Part 21: Shoots and Shots

The boats cut cleanly though the aquamarine waters, side by side as the group headed for the first dive site of the day. Rit-chan and Hikari were sitting on the sunny side of the boat, applying sunscreen to each other's faces. Having covered the rest of their bodies, they had decided to let the other cover their faces to make sure that they got a good, even coat. Aki wandered up and began to apply her own sunscreen. Soon, the three were fully protected and were lounging in their seats, waiting for the arrival on station for the dive. Across from them, Tomoko sat next to Touji and Kensuke, with Keiko and Shiori next to her. Seeing the three applying sunscreen, Tomoko frowned. "Hey, did any of you bring sunscreen?" she asked her friends. Three girls blinked at her question.

"I thought you were going to bring it, Shiori." Said Keiko.

"Wasn't it in your bag, Tomo?" asked Shiori.

"I didn't have room, so I gave it to Reika." Said Tomo. Reiko winced.

"Shit." She muttered.

"Shit? What do you mean `shit', Reika?" demanded Tomo.

"I thought that it was an extra bottle, so I left it on the dresser." Said Reiko.

"You mean we don't have any?" asked Tomo, her tone disbelieving. "I can't believe this! You know that sunburns cause wrinkles!"

"Well, maybe we won't get too much sun." offered Keiko. "I mean, we all have pretty good tans already, right?"

"We're going to be out here for more than eight hours, and we'll be covered in salt water for most of it. You did know that salt water makes you burn easier, right?" groaned Tomo. Beside her, Touji turned to Kensuke.

"Good thing we planned ahead, right, Kensuke?" he grinned. "Get out our sunscreen; we'll share it with them."

"Good idea." Agreed Kensuke, imaging what they would do to thank him and Touji. Fishing around in his bag, he frowned. "Hey, Touji." He muttered. "You said you put it in my bag, right?"

"Yeah. The one you always carry around; you know, with your camera in it." Confirmed Touji. Kensuke slumped a bit.

"Touji, do you remember when I told you that I wasn't taking my regular camera with me today because of the chance it might get sea water in it?" he asked, his tone patient.

"Yeah. So?" replied Touji nonchalantly.

"So, the bag that you put the sunscreen in is back at the hotel, asshole." He explained, his tone a bit peeved. Touji's face fell.

"Oh." Was all he said. The group went silent, contemplating the impending sunburns they would get.

"Fast hands, Tomoko." Came a quiet voice as something flew towards the girl, who `eeped!' and snatched at the object. Tomoko found herself holding a bottle of mid-range water-resistant sunscreen. Looking up, she saw Rit-chan turning away from them. Tomoko blinked.

"Did Inoue just throw that at you?" asked a puzzled Reika.

"No way! Why would the bitch help us?" scoffed Keiko.

"Yeah, it's probably dye or something." Agreed Shiori. Tomoko turned her head to see that Touji was watching her closely. Looking away from him, she cracked open the top of the bottle and looked inside. Sniffing at the bottle, she shrugged.

"Looks and smells like sunscreen, guys." She said. "I'm going to use it."

"But what if this is a trick and you end up dyed blue or something?" asked Keiko.

"At least I won't be sunburned." Said Tomoko, squeezing out some onto her palm and beginning to apply it to herself. After a moment, the other girls offered their hands.

"Might as well make it a matching set, I guess." Said Keiko, her tone resigned. Tomoko squirted some into each girls hand, then went back to applying it to herself.

"What about us?" asked Kensuke, knowing that his hobbies kept him from the sunlight to the point that he would burn after only about an hour.

"Ladies first, remember?" smiled Shiori. Touji, well-tanned by constant outdoor play, wasn't as concerned. Finishing up, Tomoko rationed out one more handful to each of her friends, then stood up and moved toward where Rit-chan, Hikari and Aki were laughing and joking in the early sun. She stopped a few feet away from Rit-chan, who was still listening to Aki tell a story of her last date with some guy.

"Did you toss me this, Inoue?" she asked quietly, not wanting to be noticed by Hikari and Aki.

"It's our back-up, Tomoko, so use it wisely." Murmured Rit-chan. "It's going to be a long day."

"Why?" asked Tomoko, looking out over the water.

"I told you last night, I'm not your enemy." Was all the elf hunter said. Seeing that Rit-chan wasn't likely to continue this stealthy conversation, Tomoko moved back to her group.

"So?" asked Keiko. Tomo was silent. "What did Miss Bitch say to you?" pressed the shorter-haired girl.

"That it was their back-up, and we should use it wisely as the day will be long." Said Tomoko, her tone reasonable.

"Stuck up bitch, acting like she knows it all." Sniffed Reika.

"She knew enough to not only have her own sunscreen, but to bring a spare just in case. So drop it, ok?" commanded Tomo, putting the bottle into her bag, her expression thoughtful.

"I see you talked to her." Murmured Touji. "So, do you agree with me?"

"I'm thinking about it." She said as the two boats began to slow, then stopped. The island mass was nothing more than a thin bit of darker mass at the horizon. One of the deck hands moved to the front of the deck area and clapped his hands a couple of times.

"Ok, listen up!" he yelled. The conversations died off. The captain of their ship and the other deck hand began to unstow their diving tanks and gear. "The first dive today is going to be in sixty to seventy five feet of water. Down below us is a sunken group of transport vessels that went down in a storm just after Second Impact. If you look over the edge, you can see them pretty well. This is a relatively easy dive, with a half knot bottom current and no obstructions. Several of the wrecks have openings in them, but none of you are to enter the wrecks for any reason, understood? It's very dangerous to dive in wrecks, and you all aren't trained or experienced for that kind of thing. Got it?" he paused, watching the students on his boat nod agreement. "Good. Now, here are some poly cards and grease pencils. You will notice that one side of the card has pictures of several different fish and sea life on it. The other side is half lined and half blank. Your teachers will tell you about your assignment." The deck hand stepped aside and their science teacher took his place, giving a five-minute lecture on marine biology, followed by the assignments they were to complete while diving the wrecks. At the port-side bow, the deck hand was settling a mask and snorkel in place, his fins looped over an arm. Stooping to grab a thick nylon line, he gracefully dropped over the bow feet first, holding his mask in place as he did so. Once he was in the water, he slipped his fins in place, cleared his snorkel, took a deep breath and then swam down to one of the wrecks, where he tied off the line, anchoring the boat to the wreck. Rit-chan watched him, half-listening to the instructions for the dive. The deck hand leisurely stroked back to the surface, taking a breath before diving under the twin hulls to reappear at the dive platform. He treaded water as the second deck hand lowered the platform. He's got good lung capacity, and he's in excellent cardio shape. She nodded approvingly. Her thoughts were interrupted by the teacher asking if everyone was ready. She pushed the thoughts away and turned to prepare her gear. She was fully suited and ready before anyone else. Telling Hikari and Aki that she would be waiting in the water, she stepped off the side and into the Pacific Ocean.

-

Shinji had been sitting next to Rei in his cell, the two silent, their fingers intertwined and their heads touching when they had heard the door open. Immediately, he had distinguished the distinct sounds of both Misato and Asuka's steps. He and Rei glanced at each other. His cell door was still open, as Rei had simply unlocked it when she returned with his breakfast, leaving the door open. When the goon had tried to say something, Rei had simply taken out her cell phone, her finger paused over the speed dial buttons. The goon had sulked all the way back to his station. Both Children had heard Celsia's wicked laughing. For the next hour or two, the two had talked with the elf, though the conversation had been surreally improbable. All three had been silent for nearly an hour before they heard the door open.

"Shinji?" called Misato, her steps quickening the closer she got to her goal.

"I'm right here, Misato." He called out. Rei straightened so she was simply sitting beside him, her hand covering his discreetly. Misato whipped around the corner and into the cell, wrapping Shinji in a hug. After a few moments, she released her charge.

"I'm sorry, Shinji." She said softly, touching his cheek with her fingertips. "You shouldn't have been put in here."

"It's ok, Misato." He said calmly. "I'm sorry I disobeyed your orders, but I won't stand there and let one of my fellow pilots die; not while I can help it." His tone was firm.

"But you need to understand that if it comes down to it, your duty is to save humanity. And if that means that someone has to die so everyone else lives, then, well…that's how it has to be." Said Misato, knowing she sounded like a broomstick-up-the-ass rationalist asshole. God, I hate my job.

"Misato, I won't do it." Said Shinji, staring into her eyes. "If the choice is between Asuka or Rei or you or a loved one and humanity, then I'm sorry, but my loved ones come first."

"The good of the many outweigh the good of the one." Said a voice from the door. Kaji and Asuka stood there. Next door, he could hear Airi and another guy talking to Celsia. "And hey, you can be the hero that saved the world." Smiled the man.

"I don't want to be a hero, Mister Kaji. And I don't care about the world. I only fight to protect those I love, and nothing else." Said the boy quietly.

"You don't mean that, Shinji." Said Misato, her tone hopeful. Shinji's dark blue eyes locked into her soft brown eyes.

"Yes, I do, Misato. I used to think that I could get my f…Commander Ikari's respect by being a good pilot. But I see now that he will never see me as more than a failure. I thought about it a lot over the last few weeks, and now, well, it seems clear that fighting for anything other than the ones I love is pointless. I can't bring myself to care about people who don't care about me." He said.

"Shinji…" began Misato.

"You were all going to let her die, weren't you?" he said quietly, interrupting Misato, his eyes on her eyes. "Her lift lines were severed, and there was no other way to pull her up. As it was, I barely got there in time. An instant later, and Asuka would have…" he stopped. There was no need for him to finish. Misato closed her eyes.

"I…" began Misato, but was interrupted by the intercom.

"Captain Katsuragi report to the Commander's office immediately." Misato tensed up.

"I have to go, Shinji. We'll pick this up when I get back, ok?" she said, once more touching his face with her fingers.

"Sure." Said Shinji. Misato turned and marched toward the Commander's office. Kaji watched her go.

"I better go see if I can keep her from doing something stupid." He muttered. Before he followed her, he looked at Shinji once more. "Don't you think that attitude of yours is a bit selfish?" he asked, then jogged off.

You'd be the expert on that subject, mister Kaji. Thought the boy, feeling Rei's hand gently squeeze his. Asuka watched Kaji disappear, then turned to look at Shinji. She stepped into the cell and crossed to stand in front of Shinji. The Third Child watched the Second. Asuka closed her eyes for a moment, then opened them.

"I didn't get to thank you, Baka." She said simply. Leaning down, Asuka locked her lips to his, her tongue slipping into his mouth. For maybe a minute, the two were lost in their kiss. Finally, Asuka pulled back, breaking the kiss. "Consider yourself thanked, Third Child." She said. Turning away from him, she walked back out of the cell, unable to keep a smile off her face. Beside Shinji, Rei was also smiling, though her smile was much more subtle than Asuka's.

-

Hikari and Aki were talking about their latest dive, this one the second one that morning - on a submerged coral reef in about thirty feet of water. Since the reef was a very extensive one, the boat captains had chosen to do a drift dive, leaving the boats to drift in the current with the students as they dove. In such shallow water, there was no bottom time limit, so the group had spent nearly a full hour in the water, only returning to the boats when the students began to get hungry. Once the students had been recovered, the captains of the dive boats had announced that the group would be taking lunch on a small island a few miles away. With the cheers of the students, the boats cranked up and moved off toward the island.

"Hey, what do you think they have for lunch?" asked Aki, her stomach rumbling a bit.

"I don't know, but I bet it's seafood." Laughed Hikari. Rit-chan joined in.

"Just for that, they'll probably serve peanut butter and jelly sandwiches." She joked.

"As long as it's food, I don't care." Smiled Aki. "Diving is a lot of work." She noted.

"It gets easier as you learn how to maximize your movements and minimize your effort." Explained Rit-chan. "Almost all of you are using your legs wrong. Your knees should be more or less stiff, and the muscles you use should be the thigh muscles and a little in the hips. Nearly everyone was using their knees and calves, like they were still on land." She noted. As Hikari and Aki digested this information, Rit-chan studied them carefully. "And I think we need to re-apply the sunscreen before we get to the island." She noted.

As the girls finished up re-applying their lotion, they saw the boats were closing in on a smallish island. "I do believe we have arrived." Noted Rit-chan, her hand dipping into her pack and emerging with a pair of compact binoculars. Moving to the front of the starboard hull, she glassed the island over. As islands went, it was small, about three miles long and perhaps a mile across, shapes in a collapsed "e" shape, with a shallow lagoon fronted by a fine white sand beach. Farther inland, there was a rise of sparsely wooded volcanic rock, some low vegetation and what appeared to be overgrown ruins of some sort. "Hmm. Fairly typical of a tropical to sub-tropical island." She noted out loud.

"What did you say, Inoue?" asked a voice from behind her. She glanced over her shoulder and saw Kensuke behind her. Noting that his eyes were no where near her face, she deduced that he was staring at her ass.

"My eyes are up here, perv." She warned him. The geeky boy blinked, then reluctantly peeled his eyes off her shapely ass and to her face, becoming momentarily sidetracked at her tantalizing breasts before completing the journey to her eyes. Grey-green, they did not seem particularly friendly just then. "What is it you want, Aida?" she asked bluntly.

"Nothing, I swear!" he protested, his hands instinctively raising above his head. "Don't shoot." He implored her.

"Spoilsport." She muttered, turning her attention back to the island. Her small binoculars were getting better details as their two boats closed in on the island. That lagoon looks like it should be a good spot to snorkel. Maybe I can find something interesting in there. Aida interrupted her again.

"Hey, can ask you something, Inoue?" he said, his tone low and cautious.

"You already did, numb nuts." She muttered under her breath.

"What's up with you being kind to Tomoko all of the sudden?" he practically whispered. Rit-chan turned to face the boy.

"Why wouldn't I be nice to her?" she asked levelly.

"Well, she hates your guts, and she had some interesting suggestions about what the guys should do to you if you lost the challenge, and…" began the boy.

"Let's not overlook the fact that you and your Stooge buddy were in that group that wanted to rape us, Aida." She reminded him. "Nor should we overlook the fact that you two were also tangled up with that assboy Shodo, who gassed us."

"Hey, we already told you, we did what we could to warn you! And it all worked out in the end, right?" defended Kensuke. Rit-chan gave him a soft snort for an answer. "Still that guy's some piece of work." He said, his tone contemplative. Rit-chan's ears perked up.

"Oh?" she asked. "How so?"

"Well, everyone knows that he's doing Tomoko, but no one at school knows that he's engaged to this corporate girl who's like twice his age. He's going to marry her to get into her dad's company. Anyway, Tomoko is just an easy score for him until he graduates next year." Confided Kensuke, sliding a step closer to Rit-chan.

"Fact or rumor, Aida?" asked Rit-chan, her mind busy.

"Fact, Inoue. I even got it on tape." He whispered in her ear. "Hell, he was even bragging that he'd have her sleeping with his buddy Kodo. Talk about easy." He added, leaning into her, his arm practically touching her arm.

"Touch me with that arm and I'll tear it off." Warned Rit-chan. Kensuke snapped away from her. "I need you to get me a copy of that tape." She announced.

"Well, I guess I could, but it's going to be expensive." Countered Kensuke.

"Tell you what, Aida." Replied Rit-chan. "Get me the tape, and I won't tell Asuka or Shinji that you've been stealing Asuka's panties out of her locker and renting them to some of your hopeless loser clients for their monkey-spanking sessions." Her eyes drilled into his.

"How…but…no way!" he gasped.

"Yes way. Deal or not?" enquired Rit-chan politely. "Asuka would kill you for daring to do that, and lately, Shinji has been a bit…extreme in regards to threats to his fellow pilots." Kensuke was a survivor, and as such, he had a good sense of when to retreat.

"The tape buys your silence, agreed?" he whispered.

"On that subject, yes. Bear this in mind, however: if you touch my locker, I will make it VERY public and horribly unpleasant for you, then kill you. Understood?" warned the teen.

"Yeah, yeah. I get it already, Inoue." He muttered, moving away from her. Rit-chan smiled a bit before returning to where Hikari and Aki were sitting.

Across the boat deck, Touji and Tomoko were watching Kensuke attempt to hit on Rit-chan. Seeing the boy work his way to within touching distance, Touji and Tomoko got nervous. But, there was no need for concern, as he jerked back from his near-touch experience at whatever the older girl said to him. A few moments later, Kensuke slunk back to the seat next to Touji, who smirked at him. "What happened, stud?" mocked the athlete.

"Nothing happened, Touji." Denied Kensuke. "We're gonna hook up later."

"You mean in your dreams." Snorted the boy.

"Hey, she likes me!" he insisted.

"Not even a little." Disagreed Touji. Tomoko weighed in on the matter.

"Well, maybe a little, Touji-chan, as she didn't toss him overboard or shoot him like we thought she would."

"What?!" cried Kensuke. "You were the ones who told me she was looking at me!"

"Just a joke, man." Said Touji calmly. "Seriously, she wouldn't have hurt you too badly; Shinji is our friend after all."

"What does that have to do with anything?" demanded the boy. He and pain were not on friendly terms.

"So, I'm betting that she has a thing for Shin-man like Ayanami does. She wouldn't hurt you because he wouldn't like it if she did. Probably, anyway." Explained Touji.

"Probably?" groaned Kensuke.

"We weren't sure, so we volunteered you to test the water." Added Tomoko.

"Gee, thanks, guys." Said the boy sarcastically.

"You're welcome. It's what friends are for." Touji waved the thanks away. The two boats began to slow as they approached the lagoon, the second boat slipping behind the first as they entered a narrow channel into the lagoon. Within minutes, the two boats were tied together about a dozen yards off the beach, and the students were diving into the water from the decks and swimming ashore as the boat hands unstowed large coolers and some small boxes of supplies. Tossing the coolers into the water, the deck hands then swam them into the shore and began to set up a small table for paper plates and plastic utensils and a pair of fire pits, one for grilling food, the other for heating the side dishes. Opening the coolers revealed vegetables in one, and meats in the other. Rit-chan surveyed the food.

"Hey, captain." She said to the captain of the boat she and the rest of her class was on.

"Yes, miss?" he answered.

"Is it ok if I snorkel in the lagoon and see if I can get a couple of fresh fish?" asked Ritsuko.

"Well, there isn't a rule against it, but I don't know if you'll be successful or not." He said dubiously. Rit-chan laughed.

"That's my problem, captain."

-

The elevator descended swiftly but quietly as Misato stood tapping her foot a bit. I'm not sure why the Commander changed his mind, but it can't be good. She thought. Subconsciously, she checked to make sure her top was buttoned and her skirt was where it belonged. I didn't forget to put on a bra today, so it isn't likely that he gave in because I was showing more than I usually do. Misato frowned a bit more. And why would he ask if Asuka had enjoyed the hot springs? What could that have to do with releasing Shinji? The elevator arrived at the top floor of the regular level, the doors sliding open with a hiss. Still lost in thought, Misato stepped off and moved toward a second bank of elevators. Still, I guess that Airi laid some groundwork, and with the Angels still out there, he couldn't afford to keep my Shinji in there for long. I wonder if he'll make stir fry tonight? Misato felt herself drool a bit as she thought about the possible dishes her roommate and charge might make. The `ping' of the elevator as it arrived jogged her from those thoughts, reminding her that she was there to pick up her Shinji.

"Ok, Shin-chan, on your feet!" she called out cheerfully as she passed Celsia's cell. "Your bail's been posted!" Stopping in front of his still-open door, she saw that Rei was still sitting beside him, her hand over his. Shinji was actually smiling, too. "Well? Are you two going to sit there or what?" she asked, hiding a smirk. Shinji blinked, then stood, Rei doing likewise.

"I'm out of here?" asked Shinji, his tone a bit like it had been when he first arrived.

"That's what I said, Shin-chan." Confirmed Misato. "Unless you like it in there?"

"No, I prefer other accommodations." Assured Shinji hastily. He and the First Child stepped out of the cell. Misato was watching him intently, her mind seemingly elsewhere. "Misato? Hello? Anyone in there?" asked Shinji, waving his hand in front of her face, prompting her to jerk her head in surprise and focus on him.

"Did you say something, Shinji?" she asked. Her male pilot shook his head resignedly.

"Captain Katsuragi, do you know the location of Airi?" asked Rei in her normal emotionless tone.

"She and her buddy Junpei are having lunch together, so I imagine that they are somewhere up in the city by now. Why?" asked Misato. Rei wanting to know something not related to a mission?!

"I wished to thank her for arranging my visitation of Shinji." Stated Rei.

"You can tell her tonight, Rei." Shrugged Misato. "Come over for dinner. Shinji's cooking." Smiled Misato.

"Naturally." Agreed Rei. Misato frowned at Rei's comment.

"What do you mean, `naturally'?" she asked, suspicious.

"Shinji is the best cook in your house, so it is only natural that he prepare the meal." Answered Rei innocently. Misato, still feeling ill at ease with the strange comment, decided to let it go at that.

"Time's wasting, so let's get going you two." She said, turning toward the elevator. As they passed Celsia's cell, Shinji paused to look in at her. Still naked and chained to the wall, she nevertheless smiled at him. Seeing her sexy body, Shinji blushed a bit and diverted his eyes politely.

"So you're out of here, kid." Noted Celsia.

"Yeah, it looks that way." He agreed. Hearing chains clink a bit, he saw that Celsia had gone from laying on her side on her cot to sitting on the edge, facing him. Her legs were held closely together, and her arms were crossed over her breasts, but she was smiling a little. For his part, Shinji was staring at her cat-slit eyes and long, pointed ears.

"You see? Rit-chan wasn't lying about me." Snickered Celsia. "I am in fact a real, live elf." Shinji's eyes gazed into her eyes.

"I never thought she was lying, miss Celsia." He said quietly. Misato was standing behind him, her hand unconsciously resting on his shoulder. Rei stood next to him, her hand seeming to accidentally rest against his. Misato's gaze was very much a visual examination of her, while's Rei's eyes only slipped over her briefly before returning to Shinji. "Oh, I mean, High Priestess Celsia Marie Claire, Priestess of all common elves." He chuckled.

"So they told you." Said Celsia wryly. "Well, good luck, kid. I hope we can meet again under better circumstances." With that, she lay back down, still smiling. Better circumstances would be me slowly grilling that bitch Akagi over a fire made of that fucking bastard of a guard and the so-called commander. Oh, that would be nice. I can almost hear their screams and pleas for mercy! Lost in thought, she began to laugh madly as her fantasies grew more and more graphic. The three watching her moved slowly away, much like one moves away from a rabid dog. Once they were clear of her psychotic laughter, they all breathed easier.

"Ai-chan wasn't kidding about her being a bit of nutcase." Mused Misato.

"Really? I thought she was pretty nice." Offered Shinji. Misato gave a short burst of laughter.

"You'd think anyone was pretty nice, Shin-chan." She said, hugging him one-armed. "Hell, you think Asuka's pretty nice, too!" Shinji said nothing.

She's more than pretty nice. He thought to himself. She's Asuka. And I…love her.

-

"God, I'm tired!" moaned Hikari, laying back against the seat next to a somewhat slumping Aki. "Four dives in one day is one too many dives." Sitting next to her two friends, Rit-chan was relaxed and happy.

"Come on, it wasn't that bad, guys." She said. Her two friends just groaned. "Well, look at it this way: you two are in better shape than a lot of your classmates." She pointed out. Hikari and Aki scanned the rest of the students on the boat. A few were asleep, some were sitting in their seats panting and a few were lounging casually like Rit-chan. Kensuke was draped over Shiori, both of them asleep as the twin-hulled dive boat sped back toward the marina by the hotel. Touji was leaning back, his eyes closed, but his fingers tapping a simple tune on the aluminum rail. Tomoko was beside him, Reika sleeping against her side, with Keiko sleeping against Reika. "Tell you what." Offered Rit-chan, "when we get back, we'll soak in the tub for a bit, then relax with a movie. Sound good?"

"Count me in. A night of restful relaxation sounds good about now." Agreed Aki.

"Me too." Agreed Hikari. Rit-chan checked the position of the sun, about an hour until it touched the horizon.

"I'll take care of our packs and gear, so you to just try to stay awake until we get to the room, ok?" ordered Rit-chan. Both nodded. Satisfied, Rit-chan stretched a bit and got comfortable in her seat. The boat made short work of the distance back to its home port.

When the boat arrived, Rit-chan snagged the trio's bags and helped her two sore friends off the boat, checked their scuba gear back into the dive shop, then led the two onto the bus, which was soon unloading them at the hotel. As the three passed the desk, the clerk bowed to them. Rit-chan gave him a nod in return, continuing on to her suite. Arriving at the penthouse, the elf hunter dropped their bags on the floor of the kitchen area and herded her two friends to the hot tub, which provided the three with soothing warmth and relaxing jets of water. After a soak of about a half hour, the three rose and dipped into the pool to cool off a bit before returning to the master bath to scrub themselves clean.

Clean and dry, Hikari slipped on her silk pajamas, while Aki slipped her sleeping shift on and Rit-chan donned her oversized NERV logo shirt. Settling on the couch, the three flipped on the TV and began the laborious chore of deciding what to watch. Agreeing on a movie, the three sat there sipping their drinks and munching on popcorn. As the evening wore on, the exertion of the day caught up with them, Hikari and Aki more than Rit-chan, who was used to rougher days than the one she had had. Sitting between her two friends, Ritsuko found them leaning toward her as they got closer and closer to asleep. Before the movie ended, she had Aki's head on her shoulder and Hikari's head on her lap, both asleep. For some odd reason, feeling the two close to her made her feel comfortable. Ritsuko Inoue, genius, weapons otaku, world hopping elf hunter and teenage girl, found herself thinking of her previous life, before Celsia's initial attempt at casting such a major spell had hijacked her and her two companions, dumping them into Celsia's world and it's problems. In her school, she had had several close friends, and this wasn't her first time as a pillow in a sleep over, but this time, it was as if the mere presence of the two acted like a security blanket. Ritsuko was content for the first time since she was forced to leave the four people she knew best.

-

Shinji worked in the kitchen on the requested meal of stir fry and rice as Misato and Airi sat on the couch, ostensibly watching television, but in truth conversing quietly with each other. Sitting in a chair at the table, Rei watched Shinji work in silence. Nothing the boy did escaped her notice. Including the fact that he had prepared the meat in a separate pan so she wouldn't have to fish it out of her stir fry. He is the only one who shows me such consideration. Noted the blue-haired girl. I will ask if I may sleep here tonight. If so, I will return his thoughtfulness. Rei, for reasons she couldn't quite understand, smiled at that thought.

"Dinner's ready, guys!" called Shinji, turning off the stove. Misato and Airi rapidly relocated the kitchen as Shinji set out the plates and began to dish up the meal. Suddenly, he paused, frowning. "Where's Asuka?" he asked the group at large.

-

"Thanks for taking me out to eat, Kaji." Smiled Asuka, her tone sickeningly sweet and nice.

"Oh, it was my pleasure, Asuka." Smiled the spy suavely. Shit! I didn't get clear fast enough! He thought, reaching for his pack of cigarettes, but stopping himself before he got one out. Don't give Asuka the impression that she should start smoking, Kaji-boy. The man chided himself. Instead, he pushed his hands into his pockets, his face set in a pleasant smile.

"I still want to thank you, Kaji." Smiled Asuka. "I mean, you spent a lot of money for that meal, and I've taken up so much of your time." She said, her tone innocent and light. This time, you won't get away like last time! Asuka promised herself. Her grip on his arm tightened a bit, her breasts pressing into his biceps more firmly. Kaji tried not to notice her semi-erect nipples against his arm, concentrating instead on how to get her off his arm. Experience had shown him that to detach her now would require a cutting torch and about a ton of plastic explosive.

"Just your presence is more than adequate thanks, Asuka." Said the man smoothly. I do have that knife in my pocket. He reminded himself. And having a prosthetic arm might be kind of fun… "To be seen with you makes me the object of every man's envy, my dear." He continued. At least, those who don't know about your temper.

"Oh?" breathed Asuka. "Let's give them something to be jealous of, Kaji-chan." She said in a husky, bedroom tone. Before the spy could react, Asuka had lunged up and over, her mouth locking onto his, her tongue working its way into his mouth. Asuka's arms locked around his neck as she pressed herself full body to him. Kaji desperately tried to think of a way to get out of the rapidly-deteriorating situation. If she keeps this up, she'll start undressing in a few moments. Think, Kaji! Asuka briefly pulled away from him, smiling up at his face. "Let's pick up where we left off on the ship, Kaji." She whispered, grinding her hips against his. She felt his dick start to stiffen. You will be mine this time! She vowed.

Kaji made a few decisions immediately. First of them was the choice to get the hell off the street. Even though there were few passersby for such a large city, there were more than enough to generate an unhealthy amount of interest in what Asuka was doing. With his first step decided, he acted. "How about we go for a drive, Asuka? This isn't really the place for such a discussion." He offered, smiling.

"Sure, Kaji!" she chirped. You are so mine! She mentally exalted. "Let's go to your place."

"We could talk about that, I suppose." He murmured, mentally mapping out his escape. Approaching his convertible coupe, he opened the door for Asuka, closing it after she settled into the leather seats before crossing to the driver's seat and slipping in. Immediately, Asuka's hand landed on his thigh. Fuck. I better make this quick. He thought, cranking the engine and barking the tires as he pulled out into traffic. Barely a block went by before Asuka's hand was caressing his penis. Looking over, he saw her smiling as she stroked him. Catching his look, she used her free hand to slide her dress up to her hips, revealing a pair of lace and silk panties. A small pair at that.

"You're welcome to play too, Kaji-chan." She cooed seductively. Kaji swallowed with not a bit of difficulty. In his mind's eye, he saw Misato's furious face, followed by a bright light, then hell's gates. Misa-chan would not be understanding about me fucking Asuka's brains out. He reminded himself, trying to keep his dick under control. That lasted until Asuka found the zipper to his pants, tugged it down and slipped her warm, soft hand inside, searching for and finding his erect member. "Seems like part of you wants to play, anyway." She said, her tone sly and naughty. Closing her hand over his dick, she began to stroke it like she did with Shinji. Something occurred to her.

He is noticeably smaller than Shin-chan. Just then, a cell phone rang.

-

In his room, Shinji was staring at the ceiling, unable to sleep; or to keep his mouth from smiling. Next to him, snuggled into his side, was Rei. Having easily gotten permission to stay the night, she had simply slipped into Shinji's room unnoticed and waited for him to arrive in bed. Asuka had arrived home a bit after supper, her mood somewhat worse than normal. Shinji offered her some still-warm stir fry, but she had simply snapped at him that she had eaten and was going to bed before disappearing into her room. Silently, Shinji had put the leftovers away for future use and tidied the kitchen up before announcing that he was turning in as well. Misato and Airi had told him good night, and a little later, the apartment was in quiet, with the light in Misato and Airi's room being the only one on. From within the room, the faint sounds of typing was heard, as well as the hushed voices of the two adults.

In Shinji's room, Rei had been patiently waiting in his bed, naked as usual. When he came into his room, she had simply waited until he was undressed before tossing the covers back in silent invitation. Shinji had accepted, slipping into bed with her, his boxers his only clothing. Rei immediately set about ridding him of the last vestiges of his clothes. Shinji thought about protesting, but Rei's lips were too distracting as she locked her mouth to his, her hands gently stroking his member to full hardness in only a few moments. Silent still, she had managed to communicate her wishes to him, and he had began to caress her. Before long, Rei had slipped on top of him, her sleek, beautiful body rubbing pleasantly against his as she straddled his waist, her hands busy where their hips met, one holding his steel-hard penis, the other gently spreading her vaginal lips before she settled onto him. The feeling of her slick, warm, tight sheath made him gasp softly. Taking the time to ease him into herself, she felt her body stretch to accommodate his size. He is large, yet so gentle. She marveled, slowly beginning to move her body up and down, getting steadily faster and deeper. Shinji's hands closed on her breasts, and Rei shuddered as she felt him caress her, his hands making her entire chest tingle with pleasure. Leaning forward, she locked her lips to his as she felt him begin to thrust up into her as she humped down. Both teens worked toward the mutual goal in near silence. Though it was not a record by any stretch of the imagination, they both lasted much longer than they had before, and the orgasms the two received - Rei more than Shinji - were much more intense. After she came down from a multiple orgasm, Rei had limply slipped down to Shinji's side, where she nestled in comfortably before drifting off to sleep. Shinji remained awake a bit longer, grinning like a fool and marveling at the warmth and love pressed firmly into his side.

-

Rit-chan yawned and opened her eyes to see the sun was only a few minutes away from breaking the horizon . Blinking a time or two, she felt the warmth of her two friends in bed next to her, this time spooning with each other, with her on the outside. Good thing; I need to pee. She thought, slipping out of the bed and into the bathroom. As she tended to her needs, she reviewed the day. Let's see. Today is Aki's big photo shoot. I need to make arrangements for her and Hikari to be out from under the school's control for a bit. I also need to organize for a trip to a different location. Hmm. Let's see; I'm going to need my USP, back up magazines, NERV card, cell phone, cash, sheath knife, bikini, change of clothes, skin lotion, pen, notepad, breath mints,… her mental list was quite long. Once she had listed her full range of necessities, she went back over and reviewed it all, dumping some items. Once more, she reviewed her list. Satisfied, the weapons otaku began to compose the lists for her two friends. Finished with her piss break, she tossed off her NERV shirt and turned on the shower, slipping in after selecting a new towel.

Finished in the bathroom, she dressed in her most revealing bikini with shorts and a loose top over it, then quietly began to pack her bag, which didn't take her long. She then silently packed her friend's bags. Finished, she stepped to the kitchen, grabbed a bottle of water and slipped out the door to the patio, where she began her exercises. When she was done with her morning routine, she paused to watch the sun come up over the ocean and finished her water. Stealthily, she re-entered her suite, tossed the empty bottle into the trash and grabbed a fresh bottle of water before she slipped out of the suite and down to the lobby. At the front desk, she encountered a different clerk from the one she had tipped. "Excuse me, I need to leave a message for the teachers of the school currently here. I'm miss Inoue in the Presidential Suite."

"Oh! Right away, Miss!" the clerk swiftly produced some hotel stationary and a pen for her. "If you would like to write you message here, I will personally hand it to the head instructor when he checks in this morning." The clerk promised. Taking the pen, Ritsuko swiftly wrote out her message. Reviewing it, she decided that it was sufficiently vague, threatening and official-sounding to do the job. Out of a bit of malice, she added Misato's position, rank and name at the bottom as a contact at NERV if they had a problem with her actions, but didn't give out her cell number. As she wrote the short post-script out, she had a question for the clerk.

"Does the principal check in here each morning?" she asked curiously.

"Yes, every morning. In fact, he should be by in about a half hour, Miss Inoue." Said the clerk respectfully.

"What does he do when he comes by?" she wondered.

"He checks for messages, verifies that no students have caused trouble, and sends out an express pack every morning." Answered the clerk.

"Where to?" asked Rit-chan, leaning casually on the counter as she folded the sheet of paper with her note on it.

"Each time, it has been addressed to a postal box in America, Miss Inoue." He said, his tone a little cautious. "And his room's internet usage has been very high, as well." He whispered.

"I see. Surfing the net?" she asked casually. The clerk looked around before answering.

"No. Most of his traffic pulls a high bandwidth usage, and it all goes to a restricted IP access window." The man whispered.

"Hmm. Downloading porn, most likely." She shrugged non-chalantly. So, the Principal is a NERV plant, or an enemy of NERV. If I could get a look at that log, I bet I'd find that he's been sending encrypted reports to who ever is behind that restricted access point. Better tell Airi when I see her. "Want to bed the old man's downloading schoolgirl smut?" she grinned at the clerk. The young man grinned back.

"Dirty old man, eh?" he agreed.

"Well, think about it. He's around us all day, but can't say or do anything about it. So, he must be getting his rocks off elsewhere." Explained Rit-chan. "You know how older men get." She baited. "They're such a bunch of perverts. Do you have an envelope?" she asked. The clerk silently handed her an embossed envelope. Sealing the note into the envelope, Rit-chan made a swift curl-over mark on the flap before handing it to the clerk. "Here's the message. Be sure he gets it, ok? I'll see you later." She said, waving a hand as she returned to the elevator. I wonder if Airi has some more pieces of this puzzle yet. Oh, I better call to make sure that Misato has my back. Thought was followed by action, as she plucked the cell phone from her waist and punched up Misato's number. Just before connecting, she paused, thinking of the time of day and probability that the purple-haired Ops boss was still passed out. Changing the number, she entered a text message and sent it to Misato's phone, hoping she would see it before anyone called her about the note. Ritsuko had complete faith that the Captain would cover her on the issue, but she preferred to be sure rather than think. I'll call her later in the morning. Promised the teen, getting off the elevator and entering her suite. A glance showed her that both her friends were still sound asleep.

-

Shinji had been having a nice dream; it was a rarity for him, so he was enjoying it immensely. But, as dreams tend to do, it began to fade away as he began to awaken. Slowly the boy came awake, realizing that he had a very severe case of morning wood. As he finally gained the use of all his senses, he realized that the reason he had such a severe case of wood could be summed up in one word: Rei. Of course, he wasn't upset about it, as the girl was determinedly solving the issue. I could get used this. Thought Shinji, looking down to see Rei's blue haired head bobbing up and down on his rampant erection, wet slurping sounds accompanying her movements.

Kneeling between his legs, the First Child was busily practicing what was swiftly becoming her second favorite sexual act. This morning, she had awoken to feel her lover's so-called `morning wood' pressing against her, and had immediately determined a way to alleviate his condition. Also, her research had indicated that males liked to be awoken this way, and there was a special way to administer the oral relief. Her research material had given her several pointers on a technique called `deep throating', and Rei decided that this would be a perfect opportunity to practice the new variation. So, she had shifted her position to allow her unrestricted access to his penis, and promptly swallowed it as deeply as possible. Hmm. I see that there is still a length of his penis exposed. Noted the girl, critically examining her results. I must allow for greater depth of penetration. The material suggested that suppressing one's gag reflex would allow the head of the penis to enter the throat. Very well. Rei pushed her head down farther, feeling her gag reflex catch as the large, wide tip of Shinji's dick entered her throat. Frowning a bit, Rei concentrated on suppressing the reflexive action. Backing off a bit, she pushed forward again, her attention focused on her involuntary reactions. I think I made some progress. Still, there is more to go. Perhaps I should try to find a better angle so my throat is aligned with his member. Rei shifted a bit, determined to master this technique. Another few minutes went by. I have succeeded. Rei noted, her lips pressed to Shinji's pubic bone and ball sack. However, it is very difficult to breathe with his penis in my throat, so I will have to remove his member enough to breathe, then re-insert it. I should be able to bring him greater pleasure with this new technique. She concluded, feeling the oddly-new sensation of satisfaction and an almost-giddy sense of excitement. Feeling Shinji's gaze on her, she backed her head off his member to look at him. "Good morning, Shinji." She said softly, her lips involuntarily forming into a full smile.

"Good morning, Rei-chan." Said Shinji, his breath a little ragged. Looking down his chest at her, he noticed that a thin strand of saliva linked her mouth to his wet dick. Indeed, his entire groin was soaked in her drool. Still, she seemed to be enjoying herself, and he knew he was enjoying her attention. If I didn't know better, I'd think I had died and gone to heaven. He marveled.

"May I continue?" asked Rei, her lips dipping to engulf the tip of his hard dick.

"Of course!" answered Shinji immediately. I may not the smartest guy, but I'm not that stupid! He gasped as Rei demonstrated her new talent, stuffing his entire length into her mouth and throat. I can feel her throat! Shinji's brain thought before beginning to meltdown into pure sexual frenzy. Reaching down, Shinji placed his hands gently on either side of Rei's head, following her bobbing head in its lengthy motion. Shinji felt himself rapidly approach climax. God! I wonder if Asuka can do this too? Or Hikari? Hikari? Hey! Maybe I should try that on Rei! Thought and action were one with him, as he carefully but firmly eased Rei's head off his dick. She looked at him questioningly, her lips soaked with drool, which had several thick strands leading to his throbbing erection. "Rei-chan, turn around." He gasped, trying to be as quiet as possible. Rei looked a little confused. "Move your hips up here." He clarified. Rei silently shifted around so she was facing the opposite direction from him. Taking one of her legs in his hands, he lifted it over his chest, so she was straddling him. Seizing her hips with both hands, he drew her soaked pussy to his lips, his tongue slipping out to search for the small nub he had discovered gave Hikari such a massive orgasm.

Rei's eyes widened as she felt his tongue slip along her wet groin. He is going to perform oral sex on me as well? I do not know if…ah! Shinji had found the little nub of flesh and was systematically treating it like he treated her nipples, setting off massive waves of pleasure within her. Shinji's dick was feeling left out, so it rose to touch Rei's wet lips, reminding her of it's needs. Rei was only too happy to resume her earlier activities, swallowing his sensitive member greedily. As she slowly gained speed, she felt herself growing wetter and wetter as Shinji experimented with her sensitive clit. Both were soon lost in the sensations, moaning and groaning as they rapidly approached climax. Fortunately, Shinji's moans and groans were muffled by Rei's dripping pussy, just as Rei's gasps and sighs were muffled by his dick in her mouth and throat. Suddenly, the hot ball of electricity in her lower belly exploded, sending Rei into a land of unimagined bliss as her body convulsed, trembled and shook like she had a nerve disorder. Feeling her orgasm, Shinji was surprised to find his face rapidly covered in her slick juice. The feel and smell of her orgasm caused a chain reaction, as his dick spasmed in her throat, sending several long jets of sperm into her stomach. Nearly two full minutes passed before either teen moved. Slowly, the two managed to separate, laying side by side for another few minutes before Rei worked herself over to her lover's face, kissing him soundly before beginning to lick her fluid from his face. Shinji put his arms around her chest and pulled her into a warm embrace.

"That was…thank you, Rei-chan." He managed, unable to find any words to accurately describe the favor she had just given him.

"I am glad you liked it, Shinji-chan." Said Rei, her tone as serious as ever. Laying her head against his chest, she listened to his heartbeat as it slowly lowered to normal values. "May we do this again?" she asked at last.

"May we?" repeated Shinji stupidly. "I damn well hope so!" he said fervently. Rei smiled.

"I as well." She answered him. From out in the kitchen, the two heard the hiss of Pen Pen's door opening, followed shortly by the sound of beer can being opened. The apartment was about to come to life.

-

Aki awoke to the smell of eggs, sausage, toast and coffee. She also noticed the subtle scent of Hi-chan's shampoo. Glancing down a bit, she found that she was spooned to Hikari, who was still asleep, but rapidly awakening. Shifting away from the shorter girl, Aki moved off the bed, feeling the need to pay a visit to the toilet. "Good morning, Aki." Came Rit-chan's voice from the kitchen area.

"Morning, Rit-chan." Yawned Aki, entering the bathroom. "What time it is?" she called.

"Ten past seven, Aki." Answered Rit-chan. "When you get done there, come have breakfast."

"As soon as I get my shower." Answered Aki.

"Nah, breakfast first, then shower. Remember, today is your photo shoot. You're going to need a lot more time to prep today, so eat first." Ordered Rit-chan. Aki gasped.

"You're right!" she called out.

"Of course I am!" agreed Rit-chan cockily, sounding a bit like another red-head the tall girl knew. "Now get in here before it gets cold!"

"Yes, ma'am." Said Aki in a sing-song voice.

"Aren't I invited?" came Hikari's sleepy voice.

"Only if you hurry." Said Aki, exiting the bathroom after washing her hands. Hikari slipped into the bathroom behind her. In the kitchen part of the main room, Rit-chan sat on a stool at the breakfast bar, a tray of food in front of her. A large dish of scrambled eggs, another of hash browns, a platter of sausage and a rack of toast were on the tray, a pitcher of orange juice and a smaller pitcher of milk, along with three plates and glasses. Rit-chan had a plate in front of her, loaded down with food, which was steadily disappearing into her mouth. Beside her plate was a morning paper, folded to reveal the front page news. Opposite the paper was a large glass of orange juice. Rit-chan was intently reading the article in the paper. "What's up, Rit-chan."

"Hmm? Oh, nothing really. Just some reports of the Evas being deployed. Apparently, two were sent to some volcano. From the sketchy descriptions, it appears to be Units 1 and 2." She said, pausing to down half the OJ in one shot.

"Asuka and Shinji, then." Said Aki, her tone serious. "You think there was an Angel in there?"

"Why else would they send two Eva units there? But, I can tell you this: if there was one there, it isn't around to make trouble now." Answered Rit-chan.

"Amen." Replied Aki, feeling relieved.

"Are they ok?" came Hikari's voice from the door to the bedroom.

"Yeah, they're all ok." Assured Rit-chan. "I don't know much more than that, but it's enough for me; at least until I get back to Tokyo 3."

Hikari gave a relieved sigh. "Thank god for that." She said softly.

"Come on and eat. Plenty for all." Said Aki, changing the topic. Grabbing a plate, she began to dish up the food.

"Western breakfast?" queried Hikari with a smile. "What is it with you and Asuka and Western food?"

"Can't speak for Asuka, but I have wide ranging tastes in food." Shrugged Rit-chan. "Comes in handy for those…unexpected side trips." She added sardonically. Aki and Hikari looked at her inquisitively, but she waved the looks away. "Never mind; it's not important." She said, spearing another sausage on her fork and devouring it almost whole. Reaching over to the common serving tray, she dished up another helping of eggs and hash browns.

"Better hurry up and get some before Rit-chan here finishes it all off." Teased Aki to Hikari.

"You're right, Aki-chan. Hungry this morning, Rit-chan?" asked the inchou, grabbing a plate and piling it high with eggs, hash browns, sausage and toast. Aki set a glass of milk in front of her as she settled on a stool beside Rit-chan, Aki claiming the one on Rit-chan's other side. Rit-chan drained the last of her juice and poured a round of milk for herself before grabbing the paper and rifling through it for the comics.

"You got the horoscope in there?" asked Aki around a mouthful of food.

"Why ask? Nervous about your shoot?" teased Rit-chan.

"You told me you didn't believe in horoscopes." Challenged Hikari.

"I don't. But they're a blast to read." Shrugged the tall girl. "Did you know that on the day of last year's finals, the horoscope read that it was a bad day for taking tests?" Hikari frowned.

"Didn't you get a hundred on your last finals?" she asked.

"Sure did. Like I said, best comic in the paper." Smiled Aki. Rit-chan separated the page with the horoscope out of the paper, dropping the rest of the paper to the counter. Swiftly, she scanned the chart.

"Looking for your sign, Rit-chan?" asked Hikari.

"No, just making sure it doesn't say anything about magic, elves or unexpected travel." She said, her tone distracted. "Nope, don't see any mention of it. Here you go." She finished, handing the page to Aki. Ritsuko sipped her milk. For several minutes, there was silence in the suite, except for occasional snickers of laughter from Aki or the sounds of silverware on china. Abruptly, the suite's phone chirped. Rit-chan had set the phone next to the tray of food, so she simply picked it up and answered the call. "Inoue."

-

Asuka had awaken much like she had gone to bed: horny and frustrated. Damn it all, something always seems to interrupt me just when I have Kaji-chan right where I want him! Rising, she felt the dampness between her legs. Last night, she had masturbated, but it had been a pathetic orgasm compared to the ones she had been having with Shinji. Asuka's expression turned thoughtful at that realization. Tossing off her oversized tee-shirt, Asuka wound a towel around her and headed for the shower. I should be able to catch him in the shower. Indeed, she heard the shower running. Opening the door, she came face to face with Wondergirl on her way out of the bathroom.

"Good morning, Asuka." Said the other pilot quietly, slipping past her like she wasn't even there. Rei had a towel over her neck, leaving her naked. Asuka gritted her teeth.

"Morning, Wonderslut." She muttered nastily. Turning back, she forgot her ill temper as she spotted Shinji, standing in the shower, rinsing his hair. Her heart skipped a beat when she spotted his semi-erect dick, and she felt herself grow wet enough to begin to seep down her thighs. A predatory smile on her face, she stepped inside the bathroom, closing and locking the door behind her before tossing her towel off. Entering the shower, she deliberately pressed herself into Shinji full length, a tingle in her groin as she felt his dick twitch against her belly.

Caught off guard by her presence, Shinji recovered well. "Good morning, Asuka." He said, his tone holding only the tiniest tremble. Seeing her naked form made his dick stiffen significantly.

"Morning, Baka." She said, her tone friendly. Stepping under the spray, she pinned him into the corner of the shower. "Man, I didn't get much sleep last night." She began, rubbing the side of her hip against Shinji's groin. His dick was almost fully erect now. Asuka hid a smile.

"I'm sorry, Asuka. Why didn't you get a good night's sleep?" asked Shinji. Asuka blinked at the genuine tone of concern in his voice. Why would he care if I didn't get a good night's sleep? Pushing that thought aside, she focused on her plan.

"Too horny." She explained casually. Shinji was silent. "Shiiinnnjjjiiii…" she called softly, turning to press herself against him face-to-face. "I need some relief, Shin-chan." She whispered in his ear before gently nipping his earlobe with her teeth. Against her belly, his dick throbbed. "Mmm. Tell you what, Shin-chan." She said, her tone husky and urgent. "If you help me, I'll help you." She said, her hand closing on his member and stroking it. In response, she felt his arms slide around her, his lips on hers. Asuka lost herself in the kiss, feeling his hand slide down to her soaked groin and beginning to stroke it. Feeling the lightening bolts shoot from his hand to her spine, she sighed in contentment. Much better! She approved, slipping her fingers along the tip of his dick. To her surprise, Shinji broke the kiss.

"A-chan, I want to try something, ok?" he asked, panting a bit. Asuka mentally shrugged.

"Sure, Shin-chan. But be careful." She admonished. Nodding, Shinji sank to his knees, gently guiding Asuka back against the wall, pushing her thighs apart to see her steadily thickening red patch. Is he going to… Asuka's thought broke off as Shinji tried out his expanding bag of techniques on Asuka, finding her clit to be more pronounced than Rei-chan's. Still, Asuka's reactions were almost identical to Rei's. Within minutes, one of Asuka's hands was locked behind Shinji's head, the other was raised to her mouth, where she was biting one of her fingers to keep from screaming in ecstasy.

Shinji for his part, found that Asuka had a very different taste than Rei. She tastes…warmer. Not hotter or spicier, just…warmer. How can I taste warm? He wondered in awe. Still, I love the way they both taste. I can't believe the boys don't want to do this with their girlfriends. Touji said that he'd never - what was that term? - `munch her rug'? I always heard about girls giving blowjobs, and I can't say that I don't love them, but this is awesome, too. Oh well; it's their loss! Shinji redoubled his efforts. Within three minutes, Asuka's body began to tremble uncontrollably, and she would have fallen if Shinji hadn't caught her. Before Asuka could regain her senses from the multiple orgasm, someone knocked on the door.

"Hey, Shinji!" came Misato's voice. "Hurry up in there!"

"O…Ok, Misato!" he called out, carefully situating Asuka in the shower before vaulting out of the shower and beginning to dry himself off. "Have you had your morning beer yet?" he asked his guardian.

"I was on my way just now. Is Asuka up?" asked Misato.

"I…I don't know. Maybe." He answered. Well, it's sort of true. She isn't exactly HERE at the moment! For some reason, the thought that she was currently off in lala land because of him made him happy. Hearing Misato crack open her beer, Shinji cracked the door open and slipped out and into his room. Unnoticed by him, Airi was watching from Misato's doorway, a faint smile on her face.

-

The elevator doors opened, and Rit-chan stepped out, flanked by Aki and Hikari, each girl with a small day bag over their shoulders. Moving past the receptionist desk, Rit-chan glanced at the clerk, who bowed to her after a single nod. Giving him a half-wave, she moved on without a missed step. Descending the steps in front of the hotel, the trip were just in time to meet the hotel car as it rolled to a stop at the curb in front of them. No sooner had the car glided to a silent stop, than the bellhop had opened the door and stood behind it as the girls slipped into the rear seats. With a soft `whump' the door was closed and the driver shifted into gear. "Where to, Miss Inoue?" he asked politely.

"Find this address." Directed Rit-chan, reaching over the divider to hand him a slip of paper with an address written on it.

"Immediately, miss." Replied the driver, moving away from the hotel.

"How long until we arrive?" asked Aki of the driver.

"It should be no more than three quarters of an hour, miss. The address provided is on the other side of the island."

"I see. What kind of place is it?" asked Rit-chan, curious.

"It is in a very exclusive neighborhood, Miss Inoue. Several of the ministers of the government have winter homes in the neighborhood, and there is an extensive private beach and yacht club behind the golf course." Answered the driver. "The entire area is gated, Miss." He added carefully.

"Not a problem. We have an appointment." Assured Rit-chan calmly. And if not, I'll make one. She mentally added, her hand patting her USP lovingly. Pity I don't have my G36 here; breaching a secured compound is work better suited for an assault rifle than pistol, but you have to use what you have, right Rit-chan? Ritsuko Inoue glanced at her two friends. Hikari was watching the scenery go by, her face happy and relaxed. Aki, on the other hand, was nervously drumming her fingers and twitching. "Aki." Said Rit-chan softly, touching her tall friend's hand gently. Aki looked at her red-headed friend's face. "It will be fine, Aki. Hi-chan and I will be there the whole time."

"For fire support?" quipped the tall girl uneasily.

"Well, I was thinking for moral support, but if you find yourself needing fire support, I suppose we could come up with something in a pinch." Smiled the elf hunter.

"Thanks." Said Aki, smiling before turning to look out the window at the scenery. Rit-chan evaluated both her companion's expressions and body languages. Satisfied with the results, she sat back and joined them in watching the beautiful scenery roll by.

-

"So, what are you all going to do today?" asked Airi of the three Pilots as they ate breakfast. Shinji had pulled together a swift but good breakfast as Misato had finished her beer and entered the bathroom. Hearing no yelling or breaking things, Shinji was hopeful that Asuka had managed to pull herself together enough to keep Misato from suspecting what had happened. Rei, sitting silently in a chair, gave no indication that she had fucked Shinji the night before or spent the entire night cuddled up to him or sucked him off that morning. It would take a better person reader than Misato to crack her mask. Still, nothing Shinji did escaped her notice. Asuka had sailed into the kitchen about the time Shinji was serving his breakfast, her entire body language disturbingly happy.

"Well, we're going to the mall, then we're going to hit the park. After that, well, we'll see." Answered Asuka for all three of them. Rei was silent, not caring where they went or what they did as long as she was with Shinji, and Shinji didn't feel like ruining Asuka's good mood by arguing with her. Besides, there were worse ways to spend his day than with two of the hottest girls in Tokyo 3.

"Oh?" asked Misato casually. "Sure you aren't just going to hit a love motel?" she teased Asuka, waiting for the Second to explode. Asuka disdainfully sniffed at her barb.

"We weren't planning to, but if you insist, then maybe we can squeeze that in." she returned calmly. Misato coughed behind her beer. "Which one is your favorite, Misato?" smiled Asuka, her smile of the decidedly scary variety.

"What does that mean, Asuka?!" yelled Misato, her beer can hitting the table with a `thunk'.

"Calm down, Misato." Soothed Asuka. "I figured that since you were familiar with the local love hotels, you had a favorite one, that's all."

"Why would I be familiar with love hotels, Second?!!" yelled Misato, leaning over the table toward her second charge. "Who told you that?!"

Blinking innocently, Asuka calmly answered "Well, everyone at NERV is always talking about the time you forgot your skirt and showed up for work in your panties, so I asked Kaji and he said that you only do that when you're late leaving the hotel. Certain conclusions are inevitable, Misato. Especially since you seem hell bent to get the three of us into a hotel."

Misato was growling unintelligibly under her breath, obviously not thrilled with Kaji's helpful explanation to Asuka's question. Abruptly, Misato stopped her mumbled ranting, her gaze getting dangerously malicious as she focused on Asuka. Asuka gulped when she noticed the change in Misato's demeanor. "So, you want my recommendation on hotels, Asuka?" she asked, her tone hard.

"Um, no, not really." Said Asuka, watching Misato the way one would watch a circling shark. Misato ignored her answer.

"Well, the one that Kaji took that tech from Section 7 to night before last is supposed to be good. He gave it a four out of five stars. The tech told me she would give it a five of five." Misato smiled at Asuka's frown at that information. "She also said that she would give Kaji's performance a two and a half out of five stars." She added, picking up her beer. Asuka was quiet.

"Why would we go to a hotel?" asked Rei seriously. Misato blinked as Asuka shook her head.

"Misato's hinting rather heavily that we'd go there to have sex." Explained the red-head. Rei considered that for a moment.

"Why would we go to a hotel for that? Do we not have our own residences?" she asked. Misato giggled as Asuka's head dropped.

"Rei-chan has a point." Said Misato happily. "You could all go to her place to play."

"Misato no baka hentai!" screamed Asuka at her guardian and commanding officer. Shinji mentally pictured the sparsely furnished and desolate apartment in her run-down and mostly abandoned building. Asuka would not be too impressed with Rei-chan's place. He thought. Rei had a blank look on her face, but her mind was busy.

-

"Good morning." Said Rit-chan pleasantly to the guard at the gate in front of the neighborhood. "We have an appointment." She said simply, handing the guard a piece of paper with Aki's name on it and the name of the photo shoot coordinator along with her contact number. Stepping back in to his box, the guard dialed the number and spoke with someone briefly. He was soon back at the side of the car.

"Your appointment is confirmed, miss Wakirihara. You are invited to join your party at the club house. Do you need directions?" he asked, his tone polite and even.

"Give them to my driver, thank you." Said Rit-chan, rolling the power window up. The guard stepped to the driver's window, which was rolled down, and spoke with the man briefly, making a few motions as he did so. Nodding, the driver rolled his window up as the guard opened the large gate, allowing them into the private neighborhood.

"See? Nothing to it." Smiled Rit-chan.

"He thought you were Aki." Noted Hikari. Rit-chan shrugged.

"I never told him I was miss Wakirihara, now did I? It's his fault he jumped to conclusions." Replied the elf hunter.

"Are you going to do the photo shoot too?" asked Aki. Rit-chan shook her head.

"No, that's your job, Aki. Say hello to your personal secretary, Hikari Horaki, and your body guard, Ritsuko Inoue." Grinned the red-haired girl.

"What?" laughed Aki. "Why would I have an entourage with me? I'm just a schoolgirl."

"If no one asks, then we don't say. But if they do, then that's who we are." Stated Rit-chan. "Besides, the photographer will know you're the model because you're the one he met, right?"

"True." Allowed Aki. "I'm nervous. I've never been to a photo shoot before." She added.

"Me neither, Aki." Smiled Hikari. "And since I'm not likely to be mistaken for a supermodel, this might be my last chance to see how it works. Have you been to photo shoot before, Rit-chan?"

"Nah. Airi's told me a little about them, though. It's no different from any other job, Aki, so try to relax."

"Easy for you to say, Rit-chan." Muttered Aki as the car eased to stop in front of the clubhouse. A uniformed valet stepped forward and opened the door to the passenger compartment, allowing the passengers to exit. Rit-chan was first, and she stood in the door for a moment as she scanned the area. Satisfied, she moved out of the way so Hikari could exit. Last was Aki, who stood to find herself behind a wall of her two friend's making. Rit-chan saw the driver slip out of his door and look across at her questioningly.

"Park the car somewhere near and wait. Once we know how long we'll be here, we'll let you know what you can do, ok?" directed Rit-chan.

"Of course, miss." Replied the driver, bowing his head briefly. Rit-chan glanced at the valet.

"Would you be so kind as to show my driver where he can park?" she said, her tone making it clear that it was not a request, but an order. "Preferably somewhere out of the sun." she added. The valet bowed to her.

"Follow me, please, sir." He directed, stepping over to a small scooter, mounting it and leading the car off towards a secluded parking lot a ways away. As he departed, another valet stepped outside from the lobby, taking his place as smoothly as a well-oiled pistol. Rit-chan glanced at her two friends, who were standing there looking at her.

"You heard the man, girls: follow me." She said, sensing that she would be leading them until they were comfortable here. She marched into the lobby and to the small desk against one wall. Aki and Hikari followed her. Stopping in front of the desk, she tapped the small bell and waited. Within seconds, a young man in the club uniform stepped around the corner and headed for the desk.

"May I help you?" he asked, his tone a bit distant.

"We are here to see Mai Todoroki." Said Rit-chan calmly. The young man glanced down at a small screen in his desk.

"Your name, please." He said unctuously.

"Wakirihara." Said Aki from behind Rit-chan. The young man glanced up at her, then back to his screen.

"Ah. Come this way, please." He said, walking toward the hallway he had appeared from. Rit-chan took the lead, then Aki, then Hikari. The group moved down the hall, eventually stopping in front of a large set of doors. The staff member politely knocked on the door. A moment later, it opened to reveal a woman in her mid-thirties by Rit-chan's estimation, short hair, small glasses, conservative bust line, and a little thick around the waist. In her hands was a clipboard and pocket organizer. Clipped to her belt was a cell phone, pager and a walkie talkie.

"What now?" she asked, sounding very busy. The man bowed.

"Miss Wakirihara to see you, miss." He said, then turned back toward his station. The older woman looked the three girls over.

"So? Which one of you is Wakirihara?" she asked after a moment spent giving the three a thorough visual examination.

"Isn't it obvious?" retorted Rit-chan. "We're triplets." She kept her tone serious and a bit stand-offish. Aki cringed a bit, while Hikari's hand covered her mouth. The woman, meanwhile, had blinked and jerked her head a bit. A moment after Rit-chan's smart-assed comeback, she began to chuckle.

"Triplets. Got to say, that's a new one on me. Good one, too. Come on in." she was still laughing a bit as she moved aside so the three could enter.

The room was a large meeting room, with a table in the center and about thirty or so people in the room. Several of them looked up, and one man smiled and trotted over to the three. Stopping in front of Aki, he gave her a small bow.

"Ah! So good of you to come, Miss Wakirihara!" he said, smiling up at her.

"Well, you invited me, after all." Said Aki a little awkwardly.

"So I did! And wouldn't you know it, but we have perfect weather for the shoot too!" he exclaimed. "I can't wait to see how much the camera loves you!" he added exuberantly. He seemed to notice the other two for the first time. "You have brought some of your friends with you? Excellent! Who might you two ladies be?"

"Inoue Ritsuko." Said Rit-chan, bowing her head a small amount.

"Horaki Hikari." Said Hi-chan, her head bow more pronounced than Rit-chan's.

"This is the photographer I told you about, mister Fukunosi." Supplied Aki.

"Please, just call me Toshi. All the models do." He smiled. He gave Rit-chan and Hikari a very meticulous visual check. "Forgive my forwardness, but have you two ever modeled?" he asked.

"N…no." said Hikari, her cheeks a bit red.

"Never gave it any thought." Said Rit-chan. "Besides, we're here to witness our friend's rise to fame, not to play at pop idols." The man blinked.

"You are very direct, miss Inoue." He said, his lips twitching into a smile.

"I found it can save time." Said Rit-chan urbanely. Just then, the site manager, miss Todoroki, interrupted.

"Ok, Toshi. Back to the table. We've got a long day in front of us, and there is a bit of paperwork to complete before we can get miss Wakirihara prepped. Over here, please." She directed, heading for a smaller table off to the side. Aki and her friends followed the woman over to the table.

"I look forward to working with you, Miss Wakirihara!" called out Toshi as he returned to where he had been earlier. Sitting in a chair by the table, the site manager picked up a file of papers and motioned for Aki to sit. As the tall girl did, the older woman opened the file and began to lay out several pieces of paper.

"Ok, let's get this moving." She said crisply. "First of all, I need your school ID and a second form of official identification, preferably photo ID. The reason is that as a minor, we must have proof of your ID and voluntary participation in the contract." Aki handed the woman her ID and passport. "Excellent. Now, this is a standard limited-duration modeling contract, agreeing on your giving us permission to use your photos in our publications, as well as signing over intellectual rights to the photos to us and the photographer." Aki picked up the contract and read it all carefully, looking for any of the traps Airi had warned her some companies put in their contracts. Seeing none of the kind of things Airi had warned her about, she signed and sealed the contract.

"Excellent." Said Todoroki, handing back Aki's passport and ID, having scanned them into a laptop. "Now, this is a terms of usage contract. You will note there are a lot of blanks in this one. Essentially, this is for legal descriptions of what kind of modeling you will do for us." She looked at Aki. "Can I assume you will do swimsuit, school uniforms and casual wear? Toshi said he had mentioned those to you when he recruited you."

"Evening wear as well." Nodded Aki. Todoroki marked some areas, added some lines to others and then looked back at Aki, her gaze level.

"Lingerie and/or partial nudity?" asked the woman crisply. Hikari blushed a bit, but Aki just considered the question.

"Lingerie is ok, and if there is a stipulation that I get final say-so on approval for publishing, partial nudity. But, I must have final approval on publish release."

"You sound like you've done this before, miss Wakirihara." Smiled Todoroki, making some changed to the second contract.

"I made arrangements for some technical assistance from a trusted source with extensive experience in modeling and movies." Interjected Rit-chan easily.

"Oh? Anyone I know?" asked the woman, her tone curious, but unconcerned.

"I prefer not to say." Deflected Rit-chan. Todoroki smiled at her.

"You're a curious one, miss Inoue. Am I correct in assuming that full nudity is out?" she asked Aki.

"On this contract, yes. Later, if circumstances allow, we can discuss it again." Replied Aki.

"I see. Wise choice, girl. Now, if you would sign here and seal here and here." Directed the site manager, indicating as Aki read the modified contract. Hikari leaned over to Rit-chan.

"I don't recall seeing any nudity in NFY. Why would they have a partial or complete nudity clause?" she whispered. Todoroki heard her.

"You read NFY, then? Probably subscribe, right?" she said as Aki signed and sealed. Hikari nodded.

"Thought so. NFY is really two publications, miss Horaki. There is the monthly issue that goes to newsstands and subscriptions. Then, there are the bi-yearly specials that are not part of the regular subscriptions or sales. These are circulated in the trade circles, in other words, modeling agencies, other magazine groups and television and movie houses. Although they can be found outside the business, they are rare. These are the ones that up-and-coming models hoping for a break go all out in. They usually have a section devoted to displaying the model's build and presentation."

"You mean T & A." said Rit-chan calmly. A year of being around Airi had given the young girl a good overview of the reality behind the glittering lights. "It's a fisher for first-time acting jobs, and as such, tits and ass sells better than an unheard-of name, correct?"

"Yes." Said the site manager evenly. "You seem a little shocked, miss Horaki." Noted the woman. "I'll put this plainly: most models can't act their way out of wet paper sacks, while most actresses aren't as beautiful as models. Best chance for a model to prove she can cut it in television or the movies is to hook a job as a supporting or secondary personality, and that means having a killer figure and not being shy in using it."

"It makes sense, I guess." Managed Hikari.

"Sad, but true. There is one other thing though. By definition, there is partial nudity in nearly every issue of NFY."

Hikari blinked. "There is?" she asked.

"Hey! Urasi, toss me the latest issue, will you?" called Todoroki before answering. One of the men at the table fished around in the papers, then tossed the manager a copy of the latest New Fresh Youth. Catching it, Todoroki began flipping pages. "Indeed. Ah! There we go: partial nudity." Said the older woman, handing the magazine to Hikari, folded to display a full-page ad for a lingerie company. The photo was a of a high-school girl dressed in a pair of very nice matched panties and bra, with the bra held in place by the model's hands on her breasts, the straps dangling by her sides. The caption below the ad was `Isn't it time to graduate in more than just grade?'

"But this isn't…" began Hikari, frowning.

"By definition, it is, as she isn't wearing anything on her top. True, you can't see her breasts, but its not about rather or not you can see her, only about rather she is `clothed' or not." Explained Todoroki. Just then, her cell phone rang, and the site manager grabbed it, muttering a couple of `got it' and `ok's before ending the call. Leaning around Hikari, she called out to the group at the table. "Ok, we're in business, guys! Team one to the beach, team two to the golf course, team three is in the reception hall, and Toshi's team is roving. Get going; the models will be arriving in their locations in half an hour!"

With a lot of cross-talk, the group broke up and moved off, except for Toshi and three guys and two women. His group began to discuss some sort of shooting schedule, pointing to some sort of map or layout. Todoroki got back to business. "Almost ready, miss Wakirihara. This is a simple waiver for any accidents on the shoot. Essentially, it allows us to cover you with our insurance while you are in a shoot. Just sign here, and seal there. Last one. This is a publicity appearance form. Basically, it's an agreement that if the photos cause a big enough stir, you agree to do promotional work for the magazine. The terms are non-specific, but they do stipulate an agreement between the magazine and the model as to the nature of the promotional event. Note, please, paragraph three, clause two." Todoroki waited as Aki read every word on the agreement, as she had on every other piece of paper. When she was done, another signature and seal went on it. Todoroki scanned it once, smiled and put it all in the folder, writing Aki's name on the tab before filing it in a small file pack. "Excellent. Now, let's get to work." She said, standing.

-

"Can I help you, sir?" asked the clerk of the two young men in front of him.

"Yes, please. Can you contact the Presidential Suite and ask miss Inoue if Suzahara and Aida can come up?" asked the boy with glasses.

"I'm sorry, but Miss Inoue is not available right now." Said the clerk.

"What? Where is she?" asked the taller boy.

"I'm sorry, I do not know." Said the clerk calmly.

"When did she leave, then?" Pressed the short boy.

"Earlier this morning, sir." Answered the clerk.

"When will she be back?" asked the boy.

"When she returns, sir." Answered the clerk, tired of the Q & A. The taller boy grunted, catching the clerk's veiled attitude.

"Then call the penthouse and ask either Horaki or Wakirihara if we can come up, then." He said, crossing his arms over his chest.

"Would those two be a tall girl and a shorter one with twin ponytails?" asked the clerk politely.

"Uh, yeah. They're up there with Inoue." Said the boy.

"Sorry, they accompanied Miss Inoue when she departed." Smiled the clerk.

"They ditched us!" cried the boy with glasses.

Finally, one of them gets the message! Marveled the clerk. "Have a good day, sirs." Said the clerk, bowing his head. The two boys walked away from the desk, obviously upset about the girl in the penthouse not clearing her schedule with them.

"What now, Touji?" asked Kensuke.

"Since we can't locate Inoue or the others, we might as well go see if Tomo-chan and the others are up yet." Suddenly, both boys brightened. Their steps quickened as they moved toward the elevators that would take them to the floor the girl's room was on. Stopping in front of the door to the room, both boys grinned at each other. "Let's hope they just woke up, eh, Kensuke?" smiled Touji before knocking on the door.

-

Misato finished zipping her dress up and checked to make sure her appearance was perfect. Taking a breath, she released it explosively. Time to go see the devil. She thought to herself. Once more, she checked her look, noting the extra movement of her breasts, unconfined by a bra, and the smooth lay of the dress over her ass, no lines visible from her thong panties. I hate to sink to this, but I need to use every advantage I have if I have any hope to get Celsia released. Airi entered the room she shared with Misato. Seeing how Misato was dressed, Airi smiled. "Tell you what, Mi-chan. Hold on while I get dressed, and we'll go together." She said calmly.

"Huh?" replied Misato.

"You are going to NERV to see the Commander about releasing Celsia, are you not?" asked the actress, a hint of mirth in her voice. She slipped off her sleeping threads and began to select clothing for herself. Following Misato's lead, she chose clothes that were more revealing than normal. Within ten minutes, the actress was ready. "Shall we?" she asked her new friend.

"If you think you're ready." Agreed Misato, grabbing her keys and leading the other woman out of the apartment.

-

Todoroki had chatted amicably with the three girls as she led them to another set of rooms. Rit-chan had been busy observing and making notes and plans, Hi-chan had been listening intently to the shoot organizer, and Aki had been concentrating on keeping her heart rate below 130. This is for real. Thought the tall girl. This is a real photo shoot with a world-famous photographer, for a real magazine. Don't blow this, Aki!

"Ok, here we are." Announced Todoroki, knocking on a door a moment before she opened it. Inside were several well-lit tables with a woman seated at each, two or three other women - and in two cases, men - gathered around them, applying makeup to their faces and fixing their hair. Several of the women seated at the tables turned to look at the trio in the doorway. "First stop, Aki: makeup. Let's see, there should be an open table." Scanning the tightly packed room, she nodded after a moment. "Over there, that'll be your table." She said, indicating one of two empty tables. Aki and her two friends trooped over to the table, Todoroki pausing to talk to a couple of the staff and a model or two. Rit-chan scanned the room, meeting the gaze of everyone she could. Already, she could hear the faint murmuring of comments and speculation starting.

"Hey, you're Aki Wakirihara, right?" came a voice from the table next to the one Aki had been instructed to go to. A glance revealed a woman perhaps a year or two older than Rit-chan seated at the table, one woman carefully working on her makeup, another doing her hair.

"Uh, yeah. Hi." Said Aki, nodding to the other woman. Rit-chan turned her gray-green eyes on the woman, her expression neutral. Hikari hung back a bit, still looking around her a bit timidly.

"I'm Sun Ji Kuon. Pleased to meet you." Smile the older woman.

"Sun Ji Kuon?" repeated Aki, frowning a bit. "Are you the one who did the photo spread in Fashion Now!, January edition?"

"Guilty." Giggled the woman. "Not bad for a woman crowding twenty, huh?" Her smile and friendly demeanor were contagious.

"Next you'll be telling me about how good things were in the `good old day' of your teens, right?" laughed Aki, sitting at the table assigned to her. Rit-chan spotted two women headed their way.

"You'll find out about the business soon enough, Aki-chan. In this profession, twenty is old." The light brown eyes of the professional model intently studied the two girls with the new model. "Natural strawberry blonde, gray-green eyes. Interesting. Do you model?" she asked Rit-chan.

"No." replied Rit-chan calmly. "I'm in another profession." She added easily.

"Oh? What trade do you follow?" asked the model as the woman doing her hair smothered a snippy remark.

"I'm a professional elf hunter." Retorted the teen, her tone as bland as if she were telling the woman she was a sales clerk. "I also do side jobs for mercenary units and loan-outs for lunatic fringe groups." Hikari ducked her head behind Rit-chan's back as she clamped a hand over her mouth to keep from ruining Rit-chan's fun by laughing. Staring the woman in the eye, Rit-chan awaited the reaction to her answer.

"Does that pay good?" asked Sun, her tone curious.

"Sometimes, but it's hard to get repeat customers when they get themselves killed on a regular basis." Smiled Rit-chan. "Still, it has it's good points." She mused.

"Such as?" asked the model.

"Well, the works never boring, the scenery changes and I get volume discounts on my ammo bills." Grinned the girl. From behind her, she heard Hikari beginning to loose control, her laughter getting louder by the moment.

"Is that a good way to meet men?" wondered the model.

"Not really. There are some out there with interesting capabilities, but none I'd date." Replied the teen. "Modeling is probably a better way to meet guys."

"Unfortunately, most of them are shallow Narcissist or out-and-out slime. Ugh. That reminds me of my last boyfriend. He was this hunky actor I met at a party, and I thought he'd be some paragon of smooth sophistication, seeing as all his characters were real lady-killers with grace and style. Come to find out, he was a mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging certified jerk who's idea of a good time was watching baseball and debating the virtues of fan girl sex over sex for hire." Said the model companionably.

"Either way, at least you got to cum." Offered Aki, smiling a bit.

The model giggled and leaned a bit closer to Aki, smiling. "Not as often as he thinks I did." She whispered. All the girls shared a soft laugh. "But seriously, just be careful, Aki-chan. This is not an easy business to be in. Still, you seem to have a good idea of what you're getting into."

"I do?" asked Aki. "Well, thanks, but I've never even thought of modeling before Toshi came up to me on the way to the market and asked me to model for him." Confided the tall girl. Rit-chan's sharp ears caught the momentary freeze in the buzz of conversations at Aki's words, and her sharp eyes caught several veiled glances from some of the models and staff.

"No shit? Toshi came up to you and asked you to model for him?" asked Sun, her tone a bit stunned.

"Yeah. I was just stepping out to grab some ice cream, and he came up to me and asked if I would like to model for him. At first, I thought he was a pervert from some skin mag, but after I asked around, I found out he was legit." Explained Aki. "Why so surprised? Doesn't he do that a lot?"

"Uh, no, Pulitzer Prize winning photographers who charge magazines over 30 million yen a shoot don't usually accost girls on the street to ask them to pose for pictures. Damn." Answered the model, once more staring at Aki intently. "No offense, Aki-chan, but I don't see whatever he saw. Sorry if I sound snobbish, but it's the truth."

"That makes two of us." Shrugged Aki. "I'm no hag, but I know the only thing that makes me stand out is my height and build. But, what the heck; I'll probably never get this chance again, so I'm gonna enjoy it while I can." Smiled the tall girl. Behind Ritsuko's back, the elf hunter heard a soft sigh.

"Ok, enough with the exchanging recipes, ladies." Came the voice of Todoroki. Turning to look at the older shoot manager, Aki smiled a bit. "If you're ready, miss Wakirihara, let's get you into makeup and down to the beach. Toshi says he's found the perfect spot, but that the light will change in less than an hour. So, we've got fifteen minutes to powder your nose and send you down to get fitted for your swimsuits. Let's move, ladies." She ordered, the two women who were with her stepping forward and beginning to work on Aki. Hikari and Rit-chan stepped away a bit, to give the professionals room to work. In the mirror, Rit-chan saw Aki's eyes nervously track the two girl's retreat from her side. Smiling at her tall friend, Rit-chan winked before finding a comfortable perch to spend the next fifteen minutes or so. Beside them, Sun finished up her prep and stood, smiling at Aki and wishing her a quiet `good luck' before departing for where ever her shoot was scheduled for. That reminded Rit-chan of something.

"Hey, miss Todoroki." She called out to the shoot manager. The woman stopped flipping pages on her clipboard and turned to look at Rit-chan.

"What do you need, miss Inoue?" asked the woman pleasantly.

"How long is this shoot going to last? I left our driver out there with instructions to wait to hear from me, so I need to know if I should send him back to my hotel or just have him hang." Explained the elf hunter.

"It depends on Toshi, but I doubt that you'll need your driver until about sunset or later. It's your call, but I'd tell him he's free to do as he pleases until you call him. There's a nice café down by the marina, and I can tell you how to find the most excellent seafood restaurant in the entire world. Of course, this isn't the biggest of islands, so if he wanted to return to your hotel, then it would just mean a longer lead time to your pickup call, right?" said Todoroki.

Rit-chan considered, then fished a pen and pad of paper out of her bag, scribbled on it swiftly, then pulled out some cash, folded the note around it and stood up. "Be right back, guys." She called out to Hikari and Aki as she swiftly moved out of the room. Once in the hallway, she backtracked to the desk, where she found the same employee she had summoned with the bell. "Excuse me, I need a favor." She said, her tone cheerful.

"Of course, miss." Said the man. Handing him the note, she explained her need.

"This note needs to get to my driver. He's somewhere out in the parking lot area; you're bellhop or valet should know where he is. If you could get this to him somehow, I'd appreciate it." She smiled.

"Not a problem, miss." He said, tapping a button on his desk top. A moment later, the valet stepped into the lobby. "Kuni, deliver this to the driver of the car this lady arrived in immediately, please." He directed the young man. Bowing, the kid took the note and the money folded into it and quickly stepped back outside. A moment later, Rit-chan heard the sound of the scooter. "Will there be anything else, miss?" asked the man behind the counter.

"Nope. That'll do it." Chirped Rit-chan, favoring him with another of her happy smiles before disappearing down the hall again.

-

"Ugh! I can't believe the attitude of that guy!" ranted Asuka as the trio of pilots departed yet another shop plundered in the pursuit of a good time by one Asuka Langley Sohryu. Shinji carried two bags, both of them Asuka's, but he wasn't overly upset. After all, Rei-chan was by his side, and Asuka had said she was going to go look for some new panties once she found the `perfect' top and skirt. "Where does he get off trying to tell me what to wear?! Talk about creepy, too! Any guy that works in a women's clothing store is either gay or a pervert!" she declared. Rei said nothing, being more focused on Shinji, who was smiling softly to himself. Stealthily, Rei's hand caressed Shinji's, prompting the boy to look over at his first lover. Rei smiled at him, knowing that doing so would make his heart race. Sure enough, she felt his increase in coronary activity. Shinji returned the smile.

"I wish to stop in there for a moment." Said Rei softly as the trio passed a furniture store. Asuka blinked.

"What for, Wondergirl?" she asked, her tone annoyed.

"I need to purchase a few items for my apartment." Answered Rei, undisturbed by Asuka's angry muttering and growling. "I will only be a few moments. Wait here, please." She asked Shinji.

"Um, sure." He said, as confused as Asuka. Unlike the Second Child, he was confused not at her purchasing furniture - he knew her apartment was as sparely furnished as a condemned office, but by her sudden desire to change her apartment.

"Humph! I'm surprised that Wondergirl has to deign to purchase something like furniture!" groused the German girl. "Doesn't her sugar daddy Gendy provide her with everything she wants?"

At the mention of Gendo Ikari, Shinji grunted angrily. "What makes you say that, Asuka?" he asked his red-headed goddess. "She isn't treated any better than either of us, you know."

"Why so quick to take up for her, Baka? You hoping to get some from her by being her knight in shining armor?" snapped Asuka.

I already have all she can give, Asuka. Thought Shinji to himself. But aloud, he said something else entirely. "No, that's not it. It's just that her apartment is…not like ours." He finished, not knowing how to call her apartment a dive without insulting the goddess of ice.

"Yeah, I bet! She's probably got some penthouse suite in the upper side of the eighth district, being the Fuhrer pet and all." Sniffed Asuka.

"You're wrong." Said Shinji before he could stop himself.

"Did you just say I was wrong, Baka?!" snarled the beautiful girl. "What do you know about her apartment?"

"Well, it's just that I had to deliver her ID card to her once; it was before you came here. I saw her apartment." He explained.

"Did you now?" mused Asuka, her mouth smiling a bit. Shinji kept a close watch on her. Doing so, he didn't realize that Rei had exited the store and returned to the two pilots.

"I am finished now. Where do we go to next, Asuka?" asked the First Child. Asuka turned to smile at Rei.

"Oh, we're going to your place, Wondergirl." She said, her tone dripping honey.

-

Aki followed Todoroki down the path to the beach area, Hikari and Rit-chan in tow. It had only taken the makeup artists and hair stylist about a half hour to finish their work on Aki, who looked like a supermodel now. "Isn't the makeup going to be washed off by the surf?" she asked Todoroki.

"You probably won't be in the surf at all. Mostly it will be sand work and posing. If we do any water at all, it's usually sprayed on and rarely covers the face." Replied the shoot manager. "Toshi seems to have a thing for you though, so I'm not sure how he'll set you up."

"Great." Murmured Aki, feeling her heart rate go up a bit.

"Relax." Whispered Hi-chan. "He's a renowned photographer, not some nudie shutterbug."

"Like Aida wishes he were?" interjected Rit-chan with a giggle.

"I guess. Anyway, he couldn't keep working for respectable magazines if he were a pervert. And anyway, you have a contract, right?" continued Hikari.

"You're right; I just can't seem to calm down." Agreed Aki. "I thought I wouldn't be this nervous."

"It's your first time, Aki-chan." Soothed Rit-chan. "Everyone is nervous their first time."

"Speaking from experience, are you?" teased Aki weakly.

"I won't even dignify that with an answer, Aki-chan." Replied Rit-chan haughtily.

"If we were dealing with that, you wouldn't be nervous, now would you?" shot back Hikari, giggling.

"Humph! A girl gets a little and suddenly she's an expert, is that it?" retorted Aki. "Well, I wouldn't be the only one, now would I, little miss Proper?" Hikari blushed.

"I…I don't know what you're talking about, Aki." She stuttered.

"Asuka was right about you two." Interjected Rit-chan. "You're both little hentai freaks."

"What?! When the hell did she tell you that?!" sputtered Hikari indignantly.

"Oh, like she's got room to talk!" snorted Aki.

"Ohhh! When I see her again, I'm going to give her a piece of my fucking mind, the bitch!" fumed Hikari. Rit-chan began to snicker. "What are you laughing at, Rit-chan?" asked Hikari, her tone curt and peeved.

"You, Hi-chan." Laughed Rit-chan. "A little teasing and your true colors come out."

"Coarse little savage, isn't she?" agreed Aki, smiling at her friend fondly.

"You were joking? God damn it, Rit-chan, you're going to get in fucking trouble with that shit one day!" growled Hikari.

"I wonder if she was ever a sailor?" asked Rit-chan of Aki, her hand touching Hikari's shoulder briefly.

"I doubt it; she'd make a sailor blush with the way she talks." Laughed Aki, her hand coming to rest on Hikari's other shoulder. The class rep growled a bit before her anger drained away.

"I've been under the influence of evil people, ok?" she exclaimed, her tone exasperated. "Asuka's vocabulary is contagious! And what about that outburst by the pool, Rit-chan? I bet the teachers were even blushing! Hell, most of the boys wouldn't even say that kind of thing, let alone the girls!"

"She has a point, Rit-chan. You can be very crude, girl." Agreed Aki.

"When dealing with Junpei, only crudeness works; his vocabulary and mental prowess would miss any other attempt to communicate with him." Shrugged Ritsuko. "Knuckle-dragger is too good a label for him. Gorillas find him unrefined and crude. Need I continue?"

"Does he have any good points?" asked Hikari, her tone light.

"Only two." Replied Rit-chan. "First, he's good in a close-quarter battle. Second, he's easily manipulated."

"It sounds like you know him inside and out, Rit-chan. How did you meet him, and why haven't you mentioned it before now?" asked Aki.

"There's a lot of things I haven't mentioned, Aki-chan. Let's just say that I've known him, Airi and Celsia a year now, and it feels like a lifetime. Beyond that, I'd rather not talk about it now. Maybe later." Replied Rit-chan. Aki was staring at her, eyes contemplative. Hikari was watching her as well, her eyes also questioning.

"Is this because of something that happened with NERV?" asked Hikari, watching her closely for a reaction.

"No, this started a long time before NERV. Like I said, let's drop this. Besides, we're here." She noted indicating the beach and the small group standing with Toshi. Aki took a deep breath and turned her attention to the shoot, while Hikari took one more look at Rit-chan's eyes before turning her attention to the impending photo shoot of her friend.

-

Misato and Airi descended in the elevator, both women quiet. The meeting with the Commander had been decidedly odd. Armed with powerful arguments and dressed to distract, the two had been made uneasy by the tone of the visit. Gendo was no one's warm cuddly, and he usually made the people visiting him jump though hoops before even listening to their request or report. This time, he had simply asked what they were there for, and Misato had opened the discussion with the request that Celsia be released from the holding cell. After several moments of contemplation, the Commander had informed them that the elf was too much a risk to let loose in Tokyo 3. Thinking that it was time to use a little logic, Misato had carefully explained that Ritsuko had run all her tests, and still not found any reason that the elf should be locked up.

"I have already said that, Captain." Interrupted Ikari. "I was asking if you had given any thought to where she should be relocated to, as Tokyo 3 is no place for an elf."

Misato and Airi both had to concentrate to keep their jaws from hitting the floor. Commander Ikari was giving in without a fight? No fucking way! Misato had recovered swiftly and suggested a room in the small barracks section of NERV HQ, or even the room where Shinji and Asuka had done their synch training.

"Permission granted. Dismissed." Said Gendo, turning his attention to his terminal. Misato, not trusting her luck to last any longer, had saluted and turned for the door before the Commander could change his mind. As the door to his office opened, he halted her with one more command. "Captain, you are to arrange for her stay in the new quarters, but you must also make sure that she is available for any further testing or questioning necessary, understood?"

"Yes, sir." Said Misato, saluting before the door closed.

The two women changed elevators and descended further into the bowels of NERV HQ. "Something is wrong with this situation." Muttered Misato.

"I agree. What was the deal with him giving in so easily?" concurred Airi.

"I don't know. But at least we got your friend out of that cage." Replied Misato.

"Even if it is into a better one, at least Celsia won't be nude and chained to a wall any more." Agreed Airi. The door opened and the two entered the brig section. Sitting at the guard station was a new goon. The old one was on leave from the injuries sustained from Junpei's punch.

"We're here to escort the prisoner to new quarters. Have her personal effects ready when we return." Stated Misato, moving past the new guard.

"I haven't received any orders about a relocation, Captain." Said the goon.

"Orders are direct from the Commander's office, agent. Call for confirmation, if you want." Replied Misato, entering the cellblock, keys in hand for Celsia's door and collars.

-

"You've got to be kidding." Said Asuka, her voice shocked. The three pilots stood in front of Rei's apartment building, taking in the cracked and derelict building. In the background, there was the sound of heavy construction. Trash and graffiti were everywhere. "No way does Wondergirl live here." Stated the German pilot.

"It is my residence, Asuka." Confirmed Rei. "Follow me, please." She directed, entering the building and heading for the stairs. The small lobby was as bad as the outside of the building, dirty and abandoned looking. Asuka stopped in front of the single elevator. Pushing the buttons got no response.

"Broken, right?" she guessed.

"Correct." Agreed Rei, climbing the stairs. Asuka snorted her reply and followed Shinji and Rei up the stairs.

"Let me guess, you're on the top floor, right?" she asked sardonically.

"No, I am on the fourth floor." Answered Rei.

"Figures." Muttered Asuka. At the landing to the fourth floor, the three exited the stairwell and walked along a hall with doors on each side. Several of these doors were torn off the hinges or kicked in. Asuka frowned. "How many people live here, Wondergirl?" asked the redhead.

"I am unaware of any other residents in this building, Asuka." Replied Rei. Asuka blinked. Stopping in front of a door, Rei pushed the door open. "This is my residence." Shinji noted that none of the junk mail had been removed from her over-flowing mail slot, there were still shoe prints on her floor, and the only pieces of furniture were the rusted, decrepit, narrow bed, the three-drawer dresser, a small television/DVD combo and a small armoire. The top of the dresser still had the beaker of water and pack of pills with Rei's name on them, the bed was still unmade, and the armoire still stood open and nearly empty, even with the clothes Rei had bought recently. Still, there were some small improvements, as the blood-soaked bandages were gone, as was the bloody pillowcase.

Asuka stood in the center of the bare room and simply looked around, her mouth hanging open a bit. Turning slowly, she took in the bare, chipped walls, the tattered and torn curtains, the grimy floor, the utter lack of any creature comforts. Spotting the TV/DVD combo. Asuka walked over to it, seeing that it had no antenna connected, apparently only used for viewing DVDs. She also noticed that it was still so new that it had that plastic smell to it. Hell, it didn't even have any dust on it. Looking around near the combo didn't reveal any discs, so Asuka assumed that Rei only watched whatever the Commander ordered her to watch. Spying a door off of the bedroom, she stepped over to it and peered inside.

The bathroom was small and dingy, the only thing in it that wasn't fixtures was a single large, brown towel hanging on a hook and a tube of toothpaste with the accompanying toothbrush. No hairbrush, no perfume, no bath oils or makeup. Leaning over, she spotted a roll of toilet paper by the toilet. "Nice bathroom, Wondergirl." She muttered sarcastically.

"It is sufficient to my needs." Said Rei softly. Shinji looked at her, frowning.

"You shouldn't live in this dump." He said, his tone unhappy.

"It is my assigned residence." Explained Rei, touching his hand.

"Who the hell would order a pilot to live in a condemned building?!" snarled Asuka. "It's disgraceful!"

"Commander Ikari assigned me this residence personally." Answered Rei. That tidbit of information shut Asuka up. "What do you wish to do now, Asuka?" asked Rei.

"What? What do you mean?" asked the redhead, confused by the sudden change in topic.

"You decided that we were going to come here, so what do you wish to do now?" clarified Rei helpfully.

"Uh, well, I guess…" began Asuka, considering the question. After a moment, she sighed. "Let's motor, guys. This place is too depressing." She said, turning for the door.

"Whoa!" gasped Hikari as she and Rit-chan entered a small screened-off changing room on the beach. Inside the smallish open-air changing room were dozens and dozens of different swimsuits and accessories. "Lots of choices." She breathed in reverence.

"Yeah, no kidding." Agreed Aki, surveying the assortment. "How am I supposed to choose one with so many choices?" she wondered.

"Perhaps a bit of assistance would be welcome?" came a voice from just outside the door flap. Rit-chan turned her head to see Todoroki slip into the changing room. She smiled at Aki's amazed expression. "If you can't find a flattering suit here, you can't find one anywhere, Wakirihara." She said. "Let's get started." She added, sizing Aki up. "Try this one first." She suggested, selecting a moderately cut bikini and handing it to the tall girl. Rit-chan considered the black and teal flower pattern, and nodded to herself.

"Not bad. I assume you are using some sort of guideline in the selection process?" she guessed.

"Actually, yes. There is a system to this, you know. Since most magazine photos are in effect close-ups, you need to choose suits that compliment your eyes and build. For the full-body shots, you need a higher contrast to accent your curves. With Wakirihara's height, bikinis are to be preferred over one-piece suits, unless the print on the one-piece is random, like flowers or geometric patterns." Explained the woman as Aki swiftly donned the suit, finding it to be a good fit.

"You have a good feel for this, Miss Todoroki." Observed Hikari. "Did you study fashion in school or something?" The older woman laughed.

"You might say that. I was a model myself, back when I was still a schoolgirl." She explained. "Way before you kids were born." She assured them, seeing the skepticism in Aki's eyes. "Yeah, I know what I look like now, but back in the day, before Second Impact, I was a lot shapelier. Not a little like you, miss Horaki."

"I'm hardly model material. Especially with my bust line." Denied Hikari, her hand absently touching her chest. "Now Asuka and Rit-chan here are model material."

"You might be surprised, Miss Horaki. When I was a model, I only did shoots for the petite lines, seeing as I wasn't - and still am not - as endowed as some other women." Noted Todoroki.

"Like Misato." Murmured Rit-chan to herself. That woman got doubly blessed in that department. "So why the change to staffing shoots?" she said in a louder voice.

"Fell in love and got married." Shrugged Todoroki. "Six years went by before I realized that I was the only one of us in love, and by then, I was not in modeling trim anymore, so I eased back into the business as an organizer. The pay is almost as good, and it doesn't have the restrictions on food that modeling does."

"Food restrictions?" wondered Aki. The girl had a healthy appetite, and missing food was not one of her favorite things. Todoroki giggled in response to Aki's tone.

"You won't have to worry about that for another few years, dear." She laughed.

"And your husband?" asked Hikari.

"Ex-husband." Corrected Todoroki. "Last I heard, he was running around with some toga-wearing cult chanting `death to the disbelievers' somewhere in Europe." Shaking her head, Mai Todoroki turned her attention to Aki. "Ready for your first shoot, Wakirihara?" she asked, motioning to the door flap and the waiting Toshi and company.

-

Celsia had been so glad to see Airi and Misato that when her last chain was unlocked, she grabbed Airi into a hug, kissing her cheek. Airi had understood how she felt, and let the incident go without comment. Misato had also gotten hugged, but not kissed. When she was told that she was being relocated to a different room, the elf had frowned. Misato hastened to assure her that she was not going to be chained up naked in the new location, and would be given some limited mobility, provided she abided by some rules. Celsia had listened to her guidelines, and after a few moments of reflection, accepted the terms. Airi had retrieved her gown from the bag of personal belongings, and Celsia was ecstatic as she slipped into it. Misato had handed her bag with her belongings in it and led her to the elevator and the higher levels.

"This is your room until further notice." Said the Captain, opening the door to a room along a utilitarian hallway. Airi took one glance and knew it was the room she and Rit-chan had been put in after their physical. "Beds, bathroom, creature comforts; overall, I'd say it is an improvement on your last room." Smiled the captain. Celsia entered the room and looked around.

"Strange." She said, glancing over the TV and small refridge, as well as the electric clock. "What is this stuff for?" she asked, frowning at the electronics. Misato blinked.

"You mean you…oh, right. Stupid question." She mumbled. "Ok, I think I better explain some things to you, then. Let's start with what you know. I'm going to assume you know what a bed is, as well as a toilet, right?" Celsia nodded. "Good. Now, this is a clock; it's used to tell time. With this, you will know when meals are and when your favorite shows are on."

"Shows?" asked Celsia blankly, looking to Airi for help. Misato sighed.

"Help?" she asked Airi. Airi smiled.

"Very well, Misa-chan. I'll take the first watch, so to speak. I'm sure that you have things to do. When I'm done, I'll come to your office, all right?" she said calmly. Misato frowned.

"Ugh. I was hoping to avoid that, but I guess the paperwork won't go away on it's own." Grimaced the Captain. "Oh, do you know how to get to the cafeteria on this level from here?"

"Of course." Assured Airi.

"Good. I'm going to make arrangements for Celsia to eat there, so her access will be this room, the route to the cafeteria and the cafeteria itself for now. We'll fine tune it later. I'll doubtlessly be stuck in my office for most of today anyway, so come see me when you go for lunch." With that, Misato stepped though the door, her cell phone already at her ear. Airi heard `Hyuga' before the door closed.

"Airi, what's going on here?" asked Celsia plainly as she sat on the soft, comfortable bed. Airi sat on the opposite bed and studied her elf friend.

"Oh, the same old, same old." Said the actress, taking the remote for the television and holding it up. "Now, this is called a remote control. It is used to access the device over there, called a television. It is something like your magic mirror, but it is not magical. This device shows the viewer moving pictures called shows. Observe." The actress pressed the power button and the television sprang to life. Currently, it was some inane comedy show. Airi increased the volume a bit. "Can you hear me over the noise?" she sub vocalized. Very slowly, Celsia nodded. "Good. Now, be quiet and keep your eyes on the device over there. Here's where we stand…" For the next fifteen minutes, the microphones picked up the television chatter and the occasional sound from Celsia or Airi, and the cameras showed two women watching television intently. Neither knew that Airi was bringing Celsia up to speed on what was happening. Underestimating the resourcefulness of the actress and the senses of the elf would be a recurring problem for Section 2.

-

"God!" exclaimed Aki, sinking into a rattan chair. "I thought they'd never be satisfied." The three of them were taking a lunch break at a small deli off to the side of the marina. Toshi had been enjoying himself immensely, filling memory stick after memory stick with photos of Aki in various swimsuits. After three hours, he had been forced to end the shoot so he could work on the primary models. Aki had been glad for the break, as she was getting tired of all the posing and changing. Rit-chan and Hikari were also glad for the break as Toshi had been pestering them every shutter snap to let him photograph them as well. Rit-chan had ceased even answering him, and Hikari had resorted to one-word answers. Even so, Toshi had not given any signs of letting their cold reception to his incessant requests bother him. Shortly before Todoroki had ordered him to photograph the two models who were waiting or be fined for breach of contract, Toshi had even been offering to pay them modeling fees from his own pocket. In spite of the constant refusals, the figure kept climbing.

"Modeling is certainly tougher than it looks, isn't it guys?" observed Hikari as a waiter appeared and slipped the short menus under their drink coasters without even the tiniest of disturbance to their conversation. With the menus in place, the waiter disappeared. Hikari picked up her menu and perused it. Aki and Rit-chan followed suit. "What are you two getting?" she asked.

"Tuna nigirizushi for me." Decided Rit-chan.

"Yakizakana; it's too early for sushi." Countered Aki, making a bit of a face at Rit-chan. "Maybe I should ask what it is with you and shashima. First with that sand perch on the diving trip, now tuna. What are you, a shark?"

"It's been a year since I had anything resembling real food, so cut me some slack, ok?" defended Rit-chan. "What are you getting, Hi-chan?" she asked, changing the subject to avoid any more questions about why she hadn't had normal food in a year.

"Oh, I don't know. I was thinking of trying the beef bowl." Said the brown-haired girl.

"Good enough." Said Rit-chan, holding up her menu. The waiter appeared instantly and proficiently collected the menus, placing eating utensils at each girl's place. "I'll take a fruit punch smoothie, please. Aki?"

"Lime daiquiri. Hikari?" queried the tall soon-to-be-model.

"Um, green tea." Decided the class rep.

"Go easy on the alcohol in the daiquiri; half normal." Murmured Rit-chan to the waiter, who nodded and vanished.

"Spoilsport." Pouted Aki, sighing.

"We'll celebrate later, Aki-chan. Right now, you need to be sharp, agreed?" replied Rit-chan. "Besides, you're underage."

"What are you, the morality police?" quipped Aki.

"No. I'm your bodyguard. Its pointless to try to regulate another's morality - or lack there of." Answered Rit-chan calmly. The three fell to casual talk, sipping their drinks while waiting for their food. Within fifteen minutes, the food arrived and the three fell to eating, pleased with the excellent ingredients and professional preparation of the food. "Desert, anyone?" asked Rit-chan, setting her chopsticks down. The waiter materialized by the table and collected the dishes swiftly, replacing them with dessert menus. Rit-chan picked hers up and smiled.

"I take it you see something you like, Rit-chan?" teased Hikari.

"Get whatever you want, but I'll have the fruit and berry cheesecake, double serving, please." Smiled the teen happily. Hikari went for a fruit tart, and Aki requested a fruit filled pound cake sundae. Within minutes, the sweets arrived.

"Good god, Rit-chan!" gaped Hikari. "That thing must have 3000 calories!" The cheesecake was thick, heavy and rich, smothered in thinly-sliced fruits and berries and bedded in crumbled sweet meal mix. Rit-chan estimated that it weighed almost a pound. Taking a bite, she closed her eyes and sighed.

"I make it a point to never count calories or worry about how much I eat when I'm eating. Worry is for later. Besides, this is excellent!" enthused the teen, eyes still closed.

"Get a room, why don't you?" teased Aki. Rit-chan nabbed another dessert fork full of her cheesecake and unerringly slipped it into Aki's mouth.

"Don't be snippy until you've tried this, Aki-chan." Said the teen primly. Aki's eyes opened wider.

"Holy shit! This is good!" she announced. Rit-chan gave her a knowing look as she nabbed another forkful and pushed it against Hikari's lips. Without thought, Hikari opened her mouth and Rit-chan administered another sugar fix to her other friend. Hikari tasted the rich, thick treat and had to agree it was most exquisite.

"As good as sex?" prompted Aki, watching Hikari.

"Almost, but not quite." Agreed Hikari before she thought her answer over. She blushed when she realized what she had said. Both Rit-chan and Aki laughed. Hikari concentrated on eating her own dessert. In short order, the last of the sweets were gone and the girls sat sipping their drinks.

-

Misato glanced up from her desk to see Maya standing in the doorway to her office. "Yes, Maya?" asked the Captain leadingly.

"These reports are from semp…doctor Akagi. She wanted you to read them for reference for future engagements with angels, ma'am." Reported the young lieutenant, offering a thick sheaf of readouts. Misato stared at the stack of papers impassively.

"And where is my dear friend Ritsu at right now?" she asked Maya, her eyes still on the papers.

"I…I don't know, ma'am." Replied the bridge bunny.

"I see." Said Misato, reaching for the papers. After Maya released them, Misato dropped them negligently onto a corner of her desk before turning her attention back to the project at hand. Maya stayed in front of her desk. "Anything else, Maya?" asked Misato, not looking up from her paperwork.

"Yes, I was…it's just…is Shinji ok?" asked the young short-haired girl. Misato looked up.

"As well as can be expected, I guess. Why the concern?" asked Misato.

"Well, he never wanted to pilot the Eva, and for a while, I thought he might…leave. But in the last few weeks, he seemed to be a lot happier than he was before. His synch score and ratio have been steadily improving, and he's been doing very well against the Angels. I was just afraid that when he was…well, the incident after this last angel, might have…discouraged him." Explained Maya haltingly.

"I've thought the same thing, Maya. But he honestly seems to be handling it ok. Better than I expected, actually." Smiled Misato. "I think he's beginning to open up to his fellow pilots and me."

"Really?" said Maya, sounding relieved. "That's good to know." An idea occurred to Misato. Smiling, she grabbed a scrap of paper and jotted down a number.

"You know, if you ever want to know how he's doing, why not just call and ask? Here's his cell number." Offered Misato, handing the paper to Maya.

"But I…!" began Maya.

"He would love to hear from you, Maya. Who knows, you might get some good recipes from him." Laughed Misato. "And anyway, he considers you a friend; that's not something that many people can claim of him. And you know what he and the others go through in battle - having someone call from time to time and just let them know that they care can go a long way in keeping their moral up."

"Yes, ma'am." Said Maya, tucking the scrap into her breast pocket. "If there's nothing else, I have some more work to do, ma'am."

"Go for it, Maya." Waved Misato dismissively, her attention back on her work.

-

"I'm bored." Announced Asuka, setting the dress she had been scrutinizing back on the rack. "Come on, let's find some excitement." Rei and Shinji turned to watch her.

"Where are we going to find this excitement, Asuka?" asked Shinji.

"I don't know, but it isn't going to be here. Let's head out toward that lake on the edge of town." Said Asuka impatiently.

"Isn't that off limits?" asked Shinji. "We're not supposed to leave Tokyo-3, remember?"

"It's within the city limits, baka!" snapped Asuka in irritation. "Besides, what else were you going to do?"

I can think of a few things. Noted the boy to himself, but knew better than to tell Asuka that. "Is that ok with you, Rei?" he asked the quiet girl at his side.

"It is acceptable." She said simply. I do not care where I go as long as you are there, Shinji-chan. Asuka flipped her hair behind her shoulders and moved off.

"Well, let's get going!" she barked. The other two followed the Second Child. And behind the First and Third Children came another group, also following them.

"Touji! Hey, Touji!" yelled Kensuke, waving at his friend. The taller boy altered his course to bring him to where his shorter friend waited.

"Hey, what's up?" asked the athlete.

"Not much; with the afternoon lecture cancelled because the teacher's sunburned, we have a lot of time to do nothing." Shrugged the glasses-wearing freak. "Where were you headed?" he asked.

"I was going to go see if Tomo and the others wanted to go do something. After lunch, she and the other three went back to their room to rest a bit." Replied Touji. "Wanna come?" he asked.

"Sure!" chirped Kensuke, eyes aglow with hentai thoughts. Touji sighed.

"Man, you gotta calm down." He muttered. "You're acting like a love-struck idiot."

"Am not!" denied Kensuke. "Besides, I finally lost it, if you follow."

"Wish to hell I didn't follow." Muttered Touji to himself. Red Devil was right: the `suke is a freak!

"Hey! I just realized something!" whispered Kensuke in a conspiratorial tone.

"What, that you're a loser?" was the dark-haired boy's come-back.

"No! I just realized that now Shin-man is the only virgin in our group." Whispered Kensuke. "Poor Shinji!" he smirked. "Hero of the Angel wars and he still can't get a girl!"

"What are you talking about?" asked an annoyed Touji. "He's living with Misato and Sohryu - both of them prime babage - and he works with Ayanami - another prime babe, if you recall. And you know that both of the girls wear those piloting suits which are skin tight, so he gets the centerfold babe every day at work! And now, Inoue and that Komiyama chick are there as well. Hell, he lives better than Hefner!"

"Yeah, he can get all the eye candy he wants, but we're not talking about babe watching. We're talking about getting to screw them, and - much as I hate to say this about a friend - we both know that Shinji would never be able to handle touching a woman, let alone playing `sheath the sword' with them!" insisted the military otaku. "And besides, if he ever did try it, Red Devil'd kill him, Misato would toss him in the brig, Ayanami'd freeze his dick off, Inoue would shoot him and Komiyama would either laugh at him or ignore him."

"You might be right." Allowed the jock on the ride up to the floor that the girl's room was on.

"Hey, it's a hard truth, but we have to accept it: he's just not the stud that we are." Said Kensuke, his tone grave and serious. Touji said nothing, stepping off the elevator and walking down the hall in silence.

-

Todoroki had come to find the three girls sipping their drinks at the café, and told them that the afternoon's shoot would be at the golf course and then move to the reception hall, covering casual, athletic and evening clothes for the NFY issue coming out the next month. Aki groaned a bit, but stood and headed for the golf course. Rit-chan dumped a few medium-denomination bills on the table and departed with Hikari in her wake. Half way to the golf green where the shoot had been set up, the three were intercepted by Toshi, who was still determinedly asking the two to pose with Aki. Hikari politely declined, and Rit-chan ignored him as she had been doing before the lunch break. Toshi was as unaffected by their refusals as he ever was.

"You don't take `no' for an answer, do you, Toshi?" asked Aki, smiling as he was once more rebuffed by Hikari.

"If you give up at the first sign of effort, you'll never get anywhere in life." Answered Toshi, before turning his attention back to the two teens following Aki. "I really think that you two would prove a perfect choice for the cover shot with Aki." He continued his newest pitch to the two recalcitrant teens. "All I'm asking for is to take one picture with you two and Aki, and let you be the judge of rather or not you want to show your friends the picture. What could it hurt? If you don't like it, then you can have a clear conscious knowing that you were right all along instead of not giving it a try and always wondering if you would have liked it or not."

"Mister Toshi, I already told you, no thank you." Sighed Hikari.

"When might you get the chance to have professional-quality photos taken and be paid for them?" he pressed. "I'll even sign them personally so your friends and family know who took them. It will be a permanent reminder of your youth, if nothing else."

"I already told you,…" began Hikari.

"We'll do it on three conditions." Interrupted Rit-chan, her tone serious and a bit dangerous.

"Name them." Agreed Toshi instantly as Hikari's jaw dropped open at Rit-chan's sudden change in tactics.

"First: we and we alone have final approval on release of the photos for publication. Second: we and we alone decide the shoot and clothes. Third: we get signed copies of any of the photos we like and none of the selected photos are to be reproduced or reprinted after that. These are the terms, they are non-negotiable and inseparable. This is a one-time offer, and you can only answer once; there will not be another chance at this. Understood? Good. What's it to be?" stated Ritsuko.

"Hold up a minute!" interrupted Hikari, grabbing Rit-chan's arm and Aki's hand and pulling them off to the side. "We'll be right back!" she called out over her shoulder. Once the three were a ways away, she spun Rit-chan to face her. "What the fuck, Rit-chan?!" she hissed.

"Something occurred to me while he was running off at the mouth. I need you to do me a favor and pose with me for a picture, Hi-chan. Aki as well. I also need you to have a picture with just you in it, and I need one with just me in it." Said Rit-chan, her tone serious.

"What for?" asked Hikari, getting curious about the odd behavior of her friend.

"Second that." Added Aki.

"The pictures are for Shinji and my scrap book; more for Shinji though." Answered the teen, her eyes clouding a bit.

"Why give Shinji a picture of yourself? You live with him, you know." Asked Aki. Rit-chan locked gazes with the tall model.

"I don't know if I should tell you this or not." She began. Taking a breath, she organized her thoughts. "What do you two know about Shinji's work?"

"We know he pilots an Eva, like Asuka and Rei. We also know he's not too pleased about that and seems to get hurt a lot." Offered Hikari. "All of them do." She added.

"What's this have to do with pictures?" asked Aki. Rit-chan sighed.

"Just listen and don't interrupt, ok? Here's the situation as I know it." Began Rit-chan. Three minutes later, Hikari had a hand to her mouth, and Aki was grimacing.

"God, no wonder he's so…" began Aki, only to trail off.

"I let him get beat up, and he never…" Hikari too went silent before the thought could be spoken.

"So, are you going to get some pictures for him?" asked Rit-chan of the two. Both girls looked her in the eyes.

"Hell yes!" was the unified answer.

-

"Check out that sunset, guys." Said Hikari to Aki and Rit-chan. The three had just wrapped up the shoot, and were standing by the window that faced west toward the China Sea. With the sun a third of the way down, the entire sky was on fire, with reds, yellows, golds and silvers from horizon to zenith, where it turned to the deep, dark blue of space. "Isn't it awesome?"

"Yeah. It's been a while since there was this kind of show." Agreed Aki. Rit-chan said nothing, remembering the odd and bizarre weather in the elf world. Still, she had said enough about that topic for a day and chose not to share any more at the time. Silently, she watched, wondering if Airi and Celsia were seeing this kind of show.

"What do you want to do about supper, girls?" asked a voice from behind the three. Turning to face the source of the voice, the trio spied Sun behind them, smiling and dressed casually in shorts and a tee shirt emblazoned with a chibi SD Unit 0 holding some kind of out-sized cannon and the words `I'm not that kind of angel' beneath it. "Me and a couple of others are heading for this little club we heard about in the next town over. Want to come with us?"

Hikari and Aki both looked to Rit-chan. "What?" asked the teen, frowning a bit.

"Can we?" they asked.

"What am I? Your baby sitter?" muttered Rit-chan. "Whatever you want to do is fine with me, guys."

"There'll be lots of cute boys there." Baited Sun, giggling.

"Well, it couldn't hurt to check it out, right, Rit-chan?" offered Aki.

"And if we head back too soon, we'll have to attend those lectures, too." Noted Hikari.

"We're in." replied Rit-chan, knowing that the two had already decided, but were hesitant to take the lead and announce their decision. So, as the oldest girl in the group, she took the lead. "But we need to collect a few things here before we go. And this club - does it have good food in addition to the supposedly cute guys?"

"From what I hear, yes." Smiled Sun. "So, we were planning to head out in about a half hour. Is that long enough to get done whatever you need to do here?"

"Should be. If we get held up, I'll let you know and get directions so we can meet you there." Answered Rit-chan. "Who else is in this group?"

"Bunko, Mei, Shoko and us so far. I have two more people to ask, but I don't know if they'll be interested." Answered Sun. "I suppose I should do that right now." She added, moving off into the room, which was once more filled with the staff of the shoot, this time pouring over the results of the day's shooting. In one corner, Toshi and his two support personnel were busy printing out digital photos for Rit-chan and her group. It had turned out that Toshi had managed to get about two dozen photos that he was satisfied with, and of the two dozen, Aki, Hikari and Rit-chan had opted out a full dozen. Oddly enough, Toshi had helped them decide by giving them an insider's view into what he was trying to say with each photo. And Rit-chan had to admit that he was one hell of a photographer. A small smile lit her lips as she recalled one other thing: the photos had gotten a bit risqué at times, but the girls had selected all the ones that Todoroki might call `partial nudity'.

Speaking of that… Rit-chan reminded herself as she headed for the corner where Toshi had set up shop. Aki and Hikari, who had been discussing the potential of the club, broke off their talk to follow her. When she arrived at the corner where Toshi was viewing his photos for the day on his laptop, she stopped. Toshi glanced up at her.

"Ah! Excellent timing, Miss Inoue!" he exclaimed happily. "Your prints are being prepared for transport even as we speak. I must say, many of those you chose were my best work to date. Still, I want you to see this." He smiled, turning his laptop around to show them a photo he had taken earlier at the beach, with Aki in a dark bikini, oiled and spritzed with water so she looked unusually hot. Across the photo was the overlay of the NFY logo and some marker blocks for article tag lines and the like. "Mai and myself feel that this is the winning cover for next month's issue, but since you were here, I thought I'd ask your opinion and show you the alternate covers as well."

"God, you look hot, Aki!" enthused Hikari, noting the teasing smile and bright eyes of the cover photo.

"Not too bad, I guess." Allowed Aki, smiling like the Cheshire cat.

"What alternate covers?" asked Ritsuko. "You have a winner right there."

"This, for example." Answered the photographer, bringing up another photo with the overlaying logo and text blocking. It was one of the photos that fell under Rit-chan's restrictions, since it was taken on the golf course and had all three of them gratuitously cheese caking. The photo in question had Aki in the center, with Rit-chan on one arm and Hikari on the other, Rit-chan and Hikari having set aside their outer clothes, leaving them bikini-clad with their arms around Aki's waist, the tall girl wearing a tight polo shirt and short plaid skirt, her arms around the other girl's shoulders. All three of them were smiling brightly enough to light up Vegas, and Hikari and Rit-chan were flashing `V's with their free hands.

"I think the second one is the better of the two." Came the voice of Miss Todoroki from beside them. "However, it is one of the ones you had placed under your restrictions, and the editor-in-chief has to give final approval before it goes to publish."

"Can we at least present the group photo to the chief, miss Inoue?" asked Toshi.

"Hmm. I don't know." Hedged Rit-chan. She preferred not to leave too many pictures of her around this dismal world.

"It is a nice photo, Rit-chan." Decided Aki.

"Might be nice to be on the cover of a magazine." Mused Hikari.

"Fine, I'll play Roman rules here." Said Rit-chan, smiling a bit at her two companions.

"Roman rules? What's that mean?" asked Hikari.

"Any group pictures you have of me are fine for use as long as it's ok with the others in the picture." Clarified Rit-chan.

"And solo pictures of you?" asked Toshi intently. Rit-chan frowned.

"Oh, come on!" coaxed Aki. "You could be a star!"

"Or the poster child for every perverted monkey-spanking fan boy out there." Shot back Rit-chan.

"Hey, you're clothed in these pictures. Why would perverted fan boys jerk off to these instead of some porno mag?" pressed Hikari.

"What do you say, Roman Rules?" offered Aki. Rit-chan snorted at that.

"I got your Roman rules right here, Aki-chan." She muttered. "Tell you what, Toshi. I'll let you use one picture of me in the upcoming issue of your mag. I'll be buying that issue, and going through it with a fine-tooth comb, and if I find more than one solo picture of me, I will pay you a visit in my tank, understand?" Toshi nodded.

"I will only use one solo picture of you, Miss Inoue." He repeated back.

"And one more thing:" added Rit-chan, seeing one of the techs hand her a thick manila envelope with her pictures in it. "I better not see my name anywhere in your rag, got it?"

"What should we call you then?" asked Todoroki.

"Just identify me as Eri Sakabara." Answered Rit-chan, turning away from the group and pulling her phone off her belt. Hikari turned to look at Aki. Aki shrugged.

"Beats me, Hi-chan. She's been acting strange since she got here. Still, it could be…" Aki trailed off, her expression contemplative.

"Well?!" prompted Hikari, staring at Aki. "Are you going to finish that or not?"

Aki glanced at the inchou, then at the others near them. "Tell you when we get back to the suite, deal?"

"You better." Grumbled Hikari. Goddamn, I hate it when I'm left out of things! The two watched as Rit-chan talked on the phone for a few minutes. Behind them, Todoroki and Toshi were discussing some things in a quiet voice. Shortly there after, Rit-chan ended her call and returned to the group. "Can I ask you something, Rit-chan?" asked Hikari.

"Sure." Agreed Ritsuko easily.

"Who is Eri and why don't you want your name in the magazine?"

"Eri Sakabara is my mother's maiden name; I'm sure you understand that I look a lot like her. As for why I don't want my name in the magazine, well, let's just say that I'd rather not call attention to myself, both because I'm just that way by nature, and because I have to think of the others as well."

"Others? You mean miss Komiyama or Shinji, Asuka and Rei?" asked Hikari.

"Both. Consider if they put my name in there, and the fan boys began to look for me. Say that they found out where I live. Let's also suppose that an Angel attacks and the pilots can't get to their Evas in time because of the all the starry-eyed brain donors clogging up the hallway outside the apartment, stealing underwear and reading their shitty love poems over bull horns all hours of the day. Fucking poor reason to loose a war, wouldn't you agree, Hikari?" explained Rit-chan.

"How do you know about fan boys anyway?" asked Sun, approaching the group as Rit-chan finished her rant. "Personal experience?"

"Not hardly; I'd have shot the bastards. Airi told me about them, and I've seen them in action too many times to count." Answered Rit-chan with a sardonic tone. "Hell, you've seen them around Asuka, Hi-chan. Multiply that by a thousand and you'll get the idea."

"I hadn't thought of it that way." Mused Hikari.

"Did you say pilots?" asked Sun, looking at Rit-chan.

"Is that what you heard?" asked the elf hunter.

"Easy, girl. I just wanted to know if you happened to know them. I heard you live in Tokyo-3 and it sounded like you know them." Replied Sun, raising her hands defensively.

"I attend school with them. Why ask?" replied Rit-chan. Hikari started to open her mouth, but Rit-chan's hand covered it before she could speak.

"I just wanted to know what they're like. And can you tell me what this one is called?" asked the model, pointing to her tee-shirt, and her chest as well. Rit-chan locked gazes with the model for a moment.

"That's Unit 0. The pilot is known in some circles as the Ice Goddess. She's a real piece of work. All the pilots are." Replied Rit-chan.

"You seem mighty protective of them." Observed the model.

"They've got a hard enough job already; no need to make it worse or put them in more danger than they're already in." replied Rit-chan. Its not like they're not fucked up enough already without having to deal with fan clubs. Rit-chan's eyes narrowed a bit. "You're not Catholic, are you?" she asked suspiciously.

"Me?" laughed Sun. "Get real, Rit-chan! I'm Buddhist; well, sort of. Got something against Catholics?"

"Who doesn't?" asked Ritsuko rhetorically. "Did the other three you asked decide to go or not?" asked the teen, changing the topic with tooth-snapping speed.

"Well, one of them decided to go. Ready, Mai?" asked Sun, smiling at Todoroki.

"Be right with you, dear." Answered Todoroki, busily making notes. Momentarily, the shoot manager handed her clipboard to one of her assistants and stretched. "Well, let's get to it, shall we girls?" she smiled.

-

"Well, I suppose that this'll have to do." Complained Asuka as she, Shinji and Rei left a gaming store, Shinji carrying a bag with five new games in it for their battered old console. "You'd have thought that there'd be more games for such an old system! But no, everyone just manages to stock only the ones we can't use! Shiest! Baka, we need to buy a new console!" she directed imperiously.

"With what money?" muttered Shinji. It had run his card out to get these, Asuka's monthly limit having been reached weeks ago. Rei had offered to buy him whatever he wanted, but Asuka had been adamant about not accepting `charity' from the doll. Rei had ignored the Second Child's comments, waiting for Shinji to answer her offer. Apologetically, Shinji had asked her to hold off, as it was obviously pissing Asuka off to have her offer to buy them things.

"Never thought I'd see the day that I wished that your Stooge buddies were around!" griped Asuka. "Freak boy Aida owes me a stack of bills."

"Kensuke owes you money?" frowned Shinji. "Why would he borrow from you?"

"Baka Shinji, he didn't borrow anything." Explained Asuka. "He owes me for not killing him."

"Somehow, I'm not surprised." Muttered Shinji.

"Say something, Baka?" challenged Asuka.

"Nothing, Asuka." Replied Shinji calmly.

Asuka `harrumphed' and tossed her hair. "I thought so." She said. "Well, let's head back so I can beat your ass in yet another game." Behind her, Rei walked silently beside Shinji, her hand on his hand. Humming to herself, Asuka led the way toward the apartment. Behind the trio, a car pulled away from the curb and began to move toward them. As it approached, the windows rolled down. At the intersection with the next street, it stopped for the light. The Pilots approached the corner, stopping while the light changed. Shinji was watching Asuka, who was almost dancing in anticipation of beating him yet again in video games. Rei was watching Shinji; or so it appeared.

"Incoming." Came Rei's voice, barely above her speaking tone, as she shoved Shinji and Asuka to the ground, her arm stretching out in front of them a split second before a deafening barrage of gunfire poured from the car at the intersection. In front of the three teen pilots, a barely-visible orange hexagon flickered as the bullets were deflected as if they hit a wall of armor. Still the bullets poured in. Rei stood still, one hand held out in front of her, palm out, like a stop sign, the other cradling Shinji's head protectively. Asuka had yelped in surprise when Rei shoved her - carefully - to the concrete, but now she had flipped over and was clawing at her purse. A moment later, she pulled her USP free and rose to her knees, yelling in German as she brought the gun on target. The car, still firing, peeled out as Asuka opened fire.

The German girl managed to empty the fifteen round magazine in less than three seconds, the line of her fire starting just behind the front door's hinges and walking back and up, blowing out the windows as it chewed into the passenger compartment. For a moment, it looked like the car would get away, but then, while Asuka furiously fished for a back-up magazine, two more shots rang out from right above Shinji's head. A thump was heard as the car swerved out of control and slammed into a storefront. An instant later, two people bailed out of the car. Two more double-taps and both went down. Neither moved. Calmly, Rei decocked her USP and slipped it back into her bag one-handed, her other hand having stayed on Shinji through the entire attack. Asuka had found her spare magazine and slammed it home, hitting the slide release as it seated. "Are you unhurt?" asked the First Child of her two companions, more of Shinji than Asuka, though.

"Yeah, I'm fine. Thank you." Said Shinji, sitting up.

"I'm good too, Wondergirl." Said Asuka, slowly standing. "Where are those Section 2 losers at, anyway?!" she snarled. Just then, a cell phone rang. Shinji fished his out of his pocket and glanced at the screen before answering the call.

"Shinji! Where are you?" came Misato's urgent voice.

"I'm…" began Shinji.

"Never mind! Are Asuka and Rei with you?" demanded the Ops Director.

"Yeah, we were…" began Shinji again.

"Get to NERV, ASAP! Section 5 says that a group of crazies are after you all and…"

"Misato!" yelled Shinji into the phone. Hearing silence, the boy went on. "We know that already! They just tried to shoot us in the street!"

"Where are you? Are you all ok? Where is Section 2?!" demanded the Captain.

"We're fine, Misato. I think Rei-chan and Asuka-chan killed them. I haven't seen any of the Section 2 agents…oh, that must be them, then." He said seeing a car stop by the wrecked car and men in dark suits jump out.

"Took them long enough." Groused Asuka. Another car screeched to a halt in the street in front of the pilot and more men in suits poured out. As the men ran toward the pilots, Asuka brought her gun up. "Stay the fuck back! I don't know any of you assholes!" she roared, taking aim at the lead man's head. Shinji's attention was split by Misato's voice coming from the cell phone.

"Shinji! Don't let anyone near you all! I'm four minutes away! Wait for me! Got it?!" she yelled.

"Um, ok." Said Shinji, ending the call.

"Shinji?" asked Rei, calm as if she were sitting at her desk in school.

"Misato is coming here now. She said not to let anyone near us until she got here. She should be here in four minutes." He said, a bit shocked by the sudden attack.

"Understood." Said Rei, pulling her USP free of her bag for the second time. Taking aim at the second closest dark-suited man, she announced her intentions. "If you do not clear this area, I will be forced to kill you." She said. "Captain Katsuragi's orders."

"You heard her, assholes!" barked Asuka, shifting back to Rei and Shinji's position. "Fuck off!" she yelled, maintaining her aim on the lead guys head. "Shinji!" barked the red-head. Shinji blinked at her. "Baka! Get your gun out and watch our blind side, stupid!" she ordered. Shinji shook himself and began to root for his own gun, pulling it free a few moments later. Turning his back to Rei's, he took up the position Rit-chan had taught him, half kneeling, half crouched, two hands on the gun, one elbow braced on his knee to steady the sight picture. Scan, breathe, scan breathe. He was still doing as Rit-chan had taught him when Misato's well-worn blue car slid around the corner and four-wheel drifted to a stop, sideways in the middle of the street. The purple-haired Captain popped out, gun in hand, and scanned the area.

"Get in, quick!" she called tensely to her pilots. All three rose and jogged to the car, piling in. Rei and Shinji ended up in the back seat, while Asuka belted into the front seat. Misato swiftly dove back into the car and floored the gas as she twisted the wheel, the car slewing back and fourth as it sought traction. "We're going to NERV until Section 2 sorts this out." She said tensely, taking corners in her normal one-wheel manner. "I already had Airi escorted there as well. Section 5 is rooting the group out, and Section 2 is supposed to be dealing with them."

"Well, they're not doing so good a job at that." Complained Asuka.

"Asuka is correct, Captain Katsuragi. Their response time was unacceptable." Confirmed Rei. Shinji might have been hurt if I had not been there; Asuka as well.

"We've got a debriefing with the Commander and Vice Commander when we get back to HQ, so save it until then." Replied Misato, concentrating on her driving. I am going to slow roast the asshole who let this happen! She promised herself. I might have lost my Shinji and Asuka, not to mention Commander Ikari's darling Rei. What kind of half-assed brain donor is running Section2?!

-

"Great!" snapped Asuka. "We get shot at and the answer from NERV is to lock us up in HQ? How fucking intelligent is that?!" She and her two fellow pilots were following Misato down from the office of the Commander, where they had just finished a very odd debriefing. Even before the car of Captain Katsuragi had come to a stop, a flock of Section 2 G2s had surrounded it and `escorted' the four to the Commander's office. The entire trip, Asuka had been fuming to herself. When they were finally admitted to Commander Ikari's office, the red-head was set to blow. And blow she did.

"Asuka, it's not like you're being locked up, you know. And it's just until this group of sociopaths is dealt with." Soothed Misato, though she herself was feeling irritated and suspicious.

"And exactly how long will that take?" gritted Asuka as the group changed elevators.

"A couple of days, max." said Misato confidently. Longer than that, and we might start shooting people.

"A couple of days? So, we get to spend the rest of our free time confined to this…tomb?" snarled the Second Child, motioning to the stark walls of the Geofront HQ of NERV.

"Relax, you'll probably be able to go home by the weekend, then your classmates will be back from Okinawa." Misato replied, wishing for a beer.

"Lucky us." Deadpanned Asuka, her tone distinctly sarcastic. "What a fucking day!" The elevator stopped and Misato led her pilots out into a hall. Shinji looked around as they walked.

"Isn't this the place where Asuka and I did our synch training?" he asked.

"Yeah, I got you all set up here." Smiled Misato. Walking down the hall, she spotted Airi up ahead at Celsia's door. "Hey, Airi!" called the Captain, waving.

"Misa-chan! Everyone's ok?" replied the actress, smiling.

"Yeah, thanks to Wondergirl and my excellent marksmanship." Said Asuka, smiling a bit as she remembered the Commander's words of praise for her and Rei. Still, the Goatfucker didn't even acknowledge Shin-chan. What's wrong with the fuckhead?

"Sorry to pull you out like that, but I can't run the risk of these idiots doing something rash like firing a rocket or ten into the apartment from the street or driving a car bomb into the lobby." Said Misato. "Did you get settled yet?"

"Oh, yes. Doctor Akagi has me in Celsia's room until we can return to the apartment. And you?" said the actress.

Misato made a face. "I'll be spending a lot of my time working. When I do crash, it'll probably be on the couch in my office."

"Celsia is out of lockup?" asked Shinji, speaking up for the first time since he had entered his father's office. All through the debriefing, he had said nothing and simply stared out the windows, much like Rei did at school. For her part, Rei had spoken briefly, detailing her actions in short, concise terms; exactly as she pointed out the failure of Section 2's response time to the attack. To say that Rei's criticism of Section 2 was harsh would be something of an understatement. A few key words of her brief discourse on them were: lazy, disorganized, poorly trained and unmotivated. Asuka had added her two cent's worth by telling the Commander that Wondergirl was too kind to describe them that way.

"Yes, she was released shortly after you were, Shinji." Smiled Airi.

"That's good." Smiled Shinji in reply. "Maybe I can see her sometime."

"There's a good chance of that, Shinji. She's in the shower right now, though, so perhaps you should wait." Grinned Airi. Misato raised an eyebrow. Seeing her look, Airi explained. "Well, Celsia hasn't experienced anything like the showers here, and she's developed quite a liking for them."

"Are you going to be ok rooming with her? She seems a bit…" Misato hesitated to say insane, searching for a more graceful word for nutty as a pecan roll. Airi laughed.

"I'll be fine, Misa-chan. Celsia and I have spent a lot of time together already, or did you forget that?" said the actress.

"I guess it did slip my mind." Admitted Misato. Her cell phone rang. Quickly answering it, she listened for a few moments, then simply said `yes' and ended the call. "Well, I gotta run, so let me get you three settled. Come on." Said Misato, all business. Her three pilots followed her down the hall a bit, coming to a door three down from the room Celsia and Airi would be in. "Ok, this is the room for Rei and Asuka." She said, swiping her card through the lock, the door clicking open. Asuka pushed the door open and looked inside.

"Gee, hope you don't spoil us like this too often, Misato." She sniped. The room was not quite as nice as the one she and Shinji had shared, but it was better than a cell in the brig. Two twin beds, bathroom with shower and tub, a TV set, radio and joined dresser unit completed the furnishings. The walls were painted beige, but a close look revealed that the paint was applied directly to the concrete walls. The floor was tiled, with thin mats by the bedsides. "Comfy place, isn't it?" she muttered.

"It isn't like you'll be living here for long, Asuka." Countered Misato. "Any comments, Rei?" she asked her blue-haired pilot.

"No." said the pilot of Unit 0.

"Good. Shinji, you're down here." Said Misato, leading Shinji down to more doors and across the hall. Another swipe of her card, and the door clicked open. Shinji pushed the door open to reveal a room not unlike the girl's room, but with a single king bed. Entering the room, he switched on the main lights and peeked into the bathroom before returning to the main room. Misato was smiling at him. "You like it, Shinji?" she asked teasingly.

"It's fine, I guess." He replied unenthusiastically. He surveyed the bed before tossing his book bag onto it. Suddenly, he found himself draped in Misato's arms, the Captain having stepped behind him and hugged him into her legendary breasts. "Misato!" he squeaked. Misato ignored his outburst, hugging him closer.

"The bed's big enough for two, Shin-chan." She cooed in his ear. "Can I crash here with you when I'm not working? Pretty please?"

"Wha…but…I guess." He managed. Misato giggled.

"Thanks, Shinji." She said, her tone husky and seductive.

"Misato no ecchi!" came an irate voice from the door. "Stop molesting Baka right now!" yelled Asuka, fists clenched, from where she stood in the doorway. Behind her was Rei, silent and impassive. Misato reluctantly released Shinji.

"Aw, do you wish I were fondling you instead, Asuka-chan?" she teased. Asuka's face went red. Before the goddess of fire could erupt, Misato glanced at her watch. "Oops! Look at the time! Gotta run!" she called out, slipping past Asuka and all but jogging down the hall, laughing as she went.

"That woman…" gritted Asuka, her eyes almost glowing. "How could a drunk tart like that be our boss and guardian?!?"

"She's not that bad, Asuka." Defended Shinji. "You know she's just teasing us." Asuka explosively exhaled.

"Yeah, yeah. Not like you mind being smothered by her tits, right Third?" she said, her tone peeved.

"Shinji was not being smothered by her breasts, Asuka." Noted Rei. "He was facing away from her breasts."

"Grrr." Replied Asuka. "Well, I'm hungry. Baka, make with the food!"

"How am I supposed to do that?" he asked her. "Do you see a refridge or kitchen range here?"

"No excuses!" barked Asuka. "I'm going to get a shower, and you better have some food ready when I get out! Got it?!"

"Yeah, I guess." Came Shinji's reply, his shoulders slumping a bit.

"Good. Get to it." Replied Asuka haughtily as she turned on her heel and marched back to the room she shared with Rei. Rei, however stayed where she was until she heard the door to the room she was to share with Asuka shut. Then, the girl stepped into Shinji's room, closing and locking the door behind her before she all but tackled Shinji back onto the bed, her lips locking to his. For nearly a minute, Shinji was busy with an armload of Rei. Finally, the blue-haired girl broke her lip lock, her tongue slipping out of his mouth. Rei studied him intently as her hands slipped down to his chest, swiftly unbuttoning his shirt and slipping inside, pulling his undershirt up so her hands rested against his warm chest.

"I…need you, Shinji." She pleaded. Shinji captured her hands with his and gently squeezed them before reaching up and slowly pulling her lips back to his. For another long minute, the two were engrossed in their kiss. When they finally broke for air, Shinji reached up and brushed a bit of her hair off her cheek. Rei pressed her cheek against his fingers, her own hands busy with his clothes, removing all obstructing layers as swiftly as she could.

"Rei, do you want to do…it now, or after the others are asleep?" asked Shinji, fighting to maintain control over himself. Rei's hands had finished unbuttoning his shirt, unbuckling his belt and pants, and slid down his zipper as he spoke, her fingers diving under his boxers to caress his rapidly hardening member. Rei looked him in the eyes, her eyes clouded with need.

"Can we not do both?" she husked, her hands stroking his now-fully aroused dick. Taking one of her hands off his tool, she swiftly began to divest herself of clothes. As her top slipped down to her waist, revealing a thin, lacy bra, Shinji considered her words. Why not indeed?

"Rei, stand up." He ordered. Rei slipped off him and stood in front of him expectantly. Shinji stood too, his pants falling to his ankles, unnoticed as he surveyed her partially clothed body. "Can I undress you?" he asked her. Silently, Rei nodded, trembling a bit. Reaching out, Shinji finished pushing her top off, her shirt falling to the floor. Carefully, he caressed her bra-clad breasts, causing a soft moan to escape her lips. Shinji studied her bra, soon spotting the small hook between her breasts. A moment of struggle rewarded him with the bra snapping open and slipping off her shoulders, leaving her bare to the waist. He felt his dick twitch at the sight of her perfect breasts.

With more to go, he forced his eyes off her tits, his hands trailing down her ribs to her waist, where the skirt was fastened. Having washed clothes at the apartment for a while, he had a good idea where the button and zipper were, and Rei's skirt swiftly slipped to the floor as well, revealing a pair of small, dark blue panties sitting low on her hips. Taking her arm, Shinji nudged her toward the bed, and Rei eagerly stepped free of her clothes and sat on the edge of the bed. Shinji freed himself of his shirts and boxers before stepping over to Rei and laying her back on the bed. With Rei situated, Shinji trailed his fingers up her legs, his touch light, until he came to her panties. Hooking his fingers under the waistband, he tugged them down, revealing the First Child's small patch of blue hair above her already-glistening sex. Raising her hips a bit, Rei assisted him in the removal of her panties, her breathing a bit fast. "Shinji," she whispered, panting. "Hurry." She begged, spreading her legs and taking his steel-hard erection in hand, tugging on it, urging him on top of her. Shinji swiftly complied, feeling Rei's other hand between their bodies, spreading herself as her other hand guided him in. The sensation of wet, slippery warmth engulfed the sensitive head of his penis, making him inhale with pleasure.

Slowly, he pressed his hips forward, feeling himself sink into her a little, before he backed off and pressed forward again, more of his length sliding into her. The deeper he got, the tighter she got. Is it my imagination, or is she tighter than the first time we had sex? He wondered before his lust-crazed mind tossed the question aside as irrelevant. Rei lifted her legs and locked them behind his back, urging him in deeper with each thrust. Each thrust also was easier than the one before it, if tighter. Before long, he had worked his entire length into her. Shinji paused to kiss her. When he broke the kiss, Rei moaned a bit.

"Shinji, we must hurry this time, as Asuka will be out of the shower soon. Please, do not wait any longer." She panted into his ear, her legs pulling his hips to her. "I need you." She repeated, wrapping her arms around him. Shinji had no reason to deny her passionate request, and every reason to comply. And comply he did, swiftly developing a rhythm with her, thrusting into her deeply, the tempo getting faster and faster as both built toward climax. Feeling the edge coming closer at a fierce rate, Shinji bent his head to hers and slipped his tongue into her mouth, feeling her tongue caress and intertwine with his as she began to make some gasping noises. Within moments, Shinji felt himself spasm in her tight sheath, which grew tighter as he erupted. Beneath him, Rei gasped, then let out a long moan. Once he stopped spurting into her, Shinji fell forward on top of Rei, panting himself. Rei caressed his back with her hands, slowly coming down from her own orgasm. A few minutes passed before Shinji rolled off Rei, feeling himself slip out of her warm embrace. A few more minutes passed before either spoke or moved.

Rei slowly rose from where she lay, smiling as she did so. Sitting up, she looked over to her lover. "Thank you, Shinji." She said, her smile getting wider. "I look forward to repeating this closeness tonight."

"Me too, Rei-chan." Said Shinji. He watched as Rei slipped off the bed and stepped into the bathroom. A moment later, she reappeared with a damp cloth. Kneeling by the side of the bed, Rei leaned over and ran her tongue along the length of his soaked member before swallowing it. Shinji gasped and felt his dick twitch in her mouth. Rei methodically worked his entire length over with her tongue and lips, cleaning it of their mixed cum before letting it out of her mouth with a wet pop. Satisfied with her initial cleaning, she then wiped him off with the damp cloth before standing and reaching for her panties.

"We should get dressed, Shinji-chan." She said, slipping into her panties and reaching for her skirt. Shinji stood and began to dress too.

"Aren't you going to clean yourself too?" he asked, seeing her fasten her skirt and pick up her bra.

"Do you wish me to?" she asked, looking at him with a strange expression on her face.

"Don't you want to? I mean, I came inside you, and it'll leak out. Like at school that time." He said, feeling himself blush a bit.

"I…enjoy the sensation of your sperm inside me." Said Rei softly, her cheeks coloring somewhat as her hand pressed unconsciously over her pubic bone. "It feels…like you."

Completely unsure how to answer that, Shinji took the easy way out. "Oh." He said. Still, the thought of her liking the feeling of my cum in her makes me horny. He admitted to himself. Something else occurred to him. Slipping on his undershirt, he asked Rei about it. "Did you…enjoy yourself with me?" he asked.

"Very much so. Why ask?" replied Rei, finished with her dressing and waiting for him to finish.

"Well, I didn't have time for…you know, foreplay. I just wanted to make sure that you enjoyed yourself." He explained.

"I enjoy even the slightest contact with you, Shinji." Replied Rei, her tone betraying her sincerity. "And we can engage in foreplay tonight. Now, we must find some way of appeasing Asuka. Do you have any ideas of how we might find a way to prepare her some food?"

"I might, at that." Smiled Shinji, unlocking the door and opening it for Rei, following her out and down the hall.

-

Rit-chan worked her way back to the table where her party had set up shop, ignoring the guy behind her, begging for one more dance. Not that he was a bad dancer; far from it - he was one of the best ones in the club - but he wasn't who she wanted to spend more of her time with. Sitting at her table was Hikari, minding their stuff, and one of Sun's model friends, a girl who had been introduced to her as Bunko, who was currently a few drinks past her limit, judging from her slightly bleary gaze and imprecise movements. Her speech was still only the slightest bit slurred, but seeing another high-octane drink in the woman's hands, Rit-chan had a feeling that the model would be plastered within the hour. Still, she's a lightweight compared to Misato. Thought the teen. That woman must live with a permanent blood alcohol level of at least .11. Rit-chan landed in the seat next to Hikari. "How you doing, Hi-chan?" asked the elf hunter.

"Good." Smiled Hikari. She and Rit-chan were the two `designated drivers' so to speak, both of them sticking to non-alcoholic drinks. "That guy was cute. You get his number?" she asked.

"Yeah. That makes twelve for me. How are you coming along?" replied Rit-chan, taking a piece of bar napkin from her shirt pocket and putting in into a pile of numbers in the center of the table. During the evening, Rit-chan and her two friends had been slowly losing their outer clothes, leaving them in their swimsuits. They were hardly the only ones so dressed, with about half the female patrons of the club in swimsuits of varying coverage. Still, Rit-chan had kept her over shirt, more to cover her holstered gun than anything. A few of the more daring guys had put their hands on her waist, expecting soft, supple female flesh, only to find themselves feeling warm leather and hard steel. Needless to say, those guys were politely - but firmly - told to fuck off. Being selective of who she allowed to touch her, Rit-chan was a constant challenge to every guy that saw her. Hikari was also selective, but was less picky than Ritsuko, allowing some of the guys she danced with to run their hands over her hips and back, but if they tried for her breasts, ass or in one case, pussy, they got shoved off with a lot less manners than Rit-chan showed.

Aki and Sun were the ones who came up with the phone number game. It went like this: each girl would see who could collect the most phone numbers from the guys they danced with. Whoever had the most phone numbers would win, with each girl below her having to have a drink for each rank she was down. So, the second place girl would have one drink, the third place two and so fourth. Right now, things were close for first place, with Rit-chan, Aki and Sun within one or two numbers of the lead over the others. The second part of the game was an agreement that none of them would leave before the group got at least seventy numbers, or ten a girl. At the rate things were going, they would meet their quota by the end of the next hour. As each girl got a number, she put her initials on it and placed the paper on the table, to be counted later to determine a winner. Since it looked like Hikari would finish in the lower edge of the pack, Rit-chan had slipped over to the bar keep and pointed out the brown-haired girl, telling him that any drink going to her was to half-leaded or less. Waving a large-denomination bill in her hand, she told him that the same went for her, and no one needed to know that the drinks were lightened. The man nodded, and the bill changed hands.

"You know, Hi-chan, you should get a few more numbers." Observed Rit-chan, having noted the rough position of the girls. She grabbed her drink and sipped a bit. Hikari looked at the table, where more than a few of the slips bore her initials.

"Yeah, you're probably right. But it's hard to keep up with a bunch of models, you know?" said the inchou, sighing.

"Maybe, but I doubt it. You have the whole `schoolgirl' thing going for you, and you have that cute, innocent face. Play it up; these losers don't need to know that you swear like a pirate and are prone to violence. Just pretend to be a sweet, innocent schoolgirl and they'll practically fall over each other to give you their numbers." Noted Ritsuko.

"Maybe the older guys. Most of the hot guys like girls with more…endowment." Replied the teen, absently touching her modest breasts.

"You know," began Rit-chan innocently, "the number counts rather its from some perverted older man or a hot stud." Hikari blinked.

"You're right." She said blankly.

"And we're not going to call them anyway." Continued Rit-chan.

"Yeah." Agreed Hikari, the gears in her head turning.

"And none of your schoolmates are here to tell tales." Rit-chan's tone was bland.

"So…" mused Hikari.

"So, indeed." Smiled Rit-chan, touching her glass to Hikari's. "You're only about a dozen back from the lead. And I can see five perverts from where I'm sitting; three of them are looking at you."

"Eww. What if they try something." Asked Hikari, suddenly a bit nervous.

"Don't worry, Hi-chan. As long as you stay in the club, you're guardian angel will be watching over you." Smiled Rit-chan, patting her hip suggestively as she winked at the brown-haired girl. "Just remember not to drink anything they give you, and if you start to feel odd or nervous, just make a scene and I'll come flatten them on the spot."

"Thanks, Rit-chan." Smiled Hikari.

"Go get `em, girlfriend." Encouraged Rit-chan, nodding to the pulsing mass of people on the dance floor. Hikari took a breath, released it, and headed for the floor. Sipping her drink, she was surprised to hear Bunko's voice from beside her.

"Is she really your girlfriend?" asked the minimally drunk model. Rit-chan glanced over to see Bunko studying her.

"What if she is, Bunko?" asked the gun-slinging teen. "Is that a problem?"

"Nah, no problem. You into girls and guys, or just girls?" asked the model, waving her glass at the bar until she got an answering nod from the barkeep.

"As far as I know, just guys." Answered Rit-chan seriously. "I've never been attracted to girls that way before."

Bunko studied her with an odd intensity. "You sure about that? You seem to be really close to both Aki and Hikari. And chicks like you are usually the ones that go for girls." She said, seeing a waitress approach with her fresh drink.

"Girls like me, how?" asked Rit-chan. "You mean, girls who don't get all giggly over soap operas or girls with skills not usually associated with girls?"

"Nah, I mean girls so outspoken and aggressive. That's all." Replied Bunko, waving the question from Rit-chan away. Rit-chan decided to switch tactics.

"What about you? Are you a lesbian?" she asked Bunko, her tone conversational.

"Uh-uh. Bi." Said Bunko, smiling at Rit-chan, obviously waiting for a reaction. Ritsuko had none.

"Must make getting a date easier." Said the girl urbanely. "Do you have a preference?"

"Not exactly. Right now, I'm more into women, though. You're really my type, Ritsuko." said Bunko, grinning at Rit-chan. "Does that make you nervous?" Bunko watched for some reaction from her new friend. She hadn't expected Rit-chan to burst out laughing.

"Are you kidding? Nothing so normal would make me nervous these days!" laughed the teen. "Shit, I've spent the last year or more in a world where elves exist! Tell me, Bunko, does that make you nervous?" she asked, suddenly calm, though her eyes were dancing merrily.

"Sounds like an extended stay in a mental ward; or a year long drug binge." Blinked Bunko. Rit-chan just chuckled.

"You have no clue, Bunko. No clue at all." She said, sipping at her drink. Glancing up, she spotted a guy homing in on them. "Looks like you're up, Bunko." She said, scanning the crowd for Hikari, spotting her at a table by the edge of the dance floor, with two older guys at it. Settling her attention on them, she watched her friend's back, as she had promised to do. After so long of doing this with Airi and Celsia and Junpei, it's gotten to be second nature. She mused to herself. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Bunko rise from her seat, a bit less graceful than normal and head off into the crowd with the guy. Out on the floor, she saw the guy wrap his hands around Bunko's waist, the hands drifting lower and lower as they danced until they were cupping her ass, pulling her hips into his. Bunko had her arms around his neck, her lips locked to his. Rit-chan mentally noted the guy's profile and dress so she could find him later if she needed to retrieve the drunk model, then her attention went back to Hikari, who was tucking a scrap of paper into her shirt pocket. That's the ticket, Hi-chan. Smiled Rit-chan.

-

Asuka stepped out of the steaming shower, feeling much better after her long soak. Toweling off, she stepped out of the bathroom, frowning as she realized that she didn't have a change of clothes handy. "Bet Misato forgot that in her rush to lock us up." Muttered the teen to herself, slipping her sundress on and tying the straps. Eyeing her panties, she finally shook her head and stuffed them into her bag, deciding that she could always wear her plug suit if worst came to worst. Imagining Shinji's surprised expression if he knew, she smiled. Maybe I'll just have to make sure he notices my lack of underwear. It could prove pleasurable. She thought to herself, remembering the attention she had received in the shower that morning. Mmm. I wouldn't mind some more of that. Humming to herself, she exited the room in search of Shinji.

Not finding him in his room, she frowned and headed for the room where Airi was supposed to be staying with that psychotic elf. As she approached the door, it opened to reveal the raven-haired actress and the blonde elf, now dressed in a loose, flowing gown and some jewelry. "Hello, Asuka." Said Airi. "I'm guessing that you're looking for Shinji." She said.

"Yeah. Baka was supposed to have food ready, but I can't find him or Wondergirl." Said the teen. Celsia stopped beside Airi and looked Asuka over.

"Hmm. So, you're Asuka, then." Said the elf, her tone thoughtful. Asuka's eyes narrowed a bit.

"Yeah, what's it to you?" she replied belligerently.

"Shinji told me about you." Said Celsia calmly. "You know, from his description of you, I expected a much nicer girl." She noted.

"What's that supposed to mean, elf?" gritted Asuka.

"It means that maybe you should take a long look at yourself, human." Replied Celsia icily.

"Ok, that's about enough of that, ladies." Said Airi cheerfully. "Celsia, this is Asuka. Asuka, this is Celsia. Now, Shinji and Rei stopped by about a half hour ago to tell us that he was going to prepare some food for us in the cafeteria. Since you're both obviously cranky from hunger, I suggest that we go eat. Agreed?"

"Sure. Let's go see if Baka can make the food here edible or not." Sniffed Asuka regally as she headed off down the hall.

"Stuck up bitch." Muttered Celsia as she and Airi followed the proud girl. "Shinji's too nice to love her." Unknown to the elf, Asuka had heard her; especially the last part.

-

In the cafeteria, Shinji had managed to talk the staff into letting him fix some food. With Rei backing him, the staff had been convinced to take a long break, and the three workers had decided that an extended smoke break was in order. Once they were clear of the cafeteria, Shinji had gone exploring, finding enough materials for a decent meal. Though not as good a quality as what he bought for them at the apartment, he found the stocks to be useable, if below average. Half way into the preparations, he remembered something and asked Rei to call Misato and ask if she wanted to come eat with them. Rei had nodded and taken out her cell phone, dialing Misato's number and inviting her to come eat with them. Misato had started to decline the invitation, citing workload, but when Rei had mentioned that Shinji was cooking, she had instantly agreed and told the pilot of Unit 0 she was on her way to them.

About five minutes before the food was ready, the door to the cafeteria opened and Asuka strode in, followed shortly by Airi and Celsia. Shinji smiled at Celsia, noting that the elf seemed much happier now. But then, who wouldn't be happier out of a cage than in it? He thought to himself. That thought made his dick twitch as he recalled the mental picture of her naked. Down boy. He admonished himself. Another thought occurred to him. "Um, do you have any special food needs, Celsia?" asked the boy of the elf. I have no idea what elves eat! She could live off water and sunlight for all I know.

"No, human food is fine with me." Assured the elf. "I've gotten used to it, after all." She added, sliding a glance at Airi, who pretended not to notice.

"Good! Dinner will be ready shortly, then!" said Shinji, smiling as he turned his attention back to the food. Rei, sitting at table where she could watch him, ignored the three as they sat down at the table. Shinji was actually humming to himself as he finished off the food and began to dish it up. As he was setting out the first of the plates of food, the doors opened again and Misato hurried into the room, a slightly confused Maya behind her.

"Ah! Just in time!" sighed the Captain happily. "Got enough for one more, Shin-chan?" she asked, motioning to Maya.

"Of course." Nodded Shinji, taking another institutional plate off the stack and beginning to pile food on it. Setting it down with the one for Misato, he spared a small smile for Maya. "It's not as good as I hoped, but it's better than what they normally serve here." He apologized.

"Well, it couldn't get worse than that, now could it?" observed Asuka. "Oh, wait, it could be Misato's cooking." She added.

"Hey!" objected Misato. "I'm getting better! I can usually make ramen now."

"She's right, you know." Agreed Shinji. "She can make it edible one time in five now."

"That's an improvement, you say?" asked Airi, her tone skeptical.

"Yeah. Used to be she couldn't even boil water without making something that could kill Angels." Muttered Asuka. Misato mumbled under her breath, but continued eating as she did so, shooting Asuka dark looks. Asuka dug in as well. "You're right, Baka. This is less than your normal offering, but far above the regular eating here." She noted.

"Are you sure you used the same stuff they usually use?" asked Maya, taking another bite. "This is as good as some restaurants I've been to."

"Thanks. I tried to make it more uniform by using a different cooking method and more seasoning." He explained as he dished up his own meal. Sitting across from Rei, he watched her eat for a moment. "Are the vegetables to your liking, Rei?" he asked her.

"Yes. They are delicious." Answered Rei, taking another broth-basted roasted pepper in her chopsticks and biting into it.

"Is this how your food normally tastes?" asked Celsia as she dug into her beef-and-broth rice. "It's much different from the same type of food in my world."

"Now you understand what Junpei means when he complains of the taste being off." Nodded Airi.

"Yes, I see that now. Why don't you and Rit-chan make such a big deal out of it?" asked the elf, digging into her food.

"Junpei makes enough noise about it for all of us." Explained the actress.

"True." Agreed the elf. The group fell to eating. Asuka, Misato, Maya and Rei had seconds, while Celsia had thirds. Shinji had eaten a second plate when Rei asked him to. Done with the main course, Shinji had brought out some small bowls of ice cream and handed them out. While the females devoured the ice cream, Shinji had brought out a steaming pot of coffee and a pitcher of juice. Pouring some coffee for Misato, Airi and Maya, he had poured juice for the pilots, asking if Celsia wanted coffee or juice. Celsia chose coffee.

"It's not as good a grind as I use at home, so it'll be a bit bitter." He warned, pouring the coffee. "I couldn't find any creamer or honey, but I did find some milk and sugar. Misato, I loaded yours with your normal double shot." Seeing her start to speak, he clarified his earlier statement. "Not that kind of double shot; I doubt they have hard liquor here."

"Even if they did, we wouldn't let you do that again." Said Asuka, shivering at the memory.

"Oh, yeah. Here, Maya." He said, sliding a small foil pack to the bridge bunny. Opening it, she smiled, seeing a quarter bar of Hershey's chocolate.

"Thanks, Shinji." She smiled, dropping the chocolate into her coffee. Shinji wordlessly handed her a lemon wedge.

"Aren't you just so domestic." Said Asuka drolly.

"Sorry." Shrugged Shinji, his tone bland and empty instead of genuinely sorry like it used to be.

"Speaking of domestic…" said Asuka, her voice gaining power. "Did you happen to think of getting any clean clothes for us before you whisked us off to the gulag, Misato?" she demanded.

Misato blinked. "Knew there was something I was forgetting." She muttered to herself. She shrugged. "Oh well."

"Misato!" yelled Asuka, her hands hitting the table. "Do you expect us to run around naked?!"

"Do what you want, Asuka." Said Misato, sipping her coffee. "If you feel the need to run around naked, do so." Asuka began to build toward an explosion.

"Oh, I should have mentioned it earlier, but I took a moment to grab some clothes for us all before I was hustled down here." Said Airi. "They're in our room; enough for three days, anyway." She added.

"Well, that's more like it." Smiled Asuka. "I guess that only Rei will have to run around naked now." Rei made no comment.

"Actually, I grabbed a few extras for her as well, since I doubted that she had a roommate who could grab her some clean clothes." Replied Airi.

"Or even a room." Muttered Asuka, remembering the living quarters of Rei Ayanami. She glanced at Rei out of the corner of her eye. "What, nothing to say, Wondergirl?" she asked.

"I was unaware that your comments required a response." Said Rei simply. If I run out of clean clothes, then I will spend my time in Shinji's bed. She decided. It was with some effort that she managed to keep from smiling at the thought. No, I will spend as much time there as I can regardless of rather or not I have clean clothes. She amended her decision. Under the table, her hand briefly brushed against her lower belly, right over the waistband of her panties. She could almost feel his sperm in her womb; warm, intimate and comforting.

"Well, what are we going to do now?" groused Asuka a few minutes later, breaking the comfortable silence. "We don't even have our game console or a deck of cards!"

"We have the game discs, Asuka. Maybe we can find a console here somewhere?" offered Shinji.

Asuka snorted derisively. "Fat chance of that, Baka. Why would there be an antique gaming console here of all places?"

"What system do you use?" asked Maya.

"An old, out-of-date Playstation 6." Answered Asuka.

"If you have the discs, I can get them on the TV in your room. I even have some controllers I can adapt for you to use." She offered. "They're from a junked Playstation 3, but they are fundamentally the same."

"You can do that without the console?" asked Shinji.

"It's easy for the MAGI to translate the old programs, and there is a terminal line in each room." Explained Maya. "Five minutes and a patch cord from the lab, and you're good to go." She assured them.

"Well!" smiled Asuka. "Things are looking up!"

"Why do you have old gaming console controllers laying around here, Maya?" asked Misato of the short-haired tech. Maya blushed a bit.

"Well, it's just a bit of left over equipment from an earlier experiment, that's all, ma'am." She hedged.

"What kind of experiment could Ritsu possibly be doing that needed old controllers?" pressed a skeptical Misato.

"It wasn't her, really. It was Shigeru and Makoto. They were trying to find a way to use game controllers to interface with the visual data base interface, and well, the parts are still there." Said the tech.

"Visual database and game controllers?" mused Misato. "On second thought, I don't think I want to know what they were trying to do."

"Probably not, ma'am." Said Maya, trying to control her blush. Turning her attention back to Shinji, she smiled at him. "You want me to get it set up?" she asked him.

"Yes, please." He answered. "Thanks a lot, Maya!" Maya smiled back.

"It's nothing, Shinji." She assured him. Glancing at her watch, she rose from the table, her empty coffee cup settling as she stood. "I better get going on that before my next shift. I'll be done soon." She waved at Shinji as she headed out the door. Misato downed the last of her coffee and stood as well.

"Excellent meal, Shin-chan. I've got to get back to work, so I'll see you all later, ok?" she said, heading out the door.

"Ok, Misato." Called out Shinji. Shinji began to gather the dishes.

"Just leave them for the staff, Baka." Ordered Asuka. "You cooked, so they can clean. Besides, I have such an ass-whooping waiting for you in Toes of Doom 3 that you'll wish you were playing Steel Fist IV with me." She laughed evilly.

"You two plan to fight?" asked Celsia, unsure what a video game was. Her opinion of Asuka led her to believe that Asuka would probably physically attack Shinji.

"That's right; you've never seen a video game before, have you, Celsia?" mused Airi. "Well, I would hate for you to miss such a unique experience." Within moments, a death match had been declared with a full audience. Shinji sighed to himself, imagining the humiliation he would soon be experiencing. But, looking at the four mega-babe class chicks he would be with, he just couldn't bring himself to care if he got slaughtered by Asuka. It would be worth it to be with so many women. Besides, Rei would be there.

-

Rit-chan and Hikari staggered out the door to the club, which had announced last call over an hour ago and was shutting down, into the warm, heavy air of the sea-side town. Aki was draped over Rit-chan's shoulders in an improvised fireman's carry, and Sun leaned unsteadily against the elf hunter's side, an arm around her waist. Hikari had her hands full with Bunko and Mei, but was being assisted by a tipsy - but functional - Mai Todoroki. "You're stronger than you look, Rit-chan." Noted the older woman.

"Comes in handy when I have to schlep Airi or Junpei out of a bad situation." Grunted the teen. "At least Aki-chan's not as heavy as Junpei." She added.

"Would that incident with Bunko and that guy be considered a bad situation?" asked Hikari, wincing as she remembered the minor scene her friend had caused while retrieving the drunk model from the ambitious arms - and penis - of a guy.

Rit-chan laughed. "That? No way! What happened there was just a normal rescue-your-drunk-friend-from-a-horny-jerk; I've done that at least a dozen times before." She chuckled.

"Miss Airi and Celsia got drunk that many times?" gaped Hikari, not being able to square the mental impression of the sophisticated actress with the drunken display of lust she had seen from Bunko.

"No, not them; my crew at my old school." Smiled Rit-chan, feeling a little tightness in her chest at the memories of her and her friends crashing bars and parties on the weekends before playing the model student the next day. No! Focus on the now, Ritsuko! You have to concentrate on getting back to them, not on how much you miss them! She mentally disciplined herself. Resolutely, she forced the memories back into her subconscious.

"Well, you seem to be off to a good start at your new school, from the look of things." Giggled Todoroki. Aki made some noises from her resting position over the red-head's shoulders.

"Yeah, I suppose I am." Agreed Rit-chan. "Much as I hate to break up a good time, I think we better call it a night. Did you know it's well past two in the morning?"

"Nope! Left my watch at the hotel." Giggled Todoroki.

"Well, some of us have lectures tomorrow, and the rest of you need to sleep off this binge, so I'm going to pack you all back the hotel, and we'll catch a ride back to our hotel. Can you take it from there, Mai?" decided the teen.

"Yea, no problem. I'm not as drunk as I think you are." Smiled the older woman.

"I'll take your word for it, Mai." Murmured Rit-chan, flagging down one of the few taxies left. With the help of Hikari, she managed to fit all the models and the manager into the back, paid the driver to take them back to the hotel where the shoot was, and waved them off. Turning to Hikari - who had supported a semi-conscious Aki while Rit-chan dealt with the models - she checked her watch. "We've got about a twenty minute wait until the limo's here. Wanna go sit on the sand?" she asked her brown-haired friend.

"Sounds good; Aki's getting heavier." Agreed Hikari. Taking the other side of the tall girl, Rit-chan worked them down onto the narrow sand beach, picking a spot where they could see the club entrance. Once she had settled Aki into the sand's embrace, Ritsuko took off her over shirt and spread it on the sand before sitting on it cross-legged. Hikari eyed the exposed USP in it's leather holster, as well as the moonlight playing off her friend's smooth skin.

"The breeze feels heavenly after the thick air in the club." Said Rit-chan. "Give it a try." She urged. Hikari shed her over shirt as well and had to agree that the cool, steady breeze felt wonderful.

"I had a good time tonight. I just wish Asuka and Shinji and Rei were here, too." She said after several minutes of silence.

"You just wanted to be able to gloat to Asuka that you won the number game." She laughed.

"Says the runner-up by one number!" shot back Hikari. "Still, I have no idea how we beat those models."

"Remember what Todoroki said? About models not being able to act their way out of a wet paper sack? Well, the reason they can't do that is that they never learned to use their minds. We simply out-thought them." Said Rit-chan.

"You mean there were more perverts in there than hunks, right?" giggled Hikari.

"It could be taken that way, I suppose." Dismissed Rit-chan.

"God, once they got started, they just wouldn't stop!" Laughed Hikari. "I got more numbers in the last half hour than in the entire night up to then!"

"Yes, you were something to behold, Hi-chan." Agreed Rit-chan softly, watching the stars. Silence reigned until the arrival of their limo. Together, Inoue and Horaki got Wakirihara up and into the limo for the drive back to the suite they shared on the other side of the island. On the sand, in the depression caused by Rit-chan's legs, three phone numbers lay forgotten, having fallen from the elf hunter's shirt pocket.

-

"One more." Said Asuka sleepily, limply waving her controller. She was sitting on a folded blanket at the foot of the bed in Shinji's room, leaning back against the large bed. Beside her, Rei was sitting like her, controller in hand. On the bed, Shinji was dozing lightly, sprawled across the center of the bed. Celsia, who had been enthralled by the entire `video game' concept, had departed with Airi nearly two hours ago, leaving the teens alone. About three quarters of an hour ago, Misato had checked in on them, only to find Asuka and Rei locked in fierce battle, Shinji cheering them both on. She had barely gotten a word of acknowledgement from them before she went back to work.

"I believe that we have spent enough time on this, Asuka." Noted Rei, setting her controller aside. "I think we should rest while we may." Asuka yawned.

"You just don't want to lose again." Said the red-head, ignoring the fact that Rei was firmly in the lead in the tournament they had been fighting. "Still, it's been a long day." She yawned again. Turning to look at Shinji, she smirked. "Baka Shinji's way ahead of us, Wondergirl." She said. Attempting to stand resulted in her falling onto the bed, her legs numb and uncoordinated. Rei stood without difficulty. Once more, Asuka yawned, face down beside Shinji. "Feels good here." She muffed. Rei silently shut off the TV and logged off the MAGI link. Turning back, she saw that Asuka was already sound asleep. The blue-haired First studied the Second and Third Children. Decision made, she locked the door and easily slipped off her clothes before stepping over to the bed and carefully pulling Shinji over to the side so she could undress him as well. Once the Third was naked, Rei crossed to the Second and undressed her as well, leaving all three naked. With an odd gentleness, the Ice Goddess managed to pull back the cover and sheets, slip Shinji under them, move him to the center of the bed and repeat the process with Asuka without waking either of them. Once she was satisfied that Asuka was tucked comfortably against Shinji, Rei switched off the light, climbed into bed and hugged herself to Shinji on the side opposite Asuka. Settling into a comfortable position with one leg hooked over his leg and one hand across his chest, hand resting on Asuka's belly, Rei once more felt herself smile. We did not get to have sex again as was planned, my love. But, I will settle for this closeness; for now, at least.