Raphael S Reward

[16:12] <Minaplo> [The day immediately after Michael's victory in New Mexico had been a chaotic one for NERV, especially for those on the battleship. Much of it had involved a frenzy of desperate, panicky work on the recovered units and their salvaged parts as the Dorian Lachapelle beat a very hasty treat for the US East Coast.-
[16:17] <Minaplo> [The second day was more measured, more organised as NERV moved away from panic stations and began to organise a proper counter-attack. Battleplans were drawn up, units from far-flung bases were dispatched, combat teams devised, and new weapons readied.-
[16:18] <Minaplo> [Gone mostly unheeded in the chaos was that two special patients had been discharged from the battleship's medical wing- Major Alphonse Wellesley and his team leader, Second Lieutenant Ayanami Rei.-
[16:20] <Minaplo> [And so on the third day, as the flow of hurried preparation work began to ebb, Raphael Guillory- Brigadier General, General de Brigade, Chevalier of the Legion of Honour and Captain of NERV's SOS Division- would finally have some time to himself.]
[16:35] <Raphael> And the owner of those many and varied titles could easily have been in a better mood. Days with only the briefest windows of sleep were old hat, but coupling that with trying to juggle an increasingly needy and nervous Suzanne and the overall panic in the NERV command structure had left his nerves balanced on a knife's edge.-
[16:35] <Raphael> Not that most of those who passed him in the halls as he headed for his latest destination would have guessed, of course. He was as fastidiously neat and straight-faced as ever. But those who knew him would have seen it in the tightness around his eyes and lips, and the bunching of his shoulders. He was, after all, too tired to hide it.-
[16:35] <Raphael> And the two he was headed to meet certainly knew him well enough to see it.
[16:45] <Minaplo> [Wellesley's room was in the Officer Quarters section of the ship- he was in here, as far as Raphael had been told, and where Alphonse was, Rei was- and vice versa, it seemed.-
[16:46] <Minaplo> [The room was separated from the corridor by a silvery sliding door- with a little keypad next to it to unlock it with a code or, as in Raphael's case- to tell the occupant someone wanted in.]
[17:00] * Raphael thumbs the buzzer on the keypad rather than knocking, leaning down towards the microphone to be more easily heard. "Rei? Major Wellesley? It's Raphael…"
[17:02] <Minaplo> [Alphonse's voice answers him. "One moment, Captain."-
[17:02] <Minaplo> [There's an electronic -brpbeep- and a light on the keypad turns green. A second later, the door automatically slides open, revealling Alphonse's quarters.-
[17:04] <Minaplo> [Officer quarters on the Lachapelle were always sumptuous, and this one was no exception. The familiar signs of luxury were there- a huge space for a room by any standard; television mounted into the wall; a heavy, ornately-carved desk made of rich dark polished wood; a door leading to the en suite; and of course an ostentatiously large bed covered in all kinds of velvets and silks.-
[17:07] <Minaplo> [It's here that he finds Alphonse, sitting up in bed, wearing a dark blue nightgown, it seems. His face is obscured by dozens of holographic screens, and Raphael can glimpse their content: unit loadouts, pilot readouts, weapon configurations… On his left hand, Alphonse is wearing a black OD glove, just like Misato had been.-
[17:11] <Minaplo> [Next to him is Rei, still clearly fast asleep, mostly covered in blankets, wearing a white button-up shirt that seems a few sizes too big for her. Rei's snuggled up to Alphonse, her head lying in the crook of his right arm, which in turn is wrapped around her, his hand absent-mindedly stroking her hair. Rei's sleep is deep enough that she doesn't seem to even stir as Raphael enters.-
[17:12] <Minaplo> [With a wave, Alphonse dismisses his holograms, and now Raphael can get a good look at him. The young major may be in bed, but he still looks a little fatigued. He gives Raphael a smile. "I'm glad you could stop by- I don't know about you, but I've been bloody busy ever since they turfed me out of the med wing."]
[17:20] * Raphael eyes the two of them with a soft smile as he steps inside. After so many weeks of trying to bring them back together it's a sight worth cherishing, but given what he's here to discuss…
[17:20] <Raphael> "I'm in the same boat, I'm afraid." He says, keeping his voice low to avoid waking Rei. "How are you feeling, Major?"
[18:01] <Minaplo> ["Comfortable, right now." He says warmly, his eyes twinkling as he gestures towards a plush armchair for Raphael to use.-
[18:03] <Minaplo> ["Being worked hard by NERV is still a plus over being held by criminals. I might be a little more tired than I like, but…"-
[18:03] <Minaplo> ["Oh, you'll be happy to note that I didn't suffer any long-lasting damage from all of that. Some smoke inhalation caused problems, but nothing some foul-tasting goo couldn't solve…"]
[18:13] <Raphael> "Pleased to hear it." Raphael says as he eases himself down into the armchair. The sheer opulence of these rooms never ceases to amaze him. "You were rather lucky that was all it took, Major."
[18:14] <Minaplo> ["Mmm, true, I suppose I did come rather close to being shot, or stabbed, clubbed, or crushed under falling debris…"-
[18:16] <Minaplo> ["I ought to thank you again for helping my escape, Captain." He says with a grin. "I don't suppose there's some way I can thank you?"]
[18:18] * Raphael gestures towards Rei's sleeping face. "That will do for now I think, sir." He says mildly.
[18:22] <Minaplo> [Alphonse gave her an adoringly fond look. "It's a precious thing to see." He said, quietly and warmly.-
[18:25] <Minaplo> ["Oh, it hurt to be away from her, Captain. I don't mind saying it- I felt far more frightened and cold by being separated from her than I did by, say, being in the hands of the Mafia." His eyes turned back to Raphael now, his expression serious. "Rei told me how much you supported her when I was away. I have to thank you for that as well. Apparently she became- agitated…?"]
[18:34] * Raphael glances away, his gaze settling on one of the wall-long murals featuring - of course - a stylised image of Silas Caine. "She was… frightened for you. And rather delirious from her own injuries." He says, choosing his words carefully. "It was difficult to stop her going after you immediately, but I stalled her as best I could."
[18:38] <Minaplo> ["I appreciate that." He said, fervently. "Rei fought hard. She was… Magnificent." He said, looking towards her for a second. "But after a fight like that… No, she would've gotten herself into a lot of danger, I feel."-
[18:40] <Minaplo> ["Mmmmh…" Rei began to stir, a pale hand- nearly hidden by the overly-long sleeve of the shirt- rose up to rub at her eyes tiredly. She buried herself into Alphonse's side, almost defiantly.]
[18:46] * Raphael fell silent, not wanting to disturb her more than he already had. He could let her wake of her own accord, at least; he could let her have a normal moment before the realities of the waking world set in.
[18:49] <Minaplo> [Alphonse tried to make Rei a little more comfortable, pulling the blankets up more snugly around her…-
[18:50] <Minaplo> [But her eyes still eventually opened, blinking languidly several times. It took her a little while to actually process that he was there.-
[18:50] <Minaplo> ["Mmm… M-Morning, Raffy." She mumbled, yawning.]
[18:54] <Raphael> A glance at the clock on the nightstand would reveal it was more afternoon than morning right now, but Raphael didn't bother to correct her. "Good morning, sweetheart. Feeling any better?"
[19:20] <Minaplo> ["Mmmhm." She said, trying to fight down another yawn. "Sorry I'm not up yet, Raffy. T-They had us doing…" Yawn. "Unit t-tests until 3 AM…"]
[19:21] <Raphael> "No need to apologize. I'm happy to see you getting what rest you can, given everything that's happened." He says.
[19:22] <Minaplo> [She gave him a warm- if sleepy- smile, lifting her head a little only to flop back down on Alphonse's shoulder.-
[19:23] <Minaplo> ["Are you doing alright, Raffy? They must have you working really hard right now."]
[19:32] <Raphael> "There's a lot to be done." He shrugs. "It's… exhausting, but after New Mexico I can hardly shirk my duties."
[19:34] <Minaplo> ["Mm… Alright, Raffy." She said, rubbing her eyes again. "But make sure you don't work too hard, ok? If you don't get enough sleep or skip too many meals, you'll start to get sick, and that won't do at all."-
[19:36] <Minaplo> [Alphonse grinned. "Is that your professional opinion, Nurse Ayanami…?"-
[19:36] <Minaplo> ["Mmmhm. And nurses outrank captains."]
[19:41] <Raphael> "I don't think that's true…"
[19:43] <Minaplo> ["I think it depends on the nurse in question." Said Alphonse sagely.-
[19:45] <Minaplo> ["… But 3 AM, hm? I didn't realise it went so late. You didn't end up hurting anywhere, did you?"-
[19:46] <Minaplo> ["A little in the ribs again." She sighed. "Nothing too bad, though. Not enough to throw off my synch or anything, so I'm fine to pilot."]
[19:59] <Raphael> "Still, keep an eye on it. I know you heal faster than we do, but you're still recovering from some serious wounds."
[20:03] <@Minaplo> ["Yeah, I will." She nodded. "Thanks, Raffy."-
[20:03] <@Minaplo> [With a bit of a sigh, she sat up. "Um, is it ok if I go have a shower, Raffy?"]
[20:06] <Raphael> "Of course, sweetheart." He smiles as he glances over at Wellesley. "Would you mind if I borrowed her for lunch later, Major?"
[20:08] <@Minaplo> ["Only if you promise to bring her back."]
[20:10] <Raphael> "I suppose…"
[20:12] <@Minaplo> [Alphonse snickered.-
[20:12] <@Minaplo> ["I need to come back anyway. What would you do if I weren't around to brush your hair, Al?"-
[20:12] <@Minaplo> ["What indeed."-
[20:13] <@Minaplo> ["Alright." Rei slipped off the bed. "See you two in a few minutes~" She skipped off, collecting some clothes on the way, before vanishing into the bathroom. The muffled sound of rushing water is soon heard.]
[20:19] * Raphael stifles a smirk at Rei's comment, fixing Alphonse with an even look. "… You know now that I think about it, Major, that hair can't possibly meet regulations."
[20:21] <@Minaplo> ["It doesn't." Admitted Alphonse grudgingly. "But the NERV handbook allows for 'mild breaches in regulation in the name of pilot morale'."-
[20:21] <@Minaplo> ["That's my argument and I am sticking to it."]
[20:32] <Raphael> "I suppose I /have/ seen the way Pilot Langley-Soryu stares at it…" He murmurs thoughtfully.
[20:32] <@Minaplo> ["I imagine you'd have more experience there, Captain."]
[20:33] <Raphael> "… Now /that's/ just inaccurate, sir." Raphael says primly.
[20:37] <@Minaplo> ["Lying to a superior is a serious offense, Guillory. There is a cabaret on this ship, don't give me ideas…"]
[20:39] <Raphael> "I think we'd know if I was the target of Miss Soryu's affections, sir." He says, scratching at his neck. "… I'd probably have a lot more bruises, for a start."
[20:43] <@Minaplo> ["I… Yes, I have heard something of that nature. Did you know she beats up street gangs, Captain? With Hachi?"]
[20:44] <Raphael> "… It's frankly alarming how little that surprises me."
[20:45] <@Minaplo> ["Mmm."-
[20:45] <@Minaplo> ["Actually, it's jarring. I'm so used to Rei that I expect her sisters to be as gentle as she is, and then…" He shakes his head. "I am wondering if using both Hachi and Juuichi on this same deployment was a bad idea. They fight. Constantly. Nastily. With AT Fields."]
[20:51] <Raphael> "So I've seen. The Paris crew have a bad habit of assuming I can fix their Ayanami problems, whether or not they're from the sisters who I've spent any time with…" He sighs.
[20:52] <@Minaplo> ["That's not at all fair." Said Alphonse sympathetically. "The only person who can really fix that is Rei."-
[20:52] <@Minaplo> [He turns to look over at the bathroom door, where the sound of running water can still be heard. "She's lovely, isn't she…~?" He asked softly, fondly.]
[21:10] <Raphael> "She's an excellent young lady." Raphael says, his own voice carrying just as much fondness without being quite as… dreamy.
[21:18] <@Minaplo> ["She is." He turned to look back at Raphael. "She's been a little worried lately, actually. Not just about the mafia or the Angel, I mean."]
[21:19] <Raphael> "Ah?"
[21:21] <@Minaplo> ["Apparently one of her sisters- Ni- do you know Ni?"]
[21:25] <Raphael> "Only in passing. She's stationed in Leningrad, correct?"
[21:26] <@Minaplo> ["Yeah. NERV's grooming her to be the new OD in Leningrad, did you know?"]
[21:30] * Raphael 's eyebrow shoots up at that. "The situation with Orlov is that bad, then?"
[21:31] <@Minaplo> ["Apparently he's completely insensible. Drinks all the time, won't clean himself up… Just absolute mess."]
[21:33] <Raphael> "And we aren't able to leave him as a figurehead and transer his duties to his 2IC?" Raphael asks. "I thought simply stripping him of his position wasn't an option."
[21:35] <@Minaplo> ["They would, but apparently Ni recommended against trusting the second-inc-command. Like all the Ayanamis, she has the skills to be an excellent spy, and… Well, according to her… regular meetings with Serafina Raskova. So that makes us suspicious."]
[21:39] <@Minaplo> <Scratch>
[21:39] <@Minaplo> ["They would, but apparently Ni's been keeping an eye on the second-in-command." Alphonse leaned a little closer. "The Ayanamis can make for excellent spies when they want to be. In any case, Ni reported that the 2IC's been constantly meeting with Serafina Raskova, apparently of his own free will, so we're rather suspicious."]
[21:43] * Raphael 's expression turns sour. "… I see. If that's the case, will we have any luck getting them to assign an Ayanami as the new OD? They obviously have their own plans." The pronouns, while unattributed, were obvious to the both of them by this point.
[21:45] <@Minaplo> ["They do." Said Alphonse.-
[21:46] <@Minaplo> ["… Actually, this isn't important. Are you aware of the ongoing NERV investigation into Orlov and his supposed relationship with Natasha Volkova, God rest her?"]
[21:47] * Raphael stares at Alphonse silently for a moment, before letting out a gentle sigh. "No. Not in any official context, at least."
[21:48] <@Minaplo> ["Ah. So you've heard rumours."]
[21:51] * Raphael shrugs slightly, looking somewhat uncomfortable. "That sort of thing has a way of spreading, to my great distaste."
[21:52] <@Minaplo> ["I dislike it as well." Said Alphonse quietly. "Especially since things become distorted. I have the accurate data from the report, and already I can see how some things have become… Twisted."]
[21:54] <Raphael> "Mmm."
[21:55] <@Minaplo> ["In any case, Ni's under a lot of stress at the moment, and apparently a few days ago she took Rei to task. Over me."]
[21:57] <Raphael> "Over you? But why would she-" Raphael stops, his frown clearing slowly as a hint of understanding creeps into his expressions, "Oh. Oh, I see."
[21:57] <Raphael> expression*
[21:59] <@Minaplo> ["Yes. Rei's heard it before, of course. I've heard it before. For months, the night shift command centre team would ask me how my 'breach of regulations' was going."-
[22:00] <@Minaplo> ["But this time, Ni went a little too far and started inquiring about sex and pregnancy in front of Zhang Yanmei, and Rei took it poorly."]
[22:10] <Raphael> "She /what/?" Raphael snaps. "That's absurd. I'll be speaking with her, I think…"
[22:14] <@Minaplo> ["Raphael." Said Alphonse, his voice patient and calm. "Don't forget that these girls are sisters…"]
[22:15] <Raphael> "… Mmmph."
[22:16] <@Minaplo> ["And besides, Captain Zhang was there, and she diffused it all. But nevertheless…" Alphonse dithered for a moment. "It's brought to the fore some insecurities Rei has."]
[22:26] <Raphael> "Mmm. Something I need to talk to her about?"
[22:28] <@Minaplo> ["Maybe. It's hard for me to pin down." He mused.-
[22:29] <@Minaplo> ["Is it just insecurity about sexuality? Or is it something else? She hides it well, but Rei has her own unique scars."]
[22:33] * Raphael nods slowly. "I know. If it is to do with sex or relationships, I'm not sure if I would be the most qualified person to talk to. And I imagine Captain Zhang would have already given what advice she could…"-
[22:34] <Raphael> "Maybe Major Katsuragi could-" He stops himself, the sentence dying a quick and painful death on his lips. "… Mmm. Perhaps not."
[22:35] <@Minaplo> ["… Mmm." Concurred Alphonse. "Not after that incident with the Ayanami-fitted- actually, that doesn't matter."-
[22:36] <Raphael> "-wait, what-"
[22:37] <@Minaplo> ["What's important," Continued Alphonse doggedly, "Is that Rei trusts you. If it concerns her enough to seek help beyond me, she'll probably come to you eventually. Consider this heads-up in advance."]
[22:40] <Raphael> "… Y-yes." Raphael said, still looking slightly alarmed by the aborted detour. "It's appreciated, Major. I know Rei has her issues when it comes to… many things, but I worry whether my perspective is the one she needs. If only her mother was /at all/ reliable…" He says darkly.
[22:41] <@Minaplo> ["Captain, that is a doomed road. Her mother didn't even educater her about bras. What hope do we have that she'd teach the girl about anything else?"]
[22:41] <Raphael> "I know, I know…"
[22:42] <@Minaplo> ["I feel sorry for the woman, because every time I see her she is a wreck, and she absolutely dotes on me to the point of discomfort, but she is a terrible mother."]
[22:50] * Raphael just grunts by way of response, not quite trusting himself to voice any further opinion of Yui Ikari. "But as I was saying, I wish there was someone else who could support her in this. Doctor Ikari is out of the question, Misato is…" He trails off sharply, rapidly choosing another path, "And none of the other female pilots would be my first choice."-
[22:51] <Raphael> He considers the idea of sending her to Asuka and visibly shudders. "If she was better acquainted with her, I'd almost recommend asking the Colonel for help."
[22:54] <@Minaplo> ["Not even Blanc, Captain?"]
[22:56] <Raphael> "… mmm. It's not that I don't trust Pilot Blanc, but I worry about her tact."
[22:56] <@Minaplo> ["Her tact, Captain? I'm not sure I follow."]
[23:00] <Raphael> "You know what I mean, Major. She's too blunt for her own good at times, especially in more factual matters. I'm sure she'd do her best to help, of course."
[23:02] <@Minaplo> ["I haven't really spoken much to Blanc, Captain." Said Alphonse, a little helplessly. "But I'll take your word for it. You know her better than I do, I daresay."-
[23:05] <@Minaplo> [He let out a frustrated sigh. "I wish I could help her more than I already have."]
[23:14] <Raphael> "I know, Major." He says with a sympathetic smile. "Don't feel like this is your fault just because she's worried about the two of you. If the problems are to do with her history, they would have come up one way or another."
[23:14] <@Minaplo> ["I suppose."-
[23:15] <@Minaplo> [He sighed a little. "It's not a mistake, is it? This…? Ni's not right, is she?"]
[23:35] <Raphael> "… Ni has her points." He says carefully. "When it comes down to it, and putting ethics aside, the biggest problem with Orlov is that he's willing to put his own feelings ahead of the survival of the human race. So long as you can say that's not you, I can't and won't tell you you're wrong. And I don't think it is, personally. But then, I suspect people would have said the same of Orlov."-
[23:35] <Raphael> "We love who we love, Alphonse. I suspect taking the two of you apart now would be just as harmful as any hypothetical outcome of letting the two of you stay together."-
[23:35] <Raphael> "And personally?" He shrugs. "You make Rei happy, and I trust you. For whatever that matters."
[23:39] <@Minaplo> ["Well… Thank you, Captain." Said Alphonse, after a pause. He blushed a little.-
[23:43] <@Minaplo> ["I'm glad for your trust. I've made sure that it's well-placed."]
[23:45] * Raphael nods once, glancing towards the bathroom door. "Besides, criticising you two for your relatioship would be rather hypocritical of me, don't you think?"
[23:46] <@Minaplo> ["Mmm…" he rubbed his chin.-
[23:47] <@Minaplo> ["In principle. I think really, Rei and my relationship would not be anywhere near as scrutinised if she weren't assigned to Boston. Or, for that matter, the pilot of a weapon of mass destruction."-
[23:47] <@Minaplo> ["And the D-Titans don't count, Captain."]
[23:49] * Raphael snorts. "All true, Major," He nods. "You could think about having her reassigned, if it really bothered you."
[23:51] <@Minaplo> ["Ha."-
[23:53] <@Minaplo> ["And how are things with you and Major Katsuragi, Captain?"]
[00:00] <Raphael> He feels that's a rather firm 'no' when it comes to his suggestion. "Oh, we're fine. She's finally finished healing from the injuries she took during the fighting here, so she's in rather high spirits."
[00:01] <@Minaplo> ["Ah, yes. I'm glad." Said Alphonse, nodding.-
[00:01] <@Minaplo> ["…"-
[00:01] <@Minaplo> [Sidelong glance.-
[00:01] <@Minaplo> ["So Rei told me awhile ago she gave you some advice."]
[00:02] * Raphael blinks once or twice, frowning a little. "Which advice was this?"
[00:02] <@Minaplo> ["About the timely arrival of babies."]
[00:02] <Raphael> "That never happened." Raphael says firmly. /Too/ firmly.
[00:03] <@Minaplo> ["I'm sure, but Captain, there's something I need you to hear."]
[00:04] <Raphael> "I don't think that's true."
[00:04] <@Minaplo> ["I am telling you this in my position as a Major. As your superior. This is official."]
[00:06] * Raphael manages to give Alphonse the darkest of dark looks even as his expression drains of emotion. It's a trick that takes both practice and skill. "… Sir."
[00:08] <@Minaplo> ["As you know, Major Misato Katsuragi is one of our most valuable strategic assets right now. She is intelligent, experienced, capable, understands her crew and has the respect and admiration of NERV Japan and many of its affiliates. We are in accord on this?"]
[00:09] <Raphael> "Sir."
[00:10] <@Minaplo> ["And you know right now that our stragetic position is one of extreme risk. We cannot afford to lose our strategic assets for any reason. Agreed?"]
[00:10] <Raphael> "Yessir."
[00:13] <@Minaplo> ["I am not going to tell you not to fraternise with the good Major, of course, that is your prerogative. But you must agree that we must take precautions to ensure that she is not suddenly unable to command."-
[00:13] <@Minaplo> ["I think we both agree that she needs protection, yes, Captain?"]
[00:15] <Raphael> "… This is what I get for trying to help you." Raphael says with deadly calm.
[00:18] <@Minaplo> ["Hm?"-
[00:18] <@Minaplo> ["Who needs protection?"-
[00:19] <@Minaplo> [Rei was standing in the doorway, now properly dressed in a long-sleeved blue dress that fell to her calves. She looked between them both in polite puzzlement.]
[00:20] <Raphael> "The Major was just forgetting how much valuable advice I've provided to him over the years, that's all."
[00:21] <@Minaplo> ["… Is this about me?"]
[00:23] <Raphael> "No, no, no. Just a joke at my expense." He says, getting up from his chair. "You ready for lunch, sweetheart?"
[00:24] <@Minaplo> ["Mmmhm, almost. Just let me put my shoes on."-
[00:26] <@Minaplo> ["Hm." Alphonse rubbed his face. "If you're going out to lunch, then I might risk a nap…"-
[00:26] <@Minaplo> ["5 AM nights since New Mexico." He added to Raphael.]
[00:29] * Raphael makes a sympathetic noise, irritation quickly forgotten. "Then you should probably get some sleep while you can, sir."
[00:29] <@Minaplo> ["That alright, Rei?"-
[00:30] <@Minaplo> ["Yeah, that's fine." Rei quickly slipped her shoes on, then hopped over to the bed to kiss him goodbye. "See you later, Al~"-
[00:30] <@Minaplo> ["Night, Kitten. See you, Captain."-
[00:30] <@Minaplo> [He was turning over before they were even out the door.]

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