"Asuka!" She turned at the sound of her name. It was her friend Kensuke, armed with his video camera and bearing an envelope, crossing the room to speak with her. He sat down in the desk next to her and waved the envelope in her face. "What's this? A housewarming party for Rei?" "Right, it's going to be on Saturday, can you make it?" "Of course I can, but...would you care to explain to our audience how this came about?" Asuka laughed and put her hand over the lens. "Turn that camera off, you idiot!" Kensuke set the camera down, and she continued. "It was funny. I told Rei about those apartments that were for let near my house, and then that afternoon I got a phone call from her. She'd packed up her stuff and walked across town, expecting them to just hand her a key when she asked for one at the front desk! Can you imagine?" "Poor Rei," said Kensuke. "So what did you do?" "Misato and I picked up Rei, and we drove over to the realtor's, and we spent the rest of the afternoon slogging through paperwork. They even kept the office open for us. So Rei now has a new place to live. Are you free for the party?" "Yeah! I'd love to come. Should I bring flowers, or a rice cooker, or what?" Asuka said, "I think you'd better bring a board game or a deck of cards. Rei doesn't know how to be a hostess, and we'll need something to do." "Is Shinji gonna be there?" "No," sighed Asuka. "He's been transferred to a normal hospital room, which I guess is a good sign, but he's still under surveillance. Next week he has to have reconstructive surgery on his hand because it started to heal while he was in the straightjacket. I heard that he won't be back home until after that." "I can't wait for him to get out." "Me neither! Isn't it going to be great?" They talked together for a long time. ---------------------------------------------------- Copyright 1998 Daniel Snyder. Permission granted to duplicate in any digital, binary, or e-mail format; however, any physical printout is strictly prohibited. Based on characters created by GAINAX. Shin Seiki Evangelion/Neon Genesis Evangelion is the intellectual property of and copyrighted by GAINAX, adapted by AD Vision and Viz Comics for North America. Hamlet by William Shakespeare. Any resemblance to persons living or deceased is purely coincidental. Special thanks to Chris Angel, Gavin Drake, Mark Engels, Addison Godel, Andrew Hwang, Scott Sandwick and Greg Smith for their editorial advice and support. Thanks also to Pearl Jam, whose albums "Ten", "Vs." and "Yield" provided background music during the writing of much of this story.