You May Trod Me In The Very Dirt But Still Like Dust I Ll Ri

[12:54] <@Mingzhu> [New Years' Eve.-
[12:54] <@Mingzhu> [It'd been a long flight from Paris. Across the globe via Russia- to the Chinese Federation. To Beijing-2. To home.-
[12:59] <@Mingzhu> [The scenes on the ground had become progressively worse the closer they flew. From smaller, shattered cities to huge trains of refugees, civilians, and soldiers. Camps dotted the landscapes. But little could compare to the sight of Beijing-2 itself. Once a massive, sprawling city, it was broken and cast down; a ring of damaged buildings, some more, some less, around piles of rubble- and within the centre, a gaping hole where the ground itself had been blasted apart, leading into the Minifront.]
[13:06] * Yanmei was quiet, staring down from a window as their small plane passed over the hole itself. She hadn't said much during the past few hours, though she still chatted off and on with Isaiah and flashed smiles at the crew, and played with Lizzie when she was awake. But now she was more or less a tense statue.
[13:18] <@Mingzhu> [Isaiah was ashen as well, looking down grimly on the apocalyptic scene.-
[13:19] <@Mingzhu> [The VTOL lowered itself into that hole, down into the Minifront. The damage here was incredible- where once there had been grassy fields, there was only wasteland, blackened and burned. Debris littered the field, and the Base itself was shattered and broken, filled with rubble and falling apart.-
[13:21] <@Mingzhu> [The VTOL finally touched ground, outside of a cluster of tents that passed for NERV Beijing-2 at the present. They were white tents marked with the NERV logo.]
[13:25] * Yanmei didn't move at first. She was still staring out, trying to see glimpses of the Minifront she had once known, but… it seemed like a hopeless thing.
[13:43] <@Mingzhu> [There were two massive cranes hoisted over the Base, their manipulators disappearing far down into some unglimpsed hole.-
[13:43] <@Mingzhu> ["It's… My God." Mumbled Isaiah.]
[13:45] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei moved finally, going to undo her seatbelt. "Imagine how they must feel," she mumbled, but it was more like she was saying it to herself.
[13:45] <@Mingzhu> ["Uuuuu…" Lizzie was fussing a little in her special seat as well.-
[13:46] <@Mingzhu> [Isaiah stood up, opening the VTOL's door and lowering the ramp.]
[13:48] * Yanmei picked up the baby and patted her gently on the back, trying to soothe her and convince her that everything was okay. It was a feeling that she couldn't feel herself, but if she couldn't fool a baby, she certainly wasn't going to fool a group of despondant workers and officials… or her own mother for that matter.
[13:58] <@Mingzhu> ["Maaa…" Lizzie soon settled down…-
[13:59] <@Mingzhu> ["…" Isaiah put a gentle arm around her waist. "I'm ready when you are."]
[14:05] <Yanmei> "Yeah." She straightened her back and shoulders. Pulled on a calm and serene smile. "Let's go. I'm sure Mom's waiting for us." She hefted Elizabeth into a more comfortable position, and started off, pausing at the doorway to observe their immediate surroundings before departing from the craft.
[14:11] <@Mingzhu> [They walked off the VTOL and towards the camp.-
[14:11] <@Mingzhu> [Despite everything, the camp was bustling madly as NERV staff rushed to and fro, shifting supplies and directing repair crews. Right in the middle of it…-
[14:12] <@Mingzhu> Was Zhang Mingzhu, wearing a dark blue NERV uniform, sitting in a wheelchair, a prosthetic replacing her missing limb. "And what's the report from Technical Five?"-
[14:12] <@Mingzhu> ["We should have Unit 10's head up within the hour."]
[14:17] * Yanmei started to speed up a bit, eagerly, upon spotting her, but she remembered both Isaiah and the situation, and slowed down again to give the former a chance to keep up and the latter a chance to finish a seemingly critical conversation. Finally, she hovered, just beyond Mingzhu and the technician, dodging scrambling workers while trying to stay in the same general spot.
[14:21] <@Mingzhu> "Excellent. Tell Dr Zhou and Dr Wu that when they're done, I'd like a report on the ETA until we can bring the repair facilities back online."-
[14:21] <@Mingzhu> ["Yes, Madame Director." The technician saluted before heading off.]
[14:26] <Yanmei> The title made her falter a little, and she threw her eyes around at all the technicians bustling around once more before returning to her mother. That was right… they couldn't act the same way that they had when she was hospitalized in Paris-2.-
[14:31] <Yanmei> Her mother was among subordinates, and she was among… well, colleagues, she supposed, or possibly more superiors. She stepped forward during the lull, and saluted as well as she could with a squirming toddler in one arm. "Director Zhang. It's good to see you again."
[14:34] * @Mingzhu turned to look at Yanmei. Now that she could see her up close, in the eye, she could see that her mother looked different. There was a strange gleam in her eye, a gleam that Yanmei hadn't seen recently. A look of bolstered self-confidence.-
[14:34] <@Mingzhu> She smiled. "Lieutenant Zhang. And Medic Gabriel-Wei. Welcome to Beijing-2."-
[14:34] <@Mingzhu> ["Maaamaa!" Elizabeth squirmed, holding her arms out to Mingzhu.]
[14:39] <Yanmei> "Thank you. It's good to be home." She grunted a little, trying to keep a better hold on Elizabeth. So much for professional…
[14:48] <@Mingzhu> "As you can see, it's a little dirty, but we're cleaning it up as best we can. Why don't we go to my field tent?"
[14:50] <Yanmei> "Of course! Please lead the way."
[14:50] * @Mingzhu nodded, and turned around, wheeling off towards a rather large tent.-
[14:50] <@Mingzhu> [It was, unsurprisingly, spartan, but it was kept in good condition. There was a desk, with a laptop closed neatly on the top; a suitcase, a bed.-
[14:51] <@Mingzhu> Once Mingzhu was inside, she turned around, her professional smile quickly changing, becoming more maternal, warmer. "Hello, blossom."
[14:53] <Yanmei> "Mom…" Yanmei's face brightened, and a big, eager grin shone through. "It really is good to see you." In this private space, she set Lizzie down to let her go to whomever she pleased. "You look so…"
[14:55] <@Mingzhu> [Lizzie immediately ran off towards Mingzhu. "Maaa~"-
[14:55] * @Mingzhu quickly scooped her up, setting her on her lap. "Hello, little blossom." She said warmly to the toddler, before looking up at Yanmei. "Look so…? What is it?"-
[14:55] <@Mingzhu> ["Hello, Miss Zhang." Said Isaiah warmly.-
[14:56] <@Mingzhu> "Isaiah. You look well!"
[14:59] <Yanmei> "Heh. That's what I was going to say to you, you know? You look radiant, Mom…"
[15:01] <@Mingzhu> "Thank you, blossom." She bounced Lizzie a little. "I feel good. I feel… Well, I don't feel like such a failure. I guess being promoted to Director of Beijing-2 will do that to a person."
[15:06] <Yanmei> "I don't think you were ever a failure," Yanmei glanced toward the flap of the tent, pride swelling fast within her. "Congratulations, all the same! It looks like things are totally under your control here."
[15:13] <@Mingzhu> "That they are. The repairs are somewhat ahead of schedule, actually." Said Mingzhu. "We're just pulling up Unit 10's head now, and then once that's done we can ship it off to Hamburg for repairs. Unit 9's already been sent off to Boston."-
[15:14] <@Mingzhu> ["Unit 09, huh…" Murmured Isaiah. "That's…"]
[15:16] <Yanmei> "…" A flicker of discomfort passed over her face. "You're prioritizing the EVAs over rebuilding the facility?"
[15:17] <@Mingzhu> "The Evangelions take priority, yes. It's not my orders, but, let's be honest. It's a little hard to repair the facility -around- the Evas, so…" Mingzhu chuckled. "There's… Well, things are becoming bad."
[15:18] <Yanmei> "Bad? Is it a funding issue…?"
[15:19] <@Mingzhu> "No, it's… Well." She gently put Elizabeth down onto the ground.-
[15:20] <@Mingzhu> [She promptly ran off and pulled one of Mingzhu's shirts off its rack and onto her head.-
[15:20] <@Mingzhu> "You've heard of the Liberated Nations, of course."
[15:23] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei nodded. "I know they're gathering power in the region. And I know lots of people are being mobilized to fight them."
[15:23] <@Mingzhu> "It's worse than that. Can you keep this under your hat? If you can, please bring me my laptop."
[15:24] * Yanmei glanced to Isaiah. Her own silence went without saying, but his…
[15:25] <@Mingzhu> [Isaiah blinked, then nodded. "I can keep this."]
[15:25] * Yanmei nodded, and then did as told, bringing the laptop over.
[15:28] * @Mingzhu took the laptop, opening it up and selecting something. Then, she turned it towards Yanmei and Isaiah. It was a map of the world. Most of Europe, Asia and North America were swathed in blue, with Africa, South America, Southeast Asia and the western half of Australia shaded red. "See this?"
[15:36] * Yanmei nodded mutely.
[15:48] <@Mingzhu> "The blue represents UN controlled areas, and the red represents the Liberated Nations." Said Mingzhu. She pointed at an area southwest of Thailand. "This was where the Indian Ocean Battlegroup was located last week. Now it's gone. And shortly after, Lib troops started pouring into Thailand like a plague of rats." She moved her finger, tapping at the ocean in and around Indonesia. "The Over The Rainbow Battlegroup's been sent here on high alert. But command is worried that they'll have to pull back as well. Long story short, we're at risk of losing control of the Pacific entirely. Which means all goods have to go -now-, or via Europe."
[15:51] * Yanmei swallowed hard. "They've expanded their territory that quickly. And China… Beijing… could be next?"
[15:53] <@Mingzhu> "It's possible. UN Command has designated four possible targets in the near future." She tapped Beijing. "Here." She tapped Boston. "The United States." She tapped Germany. "Germany, and finally…" Tapping France. "Paris-2. So we need the Evangelions- all of them- working and operational as quickly as we can."
[15:59] * Yanmei nodded somberly. This wasn't good news. Was this place going to suffer even more…? "So that's why you're charging through to completion. Working and Operational…" Her mind followed a hazy trail to the Boston EVAs.
[16:03] <@Mingzhu> "That's right. We need Beijing-2 up to a battle-ready status by February." She frowned. "Unfortunately, EVA-14, EVA-15 and EVA-20- the three that'll be stationed here- aren't complete yet. And I hear EVA-08 isn't working, either."
[16:09] <Yanmei> EVA-08. Always EVA-08. She tried not to look at Isaiah. "So that, coupled with its weakened state makes Beijing pretty vulnerable," Yanmei murmured. "What should we do?"
[16:14] <@Mingzhu> [Isaiah had a dark look on his face at the mention of 08.-
[16:14] <@Mingzhu> "The most we can do is try to do our best. I'll bring Beijing back online, and you'll keep yourself ready for battle."
[16:17] <Yanmei> "Yeah. I can manage that, but it seems like you have the more difficult part?" She tried to distract herself for a moment, glancing off to where Lizzie was happily messing with Mingzhu's clothes. She -needed- a distraction.
[16:22] <@Mingzhu> [Lizzie was quite entangled up in the clothes at this point. Her head peeked out of the head hole. "Maamaa!"-
[16:23] <@Mingzhu> "We'll see about that." Said Mingzhu, smiling. "The Liberated Nations are a ferocious opponent. Make sure you keep your head above the mayhem out there, alright?"
[16:28] <Yanmei> "Don't worry, Mom. I've always made it through okay somehow." Lizzie's antics - and the wording her mom had just used - made Yanmei take pause. She had to cough quietly to keep from giggling openly, and she started over to where Lizzie was. "Doing it again, huh?"
[16:33] <@Mingzhu> ["Maaaaa~" She pulled the collar up over her head again.-
[16:33] <@Mingzhu> ["So cute…" Murmured Isaiah.-
[16:35] * @Mingzhu smiled at the sight, before turning her gaze back to Yanmei. "We'll be safe, whatever happens. Command has reassured me that Tokyo-2's Eva division should be able to keep the Libs in check for awhile." Her smile turned cold.-
[16:35] <@Mingzhu> "They already know how devastating 05 can be, after all."
[16:37] <Yanmei> "I guess you've seen the footage? It's nasty when it berserks especially," Yanmei murmured. She called out softly, pretending to look for Lizzie, as she did before. "Aw, where did she go…?"
[16:40] <@Mingzhu> [She peeked out once again. "Eeheehee!"-
[16:40] <@Mingzhu> "She's a sweet little thing, is she not?" Said Mingzhu. "And yes, I have."-
[16:41] <@Mingzhu> [Isaiah was already pulling out his camera.]
[13:51] <Yanmei> Berserking was a less-than pleasant topic, especially with Isaiah around. She was glad he was distracted… and in the meantime, she also leaned forward to give Elizabeth a little kiss. "Sorry for the shirt. It's a new game she likes. We'll get it cleaned and pressed as soon as we can. But… do you have any direct orders for me while I'm here this week?"
[13:55] <@Mingzhu> "Don't worry about the shirt. I'll handle it." Said Mingzhu with a smile. "Orders… You should, first and foremost, go visit the D-2 refugee camp. A lot of the refugees are also doubling as volunteers, so they'll be happy to see you. After that, there are a few other places I'd like you to tour."-
[13:56] <@Mingzhu> "Then, you're ordered to come back and enjoy a nice wartime dinner with your mother. That's an order."
[13:58] <Yanmei> "Yes, Ma'am!" Yanmei saluted again, still smiling. "Come on, Lizzie. Let's get you free so you can play with some new people~"
[14:03] <@Mingzhu> ["Eeee~" Lizzie bolted, fleeing out into the camp~-
[14:03] <@Mingzhu> [Snap! Isaiah's camera went off. "See you later, Miss Zhang." Said Isaiah happily, watching the little girl adoringly.]
[14:05] * Yanmei parted with one last smile, and then hurried after the girl, frantic to keep unfortunate workers from tripping over her.
[14:10] <@Mingzhu> [Another trip in a VTOL, this time back up onto the surface and towards a burned out part of the city. Here, most of the buildings had been destroyed- but a large collection of tents and caravans had been set up in a plaza. Cooking fires burned, food was prepared- and people went to and fro grabbing tools and preparing for their day of work. This was Refugee Camp D-2.]
[14:15] * Yanmei stepped off the VTOL confidently, her pigtails blowing around a bit. She was still in uniform, naturally, even though Beijing's climate was way too warm for it. "So we're supposed to help out and greet people." She descended the ramp, looking around. If there was anything about this part of town that had been familiar to her, it had been burned out and blown apart weeks ago.
[14:17] <@Mingzhu> [Lizzie squirmed in her arms. She wanted to run around!-
[14:17] <@Mingzhu> ["It sounds like." Isaiah was carrying a case in his right hand- a medic's kit, Yanmei would realise. "We should visit the wounded first."]
[14:21] <Yanmei> "Yeah, you're right." She was keeping a firm grip on Lizzie for now. IF she ran off again, she might get lost, after all.
[14:22] <@Mingzhu> [And off they walked. The wounded tent was near the middle of the camp, notable for its white tents…-
[14:23] <@Mingzhu> [As they walked, Yanmei and Isaiah would have the chance to mingle with the refugees. People here were a little dirty- water was rationed- and their clothes were mostly second-hand. Many bore the marks of some kind of trauma; others had mild injuries. Some fought to hold back tears. Nevertheless, there was a grim sort of grit to them as they went about their business. A determination to not give up.-
[14:24] <@Mingzhu> [… A vaguely familiar voice rang out. "… -Yanmei-? Zhang -Yanmei-?"]
[14:28] * Yanmei whipped around at that voice, smiling, but it was the surprising familiarity to it that made her stop short of the usual fan-spotting routine. Her heart skipped a beat…
[14:34] <@Mingzhu> [A short, lithe black-haired girl with a bobcut, a little taller than Yanmei remembered. And next to her, a tall, long-legged girl with a brown ponytail…-
[14:35] <@Mingzhu> ["Yanmei! It really is you!" Said Ju, the short one. She grabbed Lanfen and ran forward. "Yanmei! You came-"-
[14:35] <@Mingzhu> ["…" the girls stared at Yanmei. They stared at Isaiah, and then at Elizabeth. Ju clapped a hand to her mouth.-
[14:35] <@Mingzhu> ["Maamaa?" Cooed Lizzie.-
[14:35] <@Mingzhu> ["Oh my God…"]
[14:46] * Yanmei had been stunned at the sight of them, one hand clapped over her mouth as well. For a moment, it looked as if she might cry, but when they stopped she followed their gazes and her face colored suddenly. -
[14:48] <Yanmei> "Y-you could at least give me a hug or something, before you start thinking up weird things! I thought… I thought you guys were…"
[14:49] <@Mingzhu> ["…" They surged forward in unison, engulfing Yanmei and pulling her into the tightest of group hugs. "Yanmei! Yanmeiiii!"-
[14:49] <@Mingzhu> ["Maaaaaa?!"-
[14:50] <@Mingzhu> ["You came back! You came back to us!"]
[14:52] <Yanmei> The tears returned, but they didn't fall just yet. This took her back. Way back… "It's been… it's been forever! I wanted to see you two so bad! You don't even know!"
[14:53] <@Mingzhu> ["We did too! We- we hoped, but…" Began Lanfen.-
[14:53] <@Mingzhu> ["Oh God, n-no wonder!" A squeeze. "We thought you were too busy, but you were off having kids and everything!"-
[14:53] <@Mingzhu> ["D-Don't be so hysterical, Ju!"-
[14:53] <@Mingzhu> ["I c-can't help it! Yanmeiiiiiiiii!"]
[14:58] <Yanmei> "Juuu! I'm so- wait." She blinked. "Having kids?"
[14:58] <@Mingzhu> [Ju withdrew a little. She stared at Elizabeth's blonde crop of hair, then turned to Isaiah, who had until then been watching the scene with a smile on his face.-
[14:59] <@Mingzhu> [Ju pointed at his blonde hair. Then back at Elizabeth. Then back at Isaiah.-
[14:59] <@Mingzhu> ["Ju, don't be so impolite." Said Lanfen, who was hiding tears of her own.-
[14:59] <@Mingzhu> ["I-I'm not! I'm giving them congratulationssss!"]
[15:02] <Yanmei> "She's not his! Or mine! D-dammit, Ju!" Yanmei wiped at her own eyes. "There's too much to catch up on. I'm here for a week, so I think I can deal. You two… how did you get out of that mess?"
[15:02] <@Mingzhu> ["Coach had us go to a high-intensity running camp for two weeks south of the Yellow River." Said Lanfen.-
[15:03] <@Mingzhu> ["We were out of the city when the bombs hit. S-So we were really lucky, but…"]
[15:03] <@Mingzhu> [Isaiah was quiet, allowing the three their moment.]
[15:07] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei was quiet a moment, staring around at the rubble surrounding the camp. Coming home to this. Their families… "I'm sorry. I'm so so sorry! If only we'd detected it in time and sent people here…"
[15:09] <@Mingzhu> ["N-No, don't apologise." Said Ju, her eyes tearing up powerfully. She threw herself back into the hug with gusto.-
[15:09] <@Mingzhu> ["We've missed you." Admitted Lanfen.]
[15:11] <Yanmei> "It's been… really hard," she confessed, hugging back. "So hard. I missed you both too."
[15:12] <@Mingzhu> [A sniffle from Lanfen, who was altogether more dignified than the sobbing Ju. "W-We have a tent. You should come there, we can catch up."]
[15:13] <Yanmei> "Yeah!" She looked over her shoulder to Isaiah. "Do you want to come?"
[15:14] <@Mingzhu> ["Of course! It's about time I meet Ju and Lanfen -properly-."-
[15:14] <@Mingzhu> ["…" Lanfen shoots Ju a quizzical look at that.]
[15:17] <Yanmei> "Heh. Let's just say that I've told him a lot about you two." She hooked her arm around Lanfen's happily, her other still clinging to the squirming Elizabeth. "Lead the way!"
[15:18] <@Mingzhu> ["Right!"-
[15:21] <@Mingzhu> [They led Isaiah and Yanmei to a spartan tent. Within were two beds, a tiny little portable oven; a wardrobe, a pile of clothes. A Deng Xiaopeng High School sports banner was pinned to the wall.-
[15:21] <@Mingzhu> ["This is it. Home sweet home." Said Ju.]
[15:24] <Yanmei> "You guys have been here ever since the attack, huh?" Yanmei stepped inside politely. "Thanks for inviting us."
[15:25] <@Mingzhu> [Ju waved a hand dismissively, reaching into a little cooling box and pulling out a chilled bottle of water, which she placed on the table.-
[15:25] <@Mingzhu> ["Yeah. We've been helping out!" Said Lanfen. "Cooking. And scavenging too, actually…"]
[15:28] * Yanmei sat at the little table, placing Elizabeth in her lap. "There aren't as many military guys around as you'd think. I guess we shouldn't be surprised, though. With the war, everything's all messed up now."
[15:29] <@Mingzhu> ["This war's really come at a bad time, huh?" Said Ju. "Oh! Lanfen! Show her our badges."-
[15:29] <@Mingzhu> ["They're not badges!"-
[15:29] <@Mingzhu> ["Show her anyway."-
[15:30] <@Mingzhu> [Lanfen sighed, taking out a wallet and opening up. Within was an ID card, much like a driver's license, showing Lanfen as being a member of the Chinese Federation Reserve Force, 6th Regiment, Hebei region.]
[15:31] <Yanmei> "Ehhh? You already enlisted?!" Yanmei leaned forward. "You too, Ju?"
[15:31] <@Mingzhu> ["We didn't enlist." Said Ju. "We were drafted."]
[15:33] <Yanmei> "…s-seriously?" Her surprise gave way to worry. No way… were things really that bad? They should have had a bit more time left before they had to do that sort of thing. "You haven't even graduated yet," she muttered.
[15:35] <@Mingzhu> ["Well, we won't be graduating for awhile, anyway. We don't even have a school anymore." Said Ju.-
[15:36] <@Mingzhu> ["It's not too bad." Said Lanfen. "We get paid, and they provide us with food and clothing. Our jobs are mostly what we'd be doing right now anyway. They haven't even been able to do much in the way of training. Just standard rifle stuff."]
[15:42] <Yanmei> "I guess," Yanmei mumbled. "At least you're getting wages. Seems like a decent deal, with everything going on." She paused a minute, deep in thought. "Let me do it too, okay? Just for a few days. We can't hang out in the places we used to, so let me work with you instead."
[15:42] <@Mingzhu> ["A-Are you sure?" Asked Lanfen. "You're a pilot…"]
[15:46] <Yanmei> "If my superiors say I have to do something else, then I'll have to go along with it. If they say it's okay, then I'll do it." She nodded firmly. "Even if I've been away a while, this is my home and you guys are my friends. I want to help."
[15:47] <@Mingzhu> ["She's still our Yanmei." Cooed Ju.-
[15:47] <@Mingzhu> ["… We'd be happy to have you around, even just for a little bit." Said Lanfen. "But, you should tell us what -you've- been up to…"]
[15:49] <Yanmei> "Geez, where to start…" Yanmei rubbed the back of her head. "Oh, wait. I was going to introduce you to Isaiah? This is my boyfriend. I know I've texted you two about him before."
[15:50] <@Mingzhu> ["A-haaa." Ju grinned. "So -this- is -the- Isaiah?"-
[15:50] <@Mingzhu> [Isaiah rubbed the back of his neck. "That's right." He said sheepishly. "Yanyan's one and only."]
[15:53] <Yanmei> "And this is Elizabeth. We're taking care of her for a friend! So it's not what you think."
[15:54] <@Mingzhu> ["Huh. She's very cute though." Said Lanfen.-
[15:54] <@Mingzhu> ["Maaamaa~" Elizabeth cooed, snuggling up to Yanmei.]
[15:55] <Yanmei> "…she calls everyone that," she said, looking pointedly at Ju.
[15:56] <@Mingzhu> [Ju giggled. "Can I hold her?"-
[15:56] <@Mingzhu> [Lanfen gave Ju a little look before turning back to Isaiah. "Well, it's good to finally meet you. Have you been looking after our Yanmei?"-
[15:56] <@Mingzhu> ["Of course!" Isaiah wrapped his arms around Yanmei warmly, laying his head on her free shoulder. "Haven't I?"]
[16:00] <Yanmei> "Absolutely~ He's a doctor-in-training, you know? And a lot more, too." She passed Elizabeth to Ju amicably, and patted one of Isaiah's hands warmly.
[16:02] <@Mingzhu> ["Hello, little girl~" Cooed Ju.-
[16:02] <@Mingzhu> ["A doctor-in-training, huh." Said Lanfen, pulling her chair out and sitting on it. "Well, good for you both."-
[16:02] <@Mingzhu> ["Hey, Yanmei?" Piped up Ju.]
[16:03] <Yanmei> "Hm?"
[16:04] <@Mingzhu> ["Your mum, have you visited her yet?" Asked Ju. "They say she's been given supreme command over like, all of Beijing."]
[16:06] <Yanmei> "H-huh?" Yanmei's eyes went wide. "I thought she was just in charge of reconstructing this branch of NERV? You mean she's looking after the civilians too?"
[16:07] <@Mingzhu> ["Yeah. This entire city is considered to be under NERV's control now." Said Lanfen.]
[16:12] <Yanmei> "She didn't mention it to me before," Yanmei murmured, her face shifting a little at that realization. "You guys… she was messed up pretty badly by the attack. Hospitalized for weeks. But now she's recovering? Seeming more like her old self. I'm sure she'll work her hardest to protect everyone and rebuild the city."
[16:25] <@Mingzhu> ["I'd hope so. She's always worked pretty hard…" Said Lanfen.-
[16:25] <@Mingzhu> ["Hey, weren't we supposed to be getting some Evas? What happened to that?" Asked Ju.]
[16:27] <Yanmei> "That's super secret! But…" She adopted the usual gossipy position, leaning forward with a hand cupped around her mouth. "They're still in production. Really, they're taking forever to complete. Mom wanted them to be here by February, but we don't know if it's gonna happen."
[16:29] <@Mingzhu> ["That sucks." Mutters Ju.-
[16:29] <@Mingzhu> ["Do they have pilots yet?" Asked Lanfen.]
[16:33] <Yanmei> "Yeah. Three girls from Japan. I've met them already. Be nice to them when they get here, okay~?" She winked at them. "Even if they're fish out of water."
[16:36] <@Mingzhu> ["Japan? Why Japan?" Asked Ju.]
[16:40] <Yanmei> "That's just where a lot of the new pilots are coming from these days." Yanmei shrugged. She looked down a moment. "I wish I could stay here and protect Beijing myself."
[16:41] <@Mingzhu> ["There's not much left to protect, right now." Said Ju. "Still, we really do wish we could hang out again like we used to."-
[16:42] <@Mingzhu> [Lanfen nodded. "Go to cafes. Talk about which teacher annoyed us today. Tease Ju for not being able to find a boyfriend."]
[16:45] <Yanmei> "Hm." Yanmei made a sad noise of agreement. "Maybe… maybe someday…"
[16:49] <@Mingzhu> ["…"-
[16:49] <@Mingzhu> ["…"-
[16:49] <@Mingzhu> ["H-Hey." said Ju, interjecting. "We're going on a scavenge mission soon. We can show you all sorts of things. Things you'd get a real kick out of seeing."]
[16:51] <Yanmei> "Yeah?" She tried to brighten, for their sakes too. "I'd really like that! Er… Isaiah, you're okay watching the baby, right? She might get in the way of your medic work, though. Geez, I wish we'd brought Marianne or someone to babysit…"
[16:53] <@Mingzhu> ["Oh, you're going to go to the medic tent?" Asked Lanfen.-
[16:53] <@Mingzhu> ["That's right." Said Isaiah cheerfully.-
[16:53] <@Mingzhu> ["Heh. Good luck." Said Lanfen, glancing at Ju.-
[16:54] <@Mingzhu> [Ju shot her a look back, before gently putting Elizabeth aside. "Let's grab our sidearms, and we can get going immediately."]
[12:22] * Yanmei prepared herself. She stripped off her jacket and left it neatly folded on one of the beds and rolled up the sleeves of the plain white blouse underneath. She was wearing a hip holster as well, that held both her own sidearm and a strange-looking baton of sorts.
[12:24] * @Ju fetched a pair of vest holsters from the wardrobe, putting one on over the black t-shirt she wore. The other she gave to Lanfen, who did the same.-
[12:24] <@Ju> ["I'll see you when you get back, Yanyan." Said Isaiah. "Stay safe, ok?"]
[12:25] <Yanmei> "Same to you," she smiled at him. "Don't tire yourself out too badly."
[12:26] <@Ju> ["I won't."-
[12:26] * @Ju headed out of the tent, holding the flap open for Yanmei.
[12:28] * Yanmei followed quickly! "Do we really need guns for this sort of work? It seems a little overkill?"
[12:30] <@Ju> ["The guns mark us as Reservists." Said Lanfen. "So people know what we're up to."-
[12:31] <@Ju> "Plus, it protects us from looters." Said Ju grimly. "Do you remember Cao Ling, from a grade under us? The really wealthy girl who didn't like you."
[12:55] <Yanmei> "What about her?" That was a name she hadn't heard in a long time. One she had very nearly forgotten about.
[12:55] <@Ju> "Well, she was part of the Reserve too." Said Ju.-
[12:56] <@Ju> ["She disappeared last week. We found some of her equipment over by Bohai Avanue."]
[12:57] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei slowed a bit. "…I see your point," she murmured.
[12:58] <@Ju> ["She's not the only one, either."-
[12:58] <@Ju> "It's not just reservists. Civilians. Sometimes little kids, too. From as young as Lizzie's age. We're not really sure what happens to them." They were leaving the camp now, heading out onto a road.
[13:01] <Yanmei> "Just plain creepy." She glanced over her shoulder, back where they had left the tents and Isaiah and Lizzie.
[13:04] <@Ju> "The other day…" Ju leaned towards Yanmei. "We were attacked by bears."
[13:07] <Yanmei> "H-huh?" Yanmei stared at her, caught off guard, and then folded her arms with a little smirk. "Oh yeah? What did you do?"
[13:08] <@Ju> "I kicked it in the face!"-
[13:08] <@Ju> ["Don't be silly. We didn't find any bears." Said Lanfen. "Unless it's teddy bears. Come on. Do you remember old Xi Plaza?"]
[13:10] <Yanmei> "Naturally? Who wouldn't!"
[13:13] <@Ju> "Yeah, well." Ju giggled. "Come on."-
[13:14] <@Ju> [A few more minutes of walking, and they emerged into Xi Plaza. Most of the shops were rubble, the pavements cracked and broken. There was a dried up fountain in the middle, topped by a shattered statue- which hadn't been there before.-
[13:14] * @Ju pointed at a half-broken sign, the sign that had once welcomed people graciously to Xi Plaza. "See that?"
[13:15] <Yanmei> "Yeah?" The sight of it made her somber up a little.
[13:16] * @Ju headed over to the sign, clearing away the dirt over some of the characters.-
[13:16] <@Ju> [… The sign had in fact changed. It no longer welcomed people to Xi Plaza. It welcomed them to Zhang Yanmei Plaza.]
[13:20] <Yanmei> "…!" Yanmei stared, and then let her gaze strafe over the desolated piles of rubble that surrounded them. "Seriously? Do you know what a cool welcome home that would have been? Damn Angel…" She refocused on the sign, and took a few steps forward, and rubbed her own hand against the lettering. "When did they change it?"
[13:20] <@Ju> "Sometime around… What, March?"-
[13:20] <@Ju> ["They installed the Eva statue last November though."]
[13:22] * Yanmei gazed at the statue on the fountain a moment. "It's only just sinking in," she muttered. "I guess they were all rooting for me?"
[13:23] * @Ju led them towards the fountain, where a broken EVA-04 head stared up at them from the basin. "Of course! You were our hero. The hero of the Federation. Still are."-
[13:24] <@Ju> ["There's also Zhang Yanmei road." Said Lanfen. "Also, you should see how popular violet hairdye is."-
[13:25] <@Ju> "You have no idea how many little kids keep saying, 'I want to be an Eva pilot!'. Especially at our school. They didn't believe us when we said you were our friend."
[13:31] * Yanmei hopped into the basin, meandering up to the fallen head as if for a better look. Yup. It was definitely his. And with a fair amount of detail in it, chipped and cracked as it was. "So that's how it was." She tossed her hair, and planted a boot on the broken face. "If that's the case? I'll have to work my hardest to make sure they're still all proud of me! But…"-
[13:34] <Yanmei> She gazed at her friends meaningfully. "…be honest. Was it weird for you two, hearing all that stuff? I know I'd be weirded out if, say, Ju suddenly started showing up in juicy tabloids and product ads. And entertained."
[13:37] <@Ju> "Of course." Said Ju, smirking up at the posing Yanmei. "It -was- weird. It was like… Some of the things they showed had absolutely nothing to do with you, but you were on there. And of course, having you become so famous and so widely known was strange. It's like, is this really happening?"-
[13:38] <@Ju> ["But we were proud, too, that you were making it so big."]
[13:44] <Yanmei> "Yeah? Am I living up to your expectations in person now~?"
[13:46] <@Ju> "Hmmmm." Ju rubbed her chin. "I dunno. The Yanmei in the magazines is a lot prettier~"-
[13:46] <@Ju> ["Hey, I wonder why that is~?"-
[13:46] <@Ju> "It's the pregnancy. Having babies can do that to a girl, you know?" Teased Ju.-
[13:47] <@Ju> ["Don't be mean. Besides." Lanfen grinned. "The only expectation we have is that you stay in touch and don't die. You're our friend first. Before you were an Eva pilot, you were that girl who hung out with us, so I guess that's how we see you, even now."]
[13:52] <Yanmei> "Lanfen…" Yanmei started forward, and latched herself to her arm. "Did I ever tell you that you're my favorite person? Not like a certain other someone who's way mean?" She made a little face at Ju. "But seriously. I wanted to come back to see you two, but they were so strict. The messages you sent, though… they really cheered me up. So thank you."
[13:53] <@Ju> ["It's our pleasure. We knew you needed to be cheered up, so far from home."-
[13:54] <@Ju> "Of course…" Ju sidled up to Yanmei, smirking. "You seem to have done pretty well for yourself, huh? A cute little blonde boy~"
[13:56] <Yanmei> "You two need to sit down and get to know him better before we go. He's really gentle and innocent… a real change for me? I know you'd like him."
[13:58] <@Ju> "Innocent, huh?" Ju tapped her chin. "That -is- a change…"-
[14:00] <@Ju> ["You guys gotten serious yet? Or is it still early days?" Asked Lanfen, reaching out to flick Ju in the ear.-
[14:00] <@Ju> "Ow!"
[14:04] * Yanmei laughed a little. "Nah. I'd say we're pretty closely connected now? Met about two years ago, but we just got together in March or so. Offically. He totally knows me better than anyone else, and I can rely on him too."
[14:05] <@Ju> ["Well, I'm glad." Said Lanfen firmly. "I'd hate for you to be lonely all the way in Paris." She leaned forward. "Don't mind Ju. She's still single. She's pretty sore about it too."-
[14:06] <@Ju> "I-I am not." Ju frowned. "I mean, who needs a boyfriend anyway?" She asked, absently leaning against the base of 04's statue.
[14:09] * Yanmei eyed her and the statue together, and then tried hastily to shake off the creeped-out feeling that invaded. "Speaking of boyfriends…" She looked down a moment. She'd stumbled into an even less pleasant feeling now. A sad one… "About Liwei…"
[14:10] <@Ju> "Yeah? What about him?"
[14:11] <Yanmei> "Is he… I mean, have you seen him lately…?"
[14:12] <@Ju> ["Yeah." Said Lanfen. "He's in the medical tent. He was with us when we went to our camp."]
[14:13] <Yanmei> "What?!" She looked up. "He made it? He's… in… uh oh. The medical tent?"
[14:15] <@Ju> "Yeah, he broke his ankle the other day." Scoffed Ju. "He fell off a scaffold, trying to repair a building, the idiot."-
[14:15] <@Ju> ["… Hey, your boyfriend doesn't know who Liwei is, does he?"]
[14:15] <Yanmei> "Um… Actually?"
[14:17] <@Ju> "… He does?"
[14:18] <Yanmei> "Well, yeah. But he's a trooper! I'm sure things will work out." Yanmei grinned as confidently as she could.
[14:19] <@Ju> "Yeah. I mean, what's the chance of him recognising Liwei by sight? His hair's all long these days."-
[14:20] <@Ju> [Lanfen nodded. "Yeah, it'll be fine. Hey." She nudged Yanmei. "We should be salvaging, not gossiping."]
[14:21] <Yanmei> "Aw… all work and no play? Well, whatever." She snapped off a formal military salute. "Tell me what to do! It's my first time."
[14:23] <@Ju> "Baaaasically, we wander around shops and broken houses looking for anything that could be useful. And there's a lot of useful stuff. Metal, or appliances, clothes, blankets…"
[14:28] <Yanmei> "That doesn't seem so hard. Do we split up? We'd cover more ground more quickly, but it'd be more dangerous." She eyed the buildings, which didn't look as if they were the most stable.
[14:29] <@Ju> "Nah. We stay together. Orders. And besides, we'd be punished if something happened to you."-
[14:30] <@Ju> ["Cao Ling and -her- partner split up." Muttered Lanfen darkly. "She still hasn't forgiven herself."]
[14:34] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei gave a short pause at that. Then she put an arm around Lanfen, and another around Ju. "You're right. Let's go together?"
[14:36] <@Ju> [The two girls put an arm each around Yanmei as well.-
[14:37] <@Ju> "Right. Let's do this~"
[14:38] <@Ju> [The scavenging took awhile. About two and a half hours, all told- they traversed malls, houses, tiny shops and massive supermarkets.-
[14:39] <@Ju> [They found a lot of things- clothes, and blankets. They even lucked upon an untouched pharmacy loaded with medicine.-
[14:39] <@Ju> [They also found confronting, disturbing things, too. Bodies- some of them old and rotted or flesh-picked, who died in the initial attack. Others were distressingly fresher. Ju and Lanfen faced these things with the grimness of experience.-
[14:40] <@Ju> [Eventually, they'd return to the camp, the sun still high in the sky, but all three of them tired and sweaty.]
[14:44] * Yanmei was carrying her share of the load of clothing and medical supplies in a spare blanket. For a while she'd been stunned into quietness by some of the things they'd seen… and perhaps, more distressingly, by the fact that her two friends were used to it. Now, however, she was trying to make up for it. "We got a lot!" She chattered cheerfully. "Where should we put them? Do we distribute them right away?"
[14:45] <@Ju> "We go talk to Supply Officer Zheng." Said Ju. "He sorts through all of it and distributes it!"
[14:45] <Yanmei> "Less work on us, then? Phew, I'm tired!"
[14:46] <@Ju> "Aww, is the widdle Eva pilot tiiiiired~?'
[14:50] <Yanmei> "You…" Yanmei tossed her hair with a 'hmph!' "I'm so not! I think you misheard me? 'I wish we had some tires,' is what I said."
[14:52] <@Ju> [Lanfen started to laugh. "That's such a lame cover."]
[14:53] <Yanmei> "Sh-shut up! I'm not covering!"
[14:54] <@Ju> "Maybe we can get her ~boyfriend~ to give her a relaxing backrub~"
[14:55] <Yanmei> "Oh, I don't think I need to -ask- for that." Yanmei grinned. "He's such a sweetie~"
[14:55] <@Ju> ["What, you mean-?"-
[14:56] * @Ju shot Yanmei a look. "Hmph. I bet he has some sneaky ulterior motive."-
[14:57] <@Ju> [The supply depot was coming into sight now- a massive tent, as far as tents go, a young officer in a Chinese officer's uniform sitting on a foldout chair out front behind a desk. His youthful appearance was something of a bother to him; he had obviously taken pains recently to look a little older.]
[15:01] * Yanmei chuckled. "He so doesn't? You're just grasping at straws now." As they drew near, she quieted a little, and hung back, letting the two properly ranked recruits do their thing and take charge.
[15:02] <@Ju> "I bet he just probably likes seeing-" Ju seemed to realise where she was, and she turned about, facing the officer straight on, throwing him a salute. "Officer Zheng, sir! We're back from our daily salvage trip!" She said quickly, obviously trying to impress.-
[15:03] <@Ju> [Zheng looked up, peering at the three girls briefly. "Excellent. Just put it down-" he glanced back up, staring at Yanmei. "You're…?"]
[15:06] <Yanmei> "Just a someone lending a hand, sir." She stood up straighter, following Ju's lead. So this was one of their superior officers. "Sous-Lieutenant Zhang, from NERV."
[15:08] <@Ju> [Zheng stood up, saluting as well. "This is quite the honour, Sous-Lieutenant! Ju, why didn't you tell me she was here?" He asked, giving Yanmei an enthusiastic smile.-
[15:08] <@Ju> "Well- I mean- she wanted to help us first, sir. We're old friends." Said Ju.-
[15:08] <@Ju> ["I guess- hm. Well, still. Thank you very much for coming, Sous-Lieutenant Zhang."]
[15:10] <Yanmei> "Thank -you- for the great welcome. I hope you don't mind if I continue scavanging with them for a few more days? They really taught me a lot while we were out."
[15:11] <@Ju> ["Absolutely! Feel free!"-
[15:11] <@Ju> "Do you mind if we go ahead and drop this, then, sir?"-
[15:12] <@Ju> ["Of course, of course." He pointed to a roped off area, which was already rather full of items.]
[15:14] * Yanmei all too happily pulled her load over to the area, and left it with the other things. She managed to keep herself from groaning with the effort, though, and instead smiled. "Thanks~ See you tommorrow, Officer Zheng!"
[15:16] <@Ju> ["Goodbye, Sous-Lieutenant. Thank you for your hard work today, girls!"-
[15:16] <@Ju> "You too, sir!"-
[15:17] <@Ju> Once they were out of earshot, though, Ju jabbed Yanmei in the ribs.
[15:18] <Yanmei> "Ah! Ow! What?"
[15:20] <@Ju> "You." Muttered Ju. "I can't believe he stood up and saluted you and everything. It's -so- unfair! He barely even looks at me…"
[15:22] <Yanmei> "Huh? He was just being polite." She glanced at Lanfen. "Right?"
[15:23] <@Ju> ["Of course." Said Lanfen. "Don't mind Ju. She's just jealous~"]
[15:25] <Yanmei> "Oooohhhh~?" Yanmei turned a slow, sly gaze on her. "Jealous, huh? Does our little Ju have her eye on someone~?"
[15:26] * @Ju folded her arms. "Hmph. Don't be ridiculous."-
[15:27] <@Ju> ["Whilst Ju's denying the obvious, should we go pay a visit to Liwei?"]
[15:28] <Yanmei> "L-Liwei?" Yanmei suddenly quieted down in a hurry for some reason. "Sure. It's been a while?"
[15:29] <@Ju> ["It'll do you good. Even if it's just to smack him one."]
[15:31] <Yanmei> "Come on, I'm a little more mature than that? I'll just say hello, that's all. Lead the way."
[15:32] <@Ju> "Right."-
[15:32] <@Ju> [They entered the medical tent. The patients here were varied- some had injured themselves. A great many of them were sick.-
[15:34] <@Ju> [Ju led Yanmei through the crowded sections, out to near the back. Here, sitting on a makeshift bed, was Liwei, his hair tied into a long ponytail, a fat bandage around his right ankle. He was speaking to someone- who stood out, being one of the few blonde people in the area.-
[15:35] <@Ju> ["That's -interesting-". Said Isaiah curiously.]
[15:39] <Yanmei> "…" They were talking. Yanmei looked around briefly, as if searching for something to duck behind so that she could hear the rest of their conversation out a bit more.
[15:40] <@Ju> [There were a few crates she could hide behind…-
[15:41] <@Ju> ["But no, I'm glad, I'm glad." Said Liwei. "Someone with that kind of responsibility deserves a bit of joy, y'know?"-
[15:41] <@Ju> ["Yes. She does."]
[15:42] * Yanmei ducked! She gestured to Lanfen and Ju to do the same. Surely, no one relevant had seen them yet.
[15:42] <@Ju> "…?" Ju ducked, as well!-
[15:42] <@Ju> [Lanfen snickered, doing the same.-
[15:43] <@Ju> [Elizabeth was sitting at Isaiah's side, trying very hard to mimic the way he was sitting too.-
[15:43] <@Ju> ["So this one, she ain't yours?" Asked Liwei.-
[15:44] <@Ju> ["No, she's a friend's. She's not been well, so we've been looking after. She's very sweet. Yanmei probably won't admit it, but she's totally crazy about Lizzie~ treats her as if she were her own~"]
[15:45] * Yanmei flushed a little. "Geez, what's he telling him that for?" she muttered under her breath.
[15:46] <@Ju> ["You know, I never pegged her as the sort to do that, but I guess people change."-
[15:46] <@Ju> ["Yeah. She was apprehensive at first, but she's gotten a lot better. She's going to be a terrific mother some day, I just know it~"-
[15:46] <@Ju> "Wow. I really did need to speak to him. He's totally more candid than you are."
[15:48] <Yanmei> "Wh-what?" She knew that look. "Don't you ask him anything weird!"
[15:48] <@Ju> "Why not~?"-
[15:49] <@Ju> ["Oh, have you seen the plaza they named after her?"-
[15:49] <@Ju> ["What?! They named a plaza after her?"-
[15:49] <@Ju> ["They had a statue of her Eva and everything."]
[15:52] <Yanmei> "…" Okay, enough of this. The next thing she knew, he and Lizzie would try to go out and see it and end up disappearing. So she stood up again and threw her shoulders back.
[11:59] <@Alphonse> ["Not to scale, I hope."-
[12:00] <@Alphonse> ["Ahaha, nah. How big are those things anyway?"-
[12:00] <@Alphonse> ["About 40 metres on average, usually."]
[12:03] * Yanmei …strode over, a bright smile on her face. "Hi~ Having fun, you three?"
[12:03] <@Alphonse> [Lizzie looked up- and tottered to her feet, running over. "Maamaa!"-
[12:04] <@Alphonse> ["O-Oh, Yanyan…" Isaiah looked up sheepishly. "I was just having a word-"-
[12:04] <@Alphonse> [Liwei looked up at Yanmei. "Hey. Uh… Long time no see."]
[12:10] <Yanmei> "…Yeah." She arched an eyebrow at his bandaged ankle, even after picking up Lizzie and ruffling her hair as a hello. "Getting in trouble again? I heard you fell off a building."
[12:15] <@Alphonse> ["Who told you that?" Muttered Liwei. "Actually, the building caved in. it's not like I tripped or anything."]
[12:17] <Yanmei> "Eh? Seriously?" Yanmei blinked. "In either case? I'm glad that you got away with a broken ankle. It could have been so much worse."
[12:17] <@Alphonse> ["Yeah, it could've." He grinned. "How've you been doing?"]
[12:20] <Yanmei> "Still kicking, as you can see. I bet Isaiah was telling you all sorts of stuff." She glanced primly over her shoulder to where she had left Ju and Lanfen. See? Nice and civil, her face seemed to say.
[12:21] <@Alphonse> [Ju and Lanfen were watching, Lanfen's brow furrowed and Ju smirking.-
[12:21] <@Alphonse> ["I- nothing too bad." Said Isaiah.-
[12:22] <@Alphonse> ["Sadly enough." Said Liwei, grinning. "he's pretty cool."]
[12:25] * Yanmei smoothly opened her mouth as if she was going to retort in his defense… only to realize that there was nothing to defend him from. She looked at Liwei, then looked at Isaiah. Was it her imagination, or was this an aura of tranquility and tentative friendship surrounding them?
[12:28] <@Alphonse> [Isaiah stared up at her with his friendly, innocent smile. On his bed, Liwei did the same, his mildly roguish face having a hint of a smirk to it even when he wasn't smiling.-
[12:28] <@Alphonse> ["He showed me some pictures." Said Liwei.]
[12:31] <Yanmei> "…did he?"
[12:40] <@Alphonse> ["He did."-
[12:40] <@Alphonse> [Isaiah looked abashed. "O-Only nice ones! Cute ones. Nothing bad."]
[12:44] <Yanmei> "Well, I trust your judgement?" But she was turning kind of red and cleared her throat hastily. "I almost feel bad for interrupting now, since you guys were having a nice chat."
[12:46] <@Alphonse> ["A-Actually, I was just about to go and get Lizzie something to eat." Said Isaiah. "It gives you two a chance to chat too."]
[12:52] * Yanmei stepped forward to transfer Elizabeth back to his arms. "Well, in that case, I'll be along to find you guys in a little while. Don't let her eat too much? We're meeting Mom again later for dinner, remember?"
[12:53] <@Alphonse> ["Of course, of course. It'll just be a little snack, I promise. Say goodbye, Lizzie!"-
[12:53] <@Alphonse> [Lizzie waved. "Byebye~"]
[12:57] <Yanmei> Yanmei's eyes widened, and for a moment, her smile was radiant. "Lizzie~" She managed to part with her own little wave. Gushing wasn't an appropriate thing to do in a medical tent full of ill and tired people. "You're such a good learner! Byebye~"
[12:58] <@Alphonse> ["Byebye! Byebye!" Cooed Lizzie as Isaiah- also cooing dreamily- carried her off.-
[13:00] <@Alphonse> [The moment Isaiah was gone, Liwei let out a roar of laughter.]
[13:02] <Yanmei> To say that it took her off guard was an understatement! She stared at him, stunned, and then huffed loudly. "What's your problem, anyway?!"
[13:03] <@Alphonse> ["Oh man. You're totally a -mummy- now. It's weird."]
[13:03] <Yanmei> "I… I am -not-! She's just a cuter little kid than normal, that's all!"
[13:04] <@Alphonse> ["Yeah, that's what all mums say about their kid. -Mummy-."]
[13:10] <Yanmei> "You…" But she tried to compose herself. She was a cool and mature officer! She had to act like one even if he was being stupid and dumb and utterly -annoying-. "I bet you were totally gushing over her earlier, and we missed it, that's all."
[13:11] <@Alphonse> ["She -is- pretty cute." Said Liwei, smirking. "Come on, sit down. We should catch up."]
[13:14] <Yanmei> "I guess I have a few minutes for that." Yanmei tossed her hair and sat down on the bed. "…I still haven't forgiven you, by the way."
[13:14] <@Alphonse> ["… Mmm." His face fell. "Yeah. I guess I deserve that. If you wanna hit me, go ahead."]
[13:20] <Yanmei> Without the slightest bit of hesitation, a balled-up fist lashed out and caught him on the shoulder. The angle was all wrong, however, without much weight behind it, and Yanmei frowned. "…that wasn't very satisfying? May I try again?"
[13:21] <@Alphonse> ["Not if you're gonna keep throwing those sissy punches."]
[13:25] <Yanmei> "I was just unprepared that time! And I was going easy on you, aside from that." Yanmei looked down at the back of her hand sullenly. "My punches aren't sissy punches."
[13:56] <@Alphonse> ["Prove me wrong."]
[14:03] * Yanmei stood up and readied herself again, baling her hand into a fist once more. For a moment, before letting it fly at the same shoulder, she scrutinized him, trying to catch what sort of game he was playing, here.
[14:03] <Yanmei> ^balling
[14:04] <@Alphonse> [His shoulder twitched this time, and he reached up to rub it gingerly.-
[14:04] <@Alphonse> [… But despite that he was grinning. "You're not gonna be done 'til you can wipe this smirk off my face. You can do better than that."]
[14:12] <Yanmei> Another blow! "You're-!" Punch! "You're such a-!" Punch punch! "Jerk! The biggest Jerk!!"
[14:14] <@Alphonse> ["Ow, ow." He was still grinning, although he could feel his arm bruising. "What's the matter? Too scared to hit me in the face?"]
[14:22] <Yanmei> Fist to the forehead! But… it was lighter than the others. Even lighter than her first failed attack. More like a tap than anything. Yanmei squeezed her fist tighter, and then released it. Her arm went limp too.
[14:24] <@Alphonse> [He continued to smirk. "Don't aim for the forehead. Right for the nose. Come on." He leaned forward and grinned. "If you don't, I'll tell horrible stories about you to Isaiah."]
[14:32] <Yanmei> "Why?" She was scrutinizing him again, frowning. Her fingers flexed a bit. "I lied. You're not the biggest jerk I've had to deal with lately, as much as I hate to admit it."
[14:33] <@Alphonse> ["I just want to see if you'll do it." Said Liwei. "You can't deny that I deserve it. I was a dick."]
[14:35] <Yanmei> "You absolutely were," she said without skipping a beat. "A stupid selfish cruel dick."
[14:36] <@Alphonse> ["A stupid, selfish, cruel, -cowardly- dick, too."]
[14:38] <Yanmei> "That too." she sat down on the bed again, smoothing her uniform primly, as if nothing had just happened. "But stuff like this puts things in perspective. I'm satisfied. And you knowing that you were a dick takes the wind out of my sails, anyway. It's annoying somehow?"
[14:41] <@Alphonse> ["It's easier to get angry if I didn't know, huh?"]
[14:43] <Yanmei> "If you didn't, you'd be smug, or clueless, or worse in addition to all of that. In that case, you'd be seriously asking for it."
[14:46] <@Alphonse> ["Heh." He snickered. "I guess, because I know I did wrong, you can't punish me? You really are a mummy."]
[14:48] <Yanmei> Another punch to his bruised arm, hard, but distracted. "You be quiet about that!"
[14:49] <@Alphonse> ["Or what, you gonna spank me next? Send me to my room?"]
[14:51] <Yanmei> Another punch. A sigh. "You're -exhausting-, you know that?"
[14:52] <@Alphonse> [Liwei beamed.]
[14:54] <Yanmei> "I never did hear what you were up to these days. If you're trying to fix buildings, then you must be getting a crash course in carpentry and architecture?"
[14:54] <@Alphonse> ["Actually, I became a member of the Russian mafia."]
[14:55] <Yanmei> "Cute." She rolled her eyes. "I thought you wanted to catch up."
[14:56] <@Alphonse> ["Alright, alright." Liwei snickered. "Actually, I -am- being taught carpentry. But I wasn't before? But since I'm part of the reconstruction crews now, I'm being taught that as I work. It actually doesn't seem like a bad thing to do! You get plenty of time to think when you're up on a building."]
[14:58] <Yanmei> "It's weird to see you so enthusiastic about something that's constructive. I guess that means you're growing up a little?"
[15:01] <@Alphonse> ["Yeah yeah." Liwei stretched. "I've been growin' up a lot in the last two years." He smirked.-
[15:02] <@Alphonse> ["I see you have too. Y'know, in ~all the right places~."]
[15:04] * Yanmei glared at him, and folded her arms over her chest, turning away. "What makes you think I'll let you get away with saying that stuff when we aren't even together anymore?"
[15:08] <@Alphonse> ["What're you gonna do to me if I keep it up? Hit me again?"]
[15:11] <Yanmei> "Maybe I'll just walk away and leave you here? It must be -awfully- boring, lying around all day."
[15:12] <@Alphonse> ["Suit yourself." Liwei smirked casually.]
[15:16] <Yanmei> "Look. You're halfway there to not being a jerk anymore, and Isaiah seems to like you, so I don't have an issue with the two of you hanging out tomorrow. Just don't corrupt him. Or the baby. Got it?" She stood up again.
[15:16] <@Alphonse> ["What? How could I corrupt him? Actually, I'm a little surprised. He's all gentle and soft and a medic. Not at all what I thought."]
[15:18] <Yanmei> "It surprised me too? It… actually took me a while to think of him in that way."
[15:19] <@Alphonse> ["Oh really? What changed?" He leaned forward. "Did he show off his less innocent side~?"]
[15:21] <Yanmei> "Maybe that's part of it? I guess… I'm not very good at explaining it. We were together for a long time as friends, and one day it just seemed natural to take it to the next step. Maybe it's a trust thing?"
[15:22] <@Alphonse> ["Maybe." He coughed, suddenly looking guilty. "Uh… Y-Y'know, I wouldn't… I mean, it'd suck if… I'm sorry."]
[15:27] <Yanmei> "Forget it." Yanmei shook her head. "We already talked about that stuff. Sort of."
[15:29] <@Alphonse> ["Right, right." Liwei coughed. "Still, I'm glad you finally did go that one step further. You seem to be happy. A little different, too. But happy."]
[15:31] <Yanmei> "It's been an experience," she admitted. "One hell of an experience. You seem different too." She cast an eye at their surroundings. "If you were happy before all this happened, I hope you find that happiness again."
[15:32] <@Alphonse> ["Heh. Of course. I think, you know, once everything's back up and running, I'll be a lot happier with everything. myself too." He leaned forward a little. "So… Tell me something."]
[15:32] <Yanmei> "Yeah?"
[15:33] <@Alphonse> ["You two do it yet?"]
[15:34] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei smiled sweetly. "There's no way I'm telling you that?"
[15:35] <@Alphonse> ["So that's a 'yes', then. Right." He leaned back, grinning. "Now see, suddenly being alone won't be so boring anymore."]
[15:39] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei narrowed her eyes at him. "Stop imagining perverted things about us behind my back!" She gave him another punch on the arm, and turned away to leave in a huff.
[15:40] <@Alphonse> ["Too late." He grinned. "Hey, Yanny Yan?"]
[15:40] * Yanmei paused after a few steps. She was still frowning. "…Yanny Yan…?"
[15:42] <@Alphonse> ["It's good to see you again. And not just for dirty reasons. I'm glad you could come back home. People here will be really happy to see you."]
[15:46] <Yanmei> Was it his imagination, or did her shoulders relax by a few degrees? She didn't turn around to show her expression. "It's good to be home, even if things are like this." She started off again. "See you tomorrow, Liwei."
[15:47] <@Alphonse> ["See you. Stay safe!"-
[15:47] <@Alphonse> ["… After all, one baby's enough for now~"]
[15:50] <Yanmei> "I'm -ignoring- that~" she called back. She still wasn't facing him, but any tranquility in her voice was very much forced. Her pace quickened.

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