Boyfriend of Steel

A Neon Genesis Evangelion Fan Fiction site

CHAPTER SIX: Expanding Horizons

 

 

When Rei woke up in the morning, Asuka was gone from the room. In her place was Mari Illustrious who had knocked out completely on the futon that Asuka was using, dressed in a pink nightgown with decorative bunnies.  Rei didn’t wake up Mari but just stood up herself and made her way to the bathroom. After fulfilling her own biological functions Rei walked to the living room, wearing just her nightshirt and slippers.

Opening the bedroom door she saw Kaji about to leave out the front, but embraced in a long kiss with Misato. The two of them noticed her as she stood there watching them and both smiled in slight embarrassment.

Misato whispered to Kaji, “we’ve been caught.”

“Good luck with them,” he replied.

“I’ll be fine, It’ll be fun!” She answered with more concern. “When will you be back?”

“I’ll try not to be too long,” Kaji said and then gave her one final quick kiss. “See ya,” Misato said softly, patting his chest. “Ciao,” he said in reply and he turned and left out the front door.  After  closing the door, Misato turned to Rei and smiled “Good morning!”

“Good morning,” Rei said expressionlessly.

“Did you get a good night’s sleep?”

“Yes.”

“So, Asuka was no trouble then?”

“No. She wanted to talk and then after an hour she went to Ikari-kun’s room.”

“Oh, really?” Misato said with a sly voice.

Just as she said that, Asuka was seen trying to very carefully open the front door without being seen. She peeked the door open just a little and tried to silently move outside until Misato greeted her cheerfully. “Good Morning!” Asuka froze in position.

“Uh, Good Morning!”

“So,” Misato started in, “what are you doing outside?”

“I went over to Shinji’s suite. I needed to wake him up. You know how hard it is for him to get up on time!”

Misato crossed her arms. “Rei says you spent the night with Shinji last night.”

Asuka stared daggers at Rei and then faced Misato. “So what. Anyway, he asked me to come over. He said he was cold.”

“That seems unlikely.” Misato smirked and then went into serious mode. “Go get changed. You’ve got training going on today.”

“I just got back!”

Misato ignored the protest. “You’ll be happy to know that they’re doing the core switch on Unit 02 today, so you can have her back as soon as they finish. In the meantime you better start getting ready: one they install the S2 organ in Unit 02 you’re going on deployment.”

Asuka was actually a bit pleased that she’d finally get her EVA back, but didn’t really want to show it to the others. “Fine,” she pouted. “I’ll just go and change then.” She stomped back to her bedroom, sneering at Rei as she did so. “Snitch,” she said under her breath.  As she opened the door she saw that her futon on the floor was occupied. “Would you mind!” she shouted to Mari. “First you take my EVA, and now you take my futon!” The other pilot slowly pulled herself up a little. She winced in the bright light without her glasses on.

“Bloody hell, girl, I got back at seven this morning!”

“I don’t care! Get your own futon, damn it!” Asuka slammed the door behind her.

A moment later Shinji was seen opening up the front door. “Uh, Good Morning.” He was wearing his regular school uniform of a white shirt and blue trousers.

“Good Morning,” Misato said as she reached into a backpack that was sitting on the floor and fished for something.  She said nothing to him about Asuka’s visit during the previous night. She’d deal with that later with him.

He smiled at Rei “Good morning!” She smiled slightly back. “Good morning.”

Misato had found what she was looking for in the backpack. As he stepped out Misato motioned to Rei to sit on the couch as she opened up the black vinyl bag in her hands. “How long since your last injection Rei?”

“Six days, four hours.”

“Then you probably need this right now. Have a seat and roll up a sleeve, please.” Rei did as she was instructed as Shinji watched. “Misato, what’s that?” He pointed to the syringe with orange liquid in her hands.

“That,” she replied, “is an LCL stabilizer. This keeps Rei’s body from destroying itself from within.”

Shinji’s eyes’ opened wide in realization. “She needs that to live?”

“Yes. Fortunately Maya told me about this before she left so I made sure I have an ample supply with me.”

Shinji looked at Rei as Misato tied a rubber line and then gently felt for an artery on Rei’s left arm. After a minute she found a good spot and then slowly slid in the needle into the artery. Rei was expressionless, not even wincing at the penetration. For his part Shinji found it difficult to watch and turned away.

“Does it hurt,” he asked Rei.

“No,” she replied. Misato finished putting in the serum and then withdrew the needle, placing a cotton ball and tape on the injection spot. “Done for now. Do you have your own supply of this?” she asked Rei, who then realized that she actually had left it on the Liberator. “No, I had left it on the ship.”

“You need to carry this with you at all times from now on. In case you’re separated from any of us you can still get your medication on time. Otherwise we really don’t want to lose you.” Misato smiled and tried to make a joke: “You don’t have any spares of you left, you know?” Rei didn't show any reaction but simply said “Hai,” and nodded.

“What happens if she doesn’t take it on time,” Shinji asked, now looking at the two of them again.

“Her white blood cells begin to attack the rest of her body. It could be dangerous if she goes for too long without it.”

“Wow,” Shinji replied. He smiled weakly at Rei who just sat there without expression. One more important thing I now know about her…

Asuka came out of the bedroom wearing a black biketard with a grey sweatshirt over it bearing a NERV logo. She briefly said “good morning” to Shinji but with Misato in the room held back her normal affection for now. All of them made their way to the kitchen. Rei was already there, placing hot water on the little stove to boil.

 “I'm glad at least one of us can cook,” Misato said to Shinji as they began unpacking the kitchen. The boy opened up the cabinets and saw cooking tools and utensils, some of them in disrepair. Also there were boxes of dry foodstuffs and other items, left by the previous occupants some weeks ago.

“Umm,” Shinji said, “I don't know if we can use any of this...”

“I was afraid of that. Good thing I came prepared!” Misato reached into a large plastic container sitting on the floor and pulled out a series of instant ramen packages, staking them not so neatly on the kitchen table.

“Is that all you brought?” he asked.

“I've got instant yakisoba too, and instant somen, and instant rice bowls,” Misato said proudly. “Gotta have some variety, you know.”

Asuka opened up another one of the large plastic containers, revealing a large amount of glass and aluminum bottles, the types used for alcoholic beverages. Pulling out one of the sake bottles, she showed it to Shinji. “I see she's got more variety here, too,” she said dryly.  Misato smiled in embarrassment.

Not being inexperienced on how to work around Misato's food choices, Shinji took the instant ramen and whatever else he could find in the kitchen and still managed to make a meal out of it.  The three pilots and Misato sat at the table, slurping their noodles and drinking the hot broth. Given the colder temperature inside the suite, no one complained.

“Misato, where did Kaji go?” Shinji asked her.

“China,” she replied.

Asuka raised her head. “China?!”

Misato nodded. “Yup. He’ll be gone for a few days to recover Evangelion Unit 06. Hopefully most of it is still intact.”

Shinji and Asuka couldn't hide their disappointment  and sighed deeply.  “At least I hope he brings us back some better food,” Asuka remarked. Misato ignored the carping and turned her attention to Rei, who was just silently slurping her instant ramen. “So, Rei,” she asked, her chin resting on her hand. “How was your little cruise?”

“It was good,” she said quietly.

“Did you do anything interesting?”

“I read mostly.”

Asuka rolled her eyes. “That must have been thrilling for you,” she said cynically.

Rei lifted her head up. “We did go an island on one day.”

“Really,” Misato said. “And how was that?”

“It was interesting. We went to the beach and saw coral tide pools. Then we visited a small village on the other side.”

“With Patrick?”

“Yes.”

Shinji and Misato looked at each other, and then back at Rei “And...”

Rei raised her eyebrows. “And what?”

“You got along well with Patrick then, did you?” Misato asked, trying to pry further.

“Yes.”

Misato glanced at Shinji again, smirking a little. “Well, that's good. I'm sure you were glad to get away from NERV for a while.”

“It was an intriguing experience.”

“In what way?” Misato asked.

“Not being required to do anything,” Rei replied.

“It's a vacation,” the older woman concluded. “I guess you never had a holiday before, either.”

“Correct.”

“Hey, when do we get to go outside here?” Asuka moped. “Don’t tell me we’re stuck inside the GeoFront all day?”

“I'll let you outside once we're completely secured,” Misato replied. “Just try to relax and enjoy it here.”

Asuka and Shinji grunted. “Yes, Colonel, ” said Rei.

Misato suddenly stood up off the table. “Oh, no. Rei, you're in my house now, so no titles here.” Rei looked up at her confused, as Shinji and Auska stopped eating and watched.

“I cannot call you Colonel?”

“Correct.”

“I understand, Katsuragi-san.”

“No!” Misato leaned forward towards Rei, who was still wearing a confused expression.  Drawing the hiragana in the air with her finger, Misato pronounced “MI – SA -TO!”

Rei was reluctant at first, not wanting to say anything. “Say it!” Misato challenged her.

“But Katsuragi-san, it's inappropriate to...”

Misato lost her patience and to the shock of the other two pilots quickly leaned over the table and messed up Rei's hair with her right hand. “AH-AH-AH! Say it!”

Shinji watched as Rei facial expression became pensive, as contradictory thoughts raced through her mind.  In all the time he had known her, Rei had never addressed anyone by their first name.  He also knew that Misato probably knew that too, and was trying to close the distance between  Rei and the rest of them.  It had been the same with him, when he had first met Misato.

The older woman glared at Rei for a while as she unhappily met her gaze. After a few moments Rei sighed softly and glanced at Shinji, who smiled a little and nodded in encouragement.

She glanced back at Misato, defeated. “Misato-san.” Misato straightened up, smiling in response to her little victory. “Good. You've lived by yourself your whole life, Rei. I know that. But it's time you start learning how to deal properly with others, and how to fit in with a normal family.”

Shinji looked around the kitchen they were sitting in, seeing what was in the one day they were living there already a mess of sake bottles, instant food packages, and other things strewn around. Perhaps this isn't the best environment to learn how to be normal...

 

After their makeshift breakfast Misato dispatched Asuka with a couple of sentries to a physical training area she had already set up. Telling Asuka she’d join her in a little while,  Misato then stayed in the suite with Shinji and Rei for a little while longer and making sure each had what they needed. Misato promised both she would get them new clothes, so they didn’t have to keep wearing school uniforms and what little else they had.  Finally, Misato asked Rei to stay in the suite until she was called for, and then went out with Shinji to the hallway, walking over to the elevator that traveled up to the rest of the GeoFront.

When the elevator doors closed, Misato keyed in a special code and the elevator rose straight up without stopping. They talked on the way up.

“So, any trouble sleeping last night?” she asked in an innocent-sounding voice.

“Uh, no,” Shinji said. “Patrick was completely asleep when I got back, so it was quiet.”

“Agent Kikuchi was there too, correct?”

“He was. He didn’t stay in his room much, just hung out in the living room.”

“Good.” Misato narrowed her glance at Shinji. “And I heard that there was one more guest in the room last night, too.”

Shinji blushed a little. “Oh, that. Yeah, she comes every night pretty much.”

Every night?”

“Since the last battle.”

“Shinji, is there anything that I should be worried about here…” The boy became really nervous at Misato’s implication. “No, no, no!” he protested.  “I mean, she just sleeps next to me, that’s all.” 

Misato smiled knowingly. “I understand, but probably she needs to get used to sleeping on her own again. Besides,” she playfully pointed at his chest, “I wouldn’t want her to take from you first what’s rightfully mine!”  Shinji’s face went a pale shade of white. 

The older woman saw the boy’s shocked expression and laughed it off. “I kid, I kid. Can’t you take a joke?” she gently knocked on his head. “Seriously, both of you need to cool it off a little. Things are going to get very serious here quickly and you need to focus on what’s coming. OK?”

“Got it, Misato,” Shinji sighed.

They were both silent for a moment longer as the elevator nearly reached the command level. Shinji looked at Misato and asked a question that he really didn’t want to know the answer to. “Misato?”

“Yes?”

“Wasn’t my father at the Australia base that was attacked?”

“Yes, he was.  Fortunately for him he was in the base prison, which was probably the most protected building in the place. He survived without a scratch.”

“I see,” Shinji replied, looking down at the floor. “Are they bringing him back here with the others?”

“No,” Misato said. “They’ll hold him in some other secret location, away from here. Hopefully it’s an unpleasant one.” Shinji just nodded silently. Misato gently reached out and put her hand on the boy’s shoulder. “He can’t harm you anymore. You know that, right?”

“I know,” he replied. “I was just thinking about it, that’s all.”

Misato changed the subject. “How you do think Rei’s getting along so far?”

“Same as always. I think she’s OK, but you can’t always tell with her. I just wish Asuka wouldn’t treat her like that.”

“Everyone has a limit,” Misato replied. “I think we might actually find out where Rei’s is. Anyway, try to get some rest today,” she told him. “You’re on the night shift in Unit 01, so you have a long night ahead of you.” Shinji again silently nodded and then they both exited the elevator as it opened up on the command deck.

Misato sent Shinji to the hospital for a quick check up, then ordered him to go back to the suite and rest in preparation for tonight.  After being sure he left with a guard, Misato called Aoba and Hyuga and asked them to both meet her in a hallway away from the command center and her office. In fifteen minutes they met her in the remote corner, which was badly lit but was at least away from the more well-traveled passageways of the command deck.

Once they two junior officers arrived they discussed several topics in soft voices, checking to make sure they were not overheard by anyone and especially by Alliance personnel.

“Any luck with the MAGI,” she asked Aoba.

“I'm afraid not. The good news is that even with the lockout we at least have control over operational functions in the GeoFront.  We can operate the EVA launch and retrieval system, at least the parts that aren't damaged. The knowledge base on EVA engineering is inaccessible, however.”

“They're giving us just enough room to run EVA but not to go too far,” Hyuga commented. “It's almost like they want us to walk but not run.”

“They're watching us,” Misato mused. “Waiting to see how the new situation affects everything. Did the Alliance try anything to get access?”

“They did,” Hyuga said. “They had two of their own hackers in here yesterday trying to pry into the databanks. No luck.”

“Good,” Misato said. “MAGI's one of our trump cards in case this marriage ends in a messy divorce.”

“But we can't get through to it either,” Aoba commented. “All of the security protocols were controlled by either Dr. Agaki or the Commander. We don't know where to even begin!”

“And I don't even want to consider going inside the MAGI's physical core,” Hyuga continued. “They could see that as a threat and shut everything down!”

The colonel pondered for a moment. “We really need Maya for this.” She looked up at the two men. “Any word at all from her?”

Hyuga shook his head. “Nothing since she left,” he said. “I think she was pretty freaked out after the attack.”

“I know, but we got to get some sort of access to MAGI and she's our only real remaining asset.” In a couple of seconds Misato brewed up a plan in her head and gave it to the other two. Both nodded in agreement and then broke up the meeting. It was going to be a long week for everyone.

 

After his checkup at the hospital Shinji walked back to the pilot suites. Like everywhere else they went, there was at least one soldier going with him into all areas of the GeoFront (including the bathrooms), and also traveling with him in the elevator he took to the sub-level the pilots currently lived on.  Their presence stopped at the suite door, however, and the tall, Caucasian solder simply stood at attention by the door as Shinji walked inside.  

Finding himself unable to take a nap as Misato encouraged him to do earlier, Shinji worked in the kitchen, collecting the materials he would need to work up lunch for the girls. As he searched for pots to use, Shinji noticed Rei was standing in the kitchen and silently looking at him. She was dressed new clothes Misato had found for her: a white turtleneck sweater and long wool skirt.

“Ayanami?”

“Yes?”

He smiled nervously. “Would you like to help?” Rei nodded in agreement.

Shinji pulled out some tofu from the refrigerator as well as some miso paste, and emptied out the tofu onto a cutting board. “Ok. Let’s start with miso soup.” He took a knife from a holder and placed it on the cutting board, then he went looking for the pot he needed. Rei stood by him, studying him as he gathered everything.

After getting what he needed, he asked Rei to put water in the pot and then boil it. Then as the water was heating he carefully gave her instructions on how to prepare the rest, showing her what ingredients she needed and then asking her to put them together.  He then demonstrated how to use the knife to cut the tofu, and gave Rei the knife. When it was her turn, she cut it exactly the way it was demonstrated to her by him without making any mistakes to Shinji's approval.

“How were things with Asuka last night?” he asked her as they worked together.

“Things were fine. She talks a lot.”

“I know it,” he replied. “But she didn’t give you any trouble, did she?”

“No.”

“Good.”

“Ikari-kun?”

“Yes?”

“When did you learn how to cook?”

Shinji smiled in embarrassment. “I learned when was living with Sensei.  I didn’t feel comfortable eating with them, so I just learned how to make things myself. I started with miso soup and then moved onto bigger things.”

“You taught yourself?”

“Yeah. It was really hard at first,” he reminisced. “Auntie would get upset that I was wasting food when she could cook it herself. After a while I just worked at it to get it the way I wanted.”

“But you didn’t want to eat with your guardians?”

“Back then I just didn’t feel like I had any connection with them,” Shinji told her. “It was just easier to do it myself. Looking back on it I’m so glad I learned, otherwise there’s no way I could survive with Misato.”

“So you achieved a necessary result through no intention of your own.”

“I guess so. Things just work out that way sometimes.” Rei had completed chopping up everything so Shinji helped her place the ingredients into the now boiling pot.  After stirring the pot a little, Shinji asked Rei to watch the pot and stir again occasionally, as he dug up bowls and chopsticks. “Um, how were things with Patrick during the trip?” he said, trying to make his curiousity sound casual.

“He has some interesting experiences.”

“About when he lived in the mountains?”

“Yes. He told me many stories.”

“I don’t doubt it. He seems like a really nice guy.”

“He’s warm,” Rei said.

Shinji decided to push it a little. “How do you feel about him?”

She was silent for a while, not answering him.  Shinji didn’t pursue it further and just set the table. Rei stirred the pot on Shinji’s instruction and then when the soup was cooked he turned the stove off. He then took a ladle and tasted the soup and then gave the ladle to Rei. “Try it!”

She took the ladle and tasted the soup hesitantly. After a taste, she said. “It’s good.”

“You made that,” Shinji responded, smiling at her. Rei smiled slightly back, but then quickly went serious again. Shinji went back to the table when she spoke to him again. “I’m not sure what I think of Forrestal-kun,” Rei told him, “but I do not think I have to decide for a while.”

“Whatever you decide on is fine with me,” Shinji told her. “I’d just like you to be happy, that’s all.”

“I have no intentions of anything regarding him,” she said. “Somehow I’m not sure it really matters if I do or not.” They both sat down at the table with the soup and together started to drink it.

 

A couple of hours later Rei was summoned by Dr. Foch, who was the Alliance’s top biologist and who had come to Tokyo-3 largely to study the First Child.  Waiting for her outside the girls’ suite, Agent Kikuchi escorted Rei first through the elevator on their floor, then a series of passageways, and then another, unmarked elevator that took them both on a long trip downwards towards Terminal Dogma. Neither one of them spoke a word to the other along the way.

The agent motioned for Rei to go to the Dummy Plug Plant, as it was still labeled, and she quietly complied. Walking the five minutes down a dimly lit passageway from the elevator to the “Plant,” she entered the room and looked around. The scan tube, in which she had spent so much of her life was still in the middle, empty. The larger LCL tank against the back wall was covered up with metal plating. Rei looked at the metal shields and wondered if the other destroyed clones of her body were still in the tank.  The feeling that they might still be there floating around unnerved her inside.

“Ah, there you are!” Rei heard a voice to her right and turned to see Dr. Foch. A balding, overweight Frenchman with spectacles and a bushy mustache, Foch seemed quite active for someone who looked like they were pushing sixty years of age. “Sorry to give you such short notice, but I just got the scanner working again and needed to calibrate it.” The scientist walked up to a control station and started working, barely looking at Rei as he spoke to her.

“This will only take a couple of hours. We’ll do a lot more later, of course, but if you don’t mind.” Rei understood that he wanted her inside the scanner, and began to remove her clothing.  In a minute she removed her boots and had taken off her sweater and skirt, gently folding them and placing them on a nearby chair.  She then removed her bra and panties and stood there naked as Dr. Foch prepared the scanner. Foch didn’t directly look at Rei as he set up the calibration, but did notice her out of the corner of her eye.

Fascinating. Completely without inhibition she undresses right in front of me, he observed. The question is: is it conditioning or innate with her? Understanding her is going to be a real challenge.

Foch looked directly at her, if only to gage her reaction. Rei just stood there, her arms at her sides.  He pointed at the scan tube. “You can go in now,” he said and then turned back to the controls. Noticing that the scan tube was still in a “closed” position, he looked at the large amount of controls on the control panel and tried to find the one to open the tube.  Moving to the other side of the panel, Rei quickly touched a series of buttons and the tube lifted slightly upwards, revealing a girl-sized hole on the side of it.

“Oh, of course. I should have just asked you. Anyway, Madamoiselle Ayanami, let us begin, yes?”

Saying nothing further Rei entered the tube and stood in the center as Foch found the switch to close and flood the tube with LCL. Orange-red liquid flowed from the bottom and gently lifted Rei upwards as she floated inside. As Foch began the calibration sequence, Rei closed her eyes and let her mind drift. While she never really liked being in the scan tube much she found she had missed the place, and safely inside the LCL of the tank she let her thoughts go through the previous three weeks of her life, her memories flooding her mind like the ocean tides flowing through a coral bank on the sands.

 

That day Patrick spent over twelve hours in the EVA, patrolling the outside perimeter of Tokyo-3 and searching for any signs of possible intrusions into the security zone around the city.  During the lengthy period there were several security drills with the Alliance troops in preparation for an expected attack. Beyond that, however, the time spent in the EVA was nearly completely uneventful.

Twelve hours is a long time to spend in any task, and after the patrol run Patrick was cramped, hungry, and tired.  By 6:00 pm he was tired but also letting his mind drift to what he wanted to do after he got out of the EVA, and thoughts of another tea service tonight easily entered his mind.

Unit 04 was maneuvered into the EVA cages and Patrick hopped out of the entry plug after it was ejected from the Evangelion itself. Waiting for him at the platform was Mari, wearing her own school uniform of white blouse and plaid skirt. Her eye bandage was gone and now replaced by a simple black eye patch.

They two pilots chatted for a bit as they made their way down the giant steel platform towards the ready room for Patrick to shower and change, conversing along the way. Mari was still hobbling on her cast but to Patrick it seemed like she was moving along on it quite well now.

“Pats,” Mari asked him, “I didn't get much chance to ask you before but how did your holiday go with your Angel girl?”

“It was great,” he said, smiling a bit to himself. “We spent time on ship, went to an island and hung out, talked a lot. She seemed to enjoy it.”
“The First is so quiet, how could you tell she liked it?”

“She’s a lot more relaxed than the others give her credit for. I think she was just glad to get out of Tokyo-3 for once.”

“Well, did you get anywhere with her,” Mari pried.

Patrick laughed a little, “I can’t say I got on base yet, but I don’t think I struck out, either. She did let me hold her a little.”

“That’s sweet,” she replied. “I think she’s quite fond of you.”

“It’s really hard to tell with her, though. Sometimes I thought I was getting through and then sometimes it’s like a wall. Still, with Rei,” he sighed, “her mind seems to be on so many things so deeply, I wonder if I’m just a curiosity to her, or anything else. How are you settling in?

“Still adjusting,” said Mari. “I'll see how tonight goes. They've got me in one room with both First and Second Children.”

“Oh, no,” Patrick said cautiously.
“I fully expect to be in the middle of the crossfire,” she smirked. “Asuka’s still smarting from me piloting Unit 02.”

“To be honest I’d be a little miffed with my EVA having another pilot as well,”

“But your EVA DID have another pilot once, didn’t it?” Patrick paused after hearing that.

Erin. “Of course,” he said more quietly. “I guess it slipped my mind a little,”

“It’s all right, I know who’s been on your mind lately,” Mari replied.  “You’re going to see her again tonight.”
“Yes. I worked out what I needed before I left this morning.”

“Good luck, then. By the way,” she said to him, smiling broadly, “Can I ask you something?”

“Of course!”

Before Mari got to her question, walking towards them on the platform was Shinji, dressed in his blue and white plug suit, and Asuka, who had changed into a tank top and blue pleated mini-skirt with red mary janes.  They were in animated discussion, holding hands as they walked towards Unit 01.

“Hey, guys!” Patrick called out. They met each other in the middle of the platform.

“Hello,” Shinji said. “How was it out there?”

“Aside from a bunch of defensive drills, not much going on. Everyone’s still on edge for a possible attack, though.”

“It’s ok,” he calmly replied. “Actually I don’t mind being back in the EVA again. It’s been a while!”

Mari then moved right in front of Shinji. “Hello, Puppy-kun!” she said smiling. Patrick could see Asuka narrowing her eyes at the other girl but Mari completely ignored her.

“Hello, Makinami-chan,” Shinji replied a bit nervously.

Mari broadened her smile and moved just a tiny bit closer to him. “Good luck out there in the EVA,” she said to him. She was just close enough to him for Shinji to notice that her chest was almost touching him, certainly giving him a good view of her natural endowments. He squinted his eyes and rubbed the back of his neck in embarrassment. “Um, I’m sure I’ll be OK,”

Asuka decided that Mari was just a little too friendly, and moved in between the two of them.  “I’m sure he’ll be OK, too,” she said firmly, staring directly at Mari. “The First string team is back in play now. The second string goes back to the sidelines.”

Not wanting to get into a scrap just yet, Mari just smiled back at Asuka. “Of course. See you back at the suite then. Bye, Puppy-kun!” She then made her way down the platform towards the ready room, with Patrick following alongside her.

After getting some distance between the two groups, Patrick spoke to Mari just before reaching the doorway. “So, anyway, what was your question?”

“I’ll get with you later on it,” she smiled back.

Shinji turned and watched her walk with Patrick along the rest of the platform and promptly got a not so gentle slap on this cheek. He turned back and saw Asuka, hands on her hips, angrily looking at him. “Don’t get distracted,” she said firmly, pointing her finger at him. “Pilot like that in the EVA and you won’t come back!”

He sighed a little, half-way expecting her jealous reaction. “Don’t worry,” he told her. “I know what’s important.”

“Let me just remind you a little,” Asuka said, still with an angry voice. She quickly grabbed both of his cheeks and landed a kiss right on his lips. Shinji closed his eyes and took it in, then yelped when Asuka suddenly whacked him in the buttocks. “Now get out there!” she yelled.

 

Go on to Chapter Seven

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