In The Rain Comes A Stray

[20:33] <Isaiah> [The sun has set on the 25th of April, not that anyone noticed- it's been a dreary, cloudy Saturday, with the dark skies threatening rain the entire day. Now finally, endless buckets of rain bursts from the clouds, dumping a truly massive storm upon those below.]
[20:40] <Yanmei> In no mood to running errands in a storm like today's Yanmei preoccupied herself at home. Laundry, food simmering on the stove, peering at a few tech magazines lying around to see about advertisements for affordable laptops… anything to avoid the stack of homework waiting for her on her desk.
[20:42] <Isaiah> [Ah yes, avoiding homework- the main goal of all students, except for ones like Windsor-Yamato, right? Either way, despite the chilly rain outside, it's rather warm inside as Marianne bustles about, the inside heater on, filling the air with a cozy warmth. She herself probably has work to do, but has nobly left it- a folder with a stack of files- on her own desk. "What's for dinner, Yanyan~?"]
[20:50] <Yanmei> "Zha jiang mian and Garbure." She paused. It was only after saying it out loud, but didn't that seem like a strange combination? Ah well… She leaned over an ad for an impressive sleek, white laptop. Maybe this one?
[20:54] <Isaiah> ["Zha… Ji… Er…" Marianne frowned. She had, to her credit, been attempting to learn Chinese. But she honestly hadn't found enough time to really advance in that discipline. So, she sighed a little and shrugged happily- she trusted Yanmei's cooking skills. "Well, it sounds good~"-
[20:55] <Isaiah> [There was a sudden knock at the door. "…? Who'd be… It's 7 PM…"]
[21:00] <Yanmei> "Already 7? Mmph." She really *had* been lazing around all day without doing anything. Lathargically, she trotted to the door. "Who is it~?"
[21:00] <Isaiah> "I-I-It's m-me…" Came a small, quiet voice through the door.
[21:05] <Yanmei> "Gabe- I mean, Isaiah?" She scrolled through her memories. Had she made plans with him that day? No… no, she didn't think so. Nevertheless, she threw open the door with a smile. "Evening! What brings you here?"
[21:08] * Isaiah stared up at Yanmei. He was… Sopping wet. Well and truly drenched, to the point where he was dripping- which shouldn't have been a surprise, considering the storm outside. His blonde hair was plastered to his face, and he was shivering mightily.-
[21:09] <Isaiah> "…" He looked at her for a moment longer, then, quite simply, he started to cry.
[21:12] * Yanmei stared. This was hardly what she had been expecting. She had been on the verge of lightly teasing him for forgetting an umbrella, but the tears jarred her terribly. "What…?" She paused again, and shook her head at something, and then wordlessly caught him by the shoulder and swept him inside, into the warm apartment, shutting the door behind him.
[21:16] <Isaiah> ["Hm, who-" Marianne's curiosity, much like Yanmei, turned to sudden shock. "Isaiah? What- no, nevermind." Again, much like Yanmei, questions could come later as she stood up from her chair.-
[21:19] * Isaiah was guided inside. He was incredibly cold to the touch, which wasn't surprising at all. "D-d…" His violent shivers continued, although the heat of the apartment was an incredibly welcome relief. "I… I h-had to g-go…"
[21:22] * Yanmei shook her head again at the explanation. "No. Don't worry about saying anything? Just come in and have a bath, and have dinner with us! I'm sure there are some spare clothes you can change into too?" She was guiding him toward the bathroom, now, past Marianne. "I'll see what I can find."
[21:23] * Isaiah nodded feebly, following on after Yanmei. There wasn't much else he could do, and right now he felt miserable. A hot bath sounded more than good.-
[21:24] <Isaiah> ["…" Marianne scratched her head, biting her lip. She felt… Weird. It was a hard feeling to describe, but it happens to parents who see a child in turmoil that isn't their's: a sort of desire to help mixed in with the unknown.]
[21:27] <Yanmei> The bathroom was more colorfully decorated than the rest of the apartment, and oddly comforting in the hodge podge of items collected inside. Smoothly, Yanmei swiped something lacy from where it had been drying over the curtain rack. A little floaty battleship rested on the edge of the tub itself. "Marianne~ We have clean towels somewherem don't we?"
[21:31] <Isaiah> ["Yeah, I think I put a new pair out today. They should be behind the door!"]
[21:34] * Yanmei found them, and thrust one into Isaiah's arms. "Here we go. Now… Soap, shampoo, towel…" She pointed out where the first two items were for him. Charmingly scented with herbs and flowers, both of them. "Leave your old clothes wherever? I'll grab and clean them while we're eating later." She pause. "You gonna be okay in here?"
[21:37] <Isaiah> "Nn…" Isaiah's chattering stopped him from saying too much at this point. Nevertheless, he reached over with a shaking hand and turned the tap marked 'Hot'. Gloriously hot water started gushing out, and he turned to Yanmei, nodding a little. He gripped the top of his drenched shirt.
[21:40] * Yanmei took that as her cue to depart! So she did, closing the door behind her and trotting back into the kitchen where she had left her guardian, and undergarment of the very female persuasion still bunched in her fist. She was frowning, and she couldn't help but shoot Marianne a somewhat questioning look.
[21:41] <Isaiah> ["…" Marianne looked back over. "Is he ok? He- something's gone wrong, hasn't it?"]
[21:44] <Yanmei> "He hasn't said yet." Yanmei folded her arms. "The bath will calm him down, I hope? Then we can talk properly. If he wants to." She tapped her foot. "Maybe we should have him spend the night?"
[21:46] <Isaiah> ["Well, I don't have any problems with that. I don't think he's any trouble." Said Marianne. She was pacing back and forth- she seemed merely tense, but Yanmei would be able to pick up, no doubt, on the faint signs of panic in her guardian. "Should I call the police? Child services?"]
[21:50] <Yanmei> "That's going a bit far?" Yanmei smiled, trying to ease said panic. "I've met his father before. He's a little grumpy? But I don't think he'd be te sort to hurt or neglect Isaiah. He's a pacifist, you know."
[21:53] <Isaiah> ["W-well…" Marianne rubbed her hands. She was really trying to calm down, and quietly repeated what Yanmei said over and over to herself. "Why'd he come here, though?"]
[21:57] <Yanmei> "I'm not sure," she admitted, and rubbed the back of her neck. "Maybe the two had an argument and Isaiah ran off? We'll have to as him properly. Or…" she snapped her fingers. "Maybe I should just ask Dr. Gabriel? I need to call him anyway to make sure it's okay for Isaiah to stay over."
[21:59] <Isaiah> [Marianne might've been panicking a little, but she recognised a potentially poor idea when she saw it. "Maybe, er, I should call him? You can go forage some clothes up for Isaiah."]
[22:02] <Yanmei> "Well, okay." She turned to go. It seemed like the sort of thing an adult should do, anyway. "It's a good thing he's so skinny. I might have just the thing…"
[22:03] <Isaiah> ["Make sure they're nice clothes. Don't dress him in anything silly. And make sure they're -warm-." Said Marianne, before reaching for the phone. She started to punch in a number… That, whilst not obvious to Yanmei, obviously wasn't Dr. Gabriel's.]
[22:06] <Yanmei> Nothing silly? Bah. Yanmei almost frowned at that. Oh well, it wasn't the time for it anyway. She went with the practical look instead - some new sweats that she had used as makeshift pajamas after their first apartment was damaged, along with most of her personal things. They would fit a little oddly, given that they were made for someone taller than Isaiah, but at least they were warm.-
[22:07] <Yanmei> She threw in a bathrobe just in case - pink with floral print, naturally - and after knocking and informing the kid about them, left them neatly folded right by the bathroom door for him to grab when he was ready.
[22:10] <Isaiah> Isaiah did, at least, confirm that he'd heard her, although the sudden knock seemed to have startled the boy a little, judging from the splashing sound.-
[22:11] <Isaiah> [Yanmei could hear, faintly, the sound of Marianne hanging up the phone, with a 'Goodbye, and thanks'.]
[22:21] * Yanmei reappeared cheerfully by Marianne. "So it's okay, isn't it? Did you find out anything?"
[22:22] <Isaiah> ["Wellll…" Marianne put the phone down carefully. "I spoke to Dorian. He said he'd make a phone call and take care of it…"]
[22:26] <Yanmei> "Huh?" Head tilt. "That's a little excessive? What are you two up to, exactly?"
[22:27] <Isaiah> ["Nothing!" Said Marianne, tilting her head right back. "It's just… I dunno, I felt safer calling him when it came to NERV personnel and potential issues…"]
[22:29] <Yanmei> "Hmmm… Well." She still thought that something was off here, but without anything substantial to call them out on… "I guess I'll see about turning our couch into a bed for him, then? Ah… don't let the soup burn, ok? It should be about ready to eat now."
[22:34] <Isaiah> ["Alright." Marianne headed off to ensure Yanmei's delicious cooking didn't burn- the Violet Pilot herself had other matters to take care of.-
[22:35] <Isaiah> [After about fifteen minutes, there was the shuffling sound of the bathroom door being open and someone taking reluctant steps out.]
[22:38] <Yanmei> "In here~" she called out to him from the living room. She was in the process of smoothing spare blankets over the couch, and piling up several pillows. "It's just in case you feel like sleeping over? We would be happy to have you."
[22:43] * Isaiah … Emerged. 'He came out' wouldn't really have cut it. He was dressed in the sweats, which were fully zipped up; and, even moreso, he was completely snuggled up in the pink bathrobe, the collar tucked right under his chin. His newly-washed hair was fresh and fluffy, and overall he had a very soft, fuzzy look to him.-
[22:43] <Isaiah> "Sleeping over…? That would be really nice." He mumbled, fidgeting slightly.
[22:47] <Yanmei> "I knew you'd say yes." She beamed at him. "Dinner's almost ready, too? There's a lot of beef in it tonight. So… shall we?"
[22:49] <Isaiah> "I would… That sounds good." Said Isaiah, starting to edge out into the room, towards Yanmei. When he was about two feet away, his eyes looked up towards hers, full of worry- and a little fear. "It's alright, isn't it…? I'm not- it's not a problem?"
[22:51] <Yanmei> "Never," she smiled right back at him. "I like having you around. Marianne, too. In fact, she's sorting out permission and all of that stuff. Hopefully, you can stay here for as long as you want!"
[22:53] <Isaiah> "Alright then. If you say so." Said Isaiah, giving her a relieved smile. Still, he was a little worried- did that mean that Miss Marianne had called his dad…? He tried to ignore that possibility. The very thought made him feel shameful.-
[22:53] <Isaiah> "Should I help set up…?"
[22:54] <Yanmei> "Nah. Just leave it to me. You're our guest, after all?" She led him back toward the kitchen, and gestured at the table. "Just have a seat. Did you enjoy the bath?"
[22:56] * Isaiah allowed himself to be led! He politely sat down at an inoffensive spot. "Um… Well, it was very hot." Said Isaiah. "So that was nice. I was… Really, really cold, and the heat was amazing." Said Isaiah, a momentary wistfulness stealing over him. "… Oh, and the shampoo was nice. It smelt nice at least- I wonder if it makes -me- smell nice, too…?"
[23:00] <Yanmei> "It does! That's why it's important to buy nice-smelling shampoo." She nodded firmly, and after retrieving a number of plates and bowls and utensils, began serving. In no time at all, she and Isaiah had steaming food in front of them, with a third place set for Marianne. "Did you really walk all the way here in that typhoon? You're a determined guy, Isaiah."
[23:01] <Isaiah> ["It smells good, Yanmei. What's this called again?" Said Marianne, with the cheerful tone of someone who had long ago decided that food was a time for joy.-
[23:02] <Isaiah> "Um… Yeah." Said Isaiah, going slightly pink. "I… I didn't really have anywhere else to go. I had an umbrella, but it blew away…"
[23:05] <Yanmei> "Ahhh, it figures that something like that would happen. Stupid wind…" No place else to go? That sounded like a worrying clue of sorts. "And it's zha jiang mian, Marianne! Noodles with brown meat sauce. Really good. Even with the three of us, there's enough for leftovers? Maybe I'll take some to Blanc or de Pteres after this."
[23:06] <Isaiah> ["Aah, right, right!" Marianne nodded firmly, and started to tuck in! "Mmm-mm."-
[23:09] * Isaiah started afterward! Forking noodles into his mouth. He had a very cultivated way of eating, like he'd been taught by someone who actively taught etiquette. "It's really good, Yanmei!" He said, giving her an admiring smile. "Would you mind if I took a bit of seconds after this…?"
[23:10] <Yanmei> "Please, help yourself." Yanmei was eating too, although perhaps a little more carelessly. "If there's one thing I can do well, I guess making food would be it?"
[23:11] <Isaiah> "There are lots of things you can do well." Said Isaiah honestly, missing the actual intent entirely.
[23:15] <Yanmei> "Well… I suppose wowing high-school voters would be another thing?" Yanmei grinned at that and took another forkful. "I'm learning French cuisine pretty quickly too. I'm pretty happy about it."
[23:17] <Isaiah> "Yeah?" Said Isaiah with a smile. "I haven't learned much French cooking, but… Hey, did you ever end up finishing off those brains?"
[23:19] <Yanmei> "Er…" Yanmei swallowed abruptly. It was one thing she had neglected to mention to Marianne, to avoid an onslaught of teasing. "…not exactly?"
[23:20] <Isaiah> ["What's this about brains…?"]
[23:23] <Yanmei> "Marianne! Don't you have a few cookbooks stored away somewhere? I'm sure I've seen them?" Change the subject, change the subject.
[23:24] <Isaiah> ["Erm… I guess I do. One or two, maybe." Said Marianne hesitatingly. "Why?"]
[23:27] <Yanmei> "I thought maybe we could do some experimenting with new dishes. Maybe for breakfast tomorrow."
[23:28] <Isaiah> ["Oho, I see~" said Marianne, beaming. "Breakfast! Well, that sounds lovely, doesn't it, Isaiah?" She said, giving the boy a wink.-
[23:28] <Isaiah> "It does." Said Isaiah, beaming back. He thought back for a moment to that one day where they'd skipped school… Gone to the breakfast cafe…
[23:39] <Yanmei> "Then it's settled!" Yanmei beamed, and calmly attended to her plate. "By the way, did your dad mention anything about the games that NERV held a little while back? They were pretty fun…"
[23:41] <Isaiah> "…" Isaiah's grin rapidly fell off of his face, leaving behind a distresses look on his dainty features. "… No…"
[23:45] <Yanmei> Oh dear. So things really were that bad at home. "Well, it was this event that split everyone up into competing teams based on the departments they were in. Marianne was involved in it too! So were the pilots."
[23:46] <Isaiah> ["That's right." Said Marianne, hurriedly trying to restore the warm atmosphere.-
[23:46] <Isaiah> "R… Really." Said Isaiah, his voice brittle. "D… Did you win?"
[23:52] <Yanmei> "We sure did. They gave us little plus toys as a reward… and a trip to a nice vacation spot for doing well in a particular event. Feel like coming? It's going to be to the French Riviera."
[23:53] <Isaiah> "E-er…" Isaiah froze, frowning a moment. He looked down at his bowl, then back up at Yanmei. "Er, did… Er, you want -me- to come with you?" He said, his voice sounding as if he could hardly believe his own ears. "Really… Really really…?"
[23:55] <Yanmei> "Sure. You don't have to sound so disbeliving?" She couldn't help but grin at him. "I think we can each take one guest, isn't that right, Marianne?"
[23:55] <Isaiah> ["That's right." Said Marianne, beaming sweetly.-
[23:56] <Isaiah> "I… It's just…" Isaiah tugged at the sleeve of his cuddly pink bathrobe awkwardly. "I dunno if I've been on a real vacation before."
[23:57] <Yanmei> "Really? Well… we're going to the beach, so you'll have to prepare properly. I'll help you if you like?"
[23:58] <Isaiah> "O-okay!" Said Isaiah, his voice full of wonder. There was a sparkle in his eye. "H-how do I- what do I need to do?"
[00:04] <Yanmei> "First you'll need a swimsuit. And then you'll need sun protection. The most important thing, however, is to bring a camera so you can take lots of incrim- I mean, photos of your happy friends."
[00:06] <Isaiah> "Er…" Isaiah nodded. He'd definitely need some kind of help with -that-. Especially the swimsuit part. What did boys wear to the beach? "Okay…"
[11:46] <Yanmei> "Well, there are still a few weeks until then, so we have time to plan it out. I've already done a lot of thorough research on it, so I don't think it'll be a problem for us! I've even thought of what my ideal swimsuit would look like."-
[11:48] <Yanmei> "A black bikini. Just a little bit sheer, and very sophisticated! I'll need a matching hat, too…"
[11:58] <Isaiah> "Hum." Isaiah seemed a little confused. "If a black bikini is sophisticated, you'd need a sophisticated… Hat? Er… What do you wear at the beach, hatwise?"
[11:59] <Yanmei> "Big straw hats, naturally. There have to be some that come in black too. It's only fair." She nodded. "Marianne, have you been to the beach before?"
[12:03] <Isaiah> [Marianne, who had been eyeing Yanmei critically, nodded. "I have! Once with my parents, before Second Impact… I must've been, oh, 12 years old? My dad was on leave."]
[12:10] * Yanmei nodded approvingly. "People should take more vacations. That way, they'll be less stressed out all the time. Even if we hadn't won it at the games, I was thinking of asking the Major to send us away for a few days anyway."
[12:11] <Isaiah> [Marianne beamed. "Dorian wanted you to win, anyway! That's why he made the hints for the Bonus Question so obscure."]
[12:14] <Yanmei> "Is that so?" She looked a little surprised! "Well, we owe him our thanks, then? Too bad everyone can't get a few weeks off this summer…"
[12:15] <Isaiah> ["Ah, well. -Someone- needs to remain behind and look after the HQ, you know." Said Marianne. "We all can't take time off! We're protecting the world after all~"]
[12:18] <Yanmei> "So everyone keeps reminding me," she said with a wry smile. "It's getting a little easier, though?"
[12:19] <Isaiah> ["You guys are getting better." Said Marianne with a grin. "And you want to know what's even better~?"]
[12:20] <Yanmei> "Hm? What's that?"
[12:21] <Isaiah> ["I think we'll be getting some new weapons soon!" Said Marianne. "Dorian told me today that it looks like we've finally started to produce working Positron weaponry~"]
[12:21] <Isaiah> "…" Isaiah carefully kept his head down at that, silently chewing away at his noodles.
[12:23] <Yanmei> "Ehh? That was fast? I've barely just learned how to use regular guns!" She glanced to Isaiah brightly. "Your dad must be pleased. It sounds like he's nearly finished with some projects!"
[12:24] <Isaiah> "Not really…" Mumbled Isaiah, not looking up. He just quietly forked noodles into his mouth- his hand trembling slightly.
[12:30] <Yanmei> "No?" Yanmei scrutinized him, before turning back to her own plate. "I know it's probably troubling to work on weapons, but if he's nearly done, then it won't be long until he can go back to doing the stuff he did before he joined NERV. At least that's what I was thinking to myself…"
[12:32] * Tao has joined #NERVFrance
[12:33] <Isaiah> "He thinks they're going to be used in wars." Whispered Isaiah. "That they'll become the big weapon of the future, and it'll be his fault…"
[12:36] <Yanmei> "People have said the same thing about the Evas?" Yanmei picked at her food. "It's probable why the reasearch conducted by NERV should be destroyed after the last angel is defeated. But…" How long would that take? Would scientists even agree to that? It was sobering indeed.
[12:40] <Isaiah> ["Technically, that research belongs to the UN." Said Marianne. "And can -you- see the UN passing on an opportunity to slap big shiny weapons onto everything?"]
[12:43] <Yanmei> "…no." She looked a little crestfallen now. "So there's nothing we can do to stop them…'
[12:45] <Isaiah> ["Well, I wouldn't worry too much." Said Marianne uncertainly. "The UN mostly controls the world now, so there wouldn't be many conflicts anyway…" Marianne left certain things unsaid. Some things didn't have to be said.-
[12:47] * Isaiah fiddled with his noodles. "He came home. And he… He got really drunk. Worse than ever." The boy reached up to rub at one of his eyes. "He started yelling… Said things."
[12:50] <Yanmei> "Things? Ah. So… he's probably still in that state now?" She wondered what would have happened if Marianne *had* let her on the phone to speak with him. "It doesn't happen very often at least, right?" she added with a slight tinge of hope.
[12:52] <Isaiah> "It happens. It's been happening a lot more recently." Mumbled Isaiah. "It happens at all, that should be bad enough."
[12:54] <Yanmei> "Is that so?" Her eyes narrowed somewhat. Beneath the table, she rooted around in her pocket for her cell phone…
[12:57] <Isaiah> "Yeah…" Said Isaiah quietly. "This time I decided I wasn't going to take it, so I left… But… I didn't have anywhere to go. I don't have any family, and you're my only friend, Yanmei. So I ended up running here."
[13:00] <Yanmei> "I meant what I said about you staying here as long as you want," she said firmly. "And I intend to make that very clear to Dr. Gabriel as well." Found it. She whisked her phone out into the open. "I know it's rude to leave the table to make phone calls? But please forgive me. I'll be back in five minutes."
[13:03] <Isaiah> ["Yanmei…?!" Marianne half-rose… Then sat back down again. It was something in Yanmei's tone that suggested that the girl wasn't about to be dissuaded.]
[13:04] <Isaiah> "…" Isaiah stared at her as she went. He felt a hell of a lot more nervous for some reason.
[13:06] <Yanmei> It took a few moments for her to locate and dial Isaiah's home number. Quite frankly, most of that time was spent thinking of what to say. This was incredibly risky, wasn't it? And yet it needed to be said. She dialed. Waited for someone to pick up. Closed the door to her bedroom as she entered it, for privacy.
[13:08] <Isaiah> [Ring. Ring! Ring. It rang for a minute or two, before finally someone answered. "Mmm… Zis Elijah speakin'."]
[13:10] <Yanmei> "Dr. Gabriel~ This is Zhang Yanmei. I'm certain that by now, someone at NERV has contacted you about the whereabouts of your son, but leaving it entirely up to them didn't sit right with me. You do understand, don't you?" She smiled, more out of habit than anything as he couldn't see her. It was a very -pleasant- smile.
[13:12] <Isaiah> ["Ngh." Dr. Gabriel sighed. "Zis is about the little shit, is it, then?"]
[13:16] <Yanmei> "-Isaiah- is going to spending the night at my house. Furthermore? He is going to spend as many subsequent nights as he deems fit." She closed her eyes briefly. "While we have the opportunity to speak with each other, Doctor, I'm compelled ask you a personal question?"
[13:19] <Isaiah> ["Hmf…" There were a few moments of silence as the Doctor caught up, before he spoke. "You wan' look after him, then whatever. Whatsit?"]
[13:22] <Yanmei> "Do you feel proud of yourself? For driving away your only son and lone remaining family member?" Her smile remained.
[13:26] <Isaiah> ["…" There was a long silence on the other end. "I-I can't… I c-can't talk 'bout zis…" Muttered the drunken voice on the other end. "Y-Y-You've got no right!" He growled, a sudden spark of anger coming into his voice. "You little monstrous bitch, d-don't you speak t'me in such a way…" There was a long, long pause. Yanmei could hear the man mumbling in the background.-
[13:26] <Isaiah> ["S'he ok?" He said suddenly, coming back.]
[13:30] <Yanmei> "Interesting~" She ignored the insult. "Why are you concerned about that 'little shit' now, I wonder? But yes. Physically. We're feeding him, and he's warm and safe. Emotionally, however…" she trailed off, letting him put the bits together if he could.
[13:34] <Isaiah> ["E-emotionally?! D-don't…" There was an odd sound, like the cross between a laugh and a shuddering sob. Over time, Yanmei would hear the laughing part slowly fade out, leaving behind only the pained sobs. "Y-you don't -get it-." He groaned. "Y-y-y-don't at -all-."]
[13:39] <Yanmei> "No," she confessed after a long pause on her part. She had expected anger, yelling… not for a grown man to break down, crying, over the phone. It gave her a weird, weird feeling. And there was a very small, shameful part of herself that viewed it as something other than awkward or embarassing. She tried to clamp down on it hard. "I don't believe I do get it. But you are free to come by and explain it tomorrow, when your head is clear."-
[13:42] <Yanmei> "To -him- if nothing else. Before then, you will stop drinking, and will get some rest. Do I make myself clear?"
[13:45] <Isaiah> ["H-he's very important. V-very important t-to-to…" The sobs continued. "A-alright… I-I-I'll do that…"]
[13:47] <Yanmei> "Good." She said firmly. "Please do. And remember, Dr. Gabriel. We do not treat things that are important to us poorly." A short pause. "For now, please have a good night, sir."
[13:48] <Isaiah> ["…" There was a pause, then the sound of a dialtone.]
[13:51] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei hung up then too, and reflected. That had been… much easier than expected. It was as if she had gotten through to him, or perhaps triggered something painful? But it wasn't that alone that was feeding into her sense of satisfaction. She stood up, leaving the cell on her bed.-
[13:54] <Yanmei> She had -won- something. She didn't know what it was, only that it was something she shouldn't be bragging about, no matter how it actually made her feel. She drifted into the hallway and back into the kitchen, smiling as if nothing had happened. "He seemed fine with you staying the night? Although he may pay a visit tomorrow." She slid into her chair again and picked up her fork.
[13:55] <Isaiah> "Thank you." Murmured Isaiah, fidgeting slightly with his mostly empty bowl.
[13:59] <Yanmei> "Aw. It went cold…" she frowned down at her plate, and stood up, with it and her bowl of soup, heading to the microwave. "What a pain…"
[14:05] <Isaiah> Isaiah didn't say anything. He mostly watched Yanmei as she headed toward the microwave, a peculiar look in his eye. What would make a person do that? Make a person speak to such a cruel and drunken father on his behalf? What was it about -him- that would make her act like that, when everyone else seemed, honestly, not to care that much?-
[14:05] * Isaiah looked down and ate the rest of his cooling noodles and soup. He allowed himself, mostly unseen except by Marianne, the luxury of a little, hopeful smile.
[12:25] <Isaiah> [Time passed; dinner was finished off at this point, with Isaiah showing a rather remarkable appetite and taking seconds, reheating them in the microwave, had Yanmei had done. The rest of the evening went quietly enough, with the rain continuing to roar outside. Eventually, however, Marianne let out a yawn.-
[12:26] <Isaiah> ["It's 9 o'clock already." She murmured, eyeing the clock. "I need to be at NERV by 6 tomorrow… Hrm." She grumbled, getting up out of her seat, stretching. Damned inconvenient NERV times. "Yanyan, you set up the couch, yeah?"]
[12:28] <Yanmei> "Of course. Accomodations are taken care of." Yanmei nodded from her place at the table, her plate now clean. "You get a good rest. You'll probably need it?"
[12:33] <Isaiah> ["Yeah, no kidding." Said Marianne, yawning again. "You two, don't stay up too late… Well, I mean, it's a Saturday, so I guess you can. But still." She winked, and walked around the table, holding her arms out to Yanmei.]
[12:35] * Yanmei obliged, of course, with a hug! "We should, but there's not much to do tonight. We'll see~"
[12:36] <Isaiah> ["Mmmhm~" Said Marianne, winking. She wondered for a moment if Yanmei'd done her homework or not, but… Oh, well, it was the weekend!-
[12:37] <Isaiah> ["And you~" She said, turning to Isaiah. "You have a good night, alright? Remember, you're always, always welcome here, sweetie." She gave the boy a hug and a kiss on the top of his fluffy head, causing him to blush in embarrassment.-
[12:38] <Isaiah> "Y-you sleep well too, Miss Marianne. And thank you!"
[12:38] <Isaiah> ["G'night~" Said Marianne, heading off toward her bedroom.]
[12:39] <Yanmei> "Heehee," Yanmei couldn't help but giggle once Marianne was out of earshot. "She really like you, you know!"
[12:41] <Isaiah> "She does." Said Isaiah, rubbing his still-red cheeks. "Even though she barely knows me, and I've been nothing but trouble… I guess she's just a really kind person." Said Isaiah, smiling bashfully.
[12:47] <Yanmei> "Maybe?" Yanmei leaned back thoughtfully. "She was the same way to me when I first came here. I was supposed to live in an apartment by myself, like the other pilots do now, but she intervened. I didn't know anything about this country, and a lot of problems kept popping up, but still…"
[12:49] * Isaiah nodded slowly. "It sounds like she wanted to help." Said Isaiah quietly. "Would you have wanted to live by yourself, or are you happier that you're with Miss Marianne?"
[12:54] <Yanmei> "Weeell, back then I was suspicious? She was always hovering around and being… huggy? Really affectionate. I didn't know how to deal with her, really." She beamed. "But she's a really great person. I'm glad I got the chance to stay with her."
[12:56] <Isaiah> "Huggy~" Said Isaiah, matching Yanmei's beaming expression with his own. "I'm glad, too. I would've wanted you to stay with someone really nice like her. I think she really loves you a lot." Said Isaiah. "She's sort of like how my mum was… Affectionate, forgiving. That sort of thing. I'm happy for you, Yanmei."
[13:01] <Yanmei> "Thanks." Her gaze lowered a little. "It does make me worry a little about the future? What happens to the two of us when this war against the Angels comes to an end? Well… I suppose I'd have to survive that long first?" she chuckled briefly. "There are a lot of things about the end that tonight made me think about…"
[13:02] <Isaiah> Isaiah blanched at that… But he continued on nevertheless. "Really…?"
[13:03] <Yanmei> "Yeah. Like what would happen to the Evas when the fighting's finished. And the other weapons, too. I suppose I'd never really given it careful consideration before…"
[13:06] <Isaiah> "Maybe they'll be put into a big vault marked 'To be opened only in times of great peril!'" Said Isaiah, his eyes wide with imagination. "… But they probably won't, huh. They'll probably keep being used for all sorts of things…" He leaned forward, staring up into Yanmei's eyes.-
[13:06] <Isaiah> "What do -you- want to happen?"
[13:10] <Yanmei> "No matter how humanoid they look, they're still dangerous weapons." Her eyes hardened a little, and flicked away. "Moreover, there's the issue of only certain people being about to use them, and those pilots becoming a commodity themselves. Honestly, humanity would be better off if they were destroyed."
[13:14] <Isaiah> "Maybe all weapons should be destroyed." Said Isaiah, standing up out of his chair. He walked around over to Yanmei and stood behind her, putting his hands on the back of her seat. In the glass of the sliding doors, they were both reflected- lean, violet-haired Yanmei and skinny, blonde Isaiah.-
[13:15] <Isaiah> "I find them scary and big. And after every battle I find them even more scarier, and even more bigger." He said. "But I'm wondering now what -you- would do, Yanmei, after all this. If the weapons were destroyed tomorrow and all the fighting stopped. What would you do?"
[13:18] <Yanmei> "I'd go back to being a regular girl. There's not much to it? NERV would no longer have a reason for existing, so I doubt I would stay employed by them. I could go home…"
[13:20] <Isaiah> "Go home and do what, though?" Asked Isaiah. "Go back to being a regular girl- what does that mean, though? In the long term, where does that leave you? Where do you want to go after that?"
[13:25] <Yanmei> "That's a good question?" She closed her eyes, rubbed the side of her injured leg absently. "I had dreams before I came here, but picking them up again would be difficult? I suppose that figuring out what to do next would be a part of that process."
[13:31] <Isaiah> Isaiah looked down at her, now, and gently placed his hands upon her shoulders. "I would wish to be part of the process, also."
[13:34] <Yanmei> "Thank you." She bowed her head slightly. "This is the first time I've talked about this with anyone. Thank you for listening."
[13:38] <Isaiah> "It's alright." Said Isaiah, smiling a little. "I am much like you. I don't really know what I want to do either…" He fell silent. "Yanmei, I would like to do something with you that my mother did to me a long time ago. A way of sharing things like this. Is that ok?"
[13:40] <Yanmei> "Huh?" She swiveled around to look at him outright, curiously. "What did she do?"
[13:43] <Isaiah> "It was this thing." Isaiah held his hands out together, as if in a prayer. "A person would make their hands like this- so, er, I would- and she- my mother- would put her hands on mine. And then we'd close our eyes and I'd talk about something that was really worrying us or making us feel hurt. And then- then she would make the hands, and I'd hold hers, and she'd say one of her worries, too." Said Isaiah.-
[13:43] <Isaiah> "She used to do it all the time. My dad never does it, though…"
[13:47] <Yanmei> "I bet if he did, he would feel better himself," Yanmei sighed. She turned a fleeting glance toward the kitchen ceiling. "I've already talked about most of my worries, though. And… no matter how you look at it, we're being watched."
[13:50] <Isaiah> "Well, I don't mind being watched. My dad screams how he hates NERV all the time and he's not dead yet, is he?" Said Isaiah wryly. "And… Besides, Yanmei, I have worries of my own, too. You don't have to say anything if you don't want to, but I want to talk about them…"
[13:53] * Yanmei gestured for him to sit down. "Then we should begin? Please bear with me as I pretend to be your mother."
[13:55] * Isaiah blushed a little as he sat down, holding out his hands in front of him. "Let's not go down that road. I cannot imagine you married to someone like my father."
[13:58] * Yanmei snickered at that, and covered his hands with her own as he'd demonstrated earlier. "If I was, I'd totally whip him into shape? But yeah…" she nodded, a tiny bit awkwardly. "Whenever you're ready?"
[14:02] <Isaiah> "Alright." Said Isaiah, and he took a deep breath, closing his eyes. He shuddered slightly for a moment, and then started to continue- in Chinese.-
[14:14] <Isaiah> "I am worried, right now." He whispered. "I am deathly scared. Right now, there are only two people in this entire world who I have- who I can turn to when I am in trouble, or hurt and need help. One of them is my father, who drinks, becomes depressed, and rejects me even when I beg him to help me. And the other one is my only friend- Zhang Yanmei. Who every month, climbs into a monstrous war machine and fights… Things.-
[14:17] <Isaiah> "Every time she goes up, all I can think about is if she'll come back down again. And what happens if she doesn't. Something bad will happen. Something awful, and it's really selfish but I don't want her to be a pilot. Even if there's no other choice- I would rather pilot in her place.-
[14:18] <Isaiah> "I only want to help, but I'm so scared that sometimes I can't even breathe…" He came to a stop. He desperately hoped Yanmei had her eyes closed, because little tears were starting to roll down his cheeks and he didn't want her to see that.
[14:22] * Yanmei did indeed have her eyes closed. But she could hear a slight tremor in his voice that troubled her beyond what he had already said. Isaiah… "What would make you feel less worried? I can't stop piloting, but… I can assure you somehow, can't I? Make you feel better?"
[14:35] <Isaiah> Isaiah took a shuddering breath. "Promise me you'll live. Promise me that whenever you go and fight, you'll think to yourself, 'I need to live, I need to come back alive, for Isaiah's sake'. It's selfish of me. But I want you to be able to come back afterwards, so we can decide what to do after this. We'll figure that out together- but you need to promise that you'll come back."
[14:40] <Yanmei> "I have no intention of dying Isaiah." She opened her eyes to smile warmly at him. "So I promise that I will come back. For you and myself as well?"
[14:45] <Isaiah> Isaiah's tears were picking up, now. "Please, don't. Please don't. Please don't…" He opened his eyes, looking up at her. "…"
[14:54] <Yanmei> "Oh Isaiah…" She wanted to hug him, as she had done to Marianne all those nights ago. Why was she so weak to tears? "It will be okay! I've been nothing but professional so far. There's no situation I can't handle!" She let her smile widen, and she winked at him. "Just leave it to me?"
[14:58] <Isaiah> "Yanmei…" Isaiah sniffled, shaking his head. "L-listen. I know. I really do- I've heard how you've been going. They say you've finished off every monster that's attacked so far." Isaiah nodded shakily to himself, confirming that fact. Despite his tears, a little smile was coming to his face, as well- her smile made him happy. "I know you can do it… I have faith in you.-
[14:59] <Isaiah> "I don't want you to pilot, but you're the best pilot there is- that's what they say sometimes on the Internet." He leaned forward a little. "But you don't have to leave everything to yourself. I want to be able to help -you-, too. I… I want to help you bear it."
[15:11] <Yanmei> Internet, hm? Curiosity took hold of her, but she didn't ask for an elaboration. She didn't have much of an interest in checking fan sites? "You've been a good friend and confidante already, Isaiah. I think… that's all I could really ask for."
[15:16] <Isaiah> "Then…" Isaiah swallowed. "Then I'll continue to do that. But if you ever do want to ask for more… Just ask. I'll always listen. If we ever need to, I can listen somewhere devoid…" His eyes flicked upwards toward the roof, and he let it rest. "But thank you."
[15:30] * Yanmei beamed at him. "No, thank you! It's always good to know that there's someone willing to lend an ear?"
[15:33] <Isaiah> "Yes. It is, isn't it?" Said Isaiah, and he looked down at his hands. Without too much fuss, he took them out of Yanmei's, then folded her hands up in his. "I'm probably going to go to bed soon, but would you like to keep me company until then? I can do your maths homework whilst I'm nodding off." He offered with a happy- and relieved- smile.
[15:35] <Yanmei> "Math? Ah…" She drooped a little. Sometimes she forgot about how much the little guy liked numbers… "I suppose we'll have to do it sometime anyway? All right!"
[15:36] <Isaiah> "Well, you don't have to do anything." Said Isaiah with a smile, standing up. "Hmm…"
[15:37] <Yanmei> "Hm?"
[15:38] <Isaiah> "No, nothing." Said Isaiah hastily. "It's silly."
[15:40] <Yanmei> "Oh? Come on, now." she smiled. "I won't laugh~"
[15:42] <Isaiah> "Um… You wouldn't happen to, er." He blushed. "I just, I usually sleep with a sort of soft bear… It's a little weird not to… I-I just like to snuggle up. So, do you have…?" He covered his face at this point, which was burning red.
[15:50] <Yanmei> "…" She snickered at that - but quickly covered her mouth. Oops. "I'm not sure that I have something like that? Only throw pillows. But tomorrow we can go out and grab one at the store? If you plan to stay over again, that is?"
[15:55] <Isaiah> "Um…" Isaiah needed a minute or two to lower his hands, and even then his face was still red. "That… Sounds like a good idea. I was thinking of buying you something anyway. And…" Isaiah nodded slowly. "I… Would like to stay over again. I love it here."
[15:58] <Yanmei> "Then it's settled!" She nodded, standing up. "Now, then? Let's see about that homework… and sleep. If there's anything else you need, you won't hesitate to ask, will you?"
[15:59] <Isaiah> "No, of course not." Said Isaiah cheerfully. As Yanmei stood up, he unhesitatingly put his arms around her and gave her a tight, tight hug. It was honestly more of a cling.
[16:04] <Yanmei> More hugs… she blinked and hugged back. Perhaps she was spending too much time with Marianne these days, but it seemed like the natural thing to do.
[16:05] <Isaiah> "Yanyan… I can call you that, right~?"
[16:05] <Yanmei> "Everyone else seems to." She smiled wryly.
[16:07] <Isaiah> "Would you prefer 'Meimei'? It sounds infinitely cuter."
[16:09] <Yanmei> "A little too cute," Yanmei muttered. "Might as well conform? Yanyan is fine."
[16:10] <Isaiah> "Well… Yanyan." The hug finally loosened. "You're very precious to me, Yanyan."
[16:17] <Yanmei> Too precious, maybe? Her thoughts ticked away silently. There were other ways that she could help the kid beyond talking to his jerk father. "I'm glad. You're a precious person too, Isaiah. And stronger than you give yourself credit for being."
[16:35] <Isaiah> "I don't feel like I am." Said Isaiah, but nevertheless his eyes twinkled. "But you say I am, so I'll believe you."-
[16:36] <Isaiah> [And, with that, Isaiah would settle into the little couch-bed, Yanmei nearby. They'd talk a little perhaps, Isaiah working away on her mathematics homework diligently and quickly… But sooner or later, at some point, she'd look over to find the writing pad both finished and slipping from his fingers, his eyes closed and his face sleepy and peaceful.]
[16:44] * Yanmei relaxed, then, taking the pad away and placing it on the coffee table for now. After that, she snagged a spare blanket and dropped it on top of him. Her own tiredness was like a deep ache now, and she wondered if it came from just staying up too late or not.
[16:44] <Yanmei> Carefully, onn tiptoe, she turned out the lights.

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