This Too Shall Pass 3 4 5

[19:27] <Raphael> Raphael took a deep breath. It didn't do much to help.-
[19:27] <Raphael> Clad only in a hospital smock he paced back and forth, in the centre of what was, functionally, a white-walled box with only a viewing window on a wall ten feet above him for a landmark. Hidden lamps seemed to cast everything in a perfectly even light that managed to cast no shadows and despite the sterile nature of his surroundings, it was warm enough that there was a light sheen of sweat on his brow.-
[19:27] <Raphael> "How much longer?"
[19:37] <Minaplo> [Ezekiel stood in the room with him, standing still and serene compared to Raphael's fidgety steps.-
[19:37] <Minaplo> ["Very soon. Tsubaki Akagi has just finished synchronising." Said Ezekiel. "They will be attuning 03 to you in, I expect, five minutes."]
[19:41] <Raphael> "Mmm."-
[19:41] <Raphael> "Kind of you to come out for this."
[19:44] <Minaplo> ["I am pleased to help." Said Ezekiel with a smile. "As far as favours go, it is a small one."]
[19:45] * Raphael laughed. "Not to me, if it goes as planned."
[19:48] <Minaplo> ["In that case, would you prefer some alterations? I could grant you mighty wings or the ability to emit streams of antimatter from your eyes." Said Ezekiel sincerely.]
[20:02] <Raphael> "… Would you believe my daughter gave me some 'suggestions' in that same vein?"
[20:04] <Minaplo> ["Yes." Said Ezekiel equally sincerely. "It was a joke. But yes."]
[20:04] <Raphael> "Heh. Wasn't sure if she'd found you yet."
[20:06] <Minaplo> ["Someone suggested that I was a conduit of communication to Zeruel."]
[20:07] <Raphael> "… Oh. Sorry about that, sir."
[20:10] <Minaplo> ["Why? It's true. I am a conduit of communication to Zeruel."]
[20:15] <Raphael> "… Well, I hope she said thank you."
[20:17] <Minaplo> ["Of course."-
[20:18] <Minaplo> [("Our preparations are complete.") Came Surov's voice, piped through from a nearby innocuous speaker.-
[20:18] <Minaplo> [Ezekiel paused- then nodded. "Raphael Guillory. This is the last time you will see me with those eyes."]
[20:21] <Raphael> His pacing sped up ever so slightly, but with a couple of seconds of focus and some willpower he managed to bring himself to a halt. He stood facing Ezekiel. "So it would seem."
[20:22] <Minaplo> [Ezekiel held out his hand.]
[20:24] <Raphael> The gesture obviously surprised Raphael, but he was quick to reach out his own hand to shake. "Best of luck to everyone, I suppose."
[20:25] <Minaplo> [Ezekiel smiled.-
[20:25] <Minaplo> [A second later he vanished, leaving Raphael holding thin air.]
[20:26] <Raphael> … Raphael's hand hung in the air for an awkwardly long time before he finally lowered it to his side. That hardly followed protocol.
[20:28] <Minaplo> ["Sir Guillory, the procedure will begin in one minute. The first phase is to attune 03's AT Field and your own."]
[20:29] * Raphael nodded in the direction of the window, despite it being practically opaque in the glare of the room.-
[20:29] <Raphael> "And I just… stand here?"
[20:31] <Minaplo> ["Yes."]
[20:32] <Raphael> "Easy enough." He muttered.
[20:34] <Minaplo> ["It will be extremely painful." Said Surov. "I trust in your ability to endure incredible levels of pain."]
[20:35] <Raphael> "…"
[20:35] <Raphael> "Fantastic, really."
[20:38] <Minaplo> ["Mmm."-
[20:38] <Minaplo> [The seconds began to tick down… There weren't that many to begin with, all told.-
[20:38] <Minaplo> ["Three- two- one- commencing attunement."-
[20:40] <Minaplo> [There was a sudden shimmer in the air around him; faint rainbow sparks the only herald of an AT Field. The field began to intensify slowly, the sparks becoming brighter, more frequent.-
[20:41] <Minaplo> [He… Felt it. It wasn't touching him, yet in some way he felt touched. It was similar to sensing someone within your personal space yet in every direction, including within.]
[20:43] <Raphael> He stood very still; To try and escape it would only open the door to panic when he couldn't. The best he could do was try to make his peace with it…
[20:45] <Minaplo> [Everything about him stood exposed.-
[20:45] <Minaplo> [His flesh, his bone, his skin and his blood were as flimsy as the gown he wore.-
[20:45] <Minaplo> […-
[20:46] <Minaplo> [A few seconds later, faster than perhaps he'd expected, the uncomfortable, invasive sensation subsided, as did the sparks around him.-
[20:46] <Minaplo> [("Attunement complete. Are you happy to proceed, Sir Guillory?") Said Surov.]
[20:50] <Raphael> "Mgh." It was a sound that emerged from behind gritted teeth. Only now that the sensation had passed did he let the shiver of discomfort assert itself.-
[20:54] <Raphael> "… One second." He lowered himself to the ground, winding up sitting cross-legged and practically swamped by his gown. After all, in a rare show of optimism it had been sized to fit his original shape.-
[20:55] <Raphael> "…" One more deep breath, and then he nodded up at the window. "Ready."
[20:56] <Minaplo> [("Phase Two, begin.")-
[20:57] <Minaplo> [It happened faster than he'd expected. It wasn't a slow spread this time. He was normal, then-
[20:57] <Minaplo> [He felt as though his chest had been expanded outwards, then crushed inwards, then expanded outwards again in a half second. By the time the second had ended his entire body was burning.-
[20:58] <Minaplo> [It was beyond description, every single part of his body breaking and snapping at once, with no way to escape his own agony.-
[20:58] <Minaplo> […-
[20:58] <Minaplo> [… Raphael was staring at the ground.-
[20:58] <Minaplo> [It was very close to his face.]
[21:04] <Raphael> There was no sound but for the ringing in his ears and the achingly loud sounds of his own gasping, desperate breaths. Raphael's awareness didn't seem to stretch beyond the even white square of floor below him, so untextured and featureless that he may as well have had his eyes shut.-
[21:06] <Raphael> At that moment he couldn't really feel his body, and he certainly couldn't move it. Panic gripped him almost immediately.
[21:06] <Minaplo> [("Sir Guillory, can you hear me?")]
[21:10] * Raphael made an attempt to respond but all that reached his ears was a slurred, muddy mess of syllables.
[21:13] <Minaplo> [("… Good enough. Take your time. The retrieval team will be out in a moment.")]
[21:16] <Raphael> "mmmkaaaaaa"
[21:20] <Minaplo> [Footsteps, sounding and feeling heavy on the ground around him. He felt hands grasp his arms and lift him bodily upwards…]
[21:22] <Raphael> … he was aware of the grip, at least. Progress. He tried to turn his head to see who held him.
[21:24] <Minaplo> [His vision swam for a moment, but…-
[21:25] <Minaplo> [Rei and her sisters. He could make out her smile.]
[21:29] * Raphael tried to return the expression, unaware just how poorly it was being translated by his slowly waking muscles. "'t rrk?"
[21:30] <Minaplo> ["It did." Said Rei, her smile widening. "Hi, Raffy."]
[21:39] <Raphael> "ey." He shut his eyes against the too-bright lights. "Wors'n… last time."
[21:46] <Minaplo> ["Sorry. Tsucchin was a little overconfident." Said Rei. "Here…"-
[21:48] <Minaplo> [The bright glare gave way to blessed darkness as Rei carried him over a threshold. This new room was dark and cool and quiet…-
[21:48] <Minaplo> [He felt his weight shift onto something soft and yielding and cool. A bed…-
[21:49] <Minaplo> [Rei's face hovered over him. "I'll stay with you. Do you want something to drink?"]
[22:01] <Raphael> "Please." He seemed to have brought his lips back under control on the journey in, but his voice was still painfully hoarse. Next stop: Flexing his fingers.
[22:03] <Minaplo> [Rei held a cup with a straw up to his lips; cold water flowed through his mouth.]
[22:05] * Raphael drank it greedily, until it was either gone or pulled away. With obvious effort, he brought his hand up to mop some of the sweat off his face.
[22:13] <Minaplo> ["Hehehehe." Rei gently grabbed his hand; she pressed a wet cloth into it, but didn't let go. "Look, Raffy."-
[22:14] <Minaplo> [She held his hand a little closer to his face. "You lost your little finger saving Suzie from the banshees. Remember that?"]
[22:18] <Raphael> "Mmm, 'course I d-… oh. Oh."
[22:19] <Minaplo> [It was his hand.-
[22:20] <Minaplo> [A tough, firm hand, a little longer and darker… His little finger ended in a small knot of flesh above the first knuckle.]
[22:23] <Raphael> "… S'a weird way to be reintroduced to my body," he said. His voice was quiet, but it didn't seem unhappy.
[22:27] <Minaplo> ["Do you want me to call Misa-bachan? I bet she could help…" Said Rei with an innocent smile.]
[22:29] <Raphael> "Don't be rude," he muttered without quite realizing he was smiling. The expression was more natural this time, if slightly dazed.
[22:30] <Minaplo> ["Hee hee."-
[22:32] <Minaplo> [She held his hand up and rested her forehead gently against it. "How do you feel?"]
[22:34] <Raphael> "Pretty terrible." He said, stroking her forehead with his thumb. "Doesn't matter. How do I look?"
[22:36] <Minaplo> ["You look perfect."]
[22:37] <Raphael> "My glasses aren't that rose-coloured, sweetheart, but thank you."-
[22:37] <Raphael> "But honestly, no weirdness? No… field?"
[22:39] <Minaplo> ["No field." Said Rei. She beamed.-
[22:39] <Minaplo> ["Just normal everyday Raffy-kun. You even have scruffy face hair~"]
[22:40] <Raphael> "It's not like I've shaved this year…"
[22:40] <Minaplo> ["Yeah. You're going to have to get used to doing that again, huh?"]
[22:41] <Raphael> "Not sure. I could grow a beard."
[22:44] <Minaplo> ["Hehehehe."-
[22:45] <Minaplo> ["So long as it's a dignified one." Chii joined Rei now; she was smiling. "The operation was a total success, Raphael. Technical would like to apologise for its trigger jockey pilot."]
[22:50] <Raphael> "Chiisana." He offered another one of those drowsy smiles. "Nothing to apologize for. It's like… ripping off a band-aid."-
[22:50] <Raphael> "… That's the story I'll be telling, at least."
[22:55] <Minaplo> ["We'll corroborate that, of course." Said Chii solemnly.-
[22:56] <Minaplo> ["… Technical says you'll feel rather woozy for the next four to eight hours. You should be completely fine after that, but you should refrain from eating until all eight hours have passed just in case."]
[18:52] <Raphael> "And I was just about to order, too."
[19:32] <Minaplo> ["I see his dry Guillory wit is unaffected." Said Chiisana. "You'll get yours in about an hour, once that empty stomach begins growling."]
[19:34] * Raphael grinned. "One problem at a time, I think."-
[19:35] <Raphael> "… Can't focus well enough to work out whether I feel different. It's not exactly helping my nerves."
[19:37] <Minaplo> ["Anything we can help with?" Asked Rei.]
[19:39] <Raphael> "Mmm. I don't think so." He raised the nub of his little finger again and wiggled it experimentally. "I'll just have to wait."
[19:40] <Minaplo> ["Should we bring in Misato?" Asked Chiisana.]
[19:47] <Raphael> His hand flopped onto his chest as if the strings supporting it had been cut, and for a moment he was quiet as he stared up at the dark ceiling above. "… Yeah, I think so."
[19:53] <Minaplo> ["I'll go make the call." Said Rei.-
[19:54] <Minaplo> [… His mattress depressed ever so slightly as Chii sat down next to him.-
[19:57] <Minaplo> ["It's been a long time since I've seen you like this." She said. "I was a different person back then, I think."-
[19:57] <Minaplo> [She reached out and tapped him on the nose. "Boop. You have a funny nose."]
[20:01] * Raphael covered it with one hand and frowned at her over his thumb. "I do not!"
[20:12] <Minaplo> ["Heehee."-
[20:13] <Minaplo> ["I have a mirror if you want to take a look, by the way."]
[20:23] <Raphael> "… Alright."
[20:25] <Minaplo> [A mirror suddenly appeared in her hand. It was a little hand mirror, a polished clean lens set into a bright silver handle. She held it out to him.]
[20:46] <Raphael> Raphael took it…-
[20:46] <Raphael> And a second later he let out a breath he hadn't been aware he was holding. The face in the mirror had a grim look to it; He looked to be in his mid-thirties, perhaps even early forties if you were being uncharitable. There was the first signs of grey in his dark hair - messy and a little shaggy, as if the body that hadn't existed half an hour ago had been avoiding the hairdresser - and light wrinkles around his eyes and forehead. In fact, his face was one of a lot of sharp lines, from his jaw, to his cheeks, to his…-
[20:46] <Raphael> He let out the barest hint of a laugh. "… You know, my mother alway insisted I had my dad's nose."
[20:50] <Minaplo> [Chii laughed. "And his cheeks and chin?"]
[20:59] <Raphael> "Yeah." He smiled. "Not as round as Shinji's face, that's for sure."
[21:01] <Minaplo> ["Are you happy with it?"]
[21:04] <Raphael> He dropped the mirror enough to look at her. "With my face?"
[21:05] <Minaplo> ["Sure. With everything."]
[21:11] * Raphael placed the mirror face-down by his side. "Hard to know about 'everything', but I made it through safely. That's enough to be grateful of for now."
[21:14] <Minaplo> ["Well. You'll have time to go over it." Said Chii.-
[21:14] <Minaplo> [She leaned over and planted a little kiss on his forehead. "I think it suits you, though."]
[21:15] <Raphael> "I would hope so." He managed to ruffle her hair before she pulled away.
[21:17] <Minaplo> ["Hm~"-
[21:18] <Minaplo> [It would take fifteen minutes before Misato appeared.-
[21:19] <Minaplo> [During those fifteen minutes, San had taken her turn to approach Raphael, asking him dolefully if he felt nauseated or sick before wondering if having one's body shaped was anything like being knocked about in an Eva, which saw her launch into a long explanation about the last time a test of hers ended in a trip to the hospital wing.-
[21:19] <Minaplo> [But eventually, Misato would arrive.-
[21:21] <Minaplo> [He'd hear her before he saw her- her footsteps on the ground, the certain gait and pattern of footfalls that he'd long since memorised.-
[21:22] <Minaplo> [The footfalls came to a halt.-
[21:22] <Minaplo> [Misato now stood over his bed. She stared down at him for a few seconds, taking in his form-
[21:22] <Minaplo> [Before smiling. "Hiya there, Raffy."]
[21:27] <Raphael> The fifteen minutes seemed to have done him a little bit of good. He had propped himself up further on the bed, and seemed a little more alert… although whether from the delayed effects of the operation or from San's inquiries, he was feeling rather naseous.-
[21:28] <Raphael> But he was quick to smile, regardless of the way he was anxiously turning over the mirror in his hands. "Hey Misato."
[21:30] <Minaplo> ["How was it, sweetie?"]
[21:32] <Raphael> «nauseous*»
[21:35] <Raphael> "I've had more enjoyable afternoons, but I'll suffer through."
[21:39] <Minaplo> ["I hope so." Said Misato.-
[21:40] <Minaplo> [She, too, settled down on his bed. She stared at him for a few long seconds, her eyebrows drawing together slightly.-
[21:40] <Minaplo> [Then she placed her hand on his chest. "Have they said when you can go?"]
[21:49] <Raphael> "… a few more hours." He stared right back. Every microexpression seemed to be cause a new, agonising bout of concern in Raphael, and he was in no state to hide it effectively. "They want to make sure everything stays… well, as normal as it gets."
[21:50] <Minaplo> ["Can you eat?"]
[21:52] <Raphael> "Apparently not."
[21:53] <Minaplo> ["Darn." Misato frowned.-
[21:54] <Minaplo> [She stood up and abruptly walked away…-
[21:54] <Minaplo> [… A second later, Raphael's ears were assaulted by a terrible screech of metal on metal. Rei, Go, Chii and San instantly clapped their hands over their ears.-
[21:55] <Minaplo> [Misato had grabbed a bed by the frame and was dragging it over.-
[21:55] <Minaplo> [The painful process lasted about a minute longer than anyone liked. By the end of it, Misato had managed to drag the bed across the room- right next to Raphael's.-
[21:55] <Minaplo> [… It was a little crooked.-
[21:55] <Minaplo> [With a huff, Misato flopped down on her bed next to him. "Welp, this is gonna be a hungry few hours."]
[22:07] * Raphael rolled over enough to engulf her in a warm, fierce hug. "That was a very romantic gesure in the presence of four telekinetics, Admiral."
[22:13] <Minaplo> ["Mmf-"-
[22:13] <Minaplo> [It took Misato a second to recover from her surprise; after that she pressed her head against his chest and wrapped her arms around him.-
[22:15] <Minaplo> ["Five." She whispered. "I can feel your heart from across the room-"-
[22:16] <Minaplo> [The comment instantly triggered three separate cries of disgust and outrage, mixed in with one adoring coo.]
[22:26] <Raphael> Raphael paid them no mind. If anything the hug grew tighter, as if he intended to shield her. "Love you."
[22:32] <Minaplo> [She too nestled a little tighter, burrowing her head into his chest; he really did feel her on his heart. "Love you too, Raffy."]
[22:34] <Raphael> "I can still say it," he murmured. It sounded like he was smiling.
[22:37] <Minaplo> ["Hehehehe."-
[22:37] <Minaplo> [("Oh my gosh…~")-
[22:38] <Minaplo> [("S-Should we give them some privacy?")-
[22:38] <Minaplo> [("W-What, no way, San-")-
[22:39] <Minaplo> ["I never had any doubt." Said Misato warmly.-
[22:39] <Minaplo> ["Even if they did turn you into a 'badass dragon lord' like Suzie suggested."]
[22:40] <Raphael> "Would that have been better?"
[22:41] <Minaplo> ["I don't think so." Said Misato firmly.-
[22:41] <Minaplo> ["… We could always ask Surov to knock up a prototype teeny dragon lord and we could find out?"-
[22:41] <Minaplo> [("Eeee~")]
[22:46] <Raphael> "I'm sure he'd appreciate another project."
[18:42] <@Minaplo> [("Raphael has enough to look after!") Cried Chiisana. ("You don't expect Go to compete with a dragon, do you?")-
[18:42] <@Minaplo> [("W-What's that supposed to mean…?")]
[18:53] <Raphael> "Doesn't mean anything, Go," Raphael said. He flopped onto his back in order to see the Ayanamis, but one arm was left to keep Misato held close. "Don't mind Chiisana."
[19:01] <@Minaplo> [("Hmph.")-
[19:05] <@Minaplo> [Misato, too, rolled with him, keeping her head against his chest. "You're a hell of a lot taller now, aren't you?"]
[19:10] <Raphael> "About half a foot, if measurements are the same."
[19:14] <@Minaplo> ["Hm~"-
[19:16] <@Minaplo> ["You looking forward to all the things you used to do again?" Said Misato. "Give scary scowls, reach high shelves, drive without being carded, shave…?"]
[19:23] <Raphael> "I'd retaught myself to scowl properly by the end, I think… Didn't I?" He shot Rei a glance for confirmation.
[19:24] <@Minaplo> ["It was more of a grumpy pout." Said Rei brightly. "It was so cute…"-
[19:24] <@Minaplo> ["Yeah, you only really managed a proper scowl around Duker." Said Misato.]
[19:25] * Raphael sighed. "… You can't start calling him that too."
[19:27] <@Minaplo> ["But it sounds so… Fitting." Said Misato. "I dunno why…"]
[19:29] <Raphael> "Regardless, yes, a lot of that will be a nice," He pressed on. "Although the lack of facial hair was a time-saver…"
[19:30] <@Minaplo> ["You could always grow a beard."]
[19:31] <Raphael> "A dignified one."
[19:38] <@Minaplo> ["Hehehe." Misato reached up and ran a finger across Raphael's hard jawline.-
[19:39] <@Minaplo> ["… You happy with it all, hon?"]
[19:49] <Raphael> "Chiisana asked the same thing," he said. Even so, he took a few moments to consider the question.-
[19:49] <Raphael> "This is happy. Right now."
[19:50] <@Minaplo> [Misato was quiet for a long minute. Raphael could hear her quiet, measured breaths.-
[19:51] <@Minaplo> [… Eventually she closed her eyes. "Then that's good enough for me."]

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