Shopping For Lingerie

[20:35] <Elisha> [Today may very well have been just another day to Raphael. February 14th- the anniversary of the Valentines Day Treaty, when the militaries of much of the world were brought under UN control. A soldier like him would probably never really equate it with its other purpose…-
[20:35] <Elisha> [… There was a knock on the door to his office.]
[20:43] <Raphael> And in honour of the great victory this day stood for, Raphael had already secured his own little success. In his hands he held today’s mail, which he’d managed to get a hold of before Sergeant Kirishima had been able to intercept and sort it for him. It was a rare joy to be able to sort through his own correspondence for once, and he didn’t turn his attention away from it for
[20:43] <Raphael> something as minor as a knock on the door.-
[20:44] <Raphael> "Come in."
[20:47] <Elisha> [The door opened just a peek, Mana's head peering around the crack.-
[20:47] <Elisha> ["Good morning, sir~"]
[20:51] <Raphael> "Ah, Sergeant Kirishima." Raphael says, glancing up at the voice and leaving the mail fanned out on the desk before him in plain sight. "Did you need something?"
[20:53] <Elisha> ["I see you've taken the initiative to collect your mail, sir."]
[20:55] <Raphael> "Well, I just managed to beat you to the punch today, Sergeant." He says, looking almost proud of the fact.
[20:56] <Elisha> ["Well, you missed something, sir~"]
[20:57] <Raphael> … He most certainly had not. "I'm sorry?"
[20:58] <Elisha> ["You missed one of the parcels, sir. The most important one!" She said, beaming.]
[21:01] <Raphael> "… My mailbox was empty, Sergeant. Did this just arrive?"
[21:02] <Elisha> ["It arrived this morning, sir." She said innocently. "You must've just missed it somehow."]
[21:03] <Raphael> "…" Raphael gives her his best steely-eyed stare of command.-
[21:04] <Raphael> "You got there first, didn't you?"
[21:04] <Elisha> "Of course, sir. You'll thank me for it, honest."
[21:06] * Raphael sighs. "If you insist, Sergeant Kirishima. Bring it in, then."
[21:08] <Elisha> ["Yes, sir!" She opened the door and stepped in.-
[21:08] <Elisha> [Held in her hands was a large box, clearly pink, with a little white ribbon tied around it and an envelope.]
[21:13] * Yanmei (~ten.nozirev.soif.apalhp.871-301-2-801-loop|3tmretrac#ten.nozirev.soif.apalhp.871-301-2-801-loop|3tmretrac) has joined #nervfrance2
[21:18] * Raphael 's eyes widen slightly as he stares at the box, feeling the bottom of his stomach drop away. He sets what's left of the mail down on the corner of his desk, folds his hands and coughs gently. "… You have my thanks, Sergeant." He says seriously.
[21:19] <Elisha> ["I thought to myself, sir, 'What if Colonel Amatore were to see this?'" Mana stepped over to the table, setting it down. "She'd never let you live it down. I'm watching your six, sir, don't you worry~ <3"]
[21:24] <Raphael> Raphael raises an eyebrow a fraction as he looks up at Mana's innocent expression. There's no hint of any ulterior motive there, no trace of amusement. It only serves to make him more nervous. "… You worry me sometimes, Sergeant." He says, and begins to search for a tag… though he has little doubt about who it's from.
[21:25] <Elisha> [The thick envelope on the front is clearly addressed to 'Raffy-kun ~<3~'…]
[21:26] <Raphael> … Mhmm.-
[21:28] <Raphael> With a soft sigh he seperates the envelope from the rest of the package and uses a letter opener to slice it open with unusual care.
[21:29] <Elisha> [A letter falls out, along with a photograph.-
[21:31] <Elisha> [The letter is fairly simple and short. "Dear Raffy-kun: Happy Valentine's Day! I hope you appreciate just how much work I put into this! I had to call in a lot of favours, so make sure you enjoy it a lot, ok? Stay safe. Don't do anything stupid just because you're piloting a bigger robot, now. It's not the size of the machine, it's how you pilot it. Just ask Shinji.-
[21:32] <Elisha> ["I will definitely be able to come by around March, so I'll see you then. Lots of love- Captain Misato Katsuragi."-
[21:33] <Elisha> [The photograph was of the Captain herself- bending over towards the camera, flashing a peace sign- wearing ludicrously short jeans and a very loose yellow singlet.-
[21:33] <Elisha> [Mana, who had been peering curiously over at the contents, blushed and turned away, giggling madly.]
[21:37] <Raphael> In slight-of-hand feat worthy of the wizard herself, the photo is swept off the desk and into a drawer less than an instant after it fell from the envelope… but not fast enough. "You. Saw. -Nothing-." Raphael says to Mana's back.
[21:37] <Elisha> ["O-Oh my, sir…"]
[21:39] <Raphael> "-Nothing-."
[21:51] <Elisha> ["Y-Yes, sir."]
[21:54] <Raphael> "… Good." Raphael mutters, letting out a long breath. "I'm sure you have things to see to, Sergeant."
[21:54] <Elisha> ["B-But sir, I wanted to see what she got you!"]
[21:55] <Raphael> "Yes, I'm sure you did." Raphael says darkly.
[21:58] <Elisha> ["Please, sir?" She pleaded, her eyes wide and innocent.]
[22:03] <Raphael> "This is personal business, Sergeant."
[22:04] <Elisha> ["Alriiight, sir." Said Mana disappointedly. "But may I make one request, sir?"]
[22:08] <Raphael> "… Alright."
[22:09] <Elisha> ["Once you're done, please promptly proceed outside for your debriefing, sir."]
[22:12] * Raphael eyes the girl for a moment before letting out a little snort of amusement and gesturing towards the door. "We'll see. Run along, Sergeant."
[22:18] <Elisha> ["Yes, sir!" She would quickly slip away.]
[22:23] * Raphael keeps up his stern stare for a few more moments after Mana slips out the door before letting it drop and raising one hand to press to his face. He fishes around in his pants pocket for a moment, eventually pulling free his keyring and locking the drawer with its incriminating photograph. Only when all this is done does he set about unwrapping the rest of the gift, trying to prepare
[22:23] * Raphael himself for anything all the while.
[22:26] <Elisha> [The gift would quickly be unwrapped, and of course the box would open. It wasn't a store box- this was obviously not store-bought.-
[22:27] <Elisha> [Within was… Chocolate. A giant block of milk chocolate, lovingly shaped like the head of a penguin…]
[22:36] <Raphael> "… Hmm." It was certainly not what he had been expecting. It wasn't even embarrassing. It was just… well, it was pretty cute, actually. After admiring the design for a moment longer he selects one of the less noticable portions and breaks off a small piece to test.
[22:38] <Elisha> [The chocolate isn't 'solid'- the solid shell encompasses smooth, creamy chocolate truffle within that melts in Raphael's mouth. It's… Actually pretty damned good.]
[22:43] <Raphael> He's cautious at first - He had seen Misato's cooking in the past, and knew enough to be wary. But this… this was something else entirely. That first taste test became a second, and then eventually a third.-
[22:45] <Raphael> Some time later, Mana would hear the tell-tale click of Rapahel's door coming open. The Group-Captain's head would emerge a moment later, followed by the rest of him when he'd made sure that the coast was clear. He's carrying the pink box in his free hand, the ribbon neatly rewrapped around it.-
[22:46] <Raphael> "Sergeant?" He asks quietly. "Can I trust you to find a safe hiding spot for this until my shift is over?"
[22:46] <Elisha> [Mana's eyes shine. "Of course, sir."]
[22:49] <Raphael> "Good." He says, glancing warily at the door again. "It's a shame it'd be discovered in any of the fridges."
[22:50] <Elisha> ["Don't worry, sir. There are places in this building that have been seen by only me."]
[22:51] <Raphael> … That earns her a slightly suspicious look, but he doesn't see fit to comment any further. In fact he's already edging back towards his office.
[22:51] <Elisha> ["W-Wait, sir!"]
[22:54] * Raphael sighs. His stealthy attempt at a retreat has failed him. "… Sergeant?"
[22:55] <Elisha> ["Sir, it's really important that I debrief you. Valentine's Day is serious business. Besides…" She opened her desk and took out what looked like a little bag of chocolate. "I haven't given you -my- chocolate yet."]
[22:57] * Raphael seems a little startled by that. "… S-Sergeant Kirishima, that's sweet, but I…" He hesitates, and this time when he glances towards the door it's more the look of someone seeking reinforcements. "It's hardly appropriate."
[22:58] <Elisha> [Mana put her hands on her hips and actually -hmphed- at him. "This is what happens when you go into situations without intelligence, sir." She held out her chocolate. "This is for you. It's Obligation Chocolate."]
[23:00] * Raphael accepts the chocolate cautiously. "… that sounds as though it should be hurtful, Sergeant."
[23:02] <Elisha> ["Oh, don't worry, sir. It's cheap, but it's good." She pulled out her desk drawer, displaying a seemingly endless number of identical bags. "I bought one for every other guy in the building that I speak to. That's because it's Obligation Chocolate- you're -obliged- to buy some for guys you know on Valentine's Day."]
[23:04] <Raphael> "… This is a Japanese tradition, I assume?"
[23:04] <Elisha> ["That's right, sir!"]
[23:06] <Raphael> "So…" He points at the pink box. "This is also an Obligation?"
[23:07] <Elisha> ["Well…" She peered at the box. "Do you mind if I have a look at the contents itself?"]
[23:08] <Raphael> "I suppose."
[23:09] <Elisha> [Mana lifted open the lid, and- gasped. "Oh my~!"]
[23:13] * Raphael waits patiently, glancing back to the door every time a shadow moves beyond the frosted glass.
[23:14] <Elisha> ["See, sir. You buy Obligation Chocolate for guys you know, but when it comes to people you -love- you buy them true love chocolate. But this… This is homemade, right? This is amazing. It's like super true love chocolate deluxe: limited edition, CoTY."]
[23:15] <Raphael> "I…" He coughs. "… I think you might be overstating things, Sergeant." She was, right?
[23:15] <Elisha> ["I dunno, sir… But I do know one thing."]
[23:18] <Raphael> "What's that?"
[23:18] <Elisha> ["White Day is only a month away, and now the onus is on you to send back a -really- good present."]
[23:21] <Raphael> A little bit of worry is beginning to creep in to his expression now. He's terrible at this sort of thing. He practically had Suzie help pick out her own birthday presents last year. "… another tradition, Sergeant?"
[23:21] <Elisha> ["That's right, sir. On the 14th of March, it's customary that the men who received chocolate on Valentine's Day buy gifts in return for the women who gave them those gifts."]
[23:23] <Raphael> "Hmmm." Well, that could have been worse. "And these gifts can be anything?"
[23:24] <Elisha> ["Oh no, sir. For a gift like this, only one thing is appropriate in return."]
[23:25] <Raphael> … This was more like it. "And what's that, Sergeant?" He asks, the resignation in his voice now thick enough to choke on.
[23:25] <Elisha> ["Expensive white lingerie, sir."]
[23:27] * Raphael 's retreat back towards his office begins again without even time for a second thought.
[23:28] <Elisha> ["Sir!" Mana stood up, hands on her hips as she followed. "You can't just walk away from this! Imagine how much work she put into that chocolate. She must be a really, really good cook- it'd be way too expensive otherwise…"]
[23:32] <Raphael> "She… I… I don't think we're at the lingere stage of our relationship, sergeant!" He says, reaching for the door. "I'm hardly even clear on what our stage is, but I'm reasonably clear on that. She can hardly be expecting…"
[23:35] <Elisha> ["Sir." Mana's voice was clear and uncommonly hard. It was the voice of authority, the voice of the Professor Emeritus of the Department of Love. "Imagine this from her point of view. She went the whole nine yards to create you a unique gift on a day when -buying moderately expensive chocolate is considered the norm for lovers-. How disappointed will she be when she doesn't get anything in return?" She shook her head mournfully. "Sir, a woman goes into these sorts of things with particular expectations, and a gentleman would do his best to fulfil them."]
[23:41] <Raphael> … that makes him stop, for the moment at least. His shoulders sag slightly, with his face still turned away from the Professor. "… Is this really what one expects, Sergeant?"
[23:45] <Elisha> ["Absolutely, sir. I know that if I were in Captain Katsuragi's position I would be expecting both lace panties -and- a bra, sir. Worth at least 150 francs."]
[23:49] <Raphael> "Alright." He murmurs. The sounds of a man defeated. Of a man crushed beneath the great steel-toed boot of Romance. "Alright, Sergeant. I'll keep it in mind."
[23:49] <Elisha> ["Sir?"]
[23:50] <Raphael> "Mmm?"
[23:52] <Elisha> ["I understand this is a confronting situation, sir." Said Mana, sympathetically. "And it's hardly something I expect a man such as yourself to really understand. I also understand that you may be lacking suitable companions who can help you. So…" She smiled. "Sometime soon, I'll take you out and help you find a suitable gift. Alright?"]
[23:55] <Raphael> "I… don't think that's really- … Sergeant, I'm sure I'll be fine…"
[23:56] <Elisha> ["I'm really not sure you will be, sir." Said Mana seriously.]
[23:59] * Raphael finally turns to face her, his face as grim as she'd have seen it before any other battle. And that's what this was. It's as the great pre-Impact bard Pat Benetar had once told the world: Love was a battlefield.-
[23:59] <Raphael> "I'll find a way, Sergeant."
[00:01] <Elisha> ["Sir, with all due respect, there are all sorts of considerations that go into purchases like this." Mana's face was just as grim- the face of a girl who knew the pain of a too-small brassier. "Just think about them for a moment."]
[00:04] <Raphael> "…" Love was a battlefield. And in war, sacrifices were required. But the cost in this case… "Miss Kirishima, I can hardly be seen shopping for lingerie with a 16-year-old girl. The rumours alone…"
[00:06] <Elisha> ["I can make the appropriate arrangements, sir. Trust me, you'll be at no risk."]
[00:13] <Raphael> "… Fine."
[00:13] <Elisha> [Mana beamed. "You won't regret it, sir. Would you like me to come in disguise?"]
[00:17] <Raphael> "…" He was already regretting it.-
[00:17] <Raphael> "I need to sort my mail." Raphael mutters, disappearing through the door and locking it behind him.
[00:24] <Elisha> [Montrouge-2 Mall…-
[00:24] <Elisha> [A busy, bustling day today. The mall's main streets were actually genuinely crowded.]
[00:35] * Raphael was sitting in a booth at the little coffee shop where they'd agreed to meet, sipping a lemonade and wishing for something harder. His outfit would look shockingly casual to anyone who was used to his NERV persona - He was clad in nothing fancier than a pair of jeans and a rather nice blue polo shirt.
[00:45] <Elisha> ["Sir?"-
[00:46] <Elisha> [If he were to look up, he'd see Mana, wearing a long white dress under a thick white coat- and at his side, a cheerful, intelligent-looking lady wearing glasses and a neat, smart blue sweater and coat… Euphrasie Beringer.]
[00:50] <Raphael> "…" His gaze goes from Euphrasie to Mana and back again, staying there for a few moments before he drains what's left of his lemonade and grinds the heels of his hands into his eyes.
[00:51] <Elisha> ["Oh dear." Said Euphrasie, clucking her tongue. "Are you alright, Sir?"]
[00:53] <Raphael> "As though you didn't come here hoping for this reaction, Euphrasie."
[00:59] <Elisha> ["It was part of the sales pitch, sir, yes."]
[01:01] <Raphael> "Mmm."
[01:01] <Elisha> [She patted him consolingly on the shoulder. "How do you get yourself into these situations?"]
[01:06] <Raphael> "I've been asking myself the same question." He mutters finally pulling his hands away and trying to draw on that sense of calm that has pulled him through so many other difficult situations. "So how much has our young wizard told you?"
[01:07] <Elisha> ["You're shopping for Valentine's Day gifts for a particularly exotic lady of high taste and class. Exotic gifts for an exotic lady, if you will."]
[01:12] <Raphael> "Mmm." He murmurs, his gaze flicking over to Mana for the briefest of moments. "We both know I wouldn't have asked for your help if Sergeant Kirishima here hadn't dragged you into this herself, I hope."
[01:12] <Elisha> ["Of course, sir. But I think she did the right thing."]
[01:13] <Raphael> "And how's that?"
[01:15] <Elisha> ["Personally, sir, I think it'd be something of a waste to spend all that money on clothes that end up being uncomfortable for one reason or another."]
[01:16] * Raphael just nods, giving his empty bottle a morose look. "So… would you two like a drink before we go, or would you prefer to just get to it?"
[01:20] <Elisha> ["A drink would be nice." Said Mana happily. "We can try to have fun!"]
[01:24] <Raphael> "We can -try-." Raphael says, waving down a waitress and beginning to order…
[01:32] <Elisha> [Several drinks later…-
[01:32] <Elisha> ["So." Said Mana, smiling. "Where do we go first, Sir?"}
[01:37] <Raphael> "I was thinking we might start at Géant…"
[01:38] <Elisha> ["No." Mana frowned.]
[01:38] <Raphael> "… No?"
[01:39] <Elisha> ["No. Look, Géant is ok if you're, say, buying Rei a bra, but it isn't going to cut it if you want Captain Katsuragi to feel good about her clothes."]
[01:42] <Raphael> "Why would I be buying Rei a bra…?" Raphael murmurs.
[01:43] <Elisha> ["Well, you -are- basically her dad…"]
[01:43] <Elisha> [Euphrasie was frowning a little.]
[01:44] <Raphael> "…" Raphael scratches the back of his neck with one hand and toy's with one of his empty soft drink bottles with the other. "… so where do you suggest?"
[01:44] <Elisha> ["Well, I think what we need to do is figure out what sort you want-"-
[01:45] <Elisha> ["Wow." Euphrasie suddenly lightened up. "Katsuragi? -The- Katsuragi~?"]
[01:46] <Raphael> "W-Wait…" He says hurriedly, holding up his hands, eyes showing real panic. "I thought you kne-… Mana, I thought you told her!"
[01:46] <Elisha> ["Huh?" Mana was caught off-guard. "I did!"-
[01:47] <Elisha> ["… Bah." Euphrasie shot Mana a look. "You're no fun."]
[01:48] * Raphael 's hands maintain position for a moment, before dropping back to the tabletop withe enough force to rattle the tabletop, giving Eurphasie the darkest of looks all the while.
[01:48] <Raphael> «Rattle the glasses*»
[01:50] <Elisha> ["Sorry, sir." She looks contrite enough to be sincere.-
[01:54] <Elisha> ["Ahem. As I was saying." Said Mana. "I think you need to think about what sort of look you want here, sir."]
[01:57] <Raphael> "I would have no idea where to begin, Sergeant." Raphael says helplessly. "Is there really that much of a difference?"
[01:58] <Elisha> ["Of course, sir. Let me put it to you like this. What would -you- like to see Captain Katsuragi wear?"-
[01:58] <Elisha> [Euphrasie dissolved into a collection of unladylike giggles.]
[01:59] <Raphael> "… I can't believe we're having this conversationg."
[01:59] <Raphael> «Conversation*»
[01:59] <Elisha> ["It's an important conversation, sir."]
[02:02] <Raphael> "I don't know, Sergeant. You said white and lace was important. Why don't we just do that?" He says, glancing over at Euphrasie and dropping his voice a little. "Don't think I'll forget this next time you come to me looking for delicate advice."
[02:07] <Elisha> ["S-Sorry, sir."-
[02:07] <Elisha> ["Well, white is important. But it need not be lace. We could think of maybe… Silk? Or some sheer, flimsy material."]
[02:08] * Raphael shifts in his seat with clear discomfort. "… silk sounds fine."
[02:12] <Elisha> ["Well, when we get there, you can feel the different textures."]
[02:14] * Raphael seems a little more comfortable with that, at least. Perhaps it's just the idea of a slightly more concrete goal? "That's fine. Should we get started?"
[02:15] <Elisha> ["Lead the way, Mana."-
[02:18] <Elisha> [Their first stop was a large lingerie store called Perfect Fit. Row upon row of colourful lingerie awaited Raphael, the shop adorned with scantily clad manikins.]
[02:27] * Raphael finds a row and begins searching almost methodically, moving from one rack to the next with his head down. After a couple of minutes he's accumulated a fair few sets, all white, most reasonably expensive (Possibly for fear of more reprisals from Mana), and perhaps surprisingly most leaning strongly towards covering more than less.
[02:29] <Elisha> ["Hmmm." Mana peers at them. "Well, which ones do you like?"]
[02:33] <Raphael> "These are nice, I suppose…" Raphael says after a moment of thought, holding up a simple set that looks a lot like a set one might find at any discount retailer, except for the silk fabric, the lace trim and several other touches that give away the higher price tag.
[02:47] <Elisha> ["They -are- nice. And they're good and modest, too." Said Mana. "Supportive…" She took it and compared it to herself. "Fairly roomy, too, I think."]
[02:48] <Raphael> "I thought they'd kind of need to b-" Raphael begins rather conversationally, before realizing what he's saying and stopping dead.
[02:52] <Elisha> ["…" Euphrasie whistles.]
[02:53] <Raphael> "… Are they suitable?" Raphael mumbles, shutting his eyes for a moment.
[02:53] <Elisha> ["Yeah, I think so."]
[02:54] <Raphael> "Euphrasie?"
[02:54] <Elisha> ["Mmmhmm?"]
[02:56] <Raphael> "What do you think?"
[02:58] <Elisha> [Euphrasie turned a giggle fit into a tactful cough. "Well, they do look very nice. I would wear them. Size-wise, I-I'm not s-sure, it s-s-seems as though y-you know her b-breasts better than I-"-
[02:58] <Elisha> [Giggles. Endless giggles.]
[03:00] * Raphael purses his lips and tries to wait them out, though he does seem incapable of glancing around at least a little to make sure they're not attracting stares.
[03:01] <Raphael> «of not*»
[03:02] <Elisha> ["T-They seem good, sir." Says Euphrasie, regaining her composure.]
[03:04] <Raphael> "Alright." Raphael says, with a bit of finality to his tone. "Then I think they'll-… ah, Mana? These are… extravagant enough to not hurt the Captain's feelings?
[03:11] <Elisha> ["I think these are good. You got the matching bottoms, right?"]
[03:13] <Raphael> "Right."
[03:14] <Elisha> ["Then I think that's all rather set~"-
[03:14] <Elisha> ["Someone's a lucky man." Said Euphrasie, grinning.]
[03:17] * Raphael looks thoughtful for a moment giving Euphrasie a ghost of a smile. "… I think so." He says, gathering up the set and replacing the rest on the racks.
[03:25] <Elisha> ["See? That wasn't so bad, was it? Think about how happy she'll be."]
[03:27] <Raphael> "Yeah…" He says, the smile widening for a moment before he manages to remind himself of the business at hand. "I'm going to go and pay for these two. I'll see you both outside?"
[03:29] <Elisha> ["We'll be waiting!" Mana and Euphrasie headed out…]

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