The following morning as per their routine Rei waited for Patrick in front of the boys’ suite. She wore a simple white collared shirt and a light blue skirt that went just above her knees, along with her wool socks and slip-on shoes. Patrick came out dressed in jeans and a t-shirt and as he did every morning embraced her tightly upon seeing her.
He led her to the elevators and they made their way to the top of the GeoFront. Once reaching the outer doors an armored HMMWV with NERV security was waiting for both of them. Patrick helped Rei step inside and then they both settled in for the one-hour drive.
Along the way Patrick asked if Rei wouldn’t mind wearing a blindfold, as he wanted to keep their destination secret until they arrived. She nodded in agreement and then he gently tied a red bandanna across her eyes.
Holding Patrick’s hand for the rest of the hour-long ride, Rei could tell from the direction they were taking that it was not the road to Hakone, but somewhere else in the hills to the east of Tokyo-3. For about half of the ride the road narrowed and became more bumpy and for the last five minutes there was no road at all.
Patrick got out of the HMMWV first and then carefully helped Rei down from the rear passenger compartment. When she reached the ground Rei felt the earth was soft and uneven. She sniffed the air and registered in her mind a large amount of unusual smells. Noises of both people and animals were heard all around.
“Almost there,” Patrick said to her as he led her by the hand a short distance. They walked over more rough ground, Rei sniffing at the air again as they got closer. “Is this a zoo?” she asked him.
“Better,” Patrick told her. He stopped, took both of Rei’s hands, and gently lowered them. What she felt next seemed to her like some sort of clothing, similar to one of her sweaters but coarser. The source of the fabric then let the secret out by bleating a loud “BAAAAA!”
Patrick quickly ran behind Rei and undid the blindfold. The red bandana was lifted from her eyes and Rei saw that she was touching the grey wool of a sheep, one that was looking at her with great curiosity. She drew a deep breath in excitement.
“Is she real?” Rei asked Patrick.
“If you mean that she’s not cloned or anything, I think so,” Patrick said. “Look around you!”
Rei scanned all around her and saw where she was. They were both standing inside of a pen made of wooden stakes tied together, and next to it was a large red barn. Inside of the pen were a variety of farm animals, including large pigs, goats, cows, and a brown and white dog that was darting between them. Beyond the barn they could see a pasture with more cows and cattle and other animals. A few people wearing denim overalls were working in places as black-suited security personnel also fanned out, keeping a careful eye on everything. The sounds and smells of the farm were everywhere around them.
She looked up at Patrick who was beaming as she caressed the wool of the sheep. “This place,” he motioned around them, “is all yours for the next two hours. Go anywhere you like.”
Rei didn’t say anything, but the expression on her face showed her feelings as she gave a big smile and with her eyes wide immediately went exploring the farm.
For the next hour Rei went from place to place, observing and touching the animals where she saw them. Patrick followed her as she did so but even he couldn’t keep up as Rei would bound from place to place, looking and feeling and listening to each creature large and small. Trying to soak in as much of the experience that she could, Rei jogged everywhere from horse stalls to chicken coops to watching the cows being milked. Patrick would join her at times, and then watch her leave to go and explore something new. For the time that she was at the little farm Rei was transformed from the stoic Evangelion pilot to just a little girl with a fascination for nature. Like earlier when they both explored the tide pools at the beach it was at these moments that Rei seemed the happiest, and Patrick thought it was worth any amount of effort to see her be this way.
Rei bounded into the barn again and didn’t come out for several minutes. Figuring to just leave her alone for a bit, Patrick waited outside as the dog came towards him. Taking a moment to sniff the unfamiliar figure the dog then decided that Patrick was friendly and rolled over, allowing the boy to vigorously scratch his belly. As he sat there and pet the dog Rei came back from the barn, carefully holding something in both of her hands.
Patrick looked down at what Rei was holding and saw a tiny, fluffy white bunny perhaps little more than two weeks old. The little bunny looked like it was sleeping peacefully as Rei gently stroked it with her fingers down it's back. She sat down next to Patrick, who was careful to not allow the dog too close to the baby rabbit as Rei continued to pet it.
“I see you found a new friend.”
“Yes,” she said, with her attention on the baby bunny. “It seems we are both quite attached to each other.”
She continued to gently stroke the bunny for a few moments as Patrick watched. “I don't suppose they would let me keep him, would they?” Rei asked Patrick.
“Not if it's that small,” he answered.
“It's just as well,” Rei said. “Children shouldn't be separated from their parents too early.”
Patrick made a wince. “Don't I know it.”
They both sat there for several minute enjoying the clear, sunny weather as Rei continued doting on the bunny while Patrick would throw sticks and let the dog play fetch with them. After a little while the dog trotted off, looking for something that smelled interesting.
“Do you like this place?” Patrick asked Rei.
“Yes, very much so,” she said to him. “I like natural things. Not like NERV.” She looked around the little farm again. “What would it be like to live here?”
“It's a lot of work,” Patrick said. “When I was younger there was a couple who ran a farm two miles down from the cabin that was like this. They got up at sunrise and worked all day at it, taking care of animals and such. The work looked hard but they seemed happy with it.”
“I guess we couldn't do this,” she said with some sadness in her voice. “Technology is still needed for us to survive.”
“But it's still nice to visit,” Patrick encouraged. The two of them sat for a long while enjoying the sunlight and the breeze and all of the sounds of the place they were in together. Being there with her on such a good, shining day reminded Patrick of why he loved the girl next to him. Still even at this moment, something again tugged at his heart and he figured now was as good a time as any to bring it out. “Rei?”
“Why did you agree to go out with me?”
“I wanted to,” she told him matter-of-factually as she looked up at him.
“A month ago you told me to stop trying. Then all of a sudden you say ‘yes’, and here we are.” Rei said nothing in response but continued meeting his glance. She cocked her head a little as she listened to him.
“Anyway,” he continued, “it’s not that I mind. I mean, the last few weeks have been really great. But, I guess…I just want to know why.”
She was silent for a while as Patrick patiently let her think on the response while she gently petted the baby rabbit in her hands. After a very long moment she started to answer.
“After the missile attack, when they brought you to the hospital,” she finally told him, “I saw your face before you were treated. It had been severely damaged. I thought to myself 'I would miss seeing your face again.' Once I realized that then I began to think of all of the other things I would miss about you if I could not see you again. It was then that I understood that I actually thought of you quite often.”
Patrick looked at her warmly as she continued. “When you had recovered, and when you had told me that you didn’t mind having the LCL stabilizer, I was quite surprised. I do not like having the stabilizer,” she said as she looked at him with a slight touch of sadness in her soft voice. “It is a reminder of the parts of me that I do not like. But that you took it without regret made me understand that you really did want to make a connection with me. I was afraid of that before.”
“That’s why you said what you did in the scanner room,” Patrick asked.
“Partly,” she told him. “I did not think that I would be compatible with anyone in this way and it would be illogical and futile to try to be. But,” Rei said, her eyes widening a little more, “it was not what my heart wanted.”
“What does your heart want?”
She sighed a little, letting herself relax a little bit more. “I still am not sure of it, but I know that at least the way things are now I want to see what else there is in the world. And,” she told Patrick as she looked at him, “it might be better not to do that alone.”
“So you ran away at first,” Patrick realized.
“I’m always running away,” she told him.
“Then I’m really glad I caught you,” he told her, leaning closer to her. “I actually had given up for a moment.”
Rei was genuinely surprised by his answer. “Was that why you did what you did in the EVA?” she asked him, referring to his own self sacrifice in the defense of Tokyo-3 from the month before.
“I don’t really know,” Patrick told her. “Clearly I wasn’t thinking at all when I did that.” She nodded in response. “You told me something after they brought you in to the hospital.”
“Really?” Patrick asked. “I don’t remember anything at all about that.”
“You asked me why I hated you.”
Patrick was shocked. “Hated?! Did I say that?”
“What did you say to me?”
“I said that I did not.”
“I’m really sorry,” Patrick said as he rubbed his head in embarrassment, “I probably was really incoherent there.”
“I never hated you,” Rei continued. “Did you think that I did?”
“I guess, being as you sort of pushed away the night before, maybe it got to me.”
They both sat there at the farm in what had become an awkward moment between them. Rei looked away from him, staring at nothing in particular. “I never wanted to do harm to you,” she said finally, “but sometimes I don’t know what to say in certain situations.”
Patrick smiled at her. “You really only learn by doing,” he said to Rei, “and right now you’re doing great.”
“I am not really doing anything,” she told him.
“If you open up to me like you’re doing now,” he replied, scooting closer to her now, “then that’s all that’s required.”
“Um, Rei?” Patrick interrupted. “You know,” he laughed a little, “you can just call me Patrick now. It’s okay, don’t you think?” Rei was about to reply but thought about it for a moment. “It doesn’t seem suitable, somehow.”
“Do you feel we’re not there yet?” he asked her, wondering if her use of his last name was really a way to keep some distance between her and him.
“It is not that,” she told him, “but the sound doesn’t seem adequate.” She mouthed out the name Patrick in Japanese syllables. “PA-TO-RI-KU, PA-TO-RI-KU. It seems like a lot to say.”
“So is Forrestal, though.”
“FO-RE-SU-TA-RU, FO-RE-SU-TA-RU,” Rei again mouthed out. “This is true. Illustrious-chan calls you Pats. How is that?”
“I know she says that to be cute,” Patrick replied, “but honestly I don’t like being called Pat. Pat always seems like a girl’s name.”
“Rei is also used as a boy’s name,” she observed.
“But it’s simple,” said Patrick. “I kind of like that.”
Simplicity is an objective. Rei concentrated on his name a bit more. “PA-TO-RI-KU-FO-RE-SU-TA-RU,” she repeated, then changed the sound slightly. “FO-RI-SU-TA-RU. FO-RI-SU….FO-RI…FO-R-RI…” Having an idea, she looked up at Patrick with a confident look on her face.
“What is it?”
“Forri,” she said. “You are Forri-kun.”
Patrick thought about it for a moment, rolling the sound inside of his mind. “Forri-kun, huh?” He looked at her expectant face, and slowly smiled. “Alright,” he agreed, “It’s Forri-kun, then.”
After returning to the GeoFront the couple parted to their separate ways, the newly christened “Forri-kun” going for more tactical training while Rei took the long elevator ride down to Terminal Dogma.
She slid her ID card and quietly entered the scanner laboratory, now the home of Dr. Foch. Foch was bent over a desk working on an analysis when Rei walked into the room and silently waited until Foch noticed her, which took a couple of minutes.
“Ah!” he said, turning around once he realized Rei was standing behind him. “Madamoiselle Ayanami, what brings you down here?”
“You said that if I wished I may continue being the subject of your examination.”
Foch raised his eyebrows, as he had not actually expected her to return. “I see. Yes, I would welcome your participation. If you don't mind me asking, what is it that you are hoping to learn from this?”
Rei was stoic. “I wish to know more about the functions of my body.”
The scientist adjusted his glasses. “For curiosity’s sake?”
“No. I want to know if it's possible that I could be modified.”
Now there's an interesting request. “Your physiology is a precarious balance, my dear. In between our visits I've extensively read up on your medical history. From a biological standpoint you shouldn't even be standing in front of me breathing like you are now, such is the contradictory nature of your existence. But you now want to alter this? Correct?” Rei nodded in response.
Foch held his chin in deep thought as he turned away for a moment, carefully considering how to bring together both his own objectives and Rei's as he had some idea what the girl might be after. “It's an understandable request. Let's please first discuss this and then we can go from there. Are you available for the scanner?”
“Colonel Katsuragi allows me to be at your disposal for the remainder of today,” she said. “As late as necessary.”
“Then let's not waste time,” Foch replied, walking over to the scanner controls. “Please disrobe and I'll prepare the unit. We can talk further while you're inside.” Rei immediately started to remove her clothes as the lights inside the plexiglass tube were turned on.
The scan process that Foch conducted took several hours, during some of which the two of them discussed Rei's new motivation for volunteering for Foch's research. It took until later that night to complete the examination and finally after eleven o'clock Rei drifted down to the tube's opening and let her self out of the small entrance after the LCL was drained out. Foch moved from the scanner operations console to another workstation that was connected with a large LCD screen that was touch-operated. As Rei walked up to the screen still naked and wet Foch brought up an image of Rei's body on the screen.
Rei looked carefully at the three-dimensional image on the screen as Foch adjusted the program. The image of her body was digitally broken up into several views, each focusing on a particular biological system. Rei chose one by gently touching the sub-menu with her small fingers and it expanded. Examining the image carefully Rei used her fingers to manipulate the display view, quickly bringing one particular area of her body into closer focus.
Foch joined her next to the display, a bathrobe in her hands. “Do you see it?” he asked Rei.
“Yes,” she replied. “There's a uterus but no eggs.”
“Correct,” Foch said. “In normal human development Oocites are typically developed in gestation, and then held in storage even before birth. Once the body reaches sexual maturity then the cycle of ovulation and menstruation begins.”
The scientist pointed at the screen as he explained further. “In your case, there was no construction of oocites, the cells that become eggs, in the first place. They weren't removed, but instead as your body's construction was done from manipulated DNA that function was edited out during the compilation stage. There's nothing in your DNA stream that could be a pathway for stem cells to transform into oocites. Therein lies the difficulty.”
“Could regular human eggs or organs be transplanted?” Rei asked.
“Probably not. The incompatibility with your LCL-based blood would prevent metabolization. Your organs can be interfaced with regular human bodies but not the other way around.” Foch looked at Rei as he offered her the bathrobe. “Did you know of your infertility?”
“I was never told directly,” she said as she took the bathrobe and started putting it on. “I learned of it from discussions that the commander had with Agaki-sensei while I was here.”
“How did you feel about that?”
Rei looked at the scientist unemotionally. “Nothing at first, My function was only as an EVA pilot, reproduction was never a consideration.”
Foch straightened his glasses again. “But now it is?”
The girl was straightforward with him. “I do not want to be a 'lab rat' forever, Dr. Foch,” he said. “I would like a future for myself beyond EVA. ”
“And having the ability to do this would be part of it?”
Rei nodded. “It goes beyond being able to conceive and bear children, but yes.”
The scientist narrowed his glance at her as he folded his arms. “What is a simple task for nearly everyone else will be a near-impossible quest for you, my dear” he told her. “This goes beyond the constructions of your cells but also affects your hormonal levels, your brain activity, the ability to have a proper sexual response cycle, which is questionable in your case, and many other factors. Add that your biological state is already precarious and making any changes to this need to be very, very carefully planned out. Then there's one other factor.”
“What is that?”
“As a derivative of the Evangelion there is also the question of how your rather unique metaphysical nature, your implanted soul, will work with any of this. What happens when an Angel made from the stuff of Heaven gives birth here on Earth? What will become of any offspring, if that's even possible in the first place? While I don't want to dissuade you all the same you need to carefully consider the enormity of the task you place upon yourself. ”
Rei tied on the bathrobe and softened her expression. “I know it will be difficult,” she told Foch, “but I still want to try.”
“Very well,” he said in resignation. “The time commitment from you will be considerable, and this is not without risk to yourself. If you can dedicate yourself to the purpose of the work, however, I will help you find your way as best I can.” Rei again nodded, her face expressionless.
“Being as we're going to spend a lot of time together,” Foch said as he turned from the monitor and towards a nearby cabinet. “We're likely to get to know each other very well. Tell me, my dear, I know you like tea. Do you have a preference for one in particular?”
“Instant Green Tea,” she said softly. Foch couldn't help but chuckle at her answer. “Well, your tastes are certainly simple. Which is a good thing.” He looked inside the cabinet. “I'll see to it that I'm properly stocked,” he told her. “The journey will begin tomorrow.”