In One Spirit Meet And Mingle Why Not I With Thine

<Ayanami‘Rei> [[Session 35: NEON GENESIS EVANGELION. Date: 31st of October, 2016. Episode Title: In one spirit meet and mingle, why not I with thine?-
<Ayanami`Rei> Ayanami Rei waited patiently in her apartment, dressed to the nines in a long white flowing dress that fell to her ankles and wrists, tied around the waist with a lovely soft pink sash, which in turn was tied together with a golden pin. A pretty pink cape was fastened around her shoulders, held in place with a loveheart clasp; she wore silk pink gloves, and a silver tiara; she wore white Mary Janes on her dainty feet; her brooch glimmered around her neck. Around her were tables laden with food, from crisps to cake to monster candy.-
<Ayanami`Rei> [At her side sat Ban-Ban, hunched on his legs, wearing… Essentially a pure white fur coat with four holes for his arms; the coat enclosed his body and legs, giving him the illusion of having pawed feet. The fur coat also had a hood, which was pulled over his head; the hood seemed to possess animal ears; and long, droopy ears seemed to be coming out of the ears themselves.]
<Yanmei> An anxious Yanmei fussed with Lizzie as she made her way up to the door, glancing back at the other half of the Zhang couple to see how he was fairing. Hers was a pretty simple outfit tonight, with sadly, not as much makeup or general glamour as her tastes required. Simple red turtleneck with a pale cross painted just below the collar. -
<Yanmei> Black pleated miniskirt, brown shoes, black hair ribbons, and black thigh-high stockings with a notable zettai ryouki effect. She knocked.
<Ayanami`Rei> [Isaiah had his hair tied back into a bun, tied with a blue ribbon; a little bit of fringe fell in two distinct bunches around his face. He was wearing a blue… Let’s call it a blue battle robe, with a high collar and a gold trim; armor, adorned with celtic symbols, was worn over the robe on his chest, arms, hands and to the thighs of his battle robe; a tacky decorative sword was attached to his hip.-
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["Maamaa?" Lizzie cooed, wearing what was without a doubt a full-body lion costume with a big mane flaring out and a tail and paws.]
<Aline> Aline’s arrival was the culmination of nearly a week of concerned preparations. The poor girl had been going back and forth on costume idea for the entire duration, and it was only after considerable debate that she settled on her outfit of choice. That choice involved a muted purple skirt, white long-sleeved shirt with purple capelet (and a little bow at its front), looooooong stockings
<Aline> that went well up past her hips, and of course, an intricately-decorated, but still obviously cosplay-grade (if somewhat nicer cosplay-grade!) mockup of a shield on one arm. She made a compromise on the outfit, and the headband was a lighter color to match her hair. Aline even had a bit of a silly look on her face, as though she felt someone would point out that she was in a popular character
<Aline> outfit or something. So neeeeervous.
<Ayanami‘Rei> The door opened.-
<Ayanami`Rei> They were immediately greeted by a twirling Rei, excitement and happiness written all over her face. "Ta-da~" She came to a halt, giving them a giggly bow. "You’re all here~! Come in, come in!"
<Raphael> Just beyond the door there was a figure that was hard to miss: In long white pants, black boots and a rather detailed purple vest with black and gold trim, all covered up with a white and gold coat was Raphael Guillory. There's even a cravat, but God only knows how anyone got him into it. Right now he's staring sullenly out the window as Suzie watches TV.
<Ayanami‘Rei> [Suzie was sitting on the couch, indeed watching television; she wore long violet tights, tucked into white high boots; over that she wore a uniform that resembled the dress uniform of an 1800s soldier; flaring coattails, with puffy shoulders, and a series of buttons up and down the chest wrapped in gold. She wore a cravat on her high collar, and around her was a long, white cape with a -very- high collar like that of a peacock’s. When the door opened she turned around and stared. "Yaay! Someone's here! Raffy, look~"]
<Yanmei> "Thanks, Rei. Happy birthday!" Yanmei stepped into the apartment, and then stepped aside to give room to everyone else who was coming in. She angled the baby a little closer to the hostess with a smile. "Look, Lizzie. Isn't Auntie Rei pretty today?"
*Raphael 's shoulders hitch up in a heavy, silent sigh. Slowly he turns, finally revealing a ornate gold opera mask covering one eye. "Hello, kids."
*Aline strode in after Yanmei (and assumedly, Isaiah), and waved. "Ah, hi~ Nice to have a double holiday, eh?"
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["Maamaa~!" Lizzie waved her pawed hands at Rei excitedly.-
<Ayanami`Rei> "Double holidays are the best!" Said Rei cheerfully. "Look, even Raffy-poo decided to dress up~ isn’t he the sweetest~? You look really good, Leenie-chan~ And you too, Meimei! And Isaiah…" She blinked at Isaiah's outfit for a second before giggling.-
<Ayanami‘Rei> "T-There’s snacks on the table…"-
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["…" Isaiah glanced down at his outfit with a quizzical look before entering. "…"-
<Ayanami`Rei> ["… I like the mask, Mr. Guillory."]
<Raphael> "…" Raphael tries not to scowl. He really does. But there is no escaping it. "… thank you, Isaiah. I like your… dress?"
<Ayanami`Rei> ["I-It’s a robe, sir." Said Isaiah, blushing bright crimson.]
<Raphael> "Right. Pardon me."
*Aline hummed slightly. "Ah, I see the witty banter has already started~"
<Yanmei> "Naturally." Yanmei wandered over to the table to fetch a cookie for her charge and then… with much visible reluctance, and even an internal battle of sorts… set her down so that she could toddle around on her own for a bit. "You look very nice today too, Group Captain Guillory. You too, Suzanne. Period costumes…" she eyed the flashy details on the costumes almost enviously.
<Ayanami‘Rei> [Suzie climbed into her wheelchair, pulling around the couch into the empty main area, eyeing Aline’s outfit critically. "I was gonna wear that, at some point, you know!"-
<Ayanami‘Rei> "Would anyone like a drink? The other guests aren’t here yet, but they will soon~" Asked Rei.-
<Ayanami‘Rei> [Meanwhile, Lizzie promptly ran off towards the fur-coated Ban-Ban, who was eyeing her with its dark eyes…]
<Raphael> "Rei and Suzanne were /quite/ insistent about the whole thing." Raphael says, grabbing a snack cake from a tray for himself. "They handled the details - It’s from some sort of show, I'm told."
*Aline smiled over to Suzie with a bit of a grin. "At some point!" …Though she had a wry grin. "I'd like to think I'm a bit closer to the character though." …Maybe not the thing to be proud of necessarily… "But what you /did/ wear is /exquisite/." …A vague glance and headshake over in the direction of Ban-Ban, with eye contact somewhat reaching Yanmei.
<Yanmei> "Show, huh? I don't think it's one I've ever -oh god!!!" Eye contact was made and redirected accordingly. "Lizzie, don't -bother- him!" She gave chase, trying to scoop her back up.
<Ayanami‘Rei> [Ban-Ban reached out towards Lizzie with one of its human hands…-
<Ayanami`Rei> [… And Lizzie was promptly scooped up. "Uuuuu-!" She frowned, staring down at the pretty pet monster. Which stared back up at her, tongue lolling out of its mouth.-
<Ayanami`Rei> "Ban-Ban won’t hurt anyone, Meimei!" Said Rei.
*Aline held a hand out near Suzie, and practically swooped in. "She doesn't want to take chances, I think. Lizzie's precious." She stared at the baby. "Aren't you~"
<Ayanami‘Rei> [Isaiah was staring flatly at Ban-Ban with an expression that suggested he really didn’t believe that at all. He subtly sidled up to Raphael. "She really thinks its not a monster, huh…" He murmured.-
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["Buuu~?" Lizzie stared at Aline with big green eyes, clapping her hands, the little monster forgotten.]
*Raphael gives the banshee a dark look before shaking his head slowly."Just let them get acquainted first, Rei. At a distance." He turned his head to Isaiah and nodded slowly. "She doesn’t. It's something I haven't been able to talk her out of." Despite the disapproving tone, he's busy watching Rei with a fond smile.
<Yanmei> "Do you want to hold her for a while?" Grateful for the short attention span, she held Elizabeth out toward Aline.
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["Heh. Ban-Ban is nothing." Said Suzie, rolling over near Yanmei. Reaching into her coat, she pulled out a little foam dagger and promptly hurled it at Ban-Ban’s head.-
<Ayanami‘Rei> [The dagger bounced off its forehead, falling onto the ground. Ban-Ban stared down at it- then up at Suzanne with the utmost intensity.-
<Ayanami`Rei> [Suzanne stared back.]
*Aline smiled. "Ah, certainly~" Oddly enough, once she picked up the girl, and had a chance to cradle her, she very softly sang something. Something /flagrantly foreign-sounding/. Still, she surveyed her surroundings peacefully…
<Yanmei> "…" Yanmei stared at both of them, and then glanced briefly at Raphael, wondering if he’d swoop in protectively too.
<Raphael> "Suzie, we've talked about this. Don't torment the banshee." He doesn't bother to hide his smirk, though.
<Ayanami‘Rei> "It’s really mean." Said Rei, less smirky. "Ban-Ban is sensitive! What if you hurt his feelings? You wouldn't want him to hurt -yours-, Suzie…"-
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["…" Suzie glanced at them both, then back to Ban-Ban. "Sorry, Ban-Ban."-
<Ayanami`Rei> ["Baaaan-Baaaaan." Hissed the creature, saliva dripping off every syllable.-
*Ayanami`Rei nodded happily. That was enough for her. "Meimei, come help me in the kitchen, ok?"-
<Ayanami`Rei> ["Wuuuu~?" Lizzie stared up at Aline, not quite fussing, but her hands were grasping up towards her face yearningly.]
*Aline leaned in closer, to let Lizzie do that… but she somehow knew where this was going, and kept a ready hand near her own face…
<Ayanami`Rei> [… Lizzie -did- of course reach for the glasses.]
*Raphael shivers a little despite himself, giving the banshee another look of distaste before turning back to Isaiah. "How have things been going for you, Mr. Gabriel-Wei?"
*Aline /did/ of course hold them firm. "Nuh-uh, you can poke but you can’t take." She kept a firm detente at the glasses line…!
*Yanmei took to the kitchen after Rei, with one backward glance at her pseudo-family before vanishing in through the door. "I'll be back soon!"
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["Oh, I’m alright." Said Isaiah cheerfully, smoothing out his robe. "Yanmei's been run rather ragged recently, though…"-
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["Uuuu!" Lizzie frowned, and promptly tried to latch on and pry the glasses off Aline’s face.-
<Ayanami‘Rei> In the kitchen, Rei did the cursory check on the food- delicious pizzas sizzling away- before standing up, smiling at Yanmei. She twirled. "Do I look ok, Meimei?"
*Aline decided to make a little truce… and let them hang a bit in her grasp, but held onto them fine nonetheless.
<Raphael> "Is that so?" Raphael asks. "I would have thought she’d have been left to her own devices after the latest battle. Has Technical been running tests?"
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["Uuu~" This seemed to satisfy Lizzie, who tugged on them experimentally for a second before seeming to lose interest, instead grabbing at Aline’s hair and tugging.-
<Yanmei> "You look wonderful, Rei!" Yanmei applauded softly. "And the apartment looks great. So does the food. You really worked hard, huh?"
*Aline actually… didn't mind that as much, and hummed a little bit. Chances are she'd /eventually/ tug too hard, but… mm. Such is life.
<Ayanami‘Rei> [Suzie rolled over towards Aline. "Hey, she giving you any trouble?"]
*Aline waved a hand a slight bit. "Ehh. Usual baby stuff, trying to grab anything that isn’t nailed down… or really anything that /is/."
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["Well, uh… She’s been pretty preoccupied with her mum." Said Isaiah. "She's still not waking up…"-
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["Hehehe. Didn’t your mum have a baby recently, Aline?" Asked Suzanne cheerfully.-
<Ayanami‘Rei> "Thank you, Meimei~" Said Rei happily. "I really really wanted this to be nice… Ah, can I tell you a little secret?"
*Raphael blinked -hard-, giving Isaiah a startled look. "… Yanmei’s mother survived the attack?"
*Aline thankfully didn't have to invade another conversation, though she /did/ note the newest little tidbit down. "Ohh yeah she did. Little Anastasie. So cute, too~ But still way too young to coddle like this one here."
<Yanmei> "A secret? What would that be?" Yanmei lowered her voice accordingly, leaning in a bit.
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["Oh, I guess you weren’t told." Said Isaiah sheepishly. "Uh, they found her in the ruins of Beijing-2, still alive. With a lot of burns… S-She isn't quite stable yet, so Yanmei's been sleeping down in the Medical District."-
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["Oh, can I hold her, Aline?" Asked Suzie eagerly.-
*Aline nodded. "Sure! Just be careful, okay?" …A transfer~
*Ayanami`Rei leaned forward, her voice low too. "Al-chan bought me this dress before he left." A blush came to her cheeks.
*Raphael nods, casting a grave look in the direction of the kitchen. "… well, at least there’s a bit of hope now. It seems cruel to let her know before her survival was certain, though. I guess the Doctor knows his job, though."
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["Thanks, Leenie." Said Suzie. "Some day you need to take me to meet Anastasie, ok?"-
<Ayanami`Rei> ["…" Isaiah shot Raphael a nervous glance. "A-Actually, the doctor didn’t want her to know until her survival was assured." He coughed. "B-But she was so broken-hearted…"]
*Aline nodded cheerfully. "I'll make sure of it! Now then, I haven't eaten for hours, so I think I'll go load up on some snacks~" …And Aline wandered off to do /just that/.
<Yanmei> "He did? That sly guy…" Yanmei rubbed her chin and nodded her approval. "He does have good taste, though. He was, ah… pretty curious about your family, you know? He was asking all sorts of questions, trying to figure out how to get their approval~"
<Raphael> "…" An awkward cough as Raphael stares down at the boy in indecision. "… a-ah. I… think I'm going to go and fetch some more snacks, Isaiah."
<Ayanami‘Rei> "Really?" Rei’s blush deepened a little. "What do you think that means, Meimei…?" She mumbled.-
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["… Right." Mumbled Isaiah awkwardly.-
<Ayanami`Rei> ["Hey Raffy~" Suzie wheeled towards him, holding Lizzie up on her shoulders. "Isn’t she cute? Wouldn't you like an adorable little girl like this one day~?"-
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["Eeheehee~"]
<Yanmei> "It means two things: The first is that he wants to know more about you, and that includes knowing your family. The second, is that getting their approval means it’s easier for the two of you to hang out together. It's the proper thing for a gentleman to do!"
<Ayanami‘Rei> "So… If Al-chan and daddy really get along, that means we can hang out more…?"
*Raphael is busy staring blankly at a table full of multicoloured treats when Suzie interrupts, but the sight of a giggling Lizzie does earn a smile. "She’s cute and all, kiddo, but I think I've already got a adorable little girl."
<Yanmei> "Well, yeah! Or, it would be less complicated than it would be if your father didn't like him. Can you imagine that?"
<Ayanami‘Rei> "I don’t think anyone couold dislike Alphonse." Said Rei before she thought. "He's so nice and gentle… A-And he has pretty eyes…"
<Ayanami‘Rei> <Could*>
<Yanmei> "Hm~? You think he’s really cute, huh?"
<Ayanami‘Rei> [Suzie beamed big and bright up at Raffy, her eyes twinkling. "You really are the best, Raffy."-
<Ayanami`Rei> [Raffy would at this point feel a tug on his leg. If he looked down, he’d see Ban-Ban, tugging on his leg with a thin purple human hand…]
*Raphael glares down at the thing and, after a quick glance around to check that Rei is nowhere in sight, shifts the banshee roughly away with one foot, making a harsh shooing noise under his breath.
*Ayanami‘Rei glanced left, then right, then down at her shoes. "M-Meimei, c-can you keep a secret? H-He’s more than r-really cute…"-
<Ayanami‘Rei> [Ban-Ban hissed at Raphael, giving him a dark look. It promptly shuffled off towards the kitchen.-
<Ayanami`Rei> ["I wonder what he wanted?" Asked Isaiah curiously, peering at the beast as it walked off.]
<Yanmei> "Oho~" Yanmei was enjoying this. "So you do like him~"
<Raphael> "I don’t much care." Raphael mutters. "I'll put up with that thing for Rei's sake, but beyond that…"
*Ayanami‘Rei reached up to cover her burning cheeks. "P-Please keep it secret, Meimei…"
<Ayanami`Rei> ["There’s a lot he'd do for his precious darling Reirei-kins, you know." Said Suzie with a smirk.]
<Yanmei> "Well, I can try…" but honestly, it couldn't be more obvious. How many people had noticed already?
<Ayanami‘Rei> "Um, Meimei?"
<Raphael> "For the both of you, young lady." Raphael says, but not without the trace of a smile.
<Yanmei> "Hm?"
<Ayanami`Rei> "Um, d-do you think he could ever like me…?"
<Ayanami`Rei> ["That’s what makes you so wonderful, Raffy~ Doesn't he look good in his outfit?"-
<Ayanami‘Rei> [It was at that point that there was a quiet little knock at the door.]
<Yanmei> "Eh? You mean you haven’t noticed-" The distant knock drew her ear.
<Ayanami‘Rei> "Oh! I should go get that!" She quickly swept out of the kitchen- and was replaced a second later by Ban-Ban, who promptly walked over to her, stared up, and tugged on her skirt.-
<Ayanami`Rei> ["Baaaaaan-baaaaan."-
*Raphael gives both Elizabeth and Suzanne’s hair a quick tousle before the knock rings out. "Uh…" Glancing over at the door with a frown, he glances down at his outfit. "You know, Rei never really told me who else was coming to this party…"
*Yanmei jumped slightly and peered down at the little monster uneasily.
<Ayanami‘Rei> [The door was opened, revealing three people.-
<Ayanami`Rei> [At the front was Marianne, her hair tied back into a ponytail, clad in plate mail armor, a sword at her side and holding a blue flag with golden fleurs-de-lis in her hand.-
<Ayanami`Rei> [At her side was a person dressed in a big black robe, her face covered in a mask vaguely like a skull; three pointy edges protruded from the bottom, with two big round holes for eyes and another for the mouth. Whoever it was was wearing giant white foam hands.-
<Ayanami`Rei> [And finally, there was Julien, wearing a bright red wig, along with a deep red robe to his ankles; over that he wore a maroon Greek cuirass with matching armpads; and finally, a long, long red cloak with fur trimmings.-
<Ayanami`Rei> "Mama-chan~ And Juju-chan~ And, ah…?"-
<Ayanami`Rei> [The robed individual pulled her mask back, revealing the red eyes of an Ayanami and the green hair of San- the one infamous for watching others.-
<Ayanami`Rei> ["It’s me, Rei-oneechan."-
<Ayanami‘Rei> "San-neechan~ Everyone, please come in! Look who’s here, everyone!"-
<Ayanami‘Rei> [Ban-Ban was still tugging on Yanmei’s skirt, pointing at one of the drawers.]
*Yanmei stared at the drawer. Slowly she opened it.
<Ayanami‘Rei> [Inside were knives and forks.]
<Yanmei> "…" She remembered what Rei had told her about teaching the banshee to eat with utensils, but now that these intruments were gleaming in front of her, she could only think of it returning to the main room. And stabbing Elizabeth or someone else. Maybe the more physically imposing Raphael. So no knife, but she picked up a fork and slowly, hesitantly, lowered it, handle-first.
<Yanmei> ^instruments
<Raphael> "…" A look of utter horror. His gold opera mask is glinting in the glare of the overhead bulb. For a moment he’s consumed by the idea of retreating (Tactically, of course), but… he is a soldier. He must stand firm. "… Good evening, Colonel."
<Ayanami‘Rei> [Ban-Ban took the fork. He stared at her, holding out its empty other human hand. "Baaaaaaan-Baaaaaan. Kniiiiiiiiiiiife."-
<Ayanami`Rei> [A glob of spittle splattered near Yanmei’s shoe.-
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["Oh wow, Rei! You look lovely~" Cooed Marianne, giving the girl a quick hug before passing in. "…"-
<Ayanami`Rei> ["Oh wow, Raphael. You look… Wow. Is that a cravat?"-
<Ayanami`Rei> ["Oh my -God-." Julien -swept- into the room, right past Marianne, Rei, and Suzie. "That’s -amazing-! I had no idea you were a -fan-! You're -made- for that outfit, Gilly, -made for it-, my brotaku."]
<Raphael> "…" Whatever look of grim horror he was directing Marianne's way is rapidly redirected as a far larger threat reveals itself. He's doing this for Rei. For Rei. "… I understand very little of what you just said, Mr. Lafabre."
<Yanmei> "No knife, okay?" That voice sounded like it belonged in a horror movie. Everything about Ban-Ban itself was that way, actually. "Isn't a fork okay?"
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["…" Ban-Ban stared up at her. One of its energy claws hung idly at its side. Eventually it drooped its head and shuffled back off to the living room.-
<Ayanami`Rei> ["Listen, don’t worry, my brotaku." Julien threw an arm around Raphael's shoulders. "You and me, we are as brothers on the great sea of life, and whatever our words can't say, our hearts can. Did you include the little armswords? Please say you did."-
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["Hey Yanyan!" Marianne shouted. "Where’re you hiding?"]
<Raphael> "… the little what now?"
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["The armswords? Oh, come on, let me see…" He grabbed Raphael arm. "If the suit’s -accurate-, then the little trigger should be…" He pressed something on Raphael's arm.-
<Ayanami‘Rei> [… A second later, a 2-foot long golden sword sprang out of the sleeve with alarming speed.]
*Yanmei held in her sigh of relief until after the creature had slunk away. But then she heard Marianne’s voice and had to follow it, poking her head out from the kitchen! "Ah! You came!"
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["I sure did~ Oh wow, you look really nice." Said Marianne. "That actually really suits you. Don’t you think, Isaiah?"-
<Raphael> "…" Dead silence. The Colonel is completely forgotten now. "Rei…" He mutters tersely.
<Ayanami‘Rei> [Isaiah had of course floated over at this point. "Yeah. it really does." Said Isaiah cheerfully. "Actually, it looks so good, I wouldn’t mind if she wore it a little more often…"]
<Ayanami‘Rei> "Hmm?" Rei looked over at Raphael, and then giggled sheepishly. "Sorry, Raffy-kun… I-I wanted it to be authentic…"
<Yanmei> "Geez, this plain old thing?" Yanmei did a little twirl, but in the end, peered down at herself, dissatisfied. "It’s not cool like… oh wow…" she spotted Raffy's arm sword.
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["… Rei must’ve made that outfit." Muttered Isaiah. Nevertheless, he slipped an arm around Yanmei's waist. "Well, if you put it like that, I guess it must be you who look amazing, then~"-
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["… Isaiah, is that a dress?"-
*Raphael just stared at the sword for a few moments before reaching up to nervously thumb the edge of the blade. "… that’s one way for it, Rei. This thing is -sharp-."
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["W- no, it’s a robe!"]
<Ayanami‘Rei> "Well, it wouldn’t be a very good sword if it were blunt, Raffy-kun." Said Rei.
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["She’s right there, Raffy." Said Suzanne solemnly.-
<Ayanami‘Rei> [Meanwhile, San Ayanami had taken a seat on the periphery, staring at Ban-Ban, who had impaled a sausage roll on his fork and had pushed it into his mouth, chewing noisily for a second before swallowing. A saliva-covered fork was removed and promptly impaled another.]
<Raphael> "I suppose… ah, not." Raphael muttered, mumbling a little as he tries to retract the two feet of sharpened metal without drawing blood. "Is there an ’accurate' way to put these things away, Mr. Lafabre?"
<Yanmei> "It's a great battle robe," Yanmei complimented him, giving Isaiah a little nuzzle. "You and Marianne almost match, with the knight look going on." She peered around, in search of Lizzie.
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["Well, you just press this button right here, you see-" He pushed the same point as before, and the blade retracted. "See? I love the effort you’ve put into this, Rei~" Cooed Julien. "Now, let me get you a what the hell is that?" Julien stared at Ban-Ban, bugging out.-
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["Hmm~ Thanks, sweetheart." Cooed Isaiah, pulling her a little closer- before following her gaze.-
<Ayanami`Rei> [Lizzie was still on the shoulders of Suzanne, having an absolute ball and giggling madly.-
<Ayanami`Rei> ["Heehee." Marianne stared down at her armour. "I actually really like it as well- say, did you guys make sure to bring Rei’s present?"]
<Raphael> "That would be Ban-Ban." Raphael said evenly, still eyeing the arm blades mistrustfully. "Rei adopted him during the Twelfth. He can talk."
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["…" Julien stared at it.-
<Raphael> «The battle with the Twelfth*»
<Ayanami`Rei> [Ban-Ban turned back to stare at Julien and Raffy. "…"-
<Ayanami`Rei> ["… H-Hi."-
<Ayanami`Rei> ["Baaaan-Baaaan. Looooooooooove. Peaaaaaaaace." Its long tongue rolled out, dripping saliva onto the ground. It licked its lips, then used the tongue to pull a sausage roll off of its fork.]
*Yanmei eyed the precarious perch with a slight, worried frown, but she backed off a bit. She looked so happy! And Isaiah seemed content watching her laugh, so… "Of course we remembered. It’s a birthday party, after all! Lucky coincidence about it falling on Halloween, though."
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["Oh, it wasn’t a coincidence." Said Isaiah.]
<Yanmei> "…oh?"
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["It’s a little complex. Reirei!"-
<Ayanami‘Rei> "Yes, Zaizai?"-
<Ayanami`Rei> ["Do you want to tell Yanmei about why today’s your birthday?"-
<Raphael> "… Rei finds the thing rather charming, believe it or not."
<Ayanami‘Rei> "Alright!" Rei headed over to Yanmei with a big smile. "Did you see the moon today, Meimei?"
<Yanmei> "The moon? Oh, uh, I don’t think I noticed?" She tried to catch a glimpse of it from one of the apartment windows across the living room.
<Ayanami‘Rei> "It’s a new moon today, Meimei. There are only twelve new moons a year…" She smiled. "One for every month. But… Sometimes, you get a special moon called a 'Black Moon', which is a second new moon in the same month. It's just like the other twelve, you see? But it's unique and rare, and never falls on the same day twice…"
<Yanmei> "Hm… But what does that have to do with anything?"
<Ayanami‘Rei> "Because I want to be unique and rare too…"
<Ayanami`Rei> ["She… Uh, she has interesting tastes." Muttered Julien.-
<Ayanami`Rei> [There was another knock at the door, and Rei was occupied. Now was Raphael’s chance for escape!]
<Yanmei> "But you already are?" Yanmei pointed out. "Still… it's a neat way of picking a birthday. It will never fall on the same day, huh?"
<Ayanami‘Rei> "Oh no, Meimei. It’ll always be the the 31st of October!" She giggled. "I just wanted to find a good way to pick the day…" She smiled. "… Thanks, Meimei."
<Yanmei> "You're welcome!" It seemed like there was more that she wanted to say, but she shook her head. "Are you going to open presents soon?"<Ayanami‘Rei> "Oh, I was going to open them when everyone was here! Mama and Hachi and Juuichi still need to get here…"
<Raphael> "She certainly does." Raphael says, finally turning his attention away from the gloves and towards the door. "But! I suppose I’d best help our host out. Excuse me, Julien." A few seconds later, the door would be opened~
<Ayanami‘Rei> [… And would reveal two new individuals. One of them was the unmistakeable face of Ikari Yui, wearing what was obviously an authentic NERV plugsuit, tight around her form.-
<Ayanami`Rei> [And next to her was an individual wearing a sophisticated black helmet with a dark blue glass faceplate, wearing a dark purple trousers and a dark purple tailet coat over them; black glovers covered the hands, and the form was wrapped in a very, -very- big black cape, mildly Dracula-esque.-
<Ayanami`Rei> ["Oh, Sir Guillory…!"]
*Yanmei smiled pleasantly. She was sure that if she didn’t a sour expression would take hold, and that certainly wouldn't do. "Oh, look, Rei, there's your mother now!"
<Raphael> For a moment he says nothing - he simply looks Yui in the eye with an utterly impenetrable expression, some cold emotion flickering through his eyes… but then it's all gone, as though it were never there in the first place. He simply steps aside. "Doctor Ikari, ma'am. Pleased to see you."
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["You too, Sir Guillory. You look nice…" She smiled and stepped inside.-
<Ayanami`Rei> "Oh?" Rei turned around. "Oh, mama~" She skipped over and hugged her mother tightly. "Oh, you came as me?"-
<Ayanami`Rei> ["I did! I hope you like it. These things feel so weird and tight…"-
<Ayanami`Rei> "You get used to it." Said Rei chipperly. "Over time they start to feel like a second skin. There’s food over here if you like, mama… And…" She turned her gaze towards the masked companion. "Who's there~?"-
<Ayanami‘Rei> [The glass faceplate slid open, revealing the light-brown hair and red eyes of Hachi Ayanami. "It’s me, Hachi, onee-chan."-
<Ayanami‘Rei> "Ah! Hachi, you look so good! That must’ve been really hard to find…"-
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["It was not. Is Juuichi here yet?"-
<Ayanami`Rei> "Oh, not yet…"-
<Ayanami`Rei> ["Then I shall prepare. I have been researching duelling practices, so I will be prepared to fight her to the death when she arrives."-
<Ayanami`Rei> "… Hachi, please don’t start a fight at my party."-
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["It won’t be very long, onee-chan. I can promise that."-
<Ayanami‘Rei> "…" Rei simply smiled nervously. "You should try some food, Hachi!"-
<Ayanami`Rei> [Isaiah leaned over towards Yanmei and whispered very quietly. "That plugsuit reveals things I’ve never wanted to see…"]
<Yanmei> "Just don't look directly at it," she advised. With Rei preoccupied, she was moving toward the table for a small glass of punch and a cookie, which could surely be used in coaxing Lizzie into willingly getting off of Suzanne before she really did fall.
<Raphael> "… do you want me to try and step in if they start, Rei?"
<Ayanami‘Rei> "Oh, it’s ok, Raffy-kun. I'll manage them if they do that!" She said happily. "If you step in they could really hurt you, and that'd be awful…"-
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["Hah, I’ll try." Said Isaiah, grinning at her.-
<Ayanami‘Rei> [Lizzie was still happily perched on Suzanne’s shoulders, becoming a little fussy nevertheless. She wanted to get down and walk around! So she was starting to swing back and forth, becoming a little unbalanced…]
<Raphael> "Heh." Raphael chuckles a little awkwardly, but nods. "I'd like to think I'm a little more careful than that…"
<Yanmei> Refreshments forgotten, Yanmei nimbly hurdle-jumped over a coffee table and tried to catch her before gravity took over!
<Ayanami‘Rei> [And thus Yanmei would clear the coffee table and… Well, Lizzie wasn’t falling! Nevertheless, Yanmei would soon find herself holding the giggling baby in her hands…-
<Ayanami‘Rei> "You’re so caring, Raffy-kun." Said Rei warmly, smiling up at him fondly. "But it'll be ok. If I tell them to stop, they will."
<Yanmei> A frazzled Yanmei gave her the one cookie she hadn't tossed aside and - with a long sigh - set Elizabeth down on the ground. Far away from Ban-Ban.
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["Maamaa~!" Lizzie eagerly began nibbling the cookie, all the while cuddling up to Yanmei’s leg, which had the unfortunate effect of pulling down one of her socks.-
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["Everything ok over here, Yanmei?" Asked Isaiah, heading over, a small plate of fruit and toffees in his hand.]
*Raphael is busy staring with some amusement at Yanmei’s display, but he has enough presence of mind to nod once again when Rei speaks. "If you say so, Rei. I just don't want squabbles to ruin your last day…" He says, giving her a sad smile.
<Raphael> «first birthday*»
<Ayanami‘Rei> "Can I tell you a secret, Raffy-kun?"
<Raphael> "Of course, kiddo."
<Yanmei> "Heh. We’re just fine." She leaned over to ruffle the girl's hair a bit, ignoring both the sock and the amount of leg she was now baring. "…maybe I've been a little jumpy about her lately…"
*Ayanami‘Rei beamed, and leaned forward. "Even though they really shouldn’t fight, the fact that they're fighting or competing makes me happy. It's nicer to have two squabbling siblings then two siblings who aren't anything…"-
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["I’ve noticed a little, yes." Said Isaiah with a smile, kneeling down. "She's getting into all sorts of mischief now, isn't she?" He scooped Lizzie up in his arms, giving her a very fond kiss on the forehead before putting her aside, letting her nibble on her cookie, before, looking up at Yanmei, he reached up and gently pulled her lowered sock up to its full height. "I won't let her come to any harm. You should relax a little, alright? Don't stress it out, sweetheart."]
*Raphael smiles right back, unable to help it in the face of such undisguised happiness. "You know, I think having a big sister who's already done so much in a year has had a lot to do with that, Rei. I'm proud of you, you know."
<Yanmei> Such an easy thing for him to say. She gazed back at him, troubled, and then touched her forehead gently to his. "I'll try," she mumbled, but those words felt hollow. Would she really be able to stop worrying?
<Ayanami‘Rei> "… Raffy-kun." She beamed even brighter, before rushing in to hug Raffy tight, head on his chest. "You’ve really helped me too. Everyone has been so kind to me…"-
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["That’s all you have to do." Said Isaiah, smiling gently, closing his eyes at her touch. "… When your mum gets better, we should go back to that place for awhile. If you want, you can even bring Lizzie this time." He opened his eyes. "Seeing you so fond of her makes me happy…"]
*Raphael looks down at the top of Rei's head for a moment… and if anyone were watching closely they'd have time to catch a split second look of sadness before he puts his arms gently around her shoulders. "You're worth all the kindness we can give, Rei. Don't let anyone tell you any different."
*Yanmei flushed a little with embarrassment and turned on the less awkward of the presented conversation topics. Honestly, was this how most obnoxious soccer moms began…? "That place, huh?" she smiled gently. "It's been a while since we could relax."
<Ayanami‘Rei> [Isaiah stood up, giving her a quick kiss. "The moment we can…"-
<Ayanami`Rei> "I won’t, Raffy-kun. Thank you…" She tightened her hug for a second, before stepping back.-
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["Are you too alright over here?" Asked Marianne, swooping in to speak to Isaiah and Yanmei. "What’re you all chit-chatting about?"]
<Ayanami‘Rei> «Two*»
<Yanmei> "We’re okay!" Yanmei flashed a big smile to Marianne, starting to feel like her old self a little. "Just about, you know, stuff. How have you been, lately? Sorry we haven't been around much…"
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["Me? I’ve been ok. I've been good, actually. Just been getting used to my new job." She smiled. "I've missed you guys, but it's ok. Before long we can all relax together as one again, huh." She leaned forward, winking at Yanmei. "Actually, I'm pretty jealous of you…"]
<Yanmei> "Hm?" Yanmei blinked back, surprised.
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["Look at this. You two. Off in your own little world, mumbling and smooching and all that. I wish -I- could go off and snuggle or smooch someone. Or I had someone to give me foot rubs. I could really use a damned foot rub, you know." She sighed. Did she or did she not glance over at Rei and Raphael? It was hard to tell.]
*Yanmei certainly was glancing over, with the sort of frown reserved for people who were slacking off instead of doing the right thing. "It’ll be okay, Marianne. You do deserve one, though, after all the hard work you've been doing."
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["Heh, thanks, sweetie." Marianne grinned, but she ruffled Yanmei’s hair. "Still, I guess we'll see if it pays off soon enough…"-
<Ayanami‘Rei> [There was a knock at the door.-
<Ayanami`Rei> "I’ll get it!" Rei hurried over, opening the door. Behind it was someone… Dressed exactly like Hachi.-
<Ayanami‘Rei> [Hachi immediately swivelled around. "You…!" She reached inside her cloak, immediately pulling out a long fencing rapier.-
<Ayanami`Rei> ["…" The new guest stared at Hachi. "You stole my costume! You knew I was taking this costume and you deliberately copied me!" The voice was undoubtedly that of an Ayanami… Without a doubt, Juuichi.-
<Ayanami`Rei> ["You wanted it to be the leader." Said Hachi coldly. "I refuse to let you be what you are not, Juuichi."-
<Ayanami`Rei> [A second later, Yanmei would feel her boyfriend suddenly jerk to the side, his replica sword flying off of its belt and right into Juuichi’s hand. A second later the two Ayanamis were going at it, the swords exchanging exactly three blows before the replica broke, leading to Juuichi simply punching Hachi in the face. A second later, a full brawl had broken out.]
<Raphael> Earlier promise quickly forgotten in the face of brawling schoolgirls, Raphael takes a few steps towards the pair…
<Yanmei> "W-wow, look at them go." Yanmei stared, impressed, as they punched and grappled with each other. Who would win? They were evenly matched!
<Ayanami‘Rei> [Others’ reactions were not so casual. Yui cried out at them ineffectually; Julien let out an inappropriate whoop; Isaiah scooped up Lizzie pre-emptively; and Marianne shook her head. "You sound like you want to place a bet."-
<Ayanami‘Rei> The fight would grind to a halt a second later, however. "Stop!" Shouted Rei- and they did, halting in mid-blow. She stood over them, frowning. "I told you not to start a fight, Hachi. I really meant it, too! I can’t believe you'd just ignore what I said. And you, Juuichi! You could've hurt Zaizai! And now you broke his sword! Both of you, stand up right now and behave yourselves!"-
<Ayanami‘Rei> ["…" There was an awkward pause, before the two untangled themselves, getting to their feet. "Sorry, Rei-oneechan."-
<Ayanami`Rei> ["Sorry…"]
*Raphael stops the minute Rei swoops in, but his eyes are fixed on the way they stopped so abruptly mid-punch. Something sour slips into his expression, and with all the commotion it’s unlikely anyone would notice the black look he shoots Yui's way before he slips away into the kitchen.
<Ayanami‘Rei> [San notices. She notices everything.]
*Yanmei did not catch the look, but she did see Raphael stalk away, and hopped to attention, nudging Marianne a little in that direction with a wink.
<Ayanami`Rei> [Marianne gave her a dark look. Then, flicking her eyes towards the kitchen, whispered, "Later. How about we diffuse this now and give Reirei her gifts?"]
<Yanmei> "Well, I guess we could do that?" she said, a little abashed now.
<Ayanami`Rei> ["Well, go on, then." Marianne gave her a forgiving smile, and a bit of a nudge.]
*Yanmei nodded and stopped forward, almost coming between Rei and her two sisters. "Now, now. That’s enough serious stuff. And we have a few more swords at home, so it's not a big deal, right Isaiah? Why don't we get to the gifts?"
<Yanmei> ^stepped
<Ayanami‘Rei> "Oh…" Rei turned around, the situation seemingly diffused. She beamed. "You didn’t have to get me anything…"
<Yanmei> "Of course I did! We did, rather. It's from Isaiah and me both. Ah… it was a little hard to carry it in with us, so I'll have to make a quick trip out to the car, okay? I'll only be a moment."
<Ayanami‘Rei> "Oh, ok, Meimei!" Rei gave her a happy little nod.
*Raphael reappears a second or two after the door shuts, sipping on a glass of water and wearing an expression as though nothing had ever happened.
<Raphael> "What do you think, Suzie? Time to give her our surprise?"
<Ayanami`Rei> ["Hehehe. I’ve been waiting all day!" Said Suzie eagerly. "Go on! Go on!"]
<Raphael> "Alright. One moment, Rei." And so he disappears into Rei's bedroom - strictly off-limits since Raphael and Suzanne arrived an hour or so before the party got underway. There's the sound of a little bit of a scuffle and low cursing coming from within the room over the next minute or two if one were to stand close enough to the door, but eventually Raffy would reemerge… with a little pet
<Raphael> carrier held in one hand.
<Ayanami‘Rei> "…" Rei stared at it with the carrier with eyes that were both surprised -and- incredibly excited. "O-Oh, Raffy-kun… Raffy-kun, is that…?!"
<Raphael> And sure enough, as he brought the green plastic carrier a little closer Rei would be able to get a look at the tiny Tortoiseshell-patterned face of a kitten pressed up against the door, big eyes watching Rei very closely indeed. "Suzie and I talked about it a lot, and we wanted to get you something that could look after you when we’re not around. And since you're always talking about
<Raphael> getting one…" He puts on a smile in a vain attempt to conceal his obvious nerves. "I hope it's ok."
<Ayanami‘Rei> "A-A kitty!" Rei’s eyes were just as big as the little kitten's, and she bent down to nudge at it with her finger. "Hello, little kitty. You're very cute…" There was clear adoration shining in her face. "Thank you so much, Raffy-kun. He's so sweet… <3" She looked up at Raphael with the unmistakeable look of an affectionate daughter.
<Raphael> Relief floods into his expression, clearing away the doubts as he smiles down at Rei and sets the carrier on the table for her to do with as she wished. "No need to thank me, kiddo. Just take good care of him, ok? And… maybe keep an eye on him around Ban-Ban."
<Ayanami‘Rei> "I will, Raffy-kun." Said Rei lovingly, gently opening the door and taking the cute little kitten out in her gentle hands. She nuzzled it. "Ban-Ban doesn’t eat kitties. And he won't eat this adorable little kitty~ <3"
<Raphael> "… alright, Rei." Raphael murmurs doubtfully, just stepping back and giving Suzanne a grin.
<Yanmei> It took a while, but the door opened once more and Yanmei reappeared carrying something flat and square, between two and three feet long. It was wrapped in pink paper, with a white ribbon holding the package closed. A much smaller package was tucked under one arm. "Ah. There- where'd you get that?" she blinked at the cat in Rei's hands.
<Ayanami‘Rei> "It was from Raffy-kun. Isn’t he adorable~?" She snuggled the kitty close once more, before gently tucking it back into its cage. "What's that, Meimei?"
<Yanmei> "It's your gift!" She rested it on a nearby couch, the second package falling landing next to it. "It's fragile, so I had to be careful carrying it up here."
<Yanmei> ^falling and landing
<Ayanami‘Rei> "Fragile? I’ll be super-careful!" Said Rei, heading over and kneeling down in front of it. "Ok… Three, two, one…" She unwrapped the large package, delicately pulling the ribbon out.
<Yanmei> The paper fell away revealing… photographs! They had been fitted together to roughly form a heart-shaped collage and were protected behind a big glass picture frame. A few dozen familiar faces from school and from the Geofront were present with varying emotions and captured poses, and a smiling picture from Rei's school profile was at the very middle of it.
<Ayanami‘Rei> "…" Rei stared down at it, silently. She didn’t say anything and she didn't move…
<Yanmei> "I guess, it's less of a birthday present, and more of a memento? Even still…" She held up the smaller package, still chattering happily. "There's this, too. The frame opens up easily, so if you wanted to add more to it, you could at any time."
<Ayanami‘Rei> "…" But Rei didn’t respond for a second. Instead she turned to Yanmei, tears running down her cheeks, and just sort of threw herself into a hug.
<Yanmei> "Oof!" It caught her off guard, but she rallied, patting her back a little and smiling. "So I guess you like it?"
<Ayanami‘Rei> "I-I really like it…" She sniffled. "I-I’m going to miss you… Meimei, y-you're the best…" She sobbed. "S-Sorry, I…" She feebly reached for the other gift, as if she were being embarrassing by crying. "Y-You too, Zaizai…" She gestured at him, and before long the two of them were joined by him as well.
*Yanmei huggled back, Isaiah too, before breaking away, a little sheepishly. "You know, we thought at first that maybe we should get you a moped, but… maybe for Chrstmas? It turned out to be a good gift…"
<Ayanami‘Rei> "T-The best…" She sniffled, pulling away a little, smiling through the tears as she reached out and humbly starting unwrapping the other. "I-if you gave me a moped, I’d be really happy with that, Meimei…"
<Yanmei> "Then it's settled." She nodded firmly. "And with that… Who's next?"
<Ayanami‘Rei> "O-Oh wait, Meimei, I haven’t unwrapped this one yet…" But she was finishing that!
<Yanmei> It was a pick camera! A fairly high-quality one.
<Ayanami‘Rei> "I… I’m going to use this a lot, Meimei." She smiled brightly. "Thank you so much… Ah, why don't we all get together for a big photo?"
<Yanmei> "Sounds okay~"
<Raphael> "Sounds good to me." Raphael says, still smiling after watching Rei's show of tears. He gestures for Suzanne to join in too!
<Ayanami‘Rei> [Suzanne quickly rolls over, having kidnapped the kitten at some point.
<Ayanami`Rei> ["Alright, girls, let’s get in." Said Yui, pulling the three Ayanamis together, putting her arms around all three.-
<Ayanami`Rei> [Isaiah scooped up Lizzie and took centre-stage with Yanmei, Marianne at his side.-
*Ayanami`Rei finally set the timer, then hurried over to join the group.-
<Ayanami`Rei> "One, two, three…"-
<Ayanami`Rei> [Snap!]

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