For The Swapping Of Anger

[11:31] * Yanmei roamed the hallways of the resort alone. She had been busy until now, dropping young Ikari Rei off with a certain new babysitter after a brief conversation with her mother, and doing a bit of detective work on her own. The room she was searching for was somewhere around here… Room 226. She still wasn't positive about what she would say to its occupants when she found it, but that didn't deter her.
[11:34] <Yanmei> There! She stopped in front of it, more or less indistinguishable from the other suite doors, and then knocked briskly. Best to just dive in!
[11:37] <Atticus> [There was a pause- then before long, the door opened, revealing the faintly curious expression of one Nagisa Kaworu. "Mmm…? What is it, Pilot Zhang?"]
[11:39] * Yanmei gazed back at him, perhaps equally curious. He seemed a little young to be on the Bristish Air Force's payroll without some sort of backstory of his own. "Has Captain Nelson come back yet? I was hoping to have a few words with him."
[11:40] <Atticus> ["Ah, I am afraid he hasn't~"]
[11:42] <Yanmei> "Really? That's a shame," she said pleasantly, trying to peek around him without being too obvious. So this was what an assistant was for… screening calls and vistors. "Then maybe the two of us could chat while we wait for him?"
[11:45] <Atticus> ["If you like." The boy stepped back with a curious smile, gesturing inside. The room really was empty…]
[11:46] * Atticus is now known as Nagisa‘Kaworu
[11:49] <Yanmei> "Huh." So he was telling the truth? Unable to back out now, she took a few steps inside. "I would have though you’d be out and exploring too? The rooms here are nice and all, but it's more fun to be outside. Or at least in the bar or the hot springs."
[11:51] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "Oh, I explore sometimes." Said Kaworu pleasantly.
[11:52] <Yanmei> "Really? What’s your favorite part of the resort, then?"
[11:54] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "A curious question. My favourite part?" Kaworu smiled. "It is wherever people are at the time…"
[11:58] <Yanmei> What a strange answer. "So you’re into people-watching? That's cool. The ski lifts are pretty good if you want to see a lot people -and- landscape, but the rides only last a few minutes. Plus you're mostly up there alone, so it's probably not as fun. Do you ski much?"
[12:01] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "A little. The good Captain asked me to, so I did." Said Kaworu. He headed over to a little table in the room- a table with two glasses and a bottle of wine. He started to pour! "It’s interesting, is it not? People's fondness for such a reckless, dangerous activity…"
[12:04] * Yanmei giggled at that. So he was scared of it! But… his face didn't really match the face of someone who was talking about an activity that they were nervous about. It was a little confusing. "It's a little scary at first? But with practice it becomes less so. I had my first lessons a little while ago, so I would know."
[12:05] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "Mmm… Practice. Wine?" He points at the free glass.
[12:06] <Yanmei> "Why, thank you." She reached for it. "And yes, practice. It’s the same with anything, really. Like riding a bike, or swimming, or running competatively…"
[12:08] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> He hands her the glass. "Practice makes perfect, of course. But it’s still interesting that people risk pain and stress in pursuit of such 'fun' activities… Although I guess pain is a fairly integral human experience. You would know moreso than most, I imagine~"
[12:13] * Yanmei examined him carefully, eye out for the underlying hostilities she faced when word-fencing with a particularly skilled opponent. "I suppose so?" she laughed, trying to sound easy and carefree. "Let's say that I really needed this vacation after the last battle and subsequent hospital visit."
[12:14] * Nagisa‘Kaworu seemed completely at ease- at the very least, as casual as Yanmei was trying to be. "Ah, that’s right. The battle with the Angel of the Moon…" Kaworu beamed, and sipped his wine. "You must tell me of what happened in detail."
[12:17] <Yanmei> "…Angel of the Moon? Is that what people are calling it?" It had appeared during a full moon, hadn't it? She could still remember that night… "There's… not much to tell. That is, I'm sure that some of the press releases have a better idea of what happened than I did, since I was taken out of the battle early. It was a little embarassing," she chuckled.
[12:18] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "But that’s what I mean. I want to know what happened to you, Pilot Zhang." He smiled, in a fashion that seemed to suggest he was genuinely, -genuinely- interested and concerned, as if he had nothing else to worry about except what had happened. "And… Qaphsiel was the Angel's name, was it not? It's a Hebrew term. It really means 'Angel of the Moon'."
[12:24] <Yanmei> "…You know, I honestly thought NERV was just making up cool-sounding nicknames to give those guys? It sounds like something they would do," she joked, and took a swig of wine. "That battle was… you can probably see it on any footage of the event that was released. I spent the first part of the battle trying to bring down its defenses, and then I dropped my guard and went in for a direct melee attack.-
[12:27] <Yanmei> "That's when it struck with an energy beam attack. It was a careless thing to do, and I should have been more aware of it." She was rushing through the memories, skimming them on the surface. She didn't want to dig too deeply into them.
[12:29] * Nagisa‘Kaworu shivered a little, although out of horror or something else…? "And then what happened? It ripped through 04’s body, didn't it? And it hurt you? What did it feel like?"
[12:35] * Yanmei stared into her wine. "It… put me in the hospital for five weeks. There was some burn damage. This haircut of mine…" she pulled off her cap to show it off. A chin-length violet bob, not too different in style from little Rei's, now that she thought of it. -
[12:37] <Yanmei> "It was because a lot of my hair got damaged too. It's taking some getting used to." A careful observer would note that she skipped over the event itself, right to the recovery. What did it feel like, he had asked her… she repressed both shudders and memories violently.
[12:38] * Nagisa‘Kaworu was definitely a careful observer. "An interesting story, Pilot Zhang, but you still haven’t told me what it -felt- like…"
[12:42] * Yanmei stared hard into her glass. He was being insistant. But she didn't have to relive that at his request. It was a free country. She looked up at him, gazing directly into his eyes.
[12:47] * Nagisa‘Kaworu stared back, smiling disarmingly. He took a step forward now- until their eyes were only a feet and a half away. "There’s no need to be frightened, Pilot Zhang. You're in pain and you're afraid, but don't you feel safe even here…?"
[12:53] <Yanmei> "I'm not afraid." She was taking a measured step backward, eyes still focused on him. She threw her shoulders back, and launched her own disarming smile, although she wasn't sure if it measured up. It made her feel more composed, at least. "I'm an Evangelion pilot? A few days ago, I frightened off a wolf pack with sheer intimidation. I don't have anything to fear from you or anyone else here."
[12:56] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> Yanmei would find that even stepping away, he was still the exact same distance away… "Why would you fear me, Pilot Zhang?"
[12:58] <Yanmei> "I just said that I didn’t. You should pay attention, Mr. Nagisa~" She tried another backward step.
[12:58] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> The same distance, still. "But why would you have to? Am I not harmless? You’re only an Evangelion pilot- who am I? A secretary for Captain Nelson." He was still smiling, his red eyes glittering.
[13:04] * Yanmei tried to break eye contact at that. "Speaking of Captain Nelson… he's certainly taking a while. Maybe I should head off and look for him some more after all?" Yesss… good diversion. She clung to it as a drowning man might cling to a life preserver.
[13:06] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "If you do find him, tell him to be back before dinnertime, alright?" Said Kaworu pleasantly. Suddenly he seemed to have moved away quickly- there was now an awful lot of space between the two. Which was lucky, as Yanmei’s back was literally against a wall.
[13:08] <Yanmei> "Right. Will do!" she said brightly, and drowned the rest of her glass. Her hand shook ever so slightly, but from that distance, he probably wouldn't notice? Feeling a little silly now, she crossed the room to place the glass back on the table. "Thank you for a lovely conversation, Mr. Nagisa."
[13:09] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "That isn’t a problem at all, my sweet Lilin friend." Said Kaworu cheerfully.
[13:13] <Yanmei> "Lil-?" That made her stop for just a second. "Ah, certainly? Have a pleasant evening, if we don't cross paths again." She went for the door then. She felt silly enough as it is. Lilin, though…
[13:14] * Nagisa‘Kaworu merely bowed. "I have a feeling that we will meet again."
[13:18] * Yanmei smiled and gave a cheery little wave back at him before opening the door and closing it behind her. "I hope so! Til then!" In the emptiness of the hallway, she surrendered to a few more involuntary reactions, shakily swiping at the cold sweat that was suddenly forming on her brow with a sleeve. -
[13:20] <Yanmei> When she was finished collecting herself, she started to move, still trying to decide if she should return to her room and lie down, or search for Nelson some more. The conversation with the secretary could stay a secret, though. She felt…dumb for the way she was feeling, somehow.
[13:21] <Yanmei> In any case, her feet took her to the lobby of the resort, and the adjacent bar.
[13:22] <Nagisa`Kaworu> [The bar was mostly empty. Certainly empty of any captains! But… A glimpse through a window would show the good captain, sitting on a snowdrift under a tree by himself. Outside.]
[13:24] <Yanmei> "Geeze, what’s he doing out there again?" She pulled on her crumpled cap with a sigh and braced herself for the cold. After a few minutes, she was tromping a trail from the resort's front door to the tree where he sat.
[13:25] * Nagisa‘Kaworu is now known as Atticus
[13:25] * Atticus was sitting by himself! A little bottle of something- cola?- in his hand. He was staring off to his right and didn’t seem to notice Yanmei…
[13:30] * Yanmei took a seat next to him, rather abruptly. "May I join you, Captain?"
[13:31] <Atticus> "Hhm?" Atticus looked up suddenly- toward Yanmei. "Well. It looks like you already have, Zhang." He said wryly, but he gave her a smile. "I'm not going to say no to your pleasant company."
[13:33] <Yanmei> "I was hoping you wouldn't. I've been looking for you for a while," she smiled back at him, and then let her eyes settle on the peaceful scenary. "Listen, about before…"
[13:34] <Atticus> "You mean, with Blanc…?" His voice is carefully calm.
[13:37] <Yanmei> "…" She still wasn't looking at him directly. "It was a cruel and disgraceful thing to say. I won't ask you to forgive her? That's not my place. But I will say that I'm sorry it happened."
[13:38] * Atticus sighs a little. He turns to look at her. "Why does she feel like that…?"
[13:41] <Yanmei> "Blanc is very committed to group harmony and the well-being of its individuals. She puts a lot of effort into it, especially with the pilots." She closed her eyes briefly. "But there are a lot of things she apparently doesn't understand, as much as she claims to want to help everyone."
[13:42] <Atticus> "Is that so?"
[13:49] <Yanmei> "We heard a little about your past from Major Lachapelle. At the time she seemed furious that anyone would take out their frustrations on someone else the way you did then. She's probably holding a grudge."
[13:52] * Atticus sighed. In frustration he picked up a handful of snow and threw it furiously. "You're right. She doesn't understand. I get sick of having to keep measuring myself against that in people's eyes."
[13:56] * Yanmei turned to watch him now, at that angry motion. "May I ask you something? About the NeoSpartan program? No… about NERV?"
[14:00] <Atticus> "What is it…?"
[14:07] * Yanmei hesitated a little, trying to phrase it delicately. "Do you think it's normal to resent it? To feel trapped by it? To me it seems reasonable, but… Blanc and de Pteres, it's like they're living in a completely different world when it comes to that."
[14:15] <Atticus> "I… Don't know." Murmured Atticus. "I suppose some people, who've come to it in a different way, might… -Want- to do it. They have the choice. But…" Another angry snowball. "For me…? I think it's natural for me to resent and even hate the organisation. To be tamed like a dog and put on a leash from the age of seven- given no choice, punished for trying to choose, to be robbed and enslaved…" He glowered.-
[14:16] <Atticus> "How could it ever be anything but normal to resent NERV for that? I'm still being punished. I'm still trapped on this leash."
[14:23] <Yanmei> It was like finding a long lost brother. Well, perhaps not quite so intense. But there was a connection there that she'd felt while listening to his story from Dorian. It was still there. "I can't compare to what you went through. I'm no NeoSpartan, and I certainly haven't been with the organization for ten years. But I get it. It's the worst kind of unfair."
[14:28] * Atticus turned to look at her once again, his eyes slightly wider behind those glasses. "You're… Not doing this out of choice either."
[14:36] <Yanmei> "I… was going to go to college on a running scholarship. That was the plan, anyway. I could have done it too, if I had held out through high school. And high school itself was going to be fun! I was going to get a part time job at a music store and save up and buy a laptop. More importantly, I was studying really hard so that I could get into a good one." -
[14:37] <Yanmei> Yanmei trailed off for a moment and recollected her thoughts. "Hey. You know that my mother's in NERV, right?"
[14:39] * Atticus was still looking at Yanmei, and it was clear that there was some emotion- something- in his eyes… "I do. Zhang Mingzhu, right?"
[14:42] <Yanmei> "That's right. She was doing well for herself before, make no mistake," she sounded almost proud of that, bizarre as it was. "She was pretty brilliant, after all. But, somehow her career has taken off even further since I was transferred to France. Funny thing, huh?"
[14:43] <Atticus> "… Haaaaaa." Atticus laughed bitterly. "She sold you to NERV."
[14:44] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei nudges at a clump of loose snow with the toe of her boot. "You're a pretty blunt guy, Captain Nelson," she said stiffly.
[14:46] <Atticus> "I'm sorry." Said Atticus quickly. "I didn't mean to offend- I was just… Angry." He looked downcast. "At her? At NERV? Both, maybe… But it's not my place to offend."
[14:49] <Yanmei> "There was some kind of deal between branches. I never really found out what. But… I think NERV France paid a lot for me to be there. I doubt she's the only one who profitted."
[14:56] <Atticus> "No. Hell, if you want to put it like that, -everyone- has profited." He chuckled humourlessly. "After all, you're saving the world, fighting Angels… That's what it's all about, right? Sacrificing everything for that?"
[15:02] * Yanmei rubbed absently at her injured leg. "…right," she said unhappily. "At the same time, it's not like I can leave and go back. And I can't yell or beat up my teammates either. Counterproductive. And even if they see things differently, we're all stuck with the same awful job."
[15:06] * Atticus chuckled. "Would you like me to teach you how to handle it? I might be angry. I might still be a slave, but… I know ways to handle it. To lessen the pain."
[15:11] <Yanmei> "It's okay. If I didn't have a way to do that, I'd be a wreck right now, wouldn't I?" she flashed a vague smile at him. "Anyway, I just wanted you to know that stuff. Everyone… everyone seems to jump at piloting with such exuberance. Even though Blanc gets scared sometimes? She's still super eager to learn stuff about metabiology, or whatever. The study of AT fields and Evas."
[15:12] <Yanmei> "And de Pteres… I can't even -tell- what that guy's thinking."
[15:12] * Atticus turns to Yanmei. "You were afraid there would be no one else to share your anger with, weren't you?"
[15:13] <Yanmei> "Well, there's 04, I suppose?" she said with a wry smirk. "But I'd rather talk to someone human instead. And sane."
[15:16] * Atticus laughed. "I can understand that." He tried to make eye-contact with Yanmei, so long as she was willing. "I think, in that case, I have a special gift for you."
[15:17] <Yanmei> "Gift?" she looked back at him, puzzled.
[15:18] <Atticus> "That's right. So we can keep in touch. I'll give it to you before I leave- it's a cellphone. But it's a special one. It's been made so that it can't be bugged- that means we can ring each other and talk without being overheard."
[15:21] * Yanmei blinked in surprise. "I have a private cell too, but… hah." her expression went a little flat. "Was I being naive in assuming that it hasn't been bugged?"
[15:21] <Atticus> "Did you buy it in Paris-2?"
[15:22] <Yanmei> "Yes."
[15:23] <Atticus> "Yeah. Every telecommunications device or computer sold in Paris-2 has NERV bugs in it. Laptops, computers, telephones- handheld organisers. Everything."
[15:26] * Yanmei promptly pulled out the cell phone in question. It was plastered with sparkly decorations, and weighted down with cutesy charms. Without hesitation, she drew back her arm and hurled it as hard as she could.
[15:27] <Atticus> "… Did you remember to copy the address book down?"
[15:28] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei stood up… and sprang after it. "Sh-shit!"
[15:31] <Atticus> [The phone is fine! Cold and wet though, but it still works. Lucky lucky Yanmei.-
[15:32] * Atticus follows her, smiling amusedly. "Keep it. Use it for your casual phonecalls. It'll make NERV think you haven't caught on."
[15:33] <Yanmei> "Yeah. I guess that's a good idea." She worked on trying to dry it off with the end of her coat. "Where did you get yours, anyway? Is there a special store in Britain that sells un-buggable phones?"
[15:34] <Atticus> "Kaworu, actually. He can make custom phones from scratch."
[15:39] <Yanmei> "H-how handy!" That guy again… she tried not to show her nerves. Somehow, he was even creepier than that plush doll of EVA-04, and at he same time just as seemingly harmless. She thought? "Where's he from, anyway? It must be nice to have an assistant."
[15:42] * Atticus chuckled. "He's from Japan- he's the son of a wealthy conglomerate family or something." A shrug. "Either way, he approached me and suggested I join the Unity Initiative's project, and then I hired him as my assistant. He's dead useful- knows a lot of contacts, very clever. But come now. Surely you don't want to hear just about Kaworu?"
[15:46] <Yanmei> "Hm? Well, he seemed like an interesting guy, that's all. But let's see… why don't you tell me more about yourself too?"
[15:47] <Atticus> "Hmmhmmmmm." Atticus peered at her mischieviously. "I have a better idea."
[15:47] <Atticus> "Hmmhmmmmm." Atticus peered at her mischieviously. "I have a better idea."
[15:48] <Yanmei> "Oh?" she raised an eyebrow
[15:49] <Atticus> "Why don't we tell each other about ourselves over a nice, private little dinner date?" A mischievious little wink. "I'll even see about giving the phone to you at that time~"
[15:54] <Yanmei> "Ah, well," She looked taken aback. Thoughtfully, she rubbed her phone between her palms as if trying to warm it up. "We'll have dinner, but let's not call it a date, huh? With the number of gossips around here, you know they'll turn it into a huge 'thing'."
[15:55] <Atticus> "Ah…" Atticus raised his hands. "Of course. I forgot your boyfriend~" Now he was just teasing her, surely.
[15:55] <Yanmei> "Huh? Wait… what have they been telling you?"
[15:57] <Atticus> "All sorts of things. Why, you have no idea how disappointed I was when I learned that you were already taken. It was truly, -truly- heartbreaking." He was practically laughing.
[15:59] <Yanmei> Marianne… Dorian… she would get them for this! Huffily, she folded her arms. "Are you quite finished?"
[15:59] <Atticus> "That depends entirely on whether you feel like calling it a date yet."
[16:03] <Yanmei> "It's 'dinner'! Just leave it at that. Geeze. Maybe I should go to Mr. Nagisa and ask him directly for one. I bet he wouldn't give me this much trouble." There was a hint of teasing in her voice now too.
[16:04] * Atticus chuckled, and started to leave. "Not without my say-so. Kaworu is very loyal to me." As he walked by Yanmei, he snickered. "7:30 sound fine to you?"
[16:06] * Yanmei stopped making slight faces at him, and then nodded. "7:30 it is. We'll meet in the restaurant."
[16:06] <Atticus> "Agreed. And now, if you excuse me, I must prepare for our -date-~." A sneaky little grin, then he was off.
[16:08] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei heaved a long sigh after he had left. At this rate, she would need a nap before she joined him. Certainly, there was no time like the present…

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