Neon Genesis Evangelion Fan Fiction ❯ Evangelion: Third Genesis ❯ Chapter 24
Evangelion Third Genesis: Part Twenty-Three
"She did what?" Misato blurted, the black haired woman looking over at Ritsuko in surprise. They carried the takeout bags from the door to the kitchen table, Pen Pen looking up at them eagerly, so Misato casually slipped the penguin a treat before he bolted. Her black shirt and matching pants suited her, especially with her red jacket on.
"Shh!" Ritsuko scolded, the blonde scientist putting a hand on Misato's arm. "Maya proposed to me earlier this evening," she said, holding up a hand where the engagement ring gleamed on her finger, "but don't tell the others, yet."
"Why?" Misato raised her eyebrows.
"For one," Ritsuko made a face as she stopped them, her dress swirling around her legs, "we're going to have to gently break this to Maya's parents."
Misato snickered softly, the two standing there in the hallway. "You mean her parents don't know about you," she asked, "or do they not know she's gay?"
"Both," Ritsuko sighed.
"You may want to keep this quiet," Misato said as they started out again, "but Asuka and Rei are going to notice that ring."
Back in the kitchen Asuka calmly took a garbage bad and swept all the garbage off the table, Rei following to pick up the beer cans for recycling. "You two do this often?" Maya asked, watching the two and sweatdropping slightly.
"Occasionally," a smiling Asuka agreed, the orange haired girl's right eye twinkling merrily. Combined with her eyepatch it gave her a oddly rebellious look, almost like some troublesome pirate right out of an old movie.
"Misato is getting better about cleaning up," Rei offered mildly, the simple sundress that she wore hugging her slim body. She went over to the sink and wrung out a washcloth then wiped down the dining table smoothly.
"True," Asuka agreed, giving Rei a fond look as she added, "who knows, maybe we'll have her well trained... in a few years."
Maya smiled slightly, watching them standing so close together. "So how has it been, going back to school?" she asked the two of them curiously, Maya still dressed in her NERV uniform pants and a white button up shirt.
"A little odd," Asuka acknowledged, getting some juice from the fridge. "Most of the others are still the same, but I'm different," she shrugged.
There was a ghost of a smile on Rei's lips as she quietly added, "And I think they have no idea what to make of me."
Maya had to admit it, but Rei was right. The differences between the previous incarnations of Rei and the current one were extreme, and not just in the personality. Fully healthy and vibrant. Rei's body didn't look as undernourished and delicate as it once had. Along with that she smiled more, a gentleness in her voice and manner so different from the remote qualities she had once had.
Ritsuko and Misato walked down the hallway into the brightly lit kitchen, the two of them talking away cheerfully. "Thanks for clearing off the table," Misato said, carrying the cartons over and sitting them down on the table.
"You're welcome," Rei smiled. She took a deep breath as the cartons were opened, sighing happily, "Oh, that smells good."
Misato set the containers down in the middle of the table then she handed out chopsticks and paper plates for them all. "You really don't like having to do dishes, do you?" Maya offered shyly, crisply snapping apart her chopsticks.
Ritsuko snickered softly as she poured juice into her cup, "You have no idea."
Asuka blinked, seeing the gold ring with a classy diamond on Ritsuko's finger. "What's with the ring?" she asked curiously.
Both Maya and Ritsuko went red while Misato laughed suddenly. "Told you she'd spot it," Misato said cheerfully.
"It's an engagement ring," Ritsuko said, trying to end the conversation right there.
Asuka broke into a grin as she looked over at Maya and exclaimed, "You popped the question? Good for you!"
Maya was blushing fiercely even as Rei mildly asked, "What does engagement mean?"
"Ritsuko and Maya are going to have a public ceremony," Misato said as she loaded up her plate, "to declare their bonds of love and pledge to stay together."
"That was a very poetic description," Asuka looked over at Misato in surprise.
Ritsuko and the others followed Misato's lead to fill their own plates. "Considering there was a time Misato and I were going to weddings every few months," Ritsuko remarked, "I guess she's had a lot of time to think about it."
Misato sighed dramatically as she lamented, "I can't believe my lesbian best friend is actually getting married before me."
"Which reminds me," Ritsuko said conversationally, "We're going to need a best man and some bridesmaids." She looked around the table pointedly, "Any volunteers?"
"Sempai," Maya scolded then she looked over at the others apologetically, "Don't let her pressure you into anything."
Misato smiled as she took a drink of her juice, "Well, I'm in."
"I'd like to help," Asuka agreed while Rei also nodded curiously.
"Thanks," Ritsuko said, smiling around the table. She puffed out a breath, "You know, if a few months ago someone had told me that I was getting married, I'd have laughed."
Maya reached out to put her hand on Ritsuko's, "Then I'm glad that things have changed so much, my love."
Misato smiled as she watched Asuka and Rei talking together softly, Asuka quietly filling in Rei on some of the details of weddings. "I hate to bring up business," she slurped up some noodles, "but what's the status on the Archangel?"
"Ninety percent complete," Ritsuko answered her crisply, "though the software side may take us a bit longer to finish."
Before Misato could ask Maya cut in, "Ritsuko and the Magi are the primary programmers for the software, I'm being kept occupied supervising the construction teams."
"Ah," Misato nodded.
Asuka looked curiously over at Ritsuko as she asked her, "So what's it like, working so closely with the Magi?"
"It feels very odd," Ritsuko admitted as she ate, "she reminds me so much of my mother at times, but so different, too."
Misato nodded gravely as she mused, "I don't know how I'd feel, having my father reappear in some other form."
"At least Magi seems to be satisfied that I'm all right for Ritsuko," Maya offered cheerfully. An odd look suddenly appeared on her face as she asked, "Are you going to tell Magi about us being engaged, sempai?"
"Damn," Ritsuko blinked as the others chuckled.
The hospital room was quiet the next day as the morning sunlight streamed inside, curtains blowing inward from a cooling breeze. The room was almost entirely white, with only a few bits of color scattered about on cards, in the fresh flowers and a few other items. The bed itself looked quite comfortable, the figure on it laying flat on his back as various pieces of medical equipment beeped softly, monitoring his condition.
Shinji Ikari lay under the white sheets, his brown hair grown out a bit from the months that he had lain there asleep. His expression was oddly peaceful, the lines of strain that had been developing on his face erased by the balm of sleep. He was healthy, nutrients coming in via his IV drip, his breath coming nice and regular but other than that he showed no signs of life.
Then, there was the slightest sign of movement. Beneath an eyelid the eye moved, just slightly, and after a few moments Shinji opened up his eyes. After gazing at the ceiling hesitantly he pushed himself up, arms weakened by how long he had lain there, then rubbed at his eyes.
"Where am I...?" Shinji rasped out, his voice rough from sleep. He looked around the white room, frowning in thought, then looked down at himself at first sleepily, then with growing alarm. "Oh my GOD...."
To be continued....