She Said Isn T It Natural To Feel Sad Without Him

[11:13] * Yanmei snapped her phone shut, and stared back up at the rack of clothes she had been going through until the text had interrupted her. The district: Harajuku. The store: Shin Seiki's, a notable place for sporty, sophisticated threads. However, in spite of this finary, the violet-haired girl allowed herself a little sulk. -
[11:14] <Yanmei> "Too busy to meet me. Hmph, I see how it is, Ariadne…" She heaved a sigh.
[11:18] <GM> [Some pop song was playing over the shop stereo, totally clashing with Yanmei's sulkiness. The clothes around her were colourful and practical and very fancy. Asuka would've liked it here…-
[11:18] <GM> [… Yanmei felt that strange feeling someone gets when they feel as though there's someone behind them. The hairs on the back of her neck were sticking up.]
[11:21] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei sucked in a deep breath… and threw on her brightest smile. It hadn't been the first time she had encountered a fan while minding her own business. Language barrier or not, a cute expression and an autograph was usually enough to satisfy them. She turned around, poised, a cheerful "Oh my, hello there!" about to sprout from her lips.
[11:22] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> Red eyes. Grey hair. A foot away. "Hello, Zhang Yanmei."
[11:24] <Yanmei> The greeting dropped dead right there. Yanmei could only stare, her smile now leaking pure shock. Kaworu Nagisa.
[11:29] <Nagisa`Kaworu> "Who would have thought my paths would be crossed with a murderer’s today?" He said coldly. He wasn't smiling.
[11:33] * Yanmei shifted her weight, as though about to stumble backward, but somehow she retained a bit of her poise from before and… held her ground after but a single step. Her gaze had, at least, shifted slightly to the side-
[11:35] <Yanmei> , and she managed a response with an amount of difficulty that she thought she managed to conceal rather well. "I was actually expecting you a long time ago, Nagisa Kaworu. What kept you?"
[11:38] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "Business." Said Nagisa. The way he said it suggested that he may as well have told Yanmei he’d been killing kittens. "I have killed people before, Zhang Yanmei, and I will kill again, but never have I killed someone who trusted me or considered me a friend. I almost admire your inhuman coldness."
[11:43] <Yanmei> And what could she say to that? That he had trusted her to kill him? She barely believed it herself. "Consider yourself fortunate," she said finally, "because you obviously have never felt what I felt then."
[11:45] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> Kaworu stared, his eyes red and glittering. There was a flash of sudden loathing in his eyes. "We need to talk."
[11:47] <Yanmei> "Then we’ll talk." She agreed, her own eyes still somewhat averted.
[11:49] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "Take me somewhere. Wherever you will be comfortable."
[11:52] <Yanmei> "A cafe near here." She turned away from him and the rack of clothes. "Follow me."
[11:54] * Nagisa`Kaworu followed, never once moving more than a foot away.
[11:58] <Yanmei> [The cafe was more of a bar than a cafe, judging from the selection of bottle behind the countertop visible when they entered, but apparently during the day, it served a more innocious crowd with juice and sandwiches, and desserts. It was sunny and well lit inside, and much quieter than its midnight setting. Yanmei selected a booth against a window overlooking a busy intersection. She only ordered water.]
[12:00] * Nagisa`Kaworu ordered a glass of mango juice. He sat down and stared at Yanmei.
[12:05] * Yanmei stared at the intersection below. She could -feel- those eyes boring into her. She braced herself. Tried to. She didn’t think she would ever be able to do it enough to soften what was to come. "…just say it, Nagisa?"
[12:07] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "Why did you do it?"
[12:13] <Yanmei> Her hands formed fists beneath the table. "I was trying to disable his machine. But he never ejected. He…" The fists tightened. "I didn’t do it because I -wanted- to."
[12:15] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "A full salvo from a battle rifle and a positron rifle at close range is a tactic used to utterly destroy an opponent." Said Kaworu coldly. "If you truly wanted to disable him you should have taken out his legs."
[12:20] <Yanmei> "Or his arms. Or the head, presuming that it functioned like an EVA unit’s or one of the Solace units. How many times do you think I've gone over the scenario since then?"
[12:28] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "So you made a mistake, then. Is that what you’re saying?"
[12:38] <Yanmei> "It's unforgivable. That's what you're going to say next, isn't it?" Yanmei kept her eyes fixed below. They stung a little, but she would not give in to the feeling causing that now. "I don't know if I can disagree?"-
[12:41] <Yanmei> "If I was a more skillful pilot, I could have stopped him some other way instead of w-what I did. I wouldn't have overestimated his chances of surviving that sort of attack."
[12:50] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "…" Kaworu stared at the table. "You selfish witch…"
[12:51] <Yanmei> "…" She wasn’t going to ask him to elaborate on that. He was probably going to whether she wanted him or not.
[12:58] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "Before I met Atticus, I was empty." Said Kaworu. "I did not know myself. He gave me a life, and allowed me to dream, and… -Loved- me, and now he is gone, and I am -all alone-, and it hurts so much more now…"
[13:05] * Yanmei gazed at him directly now, but for a moment before staring at the table herself. "…I don’t know how to fix it. How to bring him back. If I knew how, I would."
[13:12] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "I want to kill you, because I hurt so much and something tells me that will make me feel better." Said Kaworu angrily, sadly, tears- real tears- starting to course down his face. "But it is far too easy to conclude that that would not bring him back. I do not know what I know anymore. Is killing you the wrong thing to do? Should I teach you a lesson and slit Isaiah’s throat? I do not know…"
[13:19] <Yanmei> That last part sent a very real chill down her spine, and for a moment, she faltered. Working her way out of the fear took a few moments. "It's strange to think of now, but did you know that Atticus actually thought we would get along? He didn't know about the things we did to each other knowingly and unintentionally."-
[13:28] <Yanmei> She paused, swallowing. She didn't know what she was saying, and that made her almost as dizzy with fear as the thought of finding Isaiah with his throat slit. "I don't know if I can offer what he did, but I can offer my friendship. I can also offer you the opportunity to hit or stab me as you please." This was taking responsibility, was it not?
[13:34] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> Crack!-
[13:35] <Nagisa`Kaworu> Kaworu’s fist flew across the table, unerringly smashing into Yanmei's nose. He stood up with inhuman speed and, grabbing her by the throat, slammed her against the open window. He started to squeeze, his face a tableau of pain, anger and grief.
[13:38] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> [The patrons started to gasp, and a nearby waitress stared, torn between fear and the urge to stop this madman…]
[13:42] * Yanmei was… gushing blood, and her vision wouldn’t settle down. She had the sickening sense of being very high up, as if on the verge of tottering from a ladder, peering off the side of a catwalk, falling from the sky in 04.-
[13:46] <Yanmei> Her instinctive struggles to free her neck from whatever it was that was painfully squeezing the life out of her… slowed when she spotted Kaworu's face between flashes of white light. Her hands dropped from his wrists, as it dawned on her what she had said and what was now happening, and they fell to her sides, unresisting.
[13:53] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> [… Sudden freedom. She found the hands gone, herself leaning against the inside of the cafe… On the floor, against the wall.-
[13:59] <Nagisa`Kaworu> "It… It does not make me feel any better, I… I just… Why did you tell me that?!" Growled Kaworu. "Why would you ever think… I’m not some slave… I'm not someone you can just claim because Atticus is dead…" He sank to his knees next to Yanmei. "I -hate- you. I hate you. You killed him! You took his life and left me alone and now you want to offer friendship? He was wrong, we…" He sobbed. "We could never be friends… he hurt me sometimes, but you have hurt me more than he ever did… I…" …-
[13:59] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "I don’t know what to do…"
[14:09] * Yanmei tasted blood, and her vision would still not stop spinning. "I don't… want to claim a… ah." She wheezed desperately, sagging against that wall, and shook her head gingerly. "Hitting m…m-makes me feel better… And… you said you were… alone… That's why."-
[14:11] <Yanmei> The effort of saying that much almost took her down. She rested her head back against the solid surface behind her. "S-sorry. I'm sorry."
[14:21] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "It would have been better if you’d stayed away." Said Kaworu bitterly. "You knew how he felt, you… Could empathise. You were in some ways a lot like him. That… Terrified me." He said. "I thought, he would find it a lot easier to be with you than with me, because we were so different… So I felt it was only a matter of time before you took him away, and I hated you for existing, for even tainting our world with your presence."-
[14:22] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> [Several men in suits were sweeping into the cafe now. They were beelining for the pair.-
[14:23] <Nagisa`Kaworu> "I was wrong… I wanted you to stop existing so much that I forgot how to understand you."
[14:33] * Yanmei stared at him, blankly at first, but then a light of understanding went off in her eyes, her face softening. But… shit. The movement of the suits caught her eye as well, and she made an effort to stand, nearly tipping over in the process. "They’ll try… try to take you…"
[14:37] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "Try. They will not succeed, either through my intervention…" His bloodstained fist tightened. "Or yours." Says Nagisa quietly. "Up to you."
[14:48] * Yanmei sucked in one last painful breath, rubbed her sleeve against her nose, grimacing at first at the pain. But… she turned it into a smile after that, stepping forward to greet the Section-2 agents, her arms spread wide. "Sorry about that, gentlemen! False alarm." Her voice, had not quite dropped its raspy quality, but there was an airy tone attached now-
[14:51] <Yanmei> "This guy, here, is an acquaintance of mine. It sounds silly, but… I permitted him to do that just now. I wasn’t in any real danger," A little sheepishness creeping in, and she blushed faintly. "Could I ask you to overlook this? Pretty please~?"
[14:53] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> ["Uh…" The S2 agents seemed surprised, perhaps taken aback. "No real danger? I…" They looked at each other.-
[14:54] <Nagisa`Kaworu> ["Saito, what do we-?" "Ahem." One particularly beefy agent blushed and straightened his tie. He bowed. "Forgive us, Pilot Zhang. We are trained to react to situations where you appear to be in danger. We will remove ourselves immediately."]
[14:55] <Yanmei> "No, no need for apologies. It was my fault for not warning you in the first place." She bowed ever so slightly in apology. "I’ll be more careful next time. But~ thank you for worrying all the same."
[14:57] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> ["R-Right. Sorry, miss." Saito turned to the others, and said something in Japanese. They started to file out.-
[14:57] <Nagisa`Kaworu> ["Crazy kids…" Muttered a cafe patron.-
[14:57] <Nagisa`Kaworu> ["Hey, is that Zhang Yanmei?"-
[14:57] <Nagisa`Kaworu> ["No, idiot, she has longer ponytails, it’s probably some cosplayer…"-
[14:58] * Nagisa‘Kaworu quietly got back to his feet, dusting off his knees.
[14:59] <Yanmei> …Stupid public. Yanmei held off another grimace, and turned her attention back to her attacker. "So, then? What will you do now?"
[15:00] <Nagisa`Kaworu> "I will thank you." Said Kaworu. he turned to Yanmei. "Thank you."
[15:01] <Yanmei> To say that she looked taken aback was a major understatement. "Ah. You’re… welcome?"
[15:03] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "Tell me something." Kaworu sat back down as if nothing had ever happened. "What did you think of Atticus?"
[15:08] * Yanmei joined him, albeit less smoothly, more aware of the surrealness of the situation. "He was my friend. He helped me. He… understood me. I looked up to him." She looked suddenly grave again, her dark eyes lowering. "Shooting at him was like shooting at myself."
[15:11] <Nagisa`Kaworu> "So we feel the same way."
[15:13] <Yanmei> "You too?" She thought back at what he had said before. Compared to her, though, he was much more intensely attached to the guy.
[15:18] <Nagisa`Kaworu> "It is… Difficult to reconcile with how I feel." Said Kaworu. "But you are… A victim more than a culprit. Your crime was lack of skill, overemotion, being manipulated, and that is not enough… To earn death." Kaworu’s shoulders shook a little. "Is it strange that I did not shed a tear over the deaths of my brothers, but Atticus's death tore me in two? What does that mean?"
[15:21] <Yanmei> "That you were connected to him in a way that was different than your family." Yanmei gingerly touched the bridge of her nose. "You loved him. He taught you how to live. Isn't it natural to feel sad without him?"
[15:27] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "Natural…" Kaworu stared down at his mango juice.-
[15:28] <Nagisa`Kaworu> "Is it natural, then, for me to want to hurt you for the things you did? To take away the people you loved? To make you lonely?"
[15:30] <Yanmei> "Yes," she whispered. Her hand dropped back to the table, and she felt some of that old fear settling in. "If the situations were reversed, I would feel the same way. Recently, an ally of my commented on those vengeful urges of mine."-
[15:32] <Yanmei> "He likened it to an animal instinct? But… because we’re human, it's a side of us that we can never completely hold off. So it's also natural."
[15:34] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> Kaworu’s eyes widened.-
[15:37] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "So this…" … "I see." He smiled ruefully. "Atticus often told me to act ’natural', even though I did not know what he meant… It seems a little cruel that his death was the key to helping me learn."
[15:44] <Yanmei> "I am sorry," Yanmei muttered again. She didn't completely get it, but saying something like that felt appropriate. She didn't really have much context, but getting even that little glimpse into their exchanges felt as if she was listening to something private and important.
[15:48] * Nagisa‘Kaworu stood up.-
[15:50] <Nagisa`Kaworu> "Atticus worried about you. He wanted me to look after you if he died." Said Kaworu. "…" He offered Yanmei his hand. "I cannot forgive you yet. Part of me aches to finish what I started and choke you to death, but I know a part of me would never forgive myself for that. And I -know- it would be wrong. Because you and I are both… Victims of that silly idiot’s lovable ways."
[15:55] <Yanmei> "We are," she agreed quietly. "Remember, whatever you decide to do, that I still have the phone from back then. You know how to contact me." And her hand reached for his.
[15:57] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "I tapped that phone, you know." Said Kaworu, shaking Yanmei’s hand.
[16:01] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei blinked, still shaking. "… … …come again?"
[16:03] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "I inserted a bug into the phone so that I would be able to listen to conversations on it." He was still holding Yanmei’s hand. "I would not worry, though. I was the only one who could listen… Your anger regarding Blanc was rather enlightening, I must admit."
[16:05] <Yanmei> "Th-that was a private conversation!" She flushed suddenly. "I can't believe you went that far!"
[16:07] <Nagisa‘Kaworu> "If you felt someone would take Isaiah away from you, you would do the same." Said Kaworu. It wasn’t a question.-
[16:07] <Nagisa`Kaworu> "Regarding Blanc. You should speak to her soon. You should inquire as to the nature of the fragment of the Angel Voriel currently taking residence within her mind and soul."
[16:09] <Yanmei> That got… a very long, blank stare. "What." Voriel. "What?!"
[16:10] <Nagisa`Kaworu> "Good day, Zhang Yanmei." Said Kaworu, turning and starting to walk from the cafe.
[16:11] <Yanmei> "WAIT! Waitwaitwaitwait, she has -what- in her mind and soul? Nagisa!" Yanmei gave chase.
[16:14] * Nagisa`Kaworu turned back towards Yanmei. "Blanc will tell the rest. She is rather quick to give up the truth if pressed." He turned again and started to walk away.-
[16:15] <Nagisa`Kaworu> "Tell her, the next time she lets a secret like this threaten the existence of humanity… The Children of Adam will not hesitate to capitalise on her hubris."
[16:19] <Yanmei> "Uhhh. Okay?" That was… a good warning. But how the hell would he know something like that? More bugs? She stared at his back, puzzled.
[16:20] * Nagisa`Kaworu continued to walk away. "Thank you for the day, Yanmei." And before long he was going down an escalator…
[16:22] * Yanmei watched him leave without following. Then, tiredly, she turned around and went her own separate way, back to the cafe.

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