hour work days."]
[00:46] <Yanmei> "I see." But she always worked pretty long hours, didn't she? "I -thought- I heard that you had another promotion. Congratulations!"
[00:47] <Dorian> ["Thank you." Said Mingzhu… Who looked off screen for a moment, then back. "I have to go now, blossom."]
[00:48] <Yanmei> "Oh, of course!" So soon. She kept her smile, though, ignoring the disppointment. "Maybe we can talk again soon?"
[00:50] <Dorian> ["Maybe we can." Said Mingzhu thoughtfully. "Happy Birthday, blossom."]
[00:51] <Yanmei> "Thank you, Mom. Take care of yourself."
[00:51] <Dorian> ["The same for you." Mingzhu smiled. "Continue making me proud."]
[00:52] <Yanmei> "Of course!" Yanmei stood a little straighter, and beamed. "Of course I will."
[00:52] <Dorian> [Mingzhu beamed in return, then- "Goodbye, blossom.".-
[00:52] <Dorian> [The holographic screen deactivated.]
[00:54] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei stood there quietly for a moment or two, and then rubbed the back of her neck a little sheepishly. "Heh heh. So she was watching all that time too."
[00:55] <Dorian> ["Of course." Said Isaiah happily. "She'd be mad not to. She has a very special daughter."]
[00:57] <Yanmei> "Thank you for that, Isaiah." Her eyes misted up a little bit, albeit briefly. "It means a lot to see her again, even if it's on a screen."
[00:59] <Dorian> [Isaiah stood up, walking over to her. "Nothing cheers a person up like kind words from a parent." He said fondly. "She was -hard- to get ahold of, though, even for the Major's clearance. But…" The boy chuckled. "It's not quite over yet."]
[01:00] <Yanmei> "Oh?" She grinned for him. "What's next on your sneaky agenda?"
[01:03] <Dorian> ["Nothing sneaky." Said Isaiah. He held out a small bag for her.]
[01:05] * Yanmei reached for it. "Huh? I thought the phone call was your gift." She peeked inside.
[01:07] <Dorian> [Isaiah merely smiled. Inside the bag was a small blue velvet box- small enough perchance to hold a ring inside.]
[01:07] <Yanmei> "Oho." She recognized this trick. She would open it up and find a locket… so that's what she proceeded to do!
[01:10] <Dorian> [It was indeed a locket. It was plain and oval-shaped, silver- and on the back was engraved Yanmei's name, in the original Chinese.]
[01:11] <Yanmei> "Heh heh. They match, don't they?" She fingered it delicately, turning it over and reading the inscription. "Thank you, Isaiah."
[01:13] <Dorian> ["Thank -you-."]
[01:16] <Yanmei> "For what? You're the one who's giving the gift."
[01:17] <Dorian> ["Yes. But…" The boy bowed his head a little. "You gave me something a lot better. You gave me a life I finally feel is worth living."]
[01:21] * Yanmei gazed warmly at him, and then reached out and squeezed his shoulder. What could someone say to that? "I wasn't something I did alone. You're a special guy, Isaiah."
[01:27] <Dorian> [The boy didn't say anything in response to that. All he did was stare at Yanmei's hand.]
[01:28] <Yanmei> "Let's go. Why don't we return to the party and say hello to everyone?"
[01:30] <Dorian> ["Ah…" He frowned for a moment. "I… I think I might go home."]
[01:30] <Yanmei> "H-huh? What's wrong, are you tired?"
[01:31] <Dorian> ["A little. Sorry…"]
[01:32] * Yanmei shook her head. "It's okay. Really. I'll bring some food home, okay?"
[01:34] <Dorian> ["…" Isaiah suddenly shook his head, smiling. "No, it's ok. I think I'll come with you anyway."]
[01:36] * Yanmei looked… concerned for a little instant. But it made her happy, too. "As soon as it gets to be too much, let me know, OK? We'll go home, or find someplace to rest or something."
[01:38] <Dorian> ["Alright." Said Isaiah, holding out his hand.]
[01:39] * Yanmei took it, happy to lead the way.
[01:41] <Dorian> [And so, they departed.-
[01:41] <Dorian> [It would only be a little while after that a new figure emerged into the command centre- that of the red-eyd, grey-haired Nagisa Kaworu. He was smiling to himself, his red eyes glittering as he idly took a seat.-
[01:42] <Dorian> ["Just like clockwork." He said simply, staring up at the roof.]

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