Old Friends Outing

[07:52] * Yanmei grumbled under her breath as she stalked throught the apartment building that NERV had procured in Reims for the conference. -
[07:55] <Yanmei> In her hand was a cell phone, and she wasn't pleased at one of the messages on it. "Stupid Asuka, declining my invitation…" -
[07:58] <Yanmei> But there were other things to focus on, as she rounded a corner, opened a door to a flight of stairs, and descended to the lobby alone… for now.
[08:04] <Minaplo> [There was a figure she'd recognise, however, sitting on a waiting lounge, one leg over the other, reading a book- Major Liu Lin, her famous coat worn even inside.]
[08:07] * Yanmei stopped short and slipped her phone away and smiled. Oh god, she was just as cool as -ever-! "Major!" She waved a little as she approached. "How are you? It's been a long time!"
[08:10] <Minaplo> ["Ah."-
[08:11] <Minaplo> [Lin turned around, giving Yanmei a small smile. "I'm well, thank you for asking. How are you doing? I hear you've been involved in mischief recently."]
[08:12] <Yanmei> "Mischief?" Yanmei chuckled. "Ah, where would you hear a thing like that?"
[08:12] <Minaplo> ["The internet, security reports, your mother…"]
[08:17] <Yanmei> "… my mother knows?" She cringed inwardly. "I mean… that mischief was done completely for this organization's interests? And self defense. Lots of self defense."
[08:18] <Minaplo> ["I know. I never said it was mischief you had conducted, simply mischief you were involved with. Your mother understands perfectly."]
[08:20] * Yanmei exhaled a little. "I'm glad. They're keeping me away from those kinds of jobs temporarily, so I guess she can have some time to not worry so much?"
[08:21] <Minaplo> ["Oh, I don't think she was worried." Said Liu Lin lightly.]
[08:22] <Yanmei> "Oh." She tapped her heel a few times against the floor, eyes roving around the lobby as carelessly as she could manage before settling back on her. "…not even a little worried?"
[08:23] <Minaplo> ["Reasonably worried, but I believe she felt that you were a match for a few thugs."]
[08:25] <Yanmei> "Well," Yanmei preened, happily, "that much turned out to be true. I hear Beijing has been pretty quiet by comparison. Are Chiisana and the others getting by okay?"
[08:35] <Minaplo> ["Well enough. Little to do for them except train."]
[08:37] * Yanmei nodded slowly. "I see. Himesama brought some mutual friends along on this trip. I'd hoped that they'd be getting into some lighthearted adventures at home. Like, having fun?"
[08:38] <Minaplo> ["I couldn't say. Himesama socialises well enough but the other two don't seem to be bothered."]
[08:42] * Yanmei nodded again. By this time, she had long-ago taken a seat for herself, crossing one leg over the other the way Lin had. "We've been testing some new weapons over here. You'll probably hear about them during your meetings with the other Operations Directors. Probably some other things too."
[08:42] <Minaplo> ["Go on."]
[08:47] <Yanmei> "Well, I mean, I don't know what you guys normally discuss during those things? If I had to guess, security would be a big topic this time, as well as speculation on the remaining Angels. As for the weapons I mentioned, they're like… blinding superheated lasers. Short and mid-ranged weaponry. 04 will be equiped with one, but they haven't made me start practicing with it yet."
[08:47] <Minaplo> ["Fusion weapons?"]
[08:48] <Yanmei> "Ah, that's the name! Yes." Yanmei bobbed her head.
[08:48] <Minaplo> [The sound of elevator doors opening- Ju and Lanfen were standing within the cabin, staring at Yanmei and the Major with wide eyes.-
[08:49] <Minaplo> ["These will be your friends? I should be going." Said Liu Lin, getting to her feet.]
[08:51] <Yanmei> "Right!" Yanmei stood as well. "I'll see you later?"
[08:51] <Minaplo> ["Have a good day, Lieutenant."]
[08:52] <Yanmei> "You too, Major." Yanmei gave her a quick parting salute, and turned to the gaping duo in the elevator. "All set?"
[08:54] <Minaplo> ["Y-Yeah." Said Ju.-
[08:54] <Minaplo> ["That was Colonel Liu!" Said Lanfen, gobsmacked. "The Tiger of Jinan!"]
[08:55] <Yanmei> "You noticed, huh?" she grinned. "Isn't she the coolest? She's Himesama's boss."
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[08:59] <Minaplo> ["-You- know her. You were speaking to her!" Said Lanfen.]
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[09:03] <Yanmei> "Yeah, well, she knows my mom. We don't get to chat that often. Next time, I'll introduce you guys~"
[09:04] <Minaplo> ["Oh my god, what would I say?" Breathed Lanfen.]
[09:05] <Yanmei> "'Hello, Major Lin. How are you today? How about that Zhang Yanmei, isn't she amazing~?'"
[09:06] <Minaplo> ["Leave out the last part." Said Lanfen. "And no way would I call her by her given…"]
[09:08] <Yanmei> "Yeah, I know what you mean. About her given, anyway. What was wrong with the last part?"
[09:09] <Minaplo> ["'That Zhang Yanmei, did you hear she set fire to half of Paris?'"]
[09:09] <Yanmei> "I did no such thing!"
[09:10] <Minaplo> ["You're also not -that- amazing either." Said Ju quickly, smirking evilly.]
[09:11] <Yanmei> "If that's the way you feel, maybe I'll leave you two to go shopping without me." She let out a mock-huff.
[09:13] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, that won't be boring at all."]
[09:14] <Yanmei> "Where do you want to head first? Clothing shops or the bakery?" She could predict, with accuracy, who would prefer which option.
[09:15] <Minaplo> ["Shops!" Said Lanfen.-
[09:15] <Minaplo> ["Bakery!" Said Ju.]
[09:16] * Yanmei snickered. "Shops are a little closer. That's two against one. We'll go to the bakery later."
[09:19] <Minaplo> ["But I'm hungry -now-."]
[09:21] <Yanmei> "You're always hungry," Yanmei smirked and smoothed down the dress she was wearing before stepping toward the exit. "Let's go?"
[09:27] <Minaplo> ["Lead on. You've been here before, right?"}
[09:33] <Yanmei> "Nooot really. But it's not like we'll get lost?" Yanmei grinned back at them. "Stay close and leave it to me to bridge the language gap."
[09:38] <Minaplo> ["Oh man, we're doomed." Said Ju, following on.]
[09:44] <Yanmei> Boutiques in the area were plentiful, but many of them seemed geared for a somewhat older crowd. Still, they had some fun, stopping in to gawk at and pick out makeup, and dressing up. -
[09:51] <Yanmei> Before the hour had passed they saw the likes of a Business Executive Ju, Lounge Singer Lanfen, and Garden Party Hostess Yanmei. After the third shop or so, however, Yanmei frowned, folding her arms. "This sucks. We should go someplace where we can actually buy stuff to wear and not look silly!"
[09:53] <Minaplo> ["What?! I didn't look silly at all?" Said Ju hotly.-
[09:53] <Minaplo> ["… That lounge singer getup made me feel kind of exposed…"]
[09:55] <Yanmei> "I mean-" she ruffled Ju's hair mercilessly, "where should we go to buy stuff we can wear everyday. Unless you're gonna ditch your uniform for some business suit~"
[09:59] <Minaplo> ["Oh yeah? Huh." Ju considered. "But what sort of clothes? You know me…"]
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[10:05] <Yanmei> "Jeans, a new skirt, screw it, anything at all that catches your eye! This is Europe! Even if you buy a t-shirt, it will be a -European- t-shirt! It'll give you exotic bragging rights!"
[10:09] <Minaplo> ["That sounds pretty good…" Admitted Ju.-
[10:09] <Minaplo> ["Oh no, she's gone all native on us." Said Lanfen.]
[10:16] <Yanmei> "Be quiet. Now." She stepped boldly toward the curb, drawing a small touristy map from a a kiosk that happened to be sitting there. "All we have to do? Is find our way to a better shopping district. If we run into trouble, we can just call for assistance."
[10:21] <Minaplo> ["Help! Help!" Began Ju. "We're out in public with Zhang 'The Destroyer' Yanmei!"-
[10:21] <Minaplo> [Lanfen giggled- then coughed. "That's a great plan."]
[10:26] * Yanmei glared at them both and then examined the map carefully. "All right. This way!" And she led them off.
[10:32] <Minaplo> [Ju followed on, Lanfen a little ahead.-
[10:32] <Minaplo> ["So… You're paying, right?" Asked Ju.]
[10:33] <Yanmei> "How much do you think they actually pay me?" Yanmei scoffed.
[10:34] <Minaplo> ["Enough for us!"]
[10:37] <Yanmei> "You'd be surprised," she grumbled. "If it wasn't for Colonel Amatore-DeForest, I don't know how I'd get through the month."
[10:38] <Minaplo> ["Maybe 'cuz you keep spending it all." Ventured Lanfen brightly.]
[10:39] <Yanmei> "I don't!" she said loftily. "When you have a little kid, you have to make unexpected purchases all the time!"
[10:40] <Minaplo> ["Same for when you have a boyfriend, right?" Asked Ju.]
[10:41] <Yanmei> "Of course~ Little gifts and dinners out and awesome clothes…" She coughed delicately. "I mean, essential things too."
[10:42] <Minaplo> ["I knew it. Spendthrift!"-
[10:42] <Minaplo> ["Ju actually is really good at budgeting." Said Lanfen. "She has a little bit saved."-
[10:42] <Minaplo> ["It's not a little bit!"]
[10:45] <Yanmei> "Not bad~ Emergency fund?"
[10:45] <Minaplo> ["I wouldn't call a million yuan an emergency fund."]
[10:48] <Yanmei> "Holy cow…" Yanmei looked at her, a little awed. "You really are good at budgeting…"
[10:49] <Minaplo> ["I've been saving my pennies something fierce."-
[10:49] <Minaplo> ["It's our shared fund." Said Lanfen. "And the reserve work paid well."]
[10:55] <Yanmei> "Man, I don't have to worry about either one of you at all, do I?"
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[11:00] <Minaplo> ["Please do, though." Said Lanfen sweetly. "It's no fair if all the worry is one way?"]
[11:03] <Yanmei> "It'll take more than Angels and mafiosi to take me out." Yanmei tossed her hair, but there was no hiding the genuine smile there. "Thanks, though."
[11:09] <Minaplo> ["No worries."-
[11:09] <Minaplo> ["… Speaking of worry." Said Ju. "Is Isaiah ok? He seemed pretty ragged this morning."]
[11:11] <Yanmei> "He'll… be okay. He's rested and he has the day with Lizzie. That'll cheer him right up?"
[11:11] <Minaplo> [Lanfen and Ju glanced at each other.-
[11:11] <Minaplo> ["… Everything's ok, right? You can tell us." Said Lanfen cautiously.]
[11:14] <Yanmei> "Heh, it's fine." Yanmei smiled at them. "We had a fight over one of my co-workers. Isaiah doesn't like him much, and it's been sort of an ongoing issue? But we made up."
[11:16] <Minaplo> ["Well, that's ok." Said Ju. "So long as you guys are alright. You're a cute couple, so…"-
[11:16] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, it's good that you made up." Said Lanfen, sidling up to Yanmei furtively. "And… It's true what they say about lovers' makeups?"]
[11:18] <Yanmei> "Sorry to disappoint you, but we just hugged. Lizzie was right there." Yanmei elbowed her lightly. "You're always thinking of dirty stuff…"
[11:18] <Minaplo> ["I am not!"-
[11:18] <Minaplo> ["Not always."]
[11:19] <Yanmei> "Most of the time, then."
[11:19] <Minaplo> ["You're the dirty one…"]
[11:20] <Yanmei> "Never!"
[11:23] <Minaplo> ["Yeah. I bet you send him all sorts of smutty messages and letters…"-
[11:24] <Minaplo> [Ju made an 'ugh' face behind them.]
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[11:28] <Yanmei> "Why would I do that?" Yanmei tossed her hair haughtily. "We're perfectly classy."
[11:29] <Minaplo> ["I heard you talking about a letter, so don't you lie to me!"]
[11:30] <Yanmei> "Y-you have the entirely wrong idea!" Shit! She'd forgotten that they'd heard that part. "We were talking about work in that letter…"
[11:30] <Minaplo> ["Liar."]
[11:31] <Yanmei> "I'm not! Ju, back me up, here!"
[11:31] <Minaplo> ["Not saying nothing."]
[11:38] * Yanmei gave a soft whine and sped up the pace. "Just… come on. I bet we're almost there!"
[11:43] <Minaplo> ["Lead on, Miss Penthouse~"-
[11:43] <Minaplo> [And so they followed on, being led to…]
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[11:53] <Yanmei> A new neighborhood. One overflowing with shiny shop displays, posed mannequins, and billboards. Yanmei held back a little squeal. "Let's get to buying~"
[11:57] <Minaplo> ["Whoa. This place is great!"-
[11:58] <Minaplo> ["This place looks like it's actually better than Paris-2."-
[11:58] <Minaplo> [And… Yanmei wouldn't be able to disagree. This shopping centre was bigger than any she'd seen in Paris-2.]
[12:02] <Yanmei> "Yeah, it's not half bad, isn't it? Where the heck do we even start?"
[12:11] <Minaplo> ["Well…"-
[12:12] <Minaplo> ["There's a Real Chic store over there, and other there's a StylePuppies, and…"-
[12:12] <Minaplo> ["Well, a NERV store…"]
[12:12] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei's face darkened. "-Another- one?!"
[12:13] <Minaplo> ["What, there's not going to just be one in the whole world!" Said Ju.]
[12:16] <Yanmei> "Maybe there should be! At least they've stopped selling the gross stuff in there. I think?" she eyed the Figleaf logo from a distance, warily.
[12:17] <Minaplo> ["Do you wanna take a look?"]
[12:18] <Yanmei> "…" she considered this carefully. "Don't look at anything in there, okay? In fact, maybe you should cover your eyes if you're coming with…"
[12:20] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, because we totally haven't seen you change before?" Said Lanfen, rolling her eyes.]
[12:21] <Yanmei> "This is different from the locker room! It's more embarassing."
[12:25] <Minaplo> ["But not for us!"]
[12:26] * Joshua is now known as SyntaxTerror
[12:26] * Yanmei frowned, but she was already starting off. "Don't look at the 04 merch either?"
[12:27] <Minaplo> ["Why?"]
[12:30] <Yanmei> "Just…" She didn't finish that thought, though. They were were at the doors, and inside was that dizzying surrealness. Her own face plastered everywhere. The faces of those she knew, distorted, rendered in unfeeling plastic.
[00:04] <Minaplo> [Ju and Lanfen seemed honestly a little used to it. They entered with smirks and grins- but before long Ju was pinching Yanmei's arm. "Look!"]
[00:05] <Yanmei> "Ow! What?" She frowned at her.
[00:10] <Minaplo> ["Look at that!"-
[00:15] <Minaplo> [NERV had started releasing model kits of theDorian Lachapelle, and whilst the wall was covered in such kits, one had been built and painted by the employees at some point. It stood gleaming on a table, over six feet long, above a handful of Eva models. People were crowding around it in awe.]
[00:19] <Yanmei> "Huh." She raised an eyebrow. While she hadn't thought about it before now, the landship was a pretty good concept for a toy. Seeing one of them assembled was actually halfway impressive, and it actually seemed inoffensive as well. "Let me guess. You want one for your birthday?" she smirked.
[00:20] <Minaplo> ["Sure."]
[00:21] <Yanmei> "S-seriously?" The smirk faded. But that would mean rewarding the Marketing Department's efforts…
[00:21] <Minaplo> ["Would you have a look at thing? It is seriously awesome."]
[00:23] <Yanmei> "Ehhh, we'll see. It's probably, like, a billion francs? Maybe there's a competitor model manufacturer that has something similar…"
[00:23] <Minaplo> ["… You're going to cheap out on your friends?" Said Ju darkly.]
[00:24] <Yanmei> "Hey, give me some credit! It's about screwing over their sales, plain and simple."
[00:25] <Minaplo> ["I'm pretty sure NERV have a monopoly on those sorts of models, and," Ju shook her head. "You're doing it wrong."]
[00:25] <Yanmei> "Oh? How so?"
[00:27] <Minaplo> ["Ok, so, you don't actually want to screw their sales away, because they'll always be around." Said Ju. "You want to influence their sales, so it's like this: let's say they can't sell their special catalogue anymore, so they put their efforts into creating awesome stuff like that. But if you don't buy it, what does that tell them? 'Oh, it's no good doing this new stuff, we should just
[00:27] <Minaplo> sell special catalogue stuff'. If you want them to keep selling stuff that isn't special catalogue, you buy their new stuff."]
[00:30] <Yanmei> "I find it awfully pessimistic to assume that they'll be around forever." Yanmei gave her a sulky look. "I don't care about influencing their sales, so much as I want stores like this to go away forever. Boycotting's the only way to even attempt to ensure that happens?"
[00:31] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, but why?" Asked Ju. "Just revenge?"]
[00:31] <Yanmei> "-Yes-. And because they're creepy."
[00:32] <Minaplo> ["That's unfair, don't you think?"]
[00:33] <Yanmei> "What do you mean? It's pretty normal to think that way, right?"
[00:34] <Minaplo> ["I don't think that way." Said Ju, folding her arms. Behind her, Lanfen shook her head and metaphorically ducked for cover, heading over to inspect some MP Eva models.-
[00:36] <Minaplo> ["There's a reason the Special Catalogue was request only, and that's because most people who come to these shops were just buying the normal stuff. Not for creepy reasons, but because they really like the look of some models. Or they have relatives who do. Or they're kids who treat these things like heroes. And I bet you that a majority of the people who work on the counter have or had
[00:36] <Minaplo> nothing to do with creating the Catalogue and probably had to be forced into selling that stuff."]
[00:38] <Yanmei> "So your argument is that shutting down these stores would result in all those people being out of luck, huh?"
[00:39] <Minaplo> ["The employees would be out of luck, the people wanting to buy would be out of luck, same with the manufacturers and the designers. There's a hell of a lot more normal stuff than creepy stuff, so there has to be a lot of innocent designers and sculptors in there, too. At absolute best you're just hurting a lot of blameless people to get at a few jerks who you'd be better off dealing with
[00:39] <Minaplo> some other way."]
[00:42] <Yanmei> "Since when have you been all passionate about this stuff?" Yanmei complained. "You didn't care about it one way or the other the last time I visited?"
[00:47] <Minaplo> ["Well yeah, back then they really were doing creepy things, and back then I was still getting steady work thrown my way from the Rebuilding. But now I have to work for my money, if I want my fund to actually grow over time." Said Ju darkly. "So I actually know what it's like to have to work in places like this, making ends meet, and it's hard enough without people wanting to do stuff that
[00:47] <Minaplo> kicks us out of a job."]
[00:53] <Yanmei> "Ugh, -fine-. I'm not going to get into a -thing- with you over it. I'll shut up about it, but I'm not going to suddenly become comfortable with this whole thing either. It doesn't work that way."
[00:55] <Minaplo> ["Of course you won't." Said Ju irritably. "You've never had to rebuild after your city was wiped out, NERV just took care of it all for you."]
[00:59] * Yanmei stiffened visibly at that. Rather abruptly, she turned for the sliding door entrance, and made for it quickly.
[01:12] <Minaplo> [Yanmei would make it outside and a few metres away before Lanfen caught up with her. "Yanmei! Where are you going? What happened?"]
[01:16] * Yanmei stopped at her voice. She didn't turn around, or even answer for a few more moments. "Hey, Lanfen. Do you think I'm spoiled?"
[01:17] <Minaplo> ["Spoiled? Not really…"]
[01:23] <Yanmei> Another minute or so as she wondered whether or not to believe it. "Say you have a relative," she said, wondering where she was going with it. She stopped again and picked it up again. "Like, a relative who was a real asshole. Who made you do things you didn't want, and lied to you, and kept you on a leash. -
[01:26] <Yanmei> "And at the same time, they gave you a major headstart in life, and it actually turns out that you were pretty coddled by them compared to a lot of your siblings, and that without them you'd have to struggle a lot and might not even survive. -
[01:28] <Yanmei> "Do you think you would still hate that relative, after knowing those other things? Would it be ungrateful to complain about them?"
[01:32] <Minaplo> ["I think it'd give me a new perspective on that relative." Said Lanfen cautiously. "Everyone has more than one side to them? It doesn't justify it if they're being really cruel, but that doesn't make any good they do any less of a good."]
[01:37] * Yanmei raised a hand and fussed with her bangs. "You know I wanted to stay with you guys, right?"
[01:41] <Minaplo> ["Of course." Said Lanfen, walking around to look into Yanmei's face. "We wanted you to stay with us too. We still do, selfishly, want you to come back, but we know that- that you have things here, too."-
[01:42] <Minaplo> ["One day we'll be back together, and able to hang out all the time and talk in person? But…" Lanfen timidly reached out towards Yanmei. "Look, Ju's stormed off to get some food, and she'll probably be back with a piece of cake for you or something. She- she's just really under a lot of flak right now, and it's not something she's told you- she barely told me, and reluctantly. She's-
[01:42] <Minaplo> she's worn out."]
[01:46] <Yanmei> "Worn out, huh?" Yanmei's face was creased a little, fighting back emotion. She was winning, even getting a little calmer as Lanfen continued. "You're both working so hard back home."
[01:52] <Minaplo> ["Well, Ju works harder than I do." Said Lanfen. Her hand reached Yanmei's shoulder, giving it a squeeze. "But we know you work hard as well, even if it's in different areas. Ju gets up every day and goes to work, often in crappy conditions for her pay, but you look after a baby, you're always in the public eye, you get attacked and have to fight…"]
[01:58] * Yanmei reached up and patted Lanfen's hand. "I can take it. You have to make sure that you guys can too, on your end. Don't let her burn out. And if there's anything you need help with at all, I want you to ask me? We're… we're still friends."
[01:58] <Minaplo> ["Alright, Yanyan. I'm sorry everything sort of blew up."]
[02:00] <Yanmei> "You had nothing to do with it?" Yanmei shook her head and smiled, just for her. "I was insensitive. And Ju was… Ju."
[02:05] <Minaplo> ["Hard as an oak tree and as stubborn as a mule?"]
[02:06] * Yanmei snickered. "That's one way of putting it? Ah… she's not so bad. I guess she just hit a sore spot without realizing it?"
[02:06] <Minaplo> ["It's not your fault. Or her's? This stuff just happens. Look, here she comes now."]
[02:08] * Yanmei followed Lanfen's gaze, bracing herself a little.
[02:08] <Minaplo> [Ju was marching back towards them, a decisive look on her face. Her march would have put armies to shame.-
[02:09] <Minaplo> [She marched right up to Yanmei and thrust a little brown bag out at her. "Vanilla slice." She declared.]
[02:12] <Yanmei> "I see." Yanmei took the bag and peeked inside. "Looks good. Want to share?"
[02:13] <Minaplo> ["Sure."]
[02:14] <Yanmei> "I'm pretty sure we passed a place on the way here that had drinks, too. We can wash it down. My treat?"
[02:17] <Minaplo> ["Sounds good." Says Ju firmly.]
[02:20] <Yanmei> So Yanmei led the way, reaching for her purse, one friend comfortably walking along her left side and another on her right. Despite it being France, the moment felt like older and easier times.
[02:20] <Minaplo> […-
[02:20] <Minaplo> ["I still want that battleship, you know."]

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