For Visiting Fallen Loved Ones

[11:11] <Yanmei> [Early morning, September 11th, 2015.]-
[11:15] * Yanmei let herself out of Isaiah's office, and trying to hide her nerves, returned its spare key to the reception desk of NERV's Medical Department and thanked the staff there. Pilot Lupe had probably not been pleased at his breakfast of cheap ground beef, but she hadn't stuck around long enough to find out, just dumping it in a feeding plate, pouring out a thermos of water in his water bowl, and hightailing it out of there.]-
[11:21] <Yanmei> Later, he would need another meal and a walk, and she would have to do that too. But it was the easy part of the day. She walked slowly, turning for the wing where the patients were housed, but she also walked with her head up and with a smile that she didn't feel. It was partly habit, and partly because no one would pity her, and partly because there were certain parties-
[11:22] <Yanmei> that she did not want feeling worse. She was approaching the room of one of them now, and she knocked gently, lifting the one arm that wasn't bandaged.
[11:25] <Marianne> "Come in…"
[11:26] * Yanmei did so, a little cautious, taking a peek around the room itself. "Marianne? How are you feeling?"
[11:30] * Marianne is sitting in bed, wearing a hospital gown. She's under the sheets, with her side bandaged. She herself looks pale and tired, but when she sees Yanmei she smiles. It's a brittle, sad one. "H-Hey, sweetie. I… I've been better."
[11:35] * Yanmei went over to her side. She didn't think that hugging her was a good idea with the surgery and all, so she just sort of squeezed her shoulder. "I'm… not surprised," she said quietly. "Can I get you anything? Breakfast?"
[11:37] * Marianne patted Yanmei's hand. "I'm not much for food right now, sweetheart. But thanks for the offer." She winced, trying to sit up a little.
[11:41] * Yanmei tried to help as well as she could before finding her own seat on the edge of the bed. Funny. Marianne normally wasn't hard to talk to, but mustering the words right now was difficult. "How long did the doctor say it would be before you could come home?"
[12:01] <Marianne> "Um… About two weeks or so." A helpless smile. "You'll be alright though. Isaiah'll be around to look after you, I bet."
[12:04] * Yanmei smiled back at her, though it was a little distracted in nature. So she hadn't heard. "Not exactly. Isaiah's here too. He's… resting after yesterday."
[12:05] <Marianne> Her smile dropped. Her face immediately became concerned. "I-Is he alright?"
[12:06] <Yanmei> "… they don't know when he'll wake up. That's what Dr. Clement said. But! He's in stable condition." Unlike Marianne, Yanmei held her smile. "He'll be fine. He just has to wake up again, that's all."
[12:10] <Marianne> "…" Marianne … Didn't seem at all encouraged by that. "W-What happened? To you, and the others…?"
[12:13] <Yanmei> "…the school was also attacked." She didn't know that either, it seemed. Well, she had been stuck in here since yesterday, and the doctors probably wouldn't have told her. She remembered how hard it was to snag information during her own previous stay here. "It was those same guys. The ones from the mall. They wanted me and Blanc and de Pteres."
[12:14] <Marianne> "… The bastards." Marianne hissed, curling her hand into a fist. "The bastards…"
[12:17] <Yanmei> "We didn't surrender. But… a lot of innocent people even up even worse than Isaiah." Her smile was fading now. "We did do the right thing, didn't we?"
[12:18] <Marianne> "…" Marianne looked… Distraught. "I-I don't know, sweetie. I can't say that. Maybe things would've been better if you surrendered, but with people like this, who knows? It could've been a lot worse. What's important is that you're safe now."
[12:23] <Yanmei> "Yeah." Uncertain. And then with conviction. "Yes, of course." It was strange. During the time, surrendering simply hadn't been on her mind. Get out or kill or kill to get out had been her options. Even now, she could only think of surrendering in terms of how she would explain the situation to others. Was that normal? Was anything about yesterday… normal? "
[12:24] <Yanmei> ^"It was scary, though."
[12:25] * Marianne held Yanmei's hand. "I-I wish I could've helped you. Protected you. It's… It's not right for you guys to have to kill…"
[12:30] * Yanmei patted the hand. "But we survived somehow. It was thanks to Edgar and stupid Alexandre, and their friend Evangeline. But Isaiah…" she trailed off. Searched desperately for something else to say. "You were protecting people at the mall, too, weren't you?"
[12:33] <Marianne> "…" Marianne looked down.
[12:36] <Yanmei> "…" She gave her hand another warm pat. "I'm sorry. We don't have to talk about it if you don't want to."
[12:37] * Marianne stared up at Yanmei, her eyes… Pained? Pained seemed too gentle a word. There was agony in Marianne's eyes. "R-Rei…"
[12:41] <Yanmei> Ah. Yanmei's eyes flickered with pain at that name as well, the same that had gone through them when she relayed Dorian's message to the group at the blood-bathed school. "Rei. I…I'm sorry."
[12:43] * Marianne squeezed Yanmei's hand painfully tight. "I-I-It's…" Her eyes were filling with tears.
[12:44] <Yanmei> "…!" Yanmei leaned in, forgetting her hand for now. "What is it? You can tell me."
[12:44] <Marianne> "M-My fault…!"
[12:46] <Yanmei> "No," Yanmei shook her head. "No, no, no. You did your best, Marianne. It's not your fault."
[12:49] <Marianne> "I-I-I…" Marianne started to really sob. She… Broke down. Simply put, she collapsed, sobbing and heaving, her entire body -violently- shaking. "I-I-I c-couldn't…"
[12:52] * Yanmei put an arm around her shoulders, a quiet semi-hug that she hoped wouldn't hurt too much. She had tried to protect the Ikaris and failed. Yanmei cursed at herself. What a terrible conversation topic pick. What could she do besides hold her like this and wait for her to calm down again?
[12:56] * Marianne clung to Yanmei… And she just… Sobbed. It must've gone on for whole minutes at a time. "S-She was s-s-so l-little… S-She shouldn't… I-I tried… T-The guard, s-shot…"
[12:58] <Yanmei> "Let it out. Let it out. It's OK," she murmured. Whatever she felt, she had to be strong now! For Marianne's sake.
[13:25] * Marianne rocked back and forth with the grief. She clung onto Yanmei's arm. "S-She… S-She c-called for him…"
[13:27] <Yanmei> "For…" It dawned on her. "For Isaiah?"
[13:28] <Marianne> "Z-Zaizai, s-she- th-that's w-what she said…"
[13:29] * Yanmei felt her own eyes filling with tears now, but she forced them bac, blinking hard. "He… ah. He still doesn't even know…"
[13:30] <Marianne> "H-He'll h-hate me…"
[13:31] <Yanmei> "No! He would never!" She hugged her harder. "He wouldn't…"
[13:32] <Marianne> "I-it hurts, Y-Yanmei…"
[13:35] <Yanmei> "It does. But it will be okay." She pulled back a little, hands on her guardian's shoulders, eyes firm despite moistness. "It will! I promise it will."-
[13:36] <Yanmei> Hollow. It wouldn't be okay for little Rei, would it? Or Isaiah. Something inside of her clenched, and she had to claw her way back to state where composure was less tenuous.
[13:40] * Marianne curled up, Yanmei's hands in her own. Her sobbing become quieter… More subdued. "Yanmei… I-I a-am the worst guardian…"
[13:42] <Yanmei> "You're not," Yanmei insisted. She wondered for a moment if she was going to doze off. "You're just… it's a difficult situation."
[13:44] <Marianne> "…" Eventually, the flood of tears trickled dry, and though her cheeks were still wet and her face was utterly despairing, she stared up at Yanmei. "I-I wish we hadn't… to put you in this situation was our greatest sin."
[13:49] * Yanmei offered her a little smile, neither happy nor reflecting the ripple of sadness that went through her. "It can't be helped? Besides, if I wasn't here, I wouldn't have met you or anyone else here."
[13:50] <Marianne> "I… I-I'm not sure it was worth it…"
[13:55] <Yanmei> "Of course it was." It was a little too late to worry about that now, anyway, she thought bitterly. "You know, I'll probably stay here, around NERV, until you can get out of here. It just makes sense, with both you and Isaiah here."
[13:56] <Marianne> "T-Thank you, sweetheart…"
[13:58] * Yanmei shook her head, smiling a little more genuinely now. "You just focus on getting better, okay? I'll be here as long as you need me."
[13:59] * Marianne nodded her head, several times, shakily.-
[14:00] <Marianne> "… I… I feel a little better… Um. W-Was anyone else…?"
[14:01] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei lowered her eyes a moment. "De Pteres' friend, Viviane. She wasn't hurt, but Isaiah said that she was taken away by those terrorists."
[14:02] <Marianne> "… They… Why would they…?"
[14:03] <Yanmei> "I don't know." Yanmei shook her head. "She's not even a pilot. It doesn't make sense!"
[14:05] <Marianne> "U-Unless they wanted to get to de Pteres…"
[14:08] <Yanmei> "They could have taken Isaiah too, if they wanted to get to more of us, instead of…" She grappled with her anger for a moment, and then shoved it away. "…it does make sense from that perspective, though? I wish someone would hurry and find her."
[14:10] <Marianne> "T-They took Viviane… H-Held us hostage. D-Don't know if they knew Shinji and Aline… B-but… I-Isaiah m-might've been a target.'
[14:11] <Yanmei> "When we found him, he had just been attacked. But he fought the guy off somehow. He was… really in hysterics."
[14:12] <Marianne> "Hysterics… T-That…" She frowned. "that seems odd…"
[14:12] <Yanmei> "Is it? He's not like us. He's not used to fighting so much…"
[14:16] <Marianne> "I-I guess you're right… But… H-he was so calm… A-After Qaphsiel…"
[14:20] <Yanmei> "He was?" Blurry, quick glimpses of him through a haze of mindless agony, his voice oddly soothing, except for a point when he'd raised at some late arriving NERV personnel. "He was." she conceded. "But this time, there was so much blood…"
[14:22] <Marianne> "The poor boy…" Marianne fell back onto her pillows, looking exhausted.
[14:30] <Yanmei> "…" There was much more that she wanted to say. She remembered him bursting into tears after that one… messy kill. The way he'd looked at her. She wasn't normal, was she? "Do you think that Dr. Gabriel is visiting with him? I want to see Isaiah, but…"
[14:31] <Marianne> "I… Don't know." Mumbled Marianne. "I-I don't think he'd mind you visiting…"
[14:32] <Yanmei> "M-maybe." She wasn't so sure about that herself. "I'll see about it in a little while."
[14:33] * Marianne nodded. "I-I was hoping you'd visit. I feel so tired, b-but I kept awake just to see…"
[14:34] <Yanmei> "I was wondering. They must have sedated you pretty badly for the operation." She kept a grip on her guardian's hand. "I'll stay until you sleep, okay?"
[14:35] <Marianne> "T-Thank you. T-Thank… You." A squeeze from a hand that was already growing limp. "I-I love you, sweetheart."
[14:35] <Yanmei> "I love you too, Marianne."
[14:36] <Marianne> She smiled, wanly… And a little while later, she was asleep, a troubled, disquieted young lady.
[14:42] * Yanmei stayed there a bit longer, watching, trying to pull herself together for the trip back out into the hallway. It took -effort- to pry her hand away from Marianne's, and when she stood up to walk away, a violent quivering fluttering sensation filled her stomach.-
[14:47] <Yanmei> Nerves? Well, it would make sense. She'd wondered how good a job she was doing from keeping her own sadness at bay, and now she was going to see another sad thing that would make her want to cry. "I'll be back soon," she murmured, even though there was no one to hear, and stepped out. On to Isaiah's room.
[14:50] <Marianne> [Isaiah's room was… Hospital-white. Everything seemed draped in it. The walls, the bed. The boy himself, his skin white, pale, clean; his blonde fluffy hair lying over his face, wearing a white gown. The monitor beeped. Beep. Beep.-
[14:51] <Marianne> [Isaiah… He seemed to be asleep. Peacefully, just… Sleeping.
[14:51] <Marianne> ]
[14:54] <Yanmei> "S-silly." Yanmei stepped closer to the bed. "I was hoping… some part of me was still hoping you'd be a awake by now. That the doctors had made some stupid mistake that we could laugh about." She stood over him, shoulders trembling a little, hands curled into fists. -
[14:57] <Yanmei> He'd been standing -right next to her-. The cover she'd pulled him to was too feable, and the bad guys had been at the school in the first place because of the pilots, so this was her fault, wasn't it? All the horror he'd gone through, and now this. -
[14:59] <Yanmei> "'m sorry." She whispered, and her throat tightened so that she couldn't talk for a while. When she finally did, it was about other things. Feeding Lupe, and plans for the day, and having to swing by the apartment to grab two weeks worth of clothes. She talked about Marianne, too, her voice gathering a brighteness that she didn't feel.
[15:01] <Yanmei> Not about the crying, though. That was personal. When she was finished, she just… sat there in a spare chair, feeling the hours tick away. Feeling bloated with things that she couldn't force out. Painful things.
[15:05] <Marianne> [Isaiah didn't respond. He just… Slept. Just laid there, quietly. Could he hear her? Did he even know she was there? It was… So unnatural. He didn't move at all…]
[15:10] <Yanmei> Finally, she stood. "I'll bring something nice to decorate this place with," she decided aloud. "Flowers? Toys? Hrm. Heheh. You still like plush toys, don't you? So I'll… yeah. That seems like a good idea. This place, it's… too still. Quite. Blank." She turned to go. "I'll be back as soon as I can, okay~"
[15:11] <Marianne> [The only reply was the continual beeps of the monitor.]
[15:14] * Yanmei jerked slightly. Suddenly, her eyes felt unbearably hot, and she had to turn away quickly. For an instant there, she thought she'd heard… no, it was nothing, and she was being -stupid-. She fled, into the comparatively noisy hallway.
[15:25] <Yanmei> She fed the wolf on the way out. More ground beef, this time borrowed from the canteen. He was probably grumpier than before, since he had been shut up all day in addition to putting up with terrible food, and she had nearly apologized before remembering that it was a damned wolf.-
[15:27] <Yanmei> But the time it took to do that job gave her her composure back, at least. She left NERV with her head held high, and took a cab back to her apartment building once she made it through the surface checkpoints. Time to pack.
[15:28] <Marianne> [The apartment seemed cold and quiet, even though Yanmei'd been there alone before… It was almost as if the place sensed it was about to go unused. Or perhaps she was just responding to the memories of this place.-
[15:29] <Marianne> [So Yanmei would pack. Clothes… Other things, perhaps things for Marianne or Isaiah. Eventually, however, her eyes would fall on a fat yellow envelope sitting on a bench. An envelope Marianne had put there before dropping the girl off to school…]
[15:32] * Yanmei didn't think much of it at first. There was cleaning to do aside from packing as well, various things like taking out the garbage and making sure the sink was cleared from dishes, and premptively tossing away food that could spoil in her absence. Finally, after passing it for the twentieth time or so, her curiosity got the better of her, and she grabbed it.-
[15:33] <Yanmei> Something left over from Marianne's work? She would deliver it to Dorian for her if it was. So she peeked inside, expecting to see a bunch of boring forms.
[15:34] <Marianne> [These weren't forms. These… These were for Yanmei. They were photographs!]
[15:35] * Yanmei blinked, pulling them free, thumbing through them slowly.
[15:35] <Marianne> [The alpine retreat… Didn't it seem so long ago?-
[15:36] <Marianne> [A shot of the vista. Of the restaurant. Dorian, glowering at Alexandre for being reckless.-
[15:37] <Marianne> [Little Rei, smiling at the camera. Rei on Isaiah's shoulders. Isaiah surprising Yanmei with a hug- Yanmei looking surprised, if pleased, whilst Rei grabbed both of their heads, trying not to fall…]
[15:40] * Yanmei stared at that last one for a long time. Something wet splattered against its corner, and she hastily pressed the sleeve of her shirt over her closed eyes, letting loose a low, ragged laugh. "M-Marianne. Your timing is… Hah."
[15:48] <Yanmei> Her shoulder shook again, but this time she couldn't hold it back. The apartment was empty except for her and whatever cameras Section two had set up. She sobbed, lowering the pictures back to the table. She overturned a chair in a sad, aimless fashion, and laughed in odd, bitter, hiccups when it didn't even have the courtesy to break and make her feel a little better. It was a silly thing to do anyway. Chairs didn't feel pain.-
[15:53] <Yanmei> The position she finally settled on for the next long while was on another upright chair, her head lowered almost to the kitchen table arms crossed over it as if she was warding off some incoming blow.

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