She Said A Knife Is More Than Just A Weapon

[11:10] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> [Christmas morning.-
[11:11] <Zhang`Mingzhu> [Yanmei would find herself slowly waking up… What time was it? The clock said 8 AM, or shortly after. The blinds were a little open, letting in a stream of light. The room was quiet… The other half of the bed was vacated. Someone was being an early bird.]
[11:12] <Zhang`Mingzhu> [The sound of cicadas in the background.]
[11:14] <Yanmei> As usual. He was -always- up earlier than she was. Yanmei stretched and reached out… there was something next to the clock. The gift that her mother had given her. She had never unwrapped it, but it was rectangular and light.-
[11:15] <Yanmei> A book, if she had to guess. One on… Yanme frowned. Likely something academic. Carefully, she began to pick it open with her fingernails.
[11:16] <Zhang`Mingzhu> [The paper split back… She saw the hint of a frame! Something silvery.]
[11:18] * Yanmei blinked, and peeled the rest of the wrapping back more quickly.
[11:19] <Zhang`Mingzhu> [It wasn’t a book!-
[11:20] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> [It was a picture frame, silver… Within was a picture. A rare one of Yanmei and her mother together. There was Mingzhu, looking… Proud but reserved. And next to her was a little Yanmei. Gosh, she couldn’t have been older than what… 6? 7? It was rare that she saw her mother at all back then, but her mother had come back for her first day of school, to make sure she made a good impression. And there stood Yanmei, in a school uniform, looking as though the best thing had happened.]
[11:26] * Yanmei stared at it. That uniform. Butterflies in her stomach. A dizzy, happy feeling, because of who had showed up to see her off. She reached for the glass, but pulled back at the last moment. She didn't want smudges on it. -
[11:27] <Yanmei> Yes, she remembered that day. It was fuzzy, but it had been important to her. Had it been important to her mother too? She scrutinized the pride timelessly frozen on her face, and then rolled over and pulled herself out of bed.
[11:28] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> [A little note fell out of the packaging!]
[11:29] <Yanmei> Something else that was unexpected. Yanmei reached for it quickly!
[11:31] <Zhang`Mingzhu> ["I still remember your first day of school. Remember, education is the key to success. This has been a tough year, but don’t become complacent, blossom.-
[11:31] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> ["Mom"]
[11:37] <Yanmei> Yanmei pressed her lips together and braced against a very vivid rush of embarassment. "Don’t tell me she knew…" But why wouldn't she? There were recordings proving that she had somehow known about those abysmal physics classes when she was still attending school in Beijing.-
[11:38] <Yanmei> Hastily, she packed them away in her suitcase, carefully rapping the frame beneath layers of the softest material she had on hand. Then she went to wash up. She had to hurry, too…
[11:42] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> [Eventually of course, after washing and the like, she’d hear a faint sound from the kitchen, barely audible between walls: cooking!]
[11:44] <Yanmei> "Isaiah," she called, leaning from the bedroom doorway. She was dusting her face with powder. "Make enough for three, okay?"
[11:47] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> ["Alright." He was in the kitchen, as expected.]
[11:47] <Yanmei> "Huh? Don’t you want to know why?"
[11:49] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> ["Wait, there’s a reason?" He peeked over his shoulder. "I figured you were just hungry."]
[11:50] <Yanmei> "My mother said that she would be dropping by for breakfast! So…" Yanmei emerged from the room properly, heading for the kitchen, a tube of lip gloss in hand. "Oh, that smells just amazing."
[11:52] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> ["Aha! Luckily I was already cooking extra." Said Isaiah, turning around. He smiled at her- a broad, happy smile! Something that had been made rare recently. "Merry Christmas."]
[11:56] <Yanmei> "Merry Christmas," she smiled back at him, a warm, relieved smile. He was actually happy this morning! Well, this was a happy day, wasn’t it? She had tried to make herself look nice for the occassion, in a new sleek black and white dress and matching ribbons for her pigtails. "You're too good to me, you know?"
[12:01] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> [He blushed a little. "It’s the least I can do. Ah, you look beautiful, Yanmei~"]
[12:04] <Yanmei> "Heh heh, thank you!" She applied the final touch - some peach lip color - and left the gloss on the table. "You're looking pretty good yourself today."
[12:05] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> ["Thanks." Said Isaiah. He was wearing a striped black shirt, with white trousers. It looked quite snappy. "Oh, whilst I serve breakfast…" He nudged his head towards the sofa. "I left your presents on there."]
[12:08] <Yanmei> "I won’t open them while you're slaving away in here." Yanmei stepped a little closer to the stove. "Let me help! We'll finish faster and then we can both relax. For a little while, anyway."
[12:11] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> ["Ah, are you sure?" he asked. "W-Well, if you could fetch me the eggs and the beaker… You know how to make scrambled eggs?"]
[12:14] <Yanmei> "Do I know how?" Yanmei smirked, swishing over to the mini fridge confidently. "What a thing to ask."
[12:16] <Zhang`Mingzhu> ["Haha, alright."-
[12:16] <Zhang`Mingzhu> Things -did- go quicker with the two of them working together. Before long the bacon, sausages and eggs were all cooked and ready- enough to feed five ro six people.-
[12:16] <Zhang`Mingzhu> There was a knock on the door.
[12:18] * Yanmei jumped slightly, and then smoothed down her hair. No mirror at hand to check to see if she still looked okay, though, darn it… "I’ll get it~" She made for the door, arranged a great big smile on her face, and then threw it open. "Merry Christmas!"
[12:20] * Zhang‘Mingzhu was standing there, in a very snappy-looking dark red and green dress. Her dark purple hair sat neatly and fresh, as though it’d just been styled; She had a plain package under her left arm. "Merry Christmas, blossom."
[12:23] <Yanmei> "You're just in time! Breakfast is ready. Isaiah is an amazing cook, so you'll love what we have." She guided her toward the kitchen… not that it wasn't already visible. "You look wonderful, Mom."
[12:24] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> "You look very nice too." She entered.-
[12:24] <Zhang`Mingzhu> Isaiah had been setting the bacon down on three plates- when Mingzhu entered, he looked up.-
[12:24] * Zhang`Mingzhu looked at him for a moment. Neither of them said anything just yet…
[12:26] * Yanmei kept her smile on, but at this it became just a touch more rigid. Give them time to break the ice on their own, or… "Thank you for the gift from last night," she blurted out. "It was really really touching."
[12:27] <Zhang`Mingzhu> "Hm? Ah." Mingzhu looked about and smiled. "Yes, I felt it was appropriate."-
[12:28] <Zhang`Mingzhu> ["…" Isaiah swallowed. "Miss Zhang… I wanted to apologise for what happened yesterday. I was out of line."-
[12:30] <Zhang`Mingzhu> "…" Mingzhu nodded. "Apology accepted, Isaiah. I… Understand there were some mitigating circumstances, so perhaps some of the things I said were said rather hastily."
[12:31] * Yanmei relaxed a little. She was backing off a little, quite literally, so that she could fetch the gifts she’d gotten and allow the two to talk further.
[12:33] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> ["I…" Isaiah nodded. "I’m very protective of your daughter, but I had no right…"-
[12:34] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> "It’s fine, Isaiah." Said Mingzhu, waving her hand. "I should thank you for looking after her so much. I'm sure she'd be rather helpless without you."
[12:35] <Yanmei> Eh? Yanmei mumbled something, and hurried it up, slinking back to the room.
[12:36] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> ["I wouldn’t say that-"-
[22:37] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> "No, but you haven’t been following her grades."
[22:41] <Yanmei> Shock! Yanmei hurried further, past the threshold, and began gathering what she had come there for. "Who wants presents~?" she called, desperate for a change in conversation.
[22:42] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> "Blossom!"
[22:44] <Yanmei> "Mom?" She re-emerged, sunny smile on her face, arms bearing gifts.
[22:45] <Zhang`Mingzhu> "I hope you take good care of Isaiah in return." This was as close as Isaiah was going to get to a peace offering.
[22:46] <Yanmei> "Of course I do! I… try."
[22:48] <Zhang`Mingzhu> ["She does a wonderful job of looking after me, Miss Zhang. I couldn’t ask for anyone better." Said Isaiah warmly, carrying the plates over to the table. "Yanmei, bring the presents over to the table, ok?"]
[22:53] <Yanmei> "Sure~" And she proceded to do just that, not just with her own, but with Isaiah's gifts as well, setting them down on a spare chair since the table itself was covered in plates and food.
[22:54] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> ["Hehe." Isaiah chuckled. "Open one, Yanmei."]
[22:58] <Yanmei> "Me first, huh? All right…" she looked over the pile and carefully selected one from Isaiah. "Here goes!" She began unwrapping.
[23:02] <Zhang`Mingzhu> [It was a silky violet cheongsam, with gold embroidery and an elaborate pattern of doves and flowers across the lower part. Yanmei’s name in Chinese had been stitched into the hems and inside of the collars, too.]
[23:06] * Yanmei gaped. Held it up to herself to size up the fitting. "I don't believe it… this must have cost…"
[23:08] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> "Don’t worry about cost." Said Isaiah hastily.-
[23:09] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> [The fit seemed spot-on accurate for Yanmei’s build!]
[23:11] <Yanmei> "I'll wear it tonight!" She decided aloud, her face bright. "Thank you, Isaiah! I don't know what to say…"
[23:12] * Zhang‘Mingzhu was giving Isaiah an appraising look.-
[23:12] <Zhang`Mingzhu> ["I’m just glad you like it." Said Isaiah happily, blushing a little.]
[23:18] <Yanmei> She shifted a little in place right off the bat, as if she wanted to hug him, but… it was after a beat of hesitation that she went through with it. Somehow having her mom watching made that feel weird. "Mine next, okay?" She squeezed him and then left him go. "For both of you!" A small, flat box with a multicolored decorative bow for Isaiah. A bigger parcel for her mother, with eye-searingly flashy metallic wrapping.
[23:20] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> [Isaiah squeezed back happily. "Hehe, ok."-
[23:21] * Zhang`Mingzhu smiled a little and pulled off the wrapping quickly.
[23:24] <Yanmei> For Mingzhu: A lovely black leather briefcase. The latches were undone, curiously enough. Perhaps there was something inside?
[23:26] <Zhang`Mingzhu> "Oh, this is very nice. Let me see…" She smiled up at Yanmei and cracked it open!
[23:28] <Yanmei> Inside were a pair of matching black leather gloves, and a stylish black hat. Winter wear. "I know you can’t wear it at home, but… it's in case you feel like traveling to colder climates? F-for work, naturally… or other things?"-
[23:29] <Yanmei> She wasn't blushing, but her dress suddenly felt uncomfortably warm. Such a presumptuous thing to do…
[23:30] * Zhang‘Mingzhu was silent.-
[23:30] <Zhang`Mingzhu> "They’re perfect." She said, looking up at Yanmei happily. "I have to make lots of visits to Europe and America, so these are -very- handy indeed."
[23:31] <Yanmei> Relief and joy blossomed in her eyes. "Really? Europe too?"
[23:32] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> "Oh, yes. I’ve already had to make trips to Leningrad-2. It was -so- cold…"
[23:33] <Yanmei> "Ah, Russia. Yes, no wonder! I've never been, but it's supposed to be colder than even France, I think?"
[23:34] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> "In the west it is. In the east it’s gotten warmer though. Thank you, blossom." Mingzhu perched the hat on her head and gave a little giggle.
[23:36] <Yanmei> "Heh heh," Yanmei grinned. Even if nothing came of it, at least the gift made her happy. "You next, Isaiah."
[23:36] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> ["Hee, alright." He pulled the ribbon back, put it aside neatly, and opened the box.]
[23:38] <Yanmei> Two narrow slips of stiff paper - they looked like tickets to something. Most of the the information printed on them was in Japanese, however…
[23:39] <Zhang`Mingzhu> [Isaiah blinked and looked up. "Ah- S-sorry, I can’t read what they say!"]
[23:42] <Yanmei> "It's ok! Neither could I. But they're tickets to a stage performance tonight. A certain traveling group that goes by the name 'Ciwei de Kunjing'~" Yanmei practically glowed. "Despite the way the tickets look, I understand that the show will be in Chinese."
[23:45] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> [Isaiah gasped. "Ciwei de Kunjing? Seriously?"]
[23:46] <Yanmei> "It’s no lie! The people who sold them to me seemed pretty reliable. It's supposed to start at 7:30 tonight."
[23:46] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> ["I-I’ve wanted to see them for ages…!"]
[23:48] <Yanmei> "Well~ Now you can! Merry Christmas, Isaiah."
[23:49] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> ["Hehehe." He beamed. "Now I need to wonder about who to take."]
[23:52] <Yanmei> "Tsk. You would leave me here alone and without a handy opportunity to show off this amazing new outfit? Such a sense of cruelty," she folded her arms in a mock-huff.
[23:52] <Zhang`Mingzhu> ["Heehee. Of course not." He puts the box on the table and opens his arms to her. "I love it, Yanyan. Thank you so much."]
[23:57] * Yanmei accepted the hug, giving him a little pat on the back, as she did so. "You deserve it. It will be relaxing."
Session Time: Sun Aug 28 00:00:00 2011
[00:13] <Zhang`Mingzhu> [He pecked her on the cheek. "Heh. That it will!"]
[00:15] <Yanmei> "So then!" She drew back, still smiling. "I guess that all that’s left is for us to eat?"
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[00:25] <Zhang`Mingzhu> ["Aren’t you forgetting something?"]
[00:27] <Yanmei> "Ah? Ah, wait. You brought something too, didn't you, Mom?" A gift for Isaiah? They were getting along better than she'd hoped!
[00:28] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> "I did." said Mingzhu, with a small smile. "But I think he’s referring to -those-." She nodded at the small pile of gifts still remaining.
[00:32] <Yanmei> "I see!" Yanmei rolled up her sleeves. "Well, then. Let's get to it!" And she began the distribution and opening process. One for Mingzhu, and the rest…
[00:32] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> [For her, of course.-
[00:33] <Zhang`Mingzhu> "Ah." Mingzhu held a parcel in her hand. "You didn’t need to get me anything, Isaiah."-
[00:33] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> ["I wanted to, though."-
[00:33] <Zhang`Mingzhu> "Haha. Fair enough." She unwraps the small parcel…-
[00:34] <Zhang`Mingzhu> "…" She gives Isaiah a look that suggests she is rather impressed. "Two tickets on a luxury cruise from Japan to Italy. I’m quite taken aback!"
[00:35] <Yanmei> "W-what? Wow…" Yanmei looked impressed too, raising both eyebrows. Two tickets, though?
[00:36] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> ["I-I figured, maybe at some point you and Yanmei would enjoy the chance to spend some time together." He said bashfully.]
[00:37] <Yanmei> "Me?" Stunned, Yanmei gazed back and forth between them. "M-may I?"
[00:42] <Zhang`Mingzhu> "…" Mingzhu smiles. "Apparently they’re for 2016… So." Mingzhu places them in the box. "We'll see how your grades go."
[00:43] <Yanmei> That again. "…" Well, it was as good as she would probably get. "Thank you, Mom. Isaiah."
[00:43] * Zhang‘Mingzhu smiled.-
[00:43] <Zhang`Mingzhu> ["Hehe."]
[00:47] <Yanmei> With that nice surprise revealed… and Yanmei wondering about the amount of money Isaiah had access to these days, she began to open the rest of the gifts. There were three more of them from him.
[00:48] <Zhang`Mingzhu> [The first was a pair of violet stilettos… Yanmei might have once remembered desiring such a pair a -long- time ago… In fact, just before she met Isaiah.-
[00:49] <Zhang`Mingzhu> [The second was a purse, made to match the cheongsam…-
[00:50] <Zhang`Mingzhu> [And the third? A pair of ornate red and blue butterfly hairclips.]
[00:51] <Yanmei> "You really went all out, huh?" Yanmei peered down at the opened packages, pleased. "I won’t have to go looking for accessories for tonight. Thank you so much!"
[00:52] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> ["It’s no problem." Said Isaiah happily. He'd started on breakfast at this point, too.]
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[00:53] * Yanmei remembered her plate too, but she took the time to set the gifts aside, carefully folding the cheongsam.
[00:54] * Zhang‘Mingzhu dug in as well!-
[00:55] <Zhang`Mingzhu> "Ah." A few minutes later. "Right. You’re right, Yanmei. I did bring a gift for someone."
[00:56] * Yanmei nodded with a grin, glancing between the two expectantly. Harmony~ This was the way that things were supposed to be, right? Right…?
[00:58] * Zhang‘Mingzhu reached for the package and held it out to Isaiah. "This is for you. I…" She paused, and smiled. "I feel like it’s my place to give you something like this."
[01:04] <Yanmei> Hm? What did that mean, exactly? Well…
[01:06] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> [Isaiah seemed as mystified as Yanmei did as he took the parcel. He unwrapped it gently…-
[01:07] <Zhang`Mingzhu> [… Then blinked in surprise. From his lap he took out a long sheathed combat knife.]
[01:07] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei stared.
[01:13] <Zhang`Mingzhu> "A knife is more than just a weapon." Said Mingzhu. "When Second Impact hit, I had to rely on whatever tools I could muster. One of them was a long combat knife. In truth, I never used it for fighting. I used it for cutting and preparation work." She smiled. "That knife helped save Yanmei’s life when she was a baby. So I think it's only appropriate that it passes on to you now. It's not
[01:13] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> the same blade- that one I threw away ages ago- but the sheath is. Make sure you take care of her."-
[01:13] <Zhang`Mingzhu> ["I…" Isaiah stared at the sheath and blade with misty eyes.]
[01:19] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei’s face softened now, beyond her initial surprise. "That's… a really precious gift." Was it a hasty move, giving it away to someone? There were times when she didn't understand her mother, but this seemed to strengthen a bond between the two. So it was okay.
[01:21] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> "Now. Let’s get back to this delicious breakfast."
[01:25] <Yanmei> "Of course!" She gave Isaiah a little shoulder pat, and then started on the meal again, taking more care with her manners than she usually did. There was a strange feeling worming its way through the present happiness. She had shaken it off before, but now it hammered back harder with the knife exchange.-
[01:28] <Yanmei> She froze suddenly, fork in mouth, as it suddenly dawned on her why she was feeling that…
[01:29] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> ["Yanmei?"]
[01:34] <Yanmei> Her name snapped her out of it, and she smiled warmly at him. "Hm?"
[01:35] <Zhang`Mingzhu> ["You’ve a funny look on your face. I hope I didn't burn the bacon."]
[01:38] <Yanmei> "Of course not. It tastes great, as always." she redoubled her speed. "Better hurry before it gets cold, though~"
[01:38] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> "Yes." Said Mingzhu. "Blossom, I do hate to rush, but I’m afraid I'll probably have to leave in 20 minutes or so."
[01:42] <Yanmei> "Oh, you do?" She kept it light. An occassion like this did not need disappointment creeping around its edges. "I'm… really glad you got the chance to come by this morning! May I ask what you'll be doing for the rest of the day?"
[01:43] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> "Captains Katsuragi and Deforest-Amatore invited me out later. Apparently they have some interesting stories to tell."
[01:45] <Yanmei> "They did? Stories? How nice!" Smile. Oh god…
[01:46] <Zhang`Mingzhu> "Yes. They’re both rather fond of you both, so…"-
[01:46] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> ["… Oh that’s good. Did you know Miss Katsuragi drinks beer for breakfast?" Said Isaiah hastily. "She's probably pretty… Um, I mean, her memory is probably not the best."]
[01:48] <Yanmei> "That's right. The poor woman sometimes gets a little foggy-minded." Nice save, Isaiah! She would back him on it.
[01:51] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> "I see." Said Mingzhu, looking at them both a mite suspiciously.
[01:57] <Yanmei> "Will you go back to the Ikaris to say hello later?" She tried a nice diversion. Would it work?
[01:57] <Zhang`Mingzhu> "I… Think I might."-
[01:58] <Zhang`Mingzhu> [Isaiah shifted uncomfortably, looking down at his plate.]
[02:01] <Yanmei> "We might… visit our Comanding officer, right Isaiah?" Tryin to change the topic -away- from the change in topic. "He’s been oddly absent lately. I'm not even sure where he's staying. At the very least, a call to him would be a nice gesture."
[02:02] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> ["How can we visit him if we don’t know where he-" Blink. "I-I mean, yeah."]
[02:04] <Yanmei> "Well, I figured I'd call some contacts first, and if they couldn't help us…" She shrugged. "I do wonder if he's being evasive on purpose?"
[02:05] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> "Well, I suppose if he is, that’s his own business."
[02:06] <Yanmei> "Yes," she agreed. Damn. She was a more than a little curious too, but she couldn't press against that remark.
[02:11] * Zhang‘Mingzhu smiled, and with a neat -clink- placed her knife and fork on her empty plate. She stood up. "Thank you both for a lovely morning."
[02:12] <Yanmei> "Thank you for coming." Yanmei rose with her, almost automatically. "Will… you be in touch soon?"
[02:14] <Zhang`Mingzhu> "I’ll be here for a few days for when you want to have that dinner out." Said Mingzhu. "I… Can't make any promises once I return to China."
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[02:18] <Yanmei> "I understand." She felt something sink inside of her, but her smile held steady. "May I call you tomorrow night, after shopping?"
[02:19] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> "You may." Mingzhu smiled. "Hm. Do you have a camera?"
[02:19] <Yanmei> "I do! I could loan it to you if you want."
[02:21] <Zhang`Mingzhu> "No, no." Mingzhu smiled. "I want you to take a picture of all three of us!"
[02:27] <Yanmei> "Yeah?" Yanmei smiled at that. "It shouldn’t be a problem~ Wait one moment, please." She trotted off to find the camera in question, back to the bedroom. It was in her suitcase, somewhere beneath the picture from before. She pulled the wrapped frame out, and placed it aside, before digging a little more carelessly. Today, they would make a new memory to add to old ones.-
[02:27] <Yanmei> Finally, her hands touched plastic and metal, and she stood up again, still smiling. "Found it~"
[02:31] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> "Excellent." Mingzhu stood up in the middle of the room. "Isaiah."-
[02:31] <Zhang`Mingzhu> [The boy- a little bashfully- headed over to Mingzhu’s side. The woman put a hand on his shoulder.-
[02:31] <Zhang‘Mingzhu> "You stand here, Yanmei." She gestured next to him. "Put it on a timer."
[02:34] <Yanmei> "Right!" She did just that, propping the camera itself up on a piece of furniture, and heading over to Mingzhu. She threw on her classiest smile, naturally. "Ready?"
[02:34] * Zhang`Mingzhu put a hand on Yanmei’s shoulder. "Ready."-
[02:34] <Zhang`Mingzhu> ["Ready!"]
[02:35] <Yanmei> A few seconds passed, and then there was a brilliant flash of light.

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