Neon Genesis Evangelion Fan Fiction ❯ Evangelion: Third Genesis ❯ Chapter 9

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Evangelion Third Genesis: Part Eight

The group of them left the clothing store about half an hour later, thankfully without any more interesting little incidents happening. One thing Misato noticed was the look that would appear on Asuka's face whenever Rei would step out of the changing room in each outfit, a pleasure at simply seeing the other girl.

Now as the head of NERV and her commander, it was making Misato nervous watching the two of them interact. But as Asuka's friend and sort- of guardian, she rather hoped it might continue. She hadn't seen Asuka opening up to someone like that before, and she thought it just might do the girl a great deal of good.

"So what do you think of the clothes?" Ritsuko asked Rei softly.

Rei smiled happily at the blonde scientist, "I like them." Even with her more healthy pink coloring the white blouse and blue skirt suited the dark blue haired girl very well, something that Asuka, at least, seemed to be noticing.

Asuka herself looked pretty good dressed in a pair of dark slacks and long sleeved shirt, almost like a privateer with that eye-patch. The redhead still seemed a bit self-conscious of the scars on her arms that she bore because of the battle for NERV headquarters, but Misato wasn't going to push her. She was just glad that Asuka had agreed to be a pilot again.

"Though I think you clothes look nice, too," Rei looked over at Asuka to say.

Asuka blushed, looking away even as she muttered, "Thank you."

"What's wrong?" Rei asked Asuka worriedly.

Misato had to fight the urge to laugh, 'That's so cute.' She noticed where their walking had taken them, and remembered something she had to do. "Would you mind if I take off for a few minutes?" she asked Ritsuko quietly.

Ritsuko looked around them, "What's going on?"

"The hospital Shinji is staying in is nearby here," Misato said to her quietly, "I wanted to stop in and see him."

"Shinji," Rei echoed, an odd look on her face. Softly, "I know that name."

Asuka felt a pang, having not really thought about her fellow pilot in days. But there was something more important to do as she asked Rei, "You do?"

"Hm," Rei nodded, frowning in concentration, "but I don't know from where."

Misato tried not to frown herself. It looked like Gendo had programmed Rei to recognize them all, then. She looked at Ritsuko, "Do you think we should...?"

Ritsuko shrugged, "I'm not sure, honestly."

"So why don't we all go up and visit him, then?" Maya quietly suggested. "That way if something unusual does happen, we'll all be there to help," the dark haired younger woman added.

"Sounds like a plan," Asuka offered.

Misato puffed out a breath, then nodded. "We'll lock up the bags of clothes in the jeep, then head over to see Shinji," she ordered.

They quickly did just that, and soon the five of them were quietly riding an hospital elevator to an upper floor, each lost in their own thoughts.

Ritsuko looked over at Maya again, and noticed her smiling up at her happily. She looked away quickly as quickly as she could, but felt an odd feeling lingering in her stomach. If she was honest with herself, she'd actually call it excitement on being out in the city with Maya, spending time with her away from their work.

'Even with all these chaperones,' an amused Ritsuko looked over at the other three standing in the elevator with her.

'I wonder what's going on with Sempai?' Maya thought. She had noticed that something had been going on with Ritsuko all day, but what exactly it was she didn't know. What ever it was, it seemed to have begun when Misato and Ritsuko had been talking this morning.

Maya looked over at Misato with a fierce frown and thought, 'What did you say to Sempai to disturb her so much?'

Misato felt the glare and looked over to see Maya's fierce gaze. 'Now what did I do?' Misato wondered. She turned back to look at Asuka and Rei talking softly. Silently, she prayed she wasn't making a mistake, allowing them to be friends like this. Part of her, the military side, still thought it might have been a bad idea to have let Rei out of that containment chamber, but as a human being, it was the right choice to make.

'Which doesn't mean it's not going to bite me on the ass in the end,' Misato thought wryly.

Asuka noted Misato's thoughtful frown, but decided not to disturb her thoughts. She looked down at Rei and smiled slightly, the young woman was studying the elevator with a kind of innocent fascination. It was really odd, how Rei had been given certain kinds of knowledge related to NERV and the EVAs, but still being so utterly clueless about other things.

The elevator bumped to a stop, and Asuka reached over to steady Rei slightly. "Are you all right?" she asked her quietly.

Rei smiled up at her, "I'm fine."

Asuka turned away as they went down the hallway together, and Rei found herself looking up at her thoughtfully. The red-orange hair seemed almost like fire dancing around the girl's head, matching the fiery personality that she knew Asuka had. But that fire seemed to warm Rei, in a way that she wasn't entirely sure she understood. All she really knew was that she liked being around Asuka, whenever she possibly could.

A dark haired man was standing at a door just up the hallway, and he turned to look at them as they approached. "General Kisaragi," he nodded to Misato.

"General?" a startled Ritsuko asked Misato softly.

"The promotion came through," Misato answered irritably, "I just haven't received the appropriate rank insignia just yet." She looked over at the doctor, "How is he?"

"There's been no change," the doctor shook his head, "he's resting quite comfortably, and we're feeding him intravenously."

"And there's no response to outside stimulus?" Ritsuko asked curiously.

"None," he shook his head. He noticed the time, "Excuse me, I need to go on my rounds."

Misato watched him go, then with a soft sigh said, "We'd better go in." She pushed the door open, leading into a quite normal looking hospital room.

The window curtains blew gently, sunlight streaming in to light up the figure who was laying there on the bed. Shinji Ikari's dark hair was messy, and he almost looked like he was only fast asleep. However, most young boys sleeping wouldn't have tubes and wires attached to them, monitoring each and every flutter of heartbeat or alteration in brain waves. But the very oddest thing about him was the look on his face.

During Shinji's time piloting the EVA, lines of strain had begun to show on his face, aging him prematurely. Each battle strained him in different ways, each had cost him, one way or the other. But the boy laying there seemed to be entirely at peace. From the look on his face, you might even say that he was... happy.

Misato walked over to the side of his bed, gently taking Shinji's hand in her own. "Hello, Shin-chan," she said softly, "I'm here to see you again."

Asuka stood there frozen, gazing at Shinji and trying to separate memory from fantasy. 'He couldn't have tried to strangle me,' she thought of the hazy memories she retained after everything went to hell, 'I didn't really say that I hated him, did I?'

"Shinji," Maya started, only to trail off. She hadn't really known him very well, and looking down at the boy laying there in a coma she felt a sudden stab of regret. She should have at least have tried to get to know him.

Ritsuko moved over to the other side, looking down at Shinji pensively. This was as much her responsibility as anyone else's, she had helped build and maintain the EVAs, and had been quite willing to let Gendo manipulate his son into a pilot's seat.

"It's been awhile, Shinji," Ritsuko said softly, sitting down beside him.

They were all startled by a soft voice speaking quite clearly, "He's not there." The looked in surprise at Rei, who was gazing down at Shinji quite oddly.

"What do you mean?" Asuka looked over at Rei curiously as she tried to understand, "Do you mean he's in a coma?"

"No," Rei shook her head firmly. "I mean," she gazed down at Shinji's body with an odd intensity, "a piece of him, his... spirit is gone. It's not there anymore."

Ritsuko looked over at Rei intently, "Do you know where it is?"

Rei hesitated, shaking her head wildly, holding the sides of her head as if it pained her. Without thinking about it Asuka stepped up, grasping her by the shoulders to help steady her and receiving a grateful smile in return.

"Your hurting her," Asuka growled out, for a moment showing a flash of the old temper that had been so feared around NERV.

"It's all right," Rei said to her softly. She looked up, meeting Misato, Ritsuko, and Maya's gazes, "I don't know exactly where he is. What I do know is that he's out... there." She then pointed straight up towards the roof.

The four of them looked at Rei oddly for a moment, then a light seemed to dawn for Misato. She took a half step backward, thumping into then sitting down hard into a plastic hospital chair. "No way," she said weakly.

"What? What!" Ritsuko looked like she was ready to shake Misato.

"After all the craziness died down we got a satellite photo of Unit 01," Misato murmured softly almost to herself, "moving through outer space under it's own power. I guess I just never considered the idea that it's pilot might be along for the ride."

To be continued...