Neon Genesis Evangelion Fan Fiction ❯ Evangelion: Third Genesis ❯ Chapter 22
Evangelion Third Genesis: Part Twenty-one
The school was quiet as Hikari Horaki stood outside waiting patiently, her black haired tied back in two tails, her school uniform crisp and neat. She looked up, eyes widening slightly in surprise, then narrowing as she studied them.
Rei Ayanami walked along calmly, the blue schoolgirl's fuku that she wore nearly the same shade of her hair, her red eyes gentled somehow from what they had been. Beside her Asuka Langley was dressed in a crisp black schoolboy's uniform that combined with the black eyepatch made her look boldly dangerous, almost rebellious.
As they grew near her she heard Rei murmur to Asuka, "We know her, don't we."
Asuka nodded as she answered, "Hikari Horaki."
Hikari blinked, wondering why Rei might not recognize her. She offered Asuka a smile, thinking how much the girl had changed as she said, "It's been awhile."
"I tried to call you," Asuka met her eyes as she answered quietly, "but things just kind of ran away with me."
Hikari nodded slightly in return. She looked over at Rei and mustered a tentative smile as she offered, "Good morning."
Rei surprised her with a warm smile, the slightly smaller girl bowing just a bit as she said, "It's nice to meet you again."
Hikari blinked, looking at Rei oddly as she answered, "Ah.. right."
Asuka took her by the arm as she turned to Rei, "Excuse us a moment." With that she tugged Hikari aside, not that far from where Rei waited.
"What's going on?" Hikari blinked.
"Rei was injured in the final battle," Asuka decided to keep things as simple as possible, "and was left with partial amnesia. She's been acting like this ever since."
"She even looks healthier," Hikari noted as she peered over Asuka's shoulder at Rei, "she doesn't have that odd pasty color anymore."
"We've got her eating regularly now," Asuka shrugged, improvising as quickly as she could.
Hikari looked up at her thoughtfully for a moment, knowing that the other girl wasn't telling her everything. "You're holding something back," she said aloud, "but I'm sure that you'll tell me when you're ready."
"But...." Asuka started.
Hikari smiled, enjoying seeing her off balance a bit. "Come on," she grabbed Asuka then Rei's hands, "if we don't hurry we'll be late."
"So how are Aida," Asuka managed to breathlessly ask as they all but jogged along together across the yard, "and Toji?"
Hikari felt her cheeks reddening a bit, "Aida is fine, and Toji...." She took a deep breath, "We're dating, now."
"Good for you," Asuka smiled.
"Congratulations," Rei said mildly.
"Thanks," Hikari said with a blush.
Hikari lead them into the classroom, studying their reactions as subtlety as possible. Rei seemed eager, looking around her curiously, while Asuka was a bit more subdued. She looked around, lost in her memories, and Hikari felt a moment of pity for her.
'Not that I'd ever tell her that,' Hikari thought wryly.
Hikari had gotten to know Asuka pretty well during the Angels crisis, but this woman standing beside her was a bit different. The brash, almost obnoxious self confidence she had shown had been replaced by a quiet strength. The physical change, they eyepatch and boy's suit, were almost secondary to that inner shift.
"Hey, we're on time," the blonde haired boy stopped cold in the doorway, gazing at Asuka and Rei. His face broke into a smile as Aida said, "You're back!"
Asuka's lips twitched up into a smile, "Always stating the obvious."
Toji came in next, the lanky dark haired boy still leaning a bit awkwardly on his cane. He looked a bit warily at Asuka, "You aren't going to get violent again, are you?"
Asuka actually grinned back at that as she said, "I don't know, you haven't really given me a reason yet."
"You two," Hikari scolded, moving over to stand by Toji. He smiled down at her and she took his hand, squeezing it gently.
"Aren't they disgusting?" Aida complained good naturedly.
Rei shook her head seriously as she answered, "No, they're not."
"So," Toji leaned up against the window, his expression serious, "how's Shinji? We've been up to visit him but the doctors won't tell us anything."
There was the oddest look on Asuka's face, sorrow, regret even a bit of guilt. "Still in a coma," Asuka finally answered softly, "the doctors can't find anything physically wrong with him. The psychiatrists think he's retreated from reality somehow."
'She's not telling the whole truth,' Hikari blinked, looking at Asuka curiously.
Aida looked over at Asuka and Rei eagerly, "So are you two still pilots?"
"Yes," Rei answered serenely.
Toji shook his head, his eyes haunted as he said, "There is no way you are ever talking me into climbing into one of those things again."
The afternoon sun lit the office in NERV as the three women sat around in relaxed poses, another lady putting cups of coffee out. "Is there anything else I can get you, ma'am?" Himiko asked, the young woman pushing her gray hair back.
"We're fine," Misato reassured her.
"I'll hold your calls," Himiko bowed slightly before leaving.
"You know, I think she likes you," Ritsuko noted.
"No," Misato shook her head firmly as she continued on, "Himiko's a good kid, but I don't think she goes that way."
"You wanted an update on Unit Alpha?" Maya gently changed the subject with a smile. At Misato's nod she continued, "The internals and pilot interface systems are completed, we only need to ready the external armor."
"Sounds good," Misato said. She frowned, "I've heard some disturbing reports on the rogue EVAs. Several nations appear to be making progress in bringing them fully operational, something I thought required information only we had."
"In theory, yes," Maya answered quite promptly, "but they may have acquired the information some other way."
Ritsuko spoke up, "We have been hacked before, once by the Angels and by the UN among other parties. The information might have gotten out that way."
"Marvelous," Misato sighed.
"I've consulted with Magi," Ritsuko looked visually uncomfortable as she continued, "we're trying to determine if the information was removed, but it's hard to be certain."
Misato looked over at her friend thoughtfully as she asked, "So what's it like working with the Magi now?"
"Very odd," Ritsuko admitted, "her personality is very like my mother's was but also fundamentally different."
"It can be a bit disconcerting," Maya admitted, "I was working with Magi on a problem even as she was quizzing me on being a proper match for her daughter."
Misato nearly choked on her coffee. "You're kidding me?" she blurted.
Ritsuko looked equally surprised. "Remind me to have a little talk with my mother," she sat back with a sigh.
To be continued....