In The Aftermath Of Hell

[13:06] <Isaiah> [In a sterile, white room in the sterile, white hospital that sat nestled in NERV HQ, a certain young lady lay in bed, her eyes closed. She seemed, for now, peaceful, still utterly asleep after twenty hours- after the most traumatic experience she'd ever faced. Never in her life had she come so close to death, and never had she walked away having paid such a cost.-
[13:09] <Isaiah> [She was dressed in a hospital gown, which covered her body- but her arms, which were bare, were marked with scarred, red lines and patches, where the skin had been burned away and had not yet been repaired. In other places, the scars ran deeper, had become contorted, blackened. Scars that might never fully heal.-
[13:10] <Isaiah> [A digital clock on the bedside table announced the time. 2:33 PM.]
[13:17] * Yanmei was dimly aware that she was in pain. It was a sort of stinging, throbbing sensation that ran along her entire body. It was also a very distant pain, more confusing than consuming. The numbers on the digital clock were red blurs for a few moments, and then the time came into focus. Marianne had let her miss school. -
[13:21] <Yanmei> No. Wait… this wasn't her room. It was familiar, though. Took her back to the days after she had wrecked her leg. "Back here again, huh?" she croaked, groggy. NERV's medical division. Her eye caught a figure in uniform by the bed…
[13:23] <Isaiah> "That's right." The figure said, giving her a sad little smile.-
[13:31] <Isaiah> It was the first time Yanmei'd had a real chance to see Isaiah fully, in clear light. She'd probably never seen him looking in such a state. His blonde hair -usually at least presentable- was dirty and messy, as though he'd spent an hour in a gale. His face had a thin layer of soot around it, except around his eyes, which were red and raw with tiredness and soot.-
[13:32] <Isaiah> Finally, his uniform… It was a full NERV uniform, ill-fitting (it seemed too big). But the long sleeves terminated near the elbows, the ends blackened and burned. And finally… His arms. Reddened from the fire and the boiling LCL, looking even a little warped in some places.
[13:37] * Yanmei stared. She really *hadn't* seen him in such a state before. Because of her, to… For a moment, her face wavered, as if it would crumple into tears, but she swallowed that back, deliberately, hard. She stared down at her own arms, not really recognizing them either.
[13:39] * Isaiah stood up from his chair, still smiling his sad little smile. He walked over, and slowly gripped the edge of the bed. "How do you feel…?"
[13:47] <Yanmei> "Hurts." She managed, and then laughed hoarsely. "It should hurt a lot more?" There was a faint fire in her chest now too, when she spoke. That lung thing. It had felt worse before she had fallen asleep. Did the doctors do something to her? "You should have… you weren't here the whole time?"
[13:51] <Isaiah> "It's the anaesthetic. I guess it hasn't worn off yet." Said Isaiah quietly. "And… Yeah, I have. I've mostly been taking the odd nap in that chair, but I wanted to be here when you woke up."
[13:55] <Yanmei> "…" She didn't know what to say. That made her feel even more guilty, and she hadn't even known it was possible. "Your father." she slumped back onto her pillow. "Going to murder me. Oh god…"
[14:03] * Isaiah let out a quiet chuckle. "I wouldn't worry about that just yet. My father's still asleep after a bit of a ruckus in Science, and… Well, he'd have to go through me first if he wanted to hurt you." Said Isaiah fondly.
[14:08] * Yanmei managed a small chuckle with him. Standing up to the good doctor, was he? "Where did the uniform come from? And… I thought you were staying in headquarters?"
[14:13] <Yanmei> "Did you enlist?" That struck her with a sudden bolt of panic. "You… weren't out there as a soldier?"
[14:14] <Isaiah> "Not officially." Said Isaiah with a little smile. He dragged the chair over and sat down. "It's kind of a long story, so if you don't feel up for listening, let me know now, ok?"
[14:16] * Yanmei nodded at him to urge him on. The bristle pain from the pillowcase of all things rubbing against the back of her neck made her decide not to do that again.
[14:19] <Isaiah> "Well… After you left, I sat in your office for awhile." Isaiah rubbed his hands together, winced, and stopped. "I… Well, I wasn't sure what to do. I didn't feel like doing anything… I knew you'd be fighting, but it was still a bit of time until then." Isaiah gave a little smile to her. "But…"-
[14:20] <Isaiah> "I'm not sure how to explain it. I just… I was afraid, Yan." Said Isaiah quietly. "I was terrified that something was going to happen, something -bad-. And I'd see it happen and not be able to do anything. All I'd be able to do was watch on the screen, and…" Isaiah took a deep breath.-
[14:22] <Isaiah> "I… I made a guess. I went through your office wardrobe and grabbed one of the NERV uniforms in there. Trousers, shirt, everything. I threw it on, and I walked out. I knew from the papers and stuff that there was a branch of NERV that helped with disaster recovery. I headed to there."-
[14:25] <Isaiah> "When I got there, they wondered who I was." He smiled a little- a sheepish, mischievious grin- and took something out of his pocket. It was Yanmei's ID card, and he held it out to her, hiding her picture with his thumb. "I flashed this at them and told them I was a transfer from China. See the Chinese characters? They couldn't read it, so I told them my name and they took it on board."-
[14:25] <Isaiah> "They were still kind of suspicious, so I rattled off some medical stuff. My mum was a doctor, and she… Well, she taught me a lot. Enough to convince them, at least, so they threw me in. It… It was only afterwards that they realised I was a fake."
[14:29] * Yanmei let her shoulders shake with repressed laughter. She didn't know why she was doing it. Stern words were in order. "I didn't think…" she shook her head. "They were probably so mad!"
[14:32] <Isaiah> "You have no idea." Said Isaiah, grinning. "They had to wait, though. Until after we got back. No one was willing to really discipline me until you were safe. But once we got back, the team leader took me to Major Lachapelle…"
[14:33] <Yanmei> That made her smile die down a little. The Major. She hadn't thought about him and his reactions up until this point…
[14:36] * Isaiah was quiet. He awkwardly rubbed his arms, despite his burns. Yanmei might recognise the gesture; Isaiah knew he should say something, but didn't want to.
[14:37] <Yanmei> "I'm in trouble then, aren't I?" she guessed. "We both are? I suppose it's only natural…"
[14:37] <Isaiah> "N… No, not exactly."
[14:38] * Yanmei eyed him carefully, and then made her expression encouraging. "Isaiah. Just say it."
[14:38] <Isaiah> "H-He offered me a job."
[14:39] * Yanmei stared
[14:43] * Isaiah stared right back, right into Yanmei's eyes. He seemed a little… Shaky, but he nevertheless stared back. "He… He told me, if I wanted, I could keep working with the Damage Recovery team, since I did such a good job. As a medic."
[14:45] <Yanmei> "Are you okay with that?" She eyed him carefully now again. "It was probably scary out there!"
[14:47] <Isaiah> "Well." Isaiah continued to meet her gaze. "I told him I'd take it… And… I wasn't scared. Even though I should've been."
[14:49] * Yanmei glanced aside. There was worry on her face now, although faint and retrained by force of habit. She wanted to call Dorian right now and ask what he was thinking. He was just a kid! And he didn't have an Eva to protect him out there.
[14:50] <Isaiah> "…" Isaiah looked aside, too. "I had to say yes, Yan. I -had- to. I couldn't bring myself to say no."
[14:53] <Yanmei> "You're doing it for your sake, aren't you?" she closed her eyes momentarily. Please say yes. "Not for anyone else's sake?"
[14:56] <Isaiah> "……" Isaiah hesitated. He didn't want to answer that. He knew he couldn't give the right answer to that question. Even if he lied… "… Yeah, of course."
[15:00] * Yanmei relaxed. Tried to. "Then I understand, I think. I'll try to support you as a new member."
[15:05] <Isaiah> A bad taste filled Isaiah's mouth. He swallowed a little, kept his gaze away for a second longer, then turned back toward Yanmei. "Thank you. … How much do you remember…?"
[15:11] <Yanmei> "Everything." It was like a stab to the back of the brain. She did remember everything. Even the parts that she thought would be foggy rushed back to her clearly. She'd been careless, and then that horrible eye had… She gripped the sheets with one hand. The other rose shakily to the spot on her chest where she remembered feeling an explosion of pain just before everything turned into a flaming excruciating hell.
[15:15] <Isaiah> "…" Isaiah looked away again, his face sorrowful. He… He really did genuinely hate seeing her -injured- like this. It seemed so… Callous, so nonsensically violent, so -pointless- to hurt her. "… Sorry."
[15:21] * Yanmei worked on composing herself. It was hard. She couldn't get herself to stop shaking somehow. Ah, and now she remembered her humiliation too, although that seemed distant from the memory of the agony. "Everyone was watching," she muttered. "The whole world…"
[15:24] * Isaiah turned back now, his expression angry- no. His expression furious. It was different from the sad, resentful anger Isaiah's shown during those weeks at Marianne's apartment, whenever his father was mentioned. It was… An anger born not from pain, but from some idea.-
[15:24] <Isaiah> "The world should be -thankful-." Growled Isaiah.
[15:29] * Yanmei actually jumped a little at that, blinking first up at him, and then down at her sheets again, embarassed for losing control and still not being able to find it. "Y-yes. Maybe? Yes, you're right." Quick to agree, even if she wasn't sure that he was right. What was wrong with her? "…I'm sorry."
[15:31] * Rynol has quit IRC (Quit: )
[15:34] <Isaiah> "… No. No no, I'm sorry." Said Isaiah quietly, his anger draining away. Shakily, he sat back down into his chair, staring forlornly at Yanmei's hand. "I… It's just… I feel like someone should pay."
[15:41] * Yanmei didn't say anything for a while. She focused fruitlessly on trying to make the shaking stop. "Someone?" She looked around the room. Even if she couldn't see any cameras, she knew Section 2 was watching. She would never be able to escape from them or NERV or 04. Her hand tightened into a fist.-
[15:42] <Yanmei> She had to be brave, though! That was always the case. "Isaiah. Please. The job? Just think about it for a while? I know you said yes, but I could talk to the Major? Working here is… it's…"
[15:45] * Isaiah looked up at her, looked into her eyes. "What do you want… Me to do?" What is it you want to say, Yanmei? What is it -you- want to do…?
[15:51] <Yanmei> The answer was obvious. It was saying it that was the problem. Run away. Run away, run away! Don't get stuck here. Couldn't he see that it's a trap?! Again, she almost let the tears fall. She strugged with that too, for a time, and took a beep breath that she regretted thanks to the pain in her lungs. -
[15:59] <Yanmei> "Dangerous," she said once the coughing subsided. "I don't… want you to do it. You said it was because you wanted to, but…"
[16:05] <Isaiah> "…" Isaiah looked crestfallen. "I… I wanted to do the job to help." He said in a sad, quiet voice. "I wanted to help you, Yan. I wanted to protect you. I wanted you to feel safe, even if it seemed as though it was hopeless, or as though you felt you were going to die." He said, a frantic edge to his voice.-
[16:06] <Isaiah> "I know it's dangerous. Piloting an Eva is dangerous, too. How… How can I be honest with myself and say 'My place is here, helping Yanmei', if I let you go into danger and I stay at home, safe? How…?"
[16:13] <Yanmei> "No where is actually safe. Even here in Headquarters. You don't have to be on the field to get hurt or messed up." She closed her eyes, trying to convince herself. "Last night… last night was just a fluke. It won't happen again."
[16:25] <Isaiah> "Just a fluke…?" Said Isaiah, his words hollow and empty. "Just a fluke." Isaiah stood up suddenly, knocking his chair back. "H-How can you say that? H-HOW?!" He yelled, anger instilled in his voice. "How can you be so INSENSITIVE?! 'Just a fluke'?!" Fury- and deep, near-traumatic horror- filled his voice. "I- I watched you die. I watched- I… I WATCHED YOU DIE! And you tell me it's just a fluke?!"
[16:36] <Yanmei> Isaiah screamin was something that she would never get used to. Even if she had been in her right state of mind, it would have taken her a while to find her voice. Now, she jumped again, and stared, tears filling her eyes despite her efforts to hold them back before. "I can't quit," she told him hoarsely. In comparison to him, her voice was frail and thin. -
[16:40] <Yanmei> "No matter what, I have to be brave and smile and pilot and not run away! I don't blame you for not believing me. But I had h-had to t-try." she stopped talking, then, glaring down and fighting for that composure again. Everything was going all wrong.
[16:44] <Isaiah> "…" There was silence. Isaiah didn't speak for a moment. Yanmei, not looking up, wouldn't see him move.-
[16:48] <Isaiah> She'd feel, for a moment, a weight on her bed. And a gentle arm around her. It should've hurt, but Isaiah knew where and where not to touch; all Yanmei might feel was a light pain. He pulled her towards him, gently, slowly, and whispered into her ear, in Chinese- "Is this… How you feel? Deep down…?"
[16:53] * Yanmei was still fighting with herself. Still -shaking- goddamn it. "P-please don't tell anyone," she whispered back, also in Chinese. They would think she was a fraud, and she couldn't bare to think of that coming to light.
[16:56] <Isaiah> "N-Never." Murmured Isaiah, starting to shake in sympathy for her. With a gentle hand, he started to stroke her hair- her burned, damaged hair. "Not a word. I promise." He whispered. "If… If you want to cry, I'll comfort you. And I won't tell anyone."
[17:00] <Yanmei> "W-won't cry. I musn't." She shut her eyes, determined not to…. but that was a miserable failure. Tears started leaking out regardless. A harsh, wry laugh escaped her.
[17:06] <Isaiah> "It's alright." Murmured Isaiah, closing his eyes. This felt… Wrong, somehow. He wanted to help her, heal her; but he couldn't help but feel a little helpless, as if there were something -bigger- there, causing this pain. Despite that feeling, and the slight crawling feeling that laugh produced… He held her a little tighter. "It's alright to cry. I'm here. No one needs to know." He whispered. "You can cry with me…"
[17:11] * Yanmei gave up with that - it was no use. Her sobs her hard enough to jerk her body a bit, and that horrible clawing fear that she had been holding inside seized her completely.
[17:15] * Isaiah started to weep as well, gently, silently. To him, crying was old hat, a familiar thing… But this time he cried because he wanted to relieve -her- pain, not his own.-
[17:17] <Isaiah> He'd hold her. As long as he had to, until she calmed down, passed out, or -he- passed out. All the while, stroking her hair and telling her… It was alright to hurt. It was alright to cry.
[17:32] * Yanmei obliged, even though she knew she shouldn't have. It was wrong because she was supposed to protect and comfort him! But soon, very soon, she succumbed to the morphine left in her system and the exhaustion of her own tears, she stopped drowsily, leaning back toward her pillow.
[17:37] * Isaiah was feeling more than a little drowsy himself. Was it from the lack of sleep? The emotional exertion? Maybe Yanmei's drowsiness was just contagious in some way. "Sleep… Yan. Ok? I'll… Be here when you wake up." He murmured quietly. "Just… Sleep for now." His own eyes were starting to shut at that, too…

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