Part 27: Falling Into You

Asuka growled as she quickly slid into her plug suit. Hearing a hiss, she glanced over and saw that Rei was walking out the door, her suit sealed. Grimacing in anger, Asuka hit the wrist unit to seal her own suit, hearing Shinji seal his a moment later. "Well, come on, Shinji the Hero!" she snapped angrily at the boy. "You're leading the attack, after all!"

"Coming, Asuka." He said meekly. Asuka huffed and jogged out the door of the locker room toward the Eva cages. Standing silently on the lift was Rei, who glanced at both her fellow pilots before turning back to look at the wall. The lift activated and the pilots were raised to the entry gantry where the plugs were waiting. Asuka jumped into her plug effortlessly and was being inserted into Unit 2 before Shinji and Rei could even get to their plugs. Pausing at the entry to her plug, Rei sent Shinji a brief, steady look before slipping easily into her plug. A moment later, Shinji was in his plug and it was being inserted into the plug socket on his Unit's back. As LCL flooded the plug, he had one thought: I still hate this part.

The Eva rode up to the city streets as Misato and the bridge crew fed reports to them. It had been decided that Shinji would lead, since he was the current synch champion. Asuka had all but dared him to lead the assault; a position she routinely took. To the surprise of nearly everyone, he had agreed. Thus, Asuka was in a bad mood. This angel seemed smaller than the rest, and just hovered over Tokyo 3 like a zebra-striped ball. Misato wanted the Evas to observe for a bit to see if they could determine this Angel's attack capability. Shinji, as lead attack, was set closest to the angel, with the other units backing him up. Rei silently moved to her position, cradling the super-sized sniper rifle in her Unit's arms. Asuka, muttering under her breath, moved to her position as well, the progressive axe in her Unit's grip. Rei was armed for distance and she was armed for melee combat.

Shinji's Unit 1 gripped a mammoth hand cannon; it looked like a Desert Eagle built to Eva scale. Asuka realized that she had to swap power feeds to finish her move to her support position. Grousing and complaining, she detached one feed and reached for the new feed, her unit running on batteries for the short transition period. No sooner had she touched the new feed than she Misato's yell and the sound of Shinji's weapon firing. Training had her plugging the feed into her unit's back even as she turned and ran toward the fight. Across the comms, she heard Misato yelling for Rei to open fire and for Shinji to pull back.

Braced between two buildings, Rei opened fire, the black orb centered in her sights. The orb vanished again as her shells streaked through it and tore into a building on the far side. Yelling for an update, Asuka's bright red unit dug around a corner, axe back and ready. She froze at what she saw. Unit 1 was sinking into the ground, up to it's waist already, and sinking faster. Desperately, Shinji was calling for help as he tried firing into the sinking ground. The shells vanished without detonating. Asuka shook herself free and darted forward as Unit 1 sank to it's chin. Rei reported target acquisition on the black orb. An instant later, she had fired at it twice, and it had vanished again. "Asuka! Beneath you!" screamed Misato. Looking down, Asuka saw the road she had been on turn sooty black and felt herself beginning to sink. Instantly, she swung her axe into the side of a building and pulled her Eva up the building, even as it began to sink. Reaching the top, she saw that the building was rapidly sinking, and decided that an encore performance of her hop-scotch game from the sixth angel was in order. Rapidly, she jumped building to building until she reached a building outside the black area where everything was sinking.

Hitting the street, she saw Rei round the corner, Unit 0 holding the sniper rifle casually. "Shit! Shinji!" growled Asuka, turning to where Unit 1 had been. Only the power feed cord was visible, sinking into the dark steadily. "Wondergirl! Grab the power lead!" she yelled to her fellow pilot, her Unit seizing the power feed line to Shinji's unit and pulling with all it's inhuman might. An instant later, Asuka felt Rei's unit do likewise. "Now pull!" she growled to Rei. Both units strained hard at the thick lead, the pavement cracking under their feet as the two monsters struggled to save their love. "Like lifting a mountain." Grunted Asuka, willing her Eva to pull harder. Misato cheered her and Rei on. Agonizing moments later, the feed had stopped sinking. A few moments later, it began to come back out of the darkness. Suddenly, both Evas were skidding down the street on their asses, the snapped cable in their hands.

With skill born of years in Eva training, Asuka rolled her unit to it's feet and saw the snapped end of the cable gaining speed as it sank back into the void. "Nein!" she howled, willing her unit into a flat-out sprint. Beside her, she caught a glimpse of blue. "Schnell, Wunderfrauline!" she thundered in German. Misato was yelling something, but she wasn't listening. Almost got you, Shinji-kun! She mentally exalted, her Eva's hands about to close on the broken end leading to her Shinji. It was not to be. With tooth-snapping force, the two charging Eva's were jerked backward as if they were motorcyclist who hit a tree limb. The severed end of the cable disappeared before her eyes. "Shinji." She breathed in perfect synch with Rei.

-

"Major! The area of the shadow is expanding! They'll run right into it!" yelled Hyuga. Misato had already seen that.

"Asuka! Rei! Fall back immediately! That is an order!" neither girl gave any indication that she either heard or cared. "Emergency retract the feeds! Now, goddamn it!" cried Misato. Fingers danced over keys, and the massive powered reels of cable that fed the units in action went into emergency reverse, literally jerking the two biomech weapons back down the street by their power feeds.

"Units 0 and 2 are beyond the affected area!" Reported Hyuga.

"Vitals and synch for both pilots unstable! Injecting meds!" sag out Maya.

"All telemetry lost for Unit 1! No response on any of the emergency or tracking units! Unit 1 is…gone." Finished Aoba, his voice soft.

"What the HELL is your fucking problem, Misato!?" came Asuka's enraged voice as her comm. window lit up. "Shinji's still in that thing! If we don't…!"

"Pull back and stand down, Pilot Sohryu!" thundered Misato, her eyes sparking with rage. "We don't have the data to determine what needs to be done, so you and Rei will pull back and await orders! Is that understood?!"

"Yes sir, Major Katsuragi, sir!" Hissed Asuka, her eyes narrowed to slits as she made it sound like a curse. "Unit 2 abandoning Pilot Ikari and Unit 1 as ordered, sir!" Her window clicked off.

"Major," began Rei softly.

"You have your orders, Rei." Said Misato flatly. Rei stared at her from her video link.

"Yes, Major." Said Rei, her eyes cold enough to freeze hell. Misato turned to Hyuga.

"Get me a helicopter ASAP. Ritsu, I expect some sort of explanation within the hour. Maya, Aoba, arrange for portable support units to meet units 0 and 2 at grid Hotel-7. Oh, and Asuka and Rei are to be confined to the staging area until further notice. I don't want them more than 100 yards from the Evas at any time, nor do I want them to be within ten yards of the Evas without my express orders. Understood?" Nods all around. "I'm going to the helipad." She said. Turning toward the door, she saw Rit-chan and Airi standing there. Rit-chan had a hand to her mouth, her eyes looking horrified. Airi's face was calm and relaxed, but her fists were clenched.

-

"Well, I guess this is what he gets, going against orders and attacking before we were in position." Said Asuka. She and Rei were in their plug suits, standing near a tent were several of NERV's best tech divisions were hard at work on determining what happened to Unit 1. "Stupid Baka, trying to act all macho and `show me how it's done'! Humph!" Rei stood not far from her, her eyes locked onto Asuka as the other girl ranted on. Asuka felt her cold gaze like a piece of ice pressed to her brain. "What? My comments about Shinji pissing you off, Wondergirl?" she demanded belligerently. Rei walked up to her, stopping with her face less than an inch from Asuka's face.

"You do not believe that, Asuka, so why try to convince yourself that you do?" asked the girl.

"What? Of course I believe it!" began Asuka.

"Would it not be more reasonable to admit you are worried about his well-being than pretending to be disinterested?" pressed Rei.

Asuka felt herself growing warm as the thoughts she had tried to suppress with her tirade rushed back to her. "What do you know, Wondergirl?" she snapped, turning away from her rival.

"I know he loves us." Said Rei softly, her hand on Asuka's shoulder. "And I know he would die for us. Can we not at least live for him?"

-

"Asuka! Rei!" came a shout from beyond where the two were sitting in the edge of tent where the final briefing was to be held. Looking over, they saw Rit-chan running toward them.

"Rit-chan." Nodded Rei as the girl came to a stop before the two pilots. Asuka just nodded, her arms crossed under her breasts, holding herself so hard she was sure she would have bruises later. "Anything new?" asked Rei.

Rit-chan shook her head. "Sorry. Not yet."

"It is all right, Rit-chan." Said Rei. "Unit 1's life support can continue for another two hours. And beyond that, the plug suit can extend that a bit on it's own. We will get him back."

"Yeah, but dead or alive?" muttered Asuka. Rit-chan suppressed the answer that sprang to her lips. Instead, she pulled a small pack off her shoulder and squatted before the two pilots.

"Here. You haven't eaten since this started, right?" said the teen. In her hands were sandwiches, chips and some small bags of candy. Resting against her thigh was a thermos of some drink. "I also have some tea." She added, handing Asuka a sandwich and Rei another. Rei considered the food. "Don't worry; it's a peanut butter and jelly sandwich." Laugh Rit-chan. Rei consumed it without comment.

"Great. Like being back in elementary again." Said Asuka drolly, taking a bit of her sandwich. Her eyes lit up. "Chicken and Mozzarella? Rit-chan, I love you!" exclaimed the girl, devouring her sandwich.

"Thanks, but what will people say?" grinned Rit-chan to the German girl.

"Who cares what people think?" shrugged Asuka airily as she reached for another sandwich.

-

"…so, basically, we're going to dump all the remaining N2 mines into the Sea of Dirac and hope its enough to finish the job. With Units 0 and 2 bottling the angel up with their AT Fields and the combined yield of the 98 remaining mines, it should be enough." Finished Ritsu. Her left cheek bore a red patch that looked suspiciously like a hand. The assembled field teams listened as the head of Project E finished her orders. Outside the rows of folding chairs, Asuka and Rei leaned against a portable power generator. Neither girl looked happy with the situation.

Rit-chan stood next to Misato off to one side, and just behind her, Airi watched the two female pilots. Satisfied that neither would pull a gun and shoot the fake blonde, she relaxed a bit. Those eyes. She thought, so much alike right now; so lifeless. Still, being ordered to kill a friend and lover can't be easy, especially for girls who have only recently begun to experience love. Her mind shifted to what she and Rit-chan had seen not twenty minutes earlier. That was quite a slap, Mi-chan. The actress smiled a bit; friend or not, she had not taken Ritsu's dismissal of Shinji's life lightly. Still, I know now that Unit 1 is not like the other two units. Something about it makes it so special that it's recovery out-weighs the survival of its pilot. Looks like I'm going to have to take some bigger risks.

"The operation begins in eighteen minutes. Units 0 and 2 are to move to their staging areas now." Neither Asuka nor Rei moved a muscle. "Now, Children." Said Ritsu, her voice stiff.

"Excuse us for not rushing to kill the Third, doctor." Gritted Asuka, her voice dripping venom.

"Unit 1's life support should be good for another twelve minutes. His suit might make up the difference." Noted Ritsu clinically. "Still, if you keep dragging your feet, even that won't be enough." Silently, stiff as a mechanical doll, Asuka pushed herself up from where she had been leaning against the power cart and moved toward where Unit 2 knelt, entry plug at field access position. Rei followed suit, though she didn't even bother to look at Ritsu. Rit-chan felt herself smirking sinisterly. You've really set a new mark on the make-you-hate-me meter with this one, bitch!

-

Shinji shivered in the cold, thick coffin of his entry plug. Suit's finished. Life support ran out five minutes ago. He thought, numb and hypothermic. I wanted to see them again. Rei-chan, A-chan, Hi-chan, Misato; I don't want to leave them. I try to play the hero once and it gets me killed. His mind began to fog over from lack of oxygen and cold. Least I can see mom again… he thought. Shinji's heart stopped.

Deep within the Eva, something changed. Awareness flickered briefly; feedback from the neural linkage fed the developing awareness. Unit 1 took another step toward it's destiny. In the cold, dead entry plug, Unit 1's AT Field created a miracle.

-

"Five minutes to N2 saturation bombing." Came the report from control. Asuka sat in her plug, her face frozen in a deep frown, her eyes stormy. "Begin AT Field interlock with Unit 0, Asuka." Came the orders. Asuka glared at the hapless tech, her eyes filled with hate and anger.

"I'll do it when I'm good and ready to do it, you little ghoul!" she snapped, severing the video linkage and terminating her comms line. "After all, it's going to be my hands that will be covered in his blood." She muttered in German. Asuka knew full well the outcome of this battle would be the death of Shinji. Goddamn it all! I couldn't even pay him back for the volcano! She mentally cursed.

-

Silent, Rei watched the countdown draw toward it's inevitable end. Shinji-kun, I have failed you, love. I was not able to protect you as I had promised. Forgive me. Thought the girl, nearly in tears from the approaching loss of her lover. Pushing her own AT Field out, she sought the pattern of Unit 1's core. Please, I just need a little help. She silently begged the entity within the core. Something on the edge of her senses tickled her. I…beg you: return my Shinji to us. Tears began to dissolve into her LCL.

-

"N2 mines inbound on final approach to drop point, ma'am." Reported a tech to Ritsu. Misato was standing on top of the mobile command post, with Rit-chan and Airi next to her. If she was to see her Shinji die, she would at least be sure to get a good view so her nightmares would be accurate to the event. Ritsu pushed those thought aside. She had her instructions from Ikari: nothing but the recovery of Unit 1 mattered; not even her own survival. "Are the other two Evas generating their AT Fields?" asked the doctor of the tech. Her usual bridge crew was still at NERV HQ, and were more than glad to be away from what was about to happen.

"No ma'am. Still no AT Field activity from either unit." He reported a moment later.

"I hate Children." She muttered before reaching for a mike stud to order them to deploy the interlocking AT Fields that would focus the massed yield of the nearly one hundred N2 mines that would be arriving in thirty seconds. Before her hand could touch the stud, every alarm the monitoring station had went off. Everyone in the center jumped in surprise.

"Ma'am! Massive energy reading inside the target! Growing stronger at a geometric rate!" sang out a tech.

"Target distorting and changing waveform patterns! Phase integrity becoming erratic!" yelled another.

"Is it the Evas?!" demanded Ritsu, "Are their AT Fields doing this?"

"Negative! All sensors show it's an internal problem!" reported the first tech.

"Is it…could it be…Unit 1?" breathed Ritsu.

"But Unit 1's power ran out over an hour ago!" protested a tech. "It can't move without power; can it?"

-

He…is returning to us. Wondered Rei, feeling the sudden reaction from within the Angel. Indeed, a moment later, the orb turned solid black, then began to fissure. An instant later, Unit 1's armored hand thrust through the side of the orb, Angelic blood bathing the area. In short order, the angel was torn apart from inside as Eva Unit 1 literally ripped itself free. Landing on the cracked and broken streets, blood still spraying over it's form, Unit 1 threw back it's head and roared!

-

Shinji slowly became aware of himself again. Still…in here? He wondered, seeming to remember dying in the plug. Is the LCL clear again? He wondered, his brain still not back to what passed for normal with him. He didn't realize it until the hatch was thrown open that it wasn't clear; it had been emergency discharged. Still slow on the uptake, he stared blankly at the open hatch, wondering what was going to happen next. An instant later, a dark purple head thrust through the hatchway.

"Shin-chan?" hiccupped Misato, tears on her cheeks. "Shin-chan!" seeing the boy staring at her blankly, she jumped into the plug and clung to him, crying against his chest. As Misato hugged him to herself, a cyan blue head appeared in the hatch. Seeing him being hugged by Misato, Rei simply softly exhaled the breath she hadn't realized she was holding. Easing back, she blocked the recovery crew attempting to get into the plug. Silently, she shook her head and stood like a castle in their path. A few yards away, Asuka saw Rei's actions and heaved a sigh of relief. With the knowledge that he was safe, she felt herself ignite in irritation.

"Weren't you going to punish him?" she asked her commanding officer, though she spoke too softly for anyone to hear other than Rit-chan, who was standing next to her.

-

Celsia was pacing in her room, a frown on her elegant elven face. Airi had stopped by briefly about an hour before to tell her what had happened. Celsia, however, had other things on her mind. This is going to be nearly impossible! She mentally raged. How can I prepare a Casting Circle when I have - at best! - a few minutes while these so-called `AT Fields' are meshed? It takes a full week of casting to properly create, seal and orient a Casting Circle! I should know; I made the one we used a little more than a hundred years ago, and it took Annette and I a full two weeks of heavy spell casting! Celsia paused at the thought of her Priestess-in-training Annette.

"Hope she's doing ok with the position of High Priestess while I'm…away." Muttered the elf. Speaking in Elvish, she was unconcerned about the listening Section 2 agents. Let's see them learn Elvish without my help! For some reason, Celsia, Rit-chan and that insufferable idiot Junpei could speak, write and read Elvish as a result of their transportation to her world. Celsia could read, write and speak Japanese and English as well, though she hadn't realized that there was any other languages until she arrived here in this not-their-earth version of the place the three humans came from.

In spite of what Junpei often claimed about Celsia, she was not stupid; nor was she an incompetent spell caster, her record of major spells flubbed not withstanding. It was not an accident that she was the High Priestess of all Common Elves. Far from it. She was of Common Elf birth, true enough, but she had a talent for magic in all capacities and she also enjoyed moments of absolute god-like insights. Her creation of the Seras Serat was one of them. After a night of partying with Annette and her two supposed-guidance mentors, she had been staggering around absolutely smashed on melon wine, and suddenly, it was as if she saw the entire system of magic before her.

For a split second, she understood the entire system. Naturally, it was too much for a elf to handle, and her mind had pushed away most of the knowledge before it drove her insane. The memory of that episode still gave her chills. If she hadn't been drunk as a lord, her mind would most likely have been destroyed by the sheer weight of the knowledge. Human mages - while a rare item in her world of magic - did still occur every so often. The elves were not overly concerned about this as the lifespan of humans was so pitifully short compared to their own, and the fact that human mages were likely to live less than half the normal lifespan of their fellow humans. Perhaps for that reason, human mages were driven by some incomprehensible need to try to unlock all the secrets of magic. Perhaps a millennium ago, a particularly bright human mage had created a spell that would allow the intuitive understanding of magic to enter the mind of the caster. The first attempt at casting that spell had been a massive success; not that the creator had survived the successful execution of her spell.

Since then, human after human - and the occasional elf - had tried to `fix' the spell so it wouldn't destroy the mind of the caster. It was not until about five decades before Celsia was born that a mage actually cast the spell and survived. Of course, the taming of the spell had weakened it's results to the point that the casting of the spell was a pointless gesture. Since then, the spell had been taught in the elven and human schools of magic as an example of wasted efforts in magic.

Still, Celsia had managed to get the full yield, and yet retain her working mind. True, her mind had been forced to jettison damn near all the understanding it had been given, yet enough remained to catapult her to the pinnacle of casters. Her creation of the Seras Serat was considered a masterpiece by all elven spell workers, and showed principals of magic that had been - until then - completely unheard of and absolutely inconceivable to the general body of magic users. Of course, for every advancement, there was the inevitable price…

With a pedigree like hers, Celsia was sure she could come up with a solution. All she had to do was wait for another mental breakthrough. Pity for all that she sucked at patience.

-

"Miss Airi!" yelled Junpei as Airi swiped her card through the reader of the Zoo. Suppressing a sigh, Airi turned to see Junpei jogging up from the far end of the hallway.

"Good evening, Junpei." She said politely. "What brings you here?"

"I came to ask Rit-chan if she was going to be going with me tomorrow to check out that place she told me about." Said the fighter. He glanced around. "Where is she, anyway?"

"The hospital at NERV command." Said Airi.

"What? She's not sick, is she?" asked Junpei, his voice showing his concern for the teen.

"No, she's fine." Assured Airi, smiling a bit at the muscular fighter's unintentional display of his softness for the girl. "Shinji, on the other hand…" trailed off Airi, her smile vanishing.

"Shinji? That skinny kid that lives here with you and that Misato babe Kaji's seeing?" asked Junpei. Airi nodded. "Ah, he'll be fine." Junpei dismissed the situation.

"And what makes you think that?" asked Airi, her interest in Junpei's knowledge completely hidden by her highly-evolved acting skills.

"Kaji told me about the last fight. He said Shinji's going to be fine." Said Junpei.

"I see." Murmured Airi. As much as I find him slimy and untrustworthy, I think I will need to get a bit closer to Mi-chan's ex. He seems to have all sorts of knowledge he shouldn't.

-

Keiko slowly returned to consciousness and rubbed her eyes. For some reason, her eyes burned and felt crusty. Shaking her head a bit to clear it, she grimaced as her sore, bruised body protested. Maybe I should cut back on the booze. she thought as she struggled out of the bed. Looking around, she realized that she was in a love hotel. It was obvious that she hadn't been there alone, as the place reeked of sex and she felt sperm seeping from every orifice on her body. Seeing the door to the bathroom, she made her way to it, turning on the light and looking at herself in the large mirror behind the sink.

A short-haired girl with slight bags under her eyes greeted her. The eyes were bloodshot and there were several patches of what she was sure was dried cum on her face and hair. Farther down, there were hickies and the odd teeth marks on her body from neck to ankles. There were also some bruises. Not much different from when I go to Kodo's and Shodo's house for a party. Noted the girl. Remembering why she was hanging with the two, she turned herself so she was profile and critically examined her belly. I guess it'll be a few more months before it begins to show. Damn those fucking pilots! At the thought of the pilots, her head began to throb, and her vision started to get a little red. Shaking her head cleared it a bit and she looked around, spotting some toiletries near the shower. Deciding to get cleaned up, she started the shower and took a piss while she waited. Soon, the teen was in the shower.

Once she was clean and dry, she went in search of her clothes. Her panties were gone, and her bra was torn in half, but the rest of her clothes seemed ok. Keiko began to dress in her school uniform. While doing so, she found a wad of folded bills in her inside jumper pocket. Leafing through the bills, she felt herself smile. Pretty good pay. Must have been a rich perv! As she put on her socks and reached for her shoes, she spotted a gold chain with a silver crucifix laying on the bedside dresser. Shit! Almost forgot my crucifix! Can't do that! Thought the girl, swiping the chain and slipping it over her head. With her necklace settled, she checked the room once more, nodding to herself as she left the room.

-

"Doctor Akagi!" came the excited call from one of the salvage crews working on clearing the remains of the twelfth angel and repairing the damage to the cover of the Geofront. Akagi had been on site most of the day supervising the cleanup and trying to glean whatever data she could from the latest angel. Currently, several crews were hosing down the dripping chunks of the black sphere that she had surmised was the angel's shadow with bio-enzyme solution that was geared to the Angel's molecular structure, in effect `melting' the tissue-like remains of the attacker. Currently, the largest piece was being dissolved slowly but surely by the jets of enzyme solution directed at it from various biohazard pump units. Akagi approached the man, all the humans dressed in tenth-gen `moon suits' for complete NBC+ protection.

"What is it?" asked Ritsu.

"It's that." Pointed the crew member, pointing to the center of the melting mass. Ritsu squinted a bit and studied the slowly-emerging item in question.

"What is it?" asked Ritsu of the man. He shrugged in his yellow moon suit.

"Dunno. I was hoping you could tell me. It's not reacting to the enzyme bath, though." He said. "It almost looks…metallic."

A few more moments passed before Ritsu's eyes widened. "Stop the enzyme bath! Clear all disposal units from here immediately!" she snapped, tapping keys on her MAGI-linked data tablet.

"Wha…?" began the disposal tech.

"Move, goddamn it!" hissed Ritsu, kicking him in the ass for emphasis. Keying her comms unit to secure mode, she punched in a number from her tablet and waited as the line went encrypted and secure, then spoke. "Yeah, it's me. Put me through immediately to Maintenance. I need a level 4 unit recovery team here ASAP. Yes, full gear." Ending the call, she absently scanned the area to confirm that the disposal crews were gone, and that there were no loose observers anywhere. She turned to look at the chunk of Angel. Now what the hell are you doing here? Wondered the doctor silently.

-

"I see." Said Gendo simply as Ritsu finished her report on her find. "Have you confirmed its identity?"

"No sir. I have not contacted NERV Third Branch yet. I felt it more important to notify you of the situation." Replied Ritsu.

"A logical choice. And the unit is where?" he prompted.

"It's locked down in Cage 7, sir. All tests indicate that it does not have any core material present yet, and there is no indication that it has even been test loaded with pilot data." Replied Akagi.

"New in the wrapper, is it?" interjected Fuyutsuki, a touch of humor in his voice. "Still," his voice went more serious, "it's not supposed to be here."

"True." Noted Gendo. Though it is not a problem for me that it is. It simply means that I will have more options to complete my scenario. "Doctor, you will verify the identity of the unit. If it is the unit it appears to be, then we will decide what is to be done with it." He paused for a moment, then continued. "In any event, we are better equipped to activate it and employ it in combat than the Third Branch."

"Yes, sir." Answered Ritsu. "I'll…" she was interrupted by a klaxon. Gendo didn't even flinch.

"It's not an Angel attack, so why is the alarm going off?" wondered Fuyutsuki, noting that the alarm was different from the Angel attack warning.

"It's a system alert." Said Ritsu impatiently. "It's from the MAGI system. Each NERV branch that is tasked with building, activating or fielding an Eva is direct linked to the central MAGI here at headquarters. That alarm means that a critical branch has been severed."

"You will deal with this, Doctor." Directed Gendo. "Keep me informed." Ritsu left his office at a run.

-

Misato yawned and blinked a time or two. "So, it's been destroyed?" she asked her old friend. Ritsu suppressed a sigh.

"No. Or at least not in the way you mean." She repeated herself. "It is simply…gone."

"Gone where?" asked Misato.

"Unknown, ma'am." Interjected Maya, eyeing a data feed from the MAGI as information was sifted, sorted and collated. "There are over four thousand possible causes, from enemy action to a malfunction in the S2 engine test." That last bit got Misato's attention.

Her father had been the key mind behind the S2 theory of energy generation and management. So, it was a subject she knew more than a little about. "NERV has an S2 engine prototype? I thought it was more than a year from completion, let alone even having a test model."

"Well, that was the plan. However, after examining some data from the fourth Angel, we were able to cut that back some." Deflected Ritsu. We pulled an intact S2 organ from that Angel. Granted, it was completely inert and we could never get it going again, but the structure of it yielded some missing pieces of the puzzle. Shinji did us a far greater favor in disobeying your orders than you will ever realize.

"So, you managed to cobble together a prototype unit?" lead Misato. Ritsu nodded. "And you were going to tell me this, when?" she asked, irritable at the lack of data from her tech sections. I'm supposed to be fielding the Evas and here they are making new gear and not even bothering to mention it!

"When we had something to report, Major." Came Ritsu's reply. "Obviously, there must have been a bug in the design; if the test on the synthetic S2 engine is to blame for the loss of Third Branch."

Misato glared at Akagi. "I see." She said, irritation in her voice. "So, the unit is lost as well?"

"Not exactly."

-

Shinji awoke to find that Rit-chan was sleeping comfortably in a large chair next to his bed and Rei had climbed onto his bed and was sleeping right up against him, though she remained outside the covers. Taking a deep breath, he felt a hand on his cheek. Glancing at Rei, he saw that her crimson eyes were open and watching him. "Good morning, Shinji-kun." She said softly.

"Good morning, Rei-chan." He said, just as quietly. Rei silently pressed her lips to his in a brief, but warm kiss. Silently, she slipped off the bed. "Are you going?" asked Shinji, feeling very unhappy at the prospect.

"I must. I am already late for school." Replied Rei, her eyes touching his. Shinji saw her lack of enthusiasm for parting, but reluctantly agreed with her.

"I guess I better wake Rit-chan." He said as Rei exited the room.

"Do not bother." Said Rei over her shoulder. "You and she have been excused for the day by Major Katsuragi. I will return to you once school is over." And Rei was gone. Shinji blinked at that. Why both of us? Rit-chan stirred and a moment later, her eyes opened. Looking at Shinji, she smiled at him. Rising to her feet, she stepped to his bedside, leaning over to him and intently studying his eyes. Apparently satisfied, she leaned a bit farther forward to kiss him.

"Good morning, Shin-kun." She said cheerfully. "Feeling ok?" Shinji nodded. "Good." She said, sitting back down and pulling a thin folder from the top of the beside table. Shinji sighed, knowing what that folder meant. Rit-chan heard the sigh and giggled. "Recognized it, huh?" Shinji nodded. "Well, let's get this over with, then. I'm hungry, and I don't suppose you want to eat hospital food any more than I do." She said, cracking open the folder.

-

Rei silently slid the door to the classroom open and entered without a word or look at anyone. The sensei, droning on, didn't even seem to notice. Ignoring the whispered questions, she went straight to her desk, sat down and stared out the window. Her laptop was off and she showed no signs of any plans to activate it. After five minutes or so, Asuka simply stood, stepped over to her desk and leaned over so she was face to face with Rei. "Well?" she said, her tone low but aggressive.

"He has woken up. Rit-chan is with him. We will know by the end of the day." Said Rei simply.

"Rit-chan's with him?" frowned Asuka. "What about the test?" Rei turned to look the Second in the eye.

"That is why she is there." Said Rei softly. "She, and her USP." Added the First.

-

Whew! Thank god there's no sign of Angelic Contamination; whatever the hell that might be! Thought Rit-chan to herself as she closed the file and stood up from the chair, subtly reseating her USP in its holster. The file had several questions in it marked with a red tic mark. If he had missed any two of them, she was tasked with putting a bullet in his head. Misato had planned on being there for the test, but Ritsu had vetoed the plan, citing her little emotional outburst in the entry plug. Section 2 agents had been called in, but Rit-chan had stepped up and volunteered. It took her a very fast-talking five minutes, but she convinced the Doctor she was capable of doing what had to be done if he was contaminated. Mentally grimacing with distaste at the memory, she shoved it aside.

Glancing at Shinji, who was getting out of the bed, she shook her head. "Not so fast, Shin. I have to give this to Akagi and then you're bound for the examination room for some sort of check on your bio-data before the witchdoctor releases you." She said.

Shinji sighed and lay back down. "Yeah. Figures." He muttered. Rit-chan smiled at him as she leaned over him again. Kissing him, she straightened and moved toward the door.

"Don't be so gloomy, Shin. I'll be back!" she giggled. Shinji shook his head as he smiled at her sunny disposition. So different from Asuka's angry disposition. He thought. Minutes passed. Finally, Akagi entered the room, clipboard in hand.

"Good morning, Shinji." She said in her professional voice. Shinji had come to dislike that detached tone for some reason.

"Good morning, Doctor Akagi." He said politely. Ritsu took a moment to study him.

"Well, no point in waiting. Let's get to it, shall we?" she said, motioning to the door. Shinji began to get out of bed.

"Yes, ma'am." He said. Once he was standing, he realized that his hospital gown was less than concealing. He flushed a bit and reached back to pull the back together, but that only made the gown tight across his hips, accenting his dick. Ritsu felt herself becoming a bit aroused at the sight. Down girl. She told herself.

"Um, where are my clothes?" he asked the head of Project E.

She shrugged. "Probably in your locker." Shinji turned a bit redder. "Still, it's nothing to get worked up over." Said Ritsu, stepping over to him. "After all, it's not like I haven't seen it before." She said huskily, bending over to whisper it hotly into his ear. Giving in to the temptation, she snaked a hand down to briefly caress his member, feeling it swell with blood. A low chuckle escaped her throat. "Mmm. He likes me." She breathed in his ear, her tounge touching his earlobe briefly.

"D…doctor Akagi!" he managed in a choked voice. Ritsu just smiled at him.

"Well, if you insist." She grinned. "Let's get to the examination room, shall we?" she said, turning and beginning to walk away from him. She hid a smile as she deliberately exaggerated the sway of her hips and the seductive gate of her steps. She heard some labored breathing from behind her. Oh, this is so much fun! I had forgotten how much I enjoy this!

-

At lunch, Touji and Kensuke had headed for the group of Asuka, Hikari, Rei and Aki. Seeing them approach, Asuka's temper had begun to climb. Hikari had noticed this and asked her to keep herself under control. A non-committal shrug was all she got for an answer. Shortly after Touji and Kensuke came by, Tomo, Reiko and Shiori had meandered past and stopped for a moment. Asuka had not been very sociable, so Hikari had played go-between for the Second and Touji. Rei had not given them so much as a look, her eyes fixed to the spot where NERV lay buried under hundreds of feet of earth and armor.

"So, he's at NERV?" pressed Touji.

"And Inoue?" asked Kensuke eagerly.

"Yes. Both of them. He should be ok, though." Said Hikari. Asuka was muttering under her breath in German and angrily munching on a sandwich from Hi-chan's bento. As she paused to suck down some juice, Touji had a momentary loss of intelligence and took a shot at his nemesis.

"So, you weren't allowed to stay with him, Red? Guess he wouldn't recover well with a violent bitch like you in his room." He said offhandedly. "'Sides, Inoue's way sexier than you."

"How would you like to wear your asshole up around your neck?" replied Asuka in a velvety voice, her juice can crushed in her hand.

"So you admit you can't keep your hands off my studly ass?" he taunted her. Kensuke was staring at his friend aghast, as were Tomo and Hikari.

"Studly? You're not even half his size, pencil dick!" snarled Asuka, coming to her feet in preparation to destroy the stooge. Aki's hands landed on her shoulders as Hikari moved between her and the object of her destructive urges.

"Asuka!" yelled Hikari.

"You know he's just baiting you, Asuka." Added Aki.

"This is not the time for such discussions." Said Rei softly. Asuka glared at him hard enough to raise blisters. Tomo felt the rage in the girl.

"Hey, Touji, we better be going now." She said, tugging on his arm. Touji resisted her attempts to save his life.

"Hey, if Red Devil's feeling frisky, I say bring it on." He said pugnaciously.

"Touji!" hissed Kensuke, shoving his friend hard. Shiori grabbed him as well. Reiko simply looked back and forth between the two angry teens.

"God, you two are so alike it's scary." She noted as the three people pulling on Touji finally got him moving. Asuka was returned to her lunch by her friends. Rei made a few more mental notes on manipulating Suzahara.

-

The door slid open and Shinji and Rit-chan entered the Zoo. "We're home!" called the girl cheerfully. No one answered. Not that either teen expected an answer. Rit-chan headed for her room as Shinji did likewise. The tests had been very uncomfortable for him because he had been mostly erect the whole time. For some reason, Doctor Akagi had seemed to be constantly brushing against him or bending over him or making odd comments. Shinji's balls tingled with frustration.

Rit-chan came out of her room a few minutes later and entered Shinji's room. Shinji had just managed to get his boxers off when Rit-chan entered his room. The teen was dressed in some short, close-fitting silk shorts and a tight, thin tank top. Her pony tail arched proudly behind her. Seeing Shinji's erect member, she smiled a predatory smile. "Help you with that?" she asked him, stopping in front of him and taking his member in both hands. Shinji gasped as her hands stroked him leisurely. Due to his prior state of arousal, it didn't take him long before the tip of his dick was slick with precum.

Shinji found that his hands had somehow gotten a grip on her shoulders and pulled her lips to his. Rit-chan didn't seem to mind, though, as she eagerly slipped her tongue into his mouth to wrestle with his tounge. Against his bare chest, he felt her nipples harden until they were like two pebbles pressing into him. Shinji ran his hands down her shoulders and arms to her waist. The older teen hummed in appreciation. Feeling her silk shorts, he eased his hands back up toward her chest, hesitating at the bottom of her tight, thin tank top. Rit-chan pulled back from the kiss to give him an encouraging smile. "It's ok, Shin." She breathed softly before returning to the kiss.

Reassured that he wasn't about to get beaten to a pulp, Shinji slowly worked his hands up under her shirt until they cupped her breasts carefully. Somewhat larger and fuller than Asuka's. he thought. Still, Asuka's still growing, and they're a lot smaller than Mi-chan's. That thought made his dick twitch as Rit-chan stroked it a bit faster. With sudden decisiveness, Shinji pushed Rit-chan's shirt up to her neck, leaving her breasts bare. Gently breaking the kiss, he lowered his lips to her erect nipples and studiously began to practice his skills. Shivering in excitement, Rit-chan released his pre-cum-slickened rod and wrapped her arms around him, holding him to her gently.

As Shinji lapped at her breasts, his hands eased down to her silk shorts, pausing at the waistband. Hearing Rit-chan moaning and mumbling vaguely, he decided that she was ok with his current actions, and eased her silk shorts down her legs. Once they were half-way down her thighs, they simply fell to the floor of his room, leaving her naked. With the delicate silk out of harm's way, Shinji tentatively touched her lower lips, feeling the wetness and heat of her arousal. Carefully, he rubbed her clit and eased a finger into her slick channel. Rit-chan gasped and panted, her hands sliding down his back to grasp his ass and pull his body to hers. That motion forced him to leave her nipples alone, and pushed his achingly hard member into her thighs. Rit-chan felt a minor orgasm flow through her, but she wanted more. Grinning at Shinji, she pulled him to his bed, sinking onto it and pulling him on top of her. With one hand, she pulled his wet hand away from her pussy. "I think we can skip the rest of the foreplay." She panted, wrapping his legs around him and using one hand to make sure he was in the right position.

"Are you sure you're…?" began Shinji. A gentle but persistent tug on his dick answered that question. Struggling not to pant like a dog, Shinji eased forward, pressing into her. Rit-chan purred.

-

Asuka tossed her sweat-soaked bra into the bin to be taken to the laundry room and snatched her towel on her way to the shower. "What's wrong with that sadist?" she complained. "It's too hot to be running relay races!" Aki was a few steps in front of her as she selected an open shower head and cranked open the valves to unleash a stream of warm water.

"Well, it didn't seem to slow you down any, Asuka." Said the tall girl, stepping under the lukewarm spray, washing off the sweat as she slowly increased the cold water flow.

"Yeah. You and Rei were the winners, after all." Came the voice of the class rep.

"I guess. But what was the deal with pairing us together? It's not like we don't see each other at work every day." Groused Asuka. "Just because we both Pilot is no excuse for constantly pairing us up!" Rei stepped past her and turned on the cold tap of her shower, leaving the warm water completely off.

"Oh, just enjoy it." Laughed Aki, ducking under the spray to wash her hair clean of sweat. Muttering under her breath, Asuka turned on her selected shower and began to wash up. Class would be starting soon, and she needed to be clean and dressed by then.

-

"Rit-chan, what do you want to make for supper tonight?" asked Shinji as he slipped into his house clothes of shorts and a tee shirt. He and Rit-chan had woken up about an hour before and gotten a shower when they realized that the others would be arriving soon. Right now, Rit-chan was in her and Asuka's room, having gone there to find more appropriate house clothes than the silk and tank outfit she had sported to seduce him.

"How about hamburgers and coleslaw?" called back Rit-chan as she settled her nylon shorts in place. Her groin still tingled and throbbed with the aftermath of some very strong multiple orgasms. The shower had been fun too. Grinning a the memory, she exited the room and saw Shinji emerging from his small room. He found himself smiling back at her, leaning over to kiss her cheek as she paused by him. Together the two entered the kitchen.

"Do we have the right ingredients?" wondered Shinji. "I mean, we have some ground beef, but I'm not even sure what is in coleslaw."

"Don't worry. I'm pretty sure we have the right ingredients. If not, well," she smiled at her lover, "we know how to use a cell phone, don't we?" Shinji laughed.

"Oh, I guess we could figure it out." He replied, laughing.

-

"Since when am I a go-for?" wondered Misato as she and Airi stood in line at the local market. In her hands were some buns, some condiments and a few bottles of stuff Misato had never even heard of. Still, she had written the names down as Shinji gave them to her, so she was pretty sure it was what he needed to finish supper. Oh, I can't wait to see my Shin-kun! She mentally sang, smiling a bit predatorily.

"Glad to see he's feeling ok?" asked Airi softly. Misato turned to look at the actress.

"Yeah. No matter what it looked like, I didn't…" she began, her tone angry and aggressive. Airi put her hands up in a calming gesture.

"Both Rit-chan and I are fully aware of what happened and why, Mi-chan." She said softly. "Believe me, if anyone understands why you did what you did, it's us."

Misato sighed. "Sorry. I didn't mean to snap at you." She frowned. "It was the right choice, and yet I can't feel good about it. I can't help but wonder what Shinji must think of me after all this."

"He'll probably think the same thing of you he did before being swallowed, Mi-chan." Offered Airi. "He doesn't seem the type to hold grudges." Unlike his fucking father!

"I know, he's really sweet." Gushed Misato. "I keep having to remind myself not to take advantage of him!" Airi chose not to pursue that line of discussion.

"I'd be more worried about Asuka's reaction to your commands than Shinji's." she pointed out. Misato shrugged.

"Asuka won't be any more difficult than normal. She's had a lot more training than Shinji, so she understands the military necessity of what I did. She doesn't like it, but she understands it. Frankly, I'm a little nervous about Rei. She seemed…" Misato waved inarticulately, not knowing how to explain it to her friend.

"I know. Not how she usually acts, no?" supplied Airi.

"Exactly." Sighed Misato. Placing her things on the counter, she pulled her purse up and began to root around in it for some money. Airi handed the cashier her NERV card.

"It's on me, Mi-chan." Smiled the actress.

-

"Doctor." Came Gendo's voice from behind Ritsu's chair. The head of Project E was in her office, her computers booted up and processing data from a variety of sources. "Have you decided on the next pilots' names?" asked the commander, his hands falling to her shoulders. Ritsu straightened a bit in her chair, stubbing out her cigarette.

"There are five with sufficient capability to meet the necessary levels, but two of them are markedly more suitable than the other three." Said Ritsu, indicating her screen as she tapped in some commands that brought up the relevant files on the two who stood so far about the others in Code 707. Gendo assessed the two.

"Very well." He said. "Start the preliminary work for them. We will recruit them as necessary." He said, turning her chair around and beginning to unfasten her top. Ritsu obediently reached out and unzipped his pants as he roughly stripped her clothes off.

"You are aware that we only have one extra unit, right?" she said as he pushed her to her knees in front of him. Silently, he pulled her head to his groin, her lips enveloping his semi-erect member as her tounge began to caress it to full hardness.

"That is not your problem, Doctor." Said Gendo before taking her head in his hands and beginning to vigorously thrust into her mouth. As the Head of Project E gave her boss head, Gendo studies the two profiles on her monitor. Yes, those two should do nicely. He thought.

-

Supper was a bit of a feast at the Zoo. Shinji and Rit-chan had greeted Asuka at the door with a mountain of hamburgers, and while the German girl was changing into her house clothes, Airi and Misato arrived home with the last of the fixings for the meal. Within a half hour of their arrival, the five of them were chowing down on delicious hamburgers, coleslaw and chips, with the ever-present beer washing down Misato's food, while the others had soda.

After the meal, Shinji and Rit-chan knocked out the dishes and then the teenagers watched a bit of television before bed. The weekend was one more school day away and there were plans for nearly all of them. As the evening wore on, the exhibits of the Zoo made their way to bed one by one. Shinji turned in shortly after Airi did, Rit-chan and Asuka being engrossed in some romance movie. Misato went to her room to finish up some paperwork. As she exited the bathroom on her way to her room, she paused to look in on her Shinji. The boy was resting quietly in bed; something of rarity for him. Impulsively, Misato slipped into his room, sliding the door shut behind her. Squatting next to his bed, she listened to him breathing for a bit. Lit by the moonlight, she slowly reached out and touched his bare shoulder. "I…I'm sorry, Shinji." She whispered tightly. "I didn't want to…" she began, but froze in shock as his hand covered hers on his shoulder.

"It's ok, Mi-chan." He said quietly. "I know you were only doing what you had to." Misato felt tears gathering in her eyes. Her shoulders began to shake with suppressed sobs.

"I…I…" she began, but her voice couldn't finish. Sensing her distress, Shinji sat up in bed and reached out to wrap his arms around her shoulders, pulling his guardian to him in a hug.

"I know, Mi-chan." He soothed her softly. "I know." Misato's shaking gradually ceased. Shinji found he was absently stroking her back in a calming manner. Eventually, Misato eased back from his hug, smiling at him.

"Thanks, Shin. I needed that." She said, touching his cheek softly. Shinji became aware that here was his sexy guardian less than a foot from him in nothing but a sheer tank top and shorts that covered less than a pair of panties. His dick stirred at the thought. Misato seemed to sense his growing discomfort. Grinning evilly, she leaned forward and touched her lips to his. "Should I stay with you tonight, Shin?" she asked him, her tone hot and inviting. Shinji's dick turned to steel. "I really wouldn't mind." She added, her tounge touching his earlobe as she said it. Shinji had been leaning back from her as she spoke, and now his balance broke, leaving him sprawled out on his back. Misato leaned over him, supporting herself on her arms on either side of his chest.

"Don't tease me like that, Mi-chan." He managed, though his voice was very uneven. Misato smiled at him and began to lean down toward him. "M…Mi-chan…" he croaked out, his hands coming to meet her shoulders. Misato's eyes went wide and she sat back quickly, taking a couple of deep breaths. Shakily, she got to her feet and moved to the door.

"Well, if you feel that way about it, then I'll just go to my room." She said woodenly, fumbling the door open and moving thought it as fast as she could. As she entered her room, her mind was furiously trying to figure out what she had been doing just moments before. I was teasing him, and then I was about to…! God, I really can't be trusted with him! Blushing, she forgot her reports and hastily stripped and climbed into bed next to Airi, trying to ignore the tingling, hot sensation in her loins, and her painfully erect nipples.

-

Hikari glanced around briefly before she slipped into the room where Shinji was just finishing up the trash collecting. Touching his shoulder, she whispered "So, I'll see you tomorrow night about eight?" she whispered to him. He blinked once or twice before he remembered.

"Oh! Yeah! I'll be there." He said. Hikari smiled.

"Excellent." She said before returning to the hall just in time to intercept Asuka. Shinji moved toward the door with his bag of trash to be burned. Glancing down the hall, he saw that Asuka and Hikari were in a huddle with Rit-chan and Aki. Shaking his head a bit, he made for the incinerator. Within the hour, the group was headed for the mall to do some `necessary shopping'. Shinji was - naturally - the pack mule. Still, he really didn't mind as he was repaid by the privilege of seeing the girls in various outfits from normal to nearly-naked. Rei in particular seemed to favor less than the others. Not that Shinji minded in the least.

As evening came on, the group broke up for the evening, with the pilots going home and Hikari heading for her house. Rei followed her fellow pilots to their apartment at Rit-chan and Shinji's invite. Once there, the teens settled in for some food and talk. Shinji was in the kitchen, and Rei was seated in the center of the couch with Rit-chan and Asuka flanking her. The three girls were discussing normal girl-type things; well, rather, Asuka and Rit-chan were discussing girl things - Rei seemed uninterested in the topics.

As the two red-headed teens discussed perfume choices, Rei pulled her vanishing trick and reappeared in the kitchen, sitting silently at the table, watching Shinji work. Behind her in the living room, the two were arguing the merits of flower-scented versus musk-based perfumes. Rei watched as Shinji began the final steps of the meal preparation. Silently, she rose and crossed to stand at his side. "Do you require my assistance, Shinji?" she said softly.

"No thanks, Rei-chan. I've got it." He smiled at her. She favored him with a small return smile. Her hand came to rest on his back, seeming to generate a warm, safe sensation across his whole body. Shinji unconsciously leaned toward her a bit.

"You are going to see Hikari tomorrow evening." Stated Rei softly. Shinji paused for a moment before continuing his work.

"Is that…ok with you, Rei-chan?" he asked her, sliding his eyes to her to gauge her reaction. Rei smiled at him once more.

"It is." She said simply. Silence for a moment, the voices of Asuka and Rit-chan coming to them from the living room. Then, the First spoke again. "Does she please you?" she asked her lover softly. Shinji blinked.

"Does she please me?" he repeated, a bit confused. "I…don't get it." He frowned.

"Does being with her bring your happiness?" asked Rei, her eyes intent on his.

"Yes." He replied.

"I see." Said Rei softly. Shinji had a sudden horrifying thought. What if she thinks I like Hikari better than her?!

"But that doesn't mean I don't like being with you, Rei-chan!" he added hastily. Rei's eyes were steady. "You…were my first, Rei-chan." He added softly, touching her cheek with a fingertip. "You will always be my first." On impulse, the Third wrapped a somewhat surprised First in a tight hug. Rei returned the hug.

"Do you…promise?" she murmured to him. Will I always be your first even after you know my secrete?

"Of course, Rei-chan." Whispered Shinji. Just then, Asuka yelled at him for an ETA on the food. Rei slipped out of the hug and returned to her seat at the table, but not before her lips touched his for a moment.

-

Airi panted as she continued to jog on the treadmill. Glancing at the digital readout, she reached up to wipe some sweat from her forehead with the back of her hand. Thirty more minutes. She thought to herself. This is never my favorite activity, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do to stay in shape. A smile crossed her lips as she huffed some more. And I've already lost ten of those extra pounds! Fifteen more to go. In her house in the foothills outside of Los Angeles, the Oscar-winner had a private gym, and the personal trainer to go with it, naturally. Still, she was never much of a fitness freak; she preferred the more refined things in life, and heavy exercise was not considered a finer thing to her.

The elf-hunting actress was in the out-of-the-way gym that Misato had introduced her to, passing some time and reviewing her information, plans and position. She had spent a lot of time here as it gave her perfect cover for her long periods of mental work. For all the monitoring equipment would show was her jogging, or lifting weights or working on the punching bag, performing the moves that Misato had shown her the first time the two had been here. Misato had joined her for a few of the workouts, but more often than not, she was in the gym alone. Not that she minded that.

Speaking of Mi-chan…the woman reflected silently. The good Major was currently in a meeting with the Vice Commander and the head of Sections 2 and 5 about something involving the security of the pilots. Airi knew what Rit-chan had told the guardian of the pilots, and since then, the Major had been campaigning hard for revision to the operation security measures for her Pilots, as well as the increased vigilance of Section 5 in the pre-emptive intelligence gathering arena. With a twinge of guilt, Airi had another thought. Her constant preoccupation with the Pilots has made it easier for me to slip into places I shouldn't be. She felt guilty for using the danger to the pilots and the resulting attention of Misato on that problem to mask her movements. Her like of Misato and the fact that her Rit-chan had bonded with the pilots was causing her conscious to act up a bit about her underhanded activities. But the simple fact remains that I will not sit her quietly and wait for the blade to drop.

Just then, she was distracted by the door opening and a clearly annoyed Misato striding in, headed for her locker. Moments later, her work clothes were being flung angrily all over the place and a moment later, Misato stepped around the corner of the screened area, settling her sports bra in place, a pair of running shorts on her hips and her running shoes on her feet. Grumbling and cursing, she crossed to the punching bag and immediately began to pound on it in a display of vented anger. Punches, kicks, elbow strikes and knee hits rained down on the hapless bag. Airi kept puffing along, keeping an eye on her friend as she did so. "Bad meeting?" managed the actress ten minutes later as Misato began to wind down.

"Fucking jerks act like no one would attack my Shinji even after those mother fuckers shot at my Children." Snarled Misato. With one final kick, she stomped to a weight machine and began to do her reps. Sharp eyed, Airi noticed that the machine was set with an extra fifty pounds on the plates. Misato didn't seem to notice. "All those fat asses in Section 2 can do is make excuses, and if that nut-less little shit in charge of Section 5 doesn't learn the difference between tactical and strategic intel, I'll fucking kill him!" Misato grunted, but not from the weight she was lifting. Airi heard her machine chime, and slowly came to a stop before stepping off the treadmill and coming over to where Misato working out, sitting on the station bench next to her.

"Oh?" she prompted, letting her body cool a bit.

"All he said during the meeting with Fuyutsuki was `we have no indication of that'. If he doesn't have any indication of anything, why does he even have a job?!" groused Misato. Airi chose not to comment on that. Clearly, Misato wanted to take her anger out on the weight machine. As the Major continued to mutter and process her workout routine, Airi stepped over to her gym bag and pulled out two bottles of spring water from the insulated pocket on the bag. Ice cold, the water was a welcome treat to her still-hot body. As Misato set her treadmill, Airi silently handed her the second bottle. Glancing at it, Misato silently took it, nodding her thanks. Sipping her water, Airi waited while Misato took a three mile run. With that done, the two headed for the sauna, then the hot tub, then the showers before ultimately heading home.

-

Kaji checked on Junpei once more before he slipped out of his apartment. Since he had been informed that new orders were waiting for him at his normal drop point, he had been biding his time to go collect the orders. Now that Junpei was in for the night, he was going for a stroll to collect the orders. Quietly, the spy made his way down to the small garage next to his apartment building and cranked up his convertible. Easing onto the late-night Tokyo 3 streets, he headed for a small, comfortable bar on the edge of the town.

He was a regular there, and everyone knew he frequented the place with dates he picked up. What no one in NERV had yet found out was that the entire little mom-and-pop kind of bar was nothing more than a front for the Japanese Ministry of the Interior. One of his three bosses ran the whole thing with no other purpose than intel on NERV and the Angels. Kaji smiled a bit as he worked he way to the bar. The reason that no one in NERV knew about it was that the only one who knew it was a JMI outfit was the barkeep. The owners were living in Europe now, and thought that the bar was just that: a bar. The barkeep had recruited the staff personally and had even managed to have some of the staff think that they were working for other intelligence agencies.

Calling Tsuimoto's place a `false flag' op is like calling an Eva a basement science project! He's got so many angles on that place that even I'm not entirely sure who he's really with. He might be a double agent as well, though I don't see any signs that he is anything other than one hundred percent loyal to Japan. Kaji shook his head in admiration for the skill the middle-aged intel officer showed. Some of his staff thought they were working for an American cell of the CIA, while others thought that they were working for Seele, and a couple of others thought that he had hired them for the National Police and/or a member of the UN Security Council. The thought of the UN made him frown.

Lately, the direction his search had taken him had begun to converge with his primary clients. Namely, the connection between Seele and the UN was getting stronger, deeper and more sinister than he had originally thought, while the connection between the UN and the JMI and the SDF units were also getting more concrete. If I didn't know better, I'd swear that Seele had a controlling interest in the UN and outright owned the JSDF and the JMI. If that's the case, then the only reasonable conclusion is that they are planning to go toe-to-toe with Gendo over Third Impact. Kaji didn't like that possibility at all because of what it implied: a fight between the Evas and Japanese troops, and might even turn into a NERV-against-the-UN showdown. While there was no doubt that the UN would be severely outgunned by the Evas, Kaji doubted that their aim was to fight the Evas. No, with Gendo at the helm, NERV is like a lemming running for the cliff, and Seele wants Third Impact for themselves, so no destroying Evas; even if they could.

Parking his car, Kaji stepped out and paused to fish out a cigarette, lighting it while he indulged in a brief look at the possible outcomes of a fight between Evas and everyone else. God, Asuka'd love to take on a couple of armies all by herself, and from what I've seen of her in battle, she could probably knock off a few countries all by herself. Rei is competent, but it's Unit 1 that truly scares me. That thing is not a mere toy, no matter what anyone says. I've seen too much to think that anyone could control it except Shinji; and even he can't keep it from going berserk. Shaking his head, the spy entered the small bar. Taking a seat at the bar he signaled the barkeep. "Give me a martini, barkeep." He said, grinning.

"Shaken or stirred?" asked the barkeep.

"What do you think?" replied Kaji.

"Shaken it is, Kaji." Shrugged the man, preparing his drink. When it came, Kaji spotted the thin strip of paper in the bar napkin. Sipping his drink, he smoothly pocketed the scrap of paper from the napkin. Well, let's see what disaster they came up with this time. He thought.

-

"I see." Said Gendo in his normal I'm-too-good-to-be-bothered-talking-to-you-insignificant-pawns tone. A moment later, he spoke again. "Very well, I will expect a delivery table by the end of next week." He ended the call without another word. Fuyutsuki, standing as he ever was behind his boss's chair, raised an eyebrow.

"So?" he prompted his boss.

"Unit 3 will be delivered within two weeks, old friend. The `accident' with Unit 4 has made them nervous about a similar occurrence in the other lab in the Second branch." Smirked the Commander.

"They believe that Unit 4 is gone?" asked Kouzo, skeptical that Seele could be so easily fooled. Gendo glanced at his watch, then stood.

"No. The Americans believe that it is gone, but Seele is fully aware of it's current location. Before too long, the Minister of the Interior will know as well." He added as an afterthought.

"From their agents?" surmised Fuyutsuki. If you know who is an agent for Seele and the Ministry, why are you ignoring them, Gendo? Gendo walked toward his door.

"Not directly, old friend." Said Gendo, a smirk on his face. "Come. We have some issues to address this evening."

-

Ritsu and Misato rode down the impossibly-long escalator with the main command center. As was usual, Ritsu's nose was buried in her reports and Misato was holding her skirt to keep it from being blown up to her waist by the winds from the air system. "Why do you wear skirts in a place where you know they will be blown up all the time?" asked Ritsu, her eyes still on the reports.

"Because I look hot in these outfits." Answered Misato absently. Ritsu chose to abandon that topic in favor of a fresh one.

"So, did you hear?" she asked her old roomie casually.

"Hear what?" asked Misato, glancing at her watch. I hate working weekends.

"The Americans are going to be accelerating the final tests of Unit 3 and sending it to us for deployment." Said Ritsu absently.

"They're going to release it early?" gaped Misato. "After all that shit they pulled to insure that they got the contracts for building Units 3 and 4, now they're going to dump Unit 3 on us before it's been fully tested?"

"Can you blame them? A very large chunk of Nevada is missing, after all." Retorted Ritsu. Seven times the size of the Grand Canyon. Hmm. I suppose that the site of NERV Second Branch's primary lab is now the `Grand' canyon. Ritsu was not a comedian for a reason.

Misato sighed. "No, I guess not. If the Second Branch's other lab had a failure like that…" she trailed off.

"It wasn't a failure, Misato." Corrected Ritsu, turning the page on her stack of reports. "It was an accident. And they were the ones who wanted to place the auxiliary lab in Virginia, not us. If you recall, Mother suggested that the secondary labs be located in northern Montana or North Dakota."

"Location, location, location, I suppose." Muttered Misato. "So," she moved on, "are you going to be using a test plug to activate it?"

"That hasn't been decided yet. If the Marduke Institute has found the Fourth Child, then we might use him." Offered Ritsu.

"Have they found the Fourth? And how do you know the Fourth is a `him'?" asked Misato as Ritsu silently cursed her mental slip.

"I was speaking generically, Misato." Deflected Ritsu smoothly. "Has the Institute contacted you with a Finding yet?" Misato shook her head. Of course they haven't; they don't exist except on paper. Thought Ritsu before answering. "Then, they haven't identified the Fourth yet."

"I see." Said Misato. I have to make sure that Shinji isn't selected for the activation tests. She thought, beginning to lay plans to make sure that her Shinji stayed - relatively - safe and sound in Tokyo 3, surrounded by Asuka and Rei and the other Units. I won't let you have my Shinji! She thought defiantly to whoever might be planning to heap further suffering on her favorite pilot. The rest of the ride was silent as the two women thought and planned.

-

Shinji rode the train silently, watching for the station nearest to Hikari's house. Oddly enough, he had managed to slip away from Asuka relatively easily. Rit-chan and her were busy doing some sort of math game that he didn't understand. Each girl would give the other a set of contradictory rules, and then the two had to solve the rules. Rit-chan and Asuka had tried to explain it to him, but it got over his head within the first five seconds. Rei had seemed to understand it though; that bit of news set Asuka off like a grenade. Soon she and Rit-chan were each making up those weird sets of rules and were passing them to each other while Rei was employed as the referee or math checker or whatever it was she did to verify the results. Again, it was nothing he could make sense of.

Still, it had secured Asuka's attention to the point that when he had tucked his USP into its holster and quietly said he was going to see a friend, Asuka had only given him a wave and told him not to catch whatever disease the Stooges had. Before the door closed, she yelled at him to bring her some strawberry ice cream and some soda when he came back. Shinji wondered why it wasn't always this easy.

Hearing the announcement of the station he wanted, he stepped off the lightly-peopled train and jogged toward Hikari's house. Five minutes after exiting the station, he was ringing her doorbell. It was perhaps a half minute before Hikari opened the door for him, smiling as she did. "Shinji." She purred happily, "come on in. Dinner's ready." Entering, Shinji saw that she was wearing a pair of tight shorts and a snug tee-shirt. His dick twitched as he watched her shapely ass.

I guess her active role in PE class is good for something after all. Reflected the male pilot as he shed his shoes before heading for the Horaki kitchen. Turning into the warm, somewhat small kitchen, he saw Hikari at the stove, intently studying the contents of a pan. Her hair was loose from its normal twin ponytail setup, and rested a bit past her shoulders in a soft, dark-brown fall. Hikari was humming to herself as she reached over and switched off the stove, moving the pan and it's contents to the edge of the sink as she selected a couple of spices and carefully dusted whatever was in the pan with them. "That smell wonderful, Hi-chan." Said Shinji sincerely. "Can I help you with anything?" he added.

Hikari turned to smile at him. "Not just now, Shinji." She said, tossing her head to the other end of the kitchen, where a small square table was set with two places. "Have a seat; dinner will on in a couple of minutes." Shinji did as he was asked, taking a seat at one of the places and watching Hikari work her magic.

"Um, where are your sisters?" he asked, making an attempt at casual conversation. Hikari answered without taking her eyes off the pan and it's contents.

"Nozumi is on an overnight class trip, Kodama is out with a group of her friends and won't be home until tomorrow evening, and Dad is working like he always does. He hasn't been home in three days." She answered, turning toward the table with the pan. Shinji watched as she maneuver the pan closer to his plate before sliding a lightly-browned mass onto his plate. He caught a faint whiff of lemon as it settled on his plate. Hikari giggled at his attention on the food. "Kodama knows someone at her University that just got back from a trip to the United States. This is salmon, done with a lemon and spice marinade. I've never tried this kind of dish before, but `Dama-chan had the fish and Rit-chan had told me that this was delicious, so I figured `what the hell' and tried it. Let's eat!" she said as she placed the pan on the pot holder in the center of the table and picked up her fork. "Oh, I thought that forks would be more useful for this dish than chopsticks." She explained.

"No problem. I'm sure this is excellent." Smiled Shinji as he picked up his fork and carefully speared a piece of the meat on it. The cooked meat broke off into a succulent chunks easily, and when Shinji tucked that morsel into his mouth, his eyes opened a bit in surprise.

"Do you…like it?" asked Hikari, who had been studying him intently.

"Like it? This is incredible, Hi-chan!" he enthused. God, Mi-chan, Asuka and Rei-chan would love this! "Can you get me the recipe and maybe see if there is a way to get more of this salmon?" Hikari laughed at his eager reply.

"Sure! I'll ask Kodama when she gets back to ask her friend for some more fish." Both teens ate in relative silence for the next half hour. Full, Shinji assisted Hikari in clearing the table and cleaning the kitchen. She spread her dish cloth out to dry and stretched a bit. "Man, I'm stuffed! Let's sit on the couch for a bit, Ok?" she asked Shinji.

"Sounds good to me; I ate more than I thought." He said, following her out to the couch. Hikari settled into the cushions and Shinji settled beside her. Immediately, she leaned herself against him and pulled his arms around her. Shinji complied and began to lightly stroke her arms, belly and sides, being careful not to grope her. Hikari sighed and settled in. The light in the hallway was the only light on, leaving the room dimly lit as the two teens sat and relaxed. For maybe a half hour, they two were content to just share their closeness. As Hikari felt her feast being comfortably digested, she began to slowly increase the contact between them.

Ten minutes later, she was laying on top of Shinji, her mouth and tounge busy with his as his hands caressed her compact breasts through her shirt. Hikari finally broke the hot make out session and stood a bit shakily as she helped Shinji up. "Let's take this to my room, Shin-kun." She panted, headed for the stairs. As she moved for the first step, she suddenly paused. "Half a sec." She said, swiftly jogging to the front door and checking the locks, making sure it was securely locked. Seeing his quizzical expression, she giggled. "I don't want to be interrupted." She explained, grabbing his hand and pulling him up the stairs to her room.

-

"Where is that Baka at? I want ice cream!" groused Asuka as she disdainfully closed the freezer after some moments perusing the contents. Rei and Rit-chan were sitting on the couch watching some brain-destroying J-pop music video. Rit-chan found the music videos here to be unsettlingly like the ones in `her' earth. Rei simply watched it as she watched the clouds go by. "Hope he's not planning on spending the night at Touji or Kensuke's place." Interrupted Asuka.

"Oh, I somehow doubt that." Offered Rit-chan blandly. Asuka came in to the living room and crashed next to the other redheaded girl.

"Why say that? Do you know something I don't?" asked the German of the elf hunter. Rit-chan's mouth opened, her eyes glinting mischievously. "And don't smart-ass me, Rit-chan!" pre-empted Asuka, smiling at the mock pout on Rit-chan's face.

"You're no fun, A-chan." She pouted. "But seriously, I don't think that he'll be staying at Touji's place tonight." She repeated.

"How so?" asked the German girl.

"Well, let's just say that Touji has plans, and Shin would be in the way of those plans." Leered Rit-chan.

"What plans? Jerking off to pictures of me like he always does?" snorted Asuka. "Shinji wouldn't interrupt him by being there; I'm surprised that he doesn't spank his monkey in class, the freak."

"His long-term girlfriend Rosy will probably not be busy tonight; at least in the way she and her sisters used to be busy on a Saturday night." Disagreed Rit-chan. Asuka blinked at her owlishly.

"She refers to the presence of Tomoko at his residence tonight." Clarified Rei softly.

"Ugh! I forgot that little slut was doing it with him! Thanks for reminding me!" shivered Asuka. "Wait, how do you know that she's there, Wondergirl?" challenged Asuka.

"I have told you before, Asuka: I see and hear everything." Said Rei in her normal flat voice.

"I'm not impressed, Wondergirl." Sniffed Asuka. "How do you know?" she reiterated.

"The same way that Rit-chan knows." Was her uninformative rebuttal. Asuka scowled.

"Will someone make sense, please?" she demanded of her two companions.

"Rei and I hit the bathroom before we left school yesterday and we happened to hear Tomo and Shiori discussing their plans." Clarified Rit-chan.

"So the hentai jerk is getting a two-for-one special?" sneered Asuka. "God, what sluts! They'd do anyone."

"Tomo is the only one having intercourse with Suzahara tonight." Corrected Rei softly. "Shiori is going elsewhere."

"Aida's scoring too?" guessed Asuka. "Ugh! I think I'm gonna puke!" Asuka leaned her head back for a moment before a thought hit her. "If they're busy fucking those two, then who the fuck did Shinji go to see?" she gaped.

-

Hikari was laying on her bed, panting heavily after her latest orgasm. Somewhere along the way, she had lost count of the number she had had, but she knew it was a lot. Right now, Shinji was softly sucking her nipples and massaging her breasts with his hands. Hikari smiled smugly as she felt some of their combined juice begin to seep from her sensitive pussy. Shit, he really blew some big loads! Marveled the girl. Tonight had been a bit of an experiment for the two, and each had learned a new trick or two. I guess that Kodama won this bet. Thought the brown-haired girl of her older sister. Just then, her cell phone rang.

Turning her head, she glanced at the display screen to see Asuka's name there. The phone kept ringing. Hikari decided to let her voicemail answer it, and closed her eyes as Shinji switched breasts. He really does seem to like them at least as much as he likes Asuka's. thought the girl, smiling at the thought. Shinji kept on working on her nipples as he stroked and massaged her chest, sides and breasts. The phone stopped ringing. Hikari sighed in pleasure and opened her mouth to ask her lover if he wanted to try anything else when her phone rang again.

"Better get that." Observed Shinji. "She'll just keep calling until you do." With his opinion stated, his mouth returned to her erect nipples. Realizing that he was probably right, she fished her phone off the charger base and connected the call, trying to keep her voice steady as Shinji trailed a hand to her soaked groin and began to lightly stimulate her clit.

"Hi, Asuka." She said, feeling a tremble in her legs as her clit began to swell. "How are you do…ing?" she fought not to moan.

"Hikari? Are you all right?" came the reply. "You sound like your panting or something."

"So…orry. I was waxing the hallway floor, so I'm a…little winded." Shinji managed to stroke her clit, nipple and neck all at once, sending a massive tingly sensation ricocheting around her body. She bit her lip to keep from moaning and dropping the phone.

"Waxing a floor on a Saturday night?" asked a disbelieving Asuka.

"Well, you know I…ah!…'m a neat freak, right?" defended Hikari, reaching a badly trembling hand down to pull Shinji's hand away from her groin. "Besides, this is about the only chance!" her hand feebly pushed Shinji's head away from her nipples. Damn it all! I can't talk with him doing that! Shinji leaned back a bit and smiled at her. Hikari felt her hormones begin to stir again. Will you hurry up and go, Asuka?!? I'm trying to get laid here!! "What were you calling about?"

"Oh, nothing much." Said Asuka calmly. "I was just wondering if you knew where Shinji was?"

"Um, no, I don't…know where he might be." Hedged Hikari. "Isn't he there with you?"

"No. He bailed a while back and said he was going to see `a friend', and he's been MIA since!" she huffed.

"Why would you think he was here? I'd have thought Touji or Kensuke would be a more likely bet." Lied Hikari. Shinji moved off her bed and stepped to her dresser. Hikari glanced at him as he studied the items on her dresser, but her main attention was on Asuka's call.

"One would think, but they're both shagging those two whores, so he wouldn't be there." Complained Asuka. "He's supposed to bring me some ice cream, too!"

"If I see him, I'll let you know." Offered Hikari, hoping her best friend would end the call so she could get laid again. Shinji had picked up a bottle and was studying it in the faint light from the moon coming into Hikari's room. "Did you call his cell phone?" she asked.

"Oh, like I'd call him!" denied Asuka. "If I called him, he'd just think that I was desperate for his company or something!"

"So, you call me instead?" wondered Hikari. Shinji returned to her bed and carefully sat by her side. Gently, he made a few adjustments to her position so she was laying flat on her back, phone to ear as she talked to Asuka. Giving the inchou a brief smile, Shinji flipped the cap on the bottle he had taken from her dresser open and squeezed some onto his hand before setting the bottle aside in a steady position.

"What? Can't I call my best friend for a talk?" asked Asuka.

"Sure, but…" began Hikari when she felt Shinji's hands land on her breasts again. The middle Horaki daughter's eyes grew wide as she felt a cool, slick substance spread across her skin as Shinji began to rub her mounds, his hands gliding over her skin as smoothly as silk. "Ah!" she panted softly.

"What did you say, Hikari?" asked Asuka.

"N…nothing, Asuka." Managed Hikari as Shinji began to methodically rub her down from her breasts outward. He occasionally paused to pour more liquid onto his hands. Hikari was struggling to keep her tone even as he worked on her. He found my baby oil! Marveled the girl. She was feeling relaxed and tired from her strenuous activities, and her voice got thicker as the conversation turned to school gossip. Shinji continued to work on her, smiling as he did, covering her from her collarbone to her toes before he gently nudged her over onto her face and began to work back up from her toes to her neck. He spent a good ten minutes stroking her firm, shapely ass before moving on, by which time Hikari was nearly asleep. She ended the call with Asuka as he was working on her shoulder blades, and she was sound asleep when he reached her neck. Pausing to kiss her, he covered her gleaming form with a sheet and stepped to the bathroom for a quick shower before returning to the Zoo to keep Asuka from deciding to come visit Hikari.

-

"I'm back." Called Shinji softly as he entered the Zoo. In his hand, a plastic bag contained ice cream of three different varieties, some root beer and a small bottle of chocolate syrup. Luckily for me the shop at the corner by the station had a pretty good selection of ice cream. He mused as he slipped off his shoes. "And I remembered the ice cream, too." He added, stepping around the corner.

"Well, it's about time!" came Asuka's miffed voice from the couch. Shinji set the bag down on the kitchen counter and began to retrieve some large glasses and bowls. "What kept you?"

"Well, I went to see Touji, but he was busy, so I just king of wandered around for a bit." Replied Shinji, having decided on a cover story as he rode home from Hikari's house. "Do you want a root beer float or just ice cream?" he asked the girls.

"Float for me!" came Rit-chan's voice.

"Strawberry ice cream in a bowl, three scoops!" ordered Asuka.

"I will have whatever you prepare, Shinji." Came Rei's soft voice.

"Got it. I'll have it ready in a few minutes." Replied Shinji as he began to open the ice cream and soda. As he made the snacks, he glanced at the couch and saw that Rit-chan and Asuka had pre-empted the couch, laying down at each end, with their legs tucked together in the middle. Rei sat silently on the floor. Shinji swiftly finished the preparations and carried the two red-heads their treats, then handed Rei a float as he settled next to her on the floor and dug into his bowl of cookie dough ice cream. Rei silently consumed her snack, setting the empty glass beside her when she was done. Shinji had to go get Asuka another helping, and when he did, he took his and Rei's dirty dishes to the sink. Returning with Asuka's ice cream, he settled in and relaxed.

This is nice. He thought, smiling a bit. I feel so…happy. Another hour passed before Rit-chan made her way to her feet and announced that it was bed time for her. Asuka yawned and rose as well, saying that she would call it a night, as they had some shopping to do the next morning. Shinji collected the two girl's dishes and moved to the kitchen as Rei silently shut off the TV and killed the lights in the living room.

"Don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way home, Wondergirl." Called Asuka as she ducked into the bathroom. Rei made no reply. "You're turning in for the night, Shinji. We need you to be rested for tomorrow, Baka." She announced as she exited the bathroom.

"Yeah, yeah. I'm just going to do the dishes, Asuka." He replied, scrubbing the dishes as he talked. Turning to his side, he flinched as Rei silently took the wet dishes and dried them before stacking them on the counter. She glanced at him and favored him with a small smile. It was the work of a few moments to finish with two of them working on the scarce dishes. When the last one was dry, Rei set the dishtowel out to dry and slid her arms around Shinji's waist. Looking into his deep, dark blue eyes, she silently asked him a question. Shinji just nodded and flipped the switch, killing the light. The First and Third Child walked to his room, Rei's arms still locked to his waist.

Sliding his door shut, Rei touched his arm as he reached for the light switch in his small room. "It is not necessary." She said softly. Her hands swiftly divested him of his clothes, then her clothes were on the floor. Taking his hands in her hands, she led him unerringly to his bed and gently guided him down, snuggling into his side before drawing the sheet over them. "Hold me?" she asked.

"Of course, Rei-chan." He said softly, kissing her forehead. Content in the warm embrace of her lover, Rei drifted off to sleep as Shinji did likewise.