|Summary: Revive Revival and Louise Halevy hatch a plan.|
It wasn't that long ago that Revive Revival swooped by Louise Halevy's quarters, almost literally took her by the wrist, and tugged her along on a day trip. "Ask me no questions," the slim 'Cyber-Newtype' said at the time, "and I'll tell you no lies."
The shuttle ride to Earth was an uneventful one. Pleasantries. Idle chatter. The matter of their last encounter -- in which Revive beat Leo Stenbuck like a mangy dog -- is artfully danced around.
The shuttle touched down, and Revive made sure Louise had her pills at the ready, in case Tokyo-02 brought back too many bad memories. Still, the lavender-haired 'man' refused to communicate much until they'd eaten, at which point he simply declared: "And now, my dear, we shop."
And that's why they're in one of the truly upscale districts of Tokyo-02. When Louise was shrieking at Saji to buy her things, these were the sort of stores she dreamed of -- the ones that were astonishingly beyond the teenager's means. But now, they're here, and Revive has waggled around a black card that means payment is certainly not a problem. The thing about Revive is that... he's into it. He seems to /like/ shopping. Yet another way in which he's one of the girls.
Which is maybe one reason that it's not /excessively/ weird that he's ended up with his protege in a lingerie shop -- at his own suggestion, no less. Revive currently leans on the outside of a changing room door, glancing back at it occasionally but not daring to peek. The door has open space at the top and the bottom, enabling him to be heard, his soft voice gentle and comforting in that way it always is: "So, Louise, I think we should /talk/."
The young Halevy heiress is a pretty soft touch; she's easy to get for a day trip, especially if you're a superior officer and can make certain that she has no other duties that day. She quickly changed into a more casual set of clothes, and promptly went back down to Earth with Revive, pills at the ready.
Louise makes no efforts to talk if Revive doesn't; she's pretty passive in conversations, all told. Outbursts like the other night are not common for her; Louise used to be quite the chatty-cathy (if not a chatty Kathy), but the change in the world has changed her accordingly.
Shopping seems like a great idea to Louise, and having someone else pay is quite the incentive. (Even if it's probably really her money ultimately.) As such, she has picked the most outlandish-looking item she could find, something that is not entirely sure whether it wants to be a push-up bra, a corset, or a bustier.
Fiddling with the laces on the other side of the door, Louise says, "... I suppose we should," after a few seconds. "Is there -- something specific on your mind, Revive?" She already knows, on some level, what he's after... but if her instincts are wrong, it's better not to talk about it.
Revive Revival is wearing sunglasses. The glow of his eyes is thus muted -- although it makes it look like he's got neon inside the frames, as the rays spill out around the edges and the rings of his irises shine through the dark lenses. He's keeping cool, calm, collected -- everything's okay, according to the quantum brainwaves he's putting out.
"You know me too well," Revive says with a chuckle, setting up the punch, so to speak. "But there's a lot you /don't/ know, and I think you're finally ready. I mean, I'm sure you've /suspected/, but you know I'm not really a Cyber-Newtype, right?" It's delivered in a casual, breezy tone, as if the people milling around the store just didn't exist.
The mental signals are there, too. Of /course/ he isn't a Cyber-Newtype! If Louise didn't know better, she might fall into thinking that she'd deduced the whole thing herself and presented it to /him/ just now, rather than being explicitly told.
"I mean, that's not the important part. That's just... details." Revive shrugs. He checks his fingernails, still leaning on the door while Louise plays with her future purchase. "Louise, I'm gonna level with you, because we're friends. There's a job you need to do. All this shopping, that's the first part of it. Do you know why you're in there, trying on lingerie that I'm sure you look fabulous in?"
The idea that Revive isn't just a Cyber-Newtype seems natural -- why else would he be a thinking, feeling thing rather than that dumb slattern Ralla? (If you really feel that way, why do you like Soma so much, she asks herself -- then she remembers that Soma is not a product of the conventional Cyber-Newtype labs under the Titans anyway. She's older, right? China-Russia-Ravnui joint, or something of the sort? Of course she's different. That's just good old fashioned common sense.)
"You really didn't feel it... I suppose I always knew, I just -- wanted to believe the words coming out of your mouth more than my own intuitions," Louise says; there is a brief break after this, as she fiddles with some horrifically awkward clasp. Her shoulder hits against the door lightly in the process, but she doesn't sound particularly fussed by it.
What doesn't seem to add up to her is what this shopping trip has to do with anything else. Revive's presented her with a lot of different parts of the conversation... but none of them look like they fit together. It's like Frankenstein's monster -- a conversation built of several others, shambling forward on its own ungainly will. "I'm -- not sure I understand, no," she admits, deciding to sit rather than try to fiddle with this standing.
The bump against the door causes Revive to stop leaning on it, pushing free and standing with his hands in his pockets. The top of his effortlessly fashionable hair is visible over the door, but he seems to still be facing off to one side, rather than looking at the door. In addition to being a fine lady, Revive is also more than a bit of a gentleman. When it suits him.
"Well, like everything else in the world, it's about Leo," Revive says, with a morbid chuckle. He remains resolute and confident in his thoughts -- because if he believes in himself, he's on his own side, and that's something he can impress upon his charge. "You see, I'm not a Cyber-Newtype. I'm an Innovator. That's why I work with... /for/ him. It's why I've taught you to find your own strength. And... we're trying, with Leo. But it just..."
Revive lets out a sigh. There's a faint sound as he leans against the door again. "He tried showing Leo everything he stood to gain from giving himself over. That didn't work. He just took the gifts and promptly tried to do his own thing. So I tried tough love. And we saw how /that/ went." Another morbid chuckle. Suddenly, Revive beating Leo's brains in seems a lot funnier now than it was last week, like a mildly embarassing social faux pas that it's okay to laugh about.
"So we need to try something else to convince Leo that becoming a human Innovator is better than just... staying human, or whatever he's trying to do. Or, actually, I misphrased that." Revive's head can be seen to turn. "/You/ need to try something else. Are you following me yet?"
Another Innovator? Not much of a surprise to Louise after all -- why else would Revive be so close to the man who put her life back together? There's almost nothing else that makes Revive fit together as perfectly. An Innovator... yes, that makes sense. Like she's to become. Of course -- that's why she has such an instinctive closeness with him.
Her love of -- well, perhaps less love of and more /need/ of, use of -- Leo is momentarily put aside, and Louise laughs a touch in spite of herself. "I'm -- sorry for getting so frustrated with that," she says. "I knew you both had the best intentions in that meeting, but... it felt like you were both getting away from him in favor of something petty, you know?"
Finally managing the top, Louise moves onto something much easier: stockings. Shaking her head, she says, "I'm sorry for doubting in you." She glances at herself in the mirror in the booth, considering Revive's words carefully. "I... think I get it -- but we've already... been close, if that's what you're intimating." Normally she wouldn't even /think/ of sharing that... but why shouldn't she be open with Revive?
"Oh, I know all about that," Revive says, off-handedly, sounding fairly uninterested. And it's one of the few true tones he'll take in this whole conversation, because he really is uninterested in Leo and Louise's sex life, just as Louise is probably -- /probably/ -- uninterested in watching to pigs fuck in the filth and slop of their pen. Revive moves on briskly. "I keep telling you, Louise," he says, jovially, maternally.
"Never apologize. Not to me. Not to Leo. Not to anyone. Apologies are a dead end. Every apology is an admission of defeat. Every apology is a step backward. Back toward what you /used/ to be. Remember that." Revive's voice lowers somewhat, not quite reaching a whisper, but with a focused power that he rarely seeks to employ.
But then his touch instantly lightens again. "But I'm getting off track. You see, if we've learned anything... toys won't sway Leo. He'll just take them and be ungrateful. Taking things away won't sway Leo. He'll just retreat further into himself and take it out on everyone around him." Revive leans over the edge of the door, such that only the top half of his head can be seen, eyes masked by sunglasses, their glow dimmed and filtered. Below, his feet are tip-toed. "So you need to convince him to take the plunge, Louise. You have a way of doing so that neither I nor he does. You can go through the only thing I think Leo listens to -- his /heart/. Can you do this for me, Louise? Can you do this for him?"
"... I'll do my best to stop," Louise says, stopping herself before she apologizes for apologizing and creates some sort of terrible fractal apology. She finishes with her stockings, taking a look at herself in the mirror. It's not quite what she'd usually wear, but it looks nice on her, she thinks -- a little outlandish, maybe... but not bad at all. She needed some new nightclothes, anyway.
She doesn't even see Revive there, peeking over the door; she wouldn't mind if she did see him, though -- she trusts him enough that that isn't even a little bit of a problem. "... I understand," she says, nodding to the mirror. She needs to save Leo from, bluntly, himself -- he's too greedy, too small-minded to figure things out on his own.
He's not like her, come to submit to him under her own volition. He's not like her, able to dedicate his life to something better simply because he has nothing else left.
"If that is what is necessary for Leo to realize his importance, then... I'll do whatever I have to." A few weeks ago, this assignment wouldn't have even sounded like work... but now, it feels a little different. Ms. Halevy is almost scared of this assignment, though she wouldn't admit it; Leo is important to her... but she doubts he'll listen easily.
"And that's what this shopping trip is about," Revive says. Louise is focused more on herself than him, and he's fine with that. He stops his peeping, going back to leaning on the door. "A spoonful of sugar might help the medicine go down, if you follow my drift." Revive is able to keep the disgust out of his tone -- and, more importantly, the timbre of his thoughts.
"But it won't be easy," Revive says, picking up on Louise's sense of... hesitation, perhaps. "He'll resist. He'll try to push you into seeing things /his/ way. But you have to remember, Louise..."
Revive glances to one side, then to the other, and then reaches over the door, undoes the lock, and strolls in. He fixes the lock once he's through the door, and now leans on the door from the inside. He hangs back, not looming, not overpowering. How could he be? It's Revive Revival. "Siding with Leo -- as he is now -- is taking a step backward. Siding with Leo is like..." Revive reaches over gently to take Louise's artificial hand. "...like chopping this off right at the wrist. Do you understand?"
Revive lets go of Louise's hand and then leans back again. He might as well be a wall decoration. He stuffs his slim, womanly hands into his pockets and looks so naturally cool that it's unnatural. "If you're ever in doubt -- and you may well be -- you have to remember: right now, until you can fix it and make that boy see the world as it is, it's Leo or him."
Even with Revive entering, Louise has no real problem with his presence; he's practically always there, it seems like, sometimes. It's rapidly approaching the point where Revive could be anywhere at any time and it wouldn't even register as problematic. Letting Revive gently take her hand, she closes her eyes for a moment... and nods, slowly.
"Yes," she says, firmly. "I wouldn't do that to him, anyway. Leo has been... close, and kind, but what he wants right now are just -- transient things. They're not important." It's almost like she really believes everything coming out of Revive's mouth. Everything coming out of /her/ mouth. (Is there really a difference sometimes?)
"I'll do my best, and I'll do whatever I have to," Louise says... but not without acknowledging, "... but if it can't be done, I'll choose him." In that instant, she is completely sure of every single thing she's saying. Glancing to Revive even as he seems to melt into the wall, she says, "Thank you for this opportunity, Revive." Her tone is calm -- maybe even flat. What she says, how she says it -- it's almost completely disconnected from how she looks, where she's saying it. For a normal person, this conversation under these circumstances would probably be surreal... but Louise speeds ever-faster toward losing everything that makes her a 'normal person.'
Revive looks like a vampire. He might as well be a poster for the Neo Lost Boys. He doesn't really smirk -- it's more like a disaffected, amused twitch of his mouth. But through sheer strength of will, he's not a predator. He's Louise's best friend.
Revive isn't the only one who tells Louise what she wants to hear, sometimes -- it's just that when Louise does the same to Revive, she means it.
"That makes me happy, Louise, to know you have your priorities straight. It'd make him happy, too -- I can tell you that for a fact." He might as well butter Louise up. "Because he loves you, Louise -- in his own way. He loves Leo, too. He loves everyone. But for his love to have meaning... people have to /accept/ it. They have to /embrace/ it. Like you did. And like I know you can bring Leo around to."
Revive's misanthropic smirk twists and breaks into a charming, vivacious smile. "You look great, by the way. He'll love it." With a click of the door lock, Revive prepares his exit. "I'm going to go have a look around the shop. When you're ready, come find me and I'll pay."
The more Revive talks, the more wonderful Louise's new assignment sounds. The more confident in it she grows. "I hope, for his sake, that you're right," she says, giving Revive the firmest nod she can muster before glancing back at herself in the mirror.
Revive moves toward the exit in that time; looking back at him, Louise nods again. "I'm going to try on a couple other things first," she says, glancing to what might tentatively be called a 'pile' in the corner. It's a black card -- she can get away with it. "I hope you find something you like! See you in a little while."
How long has it been since she went shopping with a friend and had it feel natural? She can't quite say, as Revive no doubt makes his exit... but she kind of likes it. Maybe she needs to convince Revive to do this more often.
Revive just smiles like a cheshire cat and disappears again. His lavender hair moves out of the frame the door creates, and then he's gone, off to send some quantum updates to his precious brothers.
He happens to be standing right next to a display when that's going down. A sales associate approaches: "Is there something I can help you find, ma'a... si... um..."
Revive Revival flashes the woman a disgusted, disdainful look.