He Said Look Her In The Eye

[13:35] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> [The first of march. Yanmei had been summoned to the Presidential Palace, specifically to the President’s office. Today was the day they tried to tame the bear.]
[13:38] * Yanmei had dressed in a simple suit for the occassion, disregarding her NERV uniform completely. She reached the waiting room outside of the President's office, tense, remembering her first time here as well as the weight of what she was about to attempt. However, she had at least summoned a pleasant air around herself. Enough to fool the receptionists if any were around?
[13:40] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> [The President’s secretary appeared from a doorway. "The President will see you now, Miss Zhang."]
[13:42] <Yanmei> "Thank you~" She stood from her chair, and started toward the door. A silent breath before she opened it.
[13:48] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> [The office was as glamorous as ever. The President sat in his chair; a silver tray carrying three ornate porcelain teacups and a teapot sat upon his desk. "Good day, Miss Zhang."]
[13:53] <Yanmei> "Mr. President," she said politely, crossing over to take one of the seats in front of his desk. "You’re looking well. I take it we'll start pretty soon?"
[13:55] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> ["Yes. Do you feel nervous?"]
[13:55] <Yanmei> "Not at all." She tried to look confident. "I’m sure it will go well. What about you?"
[13:58] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> ["Hmmmmm." The president sipped at his tea. "I’m a long veteran of trying to persuade Fontaine. I'm well-insulated."]
[13:59] <Yanmei> "Well, in that case, any words of advice for a greenhorn, like myself?" She gave a small smile.
[14:00] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> ["Look her in the eye, no matter how much you might want to look away."]
[14:01] <Yanmei> "I’ll try. Any particular reason why?"
[14:01] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> ["It’s harder for her to forget you're human that way." He smirks.]
[14:03] <Yanmei> "I see…" She pondered the use of tears, but that was a bit much. Anyway, she wasn't sure if she could make them on demand. She clasped her hands together in her lap.
[14:04] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> ["So. Let’s refresh. What is your argument?"]
[14:08] <Yanmei> "That Isaiah should stay amid the emotional support system and lifestyle that he has developed here in Paris-2. That his personal ambitions are incompatable with piloting. And that removing him for the purpose of piloting without his genuine consent would be a cruel act."
[14:10] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> [Mazarin nods. "About as best that we can hope for. She should be here in ten minutes."]
[14:12] * Yanmei glanced at the door and held back a sigh. "I mentioned before that we didn’t get along, didn't I? Thank you for agreeing to… ah, anchor us both during this."
[14:15] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> ["You’re quite welcome." Said Mazarin. "I'm curious to see how you handle yourself."]
[14:21] <Yanmei> "In this situation, I have no choice but to be charming and businesslike. Fortunately, I have good practice." She winked at him.
[14:23] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> ["I’m sure." He smirked.-
[14:23] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> A few minutes passed before there was a knock on the door.
[14:26] <Yanmei> Yanmei’s heart started to beat a little faster. She ignored it, though, rising slightly out of her chair respectfully.
[14:28] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> ["Enter." Mazarin rose as well. The door opened.-
[14:28] * Ginevre`Fontaine stood there, wearing her NERV uniform, buttoned up fully. It accentuated her angular, martial posture. "Mazarin." She turned to look at Yanmei, and for a moment there was a hint of suspicion in her eyes. "Zhang?"
[14:30] <Yanmei> "Hello, Commander." Yanmei smiled at her, more out of politeness than heartfelt pleasure. "It’s been a while."
[14:35] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "It has." Said Ginevre. She took a seat at the desk. "I wasn’t aware that Zhang would be joining us, Mazarin."-
[14:35] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> ["I’m sure I mentioned it. Either way, she has much to discuss with you."]
[14:36] * Yanmei reclaimed her own seat. "I'm sure that you can guess what the topic of the day is going to be, given recent events."
[14:40] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Either you wish to discuss the Ikaris, the MP-Pilot program, or Gabriel-Wei’s candidacy."
[14:44] <Yanmei> "Isaiah's candidacy is far more a pressing matter to me than those other two topics, I'm afraid," she said with a wry smile. "I was hoping that we could begin with an inquiry into how you felt about the matter?"
[14:56] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "You may."
[14:59] <Yanmei> "Is it right to assume that your position hasn’t changed since the last time we've spoken?"
[15:01] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Of course. My position has always remained as it is: that I will do whatever I can in my power to ensure that the Angels are defeated and NERV maintains itself at the highest level of operating ability."
[15:03] <Yanmei> "Of course. Even if it’s at the expense of the pilots you're trying to recruit."
[15:06] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "As I’ve noted before, the fate of the world is my highest priority, even above that of a pilot's wellbeing."
[15:14] <Yanmei> "Isn't that a little contradictory? If the fate of the world depends on the pilots as well, and if we're less expendable than you'd suggest." Yanmei's smile had tightened. "Even if I can accept that fate for myelf, I can't do it for Isaiah."
[15:17] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Hardly contradictory. Basic logic suggests that to prize an item’s defenders over that of the item itself is pointless. We risk a great deal by daring to weaken the importance of the world to accomodate individuals." Said Ginevre smoothly. "The last time we discussed this, I asked you whether he was worth the world. You weren't sure. Unless you can give me a clear answer, I'm going to assume you're acting out of simple selfishness instead of seeking his genuine wellbeing."
[15:30] <Yanmei> "That is a trick question." Yanmei glared at her, smile slipping. "To answer 'yes' suggests that I'm weakening the importance of the world, as you just said. To answer 'no' weakens Isaiah's importance. Well, regardless, I will state it right now: He means the world to me, so yes, I would risk it for him."
[15:34] * Ginevre‘Fontaine took a cup of tea and leaned back in her chair, sipping at it. "Congratulations. You’re human."
[15:38] <Yanmei> "Now that's an interesting remark to make." Especially coming from you, she wanted to say, but she could only do so in her mind. The President was watching.
[15:40] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "It is. See, we are creatures born of emotion and logic. As foolish as it is, it is natural to value someone more than you value the sum of humanity. As sad as that may be." She sipped her tea. "I’m listening, Zhang."
[15:47] <Yanmei> "Should I continue? It's not like you've done anything to deny my claims about this being detrimental to his well being. That sort of suggests that you're perfectly comfortable about wrecking him for your own gain?"
[15:48] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "On the contrary, Zhang. I merely believe your claims towards his emotional detriment are hyperbolic in nature."
[15:48] <Ginevre`Fontaine> [Mazarin is watching them both, going from face to face silently, his eyebrows arched in an expression of understated entertainment.]
[15:50] <Yanmei> "And you’ve arrived to this conclusion how? By talking to him about his fears and ambitions? By examining his psychological profile?" Yanmei's eyes narrowed. "I'm being perfectly serious here."
[15:52] * Ginevre‘Fontaine folded one leg over the other. "Is it wrong of me to assume that Gabriel-Wei is as strong, if not stronger, emotionally, than any other pilot, including yourself?"
[15:53] <Yanmei> "I’d like to hear your explaination behind that, if you don't mind."
[15:54] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Simple. Let me ask you this: is Isaiah weak?"
[15:58] <Yanmei> "No. But his is a strength that was recently developed and reinforced. And there have been times even recently when he’s completely broken down."
[15:58] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Oh?"
[16:09] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei frowned deeply now. "…you must have an idea of what his personal life was like up until last year. No one looking at a candidate would neglect something like that. Moreover, you must have been made aware that in stressful combat situations - and highly emotional situations, he doesn’t seem to do so well. The most obvious example is what occurred in Tokyo-2."
[16:10] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "I know everything bar your perspective and only you can give that to me." Said Ginevre. "Make with it."
[16:14] <Yanmei> "When I first met him, he was very unsure of himself. Maybe even weak? He cried a lot. Cowered a lot. But he got better. And do you know why? It’s because he started forming positive relationships that built up his confidence. And he also became -happy-. He told me that himself. After years of being alone and self depricating, he changed, and it was thanks this… this new social nest he was making for himself."
[16:20] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Then it’s fortunate you became a pilot when you did, isn't it?"
[16:21] <Yanmei> "What does -that- mean?"
[16:21] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Simple. That I highly doubt he would’ve achieved such a state of strength without your assistance in the first place. That is, you and he both owe NERV a great debt."
[16:23] <Yanmei> "And your payment plan involved ripping out the foundations on which that strength and happiness was built. Am I correct?"
[16:23] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Hardly." Said Ginevre dryly. "You make it sound like he will be utterly alone and friendless."
[16:27] <Yanmei> "Oh right. How could I have forgotten? Commander Ikari’s Rei clones. Now that Isaiah is nice and friendly with one instead of bursting into hysterical tears as he did before, it's perfectly okay to yank him away from everyone else and surround him with them, right? Was that the real reason why the prototype of the MP-Pilots was sent here?"
[16:33] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Hardly." Said Ginevre again. "Don’t be so vain. No, I am merely pointing out that I personally don't believe it is wise to be so paranoid that you assume he will collapse into puddles the moment you're not personally holding his hand. He'll have a phone. Aline and Shinji make do. Adapt."
[16:37] <Yanmei> "I am -not- Aline, and Isaiah is not Shinji," snapped Yanmei. "And I have no interest in rolling over and accepting his being hurt the way she did!"
[16:40] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Careful, Zhang. You wouldn’t be accusing Aline and Shinji of not supporting each other, would you?"
[16:46] <Yanmei> "Did Ikari Shinji want to become a pilot? Did he truly?" Yanmei stared at Ginevre, hard. "If he said that he didn't would anyone have listened? Isaiah does not want this. He has told me his feelings about the EVAs before.-
[16:48] <Yanmei> But… even ignoring the fact that you're taking him away from this happy life that he just managed to scratch together over the past year, and even ignoring those feelings of his about piloting, I can't ignore my own. The life of being a pilot… it's a painful, -painful- existance. I cannot accept him being hurt like that, especially if he does not want to be."
[16:49] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Mm…" Ginevre was quiet. She sipped at her tea. "Yes. It -has- hurt you, hasn’t it? Some would argue nevertheless that you're stronger now than you once were. That you have been forged in the crucible of war, so to speak, into something far greater."
[16:52] <Yanmei> "I don't care about that." She was suddenly aware of her oown tea, which had gone untouched. "And neither does he. He just… he just wants to be happy. To make a family of his own one day, and to make -them- happy."
[16:53] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "A family?" Asked Ginevre quietly.
[16:55] <Yanmei> "He gets along with kids well. He wants to be a father." Her voice was quieting. "And a good one. Not like his own. I told him I would support him in making that dream a reality."
[16:56] <Ginevre`Fontaine> ["I remember you having an ambition like that of your own once, Ginnie." Said Mazarin.-
[16:56] <Ginevre`Fontaine> ["Don’t call me that." Snapped Fontaine, frowning.]
[17:05] <Yanmei> "What's the point in being made stronger if you have to give up your dreams for it." Yanmei rubbed her leg a little with the heel of her palm, the note of misery in her voice unmistakable.
[17:07] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "The point…" She frowned. "Is so others can have their dreams instead…" She sighed.
[17:09] <Yanmei> "So it’s just another sacrifice to you."
[17:09] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Someone -has- to make the sacrifice!"
[17:10] <Yanmei> "Then why can’t they be people who are willing to?"
[17:11] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "And if no one is willing?"
[17:13] <Yanmei> "You know that’s not the case. You have Blanc and de Pteres to prove otherwise, at least. Or maybe it's just that their goals fall in line with this work. Because you're still getting what you want? It probably doesn't matter."
[17:14] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Coward."
[17:14] * Yanmei glared.
[17:17] <Ginevre`Fontaine> "Admit it." Said Ginevre, anger gathering around her like a storm. "You’re a coward, Zhang Yanmei. You were a coward when you came, you're a coward now, and you'll be a coward when all is said and done. Never do you ask 'what can I do to help'? Always it's 'Why do I have to do it?' You never once willingly give more than you absolutely must. And now you're flailing like a child because someone might take away your security blanket!"
[17:23] <Yanmei> "I have -always- tried my best." Her own temper was gathering steam as well. "Even when I didn't want to do something, I always tried! I told you before that this would be the one thing I'd oppose you on, and you still went ahead with it anyway! What do you expect?"
[17:24] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Do you think I was the one who forwarded this proposal?! I’m the only reason it's been delayed as much as it has-
[17:24] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> ["Alright. I think we both need to settle down a little." Said Mazarin.]
[17:27] * Yanmei turned her scowl on Mazarin for a split second… before remembering herself. "…" She sat back in her chair and looked down at her tea still fuming, but ever so slightly more sheepish now as well.
[17:28] <Ginevre`Fontaine> "…" Ginevre shifted in her seat. "Pardon me. I didn’t mean to speak so angrily. I was… Unsettled."
[17:30] <Yanmei> "Same here," she managed. "Mine was an unseemly outburst too."
[17:30] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "We should not be lashing out at each other like that." Said Ginevre. "You’re… Not a coward."
[17:33] <Yanmei> "Thank you. And you're not a horrible woman who's apathetic about the people she's sacrificing."
[17:33] * Ginevre‘Fontaine quirked an eyebrow.
[17:34] <Yanmei> "…I’m sure I was implying something like that earlier," Yanmei mumbled.
[17:35] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Indeed." Said Ginevre. She took a deep breath. "I understand your position."
[17:37] <Yanmei> "You do?" She didn’t dare sound hopeful yet.
[17:37] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Of course. I am not an unfeeling person." Said Ginevre. "… But you must understand mine as well."
[17:42] <Yanmei> "I’ve tried, but …I don't understand. Someone who's sacrified dreams and loved ones for this war should know what it's like and help. That's what I've been thinking."
[17:43] * Ginevre‘Fontaine looked guilty for a split second. "But what did I sacrifice those things for, Yanmei?"
[17:50] <Yanmei> "I keep hearing it over and over. ’It's for the good of the world'. But that doesn't make it hurt less."
[17:51] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "I know." Said Ginevre softly. "But… I sacrificed those things in the name of duty. I… I can’t stop because of something like this."
[17:56] * Yanmei stared at her. She hadn't raised her hopes much, but this was… crushing. She struggled to lift some sort of dignified mask over it, sitting up a little straighter and forcing her face into something more neutral.
[17:58] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Perhaps… He will have time to achieve his ambition once the world is at peace." She stood up.
[18:01] <Yanmei> "Please don’t…" So much for dignity. It was crumbling almost as fast as she could build it up. "Don't make him suffer anymore."
[18:03] * Ginevre‘Fontaine put her hands on Yanmei’s shoulders, her face grim and dark. The grip turned into a sort of apologetic embrace. "I'm sorry."
[18:06] * Yanmei merely sat there, like a lifeless lump for a moment or two. And then she pulled away, firmly, deliberately.
[18:08] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "…" Ginevre straightened up. She nodded to the President. "Mazarin."-
[18:08] <Ginevre`Fontaine> And then she walked through the door and was gone.
[18:14] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei continued sitting, eyes back on her tea again, which was by now surely cold. She didn’t speak again until a few minutes had passed. "I screwed up." she whispered. "I got mad at her, and I messed everything up! Isaiah…"
[18:16] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> ["…" Mazarin was quiet. He folded his hands together. "It… Doesn’t seem good." He admitted. "But not all hope is lost."]
[18:19] <Yanmei> "She would never help me. Not before, and not now. …what should I do?"
[18:19] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> ["Assassinate her."]
[18:21] * Yanmei looked up sharply at that, and blinked. She tried to smile…
[18:23] <Ginevre`Fontaine> ["Sorry." Said Mazarin. "I was trying to make you feel a little better. Hmm…" He frowned. "You have to hope that she changes her mind. A slim hope. But… Despair isn’t going to help you." He said. "A pity. You can't even run away with him, can you?"]
[18:25] <Yanmei> "You can't escape the all-seeing eye of NERV. Tracking us down would be an easy thing for them, no matter how hard we tried."
[18:25] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> [Mazarin sighed. "I truly am sorry, Yanmei."]
[18:29] * Yanmei shook her head. She wouldn’t let herself cry - she was too shocked to, anyway - but she couldn't think of anythin to say either. So she didn't say anything at all.
[18:29] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> ["Would you like someone to drive you home?"]
[18:31] <Yanmei> "No, it’s fine." She started to rise, not quite looking at him. "Thank you for trying to help."
[18:31] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> ["You’re welcome."]
[18:32] * Yanmei gave one last nod, and then she started to head out of the office, her pace a good deal slower than her entrance had been.

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