That night Mari joined both Rei and Asuka in the bedroom, making for a somewhat crowded floor with three futons. After Misato put them to bed and turned the lights out, Mari waited just a few moments before sitting up in her futon and gently pounding on Asuka's.
“Hey, trying to sleep here!” the redhead protested.
“You're not actually sleepy, are you?” Mari replied. “It's only 10 O'clock.”
“It wasn't my idea to go to bed early,” Asuka said. “And it wasn't my idea to cram everyone in here either.”
Mari completely ignored Asuka's complaining, pushing herself outside of her futon and crossing her legs. Like the night before, she was wearing pink pajamas with decorative bunnies printed on them. “So, anyway, what was it like?”
“What was what like?” Asuka grumbled.
“Fighting the Angels. What was that like?”
“Better than being shoved into a single bedroom with two losers.” Asuka cynically replied.
“Oh, don't be such a spoilsport,” Mari playfully chided. She pounded on Rei's futon and the other girl's eyes flicked open. “How about you? What was it like, fighting the angels?”
Rei gently eased her way out of the futon. Another night of talking, she thought to herself. How does everyone else actually get their allowed sleep time? “It was challenging,” she replied. “They were quite implacable.” She sat on top of her futon in her light blue pajamas, hugging her legs with her knees bent.
“Dangerous business it was, then?”
“We know it better than anyone,” Asuka answered for Rei. “Sorry, you missed all of the fun.”
“Don't I know it,” Mari sighed, quite sincerely, “I was working for years to be a good pilot and I only get to see the ending act. Now we've got this war with SEELE business.”
“Anyway, you didn't miss much. Count yourself lucky with the scratches you have,” Asuka retorted.
“Right,” replied Mari. “Well, anyway. Good night to both of you.” She crawled back in her futon and was silent for a while again.
“So,” Mari excitedly said a minute later, again crawling out of her futon. “Let's talk about boys, then!”
AAAGH, Asuka thought to herself. “You're kidding, right?”
“What's wrong with that? When I was at school girls would always talk about the boys they liked.”
“Well then your school was weird, too,” Asuka replied.
“Oh, you're no fun!” Mari pouted playfully. “OK, I'll show you mine if you show me yours!”
“What!?” Asuka said in shock.
“I mean, I'll tell you about my self if you...divulge a little about you two.”
This got Auska out of the futon. She wore a white babydoll nightgown with no pants and just panties. “What would I possibly want to know about you?”
“Just if we're going to work together we ought to get to know each other,” Mari said.
“Look. You're just the second team, OK? You might be good, but don't flatter yourself.”
“It was obvious you don't want to talk about piloting, so I thought to change the subject. So, you don't like boys, then?”
“I didn't say that!”
“OK, so...A, B or C?”
Asuka was surprised by Mari's forwardness. “Not C! Who the hell do you think I am?”
“Pats told me you were roommates with Puppy-kun, so I naturally assumed that...”
“Why does everyone think that?!” Asuka protested. “Just because we lived in the same place doesn't mean we were married or anything!”
“But that might be a possibility one day, yes?”
The redhead was completely taken aback by Mari's boldness. “Geez, I just turned fifteen for crying out loud!”
“If you lived in feudal times, you'd have kids already,” Mari observed.
“Would you stop that?”
“It's true,” Rei observed.
“I'm not that kind of girl!” Asuka retorted back, actually a bit angry now. “I'm very decent, you know!”
Mari was having fun with where the conversation was going. “And that's why you wear short skirts and striped panties!”
“That's just for fashion,” Asuka countered. “Besides, you have to admit I've got a pretty good set of legs on,” she said as she smoothly moved her hands down her calves. “Look but don't touch, know what I mean?”
“So has Puppy-kun touched them yet?
“Why the hell do you care?”
The British girl was persistent. “So, A,B or C?”
“So it's B, then.”
“It's not your business, you foreign fop!”
“Smart words coming from the only German girl among us pilots.”
Seeing that Mari was not going to give up, Asuka gave in, if only at the promise of ending the conversation and getting some sleep later. “OK. B.”
“How many boys?”
Oh geez. “One...well, maybe two, but I don't think he counts. He's like my uncle or something.”
“So we won't count Kaji-san then,” Mari said, quickly analyzing Asuka's response much to her embarrassment, “and assume that it's our dear Puppy-kun that you're so attached to.”
“So. What's it to you?”
“Is he good at least?”
Oh, yes, Asuka thought to herself, but I'm not going to tell you that. “Lousy. Gets it all wrong.”
“Oh,” Mari sounded disappointed. “I'd thought he'd at least be better than that.”
“Why don't you go try it with him sometime,” Asuka retorted before realizing what she had just said. That remark got Rei's eyebrows up as well.
Don't mind if I do. “Well, maybe he just needs some practice.”
Asuka felt as though chinks were popping off her armor. “Look, we work together so I go out with him mainly for the program's sake. Some days I swear that boy couldn't live without me! It's not like it's a big deal or anything.” Mari took a quick glance at Rei's face when Asuka said that and her stony look told her all she needed to know. “Of course, I'm sure of it,” said Mari, who then turned to Rei. “Your turn.”
“What?” Rei said.
“A, B or C?” Rei was confused at the question.
“Well, come on?” Mari asked. “You seem like the outwardly quiet type that's always burning with passion underneath. What's the answer?”
“Miss Perfect over there doesn't know what you mean by that,” said Asuka.
“Oh,” Mari realized. “She doesn't know?”
“Ask her to explain phase-shift matter physics and she can go on forever. Ask her about guys and she's clueless.”
Mari giggled a little at that. “I see. Rei,” she explained. “A means 'holding hands,' B means 'kissing' and C means...well, you know.”
“What?” Rei asked, very innocently.
Mari looked at Asuka, who shrugged with a knowing look. “See, hopeless.” Mari's smile broadened and she faced Rei again. “C means 'making love'.”
“You mean sexual intercourse,” Rei realized.
“Yes,” Mari confirmed, having to suppress another giggle. Rei nodded and then softly said “A.”
“How many boys, then?”
Mari turned to Asuka. “See, she's not unreasonable about this.” Facing Rei again she said, “I won't pry further for now but it's safe to assume that the two are Puppy-kun and Pats, yes?”
Rei was only slightly hesitant, her face blushing just a little. “Yes.”
“Good.” Mari nodded.
“Fine.” scowled Asuka. “Your turn. A,B or C?”
“I'll never tell,” Mari quipped with broad grin. That remark was met with a violent pillow throw by Asuka. “You started this!”
“I'm just kidding!” Mari said, catching the pillow and throwing it back. “With a nickname like 'Lusty' one does get a lot of comments, but it's B, and I won't say how many but more than one.”
“Hmpth,” Asuka grunted.
“See, that wasn't so painful, was it?”
“Like I care,” Asuka retorted, putting herself back in the futon, as the night air was getting a little cold. Rei did the same. Everyone was quiet for a little while longer, until Mari, who hadn't gone back inside the blankets, started again. “So you think Puppy-kun thinks about you at night, then?” she asked Asuka.
“I don't want to know what Shinji thinks about at night,” Asuka replied. “I can handle him to some extent, but it helps to just not go too far, know what I mean?”
“But maybe one day, he'll have his way with you...”
“What's with you, anyway?!”
“I'm just having fun, that's all.”
“I have a question.” Rei declared.
“What is it, Angel Girl?”
“Do all girls always talk about this sort of thing when they sleep together?” Mari looked Asuka who then said “Don't look at me! I don't like having roommates.”
“It's just friendly banter,” Mari replied. “You're probably not used to that, either.”
“I see,” Rei replied. “Soryu-chan spent most of last night talking about Ikari-kun as well. Then she left to go to his bedroom.”
That got Mari's undivided attention. “Oh, really!” Mari said and looked at the other pilot. “Do tell!” Rei was about to answer when Asuka shook her head and threw her pillow at Rei. Rei just sat there as the pillow bounced off her but Mari retaliated for her, bashing Asuka on the head before she could block it. Asuka quickly grabbed Mari's pillow while Mari grabbed another and they then both starting bashing each other over with them as Rei looked on. After a minute or two of scuffling there was a knock on the door and Misato then opened it.
“Would you girls mind?” Misato said. “It's just a little loud in there!” The younger girls stopped as Misato walked in, wearing a long sleeved top with very short sleep shorts.
“Sorry to bother you, Misato-san,” Mari said. “We're just comparing notes, that's all.”
“About piloting or about boys?” Mari's eyebrows went up. “She's got good ears,” she told Asuka.
“That or she bugged the room again,” Asuka replied in a cynical tone. Misato ignored the comment and sat herself down with the three of them. “Well, that sounds like fun. I can't say anything for piloting but I can answer on the other question.” Mari was about to continue the discussion when Asuka immediately stopped her, knowing full well what Misato might say. “DON'T EVEN GO THERE!!!”
The dreams had actually started the first night he returned from his cruise with the Alliance fleet. Patrick had hurried back to Tokyo-3 once the alert came out, and in the rush he hadn't noticed anything unusual while he was inside the EVA.
Once he returned to the GeoFront however, the dreams came. They weren't the nightmares that he had experienced through much of his childhood, but instead murky visions of being in another, unfamiliar place, and seeing that place through someone else's eyes.
When he had first had the experience he had not even been a pilot yet, just a simple boy living in the mountains who had strange dreams of being in some sort of space capsule. But once the truth had become known to him, he realized that he had literally seen through the eyes of his own twin.
Back then he was still too new to the experiences to understand the full meaning, and what was real and what was not in the visions was not clear to him. Now in the night as his mind played back the visions and sensations of another's body, he knew the link between Erin and himself was being formed again, and he tried as hard as he could to focus on what he saw.
The first images were blurry, like looking through water vapor, but he could see surroundings that reminded him of the GeoFront. Underground, perhaps, or on a ship of some sort. There were others there, speaking to her, but he couldn't make out words or recognize anyone familiar. The place felt cold, uninviting. Inside he grasped feelings of fear and anger.
Patrick pushed himself to peer through the fog but couldn't come up with anything. Then he saw a vision of a giant white Harpy, the Mass Production EVA, towering over him with teeth baring. His real nightmares had intruded into his vision. Startled, he woke up, panting heavily as the images were still fresh in his mind.
Previously he had not known what to do, and simply absorbed each image as a dream or something else. Now knowing the truth he had worked out a way to deal with the experience. Shaking his head to clear his mind, Patrick shuffled out of the bed in his suite inside the GeoFront, and quickly grabbed a spiral notebook with a pencil clipped to the side. Taking out the pencil he turned on a nearby desk lamp and quickly started to write down rough notes of everything he saw, trying to remember every detail he could. The one thing he had realized through the new series of visions was that Erin was conscious again and not in the comatose state that he had seen her before, in the only time in his life that he had ever seen or touched his sister. That meant there was hope that she was alive but also that she was held somewhere, and quite possibly in danger. That gave him a furious sense of urgency as he frantically wrote down notes in his notebook.
Go on to Chapter Eight