In The Pain Of The Past

[21:01] * Aline knew she had to get a few things done first. There were people left to talk to. So… well, okay. The outburst from before took a bit out of her, so Aline actually slept first-thing. It wasn't very long, because she was restless, more-or-less 5-6 hours. But now… now she had to get her goodbyes in order. Taking her purse and a very very quickly-whipped-up sandwich, Aline started
[21:01] * Aline to head out the door! She knew which one she had to get over with first. Besides, getting the gang together for the RPG club emergency send-off would take time - she had just made the call earlier but… no. This had to be done first.
[21:02] <Celine‘Blanc> ["Aline?" Said Sophie, who’d been on the phone, lowering it for a moment. She'd been on the phone for a -long- time. In fact, she'd come home mostly to escort Aline, but had hardly slept in that time.]
[21:04] * Aline quickly turned back, sending a small glob of moist bread down that had been pinched a bit too hard in the process. "S-sophie, you're still awake?" Aline shook her head. "I'm going out to make my goodbyes, I already set up a meeting with some of the people at school, but I have other places too. I'm gonna try to make it take only a few hours tops so I can get back to HQ early enough
[21:04] * Aline to work on the plans." She was talking a little quickly there!
[21:07] <Celine‘Blanc> [Sophie paused for a moment, then she slowly, shakily nodded. "A-alright. But be careful, alright? It’s a bit chaotic out there." She gave the girl a little smile. "Dorian wants you back in a few hours, anyway. He needs to run you through a few simulations- for calibrations."]
[21:09] * Aline nodded quickly. "…Right, I'll. I'll be careful out there. I guess I'll see you soon enough?" Aline waited for the last response, though. Out of politeness.
[21:10] <Celine‘Blanc> [Sophie nodded. "… You’re a brave girl, Aline. But it's unfair for me to keep you any longer. Go on." She gave her an encouraging nod.]
[21:19] <Celine‘Blanc> [It was… Eerie outside. Paris-2 was always a little bit of a quiet place. The streets are usually fairly sparse, with only the odd animal or handful of people on the streets. But now they were completely, starkly empty. The buildings echoed with any noise.-
[21:20] <Celine`Blanc> [Yet Aline would be able to hear, faintly, the chaos that was nevertheless spreading through a good many parts of the city. Although the apartments Aline lived in had been stripped of life, many others were slower, and in the west and south of Paris-2, the streets were clogged with refugees, panicky and frightened, moving achingly slowly as the military tried to shepherd them along.]
[21:23] * Aline moved with purpose, and tried to keep things to just a jog. At times… At times her footsteps would just echo against nothing. At others, she could hear the fear of the city around her as she moved. But that wasn’t enough, it just wasn't enough to stop her or even make her take pause. Aline had a mission, a mission to settle her last concerns before she got to work to try to save
[21:23] * Aline everyone in the world - just like she believed she had to.
[21:27] <Celine‘Blanc> [And so, she moved. Before long, a particular apartment building rose in front of her; identical to just about every other type of apartment building in Paris-2. But special for Aline, perhaps.]
[21:34] * Aline stared up at it, at least for a moment, before entering. Special… sort of. She used to live in this building before she became a pilot. But she freely took the re-housing simply because she wanted out. Sophie is a better roommate than her mom ever was. But… she still had to do this. The climb began. Hopefully, it did not take long to hit floor 16, where the apartment in question
[21:34] * Aline lay. She would, on arrival, just knock. "…Mom. It’s me. Open up, this is important."
[21:46] <Celine‘Blanc> [Silence. No one speaks back, but Aline can hear a sort of shuffling inside. Nevertheless, a minute or two passes and that door remains closed.]
[21:47] * Aline /kicked/ the door. "Damnit, open the door! This is not the time for that! Just this once, open the door and pretend to be alive! Please!" …She was starting to crack a little. But for now, it was just a crack.
[21:49] <Celine`Blanc> [The shuffling stops for a moment, and then finally the door opens.-
[21:52] <Celine`Blanc> Aline’s white hair- inherited from her father's side- often conjured in people's minds a pair of parents as wispy and as white-haired as she was. Depsite the fact this woman didn't have that white hair- instead having rather long, dark blonde hair- it was obvious that there was resemblance there. The two women had the same build; Celine was only a little bit taller, and both wore glasses. Up close, the resemblance was even stronger.-
[21:53] <Celine‘Blanc> "Why did you kick the door?" Asked Mrs Blanc, in a voice that suggested that the answer probably didn’t matter now.
[21:56] * Aline shook her head quickly, not even bothering to hold back the frustration. Normally, herself or her dad would remind Aline that she should be patient, that mom had a problem that made this beyond her control. But now Aline was far beyond patient with that, possibly hypocritically so. "To get your attention! Mom, did you see the news? Do you even know what's happening now?!"
[21:58] * Celine‘Blanc blinked, as if surprised that the question would even cross Aline’s mind. She paused for a moment, frowning, reaching up to rub at her brow. Finally, she turned away, walking inside, but leaving the door open, heading toward a whistling kettle. "I don't watch the news."
[22:01] * Aline almost dashed inside after her mother. "Then I'll give it to you, I'll say it. The next Angel's come, those monsters from space. It… It…" Aline, even in her frustration, was having trouble saying it. "It erased Berlin-2. There was only a crater left of it. Dad was there, I'm pretty sure. He's dead, mom. He's dead! Your husband is DEAD! Is that going to get through to
[22:01] * Aline you?!"
[22:06] * Celine‘Blanc had been busying herself with pouring a cup of tea. She froze. For a minute she stood there stock-still, the kettle raised awkwardly in midair. "That’s awful." She said quietly. "Really awful." She continued pouring tea into the cup. "He's a good man, your father. He works very hard. How many people were there in Berlin?"
[22:14] * Aline bit her lip, trying to not just yell at her mom for not sounding that shook up. They said that she had diminished emotional response. That's what dad said the doctors told him. Have to… try to be patient. "I don't… know. 30,000? 500,000? Maybe more. It's… it's too much." She shook her head, trying to hold in her tears. Her terror, though, was a lot harder to hold back. "It's
[22:14] * Aline almost half a day until it gets here. Until it hits Paris-2. I… I'm going up against it. They told me to-" Twitch. "To." Twitch, twitch. "To tell everyone I could that I might not make it. That I love them and hope they know that. Because… y-y-you're going to evacuate. You have to. I won't. I /can't/."
[22:18] * Celine‘Blanc turned around now, biting her lip a little. "Evacuate…?"
[22:31] <Aline> "Yes! That… that thing blew up the whole city. All of Berlin-2. All of it!" She looked veeeeery frantic. "If I can’t stop it, you will die. There's no 'might', 'could', or anything like that about it. You will die from that attack. It's my responsibility to save everyone. And even with you like this…" Aline wiped a hand over her eyes, having to wedge it under her glasses. "…That
[22:31] <Aline> includes you."
[22:34] * Celine‘Blanc let out a little sigh, looking all the while as though she was being somewhat put out of her comfort zone. She sipped at her tea, quiet for a minute or so, looking at Aline every few seconds.-
[22:40] <Celine`Blanc> Then, finally, she spoke. "… That doesn’t seem like much to evacuate for. They say Second Impact killed three billion people. Whole cities were swallowed by the waves, you know." Said Celine, biting her lip again. "You weren't old enough to remember that, of course. There was a lot of things happening. We had to evacuate then, too." She smiled thinly, as if remembering some wistful event.
[22:49] * Aline shook her head again. "Mom. It doesn't matter. You will die. Second Impact cannot aim. Waves don't try to make sure everything is destroyed. And more than that… more than that…" She sighed. Go ahead and arrest me, S2. You even have legal right to tell the laws of France to fuck themselves. But I won't let mom kill herself like that! "Not only that, not only that, but if we
[22:50] * Aline let the Angel win now, there will be a Third Impact. And they told me it'll be worse. It might come to there being nobody left. Not one human. At least leave, so I can stop that without worrying that you're going to die even if I win!"
[22:53] * Celine‘Blanc stands there, silently, quietly. She stares down at her mug, long and hard. She seems to be coming to a decision, and finally, she sighs, pouring the rest down the sink. "There’s a bag under my bed. It's full of clothes. I'll take that- can you go fetch it?"
[22:55] * Aline nodded, breathing a /deep/ sigh of relief. "Alright, I'll get it. If we win, I'll… I'll try to get NERV's insurance people to put your claim higher. I'll… even file the claim for you if you want." …And immediately, Aline dashed into her mom's room to get that bag!
[22:59] <Celine‘Blanc> [The room is dark, but curiously well-kept, at least on the surface. The room was somewhat sparse, made up of a double bed and two bedside tables, as well as a chest of drawers, topped off with a small mirror and makeup area. Everything seemed… Clean.-
[23:00] <Celine`Blanc> [The bed… It was her mother’s bed, but it was- at least, an unused, sterile half of it was- her father's, too. A picture sat on Aline's mother's bedside table- a picture of all three of them, there out of a desperate hope that it'd remind Celine of what family meant.]
[23:03] * Aline …frowned deeply at having to come in there. She didn't have the time or desire to do anything with that ph-… Scratch that thought. She took that damn picture and shoved it into her purse, pushing aside a compact and bumping her NERV-issue phone to make it fit (and just barely, too!). If this apartment went. so would the photo. But if it went… so would a sign her dad had ever
[23:03] * Aline lived. But… then she reached under the bed for that bag of clothes.
[23:05] <Celine‘Blanc> [The bag is quite large. Furthermore, it’s covered in dust. But Aline can yank it out easily enough.]
[23:07] * Aline did actually peer inside briefly, wondering exactly why it would have ostensibly still been there after so long. What could she have left in there?…
[23:09] <Celine‘Blanc> [They… Were clothes. Nothing but clothes. Creased beyond imagination, they even seemed to stick together slightly before allowing themselves to be moved.]
[23:11] * Aline just closed the bag back up. Must have been… forgotten about once she stopped caring about much. Aline took it back out to the front of the apartment, expecting a relatively mild, maybe even deadpan, reaction from her mother.
[23:13] * Celine`Blanc stared at Aline, shuffling forward a little. She bit her lip slightly. "…" Her gaze turned around the apartment, frowning slightly as though something… Were off. Something were missing. She turned back to Aline. "Do you really think he’s dead?" She asked simply.
[23:18] * Aline bit her lip for the second time. Harder. "If he lived, he's got to have either been out of town, or… Something impossible happened. Even Asuka looked like she died…" Briefly, Aline paused. Mom probably didn't know who that was! "…Sorry. Asuka is - was - the pilot of the Evangelion that had tried to protect Berlin-2. I watched her die, right before the Angel… Before it blew
[23:18] * Aline up Berlin-2." She tried again to fight back tears. Damn her pledge to treat the other pilots like brother-and-sisters. Now she felt like /two/ family members died today! "The Evangelions can take hits better than a whole city can. So if she died… Again uh. Dad'd have to have been impossibly lucky."
[23:22] * Celine‘Blanc was silent at that. Quietly, she turned away, over toward the sink. She turned it on, covering her hands with soap, washing them. More soap, more washing. "It wasn’t supposed to end like this." She said, in a voice that seemed calm… Yet was minutely higher-pitched. "It really wasn't."
[23:24] * Aline looked up. Not that she was looking that far down before. "How… how was it supposed to end?" Aline's voice was a lot more emotive, wavering uncertainly.
[23:27] <Celine‘Blanc> For the first time that evening, and indeed, the first time in at least months or years, or so it must’ve felt to Aline, her mother said something with feeling, with a sense of emotion- something with a heavy weight of melancholia upon it.-
[23:27] <Celine‘Blanc> "Together…"
[23:35] * Aline shuddered at that. "…But… But…" Aline was now failing to stop herself from crying. "I was still born. There’s something left of the family still! If you and him both died… You… you wouldn't have even died as yourself. You broke, mom. Don't you know? Broke like glass. So quiet, so cold, cold like you were already half-dead. Even if dad didn't survive. Even if he's gone…"
[23:35] * Aline She stepped forward, and tried to hug Celine. "I want you to believe in me, too. You still have something left to live for." She reached one of her hands towards her head, grabbing a lock of hair to show it to her mom. "I remember dad saying that you thought his hair, his unusual hair, was so pretty. Do you remember? Don't you?… It's still here. That same thing that made him a handsome
[23:35] * Aline husband is making me a beautiful daughter. Part of him is still alive in me, mom. Don't you know? Don't you?"
[23:43] * Celine‘Blanc didn’t resist Aline's attempts to hug her. But she didn't exactly reciprocate either. She looked down at Aline, not saying anything for awhile. Then, slowly, she reached out and took the lock of hair in her hand. "I remember. Back then. Everything seemed so important and real. But… It's so unimportant now. Everything is so tangential that it's not even worth bothering trying."-
[23:44] <Celine‘Blanc> The emotion in her voice drained away. Her voice was once again simple, quiet, unemotional. And yet… And yet, she still held that lock of hair, absently running her thumb back and forth over it.
[23:51] * Aline clinged even tighter - it’s not like she could do anything about moving, not yet anyway. "…Find something. Find anything. Even if it's something stupid. Even if it's something small. I don't care if you spend the rest of your days obsessed with fine teas. Just… it won't go like this either. If you have to die, it still has to be together with someone. Can it be with me? I'm not
[23:51] * Aline letting myself die yet. I can't take you with me into unit-00. So please… wait for me. Wait for the end. It's not going to be time until the end! Until everything's done!" The tears were starting to soak into Celine's clothing, and the light sound of sobs punctuated Aline's words. "Believe in me! I believe in everyone in the world, It's my duty to save everyone! No matter what! I believe
[23:51] * Aline in you, I believe in Yanmei and Sera and Tsubaki, I believed in Asuka - they're all the other pilots, they're like my sisters - and brother - and just as I wouldn't let them die before all was lost… I won't let you. You're still my mother. You're still family. You know, right? Don't you?"
[23:57] * Celine‘Blanc bit her lip once more. Gently, she turned her head away, not looking down at her daughter. She didn’t feel like responding. She felt so tired… So… Worn out, on every level. It was hard enough just going through the days- why did she have to do this? Yet, she now felt Aline's sobs through her clothing, feeling for a moment…-
[00:00] <Celine‘Blanc> "I…" She felt faintly dizzy. She didn’t want to do this… She felt every part of her resisting, except, perhaps, that one small part that still remembered what it was like to hold her daughter, or run her hands through the bright white hair of her husband… A part that should not have been, to be honest, still alive, and yet clung, dying, but not quite dead.-
[00:00] <Celine‘Blanc> "I’ll try."
[00:03] * Aline nodded, which in truth just was her buring her head deeper into her mom's side for a moment. "Thank you. I know that it's hard. I have my own troubles. I have to go up there even when I don't feel like doing anything. I'm being strong for you, mommy. It's all I can do. Now come on. Let's get everything done with, and get you on the way to safety. I still have to get ready to save
[00:03] * Aline the world."
[00:07] <Celine‘Blanc> "Alright." Murmured Celine, still faintly rubbing that lock. Looking down at Aline, she pushed herself- forced herself, demanded of herself that she care right back. But… She couldn’t. Not to the same degree. Nowhere close. But… She pushed enough to slowly raise her other arm and wrap it around Aline, as alien as it felt.-
[00:08] <Celine‘Blanc> "Am I to go to a refugee camp?"
[00:11] * Aline lifted her head, but pulled her arm tighter. "I don’t know. The Commander's speech when she started this said that the population would go to the 'other department'. I think… I -think- that means you might go to another nearby city. None of the Second Cities are full, or even close. There should be room for everyone. I can only hope that's what she meant." One last tight squeeze,
[00:11] * Aline more than Aline could keep up for more than a second. "I'll look after you, even outside the Evangelion. Just remember to do your part for me."
[00:15] <Celine‘Blanc> "Alright." Said Celine again, a little uncertainly. "Then I guess I should get going." She was still so… Tepid, yet for her she was nearly overwhelmed by what she was doing. "I will see you after this…?"
[00:18] <Aline> "Yes. Yes! You definitely will." She paused for a moment. "And if you see video of what happens, later, just remember. You probably don’t watch too much, but if you do… I'm in the red one. I want you to see how strong I've become. What I'll do for everyone. And for you!" Aline then finally pulled back. "I'll make sure you're with the best escort I see. Don't worry."
[00:20] <Celine‘Blanc> "The red one." Celine nodded slowly. With Aline pulling back, she was now free to walk over and pick up the suitcase, pulling it up onto its wheels. "Alright. Lead on."
[00:22] * Aline opened the door, moving ahead, and holding it open. Hopefully, any of the actual chaos wasn’t there yet.
[00:24] * Celine‘Blanc exited. The suitcase wheels squeaked a little as they moved only grudgingly.-
[00:25] <Celine`Blanc> [The chaos had, really, bypassed this apartment a long time ago- but it could still be heard, to the west.]
[00:28] * Aline breathed a sigh of relief at that, and began to make her way through the elevator, towards street level. She still had about an hour or so before the RPG Club meeting (it was about 15 minutes to a half-hour’s walk to Lillian's apartment, where they agreed to hold it for old times' sake, but insurance was always a good thing, -and- she told them she might have been late and to at
[00:28] * Aline least wait another half-hour for her. Anyway, the next mission? Was to slowly head that way, while trying to bend her path to try to run into some kind of military escort… Or even better, official NERV personnel. While they were less trustworthy because of her paranoia about S2 and her ~secret knowledge~, at the same time, they knew how much rode on the pilots. The army proper might not.
[00:35] <Celine‘Blanc> [Fortunately, despite the civilian populace having mostly been emptied, there were, of course, plenty of military personnel in the city. In fact, a fair few of them had been assigned specifically to round up any stray civilians (or looters!) wandering around.-
[00:36] <Celine`Blanc> [So, it wasn’t too surprising that Aline would soon hear the sound of a military engine… And quickly find that it'd be produced by a squadron of rocket artillery vehicles, rolling down a main road. Nearby soldiers- armoured and armed- were on the lookout for civilians, some of them clearly going around and knocking on doors.]
[00:43] * Aline was relieved. That'd do! Rocket artillery had to be one of the better weapons to defend someone from Angel attack out of all weapons that lacked AT Fields. …In fact for a brief moment she wondered why they didn't just bring those in rather than fuck around with tank squadrons, during the earlier attacks. Oh well. She waved, at any rate. "Hey! Heeeeey! This is Pilot Blanc, and I
[00:43] * Aline have a civilian for pickup!"
[00:46] <Celine‘Blanc> [Two of the soldiers nearby looked up, over at her. They blinked, then hurried over- both of them snapping off a salute. "Thank you very much, Ma’am. Miss, if you'll come with us?" Said one of the soldiers, turning towards Celine.-
[00:46] <Celine‘Blanc> Celine blinked, and looked over at Aline. "I’m going with them?"
[00:52] * Aline nodded. "Unless you have some objection, then I can find another team." But she… turned to the two soldiers, briefly saluting as well. "Thank you as well. Could you try to take care? She's my mother, you see. I can only hope that while you keep her safe, you two'll be safe too." There was a tinge of regret. "…Anyway. Mom, this is a rocket artillery group. If any conventional
[00:52] * Aline military vehicle is going to stand a chance of discouraging an Angel, it's going to be something like these. Just… trust me, okay?"
[00:53] <Celine‘Blanc> ["I wouldn’t worry, Ma'am. We'll be pretty removed from the fighting. Our task is to evacuate civilians; the Rocket boys will be moving elsewhere."-
[00:55] <Celine‘Blanc> "I don’t have any objections." Said Celine, and a little awkwardly, she walked over to the soldiers, dragging her luggage along. She looked… Small, next to them. Frail, even. She turned back to Aline, realising she had to do… Something. But what?
[00:56] * Aline stared… "I know it's hard… just… a hug." She held out her arms. "Like this."
[01:00] <Celine‘Blanc> [The soldiers watched this, faces of obvious sympathy on their faces. They didn’t really know the situation, but… They knew that it was something that demanded gravitas. Respect. "Go on, ma'am. It's important to say goodbye." Said one of the soldiers.-
[01:01] * Celine‘Blanc looked back at the soldier, then over at Aline. She bit her lip once again. She… She knew how to hug. But it was so… It felt futile, usually. It felt like a false thing- why would she hug someone if she - and they- knew it wasn’t -real-? She tried. She tried to remember the sensations of embraces, of how they'd once meant so much.-
[01:02] <Celine‘Blanc> She stepped forward, and lifted her arms slowly.
[01:03] * Aline took her part, and moved in to finish it. With a rush of her body, Aline finished the motion. "If this is the last time, remember it. I know how hard it is for you now, but… If I fail, this is the last of me you’ll see. Remember it with love - that's how I will."
[01:06] <Celine‘Blanc> "Love…" The last time she’d see of her… Celine wondered if she remembered when her husband had left on what appeared to be his last journey. She really couldn't. She had cared only a little- the little that had come to be expected. That was alright with her- it was safe.-
[01:06] <Celine‘Blanc> But was it really alright? … She slowly embraced her daughter, nodding at the instructions. "I’ll try to remember." She swallowed. "… Do well."
[01:12] <Aline> "I will." Was all Aline said, with a certain finality. She waited for a moment, then let go… and saluted the two soldiers again. "Alright, now's the time we get back to what we were all doing. Let's all pray for victory."
[01:15] <Celine‘Blanc> ["Yes, ma’am!" Said one of the soldiers. "We know you can do it, ma'am. You kids haven't let us down yet." Said the other. The first one gently took the arm of Celine, leading her away. "Come on, ma'am. Let's get you away."-
[01:15] <Celine‘Blanc> "’Bye." Said Celine quietly to Aline. She swallowed once more, staring at her daughter for a moment… Before letting herself be guided away.
[01:22] * Aline nodded again, and… Stood there all the way until her mom was out of sight. That hurt, yes, but it went… much better than she thought.

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