She Said You Want Me To Match Your Courage Too

[21:04] <Yanmei> [The Intensive Care ward of the hospital was currently being haunted by a figure in white. Although getting into the room where Isaiah slept was a problem without staff permission, there were no such regulations governing the hallway where the observation window was.-
[21:08] <Yanmei> So that was where Zhang Yanmei lingered, now clothed in a plain t-shirt and shorts purchased from the gift shop at short notice. But she was spending more time pretending to watch through the window than actually watching. Every time a nearby door opened or another person appeared in the corridor, it earned a subtle jump and a gaze that snapped briefly in its direction.-
[21:09] <Yanmei> And since she had been there for a very long time, the reaction was starting to become routine even for her.]
[21:11] <Mibbit‘Haplo> [A door opened somewhere, at the end of the hall. But this time, when Yanmei looked over, she’d see… Her own mother.]
[21:15] <Yanmei> This time, the jump-snap was also accompanied by a heart-stop. She hesitated… and then moved slowly to greet her.
[21:19] <Mibbit‘Haplo> [Mingzhu looked around for a moment, then upon seeing Yanmei, rushed over. Her face was concerned, skin taut with worry and control. "Blossom. Are you alright?"]
[21:28] <Yanmei> "Mom." She was keeping herself -very- controlled. Of course she would come when she heard the news. So why did she feel surprised about it? "Did Marianne call you?"
[21:29] <Mibbit`Haplo> ["Yes." Mingzhu reached out, took Yanmei by the shoulders. "What happened?"]
[21:31] <Yanmei> "Isaiah got shot," she mumbled, looking down. She couldn’t even muster an objective matter-of-fact tone about it… actually, her nerves were leaking through in her voice pretty badly. "And I don't know who did it…"
[21:32] <Mibbit‘Haplo> [Mingzhu looked over at the window. Stared at the boy that lay in the bed there, still unconscious, a forest of cords and tubes surrounding him…-
[21:33] <Mibbit`Haplo> ["…" Mingzhu was awkward about physical affection. Even towards her own daughter- perhaps it was a relic of Second Impact, and the simultaneous sense of loss and self-reliance that had bred into her. But right now wasn’t the time for that.-
[21:34] <Mibbit‘Haplo> [She pulled her daughter to her, arms around her shoulders.]
[21:41] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei could not tell if she had just failed at something or not. Being embraced was nice. But she was also forever compelled to assure the woman that nothing was a problem… and yet -she- was the one instigating the hugging.-
[21:42] <Yanmei> Lost for a time in a haze of confusion, it was all she could do it lift and arm and stiffly return the embrace… sort of.
[21:44] <Mibbit`Haplo> ["Have you had a lie down? Anything to eat?" Asked Mingzhu, still holding her daughter. "You must be utterly shaken…"]
[21:47] <Yanmei> "I’ve already eaten and slept a little." Those weren't lies if one counted the pre-opera dinner she and Isaiah had shared or the nap in the waiting room. "So I'm OK. Have you? It's pretty late, isn't it? Or… early? I left my watch and my phones in the room they made for me…"
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[22:45] <AdEvaGM> ["It’s a little after midnight, but let's not worry about that. Why don't we sit down somewhere? Did the hospital give you a waiting room?"]
[22:50] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei pulled free with a nod, and started to turn, her eye lingering beyond Mingzhu and sweeping the hallway itself again. She sucked in a long breath. "Right. It's this way…" And she forced herself to turn and lead the way.
[22:50] <AdEvaGM> [Mingzhu followed.-
[22:51] <AdEvaGM> [Yanmei would note that if anyone tried anything to hurt Isaiah… Well, Ayanami Rei was sitting a little ways away, a very firm expression on her face. He was protected- although that probably didn't mean much considering the traumatic events.]
[22:56] * Yanmei eyed Rei with mixed feeling before departing from the hallway entirely. The room where she had been resting was just a short distance away, and there was not much to it. A simple hospital bed and a bedside sink. She hadn't even had a suitcase brought from her hotel room yet. "Well, this is home for a little while!" She tried to sound cheery. "Can I offer you some water?"
[22:57] <AdEvaGM> ["Sure." Mingzhu sat down on the bed, eyeing Yanmei.]
[23:01] * Yanmei busied herself at the sink all too gladly, and returned with a small plastic cup full of tap water.
[23:02] <AdEvaGM> ["Thank you." Said Mingzhu.-
[23:02] <AdEvaGM> ["…" She sipped the water.]
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[23:08] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei clasped her hands together and then parted them, and then sighed. "It’s funny, but I was expecting a formal investigation tonight. One with police, or at least NERV agents?"
[23:09] <AdEvaGM> ["As in, asking you things?"]
[23:10] <Yanmei> "That's right. There were a lot of witnesses, though, so maybe they're working their way through them."
[23:11] <AdEvaGM> ["I imagine they are. They probably want to give you a little time, too." Mingzhu was watching Yanmei.]
[23:13] <Yanmei> "That's awfully considerate? But I'd rather they collect evidence and figure it out quickly."
[23:14] <AdEvaGM> ["Understandable." Said Mingzhu. "But they'll want to check the crime scene, so they'll look at the nearby buildings first…" She frowned a little. "Yanmei. Are… You alright?"]
[23:18] <Yanmei> "Of course!" She nodded quickly, smiling. "They said that Isaiah's going to pull through, and that's what matters."
[23:19] <AdEvaGM> [This didn't seem to make Mingzhu happier. The woman stared down at her plastic cup.-
[23:19] <AdEvaGM> ["I understand."]
[23:22] <Yanmei> "…?" She had done something wrong hadn't she? She gave herself a little mental shake. Get it together, Yanmei! "Are -you- all right, Mom?"
[23:23] <AdEvaGM> ["I'm not really sure how to explain it."]
[23:25] <Yanmei> "You were worried," she guessed, and her face softened a little.
[23:30] <AdEvaGM> ["It's more than that." Said Mingzhu. "When I heard what had happened- I knew you were… Well, alive. Marianne said as much. But I figured you'd be…" Mingzhu frowned. "You know, I thought you might want to speak to me. That you'd need me to reassure you or something…"]
[23:36] * Yanmei shifted her weight and glanced away uncomfortably. "This has happened before, though. And I've handled it just fine."
[23:37] <AdEvaGM> ["… Of course." Said Mingzhu quietly.]
[23:46] <Yanmei> "I should try to conduct myself properly, because I'm not a little kid anymore," she added. "So… you should be proud of me, and not worry."
[23:50] <AdEvaGM> ["…" Mingzhu drained the rest of the water. "You're already trying to be tougher than me, huh?" She said wryly.]
[23:53] <Yanmei> "It's not like I'm doing anything new," she murmured, and a hint of guilt ran through her. "The world is a tough place…"
[23:55] <AdEvaGM> ["It is." Agreed Mingzhu. "…" She put the plastic cup aside. "Your father…" She began.]
[23:57] <Yanmei> She looked up, vaguely puzzled, but attentive.
Session Time: Tue Aug 30 00:00:01 2011
[00:03] <AdEvaGM> ["You know, he was a good man." Said Mingzhu. "I thought he was a bit of a nothing when I first met him, though."]
[00:04] <Yanmei> "Nothing?"
[00:06] <AdEvaGM> ["He was a scholarship student. Athletics. Sprinting and all that." Said Mingzhu. "I didn't think it was very fair! I'd spent my years during school ignoring my social life, studying until my eyes hurt, spending weekends reading books, so that I could go into university knowing I could bust it open. -He- got in by running really fast."]
[00:11] <Yanmei> "He was a sprinter?" Yanmei blinked hard. That dream was nothing? Well… she felt something twist in her heart a little… that was something she might have to accept now too, after seeing that recording. "Maybe it was a little silly…"
[00:13] <AdEvaGM> ["Well." Mingzhu shook her head. "I didn't mind that he was a -sprinter-, but… I figured. If he spent so much time on running, how would he have time for studying? He couldn't have studied as hard as I could, surely." Said Mingzhu. "So I expected him to basically crash and burn within a semester."]
[00:13] <Yanmei> "But he didn't," she wagered.
[00:17] <AdEvaGM> ["Well. The subjects we shared? He passed them. Not as well as I did, of course." Said Mingzhu, as if daring Yanmei to doubt that she got top marks. "But he managed to hold his own. I didn't think much of it. He was just this undeclared student who seemed to take what looked interesting. Didn't know what he wanted to do- so irresponsible, to me…" Mingzhu was quiet for a moment.-
[00:17] <AdEvaGM> ["I figured he'd just coast by on his 'acceptables'."]
[00:20] * Yanmei had drifted closer to the bed and was now settling down onto it, mystified. "What happened then?"
[00:21] <AdEvaGM> ["It turns out that he wasn't the laid-back coaster I thought he was. He saw my high grades and approached me one day, asking me to help him study the material." She smiled, a little wistfully. "Even though he didn't have to try any harder to pass… He did anyway. That impressed me, I think."]
[00:24] <Yanmei> "So you fell in love with him," she was grinning now, "because he was secretly passionate about his work!"
[00:37] <AdEvaGM> ["Haha." Mingzhu chuckled. "Yes. Well. Not -only- because of that. I care about other things too." She said wryly. "I fell in love because he was sweet and charming, and because he made me feel really comfortable all the time. I wasn't a shy person." Added Mingzhu. "But I was very insular. I didn't open up to anyone… But I opened up to him. I bared everything for him."]
[00:41] <Yanmei> "He sounds like a really good guy. Someone trustworthy."
[00:43] <AdEvaGM> ["He was." Said Mingzhu quietly. "For me, it wasn't the apocalypse that made September 13, 2000 the worst day of my life. I really did almost completely break down…"]
[00:45] * Yanmei went quiet too, sympathetically. Her hand, now resting on the bedsheet twitched a little, as if she wanted to do something with it, but wasn't sure how.
[00:47] <AdEvaGM> ["I survived, of course. I needed to- for your sake." She smiled. "But I don't know if I can ever really love anyone else like I loved him. He was special."]
[00:51] <Yanmei> "I'm sorry, Mom." Her default response to her pain. It felt so feeble, just saying that over and over. She bowed her head a little. "I wish he had made it. I think we would have gotten along."
[00:52] <AdEvaGM> ["Oh, he probably would've spoiled you rotten. But it's alright." Said Mingzhu. She… Patted Yanmei's hand. "The thing is… It took me a long time to come to terms with his death. I gritted my teeth and bore it, but only because I absolutely had to. But it… Hurt."-
[00:53] <AdEvaGM> ["But do you think less of me for hurting?"]
[00:56] * Yanmei shook her head slowly. "I know it hurt you. I figured it out a long time ago. It's why you never talked about him much."
[01:00] <AdEvaGM> [Mingzhu smiled. But it was a concerned, sad smile. "That's right. It took me a lot of courage to say what I just said. It's not something I tell just anyone. I don't think I've told anyone at all."]
[01:05] <Yanmei> Yanmei's eyes took on a new focus. She bit her lip, trying to think of how to phrase the things she wanted to say. "I understand," she started out quietly. "You want me to… match your courage too."
[01:06] <AdEvaGM> [Mingzhu smiled. "Yes. I want you to be able to trust me with… Things like this. I'm your mother, Yanmei. I want to help."]
[01:13] <Yanmei> "Back when I was still running, you never came to any of my meets," Yanmei crossed her ankles as she talked, trying to pretend that this was less difficult than it was. "But I understood. I did! Because your work was important. But I thought… that maybe if you came to one, just once, that I would run as hard as I could, no matter how worn out I was. Even if I had muscle cramps, or was half-dead from thirst."-
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[01:18] <Yanmei> "Because I thought that if you were there, and that you were happy about me working hard and being the best, then it would be fine. That's why today, I…" she hesitated, mouth slightly open. After a few beats, she closed it again. "I guess I messed up? I'm sorry."
[01:22] <AdEvaGM> [Mingzhu nodded slowly. "I thought so. I really only have myself to blame." She sighed. "I've been exceptionally busy recently. Beijing-2's NERV branch is very secretive, because even though it has a support role, it counts for a huge portion of NERV's entire resource output. So we're limited in how freely we can contact others… Well, no." She frowned. "That's an excuse. The truth is, I
[01:22] <AdEvaGM> -should've- rung you after Qaphsiel's attack. Or after the attack on St. Louis. I didn't, because… I felt uncomfortable. In truth, I was a little worried you might resent me for being so distant. But you don't. You understand the pressures I'm under, and you never demand anything of me…" Mingzhu smiled softly.-
[01:23] <AdEvaGM> ["I'm here now, though. So if you want to talk… About anything. About how worried or scared you might be feeling now… Mother's here, blossom." It wasn't something she said very often. In fact she sounded a little awkward saying it, but it was earnest.]
[01:31] * Yanmei nodded, slowly at first, and then more feverantly. "Thank you. I…" Her mouth was horribly dry, sticky. She decided to ignore it instead of getting a cup of water. Her hands gripped the sheets. "This is the first time I've been able to leave that hallway for more than a few minutes. I don't know why this happened, so it could happen again when I'm not standing there to protect him!"
[01:32] <AdEvaGM> ["NERV security should be able to handle it here… But." Mingzhu nodded. "That's a pretty understandable concern. Do you want to go back to the hallway?"]
[01:34] <Yanmei> "Yes. I'm sorry." Her eyes flicked around the room. "It's more comfortable for you to be in here, isn't it? If you'd like to stay…"
[01:35] <AdEvaGM> ["No, I'm fine." Said Mingzhu, standing up. "Let's go."]
[01:40] <Yanmei> "Right." She took a deep breath and stood as well and started to lead the way back.
[01:40] <AdEvaGM> [Mingzhu followed.-
[01:43] <AdEvaGM> [Rei was sitting on her seat, where Yanmei had left her. She was still wearing a determined expression, but at some point was also reading a manga.-
[01:43] <AdEvaGM> [… The one place that wasn't as Yanmei remembered was the room. Isaiah's room. She'd feared coming back to it, seeing it covered in blood…-
[01:43] <AdEvaGM> [… And that's exactly what she saw…]
[01:49] <Yanmei> It was the wrong ward. That was what she immediately thought when she came to an abrupt halt, starting at the glass. But Rei was there. And Isaiah. She could barely make him out between the crimson splattered across the glass and her eyesight, which was fogging up -fast- "N-no…"-
[01:52] <Yanmei> She started forward, reaching for him. "Too late… I… I screwed up again, I…" Her fingers hit the observation glass gently. Pain.
[01:57] <AdEvaGM> [For a moment, Yanmei would feel incredibly dizzy, like she wanted to throw up- then she'd feel her mother's hand on her shoulder. "Yanmei?"-
[01:58] <AdEvaGM> [The room… The blood was gone. Isaiah was lying there as Yanmei had remembered, breathing in and out, in his sleep…]
[02:03] <Yanmei> "…?!" Yanmei stared. She flattened her whole palm against the glass, and moved her fingers, and was suddenly -very- aware of her mother's position behind her. "Heh… heh heh…" She closed her eyes, trying to will away the moisture that had gathered there and smiled. "Just… just a joke… heh. I'm okay."
[02:05] <AdEvaGM> ["…" Mingzhu's mouth tightened. "I want you to get some rest as soon as I leave, alright?" She pulled over two chairs for herself and Yanmei.]
[02:09] <Yanmei> "Rest?" She didn't ignore the opportunity to sit down, but the thought of going back to her room for even an instant after that left a horrible feeling in the pit of her stomach. "…"
[02:10] <AdEvaGM> ["That's right. You're so pale…" …-
[02:10] <AdEvaGM> ["Yanmei?"]
[02:12] <Yanmei> "Hm?" She looked up.
[02:12] <AdEvaGM> ["…" Mingzhu took her hand. Gave it a squeeze. "Is there anything else you wanted to tell me?"]
[02:18] <Yanmei> "I…" she couldn't help but glance back at the glass. Still clean. "I guess I haven't been feeling so well? I felt sick before, too, during that time when they took Isaiah away and put him through surgery."
[02:20] <AdEvaGM> ["That's not surprising. You're very worried about him. Even if you tell me otherwise."]
[02:22] <Yanmei> "Yeah," she murmured. "I think that must be it."
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[02:36] <AdEvaGM> ["Why don't you tell me a little about him? Take your mind back to happier times."]
[02:46] <Yanmei> "All right." She found a smile for her. "I think I can manage that. Hm. Let me tell you about the way he helped me when we were running for studenr council…" And she launched into the story, all too happy for something to take her mind off recent events.
[02:49] <AdEvaGM> [And Mingzhu listened, attentively, as Yanmei told the story.-
[02:49] <AdEvaGM> [Time passed…-
[02:49] <AdEvaGM> [… Mingzhu glanced at her watch and groaned a little.]
[02:51] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei knew what was coming. Still, she made herself smile. "You have to go."
[02:53] <AdEvaGM> ["It's nearly 3 AM." Said Mingzhu apologetically. "… And Beijing-2's Director ordered me to return instantly, because he's afraid I might be targetted for assassination as well. So we won't be able to have that dinner."]
[02:57] <Yanmei> "Instantly? Ah… ah, I see."
[02:58] <AdEvaGM> ["Yeah. My flight leaves in a few hours. I'm sorry, blossom."]
[03:00] * Yanmei offered her warmest smile and shook her head. "No, no, it's okay. It was enough to see you again. I'm happy we could talk like this."
[03:01] <AdEvaGM> ["I am, too." Said Mingzhu. She stood up. "I'll try to… Keep in touch a little more. W… Er, Would you like a hug?"]
[03:06] <Yanmei> "I think we should." Yanmei seemed a little awkward herself, as she stood alongside her. She opened her arms.
[03:07] <AdEvaGM> [Mingzhu hesitated, then stepped forward again and once more embraced her daughter. It was a solid hug. "I'm sorry for what's happened, blossom."]
[03:11] <Yanmei> "It will be okay," she murmured into her shoulder. "I'll contact you when he wakes up. I'll at least leave a message."
[03:13] <AdEvaGM> ["Alright." Said Mingzhu. "He's a very special young man. I'm glad that you have someone like him. Especially since… Well." She smiled. "Take care, blossom."]
[03:14] <Yanmei> "Goodbye, Mom." She smiled back at her, pulling back now.
[03:15] <AdEvaGM> [Mingzhu smiled- and headed down the hallway, waving as she went. Then… Gone.]
[03:17] * Yanmei watched her go, and she was out of sight before she let her smile falter. Slowly, she sank back down on her chair. Gone again. Just like that…

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