He Said I Do Think You Re An Exceptional Woman

<Raphael> It's another cold evening in Paris-2. The wind whips down the narrow corridors between buildings, sharp as a knife and nipping at anyone foolish enough to step out onto the streets unprepared. Raphael Guillory happens to be one of these unfortunates, wearing little more than long pants and a dress shirt, and he's had to jam his hands into his pockets in an attempt to keep warm.-
<Raphael> He's barely spoken to his companion since they left Marianne's apartment, apparently busy with his own thoughts. Now the pair wander along the street that edges one bank on the Seine, moving between the too-small pools of light formed by the city's streetlamps.
*Misato‘ has been silent the entire time, apparently locked in a sort of fugue state whilst she walks. Eventually, however, the cold chilly wind and the pinpricks of light finally break through the fog in her mind. She straightens up to her full height of 5’4" and turns toward Raphael. "Group Captain!" She barks.
<Raphael> "Mmm?" he murmurs, apparently brought out of a bit a trance of his own. "Ah, yes Captain?"
*Misato‘ immediately slaps him fair across the face. It’s a bloody solid slap, too.
*Raphael 's head rocks slightly under the force of the blow, but apart from a faint wince he doesn't seem to react too much until he reaches up to rub at his jaw. "Hnngh… Fair enough, Captain Katsuragi."
<Misato‘> "How dare you, Group Captain! I am not some cheap floozy you can buy with drinks at a bar! I’m an officer and your superior, as well! What do you have to say for yourself?"
<Raphael> "I sincerely apologize, Captain. Believe me, at no point did I mistake you for a… floozy. I exhibited poor judgement, which was no doubt affected by the rather large amount of alcohol consumed," he says this last part with the sort of practiced sobriety that would, if Misato had not seen him pack away a small mountain of beer, suggest a man who had never so much as -touched- a drink.-
<Raphael> "But I must ask: What did you intend to do when those two walked in?"
<Misato‘> "I intended to say hello, of course."
<Raphael> "That glint in your eye suggested otherwise."
<Misato`> "I may have intended to engage in friendly banter…"
<Raphael> "Mmm."
<Misato`> "What bearing does that have on this?"
<Raphael> "The bearing, Captain…" Raphael sighs slightly, seeming to finally realize how much trouble he’s in. "With due respect, Captain, those two seem to have an alarming number of people intruding on their love lives. You admitted you were a prime contributor. Those two have dealt with some truly horrific things - in the tunnels, certainly, but simply in their daily lives since the angels arrived - and as ill-advised as it was I simply wanted to allow them to a moment to be happy teenagers without… intrusions, as it were."-
<Raphael> "I was extremely stupid to handle it the way I did, though. For that I'm sorry."
<Misato‘> "…" She stared at him, then blushed and looked away in shame. She clipped her jacket up to the neck. "You kissed me just to distract me?"
<Raphael> "…" Raphael stares away towards the darkened waters of the Seine, rubbing the back of his neck with one hand. "I’m very sorry."
<Misato‘> "…" She gave him a narrow look. "You’re the consummate professional, aren't you, Raphael? Always focused on the mission. Even your affection is pragmatic."
<Raphael> "… If it needs to be," he says, finally turning back to meet her stare without flinching.
<Misato‘> "Typical." She mutters, a little spark of hurt in her eyes before she stamps over to the river bank and sits down on the edge. She isn’t huffy, exactly…
*Rynol (ten.nozirev.soif.lfpmat.121-181-081-17-loop|lonyR#ten.nozirev.soif.lfpmat.121-181-081-17-loop|lonyR) Quit (Quit: )
*Raphael just stares after her for a moment, weighing his options, before following Misato to the edge and slowly lowering himself down alongside her. Up close she can see he's just the tiniest bit wobbly on his feet. "If it's of any help, I /do/ think you're an exceptional woman."
<Misato‘> "Eh, eh, you’re fine." She waves at him dismissively, although there's a pink tinge on her cheeks. "It's just… Brings up memories. People like you."
<Raphael> "People like me?"
<Misato‘> "You’re focused on your work, on your career." She stared gloomily out at the Seine. "You don't know how to be a father."
<Raphael> "… no, I don't," he says eventually, rubbing his hands together to try and fight off the chill blowing in off the river, "But people change. People learn. That's what I'm trying to do, at least…"
<Misato‘> "…" Misato didn’t respond immediately. "You're a lot braver than my father was."
*Raphael almost smiles at that, in spite of the darkening mood. "Bravery has nothing to do with it. If anything it's cowardice," he says, breath misting as it billows into the night. "Fear of failure, fear of hurting people."
<Misato‘> "You’re not afraid of hurting yourself, though."
<Raphael> "… no. I suppose I never really have been."
<Misato‘> "…" She glanced at him. "Sorry. I’ve been kind of rude tonight." She gave him a smile.
*Raphael mimics her dismissive wave from earlier. "I think I more than made up for it in the end. You've got nothing to apologise for." He turns towards he and matches her smile with one of his own. "Besides, it's been some time since I met someone who could match my pace for drinking. I was right, Captain Katsuragi, you really are a professional."
*Misato‘ grins. "I train with an alcoholic penguin, you know~"
*Raphael looks at her closely for a moment, still smiling. "… come to think of it, I’m sure there are computer programs that could manipulate pictures like that."
<Misato‘> "We could always go back and ask Yanmei-chan to back me up, you know~"
<Raphael> "Funny," he mutters. "So are we ok, Captain?"
<Misato`> "I’m not going to hit you again, Raphael." She says, smirking. She looks back at the river. "Hey, I want to ask you a personal question."
*Raphael nods slowly, snatching a small stone from the ground and sending it skipping across the Seine. It's a bit pointless - the river is lost to darkness any further than a few metres away - but it's something to do. "I think you've earned one."
*Misato‘ nodded. "Where were you when Second Impact hit?"
*Raphael ’s hand stops halfway to the next stone, but only for a moment. Soon another stone is skipping across the water. "We had a family home down in Bouches-du-Rhône… near the ocean." Something tightens in his voice at the last few words, but his expression doesn't shift. "Mother and father, two sisters and a little brother. I'd just turned eighteen at the time."
<Misato‘> Misato’s face darkens with sympathy and… Something else. Shame? "How bad?"
<Raphael> Another stone down. "Both parents were lost to the initial floods. Marie died from infection as we tried to work our way north. Caitlin fell ill in the camps a little later…" Still that look of calm remains.
<Misato‘> "Sorry. You probably… Mm." She looks away.
*Raphael looks around at that, only now beginning to frown. "What’s wrong? There's nothing for you to apologize for. I've long since made my peace with it."
<Misato‘> "…" She looked back at Raphael seriously. "Do you believe that the last few things a person does in their life might reveal how they truly felt in life, but were too scared to show?"
*Raphael looks straight into her eyes with that silent, scrutinizing look of his as he mulls that over. "Maybe. I imagine it depends on the circumstances."
<Misato`> "Yeah." Misato turned back towards the river. "You’re right."-
<Misato‘> "… When Impact happened, I was in Antarctica at the time."
*Raphael frowns even deeper at that, still watching her closely even as she’s turned away. "… that's where the meteor struck, isn't it?"
<Misato‘> "There wasn’t any meteor, Raphael."
<Raphael> "…" An uncertain pause as he tries to work out how deep this new mess he's found himself in is. "I'm not sure I understand."
<Misato‘> "In 2000, a science team was sent to Antarctica, led by Doctor Hideaki Katsuragi." Says Misato quietly. "His goal was to develop a Super Solenoid Engine, a theoretical device that could supply limitless energy, being completely self-sufficient and having only an output. A perfect engine. He… Found the proof he needed that such a thing was possible, buried under Antarctica’s ice. An alien
<Misato‘> creature billions of years old, codenamed ’Adam'."
[18:12] <Raphael> This time the dead silence continued for almost a minute, Raphael's gaze slowly shifting from Misato to the river and back again. Even if there was no reaction on his face Misato would still be able to see the shock in his eyes. More than that, maybe… perhaps even anger? "… it was an Angel, then?"
[18:14] <Misato‘> "Yes. And no." Says Misato. "Sorry. That was confusing. Let me put it like this: you’ve seen Angels? This was their mother."
[18:16] <Raphael> "Mmm." He snatches up another rock from the riverbank and examines it thoughtfully in the dim light. "And your father's expedition woke it?"
[18:48] <Misato‘> "That’s right." Says Misato. "They lost control of it, and it woke up. The resulting release of energy vaporised Antarctica and released Adam's children into the world." She mutters. "I was thirteen, turning fourteen. Mum'd caught a lung infection, so he had custody of me at the time. I didn't want to go." She looked out glumly at the river. "He never seemed to show me any love or anything when they were married. He was always running, always working, using it as an excuse so he wouldn't have to spend time with us, open up with us."
[18:55] * Raphael lets out a long sigh and folds his arms. "… why are you telling me all this, Captain Katsuragi?" There's a new, tense edge to his voice now that he can't quite seem to hide.
[18:59] <Misato‘> "I guess I don’t really know for certain. I just feel like talking." She says quietly. "I dunno… In some ways you're kind of like him. You're focused on your work. So much of what you do revolves around it." She picks up a stone and tosses it out into the river, just like he'd been doing. "But you're not as afraid as he was. You're a lot more honest with yourself, too. You don't have the same weakness or fear that he has, or I have."
[19:02] * Raphael makes a small noise that seems to indicate acceptance. "And did he survive? Your father, I mean."
[19:03] <Raphael> "A foolish question, perhaps, but then given what you told me I'm not sure how you're alive either."
[19:08] <Misato‘> "He died, yeah." Says Misato. "There was a little life pod that was capable of shielding someone from the blast. I was hurt in the initial explosion, so he put me in there and sent me off. He told me to look after Mum." She looks down at the ground for a moment before looking up again.
[19:11] <Raphael> In the time it takes for her to glance down at the ground, Misato would feel another warm, slightly mangled hand placed over hers. Raphael doesn’t look away from the river. "I'm sorry, Captain."
[19:16] * Misato‘ seems surprised at the touch, looking down at his hand for a moment, before she gives it a warm- if mildly flippant- little squeeze. "Aww, I’m alright, Raffy-kun~ you're kind of a sweet guy for a damsel in distress, though, aren't you~? <3"
[19:19] <Raphael> "It's a weakness," he says, and though his tone is lighter now he still hasn't quite managed to remove all of the tension from his voice. "You looked like you needed it, though, and I've never been one for hugs."
[19:25] <Misato‘> "Oh~? You looked like you were getting pretty snuggly with Marianne back in the apartment…~"
[19:26] <Raphael> "You really can’t leave well enough alone, can you Captain?"
[19:28] * Misato‘ giggles playfully. "I wouldn’t be the charming professional you see before you if I could~"
[19:31] * Raphael actually chuckles a little at that. His hand still hasn't moved away. "But no, don't mistake this for flirting… I've got a good eye for spotting people in pain, Misato. I can see the weight on your shoulders. Just know you're not alone."
[19:37] <Misato‘> "…" Misato’s cheeks burn slightly at that, non-flirting or no. She looks away again. "… Do you really think Gina was right in there?"
[19:40] <Raphael> "About us being lonely?"
[19:41] <Misato‘> "Un. About us being lonely, and about… Loneliness making you dead. Is it really better to try?"
[19:44] <Raphael> "Yes, I think we’re all lonely. But then I tend to believe everyone is, in one form or another." He takes a deep breath, holds it for a moment and then puffs it out again in a long billow of mist. "I'm still working out whether I believe it's better to try. Meeting Suzanne has changed my perspective on the matter."
[19:45] <Misato‘> "Yeah? How’s that?"
[19:55] <Raphael> "She made me consider the possibility that even if we're all essentially alone, even if it takes the slightest of efforts for a person to be taken away… if a bond makes our lives just a little brighter, maybe that's enough."
[19:58] <Misato‘> "Heh. You’re something of a poet there, huh?" Says Misato. "… You're right, I think, but that makes me so scared to admit."
[20:02] * Raphael finally does manage to smile at that. "Admitting it is as good a first step as any, Captain."
[20:07] <Misato‘> She smirks. "Yeah, I guess so. It’s been something I've been wrestling with since December."
[20:10] * Raphael finally returns his hand to his lap. "Always glad to assist a superior officer," he says, giving her a little smirk of his own.
[20:11] * Misato‘ jabs him in the ribs. "Aw, come -on-."
[20:12] * Raphael lets out a proper laugh at that, rocking away from the jab. "You were perfectly happy to pull rank on me earlier, Captain."
[20:13] <Misato`> "That’s right." She says with a grin. "So I'm ordering you to treat me as a friend."
[20:17] <Raphael> "Well, I think I can do that," he says, grinning back.
[20:21] <Misato‘> "Good." She stretches, getting to her feet once more. "I should probably head back to my car…"
[20:23] * Raphael slowly follows, looking a little more steady on his way up than he did sitting down. "I don’t think so, Captain. I'll find you a taxi."
[20:26] <Misato‘> "…" She looks at him. "… Tch, fine. But you can wait until we find one. I’m not waiting by myself…"
[20:31] <Raphael> "Fair enough," he replies good naturedly, leading the way back towards the road. "Not that I plan on driving either, of course. I feel a little better now, but I'm not sure I'm ready to get behind the wheel."
[20:32] <Misato‘> "I’m staying at the Geofront. Otherwise I'd offer to let you crash at my place." She snickers. "You need to come out to Tokyo at some day and meet Pen-Pen."
[20:36] <Raphael> "… so you really live with a hot-springs penguin? All joking aside now."
[20:37] <Misato‘> "Yes!" Says Misato, grinning. "Honest to goodness I do. You know, I thought you’d be used to it. You know Isaiah-kun has a pet wolf he keeps in his office, right?"
[20:39] <Raphael> "This job gets more ridiculous by the day," Raphael mutters. He begins walking along the footpath, keeping a lookout for any passing cabs.
[20:41] <Misato‘> "Heehee." She’s on the lookout too. "… Hey, Raphael. You said everyone's lonely, in one way or another, right?"
[20:42] * Raphael nods. "In my experience, yes."
[20:44] <Misato‘> "Do you think Isaiah and Yanmei are lonely?"
[20:52] <Raphael> "… It’s possible. It's hard to say when I've spent as little time with them as I have." He's lost in thought as he watches the road. "I do know they have the look of two people who'd be lost without one another…"
[20:54] <Misato‘> "Yeah." She’s quiet for a moment. "At first I thought it was just some teenage thing, but when he was shot at Christmastime, she just… Refused to leave his side at all. I dunno. It made me think…" She sighed. "I don't really have anyone I'd wait on like that."
[20:58] <Raphael> "I don't think many people do. But…" He pauses, hesitating before his next thought, but eventually he seems to decide it's worth the risk. "If I may speak freely, Captain?" In his defense he -does- have a little smirk on his lips as he says it.
[20:59] <Misato‘> "… Sure."
[21:02] <Raphael> "If you want to open your heart to something like that, you probably need to stop fretting over that old boyfriend of yours."
[21:06] <Misato`> "… Geez, Raphael." She gives him a dark look, looking away. "… I should be honest. Kaji…" She pauses, frowning. "I was… -Happy- with Kaji. And in all honesty he wasn’t as bad as I said. Still, sleeping with other girls less than a week after we broke up? Shameless." … "… Or, well, after I broke up with him, I guess." She mumbles. "So shallow…"
[21:17] <Raphael> "Ah. Well that all changes things, I suppose, but still…" He shrugs. "What's done is done, Misato. It sounds like you both made some mistakes. Maybe it's time to try letting them go?"
[21:18] <Misato‘> "Yeah, you’re right." She says reluctantly. "So I can find the time to go and make new ones, right?" She teases.-
[21:19] <Misato‘> [The headlights of a car can be seen slowly heading towards them, the rooflight of a cab glowing dimly.]
[21:23] <Raphael> "If you insist," he says with a bit of a smile. Then that hint of brighter light catches his eye. "Ah. I think we’ve found your ride, Captain." He steps out past the edge of the pavement and raises one hand to hail the driver as the cab draws near.
[21:24] <Misato‘> [The driver pulls to a stop.-
[21:24] <Misato`> "Well, thank you, Raphael." Says Misato warmly. "You were fun tonight, and you’re pretty good at listening, too, even when you're sloshed."
[21:27] <Raphael> "Likewise," he says with a bit of a grin. "Hopefully the Captain will forgive us for the mess."
[21:27] <Misato‘> "I’ll ring her tomorrow and beg for forgiveness. Nice and early. 6 AM maybe~" She opens the cab door and sidles in.
[21:30] * Raphael chuckles, holding the door for her as she climbs aboard. "Well it was good to meet you, Misato. I imagine I'll see you around."
[21:31] <Misato‘> "We’ll see. We should get together again before I leave."
[21:32] <Raphael> "Perhaps. You get home safely now," he says with one last smile and a nod before he shuts the door.
[21:32] <Misato‘> "Byebye~"-
[21:32] <Misato`> [… And then she’s gone!]
[21:34] <Raphael> And Raphael is alone with his thoughts again. He watches the cab disappear into the darkness for a moment before shaking his head and turning on his heel, heading off to find his own ride home.

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