Rei S Assessment

[12:55] <Idrilyn> [It was morning. Yesterday, Rei and Yanmei had been told about Rei's court-martial, and that night, Rei had stayed in their room, sleeping in Lizzie's bed. Yanmei knew Rei hadn't slept well- mainly because Yanmei would've heard Rei's quiet, muffled but unmistakeable sobs several times throughout the night.-
[12:59] <Idrilyn> [Isaiah and Lizzie were out, now, however. Rei had showered and dressed, and was now wearing a sky-blue dress that fell to just above her knees, and a white coat over that. She looked tired, especially around the eyes, but she gave Yanmei a smile nevertheless as she slipped on her shoes. "Ready when you are, Meimei."]
[13:00] <Yanmei> "Right…"-
[13:02] <Yanmei> Yanmei's own dress, a far bit shorter than Rei's, was black and red striped. She went over the room one last time before walking to the door, her boots clacking loudly as they transitioned to the hallway. -
[13:06] <Yanmei> Before long, they were both on their way to sick bay to find a certain doctor. It took some directions from the lower ranking staff there before they were able to find out where his temporary office was and to knock on its door.
[13:10] <Idrilyn> [The door opened.-
[13:10] <Idrilyn> [But it wasn't Castillo who stood in the doorway. It was Alphonse.-
[13:10] <Idrilyn> ["…"]
[13:12] <Yanmei> "…" -
[13:13] <Yanmei> As if a night of tearful Reisobs weren't enough… -
[13:13] <Yanmei> "Major," she said with as much calm as she could muster.
[13:16] <Idrilyn> ["A-Al…" Murmured Rei.-
[13:16] <Idrilyn> ["…" Alphonse looked ashen for a moment. Then he coughed and straightened up. "Captain. Second Lieutenant. Excuse me." He said abruptly, pushing past and down the hall.]
[13:20] * Yanmei was quick to reach for Rei's arm and to try to pull her into the office. No questions. That would only make things even more awkward.
[13:20] <Idrilyn> ["A-Al-" Rei turned back, trying to watch or even follow after, but instead she was pulled into the office, the door closing behind her.-
[13:22] <Idrilyn> [This office wasn't as comfortably mature and decorated as Doctor Castillo's old one. Mind you, it was still a battleship room, so it had some class- there were the omnipresent bookshelves, a shiny mahogany desk, and somewhere he'd managed to scrounge up a velvet-lined couch.-
[13:23] <Idrilyn> [The doctor himself, looking as old as he ever did, but with eyes still as sharp as they were sixty years ago, was sitting behind his desk. He'd watched the altercation with interest. "Good morning, Miss Zhang, Miss Ayanami." Said Castillo warmly.]
[13:24] <Yanmei> "Hello, Doctor~ It's been a long time. How have you been?"
[13:24] <Idrilyn> ["Old and busy, as usual. How about yourself?"]
[13:26] <Yanmei> "Also busy? I suppose you've already heard about our situation…"
[13:27] <Idrilyn> [Rei was still staring at the door. Reluctantly, she turned and gave them both a completely disheartened smile.-
[13:27] <Idrilyn> ["I've heard a few things." Said Castillo slowly. "I've taken it with a grain of salt, of course. Rumours can mutate."]
[13:32] <Yanmei> "Well, we'll be happy to set the record straight? Of course, I suspect that your previous guest may have already done that."
[13:32] <Idrilyn> ["He mentioned a few things." Castillo gave them both a warm smile. "Have a seat. What can I do for you two today? Would you like something to drink?"]
[13:35] <Yanmei> "Nothing for me, thanks~ What about you, Rei?"
[13:40] <Idrilyn> ["Um, y… Yes please."-
[13:41] <Idrilyn> ["Alright, help yourself, miss Ayanami." Castillo placed the only drink he owned- a bottle of old brandy- as well as a pair of glasses on the desk. Rei quietly poured herself a glass and began to sip at it.]
[13:44] <Yanmei> "We were hoping that you would be able to conduct a psychological evaluation with short notice? On Rei."
[13:47] <Idrilyn> ["Hmm, I see. Anything in particular you want me to think about?"]
[13:53] <Yanmei> "Stress levels in general are a definite concern by this point? But even before recent events, Rei has been feeling a little overwhelmed by some very strong emotions. Isn't that right?"
[13:56] <Idrilyn> [Rei nodded, taking another sip, before quietly draining the glass. "Yeah…"]
[14:03] <Yanmei> "Anyway, if you could look into those things, it would be great? Maybe find out what's causing those strong bursts of emotion and suggest some coping techniques."
[14:16] <Idrilyn> ["Alright."-
[14:21] <Idrilyn> [Rei settled down on the couch- not properly lying down, just sitting on the edge, nursing another glass of brandy. She asked to keep Yanmei around, even though it was really supposed to just be a 1-on-1.-
[14:21] <Idrilyn> [And Rei talked about it.-
[14:24] <Idrilyn> ["… I feel like everything keeps happening at once." She murmured, taking a sip. "There was my dad, and… Then after that, the big battle at the Geofront. But whilst that was happening, the Mafia took Al, and I couldn't protect him."-
[14:24] <Idrilyn> ["They hurt him, and I was so worried, and… After that I've felt lots of things. I was so worried that I broke out of the hospital three times."-
[14:24] <Idrilyn> ["Mmmhm, I remember that." Said Castillo.-
[14:25] <Idrilyn> [Rei drained her glass. "I was so beat up, but… I just wanted Al. And then I learned that Meimei and Zaizai were captured in Kenya, and I was even more worried. It was like everyone I cared about was being taken, and I just wanted to protect them and keep them safe, but I couldn't find them, or move…"-
[14:26] <Idrilyn> ["And then once Al was rescued, Meimei was put on trial, and then she reappeared in America with Zaizai, and then we had to prepare for a battle with Michael, and then another battle, and then w-we lost that one, too."-
[14:27] <Idrilyn> ["A-And now this, and Al isn't speaking to me, even though I need him more than ever." She took another sip from a new glass of brandy, her eyes starting to glisten with tears again.]
[14:34] * Yanmei said nothing. She was eying Castillo, waiting for him to work some sort of magic…
[14:35] <Idrilyn> ["If I may ask, do you ever remember feeling like that, miss Zhang?" Asked Castillo kindly.]
[14:38] <Yanmei> "Not on the scale that Rei has, I'm sure? But everyone feels helpless sometimes."
[14:42] <Idrilyn> ["Why don't you tell us a little bit about it? Let Rei know if she can see some parallels."]
[14:50] * Yanmei hesitated. "The events leading up to my own staged trial were somewhat stressful? Isaiah was injured, Lizzie was taken to the Synfront to be used as leverage by the hated Mary Caine, and we lost a lot in the battle that proceded our stay? At the time, the plans I came up with didn't look like they would work. Fortunately, things sorted themselves out."
[15:02] <Shining‘Moon> ["Meimei…" Rei looked over at her with sad eyes, and drained her glass. "Zaizai was really hurt, wasn’t he? You probably needed him a lot, too…"]
[15:09] <Yanmei> "I was able to sit with him while he was asleep. That helped some? And because there was a lot resting on me, so I couldn't let his absence prevent me from functioning completely."
[15:13] <Shining‘Moon> [Rei nodded quietly.-
[15:13] <Shining`Moon> ["… Meimei, I’m not very reliable, am I?"]
[15:16] <Yanmei> "That's not at all true? You're very reliable. You're just having a rough time."
[15:19] <Shining‘Moon> ["No…" Rei took a sip from her new glass. "I-I’m not. Every time Al relies on me, I let him down. He relied on me during the LN War, and then I couldn't win. He relied on me to beat Akhraziel, and I couldn't win. H-He relied on me to beat up the Tactical Eva and I couldn't win! He relied on me to protect him from the Mafia, and I couldn't do that, either!. He relied on me to rescue him and I couldn't do that either…" Tears were starting to form and pour down her cheeks. She drained her glass. "E-Every time he relies on me I let him down…"-
[15:20] <Shining‘Moon> [Castillo didn’t say anything, but he simply looked over at Yanmei, a glint in those perceptive eyes of his. The clever old man knew more than he liked to say…]
[21:36] * Yanmei was trying very hard to not openly glare back at him. -
[21:42] <Yanmei> "It's ok if you're not the greatest protector," she managed, "because it's a difficult job. Almost impossible for some of the circumstances you described… at least for one person. You were still there, trying your hardest, even if the obstacles in front of you were insurmountable? That takes guts."
[21:49] <Minaplo> ["B… But Meimei." Rei shook her head. She poured herself another drink and downed it. "B-But… W-What if there's something worse in the future, a-and this time Al dies because I couldn't protect him?"]
[21:55] <Yanmei> "Listen, Rei," she said firmly, "If you screw up with protecting someone, you can't think about that? Otherwise you'll just end up doubting your own strength. You need to try again, over and over, learning whatever you can from your mistakes and adapting." -
[21:59] <Yanmei> "Make a backup plan. If you can't protect him alone, enlist the help of a crack team to watch over him, or learn to hack into S2's security systems so that you can see human-sized threats coming before it's too late. Consider using tracking devices on him, or try to get him to wear bulletproof vests as often as you can."
[22:01] <Minaplo> [Castillo's eyebrows rose.-
[22:08] <Minaplo> ["What Yanmei is trying to say is that whilst you'll always want to protect him, not even the best of us can protect someone all of the time. To feel worried, inadequate that you're not doing a good enough job is natural. We all feel like that when these things happen." Said Castillo, his voice sympathetic. "You can't expect to protect him against everything. Isn't that right, Yanmei?"]
[22:18] * Yanmei hesitated for a second, and then something clicked in her mind. "That's one way of looking at it," she said kindly. "There must have been times when you felt that way as well, Doctor. Isaiah has told me about some trying things he went through while training under Doctor Clement. The medical profession can be pretty rough?"
[22:28] <Minaplo> ["Oh, yes." Said Castillo, nodding slowly. "Yes, there've been a lot of people I've tried to help. People who've deserved to be protected and helped, and I've been able to do nothing."-
[22:29] <Minaplo> ["It isn't a good feeling. And for you to be feeling it, Rei, saddens me. But you're stronger than you think."-
[22:29] <Minaplo> ["…" Rei had another glass of brandy. "A-Al said… W-When we first met, that I was reliable. S-So I always want to be reliable for him…"]
[22:35] * Yanmei eyed the brandy with a faint touch of worry now. "It's been a while since you two got together, though? So I think there must be other things he loves about you besides your reliability. In relationships we start out knowing only one or two facets of our partners and then we begin getting more complex perspectives on them." -
[22:39] <Yanmei> "Personally? I think that even if you became someone who blew off her responsibility and didn't care about her work or her friends - which is something that's hard to imagine with you, by the way~ - he still wouldn't give up on you."
[22:40] <Minaplo> ["… Then why isn't he speaking to me now?"]
[22:43] <Yanmei> "He probably just needs a little time to collect himself? Plus his position means that he needs to distance himself from you during the trial. That doesn't mean he's going to stop speaking to you forever, right, Doctor?"
[22:44] <Minaplo> ["I'm sure he's missing you too, Rei. But he has duties. You just need to give him some time, that's all. Once this court-martial is done, I bet he'll beg you to come home." Said Castillo.-
[22:44] <Minaplo> ["…" Rei seemed to smile and frown at the same time, and poured herself another brandy. Tellingly, at this point, the bottle was empty.-
[22:46] <Minaplo> ["Meimei…?"]
[22:46] <Yanmei> "Hm?"
[22:47] <Minaplo> ["Can you tell Dr. Castillo about what we talked about? A-After that stuff with Ni? About… Me and my feelings…"]
[22:56] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei cleared her throat and slipped into a more businesslike voice. "Rei feels some pressure about becoming intimate with Alphonse. When she thinks about it, her feelings become very difficult to control, and that makes her even more anxious because she's normally pretty good at controling them? So overall, those feelings of anxiety mixed with that pressure and her strong feelings
[22:56] <Yanmei> for Alphonse becoming pretty overwhelming."
[22:57] <Minaplo> [Rei coloured a little, but busied herself by finishing off her last glass of brandy.-
[22:58] <Minaplo> ["I see." Said Castillo quietly. "Rei, on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is total calm and 7 is a battle with a scary Angel, how would you rate this feeling?"-
[22:58] <Minaplo> ["… 'Bout nine." She mumbled.-
[22:59] <Minaplo> ["Hm." Castillo leaned back in his chair. "I can see why this'd be a problem. I was a little worried about this happening, actually."]
[22:59] <Yanmei> "Oh?" Yanmei blinked curiously at him.
[23:00] <Minaplo> ["Rei, you're used to controlling your emotions, aren't you? Or suppressing them, rather, if they go out of hand."-
[23:00] <Minaplo> [Rei nodded quietly.-
[23:01] <Minaplo> ["I see." Castillo turned to Yanmei. "Thought experiment, Yanmei. Imagine you are a fearless person. Or rather, imagine you are someone who has grown up in a world where there is nothing to fear."]
[23:01] <Yanmei> "Easily done?" Yanmei preened.
[23:02] <Minaplo> ["Yanmei, please."]
[23:03] <Yanmei> "All right, all right. I'm imagining it…" She shut her eyes.
[23:03] <Minaplo> ["Now one day, you are walking along, and something dangerous appears. Something you've never seen, because in this world there's nothing dangerous. Let's say… It's a big, snarling wolf."-
[23:04] <Minaplo> ["Now, tell me who would react better in that situation- a person completely unused to feeling fear, or someone who feels fear all the time and knows how to be brave?"]
[23:07] <Yanmei> "The person who was more familiar with fear, of course."
[23:10] <Minaplo> ["That's right." Said Castillo. "Rei's problem here is that the emotions she's feeling are much stronger than she's used to. Your emotional suppressor 'switch' isn't working, is it, Rei?"-
[23:10] <Minaplo> [Rei shook her head. "Not properly. It doesn't turn on automatically, and I have a lot of trouble flicking it on…"-
[23:11] <Minaplo> ["Mmm. Rei, how do you feel about Angels? Do you hate them?"-
[23:11] <Minaplo> ["N-No…"-
[23:11] <Minaplo> ["Do you think they could be our friends?"-
[23:11] <Minaplo> ["Y-Yeah, if it weren't for this… D-Dumb war…"-
[23:11] <Minaplo> [Castillo nodded, and turned to Yanmei. "Remember that the Ayanamis are conditioned to hate Angels. That Rei responded as she did, amongst other things, is proof that her conditioning is breaking down rapidly."]
[23:16] <Yanmei> "I consider that to be a positive thing? It means Rei is growing. But, well. What do we do?"
[23:16] <Minaplo> [Rei was sitting quietly, looking at them, worried.-
[23:18] <Minaplo> ["There's nothing we really can do, Rei. You'll just have to be brave. Over time, you'll learn to handle them. That's all it takes- time, and a safe environment."]
[23:25] <Yanmei> "Safe environment…" Yanmei shook her head. "Would you say she's in one now? One that would accomodate this sort of emotional experimentation?"
[23:30] <Minaplo> ["I think this is an environment that -could- be made safe with time…"]
[23:35] * Yanmei nodded slowly. "Really, the dangers around here mainly seem to come from outside of the organization? Except for the infiltrators. But my understanding is that there aren't any that we know of on this ship, at least, who are dangerous."
[23:36] <Minaplo> ["Those aren't the only risks." Said Castillo. "Those technicians made you angry, didn't they, Rei? With their words - too angry for you to control."-
[23:36] <Minaplo> ["… Yeah."-
[23:36] <Minaplo> ["Ultimately, this environment becomes safest for you, Rei, when it's a quiet period. Your friends and your lover is here, so you have plenty of emotional support, but when things become rough, like they have recently…"-
[23:37] <Minaplo> ["… Becomes hard." Mumbled Rei, hanging her head.]
[23:40] <Yanmei> "We just have to tough through it until we reach a calmer period, then? There's not much else we can do."
[23:43] <Minaplo> ["Right. I just have to be strong."-
[23:44] <Minaplo> ["…" Rei sighed. "It just seems like so many things I need to worry about. Fighting well, protecting Al, now I need to keep myself in check, a-and… Ni keeps talking about how she thinks me and Al are being inappropriate by being together."]
[23:47] <Yanmei> "We can help? Me and Isaiah and probably some of your sisters too."
[23:50] <Minaplo> ["I hope so. I… I'm just worried. It's -not- inappropriate, is it? I'm trying to be a good girlfriend…"]
[23:56] * Yanmei scoffed quietly. "You two are fine? Ni's just a little worried because of the way things turned out with Orlov. That's a different situation entirely, though, right, Doctor?"
[23:58] <Minaplo> ["Absolutely." Said Castillo fervently.]
[00:07] <Yanmei> "Right. You two are much more stable? So I wouldn't worry about it so much."'
[00:10] <Minaplo> ["So long as you're mature about it, things like this help you, not harm. Ni has… Well, let's just say I can sympathise with her point of view, although she should keep it to herself."-
[00:13] <Minaplo> ["…" Rei placed her empty glass down on the table, and nodded slowly. "Alright…"]
[00:16] <Yanmei> "Let's see… was there anything else you wanted to ask the good doctor about, Rei?"
[00:18] <Minaplo> ["Well… As I understand it, you're saying that I lost control because I'm not used to these strong emotions, right?"]
[00:19] * Yanmei nodded an affirmation, glancing toward Castillo.
[00:20] <Minaplo> [Castillo nodded. "That's right."-
[00:21] <Minaplo> [Rei nodded slowly. "So I'll become used to them in time. But what's stopping me from losing control again?"-
[00:21] <Minaplo> ["There are a few calming techniques I can teach you to help the process along."-
[00:24] <Minaplo> ["Alright." Murmured Rei. "S… So this means that I'm not doing anything wrong with Al." She asked, turning to Yanmei. "If I just give it time, I'll become more at ease with being intimate?"]
[00:27] <Yanmei> "That's right." She nodded firmly. "Just give it more time. Maybe when this is all over, you can talk to him about it, and it will put you even more at ease."
[00:29] <Minaplo> ["Alright."-
[00:31] <Minaplo> ["Rei, don't put too much pressure on yourself. The time will be right when it's right." Said Castillo mildly. "Trust me. I've been around long enough to realise that little truth. I'm not advising a vow of chastity, mind. Just so long as you're doing it for the right reasons, and not because you feel like you owe it to the good Major."-
[00:32] <Minaplo> ["N-No." Rei shook her head, blushing. "It's something I want."-
[00:33] <Minaplo> ["Mm… Alright." Castillo turned to Yanmei. "Is there anything you'd like to add, Yanmei? Before I start teaching Rei some of these calming techniques."]
[00:37] * Yanmei shook her head. "There is one thing, but I'll save it for afterward. Please, go ahead."
[00:39] <Minaplo> [About an hour and a half passed as Castillo led Rei through a series of techniques, starting with simple breathing and ending with more complex ones, such as memorising the periodic table set to whale song.-
[00:40] <Minaplo> [Eventually, Castillo ended the lecture, putting away his glass and empty brandy bottle.-
[00:40] <Minaplo> ["Thank you, Dr. Castillo." Said Rei, a little more warmly than was usual for her in her current state.]
[00:42] * Yanmei struggled to hide her relief at that. The visit -had- probably helped her, then. "Yes, thank you. Would you recommend scheduling a followup visit?"
[00:43] <Minaplo> ["It wouldn't be a bad idea."]
[00:47] * Yanmei nodded firmly, rising a little out of her seat. "I was also wondering if you would be interested in speaking at Rei's trial in a few days. I'm looking for witnesses who not only know her well personally, but have a clinical understanding of her history of mental health."
[00:49] <Minaplo> ["Ah, that's an excellent idea." Said Castillo. "It's not the first time I've been summoned to testify in court. I'd be happy to help." He gave Rei a friendly smile. "Do you need me to gather some documents?"]
[00:57] <Yanmei> "If you wouldn't mind~? Something summarizing Rei's personality in general, stresses she might have been under during the past two months, and, ah… any disorders that are relevant to the case."
[00:58] <Minaplo> ["With your permission, Rei, I can use your stored profile…"-
[00:58] <Minaplo> ["That's alright."-
[00:58] <Minaplo> [Castillo nodded. "Consider it done. If I can offer some other advice?"]
[01:01] * Yanmei cocked her head curiously.
[01:04] <Minaplo> ["If you want expert witnesses, seek out people who have solid experience with Project Ayanami or neuroconditioning, along with any hard documentation they can provide."]
[01:17] <Yanmei> "Not a problem~ There are a few people we can call on for that. None of them are all that pleasant to deal with, but…"
[01:17] <Minaplo> ["Mm, well, if it helps Rei…"]
[01:18] <Yanmei> "Yes, exactly." she stood fully now, stretching. "Thank you again for your time, Doctor~"
[01:18] <Minaplo> ["Not a problem."-
[01:19] <Minaplo> [Rei stood up, moving over to Yanmei's side. She seemed to be moving a little sluggishly…]
[01:23] * Yanmei eyed her suspiciously. How many glasses of brandy had that been? In any case, she guided her out the door. "How're you feeling? Any better?"
[01:24] <Minaplo> [Rei closed the door behind her. "A little." Said Rei, smiling. "I feel a bit calmer now. I think that helped. Doctor Castillo knows a lot, huh?"]
[01:33] <Yanmei> "He certainly does." She went for the elevator to take them back to the residential area. "I think he does couples counseling too. So I've heard, anyway."
[01:35] <Minaplo> ["A-Are you saying Al and I need counseling?"]
[01:42] <Yanmei> "Huh? Of course not~ I'm just saying it's there in case you two ever -do- need it."
[01:43] <Minaplo> ["Hmm…"-
[01:44] <Minaplo> [The elevator arrived, and they stepped on, taking it up to the residential area.-
[01:44] <Minaplo> [They stepped off, turned left, and-
[01:45] <Minaplo> [Ran straight into Alphonse.-
[01:45] <Minaplo> ["…"]
[01:45] <Yanmei> "…" -
[01:45] <Yanmei> "Major," said Yanmei politely, trying to shake off the clinging sense of deja vu.
[01:48] <Minaplo> ["Captain, Lieutenant." He said quickly, stepping past-
[01:49] <Minaplo> [But Rei turned, a look of hurt on her face. "Al. Al, wait!"]
[01:53] <Yanmei> This time, Yanmei didn't stop her; she just waited to see how Alphonse would respond.
[01:53] <Minaplo> [He didn't stop or turn around. "I'm sorry, I can't wait around-"-
[01:58] <Minaplo> ["Alphonse…" Rei broke ranks with Yanmei, and began to walk after him. "Why won't you speak to me?"-
[01:58] <Minaplo> ["I said I'm busy, I can't-"-
[01:59] <Minaplo> ["Al… Please…" Rei kept following. "I-I cried all night…"-
[01:59] <Minaplo> ["…" And that stopped him cold. He didn't turn to look at either of them, but he'd stopped walking away.]
[02:07] * Yanmei came a little closer herself, if only to chime in. "Just three minutes, Alphonse. That's not asking for much, is it?"
[02:10] <Minaplo> ["…" His shoulders slumped a little. He turned around slowly. "Alright, I-"-
[02:11] <Minaplo> [Rei paused, seemingly off-balance by this. "…"-
[02:11] <Minaplo> ["… I can spare five minutes." He finished, sighing, looking at her face.-
[02:11] <Minaplo> [Rei nodded, several times, quickly.-
[02:13] <Minaplo> ["… Al. I know I messed up. I know I disappointed you. I know you rely on me, and depend on me, and I know you can't do that if I'm messing things up. B-But… It hurts. It hurts inside, when you walk past me without even saying my name, saying 'Lieutenant' this and 'Lieutenant' that"-
[02:13] <Minaplo> ["T-that is your rank, Lieutenant-"-
[02:13] <Minaplo> ["But you've never called me that, except in front of other officers!" Said Rei hotly, stamping one foot on the ground.]
[02:17] * Yanmei wondered if she should leave to give them some privacy. At the same time, however, she had been ordered to stay with Rei… -
[02:18] <Yanmei> In the end, she compromised, backing away a little further down the hallway.
[02:21] <Minaplo> ["It's different." Said Alphonse, growing angry. "This -is- an official situation. This is all an official situation! The moment I spoke to you in that cell, this official situation began, and it will continue until this is over. Until then, I am your commanding officer and you are my disobedient pilot!"-
[02:23] <Minaplo> ["D-Disobedient!" She seemed to grow several inches taller with indignation. "How is it so easy for you, Al? To suddenly become nothing but my commanding officer. I'm your girlfriend, aren't I?"-
[02:24] <Minaplo> ["Y-Yes…" He said, awkwardly, as though he felt he'd been herded into a trap. "But this takes priority, R- Lieutenant. As I said, it's an official situation."-
[02:24] <Minaplo> ["…" Rei stopped. And now she seemed to shrink a little.-
[02:24] <Minaplo> ["… Is that more important to you than I am, Alphonse?"-
[02:24] <Minaplo> ["…"]
[02:28] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei shook her head, but stayed quiet.
[02:31] <Minaplo> [Alphonse was stunned, utterly stunned- the words had hit him in the heart.-
[02:32] <Minaplo> [But slowly he pulled himself together. "… Listen. I know it must be hard for you, and you might not understand, but this is important. This is what being part of a military organisation means. I'm your Operations Director. If you were in my place, Rei, you would be saying the same things I am now."-
[02:34] <Minaplo> ["…" Rei shook her head. "If I were in your place now, I'd do anything I could to be by your side."-
[02:34] <Minaplo> ["Rei…" he frowned, shaking his head with frustration. "See, with an attitude like that- that's why you're the pilot and I'm the Director!"-
[02:34] <Minaplo> ["…!"-
[02:36] <Minaplo> [Rei, her inhibitions relaxed by too much brandy, her already tense emotions going into overdrive, snapped. She brought her hand back and slapped Alphonse across the right cheek, hard.-
[02:37] <Minaplo> [It was a damned solid slap. His eyes went wide, and he stumbled backwards, lifting a hand to his cheek- a red mark against his skin. "Y-You hit me!"]
[02:38] <Yanmei> It had taken Yanmei by surprise too… but once the stunned look faded from her face, an expression of silent approval took its place.
[02:44] <Minaplo> ["H-How dare you hit me!" He eventually spluttered out. "Laying a hand against a superior officer-"-
[02:44] <Minaplo> ["You deserved it." Said Rei angrily. "You're being an ass, Alphonse Arthur Wellesley."-
[02:44] <Minaplo> ["I am not being-"-
[02:45] <Minaplo> ["You are!" She growled, stamping her other foot this time. "You make me so angry right now! You have no -idea- how I feel, how much it hurts when you act like you're acting now! I'm so angry, I want to hit you again, because you're being insensitive and pompous and you're trying to just bludgeon me away with your position and regulation!"-
[02:47] <Minaplo> ["A-And it's sad, because even now, whilst I'm angry, so -angry- with you, there's a part of me that's incredibly happy just because you're looking at me and talking to me, which is better than me lying alone in a bed without you c-crying myself to sleep! There's a part of me that wants nothing more to take you and hold you and kiss you all over and do other things, because I want you so, so much- I need you to be with me, to be at my side, especially right now, when I'm falling apart, Al! I need your help, and all you're doing is abandoning me to play Major!"]
[02:57] * Yanmei nodded her head firmly on the sideline. Well put. Well put, indeed!
[03:02] <Minaplo> ["…" Alphonse caught Yanmei's nod. He sighed, his shoulders slumping. He rubbed his face tiredly.-
[03:03] <Minaplo> ["I don't enjoy this, Rei." He said quietly. "I'm not abandoning you to play 'Major'. But you have to understand that if people see us together, it could be construed as you or Yanmei trying to unduly influence the procedures of the court-martial. I know you need me. I know you want me to be by your side, and-" he broke off, turning away- before looking back at her.-
[03:05] <Minaplo> ["I'm trying to do what I see is best. You're strong. You can handle it. Please, please don't push this point. It's unfair. I'm being pulled in two different directions here, and I'm doing my best to try to balance them. I want you to understand that."]
[03:13] <Yanmei> "…" -
[03:14] <Yanmei> "Rei," she called. "Maybe we should go."
[03:18] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[03:19] <Minaplo> [Rei turned, started to walk towards Yanmei- then stopped. She stared at Yanmei- and there was a strange, even scary look in her eye. Scary not because it was fierce, but because… She had reached some kind of decision, and it wasn't a good one.-
[03:19] <Minaplo> [She turned back towards Alphonse, not saying anything.]
[03:22] <Yanmei> "…Rei?" Her brow furrowed.
[03:24] <Minaplo> ["… Fine." Murmured Rei.-
[03:24] <Minaplo> [She swayed a little, on the spot, a mixture of wild emotion and the brandy from the office.-
[03:25] <Minaplo> ["Fine. You're my commanding officer. And that's what you are right now. Just my commanding officer. If that's what you want to play, then I can play that too." She stood up tall, and saluted, sharply.-
[03:25] <Minaplo> ["Rei-?"-
[03:26] <Minaplo> ["Director." She said, in a monotone. "That's what you are. My Director. My superior. That's all you are right now. I'm nothing but your pilot, your Ayanami pilot. I'm just another Ayanami pilot to you, and you're just my Director."-
[03:27] <Minaplo> ["It's just like the technicians say." She said, her voice starting to gain an edge, a quiet yet frantic one. "I'm just your Ayanami, that's all. Just your Ayanami. Just a doll for you to order around like a chess piece."-
[03:29] <Minaplo> ["Do you want to inspect your doll, Director? That's what the technicians say, right? That I'm just your Ayanami doll?" She took off her white coat, shrugging it off her shoulders. "I don't feel emotions, I just take orders in battle-"-
[03:29] <Minaplo> ["R-Rei, stop it-"-
[03:30] <Minaplo> ["Am I a good doll, Director?" She asked, her tone managing to be both dull and yet intense. She languidly grabbed the zip to the back of her dress, pulled it to the bottom, and let the dress fall to her feet. "Please have a look." She reached for her bra straps, began to pull them down over her shoulders. "Am I broken-"-
[03:31] <Minaplo> [And now Alphonse moved, horrified into action. He grabbed her shoulders tightly. "Rei! Rei, snap out of it! Yanmei, help me!"]
[03:37] * Yanmei was over in a flash, scooping up the coat and trying to drape it over Rei's shoulders. "Rei, calm down!" She shot a frantic glance around, making sure that there was no one around. "Back to our room. Come on, you don't want to do this!"
[03:40] <Minaplo> ["I…"-
[03:41] <Minaplo> [The presence of both Yanmei and Alphonse seemed to snap Rei out of it. Suddenly, she crumpled, nearly falling to the ground- she would've fallen if Alphonse hadn't caught her. She was sobbing, crying so hard she was nearly choking on it, her hands over her face, trying to keep the tears back.-
[03:41] <Minaplo> [Alphonse lifted her up fully, now, with both arms. "Yanmei, quickly. Where's your room?"]
[03:51] <Yanmei> "This way!" She spun, snatching up the dress and leading the way, already digging through her pocket for the key card that would allow them access.
[03:52] <Minaplo> [Alphonse followed quickly. "C'mon, hurry it…"]
[03:56] <Yanmei> They reached the door before long, and Yanmei unlocked it with a sharp swipe and threw it open, letting the couple go in ahead of her.
[03:58] * ZackSleep is now known as Zack
[03:59] <Minaplo> [Alphonse swept past, placing Rei on Yanmei's bed. "Her skin's hot to the touch. Get me a cold cloth from the bathroom." He said, his voice harsh with fear and worry. He was caressing Rei's brow with a shaking hand, now, her sobs driving him to the edge of composure.]
[04:02] * Yanmei shut and locked the door behind them, a deep frown forming at the command, but she did as she was told. Before long, there was a cool, dampened cloth and a glass of ice water by the bedside table.
[04:03] <Minaplo> [Alphonse moved quickly, trying to get Rei to take some of the water in between sobs. A fair bit of it was spilled on the sheets and blankets- which rapidly dried- before Rei took a mouthful.-
[04:04] <Minaplo> [Nevertheless, she quickly started to come down, crashing- one minute she was sobbing, barely able to take water, and then within ninety seconds she had fallen into a deep sleep.-
[04:05] <Minaplo> [Alphonse washed the sweat off her body, removed her undergarments and dressed her in a nightgown. He then placed her under the sheets, a newly-cooled cloth placed on her forehead, then sank into a chair and tried to stop himself from shaking.-
[04:06] <Minaplo> ["I… I've never seen her act like that." He managed, his voice almost hoarse.]
[04:09] * Yanmei was lingering by the bed, gingerly touching Rei's forehead herself to see how warm she was. "Neither have I? But maybe we should start expecting things like this from now on. Emotional outbursts, you know?" -
[04:10] <Yanmei> She paused, turning back around to face him. "She had a lot of brandy while we were talking to Castillo? But there's something more going on. Do you know much about her conditioning?"
[14:12] <Minaplo> ["I smelled it on her breath." Murmured Alphonse. "I know a few things. ODs are briefed on Ayanami conditioning. She'd told me she'd been having trouble with her emotional regulation conditioning, but I didn't realise…"-
[14:12] <Minaplo> [He sank his head into his hands. "This… T-this is all my fault. She's right. Everything she said was right… She needs me and I turned my back on her, didn't I?"]
01[14:15] <Yanmei> "You…" she hesitated and shook her head with a frustrated grunt. "You were running away, weren't you?"
[14:15] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[14:16] <Minaplo> ["I didn't know how to handle it." Said Alphonse slowly. "The battle was a disaster. NERV's financial reserves are running out because of all the units we're having to repair, and with us having lost all of the US's industrial centres…"-
[14:18] <Minaplo> ["I was chastised." He said dully. "Ambassadors, representatives, heads of state all lined up and vented their spleens at my 'incompetence'. I was trying to defend Boston. I did my best, and my best wasn't good enough, and I'm -scared- at the idea that my failure might've doomed us all. And then I have to deal with politicians."-
[14:19] <Minaplo> ["I relied on Rei, knowing that at the end of the day she'd make it all better, and… And then I heard she'd assaulted a technician. And I was angry. Angry at her, and myself, and those goddamned technicians who cannot keep their mouths shut."-
[14:21] <Minaplo> ["I knew why she did it. I knew she didn't deserve to be treated like that, but it was just stress on top of stress and I did not know how to handle it. And then the court-martial order came, and…" He sighed.-
[14:23] <Minaplo> ["The official order gave me an excuse, I suppose. I could pretend to take it in stride as duty instead of me falling apart. And it hurt." He mumbled. "She wasn't the only one who cried last night. I wanted her. I nearly marched down to your room several times to bring her back, but the more I wanted her, the harder I tried to become the Major. I told myself I was being mature, dignified,
[14:23] <Minaplo> that I was showing my calibre by making this big sacrifice."-
[14:23] <Minaplo> ["… I'm an imbecile." He sighed. "Isaiah wouldn't have abandoned her like I did. I should've been at her side."]
06[14:28] * Yanmei found her own seat on the edge of the unoccupied bed. She had been listening with an intense, thoughtful expression on her face. "Listen. Why don't you stick around until she wakes up? It's only been a day since that mess in the cafeteria happened. It's hardly too late to make amends?"
[14:30] <Minaplo> ["Don't worry." Said Alphonse quietly. "I'll stay at her side until then. Bringing her back to live in my room… Really -is- going to cause frowns with the court, but if they throw a fit over me staying at her side, then I'll resign and see how they like that." He said. The tone in his voice suggested he was being perfectly serious. "I won't be with NERV forever, but I will be with Rei if
[14:30] <Minaplo> I can help it."]
[13:52] <Yanmei> "She'll be happy to hear that? More than happy…" She grinned at him. "You know, I'm glad you heard us out in the hallway back there~ If you had ignored us, I would have considered drastic measures. Like, for example, locking you two in a room together until you sorted things out."
[13:56] <Minaplo> [Alphonse gave her a dark look. "Amateur. What you do is trap us in an elevator, then cut the power. It looks like an accident, that way, and the darkness and the promise of escape forces us to work together, whilst the heat forces us to slowly shed some of out clothing."]
[13:59] <Yanmei> "Interesting…" Yanmei rubbed her chin. "I'll have to try that out sometime? I'm pretty sure the Colonel would have my head if I cut power to any part of the Battleship without permission, but…"
[13:59] <Minaplo> ["Mmm."-
[13:59] <Minaplo> [He smiled a little, though. "Thank you for helping. Both of us."]
[14:05] * Yanmei shook her head. "All I've done so far is let Rei spend the night. You two are doing all this reconnecting stuff on your own."
[14:06] <Minaplo> ["No, you're underselling yourself. You didn't just let her 'spend the night'. You supported her. You were there for her. It's more than I was."]
[14:14] <Yanmei> "Yeah, but didn't you practically beg me to do that yourself? 'You're appointed to be her counsel.' 'You should be her new escort.' You were pretty keen on seeing her taken care of in your absence."
[14:14] <Minaplo> ["You would've done that even without my asking."]
[14:15] <Yanmei> "Probably," she smirked.
[14:17] <Minaplo> [He smiled, getting to his feet. He walked over and hugged her. "… Thank you."]
[14:22] * Yanmei started slightly. Slowly, she patted his arm in as warm a manner as she could muster. "Heh. You don't have to thank me? But you're welcome, anyway."
[14:24] <Minaplo> ["Hm."-
[14:27] <Minaplo> [He stepped back, walking back over to the big bed, where Rei still lay, sound asleep. He sat on the edge of it, quietly slipping off his shoes. "Has she eaten today?"]
[14:28] <Yanmei> "No. Not if you don't count the brandy. Want me to step out and grab something for you guys?"
[14:29] <Minaplo> ["I think that's a good idea. Drinking brandy on an empty stomach… Tch." He pulled himself properly onto the bed, putting an arm around Rei gently, fondly.]
[14:31] <Yanmei> "Leave it to me~" Yanmei strolled for the door again, pausing to give one last wink over her shoulder. "Enjoy your cuddletime~"
[14:32] <Minaplo> [He gave her a dark look.-
[14:35] <Minaplo> [It was evening- around five or six o'clock- when Rei finally started to stir. Yanmei would find that by that time, Alphonse had dozed off as well…]
[14:40] * Yanmei was working away on her laptop by then, half-wondering when Isaiah and Lizzie would return when she heard the stirring behind her. She turned, expecting it to be Alphonse who was starting to move… and then blinked. "Morning. Or, 'evening,' I should say?"
[14:43] <Minaplo> ["H… Hey, Meimei." Murmured Rei, shaking her head slowly. "What happened? I… I don't remember-"-
[14:43] <Minaplo> [She turned to her right, and saw Alphonse there, who was starting to stir as well. She went still.-
[14:43] <Minaplo> ["A… Al…"]
[14:45] <Yanmei> "You, ah. Weren't feeling well earlier, so he helped to bring you back here," she explained, briefly turning back to the laptop monitor. "He's been watching you this whole time."
[14:50] <Minaplo> ["…" Rei gasped, her eyes growing wide.-
[14:50] <Minaplo> [Alphonse woke, his eyes slowly opening. "I dozed off? Tch…" He looked up at Rei- and stopped grousing, smiling instead. "Oh, you're awake!"-
[14:50] <Minaplo> ["Al-!"-
[14:58] <Minaplo> [Alphonse, poor Alphonse, didn't have time to move. Rei leapt upon him, giving him an intense, passionate kiss that went on for… Some time. Yanmei would hear mostly the sounds of Alphonse trying to splutter and return the kiss at the same time…]
[15:02] * Yanmei coughed delicately and politely looked away. She felt that same creeping feeling that she had gotten in the hallway… the urge to slip away and leave them to their privacy.
[15:12] <Minaplo> [But Rei pulled away before that (although she was still holding him close). "Alphonse… I-I knew you'd come around." She said warmly, fondly. "I knew you'd come back to me eventually…"-
[15:13] <Minaplo> ["I uh…" Alphonse was rather shell-shocked as he slowly pulled himself up, glancing over at Yanmei, his red face deeply embarrassed. "I… I guess I would've eventually, yes." He admitted slowly.-
[15:14] <Minaplo> ["How're you feeling, kitten?"-
[15:14] <Minaplo> [Rei trilled with delight to be called that (instead of 'Lieutenant'). "Happier now that you're here." She said fondly, almost gushingly. "… But my head feels a bit funny, and I'm kind of hungry. What happened, exactly? I remember you and me arguing, and…"]
[15:18] <Yanmei> "There are sandwiches on the table by your bed," Yanmei cut in. "And water. Help yourself? You drank too much in Castillo's office, so you're probably pretty dehydrated."
[15:19] <Minaplo> ["O-Oh no, of course. The brandy…"-
[15:19] <Minaplo> [Rei grabbed the sandwiches and water sheepishly, and quickly tucked in.-
[15:19] <Minaplo> [… And quietly shared a sandwich with Alphonse as well.-
[15:20] <Minaplo> ["Anyway." Said Alphonse quickly, nibbling on his half. "You had something of a breakdown. The alcohol, your stress… We brought you here and put you to bed, as you were having a fever."-
[15:25] <Minaplo> ["…" Rei looked concerned, and was silent, chewing on a sandwich.-
[15:26] <Minaplo> ["… I'm sorry, Rei." Said Alphonse quietly. "You were right. I-I was running away. I should've been at your side, come hell or high water. You needed me, and I was… Well." He touched his cheek. "Playing Major."]
[15:29] * Yanmei said nothing, bracing herself for more cuddles between the two.
[15:36] <Minaplo> ["…" Rei smiled. "… It's alright. I should've realised that you had problems too." She said quietly. "Al?"-
[15:36] <Minaplo> ["Mm?"-
[15:37] <Minaplo> ["Do you forgive me?"-
[15:37] <Minaplo> ["Only if you forgive me for being an ass."-
[15:41] <Minaplo> [She pounced him again, snuggling close, kissing him once more. "Of course, Al! Of course!"-
[15:44] <Minaplo> ["A-Alright, alright…"-
[15:47] <Minaplo> [The sandwiches were eaten, the water drunk. Eventually they turned back to Yanmei.-
[15:47] <Minaplo> ["S-Sorry for the trouble, Meimei." Said Rei sheepishly.]
[15:52] <Yanmei> "Don't even mention it? Whatever I can say about today, it certainly wasn't boring."
[15:52] <Minaplo> [Rei smiled.-
[15:56] <Minaplo> ["Is there anything I can do to make it up to you?"]
[16:00] <Yanmei> "Hmmm~" -
[16:01] <Yanmei> "Well, I'm sure I can think of something. Lots more babysitting, for example…"
[16:03] <Minaplo> [Rei beamed. "I'd be happy to." She said warmly.-
[16:05] <Minaplo> ["I'm sorry, Yanmei." Said Alphonse quietly. "Can I impose on you for another favour?"]
[16:07] <Yanmei> "Hm? Sure, I guess."
[16:09] <Minaplo> ["Is… Not to kick you out of your own room, but is it alright if Rei and I discuss a few things in private? There's a lot to discuss."]
[16:11] <Yanmei> "Well, it's not like I didn't expect it?" Yanmei sighed lightly, closed her laptop and gathered a few things together. "I'll be back in an hour. Is that enough time?"
[16:15] <Minaplo> ["That ought to be plenty of time." Said Alphonse.]
[16:17] <Yanmei> "Perfect. If anyone asks, I'm off to annoy Asuka for a while. You two have fun~" She went for the door again. "And good luck."
[16:22] <Minaplo> ["Thank you." Said Alphonse.-
[16:23] <Minaplo> ["Bye, Meimei!"]
[16:25] <Yanmei> "Bye~" And then she was outside in the hallway again. She exhaled deeply, rolling her shoulders to loosen up. Was Asuka available to come hit things with her for a while, or was she still too injured? Time to find out.

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