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You Could be Mine
By Daniel Snyder 

--

White moonlight fell on white rose petals and refracted off the water
droplets that moistened them. Aida Kensuke clutched the bunch to his
chest, as if afraid some demon or angel would snatch it right out of his
hands. His fingertips tapped nervously on the thorns of the stems.

He made his way up to the fourth floor of the run-down apartment building
and knocked on the door. Again, as he had done so many times before, he
looked around at the decaying urban jungle around him, and prayed that the
apartment complex wouldn't fall over while he was there. All he was asking
for was a few tens of minutes, maybe an hour, to set his soul at ease.

Kensuke came round again as Ayanami Rei opened the door. She was still
dressed in her school uniform. Behind her, the light in her bedroom was
on; perhaps she had been reading. The light behind her threw a shadow on
her face, and the moonlight in front of her gave her a countenance of
talc.

"Aida-kun...good evening."

"Hi, Rei."

"This is unexpected. You didn't say when you would come back." She looked
at the bouquet in his arms. "Those are flowers. Why have you brought
flowers with you?"

Kensuke breathed in deeply, squared his shoulders and gently passed the
roses towards her. "These are for you, Rei. I'd like to...like to talk to
you about something."

Rei blinked with confusion. She looked dumbly from the flowers to Kensuke
and back again. After a quarter of a minute she said, "Flowers? For me?"

"Yes, they're for you."

"How strange, nobody else gives me flowers. And you said that you would
like to talk to me? Ah..." Rei looked over her shoulder and then stepped
back from the door. "Then, please come in. I'll show you where to sit."

She took the bouquet out of Kensuke's arms and led the way back to the
apartment. For a moment, Kensuke couldn't move. His mouth quivered and he
sniffled. Then he resumed his posture and strode manfully down the
hallway. Rei was already waiting for him at the kitchen. She pointed to
the one chair there. "Please sit down."

"Thank you."

Kensuke took his seat and made eye contact with her again. Rei had waited
to make sure that the chair was supporting him; then her attention
returned to the flowers. She held them up at arms length in front of her:
one dozen white roses, with whisk ferns and babysbreath, wrapped up in
tissue paper.

He saw her palid face, and compared it to the white of the flowers and the
green in the tiny ferns. There was no comparison to him; her face was like
life born into pure snow, innocence and delicacy given, not taken with a
pair of shears by an uncaring businessman. The way her eyes traced the
fragile geometry of the petals... he almost lost his self-control, but
managed to say, "You know, you'll have to put them in water..."

Rei nodded slowly, thinking. She walked over to the kitchen cabinet and
pulled out one tumbler, then another, and set them on the countertop.

"Wait, Rei. That's not right."

Rei turned and watched as Kensuke stood up from his chair and tried to
walk towards her. His eyes were watering.

Rei spoke again as he reached her. "Would the teapot do, Aida-kun?
Aida-kun? What is the matter?"

Aida Kensuke was holding onto her fiercely, fighting against a sliding
grip. Spasms of wailing, of his own sobbing, were wracking his body so
hard he was bending over at the waist. He didn't even have the presence of
mind to notice when his glasses fell off of his face, bouncing on the
linoleum before finally coming to a rest.

Rei stared at Kensuke for a few long moments. Then she looked from the
bouquet to the glasses and back again before she acted. She slipped the
flowers under Kensuke's arm, then picked up his glasses and put them back
on his face, with some difficulty. As she tried to extract the flowers
again, another wave of crying came over him, and his glasses fell off once
more. She dropped the flowers, put them back in Kensuke's arms, reached
for the glasses, caught the flowers as he dropped them and was cradling
them and maneuvering his glasses into place when his emotions completely
overcame him and he slumped forward, squarely into Rei's midsection. She
ended up sprawled on her backside with Kensuke's glasses and the bouquet
held at arm's length off the floor as Kensuke himself cried his eyes out
on her stomach. Between gasped breath he was saying, "I'm sorry, I'm so
sorry," over and over again.

"Aida-kun? What is the matter?"

Kensuke brought his breathing under control, and whispered as loudly as he
could, "I'm sorry, Rei. But it's things like that that make me love you."

Rei waited to see if he had anything more to say before she replied, "But
you already told me you love me, Aida-kun."

He nodded his head, then raised himself up to a kneeling position and took
his glasses from Rei. After he put them on, he kept his eyes downcast and
touched the side of his head. "That's what I wanted to talk to you about,
Rei."

While she sat up to listen, he continued. "I'm sorry, and I've come here
to ask you to forgive me. You see, I know I told you that I loved you,
but..."

"But what, Aida-kun?"

"It all goes back to when Touji became the Fourth." He tried looking at
her, but couldn't bring himself to do it and cast his glance back down
again. "I was so angry. Maybe it was because I hadn't been picked, or
maybe because Touji hadn't trusted me. It doesn't matter. I was angry. I
was so angry that I swore I'd find out everything I could about how they
chose the Children...and pretty soon, it became that I'd find out
everything there was to know about NERV.

"So I thought to myself that you could help me. You know more than Shinji
and Asuka put together know about NERV. And...my God, it hurts me to say
this, Rei...I thought you'd be easy to manipulate."

"Manipulate, Aida-kun?"

"Yeah. Because you don't have any friends, and you don't know about real
life, or anything. So I came on to you, hoping that I could pry
information out of you. And you know, it worked."

"Yes, it did."

Kensuke nodded silently. He took off his glasses again and wiped his eyes.
It was hard for him to see. "At first, it was wonderful. You told me
everything I'd been hoping to learn...all about Eva construction, about
the Magi, anything I'd ask you you told me everything. But Rei, one day I
realized that it was going too easy. That's when the scales fell out of my
eyes...it sunk in that, dammit, you trusted me."

"Yes, I trusted everything you said, Aida-kun."

"Well, Rei, you know what? I'm a son of a bitch!" he shouted. "I lied to
you! I had you tell me all kinds of top secret secrets, and then twisted
your heart around my finger when you thought you were going too far! I
gave you cheap gifts just so you thought I cared! And you know what?
Sneaking me into the Geofront isn't any kind of a date at all! That was
just so I could take a look around, for crying out loud you could get
COURTMARTIALED for that!"

He waited until Rei's grip on the flowers had relaxed and she was
breathing steadily again before he started his conclusion. "That's how
things were, up until Asuka had...whatever it was happen to her while she
was piloting. And I realized that I could lose you. I can't...I can't tell
you how much that that would hurt me. To try to live without all those
questions you bug me with, or the way you look at me when I say something
that I think is stupid...the kinds of things that I didn't mean when I
first talked to you...like I'm saying now, for instance.

"Rei, if I make you feel empty and you hate me, I forgive you. I came here
tonight 'cause I don't want to live lies. Rei, I love you. Really,
honestly. Please forgive me for using you. Please, let's start over."

Rei was quiet for a long time after Kensuke had finished. It was
impossible for the young boy to read her emotions. At length she spoke
quietly. "Do you really think that they could courtmartial me for what
I've done...?"

Kensuke took her question seriously before he shook his head. "No. If
everything you've told me is right, then they'd probably have killed me by
now, or will kill me soon. You're safe. You're a pilot."

"Aida-kun..." Still holding her flowers, Rei half-picked herself up and
sat on the kitchen floor to be beside Kensuke. There was just enough light
to cast two shadows on the linoleum, surrounded by an incandescent halo.
"Aida-kun, if it wasn't love before, then what is love? How will I know
that it's love this time?" She set the bouquet on the floor next to where
she sat.

Kensuke looked about on the floor for some time before he cleared his
throat and put his hands on Rei's. "Now, listen. You know what I said
before, about how I said stupid things that made you and me both feel
good?"

"Yes."

"If I do a lot of stupid things, and they make you feel good, and if you
want to do and say good stupid things, then that's love. If you do
something for someone, and it makes you feel good inside, that's love
too."

"It is?"

"Yes. It really, really is that simple."

The two fell silent again. Then they drew closer; two children sitting
side by side, holding each other tightly, four eyes closed, feeling their
blood flowing inside their bodies and spinning their souls together.

"Rei?"

"Yes, Aida-kun?"

"Would you ever consider...giving up being a pilot?"

"No, Aida-kun."

"Rei, think about it. If you did, you'd be safe. I wouldn't have to worry
about losing you in some freak accident with an Evangelion, and...and I
wouldn't even be tempted to talk to you about NERV."

"But Aida-kun...I couldn't have Ikari...I mean, you know that defeating
the Angels is my purpose in life. And if what you said before is true,
then I must not go, or I will be courtmartialed for espionage, and you
might be killed."

Silence descended over the apartment for a little while before Kensuke
spoke with a husk in his voice. "Rei...I swear to God, someday I will get
you out of this damned city, and you and I will go far away and forget
everything that's happened here."

"That's a very foolish thing to say, Aida-kun. They won't let you or me
go. Not now. Not ever, I don't think."

"I know."

"But it feels good to hear you promise that. And I believe you."

"So it must be love, then."

"It must be."




"And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two
foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the
greatest treasures of their house."--O. Henry, _The Gift of the Magi_
--
Copyright 1999 Daniel Snyder. Permission granted to duplicate in any
digital/binary/e-mail form; however, any physical printout is strictly
prohibited. Shin Seiki/Neon Genesis Evangelion is the intellectual
property of GAINAX. Any resemblance between persons living or deceased is
purely coincidental. A dedication to my prereaders, who made this sudden
effort such a rewarding one for me. ;-)

Daniel Snyder
dsnydder@gunnm-seraphim.org