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--
SPOILER ALERT - The following fan-fiction contains spoilers. It is
advised that you see the entire series before reading this fic.
-- 
This fan fiction is adapted from Neon Genesis Evangelion, produced by
Gainax. All characters thereof are the sole property of Gainax. They are
used without permission and no claim on them is made by this author.
-- 



I am Myself, part 1
by Chris Burke
--

Lie still, little bottle. 
Don't twist it and twist in time. 
With every move you make 
you just disintegrate 
my ever troubled mind.
 -- They Might be Giants

--

     In a back corner of Toyko-3 stood a series of run-down apartment
buildings. These were not the sleek, efficient, retractable buildings of
the rest of the city. These were hulking, decaying monoliths of cracked
cement and rusting steel. They had escaped the demolition that all other
such monstrosities had suffered due solely to budget constraints and
their remote location. Their days were numbered, however. Already the one
nearest the city had been imploded and a new, modern structure was rising
from the rubble.

     Within one of the buildings, on the fourth floor, ran a long dark
hall with grey, cracked paint. Few of the lights worked, and those that
did buzzed and flickered incessantly. Refuse left by tenants who had long
since vacated the decrepit building littered the hall. 

     Behind one of the many doors in the hall was the only occupied
apartment in the entire building. It was just as dirty as all the
abandoned rooms. The small signs of habitation - the working
refrigerator, the dishes on it, the clothes lying about the room - only
emphasized the dirt.

     On the bed before the window lay the apartment's occupant. She lay
on her back, breathing peacefully. She stirred, her hand reflexively
rubbed her nose, then she lay still again. Moments later the alarm on the
dresser went off. Her face tightened, as though dreading the onset of
consciousness. Then, Ayanami Rei awoke.

     She groaned as she sat up and rubbed her eyes. She sat there, just
resting and waiting for her brain to come fully online. As she woke up,
she stretched her arms above her head and arched her back and let out a
soft moan.

     Rei winced as her feet touched the cold floor of her apartment. She
stepped lightly over to her slippers, and walked into the bathroom.

     A moment later Rei walked out of the bathroom and over to her
dresser. She turned off the alarm clock, then went back into the
bathroom.

     She stepped out of her slippers and into the shower. She turned on
the water, shivering in the cold until the hot water caught up. A sigh
escaped her mouth as the water ran over her. Standing there under the
stream she watched the patterns the rivulets of water made on her body.
She followed them until they met the mass of water by her feet, swirling
towards the drain. It struck her as being a little sad. Each drop was
destined to end in the same place, carried by the rush of all the others.
There was no choice, and no avoiding the final outcome. She pondered this
for a moment, then brushed away such morose thoughts. She would think of
sadness some other time, but not now for a simple reason: 

     Today was going to be a wonderful day.

     Rei leaned her head back, letting the water hit her in the face, and
smiled.

     Yes, it would be a wonderful day. She would get to see the Commander
after school. During school, she would get to see Ikari-kun. Between
would be an irritating visit with Dr. Akagi, but getting to be with the
two most important people in the world to her more than made up for it.
Rei picked up a wash-cloth and the soap, and began to clean herself. 

     Ikari-kun. Just seeing his face would make her day. Rei hoped he
would smile at her like he sometimes did. If he would smile at her, she
would nearly cry with joy. Everything he said and did for her was
precious. She would do anything to be near him, to see him smiling at
her. She would do anything for him, because she loved him.

     The words struck her. Loved him. Of course she loved Shin-chan. She
had loved him for a long time. Since the Fifth Angel she had loved him,
and had loved him more every day since. Why then did it feel as though
she had just realized it? No, it wasn't that she now knew that she loved
him... It was that _he_ still didn't know!

      She didn't know why she hadn't
already, but that wasn't important. The error would be corrected. She
would declare her love, and she knew with absolute certainty that he
would accept it, and love her back.

     Such a thing must be done correctly, though. She could send him a
message, tell him to ask to go to the bathroom. Follow him, and then in
the hallway... No, not enough privacy, and not enough time. But she knew
how she could get both. Her smile became a grin.

     She would tell him to come over to her apartment sometime after she
was done with the Commander. She would tell him she needed to talk to him
about... his father? Yes, that would work. Behind closed doors, she would
tell him she loved him. Then she'd put her arms around him, and their
lips would meet. Her mouth would show him her love. Locked together in a
passionate embrace, she would lead him to her bed and...

     Rei realized that she had dropped her wash-cloth, and her hands had
found their way to her breasts. 
she chided herself.  Reluctantly, she picked
up the wash-cloth and resumed washing.

     To keep herself from becoming too distracted again, she thought
about Asuka. The Second Child clearly was not a fan of the First. Rei
wasn't sure why that was so, but she imagined it must be her own fault.
She recalled being cold to Asuka on more than one occasion. Asuka wasn't
that bad, really. From her friendship with Horaki it seemed like she
could be pretty nice, if given a chance. She was just misunderstood. Rei
decided that today she would make an effort to be nice to the red-head.
Shinji would probably like that.

     Suddenly an alarming possibility occurred to Rei. What if Asuka too
held unexpressed feelings for Shinji? That would be trouble. She had to
beat Asuka to him. Once they were together, the Second would be too
embarrassed to make a move. Even better, if she could make Asuka into a
friend instead of a rival, then she could solve two problems at once.

     Yes, everything will be wonderful.

     Rei got out of the shower, and returned to her room. She laid out
her clothes on her bed, then began to dress. She wiggled into her
panties, mourning that she had nothing more interesting than plain white
cotton. But perhaps it was better not to totally blow her Shin-chan's
mind all at once. He probably still thought of her as a reserved, shy
girl.

     She put on the rest of her clothes, finishing pulling the frock over
her head and adjusting the shoulders. She grabbed her bag and headed for
the door. She was almost to it when she saw the piece of paper taped to
the door on which was written:

     Take your medication.
      --Ayanami Rei

     Rei sighed, and returned to her room. In her excitement, she had
forgotten all about her medication. She had been very forgetful lately;
she couldn't even remember writing the odd note.  Rei shrugged, and used the beaker of water to swallow a pill
from each of the child-proof bottles. Then she turned and rushed out the
door.

     The bleak hallway did nothing to damper her spirits. She strode down
the hallway toward the stairs, and hummed a happy tune to herself she
couldn't remember having heard before.  she
promised herself, grinning, 

     Several minutes later, the front door to the apartment building
opened and Ayanami Rei staggered unwillingly into the sunlight. She
squinted and shielded her eyes from the bright morning sun with her hand.
She kept her hand up, and pressed it against her throbbing temple. Head
down, she began to walk slowly toward school.

     As she walked, the pain began to recede. She was halfway to school
when the headache finally vanished. Rei lowered her hand, and walked with
her normal brisk pace. Her head was upright, her eyes straight ahead, and
her face the expressionless mask that others identified as Ayanami Rei.

--

     Rei sat quietly on a folding chair beside a table inside one of the
many laboratories deep within NERV. Standing at the table, Dr. Akagi
Ritsuko watched the vial filled with blood she had just drawn from the
First Child spin in the centrifuge. The silence had been unbroken for
nearly an hour when Rei spoke.

     "She came again," Rei announced flatly.

     Ritsuko stopped the centrifuge and looked down at Rei. "What? When?"
she asked with concern.

     "This morning, when I woke up." 

     The Doctor grabbed a chair and sat down facing Rei. "Rei, tell me
what happened."

     "She was... in control as soon as I awoke. I had prepared, though,
and she took the pills. They worked quickly. By the time I left the
building, I was myself." She delivered the synopsis in her usual
monotone, but her hand clenching the hem of her dress betrayed her
feelings.

     "Were there any side effects?" Ritsuko asked.

     "I experienced a headache immediately after. It was short-lived."

     "I'm glad it worked," Ritsuko said. "I wasn't sure if it would in
that situation. The drug is a stabilizer, designed to be preventative."
She rubbed her chin and thought. "Though clearly not doing its job well
enough. We should consider increasing the dosage."

     "That would be acceptable," Rei said.

     "You might get more headaches though," Ritsuko warned, though she
knew it would not dissuade the First Child at all. "How much do you
remember this time?"

     Rei was silent for a moment. "Everything," she said softly. 

     Ritsuko nodded a little sadly, and decided not to press Rei any
further. She had only wanted to verify that the drug had not affected
Rei's memory.

     "So you will increase the dosage." It was a statement.

     "Yes, I will, Rei," she said. "Though I'm not sure it will work. The
last increase didn't help prevent this attack."

     "It must work," Rei said.

     "Rei, we must accept that the drug may not be the solution." The
Doctor leaned forward. "You know I am not an expert in this area. I can
only work from what I know about you and the project." There was always
the chance, Ritsuko worried, that this had nothing to do with the dummy
system. If that was true, this was outside of her realm of knowledge.
"Perhaps a psychologist-"
 
     Rei cut her off. "We have already discussed that," she said, a touch
of irritation in her voice.

     "I know, Rei, but I was thinking there must be some way to do it
surreptitiously."

     "Dr. Akagi," Rei said, looking at her, "the Commander must not
know." 

     "Of course," Ritsuko said reassuringly. "I promised that I would not
let him know, and I meant that. You know there are secrets I keep from
him."

     Rei nodded, seeming satisfied.

     "But Rei, you have to acknowledge that he might suspect after..."

     "He does not," Rei said, turning away. It was clear what Dr. Akagi
was speaking of, and Rei did not like being reminded of that night. The
night when the person who was not her had taken control while she was
eating dinner with the Commander. When that person had used her body to
seduce the man she most respected. She had returned to herself during it.
He had noticed her body become stiff and her eyes clinch shut in pain
just as he finished. He had staggered back, looking at her in horror at
what he had done.

     They had never spoken about that night, yet now all their meetings
were marred by tension. No longer would he place his hand comfortingly on
her shoulder. Whenever he smiled at her, Rei could see guilt carved
deeply into his face. She could hear it when he said her name. For this,
she would never forgive.

     "Rei," Ritsuko said and got off her chair to kneel in front of the
girl. "I understand you don't want to involve a psychologist. But we
already know that the drug isn't one hundred percent effective. At the
higher dosage it still may not be. What happens if she comes when you are
at school? Or in front of the Commander again?"

     "Dr. Akagi..." Rei's voice was barely audible. "Dr. Akagi, you must
find another way. A way to get rid of her. She... she was going to...
Ikari-kun..."

     "I will do my best." She stood up. "As you know, the project is my
highest priority. I will make this second. Does that sound acceptable?"

     "Yes, sir," Rei said, recovering her composure.

     "You can go now; I'll finish the rest myself. You can double your
dosage tomorrow, and next time you are here I will have a refill for
you."

     "Yes, sir," Rei said as she stood up. She walked to the door of the
lab. "Goodbye," she said, and left the lab in the direction of the
Commander's office.

     Rei walked briskly down the hall. She wanted to see the Commander,
but was nervous. She wished she knew how to make things right again, and
how to do it without telling him about /her/. She wasn't sure why, but
she felt it was important that he not know.

     

     Rei stopped in the middle of the hallway, with a puzzled look on her
face. She had forgotten where she was going. She remembered being with
Dr. Akagi... which meant that now she should be headed to dinner with the
Commander. 

     Even more important, she remembered, were her plans after dinner.
She smiled as visions of the night's activities moved through her mind.
Her excitement grew, and she had to suppress the urge to run down the
hall to the cafeteria.  she thought.  She
grinned as she walked.

--
end part 1

first posted 3/25/2000
wyrm@engin.umich.edu
http://www.umich.edu/~wyrm/abp