Source: geocities.com/seele_hq/Archive

               ( geocities.com/seele_hq)    
A NEON GENESIS EVANGELION fanfic with elements from ALLY McBEAL.
Rights belonging to GAINAX and Fox respectively.
Used without permission.

   'It was his kiss...'

   "Hey Shinji, you wanna kiss me?"

   'His lips were soft yet firm, he was always so gentle...'

   "Hey stop that! Your breath is tickling me!"

   'Maybe pinching his nose wasn't such a good idea after all.
Okay, so it wasn't his kiss.'

   "Asuka..?"

   'It was his eyes. Oh those eyes. Pools of blue so dark,
so deep that you could lose yourself in them.'

   "Oooowwww!!!!"

   'Our first time was wonderful. Well, at least for me. Maybe 
I shouldn't have bitten him so hard...'

   "Ooooowww!!! Ooowwww! No! Not that too! Please, Asuka!
MERCY!!"

   '... Ohh, I'm sure, deep down, he really did enjoy the
handcuffs, the whip, the ice pick and the rest of it.'

   "Woohoohoo!!! Catch me if you can, Baka Shinji!"

   'We went everywhere, did everything together since we 
were fourteen. Picnics, movies, camping, running in the 
rain. Even went to Harvard to do law together. We were 
going to conquer the world. Together.'

   "I...I'm sorry, Asuka."

   'Both of us got great training contracts at the same
really prestigious law firm. But then the letter came. His
dad, CEO at NERV Heavy Industries, summoned Shinji to work
for him. Shit job. Long hours. Lousy pay.'

   "Verdammt! You don't HAVE to go. You don't! Why don't 
you listen, dummkopf!? Don't *WE* mean anything to you!? You
can't expect me to give up my future to play homemaker in
the middle of the Nevada desert!?"

   "I don't expect that, Asuka. That's why I'm not even
going to ask. But I have to go."

   "FINE! Fine then! You go! No one's going to take MY 
future away from me. You hear me, Shinji!? No one!"

   "I'm sorry, Asuka."

   'And so... this is my life...'


E.L. Toh presents
ASUKA McBEAL
Pilot - Episode 0 - Asuka Strikes/Sues! 
Based on a fusion concept by Joyce K Wakabayashi


   "So, Ms McBeal Sohryu, you're German-Japanese American?"

   "Yes, I am."

   "Isn't 'McBeal' Scottish?"

   "Well, my great-grand-parents migrated from Germany to
the UK. Then the First World War came. It didn't make life
any easier if you had a really German name, they changed our
family name. It's like why the British Royal family, who are 
actually German, changed their family name to 'Windsor'."
   
   "Oh, I see. Sooo... American, German or Japanese men,
which of them are best in bed?"

   "WHAT!? What did you say!?" gasped Asuka.

   "Oh I bet you're very good in bed," leered Kaga as he 
reached out and fondled her breasts, tweaking a nipple in
the process.

   "..."

   "How about it, Ms Asuka?" Kaga smiled so broadly that 
his already considerably wrinkled face wrinkled up completely.
Asuka could see every little cigarette stain on his crooked
teeth. He proceeded to pat her bum, adding the straw that
broke the camel's back.

   "ARCHKRIECHER! I'll kill you!" yelled Asuka as she proceeded
to put her martial arts lessons to good use.

***

   "Asuka! You almost killed our most important lawyer!" said
the Big Boss at the Big Prestigious Law Firm.

   "He grabbed my breasts and my butt!" protested Asuka.

   "That's mitigating circumstances but it'll be terrible for
our Big Prestigious Law Firm if we lose his skills. It'll be
even worse if he sues you AND the firm."

   "I'll file a police report for outrage of modesty!"

   "He'll file a police report for criminal assault."

   "Hey! Whose side are you on anyway!?" shouted Asuka.

   "Young lady, I'm just telling you what you can expect him
to do. His offer is very generous, just apologise to him and
he'll drop the civil suit for physical and emotional distress.
You'll even keep your job - though we have to move you to one
of our... ah... smaller subsidiaries."

   "ME apologise to HIM!? NO WAY!!!" yelled Asuka.

   "Then Ms McBeal, you'll have to consider your position in
this firm. We can't afford to be liable for your misconduct."

   "So you're going to choose him over me?" asked Asuka as
she seethed quietly.

   The Big Boss shrugged. "That's the way of the world."

   "Fine then. I quit! AND I'm going to sue HIM."

***

   "Schiessekopf. Arschloch. Dumpfbacke," muttered Asuka as 
she stormed out of the building of the Big Prestigious Law 
Firm with the cardboard box of her stuff, crashing into two
passersby in the process.

   "Oh! I'm sorry!" said Asuka as she struggled to keep hold
of her box while brushing a few stray locks of chestnut hair 
from her eyes.

   "Asuka!? Asuka McBeal Sohryu?" chorused a pair of voices.

   Asuka looked up as she groaned mentally. 'Oh no, it can't
be...'

   "It's been a while, Devil Girl!" smirked Touji Fish. 

   "Yeah, how ARE you, Asuka?" asked Kensuke Cage.

   "Lousy," huffed Asuka, "I just quit. Actually, more like
I was fired. I beat up their rainmaker after he groped me. And
he's got the nerve to sue me as well."

   "Hey, that's alright!" said Touji, taking Asuka by her
left arm.

   "Why don't you come work for us?" said Kensuke as he took
her by her right arm. "We've just set up our own practice. 
It's just down the street. I'm so excited about the design of
the office!"

   'What!? Me? Work for them?' thought Asuka as the two 
stooges led her down the street. 'Kensuke has always been 
a brilliant lawyer but he's such a loser...'

   Flashback. "What a beauty! What a beauty! I'm so happy
I could cry!" whooped Kensuke as he pranced up and down the
beach with his binoculars. "Isn't she the greatest!?"

   "You mean the one in the yellow bikini?" leered Touji.

   "No, no!" shouted Kensuke. "Don't you see her coming into
port? She's the pride of the US Navy, the super-carrier USS
Ronnie Raygun!" Collective facefault. End flashback.

   'And Touji... he's a lousy lawyer. I'm surprised he even 
got into the faculty. And how did that monkey manage to
graduate?'

   Flashback. The class were in a mock mooting, practicising
legal arguments before the professor who acted as the judge.

   "...counsel for the plaintiff is obviously ignorant of 
the effect that the grandfather clause has on his claim."

   "Hey, what does my grandpa got da do with this!?" demanded
Touji. 

   "If you read the provisions of the trust, the grandfather
clause stipulates..."

   "You leave my grandpa out of this!"

   "But the grandfather clause..."

   "THAT'S IT! Take that! And that!" yelled Touji as he began
to pummel the other student.

   Fortunately the professor always appointed an additional 
four students as a particular type of court official whenever
Touji was mooting.

   "Bailiffs!" End flashback.
   
   "So Asuka, what do you think?" ask Kensuke as they continued
to march her towards their office.

   "Erm. What'll be my starting pay and position?"

***

   "No problem, we'll handle your deposition against Kaga
as well. Also we're planning on getting a lot of defence 
contract-related work. So the design of the place here will
help people to get into the mood," explained Kensuke as the
heavy steel lift doors opened to reveal the main office floor.
"Welcome to our Headquarters."

   Sunlight poured in from the apex of the ceiling which 
tapered upwards like a cone. Consoles and displays terminals
dominated the walls, connected to wire services and online
databases that reported new legislation, rulings and the like.
The firm's cases were tracked via a huge central holographic
display. The feel was sleek, minimalistic, metal and glass.

   "And this is our Director of Administrative Operations,
Ms Misato Vassel," said Kensuke. "Misato, this is our new
senior associate, Ms Asuka McBeal."

   "Hi Asuka," said the purple haired woman cheerfully as
she rose from her desk to shake Asuka's hand. Asuka felt a
twinge of jealousy as she gave Misato's figure and cleavage
the once over. What was even more amazing was that she was
probably seven or eight years older than Asuka.

   "I'm really the head secretary to the partners and the
senior associates," winked Misato. "If you need anything,
just let me know."

   "Sure. Uh. What are those?" asked Asuka, pointing at the
two vault-like doors directly behind Misato's desk.

   Just then, a delivery man appeared. "Ms Vassel. Delivery
for you."

   "Great! Just put 'em through there," said Misato as she
pressed a button on her desk. The massive left door groaned
as it slid open. As the rush of cold mist that poured from it
cleared away, Asuka saw that the interior contained seemingly
endless shelfs of beer from every conceivable brewery in the
world.

   "Haha," laughed Misato a little nervously. "My little 
private supply."

   After getting her jaw back into place, Asuka couldn't
resist asking what was behind the right door.

   "Oh, you'll meet him soon enough."

   "Him?"

   "Come on, Asuka, let me show you your new office," said
Kensuke as he led her away.

***

   "Your very own office, Asuka. And you've got a view of 
the city," said Kensuke with a flourish.

   "Wait till you see our inhouse artificial hot springs 
bath. It was designed by Misato's cousin," said Touji.

   Asuka really smiled for the first time today. Things were
were starting to look up.

   "Hey Kensuke, Touji, about the Jet Alone account..."

   "Oh, Asuka, this is the third partner in our firm, Shinji
Ikari Tho... ohmygod..." said Kensuke, covering his face 
with his hands.

   "Ohgawd," said Touji, slapping his forehead.
  
   "H...Hello Asuka."

   'Oh God, those eyes,' thought Asuka. 'I could never forget.'

   "Asuka, are you alright?"

   "I...I'm fine, Shinji. I just...need to go to the bathroom,"
replied Asuka as she walked out, still in a state of shock.

   Misato hid the glass behind her back as Asuka opened the 
door. "The bathroom's all the way to the right."

   "Thanks," said Asuka, still in a daze.

***

   Asuka took a deep breath as she held onto the edge of the
wash basin. 

   'Why?' she demanded mentally as she looked up the high 
ceiling. From which descended a grand piano. It smashed into
the floor with Asuka as Ground Zero, leaving just her four
limbs sticking out of the pile of debris.

   "Hey, you okay?" asked Shinji.

   "WAAUGH! What are you doing here!? Is nothing sacred
anymore!?" exclaimed Asuka as she returned to the material
world.

   "Errr. This is a unisex washroom, Asuka," smiled Shinji.
"It was the only concession that Touji could wring from 
Kensuke for the design of the firm's offices, or HQ as 
Kensuke insists on calling it."

   'He's changed,' thought Asuka. 'There's something in the
way he stands, the way his voice sounds, something in those
eyes... More confident? More at ease?'

   "Why? How..." Asuka's normally razor sharp mind and tongue
found themselves struggling to deliver today, "...aren't you
supposed to be in Nevada?"

   A dark cloud passed over Shinji's face for just a split
second. "I've done my time at NERV," he shrugged. "I fulfilled
my obligations and I've been released. As soon as I was out, 
Kensuke and Touji got in touch with me about setting up this
practice. It's been three years, Asuka. Three years. How have
you been?"

   "Not bad," replied Asuka, grateful for the cover of small 
talk to allow her mind to get back online. "Though life at 
the firm didn't really turn out as I hoped."

   'Brain is back online. Require data inputs. Most important
question on tip of tongue. Checking Potential Embarassment 
Factor. Objections from Pride and Caution modules. Over-ruled. 
Over-ruled by Curiosity module.'

   "So Shinji..."

   "..."
   
   "...are you seeing anyone right now?"

   "Well..." Shinji began, breaking off eye contact for a few
moments before resuming it. "I'm married."

   A greyish hue began to spread all over Asuka. Little 
icicles formed under her ear lobes, her chin, her nose, 
her eye lashes etc. Asuka began to sway from left to right.
Finally, she tipped over and shattered into a million tiny
pieces all over the floor.

   The silvery shards quickly melted into silvery puddles
that gravitated towards each other. Eventually, from the
single large silver puddle, Asuka rose and reformed into her
original shape. Well, mostly, except for the right hand behind
her back which was in the shape of a battle axe.

   "Yeow," said Asuka, shaking her head, "Thank goodness I
escaped from your clutches in time. I can't imagine what
kind of weirdo freak would want to marry *you*! Did you get 
her pregnant or something?" 

   Shinji frowned slightly. "Asuka," he said, a hint of 
sadness in his voice, "please don't call my wife a freak.
No, I didn't get her pregnant. And yes, she's more than I
could ever hope for or deserve."

   "Woah! Woah!" said Asuka grabbing Shinji's arm before he
could leave. "Just kidding! Geez, you never could take a joke!"

   Shinji blinked. "Oh. Sorry."

   "No, I'm sorry. Must be some girl, huh? To get you all
worked up like that. Furrowed eyebrows and all."

   "Yeah," he said. "She is." Shinji smiled a small wistful
smile.

   'That's the smile he smiled just for me... only for me,'
thought Asuka, her heart sinking.

   "So are you okay about working here? With me?" asked 
Shinji.

   "Is it okay with you? After all, you're the boss," said
Asuka without any sarcasm.

   "Just one of the three of them anyway. Yeah, it's fine
with me. In fact, speaking as a friend and a lawyer, I'm
glad that you're on our side."

   "Then it's fine with me."

   "Welcome abroad then. Welcome to Cage, Fish, Thomas & Co."

   "Mein Gott. I'm working for the Three Stooges now," laughed
Asuka as they shook hands.

***

   "Attention. Will Shinji and Asuka please come to...

   The PA announcement paused. A voice other than Touji's
could be heard in the background.

   "...Will Shinji and Asuka please *report* to the 2nd
Conference Ro... WHAT NOW!?

   "Alright, alright, Kensuke! 2nd Tactical Situation Room!
There! You satisfied!? Hey, is this thing still on?"

***

   "Right, we figured that the best way to welcome you to
our happy little family is to throw you into the deep end,"
said Touji.

   "There's a relatively straight forward case coming up 
this afternoon. We're representing Cacti Huggers R' Us against
GEHIRN R&D, a quasi-government body. The latter want an
injunction to block our client's request for their research
papers under the Freedom of Information Act," explained 
Kensuke.

   "Excuse me," interrupted Shinji. "Touji, don't you really
hate environmentalists? Why did you agree to take their case?"

   "Yeah, but I couldn't pass up on all those oooooodles of
lovely 'save the environment' donations. Think of all that
money ending up in the pockets of a tree-hugger-hater like me!
I just lurve the irony."

   "I didn't know you knew what irony was," muttered Asuka. 

   "Anyhow," continued Kensuke. "Something about getting 
proof that GEHIRN knows that its experiments are destroying
some unique federally protected species of cacti. You still
remember the relevant stuff on that, Asuka?"

   "Sure! We've got the law, the Supreme Court and the
Constitution on our side. How can we lose?" asked Asuka
rhetorically.

***

   "Injunction is hereby granted. This court rules that all
parties concerned will not supply Cacti Huggers R' Us with
the relevant information. This court is adjourned," declared
Judge Windham.

   "See you later, beautiful," sneered Kaga as his wheelchair
was pushed out of the courtroom.

***

   "AAAARGHHH!!! I don't believe it!" screamed Asuka.

   "Relax, Asuka. It wasn't your fault," said Kensuke 
soothingly. "How were we supposed to know that GEHIRN's
research is protected by the US National Security Act?"

   "That's not the point!" seethed Asuka. "It's a matter of
honour! That old bastard Kaga totally humiliated me! With 
facts like that established, we won't have a snowball's hope
in hell on appeal! And he's going to be here tomorrow to 
remind me of his victory again, when he comes in to discuss
the deposition!"

   "Damned, and it was no-win, no-fee," grumbled Touji.

   "Even so, GEHIRN didn't show up on the list of agencies
protected by the NSA when we checked," pointed out Shinji.
"I smell a rat." 

   "But these are new offices," said Touji, wrinkling his
nose. "Besides, I don't smell anything."

   "Anyway," said Kensuke. "I want to concentrate on the Jet
Alone account. That'll bring in the big bucks and establish
our reputation as a serious player."

   "Well, let's go to work," said Shinji, clapping his hands
together. "I'm sure Asuka will be a great help. She used to 
top the class in this sort of thing."

   "Don't patronise me, Shinji."

   "I'm sorry?" asked Shinji.

   "I don't want your pity. So you can stop trying to cheer
me up!" snapped Asuka. Shinji looked bewildered while Kensuke
had disappeared into the wallpaper.

   "...err... it always seemed to work before," said Shinji 
in a bid to lighten up the situation.

   "NOTHING'S THE SAME ANYMORE!" 

   Asuka stormed out of the conference...er... tactical 
situation room, brushing past Misato who tried to offer
her a beer.

***

   Asuka found herself before the wash basin again. She 
dabbed away the tears that had overflowed the dam of her
emotional defences.

   "Now I've ruined my make up," she grumbled softly.  

   "I'm really sorry, Asuka," said Shinji as he entered the
washroom. 

   "You should be!" Asuka pointed at him accusingly. "How 
can you just walk out on me and just as I'm getting over 
you, you waltz back into my life!"

   "I never meant to hurt you," whispered Shinji.

   "Yeah, yeah. Road to hell is paved with good intentions."

   "So do you want to reconsider working here?"

   "What!? I like this place. You resign!"

   "Me!?" exclaimed Shinji.

   "Yeah, you!" pressed Asuka menancingly. Shinji actually
took a step back.

   "But... but I'm a founding partner," offered Shinji lamely.

   "Oh," said Asuka, tilting her head, "so I guess we'll be
both staying put here then?"

   Shinji nodded.

   "Then let's get to work. There's nothing like burying
yourself in work to forget your troubles!" declared Asuka,
pumping her fist in the air.

   FLUSH.

   One of the toilet cubicles opened and a besuited penguin 
with a metallic device strapped to its back emerged from it.

   "Good afternoon, Mr Chairman," said Shinji.

   "WAARK!" returned the penguin and turned a critical eye
towards Asuka, who suddenly felt uneasy under the penguin's
intense gaze. Somehow she also found herself regretting that
she wore her mini-mini-skirt today.

   "Oh, where are my manners?" said Shinji. "Mr Chairman, 
this is our new senior associate, Ms Asuka McBeal. Asuka,
this is our chairman, Mr Pen Pen."

   "Er. Pleased to meet you," said Asuka.

   "Wark," said Pen Pen, waving a flipper as he waddled past
and returned to his office via the right door behind Misato's
desk.

   "I think he likes you," said Shinji.

   "You will have to explain this to me someday," said Asuka.
"But not today. I've had enough weirdness for one day."

***

   Work work work work work. Asuka's mind was filled with
thoughts about contract, tort, liability and all those other
lawyer things. Then came a knock on her door.

   "Come in, Shinji."

   The door swung open just a bit and Shinji poked his head
through the opening. 

   "How did you know it was me?" he asked.

   "Shinji door knock no.6 - slightly hesistant, oozing 
concern," smiled Asuka.

   "Oh," said Shinji intelligently. "... you'll be alright,
won't you?"

   "Yes, Baka Shinji. Stop worrying," said Asuka.

   "Oh good."

   "What?"

   "Whenever you call me that, I know you'll be alright."

   "..."

   "Shinji-kun," called a quiet voice.

   Shinji turned his head to the left slightly as a pale 
young woman took his hand, gazing at his face. She gave
Asuka a small nod, acknowledging her presence. Then, 
tilting her head slightly, she looked up at Shinji with
a hint of expectation and curiosity.

   "Rei, this is Asuka McBeal who's just joined the firm
today. Asuka, this is my wife, Rei Ayanami Thomas."

   "Hello," said Rei in a quiet monotone. 

   Asuka blinked. The woman's skin was pale to the point of 
milky ivory. She had short light blue hair and red eyes. Her
face seemed totally devoid of emotion until one looked into
those red orbs.

   "Hi," said Asuka, trying her best to smile with warmth and
sincerity.

   "I will see you downstairs," Rei said, releasing her 
husband's hand.

   "I won't be long," replied Shinji softly, touching the small
of Rei's back lightly as she turned to leave.

   The chime of a lift arriving. Its double doors opening and
then closing.

   "Is she always that talkative?" asked Asuka.

   "Rei likes to keep words to a minimum. She feels that too
many of them tend to get in the way of communication. So far it
doesn't seem to have done her legal arguments any harm."

   "She's a lawyer!?" blurted Asuka. 

   "Yeah, she's currently with Thomas, Richard and Harrison.
No relation, of course. And actually, she was supporting me
while I was busy getting the apartment sorted out and setting
up this practice," said Shinji as he scratched the back of his
head in slight embarassment.

   "You shouldn't be embarrassed, Shinji," scolded Asuka as
she wagged a finger at him. "Domestic duties make a crucial
contribution to the happiness of a household as well. I suppose
you still do most of the cooking?"

   "Gee, thanks for your vote of confidence, Asuka," said
Shinji. "So what do you think of her?"

   "Weeell, she *is* beautiful, in her own way..."

   "You hoped that she was fat, didn't you?" teased Shinji.

   "Yeah..." said Asuka as she suddenly found her knees very
interesting.

   "And dumb."

   "Yeah..."

   "With teeth missing."

   "Okay, okay! You've made your point!" protested Asuka.
Then she leaned forward and whispered conspiratorially, "Is
she really that perfect?" 

   "Well... she's a vegetarian. There's only so much one can
do with tofu and beans."

   "Ooh Shinji," whined Asuka, "can't you feed me anything
more juicy?"

   "Errr.... she can't do without eye drops."

   Asuka raised an eyebrow.   

   "She tends to forget to blink."

   Asuka blinked twice before smiling. "Thanks, Shinji."

   "Good night, Asuka. See you tomorrow."

   "Yeah, see you tomorrow."

***

   Asuka sighed as she entered the lift. Almost everyone else
had gone home already.

   "Hey, Devil Girl!" called Touji as he managed to slip into
the lift just before the massive doors slammed shut.

   "What is it?" asked Asuka without much enthusiasm.

   "About the Kaga deposition, do you want to cut your losses
and run or do you want revenge?" asked Touji as he nudged her.

   Asukasaurus Rex reared her head and sent a mighty roar 
through the valley. Kaga screamed and raised his arms over
his face as her massive jaws closed over him. Warm blood
spurted all over as she relished the satisfying crunch of
bone being crushed. And then she spat out what was left of 
him.

   "From that evil looking grin on ya face, I'd say you want
the latter," said Touji, smiling as well.

   Still bearing that toothy grin o' malice, Asuka nodded.

   "Then Shinji's your man. Hell, sometimes, he scares the 
crap out of even me and Kensuke." 

***

   1st Tactical Situation Room.

   Shinji and Asuka sat opposite from Kaga who was acting as
his own counsel. Misato sat at the closer end of the conference
table, taking down minutes.

   "Let's just cut to the chase, don't we?" said Kaga as he
waved a bandaged hand condescendingly. "Your legal position
weak, mine strong. So just accept my conditions and we're
even."

   "You are proposing that Ms McBeal offer you a public
apology in exchange for you dropping your suit," stated Shinji.

   "You will find that to be a most generous offer," replied
Kaga.

   "Well, you can take that offer of yours and shove it up
your ass!" yelled Asuka. 

   "Excuse me, is that an 'on the record' statement?" asked
Misato.

   "Yeah!" continued Asuka. "You want your apology? Alright!
Let the record show that I'm sorry that I ever met you. That
I'm sorry you're such a goddamned pervert. And that I'm sorry
I didn't kick your teeth in while I was giving you the 
thrashing that you deserved!"

   "Asuka."

   Asuka was going to brush aside Shinji's attempt to intervene
and continue her tirade. But something in his voice caught her
attention and when she glanced sideways at him, she froze. 

   Shinji sat quietly, his elbows resting on the table with his
fingers interlocked, forming a bridge just under his nose. His
gaze was ice and steel and he seemed to project an aura of 
menace.

   "Mr Kaga," said Shinji, "are you prepared to make any
serious attempt at negotiation at all?"

   Kaga snorted. "Negotiate!? With you!? Do you expect me to
roll over and play dead while some impudent little squirt tries
to intimidate me? Is your judgement impaired by the fact that
you used to sleep with your redheaded friend here, boy?"

   "You don't seem at all concerned that outrage of a woman's
modesty is a criminal offence," said Shinji, ignoring Kaga's
attempt to provoke him as well.

   "You don't seem to be concerned that violent physical 
assault upon an elderly person is a criminal offence," countered
Kaga. "Something that a lawyer can be debarred for. Something
that can destroy a promising young career." Kaga smiled smugly
as Asuka sputtered.

   "Can we go off the record for a moment?" asked Shinji.

   "Sure," shrugged Kaga.

   "Well, then, you don't seem concerned that bribing a 
federal official, committing perjury and conspiring to pervert
the course of justice are all serious criminal offences?" asked
Shinji.

   "I have no idea what you're talking about."

   Shinji opened his brief case and slowly laid out a series
of documents on the table.

   "Let me refresh your memory," said Shinji quietly. "Acting
on behalf of GEHIRN R&D, you corruptly made cash payments to
a junior official of the National Security Agency. The deal 
was to provide false certification of your client's immunity
from the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act. Crude
and extremely clumsy work, Mr Kaga."

   "I suppose someone from NERV Heavy Industries would be an
expert on this sort of thing," snarled Kaga. "But there's a
loophole in your clever little trap - all this so-called
evidence won't stand up in court."

   "Not as it stands, Mr Kaga. But it will raise many questions
that will eventually, at the very least, completely ruin your
reputation."
 
   "I can live with that," retorted Kaga.
   
   "Also, you are aware of what happens to those who fail
GEHIRN," added Shinji almost casually.

   Kaga bigsweated. There was a long silence. Finally...

   "What are your terms?" he asked reluctantly.

   "If you agree to them, then this information will not leave
this room. Let's go back on the record now."

   Kaga nodded numbly.

   "I propose, in exchange for Ms McBeal dropping her counter-
claim, you cease all legal action and release her from all
liability arising from this incident. In addition, you will
make a goodwill payment to compensate Ms McBeal for the
emotional and psychological distress she has suffered."

   "Alright," said Kaga through gritted teeth as he realised
that there was no escape from the hunter's cage.

   "Misato, please wheel Mr Kaga to Mr Touji Fish's office.
He'll be handling the negotiations for the amount of 
compensation due. And get the necessary paperwork ready for 
Mr Kaga's signature as well," instructed Shinji who was 
wearing an African safari hunter's outfit, complete with
monocle. He put his elephant gun back into his briefcase as
Misato, dressed in a leopard spot tank top and matching sarong
skirt, wheeled the trapped giant slug away to the salt mine.

   As soon as Kaga and Misato left the room, Asuka jumped up
and gave Shinji a bear hug. "Thank you! Thank you!" exclaimed
Asuka. "Wiping that smug look off his face was priceless! How
did you dig up that dirt on him so quickly?"

   "The credit belongs to Misato's husband. He's really good
at this sort of thing. If there're more episodes of this fic,
you'll get to meet him."

   "Say, couldn't you do the compensation negotiations? I'm 
sure you'd be able to squeeze quite a bit from him," said
Asuka.

   "Oh no, Touji's the man for that. He's Mr Money."

   "Touji?" Asuka's skeptical face said it all.

***

   "Woohoo!!!" cried Asuka in joy as she pranced around the
living room.

   "How much did you get?" asked Hikari Raddick.

   "Enough to get new curtains, a new set of furniture for
the living and dining rooms, and that dress I've been eyeing
for ages..."

   "You mean *that* dress? Goodness, Asuka!"

   "You got that right, roommate!" laughed Asuka as she kissed
the cheque and waved it about. "Pure greenback goodness!"

   "I suppose you'll get a deed poll to change your name back
to 'Asuka McBeal Sohryu' once you've deposited the cheque and
transferred the funds to your usual account?" asked Hikari.

   "Of course," grinned Asuka. "Another great touch from Touji.
Changing my name by deed poll and making that old lecher write
out the cheque to 'Kaga is a hentai bastard' was a master
stroke! I think I'll photocopy the cheque and get it framed."

   "Your firm sounds like fun, Asuka," said Hikari.

   "Yeah, though there're times Three Stooges & Co can get a
little weird. Hey, why don't you join us at the firm's usual 
haunt tomorrow evening?"

   "Well..."

   "Come on, Hikari! You need to get out more. And besides, 
you can make some useful legal contacts, right, Ms Assistant
District Attorney?"

   "Okay, Asuka," smiled Hikari. "Just for you."

   Ding dong. 

   Asuka looked through the peephole and saw an army of Reis
standing outside. Wearing black monks' habits, each bore a 
blazing torch, their piercing red eyes asking a thousand 
questions. The Inquisition had arrived on her doorstep. 

   Asuka rubbed her eyes and peered out again. It was just 
Rei.

   "Mrs Thomas! Can I help you?" asked Asuka, still a little
shaken.

   "May I come in? I wish to talk," said Rei.

   "Sure, come on in, Mrs Thomas" said Asuka as Hikari made 
herself scarce.

   "Thank you. And please call me Rei."

   "Okay. And you can call me Asuka."

   "I apologise for disturbing you in your home," began Rei.

   "No, no, it's alright," said Asuka, waving both hands in
front of her.

   "But that night in your office... Shinji and you... made
me feel."

   "Feel what?" asked Asuka.

   "You were close," stated Rei.

   "Yeah, you could say that. Has Shinji mentioned me before?"

   "Twice."

   'Twice!? We've been together since we were fourteen and I
get *two* mentions?'

   "Actually, we dated from the time we were teens right
uptil graduation," said Asuka. 'Did she just frown?' "But
you don't have to worry, I've gotten over him..."

   Asuka followed Rei's gaze and saw that she was looking at
a photograph on the mantel. 

   "Ack."

   Rei stepped closer to inspect it as Asuka's feet turned
into roots and sank themselves swiftly and deeply into the
parque floor. She could feel autumn-red leaves sprouting 
from her head and her arms.

   "That is you," said Rei, pointing at the photograph. "And
that is Shinji-kun," she said as she shifted her finger. The
photograph showed the two of them sitting on the couch. Or
more accurately, Shinji was sitting on the couch with Asuka
seated on his lap. They had one arm around each other and 
as both flashed a V-sign.

   "Er. Yes."

   "You were both in love," stated Rei.

   "Yes," replied Asuka as she twiddled her thumbs.

   "You made love," said Rei, her matter-of-fact nature making
the whole situtation even more uncomfortable.

   "Y...Yes," squeaked Asuka.

   "Asuka?"

   "Yes, Rei?" said Asuka looking directly into Rei's eyes.

   "I hate you." Rei's voice carried no anger or malice but
she had spoken the truth and had been completely frank and
open with Asuka.

   "You know what?" said Asuka, "I really hate you too." 
Strangely, with that confession, a wave of relief swept over
Asuka and she felt more at ease.

   "Good," nodded Rei.

   "Can we be friends?" asked Asuka.

   Rei titled her head to the side slightly and blinked once.

   Asuka held her breath as Rei considered it for a moment.
A very long moment.

   "Friends. Yes," Rei replied and shook Asuka's offered hand.

***

   Shinji lowered himself gingerly onto his chair. "And just
what are you smirking about, Asuka?" he asked, a little sourly.

   "Did Rei whip you last night or something?" asked Asuka,
still smirking.

   Shinji winced and reddened. "It's all your fault, you
know."

   "Hmmph, the baka thinks it's my fault. Don't you share
everything with your loving wife?" said Asuka as she rolled
her eyes.

   "Are you supposed to recite all your past exploits to 
your other half and compare everything she does to your past
girlfriends?" asked Shinji.

   "Past girlfriend."

   "What?" Shinji was thrown off track.

   "Past girlfriend. Singular noun. You only went out with me 
before Rei, didn't you?"

   "That's because you scared off anyone else who might have
been interested in me!" replied Shinji defensively.

   "Didn't you enjoy your little interrogation?"

   Shinji reddened even further.

   "How much did you tell Rei?"

   "Just about everything."

   "Everything?" Asuka arched her eyebrows. "Even the waffle
incident?"

   "Ack! No, not that. A man's got to have his secrets," mumbled
Shinji. "Well, not yet, anyway."

   Shinji was saved from further ribbing by the arrival of
Touji, Kensuke and the Jet Alone Company's two representatives.

***

   "Yes, Mr Fish, I do understand that JA Co. is entitled 
to a considerable amount of compensation for the cancellation
of our project by the Department of Defence. And yes, we have
no doubt of your ability to get us even more money, but that's
not the point," said Rep #1.

   "Our Chairman and CEO won't accept anything less than the
reinstatement of our project. He wants to see the Jet Alone
robot built. It's a lifetime dream of his. If you can't 
convince us that you can fight the case on these terms with
the possibility of a win, then I'm afraid we'll have to go
elsewhere," said Rep #2.

   Shinji, Kensuke and Touji glanced at each other. Between
them, they had been unable to convince the representatives as
the DoD decision to cancel looked water-tight.

   "Excuse me," interrupted Asuka, "you say that the Jet Alone
program was cancelled because of budget cuts meant that there
aren't enough funds to go ahead with it."

   "That is correct," said Rep #1.

   "According to the DoD budget figures and Mr Fish's
valuations of the maximum amount of compensation you can
expect to receive, it would cost more to cancel the program
than to implement it."

   "Yes, it sounds absurd but DoD's done it before," pointed
out Kensuke.

   "But Jet Alone was approved as part of a budget that is
governed by the Balanced Budget Act. DoD isn't allowed to
cut programs if it costs more to junk it than to implement it.
They're allowed to scale back on it though. But that would
mean that at least a prototype gets built, right?" explained
Asuka. 

   A few more details along this line of attack were looked 
into. By the end of the session, both representatives appeared
very pleased.

   "Ladies and gentlemen, I believe you've just landed the
Jet Alone account."

***

   POP!

   Champagne flowed all round the office as staff gathered to
celebrate their first important account.

   "Way da go, Asuka!" shouted Touji, giving her a hearty slap
on the back.

   "Sieg heil! Heil Asuka!" yelled Kensuke.

   "HEIL ASUKA!" roared the rest of the staff, saluting with
their glasses.

   "Hey, that was my line," murmured Shinji.

   "Did you tell Rei about *that* as well?" whispered Asuka.

   Shinji paled immediately. "No?"

   "Right, that means 'not yet'," said Asuka.

   Both of them laughed.

   "Hey, Asuka," said Shinji, "good work back there." He gave
her a thumbs up which she returned spiritedly before she was
borne off by the mob.  

   "Let's head off to the Second Impact for a *real* 
celebration!" declared Touji.

***

   The Second Impact was part bar, part restaurant with eclectic
live music. Patrons were also encouraged to perform.

   Right now, Rei was singing 'Fly Me to the Moon' accompanied
by Shinji on the piano.

   Kensuke frowned. "Isn't that an anime song? I really don't
understand why they keep playing it at weddings."

   "No, you dummy," said Touji, "even I know it's a Frank
Sinatra classic."

   "Frank who?"

   "Nevermind."

   Asuka stuffed her face with chocolate ice cream as she
listened to Rei's melodious, crystal clear voice. Every once
so often, Shinji and Rei would exchange one of those glances.
Asuka sighed and sought solace in Mr Haagen Daz.

   "Hi Asuka!" said Hikari as she took a seat opposite Asuka.
"I've been looking all over for you."

   "Sorry about that, Hikari," said Asuka sheepishly. Before
she could say more, Shinji and Rei finished their number to
thunderous applause from the audience. Hikari and Asuka joined
in, though a little half-heartedly for the latter.

   "Hey," asked Hikari, "you still in love?"

   Asuka looked down into the depths of her ice cream. "I...
I don't know. I thought I was over him."

   "It'll all work out for you, Asuka. Everything will be
alright," said Hikari as she put a hand over Asuka's. "I
just know it will."

   Just then, Touji and Kensuke began to sing 'I'm Too Sexy'.

   "Asuka, who's that?" asked Hikari. 

   "Hmm?"

   "The guy with the flat-top, the one who's singing with the
bespectacled one."

   "Oh, that's Touji Fish. One of the partners at the firm."

   "What's he like at the office?"

   "A real monkey. I really do owe him for the Kaga settlement
but he can be such a pain in the ass, if you know what I mean."

   "Is he seeing anyone?" pressed Hikari.

   "Not that I know... Hikari! You can't be interested in that
jock! Look at him!" exclaimed Asuka, pointing to Touji who was
thrusting his hips at the audience as he sang (and rather badly
if you must know).

   "I think deep down he's a pretty nice guy. I mean when I've
seen him a few times when I've gone to look at community
service sentences being carried out."

   "Oh, what misdemeanour was he down on? And how many hours?"
asked Asuka who pictured a chimpanzee in Touji's suit, running
about the orphans' home as he juggled statute books and
performed other tricks to amuse the children.

   "No! No! You got me wrong, Asuka! I mean he's actually a
volunteer at a local children's home. He helps to organise 
those serving community service and teach them what to do,"
corrected Hikari.

   "I would neeeeever have guessed," said Asuka.

   "Hi Asuka, who's your friend?" asked Shinji with Rei in tow.

   "This is my flatmate, Hikari Raddick. Hikari, this is Shinji
and you've already met Rei. What's up, Shinji?"

   "You still remember how to play the violin?" he asked.

   "Of course!" sniffed Asuka. "Prepare to be dazzled!"

   "Great! All we need now is a viola player."

   "I can play that. What do you have in mind?" asked Hikari.

   "Will Pachelbel's 'Canon in D' be alright?"

   "Sure!" replied Hikari. 
   
***

   The quartet started 'Canon' by playing softly - drawing 
the listener in as they gradually built up to the crescendo,
all the while maintaining a control that was confident but
not loud, absolute yet gentle. 

   Asuka found herself smiling at the harmony of the four 
players, her soul soothed as she poured her heart into the
music and surrendered to its power and tranquility.  

   As the last notes left her strings and bow, a bittersweet
feeling welled up in her. Joy that the music had found its
fulfillment and sweet sorrow that the song had to end. 

   There was a moment of silence as the last note faded away 
and then she basked in the congratulations of her friends.

   'It's going to be alright.'

THE END


First draft completed 26 Dec 1999.
Second draft completed 4 Jan 2000.
Comments and criticism are always appreciated.

AUTHOR'S NOTES
    This piece had its genesis in Joyce K Wakabayashi's 
discussion of her work with me. Sadly, she did not act upon
it and subsequently retired from writing fanfiction. Later I
included a scene based on her idea in part 3 of my 'Ramen'
series but I just left it at that. Inspiration finally arrived 
to do this when British tv did a repeat of the pilot episode 
of Ally McBeal in Nov 1999. 

   I also feel duty-bound to acknowledge the influence of
John Biles and Rod M's characterisation of Rei in their 
monumental 'Children of an Elder God'. One line relating to
her was blatantly stolen from CoaEG. The 'waffles incident'
was inspired by (but factually different from) Lara Bartram
and Ammadeau's 'Role-Playing' and the mysterious 'spaghetti
incident' in Bill Watterson's 'Calvin & Hobbes'. And I got the
German swear words from Jim Lazar's 'Garden of EVA'.

   The greatest difficulties in this fic relate to its two
principal characters. Asuka has to be in sufficient emotional
turmoil about Shinji to make the story interesting but the
Ally character she is fused with has the Shinji-esque tendency
to whine so getting the balance was hard - without Joyce's c&c,
it would have been even harder. Shinji, on the other hand, has
to be more confident in view of effect of having cut his teeth
at NERV Heavy Industries. The love and security he has found in
his marriage with Rei is also a big modifying factor. But he 
still has to have some residual spinelessness to make him 
recognisable - and frankly, fun to write.

   And I wanted to do a Shinji x Rei story where Asuka is
fairly okay about it.

   Thanks also goes out to pre-readers Alain Gravel and Andrew
Huang as well as FFML members Leonid Zamdborg, Trevor Hoffert,
Jonathan Wang, Chewie and Jiro Maeda.


contact: toheel@singnet.com.sg or teloong@cwcom.net
archive: http://www.teloong.mcmail.com/