This Too Shall Pass 3 1 3

[08:48] * Yanmei primped as she walked along the halls of the Dorian Lachapelle, but her heart wasn't really in it. It was a beautiful day outside. She hadn't actually -been- on the deck yet, but the inside of the ship was pleasantly warmed through to the point that her standard issued clothing was starting to feel too warm. -
[08:53] <Yanmei> She marveled at that… she'd almost forgotten what 'too warm' felt like. There were fewer people in the hallways now too, and the stale scent that had settled in the air during the Mars trip was slowly going away thanks to the new, fresh, breathable air that was slowly being drawn into the ship's ventilation systems. -
[08:58] <Yanmei> Breakfast that morning had been leftover whale cutlets and honest-to-god bread with a smear of jam on top. In all, it should have been a marvelous day. But it hadn't been. In fact, she'd eaten breakfast over a pile of reports. Damage reports. Casualty reports. Afterwards, she'd attended a string of grim meetings. And now, even though she was free for the rest of the day, that same grimness seemed to trail after her down the hallways. -
[09:00] <Yanmei> She reached the dorm she shared with Isaiah and various other people and opened it with a stifled yawn. "You in here?"
[09:02] <Minaplo> [He didn't seem to be.-
[09:03] <Minaplo> [But a second later, she suddenly felt powerful arms wrap around her, pinning her own against her body!-
[09:03] <Minaplo> ["Hm…" Came a quiet, warm voice. "The most powerful woman in the world, captured so easily?"]
[09:08] <Yanmei> "E-eh? Like I didn't know you were there the whole time?" She'd actually jumped a little at first contact, and now she tried to play it off by tossing her hair the best she could while her hands were pinned to her sides. "What are you up to? Kidnapping officers is a punishable offense you know~"
[09:14] <Minaplo> ["It's only kidnapping if it's against their will." Murmured Isaiah into her ear. With that, he started nuzzling the soft, sensitive areas of her neck.]
[09:22] <Yanmei> "Well said." Yanmei held back a sigh, but seemed to lose some of the previous tension was those touches. "It's been a long day? Well. Not -long-, just crappy."
[09:23] <Minaplo> ["I know." He said gently in between nuzzles. "The weight of the world on your shoulders…"]
[09:28] <Yanmei> "Shouldn't even be this bad. We won, didn't we?" She lapsed into a brief silence before trying to see if his hold had loosened enough to let her turn around.
[09:30] <Minaplo> [It had- he pulled his arms away and wrapped them around her waist instead, leaving her arms free. "We did." He said. "We won big. No matter how bad it seems…"]
[09:33] <Yanmei> "Right." She pulled her arms around him too. "Maybe we should go out and do stuff? I bet the training area's free? We could spar for a while."
[09:37] <Minaplo> ["Feeling tense, huh?"]
[09:40] <Yanmei> "I guess so."
[09:40] <Minaplo> ["Well, guess what? I've actually got a surprise plan for you."]
[09:42] <Yanmei> "Hmm?" She blinked at that.
[09:47] <Minaplo> ["Go get dressed." He said. "Something nice, but not too formal."]
[09:49] * Yanmei drew back a little, puzzled. "I need to dress up for this? Hey, how about some details?"
[09:51] <Minaplo> ["You want details…? It'll be something special, it'll be with me, and you'll be off the radar. No phones~"]
[09:52] <Yanmei> Yanmei's jaw dropped. -No phones-. -
[09:55] <Yanmei> "Interesting, interesting…" she eventually managed, and pulled away, eying the closet. "Give me a minute, okay?" -
[10:03] <Yanmei> The unusual growth spurt following the Adam incident, the crash on Mars and subsequent events had… diminished her wardrobe considerably. Many of the things that had survived intact hadn't been able to fit her, and so they had been boxed up and redistributed to the refugees some days ago. She was down to a handful of shirts and sweaters, a single pair of jeans, and a skirt for civilian garb. She pulled her nicest: the plain black skirt and a green and white striped sweater.
[10:05] <Minaplo> [Isaiah, for the record, was wearing a white button-up t-shirt and a pair of jeans with some black army boots he'd collected somewhere. More of his wardrobe had been available, since despite going through his own physical transformation, it hadn't resulted in as quite a dramatic shift in height as Yanmei had undergone.-
[10:06] <Minaplo> ["You look even better than usual." He said warmly, grinning. "Shall we go?"]
[10:14] * Yanmei brightened at the compliment, walking over to take his hand. "Lead the way~"
[10:15] <Minaplo> [He led her away…-
[10:15] <Minaplo> [A surprisingly quick 5 minute walk later, they entered a small, barren closet. It was empty of everything…-
[10:15] <Minaplo> [Except for Ezekiel, who smiled as they entered. "Ready?"]
[10:20] * Yanmei smiled back at him in greeting, although she looked a little uncertain. So they were going off the ship! She scrutinized them both, trying to come up with clues or at least a very amusing series of knowing winks between them.
[10:20] <Minaplo> ["All good." Said Isaiah.-
[10:21] <Minaplo> [There were no knowing winks. Ezekiel simply walked over, placed his hands on their shoulders, and…-
[10:21] <Minaplo> [… They were in a car park.-
[10:21] <Minaplo> [Ezekiel was already gone.-
[10:23] <Minaplo> [The sun was high in the sky. Its light had given the air a pleasant, warm caress. The wind itself was breezy, cool, gentle.-
[10:24] <Minaplo> [Around them was Paris-2, the city that had drawn them in, transformed them…-
[10:24] <Minaplo> [The car park itself was built around a very particular building.-
[10:24] <Minaplo> ["Montrouge-2 Shopping Mall." Said Isaiah with a small smile.-
[10:25] <Minaplo> [The car park and the centre itself was empty and deserted, lacking electricity of any kind- the mall, along with most of the rest of the city, had been deserted by its denizens after the Geofront had fallen.]
[10:30] <Yanmei> "No way…" Yanmei murmured. She was still for a minute, just taking in all in again. It felt as if her last carefree trip to the mall had happened a lifetime ago. No… her last carefree -anything- had happened ages ago. "…"
[10:31] <Minaplo> ["It's not much of a honeymoon yet." Said Isaiah. "But I figure it's an escape. A memory of older, carefree days…"]
[10:38] <Yanmei> "Can… c-can we actually get in?" She wipe her face hastily with her sleeve and gazed at the door to the building.
[10:39] <Minaplo> ["Of course. In fact…"-
[10:40] <Minaplo> [He led her by the hand over to the front doors, which had been stuck in the open position. Within was dusty and dark and gloomy, but lying on the floor in front of the doors was a wicker basket.-
[10:42] <Minaplo> [Isaiah picked it up, and held it out to Yanmei. "I asked Ezekiel to collect some local fresh food, so he went around to various towns and villages collecting… You know, real food. Fresh food. Bread not even an hour old. Fat tomato sandwiches, redder than Lizzie caught out feeding Jiji. And also a pair of flashlights."]
[10:46] * Yanmei laughed quietly. "I though he'd be too busy for something like this? I have to thank him later…"
[10:49] <Minaplo> ["Mmmhm."-
[10:50] <Minaplo> [They started to walk through the desolate mall. The flashlights weren't entirely necessary- natural sunlight was flooding in through skylights- but it was handy to have them nonetheless.-
[10:50] <Minaplo> [Their footfalls echoed deep…-
[10:53] <Minaplo> [It was obvious the mall had been abandoned in a rush. Stores remained open. Many of them were still full of shopping trolleys, holding unpurchased goods. Little stories, glimpses into other lives… In one trolley they spied a collection of toys- action figures of popular superheroes and an Eva here or there. Thrown haphazardly into the mix was a birthday card, featuring a beaming Rei
[10:53] <Minaplo> giving the reader a wink and a peace sign.-
[10:54] <Minaplo> [It could only be hoped that the card's intended had only suffered a ruined birthday and not something worse…-
[10:55] <Minaplo> [There were other dwellers here. Rats. Fat brown glossy ones that scattered as they approached. Even bigger feral cats, eyeing Yanmei and Isaiah with wary contempt. Small flocks of birds, clinging to roof garters, their droppings staining the floors and walls below.-
[10:55] <Minaplo> ["All in two weeks…"]
[10:58] <Yanmei> "More like three at this point? But still, what the - Scat!" she hissed at a large brown rat that had scuttled too close. "It's like they own the place now…"
[10:59] <Minaplo> ["It'll be cleaned up." Said Isaiah. "People will come back. Paris'll become bigger and better than ever…"-
[10:59] <Minaplo> [They walked on.-
[11:00] <Minaplo> [Some minutes later, Yanmei would accidentally kick a shoebox that had been lying on the floor haphazardly. It would take her a second to recognise the logo.-
[11:00] <Minaplo> [They looked up- along the wall here was a special, very recognisable store…]
[11:05] <Yanmei> "Well, well," Yanmei murmured quietly. "Takes you back, doesn't it?"
[11:07] <Minaplo> ["Where it all began for us." Said Isaiah. "Let's go inside?"]
[11:08] * Yanmei nodded and did just that. There was no way they would have those violet shoes still on sale, would they? "Ahh. They changed things around a little in here. But I remember that you were standing right over there. And Marianne was with me too."
[11:11] <Minaplo> ["That's right." He let go of her hand, walked over to where he'd been. "I was… Watching the tv." He turned to face the tv- its screen now covered in a layer of dust.-
[11:11] <Minaplo> ["And then I heard you talking…"-
[11:13] <Minaplo> [He turned around. "And then I saw this girl. Thin, slightly gangly- she was pretty young, after all, still going through puberty. But she had hair like spring violets and stormcloud eyes…"-
[11:13] <Minaplo> ["Do you know what I thought?"]
[11:15] <Yanmei> "What?"
[11:16] <Minaplo> ["I thought to myself…" He held his arms out. "'I'd like to hold that girl. Hold her until she smiles for real.'"]
[11:20] * Yanmei smiled. Warmly, genuinely. She marched over to him and wrapped her arms around him. "I'm sorry for teasing you back then."
[11:20] <Minaplo> [He wrapped his own arms around her, tightly. He was warm…-
[11:21] <Minaplo> ["Don't worry about it." He said, his cheek hot against her own.-
[11:21] <Minaplo> ["Besides, there's a little more to the story, you know. Something which makes it even."]
[11:24] <Yanmei> This was new. "You weren't secretly teasing back somehow, were you…?"
[11:24] <Minaplo> ["I wouldn't dream of it. Poor innocent little Isaiah, tease back? Don't be silly."-
[11:24] <Minaplo> [He chuckled.-
[11:25] <Minaplo> ["But poor innocent little Isaiah did definitely notice that the girl was wearing a short skirt. And had rather long, lovely legs. And maybe his thoughts drifted to something a little more than just holding her." He said, a laugh in his voice.]
[11:26] <Yanmei> "I -knew- it!" Yanmei gave him a playful shove. "Still, I did look pretty awesome in those types of skirts, didn't I?"
[11:28] <Minaplo> [He laughed, loudly and fully.-
[11:29] <Minaplo> ["You did." He said, though. "You look way better in them now, but even back then… Oh yeah."-
[11:30] <Minaplo> ["Remind me." He said, his right hand creeping down to play teasingly along the edge of her thigh. "I did something weird, didn't I? Like telling you your shoe size by mentally measuring the length of your shin or somesuch…"]
[11:33] <Yanmei> "You totally did? You were so mild and harmless-looking back then. The shoe size thing came out of completely nowhere?"
[11:40] <Minaplo> ["Oh man. Yeah…" He started laughing, even louder now.-
[11:41] <Minaplo> ["See, that was my way of trying to strike up a conversation." He said. "But I wanted to do it in an impressive way."-
[11:41] <Minaplo> ["15 year old me was a smoooooth player. Admit it, the leg-shoe trick had you mad with desire from the get-go…"]
[11:45] <Yanmei> "The smoothest," Yanmei snickered. "We can at least say it made you memorable? So there's that."
[11:45] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, I had to do a weird measurement trick to be memorable."-
[11:45] <Minaplo> ["All you had to do was walk through a door…"]
[11:51] <Yanmei> "Like you can talk nowadays. How many people have I had to fend away from you over the years? The latest on the list is, who, Kyuu?"
[11:52] <Minaplo> ["Oh, that reminds me. We may have another daughter?"]
[11:55] <Yanmei> "W-what?"
[11:57] <Minaplo> ["Euphemia One- do you know her? She's the captain of that Wizard Army Guard lot- she tracked me down yesterday after the battle. We had a long talk. She asked if she could call me father."]
[12:02] <Yanmei> "Euphemia One," Yanmei echoed slowly. "I've seen the name before, but I don't think I've met her in person? How weird! What did you say?"
[12:03] <Minaplo> ["Uh… I told her that was okay for now until she spoke to you?"]
[12:09] <Yanmei> "Me? Er…" She thought instantly of her last introduction to a Wizard Army Iron Guard. "You sure that's necessary?"
[12:10] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, I do. You'll understand when you meet her."-
[12:11] <Minaplo> ["But." He pulled away slightly, if only to slide his left arm around her waist. "Let's see what other little gems this place has…"]
[12:14] <Yanmei> "It'd be okay if we went shopping, right? As long as we leave the cash behind and the merch isn't crawling with stinky rats or whatever?"
[12:15] <Minaplo> ["Ahaha, seriously? You wanna go shopping? I dunno, how do we guarantee the money isn't stolen before the owners come back?"]
[12:30] <Yanmei> "If actual thieves wander in here, then the merch wouldn't be safe either? May as well take our chances and grab a dress or two for someone who actually needs it. Provided the security's offline that is." She looked around suspiciously. "That's the last thing we'd need. Rubbish news stories about the head of the UEF burgling defenseless stores."
[12:31] <Minaplo> ["Uh-huh." He chuckled, shook his head, and moved on.-
[12:33] <Minaplo> [They went deeper into the mall, moving onto higher levels. There was less mess and detritus here. Fewer rats. Cats and birds aplenty, though.-
[12:35] <Minaplo> [They walked past a women's fashion store- and Isaiah stopped. In the windows were mannequins wearing a variety of dresses and outfits, from colourful tropical saris to black dresses.-
[12:37] <Minaplo> ["… Heh. Speaking of dresses and fending others away from me." He said wryly. "Do you remember this place?"]
[12:41] <Yanmei> "Rei's shop," Yanmei grinned. "We really had a blast in here, just dressing up?"
[12:44] <Minaplo> ["She was so happy." Murmured Isaiah, beaming. "To be with her big sister Meimei. To be dressing up like a normal teenage girl without a care in the world beyond finding a good look and maybe catching the eye of a certain boy."-
[12:45] <Minaplo> ["I'm sure you knew? About Rei's infatuation with me back in those pre-Alphonse days?"]
[12:47] <Yanmei> "She was completely obvious? Even a blind person would have noticed." Yanmei sighed.
[12:48] <Minaplo> ["Yeah." He chuckled- pulling away to walk over to their floor's railing, overlooking the building's hollow interior.-
[12:49] <Minaplo> ["It seems a little hard to believe." Said Isaiah. "She's so close to Alphonse now. I mean, we saw that when they were rooming with us. She was always sitting on his lap or he was always lying against her chest so she could play with his hair…"-
[12:51] <Minaplo> ["I'm happy for her." He turned, smiling. "But it seems weird, seeing her take those little steps, before running into his arms. Once upon a time, she was part of our circle, our little family, and now she's off creating her own."-
[12:53] <Minaplo> [He turned back towards the view. He was frowning, now, his smile gone all of a sudden. "We just talked about our chance meeting in the shoe shop, but I wonder. A whole bunch of forces- Seele, Gendo, even Elisha, were planning on us being together, on pushing us together. I wonder what would've happened if things hadn't worked out that way? If I hadn't met you in that shop?"-
[12:53] <Minaplo> ["Would we have just met somewhere else? School, probably?"-
[12:53] <Minaplo> ["I think that's what would've happened. Things would've turned out the same."-
[12:53] <Minaplo> ["I don't regret that." He said quietly. "I love you more than anything, and being with you is my joy."-
[12:54] <Minaplo> ["But I wonder if it was possible for things to have turned out differently? Could have Rei, in some other universe, fallen into my arms instead? What would that have been like…?"]
[13:05] <Yanmei> "I think it's possible," said Yanmei slowly. "I think we might have become different people if that had happened. Maybe we'd even be fighting a different enemy right now. Or maybe we would have died." She patted his hand very gently. "There are so many 'what ifs'… so many cause and effects that we can't untangle them all without going insane?"
[23:23] <Minaplo> [He put an arm around her. "You're right." He said with a wry smile. "It's like wondering how things would've turned out if you ended up with Fontaine or Asuka…"]
[23:27] <Yanmei> "Ugh. Fontaine. That - wait, what do you mean Asuka?!"
[23:30] <Minaplo> ["What do you mean, what do I mean. You and Asuka are… A good fit."]
[23:34] <Yanmei> "She's too violent and overbearing, and clashes with my refinery," Yanmei huffed. "We'd fight all the time."
[23:37] <Yanmei> ^refinement :I
[23:37] <Minaplo> ["Asuka and Alexandre fight all the time." Said Isaiah with a sweet grin.-
[23:38] <Minaplo> ["Besides, you know deep down you love her, even if it's just a sister. She's basically your best friend. If you were going to fall in love with a woman that wasn't Liu Lin, it'd totally be Asuka."]
[23:42] <Yanmei> "Ridiculous hypothetical lovers, both of them." She shifty-glanced about, wondering if someone had -said- anything to him. "Anyway, I'll at least admit that she's a good friend. But. She's got the potential to be a really dangerous, horrible person. Like, Mary Caine levels of horrible."
[23:44] <Minaplo> ["That's not a nice thing to say." Said Isaiah. "Not even as a joke…"]
[23:49] <Yanmei> "It's not, no. But… look. It's not unique to Asuka. She was lonely. For a lot of her life she was horribly lonely. What if she didn't make friends with the other pilots or what if Fontaine had died during Neospartan training or run off with someone else. What if that loneliness grow so intense that it, like, caused her to implode and lash out and make a grab for power?"
[23:50] <Minaplo> ["… Hmm."-
[23:51] <Minaplo> ["Well." He squeezed her a little closer. "There are so many 'what ifs'. So many causes and effects that we can't untangle them all without going insane. All we can do is be thankful she had you and Alexandre there to stop that from happening."]
[23:53] <Yanmei> "We were lucky." A half-grin and a chuckle. "Queen Angel Asuka sounds terrifying?"
[23:54] <Minaplo> ["You'll have to give her a big hug when we get home. Thank her for being -only- violent and overbearing."]
Session Time: Wed Mar 11 00:00:00 2015
[00:07] <Yanmei> "Right. Or, well. I'll find some way to express my gratitude that won't lead to rampant teasing?"
[00:09] <Minaplo> ["Like you don't love it."]
[00:09] <Yanmei> "Bah." she elbowed him playfully.
[00:12] <Minaplo> ["Ow!"-
[00:13] <Minaplo> ["Anyway, my little mean weaver girl. Do you want anything from here? Maybe something for Rei? She'd be so happy…"]
[00:16] <Yanmei> "Sure? Something small. We should check out the toy store next. Grab something for your little Patrice~"
[00:17] <Minaplo> ["He's not -my- little Patrice. He's Sophie's, and if you think otherwise she will personally end you."]
[00:26] * Yanmei laughed. "Like you haven't been spending all your breaks playing with him? You might want to ask about adding him to your adopted kids~"
[00:29] <Minaplo> ["Uncle Isaiah, maybe." Said Isaiah. "I get a lot less time than you think between his mummy, his daddy, his second cousin and his great uncle."]
[00:32] <Yanmei> "Oh. That's right. You know, I keep forgetting they're related?" Yanmei had led the way inside the store. The first thing to catch her eye was a rack of simple silver jewelry, but… it was a bit expensive. "Henriette has a surprising knack with little kids. Did you see her at the reception?"
[00:34] <Minaplo> ["I did. She was helping keep Lizzie entertained."]
[00:38] * Yanmei nodded. "Mazarin's the same way? Although you wouldn't know it just by looking at him. I'm… glad they were able to make it this time."
[00:46] <Minaplo> ["Yeah… Ah, this time, huh."-
[00:47] <Minaplo> [He entwined his fingers with those of her right hand, then wrapped the join hands around her waist comfortingly. "So I'm not the only one dwelling on alternate outcomes…"]
[00:57] <Yanmei> "Maybe?" she admitted, and sighed. "There were people also missing this time who should have been there. Blanc. Kaji. Windsor-Yamato and a bunch of other people from our old class. Ikari… would've ditched anyway." A faint, wry smile. "I guess the injustice there was not giving him the opportunity to toss out the invitation this time around as well."
[01:00] <Minaplo> ["He always was a charmer." Muttered Isaiah. "You alright?"]
[01:02] <Yanmei> "Fine, fine." She tried to play it off, going for a nearby hat stand and finding a pink and white striped sun hat. They "paid" for it
[01:05] <Yanmei> by leaving the money on the counter next to the register, and then moved on to the next store for two skirts for Yanmei. Finally, they drifted for the escalators, moving quickly through the food court to do so.
[08:07] <Minaplo> [The food court was a mess. It was here that the rats, cats and other animals had infested first, drawn irresistably to the seemingly endless mounds of free, easily-available food. The ground was covered in messes, from stray bones (chicken bones as well as the bones of rats eaten by the cats) to animal droppings to hundreds of flattened, torn pieces of cardboard and paper- once containers
[08:07] <Minaplo> to hold or serve the food.-
[08:08] <Minaplo> [The smell was stomach-turning, and they would've moved through quickly- if Isaiah hadn't suddenly stopped three quarters of the way through, staring at a nearby table.]
[08:09] <Yanmei> "What?" Yanmei realized it a few paces too late, but she eventually stopped too, staring back at him, her sleeve pressed over her nose and mouth so that the word came out all muffled.
[08:10] <Minaplo> ["I just remembered-" He shook his head. "Let's move to a higher level, I'll tell you there."]
[08:14] * Yanmei nodded and hurried on all too readily, finding the escalators on the other side of the disgusting court and ascending with ease.
[08:15] <Minaplo> ["Sorry about that." He said. They were now standing outside what looked to be some sort of specialist book store.-
[08:16] <Minaplo> ["It's just- you probably don't remember this. But back there, at that table? That was where Dorian and I plotted your team-building exercise with Aline…"]
[08:19] <Yanmei> "Is… that so?" She peered back the way they'd come, fighting for words. "It figures he would have done it over a giant plate of food, huh?"
[08:24] <Minaplo> ["Oh, yeah. He ate a lot. All sorts of food, too. He ate a lot of really unhealthy stuff here, but it never seemed to hurt him even a little." Said Isaiah, smiling a little. "Man, you guys really got his goat back then too. He was always going on about how smart you two were, except when you were together, because you both became super stupid…"]
[08:26] <Yanmei> "We weren't stupid," Yanmei huffed. "We just had some personality clashes? It's normal."
[08:26] <Minaplo> ["I said that once. He said, 'So I should just let two little shits in command of WMDs just huff it out?'"]
[08:30] <Yanmei> "What's wrong with that?" Yanmei grumbled. "It's not like we were taking swings at each other?"
[08:32] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, but you weren't working together as well as you could've been." Said Isaiah. "Also, any time you guys'd meet, it'd turn bad… No matter the circumstances, it seemed. It really bothered him, you know. He just wanted you guys to be the best you could be instead of settling for average."]
[08:38] <Yanmei> "…" Some of the guilt she'd been feeling suddenly swept out into the open on her face. "He'd be disappointed now too."
[08:38] <Minaplo> ["Why do you say that?"]
[08:43] <Yanmei> "Because Blanc is gone now? She wasn't supposed to die. None of us were. In the end, we did a shitty job of looking out for each other and preventing things like that from happening."
[08:46] <Minaplo> ["Ah…"-
[08:46] <Minaplo> [He turned to look at Yanmei. "He expected a lot from you guys, didn't he? But I don't think he demanded immortality."]
[08:53] <Yanmei> "Not immortality. Just survival? Wasn't that part of why he wanted us to get along?"
[08:59] <Minaplo> ["Yeah…"-
[09:02] <Minaplo> ["I can't speak for him, about how he felt. But I think he would've been happy with how you guys turned out anyway. Even if Aline did die… That wasn't your fault, was it?"]
[09:08] <Yanmei> "It -feels- like it is. We should have planned for the possibility of that after-battle. We should have had more information."
[09:19] <Minaplo> ["… Yeah, that's true. But even if we did, would it have helped? The Deva had Aline long before we even left the singularity."]
[09:20] <Yanmei> "If we'd known ahead, we could have destroyed the Deva before we got out."
[09:30] <Minaplo> ["Maybe we could've. Or at least rescued Aline first. I don't know- to me I almost feel like we had a choice to kill -either- Metatron -or- the Deva."]
[09:34] * Yanmei frowned bitterly, folding her arms. "Then maybe we picked wrong? Aside from the wedding, everything that's happened since that day has been a complete mess. If we'd backed off and forced Caine's troops to handle the entire sigularity egg situation, we would have been the ones in an attacking position instead of her. All those people wouldn't have died, Blanc included."
[09:35] <Minaplo> ["… I think that would've disappointed Dorian more." Said Isaiah quietly. "He wanted you guys to survive, but not by neglecting your duty."]
[09:44] <Yanmei> "Mmph. It would have been the pratical thing to do! Plus pumping certain people in our faction for even more information…"
[09:46] <Minaplo> ["Like who?"]
[09:53] <Yanmei> "De Pteres might have had some clues. Plus the mole that Caine planted using poor Roku. Possibly William too, before the accident."
[09:55] <Minaplo> ["… You might be right." Said Isaiah. "Maybe we could've been more stringent. Maybe we could've really held the irons to any or all of them."-
[09:58] <Minaplo> ["And if Sera or William did know, and didn't tell us, then that should be punished. But…"-
[09:59] <Minaplo> [He turned to look at her with a small smile. "Dorian wouldn't blame you for daring to trust your fellow pilots."]
[10:04] <Yanmei> "I dunno. If there's anything I've learned, it's that you can't trust everyone completely. Dorian might have known that too? You're the only exception, you know."
[10:08] <Minaplo> ["I'm glad." He said, with a grin, walking over to bundle her up in a hug.-
[10:08] <Minaplo> ["… Not even Rei?"]
[10:11] <Yanmei> "Rei's a little different. She's reliable."
[10:12] <Minaplo> ["But not completely trustworthy?"]
[10:18] <Yanmei> "No. She's not completely untrustworthy?" she admitted slowly. "She's honest and she tries hard."
[10:27] <Minaplo> ["She'd never do anything to hurt her big sis." Said Isaiah with a grin.-
[10:35] <Minaplo> ["But… I don't know. I want to say I think Dorian would've been proud of you. I know how you feel. How angry you are. How… How much it -hurts-, and how you think you're at fault. But you were always Dorian's favourite. And I'd bet you still are."]
[10:43] <Yanmei> "…that's really sweet." She nestled against him warmly. "Thank you. Although we both know that William's his favorite these days."
[10:45] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, well… I suspect William's gonna need someone to look out for him."]
[10:50] <Yanmei> "Easier said than done? A lot's gone wrong for him lately."
[10:51] <Minaplo> ["No kidding. He's not gonna take the news about Aline well, is he…?"]
[10:51] <Yanmei> "Not at all. But, well. We can't hide it from him either?"
[10:52] <Minaplo> ["No, we can't…"-
[10:53] <Minaplo> [He sighed, reaching up to run a hand through her hair. "All we can do is hope for the best and support him, I suppose."-
[10:53] <Minaplo> ["You seen all you wanna see here, weaver girl?" He asked gently. "I've got other places you'd like to see, too…"]
[10:56] <Yanmei> "Then let's go see," she said, cheering a little.
[11:02] <Minaplo> [And so they walked out, leaving the deserted shopping mall behind.-
[11:03] <Minaplo> [Isaiah led her now through deeper into the city, into Paris proper. The streets were hollow, bare. Eerie with their silence. Certain parts of the city she saw were under military control- tanks and IFVs bearing the tricoleur setting up perimeters. But they were far from universal and bothered them not at all.-
[11:03] <Minaplo> [Soon, Yanmei would start to realise that the neighbourhood was becoming… Familiar.-
[11:04] <Minaplo> [Alleyway patterns. Certain shops, abandoned but bearing remembered names and slogans and posters. Street names, many of their signs in good condition.-
[11:04] <Minaplo> [Yanmei knew where they were going a few minutes before they arrived.-
[11:05] <Minaplo> [Before them, its heavy gate closed, the building itself rising like a pair of squat white pegs above the thick fortified wall…-
[11:05] <Minaplo> [Was St. Louis High School.]
[11:08] <Yanmei> "Old St. Loius." Yanmei stared up at the gate and the building beyond. Was it still in good shape?
[11:10] <Minaplo> [It was, having been spared destruction since the last massive city restoration.-
[11:10] <Minaplo> ["Yeah… You know, we seemed to stop going here after a certain point, but the more I think about it, the more important I think it actually was." Said Isaiah.-
[11:10] <Minaplo> [He led them over to the gate.-
[11:10] <Minaplo> ["Ladies first?"]
[11:16] <Yanmei> So Yanmei sashayed past, into the courtyard. "God. Nearly every morning we came through here. And right over there is where dumb Fontaine said goodbye to us when he transferred to Eden base…"
[11:25] <Minaplo> ["And where you nearly held back tears as he went…"]
[11:25] * Raphael (~ua.moc.tensutpo.wsn.lsd.912-79-13-112d|oaT#ua.moc.tensutpo.wsn.lsd.912-79-13-112d|oaT) Quit (Quit: Bamf.)
[11:26] <Yanmei> "I did no such thing? I was totally wallowing in the triumph of besting yet another rival."
[11:30] <Minaplo> ["Are you sure? It was really sentimental. He hugged you. Told me to look after you… He cared a lot about you. Still does."]
[11:42] <Yanmei> "Yeah, but." She looked panicked for a moment. "Hey. Do you want to go up to see the classrooms?"
[11:43] <Minaplo> ["Sure… But." He gave her a little smile.-
[11:43] <Minaplo> ["I want to hear a little more about how Yanmei back then truly felt seeing Alexandre leave."]
[11:46] <Yanmei> "Mmph." Yanmei folded her arms. "So maybe I'd gotten used to having him around. In that sense it was a little sad to see him go."
[11:47] <Minaplo> ["Go on. Only I'm here to hear you."]
[11:54] <Yanmei> "It was probably for the best, though. There was nothing here for him, and he was getting frustrated? At least in Eden he was doing real work."
[11:55] <Minaplo> ["But a part of you wished he'd stay?"]
[11:55] <Yanmei> "Maybe. Hmph. He wasn't so bad."
[11:56] <Minaplo> ["I wonder why…?"]
[11:57] <Yanmei> "Why what?"
[11:59] <Minaplo> ["Why a part of you wanted him to stay."]
[12:05] <Yanmei> "I guess it's because we'd become sort of friends by then…"
[12:08] <Minaplo> ["Uh-huh." Said Isaiah.-
[12:08] <Minaplo> ["I'm glad you did. You know Alex used to bully me something fierce, right?" He said. "But once you two started… Getting along, I suppose just after Qaphsiel… He stopped. He became friendlier. Happier."-
[12:09] <Minaplo> ["You were healthy for him. Even without trying, you helped him out."]
[12:18] <Yanmei> "You think so?" she sounded slightly puzzled. "I always thought it was Asuka who got him to mellow out."
[12:19] <Minaplo> ["I think all three of you had a part to play there." Said Isaiah. "Alex and you helped give Asuka confidence divorced from her fighting skills. You helped Alex to deal with his bitterness- you gave him his drive back. Instead of sulking about the Eva, he decided to pursue that scientist position."]
[12:26] <Yanmei> "I don't think that was planned by anyone. Or even predicted? Asuka was super annoying when we first met and Fontaine was even worse."
[12:27] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, no kidding."-
[12:27] <Minaplo> ["But they've both turned out well in the end. I know for a fact that you feel more comfortable fighting alongside Asuka~"]
[12:30] <Yanmei> "Well I've fought her a few times! I know how tough she is."
[12:31] <Minaplo> ["A lot tougher than she should be, honestly." Said Isaiah, shaking his head. "Remember when she jumped into our plug after Metatron fell?"]
[12:36] <Yanmei> "Yeah, honestly that should have wasted her? I won't complain, though."
[12:36] <Minaplo> ["Yeah. I had a chance to see how close you guys were when they roomed with us."]
[12:37] <Yanmei> "Minimum territory battles." She beamed proudly. "In fact, no really big ones at all."
[12:39] <Minaplo> ["A true miracle." He said dryly. "Actually…"-
[12:40] <Minaplo> ["I don't think I realised it, but she really stepped up during the crisis on Mars. I haven't seen that side of her before. She was quick and efficient when setting up systems to tally the survivors. She dealt… Calmly with problems and came up with clever solutions. She was encouraging and helpful to people consistently. And she made sure to look after our mental health with that 'private
[12:40] <Minaplo> time' system and her 'Theodosian Walls' thing."]
[07:49] <Yanmei> "Yeah. It's like she's emulating a certain awesome friend or something~" Yanmei preened with a smug grin. "But no, seriously. She really grew up, and this was her way of showing that, whether she was aware of it or now."
[07:52] * Raphael (~ua.moc.tensutpo.dlq.ap.391-841-791-94ap|oaT#ua.moc.tensutpo.dlq.ap.391-841-791-94ap|oaT) has joined #nervfrance
[07:54] <Minaplo> ["You don't reckon having to look after Go and Hachi…?"]
[07:57] <Yanmei> "Maybe. Go actually doesn't seem to like her much? But that doesn't mean Asuka isn't looking out for her in her own way."
[07:58] <Minaplo> ["Oh?"]
[08:04] <Yanmei> "The main points of conflict are over Asuka's bossiness and methods of relieving stress? I don't know about the latter, but being bossy can be, like, at least an expression of taking interest in someone, right?"
[08:06] <Minaplo> ["That depends on the form of bossiness it is, right? The bossiness of a big sister is different to the bossiness of your… Boss."]
[08:07] <Yanmei> "Right. Really have to see them in action before making that call?"
[08:12] <Minaplo> ["Maybe you should do a sit in. Stay with Go and Asuka for a week."]
[08:12] * Raphael (~ua.moc.tensutpo.dlq.ap.391-841-791-94ap|oaT#ua.moc.tensutpo.dlq.ap.391-841-791-94ap|oaT) Quit (Ping timeout)
[08:13] * Raphael (~ua.moc.tensutpo.wsn.ap.352-32-591-94ap|oaT#ua.moc.tensutpo.wsn.ap.352-32-591-94ap|oaT) has joined #nervfrance
[08:13] <Yanmei> "That's what cameras are for, Isaiah. I can watch the show without being caught in the crossfire, and it's all thanks to S2~"
[08:16] <Minaplo> ["I don't think we have any cameras set up to monitor dormitories." Said Isaiah. "Also, they're supposed to be called the 'FISF' now."]
[08:21] <Yanmei> "Like anyone actually remembers to call them that." Yanmei sighed. "And you're right if you're talking about the ship's cameras. A lot of that surveillance network was wrecked during the crash? In the Geofront, it's a different matter."
[08:22] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, but who'd want to live in the Geofront?"]
[08:24] <Yanmei> "-Someone- will have to. It's an important base and lots of our important equipment is there."
[08:25] <Minaplo> ["They couldn't live in the Paris-2 apartments?"]
[08:25] <Yanmei> "Sure, but the Geofront's a lot safer, right?"
[08:27] <Minaplo> ["… I'm not sure. I think a lot of people would prefer to have a place to run to in case of an attack." He said quietly.]
[08:29] * Raphael (~ua.moc.tensutpo.wsn.ap.352-32-591-94ap|oaT#ua.moc.tensutpo.wsn.ap.352-32-591-94ap|oaT) Quit (Connection reset by peer)
[08:29] * Raphael (~ua.moc.tensutpo.wsn.ap.352-32-591-94ap|oaT#ua.moc.tensutpo.wsn.ap.352-32-591-94ap|oaT) has joined #nervfrance
[08:29] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei sighed again, gazing up at the empty, lonely school building. "Maybe you're right."
[08:30] <Minaplo> ["We'll have to sweep the Geofront for bugs, too." He said. "If we leave any working, any Solomon could just jaunt in."]
[08:33] <Yanmei> "And we'll have to be extra discerning about the personnel we actually do transfer there," she added glumly.
[08:33] * Raphael (~ua.moc.tensutpo.wsn.ap.352-32-591-94ap|oaT#ua.moc.tensutpo.wsn.ap.352-32-591-94ap|oaT) Quit (Connection reset by peer)
[08:33] * Raphael (~ua.moc.tensutpo.wsn.ap.352-32-591-94ap|oaT#ua.moc.tensutpo.wsn.ap.352-32-591-94ap|oaT) has joined #nervfrance
[08:36] <Minaplo> [He sidled up to Yanmei, putting an arm around her waist.-
[08:36] <Minaplo> ["On second thought, let's not go to the Geofront." He whispered into her ear dryly. "'Tis a shitty place."]
[08:44] <Yanmei> "Hm?" A faint smile. "You were going to include the Geofront in this trip? It's not exactly romantic, but…"
[08:45] <Minaplo> ["Hah, nevermind. It was a joke I picked up in Boston. Some comedy thing Alphonse and Rei would watch."]
[08:47] <Yanmei> "Hmm. Maybe I should pester them into letting me watch too when we get back! If there's time for it, anyway…"
[08:48] <Minaplo> ["Hah, maybe. I'm sure Rei'd be very happy to have you around at least."-
[08:49] <Minaplo> ["But. Why don't we head on in? The door's probably locked, but…"]
[09:02] <Yanmei> "Let's give it a try, at least." And Yanmei walked over to the front doors to see if they were indeed locked.
[09:05] <Minaplo> [They were.]
[09:06] <Yanmei> "Wanna check the side doors?" Yanmei suggested, turning to glance at Isaiah again.
[09:06] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, we should try that before we start deploying the Yanmei Option."]
[09:09] <Yanmei> "You mean politely calling someone to let us in?" she said innocently, starting to circle the building.
[09:10] <Minaplo> ["I mean kicking down the door."-
[09:10] <Minaplo> ["Maybe set it on fire…"-
[09:10] <Minaplo> [To their luck, they'd find that a door leading from the outside gym to the interior had been left unlocked.]
[09:12] <Yanmei> "Mean," Yanmei was grumbling. "When have I ever done those things to any door?"
[09:16] <Minaplo> ["Maybe S2 could tell us. Ladies first."]
[09:21] * Yanmei crept along, still grumbling a little, but soon that quieted as they passed familiar hallways and classrooms.
[09:27] * Raphael (~ua.moc.tensutpo.wsn.ap.352-32-591-94ap|oaT#ua.moc.tensutpo.wsn.ap.352-32-591-94ap|oaT) Quit (Connection reset by peer)
[09:27] * Raphael (~ua.moc.tensutpo.wsn.ap.352-32-591-94ap|oaT#ua.moc.tensutpo.wsn.ap.352-32-591-94ap|oaT) has joined #nervfrance
[09:28] <Minaplo> ["Heh. Remember these?" He asked quietly, sadly.]
[09:33] <Yanmei> "Yes," she murmured just as sadly. "The first grade classrooms…"
[09:40] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[09:40] <Minaplo> ["Do you…?"]
[09:41] <Yanmei> "Hm?"
[09:42] * Raphael (~ua.moc.tensutpo.wsn.ap.352-32-591-94ap|oaT#ua.moc.tensutpo.wsn.ap.352-32-591-94ap|oaT) Quit (Connection reset by peer)
[09:47] <Minaplo> ["I mean, wanna have a look inside…?"]
[09:57] <Yanmei> Yanmei's eyes shot up to the doors ahead of them. To one in particular: the classroom where they, specifically, had met their Petite Apprentices. Rosalie… "Maybe we shouldn't."
[10:13] <Minaplo> ["Yeah." Said Isaiah gently. "Even if we… I dunno, had a look for her stuff, we wouldn't even have anyone to give it to."]
[10:16] <Yanmei> "Her poor mom… We should have had someone keeping an eye on her. We -knew- she had access to all sorts of drugs…"
[10:18] <Minaplo> ["Yeah. We were busy trying to keep an eye on everyone, and…" He sighed.-
[10:18] <Minaplo> ["She was a good doctor, and a kind woman. She didn't deserve this. Rosalie didn't either."]
[10:25] <Yanmei> "No, neither of them did. And even if we avenge them somehow, we won't be able to bring them back."
[10:27] <Minaplo> ["The best we can do is hope that, when they're reborn, they're born into a peaceful world."]
[10:33] <Yanmei> "We have to enable that first. Make sure they -can- be reborn, and that this war is long over before they are."
[10:35] <Minaplo> ["Yeah."-
[10:36] <Minaplo> ["… Do you wanna say a quick goodbye? Even just at the door, or in your heart…"]
[10:43] * Yanmei …stepped a little closer to the door after a moment of hesitation. "I'm sorry," she murmured quietly, eyes flicking to the floor. "We should have played together more? And I wish you were still here and that you hadn't suffered." -
[10:46] <Yanmei> Her hand twiched and rose slightly, but fell back to her side after a moment. "You were a sweet girl. We'll save you and your mom so that you can rest properly. Goodbye for now, Rosalie?" -
[10:51] <Yanmei> Finding no more left to say, she lifted her eyes again and quietly regarded Isaiah.
[10:53] <Minaplo> [He watched her, not saying a word.-
[10:53] <Minaplo> [Now that he was finished, he held a hand out to her.]
[10:55] * Yanmei took it rather gratefully, but didn't seem to be in the mood to say much else.
[10:55] <Minaplo> [He entwined his fingers with hers, and led her onwards- past the classroom. Into the stairwell.-
[10:57] <Minaplo> [On the second level, they found a familiar sight- their last classroom. It had looked as though it hadn't been used for some time. Desks were dusty. Windows were a little grimy on both sides. The bulletin posts outside the door were out of date by six months.]
[11:06] <Yanmei> "That long, huh?" she broke the mournful silence at last. "No wonder there's this much dust…"
[11:09] <Minaplo> ["I guess most of the class had to leave. A lot of NERV connections here."]
[11:22] <Yanmei> "Yeah. And we saw how the UN handled connections to the UEF…"
[11:23] <Minaplo> ["Yeah."-
[11:23] <Minaplo> ["Let's go inside." Said Isaiah, opening the door. "Just for old times' sake."]
[11:26] * Yanmei winced, but she didn't stay behind. How was it in there?
[11:27] <Minaplo> [Dusty!-
[11:28] <Minaplo> [However, it wasn't as bad as it could've been. There was a broom nearby, which Isaiah quickly took. He started clearing away the layers of dust and dirt and grubbiness from the chairs and desks.-
[11:29] <Minaplo> [The air had a stale, musty quality, but it lacked the foul odour of the mall's food court at least.]
[23:11] * Yanmei slowly explored. She had expected everything to remain effortlessly familiar to her, but when small details popped out at her she struggled to remember if they had always been that way. The arrangement of old-fashioned reference books on the shelf in the back of the classroom. The bored etching on the desktops she passed, most blurred and muted by dust. The sound the floor made under her footsteps was… almost certainly different now. She stopped midway down one of the aisles, and stared ahead at the teacher's big desk.
[23:17] <Minaplo> [The desk had long since been emptied. Its top was bare except for dust. This had once been Mr. Martins' desk…]
[23:20] <Yanmei> "Did you know that he'd been working for NERV from the beginning?" she murmured, lowering her voice as if half-worried someone would hear.
[23:21] <Minaplo> ["I didn't, you know." Said Isaiah. "I wonder if he was a teacher first, or an agent?"]
[23:26] <Yanmei> "You can train anyone to use a gun, but managing a classroom of sullen teenagers? That's different. They probably picked up someone who graduated at the top of their education or child psychology program and shaped him from there."
[23:27] <Minaplo> ["I wonder how he felt about that?"]
[23:28] <Yanmei> "Dunno," Yanmei admitted. "We never really -knew- him, I guess."
[23:36] <Minaplo> ["I wonder where he is now." Asked Isaiah. "Do we know if he joined the Federation? Did he stay with NERV? Was he killed…?"]
[23:41] <Yanmei> "He's not dead, I can tell you that. And he's not our enemy either? But his current whereabouts are… classified."
[23:41] <Minaplo> ["Oh, so he's in Russia."]
[23:43] <Yanmei> "That's not fair! I said classified! And shhhh!"
[23:43] <Minaplo> ["What do you mean it's not fair? It's not like you can't do the same back!"]
[23:44] * ZackDinner is now known as Zack
[23:46] <Yanmei> "Well, yeah, but you don't have any shocking spies working for you! Do you…?"
[23:54] <Minaplo> ["I might spy some shocking things instead…~"]
[23:56] <Yanmei> "W-what? You…" Yanmei had been trying to concentrate, but that broke it. And turned away with a huff, reddening somewhat. "That's also cheating. I bet you have Daji and a bunch of unscrupulous Ayanamis secretly working for you…"
Session Time: Wed Mar 18 00:00:00 2015
[00:00] <Minaplo> ["Finding what?"]
[00:06] <Yanmei> "A good question. What -could- you secretly be plotting?" Yanmei rubbed her chin. "Aside this extra secret day out you've planned, that is."
[00:07] <Minaplo> ["Hm… Care to have another look?"]
[00:10] * Yanmei cleared her throat. "This isn't a good place to make out, Isaiah. It's pretty dusty and nostaligic?"
[00:11] <Minaplo> ["Listen, if you ever, and I mean ever, entertained the fantasy of a schooltime tryst, then I'd like to point out that there's never gonna be a better time~"]
[00:16] <Yanmei> "Huh." She eyed him curiously. "Are you serious about that?"
[00:19] <Minaplo> ["Of course~"]
[00:21] * Yanmei seemed to be considering it… until she remembered the empty, abandoned desks around them and the people who used to sit there. "Not here, though. Not in this room…"
[00:23] <Minaplo> ["Yeah." He said, his smile fading a little. "I mean, I don't even know if this is really the same room, as in, whether or not it's been rebuilt since the last time we were here."-
[00:24] <Minaplo> ["But if I sit down here." He swept the dust from a chair and sat.-
[00:24] <Minaplo> ["… I still expect to see people in certain chairs if I look around."-
[00:25] <Minaplo> ["Lillian and Emile. Angelina and Patrice."-
[00:27] <Minaplo> ["Niles and Elena."-
[00:27] <Minaplo> [He turned to his right.-
[00:27] <Minaplo> ["Eugenia."]
[00:31] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei didn't sit down at her old seat. Instead, she approached the head of the classroom again turned around, leaning against the corner of the teacher's desk.
[00:33] <Minaplo> ["She was… Kind of like a daughter, wasn't she?"]
[00:35] <Yanmei> "Eugenia? Heh. She didn't act like one…"
[00:42] <Minaplo> ["No. No she didn't." Said Isaiah, smiling a little. "I know she liked to get your goat a lot with her 'cat in heat' act, but it wasn't all just an act, was it? And she almost seemed… Weary sometimes."]
[00:48] <Yanmei> "Weary?" she frowned a little bit. "Considering who she was and what she'd lost… it was incredible that she was still able to smile at all."
[00:49] <Minaplo> ["Yeah…"-
[00:49] <Minaplo> ["I wish we could've saved her." He said quietly.]
[00:55] <Yanmei> "Me too…"
[00:56] <Minaplo> ["Euphemia One looks like her." Said Isaiah. "I mean, she's an enhanced clone of Eugenia."-
[00:56] <Minaplo> ["That's why she wanted to call me father."]
[01:02] <Yanmei> "That kind of makes sense. But how do -you- feel about it?"
[01:07] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[01:07] <Minaplo> ["I know I'm not really her father. I mean, she gets a bunch of her genetic material from me, but we don't have the memories or the experience."-
[01:07] <Minaplo> ["But the way she lit up when I said yes, I…"-
[01:08] <Minaplo> ["… I'm sick of these people having to go without mothers and fathers."]
[01:22] * Yanmei sighed. She left her perch and drifted a little closer hoping to be of some comfort. "That's just about everyone in some form or another, isn't it?"
[01:22] <Minaplo> ["Yeah. Yeah, it is…"]
[01:31] <Yanmei> "We've all got each other, though. Maybe that's why Euphemia made that request?"
[01:31] <Minaplo> ["What, you mean she wants to be part of our little family?"]
[01:38] <Yanmei> "No. That she's sticking to the idea of family even if she doesn't have a traditional one of her own. Maybe if she hadn't found you she would have made one among the other officers in that Wizard Army. Assuming she hadn't already? A brother and sister here and there, an adopted kid of her own…" Yanmei looked thoughtful. "Maybe you're agreeing to be more than just her dad. You could be a grandfather too. Or an uncle!"
[01:39] <Minaplo> ["Hey, that's true… Grandpa Isaiah, huh? I could rest a little Iron Guard on my knee and tell stories."-
[01:39] <Minaplo> ["It'd have to be 05's knee, though."]
[01:44] * Yanmei grinned. "Just so you know? I'm completely on board with authorizing the use one of our WMD for story time."
[01:47] <Minaplo> [He laughed.-
[01:47] <Minaplo> ["Hey, Yanmei?"]
[01:47] <Yanmei> "Yeah?"
[01:49] <Minaplo> ["It's not double-dipping to hope for a daughter named Eugenia and a son named Atticus-Kaworu, is it?"]
[01:51] <Yanmei> "Let's do it this way. If our firstborn is a girl, we'll name her Eugenia. If we get a boy, it's Atticus-Kaworu."
[01:52] <Minaplo> ["Hmm…"]
[01:56] <Yanmei> "I was considering 'Lin' for the girl choice instead," Yanmei sighed. "But I'm sure I'll live."
[01:57] <Minaplo> "Eugenia Lin?"]
[02:02] <Yanmei> "Eugenia is fine," she said simply. "I'll find another way to use 'Lin'."
[02:03] <Minaplo> ["Oh! Oh, I had an idea."]
[02:03] <Yanmei> "Yeah…?"
[02:03] <Minaplo> [He held a hand up towards her, his expression serious.-
[02:03] <Minaplo> ["-Two- girls."]
[02:05] * Yanmei raised an eyebrow. "So you want me to clone our baby."
[02:05] <Minaplo> ["No! No no."-
[02:05] <Minaplo> ["I want us to have -three- babies."]
[02:10] <Yanmei> "Let's see how we handle one, and we'll go from there," she said cautiously.
[02:12] <Minaplo> [Isaiah gave her a huge innocent smile.]
[08:23] <Yanmei> "And no babies at all until after the war," she added, peering at him suspiciously. "In fact, Tenma has suggested I go on the pill for a while…"
[08:25] <Minaplo> ["He's right. I've been getting monthly contraceptive injections for about a year now." Said Isaiah. "I mean, come on. I might want a big family, but raising Lizzie during wartime is plenty of a handful."]
[08:34] <Yanmei> "Yeah, seriously?" But she was still wearing a hint of that suspicious expression. "What's that grin for, anyway?"
[08:45] <Minaplo> ["I'm allowed to grin at the prospect of having children in the -future-." Said Isaiah airily. He put his legs up on his desk and leaned his chair back on its rear legs, putting his hands behind his head. "Or even if it's just one child, if that's really what you're comfortable with. I'm happy so long as it's with you."]
[08:56] <Yanmei> "Hmm." She took him at his word then, finding a seat of her own on top of the desk next to his. "What are we gonna do about, like, after the war? Do you still want to go to medical school? Would… college and graduate school even be useful to us?"
[09:06] <Minaplo> ["I don't know. Maybe not." Said Isaiah. "My agreement with Clement was that NERV- or rather the AEC now- would train me and give me their own qualifications when I was suitable, which are just as good as medical ones. As for you… I don't know, it'd be a bit weird for the Federation Chancellor to go to university, wouldn't it?"]
[09:10] <Yanmei> "Everyone would totally be in awe of me though~" Yanmei preened happily. "And the instructors would give me the highest marks because of my experience and leadership abilities, and I probably wouldn't even have to pay for books. They'd probably pay -me- to attend because of the publicity?"
[09:12] <Minaplo> [Isaiah gave her a long look.]
[09:17] * Yanmei grinned at him. "You know I'm right! It'd be like ruling a small peaceful country using influence and charisma alone."
[09:18] <Minaplo> ["Surely you can't be serious. You're Chancellor! A university would be like small fries to you. It wouldn't even be a fun challenge…"]
[09:21] <Yanmei> "Really…? I think it'd be really fun! Like, if I earn certifications through the UEF, they'll just bark orders all day and expect me to work hard."
[09:24] <Minaplo> ["You're just teasing me, aren't you?"]
[09:28] <Yanmei> "Maaaybe." She was still grinning. "But come on. They might defer to me on military plans, but it's not like anyone treats me like a celebrity. It's almost like they know me too well?"
[09:29] <Minaplo> ["That's because everyone does. Once you start interacting with people outside the UEF…"]
[09:33] <Yanmei> "Mmm. Haven't done that in months," she pointed out. "Really, maybe that's all I need. To bask in the admiration of people who aren't used to me or trying to kill or kidnap me~"
[09:34] <Minaplo> ["My admiration isn't enough~?"]
[09:35] <Yanmei> "But you know me better than anyone?" She pointed out, and gave him a little poke in the side.
[09:35] <Minaplo> ["Ow-"-
[09:35] <Minaplo> [He flailed, trying to keep her hand away, and the inevitable happened. The legs of his chair slipped…-
[09:35] <Minaplo> ["W-Whoa-!"-
[09:36] <Minaplo> [He fell backwards with a crash, a small cloud of dust billowing up around him.]
[09:43] <Yanmei> "W-whoa." Yanmei quickly hopped out of her chair, squinting through the dust. "You okay?"
[09:44] <Minaplo> ["Oh…" he was clutching his mouth and wincing.]
[09:47] * Yanmei frowned, digging around in her back pocket for a tissue. When she found it, she went down on one knee. "Are you bleeding? Here…"
[09:53] <Minaplo> ["Mmmf. I'm ok." He poked his tongue out and squeezed it gingerly. It was a little redder than usual, and Yanmei could see teeth marks…-
[09:53] <Minaplo> ["Bit my tongue." He said, wincing slightly.-
[09:53] <Minaplo> […-
[09:54] <Minaplo> [Then he looked up at Yanmei and smirked a little. "Kiss it better?"]
[10:01] * Yanmei rolled her eyes and then leaned forward to peck him lightly on the mouth. "Feeling better?"
[10:02] <Minaplo> ["Bah. Help me up?"]
[10:05] * Yanmei took him by both hands and tried to gently tug him back onto his feet.
[10:07] <Minaplo> [Once he was up, he started dusting himself off, creating even more little clouds of loose detritus. "Ugh."-
[10:07] <Minaplo> ["Anyway." He said, trying to put on a dignified air. "Are you saying I can't admire you because I know you too well?"]
[10:14] <Yanmei> "Exactly? Er. Not that the real me is unworthy of admiration or anything?"
[10:15] <Minaplo> ["Hmm… Why can't I admire you?"]
[10:19] <Yanmei> "Well… you can, but your admiration is different? It's not the admiration of a groupie or a fan. It's different because it's love."
[10:23] <Minaplo> ["Yes it is." He said warmly, wrapping his arms around her.-
[10:23] <Minaplo> ["… You ready to move on?"]
[10:24] <Yanmei> "Eh? There are more spots to visit?"
[10:27] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, just the one."]
[10:30] <Yanmei> "Then lead the way~"
[10:46] <Minaplo> [And so they headed out, although not without a few detours. Past the overgrown track and field area for example, or the swimming pool- the water within now murky and uninviting.-
[10:47] <Minaplo> [They left, leaving sad St. Louis to diminish into the background…-
[10:48] <Minaplo> [They walked through hollow Paris, through familiar streets with just enough of a hint of unfamiliarity so as to throw Yanmei off. Shops that had been rebuilt in slightly different ways, or statue fountains that had been replaced with something else…-
[10:48] <Minaplo> [But it wouldn't take long for the route Isaiah was taking her to become familiar.-
[10:49] <Minaplo> [And sure enough, within 20 minutes, she'd find herself standing outside…-
[10:49] <Minaplo> ["Home." Said Isaiah, staring up at the apartment building.]
[10:53] <Yanmei> "Yeah," She was gazing up at it too, almost sadly. "If we're going in, we should be careful."
[10:56] <Minaplo> ["Careful?"]
[11:02] <Yanmei> "It's no secret that we lived here and that we might come back to it. If I was on Caine's side, I'd have the place rigged with explosives or at least very heavily monitored."
[11:03] <Minaplo> ["I wouldn't worry about that." He said with an innocent smile.]
[11:04] <Yanmei> "Huh…? Why not?"
[11:04] <Minaplo> [He beamed.]
[11:06] * Yanmei eyed him curiously. "'You'll find out if you go inside,' right? She steeled herself, peering up at the building again. "All right. Let's go."
[11:07] <Minaplo> [And so they went.-
[11:08] <Minaplo> [It all seemed quite normal… Although perhaps that in itself was unusual. The lights were on here, and the corridors were a little cleaner than St. Louis.-
[11:08] <Minaplo> [But eventually they came to their old apartment… The door was basically identical to the others in the corridor, but as the saying went, this door was theirs.-
[11:08] <Minaplo> ["Ready?"]
[11:09] * Yanmei nodded, her face deathly serious.
[11:25] <Yanmei> The door opened into… the living room. It was the way Yanmei remembered it, with a tv against the far wall and a sofa and a matching chair arranged around it. This time, however, there were soft tiger-striped throws resting along the seats, adding a splash of color and sophistication to the furniture. The carpet had been freshly cleaned, and the glass doors leading the balcony where Fino had lived were sparkling and spotless. The kitchen table, just barely visible from where they stood, had something on it… -
[11:32] <Yanmei> YAnmei crept closer, eyes darting wildly between the living room and the kitchen as though suspecting an ambush. What waited for here there, however… was an oversized stuffed bear that was bigger than Lizzie. Someone had tied multicolored balloons to its front paw so that it was keeping them anchored. Also there were… photographs arranged carefully around it. Yanmei with 04, The Dorian, some of the OD crew, Isaiah and Lizzie, a few shots of her in her old St Louis uniform or dressed up in fancy and less fancy party clothes… -
[11:33] <Yanmei> "What… is this…?" Her brow was furrowed in utter confusion. "Isaiah! Did you do this…?"
[11:42] <Minaplo> ["Uh-huh." He said with a big grin. "Well. Not just me. I had help. Lots of help from a lot of people who wanted to help."]
[11:47] <Yanmei> "Lots…?" The bear had been scribbled on. Closer inspection showed that those scribbles were actually signatures. Lots of them! Someone had even written Lizzie's name on it. "Wh…why?"
[11:49] <Minaplo> ["I guess your admirers are a lot closer than you thought, huh?" He said. "We wanted to thank you. For leading us through… Everything. For making us feel hope when I know you felt there wasn't much of anything. For convincing us we had a fighting chance long enough for that to become true."-
[11:49] <Minaplo> ["And, well, because I really love you."]
[12:01] * Yanmei took his hand, drawing close to nuzzle him. She was quiet for a few moments after, just staring at the bear and photos. "Well. Well!" she seemed to slowly find her feet again. "I wasn't expecting it, but I guess gratitude is normal in a situation like this one? I -am- an awesome leader."
[12:11] <Minaplo> ["Heh." As she nuzzled him he wrapped his arms around her, entwining her hand with his own. "That's about the answer I expect? But…"-
[12:13] <Minaplo> ["If you really don't believe you're that good a leader, have a closer look at some of the messages they've left for you on that big bear."]
[12:18] * Suzune (moc.rr.ser.yabapmat.551cfh1322356|enuzuS#moc.rr.ser.yabapmat.551cfh1322356|enuzuS) Quit (Quit: )
[12:19] <Yanmei> "But I do believe that," she mumbled with something akin to embarrassment. She moved a little closer to the bear nevertheless, trying to get a better look at the writing.
[12:26] <Minaplo> [There were a lot of messages, some of them pretty long…-
[12:27] <Minaplo> [Rei, Asuka and Alex had all written long paragraphs. Rei was all about telling Yanmei how much she trusted her, and how comforting it was to be with her and Isaiah on Mars, and how she was happy that Yanmei was her sister… There was a little doodle of a smiling kitty.-
[12:30] <Minaplo> [Asuka's was about as kind as Asuka could be. It talked about how only a really strong person could've made it through the chaos of Mars, and that if she had to do it again she'd be happy to have Yanmei lead her, although she hastily added that if they did do it next time Asuka would be the one to lead as the natural choice.-
[12:33] <Minaplo> [Alex had told her in simple, direct language that she had nothing to be ashamed of and had weathered challenges that would've staggered nearly anyone else in history. That she had his respect and also his friendship and he hoped he would live up to her standard in the coming battle.-
[12:40] <Minaplo> [But there were also lots of other messages from people she loved and respected. Encouragement from Mazarin. Next to it, a blessing from her mother, telling Yanmei how proud she was of her…-
[12:43] <Minaplo> [Marianne had written a short story, it seemed, about how she'd watched Yanmei grow up from an insecure, scared young girl into an inspiring adult- even if she was still scared enough to need her Marianne around.-
[12:45] <Minaplo> [Alphonse had left Yanmei thanks for doing all she had for Rei and himself, and talked about how she could always rely on him to return the favour if ever she needed it.-
[12:47] <Minaplo> [Misato had left messages of warm encouragement for her 'little sister', mentioning how much fun Yanmei was and hoping she had a good honeymoon… A little winky face…-
[12:47] <Minaplo> [Beneath that was a crude sketch of a penguin head.-
[12:48] <Minaplo> [There was a message from Blue on the belly of the bear, telling Yanmei that the dress was on him, just this once.-
[12:49] <Minaplo> [Ginevre Fontaine had written a short two-word message: 'Good work'.-
[12:50] <Minaplo> [Turning around the bear would reveal a long four-stanza poem written by Ban Ban in complicated-looking calligraphy.-
[12:52] <Minaplo> [The messages kept coming. Minerva telling her she had Yanmei's back… Thomas, congratulating her… Chiisana telling Yanmei she should be proud of herself…]
[12:57] <Yanmei> "G-geez. Everyone's making a big deal of it, even showoff Ban Ban." She fidgeted a bit, secretly pleased. "When I get back, I'll thank each one of them? And in the meantime… I guess it'd safe for us to stick around here for the rest of the day, huh?"
[12:58] <Minaplo> ["Uh-huh. I pulled in some favours- Marianne and the others'll handle your duties until tomorrow. We're free to stay here tonight- just like old times."]
[13:05] <Yanmei> "You really thought this through didn't you? …Thank you. I really mean it, Isaiah."
[13:08] <Minaplo> ["I know you do." He said gently. Then, without fuss, he pulled her into a long, inviting kiss.]
[13:22] <Yanmei> When they broke, Yanmei took his hand again, guiding him over to the couch. For just one day and one night the city was theirs alone, and in its quiet they could soak in as many mundane memories of it as they chose to. It might have been an overwhelming task by themselves, but together, it was simply as if they were coming home once more.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License