Misato In Reims

[20:39] <Minaplo> [It was an early January morning. Misato's Reims apartment was quiet.-
[20:47] <Minaplo> [Suzanne was still in bed, as were Rei and Alphonse.-
[20:51] <Minaplo> [The sound of a shower running gave away Misato's position- and Ban-Ban was out on the balcony, dressed in a crisp white four-sleeved t-shirt and black sweater vest, sipping a cup of hot earl grey.-
[20:52] <Minaplo> [Where was Raphael on this bright wintry morning?]
[21:26] <Raphael> Raphael has moved to the guest bathroom to allow Misato some privacy, and right now he's busy brushing his teeth. These early morning routines barely require any thought after three decades of practice, and no matter how hard he tries to avoid it, his mind finds itself wandering back to the topic he's been wrestling with since his meeting with the Pilots…
[21:45] <Minaplo> [The mirror was fogged up from steam, the room quiet but for the sound of the brush on its back-and-forth path.-
[21:48] <Minaplo> [The face in the mirror- his face- Shinji's face- seemed almost mocking. In the morning light, amidst the steam and glass, it reminded him of that knightly doppelganger in the Sea, who had led him to…]
[21:54] * Raphael shuts his eyes hard, feeling his gorge rise. He drops the toothbrush quickly and uses the basin to get his balance, working to keep his breath steady.
[21:56] <Minaplo> [The room began to spin. White tiles and white tiles and glass and window and shower and glass…-
[21:57] <Minaplo> [There's a sharp knock at the door, the room suddenly coming to a stop.]
[22:01] * Raphael doesn't quite trust himself to respond, at least not yet. His breathing comes out in short gasps, his knuckles white as he grips the basin.
[22:02] <Minaplo> [The knocking subsides, but Raphael gets the sensation that whoever it is hasn't quite left yet- merely giving him his time.]
[22:03] <Raphael> "… who is it?" He asks quietly, when he's certain he's regained control - or, more honestly, when he's sure whoever's outside isn't leaving until he answers.
[22:07] <Minaplo> ["It's Ban-Ban, Uncle." Comes the response. Ban-Ban's voice has changed greatly over time- the sibilant hiss is still there, barely, but more noticeably the accent is pure Received Pronounciation. "Is everything alright?"]
[22:13] <Raphael> "It's fine." He says, straightening up without looking at the mirror. He's deeply grateful for the distraction, and these days it barely even bothers him that said distraction comes in the form of a English-accented angelspawn. "Everything's fine, Ban-Ban. Thank you."
[22:15] <Minaplo> ["Very good, Uncle. I have just finished my morning repast, would you like me to put something on for you and Aunt Misato?"]
[22:17] <Raphael> "If wouldn't mind putting on a fresh pot of coffee, I'm sure the Major would appreciate it." He says, quickly drying his face on a towel before fishing his toothbrush from the sink to rinse it.
[22:17] <Minaplo> ["Very well."-
[22:18] <Minaplo> [Footsteps. That strange mix of padding footfall and clacking claw across the ground. It's unsettling. Or it would be to normal people. It's a predator's footstep.-
[22:18] <Minaplo> [The steam on the mirror has mostly faded now, and a cloud has covered the sun outside, giving the room a solidly normalappearance.]
[22:20] <Raphael> It's enough to allow the last of his nausea to pass, at least. Letting out a quiet sigh, he rubs at his eyes and listens closely to make sure that the noise from the other shower has faded. Only then does he begin to pull off his shirt and prepare for a shower to provide himself some much-needed time to get his bearings…
[22:31] <Minaplo> [Soon after he emerges into the apartment- mundanely familiar, as always. The smell of fresh coffee is wafting through the air- and somewhat more subtly, the smell of shampoo. Misato is sitting at the kitchen bench, wearing long jeans and a black sweater, holding a cup of coffee.-
[22:33] <Minaplo> ["… Impact." She was muttering to Ban-Ban. "It totally obliterated the seasons in Japan, you know. So whenever I come to chilly little FuransuI almost freeze my toes off."-
[22:33] <Minaplo> ["Indeed?"]
[22:46] <Raphael> "Indeed." Raphael agrees, looking almost back to his old self as he enters the kitchen. Still, the dark circles under his eyes give away the fact that he hasn't been sleeping well, and he's been decidedly distracted for days. His hair is still wet from the shower as he gives Misato a quick kiss on the cheek on his way to the coffee machine. "And she never lets anybody forget it."
[22:47] <Minaplo> ["Ah, well, I'm simply hoping some gallant young captain might warm me back up~"-
[22:47] <Minaplo> ["Your coffee, uncle." Ban-Ban passes the cup to Raphael.]
[22:53] <Raphael> "Ah. Thank you, Ban-Ban. Very kind of you." He says, giving the banshee a grateful nod as he takes the cup from one of its - thankfully - humanlike hands. To Misato he just smiles faintly. "I'll get word to Frederic, ma'am."
[22:55] <Minaplo> [She gave him a horrified look. "Goodness no. I've seen his girlfriend, I know nothing good would come of that."]
[22:56] <Raphael> "… Actually, you're probably right."
[22:59] <Minaplo> [Ban-Ban eyed them both, before he took out a frying pan and a packet of sausages from the refrigerator.-
[22:59] <Minaplo> ["So how long does Suzie tend to sleep into these days, my little heating blanket~?" Asked Misato.]
[23:27] * Raphael glances up at the clock on the wall. "Hmm. Maybe another hour, usually. Although with you and Rei both here, I imagine we might see her a little earlier. I'm not sure if you've noticed, but she's rather excited to see you two."
[23:27] <Raphael> "… and you and the Major Wellesley of course, Ban-Ban." He adds quickly.
[23:28] <Minaplo> ["Please, uncle, no need to spare my feelings." He said loftily. "I still remember the days when young miss Suzanne would try to run me over in her chair."-
[23:29] <Minaplo> [Misato grins. "She's gonna be disappointed, then. The doves are still abed."]
[23:34] <Raphael> "Days I'm sure she regrets now." Raphael ventures, wincing at Ban-Ban before hastily seizing at Misato's change of subject. "But yes, I noticed they were still asleep. Still, they work hard. I can hardly blame them for taking a bit of extra time to rest."
[23:39] <Minaplo> ["Yes, this pattern began at home." Said Ban-Ban. "Christmastime's effects on their work schedule, I believe."-
[23:39] <Minaplo> ["Really…?" Misato blinked. "What about you, Raffy? Did you ever used to sleep in all the time as a kid?"]
[23:45] <Raphael> "As a teenager? Certainly." He asks, gulping down his coffee and going for a refill. "When I had the chance, at least."
[23:46] <Minaplo> ["Did you ever sleep in snuggled up with a girlfriend~?"]
[23:49] <Raphael> "You have a terrible one-track mind, Major."
[23:52] <Minaplo> ["It's not that. What, do you think Rei and Alphonse sleep with a pillow between them?"]
[23:59] <Raphael> "I…" Well, in truth he'd made an artform out of /not/ thinking about it, but he could hardly say it like that. "… It's not really any of my business."
[00:01] <Minaplo> ["Well I think it's cute." Said Misato stoutly.]
[00:05] * Raphael chuckles weakly, rubbing his eyes. "I'm pleased they're both happy together, Misato."
[00:14] <Minaplo> ["They might be abed for another few hours yet," Said Ban-Ban.-
[00:14] <Minaplo> ["Another few hours? But that'd make it close to midday. Suzie'll just barge in by herself…"-
[00:14] <Minaplo> ["That is her risk to take, auntie."]
[00:23] <Raphael> "He's right. Besides, Rei knows quite well what Suzanne's like." Raphael says. "Although I'll do my best to remind her to be patient."
[00:24] <Minaplo> ["I am sure a few pork sausages will sweeten the deal as well." Added Ban-Ban.-
[00:24] <Minaplo> ["How'd Suzie deal with the go-to-ground orders you guys got?" Asked Misato. "No school, right?"]
[20:49] * Raphael frowns. "Right. It's… difficult for her, to miss out on things through no fault of her own. She had to miss out on a school trip she'd been looking forward to, and I spent a day or two getting the cold shoulder. I think I smoothed things over by asking Captain Gosselin to give her a tour of the command centre, though…"
[20:57] <Minaplo> [Misato chuckled. "Yeah, I can imagine all of that. Let's hope she didn't persuade Gosselin to show her how to use that chair properly, hm?"]
[21:00] <Raphael> "I think we're safe so long as she doesn't beguile anyone in engineering."
[21:16] <Minaplo> ["Not much chance of that, I'd think. Although I'd love to see you host a dinner party for Surov…"]
[21:25] * Raphael chuckles softly, the second cup of coffee and conversation beginning to clear his mind for the moment. "I'm not sure Surov would have time for something as mundane as a dinner party."
[21:32] <Minaplo> ["Hah. You're probably right. I hear he eats nothing but pure nutrient paste."]
[21:40] <Raphael> ''… If he can manage that, ma'am, more power to him. We had to use that after Chengdu when our rations were running low. Not pleasant."
[21:44] <Minaplo> ["What, you couldn't hunt a few deer or whatever?"]
[21:45] <Raphael> "Have you ever seen what a bolter does to a deer?"
[21:46] <Minaplo> ["You had Terry with you. Have him chase it down and break its neck."-
[21:46] <Minaplo> ["Raw venison is rather palatable, I find, although of course it has its charms when cooked." Noted Ban-Ban.]
[21:50] * Raphael gives Ban-Ban a sidelong look before giving Misato a smile. "It was a joke, Major. We did hunt where we could, but we weren't catching as much as we needed."
[21:50] <Minaplo> ["Not surprising, uncle. I find that people of your calibre rarely have the… instinct."-
[21:51] <Minaplo> [Misato eyed Ban-Ban, before looking back at Raphael. "… That gives me an idea," She says suddenly, grinning.]
[21:59] * Raphael looks like he's preparing to defend his honour as a hunter before Misato speaks up, the look in her eye making the potential danger here abundantly clear. "… Is that so, Major?" He says warily, rinsing his coffee mug under the tap.
[22:02] <Minaplo> ["No doubt you've heard of Skald Island…"]
[22:05] <Raphael> "… /Misato/." Raphael mutters, covering his face.
[22:05] <Minaplo> ["You could go hunting, be mauled by wolves, and I could lounge around in a fur bikini-"-
[22:06] <Minaplo> ["Aunt, if you find France too cold, then you especially do not wish to go half-naked in the lower Arctic."-
[22:06] <Minaplo> ["Don't spoil it!"]
[22:10] <Raphael> If Raphael was ready to blush, hearing Ban-Ban discuss the idea of Misato being half-naked was enough to stop /that/ in its tracks. "… Misato, the Pilots were nearly killed by bears. Plural. A -pack- of bears."
[22:14] <Minaplo> ["Oh, that sounds like a jolly good time." Says Ban-Ban enthusiastically.-
[22:14] <Minaplo> ["Then we bring the whole SOS team." Said Misato with a grin.]
[22:18] <Raphael> "… That may not be the best way to introduce yourself to Euphrasie, ma'am." He says with a sigh.
[22:21] <Minaplo> ["Pfft." Misato shook her head. "We'll have to settle for some place else, then. Australia~"]
[22:25] * Raphael raises an eyebrow, scratching his chin and feeling the light stubble under his touch. He'd meant to shave earlier, but… well, looking in the mirror hadn't seemed appealing. "What's with your sudden passion for danger, Major?"
[22:25] <Minaplo> ["I've always liked danger."]
[22:28] * Raphael lets out another sigh, a hint more irritation in his expression now. "And I've never understood it. Aren't our jobs dangerous enough?"
[22:32] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, I mean, I guess so. But after all that, camping out on a pristine island seems positively quaint on the danger level."]
[22:42] <Raphael> "That's hardly-…" Raphael begins… but all that comes out is a deep breath and a clink as he sets his cup down on the rack. "… I'm going to get some fresh air, ma'am." He mutters, mumbling a quick apology before he brushes past Ban-Ban and heads for the door to the balcony.

<Minaplo> [Raphael is given a few minutes to himself to think and cool down- before he hears the door slide open behind him.]
*@Raphael is leaning on the balcony's railing, but his eyes are shut to the view. His breathing is slow, deep and steady in a way that seems to imply a good deal of concentration, but at the sound of the door he lets out an imperceptible sigh. "Ma'am."
<Minaplo> ["You know, I'm actually a pretty good listener most of the time. Something's eating you, Raphael- it has been since you got here. You can tell me- what's got into you?"]
<@Raphael> "It’s nothing, Major." He says after a moment, turning to face her with an exhausted expression that does little to make his words more convincing. "I’m fine, really. It’s just… With everything that’s been happening, I’m allowed to worry about you, aren’t I?"
<Minaplo> ["Yes, of course." Said Misato with a smile, stepping out onto the balcony. "But you know me. I'm not really suggesting we pack off to a bear-infested island. Despite my faults I don't actually run into danger all that often of my own volition, you know. Not unless I'm prepared."]
*@Raphael smiles back weakly. "I know. I suppose I'm being a bit more sensitive about it than I should be."
<Minaplo> ["Yes you are." She said stoutly, poking him in the chest. "You should be more worried about yourself, Mister SOS…"]
*@Raphael chuckles gently, grabbing the hand and pulling her a little closer. "Things have always been fragile. I do my best to ignore it, but what happened with Euphrasie… it was close." He says, glancing away.
<Minaplo> ["Yeah, I know." She patted him on the cheek with her free hand, fondly. "You know what you have to do, though."]
<@Raphael> "What's that?"
<Minaplo> ["You need to catch the son of a bitch." She drew closer. "You need to find him, bring him to justice, at gunpoint and, I think, Ban-Banpoint."]
<@Raphael> "… I worry that Ban-Ban would enjoy that a little too much."
<Minaplo> ["Oh yeah, I guess I'll let Rei tell you about his 'hunting trip' into the Canadian Swamplands…"]
*@Raphael gives a frustrated sigh. "That girl…" He mutters.
<Minaplo> ["What?"]
<@Raphael> "I did -try- to make her promise not to let him hunt once upon a time." He says wryly. "I suppose the situation is different now, though. Only Rei could have raised an extraterrestrial predator to wear a sweater-vest."
<Minaplo> ["And only Alphonse could make him speak proper."]
*@Raphael smiles. "They really were made for one another."
<Minaplo> ["Yes they were." Said Misato, grinning. She leans a little closer towards him. "Maybe we should adopt a little monster~"]
<@Raphael> "I think you're forgetting Suzie."
<Minaplo> ["Aw, that's not fair! Suzie's not a monster. Not yet…"]
*@Raphael leans against her, resting his chin on her shoulder. "… Eventually this won't just be talk, you know." He says softly.
<Minaplo> ["… What do you mean?"]
<@Raphael> "Us. The things we want in the future."
<Minaplo> ["… Yeah. I know. It's kind of hard to think about them like that…"]
*@Raphael is quiet for a moment at that, putting his arms around her. "… I know." He says gently. "Is it still what you want?"
<Minaplo> ["Of course I do, even if actually getting it will be hard." She said gently, leaning into him. "But the hard paths are the ones best taken together, right?"]
<@Raphael> "Right." He says, shutting his eyes for a moment just to enjoy the feeling of being close. It wasn’t enough to wipe away the pain of the past few days, but at least it was something. "I want to be with you, whatever that takes. I’ll make sure we get our chance."
<Minaplo> ["…"-
<Minaplo> ["You're a good man, Raphael. The best." She plants a kiss on his lips.-
<Minaplo> ["You're also mine, so don't forget that either~" She adds playfully.]
<@Raphael> "Mmm." He murmurs, leaning into the kiss and responding in kind before breaking away. "I don't think you'd let me."
<Minaplo> ["Of course not~ I control you. You answer only to me~"-
<Minaplo> ["Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaffy!" Comes a voice from inside. The trundle of a heavily armed wheelchair can be heard.-
<Minaplo> ["… Well, I guess there's one other."]
*@Raphael 's face pauses an inch away from hers, a hair's breadth away from their next kiss as he glances towards the door and lets out a little sigh of regret. "… Indeed."
<Minaplo> [She pats him cheekily on the head. "Look on the bright side."]
<@Raphael> "Mmm?"
<Minaplo> ["You set her bedtime~"]
<@Raphael> "A very good point." He says, smiling.
<Minaplo> ["I usually do make 'em~ But you really should go into her."]
<@Raphael> "I know." He says, giving her a quick peck on the cheek as he pulls away. "I really can't tell you how good it is to see you, Major. I apologize for being so… moody."
<Minaplo> ["That's ok. Teenagers are usually pretty grumpy~."]
*@Raphael rolls his eyes and pulls open the door to meet the usual volley of early morning demands from Suzanne, feeling lighter than he has in days. The odds were overwhelming and the dangers of failure horrifying, but perhaps this vacation was perfectly timed to remind him of why he was fighting in the first place.

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