Age of Evangelion ----------------- Standard Anno/Gainax/ADV disclaimer here. *** 3 - Repercusions *** Gendou Ikari sat in a dark room, his face lit from below by the bright white glow of the desk he sat at. He looked calmy at the the holograms of the heads of SEELE. He knew their names, but aside from the head, Lorentz, he found it easier to think of them by the colors they chose to represent themselves by. It was one of the many tricks he had learned that allowed him to detach himself from others. Lorentz was the first to speak. "This is it, the second coming of the Angels. It's too soon, we're not ready." "Just like fifteen years ago," Yellow snorted. "Disasters always strike without warning." "It may not be a disaster," Red reminded them. "Our prior investments seemed to have been wasted, yet this may allow us to salvage something from them." Blue barked with mirthless laughter. "It may still be a waste." "Correct," Yellow conceeded. "That aside, since our anti-Angel operations are now a matter of public knowledge, NERV must take actions to control the way this information is presented to the public." "That matter has been taken care of," Gendou assured them. "Good," Lorentz said. "Now on to other matters..." Green interrupted impatiently. "NERV and the Evangelions. There MUST be a better way to use them than this, Gendou." "Indeed," Yellow agreed. "The costs to repair the damage Unit 00 and Unit 01 recieved in their first battle are simply astronomical. These types of costs weren't to be incurred until months from now." "You gave that damn toy to your little girl, Gendou!" Red suddenly roared. "What on Earth were you thinking?" Blue slammed his fist on his desk, silencing the others. "Lives, time and money. How much will be wasted by your family? And what about your other project?" "Yes," Red agreed, his voice still shaking with anger. "The Human Complement Project. That must be your highest priority, not your games with the Evangelions." "Rei's involvent may allow us to return the project to its original schedule," Gendou returned softly. "We are now only three months behind, instead of five." The heads of SEELE exchanged surprised looks. "Excellent," Blue finally said for the other men, his voice full of satisfaction. "We should never have doubted you, Gendou." "Continue your work," Lorentz summarized. "Good job and thank you." The holograms of the other heads of SEELE winked out, leaving only him and Gendou. "You realize there is no going back?" "Yes," Gendou replied. Lorentz's image disappeared, leaving Gendou in the dark. "Each step I take is one I can never take back." *** Misato threw open the door to her apartment. "Welcome home!" she said grandly, and then blinked at the boxes in the hallway. "I see your stuff has arrived already." She took a few steps into the apartment, and slipped of her shoes as she hit the light switch, revealing yet more boxes down the hall. "I just moved in myself." She turned to smile at Rei, and scowled as she saw her standing outside the threshold. "What are you doing?" Misato demanded, and grabbed the girl's wrist, dragging her inside. "This is your home now too, come on in!" "I guess it is," Rei said softly. "My new home." She removed her shoes and followed Misato into the kitchen, and stopped, stunned. Misato noticed her look and waved it off as she went futher into the apartment, slipping of her shirt on the way. "Don't mind the mess, just put the groceries in the fridge." *She lives like a guy,* Rei thought as she went over to the fridge. It was one of those models that had several racks that slid out. The first was full of condiments and the second had various types of snack food. *I haven't seen this much instant food since I helped Moriko-chan move in with her brother.* She felt a moment of sadness as she remembered her old friend. *I wonder how she is,* she mused, opening up the third of the racks in the fridge. "Did you rob a beer store or something?" she called. "Get me one of those, would you?" Misato yelled back. Rei shrugged and took one of the cans out and placed it on the table, after pausing to clear some of the debris from the last meal. She turned back to the fridge, determined to find a place to put the groceries, when she noticed another unit sitting a few feet away. "What's in the other fridge?" "Don't mind him, he's probably still asleep." *Him?" Rei wondered. *I've heard of sleeping the the bathtub, but that's ridiculous.* A few moments later, Misato returned dressed in a white T-shirt and black shorts. The next several minutes were spent preparing some food for the pair, and they soon sat down to their "meal". As Rei picked at her food, taking a few bites here and there, Misato opened her beer, put it to her mouth, and tilted her head and whole upper body back, her throat working as she drank the enitre contents of the beer. Misato slammed the empty can back on the table and let out a loud whoop. "AAAAAAAAAAAUUGH!!! Now THIS is the life!" "Don't you get a headache doing that?" Rei asked. Misato gave her a quizical look. "Like when you eat ice cream too fast." "Never have," Misato replied cheerily, getting up to fetch herself another beer. As she returned to the table, she noticed Rei's appetite or lack thereof. "What's wrong? Don'cha like it?" Rei shook her head. "I guess I'm not hungry." "Aww, don't be fussy! It may be instant, but it's good!" With that, Misato plopped down in her seet and began to slurp up some instant ramen. "Isn't this great?" "Hmm?" "Having a meal with others instead of alone?" Rei smiled a bit. "Yes, I guess so." They ate on in silence for a moment, until Misato had eaten her fill. Rei took the liberty of tossing the waste into a garbage bag, including the things that Misato just tossed on an empty spot on the counter. "Now," Misato said, clapping her hands, and pulling out a marker. "Let's decide who does the chores!" She gave Rei a slightly evil smile. "Would you like to play Janken for them?" Rei took a look at the apartment, and considered her options. She could play Misato's game, and probably end up doing most of the work anyway, or she could offer to do the jobs she prefered, and save herself the trouble. Her decision made, she shook her head. "How about I take care of the cooking and shopping, and you take care of the cleaning?" Misato's face fell at not having someone to foist all the work on, but she weighed the amount of work she'd have to do under Rei's offer. Aside from having to clean the current mess, which, in fairness, Misato had to admit was hers anyway, it wouldn't be that much trouble. "Deal," she declared, holding out her hand to shake, "but you have to clean your room yourself." Rei nodded and they shook hands. Another uncomfortable silence fell over the pair, and Misato growled in frustration. "Come on! Liven up a little!" She took another slug on her beer. "Why don't you go take a bath? That always cheers me up." "Alright," Rei said. *** Rei opened the door to the bathroom and walked in. She slipped of her clothes and looked at herself in the mirror. *I wonder if Daddy hates me? He must,* she decided, *otherwise he wouldn't keep on pushing me away.* She sighed and opened the door to the furo, and found herself face to face with a large penguin. Shrieking with surprise, Rei turned and ran out of the bathroom, and sprinted down the hall to the kitchen. Throwing open the door, she stood before Misato, who was calm as she sipped her beer. "There's a PENGUIN in the bath!" Rei yelled. Said pengiun chose that moment to walk by Rei into the kitchen. He chirped a 'hello' to Misato as he made his way to the second fridge. "Oh, that's Pen-Pen," Misato cheerily replied as the pengiun keyed open the door. "He's a hot-spring penguin, and your other roommate." She eyed Rei carefully and took another gulp from her beer before speaking again. "Do you often run around the place naked?" Rei looked down at herself and blushed deeply before shrugging. "We're both girls," she returned, and smirked a little. She went into a model's pose, with one hand behind her head and the other at her waist. "Why? You jealous?" She giggled as Misato choked on her beer, and went back to the bath. As she soaked in the bath, Rei ran over the events of the past day in her head. *I like Misato,* she thought with a smile. *She's like the big sister I never had.* Her smile grew a little wistful as she thought about some of the others she had met. "Shinji Ayanami," she said, trying the name out. *A little weird, but he is so CUTE!* *** Misato finished fixing the sign on the door to Rei's room. "Rei's Room," she read, and slid open the door. "Rei? Are you awake?" The girl was lying on her side in the bed, her face turned away from the door. She shivered and began to cry. "I remember it, Misato. I remember the battle," she stammered through the sobs. "What happened to me?" Rei felt someone sit on the bed and a hand stroke her hair. "You did something very good today, Rei. You saved a lot of people's lives. I'm proud of you, and I'm sure your father is too." With that, Misato stood and walked out of the room, closing the door behind her. A few minutes later, Misato was soaking in her own bath, a lit cigarette and a beer within easy reach. "I'm worried, Ristuko," she said into the cordless phone. /What's the problem? The pilots' well-being is your job, isn't it?/ "That's just it," Misato sighed, and took a draw from the cigarette. "I don't know how to relate with her. It's not like with Shinji, who I could just treat as a soldier. She's such..." she paused for a moment as words failed her, "she's such a girl!" /Excuse me?/ Misato growled in exasperation at her inability to get the idea across. "Shinji always was so cold, so detached. It was easy to think of him as an asset. But I can't think of Rei that way. I don't know whether to treat her as my little sister or as my daughter!" /Somehow, the thought of you as a mother bothers me," Ritsuko said with a chuckle. /Well, you can't complain now, she's your responsibility./ "Gee, thanks for the help," Misato snidely retorted as she stabbed the stand-by button on the phone. She set it down beside her on the ledge of the bath, and took a long gulp from her beer. "I just can't be like you, Ritsuko. She's a person, not a tool." *** Rei sat in her desk at the school, looking at her computer screen and trying to ignore the whispers around her. Every so often, she took a look at Shinji, who was staring out the window. "Did you hear about the new girl?" "Yeah, I she's the new Eva pilot." "Like Ayanami?" "Brrr! That guy's scary!" "Naw, she's OK, a little quiet though." "Has Suzuhara found out? He's gonna go ballistic!" Suddenly the door to the classroom burst open, showing a tallish dark-haired boy. He was followed by another boy wearing glasses with light brown hair. The second boy was trying to calm the first down. "Listen to me, Touji, it wasn't their fault! It's a war out there!" He put his hand to restrain the larger boy, and his hand was thrown off. "Those two useless idiots put my little sister in the hospital! What kind of crappy piloting is that?" Touji spied Rei who was unsuccessfully trying to hide behind her computer screen. "You!" He stormed over to her desk, and loomed over her. "You nearly killed my little sister!" Rei looked up into Touji's angry face and gulped. "I'm...I'm sorry?" "Sorry doesn't make my sister better," Touji growled, bringing his hand back to slap her. He started to bring it forward, and his arm was caught. Touji turned to glare at the person who held his arm, and found himself looking into Shinji's face. The boy's head was still bandaged, but his one good eye seemed to shine with an icy rage. "Don't," he said in that cold voice. "Ever." Touji fought with every fiber of his being to not back down from that gaze. He brought up his other hand to hit Shinji, but he was interrupted by the iincho's call. (Author's Note: I'm using the original Japanese word for the Class Rep, since there's no real English equivalent.) "All rise!" Touji looked panicked for a moment, then quickly dropped his fist. He shook his arm free from Shinji's grip and went to his desk. Shinji nodded once to Rei, and then went to his own. As the teacher began lecturing on the history of the world since the Second Impact, Rei tried to calm her racing heart. She didn't really know what she had done to that boy, but he had scared her to death. A beep came from her computer, and she discovered a message waiting for her: [Sorry about Suzuhara. He's worried about his sister. Once he calms down he'll apologize. It's war, after all, and these things happen. -Kensuke (over your left shoulder)] Rei looked over her shoulder and saw the boy who was trying to calm Suzahara behind her. He smiled and waved slightly. Rei smiled back at him and typed a reply. [Thanks. I'm sorry about his sister. They just shoved me in that thing.] Kensuke jumped to his feet. "You really ARE a pilot!" he yelled. As if it was a cue for the rest of the class, Rei found herself surrounded by the other students. "What's it like?" "How were you selected?" "Did you have to go though a lot of training?" "Were you scared?" "Howcome they use kids like us?" The iincho stood up as well and began yelling at the crowd. "Sit down! Class is still in session, you know!" "Shut up, Hikari, this is important!" "Stop bossing us around!" The teacher looked on with a mixture of amusement and dismay, and almost visably relaxed when the bell for the end of class rang. Hikari stood up and made the standard 'Rise! Bow!' commands, but everyone ignored her - they were too busy grilling Rei. Shinji continued to gaze out the window, but every few moments his eyes would flicker over to the crowd around Rei. Almost imperceptibly, he frowned. *** Rei sat in the schoolyard at lunch, alone. Now that their initial curiosity was sated, the other students seemed to want little to do with her. She had tried looking for Shinji, but the odd boy was nowhere to be found. A shadow fell over Rei, and for a quick, panicked moment she thought it was the Suzahara boy again. She looked up into the person's face, and saw the smiling face of the iincho. "Hi," Hikari said cheerily. "Mind if I join you?" "Please," Rei said politely, and the other girl sat down beside her, opened her lunch and began to eat. Soon Rei's ear was full of chatter and gossip on their other classmates. >From a few dozen meters away, Touji scowled at the sight. "Bitch," he swore. "She's even fooled the iincho." He yelped in pain as Kensuke smacked the back of his head. "What was that for?" "Stop being an idiot!" the bespectacled boy said. "Look over there again, and tell me what you see." "I see the bitch who put my sister in the-ow! Stop that!" Touji rubbed the back of his head. Kensuke pointed at the two girls again. "Forget she's an Eva pilot for a minute. This is war, Touji, these things happen. Just look at her. What do you see?" Touji frowned. "Two girls eating lunch." "And those two girls are?" Kensuke promted. "Hikari and the bitch-hey!" Touji put his fist up to Kensuke's face. "You hit me one more time you'll be eating knuckle." A sigh of great suffering came from the other boy. "Hikari. The iincho. The girl who all the guys have agreed is the cutest girl in class. She is sitting with the transferee, who is arguably cuter, and is a new student..." he trailed off and understanding lit up Touji's face. "...and who has no friends in this class, especially BOY-friends," Touji groaned and buried his face in his hands. "What was I DOING?" "Giving me a really good chance at the new girl, and putting you in the bad graces of practically every girl in class?" Kensuke helpfully supplied. "Thanks for being understanding," Touji said sarcastically. "What are we going to DO?" "We? YOU are going to apologize," Kensuke began, "and then-" he was interrupted as the emergency sirens blared through the city. "Another attack?!" Shinji appeared from inside the school and ran up to Rei. "An emergency." He grabbed Rei's wrist and yanked her to her feet. "We must go now," he said, and dragged her out of the yard as the students streamed into the shelter. A voice interrupted the sirens. "A state of emergency has been declared for all of Kanto and Chubu districts near the Tokai district. Please take refuge your designated shelters. Repeat. Today..." Touji and Kensuke walked together into the shelter, and made their way to the meeting place for their class. Neither of them missed the disapproving frown Hikari gave Touji as she did role call on all their classmates. "There goes any chance you had with her," Kensuke whispered. Touji groaned softly. "Let's get out of here, I want to tell you something. Give the iincho some excuse." "Why me?" "Because you're already on her bad side?" Kensuke suggested, and grinned as Touji grimaced. "Iincho!" he called, and Hikari scowled over in their direction. "We're going to the washroom!" Before Hikari could begin to lecture them, the two boys ran out of the room their class was sheltered in. "What do you want to tell me?" "Before I die, I want to, just once..." Touji interrupted him. "Shouldn't you be talking to one of the girls about this?" He laughed and ducked Kensuke's swat. "Idiot, let me finish," Kensuke said peevishly. "I want to see the battle above!" "Are you nuts?! We'll be killed!" "We're not much safer down here! Come on, that robot's protecting us, I just want to see it!" "It's Nerv's job, we'll just be in the way!" "Two kids in a city? Get real, Touji. Besides, who do you think Nerv is using. Rei! The girl you tried to beat up earlier today! I'd say you owe it to her to see her fight!" Touji looked steadily at his friend. "Right. You've got the hots for her." "So?" Kensuke replied. "She's cute, she's our age, and she pilots one of those big robots!" He grinned. "I think I'm in love." With that, the two boys ran towards the exit of the shelter.