Part 14: Game Face

Time passed in a blur during the next few days, as Shinji and Hikari went through thousands of rounds of ammo, innumerable movement drills and lots of special exercises concocted by Rit-chan or one of the other pilots to more quickly bring them up to speed. In between the practice, there was the normal Eva drills and tests, schoolwork and Misato work to keep them busy. Airi had finished her first batch of reading and was now spending much of her time at NERV or prowling the city. Rit-chan had had a couple of meetings with her, and whatever the topic was, it didn't lighten the girls mood any, so Shinji got the feeling that Rit-chan was not liking whatever she and Airi were discussing. Still, Rit-chan had stonewalled him when he asked her if he could help her any, telling him that she and Airi would deal with the issues involved themselves. Asuka and Hikari got closer to Rit-chan and Hikari was a confirmed convert to Goddess Ritsuko's Church of the Gun, though she still had no interest in military matters beyond the challenge. Shinji and Rei got closer as well, and Shinji noticed that Rei had started to call Asuka by her first name, as well as Hikari and Misato. To everyone else, she was still as cold as ice and as distant as the moon.

Kaji and Junpei had put in two appearances during the next few days, both times while the pilots were in synch tests and had been rebuffed by Airi and Misato, who had more important things on their minds than the two men. Junpei had suggested that they go find Rit-chan, but when Airi had told him that she was currently at the shooting range with multiple guns, he decided that he would see her another time; a year of being with her had taught him not to interrupt her quality time with her guns. And the fighter knew that if Rit-chan had her guns, then she was safe. Neither woman mentioned the challenge to the two, as the last thing they needed was the two running amok at the game. Misato had mentioned to Airi that Kaji would probably be appearing at the apartment sometime soon as he had been iced at the work location, and she should be ready for him. Airi had smiled and said that if he swung by, she'd make sure he kept right on going.

Oddly enough, Shinji had been noticing that Asuka was acting nicer to him, and even though he was suspicious as to why she was being nice all the sudden, he couldn't help but feel good. Rei was being very nice to him, and even though the two had not had a chance to do more than kiss and hug due to the busy nature of their current schedules, Rei had told him repeatedly that she wished to do more for him. Shinji had assured her that he wanted to do more for her as well. The two planned to have a celebratory get together when they won the challenge. The First Child's whole body tingled at the thought of that.

Asuka had taken to waking Shinji each morning in person rather than yelling at him through the door, and her wardrobe had not gotten any more conservative; indeed, it had gotten a little more revealing. The morning of the day before the challenge, Asuka had awakened early and slipped out of her bed and headed for the bathroom. Once she was finished with necessities, she stood in front of the sink and studied herself in the mirror. Well, Asuka. It's time to make the first move on Shinji. Are you ready? She asked herself mentally. The girl in the mirror smiled back and tossed her hair. A kiss and a little petting, that's all for now. Agreed? The girl in the mirror seemed to have no problems with that. Asuka took a deep breath, exhaled and then gave the mirror one more look. "Let's go, Asuka." She murmured softly, stepping to the door of Shinji's room and sliding it open.

Inside Shinji's room, she paused to watch him sleeping for a moment, the look on his face peaceful. He isn't bad looking when he's asleep. Kind of cute, actually. She thought, before shaking her head to clear her thoughts. But he still isn't Kaji, and Kaji is the only one for me. Remember, he's Baka Shinji, nothing more than a training tool. Right? Asuka nodded to herself firmly. And now that she was ready, she stepped to his bed, pausing to slip her shorts off, leaving her clad in her oversized tee shirt only, and slipped in, carefully pressing herself to him. Shinji stirred, but was still asleep. Asuka leaned over and pressed her lips to his, her kiss awkward and inexperienced, but effective. Shinji came awake to see Asuka's face against his, and he froze for a moment, wondering what she was doing in his bed. But after only a moment, he started to return the kiss, his arms closing over her body as he tentatively touched his tongue to her lips, which were still closed. Asuka parted her lips a little and let his tongue slip into her mouth, where it encounter her tongue, and then the two tongues began to caress each other. Asuka moaned into Shinji's mouth and pressed closer to him. Shinji, confident because of his experience with Rei, gently slid his hands down to her waist, feeling the thin shirt under his hands, and rolled them over so Asuka was on top of him, his dick as hard as steel in his boxers. The motion had pushed her shirt up to her hips and she felt the hardness of his member pressing into her thigh. Breaking the kiss, she smiled at Shinji. "Good morning, Shinji." She said, her tone seductive.

"Good morning, Asuka." Replied Shinji, his tone a little tense. Asuka, not sure how to respond to that answer, pressed her lips back to his, and he resumed kissing her. As he and Asuka sucked face, his hands slowly, steadily slid down to her hips and ass until he felt her bare skin. Freezing for a moment to see if she reacted, Shinji then carefully began to slide her shirt back up to her shoulders, leaving her bare. Asuka kept her lips to his, but her hands slipped down to his shirt bottom and began to tug them up toward his chest as her legs parted to rest on either side of his hips, his hard member touching her rapidly dampening sex as she moved. Her shift in position made it easy for the Third Child to slip the loose shirt off of Asuka entirely, her loose hair cascading over her shoulders as the shirt landed in a heap beside his bed. While she had broken the kiss to let her shirt be removed, she had shifted a little and was now sitting on his thighs with his boxer-covered erection just in front of her red pubic hair. Her hands fell to the bulge and as she massaged it, it began to swell even more. Deciding to go along with her lead, Shinji reach up and began to massage her breasts, which jutted proudly from her chest, inviting his touch. The nipples in particular caught his attention, as they were very different from Rei's. The First's nipples were a pink color against her pale skin, as were Asuka's, but the Second Child's were larger and thicker than the First's, and as Shinji discovered as he massaged his roommate's chest, they were also a little longer when they were hard. So engrossed was the Third Child in his examination of Asuka's chest that he didn't feel Asuka slide his boxers off his hips, or her slide up so her wet groin was rubbing over his hard length. But as she began to slide back and forth, his attention was captured by her activities. Looking up at her face, Shinji saw that she had closed her eyes and was grinding her hips over his length as she gasped to herself and panted. As far as he was concerned, it felt great, but he wondered if he should see if she wanted him inside her.

Deciding that it would be best to test the water so to speak, he cautiously rotated his hips so his penis was at a steeper angle and began to press into rather than across her by now dripping lower lips. Asuka froze as she felt the tip of his member press against her tight entrance. Shinji didn't move when she froze, waiting for her to make some kind of sign of what she wanted. After a moment of complete stillness, Asuka shifted back a bit and resumed running her wet sex over his member, which Shinji took to be a sign that she wasn't ready for him to enter her. With the decision made, he relaxed his hips and the two soon regained a smooth rhythm. It wasn't long before both of the teens were nearing climax, and Asuka was having to bite her lips to keep quiet, while Shinji was huffing like he was running a marathon. Their accumulated juice - mostly Asuka's at this point - had soaked both of their groins and was making a wet spot on the bed beneath them. Feeling his balls tighten in preparation to explode, Shinji lunged up, hugging Asuka as he locked his lips to hers, slipping his tongue into her mouth as he thrust against her soaked nether regions at a furious pace. Her legs locked behind him as she felt herself spasm in her own orgasm, Asuka's shriek of release was muffled by Shinji's mouth. Because they were now sitting up with Asuka in his lap, his penis had a near perfect shot into her virgin passage and as his last few wild thrusts heralded the first wave of cum, the head of his member pushed into her, finding sufficient lubrication in her juice and the wave after wave of semen spewing from his dick. When the thick, wide tip of his penis split her lips and wedged in her tight passage, Asuka felt another wave of pleasure crash over her, and she had her first multiple orgasm as she felt the warm, sticky waves of Shinji's semen filling her and spilling out onto her lower lips and belly. Both teens fell back onto his bed as they rode the after wave of their respective orgasms. Nothing was said for nearly a half hour.

Then, Asuka stood on shaky legs and retrieved her shorts and shirt and headed for the door, not bothering to put them on as she slid the door open and headed for the bathroom. Shinji saw the tracks on her legs as their combined juices trickled down her soft, smooth, sexy legs. As his door closed behind her, Shinji caught his breath and wondered what was going on with her. He also wondered what would happen later that morning or day as a result of him nearly fucking her. Still, he checked his sheets and saw no sign of blood, which meant that either her hymen was intact, or she wasn't a virgin before this morning. Hearing the shower come on, he sighed, getting up and reaching for his backup towel. He knew that he would have to get cleaned up and fix breakfast, then take a shower while she ate or he would reek of sex all day. Not that I mind smelling like I had sex with her, but it would be hard to explain, and uncomfortable as it dries. Thought the teen. Having wiped as much as he could up, he donned a fresh pair of shorts and his shirt and headed for the kitchen to prepare breakfast for the household, wondering what was going on in Asuka's mind.

Standing under the hot spray, a certain German girl wondered the same thing. She had already washed off the mixed fluids and cleaned herself, but now she was more confused than before. As she had cleaned the interior of her sex, she had determined that her hymen was still intact, so technically she was still a virgin. I go in to wake him up with a kiss and maybe some light petting, and we nearly fuck like rabbits. What the hell is going on with me?! I don't want him, I want Kaji! After all, he's just a training tool. Isn't he? Then why did I almost give him my virginity just now? I mean, sure I want to take him from Wondergirl, but I don't plan on keeping him or anything, so why did I do that this morning? Aarh! What am I worried about? I'm still technically a virgin, and I might let him take my virginity anyway if Kaji wants me to be…experienced, so nothing has changed. Right? Her mental argument sounded hollow even to her. Angrily, she snatched up her shampoo and began to lather her hair up as she muttered to herself about Baka. After she had rinsed the shampoo from her crimson tresses, she began to scrub herself clean with her body shampoo, pausing to say, "I can't love him." Before returning to her task.

Hikari was dressing for school that day when her sister knocked and entered her room, already dressed in tight blue jeans and a tee shirt. "Morning, Kodama." Said Hikari as she tied her bow and smoothed her skirt down, checking to make sure that her jumper top was correctly positioned. She had decided that she should get to school early today and make sure that there were no changes to the plan that Asuka and Rit-chan had been running off of, so she was dressing before fixing a simple breakfast for her family.

"Morning back at you, Hi-chan" replied her older sister, stepping to stand behind her middle sister, absently making small adjustments to her scrunchies that held her twin pigtails in place. Hikari smiled back at her in the mirror as she made a final check on her outfit. "Since you are early this morning, I want to take a minute to talk to you."

"What about, sis?" asked the Class Rep.

"About that yellow teddy you bought and that new dress you have." Answered Kodama. Hikari felt her cheeks get a little warmer.

"How do you know about that?" she asked.

"Please, you know that we borrow each other's stuff, and it's not like you didn't have them in plain sight anyway." Scoffed Kodama dismissively. "But back to the point. I know what the sexy underwear is for, so I checked, but didn't find what needs to be with the lingerie." Her tone was serious, but cheerful.

"Huh?" asked Hikari, not following her sister's somewhat intricate thought process. Kodama stood there smiling.

"Hi-chan, I want you to be sure that you always carry these with you." Said her older sister, handing her a couple of thin foil packs. Hikari took them and studied them, unsure what they were. Suddenly, it all came together for her.

"Co…condoms?!" she managed. "Kodama, I don't think…"

"That's right, sister, you won't be thinking when the action gets hot and heavy; believe me, I know. So, I'm making sure that you will be ready before you get to that stage. Keep them in your purse or pocket, because I know that most guys don't carry them, and they won't want to stop just because they don't have one on them. This way, at least I know that you will have them. Especially if you're planning what I think you're planning with whom I think you're thinking of. Suzahara will definitely not carry condoms with him, and he lacks the self-control to pull out before he pops." Her sister's tone was distasteful when she mentioned Suzahara.

"Kodama, you make it sound like I'm some sort of slut or something that plans on doing an army of guys or something." Protested Hikari, holding the foil packs as if they were snakes.

"I know you're not a slut. But you are a healthy girl, and I know you like boys, so I'm being cautious and watching out for my kid sisters." Assured Kodama.

"Sisters?" asked Hikari, "Did you give Nozumi some too?"

"Well, not yet, but if you think I should…" countered Kodama, her smile indicating that she was kidding. "Kids these days start so young, after all."

"'Kids these days'? Koda-chan, you sound like an old lady when you talk that way."

"Beats looking like one, kiddo." Her sister laughed. "But there is one other thing. Just because I'm giving you condoms and making you carry them with you doesn't automatically mean I want you to have sex. It also does not mean that I don't want you to have sex. It just means that if you have sex, I want you to have safe sex. Got it?"

"Yes, Kodama." Hikari said meekly, knowing the signs of her sister's seriousness. "Anything else?"

"You do know how to use them, right?" asked Kodama. Hikari blushed a little.

"It's not rocket science, and we covered this in health class."

"True. But if you are like me, you didn't really pay attention, and the teacher wasn't very informative anyway. So, bottom line, the condom covers the penis before the penis goes in, and it stays on the penis until you're satisfied. And one other thing, sis: if the man puts it on, double-check his work, as some men deliberately put it on wrong so it slips off while they're having sex with you. After you're satisfied, it becomes his problem to deal with it, so don't feel obligated to handle it unless you want to. Also, it can be fun to put it on for them, as you roll it on like a pair of stockings and stroking their dicks gets men off. Any questions?" asked Kodama of her sister, who was blushing badly now.

"No, that's enough, Kodama." Said Hikari, her voice a little faint. Kodama gave her a hug before heading downstairs.

"That's my sister, Hi-chan. Tell me if the asshole doesn't make it good for you and I'll kick his balls into his throat." Offered her sister as she descended the stairs. Hikari blinked and tucked the condoms into her purse, which she put in her bag before heading downstairs to make breakfast for her family.

"Good breakfast, Shinji." Complimented Rit-chan as she tossed the last of the fried rice and beef tips down her throat. "A bit odd for breakfast, but good all the same." After she put her bowl in the sink, she poured herself one more glass of milk and knocked it back as Shinji and Asuka tossed in the morning beer and made ready to depart. Asuka had been a little less violent than she usually was, and Shinji had been acting a little more nervous than usual, but neither said anything about whatever was going on, so the older teen ignored their odd behavior, chalking it up to pre-challenge nerves. The three teens departed, the door closing behind them as the door to Misato and Airi's room slid open to reveal a disheveled Misato, beer can in hand. Behind her, Airi sat up and stretched her arms out.

"So, why are you up so early, Mi-chan?" asked the actress of her older friend.

"Gotta make a call." Said Misato, taking her phone off the base and punching in a pre-programmed number. The phone that she was using was a NERV issued phone, and like the cell phones she and most of the important personnel used, it was heavily encrypted and digitally masked so eavesdropping was next to impossible unless one had access to a Magi-class super computer net. Airi listened as Misato waited for the party to answer her call. It was no more than three or four seconds before she spoke. "Yes, it's me. They just left. No, I don't think that that will be necessary. If I want your opinion, I'll give it to you, got me? I don't care, do as you're told, understood?" Misato punched the button ending the call harder than necessary. She was grimacing as she tossed back the last of the beer in her hand and tossed the can at the nearest trashcan, missing it by only a bit. She closed her eyes, breathing slowly and evenly, then opened her eyes and collected the beer can, placing it in the trashcan and snagging another before she headed back to her room, where she flopped down on her futon next to Airi and stared at the ceiling for a long moment, the beer forgotten in her hand.

"So, tell me what's wrong, Mi-chan." Said Airi, reading the Captain like a book. Misato turned her head to study the woman next to her. "I'm guessing from your actions that it concerns our teens, so I would like to know." Pressed the actress. Misato considered it for a long few minutes. The orders were not specifically restricted to the need-to-know classification; and even if they were, her Rit-chan is as much at risk as my Shinji and Asuka and Rei. Still, the Commander and Sub-Commander do not trust them yet, and I know the bastard king of NERV will be upset if I tell her. Hell, that's reason enough right there. Thought the Captain, deciding to tell her roommate what was going on.

"Do you know the trouble with fighting an enemy named Angels, Airi?" asked Misato, remembering her beer and popping the top as she spoke. Airi waited, knowing that the question had been rhetorical. "It's all the loony religions that want to worship the very things that are trying to kill us all. Last week, we got the latest of a very long series of death threats from various whackos, nutcases, shamans, priests and alien freaks. This one was different, though, as it directly targeted the Children. That is kind of disturbing by itself that someone knows enough to target them rather than the Evas, but this particular group is made up of religious extremist and is very well financed and trained from our intelligence reports on them. There are several allegations that the Vatican is financing and training these terrorists, but there is never any proof of these charges. If there were, NERV would have dealt with them before now. Sub-commander Fuyutsuki ordered an increase in protection on the pilots, as well as all tier 1 and tier 2 personnel. The Commanders are the whole of tier 1, and Ritsu, the pilots and myself are tier 2 personnel, with the bridge crew and the heads of Section 2, Maintenance, Engineering, and Intelligence forming tier 3 personalities. Anyway, the group is going to be targeting the Pilots directly, and intelligence reports on them suggest that they want to kill or kidnap one or more of the pilots, with Shinji as their first and most desired target. If something happens to my Shinji…" Misato trailed off, taking a long pull from her beer.

"Catholics." Muttered Airi distastefully. "Rit-chan doesn't really care for religion as a whole, but she has a special dislike of Catholics. If they threaten her or her friends, they better be able to shoot faster and better than her."

"What got her so pissed at Catholics?" asked Misato, curious.

"It's best not to get into it; she's still…sensitive to that topic." Warned Airi.

"Has she ever killed anyone, Ai-chan?" asked Misato, changing topics a bit.

"Not that I am aware of. And I hope she doesn't have to. I'd hate to see her change from being her normal happy, cheerful self. But I have no doubt that she would kill in an instant to protect herself and her friends. Have yours killed before?" counter-questioned the actress.

"Other than angels? Not that I'm aware of, though there are some rumors that Rei killed someone once, and Asuka has hinted rather heavily that she's capped a guy as well, but I'm not convinced that she has. Shinji, well, to be truthful, it's anyone's guess. Normally, I'd bet my life that he wouldn't kill a bug, but after the Third angel, I'm not sure. If someone he loved were threatened, or if he was pushed too far, well…maybe."

"What happened with the Third angel, exactly." Pressed the elf hunter.

"You read the report, didn't you?" asked Misato, a bit surprised.

"Of course I did, but I want to know what happened, not what they say happened." Clarified Airi. Misato considered her ceiling again for several minutes. Finally, she spoke.

"That's just it, Ai-chan. Even Ritsuko doesn't know what really happened in there. No one but Shinji knows, and his mind was so traumatized by it that it sealed the memory away from him."

"Hey, are you done with that, Inoue?" asked the girl collecting the tests. Ritsuko blinked and released her paper, her mind having been on other matters. Opening her laptop as the girl went on down the row collecting the tests, she ran messaging program and fired off a message to Asuka, Rei, Hikari and Shinji, reminding them that they needed to drop by one of the shops that sold paintball guns and pick up their weapons for the challenge. Earlier that week, Rit-chan had ordered some custom components and purchased several different types of guns and tanks for them to use, and the special gear was supposed to be in today. As she waited for them to answer her, she mentally ran through the plan, from first contact to mop-up, reviewing the possible problems and the back up plans and variants on the plans that would let them meet the challenge and win. Still, I would like it better if we had an edge. I still have to test the paintball guns and see if the grenades and rocket launchers will work as good as I need them to. Pity I can't use real ordnance; it'd be much faster and easier. And I'm still not satisfied with the movement plans either. There are still too many possible ways for them to flank us or force us into a kill zone. Just then, her laptop screen blinked, signaling a message. A glance showed it to be from IceGoddess, which meant Rei.

IceGodess: You appear to be unsatisfied with something, Rit-chan.

ElfHunter: Yeah, I think I've had a better idea, as the saying goes, but I need to check the gear's performance before I'm sure.

IceGoddess: Movement?

ElfHunter: Yes. You too?

IceGoddess: I may have a solution, but I too wish to know the performance of the items before I speak.

ElfHunter: And not here, either.

IceGoddess: Indeed.

A tone signaled that another person wanted to join their chat. Seeing that it was FireGoddess and PilotUnit01, Rit-chan agreed, letting them in. Rei greeted Shinji and Asuka, her greeting to Shinji warmer than her greeting to Asuka. Rit-chan suppressed a smile.

FireGoddess: So, why are you two chatting without us, Rit-chan?

ElfHunter: Head shed. Tonight. Our place. Tell Hi-chan, won't you?

FireGoddess: Got it. Tune up, I presume?

ElfHunter: Of a sort. How do you think you did on that test, guys?

IceGoddess: No problems.

FireGoddess: Piece of cake. Physics is so easy! And you, Baka?

PilotUnit01: I don't know. Probably not too good. I should have studied more, but I didn't have the time.

ElfHunter: Don't worry Shinji, it's not a midterm or finals, so you can make it up later.

FireGoddess: Yeah, so forget about it! It's not like our grades are important anyway. We fight angels, for Pete's sake! Who cares about rather or not we passed a test or two?

IceGoddess: Who is this Pete you fight for, Asuka?

FireGoddess: Aargh! It's another slang phrase, Wondergirl! Buy a fucking dictionary!

IceGoddess: Which dictionary of sexual intercourse do you recommend, Asuka?

FireGoddess: Bite me, bitch!

ElfHunter: Down, girls. You shouldn't be fighting. And look at it this way, Asuka: at least you now you know that she knows some slang terms for sex.

FireGoddess: That's one way of seeing it.

PilotUnit01: Guys, the bells about to sound. Tree or roof?

The chime signaling the arrival of another person sounded, and a moment later, ClassRepGrrl was in the chat, too.

ClassRepGrrl: Hey guys, today, just follow me, ok? I heard of a neat place to eat lunch.

ElfHunter: Sure, no problem.

IceGoddess: Hai.

FireGoddess: Why not?

PilotUnit01: Ok.

Just then the bell rang and the students stood, bowed and were dismissed for lunch. As they had since the challenge was set, the five of them forted up and headed out, keeping their distance from anyone else so they could see if they were being followed or not. Hikari led them outside and toward the side of the school where the grounds keepers kept their tools and equipment in a small shed. Just before reaching the shed, Hikari veered off into the trees to the side and then curved back toward the gym, the shade provided by the trees feeling good on the hot skin of the five teens. The shrubs got ticker and the trees less groomed as Hikari moved them deeper and deeper into the brush.

"How far are we going, Hi-chan?" wondered Asuka as she pushed a low-hanging limb from her path. Rit-chan came next, then Rei and Shinji.

"If it's too much farther, I'll have to break out my machete." Joked Rit-chan.

"It's not more than a few more yards. At least, it shouldn't be." Answered Hikari calmly. Rei was silent, and Shinji was busy watching out for limbs and keeping an eye out to see if he saw any movement behind them.

"Where did you hear about this place, Hikari? I think you've been had." Grumbled the German pilot.

"I doubt it." Answered Hikari, pushing a final tree limb aside to reveal a smallish pool, no more than twelve feet across and about three feet deep at most with a small stream running off of it, surrounded by old-growth trees and screening shrubs. An old, worn-down stone bench was off to one side, under a large hardwood tree and the grass was soft, thick and uncut. A few rocks were visible in the clear, calm water of the pool.

"Beautiful." Observed Rei, her tone soft and quiet.

"Yeah, it's great. Where did you hear about this from?" asked Asuka, looking the place over.

"My sister was a Class Rep before me, and she told me that her mentor had been a Class Rep who had heard that the original owner of this property had found a natural spring in here and decided to make a European-style garden grove here, but never finished it. The bushes were supposed to be a maze, and there was supposed to be a gazebo next to the bench, but the property changed hands, and the spot was forgotten as the school went up. The mentor of the Class Rep before my sister found this place from a description of the original property, and decided to use it as a retreat for herself and those she could trust. Only five others apart from my sister knew it was here, and only she and one other ever came here regularly. I was hoping I could find it quickly."

"Good job, Hikari." Commended Rit-chan. "Let's eat."

"Agreed." Seconded Rei, heading for the stone bench. Asuka and Rit-chan took the ends of the bench, Hikari settling in the center, leaving Rei and Shinji to sit on the grass, which didn't bother them as it was soft and thick. Rei sat right beside Shinji and so close that she was nearly touching him. Asuka frowned slightly at that and her eyes narrowed as she considered the situation.

"Hey, Shinji. Move over here, in front of me." Commanded Asuka. Shinji looked at her, trying to read her. "Well, come on. I'm not going to hurt you." She coaxed. Shinji moved over in front of her. "Now, lean back." She directed, putting her sleek legs behind him. He did so and found the improvised seat comfortable.

"Thanks, Asuka." Said Shinji, digging into his meal.

"Rei, I'll do the same for you." Offered Hikari, motioning to her legs.

"Thank you, Hikari. I accept." Said Rei, shifting to do as Shinji and Asuka were doing. The meals were swiftly eaten, and the empty bentos set aside. The heavy shade and near-by water made the air seem cooler than in the sun-blasted schoolyard and the thick, tall bushes gave the glen a sense of isolation. Rit-chan had moved to the grass after she ate, and was currently lying on her back, her ponytail resting on her chest, at the feet of Rei and Shinji.

"This is so comfortable, I don't know if I want to go back to school today or not." She observed.

"Kodama said she often fell asleep here and had to fake attendance records to keep it a secret." Observed Hikari. "Is the grass that soft?"

"Try it; it's almost as good as a mattress." Answered the elf hunter. Hikari started to decline on account of Rei, but Rei leaned forward, shifted her legs and lay down on the grass as well, her head on Shinji's thigh.

"Misato is correct; this is comfortable." She noted calmly as Hikari blinked and Asuka gaped.

"When did Misato do that?" asked Asuka, her tone annoyed.

"It was a little before the Fourth Angel. She got drunk and fell asleep on me." Said Shinji. Hikari settled next to Rit-chan and stretched out.

"This is comfortable." She agreed. "Asuka, come try this."

"If I did that, who's gonna prop up Baka here?" asked Asuka.

"It's ok, Asuka. I'll lean against the bench." Offered Shinji immediately. Asuka hesitated, then nodded and slipped off the bench, lying down opposite Rei as Shinji adjusted his position. As soon as the Third Child had settled, her head came to rest on his opposite thigh. Several minutes passed as the teens rested, comfortable and relaxed, Asuka's red hair mixing with Rei's blue hair in Shinji's lap. Eventually, Asuka spoke.

"This is nice." Silence fell again as the party one by one slipped into sleep's embrace, the clouds drifting past sedately as the cicadas droned on endlessly. The bell rang, but no one was awake to hear it. And even if they did, it's doubtful if they would have even cared.

"Hey, did you notice?" asked an excited Kensuke of his friend Touji.

"Notice? How could anyone miss it? All five of them went missing!" replied Touji. The boys were sitting next to the pool during their gym class, waiting for their turn to swim. Unlike the girl's pool time, the boys spent much of it horsing around and doing cannonballs instead of swimming laps, relay racing or swimming underwater for distance. Theoretically, the teacher was having them do laps, but it was more of a free-for-all as the teacher and most of the class was watching the girls down on the field. The girls were doing hurdles and relay races, and with the top three girls missing in action, there was a concerted effort to lead the events. So far, Aki was the overall leader.

"Do you think it was something at NERV?" asked Kensuke, pushing his glasses back up from the tip of his nose. "Maybe they had to report for combat training!"

"In the middle of school? And Hikari and Ritsuko aren't pilots, moron." Scoffed Touji.

"Well, no, but Ritsuko lives with Shinji, Misato and the Devil, and Hikari is the best friend of the Demoness, so they might be getting training for piloting an Eva. My dad says that Units 3 and 4 are ahead of schedule and will be arriving soon from NERV's American branch. Maybe they've picked Ritsuko and Hikari to be the pilots and are giving them training now so they can fight the next angel!"

"Get real; Hikari is no more a candidate for Pilot than I am, asswipe. Besides, NERV seems to be doing good with the three they have now." Replied Touji.

"I'd give anything to be an Eva pilot." Spoke Kensuke, his dream of being a hero in the Angel war seeming to be just out of his reach. For a military otaku, it was the ultimate wet dream to pilot an Eva series weapons platform. "Hey, I got it! If I can get Misato to fall in love with me, then I can become a pilot like Shinji and Rei!" exclaimed the glass-wearing freak.

"Loser." Muttered Touji. "Why would she fall for you, geek-boy? She's got Shinji and Kaji to choose from, and you think she'll fall for you? Man, we have got to get you a better brain." Sniped the jock to his childhood friend. "And Misato doesn't choose the pilots, anyway. Some Institute somewhere is supposed to be the ones that name the Pilots for the Eva fighters."

"Really? I wonder if I can find their address in NERV's main computer network? If I can, I can volunteer to be a pilot."

"What did I tell you about hacking into NERV, brain donor?" snapped Touji, rising to his feet and looming over his friend.

"Uh, that it was bad?" guessed Kensuke, seeing the frown on Touji face.

"That's right. And now for your reward." Said the athlete, grabbing Kensuke by the arm and tossing him into the pool. When the youth surfaced a few moments later, Touji was walking toward the locker room, calling out behind him, "And don't do it when you're near me, either."

Shinji slowly opened his eyes, seeing the long shadows and feeling stiffness in his back and shoulders. He also felt a weigh on his legs, and looking down, he saw that Rei and Asuka were still sleeping, their heads on his thighs. In his sleep, he had curled an arm around each of them, just below their breasts, and had eased them closer to him as they all slept. Rei's cheek rested against the top of Asuka's head, and one pale arm was draped over Shinji's calf. Seeing Rei and Asuka sleeping brought a smile to the male pilot's lips. Rei seems so innocent when she sleeps. And Asuka is absolutely breath taking when she is asleep. I…love them. I wonder if they love me? Well, I know that Rei does, but Asuka, well, I just don't know. The Third Child's attention went to the other two girls sleeping on the grass. Hikari was laying next to Rit-chan, having moved over to the older girl's side while she slept, and had one arm over the other red-head's belly. Rit-chan herself was sleeping peacefully, one arm acting as a pillow, and her other hand seemed to be holding something that should be on her hip. Probably her gun. Thought Shinji. Damn, Hikari is cute like that. I didn't notice how cute she was until now. The way her freckles accent her face is very pleasing. And her skirt looks so hot when it's riding up to her hips like that. Hmm. She's wearing blue panties. Shinji didn't realize for a moment that he was calmly noting the color of her panties, as he could see a little bit at her crotch because her skirt had slipped up to her hips when she moved next to Rit-chan. I wonder what color panties Rit-chan and Asuka are wearing? Shinji blushed a little at that thought. But he couldn't resist an impulse to see what the other girls were wearing. He started to shift his hand away from Rei, but suddenly felt her hand on his. Looking down at her face, he saw her red eyes on him. Before he could say anything, her fingertip pressed to his lips, silencing him. Her hand slid his hand to her breasts, and Shinji knew instantly that she wasn't wearing a bra again that day. When he was honest with himself, he had to admit that he loved the feel of her breasts when she wasn't wearing a bra more than when she was. After a brief, but thorough caress of her breasts, he gently slid his hand to her skirt and lifted it a little, Rei turning her hips a bit to ease his task. Sure enough, her bra was not the only thing she had left off today.

In the last few days, she had taken to randomly skipping her bra, panties or both, a game that Shinji was coming to love very much, as it made the day go faster trying to determine if she was or wasn't wearing her underwear. He felt her hand close over his and start to push it toward her lower lips, her actions making it clear that she was inviting him to have her. Shinji knew if he started, he'd never stop before they had both come, and there were three other girls there, one of which was known to be violent, so he reluctantly shook his head and slipped his hand back up to her stomach, leaning down to kiss her. The kiss was brief as his shift in position prompted a small noise from Asuka, and she began to move a little, obviously about to awaken. Shinji felt Rei's tongue trail down his as he broke the kiss. Rei gave him another small smile as Asuka's deep blue eyes opened. The Third Child was captivated by the eyes of the Second. "What time is it, Shin-chan?" she asked, yawning, one hand covering her mouth. Shinji blinked. Chan? Did she just say…? No, I must have imagined it.

"I don't know; I just woke up." Answered Shinji as he fished for his cell phone to check the time. After extracting it, he checked the time. "Um, school ended 20 minutes ago, guys." He said. Asuka sat up and stretched her back and chest before she sighed contentedly.

"I can't remember when I slept that good." She mused. "Wonder why?"

"It is because you have never slept with one you love." Came Rei's soft, gentle voice.

"I guess so, but…wait a minute, I don't love baka!" she exploded. Her voice woke Rit-chan and Hikari, Rit-chan rolling to her right and coming to rest with her hands wrapped around USP. Hikari just sat up.

"Jumpy, Ritsuko?" asked Hikari, eyeing the dark gun in the teen's hands. Rit-chan carefully tucked the gun back in to her skirt band and straightened her outfit.

"Sorry; reflex." She offered a little sheepishly. "What was that about Shinji?"

"Nothing! It was nothing at all!" vehemently deigned Asuka, her face red. "It's 20 minutes after the final bell, so let's get going; we have lots to do, guys. Day after tomorrow is the challenge, after all." Asuka deftly deflected further conversation, though from the looks of it, Rit-chan and Hikari suspected what had really happened.

"Did you say final bell?" asked Hikari suddenly.

"Yeah. School's out, let's motor." Confirmed Asuka as Hikari stared at her in horror.

"I missed class! The class rep can't miss class! The school will punish me for this, I know it!" Hikari was distressed, to put it mildly.

"Oh, relax, Hi-chan." Said Asuka, her tone confident. "It was a NERV emergency and you had no choice but to accompany us on an assignment. Because it was classified, you can't discuss it, and Commander Ikari will deny any knowledge of it, so checking it out will be pointless and unpleasant. Right, Shinji?" smiled Asuka, looking to her fellow pilot for support.

"They will want to check it out with Misato, Asuka. Remember, you've made quite an…impression with this kind of behavior already." Hemmed Shinji.

"And there is the Section 2 agents, Asuka. They will have reported our location and activity to NERV, so Misato will know that we slept here through the second half of school." Seconded Rei calmly. "She would have no reason to cover for us."

"This is bad; what will Kodama say if they strip me of being the class rep? She was so happy to know that I had followed her lead." Moaned Hikari.

"Then we'll have to cover this up. And, fortunately, I know an expert at covering things up." Said Rit-chan. A moment later, she was scanning though her phone's programmed numbers and, after finding the right one, she hit the send button and waited. After a couple of rings, a voice answered.

"Komiyama speaking."

"They what?" asked Misato, raising an eyebrow at Airi, who sat across the table from the other woman. Her beer was open and half-gone, and she was in her work clothes, having a little time to kill before going into NERV for the evening.

"Rit-chan said they fell asleep in a grassy glen at lunch and slept the rest of the school day away. They woke up about ten minutes ago, and miss Horaki will be in serious trouble if the school isn't nipped in the bud, what with her being the class rep and all." Repeated Airi, smiling at the other woman.

"Slept, huh. I wonder which meaning of slept she meant." Teased Misato.

"Well, with Rei, Asuka, Hikari and Rit-chan there, it will be easy enough to know if they had an orgy or not. If Shinji is unable to walk and/or dehydrated, then it was an orgy. If he's the same as he usually is, then they just slept." Replied Airi, knowing what Misato was saying.

"Or I can just call Section 2 and ask." Said Misato, picking up her phone and hitting a button. As the secure cell phone connected to the duty officer of Section 2, Misato sipped her beer. Airi watched Misato's face as she waited for the other woman to ask about the Children. I hate to say it, but I don't think it was an orgy, Mi-chan, much as he would be the better for it. Thought the actress. Rei, maybe. Possibly Asuka, though I doubt she'd be confident enough for that; at least at first. Hikari doesn't seem the kind of girl to be ok with the orgy concept, and as for my Rit-chan…nah. She wouldn't. I think. The actress frowned mentally at that thought. Perhaps I should rethink that idea. Rit-chan is not shy at all, and there were those talks we had over the year we hunted. That thought triggered another thought for Airi. It's odd to think that I didn't know Rit-chan before that day when we all hit the elf world, and now, she's like my kid sister. No, she's closer to me than that. Kind of like a daughter? No, we have a different relationship, somewhere between sisters and mother/daughter. I know exactly how Misato feels now, with her charges. It's kind of…scary.

"Hey guys, wait up a minute." Came a voice from behind Touji and Kensuke. Turning to look at the source of the call, Touji immediately recognized him teammate. The other athlete jogged over to them.

"So, the five vanished at lunch, right?" he asked, grinning.

"Yeah." Confirmed Touji, shrugging. "I don't think that Hikari has ever missed school before."

"Don't get excited; the bitches will not get away." The upper-class athlete assured his teammate. "And speaking of that, why don't you swing by my place about 8 tonight."

"I was going to go visit my sister. What's the deal at your place?" inquired Touji.

"Hey, go ahead and see your sister. But be sure to make it to my place by 8 o'clock. Trust me, you will not want to miss this." Replied his fellow jock, teasing him with innuendo and hints.

"What's the big secret, Touji?" asked Kensuke, looking back and forth between the two bigger boys. Touji was wondering the same thing. He couldn't think of anything that would be going on at the other boy's house. Still, he felt he should go by and see, if for no other reason than that they were on the same teams and had become close friends in the manner of fellow athletes.

"Sorry, Aida. This is only for us athletes. Maybe next time, nerd." Touji's fellow jockstrap-wearer cut Kensuke's question off before he could begin to voice it. "Yo, you know where I'm at, right, Touji?" The boy nodded. "Good. See you at eight. Later, bro."

"Later, Kodo." Replied Touji, shouldering his book bag and resuming his trek toward the hospital where his sister was trying to recuperate after nearly being crushed in the attack of the third angel. Kensuke walked beside his long-time friend and tried to engage him in conversation, but Touji was busy trying to figure out what his buddy was up to. That, and wondering where the five had disappeared to.

"Well, babe, you satisfied with this stuff?" asked the bleach-blonde slacker behind the counter of the paintball shop where the Five Horseman of the Apocalypse were currently inspecting the special-order parts and selecting their other paintball gear. Rit-chan was efficiently checking out each system and comparing it to her master list while the others watched or called out specs for her. "Hey, what d'you say we get together later tonight, and I can show you some good moves for `balling."

"Pass." Was Rit-chan's one word answer. Her eyes never left the list as she marked off some more lines.

"Come on, we got a lot in common, babe. I mean, we both love `balling, we both dress like models, and we both dye our hair. We'd be perfect together, babe." The man was not to be dissuaded so easily.

"Let's get some facts straight, asshole." Growled Rit-chan, her eyes shifting to his. "First, I do not even like paintball, I do not dress like this by choice, and I do not dye my hair. In short, we have nothing in common and would not be good together, so park the libido, numb nuts." The man behind the counter raised his hands in a mock conciliatory manner.

"Whoa, no need to be so harsh, sweet cheeks. I totally dig the schoolgirl look. And I love red heads. Besides, I can tell from the way your handling the goods that you know your way around `balling guns, so why the dissin of the game, huh?" asked the man.

"You are mistaken, oh hairless ape." Replied Rit-chan crisply. "I am not familiar with paintball guns. I am familiar with real guns, and that allows me some expertise with these toys."

"These are real guns, chickie." Retorted the man, bristling at her dismissive label of his life's blood as mere toys. "Big bore, high capacity, accurate guns; the best money can buy."

"With a muzzle velocity of only 300 feet per second, and firing a .68 caliber liquid-core marker round, they can not match the distance, accuracy, stopping power or lethality of even the most lowly of the real guns, and certainly are no match for my USP or G36." Corrected Rit-chan meticulously.

"And a schoolgirl like you is packing one of those, I suppose." He shot back, his tone condescending. Rit-chan stared him in the eye.

"Every day and every night, boy."

"Brownies like you shouldn't be telling lies, yo. Why don't you just give up this nonsense and act more like a girl." He snorted, leaning back against the rack of paintball guns, some of which were made to look like real guns. "Still, I wouldn't mind a chick as hot as you wanting to be my girl."

"Sorry;" replied Rit-chan frostily, her smile sickeningly sweet. "but I only date within my own species."

"Sure, sure. You say that now, but once you get some of this lovin', you'll be begging for more." Was the cocky reply as he grabbed his groin suggestively. "I got the hotdog to fill your bun, hon."

"More like a Vienna sausage, I think." Snickered Asuka, her tone mean.

"Hey, you've never seen this much dick in your life, girl." The man said, his tone a bit defensive. He struck a pose and waited for the girls to swoon with delight. Four girls checked him over from head to foot. Bleached blonde hair, cut short with a single lock sprouting from the center of his head and braided into four bead-adorned braids, three earrings in his left ear, two in his right ear, a thin silver ring in the corner of his upper lip, a tattoo of a cat's head on the left side of his neck and a dog on the right side, three silver and one gold narrow-band necklaces looped around his neck above the tank-top tee-shirt exhorting the virility of paintballers being balanced by several small tattoos of various people, things and activities that one should not advertise so openly, which in turn was tucked haphazardly into the waistband of a pair of boxers that sat a full three inches above the waistband of his baggy, saggy, ragged loose-fitting blue jeans that in turn were tucked into a pair of scuffed, worn combat boots that were theoretically tied on, though the laces were not tied or even tightened. Having completed their inspection, the girls glanced at each other, then compared him to the only other boy around: Shinji. Clean-cut, dressed in a dark tee shirt under a light button-down shirt, chinos and tastefully understated sneakers, the difference was as stark and obvious as the difference between a junkyard and a mansion. And there was the fact that the girls all knew that Shinji was well equipped. The girls touched gazes again, and noted that the others were all a little warm in the face after scopeing out Shinji. "Hey, why are you looking at that kid like that when you got a hunk of love like me here, eh?" demanded the guy behind the counter.

"Because we desire him, not you." Replied Rei, her tone her usual freezing cold.

"Yeah, the last time I saw something like you, it was at the zoo." Chimed in Asuka.

"Aren't you a little old for cosplay?" asked Hikari.

"Hey, guys, we got things to do and places to be, so let's motor." Called Rit-chan, gathering up the supplies and dividing them evenly among the party, taking the heaviest for herself. "Ring this up, monkey boy." She commanded, handing him her NERV card.

"Bitch." He muttered as he started for the register. Glancing at her card, he did a double take as he saw the blood red NERV logo and the single azure blue strip that designated her as active personnel rather than the single white strip of dependants. This girl is with NERV? He thought, dazed. Then she really does pack a gun. And I just had to go shooting my mouth off at her like she was some normal skirt! Shit on me. "Um, miss Inoue?" he asked, reading her name off the card. "I was wondering, you wouldn't happen to be a pilot, would you?" His tone was very polite now, as Ritsuko had suspected it would be once he saw the card. She opened her mouth to speak, but Asuka beat her to it.

"And why does it matter? You got a problem with that as well as our taste in men?" she snapped, her hackles raised. "Just ring this shit up and fucking hurry, got it?"

"Asuka, take it easy." Whispered Hikari.

"Why do you want to know if Inoue is a pilot?" asked Rei.

"Well, I was just thinking that since she works at NERV and she's so young, she must be a pilot." He said, his tone placating.

"As it happens, she is not a pilot." Stated Rei. "She is, however, a candidate for the position of Assistant Operations Director as well as a potential pilot, should another Eva unit become available." The rest of her party stared at her. Rei ignored them. "It is best if you do not pursue this matter any farther." Her tone, body language and projection of threat would have made Commander Ikari swell with pride.

"Go…gotcha." He stammered, cowering under her relentless red stare. He handed the card back to Rit-chan. "Sorry about my behavior, miss Inoue. Please, accept this gear as my apology to you and NERV." He bowed to her deeply.

"If you insist." Said Rit-chan levelly, taking her card and leading the others out of the shop.

"Why did you lie to him like that, Rei?" asked Hikari.

"I did not lie, Hikari." Stated Rei calmly.

Touji was sitting beside his sister's bed, listening to her tell him what the nurses had told her earlier. Her condition was not much improved in all this time, as the majority of her injuries were to her head and spine, both areas that did not react well to being pressed under tons of debris and tended to not heal swiftly; if at all. The dark-haired teen watched his kid sister as she talked to him, her voice almost back to what it had been before, though now, she got tired far quicker than she used to. "Are you listening, big brother?"

Her words shook him loose from his introspection on her grave medical situation. "Of course I am, squirt. What else would I be doing?" he asked her, a smile on his lips.

"Probably thinking about how bad off I am or blaming mister Ikari for what happened, if I know you." She said, part of her mouth smiling, the other trying to, but not quite making it. The nerves had been heavily damaged in her head and chest area, and she was having to slowly relearn everything, like how to smile and talk.

"You got me, kid." He said, touching her arm carefully. "I was thinking of some way to help you get better."

"And just what can you do that the doctors here can't, big brother?" she said, her tone disdainful. "I'm going to be all right, big brother. I know I will because I won't give up. You taught me that only losers give up, and no sister of the great Touji Suzahara will ever be a loser." Touji had to fight hard to keep from crying in front of her. She's as tough as they come; that's my sister. He thought proudly. "Have you made up with mister Ikari yet, big brother?" asked his sister.

"Yeah. I told you, I apologized and gave him two free shots at me for when I hit him. And I can tell you, he hits hard for such a meek guy. He almost laid me out with the first shot."

"And the second one?" asked his sister, her tone eager.

"Well, I got to tell you, I wish he had just punched me. Instead, he made me look like an idiot in front of the girls, and all so he could see if Ayanami would smile for him." Said Touji, his tone rueful. "He's a pretty cool guy, though." He added.

"When are you going to introduce us, big brother?" asked his sister.

"Huh?" replied Touji.

"I want to meet mister Ikari, big brother. And the nurses here have been talking about the new Eva, the red one. Do you know who pilots it?"

"Yeah, you could say that. All three pilots are in my class, squirt. But believe me, you don't wanna meet the Devil. I mean, pilot Sohryu is…unsociable."

"Oh. But you will bring mister Ikari here soon, right? Please, big brother? I want to meet him." She gave him her best puppy dog eyes, and, as always, he had no chance against them.

"Tell you what, I'll see what I can do. Maybe if I ask him, he can get Ayanami to come too. She's a bit cold, but at least she isn't violent like Devil Girl."

"This Ayanami is a pilot too?" asked his sister excitedly. "Which one does she pilot?"

"She's the blue one, squirt. You know, the one with one eye?"

"The one that got melted a while back? When they turned off the lights to kill it?"

"Uh, yeah. That one. I hear that it's back in service now, though." Just then, a nurse stepped in and began to inject numerous drugs and fluids into the IV's in his sister's arms.

"Sorry, but when this takes effect, she'll fall asleep quickly." Said the nurse, continuing to add to the chemical cocktail that was flowing into his sister's veins. Touji watched her face as she watched the nurse work.

"Visiting hours aren't over yet." He protested weakly. Already, her eyes were drooping a bit.

"She needs this medicine, mister Suzahara, and rest." Pointed out the nurse, finishing the last injection.

"Big brother?" came her voice, her tone weak and tired. "Don't forget…promise." She said, yawning a little as she fell asleep.

"I'll do my best, Maki." He promised his sleeping sister. He sat and watched her sleep for another half hour before rising to depart. A look at his watch showed him that he had just enough time to make it to Kodo's house. It's not like I have anything more important to do now. He thought, heading for his friend's house.

The hallway outside the apartment of Captain Misato Katsuragi of NERV had become a testing range for the various paintball guns, as Rit-chan and the others got used to the ballistic profile of each gun. And Rit-chan was not happy with what she was seeing. "This is no good. The range is too short, the accuracy is piss poor to say the least, and the guns won't feed reliably unless the gun in an upright position. Also, there is the whole issue of the cumbersome air supply." She scowled. The door of the apartment down the hall was splattered with numerous paintball rounds, as was the walls, ceiling and floor near it. They had made sure that a cloth and some dishwater would remove the marking gel before they opened fire, Asuka noting that the apartment was empty and unlikely to be occupied before the war with the Angels was over, so why bother with cleaning it up? "Ok, guys. Head shed time. Ideas for correcting these shortcomings?"

"Well, the accuracy is pretty much fixed because the barrels aren't rifled. Do you think that if we found a way to increase the muzzle velocity it might give us tighter patterns?" suggested Asuka.

"Increasing the muzzle velocity would increase the range." Stated Rei. "We could use higher-pressure tanks of air for propellant, or perhaps change the regulators to allow greater pressure into the chambers."

"Could we use smaller caliber shells in these to make them faster?" asked Shinji, his tone hesitant.

"Not without sabots or paper-patching each round." Said Rit-chan, shaking her head. "I think the best chance of success lies with the regulators or the higher pressure tanks. Rei-chan, I'm guessing that you have an idea of what tanks we might use?"

"Yes. Scuba tanks usually run at about 3000 psi, with variable ratio regulators to feed air at depth. We should be able to adapt a tank to these air systems, and if the regulators are not adjustable, we could probably rig up a permanently set regulator for the systems. There is the question of rather or not the launchers can handle the higher pressure." Said the blue-haired pilot.

"We were going to have static positions for the two flag defenders, right, Rit-chan?" asked Hikari. The elf hunter nodded. "Well, since the positions will be fixed, the issue of the cumbersome gear for the supporting machine guns is moot, as the nests will be stationary, and if we have to displace, then we'll be taking lighter arms and leaving the heavier ones, right?"

"Good point. And it brings up another test we need to do tonight. We need to test these so-called grenades and rockets. I hope they aren't as useless as these toys." She sniffed disdainfully at the paintball guns. "Let's get them loaded and test them. It might prove more useful to use them as area-denial devices rather than offensive weapons."

"Let's take a break first and grab some drink; it's hot out here." Said Asuka, pulling on the neck of her tee shirt. She and Rit-chan had changed into shorts and tee shirts when they arrived at the apartment, Hikari and Rei had remained in their school uniforms, and Shinji had opted for shorts and a tee shirt as well.

"Sounds good to me. What do you all want?" asked Shinji, opening the door to their apartment for the girls.

"Water, please." Said Rei in her normal soft voice.

"Soda for me, Baka. Root beer if we have any left." Chimed in Asuka.

"Same here." Called Hikari.

"Is there any of that fruit punch left from yesterday? If so, I'll have some." Decided Rit-chan.

"I'll have it in a minute." Affirmed Shinji as he stepped into the kitchen.

"It's nice to have a house-broken male sometimes." Said Asuka, her tone a bit snippy. "I swear, Shinji will make someone a nice wife someday."

"Whereas you will make someone a nice husband one day; if you can get them drunk enough." Came a voice from Misato's room. Asuka bristled.

"Sorry, Misato, I can't afford enough beer to keep you, so I'll have to pass on your marriage proposal." She countered.

"Aw, too bad." Smiled Misato, tossing an empty beer can into the trash in the kitchen as she took another one out of the eternally stocked refridge. "Since you won't marry me, I guess I'll have to take Shin-chan instead."

"Cradle-robbing letch." Muttered Asuka.

"Hey! I'm only a little older than he is, you know!" retorted Misato, popping the top and taking a hit of her beer.

"You're twice as old as he is, Misato. How does that equate to `only a little older' than him?" shot back Asuka. "Besides, you can't marry him without giving up your leisure-time activities."

"What's that supposed to mean, Second?" snapped Misato, her tone irritated.

"Don't get me wrong, Misato, I'm sure the men at NERV hate it when you get plastered and start to strip at parties and it must be awful to have to try and remember the name of the guy in bed with you when you wake up hung-over, but you can't be acting that way if you're a married woman, now can you?" said Asuka, her tone cloyingly sweet.

"And who told you those lies?" snarled Misato. "There haven't even been any NERV parties since before you arrived! How would you know?!"

"Honestly, do you ever listen to the personnel when they talk? It's common knowledge what happened at the last Christmas party. Hell, Akagi even had pictures of that one." Answered Asuka calmly. Misato was mumbling curses about Ritsuko under her breath as the beer can began to crumple in her hand. Shinji stepped past her and handed the drinks to the person who asked for them. When the others had their drinks, Shinji stepped back into the kitchen, taking the can of beer from Misato's hand and replacing it with a can of soda as he re-emerged. Misato barely noticed as she was busy planning the demise of her friend. Suddenly, she brightened.

"Well, I suppose I used to get a little wild back in the days before you and Shin-chan came here, but I wasn't as bad as Ritsu. She's a total freak when she's drunk! There was this time in college when we went to a kegger thrown by the local chapters of the frat houses, and she had a bit too much to drink, and…"

"Do we have to get into this right now, Misato?" asked Shinji, his face a little warm. He happened to sit next to Rei, who slipped closer to him without the others noticing her do it.

"Yes, we have to, Baka. Spill it, Misato!" commanded Asuka, her dislike of the head of Project E evident in her extreme interest in the story. Rit-chan was listening, but her eyes were staring into space, and she was obviously thinking of other things. Hikari was blushing already, and Misato obviously had more to tell than that, while Asuka's eyes had a nasty sheen to them that spoke of sadistic plans for the information she was about to receive. Rei seemed indifferent, her attention on Shinji. Shinji sighed and braced himself, knowing the type of stories Misato told when she was buzzed and feeling vindictive.

"Well, Ritsu and I arrived about half-way through the festivities, and there were tons of people there already; fuck, most of the dorms were there, both guys and girls. Anyway, we got to drinking, and this cute guy comes over to Ritsu and I and asks us if we wanted to dance, and we said `sure, why not?' and he led us to this table in the main room in the house, and there was this girl doing a strip-tease. Let me tell you, that chick was plastered; totally out of control. Well, Ritsu starts to get cold feet, so she excuses herself to get more beer. When she came back, she had this bottle of vodka in her hands, and it was half gone. I asked her where she got that from, and she said that one of the guys in her advanced micro-biology classes had given it to her because he was heading home and the dorm didn't like for the residents to keep alcohol in the facilities; something about some fires or something.

"Anyway, she had already had about a dozen beers, and now, she had taken a few longs pulls from the vodka bottle. The chick dancing on the table is totally naked now and finally passes out from the alcohol in her system, doing a lovely table-dive into the guys around the table. Anyway, the guys haul her off somewhere to recover, and that cute guy comes back and asked if we're ready to do some dancing. Ritsu asks what's in it for her, and the guy says that there is a prize pot for the dancer that does the best job. Well, I asked how much was in it, and it was almost 2 million yen. So I figure, why not. Ritsu hears that, drains the bottle of vodka in one shot, tosses the bottle out the window and pulls me onto the table, saying that she has a good use for that money. Well, she had had a bit more to drink that she should have, because…"

Fifteen minutes later, Hikari's hands were clamped over her mouth, her face as red as Asuka's Eva, her eyes were wide open in shock and she was panting. Asuka was laughing maniacally, having fallen to the floor two minutes before because she was laughing so hard, her hands clamped to her midsection as tears of mirth ran down her cheeks. Rei was sitting there, her face calm and her physical bearing relaxed, but Shinji could have sworn that her eyes were open more than normal, and she seemed a little…shocked by Misato's story. Rit-chan was snickering, her eyes crinkled in wicked glee. Shinji was blushing a little, but not nearly as badly as Hikari; his problem was that Misato's story was making certain parts of him stiffer than he would like. He did his best to control it, knowing that if Rei saw it, then she would do something about it, possibly right there in front of everyone.

"…well, anyway, I was finally able to drag her out of there after the guys had all fallen asleep, and I managed to get her cleaned up enough to get back to our place. The sun was coming up when I finally dumped her on the couch and crashed. Hmm. Come to think of it, I never did find any of her clothes, not even a single shoe. I guess they ended up in some freak's private collection, along with my bra and hose, I suppose. Good thing I had a jacket with me that night, or it'd have been difficult to get home, seeing as how I had to give Ritsu my shirt so she wasn't totally naked." Misato finished and took a sip from her can of soda, which had hit empty a while back. Shaking it, she tossed it into the trash and stretched.

"It's a wonder you passed college, Mi-chan." Came Airi's voice from the hall leading to the bedrooms. The actress was standing there in one of her new outfits, that being a thin, loose-fitting, soft silk shirt in indigo and a pair of close-fitting denim shorts that weren't much larger than Misato's barely-there shorts.

"Yeah, isn't it?" grinned Misato.

"Hey, Airi. Like the outfit." Called Rit-chan, giving her companion a wave.

"Thanks, Rit-chan. Everything going good with you guys?" acknowledged the actress.

"Pretty much. Oh, yeah; that reminds me. Misato, does NERV have any Simunition rounds available in the armory or magazine? Preferably in rifle caliber?" asked the younger girl.

"Simunition? That's that training ammo, right? With bullets made of soft alloy and gelatin?" asked Misato, frowning.

"Yes. Or, if not, wax bullets or rubber bullets." Confirmed Rit-chan.

"I don't think so, but I'll make a point to check tomorrow for you. Good enough?" asked Misato.

"Sure. And thanks, Misato." Replied the teen.

"Problems, Rit-chan?" asked Airi, coming into the room and sitting next to her friend, who made some room. Misato retrieved a beer for herself and Airi, who took it without comment.

"Not exactly." Clarified Ritsuko, leaning back and frowning a little. "I'm just not impressed with the performance of these toys. Guess I'm too used to real ammo in real guns. If we have the right type of ammo, our snipers and fire support teams can be much more effective."

"I have an idea on restricting the movement of the opposing team, Rit-chan." Stated Rei, turning her red eyes to the older red-head.

"Shoot." Said Rit-chan, leaning forward to listen better.

"Since it is the objective to limit their ability to move within the buildings, it would seem easiest to simply make it impossible to enter any building unless it is in our plan to let them do so." Began Rei. "My plan would be quick and difficult to detect, and all we need are a couple of cordless drills and some anchor stays."

"Tell me more, tell me more." Smiled Rit-chan, her smile not unlike that of the Cheshire cat.

Touji stopped in front of a house that sat back from the road a ways, gated and walled. Since it was on the outskirts of Tokyo 3, it, like Misato's apartment, had been nearly untouched by the angel attacks so far. It had taken him a little longer than he thought to get here, and it was now a quarter past eight. Well, might as well go on in, seeing as I'm already here. Thought the boy, touching the button to ring the house. A moment later, the gate clicked open, and he stepped inside, hearing the gate lock behind him as he walked up to the main door. It was a good hundred-meter walk to the door.

When he got to the door, it was opened by Kodo himself; beer in his hand and a cigarette in his mouth. "Touji, good of you to drop by." He said grandly, waving the fellow athlete inside. "How is your kid sis, bro?"

"Same as always, not much better than before." Replied Touji, stepping past the other guy and setting his school bag down next to his shoes. From inside, the sounds of a party were heard. As he stood up, he glanced significantly at the beer and cigarette. "Should you be doing that, man? We've got the challenge day after tomorrow and the regional basketball finals the Wednesday after that."

"Relax, bro. I only smoke on special occasions, and a couple of beer won't hurt me. Or you, for that matter." His friend said, brushing the question off. He smiled and leaned closer to Touji. "Especially not these beers. Check it." He said, pointing to a small mark on the side of the can.

"Non-alcoholic beer? What's that all about?" asked Touji of his friend. His friend put his finger to his lips.

"Not so loud. Only a couple of the brews are non-alcoholic. The rest are normal. Come on in, but keep that to yourself, got it?" Touji nodded, following the other teen into the living room.

In the living room Touji found that Shodoki was there, along with another upper-classman, a member of the baseball team and about five girls, Tomoko among them. The karaoke machine was cranked up, and two of the girls were belting out some song, as the others clapped or jeered, depending on rather or not they thought the two were doing good or not. "Where are your parents?" asked Touji, having to raise his voice slightly.

"Dad's on a trip and the step-monster is out of town for the month. I got the joint to myself." Grinned Kodo. "Sit down and have a drink. Want one?" he asked, offering Touji a cigarette from a pack on the coffee table. Touji shook his head. "I'll get you a beer." Called Kodo, stepping into the kitchen. Touji sat down next to one of the girls, who turned to look at him, then smiled and said.

"Hi there. I'm Naoko. What's your name?"

"Touji. I'm on the team." Said the Stooge. The girl giggled.

"Which team?" she asked, then burst out laughing.

"What do you mean?" asked Touji, but was interrupted by Kodo's return.

"He's on the regular team, Naoko. Get you another round?"

"Sure, honey. Make it a double." She said, leaning against Touji.

"You got it, cutie." Called Kodo as he stepped to a bar at the side wall and mixed the girl a drink. Touji looked at her and saw that she was wearing a one-piece dress and platform shoes, which made her a full three inches taller than she normally was. He also noticed that the dress was very short on her, and had ridden up almost to her hips. Kodo handed her a glass and sat down beside her, setting his beer can on the table in front of him, then leaning back and putting his hand on Naoko's thigh. Glancing at Touji, he winked.

Just then, the pair of girls singing finished and sat down, picking up drinks and taking long pulls from them. Out of the corner of his eye, Touji saw Shodoki's hand disappear under Tomoko's skirt. The girl was still in her school uniform, but the top was around her waist and her shirt was unbuttoned. The upperclassman on the other side of Shodoki pulled a cigarette from his pocket and fired it up, taking a puff before passing it to one of the girls, who did the same, holding the smoke before letting it loose. Is that a joint? What the hell is it doing here? Wondered Touji. The joint was passed down the line, and when it got to Touji, he calmly passed it on to Kodo, whom he noticed, took only a very short drag and quickly let the smoke out before passing it back up the line. Touji took a swig of beer, finding the taste to be less than pleasant, but not exactly bad, either. If Misato can drink this, then so can I. He reasoned. A careful check of the can showed him that the beer was not one of the alcohol-free ones. He reasoned that it couldn't have that much effect on him if he only had one or two the whole night. Making a mental note to make sure that he had the unleaded ones from now on, he decided to nurse the beer as long as possible.

It was perhaps a half hour later, and the guy from the baseball team and the upperclassman had headed out for some munchies or something like that, and one of the girls was passed out on the floor in front of the TV, clad in only her panties, the rest of her clothes scattered around the room where she had thrown them during her impromptu strip show. There were several bills stuffed into her thong panties, put there by the guys and Naoko. Touji had finished his beer and was working on an alcohol-free one now, while the others had had far more to drink. He was by far the most sober one there. Tomoko was on her knees in front of Shodoki, her school uniform on the carpet along with her bra and panties, her head bobbing up and down on his dick. Naoko was busy making out with Kodo, her skirt up around her waist and her panties on the floor. The other two girls were at the bar, doing shots of something or other, with some kind of bet riding on who could out-drink the other. From beside him, he heard Shodoki grunt, followed by a slurping sound as Tomoko's throat worked. Raising her head, she smiled at Shodoki, who patted her head like one would a dog as he took a drink from his glass.

"Hey, Naoko says she wants some of that." Called Kodo, pulling his hands away from her groin as she stood up and stepped over to Tomoko, who was still sitting on the floor naked. Kneeling in front of the other girl, Naoko took her head in her hands and French kissed her, ignoring the other girl's startled jerk. Shodo stood and stepped over to the girl who was passed out on the floor and picked her up, carrying her off to another room. Kodo nodded to where Naoko and Tomoko were still necking and grinned at Touji.

"Hot, aren't they?"

"Yeah. I only saw something like that in a porno." Agreed Touji, his dick hard. Kodo laughed. Standing, he crossed to the bar and spoke with the two girls there, who were both wobbling on their feet a bit, then escorted them down the hall. He returned the living room briefly, grabbing a beer and then heading back toward the other room, pausing to tell Touji

"Fourth door on the right, bro. And the necessary items are in the drawer of the bedside table." He made one more stop, and that was to whisper to Naoko and toss his head at Touji. She smiled and nodded, while Tomoko looked a little disappointed. With a wave, he was gone, and Touji saw Naoko stand, step in front of him, and toss her dress off, leaving her naked.

"What do you say, Touji?" she asked, smiling at his tented pants. "Wanna come fuck our brains out, stud?" she asked, giggling and pulling Tomoko up, her other hand sliding over the girl's groin, which was soaked with her juices. His dick gave a spasm of lust at seeing Tomoko naked. "Aw, you look tense. Let's do something about that, shall we Tomo-chan?" said Naoko, pushing the other girl to the couch beside Touji, then reaching down and beginning to pull his pants down. Before he knew it, his tracksuit pants were around his ankles and his boxers were at his knees. Naoko giggled, then knelt and swallowed his hard dick in one shot, while Tomoko leaned over and began to kiss him. Touji quickly lost himself in the sensations of their bodies, and before he knew it, he had shot his first load in Naoko's mouth. The girl licked him clean, then stood, pulling Tomoko to her and let the semen fall from her lips to Tomoko's mouth before frenching the other girl again. Until then, his dick had been softening, but that sight made it spring back to attention. Naoko saw that that giggled again. "Let's take this to the bedroom, stud." She said, leading both Tomoko and Touji down the hall to the fourth door on the right.

"I believe that Rei-chan's idea will solve one of our worst remaining problems. Agreed?" stated Rit-chan, looking each of the others in the eyes. Head nods all around signaled agreement. "Excellent. Now, we just need to cover comms and take the time to set up the ambush site. I know that NERV has ear-bud radios, so can you get us five of them, Misato-san?" asked the teen.

"No problem; and I thought I told you to call me Misato, not Misato-san." Said the Captain.

"Oops. Habit." Smiled Rit-chan, sticking her tongue out for a moment. "Asuka, we'll want to wait as long as possible before telling them exactly where the site is, so tomorrow, tell the principals on the other team that you will call them that morning to tell them where we are. We'll need to have a face-to-face with the opposing team to establish some ground rules as well as to count them to keep them from slipping in constant reinforcements." Rit-chan paused, her mind reviewing her plans for the slaughter.

"Ok, here's the tentative run-through. We call them at eight in the morning with a start time of nine, which means that we will need to start early day after tomorrow. When we meet with them, we'll wear jogging pants and loose clothes over our spandex, so they won't know what we're going to be wearing. The camo, guns and ammo will be pre-positioned before they arrive, so they won't know where we're set up at. Armor will need to be stashed as well. We count them, agree to the guidelines, hand them their flag, point them to their position and we head for our stations. Once we clear the area, we change and get ready. Yeah, that might work best. Thoughts or questions?" asked Ritsuko, sounding satisfied with the scenario she had crafted for them. The others all had questions.

"What guidelines are we going to be using?" asked Hikari. "And how do we make sure they follow them?"

"Basically, any hit to the torso or head is a kill, limb hits means they can't move, but can still shoot from where they were hit. So, make sure to stitch them good across the chest or head, guys." Answered Rit-chan. "As for enforcement, if there is paint on them, they are hit. Period. And if that fails, well, I have plans." Her smile was very nasty. "Next."

"Why the change of clothes?" asked Asuka.

"Because I don't trust that creep Aida. He has made some fairly sophisticated bugs and trackers for an amateur with limited resources, so I choose to over-estimate his ability rather than under-estimate it. I will therefore assume that he will find a way to tag us so they can track us. With a complete change of clothes, it limits the odds that he will be able to use any tricks. Good enough, Asuka-chan?"

"Yeah, I guess you're right." She said, her tone mollified.

"How early do you think we'll need to be there?" asked Shinji.

"With the amount of work to do and sheer bulk of gear to be transported, I figure we'll need to be up and running by no later than five am." Stated Rit-chan. "Rei, I think you should spend the night here tomorrow night, so you can get as much sleep as you can; if you go home, then you will have to get up an extra hour early and come over here. Hikari, you too."

"I don't want to be a bother." Said Hikari softly.

"You're no bother, Hikari. Plenty of room for you here, at least for a night. Right, Rit-chan? Misato?"

"Yeah, it's no problem, Hikari. Asuka's got a big bed." Agreed Rit-chan.

"Three might be a full load for it, though. Rei can sleep in Shinji's bed. Right, Rei-chan?" teased Misato, smiling at Shinji, who was blushing.

"Yes. I will sleep in his bed." She answered in her normal level tone, no hint of any emotion showing. Asuka was glowering at her as Shinji blushed brighter.

"Don't get too excited, Baka." She growled. "You're sleeping on the couch, baka no hentai!"

"I hear the sounds of a jealous girl again." Chortled Misato. "If you ask nicely, Rei may switch with you."

"Don't even joke like that, Misato." Huffed Asuka, glaring at her guardian and commanding officer. "Why don't you switch with her?"

Misato's smile got wider and her eyes glinted dangerously. "Sure. Rei, you're in my room and I'll take Shinji's bed, ok?"

"Hai." Answered Rei, her tone as serious as ever. Asuka gritted her teeth and cursed herself for leaving Misato an opening. Then she realized something.

"So where are you planning to take his bed, Misato-chan?" she smiled. "Personally, I would have thought you would take Shinji, but if all you want is his bed, well, you must have some very kinky fetishes." Misato blinked. Bull's eye! Thought Asuka, giving herself a mental high-five. How you like them apples, bitch?!

"I planned to take Shinji with his bed, Asuka, but I have to say, the possibilities are endless even if we leave the bed out of it. I wonder if…" said Misato, her tone a little air headed.

"Aargh!" screamed Asuka. "It's a wonder you haven't just tripped him and taken what you want by now! I swear, you must be some kind of nympho, you drunken, slovenly letch!" Misato smiled sweetly at the raging redhead.

"Are you sure I haven't, Asuka? After all, we were alone here for nearly three months before you came here. And with such temptation at hand, well…" she trailed off, faking a lustful look at Shinji; or at least, he hoped it was faked.

"You…you…tramp!" gasped out Asuka, her face crimson. "No wonder Kaji-chan left you!" The others froze at her words. Misato gave an innocent wide-eyed look before taking another swig of beer.

"Who told you that?" she asked, her tone level.

"No one had to tell me; it's obvious from the way you act and treat my Kaji that he dumped you because you couldn't control yourself!" snapped Asuka, her hands on hips.

"Hate to break this to you, Second Child, but I dumped him when I caught him in bed with another woman." Asuka blinked. "For the fifth time." Continued Misato calmly as Asuka's rage faltered, turning to uncertainty. "In a month." Finished Misato, draining the beer in her hand and tossing the can at the trashcan. Asuka was quiet now, her face shocked. "Sorry if I damaged your little daydream about the charming and sophisticated Ryouji Kaji, but the truth is, he's an immature womanizer who is only interested in the next woman, and not the woman he is with. If you think I'm lying to you, ask him who dumped whom. And, if you're really brave - or stupidly desperate to know - ask him how many timed I took him back after one or more of his `flings'. But I have to warn you; he'll probably tell you the truth, and it will destroy your image of him forever. I know it did mine." Said Misato, standing and stretching. "I'm gonna finish my paperwork and hit the sack. See you tomorrow, guys." The group watched her walk to her room in silence. Rei's crimson eyes slid over to see Shinji's dark blue orbs watching the retreating form of the Captain, seeing in his eyes a look of pained compassion. Rei Ayanami felt that somehow, Shinji knew exactly how the Captain felt.

Three a.m. and the city was nearly silent, an understandable condition seeing as how it's purpose was to trap angels and the population was nearly all gone, leaving the silent buildings and deserted streets to the odd humans out and about. On the hills overlooking the city, in an apartment building nestled back in a small niche of a hill, a single figure stood on the balcony, arms crossed on the railing, gazing blankly at the lights of the city below. The figure had been there now for nearly an hour, not moving and not seeing anything before him, his mind elsewhere. Behind him, the sliding glass door silently slid open and another figure stepped out into the warm night air, easing the glass door closed behind them. For several minutes, the second figure stared at the first.

"So, what are you doing out here, Shin-chan?" asked the second at last, startling the boy from his thoughts. "Nightmares, or just nervous about the challenge?"

"Oh, I just needed to do some thinking. Did I wake you when I came out here?" he asked the other.

"Nah. I was in the bathroom when I heard the sound of the door lock being opened, and decided to investigate. You ok?" said the second figure, stepping to the railing and looking out over the city as well. "It's pretty." She noted.

"Uh, yeah, it's…nice." Managed Shinji. The second person gave a little laugh.

"You sound like Rei-chan when you talk that way." She said, her tone mirthful. "So, what was so important that you're out here at three in the morning? Or is it none of my business?" she asked. Shinji gave her a quick look.

"No, no, it's ok! I was just thinking about some stuff, that's all." He assured her quickly.

"Such as?" she pressed. Shinji considered his thoughts, and weighed rather or not to share them. Finally, he decided he should see how she would react to a small piece of the puzzle. He noticed that she stood watching him, the fitful breeze blowing her loose shirt around like a skirt, revealing the soft, loose nylon shorts under it. Shinji himself was in a very similar outfit, but instead of a loose tee shirt, his was an unbuttoned dress shirt that he had tossed on before heading out here.

"I was just thinking about how to…repay Rei-chan for how…kind she's been to me. And I don't know how to do that." He said, watching her and hoping she wouldn't notice how hot his cheeks were. The girl studied him calmly.

"So, the first step is to determine what the value of `nice' is and then to decide just how `nice' she has been." Began the other person. "From what I have seen, she has been very nice to you with regard to physical comfort. Tell me, Shin-chan, have you and her had sex?" asked the girl, her tone serious and somewhat distant.

Shinji blushed more deeply. "I, ah…don't know if I should tell you…" he hedged.

"I will assume from your body language and words that you are concerned about certain parties learning that two of their pilots have been fucking each other's brains out. Well, I understand you not wanting others to know, so I will give you my promise that I won't tell anyone who doesn't have a need to know. Good enough?" she replied. He nodded.

"I trust you, Rit-chan."

"Thanks, Shinji. Now, tell me what has got you so stumped. If you two have been having sex, then you should know how to thank her for her attention." Replied the older teen.

"Well, there is that, but there's something else as well." Hedged Shinji.

"What is it? We'll handle this one part at a time. So, what do you want to do to thank her for sharing herself with you?" replied Rit-chan.

"I want to make her feel the way she makes me feel, but I don't know what I'm doing!" he managed, his face hot enough to catch on fire.

"I see. She was your first, right?" A small nod from Shinji was her answer. "Does she have more experience than you?"

"If that's a nice way of asking if she was a virgin too, then I don't know! She never said anything about it, and she certainly didn't seem interested in…that before we did it, but I just don't know."

"Would it matter to you if she were…experienced?" asked a curious Rit-chan.

"No! Of course not!" he said in a soft but forceful voice. "I don't…care if she was…experienced or not; I just want to make her as happy as she makes me when…well, you know." He finished sheepishly. Rit-chan digested this for a bit, then offered her advice.

"Like I told you, I've got experience in everything but intercourse, so take this for what it's worth, but has she said anything to you about your…performance?" A headshake. "Then I would say, next time you two get a chance, ask her what she likes for you to do, and take her suggestions into account. Besides, learning can be fun." She smiled, leaning closer to him. "I liked learning how to kiss and how to pet. You shouldn't be afraid to learn with each other."

"Well, she has said a few things to me about a sort of related topic." Muttered Shinji.

"What other topic?" asked Rit-chan, her curious nature showing through.

"Girls." He answered succinctly. Seeing her puzzled look, he sighed and replied "Well, I guess I should tell you the whole story." He began to relate a conversation between him and Rei to her, and in the next half hour, Rit-chan learned a lot about Shinji, Rei, Asuka, LCL, the possible meanings of love, and the true nature of Shinji's feelings toward certain parties.