Yanmei S Friends

[13:44] <AdEvaGM> ["It's a shame it's so warm." Sighed Chiisana. "In this languid heat, I am afraid your friends will simply not see me at my best."-
[13:55] <AdEvaGM> [The VTOL had taken to the sky, its turbines whirring, the engine wash lashing at their clothes and hair- in Chiisana's case, a long, blue linen dress, made in an empire silhouette; it had short puffy sleeves that just fit snugly over her pale shoulders. Frilly lace lined the hem and the d├ęcolletage. Her ever-present umbrella was at her side, and she had perched a wide yellow sunhat on the top of her head.]
[14:04] <Yanmei> "Oh Himesama, what are you talking about? You look as lovely as ever. Anyway, I'm surprised you're not used to the heat by now?" Yanmei's eyes were fixed dead ahead on the city they were approaching even as she talked. She was dressed in comparative simplicity: a white blouse with a ruffle going down the front, black shorts, loads of bangles and white lace-up boots.
[14:12] <AdEvaGM> ["I am, but it's October already." Said Chiisana. "If I could have even a week of cool air and clouds…"]
[14:16] <Yanmei> "Hang in there. Maybe around November?" Why wasn't this VTOL moving faster? "You must have a few fun ways to pass the time until then, right?"
[14:18] <Yanmei> ~Retcon~
[14:18] <Yanmei> "Hang in there. Maybe around November? You must have a few fun ways to pass the time until then, right?"
[14:21] <AdEvaGM> ["Possibly. Where are we heading, Zhang?"]
[14:27] <Yanmei> "Friend's house~" Yanmei turned a corner. Additional foot traffic was picking up around them. "Thanks for the company, by the way."
[14:28] <AdEvaGM> ["You're quite welcome. Thank you for inviting me." Said Chiisana in a dignified tone. "Of course, you have friends here. From before you were recruited, I suspect?"]
[14:29] <Yanmei> "Naturally~ Lemme see." Yanmei checked the address on her phone again. "We met in school."
[14:34] <AdEvaGM> ["I see."]
[14:42] * Yanmei glanced out of the corner of her eye, trying to get a fix on how she felt about things like school, but unfortunately, it was inconclusive. Disappointed, Yanmei glanced away again, to the path ahead. -
[14:47] <Yanmei> Eventually, after a walk along some very hot and lengthly uphill sidewalks, they found what they were looking for - a small brick building, some two or three floors high, with several wall-mounted mailboxes out front. Yanmei stepped forward to study them… and grinned at one in particular before dialing a number on her phone.
[14:48] <AdEvaGM> ["Are you lost?" Asked Chiisana curiously.]
[14:50] <Yanmei> "We're exactly where we need to be. Just waking up the residents so that they can let us in~"
[14:51] <AdEvaGM> [Ring ring. Ring ring…]
[14:52] <Yanmei> An answer. "Lanfen… Guess who!"
[15:01] <AdEvaGM> ["Eh?" A sort of pause. "Yanmei? Hey! It's unusual for you to ring this early…"]
[15:01] <Yanmei> "Well, there's a good reason for that? Look outside your window, ok?"
[15:06] <AdEvaGM> ["…"-
[15:11] <AdEvaGM> [Movement in one of the apartments above. Lanfen stepped out onto her balcony- a balcony so alike to the one at Yanmei's apartment!- wearing a pair of black shorts and a khaki workout singlet. Her long brown hair was tied into a long ponytail that reached her waist. "Yaaaanmei!" She called down, forgetting about the phone in her hand. "What are you doing down there?! Get up here!"]
[15:13] <Yanmei> "Coming~" She had to resist squealing as she whirled for the door. "Kick Ju awake for me, okay? Let's go, Himesama!"
[15:16] <AdEvaGM> ["Of course." Chiisana nodded and followed after.]
[15:18] <Yanmei> Up two flights of stairs, as fast as her legs would carry her, to the door of their apartment. Yanmei paused in front of them to catch her breath a little and straighten her hair before reaching out to knock.
[15:18] <Yanmei> ^in front of it
[15:19] <AdEvaGM> [Chiisana frowned slightly, trying to reconcile the desire for dignity against the desire to match Yanmei's speed. She decided to simply float up the stairs, her feet hovering about eight inches above the steps, before landing lightly at Yanmei's side.-
[15:21] <AdEvaGM> [The door flew open, and there Lanfen was. "Yanmei!"]
[15:24] <Yanmei> "Lanfeeeen~" Yanmei lunged forward, and caught and clung to her friend's arm. "You look incredible!"
[15:25] <AdEvaGM> ["R-Really?" Asked Lanfen, both pleased and rather surprised. "But I'm all sweaty- I've been working out- hold on-"-
[15:29] <AdEvaGM> ["Yaanmei~" Came another voice- that of Ju, who was wearing a plain khaki cotton t-shirt and pants under a khaki apron. She rushed over, the shorter girl throwing herself around Yanmei tightly.]
[15:33] <Yanmei> "Ju!" It was hard to hug them both at the same time, but she tried, throwing a free arm around Ju as well. They were both so… -young-. But no matter what they looked like, they were still her friends. "I can't believe you're both up so early. Jeeze." A feigned pout. "I was going to have payback for all those times you came to drag me to the bus stop before I was fully awake."
[15:35] <AdEvaGM> ["This is what about a year does in the Federation Reserve." Said Lanfen wryly. "Apart from preparing us for your shenanigans."-
[15:35] <AdEvaGM> ["I was just cooking breakfast." Said Ju. "C'mon, c'mon!"-
[15:35] <AdEvaGM> [Chiisana stood a little back from the doorway in a dignified sort of way, just waiting.]
[15:39] <Yanmei> "Eh? What shenanigans?" Yanmei caught a glimpse of Chiisana, and remembered herself and pulled back. "Oh, oh, wait a minute. This is a friend of mine from NERV. Ju, Lanfen, meet Himesama Chiisana."
[15:48] <AdEvaGM> ["Oh."-
[15:49] <AdEvaGM> [Ju and Lanfen looked at each other, then to Yanmei, then back to Chiisana. It was obvious from the look on Lanfen's face that she felt a little embarrassed, being in workout-gear next to this elegantly dressed lady. "Ahem. W-welcome, miss Himesama."-
[15:49] <AdEvaGM> ["Thank you very much. I hope I am not too much of an imposition-"-
[15:49] <AdEvaGM> ["Not at all!" Said Lanfen cheerily. "Come on, come in-"]
[15:55] * Yanmei was happy to oblige. "We come bearing housewarming gifts, by the way~ They're a few months late, though?"
[15:58] <AdEvaGM> ["Huh? You actually shelled out for us?" Asked Lanfen. "Wow, you must've really missed us…"]
[16:01] <Yanmei> "What a misleading statement!" Yanmei tossed her hair. "I'm totally generous. Tell her, Ju."
[16:03] <AdEvaGM> ["That depends on what the gifts are." Said Ju firmly.]
[16:08] <Yanmei> "Greedy." Yanmei jabbed her in the side with an elbow. "Tell me what you two have been up to, and I'll consider letting you take a peek."
[16:09] <AdEvaGM> ["Alright, then come in and take a seat."-
[16:09] <AdEvaGM> [The apartment looked familiar, and Yanmei would immediately realise why. The apartment's layout was almost identical to the same ones used at home…-
[16:10] <AdEvaGM> [The smell of grilled fish and frying pork reached Yanmei's nose as Ju headed into the kitchen, whilst Lanfen quickly absconded into the bathroom to freshen up before leading Yanmei to the dining table. Chiisana sat herself down.-
[16:10] <AdEvaGM> ["Well, about two months ago the military told us we weren't needed anymore for repairs."]
[16:11] <Yanmei> "That's no surprise, with the way things look now. The city's looking pretty good again?" She was trying not to stare at the apartment itself.
[16:24] <AdEvaGM> ["Yeah, it's not looking too bad." Said Lanfen happily. "Our families have homes, too, but we figured we're old enough to work, so…"-
[16:24] <AdEvaGM> ["The military gave us a bunch of support when we left. An apartment, clothes-" Ju pointed at her khaki shirt.]
[16:25] <Yanmei> "It's a pretty good payoff." Yanmei grinned, and looked over at Chiisana. "Right?"
[16:30] <AdEvaGM> [Chiisana nodded solemnly. "They have given you a fair reward for your honest efforts."-
[16:31] <AdEvaGM> [Lanfen giggled a little, then paused, eyeing Chiisana curiously. When she realised she wasn't making fun, she coughed.]
[16:34] * Yanmei nodded with her and went on, trying to smooth things over. "It's kind of surprising, though? I thought the military was more strapped for cash these days. Was everyone seen off with rewards like this?"
[16:38] <AdEvaGM> ["All the young reservists who they released." Said Lanfen. "And, it's not like we turned anyone out to get this place. Beijing was rebuilt to accomodate a bigger population, but not everyone came back- or survived." She added darkly.-
[16:39] <AdEvaGM> ["So there's plenty of free space, so rent's cheap." Said Ju. "Also, the military's benefitting a lot because it's putting its engineers to work on building contracts- there's a building boom, so…"-
[16:41] <AdEvaGM> ["And I doubt it could cost altogether that much to support the young reservists." Said Chiisana, her tone reasonable. "A single tank can cost millions of US dollars, can it not? And it's not like the Federal Army needs to be awash in armored fighting vehicles."]
[16:48] <Yanmei> "I dunno about that." Yanmei leaned against her backrest with arms folded. "Seems like countries are investing in a lot more than tanks these days? But. Heh. It's hard to argue against them putting that money up for the people who helped them out during the crises. What'll you do with your new freedom and resources. Lots of parties?"
[16:51] <AdEvaGM> ["Why parties?" Asked Lanfen.]
[16:52] <Yanmei> "Why not? They're fun!"
[16:52] <AdEvaGM> ["But we're busy." Said Ju with a pout. "We're both getting back into school in a few weeks."]
[16:57] <Yanmei> "Aw…" Yanmei slumped sympathetically. "I guess you could always do that stuff during long breaks, at least?"
[16:57] <AdEvaGM> ["Who are we gonna invite?" Asked Ju. "Liwei?"]
[16:59] <Yanmei> Liwei! Yanmei tried to act casual while avoiding eye-contact with everyone. "What's he up to lately? Is he going back to school with you guys?"
[17:03] <AdEvaGM> ["Nah. He signed up onto a police cadet course and is learning how to uphold society's justice." Said Lanfen with a bored air, as though she were reciting someone else's words.-
[17:04] <AdEvaGM> ["Him! Upholding laws!" Said Ju, tittering. "What sort of civilised people would let -him- police anything?"]
[17:08] * Yanmei burst into laughter. Just the thought of him in uniform… -
[17:09] <Yanmei> "Maybe he's doing it for the perks! Fast cars, writing tickets for slights…"
[17:10] <AdEvaGM> ["It sounds like none of you approve of this 'Liwei'." Said Chiisana darkly.]
[17:13] <Yanmei> "Hehehe… no, he's…" Yanmei tried fruitlessly to stop giggling. "He's n-not dangerous, just… he's Liwei…"
[17:14] <AdEvaGM> ["He's a pervert." Said Ju firmly. "And a lazy slacker."-
[17:14] <AdEvaGM> ["Ah." Chiisana's eyes narrowed. "A rogue."]
[17:18] <Yanmei> "Something like that~" Yanmei wiped a tear or two away, and a few second passed before she could latch on to the darkness in Chiisana's expression. "But a lovable one? Sort of."
[17:19] <AdEvaGM> [Chiisana eyed Yanmei.-
[17:19] <AdEvaGM> ["Of course -Yanmei- would think that." Said Lanfen with a giggle.]
[17:23] <Yanmei> The table gave a slight shudder as Yanmei aimed a covert kick at her. "Because he's our friend, right dear Lanfen~?"
[17:26] <AdEvaGM> ["Ow!"-
[17:27] <AdEvaGM> ["I dunno how you could cope with it." Said Ju. "I think I'd just die if I had him as a boyfriend…"-
[17:27] <AdEvaGM> ["Boyfriend?" Chiisana's eyes widened.]
[17:29] <Yanmei> "W-well… He was… a little sweeter back then," Yanmei lied, toying with her hair a bit. "Anyway, we broke up when I went overseas, so…"
[17:32] <AdEvaGM> ["But I thought Gabriel-Wei was your first partner."]
[17:35] * Yanmei shook her head, and the smile she wore grew wistful. "I bet a lot of people think that, but it isn't true. Liwei… that guy was…"
[17:38] <AdEvaGM> ["An insufferable toerag." Said Ju mercilessly.-
[17:38] <AdEvaGM> ["-Ju-!" Said Lanfen. "Be nice. He wasn't -that- terrible."-
[17:38] <AdEvaGM> ["Did I ever tell you about the time I first met him?" Asked Ju crossly.]
[17:43] <Yanmei> "Wait, what?" The warm bubbly memories of her younger days came to an abrupt halt. Yanmei's eyes narrowed. "What did he do to you?"
[17:44] <AdEvaGM> ["I found him sneaking in and peeking in on us." Said Ju. "Us and the swim team, I mean. Whilst we were changing into our suits one time."]
[17:47] * Yanmei groaned, and put a hand to her forehead. "That little… What did you do?"
[17:49] <AdEvaGM> ["Well, I was only half dressed at the time, so I screamed and tried to cover myself up. Then I went and kicked him."-
[17:51] <AdEvaGM> [Chiisana nodded her approval. "I would have done the same, although I would have broken a few of ribs doing so, to ensure he remembered the lesson for a very long time."-
[17:51] <AdEvaGM> ["… Is… Is that so?" Asked Lanfen, letting out a falsely cheery chuckle.]
[17:51] <AdEvaGM> <of his*>
[17:56] <Yanmei> "Hehehe… with all the boys your OD mentioned were flocking around you, you must have a lot of practice with that sort of thing," Yanmei teased.
[17:57] <AdEvaGM> ["Did the two of you discuss that?" Asked Chiisana.]
[18:00] <Yanmei> "Not much. She just mentioned those boys in passing?"
[18:01] <Yanmei> "'Foolish men' was the terms she used, I believe?"
[18:02] <AdEvaGM> ["Hmph." Chiisana flipped her hair elegantly. She had, of course, taken the hat off earlier. "Only one of them has yet had the insolence to attempt to spy on me in a vulnerable state, and he was taught the folly of his actions. The others are mostly confined to the men in the Geofront, and the youths who share my building."]
[18:05] <Yanmei> "Didn't you have someone you liked? Like, not here in Beijing, but back in your hometown…"
[18:07] <AdEvaGM> [… And then in an instant her demeanor changes- her face flushes with pleasure and her eyes sparkle. The change is enough that Lanfen pushes her seat back in alarm.-
[18:07] <AdEvaGM> ["Prince Makoto~" She sighed lovingly. "A gentlemen amongst gentlemen~"]
[18:12] <Yanmei> "T-" Yanmei was also taken aback, though she was at least a little better at hiding it. "Tell us what he's like? He sounds very… regal?"
[18:12] <AdEvaGM> ["Yes, do tell!" Said Ju, who was now paying more attention to Chiisana than she was to the food.-
[18:17] <AdEvaGM> ["His touch is as gentle as the fur of a Persian feline, his anger more terrible than an Bengal tiger's~ to those he loves he gives absolute protection, and those whom cross him he destroys utterly, scattering their ashes to the four winds! He is more chivalrous than King Arthur, more inspiring than Emperor Charlemagne, humbler than Sir Godfrey! His beauty makes the nightingales weep, and his strength causes the mountains to tremble… He is -more- than human~"-
[18:17] <AdEvaGM> ["…"]
[18:24] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei struggled against the speechlessness. It would hurt her feelings. "W-wow," she began mildly. "Fallen for him hard much? Been on any dates?"
[18:32] <AdEvaGM> ["No." Said Chiisana loftily. "Like a true gentleman, he intends to wait until I have come of womanly age before we begin courting. It is only right that the flower be allowed to bloom before it is plucked."-
[18:32] <AdEvaGM> [Lanfen begins coughing painfully, as though unable to swallow the words.]
[18:35] <Yanmei> "That's very gentlemanly of him," Said Yanmei smoothly. Common ground, common ground… let's see… "Ju? Do you still have someone who causes the mountains to tremble for you?"
[13:15] <AdEvaGM> [Ju jabbed at a piece of fish a little too harshly with her tongs. "Nope."-
[13:15] <AdEvaGM> ["Ju's still a little bitter over Officer Zheng." Said Lanfen in a stage whisper.-
[13:15] <AdEvaGM> ["I am not!"-
[13:16] <AdEvaGM> ["He had a girlfriend back in Xuzhou, and Ju was totally heartbroken when she found out-"-
[13:16] <AdEvaGM> ["Was not."]
[13:17] <Yanmei> "Aw, Ju…" Yanmei patted her on the shoulder. "Don't worry about it too much? You'll find plenty of guys once you start heading back to class again. And at college too!"
[13:21] <AdEvaGM> ["Humph. I don't need you to tell me that." Said Ju huffily. "It's not like I'm interested in it or anything- I have plenty of other things on my plate."-
[13:21] <AdEvaGM> [And on the topic of plates, she took out a stack of plain white plates and began to load them up, placing them down on the table in front of everyone with a pair of chopsticks each.-
[13:22] <AdEvaGM> ["It is wise to note one's priorities." Said Chiisana sagely.]
[13:23] <Yanmei> "All right, fine." Yanmei made an aimless little gesture. "What are those other things you're worrying about, then? Besides schoolwork?"
[13:24] <AdEvaGM> ["Work work." Ju sat down firmly.]
[13:25] <Yanmei> "You'll work yourself to death at this rate."
[13:29] <AdEvaGM> ["Nah, we won't. It's not like we're working -every- spare second of the day." Said Lanfen.]
[13:30] <Yanmei> "Good!" Yanmei gave a firm nod. "You shouldn't! We're only young once, right?"
[13:37] <AdEvaGM> ["What would you suggest, Zhang?" Asked Chiisana, delicately popping a bit of pork into her mouth.]
[13:39] <Yanmei> "Let's… let's go out and do something! Yeah!" Yanmei bobbed her head with enthusiasm. "Someplace we ued to hang out at after class. Or maybe something brand new that was constructed that we've never been before. Let's just hang out, all day and all night, just for today!"
[13:40] <AdEvaGM> [Lanfen laughs. "Alright, alright. Let me take a shower though- I wanna get changed."-
[13:42] <AdEvaGM> ["Hmm." Ju looked thoughtful. "Where should we go first?"]
[13:49] <Yanmei> "Let's see a movie." Yanmei hurried through a mouthful or two of fish. "Or hang out at the shopes, remember? Mm, not bad. Since when were you a decent cook?"
[13:49] <Yanmei> ^shops
[13:50] <AdEvaGM> ["You be quiet, or I'll spread nasty rumours about you."-
[13:52] <AdEvaGM> ["I bet we'll run into a few of your old friends, Yanyan." Said Lanfen. "Especially if we hit up Zhang Yanmei plaza~"]
[13:54] <Yanmei> "They rebuilt that too, huh?" A odd mix of pleasure and bashfulness swept through her, and she couldn't shake it. She tried to avoid glancing at Chiisana. "Help me search for gifts for Lizzie and Isaiah there, okay?"
[14:01] <AdEvaGM> ["Sure." Said Lanfen.-
[14:01] <AdEvaGM> ["What do they even like?" Asked Ju.]
[14:02] <Yanmei> "Stuffed toys? Isaiah a little less so these days, but…"
[14:10] <AdEvaGM> ["Really?" Asked Ju in surprise. "That's what he's into? I was expecting something a little more… Er…"]
[14:11] <Yanmei> "Hm? More what?"
[14:11] <AdEvaGM> [Ju and Lanfen glanced at each other awkwardly. "Nothing~" Said Ju innocently.]
[14:12] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei huffed. "What's with you two? Hmph. Say, Himesama? Is there a place in town where you like to hang out too?"
[14:14] <AdEvaGM> ["I do not generally spend my free time out in the city." Said Chiisana. "I often brouses the malls and clothing outlets and attend the cinema and theatre, but I am usually alone."]
[14:15] <Yanmei> "A-ah, I see. Your sisters won't join you?"
[14:17] <AdEvaGM> ["Rarely. Juuichi is too boorish for my tastes, and Nana is- preoccupied." She said rather hastily, suddenly unwilling to meet Yanmei's eye.]
[14:18] <Yanmei> "…? Well, that's a shame," she murmured. "You're pretty fun most of the time?"
[14:19] <AdEvaGM> [She smiled. "Thank you, Zhang."-
[14:19] <AdEvaGM> [Lanfen placed her chopsticks down on her empty plate. "Alright, I'm off to shower. Don't break anything, Yanmei."]
[14:20] <Yanmei> "Like I would?" Yanmei tossed her hair.
[14:22] <AdEvaGM> ["Yanmei prefers to break bigger things, like city blocks." Said Ju smugly.]
[14:23] <Yanmei> "W-what?! Where did you even hear that slander?"
[14:27] <AdEvaGM> ["The news, mostly…"]
[14:29] <Yanmei> "That's simply madness! Why, I'm one of the most skilled, least destructive pilots out there…" -
[14:33] <Yanmei> The back and forth went on until Lanfen returned and it was time to go. Their first stop was the Zhang Yanmei plaza, now lined with unbroken shops that were open for business. Yanmei stopped for a while, just staring up at the sign that bore the characters for her name, her expression a little dazed.
[14:35] <AdEvaGM> ["Fascinating that there is a plaza named after you." Said Chiisana, eyeing the sign. Her eyes flicked over towards the rebuilt EVA-04 statue and fountain in the centre.]
[14:37] * Yanmei looked over at it too. "The last time I was here, everything was all smashed up? All the same, it's a little…"
[14:38] <AdEvaGM> ["Overwhelming?"]
[14:39] <Yanmei> "Yeah. A little," she repeated.
[14:44] <AdEvaGM> ["You have become a heroic figure." Said Chiisana. "Possibly the equal to the Major in these peoples' eyes."-
[14:44] <AdEvaGM> ["Major Zhang… Nah. Doesn't have the same ring." Said Ju.]
[14:47] <Yanmei> "It'll be a few years before I can use a title like that one." Yanmei winked at Ju, and then took a few meandering steps forward. "I guess… even if I came back now, I wouldn't be treated like a normal student anymore."
[14:48] <AdEvaGM> ["You'd be a fool to treat yourself as a normal student as well." Said Chiisana.]
[14:53] <Yanmei> "…" A gloomy shadow started to spread across her face, but before it got far she turned away from the others as if observing their surroundings a little more closely. "I don't recognize a few of these businesses," she remarked.
[14:55] <AdEvaGM> [A sudden look of alarm crosses Lanfen's face, and she hurriedly takes Yanmei's arm, laughing cheerily. "C-C'mon, I'll show you a few of the ones over here, there's this new French cake place that's pretty nice…"]
[15:00] <Yanmei‘> "Huh? Oh yeah?" Yanmei let herself be led easily. "Bought a lot of it? I could just as easily send you some…"
[15:01] <AdEvaGM> ["What, cake all the way from France? Wouldn’t it be stale?" Said Lanfen.-
[15:01] <AdEvaGM> ["Oh, I say, is that not-" Began Chiisana.-
[15:02] <AdEvaGM> ["THE CAKE'S GREAT!" Said Ju, washing out Chiisana's words as she grabs Yanmei's other arm. "I buy it all the time, yeah."]
[15:03] * Yanmei‘ actually jumped a little at Ju’s loud words, and blinked at her, first wide-eyed and then suspicious. "Wait a second…"
[15:07] <AdEvaGM> ["I know, it's weird, huh?" Said Lanfen. "Ju's always had a giant sweet tooth, you know that, but French stuff is in vogue right now…"]
[15:12] <Yanmei‘> Yanmei was very swiftly being guided to the shop now, unable to even glance over her shoulder at Chiisana much. "Well, if it’s that good," she muttered. Weird or not, she couldn't see anything else out of place…
[15:13] <AdEvaGM> [And thus they came to the cake shop.-
[15:14] <AdEvaGM> [It was full to the brim with cakes, in delicate window stalls, in the bainmaries- rich, luxurious mudcakes, creamy fluffy cakes, cakes of lemon, strawberry…]
[15:15] <Yanmei‘> "Impressive," Yanmei stared at them all. "Do they give out samples here?"
[15:17] <AdEvaGM> ["Nah." Said Ju. "The owner is a little too proud for that."-
[15:17] <AdEvaGM> ["He thinks that if you need to ’prove' his cakes are good, then you can get out." Said Lanfen with a giggle.-
[15:18] <AdEvaGM> ["He must be a master." Said Chiisana, eyeing the cakes fondly.]
[15:20] <Yanmei‘> "Yeah, seriously?" Yanmei folded her arms, still staring about them. "If he’s that confident, then they're probably masterpieces. Let's order a small one."
[15:23] <AdEvaGM> [The owner- a tall, balding man with hard eyes who wears his apron like a suit of chainmail- slides over. "Would you like to order one of my master cakes?" He asks in a scarily deep voice that interferes with his Chinese a little.]
[15:28] <Yanmei‘> "Yes, please~ One of your petite-sized ones, please. Is strawberry okay with everyone?"
[15:34] <AdEvaGM> [General assent.-
[15:35] <AdEvaGM> ["That will be 230 yuan." He says.]
[15:39] <Yanmei`> "230…" Yanmei felt the shock roll through her quickly. "Ahem. Are you sure you couldn’t manage a teeny little discount~?"
[15:50] <AdEvaGM> [He stares at Yanmei with those gimlet eyes of his, and even though it -is- Zhang Yanmei a part of him is obviously grudging at the action. "One time only." He says. "I will take it to 180."]
[15:52] <Yanmei‘> "Deal!" Yanmei reached for her wallet. "Thank you for the generosity, Mr. Cake Master~ I appreciate it!"
[15:55] <AdEvaGM> [His face is mostly impassive, but the corners of his mouth twitch a little as he places the cake into its own special box before handing it over.-
[15:55] <AdEvaGM> ["Score, Yanyan." Said Ju. "See, I knew there was a reason I had you around. If she were there last week, she could’ve gotten you out of that speeding ticket, Lanfen."-
[15:56] <AdEvaGM> ["Not likely. That cop was meaner than old Mr. Ling back at school." Said Lanfen.-
[15:57] <AdEvaGM> ["Oh c'mon. I bet all Yanmei would have to do is giggle, show a bit of leg…"]
[16:00] <Yanmei‘> "What?! Just what do you take me for?" Yanmei tossed her hair as she led the way out. "I was completely classy just now! Right?" She glanced to Chiisana for an affirmation.
[16:02] <AdEvaGM> ["You were acting somewhat… Conspicuous." Said Chiisana slowly.]
[16:03] <Yanmei`> "N-no way! I was just being friendly…"
[16:06] <AdEvaGM> ["Oh sir~" Ju did a pirouette, clapping her hands over her chest as she batted her eyelashes rapidly at Yanmei. "Could you give me a teensy-weensy little discount, teehee~?"]
[16:12] <Yanmei`> "You’ll nver get any of this cake if you keep acting that way," Yanmei huffed.
[16:15] <AdEvaGM> ["I'm not acting up!" Said Ju. "That's exactly what you did!"-
[16:16] <AdEvaGM> ["She's kinda right." Said Lanfen.]
[16:21] <Yanmei‘> "Lanfen, not you too!" Yanmei shook her head. "Well… w-well, whatever happened is in the past now. Can’t we move on and enjoy the fruit of our hard work?" Yanmei held up the cake box.
[16:21] <AdEvaGM> ["Yes we definitely can. Do you wanna sit by the fountain?" Asked Lanfen.]
[16:23] <Yanmei‘> "Sure." Yanmei ragarded it with a slightly wary face, but moved over to it regardless. She opened the cake box.
[16:23] <Yanmei`> ^regarded
[16:24] <AdEvaGM> [It looked lovely. Fresh strawberries sat in a bed of fluffy white full cream, whilst the cake itself was coated in an icing of strawberry ice cream and fudge.]
[16:24] <Yanmei`> "W-wow. Cake Master indeed." She passed out the forks that had come with the box. "Shall we?"
[16:27] <AdEvaGM> ["Yes indeed!"-
[16:28] <AdEvaGM> [The cake tasted even better than it looked, and together the four of them took a moment to savour it.-
[16:28] <AdEvaGM> ["… So yeah, it took me a bit to save up but she’s finally mine." Came a nearby voice. "My very own Yanmei…"]
[16:30] <Yanmei‘> "Eh?" Yanmei’s head snapped up at that, confused and feeling her skin crawl at the same time.
[16:31] <AdEvaGM> ["THIS CAKE." Said Ju loudly at Yanmei's side. "It's great, isn't it?!"]
[16:32] <Yanmei‘> "Uh, yeah," Yanmei mumbled distractedly, still looking around. Her sense of self preservation was going crazy…
[16:33] <AdEvaGM> ["You are distracted, Zhang. What is it?" Asked Chiisana.-
[16:33] <AdEvaGM> ["Hey, Chiisana?" Lanfen leaned forward. "You- er, you wanna show us how you dress after we finish this cake? I mean, take us to a few stores, show us around, give us pointers… You’re a really good dresser, so-"]
[16:41] <Yanmei‘> V-very suspicious. Yanmei was unable to catch Lanfen’s eye, so she settled on Ju. Intently.
[16:42] <AdEvaGM> [Ju promptly put a bit of cake into her mouth and tried to hold the gaze, failing.]
[13:35] <Yanmei> "Ju~" Yanmei put on her most charming smile. "There's nothing weird going on, is there~?"
[13:35] <AdEvaGM> ["No no! Nothing at all!" She said hastily. "Cake's great!"]
[13:37] <Yanmei> "I wasn't talking about the cake…"
[13:39] <AdEvaGM> ["You don't want to know." Said Ju firmly.]
[13:41] <Yanmei> "Yes I do! Come on, tell me," she looked back and forth between the two.
[13:42] <AdEvaGM> ["There's a shop." Mumbled Lanfen.]
[13:44] <Yanmei> "A shop? Where, here?" She looked around the plaza again.
[13:46] <AdEvaGM> ["…"-
[13:47] <AdEvaGM> [Ju pointed gingerly at a shop on the other side of the plaza. A glowing NERV emblem crested the shop over the door. A large cutout of herself stood in the window, obscuring shelves. It looked like it was doing brisk work.]
[13:51] * Yanmei stared. A good dozen humilating NERV products rose to mind at once, not the least of which was the damned body pillow. Her shoulders went rigid. "How… long has that been there?"
[13:52] <AdEvaGM> ["Um… About a month?" Said Ju timidly.-
[13:52] <AdEvaGM> ["I saw that earlier." Said Chiisana.]
[13:55] <Yanmei> "Yes, thank you, Himesama," she said absently. Then, "They're not selling anything gross in there, are they?"
[13:56] <AdEvaGM> ["You know what isn't gross? This cake." Said Ju bravely, digging in.]
[14:01] <Yanmei> Yanmei's shoulders tightened further, actually shaking a little. Her head drooped slightly, bangs falling low over her eyes. Oh god… why here?
[14:01] <AdEvaGM> ["It's not -that- bad." Said Lanfen. "There's some weird stuff, but most of it can only be gotten by catalogue."]
[14:06] <Yanmei‘> "I can’t even file a lawsuit against them," she said through gritted teeth.
[14:07] <AdEvaGM> ["D… Do you wanna have a look inside, maybe?" Asked Lanfen.]
[14:11] <Yanmei‘> "…" Her shoulders loosened all at once, just kind of sagging now. "No. No, I’d rather not see what they're doing in there. It's just too weird?" -
[14:14] <Yanmei‘> A carefree shopper wandered past without looking, the NERV logo displayed brazenly on his bag. Yanmei stared just for a minute, and then very hastily looked down again. "… this cake is good."
[14:15] <AdEvaGM> ["Yeah, it is!" Said Ju.-
[14:15] <AdEvaGM> ["It’s not all bad. Some of it's pretty cool, like, they have these special scenes for 04 doing cool stuff." Said Lanfen boldly.]
[14:16] * Yanmei‘ held back a gasp. "You’ve been in there before?"
[14:17] <AdEvaGM> ["Yeah, before we found out about the catalogues." Said Lanfen. "We figured we'd see some cool things, and we -did-, but…"-
[14:18] <AdEvaGM> ["There's one of 04 where you can set it up so that it jumps off a building and flying kicks Gazardiel in the face." Said Ju.]
[14:21] <Yanmei‘> "…" One part of her rather savored the idea of a toy Gazardiel being beaten by 04. The more prominent part of her, however, would never ever let on to it. -
[14:22] <Yanmei`> "Himesama? Have you seen this stuff too?"
[14:23] <AdEvaGM> ["I have not." Said Chiisana in a dignified tone. "Doubtless there is little involving me within in any case."]
[14:30] * Yanmei` gazed at her with clear envy, and then stood up, gingerly moving the cake to Ju’s lap. She looked at the store again. Looked away, seething. Looked back at it.-
[14:30] <Yanmei‘> "You’re -sure- it's not that bad?"
[14:31] <AdEvaGM> ["So long as you don't look at the catalogues!" Said Ju warningly.]
[14:33] <Yanmei‘> "…right." She shook her head. "I’ll look in for just a second, just to be sure. You guys can eat eating if you want?"
[14:36] <AdEvaGM> ["Don't take too long." Said Ju.]
[14:40] <Yanmei‘> And so Yanmei slowly headed off, careful not to look over her shoulder at the expressions her friends were no doubt making. The NERV merchandise store soon stood tall above her with its garish sign… and the automatic doors parted before her.
[14:42] <AdEvaGM> [Yanmei would probably have noticed that despite being in Zhang Yanmei plaza, with a statue dedicated to her Eva, no one outside of her friends had granted her a second look. Now she knew why.-
[14:43] <AdEvaGM> [There were a lot of people in the shop, and more surprisingly, a lot of them were girls- of all ages, and quite a few of them had their hair in twintails like she did, and had even dyed it to resemble her own colour. Some were more successful than others.-
[14:45] <AdEvaGM> [There were also wigs sitting on plaster busts on the shelves. Nearby, a little girl around Rosalie’s age was dragging her mother off to look at a bunch of EVA-04 figurines. There were quite a lot of them- EVA-04 Takes on Ramliel, EVA-04 Stops the Tidal Wave, EVA-04 Special Collateral Damage Edition (with destroyable Louvre)…-
[14:49] <AdEvaGM> [There were also a few of Yanmei, herself. One of her in her NERV uniform, another in a plugsuit (with a dummied-up entry plug for her to go into), one in her school uniform… And a few others that she hadn't worn before. Zhang Yanmei dressed as a pirate, Zhang Yanmei dressed in a lovely old Chinese hanfu, Zhang Yanmei dressed up like an old Chinese hero like Guan Yu or Xiang Yu…-
[14:50] <AdEvaGM> [There were other pilots there, too. Aline was represented, having a few shelves to herself- as was Sera, albeit less so. Curiously, there were also plenty of another pilot- Isaiah. Often sold in a set with Yanmei…]
[14:58] <Yanmei‘> "…" And Yanmei stared. Long before she even saw the toys, she was figuratively swept away by the sea of violet pigtails, and when she finally looked beyond them there were endless copies of her face, stylized and immortalized in plastic. She grabbed the side of the door as if to steady herself, momentarily unsure of how far to go in or retreat. -
[14:59] <Yanmei`> But then she recalled the cameras that were undoubtedly set up around the plaza, and her companions’ less-confronting eyes, and she squared her shoulders and plunged in for a closer look.
[15:03] <AdEvaGM> [There was a glossy poster of herself and the other Paris pilots, standing in front of their units. Below was a horribly expensive resin model kit for 04 as well.-
[15:05] <AdEvaGM> ["Whoa, check it out." Came a nearby voice. "A new F-Type model!" "It even has a Prog Sword!"-
[15:06] <AdEvaGM> [Most annoyingly, a gaggle of schoolgirls were sighing over a glamorous picture of Isaiah, framed against a sunset, looking incredibly dashing.-
[15:07] <AdEvaGM> [There was someone at the sales desk, of course, a young man who looked as though he had been worn ragged. He drank from a NERV mug- and in fact, there was a lot of generic NERV merchandise floating around too.]
[15:14] * Yanmei‘ eyed that sighing gaggle for a few rather long beats, her face carefully neutral. If only she could glare at them forever. The store was so packed with stuff and bodies that it was hard to know where to rest her gaze next. She stumbled past some of the 04 displays, almost frowning at them too. -
[15:16] <Yanmei`> Eerie Aline and Sera faces passed her… Isaiahs too, staring with lifeless eyes. Eventually, she wound up near the cash registers, a simple black and red NERV cap in hand - although she not entirely sure -why-. Actually, it was hard recalling when she had even picked it up.
[15:27] <AdEvaGM> ["Hi. Do you have a NERV Support Club card?"]
[15:32] <Yanmei`> "A what? Uh, no. I don’t regularly come here?" She reached for her wallet.
[15:34] <AdEvaGM> ["Would you like to sign up for a NERV Support Club card? 10% off all NERV merchandise, and you can access the Special Features on the NERV Support Club website, including email alerts and access to limited edition figurines and models." He said in a monotone.]
[15:37] <Yanmei‘> "No." She thrust her money at him firmly. "And I’d rather not see your catalogue either."
[15:39] <AdEvaGM> ["Have it your way." He said, taking the money and putting it into the till. He eyed something beyond Yanmei's shoulder, then pushed the cap towards her.]
[15:41] * Yanmei‘ gripped it with both hands and then glanced over her shoulder warily.
[15:42] <AdEvaGM> [There were a clump of boys- a few of them looked familiar. From school- how awful!- huddled around a catalogue.]
[15:44] <Yanmei`> Yanmei’s face darkened. t was the familarity that tugged at her, making her want to waltz over there and scowl at them instead of making a hasty escape. -
[15:45] <Yanmei‘> It was gross. Like finding someone peeking in on you as you changed into swimsuits for gym class. What would Ju do? Or Chiisana? -
[15:50] <Yanmei`> A good flying kick would sort them out and send them sailing into the bizarre displays or through the front window of the store. And the thought led to another and another, until the self-preservation instinct fizzled, and the raw anger from her humiliation surged up instead. She marched over to them, hand on one hip. -
[15:51] <Yanmei`> "-Really-? Are you serious?"
[15:53] <AdEvaGM> [They looked up at her, blinking. The one holding the catalogue had a guilty look on his face and closed it up. "What do you mean?"]
[16:04] * Yanmei_ made an annoyed, haughty noise and stared at them accusingly. The one with the catalogue in particular. "Gao Duyi, of Deng Xiaopeng’s former class 1-A. It's so not classy of you to play dumb."
[16:09] <AdEvaGM> ["W-what? How do you know-"-
[16:09] <AdEvaGM> ["… No way." He stared at her in horror. "Yanmei?"]
[16:14] <Yanmei_> "Hmph." Yanmei tossed her hair and turned as if to go. "I'm out of here. Word of advice? If you're going to buy from this place, you could at least buy something not-creepy."
[16:14] <AdEvaGM> ["B-But…"-
[16:15] <AdEvaGM> ["No luck, Duyi." Said another boy, patting him on the shoulder.-
[16:15] <AdEvaGM> ["Shoulda asked her out before she left, dude."]
[16:17] <Yanmei_> That did not slow her departure down in the slightest. Odd, though. Had Duyi even looked at her back then? By the time she reached the doors, she was absolutely positive that she couldn't remember.
[16:18] <AdEvaGM> ["Excuse me." Came a voice at her ear, a new, older one.]
[16:22] <Yanmei_> She started slightly, turning to the owner of it. "Yes?"
[16:23] <AdEvaGM> [It was an older lady, looked like in her mid thirties. A child- about 3 years old, just a little older than Lizzie- was clinging to her leg. "I don't want to cause a scene, but is it true that you're -the- Zhang Yanmei?"]
[16:30] <Yanmei_> "…" A dilemma. She didn't want to cause a scene either, but… that little girl. She hesitated for a good long while, and then placed a finger over her mouth and winked. For now, with the smile she added, she was the very image of some of the more photorealistic posters that had been around the shop. "How can I help you two?"
[16:32] <AdEvaGM> ["I just wanted to thank you." Said the woman. "For- For all you've done. Everyone in my family thinks you're a hero, and my little girl loves you- would you mind signing something?"]
[16:38] <Yanmei_> It was harder to go with the flow of that. It sounded so sincere that it actually tripped her up. Come to think of it, how long had it been since someone had come up to her like this? Wasn't this better than being forgotten and cast aside by new pilots? -
[16:40] <Yanmei_> "I don't know what to say… I would be honored to! Do you have a pen?"
[16:40] <AdEvaGM> ["Of course!" The woman held out a pen and a cute toddler's shirt with Yanmei's design on it.]
[16:44] <Yanmei_> And Yanmei scrawled her name on it. Actually, she went one step further, and scrawled her name on the red part of the NERV logo as well, holding it out to the woman. "For you. Thank you and your family so much for supporting me!"
[16:44] <Yanmei_> ^the cap's NERV logo
[16:46] <AdEvaGM> ["Thank -you- for protecting us." She said warmly. "My husband…" … She trailed off, looking down at her feet, before tucking the merchandise away. "Please k-keep at it…"-
[16:47] <AdEvaGM> [And as quickly as she could she smiled at Yanmei tremulously and hurried off, the little girl in tow- although the girl waved at Yanmei as they went.]
[16:49] * Yanmei_ waves back at her, still smiling. Sadness welled as she watched them go, but it didn't quite block out the warmth she felt either. When they were gone she turned and headed back toward the 04 statue.
[16:53] <AdEvaGM> ["… And although he promised me finery and gifts beyond the imaginings of lesser folk, his gallantry was lacking, his charm boorish- he was barely a prince at all." Said Chiisana disdainfully.-
[16:53] <AdEvaGM> ["But- But you made him cry." Said Ju, in an awed voice.-
[16:53] <AdEvaGM> ["It was not I who reduced him to tears but his own failings, which I merely illuminated."-
[16:54] <AdEvaGM> ["Wow." Lanfen murmured. "You are ice cold."]
[16:55] * Yanmei_ arrived with the sense that she had intruded on something very interesting, and her expression said as much as she raised an eyebrow. "I'm back."
[16:57] <AdEvaGM> ["Welcome back!" Said Ju, her cheeriness betraying a bit of fear. "Was it… Ok?"]
[17:02] <Yanmei_> "…" Yanmei reached out and mussed her hair, smirking. "It was… it was -weird-. I've seen the dolls and posters before, but that many at the same time in the same place… Ugh, and some dumb guys from school were there too, being gross!"
[17:04] <AdEvaGM> ["Really?" Ju frowned. "Was it Liwei?"]
[17:08] * Yanmei_ snickered. "Not this time. Duyi, from our old class. Remember him?" She took a seat and stretched her arms. "Wonder what Liwei is doing now, actually…"
[17:11] <AdEvaGM> ["Probably working or studying. As strange as the thought is." Said Ju.-
[17:13] <AdEvaGM> ["Miss Ju and Lanfen have pointed out some redoubtable clothing stores." Said Chiisana. "What do you think, Zhang? Should we inquire as to their selections?"]
[17:16] <Yanmei_> "Hm, let's." Yanmei flashed another grin, trying to shake off the alien mental image of Liwei hunched over a pile of books. She could always look for him the next day, anyway. "Lead the way, you two!"
[17:19] <AdEvaGM> ["Of course~"-
[17:19] <AdEvaGM> [And so the four of them went, off for a day of fashion education…]

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