No They Whisper You Own Nothing You Were A Visitor Time Afte

[13:24] * Yanmei stared down with hidden impatience. There was a book in front of her. The lesson was going slowly. Granted, it at only just started, but she could already feel an eagerness to return to the cozy apartment that she, Marianne, and Lizzie had been sharing during these past few weeks. -
[13:28] <Yanmei> Yet, trapped for now in the belly of the Geofront, in a quiet office with a droning instructor, she could only wait with floundering focus in the meantime.
[13:29] <Misato‘> Lies and slander!-
[13:30] <Misato`> Misato Katsuragi was a teacher that people all over the world would die to have, most of them boys. Elegant and beautiful and ever-so intelligent, her lessons were interesting and exciting and it was Yanmei’s fault that she wasn't enjoying them, clearly.-
[13:33] * Misato‘ was perched on that same desk, legs folded. The wall opposite them had been outfitted with a wide computer display, and it was on this wall that a large, super-high definition map of Europe had been posted. "Now, you know where Rome is, right?"-
[13:34] <Misato`> [Yanmei’s desk had a book, of course, but it also had a little console for her to draw on to affect that same map.]
[13:38] <Yanmei> "Hm? Ah… could you repeat that…?"
[13:38] <Misato‘> "Hmmf." Misato reached back and grabbed Yanmei’s head, ruining her hair at the same time. "What's the matter? Too busy daydreaming about your boyfriend now that he's back~?"
[13:41] <Yanmei> "Ngh! Don't be absurd!" She tried to fend her off with flailing. "I just didn't hear!"
[13:42] <Misato‘> "Thbbt." She let go. "Can… You… Tell… Me… Where… Rome… Is… On… The… Map?"
[13:48] * Yanmei pointed to the map with one hand, the other rubbing her head and trying to smooth down her hair.
[13:58] <Misato`> The wall map lit up where she pressed.-
[13:59] <Misato`> "And can you tell me where Carthage is~?"
[14:01] * Yanmei pointed again. "Easy as pie~"
[14:11] <Misato`> "Nope." Misato beamed. "Try again."
[14:16] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei slowly let her finger fall directly east of Rome.
[14:16] * Misato` giggled, leaned back and tapped a place in northern Africa, south-southwest of Rome. "Here."
[14:18] <Yanmei> "Of course." Yanmei tossed her hair smoothly. "That was my next response."
[14:18] <Misato`> "Why wasn’t it your first?"
[14:22] <Yanmei> "To teach you a lesson on the virtue of patience?"
[14:23] * Misato‘ sighed. She reached down beside the desk and took out a large, paper fan. Without remorse, she smacked it across the top of Yanmei’s head. "This isn't a comedy routine! This is important!"
[14:26] <Yanmei> "Ow! Hey!" When she was finished cringing, she made another failed attempt to smooth down her hair and pouted. "That was uncalled for? I'm trying!"
[14:27] <Misato‘> "If you don’t know, just ask! You only embarrass yourself otherwise."
[14:29] * Yanmei grumbled. "Fine, fine. As long as you promise not to hit me with that thing again."
[14:34] <Misato‘> "I won’t hit you if you don't give me reason~"
[14:39] <Yanmei> Like she had before? But she limited her remarks to just ones made under her breath. "So violent…"
[14:42] <Misato‘> "Now then. In the year of-"-
[14:42] <Misato`> [The door, at that point, opened firmly.]
[14:43] * Yanmei turned toward the noise, brightening slightly. A distraction!
[14:44] <Misato`> [Isabelle stood in the doorway. It was the first time Yanmei had seen her. She was out of the hospital.-
[14:45] <Misato`> [She was thinner than Yanmei remembered, and more pale. Her hair was a lot shorter as well. "I have come to talk to you, Zhang Yanmei, about my Lizzie."]
[14:50] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei stared and started to rise out of her chair, her eyebrows knitting. "…have you? Er…" She glanced at Misato. "Katsuragi, may we have a minute?"
[14:52] <Misato`> "Uh… Er, of course." Misato frowns firmly, but nevertheless she leaves, closing the door gently behind her.-
[14:52] <Misato`> [Isabelle doesn’t spare her a glance. "We want our Lizzie back."]
[14:55] * Yanmei continued staring. "You -had- her back. Where did you go? What were you doing until now?"
[14:57] <Isabelle‘Bellamy> "You want to know the entire record?"
[15:01] <Yanmei> "Of course!" She toned down her voice after that, hearing the sudden spike in volume in her own ears. "Do you think I’d be satisfied with anything less?"
[15:03] <Isabelle‘Bellamy> "Very well." She didn’t sit down. "Eden Base was set to self-destruct, so I used my AT Field liberally to destroy many enemies. Just before the explosion, I flew away, low to the ground, and my profile was hid by the explosion. After that, I remained quiet and used my own training as well as 07's stealth systems to sneak south, deeper into LN territory. Until I met up with you all in Libya, I waged a guerilla war throughout the continent."
[15:05] <Yanmei> "Why?"
[15:05] <Isabelle‘Bellamy> "Because they were my enemy. They had to suffer my wrath."
[15:08] <Yanmei> "You ditched us for months for that? What the hell, Isabelle?!"
[15:09] <Isabelle`Bellamy> "What, exactly, do you think I should have done?!"
[15:11] <Yanmei> "Why didn’t you head north to UN territory? You didn't have to make everyone think you'd died or gotten captured!"
[15:13] * Isabelle‘Bellamy shrugged. "I wasn’t the one who forced you to think that. That was your decision. I could've moved north, and into enemy forces, and been destroyed permanently."
[15:19] <Yanmei> "Don't just shrug it off, like it's none of your responsibility. None of your teammates had any trouble reaching the next battlefield back then. Even if you'd made it in terrible condition, we could have covered you while you made it to safety."
[15:20] <Isabelle‘Bellamy> "Why do you think they made it back, child?"
[15:20] <Yanmei> "Don’t call me that."
[15:21] * Isabelle‘Bellamy stared at her coldly.
[15:22] * Yanmei glared back. "I am not a child, and you have no right to call me one."
[15:24] * Isabelle`Bellamy continued to simply stare her down.
[15:28] * Yanmei glared back, unwilling to yield.
[15:29] <Isabelle`Bellamy> "Is that all? I want to discuss my daughter."
[15:31] <Yanmei> "By all means, then, let’s discuss Elizabeth."
[15:31] <Isabelle‘Bellamy> "I want her back."
[15:32] <Yanmei> "You said that before."
[15:32] * Isabelle`Bellamy didn’t say anything.
[15:40] <Yanmei> Neither did Yanmei for a few minutes. Her head was whirling, and she had to struggle to collect her thoughts as they streamed around her. "You're her mother," she said finally, "and I don't want to be angry at you because I thought we were on friendly terms before this. But you have to have some idea as to why I'm so frustrated right now, don't you?"
[15:41] <Isabelle‘Bellamy> "Yes."
[16:05] * Yanmei blinked and then rubbed her face. "Oh," she said tiredly. "Good."
[16:06] <Isabelle`Bellamy> "If you can give me a time when I can come around and pick up Lizzie, I would appreciate it."
[16:12] <Yanmei> "So it’s like that? As quickly as you please, is it? Aren't you even going to ask how she's doing these days? How big she's gotten? What she's learned while you've been away? How she might even react to a change like this?"
[16:12] <Isabelle‘Bellamy> "You don’t understand, child. She's my daughter. I… I -need- to see her again."
[16:17] * Yanmei bit back her initial reaction to that word, and sighed. "Listen. I have no objection to you seeing her again. I never did."
[16:17] <Isabelle‘Bellamy> "Good."
[16:21] <Yanmei> "But those trips to your hospital room when you were unwell, and the vacation we all took together in Italy… I didn’t do those things before for no good reason. Didn't she get used to you again before you went to live in Eden Base together?"
[16:22] <Isabelle‘Bellamy> "Of course she did…" Said Isabelle, her tone becoming a little uncertain.
[16:23] <Yanmei> "You’ve been away for a long time. Why can't we make a transition like that again?"
[16:24] <Isabelle‘Bellamy> "The sooner she’s living with me, the better."
[16:24] <Yanmei> "…is there something you're not telling me?"
[16:25] <Isabelle‘Bellamy> "What do you mean?"
[16:29] <Yanmei> "You’re rushing through this all of a sudden, and I don't know if it's because you've been away from her for so long and have been pining for her all this time, or if it's because of something else."
[16:31] * Isabelle‘Bellamy stared at her, her gaze intense. "Paranoia and suspicion, born of an uncertain world home to an insecure youth. I want her back because I -miss- her. Because she needs her mother."
[16:43] <Yanmei> Yanmei stared back. "Which mother are we talking about, here? You tried to take your daughter into 07’s entry plug before, correct?"
[16:45] <Isabelle‘Bellamy> "Yes. And the mother I mean is myself." Isabelle’s face coloured with anger. "It's certainly not you."
[16:50] <Yanmei> "Because it's not like I was watching over her as if she was my own for months at a time, right?" Yanmei tossed her hair. "But, no. I was referring to the Lady in your EVA, actually. Why did you do that? What were you planning? What are you planning now?"
[16:56] <Isabelle‘Bellamy> "I wanted her to feel what her mother felt, what her father felt. It was the only way to allow her to feel her father again…"
[17:01] <Yanmei> Her gaze wavered at the mention of Adrian, but it pulled back into place instead of falling away. "But you didn’t go through with it."
[17:01] <Isabelle‘Bellamy> "I was stopped."
[17:04] <Yanmei> "By Roku."
[17:05] <Isabelle`Bellamy> "Yes."
[17:05] <Yanmei> "What did she say?"
[17:09] <Isabelle`Bellamy> "She told me it might be dangerous to Lizzie. That Adrian would want her safe and happy, not exposed to danger…"
[17:10] * Yanmei exhaled. "I see."
[17:11] <Isabelle`Bellamy> "But that doesn’t matter." Said Isabelle curtly. "She belongs with me."
[17:28] <Yanmei> "I'm glad that Lizzie had at least had -one- caring and selfless biological parent. 'Protect and love her, or I'll kill you.' 'Give her back to me.' 'Watch her grow up while I'm fighting in the south.' 'Turn off your emotions and return her immediately.'" Yanmei leaned back in her chair. -
[17:57] <Yanmei> "I can't tell if you trust me, hate me, or if you're deluded enough to think that human emotions are something you can flip on and off like a lightswitch. And the -horryfying- thing is that you act the same way toward her! -
[17:57] <Yanmei> Like, oh, now that you're here she can just magically forget that she's spent half her life bonding with another couple all at once. Is that how you think this works? You're an intelligent person Isabelle, so I'd hate to think that's true."
[17:59] <Isabelle‘Bellamy> "It doesn’t matter!" Snapped Isabelle angrily. "You were only ever temporary caretakers! I'm her mother, and she won't forget me. She belongs with me. -Belongs-"-
[17:59] <Isabelle‘Bellamy> [The door opened, once again. Misato stood within the doorframe, a deeply serious expression on her face.]
[14:41] <Yanmei> An interruption? It took Yanmei by surprise, and she couldn’t help but stare. "Major Katsuragi…?"
[14:47] <Isabelle‘Bellamy> ["You’ll have to forgive me, Yanmei. I was standing at the door, listening in." Misato turned her gaze towards Isabelle. "I understand that you want your daughter back, but this isn't the way to go about it. It's cruel and invasive. Yanmei has been keeping Elizabeth safe and healthy for a year, now. She loves Elizabeth like her own, and she'd die to protect-
[14:49] <Isabelle‘Bellamy> ["Her. You can’t just come back in and rip that away, Isabelle. Whatever pain you feel at being separated from Elizabeth- and I know it must be great and terrible- you'll just inflict that same pain on Yanmei. Is that what you want to do? Shouldn't you try to find a way where no one has to feel what you felt? If what you feel is so painful that you'd do this-
[14:49] <Isabelle‘Bellamy> ["Then you should do whatever you can to prevent it, and that means working together."]
[14:57] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei kept staring, her mouth now unelegantly agape. But after something like that, she had to say something too, right? "That all I… No one wants to take her away from you. I know I said that before, and I meant it."
[15:21] <Isabelle`Bellamy> ["I understand that you’re worried. That the special connection you have with Elizabeth will weaken, or you'll be replaced, which is why you want her back so quickly, but-"-
[15:27] <Isabelle‘Bellamy> "Silence. To pretend you understand is one thing, but to actually attempt to preach to me is an insult." Said Isabelle, turning sharply to stare daggers at Misato. "You do not know what it’s like to be a mother. You sit, huddled against yourself, a scared, mute girl, seeing nothing, even with your eyes wide open, too wrapped up in what you saw to handle or understand what you -see-. No one holds you, but you want to be held, sitting as you are all alone in that shadow. To think you could ever understand such a deep bond is -baffling-."
[15:38] <Yanmei> "Oh god. Is -everyone- a child to you? Are you really that superior?" Yanmei stood from her chair impatiently, a scowl creasing her face. "Enough of this defensive crap! How far off the mark was she, honestly?"
[15:41] <Isabelle‘Bellamy> "Whatever bond you have with Lizzie is borrowed." Said Isabelle, coldly, turning back to Yanmei. "You will never have what she needs. I’m doing this for Li-"-
[15:42] <Isabelle‘Bellamy> [Misato’s reaction to Isabelle's words had been instantaneous- shock, then anger, then her face contorted in pain, averting her eyes. For a minute it seemed as though she might cry, but instead she turned back towards Isabelle- her face now resolute and made of iron. She stepped forward, grabbed Isabelle's shoulder-
[15:43] <Isabelle‘Bellamy> [Crack! Crack! Two firm back hands across both sides of Isabelle’s face. The blows were heavy, hard, and stunning. Isabelle stumbled backwards, the words almost literally smacked out of her mouth.]
[15:47] * Yanmei was left utterly speechless for the second time in five minutes. She hadn't even seen the blows coming, she was so wrapped up in developing a new retort to launch as soon as Isabelle's was finished. On the heels of her shock, relief quickly followed, because damn if she hadn't -deserved- it.
[15:48] <Isabelle‘Bellamy> ["You’re right." Said Misato, quietly. "You're absolutely right in what you saw. I -am- scared, and I -am- alone."-
[15:49] <Isabelle‘Bellamy> ["But you’re not any better, Isabelle. If you're any better than us, why does being separated from Lizzie drive you insane?"-
[15:49] <Isabelle‘Bellamy> "… I… I…"
[15:57] <Yanmei> "… What happened to you, anyway," Yanmei muttered, gaze not wavering even at Isabelle’s humiliation. "You never used to act like this, even when you were at your worst in the hospital."
[16:00] <Isabelle‘Bellamy> "…" Isabelle sagged, against the desk behind her. She was silent for a few minutes, then…-
[16:00] <Isabelle`Bellamy> "Adrian…" There was a sound swelling up in her chest, suppressed through sheer will. "Adrian, I can’t feel him anymore. He's… He's gone…"-
[16:00] <Isabelle‘Bellamy> The sound burst. A cry of misery, of deep agonising pain and loneliness. With it came tears. She started to sob.
[16:05] <Yanmei> A long, silent intake of breath as she realized what that meant. Gone… as in gone, gone. "No…" She started forward just a little, and then stopped herself again before she did something like reaching out to her.
[16:08] <Isabelle`Bellamy> "All there is is a vacuum, a nothing. I can’t live with it." Isabelle shook her head frantically, covering her face. "There isn't anything there! There's nothing there!"-
[16:09] <Isabelle‘Bellamy> [Misato’s face twisted now in sympathy. She turned to look at Yanmei.]
[16:13] <Yanmei> Oh god. Why the look? Yanmei swallowed hard. She resumed her approach, but she didn't touch her yet. "Isabelle. Look at me."
[16:15] * Isabelle‘Bellamy turned, slowly, fighting to pull her own hands away from her tears.
[16:22] <Yanmei> "I can’t fill that void with my words, but," she shook her head, "you still have people who understand and want to help however they can. You have me, and you have your daughter, and you have memories of him even if they're agonizing right now. -
[16:23] <Yanmei> "I'm sorry I started this conversation off badly. I wish I'd known what you were suffering through."
[16:27] <Isabelle‘Bellamy> "What do I do, Yanmei?"
[16:30] <Yanmei> "Cry. Cry until you can’t anymore. It's what you want to do. What you need to do. You don't have to be ashamed of that."
[16:33] * Isabelle‘Bellamy trembled. "… I see." She tried to stand up straight. "I think… I should go. And- cry. And clear my head a little."
[16:36] <Yanmei> "When you’re finished, would you be opposed to visiting my apartment? We could sort things out together. And." Deep breath. "You could also stick around for a while?"
[16:36] <Isabelle‘Bellamy> "I… might do that."
[16:38] * Yanmei nodded quietly. "I am sorry," she said again.
[16:39] * Isabelle`Bellamy nodded mutely, and… Shuffled herself out. A few seconds later, it was just Misato and Yanmei again.
[16:41] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei looked down at her abandoned book, a shadow of sadness over her face. "Was letting her go by herself the right thing to do?"
[16:44] <Misato`> "I think perhaps she needs a bit of time to herself. Let her cry." Said Misato gently, walking over to the desk and sitting on its edge.
[16:48] * Yanmei nodded again, finding an actual chair for herself. "I’m all worn out now," she muttered. "And you… are you okay?"
[16:52] <Misato‘> "Yeah, I’m ok." She turned to give Yanmei an encouraging smile. "Just a teenage girl in pain lashing out, you know? I've dealt with worse than that. Don't worry. I'm pretty tough."
[16:54] <Yanmei> "Hmm? Well, I'm kind of impressed."
[16:54] <Misato‘> "Impressed?" Misato’s eyes twinkled delightfully.
[16:57] <Yanmei> "Borderline," she amended, nearly throwing in another pout. "I wasn't expecting you to run to my defense like that? Could it be that you admire me too?"
[16:58] <Misato‘> "Now now. Don’t spoil it." Misato beamed. "Listen. She was being unfair, and I know how much you love Lizzie. I didn't want you to have to go through that, so I figured you could need some help."
[17:02] <Yanmei> "We were arguing that loudly, huh?" Yanmei sighed and shifted her weight on the chair. "For what it's worth, though…" The part following that was mumbled to the point of being almost inaudible.
[17:03] * Misato‘ beamed even brighter, leaning back a little. "I didn’t quite catch that."
[17:04] <Yanmei> "…ank you." She grimaced a little, turning red.
[17:04] * Misato‘ giggled, leaned back and put an arm around Yanmei’s shoulders. "You're welcome~ <3"
[17:08] <Yanmei> "Hm." She didn't really pull away from that. "Instead of continuing this lesson, maybe we should take a rain check? Grab some coffee from the cafeteria instead?"
[17:09] <Misato‘> "Of course we can do that! We’re not gonna get much study done. Maybe we can grab some lunch and talk a little! About, you know. What people are up to~"
[17:11] <Yanmei> "Oh~?" she raised an eyebrow. "That doesn't sound so bad. Shall we~?" She started to stand.
[17:12] <Misato‘> "Mmmhm~ Speaking of which." She stood up. "I heard a weird rumour about you the other day…"
[17:14] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei flushed again, frowning. "It’s not true, and you know it!"
[17:15] <Misato‘> "Well, of course it’s not true!" Said Misato. "I'd know if there were adorable little baby Zaizais waiting to be born, you know." She winked. "What, do you think those weekly medical exams are just for show?" She folded her arms. "But what was weird is that someone seems to have told you that it was -my- fault."
[17:16] <Yanmei> "Eh? You mean it wasn't?" She was still wearing a mask of suspicion.
[17:28] <Misato‘> "Of course not! I’d never spread a rumour like that unless it was true."
[17:31] <Yanmei> "Well… it's not true," she said again, but ths time she was a little more distracted, Damn. If Misato wasn't trying to pull a fast one, then what did this mean? Who else would have done that?
[17:31] <Yanmei> ^distracted.
[17:33] * Misato‘ merely giggled. "Still, it’s a little cute. And it makes sense~ Yanmei and Isaiah, a night before they're destined to be apart, share a night of unrivalled passion…"
[17:35] <Yanmei> "S-stop that! Nights of unrivelled passion are private! And anyway, we'd have more control than that?"
[17:36] <Misato‘> "Apparently." Misato beamed.
[17:39] <Yanmei> "Anyway, you’re one to talk. I bet you and Guillory make out all the time when you think no one's looking. A broom closet here, an unoccupied office there…"
[17:39] <Misato‘> "H-Hardly." Muttered Misato, letting a little bit of colour onto her face. "It’s too unprofessional for him, and besides he's going through a lot right now, you know."
[17:42] <Yanmei> "Well, yeah, he is, isn't he. And there's no better distraction for that than smoochy romance~"
[17:43] * Misato‘ nudged her in the ribs. "Come on. Less time teasing me, more time talking about Marianne’s newest potential boyfriend~"
[17:44] <Yanmei> "Oh? Who would that be?" She leaned a little closer.
[17:50] <Misato‘> "Secret~"
[17:50] <Yanmei> "What?! That’s not fair!"
[17:50] <Misato‘> "You have to trade first~" Misato beamed. "Something juicy about… Mmmm. Wellesely?"
[17:50] <Misato`> Wellesley*
[17:54] <Yanmei> "That guy? But he hasn’t done anything! Well, aside from calling Rei silly pet names when he thinks no one's looking. And getting all romantic and cuddly~"
[17:54] <Misato‘> "Go on~"
[17:56] <Yanmei> "He calls her his little kitten~ Isaiah told me all about it."
[17:57] <Misato`> "Eeeeeeeeeeee. That’s so adorable~"
[17:58] <Yanmei> "I know, right? You'd never guess it by looking at him!"
[17:58] <Misato‘> "They’re so… So…"
[17:59] <Yanmei> "So…?"
[17:59] <Misato‘> "So -snuggly-."
[18:01] * Yanmei laughed in spite of herself. "I bet if you watch them closely when they’re together, you'll see hints of it even when they're trying to be professional."
[18:02] <Misato‘> "Like you and Isaiah." Replied Misato with catlike reflexes.
[18:03] <Yanmei> "More like you and Guillory?" Yanmei folded her arms and huffed.
[18:04] <Misato`> "Raffy is the very model of professionalism." Misato beamed. "But~ Our dear colonel has been seen liaising with a certain dashing President’s father… Professionally, of course."
[18:05] <Yanmei> "W-what? Seriously?" Yanmei thought this over, rubbing her chin. "Interesting…"
[18:06] <Misato‘> "Yeah… But, come on. Let’s go catch that coffee!"
[18:06] <Yanmei> "Coming~" And she trotted alongside her.

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