You Did Not Come And Marching Time Drew On And Wore Me Numb

[14:03] * Yanmei was feeling anxious as she stepped out of her bedroom. She was dressed in her sharpest navy blue suit, and was wringing a matching clutch purse in her hands.-
[14:05] <Yanmei> It wasn't the anticipated visit that was fraying her nerves. It was the fact that it was well past the agreed-upon time for her babysitter's arrival. She glanced at the kitchen clock, her mouth tense. The driver would be coming any minute, and still no sign of her! "Sophie, how could you…?"
[14:12] <Minerva‘Linden> ["Maamaa?" Lizzie stared up at her curiously…-
[14:12] <Minerva`Linden> There was a knock at the door.
[14:14] * Yanmei looked up suddenly! Could that be her, in the nick of time? She hurried to the door!
[14:15] <Minerva`Linden> The door opened.-
[14:25] <Minerva`Linden> "Ms. Zhang!" A smiling, youthful face, straight black hair… Minerva Linden stood there, wearing a sharp black military uniform- trim, tight shiny trousers with a gold running down the side and hem; a black dress jacket, buttoned up at the front, with a pair of shoulder marks denoting her rank as colonel- three gold stars in a row, with a bald eagle in gold on the outer edges. The cuffs of said jacket bore three gold stripes.-
[14:25] <Minerva`Linden> Whatever dignity or poise she possessed however was quickly sacrificed. She stepped forward and threw her arms around Yanmei tightly in what could only be called a cuddle, resting her head on Yanmei’s shoulder. "It's so good to see you~"
[14:30] <Yanmei> "L-Linden!" It was impossible to hide the shock on her face… and the chagrin, glancing back to the toy-covered floor of her apartment. "I thought you'd be at the President's office?"
[14:32] <Minerva‘Linden> Minerva didn’t break off her cuddle. "I decided to come by and pick you up instead."
[14:37] <Yanmei> "That's thoughtful, but President Mazarin's limo should be here in a minute? And…" She glanced back at little Lizzie, reddening slightly. "There's a little development."
[14:38] <Minerva‘Linden> "It’s ok. I informed Mr. Mazarin in advance, and he said he was alright with it." Snuggle. "A development?"
[14:40] <Yanmei> W-was she always this affectionate? "The sitter was a no show."
[14:40] <Minerva‘Linden> "Sitter?" She pulled away, and looked over at Elizabeth.-
[14:41] <Minerva`Linden> ["Maamaa?"-
[14:41] <Minerva`Linden> "Oooh, you have a baby girl~"
[14:44] <Yanmei> "That’s Elizabeth. I'm her…" She groped for an approriate word. "…guardian? Anyway, there's no choice. I hope President Mazarin will understand." She took a step away from Minerva, making for a violet diaper bag that was hanging from a coathook by the door, her face determined.
[14:45] <Minerva‘Linden> There was the wound of smart hard-soled shoes clacking as Minerva swooped down to pick Elizabeth up. "Hello, Elizabeth~"-
[14:45] <Minerva`Linden> ["Maa?!"-
[14:45] <Minerva`Linden> "You’re adorable! Eeee~"-
[14:45] <Minerva‘Linden> ["Eeee!"]
[14:48] <Yanmei> "Please don’t wrinkle her clothes too much? We're going to a fancy place, and I'm not sure if I have time to change her."
[14:49] <Minerva‘Linden> "Oh, sorry." Minerva giggled and put Lizzie down. "Wow! You’ve been having fun today, huh? Look at all these toys…"
[14:52] <Yanmei> "I took the day off, so we spent the morning playing! It was really nice." With the inventory of her bag complete, Yanmei looped the strap over her shoulder. She moved closer, to stuff one or two dolls into it as well. Something to occupy the baby during boring political talk.
[14:53] <Minerva‘Linden> "That sounds like a lot of fun." Says Minerva sincerely. "Are we ready to go, Miss Zhang? We don’t want to keep Mr. Vimes waiting too much."
[14:57] <Yanmei> "Vimes, huh," Yanmei muttered. She frowned a little, and then gave it up with a shrug. "Lizzie~ Let's put your shoes on!" It would actually take a few more minutes to strap them on, with the little girl's giggling and kicking, but they were finally ready to go. "Done!"
[14:58] <Minerva‘Linden> ["Yaaay!" Lizzie started to clap, before she held out her hand to Yanmei.]
[15:01] * Yanmei took it, guiding her cheerfully out of the apartment, and shutting and locking the door once they and Minerva were through. Then it was off to the waiting car.
[15:06] <Minerva`Linden> [The car was a typical black S2 cruiser. Vimes was sitting in the driver’s seat, and he nodded to Yanmei as she came. "Ms Zhang." He gave Lizzie a deadpan nod as well. "Ms. Zhang." Then a last nod to Minerva. "Ms. Linden."]
[15:11] * Yanmei opened her mouth to correct him, but a big sigh came out instead. In spite of what she remembered about this guy, she should try to be polite, at least. "Mr. Vimes. Thank you for driving us." She helped Lizzie into the car and then climbed in afterward.
[15:13] * Minerva‘Linden climbed in after, taking a seat next to Yanmei. A second later she was cuddling up to her once again, shoulder occupied.-
[15:14] <Minerva`Linden> ["Maamaa." Lizzie tugged on Yanmei’s sleeve.]
[15:15] <Yanmei> "Hm?" Yanmei peered down at Lizzie. She was trying to pretend that Minerva was being businesslike and Presidentish by blotting out reality, but it wasn't quite taking. "What's wrong?"
[15:16] <Minerva‘Linden> ["Daadaa?" Lizzie lifted her hands into the air, which was a common sign of ’where is it?']
[15:18] <Yanmei> There was a slight ripple of pain beneath the surface of her gentle smile. "Daddy's gone away for bit."
[15:18] <Minerva‘Linden> ["Daadaa gone…"-
[15:19] <Minerva`Linden> [Lizzie sighed, and slumped against Yanmei’s other side, now, clinging onto her hand. "Miss daadaa."]
[15:21] * Yanmei pulled away, only to reposition her free arm around the little girl. "Me too," she said quietly. "But Mama's here." She did flush a little at that, but she didn't care.
[15:22] <Minerva‘Linden> ["Maamaa." Lizzie put her hands clumsily around Yanmei. "Maamaa love."]
[15:25] <Yanmei> "Mmm." She held her a little closer. "Mama loves you~"
[15:32] <Minerva`Linden> "You sound like a real mother, Ms. Zhang."
[15:33] <Yanmei> "D-do I?"
[15:34] <Minerva`Linden> "Uh-huh." Minerva closed her eyes. "Actually, I don’t know what a mother sounds like, but if I did I know you'd be similar."
[15:36] <Yanmei> "It's… not like I have much experience with it either?" Yanmei peered out the window, beyond Lizzie, and she felt a pang of anxiety once more.
[15:36] <Minerva‘Linden> "That’s a shame…"
[15:39] <Yanmei> "President Linden, you had a father, though, if I'm not mistaken?"
[15:40] <Minerva‘Linden> "Yeah."
[15:41] <Yanmei> "What’s he like? He's a soldier, but there are some that are big softies when it comes to family."
[15:51] <Minerva‘Linden> "Well, he’s very tall and handsome, and he's also wise. Very wise and intelligent. He always strongly considers what the right or wrong course is before he acts. He's honourable, and doesn't kill unless he has to- even in battle he always goes for the disabling blow if he can. He always follows the laws of war." She smiles happily. "He's very kind to children, and he loves me a lot. He crashed and disappeared when I was little, but he knew there was a risk of him going down, so he wrote twenty letters in advance, one for each birthday until I was 24."
[15:53] <Yanmei> "What?! That many? He really thought ahead, didn't he?"
[15:54] <Minerva‘Linden> "Yeah. They were really lovely letters, too."
[16:00] <Yanmei> "Hm." Yanmei was quiet a moment, considering.
[16:07] <Minerva`Linden> [The rest of the trip passed quietly. In fact…-
[16:07] <Minerva`Linden> [By the time they arrived at the Palais, Yanmei would discover that Minerva had quietly gone to sleep on her shoulder.]
[16:10] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei stared at her blankly. Surely, this was a joke…? But no. And the only thing to do was to wake her up, first by shifting her arm. "Ms. President?"
[16:11] <Minerva`Linden> "Mmmf…?"
[16:13] * Yanmei reached up and pinched her cheek, not finding the speed of her waking quite to her liking. "You’ll get drool on your pretty uniform at this rate~"
[16:14] <Minerva‘Linden> "Mmm…" Her arms tightened a little. "Five more minutes, Mr. Guillory…"
[16:17] <Yanmei> "Mr…." Yanmei tried to make sense of that. In the end, she just pulled her cheek harder. "Wake up!"
[16:17] <Minerva`Linden> "Muh-huh?" Her eyes blinked open, and she rubbed at them. "Oh… Are we here already?"
[16:21] <Yanmei> "That’s right." She felt a swell of relief… and the little thrill that came with spotting a target. "You slept for most of the way, loudly mumbling things about a Mr. Guillory in your sleep~"
[16:26] <Minerva‘Linden> "Huh?" She sat up straight, still rubbing her eyes. "You probably misheard." She mumbled.
[16:29] <Yanmei> "Oh, I don’t know about that?" she was smirking. "You were pretty loud, like I said."
[16:33] <Minerva‘Linden> "I had an instructor named Guillory. He used to wake me up a lot."
[16:37] <Yanmei> "Is that so?" She looked a little disappointed. Feh, that was no fun! "That’s some coincidence."
[16:37] <Minerva‘Linden> "He was from Quebec." Minerva opened the door and climbed out, and was quickly regaining her usual cheer. "Come on, Ms. Zhang~"
[16:40] * Yanmei followed her, holding Elizabeth. "Right behind you."
[16:40] <Minerva`Linden> ["Maamaa~"-
[16:42] <Minerva`Linden> They quickly proceeded through security, followed along by Mr. Vimes. Before long they’d be waiting in the President's waiting room…-
[16:42] <Minerva‘Linden> ["Ms. Zhang? Ms. Linden. The President will see you now." Said the receptionist, peeking out from the doorway.]
[16:46] <Yanmei> "Thank you so much!" Yanmei beamed at the receptionist, and then nodded at Minerva. "Let’s proceed."
[16:48] <Minerva‘Linden> "Right!"-
[16:49] <Minerva`Linden> They passed into the opulent office, which Yanmei would be familiar with. Within were two individuals…-
[16:50] <Minerva`Linden> [President Mazarin, sitting behind his desk, sipping a cup of coffee. "Mademoiselle Zhang. Madame President." He rose, offering Minerva a hand- she shook it- before offering the same to Yanmei.-
[16:50] <Minerva`Linden> ["Hello, Yanmei. Madame President." Said the other individual- de Orleans. "And to you too as well, Mademoiselle Bellamy."-
[16:50] <Minerva`Linden> ["Uuu?"]
[16:55] <Yanmei> "Mr. President. Monsieur de Orleans." Yanmei shook hands happily. "I hope you’ll forgive me for bringing an extra guest."
[16:57] <Minerva‘Linden> ["Not at all." Said Mazarin. He smiled. "How have you been, Mademoiselle Zhang?"]
[16:58] <Yanmei> "Busy." She sighed. "But then, you’re probably the same?"
[17:04] <Minerva‘Linden> ["Yes, yes indeed. Congratulations, by the way…"]
[17:08] <Yanmei> "Ah?" She looked down at her engagement ring, suddenly self-conscious. She chuckled a little. "I guess you found out."
[17:12] <Minerva`Linden> ["It wasn’t hard. It's a very nice ring." Said Mazarin.-
[17:12] <Minerva‘Linden> ["I wish the both of you the best of luck. He’s a fine boy." Said de Orleans.]
[17:15] <Yanmei> "Heh. Thank you both!" She beamed. No, -glowed-. "It was pretty sudden, but… Thank you."
[17:23] <Minerva‘Linden> ["Have you decided upon which name to take?" Asked Mazarin.-
[17:24] <Minerva`Linden> ["Young Mr. Fontaine told me that he and young Miss Soryu agreed- although he used the term lightly- on ’Fontaine-Soryu' as theirs…"]
[17:24] <Minerva‘Linden> [Said de Orleans.]
[17:25] * Yanmei smirked a little at that. ’Agreed,' huh? "I was hoping he'd take my name? That would make him Isaiah Gabriel-Wei-Zhang. It's something we haven't talked about or made agreements on yet, though."
[17:31] <Minerva‘Linden> ["I see…" De Orleans chuckled.-
[17:32] <Minerva`Linden> ["But. I believe we have issues to discuss. Do you know what the main topic of this meeting is, Mademoiselle Zhang?" Asked Mazarin.]
[17:38] <Yanmei> "The situation in the States has still not been resolved. President Linden is here to explain what her plans for the future are, and her chances of succeeding that them. Correct?"
[17:41] <Minerva`Linden> ["Yes, that is correct."-
[17:46] * Minerva`Linden leaned forward, now. Her whole posture had changed- she sat with her legs tightly together, hands folded in her lap, back straight. She was all poise and attention. "My overall goal, from the very start of the war, was to remove the corrupt and abusive power structures in the United States Government and replace it with a functioning, impartial one. The first step has been achieved, and I do not intend to leave my post before the second step has finished. That is my goal."
[17:53] * Yanmei listened carefully, setting Lizzie in her lap for now. "How are you going to determine who is or isn’t impartial? It wouldn't be amazing if some residual corruption from the old regime made its way back into the new government that you're proposing. A new type could begin to fester too."
[17:58] <Minerva‘Linden> "I’m going to use Thruster Supercomputer systems to act as the tools of government until election time." Said Minerva. "You see, the reason this corruption exists is because there hasn't -been- an honest democratic vote in the States since before Impact. Once the elections begin, the people will decide instead of the oligarchs."
[18:05] <Yanmei> -That- sounded familiar. Without the implied temporary status of the computers, at least. She glanced to Mazarin and de Orleans to take in their reactions as well.
[18:20] <Minerva‘Linden> ["Once your elections take place, the Thrusters will be deactivated, I assume?" Asked Mazarin.-
[18:21] <Minerva`Linden> "They won’t have any authority, no. They'll be kept on in an advisory role, though- big calculations, statistics, logical fallacy detection, that sort of thing."-
[18:21] <Minerva‘Linden> ["Logical fallacy detection?"-
[18:21] <Minerva`Linden> "For the debates."-
[18:21] <Minerva`Linden> ["Ah. Of course."]
[18:30] <Yanmei> "Is it really okay to leave even a temporary system of government up to the Thrusters? I don’t doubt that they're sufficient, but it would essentially be relying on the LN's technology to get things done. Would there be security risks to worry about?"
[18:31] <Minerva‘Linden> "Like what?"
[18:33] <Yanmei> "Like, say, an overlooked backdoor that would let programmers still loyal to the LN’s goals disrupt things."
[18:37] * Minerva‘Linden nodded slowly. "I see what you mean, but honestly, I think I have that problem under control. I’ve already planned to speak to NERV scientists- the famous Dr. Riel, for example- in going over the designs and stress-testing them to ensure they're as impenetrable as they can be."
[18:38] * Yanmei nodded, seemingly satisfied with that.
[13:13] <Minerva‘Linden> ["So how, exactly, do you intend to enact your plan?" Asked Mazarin. "You’re an enemy commander who essentially usurped the position of President from the legal body. Now that you've been defeated, you're not exactly negotiating from the strongest of positions. What's stopping the Committee from simply throwing you in jail and reinstating the old government?"-
[13:14] <Minerva‘Linden> "Ms. Zhang?" Minerva turned to look at her. "Do you think Miss Caine cares much about the USA?"
[13:18] <Yanmei> "What makes you think I know?" Yanmei sighed, and set Elizabeth down in case she wanted to explore. "From what I can tell, it’s not a huge focus for the Commander, however, which would imply that the Committee Chair hasn't been pressuring him about it. That is, of course, assuming that he cares what the Committee thinks? Monsieur de Orleans probably has more insight into that than I do."
[13:21] <Minerva‘Linden> ["Hm." de Orleans frowned slightly. "The United States is considered by Caine to be useful, definitely. It has a wealth of natural resources, a large population and first world technology."-
[13:22] <Minerva`Linden> ["Eeee!" Lizzie immediately ran off towards a shiny glass cabinet full of gold plates and goblets. She pressed her hands against the glass, and -stared-, fogging up the glass. "Eeeeeeee……"-
[13:23] <Minerva`Linden> "But does she care who runs it?"
[13:26] <Yanmei> "I’m sure she cares more about influencing the person in control than the actual individual controlling it. Your uncorrupt government doesn't exactly mix well with that, though?" She eyed Lizzie warily, before returning her gaze to the others. That cabinet was secure enough to withstand a little two-year-old's attentions, sure…
[13:27] <Yanmei> ^surely
[13:27] <Minerva‘Linden> "On the contrary." Minerva smiled.-
[13:28] <Minerva`Linden> "A government run by supercomputers that answer to me means she only has to control one person."
[13:30] <Yanmei> "Well, true. But are you really comfortable with her hovering over your shoulder like that? It will probably make things more difficult."
[13:31] <Minerva`Linden> "Oh?"
[13:37] <Yanmei> "Don’t you think so?" Yanmei frowned. "Although to be fair, that situation is probably not a unique one among world leaders, and there are still some who manage to do a good job regardless. Isn't that right, Mr. President?"
[13:37] <Minerva‘Linden> ["Indeed."-
[13:39] <Minerva`Linden> "But the thing is, Ms. Zhang… If we assume Caine doesn’t care who governs the US, so long as it's governed, then the worst that I will have to deal with are contributions to the UN." Minerva chuckled. "So it's simple. If my government can bring the United States back on the right path, then anything she demands of me, the US should be able to meet. The US is pretty much capable of meeting -any- demand of that nature, so long as all the gears work."-
[13:40] <Minerva‘Linden> ["Eeeee." Elizabeth ran over to a bookshelf now, taking out a big leather tome that was a little too heavy for her. She toppled backwards onto her back. "Aaaaa!"]
[13:45] <Yanmei> "All right. So you can appease Caine," Yanmei relented. "And after that, the rest of the UN should fall onto the spporting side as well."
[13:46] <Minerva`Linden> "Yes, that’s right."-
[13:48] <Minerva‘Linden> ["Hold on a moment." Said de Orleans. "Washington may have run a kleptocrat’s government, but we know his loyalties. What do we have to prove that you won't betray us to the LN?"]
[13:51] <Yanmei> "That's a good question," Yanmei admitted.
[13:57] <Minerva‘Linden> "I’ve thought of this myself, and I believe I have the answer. First and foremost, as a Colonel in the LN forces, I'll have access to special tactical and strategic data as well as technical data on LN weapons, machines and defenses. Secondly, I doubt that Caine will actually allow me to possess any forces of my own, making any betrayal I make rather lacklustre at best. Thirdly…" She smiled. "My defection will be a worldwide broadcast, and that means that everyone in the LN will see it. Overnight, I'll be uploaded into the Traitors' Log. And the LN shoots traitors on sight. And lastly…"-
[13:58] <Minerva‘Linden> "I know what Mr. Caine- my Mr. Caine- is up to, and she’ll want to know that."
[14:02] <Yanmei> Yanmei's eyes widened slightly at that. "Azariah Caine trusted his military leaders enough to let them in on his larger plans?"
[14:02] * Minerva‘Linden blushed slightly. "He trusted me with them."
[14:06] <Yanmei> "What kind of guy…" Yanmei frowned, and then shook her head. "Are you sure that he was legit?"
[14:06] <Minerva`Linden> "What do you mean?"
[14:08] <Yanmei> "How attractive were his plans to you? Do you think he could have been fabricating a story in order to cement your loyalty?"
[14:09] <Minerva`Linden> "Even if he was, how would Ms. Caine prove it one way or the other?"
[14:13] <Yanmei> "In the long run, if it comes to light that it was untrue, people will be bound to suspect you of lying. But… by then, the people would have elected their own leaders, and wouldn’t need to rely on you so much anymore, right?"
[14:13] <Minerva‘Linden> "That’s right. And by then, the LN will be destroyed and my loyalty proven."
[14:17] <Yanmei> "I see. Hopefully, the timing will work out that way."
[14:18] * Minerva‘Linden nods. "Let’s hope so."-
[14:20] <Minerva‘Linden> ["Aaaaa!" Lizzie rolled over, finally getting the book off her. This didn’t stop her for long- she laboriously picked up the huge book and stumbled over to Mazarin, tossing it into his lap. "Read read?"-
[14:21] <Minerva‘Linden> ["Hello, little one. What do you have there?" Mazarin stared down at her and opened the cover of the book. "Ah. A history of the legal system in France from 1500 to 2000. Are you sure? It seems rather dry."-
[14:21] <Minerva`Linden> ["Uuu…?"-
[14:22] <Minerva`Linden> ["So what exactly do you require us for?" Asked de Orleans of Minerva.-
[14:22] <Minerva`Linden> "Hmm…?" Minerva stared at the scene before turning to de Orleans. "Support! From all three of you."
[14:27] <Yanmei> "What do you think, Monsieur de Orleans? Mr. President? Ah…" She glanced between Mazarin and Lizzie. "She’s not being too troublesome, is she?"
[14:28] <Minerva‘Linden> ["No, not at all." Mazarin patted the little girl on the head. "Mademoiselle Zhang, I’m going to be cruel here and ask, what do you think?"]
[14:37] <Yanmei> That really was cruel. Yanmei smiled wryly. "The logic behind supporting her seems to check out? And certainly, she has to start somewhere. I suppose recent events have made me more of a worrywort, though? That's why I was deferring to the judgement of more experienced politicians to make sure that there's not something I'm overlooking."
[14:40] <Minerva‘Linden> [Mazarin shook his head slowly. "I have no reason to reject your position, Linden. The sooner this mess with the US is resolved, the better."-
[14:40] <Minerva`Linden> ["Washington will not like this." Said de Orleans. "And as a member of the Committee, this impacts on me as well."-
[14:41] <Minerva`Linden> "But Washington is a lot weaker than he used to be." Said Minerva. "If you wanted to, you could expand in areas where he used to hold say."-
[14:41] <Minerva`Linden> ["You have a point."]
[14:45] <Yanmei> "Even if that’s true? We'd better keep a careful eye on him." Yanmei sighed. "The ideal scenario would be to resolve issues between this faction and himself to reduce his resistance. Unfortunately, I don't know if that's possible."
[14:52] <Minerva‘Linden> ["He wouldn’t be happy unless the status quo ante bellum was reestablished." Said de Orleans. "On the other hand, his usefulness in the eyes of Caine is greatly diminished. She might just do away with him, or threaten to do so."]
[14:57] <Yanmei> "Maybe." The worry hadn't quite left Yanmei's face. "In any case? If both of you think it's safe, then I'll throw in my support as well."
[14:59] <Minerva‘Linden> ["I never liked Washington anyway." Said de Orleans.-
[15:00] <Minerva`Linden> ["And I never liked Howell." Muttered Mazarin, quietly picking Elizabeth up and perching her on his knee. "He was old and puppet-like. If there is one thing I am glad to say, it is that you, at least, Ms. Linden, will actually control your own government."-
[15:00] <Minerva`Linden> ["Eeee…~" Bubbled Elizabeth as she picked up the nearest shiny thing (a golden spoon) and began banging it on the table.-
[15:01] <Minerva`Linden> "Thank you." Said Minerva cheerfully, giving everyone a warm, loving smile.
[15:04] * Yanmei lowered her eyes to her purse. "There’s someone who I've talked to on occassion." She opened and began to rummage through it. "Mr. Leon Freeman, US Diplomatic Attache. You should get in touch with him at the embassy while you're in France. He's incredibly knowledgable, and would be able to offer some more advice to you."
[15:07] <Minerva‘Linden> "Oh, that’s be very much appreciated. Thank you, Ms. Zhang."
[15:10] <Yanmei> "You're welcome." She grinned back. "I'm not quite at the level of these two esteemed gentlemen here, but I can at least do things like this." She glanced to the noisy Lizzie, repressing a wince at the banging. "Shh! Lizzie! Play quietly, okay?" She pressed an index finger to her mouth in the universal shushing gesture.
[15:11] <Minerva‘Linden> ["Uuu." Lizzie frowned, and put the spoon down. "Uuu…"-
[15:14] <Minerva`Linden> "I appreciate it, nevertheless, Miss Zhang." Minerva turned towards the others. "There are a few other factors to work out…"-
[15:14] <Minerva`Linden> [All in all, however, the rest of the meeting took another two hours…-
[15:15] <Minerva`Linden> [After that, it was a car ride home, Lizzie becoming a little sleepy at this point.-
[15:16] <Minerva`Linden> The car pulled up outside of Yanmei’s apartment building. "Thank you again, Miss Zhang."
[15:17] <Yanmei> "It's fine, it's fine." Yanmei opened the car door, and hoisted Lizzie out as she departed. "Have a good evening, okay? Thanks again for the ride."
[15:19] <Minerva‘Linden> "Not a worry. Have a good day!"
[15:21] <Yanmei> "Bye~" Before long, she was heading into the apartment and messing around with the keys before letting herself in. "You had a really fun day, didn’t you?" she smiled down at the sleepy Lizzie.
[15:22] <Minerva‘Linden> ["Fun fun…"]
[15:24] <Yanmei> The door opened and they were in at last. Yanmei put Lizzie down for a nap first and foremost, placing her down on her own big bed and covering her with a blanket, and kissing her on the forehead.
[15:28] <Minerva`Linden> ["Love maamaa." Said Lizzie sleepily, reaching out to pat Yanmei on the cheek clumsily. She pulled her little Marianne toy closer to her.]
[15:30] <Yanmei> "Get some sleep. We can have dinner when you wake up." She pulled away, leaving her to sleep, and went for the door and hand already going for her cell phone. She dialed a number.
[15:31] <Minerva`Linden> [It rang…-
[15:31] <Minerva`Linden> ["Yes? This is Director Zhang."]
[15:32] <Yanmei> "Direct- ah. Mom? Is it okay to talk for a minute?"
[15:32] <Minerva`Linden> ["Oh. Blossom? What is it?"]
[15:37] <Yanmei> She sounded so calm. Like nothing had happened. "I won’t keep you. I know you're really busy."
[15:39] <Minerva‘Linden> ["I appreciate it. I’ve been working 20 hour days at this point."]
[15:41] * Yanmei winced. "That much? I hope it gets easier."
[15:43] <Minerva‘Linden> ["So do I."]
[15:45] <Yanmei> There was an awkward pause that even she didn’t know how to breach for the next few moments. Finally. "Mom, about Isaiah…"
[15:46] <Minerva‘Linden> ["You’re upset."]
[15:50] <Yanmei> "I've… been trying to understand," she said carefully. "You must have had your reasons, even if it hurts."
[15:51] <Minerva‘Linden> ["I did. And blossom, I know it hurts, but I cannot help but think that my reasons were correct. Would you have won Boston without 08? I don’t think you would have. So that decision helped save the entire United States." She said, her tone matter-of-fact.-
[15:52] <Minerva‘Linden> ["… But." Her voice began to soften. "I had other reasons, too, blossom. It hurts now, but one day… One day you’ll thank me for this. Trust me. You're both going to experience a lot of pain, but, absense makes the heart grow fonder, and these sorts of experiences make people strong and reliable."]
[15:58] <Yanmei> She did it for them? Yanmei lifted her head in surprise, weighing what that meant against the awfulness of the memory of hearing her mother's verdict at the hearing. Maybe there was no reason to be frightened of her reaction to this. "We've already decided not to let the distance hurt our relationship."
[16:02] <Minerva‘Linden> ["That’s good. Learning not to let distance affect your bonds is an important ability."]
[16:04] <Yanmei> "It's more than that, Mom. I've been trying to keep it quiet because I wanted you to know first, but…" She gazed down at her hand and smiled. "We're going to get married! He gave me a ring and everything."
[16:07] <Minerva‘Linden> [There was a pause.-
[16:09] <Minerva`Linden> ["R… Really?" She asked, her voice… Awkward. It was hard to describe, and Yanmei wasn’t quite able to discern the tone. "That's… W-Well, I can't say I'm… Exactly surprised, but it's still… Are you -sure-?"]
[16:12] <Yanmei> Eh? She wasn't happy? Yanmei's smile faded. She swallowed. "W-we don't have a date yet, but we're going to be sensible about. It won't happen until after the war. Probably not until we're done with school either. Mom, I really love him! I think it's the right thing to do."
[16:12] <Yanmei> ^about it
[16:14] <Minerva‘Linden> ["…"-
[16:15] <Minerva`Linden> ["I know, Blossom." There was a different feeling to that voice now. It was warmer, more accepting, certainly less shocked. "I know how you feel. And… Keeping it off is prudent. But what else can I say? I think you’ve both made the right choice, even considering the circumstances. You both obviously love each other, and…"-
[16:15] <Minerva‘Linden> ["… And, now you’re deciding things as a true adult. You've grown up a lot, Blossom."]
[16:17] <Yanmei> "You think so?" That… made her fears crumple. Something warm started to spread in her heart, the same sort of hope and warmth she usually felt when her mom praised her, but this time amazingly magnified.
[16:22] <Minerva‘Linden> ["I do." Said Mingzhu quietly. "I wish you the best, both you and your fiancĂ©."]
[16:23] <Yanmei> "Thank you, Mom! I… I don’t know what to say."
[16:26] <Minerva‘Linden> ["Promise me something, in that case…"]
[16:27] <Yanmei> "Of course! Anything!"
[16:29] <Minerva`Linden> ["You never met your grandmother." Said Mingzhu quietly. "However, when I married, she told me something that has stuck with me ever since."-
[16:31] <Minerva`Linden> ["She said, ’We are a rare breed, Mingzhu. I have never heard of any family who look like us. So now, I can die happy, knowing that the lovely hair of the ladies of our line will live on.'"]
[16:37] <Yanmei> "Heh." Yanmei ran a hand through her own hair. It was pretty unusual looking, wasn't it? "I will try my best for a little girl with violet hair, Mom. Although I don't know if it can be decided by that alone…"
[16:39] <Minerva‘Linden> ["Well. We’ll see." Said Mingzhu. "I'm happy for you, Blossom. I hope it goes well…"]
[16:40] <Yanmei> "Thank you, Mom. I-it's okay if I still rely on you for advice, isn't it?"
[16:43] <Minerva‘Linden> ["Of course. Even if you’re all grown up, you'll always be my daughter."]
[16:44] <Yanmei> Grown up! Yanmei beamed. "Thank you."
[16:44] <Minerva‘Linden> ["You’re welcome…"-
[16:45] <Minerva‘Linden> ["Ah, blossom. I know you probably wish to talk, but… It’s nearly midnight, and I'm falling asleep on my feet."]
[16:46] <Yanmei> "Of course." Sinking disappointment, but… well, it couldn't be helped. "I'm sorry for calling so late. Have a good night, Mom!"
[16:47] <Minerva‘Linden> ["Goodnight, blossom. Why don’t we talk tomorrow?"]
[16:48] <Yanmei> "Right! Please call me when you get a free moment."
[16:49] <Minerva‘Linden> ["I will. Goodnight!"]
[16:50] <Yanmei> "Night!" She hung up.-
[16:52] <Yanmei> For a while, she didn’t move, just gazing from the window in the apartment's living room, surrounded by toys. The ability to make their own decisions and to obtain enough power to do whatever they wanted. Her mother had worked hard for that. Now it was her own turn to, on multiple fronts. -
[16:54] <Yanmei> Her dark eyes blazed for a moment. She'd save her from Caine. And she'd save herself, too, no matter what it took.

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