He Said Let Me Help

[13:46] <Ayanami‘Rei> [How long had it been since Mingzhu had left? A few hours perhaps, if that. The night was starting to turn into day at this point.-
[13:46] <Ayanami`Rei> [And all throughout her vigil, Yanmei had been accompanied by the figure of Ayanami Rei, who had determinedly kept watch for hours without faltering…-
[13:46] <Ayanami`Rei> [But now she read her manga with rapidly-blinking eyes.]
[13:49] * Yanmei sent a text to someone with a little beep of finality and shut her phone. Silly of her, to not think of Freya and de Pteres until now, but if they hadn’t been informed, then the former would when she woke up and got the message and hopefully news would travel from there.-
[13:50] <Yanmei> Emphasis on -hopefully-… there were times when her vision had blurred so badly that she couldn't tell what she was writing. But with that done, she glanced over to the notably drooping Rei. "Not feeling too good, are you?"
[13:51] <Ayanami‘Rei> ["I can manage." Said Rei. "I can…"]
[13:53] <Yanmei> "It’s okay." Yanmei slid out of her chair, and walked over her her, and held a hand out. "You can rest your eyes for a little. Then after that, I will too. Like taking turns?"
[13:54] <Ayanami‘Rei> ["A rotating guard…" Rei looked up at Yanmei. "I can do that. Sorry, Meimei…" She said, reaching out to take Yanmei’s hand.]
[13:56] <Yanmei> "No need to be sorry. You did well, Rei! You must have been really worried." she tugged the shorter girl until she was standing. "Let's go. They gave me a room to use for just this purpose."
[13:57] <Ayanami‘Rei> ["Alright, Meimei." The girl followed!]
[14:00] <Yanmei> The room was just as plain and functional as it had always been. One twin-sized hospital bed and one sink. "Ok, then. Take your shoes off and lie down, and I’ll turn off the lights for you."
[14:05] <Ayanami‘Rei> [Rei slipped off her shoes, quietly padding over to the bed. She pulled the blankets back and gratefully slipped under them. "Meimei?"]
[14:08] <Yanmei> "Hm?" Such a cramped room. Too long in it, and a person could feel the walls closing in on them. Too long in it, and there would be nothing on the bland walls or uninspired furniture to distract them from Bad Things. Her head buzzed a little.
[14:10] <Ayanami`Rei> ["Everything is going to be ok, right?"]
[14:11] <Yanmei> "Of course it is. Isaiah dooesn’t look like it, but he's a tough guy. This won't stop him!"
[14:12] <Ayanami‘Rei> ["I’m scared." Said Rei. "Maybe I shouldn't sleep… Maybe I should stay up."]
[14:15] <Yanmei> "No, no, it's important for you to get your rest and feel better." Yanmei sat on the edge of the bed. "Why are you scared? Why don't you tell me what I can do to help."
[14:17] <Ayanami‘Rei> ["I’m scared because I'm afraid Zaizai is going to die." Said Rei sadly. "He was shot and I wasn't there to help him, so I'm afraid that if I go away, he'll be hurt again." The girl bowed her head.]
[14:21] <Yanmei> A sudden jolt ran through her. "I… I see. Well." Yanmei shook her head. "He won't die. This is a very secure hospital. And anyway, you'll only be down for a little while. I'm going to watch him in your place, okay? And this time I'll be ready for anything."
[14:28] <Ayanami‘Rei> ["Meimei, please protect him."]
[14:29] <Yanmei> "I will. I’ll definately protect him." She smiled warmly at her.
[14:30] * Ayanami‘Rei gave Yanmei a nervous little smile. "You’re the best, Meimei. I want to be like you when I-" The girl halted for a second, as if reminded of something unpleasant. "G-Grow up."]
[14:34] <Yanmei> "…" she was trying her damnedest not to look as awkward as she felt, now. "You still can, you know. Even though you look like that, you still have some maturing to do. So the saying still fits." She kept her smile.
[14:35] <Ayanami‘Rei> "Alright, Meimei." Said Rei, holding her arms out.
[14:36] * Yanmei swooped in for a little hug, feeling rather grown up herself. Like Marianne. "Get some rest, sweetie. I’ll see you soon?"
[14:38] <Ayanami‘Rei> ["Alright. I love you, Meimei."]
[14:39] <Yanmei> "You too." She patted her gently on the back and disengaged, and backed away toward the light switch. "Goodnight~"
[14:39] <Ayanami`Rei> ["Goodnight."]
[14:42] <Yanmei> The room was bathed in darkness, and Yanmei stepped into the hallway, drawing the door closed. She felt funny as she did so. Like a little tremor was runnng through her but didn’t quite make it to the surface.-
[14:43] <Yanmei> She had left the hallway for too long to comfort Rei. She… she had to get back.
[14:45] <Ayanami‘Rei> [The hallway seemed rather dark and empty when Yanmei returned. The shadows seemed overly long and they seemed to crawl from wall to wall.-
[14:45] <Ayanami`Rei> [Isaiah lay where he was, but there was someone in there with him…!]
[14:47] * Yanmei stopped short, her heart in her throat. No… no, please… she had to force her legs to move so that she could help him. Move! M-move… -
[14:49] <Yanmei> She remembered the speed with which those bullets had struck him, and that was enough. Another jolt of sheer terror went through her, and bumped her out of her freeze and into a half-jog for the changing room that lay between Isaiah’s room and the hallway.
[14:52] <Ayanami‘Rei> [It was a woman. A teenage girl, to be accurate. As Yanmei approached she saw the knife in the girl’s hand…-
[14:53] <Ayanami‘Rei> [She turned to look at Yanmei. The girl had violet hair, twin ponytails. Blaring, blue eyes- blue eyes…]
[14:57] <Yanmei> "No…" She recognized that face. Worse, she recognized those eyes, eyes that should have been dark and calm instead of blue and furious and filled with haughty cruelty. "Stop it. Stop that! You’re not him! Remember who you're supposed to be! You're not…"
[14:59] <Ayanami‘Rei> [A knife swung down. Blood… Blood…!-
[15:00] <Ayanami`Rei> [… Then a moment of intense dizziness. The blood was gone, the doppelganger gone…]
[15:03] * Yanmei was still gripping the door to the changing room. Now she sagged against it with all of her weight. She had that feeling again, as if she was going to throw up, but she fought against it and rubbed her forehead. Was… w-was she doing insane? But there was no one around to confirm what was real and what wasn’t. A her that was like 04… a version of herself that would kill Isaiah.-
[15:05] <Yanmei> She choked under her breath and stared hard at the floor. Focus, focus! She had to stay composed. How could she help Isaiah if she was messed up herself?
[15:06] <Ayanami‘Rei> ["Yanmei?"]
[15:08] * Yanmei went suddenly still. Slooowly, she lifted her head.
[15:12] <Nagisa`Kaworu> [It was Kaworu, standing at the end of the hall, a small smile on his face, his hands in his pockets. "You don’t look so good."]
[15:18] <Yanmei> "Nagisa." God, why? What did he want? She looked between him and the observation glass where Isaiah was visible and back again, a split second assessment that resolved absolutely nothing. "Why are you…?"
[15:18] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "I came to see how you were going."
[15:19] <Yanmei> "You’re concerned," she said as if she couldn't quite believe it.
[15:20] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "You’re not having a very good time of things." Said Kaworu sympathetically. "Of course I'm concerned."
[15:25] <Yanmei> "Oh." Yanmei searched his face a moment for… clues, she supposed. But when she asked herself, she couldn't figure out what the clues were -for-. "I was hoping you'd be concerned about him, too?"-
[15:26] <Yanmei> "Before, when you were trying to get close to him and he was still unsuspecting, he really liked you."
[15:30] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "He did." Said Kaworu cheerfully, walking to Yanmei’s side. He looked into the observation room. "It was very disheartening, though, considering my goals at the time, to talk to him, however."
[15:32] <Yanmei> "Disheartening?"
[15:33] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "He was very loyal to you." Said Kaworu. "In fact most of the time, despite my utmost attempts, we often discussed you."
[15:37] <Yanmei> A flare of pain in her gaze… but she doused it, glancing briefly at the floor again. "How do you feel about him, despite your goals, or at least taking into account that they changed?"
[15:43] <Nagisa`Kaworu> "Fond. A little envious, too."
[15:48] <Yanmei> "Because he’s in such an enviable position," she said dryly, staring at the tubes and machines surrounding him in that small space beyond the window.
[15:52] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "But he is." Said Kaworu. "How many people do -you- know can wake up, feeling happy and safe, thanking their lucky stars because they’re -so- loved and cherished by someone who will protect them, no matter what? How many people can -truly- look themselves in the eye and say they've found that sort of love in this lonely old world of ours?"
[15:55] <Yanmei> "Maybe it's karmic," Yanmei murmured. "He spent half his life being alone and in terrible pain. Maybe this is balancing that out."
[15:56] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "Fitting, that someone like you should be the lovely angel to sweep away all his pain."
[15:58] <Yanmei> "Angel?" she was too tired to give off more than a vague, unfocused sense of amusement. Her lips curled as though they might chuckle. "Didn’t you call me a witch before?"
[16:00] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "Things were different then." Said Kaworu. "Back then, you didn’t -really- know how I feel. How I still feel." He stared inside at the prone figure of Isaiah. "Now you do. As far as I'm concerned that makes you a better person."
[16:06] * Yanmei stared, this time at Kaworu's profile. "You didn't have a hand in this," she said, stating it as fact. The little thread of desperation behind the remark, however, was not as well hidden as she would have liked.
[16:14] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "No." Said Kaworu. "I didn’t. I wouldn't have any reason to." A sigh. "Atticus's death has… Drained any will I had to hurt people anymore. I am rather sick of hurting. I'm rather sick of inflicting -this- on people. They live their lives filled with such loneliness that any togetherness is a cause for joy." He smiled at her. "The hedgehogs have enough problems without me pulling them apart, don't you think?"
[16:23] <Yanmei> "Hedgehogs." Yanmei muttered and smoothed down her hair, but as no one had mussed it that evening, there was no need for it. "I don't think I get that part? But the rest… fine, yeah. That's decent of you, Nagisa."
[16:26] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "Hedgehog’s Dilemma. It's a psychological term." Kaworu smiled, and Yanmei would feel a comforting weight on her shoulders as he put an arm around her. "Let me help."
[16:33] <Yanmei> "Help? With what?" Puzzled. That phrase sounded like a familiar one. Also, her heart was starting to speed up, because the last time they had been in arm's reach of each other… well. She struggled to shake that feeling off as well as she could. Lie hell she would give up on the little dignity she had left.
[16:35] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "You stand in this hallway that you hate to leave, because you’re afraid someone might hurt him. Over and over again you replay what happened in your mind- the impact, the blood- and you think to yourself, this person I want to protect, I want to protect -so much-… Why can't I protect him?"
[08:59] * Yanmei stared. 'Deny it,' she told herself, but it was such a futile waste of breath. "I think," she said instead, "That this is a feeling you also know. But I don't see how it can be helped."
[08:59] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "I disagree."
[09:01] <Yanmei> "Oh?"
[09:03] <Nagisa`Kaworu> "Well. Why do you think things like that? Why do you ask yourself, ’Why can't I protect him'? Why do you think to yourself, 'I'm so awful for hurting such a wonderful person'?"
[09:08] <Yanmei> "Who wouldn't? After everything that's happened since we've met. Do you want me to list the injuries he's gotten since then? Or the number of times he's been heartbroken?" She made to pull away and to face him properly.
[09:09] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "Yes." Said Kaworu, his face serious now. His red eyes were gentle, in an ethereal sort of way.
[09:12] <Yanmei> "…" She had expected him to back off then. Not to… talk herself into a corner full of painful memories and feelings. She hesitated.
[09:15] <Nagisa`Kaworu> "What happens will remain between us." Said Kaworu gently. "I know it hurts you to talk about it, because it would hurt me, too. But there’s a part of you that wants to tell me. Because you know I can help you -and- Isaiah."
[09:25] <Yanmei> "That's… ridiculous." She muttered, looking away. She balled her hands into fists, fighting silently with herself. "But I will share a little, only because you've been tremendously polite. Something that illustrates our relationship well enough…"
[09:27] * Nagisa‘Kaworu nodded gently.
[09:30] <Yanmei> "The battle against Qaphsiel. You were interested in that when we first met, weren’t you?" she quirked her lips wryly. "The city of Paris-2 was evacuated, but Isaiah wouldn't leave. He was waiting at my apartment for me to get back, despite the dangers."-
[09:32] <Yanmei> "No amount of pleading would get him to leave and go someplace safer. So I had to try something else. I asked him to come to HQ and I loaned him my security pass, and I smuggled him inside."
[09:33] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "Ah yes, I remember that." Said Kaworu. "To be fair, there was unlikely to be any place safer than the Geofront."
[09:37] <Yanmei> "The Geofront has its own dangers," Yanmei muttered. "But. I thought I could risk it, and that if everything worked out, I could protect him in that structure along with everyone else. I didn’t realize that sneaking him in would basically make him NERV's property, to hold and interrogate indefinitely if they pleased.-
[09:37] <Yanmei> Actually, I just ended up placing him in a different sort of danger. And that's not even counting what happened during the battle itself."
[09:38] * Nagisa‘Kaworu nodded slowly, to show he was listening.
[09:42] <Yanmei> "In that battle, I almost died." She resisted the urge to put a hand over her chest. It would show that she was thinking of the physical pain of that situation, but how could she not? "With 04 broken and on fire, I was immersed in boiling LCL. I was certain that I was going to die. And then he showed up, at terrible personal risk, and he rescued me."
[09:43] <Nagisa`Kaworu> "Snatched you from death’s door?"
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[09:46] <Yanmei> "That's a bit dramatic, Nagisa, but yes. I suppose he did." Yanmei shrugged and paced a little off to the side so that she could lean against the wall. She still felt a little dizzy from before. "He burned himself badly in the process. And worse, NERV discovered that he had infiltrated HQ without consent. My CO didn't take action against him, so he was spared, but," she flourished a hand.-
[09:49] <Yanmei> "Everything I did to protect him went sour. It's always like that. And when he doesn't always end up saving me, he has… sustained other injuries because of me - pain both mental and physical that he wouldn't have if we had never met. That's how things are."
[09:51] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "I think you’re wrong, but let's continue." Said Kaworu. "Why does he fight to protect you so much? Why did he save your life?"
[09:52] <Yanmei> "Because he thinks I'm worth it, I suppose." Tired. Now she couldn't help remembering what had happened just now in the park. He was being shot and he -still- tried to push her away…
[09:54] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "Isaiah is a very kind boy. To him, everyone is worth saving- but you don’t see him going to such lengths for others."
[09:57] <Yanmei> "He says I make him happy," she muttered. "I don't try to protect others the way I try with him either, even if they ultimately end badly. I suppose it's just a bond that we have?"
[10:00] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "A bond you share, but what is it built on?"
[10:02] <Yanmei> "I don’t know. Friendship. Something greater than friendship, I think."
[10:05] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "Not guilt?"
[10:09] * Yanmei looked directly at him at that, wide-eyed. "You’re wrong. He has nothing to feel guilty for, so that doesn't hold up."
[10:12] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "No. But a shy, wide-eyed boy like him, without any friends… Once upon a time, he might’ve clamored for the attention of a friendly, pretty girl- who, bound by guilt at his enthusiasm, befriends him… Only for the relationship to seemingly cause more problems, more guilt for the girl, until it seems she can't do anything right by him anymore…"
[10:16] <Yanmei> "So…" the implications sank in slowly, and as it did, her gaze shifted away aimlessly. "So… you're saying its my fault. That my guilt is making him feel bad too. I thought… I thought I could at least hide it from him."
[10:22] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "You silly, -silly- girl. That isn’t what I'm saying at all." Said Kaworu with a grin.
[10:23] <Yanmei> "Wha-" she blinked. "Then…? You've lost me, Nagisa."
[10:27] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "I’m revealing an inherent flaw in your logic. In your -emotions-. In fact, funnily enough, it's one you share with Aline." Kaworu leaned forward and put a hand on Yanmei's shoulder. "Look me in the eyes and tell me: do you really believe it is mere guilt that is at work here? Do you -honestly- think that that impulse is the driving force behind your attempts to protect him, to befriend
[10:27] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> him?"
[10:30] <Yanmei> "Of course it’s not!" she frowned at him. "It's special to me. It's not guilt alone."
[10:31] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "Then don’t you see? If there's some -other- underlying reason, then not everything is -your- fault, and your guilt is simply you feeling like blaming yourself is going to fix things, when it doesn't."
[10:38] * Yanmei held her frown. She didn't back away though, because between his position and the wall, there was little way to do it gracefully. "I know that. I just…" How to make him understand. -She- didn't even understand. "Controling that feeling is difficult…"
[10:39] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "It is." Agreed Kaworu. "You feel the need to blame -something-, to create some sort of meaning as to why this happened, and it’s so easy to blame yourself. But I know how to make you feel better."
[10:41] <Yanmei> "Oh yeah?" Every time he said that, it made a little twinge of suspicion run through her.
[10:41] * Nagisa‘Kaworu pointed towards the window, where Isaiah lay.-
[10:42] <Nagisa`Kaworu> "There is the key to take all of your problems away. Every little iota of negativity you hold about yourself can be cleansed so easily, that the fact that you need -my- help is a testament to the entirety of hedgehog civilization."
[10:44] <Yanmei> "You think that talking to him about it would help? Something that simple…?"
[10:45] <Nagisa`Kaworu> "Who -else- can you talk to, if not the boy who loves you the most in this world?"
[10:52] * Yanmei went silent for a few moments, trying to sort out her own feelings. Fear? Fear was there. A tight anxiety winding through her chest. And bewilderment. "I understand. When he wakes up, I’ll talk to him properly."
[10:53] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "And what are you going to say?"
[10:56] <Yanmei> "I don’t know yet. There's so much to say, about this and other matters too. I'll work it out properly, though." She trying to now, but her head felt as though it was stuffed full of cotton.
[10:59] * Nagisa‘Kaworu smiled. "It’s about time. After all, if the things he told me remain true, you won't be alone in needing to let a few things out…"
[11:06] <Yanmei> "…?" She almost asked, but… "I see. I'll leave it for him to tell, me, then. Thanks for the counseling session. I feel like I should do something to repay you, but I don't know what."
[11:08] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "I know what you can do."
[11:09] <Yanmei> "Yeah?" she tilted her head curiously.
[11:12] <Nagisa`Kaworu> "Take good care of him." Said Kaworu. "There are many people in the world who would, if they were in your place, would savage and ruin him. He -needs- you. And you know you need him too, don’t you?"
[11:19] <Yanmei> "Of course. On both counts." She gave her hair a little toss, but something in her eyes had gone all gentle. "I'll look after him, and I won't betray his feelings. It's because of that, but even if I didn't need him, I'd like to think I would anyway."
[11:19] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "Heh. You know, at first I thought you were a selfish witch, it’s true. But now I think you're actually a generously beautiful person."
[11:22] <Yanmei> "I never expected to hear that from you, Mr Nagisa." Yanmei managed to smirk a little. "But you're surprisingly generous too, coming here even though you didn't have to."
[11:23] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "If I only did things because I -had- to, I’d never do anything. People like me, we can do whatever we like." He smirked in return. "One last question."
[11:24] <Yanmei> "Yes?"
[11:24] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "Has knowing Isaiah improved your life?"
[11:27] <Yanmei> "Yes. She looked over at the glass now, her voice lowering somewhat. "I actually… don’t know where I would be without him. That's how much I have come to rely on him for support."
[11:27] * Aline has quit IRC (Ping timeout)
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[11:31] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "I thought as much." Said Kaworu. He turned back towards Isaiah. "Have you ever considered, that if the life of skilled, confident, popular, well-adjusted, pretty Zhang Yanmei can be improved by the love of Isaiah Gabriel-Wei… That the life of depressed, lonely, miserable, mistreated, at times nigh-suicidal Isaiah Gabriel-Wei can be improved by the love of Zhang Yanmei?" He quirked an
[11:31] <Nagisa`Kaworu> eyebrow. "No matter the challenges, risks, or threats you both face?"
[11:37] <Yanmei> "Whatever we have is worth the troubles that are flying at us all the time. That’s what you're saying, right?" she gave a small smile. "If I tink of it that way, it may well keep the guilt away."
[11:39] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "There we go." Said Kaworu. "It’s a philosophy stolen from a magical girl anime, but then again, sweet little Usagi-chan always did seem so very happy, didn't she?" He chuckled. "It'll serve you well. Follow it, and you might survive to build your desired future."
[11:44] <Yanmei> "Ah…?" She was following advice from a cartoon? A kid's show? Really… she almost sighed out loud. "Speaking of the future, you'll be okay too, won't you?"
[11:49] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "It’s -good- advice. That was a joke." Warned Kaworu. But he winked. "Well…" He turned and started to walk away. "I'm not really sure. Do I even have a future? Even goals that once seemed so dear to my heart… I don't seem to care about them anymore. Which is good news for you. Nevertheless, I'm faced with the fact that I'll probably die alone."
[11:56] <Yanmei> "Nagisa." She stepped after him, just once, twice, before stopping. She felt incredibly clumsy all of a sudden, tottering over another apology. "It might be a difficult thing to hear? But couldn't you find new goals?" Dying alone… she wanted to stop him about that too, tell him he was being melodramatic, but that would be like trampling over his own grief, wouldn't it?
[11:58] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "Maybe I could. I probably can, provided I can find goals that aren’t tied to -him-. Which is the problem." He stared into the distance, as if, to use a purple phrase, he was glimpsing the truth of the universe. "There is no one but Atticus in my heart, and there can never ever be a replacement. Was there a replacement for Rei in Dr. Ikari's heart? Is there a replacement for Isaiah in yours?
[11:58] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> I’ll die alone because my dove has flown, and now I am left behind."
[12:06] <Yanmei> "No one said anything about replacing him," she said sharply. "But in a world where so many people still exist, there a millions - no, billions of opportunties to form new bonds with others. They won't be Atticus. They'll never be Atticus. But they can be brothers or sisters or… something else. People who are touched by your existance and vice-versa."-
[12:12] <Yanmei> "Starting over doesn't mean forgetting the past." She pulled out a phone - one that was heavy with sparkly pink charms and stickers, and flipped it open, and held it up so that the address book could be seen. "My friends from home. Some of them I text every day. Others I've lost contact with completely.-
[12:12] <Yanmei> " But I haven't stopped thinking about any of them, even though I've made new friends in France and Japan and Germany and… Britain. Do you understand?"
[12:14] * Nagisa‘Kaworu smiled.-
[12:15] <Nagisa`Kaworu> "Of course I do, Yanmei." He started to walk away again.-
[12:15] <Nagisa`Kaworu> "… I’m not sure when we'll talk again. So I want you to make me a promise. Consider it my greatest vanity, my way of placing a stamp on a future I'll never see. Alright?"
[12:18] <Yanmei> "What do you want me to promise, Nagisa Kaworu?" Still saying that stuff about not having a future. She shouldn't have felt so bothered about it… but she was.
[12:19] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "If you ever have a son, give him a cool name, like Atticus Kaworu." He grinned.
[12:27] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei slowly returned that grin, but it seemed… sad, despite her efforts. "I’m not sure I'd call it 'cool,' but… sure. I'd like it if you stuck around long enough to see the weird looks he'll get from it, though. It's the least you could do."
[12:27] * Nagisa‘Kaworu smiled sadly.-
[12:28] <Nagisa`Kaworu> "I’d like that too." Was that a tear in his eye?
[12:36] <Yanmei> Stupid idiot. Don't start crying. She crossed the distance between them… warily. Because try as she might, there were still those old feelings of discomfort welling up. He -still- made her feel like that, but…-
[12:39] <Yanmei> She went in for a one-armed hug. "I don't know what you have to do now, but I want you to take care of yourself."
[12:40] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "…" He touched her cheek fondly. "You really are a very generous, beautiful girl. Even if you pilot such a savage creature, you really don’t like seeing other people hurting like this. Thank you, Yanmei." With his other arm he returned the hug, before taking a step back.-
[12:41] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "I ought to be going."
[12:42] <Yanmei> "Yeah, sure." She stepped back too. "I’ll see you around?"
[12:43] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "In a manner of speaking." Said Kaworu, and for a moment a happy twinkle of mischief danced in those sad eyes. "I’m determined to enjoy 2016. Very much indeed." He turned and walked away. "Goodbye, Yanmei. Don't stay up all night."
[12:52] <Yanmei> "A little too late. It's morning now," she smirked. Nevertheless, she waved goodbye.
[12:53] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> Wave. And then he was gone…
[12:57] * Yanmei sighed and dropped down into one of the seats they had arranged against the hallway wall. It was strange, not as poignant as the last departure, but somehow she felt that lonely twinge once more. Nagisa Kaworu. There were so many things about him that she couldn’t understand…

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