Stork S Agenda

[07:51] * Yanmei was dressed in uniform again. A laptop was tucked under one arm, and Rei walked alongside her with a clipboard. -
[07:53] <Yanmei> The previous day, filled with reunions, wine, and worries, had ended late, and she was still feeling its effects. For now, however, it was vital to pretend that she was fine until they got through their list of candidates. "Who's first, Rei?"
[08:00] <Minaplo> [Rei was wearing her uniform, too, bearing the insignia of a Second Lieutenant. Rei had also brought along photographs, since she felt it was necessary that the candidates could see 'Annie-chan's cute and innocent face'.-
[08:00] <Minaplo> ["Why don't we try Ni?"]
[08:03] <Yanmei> "Hm, okay. We'll try her quarters first?" And off they went to do just that, politely knocking when they arrived.
[08:06] <Minaplo> ["The door's open."]
[08:07] <Yanmei> "Sorry for dropping by so early, Pilot Ni. Do you have time to talk?" Yanmei opened the door, peeking inside.
[08:15] <Minaplo> [It was a lovely apartment, like many on the battleship- not as ostentatious as the officers' quarters, of course, but there was still a large bed…-
[08:16] <Minaplo> [Ni- an Ayanami with red hair- had once guided Yanmei around Leningrad-2. She'd been very proper and business-like, professional and mature.-
[08:18] <Minaplo> [Right now, however, she was sitting cross-legged on her bed, wearing shorts and a tank top, happily playing with four kittens- a black one, a tabby, a Persian white and a tortoiseshell-and-white one.-
[08:18] <Minaplo> [Next to Yanmei, Rei trilled with delight.-
[08:19] <Minaplo> ["Good morning, Captain. I'm not busy, no- please, come in." Said Ni, politely.]
[08:24] <Yanmei> "Thank you very much." She came further into the room, still standing, trying hard not to be distracted by the adorable kitties. "How have you been getting along? It seems like it's been ages, doesn't it?"
[08:33] <Minaplo> ["I suppose it has." Said Ni, looking down at her kittens with a sad expression. "The last time we talked, Natasha was still alive, and I wasn't dealing with our mess of a Major."]
[08:41] <Yanmei> "I'm sorry. It can't be easy," she said sympathetically. "You… very much respected her, as I remember."
[08:42] <Minaplo> ["She was a good friend." Said Ni, sadly. She scratched one of the kittens beneath the chin.-
[08:43] <Minaplo> ["If she were to die, it would've been better to die against a real foe, not put down by an ally."]
[08:46] <Yanmei> "…" -
[08:47] <Yanmei> "William was very much distressed about it too," she said after a moment.
[08:47] <Minaplo> ["I know. I don't mean to imply that I hold him to blame. If he hadn't acted, many could've died."-
[08:47] <Minaplo> ["But it was an ignoble death nevertheless."]
[08:54] <Yanmei> "Ignoble… Not the way a soldier should die, yeah."
[08:55] <Minaplo> [Rei looked between Ni and Yanmei, a worried expression on her face.-
[08:55] <Minaplo> [Ni sighed.-
[08:55] <Minaplo> ["Captain Zhang, did you know I am being considered for promotion to captain myself within the next few weeks?"]
[08:56] <Yanmei> "Congratulations, Ni. I think you would make an excellent one."
[08:57] <Minaplo> ["Thank you, Captain Zhang. I just wish it were in better circumstances." Said Ni, a tinge of bitterness in her voice.-
[08:57] <Minaplo> ["The only reason they're considering it is because Orlov isn't doing his duty, and I've been left to do it in his place."]
[08:59] <Yanmei> "That's a -ton- of pressure. Why haven't they given him a leave of absence and called in another officer from elsewhere to take over his duties?"
[09:02] <Minaplo> ["Because the HIC wants Hauptmann to take over, and he's a Lord High Magistrate, and-"-
[09:02] <Minaplo> [Ni's voice became quieter. "NERV doesn't trust him. He's too dangerous."-
[09:03] <Minaplo> ["So until then, I am stuck with Orlov, who spends his days drunk or asleep."]
[09:04] <Yanmei> "How do you keep yourself going?"
[09:06] <Minaplo> ["I play with my kittens and make the most of my leisure time." Said Ni.-
[09:06] <Minaplo> ["Captain Zhang, may I ask you an important question?"]
[09:07] <Yanmei> "Of course. Anything!"
[09:07] <Minaplo> ["Do you believe Operations Directors becoming romantically involved with their pilots is a mistake?"-
[09:07] <Minaplo> [Next to Yanmei, Rei stiffened a little.]
[09:13] <Yanmei> "It's not as if it hasn't been done before? But," she frowned a little, her brow furrowing, "it depends on the person, really. How clouded the OD's judgement would be as a result of that romance. The pilot, too, needs to be able to distinguish between their feelings for their commanding officer and their duty, and to elevate one above the other in a battle." -
[09:16] <Yanmei> "It can be done correctly, I believe, but I think it's difficult to find two people who can pull it off perfectly."
[09:17] <Minaplo> ["And what about this situation here, where Orlov has been completely broken thanks to Natasha's death? He has a lot of responsibility- isn't it irresponsible as an OD to risk your mental state like that?"-
[09:17] <Minaplo> [Rei bristled slightly.]
[09:21] <Yanmei> "Irresponsible? Wait, what was the nature of their relationship, exactly? Wasn't he just trying his best to bolster her and help her? Aren't those part of his duties too?"
[09:23] <Minaplo> [Ni shook her head. "I believe it started like that, but you knew Natasha. Very few people ever supported her in life, did they? Especially authority figures."]
[09:31] <Yanmei> "Well, yeah, that's probably true." She could do this. She could keep the squeamishness off her face. "Natasha seemed delicate. Emotionally. But Orlov…"
[09:32] <Minaplo> ["Orlov was recruited from the New Red Army after a decade of war with the Valentine forces. Unmarried." Added Ni.-
[09:33] <Minaplo> ["Natasha was so happy to have a caring mentor figure that she became completely enamoured with Orlov. And because of that, she began to become… More confident, more willing to try, and Orlov noticed. And then he became infatuated with her." Said Ni darkly.-
[09:34] <Minaplo> ["I don't know the full details. The proof I have is that I once saw them-" Ni's expression was awkward. "Sharing a kiss on the holidays. I don't know how far it went, whether it was sexual or not. But I do know that once Natasha died, Orlov became a complete wreck."-
[09:34] <Minaplo> [Rei squirmed, deeply uncomfortable.]
[09:38] * Yanmei held herself a bit more rigidly now. "But if the romance wasn't obvious to anyone until now, then they must have been very professional about working together in HQ at least. Although I suppose it doesn't matter much with the way things are now?"
[09:39] <Minaplo> ["It doesn't."-
[09:39] <Minaplo> ["Captain Zhang, may I ask another important question?"]
[09:40] <Yanmei> "Yes?" There was another preemptive stab of discomfort.
[09:40] <Minaplo> ["Do you believe my sister Rei's relationship with her OD is inappropriate?"-
[09:41] <Minaplo> ["Ni!" Said Rei, her voice full of hurt. "You're bringing this up again…?"]
[09:43] <Yanmei> "You disapprove of it, Ni?"
[09:44] <Minaplo> ["Of course I do." Said Ni firmly. "Major Wellesley and Rei both have a responsibility to the good of humanity. If either one of them dies-"-
[09:44] <Minaplo> ["Don't talk as though I'm not here, Ni!"-
[09:45] <Minaplo> ["Fine. If either one of you die, then the other will be devastated, and then either Wellesley will be unable to lead, or you'll be unable to pilot."-
[09:45] <Minaplo> ["If I die, I can be brought back…"-
[09:47] <Minaplo> ["There's no guarantee on that, Rei. And there's no guarantee he'd be happy with that, either." Said Ni. Harshly, perhaps. "And there aren't any backup Wellesley bodies, Rei. I heard how you reacted when he was captured by the Mafia. You dragged yourself out of hospital, tried to break out despite being nearly beaten to death, and then at one point you -did- break out and tried to singlehandedly
[09:48] <Minaplo> assault a Mafia HQ. That's not the actions of a rational person, Rei."-
[09:48] <Minaplo> ["…" Rei looked away, clearly angry- and hurt.]
[09:55] <Yanmei> Yanmei's eyebrows were raised quick high by this point. "Hey, don't fight you two. I'm sure Rei has learned that isn't the best course of action for when Wellesley's in danger? Isn't that also part of having a relationship? Learning how to react to its challenges?"
[09:55] <Yanmei> ^quite high
[09:56] <Minaplo> ["Captain Zhang, that is true, and I would agree if it weren't wartime. But not many relationships have the potential to end human civilization if something goes wrong." Said Ni, her tone remaining patient- through a fair amount of will.-
[09:58] <Minaplo> ["It won't go wrong." Muttered Rei mutinously. "I'll protect him, and I won't die… We love each other, and we become stronger because of that, Ni. What am I supposed to do?"-
[09:58] <Minaplo> ["Break up with him." Said Ni immediately. Rei recoiled as if she'd been slapped.-
[09:58] <Minaplo> ["I won't-!"-
[09:59] <Minaplo> ["Captain Zhang." Said Ni, her nostrils flaring, turning to Yanmei. "Please help convince my naive sister that she is making a mistake."]
[10:16] <Yanmei> "Ni…" Yanmei shook her head. "If I did, I'd be a hypocrite? You could say the same thing about me and Isaiah."
[10:20] <Minaplo> ["Not necessarily." Said Ni. "It is true that I have my reservations. But asking a pilot to have no social life is also dangerous. It is different- Wellesley is responsible for the defense of a huge portion of the Earth's surface. Their relationship by itself hinders his decision-making, and if Rei dies or is injured, he might end up like Orlov too."-
[10:21] <Minaplo> ["… Besides, at this point you're caring for a child and you're bonded together through an ancient AT bond, so I think the fight there is rather beyond saving, Captain."]
[10:26] <Yanmei> "Good point." Yanmei couldn't help but smirk a bit at that. "But forcing a break up, isn't going to stop those two from feeling the way they do about each other either. It might even tear them down. Fill them with bitterness. That sort of thing. And then, if the end comes, and one of them dies, they'll be filled with so much pain and regret…" A pause. "Rei and Alphonse, that is," she reaffirmed.
[10:28] <Minaplo> [Ni frowned, and rubbed the bridge of her nose.-
[10:29] <Minaplo> ["Fine, but surely we could mitigate the risks already present. Rei, have you told the Captain that you and Wellesley share a bed?"-
[10:29] <Minaplo> ["Ni! That's private!" Said Rei angrily, her face burning.]
[10:31] * Yanmei coughed delicately. "That's less surprising than you would think, Rei."
[10:32] <Minaplo> ["That doesn't matter, Meimei. That was a private-"-
[10:33] <Minaplo> ["Rei, please!" Said Ni, a hint of desperation in her voice. "What if you become pregnant?"-
[10:33] <Minaplo> ["Al and I aren't like that-"-
[10:33] <Minaplo> ["Oh, come on, Rei." Ni turned to Yanmei. "You -have- to see my side in this. A pair of lovesick teenagers at the height of physical fitness are not known for their self-control, Captain."]
[10:36] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei gave Rei a serious look. "You two -are- using protection…?"
[10:37] <Minaplo> ["I'm not even sure she knows about contraceptives." Muttered Ni.-
[10:39] <Minaplo> ["WE AREN'T LIKE THAT!" Shouted Rei, shooting to her feet, her face burning with anger- and humiliation. "I don't feel comfortable with it! I'm not like you or Chiicchin, Ni! You're both so adult, and I-I'm not…"-
[10:41] <Minaplo> ["It… It scares me. Even with Al, I feel scared about it, and I know I don't know everything about it… I've spent so much time just trying to feel -right- in this body, and sometimes it doesn't work so well. And I know sometimes that upsets Al a little, but I'm trying as hard as I can…"-
[10:42] <Minaplo> [… And now Rei looked like she was about to cry.]
[10:44] * Yanmei stood up now too, guilt plain in her eyes. She should have stopped this before it got to this point. "Rei… come on, deep breath. It's ok! We're sorry, aren't we?" she shot a glance at Ni.
[10:48] <Minaplo> [To Ni's credit, she looked deeply guilty, realising she had gone a little too far. "It's true. I shouldn't have tried to browbeat you. I didn't realise… I'm sorry." She swallowed.-
[10:51] <Minaplo> [Rei was shaking a little- and now she took a deep, shaky breath. And then another.-
[10:51] <Minaplo> ["… I shouldn't get so worked up." She mumbled.-
[10:51] <Minaplo> ["No, no, it's none of my business. Come over here. I'm sorry, Rei…"-
[10:52] <Minaplo> [Her expression still bearing a lot of hurt, Rei reluctantly walked over to the bed, sitting down on the edge.-
[10:53] <Minaplo> [In a magnificent display of rapid backpedalling, Ni plucked one of the kittens up and placed it on Rei's lap. "Here. Do you remember this one?"-
[10:55] <Minaplo> [It was the tortoiseshell-and-white one. Rei gulped, took another deep breath.-
[10:55] <Minaplo> ["T-This is the one Natasha-chan named." Said Rei. "Napoleon…"]
[10:56] <Yanmei> "Napoleon. It's a cute name," Yanmei smiled.
[10:59] <Minaplo> ["Yeah…" Said Rei, stroking the mewing kitten gently, still taking breaths.-
[11:00] <Minaplo> ["Would… You like to hold a kitten, Captain?" Asked Ni tentatively. "Three here. We have Cyrus-" She pointed at the Persian, "Gendo," she pointed at the black…-
[11:01] <Minaplo> ["And… Zaizai." She muttered, pointing at the tabby.]
[11:03] * Yanmei chuckled. "Why not? Here, fluffy Cyrus~"
[11:03] <Minaplo> [And before long, Yanmei would be holding an armful of fluffy Persian kitty.-
[11:06] <Minaplo> [It would take five or ten minutes of kittens and very gentle talk before some semblance of calm was fully restored… And Yanmei would have a chance to bring up the actual reason for coming here in the first place.]
[11:09] <Yanmei> "We did come to visit for a reason," Yanmei said, petting her kitty of choice. "You seem to have an awful lot on your plate as it is? But we were looking for a home for someone."
[11:09] <Minaplo> ["A home?"]
[11:13] * Yanmei nodded. "Rei… show her the pictures, please." -
[11:19] <Yanmei> "What you see here is something called a Friend-Type Miniature Annihilator. Technical just came up with it by request, but the person who originally wanted it has backed out of the deal." -
[11:21] <Yanmei> "That means this helpless little guy is all alone, and homeless. So we're trying to help him? It's completely loyal to the person it imprints upon, and apparently is rather gentle in nature." -
[11:24] <Yanmei> "And it's pretty intelligent too. You could teach it to speak and to help out around the home or office."
[11:24] <Minaplo> [Ni's eyebrows were quite high at this point.-
[11:25] <Minaplo> [Rei hurried to show off the pictures… Of cute little Mini-Annie asleep in a box.-
[11:25] <Minaplo> ["Oh, it's cute." Said Ni brightly.-
[11:25] <Minaplo> ["But I'm sorry. As you know, I'm very busy- and I have to be careful with what pets I buy. I don't even want to buy a dog in case it hurts my kittens."]
[11:27] <Yanmei> She really thought it was cute? "Heh. I'm sure it's more likely to play with them than it is to hurt them? But I understand. If you change your mind, you'll let us know, won't you?"
[11:27] <Minaplo> ["Of course."-
[11:27] <Minaplo> [Rei was visibly disappointed, but she tried to hide it.]
[11:28] * Yanmei patted Rei lightly on the shoulder. "We wanted someone responsible and caring to look after it, which is why you were our first choice."
[11:31] <Minaplo> ["Thank you."]
[11:35] <Yanmei> "We have a few others that we were going to talk to this morning too." she set the fluffy cat aside, almost reluctantly… and tried not to start at the very obvious long cat hairs littering her uniform now. "But even if you can't take the Friend-Type yourself, and suggestions or recommendations would really help us out too." She began to stand.
[11:36] <Minaplo> ["Have you considered Chiisana?"]
[11:37] <Yanmei> "Yeah. To my knowledge, she doesn't have any pets or responsibilities - well, aside from the usual. Think she'll be willing to do it?"
[11:39] <Minaplo> ["I believe so. She's always been fond of Ban-Ban, for example…"]
[11:40] * Yanmei nodded firmly. "We'll go to her next, then. Thank you so much for your help."
[11:40] <Minaplo> ["Not a problem. Would you care to borrow Cyrus for the day? You seemed rather attached…"]
[11:41] <Yanmei> "Oh, no no," Yanmei laughed. "That's okay. I'm sure he'll get bored going in and out of meetings all day. Let him play with his brothers a while."
[11:43] <Minaplo> ["Alright. Have a good day."-
[11:43] <Minaplo> ["You too, Ni…"]
[11:43] <Yanmei> "See you later~" -
[11:44] <Yanmei> And before long, they were outside in the hallway again. Yanmei spared a quick glance at Rei to gauge her mood.
[11:46] <Minaplo> [She seemed preoccupied, downcast… There was clear worry on her face.]
[11:48] <Yanmei> "We still have a long list to get through?" Yanmei reminded her, trying to sound cheery enough for the both of them. "But I'm sure Chiisana will be interested."
[11:49] <Minaplo> ["Yeah…" Said Rei, looking up just enough to give Yanmei a half-hearted smile.]
[11:52] * Yanmei nudged her warmly before leading her further down the hall. "She's like a worried parent, that Ni, don't you think? That stuff about duty and all is super transparent~"
[11:54] <Minaplo> ["… Mm." Rei tried another smile. It wasn't really working.-
[11:55] <Minaplo> ["…"]
[11:58] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei stopped walking. "Need a few minutes?"
[12:00] <Minaplo> [Rei stopped too, and she turned to Yanmei. "I… Yeah. Meimei, can we go somewhere and talk?"]
[12:02] <Yanmei> "Sure." She tried to think of a quiet spot with the ship scrabbling with preparations the way it was. "Your place? I'm sure Isaiah and Lizzie are back at mine still."
[12:03] <Minaplo> ["Ok." She led Yanmei onwards.-
[12:03] <Minaplo> [When they arrived at the sumptuous apartment, Rei walked over to one of the plush chairs, sat down- and buried her face in her hands.]
[12:05] * Yanmei found a chair opposite to hers. She waited, quietly, for her to compose herself and begin.
[12:06] <Minaplo> [Rei wasn't crying, but she was taking a lot of deep breaths.-
[12:06] <Minaplo> ["Meimei… Earlier, with Ni…"-
[12:06] <Minaplo> ["When you asked about protection, you thought Al and I…? Right?"]
[12:09] <Yanmei> "W-well, yes. With the conversation the way it was, I made an assumption about your intimacy? Sorry. I probably shouldn't have…"
[12:10] <Minaplo> ["No, it's alright. I just need to know something."]
[12:11] <Yanmei> "Sure."
[12:11] <Minaplo> ["Is… Is it weird that we aren't?" The distress on her face was showing through.]
[12:13] <Yanmei> "Not even the least bit," she said promptly. "You two have your reasons? Even if you didn't, not every relationship out there is the same."
[12:15] <Minaplo> ["That's good." Said Rei, and some of the tension bled out of her body.-
[12:15] <Minaplo> ["… Um…"]
[12:15] <Yanmei> "Hm?" she smiled encouragingly.
[12:16] <Minaplo> ["I can ask you for help with anything, right, Meimei?"]
[12:18] <Yanmei> "Naturally~" She threw her shoulders back and lifted her head up proudly.
[12:20] <Minaplo> ["Um…" She reddened. "Between piloting, and war, and attacks, I've been out of school a lot since I left Tokyo-2. Ni's right. I don't know about contraceptives or anything like that. I don't know much about anything to do with it."]
[12:23] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei was quiet for a long moment, and then she cleared her throat. She had said anything, hadn't she? Goddamn, this was her own fault… -
[12:25] <Yanmei> "W-well. Well. A lesson, then! I can explain some things if you want. Maybe not right now, but later, once I get some… visual aids and stuff?"
[12:26] <Minaplo> ["Um."-
[12:27] <Minaplo> [Rei blushed, looking away. "I-I don't know if that's necessary, Meimei. I-I just had a few questions, but if you're uncomfortable…"]
[12:29] <Yanmei> "No, no, I'm okay!" She laughed. "I mean, ask away, okay? I just didn't know how much you knew, that's all."
[12:31] <Minaplo> ["I know the… General idea." Said Rei awkwardly. "It's how babies are made, right?"-
[12:31] <Minaplo> ["… Well, except for Ban-Ban."-
[12:31] <Minaplo> ["… And me. And my sisters." She muttered.]
[12:36] <Yanmei> "And the Annihilator. And Navah," she added helpfully. "And yes, that's right. It's Biology 101 stuff?"
[12:38] <Minaplo> ["Right." Rei nodded.-
[12:42] <Minaplo> ["And its something lovers like to do…"]
[12:43] <Yanmei> "Yes, that's right." Yanmei nodded firmly.
[12:44] <Minaplo> ["Um…"]
[12:45] <Yanmei> "…?"
[12:46] <Minaplo> ["Do you and Zaizai…?"]
[12:51] <Yanmei> "We… don't get much alone time nowadays," she said with difficulty. A reddish color was starting to flood her cheeks. "W-we've done it, though?"
[12:52] <Minaplo> ["O-ok. Um. But you aren't carrying a baby right now, so you do something to stop that, right? Like some sort of AT Field for romance?"]
[12:56] <Yanmei> "I-" she stopped and pondered. He could make an AT Field now. Was something like that possible..? "*ahem* It's more mundane. There are pills you can take to lower the risk. Or there are little apparatuses you can use that work similarily. If you go to the sick bay, they have lots of free ones for both genders?"
[13:00] <Minaplo> ["Hm, alright. That's useful." Murmured Rei.-
[13:02] <Minaplo> ["Al knows more about this than I do, because he's so smart. But… I think I need to know about this sort of stuff." She said. "It's no good just following other people's leads all the time. Sometimes you need to know all the important facts, right?"]
[13:05] * Yanmei nodded firmly. "That's a good stance to take. A person has to think for themselves, right?"
[13:05] <Minaplo> ["Right." She nodded, mimicking Yanmei.-
[13:06] <Minaplo> ["And… How does it make you feel? It makes you feel happy, right?"]
[13:10] <Yanmei> "It's hard to describe? But it's generally pretty happy, yes."
[13:12] <Minaplo> ["Right…"-
[13:12] <Minaplo> [Rei paused, sighing a little. She pulled her legs up onto the chair, hugging them to her chest. It was a gesture in sharp contrast to the military neatness of the uniform.-
[13:13] <Minaplo> ["I've been trying really hard to feel at home in this skin. I've done really well at it, Meimei." She said quietly. "I want to be able to act like a normal person when it comes to things like this."-
[13:15] <Minaplo> ["Al's been really understanding. He doesn't push or anything- he waits for me to lead. I was the one who decided we should share a bed, and that sort of thing. But… But I don't know. There are times when we're together that I feel are special, and it feels like something should happen, but…"]
[13:20] <Yanmei> "Hey." Yanmei frowned. "If you force yourself, it's just going to make things awkward. Learning up on it is a good start, but your comfort level has to be up to the task too?" -
[13:21] <Yanmei> "Really, hesitation isn't that strange even for people who haven't had to make the same adjustments to their body as you did."
[13:22] <Minaplo> ["Were you like that, Meimei?"]
[13:27] <Yanmei> "Ah… *ahem*. I was… um…"
[13:28] <Minaplo> [Rei waited patiently, staring at Yanmei with those gentle, trusting eyes. She wouldn't judge…!]
[13:32] * Yanmei sighed. "At first, yeah, some. He was too, actually."
[13:33] <Minaplo> ["Hm." Rei pondered. "That makes sense. Zaizai's always been a bit shy about things, right?"]
[13:37] <Yanmei> "He really has. But we both turned out alright, somehow." She grinned at her. "You really love Alphonse, huh? Rushing out to save him, even though you were hospital-bound yourself…"
[13:43] <Minaplo> ["I do." Murmured Rei, her expression gentle. She smiled a little to herself. "I don't remember much of that. I was a little, um… Delirious, and they had a lot of the sleepy drugs in me. I sort of went a little crazy and started using a few, um. 'Ayanami tricks'. They take a bit of effort, but if I try I can ignore pain for a little bit, or get rid of panicky feelings so I can think
[13:43] <Minaplo> clearly, or stay awake for a week without sleeping. But, um… I had a broken leg, fractures in my arm, a lot of my ribs-"-
[13:43] <Minaplo> [Rei suddenly looked away, blushing furiously.]
[13:47] * Yanmei was laughing quietly. "It's still pretty incredible? Even on sedatives and with orders - I'm sure - to stay put, you still went after him. What got you to stop?"
[13:50] <Minaplo> ["Raffy. One of the doctors called him, and he had me taken back to hospital room, and he stayed with me until I calmed down- and he promised he'd do all sorts of things to get Al back."-
[13:51] * ZackSleep is now known as ZackStudy
[13:52] <Minaplo> ["That was the first time I tried to get out. The second time was really weird. It was after my leg healed, and I was sleeping in my room, and then it was like I was dreaming, and then I woke up, but I was on the battleship somehow, and I was over there." She pointed at a wardrobe. "Holding a bunch of Al's clothes, because they smelled like him. I don't know how I got up here at all,
[13:52] <Minaplo> though."]
[13:53] <Yanmei> "Huh?" she stared at the wardrobe "Wait. And you sure you didn't dream it too? You were really here?"
[13:55] <Minaplo> ["I do, because I remember Raffy escorting me back to the Geofront."]
[13:57] <Yanmei> "…weird. But Ni said you tried to assault the Mafia's Headquarters too?"
[13:59] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, that was the third time." Mumbled Rei. "I overheard one of the S2 agents guarding my room about Raffy trying to infiltrate some mafia base. So I knocked out the agent and then stole his clothes, and I managed to sneak out- but on the way I ran into Navah-chan, and -she- managed to give me this little radio that patched into Raffy's team's conversations, so I knew where they were.
[13:59] <Minaplo> Once I was out of the Geofront I went straight for it."-
[14:00] <Minaplo> ["I knocked out the guards there, and… My control over my AT Field wasn't great, so instead of bursting the door down I accidentally fired a huge cross through the wall and sort of caved it in."-
[14:01] <Minaplo> ["I was hunting their leader, I think they called him Mr. Blue. And I found him, after another accidental explosion, but he was really weird- he wasn't trying to fight, he kept trying to get me to kill him. He even said Al was dead…"-
[14:02] <Minaplo> ["Raffy was there too, but I don't remember much of the details. I remember being so… Angry, missing Al so much, that I was ready to kill Mr. Blue. But… But I couldn't do it. I just fell apart and started crying, and Raffy took me out."-
[14:03] <Minaplo> ["Al was somewhere else, though. But at that moment was when Al set his building on fire and managed to beat up all the guards and escape single-handedly." Said Rei, blushing, her eyes sparkling.]
[14:07] <Yanmei> While listening, Yanmei's jaw had dropped open a little. Now she hastily shut it again. "Wow. That's uh… that's a lot. A lot that happened. You couldn't kill that Blue guy after all that? And Alphonse burned his prison down and got away without you or Guillory helping. Huh."
[14:07] <Minaplo> ["Oh, I think Raffy helped a little."]
[13:24] <Yanmei> "Oh, well, of course he would have." Yanmei leaned back, crossing her legs. "Hey, Rei?"
[13:25] <Minaplo> ["Yeah?"]
[13:27] <Yanmei> "If he hadn't been captured by those pathetic mafia jerks - like if he has been taken by someone much stronger like an Angel or Caine's troops, do you think you still would have gone after him?"
[13:28] <Minaplo> [Rei didn't hesitate. She nodded immediately.]
[13:31] <Yanmei> "I thought you'd say that." Yanmei smiled. "If it was Isaiah, I would do the same? Love's pretty powerful stuff."
[13:34] <Minaplo> ["Yeah." Said Rei warmly.-
[13:34] <Minaplo> ["Meimei? Do you know… Why you love Zaizai?"]
[13:35] <Yanmei> "I don't know -why-. I just do. Maybe it's because we've been through a lot together?"
[13:36] <Minaplo> [Rei nodded. "Yeah. You two rely on each other, and you trust each other…"-
[13:38] <Minaplo> ["It's the same with Al. I never told you about the first time we met, huh?"]
[13:40] <Yanmei> "The first time? I don't think so."
[13:42] <Minaplo> ["It was before I went to Boston. There was a briefing of ODs, and Colonel Marianne wanted me there, and he was there too. After the briefing, Al walked right over to me and said- 'It's a pleasure to meet you, Pilot Rei Ayanami. My name's Alphonse- I'll be your OD at Boston. I've heard a lot about you, and I have complete faith that you'll be a very dependable person.'."]
[13:44] * Yanmei nodded. "What did you think of him back then~? With that first impression?"
[13:50] <Minaplo> ["I thought he was cute, of course." She said it with the tone that suggested that this was a universal opinion. "But he also sounded really smart, and confident, and- and he seemed to like me. Back then, a lot more people tended to be uncomfortable around me, so that was nice. And I like being called dependable…"]
[13:51] * Yanmei nodded again. "What happened after that between you two? You became friends?"
[13:53] <Minaplo> ["Yeah. We spent a lot of time together. Talking or hanging out." Said Rei, smiling fondly. "It just felt really… Comfortable, I think. It felt natural for me to want to be near him."]
[13:56] <Yanmei> "A really promising start!" Her smile faded now, just a touch. "Then there was that big battle against the Sixteeth. It surprised me when you two suddenly took over for the Colonel like that…"
[13:57] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[13:57] <Minaplo> ["I was so scared then." She said quietly. "I was scared he'd die…"]
[14:00] <Yanmei> "He did come pretty close by all accounts? But you ran out to help him even back then. Maybe there's something about danger that does that to couples…"
[14:02] <Minaplo> ["Like Zaizai rescuing you from the plug."-
[14:02] <Minaplo> ["… Or when Al made Zaizai fight Akhraziel."]
[14:05] <Yanmei> "Yeah, exactly." She deflated ever so slightly. He'd done a lot of rescuing over the years, hadn't he?
[14:06] <Minaplo> ["…" A worried look came over her face, and she bit her lip.]
[14:08] <Yanmei> "W-what is it?"
[14:10] <Minaplo> ["… I want to ask another question."]
[14:11] <Yanmei> "Go ahead? I did say I'd answer anything."
[14:12] <Minaplo> ["When you and Zaizai are… making love, do you feel… Do you feel the same way you do in an Eva? Or when you're fighting a battle?"]
[14:13] <Yanmei> "…" -
[14:20] <Yanmei> A deep shudder went through her. She tried to repress it. "Um, not even close? One is about adrenaline, power and risks, and the other is all warmth and security. So they're completely different, understand?"
[14:21] <Minaplo> ["… Oh." For some reason, she started to look worried.]
[14:23] * Yanmei titled her head slightly. "Would it make you less nervous if you found something to compare it to that you already know?"
[14:26] <Minaplo> ["Maybe. T-the problem isn't that. You don't fight like I do, right, Meimei? When I'm in a fight, my heart races and I find it a little hard to breathe until I use one of those tricks to get rid of the feelings there. But…"-
[14:28] <Minaplo> ["The other night, some of my ribs were aching, because of my injuries, so Al gave me a massage. It felt really good, and- and things started to get serious. But the same thing happened. My heart began to race and I found it hard to breathe, but this time I found it harder to get rid of all the feelings. And whenever that happens I start to panic, because I couldn't turn the feelings off when Akhraziel attacked me, either…"]
[14:30] <Yanmei> "The one that attacked Boston? But didn't it hurt you bady back then?"
[14:31] <Minaplo> ["It used a mind attack, Meimei. Do you remember that?"]
[14:35] <Yanmei> "Yes, I remember? How could I forget?"
[14:37] <Minaplo> ["It made me want nothing more than to be with Al. I wanted to be with him so much, but at the same time it made me felt like I'd never see him again." Murmured Rei. "And I could not turn that feeling off. I tried so hard, but I couldn't, so whenever I feel the same sort of things these days, like a racing heart, or if I can't breathe, and I have trouble turning the feelings off… I don't feel like I'm in control. It's scary."]
[14:41] <Yanmei> "It does sound scary. Does he know about it?"
[14:42] <Minaplo> ["He knows about me getting scared." Said Rei awkwardly. "But I haven't told him about the other things."]
[14:54] <Yanmei> "Hmm. Well, you want to know something interesting?"
[14:54] <Minaplo> ["Hmm?"]
[14:58] <Yanmei> "I think those feelings are really hard to turn off normally? That's what Ni meant before when she was talking about, uh, lovesick teenagers and not having physical control."
[14:58] <Minaplo> ["But…"-
[15:00] <Minaplo> [She looked uncomfortable. "But I don't know what to do, Meimei. How do I handle it?"]
[15:03] <Yanmei> "You can't handle it. Not really? The best you can do is wait for the feeling to fade on its own. Or, during those moments, when you have the courage and you're together, you could go a bit further with Alphonse." -
[15:03] <Yanmei> "We're leading up to that, though, of course? But for now, try not to worry so much about it."
[15:04] <Minaplo> [Rei nodded, silently.-
[15:05] <Minaplo> ["Is there anything else I can compare it to, Meimei? Whenever I think of that feeling, I think of fighting… That can't be helping, can it? I don't think Castillo-sensei would be happy about that."]
[15:07] <Yanmei> "W-well. It wasn't fighting that made you feel that way? It was -thinking about Alphonse during the fight-. So shouldn't you associate it with being in love? Or at least with Alphonse himself." She frowned, folding her arms. -
[15:08] <Yanmei> "When you feel that way, try to think of those massages instead, okay?"
[15:10] <Minaplo> ["Um." She looked embarrassed. "Even in battle?"]
[15:13] <Yanmei> "Um. Well, in battle, you should just try to think about fighting even though you're feeling that."
[15:15] <Minaplo> ["So… I shouldn't turn off my fear in battle from now on, right?"]
[15:18] <Yanmei> "No, no! If you're feeling fear in a battle, you should turn it off. But if you can't - or if you feel any other things you can't control - you should try to fight in spite of them and not give up. Does that make sense?"
[15:21] <Minaplo> [She looked completely lost.-
[15:22] <Minaplo> ["So… I should turn my fear off when I'm fighting. But if I'm with Al, I shouldn't turn my fear off. And if I can't, I shouldn't worry about it?"]
[15:23] <Yanmei> "Yeah, you've got it!"
[15:24] <Minaplo> ["… I don't know if I'm strong enough to do that."]
[15:26] <Yanmei> "You are," she said firmly. "It might take some time to get used to emotions like this? But I think you will."
[15:27] <Minaplo> ["Hmm…"-
[15:29] <Minaplo> ["I'll try." She said, and she smiled a little. "I think I was able to do it once, maybe. I felt that fear when Al and I went on our first date, before we kissed. Maybe I need to figure out how I held on back then…"-
[15:30] <Minaplo> ["But… You felt like this too at first, right, with Zaizai? You said that. So everyone starts off scared, and then they get better… I think if I remember that, I might be able to handle it. Thank you, Meimei." Rei beamed. "You're the best…"]
[15:31] <Yanmei> "I'm just glad I could help?" She grinned back. "How are you feeling now?"
[15:34] <Minaplo> ["I think I'm feeling a little better. I've had this sort of weight on me for awhile, but I've never been able to talk about it until now- so it's a lot of help." She stood up and stretched. "That Ni, though. She totally ruined our rhythm."]
[15:35] <Yanmei> "She did, didn't she?" Yanmei unbottoned her jacket and slid it off to expose a plain, starched shirt that was devoid of cat hair. "Should we try to pick it up again?"
[15:39] <Minaplo> ["Yeah. I still have time, so… Who do we do next?"]

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