She Said I Wish To Become More Like You

[12:22] * Yanmei decided to avoid the hangar where the Thruster Dreadnought units were stored from now on. A failed effort to find Marianne had taken her there, and through the doors she had seen IT. The face from her nightmares. It was lacking the acidic drool or mind-rending screams that her imagination had supplied, but the shiny robot body that it had been plastered onto was even more surreal somehow.-
[12:27] <Yanmei> She was doubling back the way she'd come now, quickly, eyes downward at her phone as she sent Isaiah a quick text: (Sorry. False alarm. Everything's ok! ^.^)-
[12:30] <Yanmei> She threw on her coolest and most blase expression, too. No one could hear her heart pounding, and she was sure that she hadn't lost too much color, so she seriously wouldn't look like someone who would almost have a heart attack over something silly like the Dreadnought's design.
[12:34] <Ayanami‘Nana> [The Thruster Dreadnought HQ was busy and bustling too; it was one of two places in all Paris-2 to possess that quality (the other being the Geofront). Crews rushed to and fro, preparing the stocky warmachines for combat.-
[12:35] <Ayanami`Nana> [Of course, there were people there too who weren’t Dreadnought technicians or the like. Rei had arrived at some point to say hello to Mana and Raphael; but she had, unsurprisingly, brought along a friend- or perhaps a sister. Said sister had broken off from Rei to look around, and now that she saw Yanmei, she now approached.-
[12:35] <Ayanami‘Nana> "Zhang Yanmei?" Asked the violet-haired Ayanami.
[12:40] <Yanmei> Yanmei’s shoulders stiffened a little, but she turned around with a polite "yes?" - and blinked. "Ah! You're one of Rei's sisters. …Nana?"
[12:41] * Ayanami‘Nana nodded. "Ayanami Nana. It makes me happy that you remember who I am."
[12:42] <Yanmei> "Well, it was a little hard to forget?" She offered a smile. "What can I do for you?"
[12:43] <Ayanami`Nana> "Do you mind if we speak for a moment?"
[12:46] <Yanmei> "Sure, that’s fine, I guess." Yanmei glanced around for some chairs or crates to sit on and make themselves comfortable.
[12:47] <Ayanami‘Nana> [There was a small unused table nearby with two chairs.]
[12:48] <Yanmei> So Yanmei made her way to them and sat down. "So! What’s on your mind?"
[12:50] * Ayanami‘Nana sat down, sitting opposite Yanmei. "You, Zhang Yanmei."
[12:51] <Yanmei> "Me?" No surprise. She folded her hands in her lap and tried to stady herself emotionally. "You have more questions to ask."
[12:52] <Ayanami`Nana> "Not exactly. I wanted to help you."
[12:55] <Yanmei> "Huh?" That -was- a surprise. Yanmei’s eyes narrowed a little, studying her. "What do you mean?"
[12:59] <Ayanami‘Nana> "I know that your mother, Zhang Mingzhu, was on staff at the Beijing-2 branch. I thought that you may be undergoing a period of grief at her loss, so I spoke to Roku and I had her prepare this." She pulled around the bag she was wearing and pulled out a neatly sealed plastic container. She placed it on the table. "Non-romantic chicken curry."
[13:04] <Yanmei> Second surprise! Yanmei blinked at the bag, her face shifting and then softening a little. "You two… Well, this was really considerate. Thank you. Roku’s the aspiring chef, right? Will you give her my regards?"
[13:05] <Ayanami‘Nana> "Yes. Actually, she requested that I observe your reaction and return the acquired data to you."
[13:07] <Yanmei> "Huh? Er… does that mean she wants me to taste it, too?"
[13:08] <Ayanami`Nana> "Yes."
[13:11] * Yanmei peered down at the parcel, gave a firm nod, and then opened it, prepared to do just that.
[13:12] <Ayanami`Nana> [It certainly was chicken curry. White rice, with the chicken and a sprinkling of vegetables. And the curry itself, which was yellow.-
[13:12] * Ayanami`Nana neatly placed a fork down next to the parcel, then took out her notebook and pen.
[13:14] <Yanmei> "It looks and smells pretty good?" Yanmei picked up a forkful of it and took a bite.
[13:16] <Ayanami`Nana> [Tangy. Spicy, certainly… Then suddenly a wave of intense heat poured into Yanmei’s tastebuds. This wasn't the mild and balanced curry Isaiah cooked. This -burned-.]
[13:18] <Yanmei> "Hghh!!!" She tried to control it, she really did! But she started coughing uncontrollably, pressing a hand to her lips. "W-water!!" She managed to gasp.
[13:19] * Ayanami‘Nana blinked, staring at Yanmei in mute surprise for a moment, before reaching into her bag and pulling out a water bottle. She placed it on the table.
[13:23] * Yanmei reached for and gulped from it, and then sighed with relief. "Thank you!"
[13:23] <Ayanami`Nana> "Was it too hot?"
[13:26] <Yanmei> "Just a little." Yanmei placed the water bottle on the table between them again. "The flavor was good aside from that, and the texture was fine…" She breathed in and out, her tongue still tingling. "Did she mention which recipe she used?"
[13:26] <Ayanami`Nana> "She did not." Nana wrote down what Yanmei said. "Do you have any suggestions?"
[13:34] <Yanmei> "Well, Rei should have a specific recipe that’s good for beginners. A mutual friend of ours gave it to her." Yanmei drummed her fingers on the table. "As for what Roku made? She should scale back on the peppers. That doesn't mean I'm any less grateful, you know," she added quickly. "It's intense, but it's still a pretty good meal."
[13:35] * Ayanami‘Nana wrote this down, then closed her notebook and tucked it away. "I will tell her. I am glad you enjoyed it." She looked away now, briefly, before looking back. "I have been studying you for several months now."
[13:37] <Yanmei> "Months?" Yanmei stared, and then looked away. "May I ask you why?"
[13:40] <Ayanami`Nana> "When I began my training as an Evangelion pilot, I practiced my skills against a virtual version of you and EVA-04. I lost. I kept losing, and Hachi advised me to study you to search for a weakness. I studied you, and I was able to start beating the virtual battler once every two battles. But I realised that I found you to be a very interesting person. I believe you to be the superior pilot to myself."
[13:43] <Yanmei> "Oh?" She kept her face calm and neutral. "But you know all of my weaknesses. When you put that with more experience and some other factors, I don’t think I'll stay superior for very long."
[13:46] <Ayanami‘Nana> "I disagree. After all, a virtual recreation cannot fully replicate the original’s ability."
[13:49] * Yanmei opened her mouth to object, but seemed to change her mind as she examined that principle more closely. "Okay. A good point."
[13:51] <Ayanami‘Nana> "I wish to become more like you."
[13:56] <Yanmei> "I’m flattered," Yanmei chuckled. "And if that's your plan, it's no wonder you're so curious?"
[13:56] * Ayanami‘Nana nodded. "Yes."
[14:03] <Yanmei> "I think that it’s good to be inspired by another person. I doubt I need to say it, though? But what makes those inspirations so powerful is that it can lead to introspection as well. Like a person looking at their own lives and personalities through new eyes."
[14:05] * Ayanami‘Nana tilted her head to one side.
[14:14] <Yanmei> "Suppose you meet a lion tamer, and you think he’s really cool. It doesn't necessarily mean becoming a lion tamer yourself, especially if you don't have the means to. Sometimes you take a look at your own life, and start noticing things instead. Like that you don't think it'd be a bad thing to take care of a few stray normal animals, or that you might want to try doing things in some other sort of spotlight.-
[14:14] <Yanmei> "Do you see what I mean?"
[14:17] <Ayanami‘Nana> "I see. So I am unable to become you, so I should…" She closed her eyes and thought. "Change myself with what I have learned in a small way?"
[14:22] <Yanmei> "Something like that. It’s taking a quality you admire and making it uniquely yours in some way. Heh. I do get the sense that you and your sisters are doing this already, though? Or if you're not, you will."
[14:29] * Ayanami‘Nana nodded slowly. "In some ways, yes. My sisters have changed a lot…"
[14:32] <Yanmei> "You’re all pretty amazing," Yanmei smiled. She started to stand up, packing the curry away. "You learn so quickly."
[14:33] * Ayanami‘Nana stood up as well. "None of us have learned like Rei-oneesama…"-
[14:38] <Ayanami`Nana> [A voice rang out even through the noisy hangar. "Nana? There you are…" Dr. Ikari was heading across the hangar bay towards Nana- although she paused about 5 metres away. "Oh, Yanmei…"]
[14:39] <Yanmei> "Doctor Ikari." Yanmei nodded a polite acknowledgement. "I was just on my way out."
[14:41] <Ayanami`Nana> ["Ah." Dr. Ikari smiled awkwardly. "Do you mind if I come with you, just for a little bit?"]
[14:42] <Yanmei> "Not at all." She flashed a small smile, and then nodded to Nana. "I’ll see you around, okay?"
[14:43] <Ayanami‘Nana> "Yes. Thank you, Zhang Yanmei." The Ayanami bowed and headed off to find Rei.-
[14:43] <Ayanami`Nana> ["She really admires you, that one. She asked specifically for your hair colour."]
[14:48] <Yanmei> "It’s different from the sort of admiration a fan shows to someone they've heard about." She resisted the urge to flip or play with her own hair.
[14:50] <Ayanami‘Nana> ["Yes. It’s the admiration of someone looking up to a superior or, perhaps, a big sister." Dr. Ikari smiled. "Um. I'm sorry."]
[14:54] <Yanmei> "Ah…" Which thing was she apologizing for? Or did she mean Beijing?
[14:54] <Ayanami‘Nana> ["Your mother was a friend of mine, and she was a good woman. I’m sorry for your loss."]
[14:57] <Yanmei> So she did mean that. Yanmei looked down for a moment, and wished suddenly that she had her glasses with her today. "…thank you. That means a lot."
[15:05] <Ayanami‘Nana> ["I, uhm. I would like to invite you to come to Japan this christmas. Again. T-To perhaps spend some time with my family, or with the Ayanamis. I’m sure they'd be happy to have you…"]
[15:10] <Yanmei> "Thank you, but I already have plans." Yanmei smiled again. "I promised someone that I would visit Italy with them. After that, I may also have to visit my uncle for a bit."
[15:12] <Ayanami‘Nana> ["I understand." Said Dr. Ikari. She stared at Yanmei, biting her lip a little.]
[15:23] <Yanmei> "…" What was with that expression? "I do appreciate the offer, though? And any concern."
[15:25] <Ayanami`Nana> [Tears started to bubble up in Dr. Ikari’s eyes, and a second later Yanmei would find herself being -squeezed- by the doctor as she bundled Yanmei up in a hug. A big tight hug.]
[15:31] <Yanmei> "!!!" There was a slight arm movement on Yanmei's end, although she was a little too restricted to flail outright. She didn't give into the urge to push her away either. Mom's friend, Mom's friend…. the reminder stuck with her, and she stopped. "Wh-what's…?"
[15:36] <Ayanami‘Nana> ["I-I’m sorry. It's just… You're such a brave girl, even in times like this…"]
[15:44] * Yanmei quieted, trying not to squirm more. "She didn't get me this far so that I could give up." Saying that was like throwing something at a glass window only for it to miraculously ricochet back and hit her. She clenched her jaw a little, putting up with the sting. "I'm not a child."
[15:50] <Ayanami‘Nana> ["O-Of course. You’re a mature, h-healthy adult…" Dr. Ikari let go, stepping back, wiping tears from her eyes.]
[16:02] <Yanmei> "Thank you." She paused and them murmured something else as if almost to herself. "She wouldn't have wanted anything less. And she said she was proud of me, so…"
[16:03] <Yanmei> ^and then
[16:04] <Ayanami‘Nana> ["Y-yes. She was…"]
[16:07] * Yanmei nodded to herself quietly and swallowed a few times. At last, she tightened her grip on her curry package, and looked up again. Her eyes were still dry. "Thank you again, Doctor Ikari. I should be going. I think they wanted me to perform some synch tests today?"
[16:09] <Ayanami`Nana> ["Y-Yes, of course. Please be careful up there, Yanmei. Rei would be very upset if anything were to happen…"]
[16:14] <Yanmei> "I’ll be careful." Her smile grew a touch bolder. "All four of us will come back to Paris, safe and sound. I'll make sure of it." She offered one last respectful bow, and she started on her way.
[16:16] <Ayanami`Nana> [Dr. Ikari nodded. "G-Goodbye, Yanmei…"]

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