She Said You Ll Be Able To Hear His Heartbeat

[13:21] * Yanmei has seen the signs - she roamed the streets of Paris in sunglasses, though the rest of her was clearly visible. Marianne was no where to be found yet again, and she had long ago started to miss her. Still, she coped. She was getting to be a much better driver these days.-
[13:24] <Yanmei> Isaiah had been left in the hospital, guarded by a sleepy wheelchair-bound Rei with strict instructions to keep silver-haired vixens from hopping into his bed and snuggling up close to him. With her luck, though, the girl would take her seriously, ignoring any sudden appearences by Gina or Kaworu in favor of keeping an eye out for foxes.-
[13:28] <Yanmei> So it was with a long sigh that she parked in front of the de Orleans estate, and peered up at the mansion sprawled in front of her. She composed herself, scrolling through a mental checklist, and climbed out of the car. There had been no call ahead to announce herself, because her personal phone was still out of service. Hopefully the man would be forgiving, though.
[13:31] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> [The mansion bore, surprisingly enough, the signs of combat. Bullet markings, broken windows, a cracked facade- but repair crews were already busy fixing it up.-
[13:31] <Gilles`de`Orleans> [Lucille the Maid was out in the front yard, her right arm in a sling, but she nevertheless directed the repair crews as they worked. When Yanmei pulled up however, she broke with them and headed over to the gates. If she was surprised, her professionalism hid it well. "Mademoiselle Zhang?"]
[13:35] <Yanmei> "Hello Miss Lucille." Yanmei was hiding her surprise too. This fairytale-like mansion had escaped damage from all the other Angel attacks. She had taken for granted that the same would happen with this last one. "I’m sorry to drop by unannounced. I had hoped to speak with "Monsieur de Orleans, but if he's busy…"
[13:37] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["No, he is present. You are always welcome. Please, come in." Lucille opened the gates as quickly as she could with one arm.]
[13:39] <Yanmei> "Thank you." Yanmei stepped through. "I’m glad you're all right. I see that things were bad here too?"
[13:41] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["They weren’t too bad. One of the shards impacted the Chateau. Those screaming monsters launched an assault, so the Bellamies and I repelled them. I was injured in the attack, but the Bellamies are quite fine." She led Yanmei towards the front door. "Besides, my injuries are nothing."]
[13:46] <Yanmei> That sounded pretty bad to her… But maybe she was talking about the final outcome. "That's an awfully brave thing to say?" Yanmei chuckled quietly. "But to drive them back like that without anyone getting killed - the three of you must be pretty strong."
[13:48] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["The Bellamies are accomplished combatants, and…" She pulled one of the large doors opened, and primly awaited Yanmei’s entrance. "You do not think they would entrust a personage like de Orleans and his security to one helpless maid, do you?" A small, small smile.]
[13:52] <Yanmei> "I suppose not." Yanmei smiled back, and stepped past. "He's a very important man. Important enough for bodyguards?"
[13:52] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Important enough for bodyguards, plural. All he has is one little maid." The smile widened.]
[13:54] <Yanmei> "Right. Ah…" Yanmei gave pause, considering. She eyed what damage to the house that she could see and the maid’s simple broken arm.
[13:57] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Lucille closed the door behind them. "Monsieur de Orleans is in the living room with Madame Bellamy. Would you like me to bring you some tea, Mademoiselle Zhang? I am making sandwiches for the others, so if you are hungry, I can fix you something. Anything you wish."]
[13:59] <Yanmei> "Well, I guess I’ll leave that to them? I'm not too hungry today." Yanmei kept her smile, though the additional guest made her heart sink. Isabelle was there too?
[14:01] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Very well, Mademoiselle Zhang." She bowed and headed off, her footsteps making no sound at all.]
[14:04] <Yanmei> Had she always been that quiet when she moved? A long, quiet breath. Yanmei’s uneasiness about this situation was compounded enough with or without suspicious maids.-
[14:05] <Yanmei> Great big smile. She knocked first. "Monsieur de Orleans? It's me!"
[14:07] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Oh! Come in!"
[14:08] * Yanmei obliged, opening the door and stepping onto the nice, plush carpet. "Hello! I came to see how you all were doing."
[14:12] * Gilles`de`Orleans was sitting at a table, a cup of tea in front of him. Across from him sat Isabelle- a pram at her side, of course. She was bearing the odd bandage over cuts and bruises but otherwise looked fine. "Ah! Mademoiselle Yanmei! Please come and sit down."-
[14:12] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["Good to see you around, Yanmei." Said Isabelle, nodding politely. "Good job out there."]
[14:16] <Yanmei> "Thank you. Just getting there was a job in itself, though." She headed for the table. "How much have you two heard? I’m afraid I've been a little out of it lately?"
[14:17] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["I heard you were caught in some tunnels." Said Isabelle.]
[14:23] <Yanmei> "That’s right." She sat down, tucked her ankles beneath the chair and smoothed down her skirt. "We didn't get to NERV as quickly as hoped because of that. Even worse? We didn't get a warning about what was happening beforehand because of a massive power failure."
[14:24] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Ah…" de Orleans nodded. "A deplorable situation."-
[14:25] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["Oh yeah, Adrian told me about that. An Angel broke into the electric grid and tried to make the Geofront self destruct."]
[14:26] <Yanmei> "Is…" Yanmei looked up suddenly. "Is that what happened?"
[14:28] <Gilles`de`Orleans> [Isabelle nodded. "A ’digital'-ish sort of Angel that could transmit itself across circuitry."]
[14:35] <Yanmei> "Something like that? Can't be defeated conventionally." Yanmei frowned very slightly. "But I assume that they managed to somehow?"
[14:35] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Dr. Riel did… Something. I think she tricked it into eating itself."]
[14:36] * Yanmei blinked at that, and then laughed a little. "Well, I don’t really get it, but I'm glad she thought quickly and worked something out."
[14:39] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Isabelle nodded, smiling a little. "Yes, I agree."-
[14:39] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "How is young Gabriel-Wei doing? I hear he had a bit of trouble."-
[14:39] <Gilles`de`Orleans> [Elizabeth gurgled.]
[14:42] <Yanmei> "He… was injured pretty badly in the tunnels. He’s still recovering." She craned her neck a little to peek at the baby. No real urge to break off and coo at her, but even if she wanted to, it would have been rude to the people she was speaking with. "I understand that there was a deperate fight or two here as well?"
[14:45] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Elizabeth was as fresh-eyed as ever, clutching a koala plush toy and shaking it up and down. She made eyes at Yanmei as soon as she saw her face.-
[14:45] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "Yes. The monsters tried to break in, but Lucille, and the redoubtable Isabelle here, along with Adrian, kept them off."-
[14:46] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["It was hardly solely thanks to us. I wasn’t expecting you to have an armory beneath your chateau, Mr. de Orleans."-
[14:46] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "It’s responsible to look to your own safety in Paris-2, Madame Bellamy."-
[14:46] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["With Heavy Machine Guns?"-
[14:46] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "Lucille is -very particular- about the kind of safety she grants me."
[14:54] * Yanmei had raised her eyebrows at that. There was a reason they were called ’heavy' machine guns. "… Can she really use those things…?"
[14:55] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Oh yes. Whenever there’s an Angel Attack she sets up a Heavy Machine Gun in the foyer just in case. This time she had help, so she put two more at the windows."
[14:57] <Yanmei> "That's a very talented maid you have, Monsieur~"
[15:01] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "She is~"-
[15:01] * Gilles`de`Orleans smirked a little at Yanmei.-
[15:01] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["Your tea, Mademoiselle Zhang." Came a voice at Yanmei’s ear…!]
[15:06] <Yanmei> "!!!" Yanmei gave a perfectly still, deer in the headlights impersonation. "Ah…?" She found herself slowly.
[15:07] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Lucille smiled and placed a cup of tea in front of Yanmei.]
[15:09] <Yanmei> "Thanks?" She stared down dumbly at it. And then remembered that she had an audience, and turned to face her properly with a smile. "Thank you~"
[15:10] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["You are welcome." She stood up and padded away.-
[15:10] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "Heeheehee."
[15:19] * Yanmei took the teacup a little shakily at first, but she balanced herself out again soon enough. "So, then! Has there been any other news floating around?"
[15:20] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "We heard that something strange happened to you during the battle…"
[15:25] <Yanmei> "Heh. Nothing to be concerned about. A nasty little mental attack, but I pulled through without much trouble, as you can see~"
[15:26] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "Well, that’s good to hear…"-
[15:26] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Adrian said you and Isaiah were in a coma for three days." Said Isabelle quietly, staring at Yanmei. She sipped her tea. "And that something weird happened to your AT Fields."]
[15:30] <Yanmei> "…" Well, wasn’t she well-informed. "It's true that we were unconscious for a while. But what do you mean 'weird,' exactly?"
[15:35] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["You’d have to speak to him to get all the real nitty-gritty science, but… He said it changed your Fields, gave them something like the AT bond he and I share."]
[15:43] <Yanmei> A terrible chill went through her. It wasn't enough that it'd tried to destroy them, it'd… "I see." She blew on her tea, stalling, trying to figure out what this for… for other things.
[15:43] <Yanmei> ^this meant
[15:52] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["There are a few things we should discuss, if Adrian is right." Said Isabelle quietly, sipping at her tea. "You’ll notice a few changes."]
[15:56] <Yanmei> "Changes," she echoed, her voice carefully even. She found that she had to place her cup down after all. "Like… that…"
[15:57] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Like… That?"]
[16:02] <Yanmei> "Like…" She stared fixedly into her cup. "…"
[16:03] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["What is it, Yanmei?"]
[16:08] <Yanmei> "…" She finally looked up with a half-smile. "It’s a little difficult to describe? Perhaps if you could continue…"
[16:14] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Well. One of the first things you’ll start to pick up is a sort of empathy. He'll know if you're scared or hurt, and vice versa. It'll be a little disconcerting at first, but we find it actually quite comforting."]
[16:15] <Yanmei> "What about privacy?"
[16:19] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Trickier." Said Isabelle with a small smile. "With time, and enough work, you should be able to fine tune your bond so that your emotions aren’t transmitted so easily. That said, any actual thoughts- with words and the like- aren't really transmitted, whilst sufficiently strong emotions are very hard to block."-
[16:20] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> [An electronic, tinny tune as Yanmei’s phone- her NERV phone- started to ring.]
[16:23] * Yanmei actually started a little at that, and reached for it quickly. "Ah… please excuse me."
[16:23] * Gilles‘de`Orleans nodded. "Take your time."
[16:25] <Yanmei> "Colonel?" She turned away a little, her voice lowering.
[16:29] <Yanmei> "It’s ok." She paused. "You were worried, huh?"
[16:33] <Yanmei> "Yeah. Nothing's happened. It's ok! Really. I just *mumblemumble*"
[16:36] <Yanmei> "Yeah. I'm sorry, can I tell you later? You can trust me to, right?"
[16:40] <Yanmei> "Hm? What sort?"
[16:45] <Yanmei> "Ah, good! That sounds fun. Listen, be sure to rest up a little too. I'll see you when I get back."
[16:46] <Yanmei> "Yes?"
[16:48] <Yanmei> A pause. She was -acutely- aware of the eyes and ears on her. "I *mumblemumble too."
[16:50] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Elizabeth gurgled. The other two merely waited patiently.]
[16:51] * Yanmei finally hung up, and faced her hosts. She’d managed to keep herself under control before, but now she was calm. "I'm sorry for that. As you were saying?"
[16:52] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Ah, yes." Isabelle smiled a little. Her shrewd eyes were on Yanmei’s own.-
[16:56] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["The bond is going to make the two of you stronger- a lot stronger- when you’re together." Said Isabelle. "There's a bit of a downside- for example, you might find yourself, if you're desperate, suddenly bleeding from an arm even though he was the one hit- but, in our situation at least, the two of us find ourselves excelling the most when we're together, beyond what we'd usually be capable of achieving."]
[16:59] <Yanmei> "If that's the case, wouldn't the shrewd thing to do be to retire from the front lines? To prevent him from feeling any more unneccessary physical trauma. His body's already weak enough this days."
[17:01] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Isabelle chuckled. "Luckily, -that- aspect of your bond is a lot easier to control. You- and he- will have essentially a thousandth-of-a-second instinctual decision to share pain or not as it happens, so…"]
[17:07] <Yanmei> "Wait… we get to -decide-?"
[17:09] <Gilles`de`Orleans> [Isabelle nodded. "That’s right. And… That's perhaps the one esoteric aspect of the bond that's rather limited by distance. It… Tends not to work if you're separated."]
[17:12] <Yanmei> "Hm," she said quietly.
[17:13] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["And finally…" Isabelle nodded. "At times, if you concentrate calmly, and listen to nothing but yourself, you’ll be able to hear his heartbeat." She said softly.]
[17:16] <Yanmei> "It seems like you two have it explored this thing pretty thoroughly? And that you've adjusted, too."
[17:17] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["We’ve had a year or so to get used to it." Said Isabelle. "I welcome it, now."]
[17:25] <Yanmei> "This is a lot to take in at once," Yanmei sighed. She made a valliant effort to drink her tea, and… success at last! "Monsieur de Orleans. What's your opinion on all of this?"
[17:26] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "It’s hardly my purview." Said de Orleans, with a chuckle. "I guess in some ways this is, really, just a reaffirmation of the close bond the two of you have already shared…" The old man smiled, sipped his tea, and looked away, a faintly lonely look on his face.
[17:28] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Isabelle stood up. "Ah… I should go put bubby down for a rest. Adrian said something about relief efforts later, and I might need to get ready for that. Please pardon me, Mr. de Orleans. It was good to see you again, Yanmei." The girl patted Yanmei on the shoulder and left the room, pushing the pram along."-
[17:28] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "Be careful out there, Madame Bellamy." Said de Orleans, before she left.
[17:30] <Yanmei> "He’s right, you know~ See you later Isabelle. Elizabeth."
[17:31] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Dadada."-
[17:31] <Gilles`de`Orleans> [The door shut.-
[17:31] * Gilles`de`Orleans turned back to Yanmei, sipping his tea in a genteel fashion.
[17:33] * Yanmei regarded him in a most ladylike fashion in return. "May I ask if that’s really all you have to say about this development?"
[17:35] * Gilles‘de`Orleans chuckled knowingly. "It complicates matters a little, doesn’t it?"
[17:38] <Yanmei> "In some ways more that others? My goal's still the same, after all. It's just the obstacles that have changed. And even those are based on speculation."
[17:39] <Yanmei> ^than others
[17:39] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "You wonder whether this new revelation will increase Isaiah’s chances of becoming a pilot."
[17:41] <Yanmei> "Of course." She chuckled a little. "I've only just learned the implications of what happened, and that's already what I've begun to think about."
[17:45] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "I suppose that’s appropriate that the first thing you learn about your unbreakable metaphysical soul bond with the boy is, 'is this going to put him into danger'." Said de Orleans. He took another sip of tea. "Mazarin told me of your singular opposition to the idea of him piloting. May I ask you a question?"
[17:45] <Yanmei> "Certainly."
[17:47] * Gilles‘de`Orleans was very grave and sombre as he spoke. "This friendship you and I share. Was it created because you felt, if you could befriend me, earn my trust, you could influence my decision?"
[17:54] <Yanmei> "It was why I originally chased after you following the meeting where we originally met. But I’ve learned too much from you and enjoyed our time together to say it was based entirely on that." Yanmei placed her teacup down. "Even if you wonn't help me to save Isaiah, I'd like to remain friends, if you would permit it."
[17:56] * Gilles‘de`Orleans drained his teacup, and placed it back upon its saucer gently. "You have put me in a very untenable situation. No matter what decision I choose, something goes wrong."
[18:03] <Yanmei> "May I ask if you ever suspected that this situation would eventually arise." She scrutinized him carefully. "You… were aware of my connections to Isaiah, and that he was a possible candidate."
[18:06] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "I did, somewhat. But I was foolish." Said de Orleans. "I blindly decided to think that somehow it would all work out and we could enjoy our friendship, and somehow sidestep the sticky issue, one way or another." He sighed. "If I could speak my mind for a moment?"
[18:06] <Yanmei> "Of course."
[18:16] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "I have lived a long life, Yanmei. I have seen and experienced many things." He stared ahead, not looking at Yanmei but rather far off into the distance. "But I was never able to make many friends. Moved around too much. Life was too dangerous. Politics got in the way." He clasped his hands together, frowning. "I’ve always felt as though something was missing from my life, keeping me from being perfectly happy. You're fortunate; you have someone. More than that, you have someone you're intimate with on a level most people couldn't even begin to imagine." He let out a long sigh. "What I wouldn't do to have something like that. To have my very soul united with another, to never feel lonely again. I think such a thing would be worth having even if it cost me something instrumental to living, such as this body." He was silent, reflecting on his words, before continuing. "And now I'm being asked: Where do I look? Can I find it in my mind to ignore that beautiful bond that exists between these two young, lovely people, causing them pain in search for the greater good? Or can I find it in my heart to put something like that on the same level as protecting humanity, and decide that preserving that bond, that unique love, is the nobler cause?"
[18:23] <Yanmei> "Protecting humanity and preserving a relationship don't have to be mutually exclusive. If Isaiah had died in the tunnels, would NERV have scrapped Unit-08, or would they have found someone else? Someone who might have appreciated the opportunity, like the Bellamies."
[18:24] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Found another, I suspect…"
[18:29] <Yanmei> "Then losing Isaiah isn’t the end of humanity. With one or two exceptions, I imagine that all the pilots could be replaced is absolutely neccessary. Learning about the projects in NERV Japan has opened my eyes to that-
[18:32] <Yanmei> "As has this latest dual plug experiment. They reason I was told that we were given co-pilots? Was not just to boost our abilities in combat, but in case we died or passed out from fatigue. It may have been a cover, but given the desperate situation that we were in, I have my doubts."
[18:33] <Yanmei> ^The reason
[18:35] * Gilles‘de`Orleans nodded slowly. "Of course, 04 and 01 are still very selective on who it accepts as a pilot. Having its favoured pilot there in the Plug probably helped. None of you are replaceable." He didn’t add 'except the mass-produced pilots', as that was rather crass. "I… Need time to think, Yanmei."
[18:41] <Yanmei> "Of course." Yanmei started to rise. "Thank you for the tea. I…" she paused, with some difficulty. "…I wish this situation hadn't come up either. Or that the committee would consider what the candidates had to say about the decision in advance." Her smile was sad. "If I don't do something, there's no way his voice would be heard."
[18:43] * Gilles‘de`Orleans nodded gently. "That is a noble cause. Good day, Yanmei. Please say hello to your Isaiah for me. I hope he recovers soon."
[18:45] <Yanmei> "I will. Goodbye Monsieur de Orleans. I’ll visit again when I can."

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