He Said You Care About Him Don T You

<Ayanami‘Rei> [Paris-2 was a shattered city.-
<Ayanami`Rei> [In about an hours’ worth of combat, a full 80% of the city's urban landscape had been destroyed, in many cases completely demolished. Streets had holes gouged out of them; buildings had been crushed by calling ammo or stray footsteps; entire city blocks levelled by explosions and energy beams. And yet, the city felt crowded.-
<Ayanami‘Rei> [Cleanup crews from all across France, Belgium and parts of England flowed into the city, beginning the cleanup- which in many cases involved demolishing ruins and wrecks.-
<Ayanami`Rei> [Many, many Angelic corpses had to be shifted as well from the battlefield. The smaller ones were able to be bundled up and moved off- the larger ones had to be cut into pieces and carted away.-
<Ayanami`Rei> [And thus would Ayanami Rei find herself walking through the streets of Paris-2, in the shadow of the fallen Angel Shoftiel, who was surrounded by cranes and excavators. It was here that she would spy a friend…-
<Ayanami`Rei> "… Raffy-kun?"
<Raphael> It would likely be the least composed that Rei had ever seen him. It was clear that Raphael hadn’t slept since the battle itself, and his bloodshot eyes were complimented by the black bags below them. The jacket of his uniform had been ditched somewhere along the line, and his shirt was largely untucked as he leaned against the railing that overlooked Shoftiel's crude burial preparations. Still, at the voice he turns around and tries to smile.-
<Raphael> "… ah. Rei."
*Ayanami‘Rei had at some point changed out of her Rose Maiden outfit and into a clean and tidy white shirt and black skirt, over which she wore a thick coat. She looked, in comparison to Raphael, relatively well-rested, which wasn’t surprising, considering her preference for catnaps whenever she had half a chance. Nevertheless, there was a rawness to her eyes that suggested that even though she
*Ayanami‘Rei may be physically rested, mentally and emotionally she was exhausted. She walks to his side and looks up. "You don’t look very well, Raffy-kun…"
*Raphael shrugs slightly and turns his stare back towards the crews working around Shoftiel. As he watched, a massive trencher finished carving its way through the angel's arm. "I'm fine. I just went straight from the battle to supervising Sergeant Favager's recovery, and then Suzanne was in a bit of a state after the battle…" He sighs. "I've got an hour before I'm due for debriefing."
*Ayanami‘Rei nods slowly. She keeps looking up at him. "It’ll all be over soon, Raffy-kun." She said gently. "Before long, you and Suzie will be able to rest and heal, along with everyone else…"
<Raphael> That earns nothing but a few seconds of exhausted silence, as hard as he tries to come up with some sort of pleasant agreement. "… Are you ok, Rei?"
*Ayanami‘Rei nods slowly. "Yes. I feel very worn down, though." Now she turns her gaze back to Shoftiel. The Lance of Tears was one of the first things to be removed, shipped off to God knows where for analysis. "Alphonse is very shaken, and other people aren’t doing much better…"
<Raphael> "I know. Captain Amatore-DeForest seems to be taking the Colonel's death fairly hard. Not that I can blame her." He closes his eyes for a moment and finds that his body would prefer that they stayed that way. "… Alphonse did an outstanding job, Rei. You both did. For what it's worth, I'm proud of you."
*Ayanami‘Rei looks downcast at news regarding Marianne- acutely aware of how this would feed back into Yanmei- but when Raffy praises her and Alphonse she smiles at him, a light twinkling in her eyes for a moment. "Thank you, Raffy-kun. That was a really nice thing to say." She says. "But I only helped. As you said, Alphonse was the outstanding one. When I found him, he was trembling and shaking.
*Ayanami`Rei He was a total wreck, but he really pulled himself together quickly and went on to help win the battle. He’s really amazing."
*Raphael gives Rei an odd, quiet smile at those last words, "He certainly seems to be. I'm glad you'll have someone like him to help keep you safe." He says quietly. "… May I ask you something, Rei?"
<Ayanami‘Rei> "What is it, Raffy-kun?"
<Raphael> "You care about him, don’t you?"
<Ayanami‘Rei> "…" A light blush came to Rei’s cheeks, and her eyes flicked left and right in rapid succession- as if looking for something- before looking back at Raphael. "Of course I do, Raffy-kun. He's my friend."
*Raphael gives Rei a long, amused look for a moment before breaking out into an exhausted chuckle. "Alright then. Just… don't be afraid to hang on to that, alright? More than almost anyone else I know, you deserve that. Someone to make you happy. Someone who's…" He falls silent for a few seconds, just watching the work crews with hard eyes. "… Someone who's willing to do all they can to keep you safe."
*Ayanami‘Rei remained quiet as Raphael spoke, her blush deepening at his words, but she nodded quietly in agreement. "Speaking to him makes me very happy…" She murmured to herself, before blinking and looking up at Raphael. "Raffy-kun, I’m proud of you too. You fought really, really hard. Everyone's talking about it."
*Raphael frowns slightly at that, not quite able to help himself. "… If I helped the Pilots, then I did my job. The rest doesn't matter."
<Ayanami‘Rei> "…" Rei blinks again, tilting her head slightly at an unspoken question before looking back at Shoftiel’s body.
<Raphael> The silence lingers on for a time, both of them staring at the progressively dismantled angel. It was nearly two minutes before Raphael spoke again. "… What do you think about it?"
<Ayanami‘Rei> "About the Angel?"
<Raphael> "Mmm."
<Ayanami`Rei> "I think…" Rei stared out at Shoftiel. "I think it’s very sad that he died. Because he died trying to help us, even though the Angels are our enemies." She said quietly. "But… I'm glad that he helped us. When something is made for a purpose, a sad purpose, like fighting or war, and it chooses not to take that path, but instead takes a path it wants to take, then it makes me feel better.
<Ayanami‘Rei> Because it means that we can choose who we are. We’re more than what we're created to be."
<Raphael> "… Yes. I think you're right, Rei." He says quietly. "I wonder if it will ever get the respect it deserves from humanity for that? For rebelling against its entire purpose to do what it thought was right."
<Ayanami‘Rei> "We might all be dead without its help." Said Rei sadly. "So I really really hope so, Raffy-kun. But what to do? I don’t know anyone who can make statues, and they're cutting it up, so I don't know if we can give it a special funeral."
<Raphael> "I don't really know. I'll have to think about it, I suppose, but even having the world acknowledge that perhaps he wasn't a monster might be a good start."
<Ayanami‘Rei> "We should speak to people." Says Rei firmly. "Meimei knows lots of important people. I bet they could help."
*Raphael glances over at Rei and smiles. "You’re quite taken with the idea, hmm?"
*Ayanami‘Rei looks over and nods firmly. "If people can learn to accept that Shoftiel isn’t a monster, one day Ban-Ban will grow up to be accepted, too!" She said, her face lighting up. "he could go to school, or work, and he'd have lots of friends, and he could even fall in love and have little Ban-Bans one day."
*Raphael considers arguing the point for a moment, but the bright look on Rei's face makes him decide otherwise. "… Y-yes." He says uncertainly, trying his best to give her an encouraging smile. "Is he, uh, still eating cutlery, Rei?"
<Ayanami‘Rei> "He’s grown out of that, Raffy-kun." Said Rei cheerfully, glowing with pride. "Now he eats properly! I'm going to teach him how to use chopsticks next. Now he's wearing clothes! I bought him a cute sweater so he doesn't get cold." She said happily… Before glancing away sheepishly. "He ripped up the sweater, so I'm going to ask Sho-Neechan if she can knit me one made especially for him by
<Ayanami‘Rei> Christmas. It’ll have a pink love heart on it with his name on it, so he knows it's his!"
*Raphael gives her a blank stare at that, only breaking off in time to hazard a hurried, awkward cough. "T-that's… uh, good, Rei. I'm glad he's improving."
*Ayanami‘Rei beams, shifting and throwing her arms tightly around Raphael, squeezing him tight. She stares up at him with big eyes full of hope and delight. "You’ll come over one day and say hello, right? I'm sure he'd really really like you, Raffy-kun! I already know that Alphonse is going to love him~"
*Raphael nods slowly, even as he wonders what sidearm to bring along. His response to the hug is largely limited to a few awkward pats on the shoulder. "I'll try and find some time once all of this calms down."
<Ayanami‘Rei> "Thank you, Raffy-kun~ You’re the best~" Says Rei warmly, giving him an even tighter squeeze before stepping away.
*Raphael gives her another smile, a sincere one this time, before glancing down at his watch and letting out a low sigh. "Damn. I guess I'd best be going if I want to make it back to the Geofront on time. Will you still be able to mind Suzie on the usual days this week, Rei? I hate to impose, but I doubt I'm going to be able to get any time off for the next few days."
<Ayanami‘Rei> "That’s ok, Raffy-kun. I don't have any school this week, and I'm always happy to mind Suzie."
<Raphael> "She's always happy to have you. And you're quite welcome to bring Mr. Wellesley along if the boy needs some time away from the Geofront."
*Ayanami‘Rei claps her hands. "That’s a good idea, Raffy-kun. I think some time away from things really would help. In fact-" She stops, blinking, then tilts her head and smiles warmly. "Nevermind. You should get going!"
<Raphael> "Alright, then. I'll see you soon, Rei." He turns to go, and… pauses. Seemingly on a whim he turns back and gives the girl a proper hug.
*Ayanami`Rei hugs Raffy in return! "Alright. Have a good day! Please take it easy."
<Raphael> The embrace breaks as quickly as it began as whatever brief moment of emotion seized him passes. "I will." And without another word he disappears down the street, leaving Rei and the slowly disappearing body of Shoftiel behind.

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