This Too Shall Pass 3 2 25

[13:36] * Yanmei preened frantically, checking her reflection in the nearest tinted window as the VTOL she was riding in began to descend. Then, as if she remembered something, she quickly turned to the passenger next to her - Lizzie - and began fussing with her as well, smoothing down her clothes and hair with an air of determination. Nothing was to be out of place. -
[13:44] <Yanmei> That's because they were on their way to meet someone more important than any common prime minister or pompous princess. It had been a short ride, beginning with the taletell flash of a dirac jaunt, and now ending with a familiar military base in the midst of Beijing quickly coming up beneath them. And of course, Yanmei and Lizzie were not alone to witness all of this…
[14:03] <@Minaplo> ["Uuuuu!" Lizzie flailed at her mother. "No me! No me!"-
[14:05] <@Minaplo> [But perhaps Yanmei had cause to worry? On Lizzie's lovely white dress were a few tiny ginger hairs…-
[14:05] <@Minaplo> [For sitting next to Lizzie was Daji the beautiful fox kit, who was staring up at Yanmei and going "Yip yip!" in tune with Lizzie's own protestations.-
[14:09] <@Minaplo> [Isaiah- wearing a clean white button-up silken dress shirt under a red sweater vest and a pair of black trousers- was snickering fondly at Yanmei's ministrations.-
[14:09] <@Minaplo> [And finally there was Mingzhu, sitting on the other side of the VTOL, watching this all go on with a small smile on her face.-
[14:10] <@Minaplo> [A minute or so later, the VTOL would finally set down…]
[14:21] <Yanmei> At the gradual stop, Yanmei quickly pulled back, freeing Lizzie. "All right, all right. Settle down, both of you." What on earth were they even fussing about? Hmph. She briefly inspected Isaiah, as if on the verge of tweaking his appearence as well.
[14:23] <@Minaplo> [Isaiah took an instinctive step back. "Nuh-uh."]
[14:27] <Yanmei> "Oh come on, not you too," she complained. "Just let me straighten your collar."
[14:29] <@Minaplo> ["Mrph."]
[14:32] <Yanmei> Yanmei moved closer, unbuckling her seatbelt, and happily did just that, straightening it and brushing away a piece of fluff. "There. Like that was so bad?"
[14:33] <@Minaplo> ["Mmmg."-
[14:33] <@Minaplo> [There was a hiss as the VTOL ramp opened up.-
[14:34] <@Minaplo> ["Here we go." Said Mingzhu, unbuckling her own seatbelt.]
[14:38] <Yanmei> "!!!" Yanmei quickly spun to fetch Lizzie, who was undoubtedly still spotless, before facing the entrance with her brightest smile.
[14:47] <@Minaplo> [The ramp came to a stop against the black-grey tarmac of the landing pad.-
[14:47] <@Minaplo> [Standing about twenty metres away, in the shadow of an army building, was a family of five…-
[14:48] <@Minaplo> [They had suitcases with them, but they were, awkwardly, a little too far away for Yanmei to easily speak with. Would Yanmei wait for them to approach, or should Yanmei approach them first?]
[14:57] * Yanmei approached, still beaming, putting on her most stately and diplomatic airs. "Welcome to the United Earth Federation!" She cried as she descended. Instead of her formal UEF uniform, she was dressed in a tasteful slate-colored skirt suit. Unfortunately, the wind was starting to mess up her hair… and Lizzie's too, to her chagrin.
[15:03] <@Minaplo> [Lizzie began to giggle. "Windy, maamaa~"-
[15:05] <@Minaplo> [They were, naturally, a lot easier to pick out up close.-
[15:06] <@Minaplo> [Standing at the forefront of the family was Zhang Baiyu, her uncle… The man who had taken her in all those years ago.-
[15:11] <@Minaplo> [He was about 5'7 even with a straight back; he was a little portly, and he had a bright, warm face. He wore a green sweater and tan trousers, over a pair of old-fashioned brown leather shoes. He had black hair, thinning a little, streaked with grey.-
[15:13] <@Minaplo> [To Uncle's right was her aunt, Cai Yun…-
[15:15] <@Minaplo> [She was wearing a dark green dress with a blue shawl across her shoulders. She was taller than her husband, and thinner as well, standing at maybe 5'9". Her black hair was tied up in a very firm, unyielding bun.-
[15:16] <@Minaplo> [Behind them were their three children, Yanmei's cousins… She had to think for a moment on their names.-
[15:18] <@Minaplo> [The youngest was a little ten year old girl, one Yanmei barely remembered at all. She was Zhang Lingyu…? Yes, that seemed right. Small and shy, maybe about 4'6, almost hiding behind her father's luggage.-
[15:21] <@Minaplo> [Next to her was a girl around Yanmei's age. She was actually a little taller than her mother; this was Zhang Xiumin, their middle child. She had long, straight hair flowing voluminously down to her waist; somewhat surprisingly, it was actually a very dark shade of purple!-
[15:22] <@Minaplo> [Xiumin was wearing a pair of red ladies' shoes and a bright red sundress, the hem billowing in the wind.-
[15:26] <@Minaplo> [Finally there was the eldest child, Zhang Zhengsheng. A tall, handsome young man, maybe about 22 or so. He had neat black hair and brown eyes, and he wore a crisp black shirt, matching trousers and a tan coat.-
[15:27] <@Minaplo> ["Hello, brother." Said Mingzhu, her eyes on Baiyu's own; Mingzhu had a small smile on her face.-
[15:28] <@Minaplo> ["It's good to see you, Mingzhu." Said Baiyu. He had a warm, if quiet voice, not far at all from a chuckle.-
[15:29] <@Minaplo> [… But once the pleasantries had been exchanged, Uncle was quick to turn back to Yanmei, a bright twinkle in his eye. "Hello there, little blossom."]
[15:42] <Yanmei> "Uncle!" To hug or not to hug? Yanmei went for it, passing Lizzie into Isaiah's care first. "It's been a long time, huh?"
[15:43] <Mianplo> [And Uncle was quick to wrap his arms around her, squeezing tight. How long had it been since he'd held her like this…?-
[15:44] <Mianplo> ["Too long. I've gone and become an old man on you, little blossom." Said Uncle, pulling away after a second. He stared at her face for a few seconds, then something seemed to switch on in his mind.-
[15:45] <Mianplo> ["Oh! How could I forget?" He cried, digging into his pocket. A few seconds later he took Yanmei's hand and dropped five or six hard candies into her palm. "There you go. I knew I had some sweets on me somewhere…"-
[15:45] <Mianplo> [Auntie snorted, shaking her head. "Good morning, Yanmei." She said firmly. She gave Yanmei a critical look up and down.-
[15:46] <Mianplo> ["You've grown." She declared. "But you're still too skinny."]
[15:57] <Yanmei> "Auntie." Yanmei's smile almost wavered. Almost. "You haven't changed much. You still look wonderful?" She pocketed most of the candy, but unwrapped one of them and handed it carefully to Lizzie. "Thank you, Uncle. Hello guys." She nodded to her cousins a litte more casually.
[16:01] <Mianplo> ["I don't suppose you have anything sour, do you, brother?" Asked Mingzhu lightly.-
[16:01] <Mianplo> ["Oh, dear me." He mumbled. "I don't… Think I do…"-
[16:02] <Mianplo> ["Hm. I suppose I'll have to make do with being near Yun instead…"-
[16:02] <Mianplo> [Auntie's eyes narrowed.-
[16:03] <Mianplo> [Little Lingyu hid bashfully from Yanmei's welcome.-
[16:07] <Mianplo> ["Come on, you lot." Said Auntie. "Come out and say hello to your cousin."-
[16:08] <Mianplo> [Xiumin obediently shuffled to the front, but not before shooting her mother a split-second glower that only Yanmei caught.-
[16:09] <Mianplo> [A second later, though, Xiumin was all sweet smiles and pretty looks. This close up, Yanmei could smell a lovely perfume… "Hello, cousin~"]
[16:16] <Yanmei> "Xiumin." Yanmei smiled sweetly back. "Nice dress~"
[12:19] <@Minaplo> ["Thanks? It's new. You look very, um, professional."]
[12:22] <Yanmei> "Thanks. I have to nowadays? It comes with the new job. Oh!" She gestured brightly to Isaiah. "Let me introduce my husband to everyone! And our Lizzie."
[12:25] <@Minaplo> ["Good morning." Said Isaiah. "I'm Isaiah- this is our daughter, Lizzie."-
[12:26] <@Minaplo> ["Me Lizzie…" Said Lizzie, a little shyly. She stared at the group of strangers for a few seconds before burying her head into Isaiah's shoulder.-
[12:27] <@Minaplo> [Uncle chuckled to himself- "Just like blossom was when she was a little girl-"-
[12:27] <@Minaplo> [Auntie gave the little girl a smile, which only saw Lizzie shie away more.-
[12:28] <@Minaplo> ["A mother already, mm…" Xiumin peered at Lizzie and Isaiah for a few seconds. Then she smirked, a strangely familiar gleam in her eye as she turned back toward Yanmei. "Well, I can't blame you?"]
[12:31] <Yanmei> "Yeah. He's super hot? And also super in love~" Yanmei was sure to emphasize that last part, her gaze becoming slightly sharper as she aimed it at Xiumin.
[12:35] <@Minaplo> [Isaiah reddened. "Ahem…"-
[12:38] <@Minaplo> [At that moment, someone roughly tussled Xiumin's hair and pushed her away slightly.-
[12:38] <@Minaplo> ["Hey!" Xiumin scowled and batted at the offending hand- which belonged to the eldest cousin, Zhengsheng.-
[12:39] <@Minaplo> ["Zhengsheng, don't hit your sister!" Scolded Auntie.-
[12:40] <@Minaplo> ["God can't stop siblins' from fightin', mum." Said Zhengsheng. He had a calm, confident voice. "Hey there, sis." He said, giving Yanmei a smile. "Long time."]
[12:42] <Yanmei> "I know, right?" Yanmei tossed her hair, and smirked. "When did you start looking all sophisticated?"
[12:50] <@Minaplo> ["Man's best dressed to impress, little sis." Said Zhengsheng with a smile. "And I've got a lot to impress recently…"-
[12:50] <@Minaplo> [Mingzhu laughed.-
[12:51] <@Minaplo> ["Oh, I get it. The loafer found a job." She said with a crooked smile.-
[12:51] <@Minaplo> [Zhengsheng winced. "Ow, Auntie, hey."-
[12:51] <@Minaplo> [Behind him, Auntie Yun frowned for a second.]
[13:41] <Yanmei> "Hehehe. Though, I guess your bosses probably aren't okay with you leaving for snowy Russia for an undetermined period of time…"
[13:54] <@Minaplo> ["Hey, they're cool with it." Said Zhengsheng. "Not every day you give emergency pay to the Chancellor's big cousin…"]
[14:02] <Yanmei> "Well, I am pretty awesome~" Yanmei preened. "Ah. Should we go inside? I'll help with some of the luggage."
[14:07] <@Minaplo> ["Don't worry, blossom-" began Uncle.-
[14:07] <@Minaplo> [But Auntie was already dropping a particularly rotund bag at Yanmei's feet.]
[14:09] <Yanmei> "…" Well, she -had- volunteered. "Don't worry, don't worry. Remember what I've been doing for a living? I'm a lot stronger than I look?" And she tried to lift it. Surely, it couldn't be -that- heavy.
[14:10] <@Minaplo> [Well, she could…-
[14:10] <@Minaplo> [… But it felt like it weighed a ton! What was even in here…?-
[14:11] <@Minaplo> ["Down you go, Lizzie." Said Isaiah, putting the girl on the ground; he quickly moved to grab a bunch of luggage…-
[14:11] <@Minaplo> [Particularly stylish-looking suitcases. Xiumin's eyes twinkled. "You're such a gentleman, taking my bags?"-
[14:11] <@Minaplo> ["Uh… Thanks."-
[14:12] <@Minaplo> [They began to move toward the VTOL; Uncle and Auntie were the only ones not carrying anything.-
[14:13] <@Minaplo> [There was a sudden giggle from the back of the group- from shy Lingyu. She had stopped in her tracks, her arms folded together tightly; around her feet hopped a playful, beautiful-little fox, whipping at her with its fluffy tail and licking at her heels…-
[14:13] <@Minaplo> ["Hey, a fox." Said Zhengsheng with surprise.]
[14:15] <Yanmei> "Daji," Yanmei said distractedly. She was already multitasking with managing the luggage and glaring a hole in the back of Xiumin's head. "She's Lizzie's pet? They're best friends."
[14:17] <@Minaplo> ["Is it dirty?" Said Auntie darkly. "Don't foxes have rabies?"]
[14:19] * Yanmei huffed. "We wouldn't let Lizzie play with a rabid fox, Auntie."
[14:20] <@Minaplo> ["If only we afforded Isaiah the same treatment." Said Mingzhu with a sweet smile.-
[14:21] <@Minaplo> [Xiumin froze, whipped around indignantly, then let out a small, haughty snort and flipped her hair.]
[14:24] * Yanmei coughed lightly to hide her laughter, and then looked away, pretending to concentrate on the bags. "Come on! Daji, Lingyu, this way!"
[14:25] <@Minaplo> ["Yipyip!"-
[14:26] <@Minaplo> […-
[14:26] <@Minaplo> [The seating had been a bit of a scrum, all told.-
[14:27] <@Minaplo> [Yanmei's side had Isaiah to her left, Zhengsheng to her right and, on his right, Lingyu, Lizzie and Daji.-
[14:28] <@Minaplo> [Auntie and Uncle sat opposite, with Mingzhu on Uncle's other side; Xiumin was sitting opposite Isaiah.-
[14:28] <@Minaplo> ["So… Gonna be a long trip, sis?" Asked Zhengsheng.]
[14:33] <Yanmei> "Twenty minutes. Although… you'll be staying on my battleship for a day or two before going your proper dorms at the base." She puffed up. "You can see me in my element at work?"
[14:34] <@Minaplo> ["Halls of power, huh?"]
[14:35] <Yanmei> "Yeah. I'm a total master of authority? Isn't that right, Isaiah?"
[14:38] <@Minaplo> ["Oh yeah." Said Isaiah. "She managed to debate a bigwig in the French Parliament to a standstill a few weeks ago. I was tremendously impressed."-
[14:38] <@Minaplo> ["Cool." Said Zhengsheng with a small smile. "It's a shock, really…"]
[14:44] <Yanmei> "Hehe," she gave him a light punch in the arm. "Is it really? Remember how many fights I used to win when we went at it over toys?"
[14:50] <@Minaplo> [Zhengsheng made a small, surprised noise in the back of his throat. "Can't say I do, little sis…"-
[14:50] <@Minaplo> ["Remember you crying lots." He said. "Stamping feet lots. Screaming. Running to dad…"]
[14:54] <Yanmei> "W-what? Me?" She looked a little surprised herself, glancing to her uncle as if for confirmation.
[14:55] <@Minaplo> [Uncle was chuckling joyfully to himself. "Yes, that was little blossom. She'd run in, tears all down her red little face, going about how Zhengsheng had hit her and wasn't sharing his toys…"-
[14:56] <@Minaplo> ["I see…" Isaiah said, trying to sound thoughtful but unable to hide a smile.-
[14:56] <@Minaplo> ["She was only like that with us, though." Said Uncle. "She was actually very shy around strangers…"-
[14:56] <@Minaplo> ["How cute…" Said Isaiah, his grin widening.]
[14:58] <Yanmei> "I-it's not like we had a lot of visitors back then?" Yanmei muttered. Somehow this conversation was going against her now…
[14:58] <@Minaplo> ["And so skinny, too." Said Auntie with a tch. "Always so slow to eat her meat!"-
[14:59] <@Minaplo> ["Yeah, sis's always been a bit veggie." Said Zhengsheng with a small 'hmm'.-
[15:01] <@Minaplo> ["Don't worry, don't worry." Said Uncle, waving a hand dismissively. "Xiumin was skinny and shy too. Now look at her. Lingyu's the same. Even you were skinny and shy as a kid, Mhu." He said, turning to Mingzhu.-
[15:01] <@Minaplo> ["Mou. Don't call me that."]
[15:03] <Yanmei> "Mhu~" Yanmei chimed in, amused. This was a new side of her mother for sure.
[15:04] <@Minaplo> ["You stop that!"-
[15:10] <@Minaplo> ["She fought sometimes, though." Said Zhengsheng. "Painful… She was a real biter."-
[15:11] <@Minaplo> ["Yeah, not much has changed!" Said Isaiah with a laugh.-
[15:11] <@Minaplo> [… "I mean, her fighting- she- her Eva has teeth." Said Isaiah hastily.-
[15:11] <@Minaplo> ["…"-
[15:11] <@Minaplo> [Xiumin was giggling silently to herself.]
[15:19] * Yanmei had reddened somewhat. She coughed. "S-speaking of biting, you should check out some of the cuisine on the ship? It's really good! Mostly western style, of course, but they can do special requests too. How was the food in Russia, Mom?"
[15:19] <@Minaplo> ["Russian, mostly."]
[15:20] <Yanmei> "A-ah. Well, yeah? But did it actually taste good?"
[15:20] <@Minaplo> ["I know what you meant." Said Mingzhu darkly.-
[15:21] <@Minaplo> ["Ouch." Said Zhengsheng. "Wonder if it's too late to get a job on the battleship…"]
[08:02] <@Yanmei> "Nope," said Yanmei firmly. "The ship has its own downsides. Like battles. Anyway, I'm considering other options for our civilians to live at."
[08:14] <Minaplo> ["Can't stop me if I ain't a civ, Mei." Said Zhengsheng with a cool little grin.]
[08:19] <@Yanmei> "Wait. You're serious, aren't you? I mean, I know you did some of your service time, but…" she was glancing at his parents suddenly, expecting all the disapproval.
[08:20] <Minaplo> [Uncle was frowning, staring down at the ground, but Auntie was looking at Zhengsheng and Yanmei expectantly.-
[08:23] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[08:23] <Minaplo> [Zhengsheng rubbed the back of his head and laughed it off. "Anyway, sis! Got something for you, girl."]
[08:30] <@Yanmei> "Huh?" She went along with the change of topic gratefully. "A gift?"
[08:35] <Minaplo> [He reached into the breast pocket of his tan coat and pulled out an MP3 player. It was small and cylindrical so that a closed hand could hide it completely; the casing made of some shiny, violet metal. It was affixed to a necklace made of violet ribbon, and even came with a pair of small headphones that fit snugly over the ears.-
[08:35] <Minaplo> [He dangled it in front of her; the headphones were wrapped tightly around the casing, but were quickly starting to unravel.]
[08:41] <@Yanmei> "Ooo~ Thanks!" She reached for it. "You didn't have to go out of your way to buy me something…"
[08:42] <Minaplo> [… And it swayed out of her reach.-
[08:42] <Minaplo> ["Cheeky." Said Zhengsheng. "I'm hurt, sis…"]
[08:50] <@Yanmei> "Hehehe," She reached for it again. "There's no logo on it, so… custom-made?"
[08:50] <Minaplo> ["Yep." He let it swing towards her hands… But pulled it away at the last second.]
[08:53] * @Yanmei started to whine a bit - before remembering that she was an important Chancellor now. She pulled back, primly straightening her tie and grumbling. "Hey! Be fair already."
[08:54] <Minaplo> ["You forget to ask who made it, sis…"]
[08:55] <@Yanmei> "Who made it, cousin?"
[08:56] <Minaplo> ["Yep."]
[08:56] <@Yanmei> "Huh?"
[08:56] <Minaplo> ["You said, 'who made it? Cousin?', and I said, 'yep'."]
[08:57] <Minaplo> [Xiumin rolled her eyes.]
[09:03] <@Yanmei> "I seeee." She leaned over, peering at at another cousin - little Lingyu. "You're quite good at making electronics, you know. Thank you very much."
[09:05] <Minaplo> ["Mouuuuu." Lingyu quickly hid behind Zhengsheng.-
[09:06] <Minaplo> ["Man…" Zhengsheng let out a small sigh, and pulled the player back to his chest. He smirked.-
[09:07] <Minaplo> ["Simply clueless…"]
[09:24] <@Yanmei> "Okay, okay." She grinned at him. "Thank you for making me the pretty MP3 player. I actually didn't know you'd gotten that good at building electronics. Have you ever done phones before?"
[09:25] <Minaplo> ["Sure."-
[09:26] <Minaplo> [He swung it into her hand, then leaned over and gave her a kiss on the forehead. "Oh, it's loaded with music already… Bunch of it's from a singer you haven't heard before. Xu Pingleng. Croons real pretty."-
[09:27] <Minaplo> ["Ugh, that floozy." Snorted Auntie.]
[10:11] * @Yanmei chuckled. Something about her Aunt's disapproval made this even better. "I'll listen to it carefully. Thanks."
[10:12] <Minaplo> [Xiumin snickered. "One last favour, eh, Zhengsheng?"-
[10:12] <Minaplo> ["Eh…" He shrugged.-
[10:13] <Minaplo> ["We dated for a bit. Didn't work out." Said Zhengsheng as explanation. "She hasn't been discovered as a singer yet, so I figured maybe if you liked it…"]
[10:14] <@Yanmei> "Oho~~
[10:15] <@Yanmei> - Yanmei was all grins, nudging him. "Where did you even meet a girl like that~?"
[10:15] <Minaplo> ["In a bar."-
[10:15] <Minaplo> ["duh"]
[10:26] * Minaplo is now known as Minaplo|WASH
[10:42] * Minaplo|WASH is now known as Minaplo
[10:46] <@Yanmei> "W-well. Obviously? Hmph. What about you?" She eyed Xiumin. "Had any boyfriends lately?"
[10:57] <Minaplo> ["Hmph. Of course not?" She tossed her hair.-
[10:58] <Minaplo> ["Xiumin's a good girl." Said Auntie. "She's been focusing on her studies, instead of running around with boys." She glowered at Zhengsheng. "You could stand to follow that example?"-
[11:00] <Minaplo> ["Mmm, neh." Said Zhengsheng.-
[11:00] <Minaplo> ["That attitude's why you graduated with such poor grades!"-
[11:05] <Minaplo> ["Actin' like I flunked." Snorted Zhengsheng. He leaned in toward Yanmei. "Got 98th percentile at Beijing Polytechnic…"-
[11:05] <Minaplo> ["You got the lowest score in your class, you mean?" Said Xiumin smugly.-
[11:06] <Minaplo> ["An elite class of thirty…"-
[11:06] <Minaplo> ["Hmph~"-
[11:08] <Minaplo> ["Oh, you don't know, do you?" Said Uncle, beaming at Yanmei. "Xiumin, ah… She was accepted into university."-
[11:08] <Minaplo> [Xiumin preened. "Not just any university either?"]
[11:08] <@Yanmei> "Oh?" she said almost warily.
[11:09] <Minaplo> ["Well. Originally I was accepted into Goethe University. But thanks to the war, I can't go to Germany anymore?"-
[11:11] <Minaplo> ["But a bunch of other Federation universities decided to take in poor students like me." Said Xiumin. "So now I'm going to the Paris Descartes~"]
[11:15] <@Yanmei> "I…see. Well. Congratulations? I was totally planning to go there myself before the war hit."
[11:18] <Minaplo> ["Really?" Said Xiumin with a smirk. "Paris Descartes focuses on the sciences? Zhengsheng told me you weren't crash hot at those~"]
[11:19] <@Yanmei> "I've gotten better!" She shot back. "My awesome job requires me to know lots of obscure science stuff!"
[11:30] <Minaplo> ["I don't believe you."]
[11:32] <@Yanmei> "Why not?!"
[11:32] <Minaplo> ["I don't think demolishing landmarks counts as an education?"]
[11:33] * @Yanmei glared venomously.
[11:34] <Minaplo> ["Now, now…" Uncle waved his hand gently at them both. "Both of you girls are perfect in your own special ways. You don't have to feel ashamed for the person you are, Yanmei. And you don't need to lord your results over her, Xiumin."]
[12:09] <@Yanmei> "I'm not ashamed?" Yanmei said, leaning back. "I'm just correcting some… misconceptions."
[12:13] <Minaplo> [Isaiah unconsciously moved a little closer, putting a hand on her knee.-
[12:16] <Minaplo> ["Yanmei, please understand." Said Uncle, his voice soft, gentle, low. "Xiumin worked very hard for her achievement. It never costs you to be happy for another wholly…"]
[22:41] <CakeyCake> "…" Now Yanmei was starting to look thoroughly mortified. Her eyes darted stiffly around the cabin, and then focused on Xiumin. She cleared her throat. "Sorry. That was pretty graceless of me? Congratulations, Xiumin. You get full bragging right."
[22:41] <CakeyCake> ^rights
[22:48] <@Minaplo> [Xiumin watched her for a few seconds, then sighed. "Now it doesn't feel fun at all? I feel like an arrogant jerk."]
[22:50] * Raphael (~ua.ten.letxof.dlq.71-941-291-271-epc|oaT#ua.ten.letxof.dlq.71-941-291-271-epc|oaT) has joined #nervfrance2
[22:52] <CakeyCake> That was shocking. She didn't feel like an arrogant jerk all the time? But… she held her tongue instead of blurting it out. "No, seriously. You -should- be proud. In fact, we could celebrate once we're on the ship? Ask the kitchen to whip up a small cake or something?"
[23:07] * CakeyCake is now known as Yanmei
[23:10] <@Minaplo> ["What a good idea." Said Uncle happily. "We can have a party for our one special day together…"-
[23:10] <@Minaplo> [A pleasant, dreamy look took up her Uncle's face. Even Auntie softened a little at the sight of it.]
[23:16] * Yanmei nodded quickly. That happiness was infectous! "We'll keep it small? You'll probably want to relax a little instead of meeting a hundred people anyway. And you'll get a chance to ask Isaiah all sorts of questions!"
[23:22] <@Minaplo> ["Oh really~" Said Xiumin suddenly, a bright smile spreading across her face.-
[23:22] <@Minaplo> [Auntie smirked a little too, and Uncle eyed Isaiah with a twinkle in his eye.-
[23:22] <@Minaplo> ["He he he." Chuckled Zhengsheng to himself.-
[23:22] <@Minaplo> ["…"-
[23:23] <@Minaplo> [Isaiah gave them all a timid smile.]
[23:26] * Yanmei patted his hand. "They act like this now, but they'll be quite gentle. Right?"
[23:32] <@Minaplo> ["Very gentle!" Said Xiumin.-
[23:32] <@Minaplo> [Yanmei could -feel- Zhengsheng roll his eyes.]
[23:33] * Raphael (~ua.ten.letxof.dlq.71-941-291-271-epc|oaT#ua.ten.letxof.dlq.71-941-291-271-epc|oaT) Quit (Quit: [01:50] <Syntax> There's no laws against polygamy in space)
[23:33] * Raphael (ua.ten.letxof.dlq.71-941-291-271-epc|leahpaR#ua.ten.letxof.dlq.71-941-291-271-epc|leahpaR) has joined #nervfrance2
[23:35] * Yanmei almost joined him. She kept holding Isaiah's hand, squeezing it slightly. "And of course I'll be right next to him," she added.
[23:37] <@Minaplo> ["Hmmmmmmmm."-
[23:39] <@Minaplo> [But before Xiumin could say anything else, little Lingyu peeped up. "I-I like strawberry cake." She said.-
[23:39] <@Minaplo> [Then instantly went red to the roots of her hair and buried her face in Daji's tail.]
[23:45] <Yanmei> "Hehe. You also okay with strawberry, college girl?"
[23:49] <@Minaplo> ["Strawberry is just fine~"]
[23:56] <Yanmei> "All right. That was a fine suggestion, Lingyu~" Yanmei spotted something out the window and smoothly pulled a windowshade down to block it from view. "Here we go~ Everyone please hang on? Things will get bumpy for a few minutes, and then we'll finally arrive!"
Session Time: Tue Aug 25 00:00:00 2015
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[00:01] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[00:02] <Minaplo> [Auntie frowned, whilst Uncle began looking around a little fretfully. Xiumin's expression was carefully neutral.-
[00:03] <Minaplo> [Mingzhu looked completely unconcerned, and Lizzie didn't even seem to notice. "Jiji~ Jiji~"-
[00:03] <Minaplo> [Lingyu was however clinging nervously to her big brother's arm. "…"-
[00:03] <Minaplo> ["S'cool, sis." He said gently.-
[00:04] <Minaplo> [The speakers crackled. ("Jaunt in three, two, one…")-
[00:04] <Minaplo> […]
[00:18] <Yanmei> They spent some time apart after the landing, split between the temporary quarters where Uncle and his family could unwind or nap if they were so inclined, while the more established UEF members of the family (and Lizzie) cleaned the room that Isaiah and Yanmei shared. -
[00:21] <Yanmei> The kitchen had done its work: a cake covered with white, fluffy frosting and bright red strawberries sat on the tabletop, along with trays of party food - cooked, salty meats and vegetables with dip. -
[00:25] <Yanmei> RETCON
[00:30] <Yanmei> They spent some time apart after the landing, split between the temporary quarters where Uncle and his family could unwind or nap if they were so inclined, while the more established UEF members of the family (and Lizzie) temporarily went to their own quarters. When Yanmei emerged from her bathroom, she was dressed in a far more casual outfit than what she had previously had on - skinny black jeans and a ruffled red sleeveless top. Lizzie had also switched to a dark green play jumper over a white t-shirt.
[00:31] <Minaplo> [Isaiah was wearing a silvery-shimmery satin button-up shirt over a pair of long black trousers. He'd only put one sock on because Lizzie kept tugging his other one off.-
[00:31] <Minaplo> [Isaiah grinned when Yanmei emerged. "Heehee."]
[00:35] <Yanmei> "What~? See something you like?" Yanmei tossed her hair and grinned broadly.
[00:39] <Minaplo> ["Well, I do like that you're showing off those nice new legs of yours…"-
[00:39] <Minaplo> [("I can still hear you both.") Came Mingzhu's voice from the other room.]
[00:42] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei turned slightly red, glancing hastily away from that door. "Lizzie~ Come here and let him finish dressing, ok?"
[00:49] <Minaplo> [Lizzie giggled and ran over to her mother's side, still clutching Isaiah's sock.-
[00:50] <Minaplo> ["Hey, Lizzie…"-
[00:50] <Minaplo> [Isaiah sighed and shook his head.-
[00:50] <Minaplo> ["Well. Your family seem like a great lot, any way." He said.]
[00:50] <Yanmei> "They are! Mostly? Keep an eye on that Xiumin." Her eyes narrowed slightly.
[00:51] <Minaplo> ["I think she'd like that."]
[00:51] <Yanmei> "W-what? Not like that!" She gently tried to take the sock from Lizzie.
[00:54] <Minaplo> ["Uuu!" Lizzie tugged it away.-
[00:55] <Minaplo> ["When you're in love, just having the eyes of your special person on you feels wonderful~" Said Isaiah. "That's why I'm transported to heaven every time you look at me~"]
[01:02] <Yanmei> "Ah~ I think I know the feeling?" She batted her eyes at him before trying once more to take the sock away.
[01:02] <Minaplo> ["Ahh~"-
[01:02] <Minaplo> ["Besides, don't worry. I only have eyes for you…"-
[01:03] <Minaplo> ["Uuuuu!" Lizzie began tugging on the sock as hard as she could.-
[01:03] <Minaplo> [There were muffled sounds of gagging from the bathroom.]
[01:11] <Yanmei> "Mom, please hurry? We're almost-" she tried tickling the little girl to get her to loosen her grip. "We're almost done?"
[01:24] <Minaplo> ["Aaaa!"-
[01:24] <Minaplo> [Lizzie squirmed and clammed up, letting go of the sock almost instantly. "Nooooo!"-
[01:26] <Minaplo> ["There, I'm all done." Mingzhu stepped out of the bathroom. She was wearing a long dark purple dress that matched her hair, which she'd worn with a significant fringe to hide some of the burns on her face.-
[01:26] <Minaplo> [She had a little bit of jewelry on- a nice little golden necklace. And, of course, her wedding ring. "What's all the fuss about?"-
[01:26] <Minaplo> ["Ah…" Isaiah beamed. "You look lovely. You truly are Yanmei's mother, Mhu."-
[01:27] <Minaplo> [Mingzhu instantly scowled. "Mou! Yanmei, your husband's being cheeky and insubordinate to his mother-in-law."]
[01:31] <Yanmei> "Isaiah? Be nice to Mhu, and come take your sock." She held it out to him with one hand and tried to continue tickling with the other.
[01:35] <Minaplo> ["Ugh. I'm going to kill that brother of mine."-
[01:35] <Minaplo> [Isaiah grinned. "Thank you-" he grabbed his sock and hopped back to the bed so he could put it on.-
[01:36] <Minaplo> ["Aaaanonono!" Lizzie squirmed and giggled; she tried to break free!]
[01:44] * Yanmei let her after a few moments more. Distraction successful!
[23:45] <@Minaplo> ["They seem like a pretty fun lot, though." Said Isaiah. "The people you grew up with, huh…"]
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[23:53] <CakeyCake> "They were alright." Yanmei peered around to inspect Daji. Someone with a keen idea for colors and fashion had tied an oversized checkered bow around her neck for the party. There were no rabid or dirty creatures here! Only stylish ones. "Even Auntie. She nags a lot, but she never made me feel like an outcast when I was living with them."
Session Time: Fri Aug 28 00:00:00 2015
[00:00] <@Minaplo> [Daji was curled up against Isaiah's back; it looked like she was willing to suffer the bow for now.-
[00:01] <@Minaplo> ["Ha. She's always done well by you. She's a stern mother to all of her children- including you." Said Mingzhu.-
[00:01] <@Minaplo> ["Mind, she's never liked me…" Said Mingzhu with an oddly smug expression.-
[00:02] <@Minaplo> ["You and Zhengsheng seem pretty close, too." Said Isaiah, looking at Yanmei.]
[00:08] <CakeyCake> "Well, you know… we played a lot when we were kids? And the year before I got sent away to France he moved to Beijing to go to school. He would visit our apartment sometimes. Ju and Lanfen used to gush over him so hard?" Yanmei rolled her eyes.
[00:43] * Tao (ua.ten.letxof.dlq.71-941-291-271-epc|leahpaR#ua.ten.letxof.dlq.71-941-291-271-epc|leahpaR) has joined #nervfrance2
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[00:45] * Tao is now known as Raphael
[00:52] <@Minaplo> ["… Mind you." Said Mingzhu with a smirk. "Yanmei seemed to perk up a lot more when she was around him than she did when she was around me. Favourites, much?"]
[00:54] <CakeyCake> "C-c'mon. Like he even compares?" Then, just to emphasize it even more… "You look really nice today, Mom!"
[00:54] <@Minaplo> [Mingzhu rolled her eyes.-
[01:02] <@Minaplo> ["You do, though, Ms. Zhang." Said Isaiah warmly. "It's taken me this long to realise why Yanmei's half-goddess~"-
[01:02] <@Minaplo> [Daji snorted.-
[01:02] <@Minaplo> ["How cheesy." Muttered Mingzhu.]
[01:11] <CakeyCake> "Hehe. Come on, now, let's hurry up. They're probably waiting for us by now?" She was less determined about straightening Lizzie's clothes this time as they headed for the door. It would only be a matter of time before there were barbecue smears on them anyway~ -
[01:13] <CakeyCake> Soon their company doubled as they picked up Uncle's family at their own quarters, and swung by the most popular Bar and Grill on the ship. Yanmei had, naturally, called ahead to get a table reserved, since it was just a large party, so it was just a matter of waiting to be seated.
[01:18] <@Minaplo> [Uncle's family seemed…-
[01:18] <@Minaplo> [A little subdued? They seemed quieter than usual on the trip to Blue's Bar.-
[01:19] <@Minaplo> [Well, not all.-
[01:20] <@Minaplo> [Blue's bar looked as warm and welcoming as ever, a sizeable dent in the wall near the stage notwithstanding.-
[01:21] <@Minaplo> [Zhengsheng whistled. "Nice. My kinda dive…"-
[01:22] <@Minaplo> ["Oi!" Shouted Blue from the bar. "Callin' my proper and friendly establishment a dive…"-
[01:22] <@Minaplo> ["My bad." Said Zhengsheng with a laugh that his family didn't share.-
[01:23] <@Minaplo> [Blue grumbled. He turned to Yanmei. "So this is your clan, huh?"]
[01:24] <CakeyCake> "That's right?" She puffed up proudly. "So be nice to them, ok? Especially my Aunt and Uncle." She nodded in their direction.
[01:30] <@Minaplo> ["Got it."-
[01:31] <@Minaplo> [And with that, Blue did something that Yanmei hadn't heard him do before- he slipped into (accented) Mandarin. "Welcome to Blue's Bar and Grill, I'm Blue, Yanmei's bestest friend and protector. Let me take you to yer seats…"-
[01:32] <@Minaplo> [He guided them to a long table, with enough seats for everyone… Even the fox. They drew curious looks from the other patrons as they went.]
[01:42] * CakeyCake eyed him suspiciously at that. Especially the greeting. Bestest what and what? But, well… he was being nice, just as she'd asked. And the fact that he spoke Mandarin shouldn't have been that surprising given his resume. She grinned at the other patrons as she went by, waving cheerily to the few she knew personally before taking a seat at the table.
[01:47] <@Minaplo> [And so they were seated, going for their menus first.-
[01:48] <@Minaplo> [Yanmei and Isaiah sat at one end, with Uncle, Auntie, Lingyu and Daji on Yanmei's right, Zhengsheng (having barely reached the chair in time), Xiumin (who was a second later), Mingzhu and Lizzie on Isaiah's left, in order of closeness.-
[01:53] <@Minaplo> ["This is a very impressive ship." Said Uncle to Yanmei. The rest of his family were going for their menus already.]
[01:55] <CakeyCake> "Thanks? It was… borrowed from some enemies we fought a few years ago. We redecorated it! How was your room? Tasteful, I hope…?"
[01:55] <@Minaplo> ["Quite, quite!" Said Uncle with a laugh. "You hosted us better than we could ever do the same to you, little blossom."-
[01:55] <@Minaplo> ["Not that we wouldn't try our best." Said Auntie firmly.-
[01:55] <@Minaplo> ["Of course." Said Uncle with a chuckle.-
[01:55] <@Minaplo> ["…"-
[01:56] <@Minaplo> ["It is safe, little blossom? The ship?" Asked Uncle again in a lower voice.]
[02:00] <CakeyCake> "Of course? We're docked in friendly territory, assassinations aren't a big concern, and the locks on your door are pretty high-tech?" She looked around the table, frowning a bit, remembering the somberness from earlier. Her eyes narrowed. "What happened? No one threatened you, did they?"
[02:01] <@Minaplo> ["It's not your concern-" began Auntie.-
[02:02] <@Minaplo> ["Zhengsheng wants to stay!" Shouted Lingyu suddenly; tears sprang into the girl's eyes.]
[02:11] * CakeyCake stared at her, and then her eyes followed the short path to Zhengsheng's face, shifting quickly from surprise to a controlled sort of exasperation. "-Why-?"
[02:12] * CakeyCake is now known as Yanmei
[02:26] <@Minaplo> [Zhengsheng leaned back in his chair, his hands folded behind his head. He smiled lightly. "Why not? Good use of talent. I was the 20th best graduate of the Beijing Polytechnic electronics masterclass of '17. Coolest place for it too."-
[02:26] <@Minaplo> [Xiumin huffed. "Idiot…"]
[02:29] <Yanmei> "I don't think this is a good idea?"
[02:31] <@Minaplo> ["Hmmmm." Zhengsheng made a low, long whistle. "Patriotic duty? Doing my bit?"]
[02:33] <Yanmei> "If you were with civilians - your family - you'd be safer." She glanced briefly at her uncle. "Not that this place isn't already safe? But it is a -war- ship. And it heads into battle every now and then, which is always a risk."
[02:39] <@Minaplo> ["Didn't think of that." Said Zhengsheng with a wry smirk. "Don't let that secret out too much, sis, or you won't have an army left!"]
[02:45] <Yanmei> "I'm being serious here! If our positions were reversed, there's no way you would let me stay."
[02:46] <@Minaplo> ["Whoa, hold on. Sounds like you're gonna try to stop me." Said Zhengsheng.]
[02:49] <Yanmei> "That's because I totally am?"
[02:50] <@Minaplo> ["… Really?"-
[02:50] <@Minaplo> [Zhengsheng shook his head. "Pretty shitty. Bet there's a million mums and dads out there who wish their kids could get special exemptions from serving."]
[02:55] <Yanmei> "And I bet your mom and dad are among them!" She glanced to her Uncle and Aunt at that. "Right?"
[02:55] <@Minaplo> [Auntie remained silent.-
[02:55] <@Minaplo> [Uncle went to speak, but…-
[02:59] <@Minaplo> ["That's the point." Said Zhengsheng firmly. "No special treatment. Not fair to ask your people to let their kids fight, then block your cousin from doing the same. We'll do our share same as anyone, Chancellor Zhang or no Chancellor Zhang."]
[00:23] <Yanmei> "You're absurd? Are you putting your life at risk -just- to make a statement about fair treatment?"
[00:25] <@Minaplo> ["No! Putting my life at risk for other reasons, the statement's to defend those other reasons."-
[00:25] <@Minaplo> [Zhengsheng grinned. "Notice you didn't have a rebuttal."]
[00:33] <Yanmei> "Get to your actual reasons to that I can dispute them," Yanmei scowled.
[00:44] <@Minaplo> ["First? Great use of my skills." Said Zhengsheng. He raised one finger. "Second? Patriotic duty, good cause…"-
[00:44] <@Minaplo> [He raised a second.-
[00:45] <@Minaplo> ["Three? Makes resumes look good, could get prestige and rewards." A third finger.-
[00:45] <@Minaplo> ["Fourth? Means being close to my adorable little sis~"-
[00:45] <@Minaplo> ["Fifth reason is the most important."]
[00:47] <Yanmei> "And that would be…?"
[00:48] <@Minaplo> ["This battleship is full of young pretty girls, of course!"-
[00:48] <@Minaplo> [As if to prove the point, Zhengsheng gave a handsome smile toward a nearby waitress, who reddened.-
[00:48] <@Minaplo> [Auntie scoffed; Uncle chuckled, and Xiumin rolled her eyes. "Lech."]
[00:57] <Yanmei> "Ugh," Yanmei shook her head. "Stop leering them. It's -rude-. And anyway, you realize that, with the exception of reasons 2 and four, you can experience those things at just about any job."
[00:58] <@Minaplo> ["Are you saying you're not a good enough reason to stay?"]
[01:03] <Yanmei> "Well, I know how awesome I am? But consider what you'd be giving up in return…"
[01:03] <@Minaplo> ["Being stuck in Siberia?"]
[01:05] <Yanmei> "With your other adorable sisters?"
[01:05] <@Minaplo> [Almost on cue, Lingyu's eyes began to bubble with tears again.-
[01:06] <@Minaplo> ["Heh." Zhengsheng gave her a fond smile before turning back to Yanmei.-
[01:06] <@Minaplo> ["Tell you what, I'll strike you a deal."]
[01:07] <Yanmei> "Oh?"
[01:07] <@Minaplo> ["I'll go into hiding like you want, but you have to do the same."]
[01:12] <Yanmei> "Yeah, I'm sure that would go over brilliantly with the rest of the UEF?" Yanmei rolled her eyes dismissively. "Uncle, you were going to say something earlier about this, right? What was it?"
[01:17] <@Minaplo> ["… Zhengsheng's already made his decision." Said Uncle sadly. "I'm worried about him, but Zhengsheng won't stop until he reaches the Yellow River, and he won't shed tears until he's inside his own coffin. I can't change his mind, so I need you to look after him."]
[01:28] * Yanmei glared at Zhengsheng, her eyes full of accusations, as if his lifetime of stubborness was intentionally leading up to this moment just to trouble her.
[01:29] <@Minaplo> [Zhengsheng gave her a heart-melting smile.-
[01:29] <@Minaplo> ["For what it's worth…" Began Mingzhu.]
[01:31] <Yanmei> "Yes…?" She turned towards her mother, her gaze softening.
[01:32] <@Minaplo> ["I'm a product of Impact." Said Mingzhu. "I can understand that drive, that want to put skills to use, to be the best you can be in an era which needs the best people. I know what it's like to have that ambition, despite the risks- after all, if you want to steal a tiger cub, then you need to risk a tigress."-
[01:34] <@Minaplo> ["But more to the point, Zhengsheng's going to be serving on the most powerful weapon in the Federation. If he can be specifically targeted here, then they can probably target a more valuable target. All in all, if Zhengsheng intends to serve, then isn't this the safest place for him to be?"-
[01:35] <@Minaplo> ["So I'm saying I support his decision." Said Mingzhu firmly. "I have no problem with him wanting to serve out his ambitions for a good cause in as safe an environment as one can hope."]
[01:49] <Yanmei> "I'm not sure if I agree," Yanmei was still frowning a little bit. "But I do trust your judgement… Ugh. Let me sleep on it, ok?"
[01:51] <@Minaplo> [Zhengsheng chuckled. "If I find a girlfriend by then, can I get couple exemption?"]
[01:54] * Yanmei glared again. "No. The waitresses around here have enough to put up with without you chasing them all over?"
[01:58] <@Minaplo> ["Doesn't have to be waitresses." Said Zhengsheng. "There's a real pretty girl I ran into earlier, light red hair, had a kitten…"]
[02:00] <Yanmei> "Nope. Stay away. Pilots and scientists are also off limits?"
[02:02] <@Minaplo> ["Are all pilots off limits?" Asked Xiumin sweetly. Isaiah shifted awkwardly.-
[02:03] <@Minaplo> [Zhengsheng chuckled; he shook his head as though he'd already won. "I'm hungry. Let's order."]
[02:17] * Yanmei just barely resisted giving Xiumin a sharp kick under the table. "Fine. Food." She tried to catch a waitress' attention. "Highly recommend the weird-looking pizza special, by the way."
[13:31] <@Minaplo> ["Is that the 'Langley-Soryu' pizza?" Asked Xiumin.]
[13:33] <Yanmei> "That's right~ She's one of my favorite subordinates, you know? But seriously, it's pretty good? And it has meat on it, Auntie!"
[13:47] <@Minaplo> [She nodded firmly.-
[13:59] <@Minaplo> [All in all, the Zhangs greatly enjoyed their dinner at Blue's.-
[14:04] <@Minaplo> [Of course, there were a few incidents. Xiumin deciding to have slightly more alcohol than usual to compete with Yanmei… Daji expertly working Lingyu and Lizzie both for food treats, much to Auntie's consternation. Several questions about Mingzhu's love life, hurriedly deflected by Yanmei…-
[14:12] <@Minaplo> [After that, of course, it was time for a tour! … Although it'd be less impressive than it used to be, with the remodelling…]
[14:23] <Yanmei> Indeed it was. Yanmei and Isaiah had traded on and off with the guide routine as they walked through cafeterias, dorms, one or two rec rooms, the Bridge, and finally the deck. The sun was setting over a magnificent seaside view. -
[14:27] <Yanmei> Isaiah was in the lead again, talking about some of the places they'd visited lately, guiding the family over to one of the observation railings. Yanmei hung back a little, sharing a quiet smile with her uncle. "What do you think of him?" she asked quietly.
[14:29] <@Minaplo> ["Of Isaiah?"]
[14:30] <Yanmei> "Yeah."
[14:31] <@Minaplo> ["I can see he makes you very happy." Said Uncle with a chuckle. "Makes you comfortable in your own skin. I haven't known him very long, but he feels like a very considerate young man."]
[14:37] <Yanmei> "He really is. Um. You and Auntie are probably wondering why I haven't talked much his family yet…"
[14:38] <Yanmei> ^much about his
[14:38] <@Minaplo> ["Mmm. I'm expecting it's not very good news…"]
[14:41] <Yanmei> "It's not? He lost his mom when he was a baby, and lost his dad pretty recently."
[14:43] <@Minaplo> ["Oh, how sad…"]
[14:51] <Yanmei> "Yeah…" Yanmei was quiet a moment. "I don't think he's really over it? Maybe he'll never be."
[14:53] <@Minaplo> ["Mmm… You never met your Grandfather Wuxun, did you?"]
[14:55] * Yanmei shook her head.
[14:57] <@Minaplo> ["His father, my grandfather, was killed by the Japanese in the Second World War. Your grandfather was only eight at the time…"]
[15:01] * Yanmei nodded quietly. Her mother hadn't talked about either of them much at all.
[15:03] <@Minaplo> ["Your grandfather never talked about it very much. But you could tell it stayed with him even as a man… You don't understand the love of one's parents until you yourself become a parent. You know now what it was that your grandfather lost- and what your husband has lost. I'm afraid that will stay with him forever."]
[15:13] <Yanmei> "About being a parent…" Yanmei ventured.
[15:13] <@Minaplo> ["What is it, Blossom?"]
[15:14] <Yanmei> "You like Lizzie, right?"
[15:15] <@Minaplo> ["Hahaha. Well, she's a very energetic little girl, isn't she? And she's very sweet with her little fox…"]
[15:20] <Yanmei> "She was shy at first, but she warmed up pretty fast," Yanmei grinned. "I'm sure Isaiah will share all sorts of cute pictures with you later."
[15:32] <@Minaplo> ["Well, I hope so…"-
[15:32] <@Minaplo> ["I can see she's stolen your heart already, too."]
[15:35] <Yanmei> "Easily." Her grin faded a little. "But actually… she's not our biological child."
[15:37] <@Minaplo> ["Well, that's obvious."]
[15:38] <Yanmei> "W-what? It is?"
[15:39] <@Minaplo> ["I think I would've known if you'd had a baby three years ago!" Said Uncle. "Besides, she's obviously European."]
[15:47] * Yanmei cleared her throat in quiet embarrassment. "Australian, actually? She lost her dad, but her mom is still around."
[15:47] <@Minaplo> ["I see."]
[15:52] <Yanmei> "The mom hasn't been well until recently. We've been taking care of Lizzie in her place? But she's been feeling much better lately."
[15:54] <@Minaplo> ["Ah… I think I understand."]
[15:57] <Yanmei> "Mm." Yanmei nodded, seemingly to herself. "Can I ask you a question?"
[15:57] <@Minaplo> ["Of course."]
[15:58] <Yanmei> "Back when Mom first took me and moved to Beijing, how did you feel about it?"
[16:04] <@Minaplo> ["Ah… I felt sad, of course." Said Uncle. "I was very attached to you, you know. You were like a little daughter to me… Yes, I felt angry too. Felt like I'd been used for a purpose, then ditched as it became convenient."]
[16:07] <Yanmei> "But letting us go like that was the right thing to do…?" she guessed.
[16:11] <@Minaplo> ["She was your mother, I'm afraid. She was healthy, she had work, I had no excuse to keep you."]
[16:18] <Yanmei> "I see." She fidgeted a little, frowning, and then stopped herself with a stern mental reminder about her present age and position. "I don't really know what to do here? I've made arrangements for Lizzie's mom to stay with us after the war. But… there's no way that could be permenant."
[16:32] <@Minaplo> ["Oh?"]
[16:35] <Yanmei> "She'll get sick of us before long. I'm pretty sure she's sick of us now? Really, she just wants to be with her little girl."
[16:35] <@Minaplo> ["But you don't want to give her up."]
[16:37] <Yanmei> "Is that selfish?"
[17:39] <@Minaplo> ["I think it's human, Blossom. We don't want to be separated from those we love, do we?"]
[17:45] <Yanmei> "Of course not? But what do you do if it's not fair to Lizzie's Mom? Or Lizzie herself?"
[17:46] <@Minaplo> [Uncle watched as Lizzie ran over to her father's side and clutched tightly onto his leg, staring up at him with a big warm grin. Isaiah reached down to pick her up, giving her a squeeze and a snuggle.-
[17:47] <@Minaplo> [Uncle "… Did you want to stay with me, Blossom? How did you feel?"]
[17:50] <Yanmei> "I remember crying a lot. Beijing was really scary and lonely at first? I wanted to go back to your place so badly…"
[17:51] <@Minaplo> ["And did that continue as you grew up? Or did you eventually grow to prefer your mother's household?"]
[17:56] <Yanmei> "I think I eventually got used to it," Yanmei murmured. "And of course I loved my mom and wouldn't leave her for the world."
[17:56] <@Minaplo> ["Ah, I see…"-
[17:57] <@Minaplo> ["You know? I cried too."]
[17:57] * Yanmei blinked. "You did?"
[18:01] <@Minaplo> ["Of course. I loved you dearly. You were always… Well, a special child to me."-
[18:02] <@Minaplo> ["In fact. I never told you this, and don't tell Auntie I told you, or she'll call me a superstitious old idiot, but…"]
[18:03] <Yanmei> "Hm?" Yanmei leaned in, curious about this secret.
[18:07] <@Minaplo> ["When you came to us, you were tiny, only a little baby." Said Uncle. "And you never laughed. You cried a lot, but never laughed. It upset Auntie, because you kept waking up Xiumin. So I decided to take you into a different room with your crib, and I slept in there to look afer you. You still didn't laugh, though, until one night…"]
[18:10] <Yanmei> "What happened?"
[18:13] <@Minaplo> ["I was asleep, but I heard a sound…" Uncle rapped against Yanmei's forehead with his knuckle. "Tap. Tap. Tap."]
[18:16] * Yanmei rubbed her forehead, but also smirked a bit, taking it as the playful gesture it was. "Was it raining against the window or something?"
[18:18] <@Minaplo> ["No. It was a clear night. There were stars in the sky, so many! And the moon was full and shining. In fact, it was thanks to the moonlight that I saw it…"]
[18:19] <Yanmei> "Saw what?" Her eyes were growing brighter now, and more curious!
[18:21] <@Minaplo> ["A bird." Said Uncle, his voice a dramatic whisper. "It was large, and beautiful, and it had long purple peacock tails and feathers of fire red. It was knocking against the window with a rock in its beak…"]
[18:24] <Yanmei> "Birds like that aren't exactly a common sight around the mountains?" Yanmei grinned.
[18:26] <@Minaplo> ["No, no they aren't." He said, drawing out his whisper. He drew closer.-
[18:26] <@Minaplo> ["I opened the window… And do you know what happened next?"]
[18:27] <Yanmei> "It flew in?"
[18:27] <@Minaplo> ["It bounded inside, dropped the rock in my hand, and settled on the edge of your crib."]
[18:30] <Yanmei> "You're lucky Auntie wasn't there? She would have screamed and tried to chase it out with a frying pan or whatever else she had lying around."
[18:31] <@Minaplo> ["Very lucky." Said Uncle gravely. "This bird was clearly special! Do you know why?"]
[18:31] <Yanmei> "Why?"
[18:32] <@Minaplo> ["Because you woke up, and you saw it. And you laughed for the very first time."]
[18:35] <Yanmei> "Heh." Yanmei tossed her hair. "It sounds like a pretty stylish bird? So it's no wonder."
[18:35] <@Minaplo> [Uncle chuckled.-
[18:35] <@Minaplo> ["But then something amazing happened…"]
[18:36] <Yanmei> "Oh yeah?"
[18:36] <@Minaplo> ["It let out a long, sweet song." Said Uncle. "Then…"-
[18:36] <@Minaplo> [He clapped his hands loudly in front of her. "It vanished! Gone in a puff of flame. All that was left was a sprig of lilac flowers."]
[18:43] * Yanmei had jumped a little at the loud handclap, and after a split second look around to see if anyone had noticed that, broke into quiet laughter. "Did you keep the rock as a momento? Or the lilac?"
[18:45] <@Minaplo> ["Of course!" Said Uncle.-
[18:47] <@Minaplo> ["It was a precious snippet of jade. I hid it, you see. I woke up the next day, went outside and said to your Auntie, 'A phoenix appeared on Yanmei's crib last night with a jade snippet and a sprig of lilac! This means she's destined to bring peace to the world!'"-
[18:47] <@Minaplo> ["Then she threw out all my beer and wine…"]
[18:56] * Yanmei laughed again, this time a little louder. "She totally would? Such a skeptic~"
[18:56] <@Minaplo> ["Ah, I knew you'd believe me…"-
[18:57] <@Minaplo> ["Well." He grinned. "I kept it hidden all these years, but I've only been borrowing it."-
[19:00] <@Minaplo> [With a furtive glance toward Auntie, Uncle reached into a pocket. Out of it he drew a golden chain, on which sat a small snippet of priceless bright green jade, carved into the likeness of a phoenix.-
[19:00] <@Minaplo> [Uncle quickly dropped it into Yanmei's hands. "Happy birthday."]

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