This Too Shall Pass 3 4 15

(22:31) <Minaplo> [Tsubaki sighed; for what felt like the hundredth time today, she stretched, cracked her knuckles and checked the time.-
(22:32) <Minaplo> [It had been two hours since her 12-hour shift had started. It felt like twenty.-
(22:36) <Minaplo> [There was, Tsubaki decided, a particularly ironic torture to be in her position- to have access to an unstoppable god machine, with incredible power at her fingertips… And not really be able to use it.-
(22:36) <Minaplo> [If it had been for five-minute stints, as it had been in the old days, that'd be one thing.-
(22:36) <Minaplo> [But for twelve hours…-
(22:56) <Minaplo> [Irritants began to spike after about an hour in a Plug. For example, LCL.-
(22:58) <Minaplo> [Once synchronization had been achieved, an electrical current would run through the liquid, ionising it and bringing its density, opacity and viscosity to levels much closer to air than liquid. This made LCL much more comfortable and viable- after all, seeing things through an orange tinge would only get in the way, and besides constantly breathing in and heaving up a liquid like LCL would cause all sorts of damage to the lungs.-
(22:59) <Minaplo> [At the end of the day, though, it was still primarily a liquid, and after an hour that began to… Weigh a person down. The constant presence of liquid all around you, providing an ever so slightly more resistant space than air, made you feel sluggish, as though you were living in slightly more than normal Earth gravity.-
(22:59) <Minaplo> [… Also, the taste built up in your mouth.-
(23:02) <Minaplo> [Then there was the plugsuit. Clingy, rubbery, constantly on your skin- as time went on it became steadily more uncomfortable.-
(23:02) <Minaplo> [It was lucky, thought Tsubaki, that somehow they'd never ended up with a claustrophobic pilot.-
(23:02) <Minaplo> [That'd be a disaster.-
(23:08) <Minaplo> […-
(23:08) <Minaplo> [Tsubaki sighed.-
(23:09) <Minaplo> [If Onii-chan had been here, it'd be better. Even an astral projection Albus would be fine. But both of them were busy… Although she didn't know what with.-
(23:09) <Minaplo> ["…"-
(23:15) <Minaplo> [Well…-
(23:15) <Minaplo> [It wouldn't be bad if she had a quick look around, would it?-
(23:15) <Minaplo> [She'd probably see or find things no one else could… Spies or something.-
(23:15) <Minaplo> [Right?-
(23:16) <Minaplo> [So long as she didn't get 'creepy' about it, no one would really mind…-
(23:18) <Minaplo> [Tsubaki took a deep breath (blech, LCL!), closed her eyes…-
(23:19) <Minaplo> [The images were as clear and as vivid as though she were really there. The Promenade.-
(23:20) <Minaplo> [People streamed through its intersection; soldiers off duty, laughing and chatting; techies who couldn't help but talk about work even off duty; pilots from the Fighter escorts…-
(23:22) <Minaplo> [But the loudest laughter and the best mediocre music available came from a certain bar…-
(23:23) <Minaplo> [Not for the first time, not even for the hundredth time, Tsubaki meditated on the objective fact that this place needed a better, less clunkier name than "Blue's Bar, Grill, Tailor's". Nonetheless, her mind's eye entered.-
(23:27) <Minaplo> [Blue's was crowded today. Most of the tables were full and accomodating groups at a time; techies, soldiers, pilots, Iron Guard and officers sticking together in some places, mingling in others.-
(23:33) <Minaplo> [The bar itself had a line of stools in front of it; these were fully loaded, every single one taken up by regulars, some of whom had been cavalierly charged with minding the bar itself.-
(23:34) <Minaplo> [Amidst this group sat two special individuals. One had four arms, two ending in powerful claws, the other in long, clever, sinuous double-jointed fingers; this person also had a long tail and a bulbous purple head. This was Ban-Ban, of course, currently enjoying a bourbon.-
(23:34) <Minaplo> [Next to him, of course…]
(23:38) <Raphael> "— didn't mean anything by it," Raphael said, one hand curled around a matching glass of spirits. "I hope she didn't hurt your feelings."
(23:43) <Minaplo> ["No no, of course." Said Ban-Ban. He lifted his glass halfway to his mouth, flicked out his tongue and dipped his tip into the amber liquid; after swilling it around for a second, he then slammed it back and drained the whole glass.-
(23:45) <Minaplo> ["I'm used enough to poor reactions that I'm able to differentiate between the insults and the honest mistakes."]
(23:53) * Raphael nodded a little. He let the background hum of the bar replace conversation for a while as he stared down at his drink. "…"-
(23:53) <Raphael> "If anything it's made it clear that I've… never really apologised for how poorly I treated you. Not directly, at least."
(00:06) <Minaplo> ["Mmm."-
(00:06) <Minaplo> [Zhang Zhengsheng slid over to refill Ban-Ban's glass; Ban gave him a grateful nod, then continued.-
(00:07) <Minaplo> ["Mistrust, suspicion, throwing foam knives at me, kicking me, that sort of thing?"]
(00:10) <Raphael> "That sort of thing." He took a sip from his bourbon.-
(00:11) <Raphael> "I regret it. You've been nothing but good to this family, and it took me far too long to see it."
(00:12) <Minaplo> ["…"-
(00:13) <Minaplo> ["Well, all is forgiven." he said with a smile, showing off dozens of sharp fanged teeth. "I am after all my mother's son."-
(00:13) <Minaplo> [He held his glass out to Raphael. "Cheers, uncle."]
(00:16) <Raphael> Raphael tapped his glass against the rim, matching Ban-Ban's smile with a less fanged one of his own.-
(00:16) <Raphael> "Cheers."
(20:38) <Minaplo> [Tsubaki smiled.-
(20:42) <Minaplo> [It was a sweet scene, she decided. Guillory, the… Ex-Shinji who Misato seemed to like, and Ban-Ban, the curiosity that Rei had adopted.-
(21:22) <Minaplo> [Still…-
(21:24) <Minaplo> [Tsubaki cast her vision around the rest of the room, but there was nothing that she particularly felt like focusing on. Some soldiers over there… An Iron Guard at the back… Not many people she knew. There was Zhengsheng, but he wasn't doing anything fun. Just standing at the bar.-
(21:27) <Minaplo> [When it came down to it, the Dorian was too large for Tsubaki to hope to luck on something fun just through random peeking around. That wasn't including all the areas she wasn't allowed to look.-
(21:28) <Minaplo> [So instead she began looking for people.-
(21:46) <Minaplo> [One person in particular…-
(21:47) <Minaplo> [Hangar One, in the Superheavy cages. Mana Kirishima stood alone in front of the great red machine called Peacecraft.-
(21:58) <Minaplo> [Mana stared up at it, although that, in Tsubaki's opinion, may have been a generous observation. Mana's expression was blank, and her light blue eyes were lost, unfocused, faraway.-
(22:02) <Minaplo> [For a minute or so, Tsubaki debated with herself over whether to say hello, to keep Mana company… But it became moot in the end: by then, someone else had joined her.-
(22:02) <Minaplo> ["Hell of a machine." Said Matthias Holmstrom quietly. He walked past Mana, stopped, and joined her against the railing.-
(22:03) <Minaplo> ["Huh?" Mana stirred only languidly. "Oh, yeah. They say it's the best."-
(22:08) <Minaplo> ["Short of an Evangelion or similar." Said Matthias.-
(22:15) <Minaplo> ["Yeah." Said Mana. "Real one of a kind."-
(22:24) <Minaplo> ["Yeah." Said Matthias.-
(22:24) <Minaplo> ["You just here to check on your heavy?" Asked Mana.-
(22:24) <Minaplo> ["Yeah. You?" He said.-
(22:25) <Minaplo> ["I… Dunno." Said Mana. "I don't have anything to do. Just wandering around, really… Quiet here."-
(22:28) <Minaplo> ["Ahh. I can go if you like." Said Matthias.-
(22:29) <Minaplo> ["No. No, that's fine. I want you to stay." Said Mana.-
(22:30) <Minaplo> ["Alright."-
(22:31) <Minaplo> [They were quiet.-
(22:32) <Minaplo> [Then finally Mana spoke up. "You know they renamed it?"-
(22:32) <Minaplo> ["Yeah. The Peacecraft Julien." Said Matthias.-
(22:34) <Minaplo> ["He was one of a kind, too." Said Mana, and her voice broke a little.-
(22:35) <Minaplo> ["Yeah." Said Matthias with a small sigh. He took a step closer and gently took hold of her hand.-
(22:35) <Minaplo> [She didn't pull away, and a second later she gripped his hand with her own.-
(22:36) <Minaplo> ["Will you tell me about him?" Said Matthias, his voice gentle.-
(22:36) <Minaplo> ["I don't know if I could do him justice." Said Mana.-
(22:37) <Minaplo> ["Why not?"-
(22:39) <Minaplo> ["I didn't know him that long, in the scheme of things." Said Mana. "There are other people who could tell you more about him."-
(22:42) <Minaplo> [Matthias was quiet for a few moments; then he spoke. "I never knew Julien myself. If you tell me about him, then my only window into his life would be one coloured with love."-
(22:42) <Minaplo> [Mana let out a soft gasp; Matthias continued. "And I would be very honoured to look through it."-
(22:44) <Minaplo> [Mana was quiet for a long few seconds; then eventually she turned, giving Matthias a wavering smile. "Didn't know it was obvious."-
(22:48) <Minaplo> ["No, no. I just pick up a little more than most folks, that's all." Said Matthias.-
(22:49) <Minaplo> ["So you know all kinds of things about me?"-
(22:50) <Minaplo> ["I know you're a good enough actress that you've tricked most people into thinking you have a big heart." Said Matthias quietly.-
(22:51) <Minaplo> [Mana was silent.-
(22:52) <Minaplo> ["The truth is, if all of your comrades knew how much bigger it really was, they'd never let you near a battlefield again." He said. "They'd wrap you in cotton wool and keep you behind. And that's something you're sick of, aren't you?"-
(22:53) <Minaplo> ["You bastard." Muttered Mana.-
(22:54) <Minaplo> ["Accurate." Said Matthias. "But I won't tell anyone how much it's hurting you, doing all this. This is your life, and it's your choice. I'll support you if you like, but I don't try to change that choice."-
(22:56) <Minaplo> ["Heh. Do you say that to every hurting, weak little girl you come across?" Said Mana quietly.-
(22:57) <Minaplo> ["I couldn't say. If I end up running into a weak little girl in the future, I'll let you know."-
(22:57) <Minaplo> [They were silent, the two of them, for perhaps a minute or longer.-
(23:07) <Minaplo> [Then Mana spoke. "Julien. He was always so… Free. He never had to bother with keeping two faces, or watching himself, he just… He let all of himself shine. He knew other people would judge him, mock him, and he'd just smile, because he was so much bigger than all their words…"-
(23:08) <Minaplo> [… That was all Tsubaki heard before she forced her vision away. She felt an awful chill up the back of her neck, and her face was red with shame. She'd intruded on something personal, deeply intimate…-
(23:09) <Minaplo> [At the same time, Tsubaki couldn't help but notice the little flow of tears down her cheeks. The tears that'd started as Mana's hurt became obvious.-
(23:10) <Minaplo> ["…"-
(23:10) <Minaplo> [Tsubaki bluntly smacked her fist into the side of her plug.-
(23:11) <Minaplo> ["Not fair, mama." Said Tsubaki, her voice shaky. "You can see what I can see, I know you can. I should be out there, I should be- I should…"-
(23:11) <Minaplo> ["…"-
(23:11) <Minaplo> [Tsubaki let out a long sigh. The cloying taste of LCL filled her mouth yet again.-
(23:11) <Minaplo> ["Alright. Something a little more cheerful now…"-
(23:25) <Minaplo> [It wouldn't take long before Tsubaki spotted Mr. Bunny.-
(23:26) <Minaplo> [He had just left Ops- apparently for the day. The moment he was on a lift, he began unfastening his uniform jacket and using his white shirt beneath to clean his glasses.-
(23:32) <Minaplo> [Mr. Bunny then made two phone calls and stepped off the lift onto the promenade deck. He swung by Blue's, saying hello to Ban-Ban and Raphael in the process; Zhengsheng meanwhile had prepared a pair of food containers for him, which Mr. Bunny quickly took. Food in hand, Mr. Bunny then left- and before long, was standing outside the door to his own apartment.-
(23:34) <Minaplo> [He opened the door and stepped inside. "I'm home."-
(23:37) <Minaplo> ["Welcome home." Said Chiisana. The Little Princess had been lying on Mr. Bunny's bed, a book hovering over her head, open to a page about a third in. She was wearing a long white nightgown with a little frilly trim.-
(23:37) <Minaplo> ["You're looking comfortable." Said Mr. Bunny with a little chuckle. "What's that you're reading?"-
(23:40) <Minaplo> ["The Analects." Said Chiisana. "One of the Four Books of Confucianism."-
(23:40) <Minaplo> ["Oh. Bit of light reading?" Said Mr. Bunny with a wry grin.-
(23:41) <Minaplo> ["I like reading philosophy. Sometimes it tickles the mind~" Said Chii.-
(23:41) <Minaplo> ["Found anything ticklish yet?" Asked Mr. Bunny.-
(23:41) <Minaplo> ["Well, according to this, in order to develop a deep sense of virtue, I need to be greatly devoted to my parents…"-
(23:42) <Minaplo> [Both Mr. Bunny and Chii began to laugh, long and hard.-
(23:43) <Minaplo> ["Better scrap it now, then." Said Mr. Bunny, grinning. "I brought dinner."-
(23:45) <Minaplo> ["Oh?" The book snapped shut, floated to Chii's left and flopped down onto her bedside table. Chii stretched luxuriously outwards, her toes reaching the end of the bed, her clasped hands sliding up the wall. "Good, I'm hungry. Anything interesting?"-
(23:48) <Minaplo> [Mr. Bunny eyed Chii's stretching form for a moment; then coughed and looked back at his boxes. "Just some stuff from Blue's! Ah… some small pizzas, a potato salad, some poutine, chicken wings…"-
(23:48) <Minaplo> ["So the usual Blue fare, then."-
(23:48) <Minaplo> ["Yeah. Sorry, do you want something else-"-
(23:48) <Minaplo> ["It's fine, Makoto." Said Chii warmly. She patted the bed. "Hurry up and get over here. I'm starving."-
(23:49) <Minaplo> ["It might make a mess." Said Mr. Bunny.-
(23:49) <Minaplo> ["If we make a mess of your bed then I'll just clean it off telekinetically. Won't even take a minute."-
(23:50) <Minaplo> [Mr. Bunny gave her a long, doubtful look for a moment before he dutifully walked over to the bed, placed the food at Chii's side and laid down.-
(23:52) <Minaplo> [Chii quickly shimmied a little closer, wrapped her arm beneath his waist and rested her head on his chest; her long blue hair flowed down to his stomach.-
(23:52) <Minaplo> [Mr. Bunny reddened a little, but put his own arm around her shoulders. "… You'll get indigestion eating like that."-
(23:54) <Minaplo> ["I'll live." Said Chii lightly. One of the boxes popped open of its own accord; two little slices of supreme pizza hovered out and promptly waited by their heads. Chii took a bite out of one; a few seconds later, Mr. Bunny claimed the other, but he took his out of the air first.-
(23:54) <Minaplo> ["So what is it tonight?" Said Chii. "Board game?"-
(23:54) <Minaplo> ["Movie, actually." Said Mr. Bunny lightly.-
(23:54) <Minaplo> ["Oh no."-
(23:55) <Minaplo> ["Another one of the classics."-
(23:55) <Minaplo> ["Oh no." Muttered Chii. "Truly, sweetie, your taste in dates explains a lot about your love life before me."-
(23:56) <Minaplo> ["You haven't complained before." Said Mr. Bunny happily.-
(23:56) <Minaplo> ["I have. Many times. Per movie."-
(23:56) <Minaplo> ["Yeah, but it's always happy complaining. You just don't want to show how much you truly love it, that's all!"-
(23:57) <Minaplo> ["What a stupid thing to say. Most of your films are unloveable."-
(23:57) <Minaplo> ["They can be an acquired taste, I admit…" Said Mr. Bunny, who was at this point grinning widely.-
(23:58) <Minaplo> ["Wine is an acquired taste. This is my biology warning me of poison." Said Chii. "What's the film this time, then?"-
(23:58) <Minaplo> ["Oh, you'll really love it. It's called 'Dune'."-
(23:58) <Minaplo> ["Sounds promising." Muttered Chii.-

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