Neon Genesis Evangelion Fan Fiction ❯ Evangelion: Inochi no Ki ❯ The First Calm ( Chapter 5 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Chapter Five: The First Calm

“Shinji-kun?”

“Yeah, Ayanami?” Shinji looked up from the assignment he was working on, barely registering that Katsuragi-sensei wasn’t in the room. Must be why she’s talking to me during class.

Rei leaned in closely, barely making a sound. “Have you had any luck fighting the Angels?”

Shinji looked away. Neither he nor Kei had seen anything looking like an Angel in the past week.

“You only have forty-nine weeks and three days, then,” Rei noted calmly. Shinji hated how she could just give him numbers like that, almost as if the numbers were completely disconnected from reality. Besides, forty-nine weeks was a long time.

“We’ll find them,” he reassured her. “It’s just hard. Mother says they can hide by assuming human form.”

Rei frowned slightly. “How is Kei doing?” she whispered.

“She’s fine,” Shinji replied, looking around the room. A few people were goofing off, but no one was paying much attention to their conversation. One girl, some sort of foreign exchange student (along with her brother) saw him and waved, however. He waved back and turned to Rei. “Besides, she’s got a much better Eva than I do.”

“Eva?”

“That’s what the weapons are called,” Shinji explained. “Mine is labeled Eva-01, hers Eva-00.”

“Is that some sort of gun brand?”

Shinji laughed. “No. Hers isn’t a gun. Why hasn’t she told you all of this?”

Rei shook her head. “She muttered something about keeping ‘beta testing’ a secret, and hid it somewhere in her room.”

“Beta testing? That’s for video games…” Shinji looked over at Kei, who seemed to be working laboriously. Shinji personally suspected she was doodling. “Well-”

“I’m sure passing isn’t important to either of you love birds, but the rest of us would like to work without a bunch of whispering in the background.”

Shinji and Rei turned to Asuka, who was glaring coolly. She’d been especially hostile to the two of them since they’d started going out, and Shinji couldn’t figure out why. They’d been best friends for ages, why would she care if he had a girlfriend?

Rei wasn’t sure what Asuka’s problem was either. The two girls had never gotten along very well before, but actual animosity hadn’t been part of their relationship. She’d also asked Kei, who’d just looked at Rei for a few seconds in disgust before rolling her eyes and trying to go back to her homework.

Rather than get into a fight, Rei calmly retreated to her desk and began to work on the assignment.

In all fairness to the redhead, Asuka had regretted snapping soon after she’d done so, but what was done was done. She looked back down at her own paper, and frowned. I’m in a college class! She thought angrily. It shouldn’t be this hard to do an assignment for 8th grade!

The end of the day bell rang, and Katsuragi-sensei walked back into the classroom, looking a bit frazzled. “Well,” she said, “You all can have the evening to finish the paper. I expect it turned in next week first thing. Class dismissed.”

“Rise! Bow!” Hikari shouted out, and the class stood up and bowed their heads in unison as Katsuragi-sensei left. Hikari then turned to Asuka, ready to say something, but saw in shock that the girl had already left the classroom. She frowned.

“Soryu has been particularly unfriendly lately.”

Hikari swung around. “Nagisa!” she hissed. “Don’t talk about her like that! She’s just having a bad time lately.”

Kaworu shrugged. “I don’t think that having a bad life is a justification,” he said, his smile as broad as ever. “It wouldn’t kill anyone to be polite.”

Hikari took a deep breath. When she’d found out she was going to be Class Representative, she’d been immensely excited, but actually having to deal with these students in a way that didn’t allow her to yell at them had proven to be the most immensely painful thing she’d ever attempted.

“Look, Nagisa,” she said. “That’s your opinion, but Asuka and I are friends. She’s probably just in a rush to get to classes. She does have college courses Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.”

Nagisa shook his head. “Have you looked at the expressions on her face?” he asked. “It should be readily apparent that she wants nothing less than to be as far away from this school building as possible.”

Hikari looked around, hoping to find someone she could go talk to. Shinji and the Ayanami twins were discussing something in hushed tones, so she decided not to bother them… A few other students were talking in a group, including those two siblings from Italy… Aida was filming Suzuhara.

Suzuhara!

“Excuse me, I really have to go,” Hikari said, gathering her stuff and walking away as quickly as she could without seeming rude. “Suzuhara-san!” she said. “Can we talk for a moment?”

He turned to her. “Uh… sure...” he said. “What about?”

“Anything,” she whispered. “I don’t want to be around Nagisa.”

“Oh.” Toji scratched the side of his face for a moment. “Uh… How’s your family?”

“Nozomi and Kodama are fine. Nozomi hates being back at school, of course…” Hikari sighed. It had been so much easier to talk to Suzuhara last year. What had changed? “So, uhm, how about your sister?”

Toji laughed. “She’s gotten more hyperactive than ever. I’m telling you, she never stops running. Probably gonna run head first into someone someday, and not even notice.”

They stood there a few moments, shuffling awkwardly. Aida had stopped filming them, muttering about “finding something more interesting”. In this case, “interesting” meant scanning the relatively empty skies for anything flying.

“You know,” Toji remarked, “I can’t believe Katsuragi-sensei brought up the senior high entrance exams. They’re nearly two years away!”

“That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t study.”

“Yeah, but it does mean we shouldn’t be obsessing over it,” Toji countered. “I mean, yeah, I know it’s the test that will decide the high school we go to and that from there we’ll be able to obsess about college entrance, but still. It’s just a test…”

Hikari decided to just drop it. “Okay,” she said. “But don’t slack off.”

Aida looked at both of them for a moment, shook his head, and walked away.

Half a city away, Asuka dumped her books on her college desk and sat down quickly. No one stared at her any more. She looked up at the chalk board and sighed. The professor was making notes about something called “sin-1(x)”. She frowned and looked over her notes. “Sin2(x)” meant “sine squared,” did that mean this was one over sine?

“No,” the man sitting next to her said.

Asuka blinked. She hadn’t realized she’d been talking out loud. “Then, uh… I don’t suppose you could explain it?” she asked. The professor had drawn a graph on the board, but it looked just as incomprehensible as the notation he used.

“It’s easy,” her sudden helper replied, leaning in to explain.

When he’d finished, Asuka nodded, smiling. “That’s not so bad,” she remarked. “But what does this have to do with calculus?”

“I dunno. I’m here to learn, after all,” the man said, smiling. “I just remember inverse trig functions from something I did last semester.”

“Oh.” Right, all of these college students would have advantages over her; they’d all had more years to learn about useless trivia like “inverse trig functions”. What did trigonometry have to do with calculus anyways?

“So,” the man said, “you’re awfully young to be a student here.”

Asuka frowned. “So? Half the stuff they teach at my school is for beginners. Calculus is something that sounds actually worth bothering with.”

“Do you even know what ‘calculus’ is about?” The man seemed strangely amused.

“Uh… Well, no, but…”

“Counting an infinite number of infinitesimal objects,” he replied. “Sounds too futile to bother with.”

Asuka shook her head and turned back up to the front of the room as class began. She took copious notes about everything the professor spoke of, and would have left this classroom as quickly as she’d left the junior high if the man hadn’t spoken to her again.

“Do you know how to play Go?” he asked.

She didn’t turn back to him as she answered. “Not really,” she admitted.

“Want to learn?”

Asuka turned back to the man and sized him up. He looked like he was nearly thirty and stubbornly refusing to act his age; from the poor state of his shirt to his ponytail. Asuka couldn’t help but bed disapproving of a man who wouldn’t act his age, but, at least he seemed harmless enough.

“I guess.”

Yui’s first reaction after seeing the black splotches on her hand was amusement. She worked with so many chemicals throughout the day that strange colorations of her skin weren’t anything special. Rather than worry, she stood up, walked to a restroom, and began to wash her hands. …and continued to wash them, lathering them with soap again and again. Only when they were red from the washing were they clean.

The next day, the marks were back.

Chapter 4
Chapter 6
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