Neon Genesis Evangelion Fan Fiction ❯ Play it Again Shinji ❯ Part 5 ( Chapter 5 )

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

Play it Again Shinji
By Ret Nuh
Part 5
 
A/N: Standard boiler issue statement- Evangelion and its characters are the property of Gainax and its subsidiaries. I hold no authority over this story and will delete all traces of it if told to by the proper owners.
 
(A/N: Revision. There were no changes made to this fanfic story wise, I just didn't like how long each of the 3 parts were so I broke them up into 7 shorter more readable sections. Plus I did another proofread to it to catch some of the remaining grammatical errors. Along with this I ran my story thru a text to speech program to catch even more errors than I usually do. Now after multiple proofreads is this story perfect and free of grammatical errors? Hell no. I royally suck at proof reading but now it should be readable.)
 
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“Unit-03 is now to be classified as the thirteenth Angel. Launch the Eva's” Gendo ordered.
 
“AHEM” Misato said loudly standing on the deck below reminding him that she was in fact still around this time.
 
Gendo slinked down in his chair “Ah…yes, Umm… sorry about that Major.”
 
The Tactician's Officer then took over and ordered “Launch Eva Units 00, 01, and 02.”
 
“Yes Ma'am.”
 
Ritsuko was watching everything that was going on very carefully. Technically she was supposed to be at the Matsushiro site overseeing the startup. But the commander changed the operation to a remote startup. He cited safety concerns over the production quality of Unit-03 and didn't want to risk the loss of his personal in the event of a malfunction similar to Unit-04. Concern over the loss of personal was a relatively new thing for Gendo to display, along with a whole host of other emotions she had seen Gendo have over the past couple months. All this made Ritsuko suspicious. And combined with the scare she had just gotten she wasn't sure if what she was thinking was a strange coincidence or a valid thought.
 
Earlier during the startup sequence she was giving out orders to her crew when Maya picked up some ominous reading. Ritsuko rushed over and saw as the Magi confirmed her worst fears and the Angel alarms sounded as Maya got a pattern blue. Then the Matsushiro complex exploded in a giant fireball. Ritsuko put her hand on Maya's shoulder and squeezed as she realized that if she was there, she would have been seriously hurt if not killed. And for the first time in a longer period than she could remember she was afraid to die. Both her mind and heart told her she had something to live for now and something she never wanted to lose. She was snapped out of her trance as she felt a hand cover hers and tremble as it squeezed back. The two looked at each other with scared eyes for a second and then returned their attention back to the situation on hand as it was clear that the Angel did not die in the blast. As Bardiel crawled out of the crater and started to make its way toward them Ritsuko knew her part in this sequence of events was over. So she decided to sit back and observe the others as no one was acting like their normal selves lately.
 
`0^0'
 
The Eva units made sight contact with Bardiel in the country side. Once that contact was made and they confirmed it truly was the 13th angel the bridge crew's contact with the kids was cut off. Ritsuko and her crew immediately went to work to re-establish communications, but knew there was little chance of them succeeding.
 
On the battlefield Bardiel saw the three Eva's morph into deadlier adversaries as they charged at it. The angel thrust its arms into the ground and made its initial attack at Unit-01, but she caught Bardiel by its wrists and crushed them before the angel could even get close to the Eva's neck. Bardiel let out an anguished cry as it felt two knives stabbed into its back and begin to cut away at it.
 
Once a circle shaped gash had been cut in Bardiel's back Rei ripped out the dummy plug and handed it to Asuka. “Please protect her for me.”
 
Asuka took the plug away in her Eva's hand and carried it someplace safe. Rei then ripped her knife out of the angel's back and stabbed it into Bardiel's right shoulder and proceeded to slowly cut through the angel's bone and flesh.
 
Bardiel cried out in anguished pain again as its arms were trapped in the grasp of Unit-01, whose crushing grip continually got tighter and tighter. There was nothing the angel could do but scream. It simply could not defend itself.
 
Shinji and Asuka then heard Rei yell “See how you like losing an arm” over the intercom and watched as she ripped it off of the angel. Shinji released his grip from the angel's other arm and backed away as Rei used the severed limb like a club and slammed it into the angel, knocking it to the ground. As blood gushed out from the angels shoulder, the angel made one last attempt at an attack. Rei threw the bloody limb to the ground and waited for her opportunity to strike as the angel made a suicide rush at her. With Unit-00 she delivered a devastating high kick to the angel's head, destroying any semblance of a neck the angel had as the force of the kick snapped it in half. The angel fell to the ground and let out one final cry as it felt a knife sink deep into its stomach and cut its way up, gutting it.
 
Shinji reached in and pulled something out of the Eva. Unit-01 then looked over at Unit-00.
 
Rei shouted “NO” as she could tell what Shinji had in plan for her.
 
“You have to” Shinji shouted back. “It's the only way.”
 
“I am not eating that thing” Rei yelled back.
 
“Asuka has one.”
 
“I don't care if she does. Get that thing away from me.” Rei then felt herself losing control of her Eva. “Lilith w- what are you doing?”
 
But the response was a warm feeling and she heard her mother say “I'm really sorry honey but I have to protect you.” Rei could then feel the texture and taste of the S2 organ as her Eva began to devour it to bring it in to itself.
 
`0^0'
 
Rei didn't even put up her usual front as the second she was let out of her plug she ran towards the bathroom. Ritsuko and her crew watched and grew more curious as they saw it was Asuka that walked off after her.
 
“Are you okay now Rei?” Asuka asked.
 
Rei was on her knees with her head over the toilet bowl when she answered “NO. Why did they make me do that?”
 
“To protect you.” Asuka answered.
 
“Wasn't there any other way?”
 
“Not that I know of” Asuka said. “And it couldn't have been that bad. It was only the Eva that really ate anything, not you. So technically you're still a vegetarian.”
 
Asuka then heard the toilet flush and saw Rei get up and groan “Tell that to my stomach.”
 
Asuka just let out a little laugh as she helped Rei get cleaned up.
 
`0^0'
 
When Ritsuko got out to the sight of the battle she was amazed at the carnage. Unit-03 was well beyond repair. One of its arms was severed and laying several hundred yards away. The only thing that was holding the head onto the body was some thin stretches of skin. The entry plug system looked like it had been carved out. And to make matters worse it looked like the unit had been gutted and was now missing pieces.
 
“What the hell did those three do?” Ritsuko said while standing next to Misato.
 
“They did what they were supposed to do” Misato answered. “They defeated the angel.”
 
“Yes they defeated the angel” Ritsuko said looking at the carnage. “But they destroyed the Eva in the process.”
 
“I didn't think we needed another one anyways” Misato told her. “The only good thing you could do with four of them is take over the world.”
 
Ritsuko cast her eyes on Misato “And what would you do with it?”
 
“Ban all paperwork” Misato replied seriously.
 
Ritsuko had to let out a little laugh as she commented “That, I wouldn't fight against.” She knew the stack of paperwork on her desk after this battle was going to be sky high. The only comforting thought was Misato's was going to be higher.
 
She then heard a communiqué from her radio “Sorry ma'am but the core doesn't even seem to exist, it must have been destroyed completely in the battle.”
 
Ritsuko sighed in frustration “You did tell Shinji again that I wanted him to leave the cores intact for study whenever possible, Right?”
 
“Yes, but I don't think he was listening” Misato answered. “He was playing video games with Asuka at the time and she was jumping up and down, so I doubt he was paying any attention to me.”
 
Ritsuko started grumbling “Teenagers. Why did it have to be teenagers?” She of course got laughed at for that by Misato.
 
`0^0'
 
It was a more somber scene back at Nerv as Rei was in central dogma watching as one of her selves was being put back in the tank. She had a computer tablet in her hand that was waiting for a command to be executed. She felt an arm wrap around her shoulder and hold her.
 
With tears in her eyes and a sad voice Rei said “I want to be unique. The only Rei. Me.” She looked at the tablet and tears started to flow from her eyes. “But I can't do it.” She then tried to give the tablet away.
 
“I'm sorry Rei. I'm sorry for everything” Gendo said and looked down at the ground. “But I can't do it either.” Gendo's eyes were too wide open for him to act in his old noncaring ways.
 
“Why?” Rei cried out.
 
“Because I can't bear the thought of hurting you.”
 
Rei wrapped her arms around him as she cried “They can't be here. I will never be unique as long as they are around.”
 
“I know” Gendo replied softly while looking at the soulless entities floating in the tank in front of them. “But they deserve more than to be dissolved away into nothingness.” He then led Rei out of central dogma and told her “I will find a respectable way to handle this, why don't you go get some rest and you can talk to your mother later.”
 
`0^0'
 
Later that evening Ritsuko was in her office going over some interesting data on her computer. She purposely left her door open as she was waiting for someone to walk by. And when he did she asked “Commander Ikari could you step in here a minute?”
 
“Yes Dr. Akagi, what is it that you need?”
 
“I need to show you some readings I obtained from one of the battles” Ritsuko replied. Gendo came over to look at the computer monitor and Ritsuko got up to shut her door. Gendo gulped as he saw the two unknown readings from the Leliel battle running side by side with archived Kyoko and Yui readings. He then noticed Ritsuko had shut the door.
 
He tried to play it cool and said “Doctor these readings were restricted, how did you get a hold of them?”
 
“I have secrets just like you Gendo” Ritsuko answered. “But I used to know all of yours. Now I feel like I know none of them.” Ritsuko walked up close to him. “But I am going to find them out.” She pointed to the monitor and asked forcefully “How long have those two been awake and sentient?” Gendo started to sweat. “My guess is from the very beginning. Did you really think you could hide this from me?” Gendo reached into his pocket and pulled out a package of sour skittles. She grabbed them and threw them across the room “I don't want candy, I want answers!” Gendo started backing away from her but Ritsuko followed him and pinned him against the door. Ritsuko examined him for a second with piercing eyes “Tell me what I want to know Gendo, you owe me that much.” She then saw him drop his eyes to the ground and she backed away from him. “You can't tell me, can you?” He shook his head no. She thought about this for a second. “If you're not in charge, then who is?” Ritsuko looked back at her computer screen “No, it can't be?” She then heard her office door open and close. She quickly left her office to give chase but noticed Gendo was nowhere in sight. She decided maybe it was time to take a stroll to the cages. She had a feeling she could get some of her questions answered there.
 
When Ritsuko got to the holding cages she looked up at Unit-01 and in a shrewd voice asked “You have been loving this, haven't you? Lil old Ritsuko lost in the dark, not knowing what is the truth and what is a façade.” She stared at the Eva closely for a bit more before asking “So why did you let me find out? You felt pity for me, didn't you?” She let out a little laugh “You knew I would realize that and you know how much this is eating me up inside.” Ritsuko saw a small glare flash across Unit-01's eyes. She then sat down on the catwalk and looked at her feet. “Can't say I didn't deserve this. I have done some horrible things I am now ashamed of.” She looked back up at Unit-01 with questioning eyes. “So why am I still here? You obviously don't need me. More than anything I'm just a thorn in your side. Is your thirst for revenge so great that you will tolerate me just to see me rot in the benevolence of your pity?” Ritsuko got an answer she did not expect as a light near Maya's terminal flipped on. Ritsuko hung her head. “Mom always did complain about how nice and perfect you were. I guess she was right. My jadedness is doing a better job of torturing me than anything else.” She let out a sigh and stood back up. “Leave it to me to have bad blood with someone I have never really met.” She looked back up at the Eva once again “I know this isn't enough for all the things I have done but it's the best I can do. Sorry.” She then started to walk off but was startled by a soft voice from near Unit-01's plug.
 
“That is enough for mom.”
 
Ritsuko jumped in fright and nearly fell off the catwalk. “Rei don't startle me like that.” Her brain then kicked in. “REI?”… “MOM???” she asked as intense confusion clouded her mind when she noticed the first child walking over to help her up. Rei smiled at her and Ritsuko looked back suspiciously “Ok now I am really confused.”
 
“I could tell by your ramblings” Rei kidded.
 
“And what did you mean by Mom?” Ritsuko asked “You are just a….” she didn't even finish her sentence as she heard a growling sound coming from the Eva and noticed two pairs of glaring red eyes aimed at her. “Ok, Mom it is.” Ritsuko said quickly. She had a feeling if she didn't agree to that she really would be out of there.
 
“And don't you forget it” Rei said forcefully.
 
“I won't” Ritsuko responded but asked “Did that little mistake cost me some answers?”
 
“It would have if I had any” Rei responded.
 
“So you are not the right person to ask either?”
 
“Nope.”
 
“Then why are you here?” Ritsuko asked confused again.
 
“I needed to talk to my mom about something” Rei answered.
 
“How?”
 
“Same way as always.”
 
“You mean all those times we ran tests on you guys in the Eva's you were communicating with them.” Rei just smiled and walked over to Unit-01's plug. “Please just a couple answers” Ritsuko pleaded.
 
“No” Rei answered. “Now if you will excuse me, I really need to talk to my mom right now.”
 
“Ok” Ritsuko sighed. “But at least tell me this. Have you ever mocked me behind my back or stuck your tongue out at me?”
 
“Many times” Rei answered and shut the plugs hatch. Ritsuko noticed the machines starting up around her and she looked up towards the bridge to see Gendo standing there.
 
He looked down at her “You've had a long day Ritsuko, why don't you go home and rest now?” Ritsuko caught the less than subtle hint and left the area.
 
`0^0'
 
On Ritsuko's way home she made a call. “Maya sweetie, I should be home soon. I just need to stop by Misato's place to ask her a couple questions.”
 
At Misato's place Ritsuko got no answer from the door chime. She then started pounding on the door and eventually heard Misato yell “GO AWAY!”
 
Ritsuko yelled back “If you don't answer this door, I am going to blow it open.”
 
A minute later Misato answered the door with frizzled hair and wearing a bed sheet “I'm busy, Go Away.”
 
“I want answers” Ritsuko demanded.
 
“I ain't got em” Misato yelled back.
 
“Then who does?”
 
“Shinji and Asuka. Now Go Away.”
 
“Then I want to see them now” Ritsuko said.
 
“They're at the movies and won't be back till late” Misato answered getting very impatient.
 
“Then I'll wait.”
 
“NO!” Misato yelled and slammed the door on Ritsuko.
 
“Well at least now I know who to ask” Ritsuko chuckled to herself and decided to head for home as she could pretty much guess she wasn't going to get anymore answers today.
 
`0^0'
 
Early the next morning Rei was standing on a mountain top overlooking the city below. She was surrounded by her friends and family. She looked at the urn in front of her and opened it up. She then cast the ashes out and said “Now you are free to go and do whatever you want.” She watched them float along the winds and smiled while also shedding a tear.
 
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Ritsuko had just finished telling her crew what she had learned when she saw Asuka, Shinji, and Rei running into the base. She went to greet them but they ran right past her with Shinji saying “Later” as they made their way towards the locker room. Ritsuko ran back up towards the bridge and saw Misato was now there too. “What's happening?” she asked.
 
Misato started complaining “Of all the times to get a fricken flat tire, it had to be now.” Ritsuko then saw the kids running towards their plugs. “Insert the plugs now” Misato ordered.
 
“Why?” Ritsuko asked but was answered by alarms from the Magi system.
 
“Because Zereul is here” Misato said gravely.
 
Maya then reported “Pattern Blue. The Magi have identified it as the 14th Angel.”
 
“Where is it?” Misato ordered.
 
“It is just beyond the Gora defense line” Shigeru answered.
 
“Good” Misato said and then ordered “Launch the Eva's.” The bridge crew did and Unit-01 was launched towards the surface while the buildings in Tokyo-3 were still being lowered.
 
As two malfunction alarms went off Rei and Asuka shouted “Why weren't we launched.” Misato looked down at the Eva's and noticed a pool of liquid near each of their launch platforms. “Repair crew to the launch bay immediately” Misato shouted and then turned to the bridge crew. “Status of Unit-01 and the Angel.”
 
“The angel has stopped its advance” Makoto reported. “Unit-01 is still progressing towards the target.”
 
“Estimated time of contact” Misato ordered.
 
“10 minutes” Shigeru replied back.
 
The report from the repair crew was not good. Both units hydraulic launch lines had been severed. “Repair them immediately” Misato ordered but was stopped by Ritsuko.
 
“Don't bother, who ever did that knew what they were doing. It will take at least a week to repair and repressurize them.”
 
“Sabotage?” Misato queried.
 
“Yes and it had to be an inside job. Whoever did this did it a while ago. Plus they somehow bypassed the Magi warning systems. They should have alerted us the second the lines were cut and the pressure dropped.”
 
“The Magi system wasn't bypassed” Gendo said as he walked onto the bridge. “It was over ruled. Eject the plugs for Units-00 and 02.” Ritsuko looked at him with contempt as she knew there was only one person capable of doing that. A minute later Asuka and Rei stormed onto the bridge.
 
“What's happening?” Rei yelled with Asuka screaming. “Why aren't we out there with Shinji?”
 
“Because our commander cut the hydraulic lines and over ruled the systems to keep you two grounded” Ritsuko pointed out to everyone. Gendo then felt a sharp kick to his stomach and was thrown to the ground.
 
With her foot grinding into the back of his neck Misato yelled “Why the hell would you do that?”
 
Gendo groaned out “So Rei and Asuka wouldn't get hurt again.” Misato took her foot off his neck as she quickly figured out he was just an accomplice. The real mastermind of this plan was already on the battlefield. But as she did she saw Asuka come up and kick Gendo as hard as she could in his side.
 
“Shinji said you would probably do that.” Gendo said while wincing in pain, he then felt a second kick. “Sorry Rei but I refuse to let you get hurt either.” Both women growled at him. Misato stopped them from kicking him again as it really wasn't going to do any good. While it was true he did come up with this plan and how to orchestrate it, Gendo did it in response to his son's worry about Asuka and Rei getting hurt again during this battle. Easiest way to prevent that was not to let them even leave the base in the first place.
 
`0^0'
 
Gendo was slowly getting back up when Unit-01 made contact with Zereul. The berserk unit launched itself at the angel and tackled it out of the sky, slamming it into the ground. It then started to tear at the angel only to be repulsed by a point blank cross flare.
 
On the deck Misato noticed as a hand grabbed hers and started to squeeze. “It will be alright Asuka, Yui will keep him safe.”
 
Yui had lost some of her armor due to the blast and Zereul went for the unprotected parts as it tried to slice her up with its arm. Yui caught the blade like arm and crushed it with her bare hands. But as she started pulling the angel towards her, Zereul fired another cross flare hitting her directly in her core.
 
When Asuka saw that she started to get tears in her eyes and held onto Misato tightly. Misato could only hold her back and tell her everything would be ok. Even she was worried at this point.
 
Yui got up with a horrifying howl and she shed her remaining armor. She was pissed. Her core was where her child was and this angel went straight for that point.
 
Zereul launched another flare aimed straight for her core but Yui dodged it and charged at the angel. Zereul tried another shot but Yui's hand cut through the beam and grabbed the angel by the face. She then started ripping it off. Zereul desperately tried to fight back, but it was too late as she was ripping into the angel. All Zereul could do was screech out in pain as it felt itself being torn asunder. Unit-01's mouth then opened to reveal its jagged teeth and she started devouring Zereul's S2 organ.
 
On the deck everyone knew the battle was over but many of them had to turn away from the monitors as the sight was making them sick. The devastation Yui caused to Zeruel was absolutely horrific. There was nothing left of the angle but tattered flesh and a blood stained battle ground. After her point was made and her job done Yui returned to base.
 
`0^0'
 
When Unit-01 was back in the cage, Ritsuko and her crew started getting readings again. Shinji's sync rate was above 400% and all they saw in the plug was Shinji's plugsuit.
 
“Where… Where's Shinji?” Maya asked.
 
“He has been absorbed into the Eva” Ritsuko answered.
 
“Like hell he has” Asuka shouted and stomped her way down to the cat walk. When she got there she started kicking Unit-01's core while yelling “Shinji Ikari get your ass out here right now!!!”
 
Inside the Eva Shinji was begging “Can't I stay in here just for a day or two?”
 
“NO!!!”
 
“Well at least until she calms down a little then?”
 
Yui lectured back at him “You created this mess, now you clean it up.” She then grabbed him by his ear and dragged him towards the light.
 
Alarms were sounding and then there was a bright flash of light.
 
When Shinji woke up he was lying on his back staring up into the face of Asuka. He smiled at her.
 
In a very sweet voice she asked “You're back?”
 
“Yes” Shinji replied serenely.
 
“All of you is back, right?” Asuka asked. “None of you is left floating around in there?”
 
“No” Shinji answered.
 
Asuka helped him sit up and looked deep into his eyes “Good.”
 
Shinji stared back at her, and after looking into her eyes for a minute asked “You're going to hit me really hard, aren't you?”
 
“Uh huh” Asuka replied.
 
`0^0'
 
Ten minutes later Shinji was sitting in an office with some clothes on, an ice pack over his eye and had Asuka yelling at him. He only understood half of it as she was so pissed off she yelled the other half in German. That wasn't what got to Shinji though. After an hour of yelling, Asuka started to cry. The battle had scared her pretty badly and she let Shinji know just how bad with her tears. This is what finally made Shinji break. He never meant to make her cry, he just wanted to protect her. The only thing he could do was hold her in his arms and comfort her until she was better.
 
“You promise never to scare me like that again?” Asuka said with a sniffle.
 
“I promise” Shinji answered while wiping a tear off her cheek. “I didn't mean to scare you.”
 
“Well you did.”
 
“I know and I'm very sorry, but I couldn't let you get hurt like last time.” His fear of losing Asuka even overwrote the guilt he felt.
 
“Why do you have to be such a baka?” Asuka huffed.
 
Shinji turned his head away from her and said desolately “Because I failed you once. And I can never forgive myself for that.”
 
Asuka grabbed his face and turned it back towards her “Too bad. Because I have.”
 
“But I…” Shinji started but was cut off by Asuka's forceful voice.
 
“Shinji we all made horrible mistakes last time. But thanks to you we have been given a second chance. So the only thing that matters now is what we do with the chance we have been given.” Asuka then snuggled closer to him “Now be a good baka-boyfriend and give me a special kiss, so I know you truly understand me.”
 
`0^0'
 
After the special kiss Shinji was informed of some extra concessions he had to make in order to get back on her good side and out of the doghouse. So for the next thirty two days she was to be greeted at her door when she woke up in the morning with flowers, candy, and/or a present. Shinji agreed to her stipulations quickly as he was feeling really guilty right now.
 
They then heard a cough outside the door. “You know they have been sitting out there for over an hour” Asuka said. “And technically it is later.”
 
“I don't know” Shinji answered. “Some of them, especially Ritsuko, might not like what they learn.”
 
The door was kicked open. “I don't give a damn if I like it or not. I want answers! And what the hell is all this crap about last time?”
 
“Oh you'll find out” Asuka said and called for Lilith. She appeared before them in her ethereal form.
 
“Lilith?” Ritsuko questioned and backed away as the angel walked towards her.
 
“Don't worry, I'm not going to bite” Lilith kidded.
 
“No. You're going to disillusion my AT field and turn me back into my primordial state” Ritsuko said in fear.
 
“No I'm not” Lilith replied and put her hand on Ritsuko's head. A flood of thoughts and images filled her mind.
 
When Lilith was done Ritsuko fell to the floor and started crying “I am such a fool.” Maya went to her but was stopped by Lilith who filled her in as well.
 
Both Asuka and Shinji told Makoto and Shigeru they would get their answers out in the hall and they left the two women alone. It was going to take some time for them to sort everything out. And the others could tell this would be best done in private.
 
In the hall the two boys were filled in. Makoto though had a question “Just what would I see this time?” as he was pretty sure it wouldn't be Misato.
 
Lilith raised an eyebrow and answered “There is really only one way to find out.”
 
Makoto backed away and answered “Never mind.”
 
“That's a smart boy” Lilith laughed and then told Shinji. “Your mom would like her armor put back on. She says she feels kinda naked without it.”
 
“Ok I'll go tell dad” Shinji said and he and Asuka made their way to the bridge. Along the way though they bumped into Rei who kicked Shinji in the shin as hard as she could for worrying her and doing what he did. That was a really dirty trick in her opinion.
 
`0^0'
 
A little later Maya came back on the bridge and saw Shigeru and Makoto sitting around talking with Misato, Gendo, Kaji, and Fuyutsuki. “Do you guys think you could handle the repairs without Ritsuko and me?” she asked.
 
They all looked over at her with Shigeru asking “Why?”
 
“Ritsuko said she needs some time to think and sort things out and I want to help her” Maya said.
 
“Will two weeks be enough?” Gendo asked her.
 
Maya nodded her head yes.
 
Misato got up and told her “Tell her if she needs an old friend to talk to, just give me a call, okay.”
 
“Thank you, I will.” Maya said and then left the bridge.
 
////////////////////--------------------------------^_^---------- ----------------------\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\
 
About a month later everyone was just sitting around the main deck talking. Unit-01 had been repaired and re-armored, the launch systems were fixed, and it was still going to be some time before the next angel would show up so everything was kind of low key.
 
Ritsuko asked Rei “Why did your mom change her mind about me?”
 
Rei answered “She said she saw something that inspired hope and decided to give you a second chance.”
 
“What did she see?” Ritsuko questioned, but a thought clicked in her head and she started to blush. Some of the others noticed and turned to Maya for an explanation. At first she was confused as she didn't know what they were talking about, but Ritsuko whispered something in her ear.
 
While starting to blush Maya exclaimed “She saw that?”
 
This got everyone's attention, especially Shigeru's and Makoto's. “You said…” Shigeru started.
 
“Get your mind out of the gutter” Ritsuko snapped at him. “It wasn't like that.”
 
“Then what was it like?” Makoto asked.
 
“Like I am going to tell you” Ritsuko laughed.
 
“I've told you about my love life” Makoto said back.
 
“What love life?” Ritsuko quipped. “Despite even our best effort, you still don't have one.” Makoto hung his head in shame. “Sorry, that was mean” Ritsuko said afterwards as that last statement appeared to have really hurt him.
 
“Only because it's true” Makoto answered back lowly.
 
“It wouldn't be if you would go to the bar with me” Shigeru said.
 
“He doesn't need those kinds of girls” Ritsuko answered for Makoto.
 
“What's wrong with the girls I date?” Shigeru shot back.
 
“They are floozies only interested in flings” Ritsuko answered. “Makoto deserves better.”
 
Makoto blushed a little and Misato started to laugh. “So I take it Operation: Find Makoto a Wife isn't going too well.”
 
“You would not believe how hard it is to find a decent woman who is ready to settle down these days” Maya said. “Plus it doesn't help any that most people don't know if they will live to see tomorrow.”
 
“You know you could set him up with Karinka from college. I hear she's ready to settle down” Misato told the two.
 
“I already asked her” Ritsuko said. “But she is only interested in someone with money.”
 
“Yeah, she always was something of a gold-digger” Misato replied. “Well there's always…”
 
She got cut off by a thoroughly embarrassed Makoto “Would you three please knock it off.”
 
“Oops, I think we are embarrassing him” Maya kidded.
 
“So let's get back on topic” Shigeru said. “What happened to make Yui change her mind?”
 
“It's personal.” Ritsuko said.
 
“Too bad, you brought it up” Misato told her. “You can't leave us hanging”
 
Ritsuko let out a sigh and looked over at Maya for help and maybe a bit of compassion. “You might as well tell them the story” Maya told her though. “They're not going to stop asking until they find out.”
 
Ritsuko didn't necessarily want to but decided to tell the story anyway. “Ok, this all began when Shinji first showed up. He seemed a little too good to be true and I grew suspicious. For a while I kept my suspicions to myself as I wasn't sure if they were right. But after the Jet Alone fiasco I expressed them to Gendo but he blew me off.”
 
“I did not” Gendo said. “I actually called Kaji and told him to keep an eye on Shinji for me.”
 
“Well you could have told me that” Ritsuko snipped. “You basically told me to get lost and stop bothering you.”
 
“I know” Gendo answered “I was being an ass.”
 
“Yes you were and it pissed me off. I even started questioning my loyalties. But I decided to just follow the scenario and everything would work out. Then a day after Asuka showed up everything changed. First I got an e-mail stating that I was being taken off HIP. Then another one stating Rei was no longer a concern of mine. And when I questioned why, I only got vague responses. I actually went down to central dogma to confront you, only to find out my security clearances had been revoked.”
 
“There was a very good reason for all of that” Gendo answered.
 
“And how the hell was I supposed to know that?” Ritsuko shot back. “I basically blew my lid. I damn near beat the shit out of poor the security guards that tried to escort me out of the area. And when I got back on the bridge and saw only Maya there, I unloaded on her. But like always she just sat there and took it until I was finished and then offered some kind words. Afterwards I started talking about how I had shown Gendo so much loyalty over the years, just to get tossed aside like that. From there the conversation somehow got onto feelings and I said some bad things about the men I have known and called Maya naive for being so sweet and innocent and not knowing what life was really like. After that I was still so pissed off that I said some rather nasty things about certain emotions. The next thing I knew I was in the deepest most passionate lip lock I had ever known.”
 
Everyone in the room looked at Maya with shock. “You were the aggressor?” Asuka queried in a surprised voice.
 
Maya nodded her head yes and added “She said no one ever really cared about each other and that love didn't exist, only hate and intolerance. I refused to believe that and acted instinctively to prove her wrong.”
 
“And I am very grateful and forever will be indebted to her for that” Ritsuko said with a smile. “At the time though I was completely lost and I thought the world had just turned upside down and inside out on me. After she finally released me from the kiss I fell into my chair stunned, and she ran off.”
 
“I was scared that I had just made a really huge mistake” Maya said. “I was even too afraid to come to work the next day.”
 
“For me I was confused” Ritsuko added. “I just sat there in my chair for hours on end while my mind raced frantically. I couldn't make heads or tails of anything anymore. The only thing I knew was I had never been kissed like that before, and I liked it. Then when Maya didn't show up the next day, I went over to her apartment to find out why. The rest is private history.”
 
When Ritsuko was finished telling her story everyone was smiling at her and Maya. “So that's what mom saw” Rei said.
 
Gendo added “Yui always had a soft spot for that romantic stuff. I remember when we were first dating I use to….”
 
Gendo was interrupted as Rei said “Ewwwwww” and ran off the bridge.
 
Shinji left saying “I don't want to hear this.”
 
The grown ups then looked over at Asuka. “What? She's not my mom-in-law yet, I don't have a problem hearing steamy stories.”
 
Gendo got a shiver down his spine when she said that and ordered her to go to the mall or something as she was too young for where this conversation was going. And when she was gone Gendo said “I don't know what scares me worse. The fact that she is perfectly comfortable listening to those kinds of stories or that in-law stuff she is starting to say now.”
 
“Both” Misato answered for him. “You should be afraid of both. I know I am.”
 
`0^0'
 
Kouzou was sitting around his apartment reading his paper when two men approached him. “Kouzou Fuyutsuki your presence is requested.” He was then dragged out of his apartment.
 
Two hours later, with a shot of bourbon in his hand, he said “This… this is the best damn abduction I have ever been abducted for.” Gendo and Kaji agreed and they all downed their respective shots.
 
“Gentleman I have abducted you to this esteemed bar today for a very solemn reason” Kaji said as he poured himself another shot of Jack Daniels. “Today we morn the death of Ryohji Kaji, the ladies man.”
 
“But… you're not dead.” Kouzou said confused with Gendo adding “And I locked up your assassin two weeks ago when I caught her feeding the pigeons.” Kaji clarified his statement by putting a small black velvet box on the table. He then opened it up to reveal a perfect 2 carat diamond ring.
 
“Whoooaaaa” Gendo and Kouzou said together. “Where did you get a rock like that?”
 
“You guys know General Burkhalter, right?” Kaji asked.
 
“Yeah” Gendo answered. “He's the commander of the German branch of Nerv.” Gendo thought a little more “Wait a second, isn't he also a diamond aficionado?”
 
“Yup” Kaji smiled as he continued. “Do you know a Gretchen Hochestetter?” Both men thought for a second and answered no. “Well thanks to that rock, neither does his wife.”
 
All three laughed and Gendo proposed a toast “To the death of Ryohji Kaji, the ladies man.”
 
“To the death” the other two said together and they all downed their drinks.
 
Kaji's cell phone then rung. “Hello” … “He is right here beside me actually.” Kaji held his phone up to Kouzou “Chairmen Keel wants to know how the abduction is going.”
 
Kouzou took the phone “It's going great, but I… I need another shot of bourbon.”
 
“Here let me talk to that old geezer” Gendo said. Kouzou gave him the phone. “Hello sucker… I mean Chairman Keel” … “What am I doing here too? Drinking some very good 14 year old scotch, and how are you on this fine evening?” … “Well there is no reason to swear, it was a stupid scenario anyways.” A couple seconds later he dropped the phone on the table “That ass is trying to kill my buzz” and he took another shot of scotch.
 
Kaji picked up his phone and listened to it for a second before putting it back down “Do either of you guys know anything about some bells?”
 
“Ummm… didn't you say you were getting married?” Kouzou replied.
 
“Yeah wedding bells, that must be what that old coot is talking about” Gendo said.
 
Kaji picked his phone back up “How did you know I was going to get married already? Well since you do you have to promise to keep it a secret. I haven't even asked Misato yet.” He then hung up the phone. A second later his phone rang again “Hello”… “Oh it's you again” … “Go away you're killing my buzz.” And he hung up on Keel for the second time.
 
The phone rang for the third time and this time Gendo answered it. “Hello” … “Shut up you old windbag” and then he dropped the phone in a half filled mug of beer and asked the waitress to take it away. “Jeez, some people just don't know when they have been snookered.”
 
`0^0'
 
After the disturbing series of phone calls Keel made one more. “We have been betrayed. Wake him at once.”
 
`0^0'
 
Shinji and Asuka were sitting on the couch together watching TV that same evening when Shinji pulled out a little box of his own. He looked at Asuka and smiled while holding it out for her.
 
“You know Shinji your 32 days are over. You don't have to buy me presents anymore.”
 
“I know, but this is the last one” Shinji told her.
 
“Oh” Asuka said back with a hint of dejectedness despite what she had just said. She looked at the little black velvet box and opened it. What she saw inside was a shiny pair of earrings. Nothing too big or extravagant but still very shiny. “Oooh pretty. And they sparkle just like the real things.” Asuka said but then looked a little closer and froze. After looking at them for few more seconds to prove to herself what she was thinking was right she exclaimed “Mein Gott! They are real.”
 
“Of course they're real” Shinji said while smiling. Most of the gifts he had been giving Asuka were just little and inexpensive trinkets, mainly because these earrings were his real “I'm Sorry” gift from the very beginning.
 
Misato heard a soft thump and looked over at the couch from the kitchen table where she was doing some paperwork. That last battle had created more than normal due to the pure savagery of it and she was still working on it a month later.
 
“You two know the rules, now let's see both of your heads above the back of the couch.” When they didn't answer Misato said to herself `Why can't they ever listen the first time?' and then repeated herself a little louder. The only response she got was a giggle from Asuka.
 
Misato got up and walked over to the couch. She looked down and saw Asuka had Shinji pinned down on the couch and was treating him to a very enjoyable open mouth kiss. Misato was nice and gave her a warning first. “Asuka if you don't get off of Shinji right now, I will have to yell at you.”
 
Asuka responded by holding out the box with the earrings in them. “They're real.”
 
Misato took one look at the earrings and combined with the fact she had just seen Asuka have to take her tongue out of Shinji's mouth to speak to her, she grabbed Asuka by the back of her shirt and ripped her off Shinji. She then grabbed Shinji up off the couch and ordered him to his room.
 
“But I just…..” Shinji tried to argue but Misato yelled “NOW!” as she wasn't playing any games. Those earrings forced her to make a certain assumption she didn't want to believe, but had to act on. So when Shinji was in his room Misato had Asuka sit on the couch. She looked her up and down.
 
Asuka started to complain but with a little bit of fear as she could tell they were in trouble. “What did we do? It was only a little kissing, honest. That isn't against the rules.”
 
Misato put her hand over Asuka's mouth and ordered “Hush, I'm not done yet.” She continued to examine Asuka with her eyes and then looked back at the earrings. She took her hand off Asuka's mouth and pleaded “Please, please be honest with me. Did you do anything to deserve these?”
 
“What are you talking about?” Asuka asked confused at first. Misato looked at her with uncertain eyes and Asuka began to understand what Misato was talking about. She proceeded to turn beet red and started to stare at the ground.
 
Misato began to sweat a little when Asuka didn't immediately answer. Unlike the other times Misato had asked this question, it wasn't in play and she wasn't drunk, she was serious. This made Asuka very nervous and it took her a while before she let out a very quiet “no.”
 
Misato breathed a huge sigh of relief “Thank god, your mother would have killed me.” She then looked back at Asuka and decided she needed more info. “I don't know if I totally believe you.”
 
“Why not, it's the truth” Asuka huffed at the insinuation she would lie about something as big as this.
 
“Because those are diamonds, and nice ones too” Misato told her. “A girl usually has to earn those.”
 
Asuka got embarrassed again and told her meekly “He said they were to show how sorry he was for scaring me.”
 
This sounded reasonable so she called Shinji back out and had him sit on the other side of her. “Now Shinji I have some very serious questions and I want the truth” she said to him. “Are you and Asuka having sex?”
 
Shinji turned a bright shade of red immediately while Asuka yelled out “Misato I already…” but she was interrupted by Misato who told her to hush as she wanted to hear Shinji's answer.
 
It took him a while to give one, but eventually he was able to let out a thoroughly embarrassed, nervous, and stuttered no.
 
“So what's with the diamonds?” Misato continued.
 
“I felt really bad about what I did to Asuka” Shinji answered. “And she once told me all her jewelry was fake so I decided to get her some real ones.”
 
“See, I told you so.” Asuka said crossed at what they were being forced to go through just because of what Asuka considered a very generous and thoughtful gift.
 
Misato gave her a little glare and asked Shinji one last question “So you were just being your typical nice self?” Shinji nodded his head yes. Misato then looked at the two red faced teenagers and decided she was getting the truth.
 
But she also decided to have a little fun with the two, and maybe find out some other things as well. Despite the talking too's they had both gotten they were still getting closer to each other than the grown ups around them were comfortable with. They were being very typical teenagers and pushing the boundaries. “Okay you two I am satisfied with your answers, but I want to know how far you have gotten with each other?”
 
“Misato why are you doing this to us?” Asuka cried out desperately wanting the torture to end.
 
“Because it is my responsibility as your guardian” Misato answered. She then wrapped her arms around the two of them “Both your mothers have put their trust in me because they know how much I care about you guys. And I just want to make sure you don't make the same mistakes Kaji and I did because we went too fast and I couldn't handle it.”
 
“We won't” Shinji said.
 
“I just want to make sure of that” Misato said and then added much to their continuing embarrassment “So what base have you gotten to?”
 
“We only kiss, honestly” Asuka told her.
 
But a little too quickly causing Misato to press on with her questioning “So you haven't gotten to second yet Shinji?”
 
“N- not on purpose” he answered with a red face.
 
“What do you mean, Not on Purpose?” Misato said raising her voice.
 
“It was an accident” Asuka said nervously. “We even told our mothers about it and they didn't do anything.” Misato wanted an explanation anyway so Asuka told her “I was teasing him about losing to me in a video game and he started chasing me. And when he chased me into my room he kinda tripped over some of my undies on the floor.”
 
Misato frowned and said “Let me guess, Shinji put his hands out to catch himself at the same time you went to catch him.” Both children nodded yes. Misato looked at Shinji and laughed “I don't know if you are the luckiest or unluckiest boy I have ever met.” Shinji let out a little smirk and she could pretty much figure out the answer. “Well I hope you both enjoyed your little grope fest, because neither of you are getting a second chance to do it for a very long time.”
 
“MISATO!!!” they both cried out in embarrassment together.
 
She simply replied “I only tease because I care.” That line hit Shinji especially hard.
 
`0^0'
 
The next day Ritsuko was standing outside Gendo's office in a less than happy mood when she saw a note on his door. -Important Conference. Do Not Disturb.- She ignored the note and entered anyways just to see three men slouched down in chairs with ice packs on their heads. She showed off her mood by loudly slamming the door behind her. After the chorus of groaning stopped she marched up to Gendo and yelled “Care to explain why I am supposed to appear in front of SEELE in my birthday suit?”
 
Fuyutsuki was the one to answer her. “Because as sanctimonious as they like to appear they are nothing but a bunch of horny old coots.”
 
Kaji smirked as he added “Plus numbers 5 and 7 have an ongoing bet about whether you are a true blonde. They even paid me a little extra to find out for them but when I asked Maya she just giggled and said a lady never tells.”
 
Gendo could tell Ritsuko was getting really pissed at this point and most likely ready to take it out on them as they were the closest males to her right now. So he told her “I already bilked them for all they are worth and they can't do anything till Tabris is gone, so just blow off their meeting requests like I do. Hell, I'm supposed to be in a meeting with them right now.”
 
This calmed Ritsuko down. Kaji then proposed another suggestion to her. “You could always just take a page out of Asuka's book and go to the meeting for the sole purpose of flicking them off.”
 
That idea brought a little smile to Ritsuko's face. “Not a bad idea” Ritsuko said and then questioned “But why are you three hung over?”
 
“We celebrated the death of Ryohji Kaji, the ladies man” Kaji told her while groaning.
 
Ritsuko laughed at him as it was obvious they had celebrated a little too much. She then asked to see the ring to make sure it was good enough for Misato. She was quite impressed and made a mental note to get Misato to do all the paperwork she needed from her for a week done by the end of the day. That ring was going to earn him some serious thank you sex and Ritsuko doubted she would be seeing Misato again for quite a while.
 
`0^0'
 
A little while later Shinji came into the office. He looked at the condition of his father and Kaji. “I take it neither of you will be able to help me work out today?” He was still working out to try and impress Asuka.
 
Both men groaned as the idea of exercising with a hangover made them want to vomit. “Sorry son, not today” Gendo said. “See if you can find someone else to give you a hand.”
 
Shinji thought for a second and smiled as he had the perfect workout person in mind.
 
Gendo noticed this and after Shinji left he picked up his phone. “Ms. Hisho could you please have Major Katsuragi report to my office.”
 
Misato came in and immediately went over to Kaji. “Are you starting to feel any better?”
 
“A little” he answered.
 
“Good. Now remember you promised to take me to my favorite restaurant tomorrow to make up for getting shot, so you better be all better by then.”
 
“Don't worry” Kaji told her. “I wouldn't break that promise with you for the world.”
 
Misato smiled at his answer and gave him a kiss on his head. She then walked over to Gendo and informed him “You have to tell Asuka and Shinji about Operation Normalcy tomorrow.”
 
“Why me?” Gendo complained.
 
“Because I am the one who will have to put up with Asuka afterwards, and I guarantee you she will be no peach to live with for a while” Misato said forcefully.
 
Gendo let out a large groan “Ok, I will tell them after school tomorrow.” He then put his head in his hands and muttered “She is going to tear my eardrums to pieces.”
 
Misato let out a little laugh and asked “So why did you call me up here in the first place?”
 
“I told Shinji to find someone else to help him workout today and he responded with a bigger smile than I am comfortable with.”
 
Misato understood completely and said “I will go watch the two and make sure working out is all they do.”
 
“Thank you” Gendo replied a little more relieved.
 
When she left Gendo asked Kaji “You told Asuka and Shinji they will be staying with Rei for the week right?”
 
“Yes and right now both of them believe it's just for the week” Kaji told him.
 
“I would rather face an angel by myself” Gendo commented and shifted his ice pack over his eyes. “This isn't going to be easy.”
 
`0^0'
 
After school the next day Shinji and Asuka went to the grocery store to get some food for their little vacation at Rei's place. They had no problem with her vegetarian lifestyle of eating for a day or two, but a whole week was too much. They needed real food and the only way they were going to get it was to bring it over themselves.
 
When they got to the apartment they saw Kensuke standing on the top rung of a ladder with his head in the ceiling. Gendo was standing beside him handing up parts and wires and Rei was watching the two to make sure they were doing what she wanted them to. Shinji started to put away the groceries and Asuka walked over to see what the other three were doing. But as she was walking across the apartment she passed by a room. What she saw in that room forced her to do a double take.
 
She asked Shinji while he was finishing putting away the groceries “Shinji, how much stuff did you have them bring over for you?”
 
Shinji got confused and walked over to see what she was talking about. As he did Gendo took a deep breath and sighed as he could tell the severe storm was already brewing and would soon start. Rei noticed too and tugged on Kensuke's pant leg while quickly informing him it was very much time to go. Asuka was about to go ballistic and Rei wanted to be as far away from this place as possible.
 
As Shinji looked into his room he heard from his father “Asuka, Shinji we need to talk.” This was not a phrase the two of them wanted to hear. It was a phrase that no good has ever come from. Both children responded by staring at him.
 
And when he walked over to them Asuka used about as much self control and patience as she could muster and asked through clenched teeth “Why is all of Shinji's stuff in this room?”
 
“Because that is where he is going to be living from now on” Gendo answered. “Both your Mothers, Misato, and I have decided that it would be best if you two returned to a more normal way of life, i.e. not living together. So Shinji you will be living with Rei and I, while Asuka you will be staying with Misato and Kaji.”
 
Shinji glared at him and responded with a very strong “NO!” It sort of surprised Shinji himself that he was so adamant about it, but the thought of being separated from Asuka was not one he liked at all.
 
Gendo though didn't back down and he raised his voice. “The Decision is Final!”
 
He then noticed Asuka. She was way past her breaking point and had a face that even an angel would fear. She launched into the mother of all hissy fits with an incredibly loud and angry “LIKE HELL IT IS!!!” And she didn't stop screaming for a very long, long time.
 
But unfortunately for her no matter how much she whined, yelled, screamed, or even cried the decision really was final. There was nothing she could do about it. But unfortunately for the others she had decided she was still going to put up a fight even if she couldn't see a chance at victory. She wasn't the type of girl to give up and roll over when something she really wanted was being taken away from her. She had learned that instead of giving up and surrendering yourself to sorrow, sometimes you just had to take what was taken from you back.
 
`0^0'
 
As the elevator was going down to the lobby Rei sighed out “Looks like I have a few hours to kill. I think I will go shopping with Gendo's favorite contractor.”
 
“Well have fun with that” Kensuke said stepping out of the elevator as the doors opened. But as he tried to walk away Rei followed him and yanked on his arm indicating the direction she wanted to go. It dawned on him who she was referring to and he groaned out “Aw c'mon… why am I his favorite?”
 
“Because you don't charge him for your labor” Rei replied with a smile.
 
“If I have to go shopping with you all the time, I might start.”
 
“Stop whining” Rei told him. “I just need you to help test out some chairs so I can find a comfortable pair for the study.”
 
“Why should I?” he countered.
 
“Because friends help each other out.”
 
Kensuke let out a little laugh “Anyone ever tell you that you play dirty?”
 
“I play to win” Rei answered. “Now lets hit the food court first, I'm getting hungry and I am not eating with those two tonight.”
 
As they started to walk towards the mall Kensuke asked tentatively “We're not just going to look at chairs, are we?” Rei just turned and smiled at him and then kept on walking. Kensuke let out another groan as he followed along behind her.
 
`0^0'
 
The next day Shinji was doing some homework at the kitchen table and Asuka was still sulking over the move. While moping she saw Rei walk by with a watering pale and head out the door. She grew curious and caught up with her. “What are you doing Rei?”
 
“I need to water Mr. Yen's plants” Rei answered.
 
“I thought the other three apartments on this floor were vacant?”
 
“For the most part they are.” Rei told her while the two walked into the apartment closest to her's. “The other two are empty but this one use to be used by Mr. Yen to house important business clients when they visited here. But since the angel attacks none of them want to do business in Tokyo-3 anymore. He was talking to me about it a couple weeks ago and mentioned he needed a house sitter so I agreed to water the plants and check in on it until he finds a buyer for the place.”
 
Asuka got a devious little smile on her face when Rei said that as an idea popped into her head. A certain situation wasn't as hopeless as it seemed. “Um Rei, I forgot to ask Hikari a question at school. Can I borrow your phone for a sec?”
 
“Sure” Rei said and threw Asuka her cell phone.
 
Asuka took it into another room and searched her call list for a certain number. She instantly memorized it and gave Rei her phone back.
 
When the two got back into the apartment Asuka walked over to Shinji and wrapped her arms around him from behind. “You need any help?”
 
“Nope” Shinji said. “I'm almost done with the last problem.” He then looked up and noticed Asuka was smiling. “Feeling better now?”
 
“A little” she answered and gave him a kiss on the top of his head. And as she let him go she added “When you're done you can make me feel even better by joining me on the couch.”
 
Chapter 4
Chapter 6

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