In the commander’s office, Misato and Kaji both stood in front of Commander Vinson’s desk, which one month earlier had been Commander Ikari’s desk. The American admiral sat and listened to both of them as the reported on the attack on the cabin as well as what had become the successful pursuit of the villains responsible.
As they finished, Vinson again skimmed the paper report in his hands and then dropped it on his desk. “So this Watanabe guy gets right through our screening and tries to take a shot at one of our pilots.” He looked sternly at Kaji. “What the hell happened? I thought you were checking out all of the old NERV returning staff.”
Kaji looked uncomfortable, if only slightly. “Engineer Watanabe did clear all security checks, but was left vulnerable as his family was not in the vicinity were security could cover any threats to them. He was turned as a result. Fortunately, our trap worked and we caught him before anything got worse.”
“Using Miss Illustrious as bait,” the Admiral commented, pointing at Kaji. “You play a dangerous game with our most important assets.”
“I have every trust in Makanami-chan’s capabilities, as I do with all of the other pilots. Even stripped of their security detail, all of the other children knew to fight back and they did so with a high degree of competence.”
Vinson was not as impressed. “Or maybe they were just damned lucky. Nearly getting our pilots killed was not responsible behavior, colonel.”
Misato intervened. “Sir, it was my fault. I shouldn’t have left them at the cabin without reinforcing security there.”
“The bigger issue,” Kaji said as he sought to redirect the topic, “was Watanabe’s contact. Agents Kikuchi and Wellington found a Major Mueller, who was an Alliance security staff officer who came here with the European reinforcements two weeks ago. After Wellington’s interrogation got a description, we were able to apprehend Mueller and recover his satellite phone, which we linked to the SEELE assault team on Mt Fuji. Clearly Mueller learned the whereabouts of the pilots from his position within Alliance security, not within NERV.”
The commander nodded. “We had a leak on the Alliance side as well. Johnnie’s working on re-vetting all of the appropriate security staff to be sure we don’t have any more.” He sighed deeply and leaned back on his chair. At that moment the door opened at the far end of the room and General Sheffield swiftly walked in.
“Yes, Johnnie?” Vinson asked him. The British general's face wore a very serious expression.
“Something's come to light, I need the three of you to see this.” Sheffield pulled out a data chip and handed it to Vinson, who then inserted it into a slot on his desk. From another side of the desk a small holographic projector came out and showed an image to the four of them.
“This was captured from high-altitude reconnaissance drone a few hours ago over Tbilisi, in the Caspian region. As you know the Alliance was negotiating with the Georgians about setting up a base there. Then this happened.” Sheffield hit a button Vinson's desk that paged the images down to what looked like a battle screen, where military units within a large city were engaged in a futile defense against two large white figures. Sheffield let the hologram play and then froze it when larger images of the white giants were visible.
“Here,” he pointed out. “One of the units images is fuzzy, perhaps distorted by some sort of energy field, but this other one is clear.” As the others saw what Sheffield was showing them, they all took deep breaths, Misato gasping in shock.
“Another Harpy?” she said in surprise. “We got the last two in Vladivostok!”
“Apparently not,” Kaji observed. “Is this other unit with the force field also a Mass Production type?”
“Unknown,” Sheffield said. “The energy field never dissipated during the action.” The general then faced Vinson. “Needless to say after that demonstration the Geogians were unwilling to cooperate with the Alliance any further.“
Misato worriedly put her hands through her hair. “If they have these two, how many others do they have?”
“Also unknown,” Sheffield answered, “but they clearly have additional resources to call upon, in addition to the captured Unit 06 if that’s what it is.”
All of them were silent for a moment as the gravity of the new information became clear. Admiral Vinson leaned forward on this desk, looking at the others with arms folded as he stared at the holographic images. “They could have dozens of these things underground somewhere, or they could just be scraping the barrel with their remaining assets,” he analyzed. “Whatever it is they didn't feel they have sufficient strength to go after us directly.” He concentrated his thoughts on the image and let his mind put the plan together.
“Johnnie,” the commander said after a minute of silence. “Work on a deployment method that will get us out there with the EVAs and fast. As long as we're tied to Tokyo-3 we're still unable to seriously go on offense. “
“Yes, sir,” Sheffield acknowledged.
“Colonel Kaji, redouble efforts on our internal security so we don't have a repeat of this weekend. Also, if the families of our staff are vulnerable, relocate them to the area here. I don't care if you have to put them up in all of the hot springs in Hakone but don't let us get exposed like that again.”
“Understood, Admiral.” Kaji said.
Vinson now faced Misato. “Colonel Katsuragi, get your pilots ready for action. This time we won't let up until we've won.” Misato nodded to him with the same sense of duty. “Yes, sir.”
“All of you, we have to expect that they'll continue to come after us with everything they've got. Don't let these bastards win,” Vinson growled. “Now let's move!”
After her meeting with the other commanders Misato gathered all of the pilots together in the pilot ready room and told them what she had learned, most especially about the discovery of new Harpies and also about the attempt against their lives. While she praised their efforts in the cabin, she also admonished them as a group, instructing them to be more careful with their own security in the future. Seeing the serious looks on the children’s faces and noting that none of them, including Asuka, put up any protest she knew that the message had gotten through.
Once the meeting ended, Patrick walked up to Misato privately. She greeted him with a tired smile. “What is it, Patrick?”
“Could I go to Hakone tomorrow night?”
She thought for a moment. “After what happened I really don’t know, I'll need to give you more escorts and you won't have much time but...”
“...with Rei?” Patrick added.
Misato looked at the American boy wryly. “Oh, that's why! Is she...on board with this?” Patrick nodded, and crossed his fingers behind him that Misato would be generous.
“Alright,” she agreed after thinking about it. “I'll even get her ready for you. Come by the girls' suite at 7:00pm tomorrow. Will four hours be enough time?”
Patrick was happy just to get the leave. “I'm sure we'll manage!”
Despite being swamped with work as Misato began preparations for the next round of EVA deployments, she still found the time to help Rei with her upcoming date with Patrick. Not that Rei had actually asked for the help, of course. The following afternoon she took a compliant Rei to get her hair and nails done, and well as buy her new clothes for the event. Just as they were about to leave the suite, Asuka asked if she could tag along and Misato included her in the group. The three of them spent a couple of hours together as Misato and Asuka bickered over choosing outfits and accessories for their confused companion.
Returning back to the GeoFront, they unpacked Misato's choices and again had Rei try on each one. She was indifferent to most of them but then walked out of the bedroom with one outfit that she said she felt comfortable in.
“You like this one?” Asuka complained. “You really don't have any taste, do you?”
“I don't know,” Misato said with a smile, “I think it suits her quite well.”
Asuka looked Rei over as she stood in the middle of the living room. “She looks like an office girl!”
“A sexy office girl,” the older girl added. “I'd say this is a winner.” Misato then picked up her makeup kit. “Now Rei let's go to the bathroom and finish, alright?”
A half-hour later Rei was again standing in the living room as Misato and Asuka looked her over, carefully analyzing their work.
“What do you think?” Misato asked Asuka. “You don't think we overdid it, do you?”
“Nothing is going to help that,” Asuka replied, pointing at Rei. “Maybe we should have just put her back in her school uniform and be done with it!”
“Oh, give her a chance,” Misato answered back. “I think she'll knock him out tonight!”
Rei had a puzzled look on her face. “Why would I knock Forrestal-kun out?” Misato was about to answer when the doorbell rang to the girls' suite. Rei went to answer the door when Misato held her back. “No, no, no,” she admonished.
“You ALWAYS make them wait,” Misato replied. “Tell him you'll be ready in just a minute.” Rei went to the doorway intercom and answered, in a somewhat nervous voice. “Just a minute!”
At the doorway Misato did a final check. Pulling a lipstick case out of her bag again, she said to Rei. “Pucker up, just a little bit more.” Rei did as she was told and Misato applied another layer of bright red lipstick to her lips. “There. You're ready. Now open the door.”
Standing at the doorway was Patrick, who wore a green sportscoat and slacks with a white cotton button-down shirt. The shirt was a choice from Mari, who Patrick had gone to himself for help with preparations for tonight. His blonde hair was neatly combed as opposed to the unkempt way he normally wore it, although a small bandage was on the right side of his forehead from the wound he took during the attack on the cabin. As Rei opened the door he looked at her in astonishment, at first wondering just exactly who it was standing in front of him.
“Well,” said Misato, smiling as she put her arm on Rei’s sholder. “Wha’cha think?”
For a full minute Patrick was speechless as he saw the transformed girl standing in front of him. Rei wore a solid blue jumper with a hem length at mid-thigh, the dress being cut in a way that greatly flattered her figure and gave an especially good view of her bare legs. Underneath the jumper she wore a button-down long-sleeved blouse, the collar being opened up and showing the small-silver cross necklace that she wore. Her nails were all done in blue that matched the dress, with tiny white angels painted on toenails visible through the peep-holes of her blue ballet flats. Rei’s blue hair was cut neatly, still with bangs in the front but now held in the back by an oversized blue bow. Most impressively, she now wore full makeup with bright red lipstick, violet eye shadow, mascara and blush. It was all almost too much.
“Wow!” Patrick said. Rei blushed a little more as she seemed embarrassed by it all. “Did you do all that?”
“Well, we helped a little,” Misato told him.
“We helped a LOT,” Asuka corrected from inside the suite.
Patrick nodded in firm approval, and then turned to Rei. “Ready to go?” She smiled faintly and nodded, still looking uncomfortable with all of the attention. In her hands she clutched a small blue handbag, another gift from Misato.
“Thanks a lot for this!” the boy said to Misato. He then motioned for Rei to join him and she stepped out of the doorway and into the hall where he stood.
“Be sure to kiss her by midnight or else she changes back!” Misato quipped. Both of the children looked at each other with embarrassed looks. The older girl just smiled. “Have a good time!” With that, the couple left down the hall as Misato looked on.
“Ah, it’s so cute to see them like this,” she sighed.
“Give me a break!” Asuka carped. “Knowing her they’ll probably just go to a library.”
“I think that would be romantic too,” Misato replied, finally closing the door.
“Say,” said Asuka as she sat on the couch and examined her fingernails, which were now colored bright red with tiny German flags on several of them. “Where’s Shinji, anyway? He didn’t say anything to me about where he’d be tonight.”
Misato plunked down on the couch and also studied her own fingernails, as she had them done that afternoon as well. “Kaji borrowed him,” she told Asuka, “about what he would not tell me. It’s some sort of secret.”
The redhead looked at her and smirked. “Is it the kind of secret that you can wear?”
“Oh, I hope so,” Misato said, examining her ring finger carefully.
Following Patrick and Rei were a group of black-suited security personnel, enough people to fill the entire elevator as they got on. Once the lift started upwards did either of the two of them start to relax.
Patrick took another moment to look at Rei and her outfit as they went up. “So, really,” he asked her, “did they pick this out for you?”
“I picked the blouse,” Rei replied, “and I find the shoes fit quite well. They did everything else.”
“I think you look good in it,” he complimented, “but do you like it?”
“It’s a little cold for my legs. The makeup is an interesting sensation,” the girl said as she puckered her lips just a little. “I don’t mind it but it takes some adjustment.” She tilted her head and looked at Patrick. “Do you think they did too much?”
The boy was honest. “A little.”
He tried to put a better spin on his answer, “It’s still pretty, though. It’s really nice to see you dressed up like this.”
The two of them stood in silence until the elevator reached the top, which was the ground level above the GeoFront. They stepped and saw a group of another twenty security guards standing in front of several armored vehicles. A helicopter bearing a searchlight flew overhead.
“It's a date, not a combat deployment!“ Patrick said under his breath.
“Hello there!” a voice boomed from outside. The two of them ran over to the edge of the driveway and saw standing there a few hundred meters away was a green-painted giant, holding a pallet gun and standing at the ready. The newly-refurbished Evangelion Unit 05 would also be providing security tonight.
“Mari?” Patrick said aloud.
“Don't worry about a thing, Pats!” the voice sounded back on loudspeakers built into the EVA. “We'll keep an eye out while you're with your girl.”
Realizing the extravagant means Misato used to ensure their protection, Patrick sighed in frustration. Standing next to him as he put his face in his palm, Rei smiled at him and giggled softly.
Later that evening another pair walked down a quiet street in Old Hakone, as they slowly passed by a row of small shops and restaurants. After the disaster of the JSSDF attack a month earlier the town was starting to come back to life, with shoppers and local residents returning to favorite spots and now new patrons in the form of new NERV and Alliance personnel, many in uniform, walking the streets. The night was quiet as a gentle breeze came off the lake, and the temperature had warmed up since the freak cold front of the prior week. It was a good night for going out.
Kaji again took out the small red box from his coat pocket and looked at it. He showed it to his younger companion. “Do you really think she’ll like it?” he asked Shinji.
“I think it’s fine, really,” he said to Kaji. A half-hour earlier the two of them had just finished the purchase at a local jeweler as an unusually nervous Kaji had spent over an hour evaluating and picking out the ring he thought would be the right one. For his help in the choosing, Kaji had also given Shinji money to buy a gift and he had promptly bought a gold necklace with a monkey charm to give to Asuka later.
The older man popped open the box to study the ring one more time. Mounted on a platinum band it was not a very large diamond, but it was cut in the shape of a heart. Cute, yet also elegant, Kaji thought. She should like this one. I hope.
“Do girls really care about the color and stuff like that?” Shinji asked.
“Oh, yes,” Kaji replied, “an eligible woman is practically a geology expert when it comes to engagement rings.”
“But that’s a really nice ring. She wouldn’t say no to that, would she?”
“There’s no point in leaving it to chance,” Kaji replied as he looked over the ring one more time, and then snapped the cover shut. Putting the box back in the jacket pocket, he let out a long breath and looked up at the full moon above them. “Never actually believed it would happen like this.” He put his hands in his pockets and smiled at Shinji as they walked down the sidewalk, glancing behind them briefly to check that their security detail was in eyesight. A group of four large Japanese men dressed in casual clothes were quietly following them, as others dressed in black were scattered around them. “One day this will be you,” he said to Shinji.
The boy was surprised at the remark. “Um, I can’t even think about that right now,” he said nervously.
“Are you surprised that she likes you as much as she does?” Kaji asked him.
Shinji was thoughtful about the answer. “Well, it’s kind of funny, but for a long time I never really thought about going out with her. It was more like she was my sister or something.”
“When did that change?”
The younger one stopped on the sidewalk, as the memory of the recent past came to haunt him. “It was when I saw her in the hospital,” he said softly. “I just couldn’t stand to see her like that, so empty and lifeless. I guess that’s when I knew.”
“Well, you’re doing well with Asuka so far,” Kaji told him. “I’m sure she sees in you the one thing that she thinks she’s lacking in.”
“What’s that?” Shinji asked.
“Love,” Kaji replied. “Inside of her she doesn’t think she’s capable of it. Yet every day you prove her wrong. In that sense, you’ve bested her.”
“I don’t really think of it that way!”
“It’s good that you don’t, that’s actually the part of you that makes you so special,” Kaji told the boy. As they spoke he looked into a nearby window and smiled. “Speaking of love,” he said, “look there.”
Shinji looked at the window that Kaji was pointing at and saw it was part of a café. Inside the café Shinji noticed several other men dressed in black sitting down in various booths or tables. Then he noticed the one couple that was not dressed in black.
Sitting at another booth inside the café were Patrick and Rei. Both sat close together as they were served by two waitresses and an older man with a bald head. Shinji couldn’t hear what anyone was saying but could tell they had ordered something, and then the two waitresses quickly came back with their order.
Carefully they sat down on the table five glass cups, each filled with one scoop of ice cream topped with a red cherry. The couple looked anxiously as the servers finished putting down all of the cups and then presented them with a set of spoons. Patrick gave one spoon to Rei, and then one by one she took a small portion of each of the five cups of ice cream on the table, carefully analyzing each one as she tasted it. Satisfied with her selection she pointed to one of the cups and then Patrick carefully moved the cup towards her so she could eat some more of it. He started to take the other four for himself but Rei quickly intervened, saying nothing but only giving him one cup and pushing the other three to the edge of the table. When Patrick looked at her in slight protest she still said nothing but gently patted her own stomach as she looked at him. Smiling and nodding, and understanding Rei’s meaning he went on to eat only from the cup she had selected for him.
“Incredible,” Kaji said with a deep laugh. “She’s mothering him already!” He turned to the boy and watched as Shinji looked at Rei, mesmerized. The boy said nothing but his face showed deep emotions as he watched her.
“What do you think?” Kaji asked him.
Shinji had to blink back tears. “She’s happy,” he replied, his voice choked up. And so am I, to see you like this.
They took their time coming back to the GeoFront. Somewhere between the café and walking around Old Hakone they had taken hold of each other’s hand, and didn’t let go for the rest of the night. After a night of eating and talking and walking around and looking at the moon and then just standing by the dock and listening to the sounds of the lake the two of them reluctantly went back to their waiting vehicle for the ride home.
Rei and Patrick just sat close to each other in the back seats of the armored vehicle, looking out the window at the lake as they saw the moon’s glare shine on its surface. Neither one of them said anything to the other for the hour-long drive back.
Wondering back from their returned vehicle to the elevator bank at the Geofront, they slowly made their way to an elevator held open by their silent but ever-present guards. Only two others went down to the sub-levels with them. After a few more long minutes they reached their level and walked out. The guards walked out with them, and then just stayed by the elevator as Patrick led Rei the short distance back to the girls’ suite.
Asuka was still seated on the couch with a magazine in her hands as Misato sat next to her and worked on a computer tablet, occasionally calling up Hyuga or another officer to iron out some detail related to EVA operations. Penpen sat between them and held another LCD tablet that contained archived films of other penguins sliding down ice flows and waddling along the snows in the long-gone Antarctic. As he watched the videos, his thoughts were his own.
Misato’s phone buzzed and he picked it up to see the message. Reading it, she then put the phone back down on the couch and tiptoed up to the front door. “They’re back,” she whispered to Asuka.
They both stood by the door, each one with eyes and smiles for the other, and both of them reluctant to let the night end.
“Did you have fun?” He asked her. Rei nodded, her eyes smiling.
“Better than the first date,” Patrick commented.
“I had fun that time, too,” she said. The remark took Patrick a little by surprise, as by all counts he had thought his first date with Rei was a disaster.
“Well,” he said to her, “I had a great time tonight. Thanks for going along with me.” Rei didn’t say anything in return, but silently stood in front of Patrick. He then took a deep breath, stepping closer to her and placing his hands on her waist, suddenly feeling very, very nervous. Rei remained motionless, holding her hands in front of her as she clutched her bag and hung her head down slightly, but still looking up at him with her deep red eyes. He could feel her breathing at this close distance to her, and smell the perfume of her hair. Like him, she was trembling too.
Mustering up all of the courage he had Patrick gently placed his right hand on her cheek, moving her face slightly upward where he could see it. Rei took her own hand and placed it on top of his.
His body took over for him, doing the thing that he had tried to will himself to do. He closed his eyes and felt himself bend over to touch her lips. She closed her eyes, leaned up on her toes, and let him come.
“Ooohh,” Misato said as she spied on them using the doorway video camera. “He’s putting the moves on her!”
Asuka gasped in excitement. “Let me see!!!”
The touch of her lips was soft and warm, and he could feel the sweet sensation tingle all over him. He let the kiss linger as long as he dared. After a long moment they finally came back down to earth.
“Good night,” he said to her, still holding her by the hand.
“Good night,” she replied with a soft whisper, hesitant to let him go. Finally she opened the door and slipped inside, still facing him as it slid closed. Patrick stood in front for another minute, still not quite returned from his flight of fantasy. He then smiled to himself and drifted slowly back to the boys’ suite.
When Rei returned, both Misato and Asuka were still sitting on the couch as if nothing had happened.
“So,” asked Misato, “How did it go?”
“It went well,” Rei said simply.
“Good. Do you want to fill us in?” she pried.
“I am tired,” she said instead. “I will go to bed now.”
After saying good night to both girls in the living room, Rei repaired first to the bathroom to clean up and remove her makeup, and then to the bedroom. She took off her dress and just lay on top of her futon wearing only her blouse. The lights in the room were still on.
She stared at the ceiling for a long while, her face without expression. Standing next to the futon was Adam, in the image of Kaworu Nagisa.
“What is it?” he asked her, looking at Rei with an inquisitive glance.
“I think that I’m falling,” she said. Adam snorted indignantly in return. “Humans.”
The commander's office was dark as Vinson stood by the wall. The previous day’s news regarding the new enemy Evangelions had been disconcerting to him. Just as the Alliance was gaining the upper hand against SEELE this new obstacle had come, it was as if every step they took they slid back another two.
“Dr. Viraat,” the admiral called into a phone. The Indian scientist answered, “Yes, commander.”
“Out of the captured Harpies how many available units can you get us?
“Apart from the spares that we used to rebuild Unit 05 with,” he began to explain, “we have another three. By his request one unit is for Dr. Foch, who thinks he can get the First Child to sync with it in its present form. That leaves us two, but as I stated before we have no pilot cores, and in the month we've been here at the GeoFront we've searched very carefully but none have been found. They're only useful to provide spares until we have that.”
“I see. See to it Dr. Foch gets what he needs. I'll work on what can be done with the other problem.”
“Very well. Good night, sir,” Viraat replied and the line cut off.
Vinson didn't move from the wall, but looked at the commander's office. If the cores were so critical to EVA operations they'd be someplace important. You wouldn't leave it to chance that they could be found and used against you. But where? Studying the floor he saw the large schematic that was carved into black obsidian rock that covered the floorspace. It was the symbol in Kabbalistic theory of how man moved into being like God, Vinson knew, and representative of what the attempt to build Evangelion was. But what if it was something more?
The admiral switched on the phone again. “Captain Aoba?”
“Come to my office with a sledgehammer.”
“A sledgehammer, sir?”
“Just do it,” Vinson said, and then hung up the phone.
Three minutes later Aoba entered through the door, bearing one sledgehammer which was taken from a damage control tool set. He started to cross the room and approach the commander's desk with the hammer but Vinson met him in the middle of the room and without saying anything grabbed it from his arms.
“Commander, what is it?”
Vinson ignored the officer and in a hefty swing struck the sledgehammer onto the floor above one of the symbols of the Sepratacum. The floor cracked a little with the impact. He saw the damage and then swung the sledgehammer again. The crack got a little larger.
Aoba stood by as the admiral began to swing at the floor again and again. The impact was felt down the hallway and soon others curious to what was going on were outside the door, Hyuga among them.
“What's he doing?” Hyuga whispered to Aoba. The other controller was about to give a cynical reply until he realized just what the commander was looking for. “I think he might be onto something,” he whispered back.
The commander kept swinging the sledgehammer until he had shattered a three-meter wide portion of the floor into black shardes, reaching the steel below it. He was about to swing the hammer one more time until he saw a small sphere on the floor, recessed inside a small chamber that was now exposed. Leaning down, he took the sphere in his hands.
It was about two inches in diameter, smaller than a billiards ball, but it was perfectly spherical and appeared to be made out of thick acrylic. Deep inside there was some sort of faint red glow. A set of kanji characters was carved into the coating on one side.
“Captain Aoba,” Vinson called. The controller stepped forward, with Huyga close behind him.
“I'm not familiar with this kanji character.” He pointed to the carving on the sphere. “What does this say?”
Aoba studied the two characters on the sphere. “It's a name, sir. It says ‘Aida’.”
Vinson glared at the sphere in his hands. “Don’t the pilots have a classmate with that name?”
“Yes, sir,” said Hyuga. “He’s the son of General Aida.”
The admiral paused before he gave an answer. “Then today’s his lucky day.” He carefully handed the sphere to Aoba. “Get this to Dr. Viraat. Wake him up if you need to. Let him know this is what he needed.” Aoba exchanged worried glances with Hyuga and they hurried out of the commander’s office with the EVA core. The Admiral turned to Hyuga. “Captain?”
He motioned to the floor. “Tear this place apart. Be careful with what you find in there.”
“Yes, Admiral,” Huyga nodded and then picked up his phone to start the process of dismantling the commander’s office. As he did so, Commander Vinson walked across the floor and out the front door, speaking to no one on his way out.
In another section of the underground base, Piotr wheeled Chairman Keel down a corridor as another of SEELE’s committee members, a shorter man of French descent, walked alongside. They spoke in hushed tones as they moved through the dark recesses of the cavernous base.
“Circumstances are getting more dire by the hour,” the French man told the Chairman. “Every attempt we have made to change the situation above ground has resulted in failure.”
“Merely more obstacles to overcome,” Kiel replied back. His voice was tired but still firm.
“While we hide here like rats the other side continues to build up strength,” the man persisted. “Each day that goes buy brings them closer to finding the key to unraveling what we’ve worked so long to achieve.”
“For them it is still darkness,” the Chairman said. “Ikari is not cooperating, and the MAGI are not fully accessible, keeping their secrets from these interlopers. They will strike out in ignorance but they are unable to touch us.”
“So far,” the member countered. “Their proficiency in combat against us is better than we anticipated. I feel it’s only a matter of time.”
“We still have the better cards to play,” Kiel said as he motioned to have his wheelchair turned to another corridor. “If we cannot defeat them in a frontal assault, then we will strike at them from within. We do as the Angels did before us: we will attack them directly at their hearts.” He motioned for Piotr to stop and wheel him into the next room. The three of them entered quietly.
Sleeping on a small bed was a young girl of 14 years of age, with blonde hair and elfin face. Dressed in a simple white nightgown, she was deep in slumber and oblivious to the men standing above here.
“Begin the next phase,” the chairman quietly said to the other member. “They will not prevail.”
Patrick felt that he couldn’t sleep that night, as he was simply too excited after leaving Rei at her place. He sat on the couch in the boys’ suite for an hour just watching the TV. Shinji then returned to the suite and the two of them engaged in small talk about the events of the evening. Patrick then tried to go to bed afterwards, but found sleep wouldn’t come. He found himself lazily wondering around the GeoFront with memories on his mind.
Did it really happen like that? he asked himself again and again. He kept playing the whole night in his brain like a movie, remembering the warm sensation of her tiny hand slipped inside of his own. He closed his eyes and tasted the kiss still on his lips. Wow, he thought, if I ever needed any proof she was an angel that was it.
Finally after his walkabout around the GeoFront he somehow ended up at the EVA cages, standing in front of his own EVA. At that point Kikuchi (who had been following him all night) finally brought Patrick back to the suite and pushed him inside his bedroom without saying anything. He had slept deeply once he hit the futon, not even bothering to cover himself up.
He woke up that morning strangely refreshed, his mind surprisingly clear. Getting up out of bed, he went about cleaning things up in the room. He noticed that Shinji was absent, again with the redhead Patrick assumed.
Well now that I got here, what’s next? He asked himself. His old friend Vance, who had fancied himself an expert on picking up girls, had once told him “don’t call back right away after a date. Girls have to process and stuff like that.” He’s probably right, Patrick thought. Right now she’s probably down in Terminal Dogma, huddling down in some corner and thinking deeply about everything. Just let her be, then.
Feeling charged up with energy, Patrick changed into a green-colored track suit and put on runners. He was going to go out and run around the base at the top of the GeoFront, as he hadn’t run a good workout since he had returned to Tokyo-3. Opening up the front door, he was surprised to see Rei standing in front.
“Uh, Hi!” he said
“Good morning,” Rei said in reply. She wore her white sundress with matching sandals and a light blue cardigan sweater.
They were both awkwardly silent for a moment until Rei spoke up. “I needed to go shopping for a few things,” she told him. “Would you like to come with me?”
“Of course!” he said, and without anything further walked out the front door to join her. They talked as they walked towards the elevators. “So, did you sleep well last night?”
“Mostly,” she said. “And you?”
“I had a little trouble,” he replied. “So I went out to see my EVA last night.” She nodded and then they both entered the elevator, followed again by a pair of security guards that were waiting for them.
They were both silent as the elevator raced to the surface. Patrick wasn’t quite sure what else he should say, in a way still not wanting to spoil the mood from last night but nervous as to what he should do next.
As the elevator nearly reached the top, he felt a tug at his hand. Looking down he saw that Rei had taken it, again placing her hand inside of his. He smiled at her and she smiled back, her eyes were warm and her expression soft.
Patrick felt as if a heavy weight was lifted from his shoulders. Yes! She’s done it! The feeling inside of him was indescribably happy. Love that was given was now given in return, and by the one that captured his heart in what seemed like a lifetime ago. Whatever else happened, whatever came good or bad, he knew he would remember this moment for the rest of his life.
The elevator reached the top and the doors opened. Patrick turned to Rei and said, “Ready to go?” She nodded, still happily smiling at him. He gently squeezed her hand and then the both of them walked outside into the bright sunlight of the awakening day.
Go On to Chapter Seventeen