Part 40: Epilog NGE: Phoenix of NERV

Shinji smiled as he moved into the kitchen. Today was a special day, after all. It wasn't every day that his first lover had her birthday. Although, her entire `birthday' is subjective, considering her circumstances. He mused. He had no issues whatsoever with her origin, and these days, it was just a nostalgic memory to him. Humming to himself, he entered the kitchen and began to set out ingredients for the pre-planned feast. With his ingredience prepared, he paused to turn on the TV, selecting a news channel.

"Not that they have anything interesting to say." He muttered, returning to the kitchen and donning a frilly blue apron. Better than Maya-chan's pink one! He mentally laughed. Pouring some mix into a bowl, he cracked some eggs into it and added the butter and the milk before beginning to thoroughly mix it. Listening to some insipid twit on the news channel with half an ear, he allocated most of his attention to double checking the menu and planning the proper sequence for the dishes he had to prepare. He flinched when her heard a beer can crack open with a hiss, followed by the sounds of the beer being chugged. A moment later, the empty can hit the trash.

"Wark!" came Pen Pen's imitation of Misato's beer cheer from the old days. Shinji chuckled at the penguin.

"You'll ruin your liver like that, Pen Pen." He said to the bird. The penguin just cocked his head to the side before patting Shinji's leg with his flipper. Shinji shook his head. "Whatever, Pen Pen." He said dismissively. "It's you life, I suppose."

"Wark!" came the reply. Damn straight, Food Provider! The warm-water penguin fished another can from the twelve pack in the refridge and cracked the top. Shinji glanced down to see the bird raise the can in a salute before downing it in one pull, Misato-like. Flipping the can into the trash, the penguin looked at Shinji one more time before moving into the living room, where he hijacked the TV, looking for some documentary on warm-water penguins. Shinji smiled as he went back to work.

Glancing at the clock, he nodded to himself. "Right on schedule." He murmured, setting the batter aside for a minute to start work on some of the other dishes. He knew that the others would begin arriving in a couple of hours, so he had to keep working on the meal if he wanted it prepared in time. Pausing, he surveyed the kitchen of his new home. I still can't quite get used to this place. He thought absently.

-

Misato strode though the halls of NERV, her black and gold Commander's uniform clinging to her shapely form as she passed her newly-appointed secretary at her post between her office and her Vice Commander's office. That thought gave her pause. I can't believe it's been a month since the incident. She marveled to herself. It had been a month since she woke from what seemed a dream to find herself standing on the combat bridge with Hyuga and Maya, both of whom were shaking like junkies. The bullet marks and rocket craters were still there, as was much of the dead on both sides. Still, some weren't there at all. Of the third bridge bunny, Aoba, there was not a sign. Misato had not really noticed at the time.

No, her attention had been on her Children and loved ones. Turning to Maya, she shook the tech a time or two, finally getting the younger woman's attention. Once Maya had focused on her, she had ordered her to see if there were any sings of her Pilots or the Evas. Maya had begun to work on her laptop, her combat-trained reflexes taking over for her still-shocked mind.

"Major!" she called a moment later, "I have them! They're out in the woods by the Geofront! It looks like all three of them are there!" she sang out, relief in her voice.

"Three?" asked Misato, her tone apprehensive. "Who…who isn't there?" she asked the tech. Maya blinked.

"Oh, God! Hikari!" gasped the tech, her attention back on her laptop. Furiously, she punched keys. Several moments passed. "I can't find her, Major!" she said, sounding panicked. Misato closed her eyes. Maybe because she's...gone. Though the Major. Still, that wasn't proven yet.

"Calm down, Maya." She ordered. "We still have more than half our systems off line, right? She could be somewhere we can't monitor." She reminded the tech. The woman calmed.

"That's right." She breathed. Misato stepped to the bridge lip and leapt to the emergency ladder, swiftly moving toward the lower doorway. "Major, where are you…?" began Maya.

"To get my pilots, of course." She pre-empted the captain. "You're to assume command here in my absence. Hyuga, you're to help her out. I want you two to start working on the damage control issues. I don't know how many we have left, but we need everyone working on restoring our facilities. Prioritize the recovery of the MAGI, comms system and data links. I'll be back as soon as I get my Children." Said the Major, her tone grim.

Reaching the bottom of the ladder, she checked her rifle again, feeling to make sure she had a couple of magazines left, then departed for the nearest exit to the grounds outside the black pyramid. Misato swiftly jogged to the exit and headed for the spot the surveillance system had indicated the three pilots were. Clearing the door, she swiftly swept for any signs of the troopers that had been infesting the complex earlier. Not seeing any at the moment, she ran toward her goal.

The three had been in the depression of Unit 1's boot when she found them. All three were in a tight, close group hug, their arms locked around each other. Asuka and Rei were naked, and Shinji was in his LCL-stained slacks and shirt, all three of them coated with dried LCL residue. Misato had slid down the four-foot deep side of the foot print and ran to her loved ones, tackling the group as a whole. For several seconds, her sobbing was the only sound from the group.

"It's ok, Mi-chan." Came Shinji quiet voice, his and Asuka's arms closing around her back, drawing her into the hug. "We won." Assured the teen. Asuka and Rei had nothing to say, but they clung to her and each other like their lives depended on it. "It will be ok, Mi-chan." Soothed Shinji, stroking her back. Several more minutes went by before the group began to ease back from the tight clench. Looking at each of them, she noticed that they seemed ok, all things considered. There was a somewhat haunted and depressed look in Shinji and Asuka's eyes, but over all, they looked better than when they had first come to Tokyo 3. Isn't that odd? She thought to herself.

"Great. Naked again." Came Asuka's voice. She sounded as irritated as she always had, but under it was a tired tone, as well as an almost happy tone. "Baka, this is your fault, you know." She added, smiling at Shinji. Misato blinked. That sounded like a come-on from her! Shinji returned the smile.

"Well, of course." He said, "I like seeing you all naked." To her shock, Rei smiled. She smiled! Rei never shows any emotions! Misato shook her head.

"I will be most happy to be naked whenever we are together." Said the First. Shinji smiled at her as Asuka rolled her eyes.

"Not in public, though, Rei." Said the Second. Misato was shocked again. She never calls her anything but Wondergirl! Misato noticed an odd sense of contentment in the three. Could they…please, let them be…complete. She prayed to whoever or whatever might listen to her. The three turned to her.

Shinji was the first to act, leaning over to her and kissing her tenderly. "Mi-chan." He said, breaking the kiss. "Thanks for being there for us." He said. She just stared at him stupidly. Asuka leaned over and kissed her too.

"Yeah. I wish it hadn't taken so long to figure this out." She said simply. Rei leaned over and kissed her as well.

"I welcome you to our family, Mi-chan." Intoned the First. Misato blinked.

"Fa…family?" she wondered. Shinji just caressed her cheek.

"We'll tell you later on, Mi-chan. Right now, we need to protect what we can." He said, slowly lowering his arms from around the group. Asuka took a breath and sighed.

"Yeah. First things first: Hikari." She said resolutely. The three nodded. Misato kicked her mind into gear. Slipping off her jacket, she handed it to Asuka.

"No, first clothes, then Hikari." She said, trying for a command tone. "There are still some troopers left loose, so we need to at least be dressed before looking for her." Shinji swiftly took off his button-down shirt and handed it to Rei, leaving him in the dark undershirt. He nodded as the First and Second dressed in their skimpy clothes. Misato got her rifle back into position and headed for the shallowest part of the boot print. The three followed her. "Any idea where to start the search?" she asked them. All three pointed to the north.

"She is there." They said in perfect unison. Misato blinked.

"Oookkaayyy." She said, reaching the lip of the print and moving off in the indicated direction. They moved through the torn and shredded woods for about a mile. Then, in a small clearing from one of the massive explosions, they saw a form in a shredded plug suit. Running to the crumpled form, they found that it was indeed the Sixth Child, Hikari Horaki. Her suit was shredded, and her flesh bore silver scars from the feedback injuries she sustained when her unit was ravaged by the MP Evas. Still, as the three knelt next to her, they found her breathing and alive. Touching her cheek, Shinji called her name.

"Hi-chan! Hi-chan, come on, wake up." He said, gently shaking her. Asuka felt Hikari's pulse and touched the silvery wheals on her body.

"Baka, that's not how you wake someone up." She said, her tone imperious. Taking the brown-haired girl by the shoulders, she gave her a couple of firm shakes. "Up and at it, Hikari!" she yelled. The brown-haired girl's eyes snapped open and she gasped, sitting upright, her arms closing over her body. Asuka, Rei and Shinji pinned her in a three way hug.

"Shhh. It's ok now, Hi-chan." Shinji assured the girl, who was desperately running her hands over her body. "You're fine, Hi-chan. You're back with us now." He assured her. Hikari was panting and nearly hyperventilating.

"I…I was…I remember dying!" she gasped, tears in her eyes. "I…self-destructed my Unit, and I remember the other Evas tearing me to pieces!" The three hugged her harder.

"That was then, this is now." Said Shinji firmly. "You didn't die, and you're going to be fine. You'll be with us for a long time now." Asuka stroked her friend's shoulders and sides. Rei simply held the girl tightly. Leaning into Hikari, Shinji kissed her. "Hi-chan, you'll be ok. I promise." Hikari stared at him for a moment before burying her face in his chest. Shinji held her while she sobbed, the other two Pilots comforting her as best they could. It was a half hour before she was ready to move. Shinji pulled off his under shirt and handed it to her, smiling as he told her that while he loved the view, there were some around who hadn't earned the right to see such beauty. Hikari had blushed as she wiggled into the shirt.

"Where now, guys?" asked Misato. The three turned to point to another location.

"We need to go check on Rit-chan's group." Said the three. Misato felt her heart kick up a bit, but simply nodded and lead the way with her rifle. They had gone almost the entire way across the wooded area when they came to a circle with tank tracks all over it, as well as a burned circle of earth, a pattern barely discernable in it.

"Where are they?" asked Misato, having expected to find the elf hunters here. Shinji smiled.

"They are safe." He said, touching the burnt earth. "Thank god." He breathed. Turning to Misato, he tossed his head. "Let's get back; I need to clean up." He said. Misato had nodded gratefully.

"Sure. Let's go." She said. That day had been a real doozy. When they got back to NERV, the pilots had discovered that the damage done from the raid had made it nearly impossible to access the locker room. Well, that was until Rei had simply pointed to the vents.

"Not that again." Groaned Asuka, though she had swiftly followed Rei into the vent after the First had simply torn the grate off the wide air shaft. Hikari had followed her, then Shinji. Misato had just gaped. Shinji had called back that she might not want to try it - it was a tight fit, and they would be back as soon as they had gotten new clothes and hopefully a shower. Misato had nodded and turned for the bridge.

Maya and Hyuga had managed to get some semblance of the order restored, and even gotten a rough head count of NERV personnel and their locations. That news didn't make her any happier. NERV had suffered over eighty five percent causalities, and there was hardly a tech or support person left breathing. Most of the survivors were security, Section 2, or Section 5. Misato ordered the Section 2 personnel to take over the sweeping duty from the other sections' personnel. Maybe they'll all get killed. she thought savagely. She didn't trust Section 2 after all she had learned with Airi about the true aims of Gendo. Section 2 was to Gendo Ikari what the Waffen SS was to Hitler. No, not Gendo Ikari, corrected Misato, Gendo Rokubungi. As such, they were inherently untrustworthy. Still, until the situation stabilized, she couldn't spare the manpower to purge them.

Misato was organizing her survivors into task groups when one of the Section 5 teams had reported that they had found Akagi and what might have been Gendo Ikari. Misato had ordered a report on their status. The team leader had told her that Akagi was floating just below the surface of a lake of LCL, condition unknown, but there was an exit wound in her back. Misato had ordered her retrieved and - if alive - taken to the nearest medical staff to be treated. She was also to be kept under tight guard. The man acknowledged and reported that there was a uniform of the commander in a puddle of LCL, compete with gloves, gun, glasses and access card. Misato had told the man to bring the card to her ASAP. Everything else was garbage. The man confirmed and she moved on to other issues.

The pilots had reappeared, Rei and Asuka in their sundresses, Shinji in a fresh pair of slacks and shirt, and Hikari in the skirt and top she had kept in her locker. She seemed a bit tired, but was looking less panicked than she had been when they first found her. The pilots had gone to Misato and Maya, Shinji leaning over to give Maya a kiss, which started the tech. Hyuga found himself jealous of the pilots. The Captain's attention was diverted by an incoming radio message ordering the troops back out on the authority of the Japanese Government and the UN. Misato had gotten Maya to patch into the radio circuit and listened to the person direct the Special Forces to immediately withdraw from NERV and report to the staging areas for further orders. Then, the voice asked for a response from NERV.

"This is Major Katsuragi, in command of NERV. Identify yourself." She said crisply into the microphone at Maya's station.

"This is Inspector General Hogawa of the Japanese National Police. I have received command control of the troops under a special A-103 order directly from the Imperial Palace. What is your status, Major?" he asked her. Misato frowned.

"Police in charge of Special Forces units?" she challenged. "This sounds like bullshit to me." She growled.

"Major, you've been in communication blackout since the attack began, so you don't know, but there has been a serious incident within the government of Japan." Said the man. "The attack on NERV was illegally executed by the former Prime Minister and the Minister of the Interior. They have been arrested and the Interim Prime Minister has directed me to take control of this matter under her authority as acting Prime Minister of Japan. Further more, the actual troop command is shared with the UN Special Reaction Team commander, a General McNieran. Are you monitoring, General?" asked the Inspector.

"Affirmative, Inspector." Came an American-sounding voice. "Troops are inbound to assume control of the situation now."

"Hold it, General!" roared Misato. "We will repel any further attacks against us by whatever means we have available!" she warned.

"Major, these troops are not here to attack you - they are here to secure the Japanese troops while we sort this out. They will also provide site security while we assess the damage to NERV." Interrupted the Inspector General. Misato considered that for a moment. "What is your current status, Major Katsuragi?" repeated Hogawa. Misato glanced at the Pilots, who simply looked back at her, confidence in their gaze.

"We have suffered massive causalities and have heavy structural damage to many key installations. Movement is further restricted by the means employed to defend ourselves from the attack." She said crisply, her hand tightening on her rifle.

"I see." Said the cop.

"Major, I can fly out another dozen medics and specialists if you can make use of the medical resources." Interjected McNieran. Misato nodded.

"If you would." She said. "And you'll want a lot of supplies with them." She added darkly.

"Roger that." Came the reply from the American. "Choppers are loading now. We'll be landing within ten minutes." He relayed back. So, they're based from a carrier task force off the coast. deduced Misato.

"Major, I need a status report on command officers for NERV." Said Hogawa. Misato frowned.

"Commander Ikari and Vice Commander Fuyutsuki are missing and presumed dead. I have assumed command with Captain Ibuki as my second in command. The status of all other officers are unknown at this time." She said.

"And Doctor Akagi?" came the reply. Misato hesitated for an instant.

"Status unknown." Said the Major, catching Maya's eye and touching her lips, signaling for her to keep quiet and kill the mic feed. Maya touched some keys, then nodded. Misato told her to get to the team with Akagi on the line, and when she did, she ordered them to move her to secure position and await personal orders from her. With that done, she nodded to Maya, who reconnected the feed to the mic.

"Major, what is the status of the Eva units?" asked McNieran. Misato glanced at the pilots. Shinji just smiled at her and shook his head.

"We're still assembling data on them." Said Misato, "But the Model Production Evas are all completely destroyed."

"All of them?" demanded Hogawa.

"Yes! And good riddance!" snapped Asuka.

"Identify yourself, soldier." Came the command from McNieran. Asuka sniffed disdainfully.

"I'm Asuka Langley Sohryu." She said. "And I'm not your little soldier!"

"Asuka." Said Misato, her tone both cautioning and tired. At least she's back to normal.

"The Second Child? Excellent. I'll have the psychiatrists flow out immediately. Did any other Pilots survive?" asked Hogawa. Misato's eyes narrowed.

"That's none of your business." She said crisply. "And no one sees the pilots without my permission." She added. "What's with the shrinks?" she demanded.

"Recently obtained psychological profiles indicate that all the pilots are mentally unstable, and we need to stabilize them as swiftly as possible if they are to be of any use in piloting the Evas. We've prepared the paperwork to transfer them to the care of the…" began Hogawa.

"Like hell." Said Shinji, his voice flattening Hogawa like a tank flattens an empty beer can. "Misato is our guardian, and no one else will be tolerated. Further more, we are no longer subject to mental evaluation from anyone. Understood?" he said.

"And you are?" asked Hogawa.

"Shinji Ikari." Said the Pilot. "Designated Pilot of Unit 1, the Third Child." He said, his tone cold.

"Ikari?" came the immediately interested voice of McNieran. "Son of Commander Ikari?" he pressed.

"No. I am the son of Doctor Yui Ikari. Gendo Rokubungi has no son." He corrected him.

"Son, I don't think you…" began McNieran.

"I'm not your son, General." Interrupted Shinji.

"Major, I must order you to relinquish guardianship of the pilots to the Japanese government in the interest of international safety." Broke in Hogawa. Misato bristled at that.

"I refuse." She said flatly. "Furthermore, I will consider any attempt to forcibly remove the pilots from my care as an act of war, and respond accordingly."

"You're in no position…!" began McNieran hotly.

"Would you like to tell that to us personally?" interrupted Shinji. "I'll be right out in my unit if you care to discuss this further." He said.

"And I'll be right beside him!" snapped Asuka.

"As will I." Stated Rei calmly.

"Count me in." said Hikari.

"You would attack the UN and the Japanese Government forces?" questioned Hogawa.

"Without hesitation if you attempt to force us from Misato's care. And that means that you would be facing four Eva units with functional S2 engines. Are you prepared for that event?" asked Shinji, getting him shocked looks from Misato and Maya, both of whom knew that Unit 0 was gone, and had never had an S2 engine installed. Further more, Units 1 and 2 were simply gone, and Unit 4 had been self destructed before their eyes. Seeing the looks from the two women, Shinji just smiled and winked at them. It was then that they knew that he was bluffing.

-

Misato smirked a month later, checking with her secretary for any messages and taking the half dozen or so before entering the office of the Commander. Gone was the creepy lighting and strange symbols on the floor and ceiling. In their place was a warm environment of diffused light and warm wood tones. Misato had left the other lighting controls in place, for when she needed to intimidate people, but in the day-to-day role, her office was bright and lively. Sitting at her new chair, she flipped though the messages.

The result of Shinji's bluff had been her appointment to the position of Commander, as well as her increase in rank to General Katsuragi. She had asked Rei to be her Vice Commander, but she had flatly refused, stating that it was unimportant to her. Knowing that Shinji wouldn't be a good choice, and Asuka was likewise too hotheaded, she had mentally sighed and turned to Maya, informing her that she was now a Major, and the Vice Commander. The pilots had cheered that decision. Hyuga was promoted to Captain, ordered to assume the clean up work and turned loose, as Misato and Maya had some work to do. Curiously, Rei and the pilots had accompanied her to the office of the Commander.

Finding that the door to the inner sanctum of the Devil of NERV was locked, Misato was ready to order it cut open, but Rei had simply tapped in a code and the door opened. Silently, she stepped into the room and made straight for Gendo's desk. Arriving there, she had calmly asked for Gendo's access card, and when Misato handed it to her, she had slid it through a hidden reader on his desk, opening a secret file he had. As Misato and the others gaped at her, she had opened the Commander's computer, typing in codes as she went. When she was done a few minutes later, she stepped back. "His files are now completely open, Misato." Said the girl softly, motioning to the computer. "I suggest you read them as soon as possible." She added, stepping back to Shinji's side. Misato had numbly sank into the chair and begun to read them.

Rei took Maya's hand and gently led her toward the Vice Commander's office. Shocked to find out what Rei was capable of, Maya followed her as she and Shinji unlocked the Vice Commander's office and proceeded to unlock his personal files for her. After an identical message to Maya, Rei and Shinji had retreated to the hallway, where Asuka and Hikari had been waiting. "What now?" asked the Sixth.

"Now, we wait." Said the Third, sitting on the bench. The girls settled beside him. It was several hours before the two came to check on them. They found them simply sitting together, holding each other. The decision was made to bunk in Misato's old office. With some quick work, they had managed to get the couch put together with some boxes and pads from the break room chairs to form a sort-of bed big enough for the pilots to crash on. Misato had gone back to the office of the commander to do more reading, and Maya had hesitated, only to be told that there was room for her if she wanted a short nap. She gratefully accepted.

-

The first attempt to grab them came the next day, when Hogawa showed up at the bridge, complete with paperwork from the Japanese Government declaring them to be property of the government. Misato had gone postal on him. After a yelled exchange, it was made moot by a call from the acting Prime Minister, ordering Hogawa to stand down. For the time being, the government had decided that the pilots were better off under Katsuragi's care. Misato had smiled at the voice of the acting Prime Minister.

"Machiko, long time no see." She said casually.

"Yes, Misato. It has been a while." Said the woman. "I'm pleased that you survived." She added. Misato nodded, though she knew that her old roomie - called Dumpy as a joke by her - had managed to gain control of the situation. "Still, this is quite the mess." Said the other woman. Misato just smiled.

"I'll be happy to discuss this situation, but you need to understand that no one - not even you - will take my Pilots from me." She said simply.

"That is rather clear at this point, Misato." Agreed the woman. "Hogawa, you need to see to the situation with the military, not waste more time on this matter. It appears that the pilots are fine where they are."

"Yes." He replied. "As you wish." He glanced at Misato.

"General." He said simply, turning and exiting the bridge. Misato had blown a kiss to him while his back was turned. No one takes my Shinji from me. The group had turned to the situation with the repairs. Hyuga was reporting that they should be up and ready by the end of the next week, though the gross repairs would take longer. Misato had nodded.

-

The removal of the bakelite-entombed bodies caused a real nasty situation, as most of them were - as Rit-chan had discovered - shot in the back or at close range in the forehead, as well as being unarmed techs, maintenance personnel and medical staff. It was impossible to hide this from the prying media, and with Misato covertly leaking certain facets of the fighting to the news, it was an instant sensation on the local and world news pages. The former Prime Minister was brought up on charges, but was found dead in his cell, as was the Minister of the Interior. As the probe under the command of Hogawa expanded, several offices of all ranks were reprimanded, court marshaled or outright jailed for their activities. The Inspector General was a thorough man, and he methodically worked his way from the group troops to the very top of his government.

More interesting was the discovery of the seven persons unknown in the medial unit of NERV, four outside and three inside room 303, where Asuka had been invalidated. Misato had claimed that a group of NERV's Section 2 took them out before being killed in a subsequent firefight, sidestepping the involvement of the strangers. Investigations by Hogawa's men turned up several interesting things about them, and it looked like this would escalate into an international incident for a bit, but then it suddenly got downgraded, and then forgotten. But not before Misato had managed to discover who was behind it. If the Vatican dares to try this shit again, I will drop a few N2 bombs on them. She vowed.

The absence of the four from another dimension was causing Misato some trouble, as she was expected to have them or proof of their destruction. She explained that the four had simply vanished in the fighting, much as they had appeared mysteriously. That they had existed was questioned, as the damage to the MAGI had been a convenient excuse for Rei to do some editing of the records. Now, there were only vague references to Project Myth and elves. It wasn't hard to write them off as one of Gendo's little secrets. An inventory of the samples in the medical ward revealed no trace of the strangers, so it was quietly swept under the rug and left to mold.

On the third day, the group had gone to see the Zoo. The building was heavily damaged on the face toward Tokyo 3, which was where the Zoo and Rei's place faced. It looked like someone had taken a massive rasp and ground the front of the building down some. Still, it was accessible, and they could get their stuff out before the building was demolished. So, they went to pack up, only to discover that Pen Pen was missing. After a few desperate minutes of searching, they looked in the refridge and found him sleeping in the middle of Misato's beer collection, several empties around him. When Misato had grabbed him up and hugged him, he had simply given her a single wark, as if this was an everyday occurrence.

The new home for them, at least for the time being, was located in a modest sized home a few miles farther out, and shielded by a small rise. It had three bedrooms, a living room, two baths, kitchen, dining room, library and study. Misato had told Maya that she would be living with them for the time being, seeing as her apartment had been vaporized by Unit 4's detonation. She readily accepted, seeing a chance to be with Shinji. Theoretically, Asuka and Hikari shared a room, Maya and Misato had the master bedroom, and Shinji and Rei had the other bedroom, but this was in theory only - they slept where and when they wished, and it worked out pretty good.

-

Shinji hummed as he prepared the next dish, glancing at the clock as he did so. Hmm. Hi-chan should be back soon. He thought. At the moment, he and Pen Pen were the only ones home. Asuka and Rei were at NERV with Misato and Maya, involved in some sort of planning session that they hadn't told him anything about. He had planned to go with them, as he hated not being close to his lovers, but they had vetoed the idea, telling him to take the time to prepare for the party that night. He had reluctantly agreed, figuring that Hikari would be there with him, so it shouldn't be too bad.

But, that wasn't the case. Hikari had awoken a bit before him and had been feeling affectionate. She had just planned to cuddle with him a bit, but as he woke up and began to return her caresses and kisses, she decided that just cuddling wouldn't cut it. Grabbing his cock, she had found it to be nearly fully erect. Leering at him between kisses, she had swiftly stroked it to full hardness. "For me?" she asked him, her tone naughty and sultry. Shinji was not to be outdone, and had gone for her tits and pussy, knowing her weaknesses. Within five minutes, she had climaxed from his skillful manipulation of her soaked sex and tits.

Once she had regained use of her brain, she had rolled on top of Shinji and settled her slippery passage over his erection. Humming in delight, she had lowered herself onto her lover, shivering at the sensation of him sinking deeper and deeper into her tight passage. Once she had successfully buried him completely in her sheath, she began to hump her hips against his. Sitting up, Shinji had captured her small breasts, intently licking and sucking her nipples between kisses. Hikari was moaning, her cries getting louder. Abruptly, she trembled, her passage squeezing his dick almost painfully as a massive orgasm tore though her from her pussy outward.

"God, Shin!" she panted, collapsed against his chest. "I could fuck you forever." She smiled happily. Managing to turn her head a bit, she kissed him deeply, her tongue caressing his. Shinji held her as he returned her kiss. Eventually, she broke the making out session and rested her head against his shoulder, feeling his dick throb in her happy cunt. "You haven't cum yet." She said.

"Not yet." Agreed Shinji, feeling her slick sheath contract on him gently. "I want to make sure you come as much as you want." He said, kissing her neck before teasingly licking her sensitive skin. She shivered and squealed. The former pilots grinned and began to nuzzle her neck near her spine. "You taste delicious." He noted, running his tongue over her skin. Hikari giggled before gently pushing him back.

"Thank you, lover." She said, her eyes on his. "Want to do it doggy style?" she asked him, shifting her legs a bit so she could roll over without him having to pull out of her. Shinji followed her lead, keeping himself in her as she got settled on her knees and elbows, her hips tilted up slightly as she turned to smile at him. "I want you to cum in me, Shin." She said lewdly. "As deep as you can." She added. Shinji began a slow stroke in her passage, building slowly in speed and depth. Hikari moaned and panted in appreciation. "Shin, more!" she begged a few minutes later, her hips driving back to meet his thrusts. Shinji carefully got a better grip on her slender hips and thrust a bit harder and a little faster. "Ahh! Yyeess! Do me, Shin! Fuck me!" she howled. Shinji found himself smiling and fighting a chuckle as she Hikari began to mumble to herself, punctuating her pillow-muffled words with sharp gasps, groans and shrieks of pleasure.

As their family got more comfortable with each other, the girls had begun to develop their own unique sexual preferences. Hikari was turning into something of a vocal girl, as well as having a pronounced taste for strong sex. While she liked the tender love sessions, she would usually ask him to fuck her harder as the time went by, and she usually ended up yelling as she orgasmed, and her language was far earthier than normal, as well. She was also showing preferences for certain sexual positions as well. Shinji had taken care to learn from each session with his lovers, and always tried to improve on his performance, much to the girls' collective delight.

Feeling his balls tighten, he pushed as deep as possible, groaning as he felt his first spurt splatter against her cervix, his tip pressed tightly to her inner passage. Hikari squealed and buried her face in the pillows. Four more powerful jets filled her passage, and most likely her uterus as well. For several moments, neither moved. The feeling of Shinji filling her young womb with his cum triggered another set of small, but numerous, orgasms in the slender girl.

Finally, Shinji withdrew his semi-erect member from her passage, and Hi-chan carefully let her hips sink to the bed. Another ten minutes went by before the girl sluggishly moved from the bed and made her way into the bathroom. Shinji managed to follow her, entering the bathroom as she stepped into the shower. Seeing him, she seemed to regain much of her energy. "Thanks, Shin." She cooed. "That's exactly what I needed this morning." She smiled, beginning to swiftly wash herself. Shinji frowned as he noticed that she only washed her thighs and outer vaginal lips, leaving her full interior untouched. Maybe she's like Rei-chan and loves the feel of me in her. he thought. Hikari and Rei had formed a solid bond, and the brown-haired girl showed many of Rei's traits in her bedroom behavior.

The thought of his first lover made his dick stir. Down, boy. He thought to it, trying to get it to behave enough to relieve his bladder. After a moment, it reluctantly did as he directed, but he suspected that if any of the girls came home right them, he wouldn't be able to keep it down enough to piss. Or if Hi-chan decided to get any closer. He added, seeing her finishing up a swift shower. He concentrated on taking care of shaking the dew off his lily.

Hikari stepped out and grabbed a fluffy towel, drying herself off as she glanced at the small clock by the shower. Sighing, she rough-dried her hair, tossed the towel to Shinji and exited the bathroom with only a minimal peck on his cheek. "Running late." She murmured to him. Shinji finished up and leaned back out into the bedroom.

"Are you going to be here long enough for me to take a quick shower?" he asked her. She nodded, opening a drawer and pulling out a pair of panties.

"Yes. Hurry, though." she said, stepping into them and pulling them up her thighs. Her thin scars crisscrossed her body, but she had forgotten them for the most part. It was like a scar from an accident decades before, and as such, she didn't think much of them. The fact that her lovers completely forgot about them regularly helped her a lot as well. Shinji dove into the shower for a swift rinse.

Ten minutes later, he exited, drying off as he walked into the bedroom. Hikari was at the dresser, carefully applying some minor makeup to her face. It was rare for her to do so, and even when she did, she used very little. Shinji frowned at her. "What's the special occasion?" he asked her. She blinked.

"Oh! Nothing real special." She said, checking her appearance in the mirror. She wore a mid-thigh skirt and a thin, soft top that left her belly button bare when she raised her arms. Her footwear was a pair of understated flats sitting by her feet and her hair was loose around her shoulders. Next to her on the dresser was her USP and two magazines. Shinji stepped out to grab some boxers and his normal slacks and button down shirt outfit from what was nominally his room; he and Hikari had been in Misato's bed this morning, having fallen asleep with Maya the night before. Misato had apparently been home at some point, judging from the empty leftover bowl on the table that morning, but neither he or Hikari had seen the General that morning or the evening before.

"So, where are we going?" he asked his girlfriend as he stepped into the boxers. Hikari tucked her gun into her small purse, checking that her NERV phone was clipped to the small D-ring and that her NERV card was in the side pocket. Satisfied, she brushed her hair one more time, leaving it soft, glowing and comfortable.

"Sorry, Shin." She said apologetically. "I've got an errant to run with Hyuga. Misato said you were preparing the food for Rei-chan's birthday party, so I didn't plan for you to come with us." She said. Shinji frowned. "I'll be back before you know it, Shin!" she laughed, stepping over to him and kissing him soundly. When she let him go, he said what he was thinking.

"You know I don't like to be away from you all. And you know why." He added softly, touching her cheek fondly. Closing her eyes, she leaned her cheek into his palm. She nearly purred with contentment.

"I know, Shin." She said softly, eyes still closed. "We promised we'd never leave, didn't we?" she asked him, opening her eyes. Shinji nodded. "So, trust us, ok?" she said, smiling a little. Shinji relented.

"I still don't like being away from you all." He repeated. Hikari leaned forward and touched her forehead to his.

"Nor do we, but we can't spend all day in bed - much as we'd like to." She giggled. Her smile turned into a leer. "Besides, you don't honestly think we'd give up having sex with you, do you?" Shinji found himself chuckling at that one.

"Guess there's not much for me to argue with that one." He admitted. "Still, I'm hardly the stud you seem to think I am." He added modestly. I seem to do ok, but I keep feeling like I should be doing a better job of pleasuring them. He pushed that thought away. No more running, Shin. No more hiding. He reminded himself. Hikari kissed him again.

"You're plenty good, Shin." She said softly, her lips touching his. "And you're getting better every time." She added, her tongue slipping into his mouth. "We have absolutely no complaints." She finished, sealing his lips with her own, her arms around his shoulder, pulling him to her as much as his arms around her waist pulled her to him. Shinji felt his dick growing hard against her belly. Their moment was interrupted by the sound of someone knocking on the door. Breaking the breathless kiss, the two reluctantly parted, though Shinji's hand captured Hikari's small hand as they turned for the door.

Reaching it, they checked the closed circuit monitor and saw Hyuga, in his NERV uniform, on the porch. Hikari touched the door release and the door opened to reveal Hyuga. "Good morning, Hikari. Shinji." He said to the two.

"Morning, Hyuga." Said the two in perfect synch, before both laughing. "You look handsome in uniform, Hyuga." Said Hikari, smiling at the young man. Hyuga smiled in reply, his cheeks getting a hint of color.

"Thank you, Hikari." He said. "You look absolutely stunning." He added. Hikari blushed.

"T…thank you." She managed. Leaning over a bit, she set her shoes down on the small entrance way and stepped into them, her hand on Shinji's shoulder for balance. Straightening, she turned to him for one more kiss. "Be back as soon as possible." She breathed, stepping on to the front porch beside Hyuga. Shinji nodded, feeling distinctly unhappy about her leaving him, but it wasn't anything he couldn't handle.

"Be careful, Hi-chan." He said softly, making sure that she had her purse and gun inside it. Hikari nodded. Shinji turned to Hyuga. "Take care of her for me, Hyuga." He said seriously. The man nodded.

"Of course, Shinji." He said. Shinji head-bowed to him as he and Shinji's lover turned and headed for the driveway, where a NERV sedan waited. Shinji watched them until they were out of sight. Sighing, he turned for the kitchen. Well, nothing for it but to get started on Rei-chan's party food. He thought. The very act of thinking of the quiet blue-haired girl boosted his mood immediately. Not to mention his libido.

-

Misato sighed, dropping the latest report on her desk before standing. Better deal with this quickly. She thought, glancing at the clock. It's almost time for the party. She noted, grabbing her jacket and shrugging into it. It wasn't even an hour ago that she had ordered Maya and her two pilots home, telling them that she had to take care of some minor details before heading him herself. Exiting her office, she waved to her secretary, wishing her a good night before disappearing into the elevator.

Pressing the button for the lower levels, she considered the choice before her. Of all the lose ends from Gendo's reign, this one was the most troublesome. Not because she was evil - no, that would have made it too easy for Misato. No, she was the most troublesome because she was as much a victim as she was an abuser. The fact that Misato had counted her for a friend for a long time made it even worse. The new Commander stepped out of the elevator and moved off down a hall a ways before taking another unmarked elevator down to the deeper levels. She was bound for the level just below Akagi's old labs.

Exiting the elevator, she saw the guard outside the door of the only inhabited room on that level. Marching toward the door, she prepared herself. Seeing the approach of his commander, the guard nodded and turned to open the door for her. Stepping though, Misato tossed her head at the door, indicating that the second guard inside the room was to step outside for the time being. The man stepped outside. Laying on a medical bed was Ritsuko Akagi, former head of Project E, and officially listed as missing. Misato stepped to the bedside and looked down at Akagi.

"So, you took over, then." Said the woman in a tone of bored cynicism. "Well, am I bound for jail or the firing squad?" she asked her friend.

"Depends on who you ask, Ritsu." Said Misato softly, taking a seat next to her former roomie.

"Depends on what?" asked Akagi. She had survived the gunshot wound because she fell into the LCL, which had filled her lungs, preventing her from choking on her own blood. Since the bullet had just missed her aorta, and had only nicked a rib as it exited, she had been able to survive with just the aid of the LCL, which oxygenated her blood directly, prevented her from bleeding out by mixing with her blood and had protected her from the subsequent explosions, impacts and stray rounds. Having been fished out of the lake of LCL, she had been taken to emergency surgery, where her wound had been carefully closed before being hidden here. She had been healing for the last month.

"It depends on what you choose to do, Ritsu." Said Misato softly. The doctor was silent. "Just so you know, we hid you from the UN and the Japanese government. You're officially listed as `missing - presumed dead'." Said the General.

"And the choices this gives me?" asked Akagi, fishing for a cigarette. Damn, don't have any. She realized.

"You can choose to start over from scratch. I can get you a new ID, complete and better than real. With that, you can start over in some corner of the globe that doesn't know about you yet. There, you can do as you like until someone recognizes you or your work. You can guess what the UN and the government would do then." Said Misato. Akagi frowned. "Or, you can stay here, face your crimes and try to clear you name. It's possible that you can spin yourself into a victim and clear your name. I can't promise anything, but I will do what I can to help you clear your name. Shin and the others are unwilling to get involved if you choose to go that route." She paused, evaluating her old friend. The doctor's eyes were distant and seemed a bit lifeless.

"Nice choices." Muttered the doctor, knowing that she could never get the stench of Gendo off her. All her brilliant work was forever tainted because she had poor taste in men. How ironic, mom, that we would both destroy all we worked for just to be his whores! She thought angrily.

"There is another choice." Said Misato softly, looking into the doctor's eyes. Seeing that she had her attention, she went on. "Ritsuko Akagi remains dead, but NERV hires a doctor based on past recommendations from Akagi before Third Impact. That doctor would be intimately familiar with Akagi's work, and could reasonably be seen as the core of the new NERV science projects." Misato paused, seeing a bit of life in Akagi's eyes. "She wouldn't look much like Akagi." Continued Misato. "And she wouldn't be named Akagi, but…" she trailed off. Ritsu snorted.

"Oh, the irony." She muttered. It's almost poetic that this happened to me; I used this same approach to bring that Suzahara kid to his doom. "So, I guess that no matter my choice, I'm dead." She said, frowning. Misato hesitated for an instant.

"Yes." She said at last. "But, should you choose that last option, your work can go on, and you can begin to repair the damage you did." Said Misato. Akagi sighed.

"Damage, you say. To our relationship, Misa? To the Pilots? Hardly." Muttered the woman. Misato took a deep breath to steady herself.

"You betrayed us all, Ritsu." She said. "You harmed Rei in ways I can't even understand because you were jealous of the attention that bastard heaped on his little would-be tool. You betrayed Shinji's trust in you, and did nothing to help Asuka when she needed it most. You took samples from us for god-knows-what plan of his and treated us like lab rats." She paused to take a breath. "We don't trust you at all, Ritsu." She said quietly, but forcefully. Akagi was staring at the ceiling.

"Then why not just put a bullet in my head and call it even?" she asked.

"We could certainly use your skills, for one thing." Said Misato candidly. Akagi's lips twisted into a sneer. "But more importantly, Shin wanted to give you a chance." Akagi's eyes shifted to Misato.

"What?" she asked.

"You heard me: Shin wanted to give you a chance to make right the damage you did." Seeing the question in her former friend's eyes, she forestalled the question. "No, I don't know why. But we talked about it a few weeks ago, and he, Rei and Asuka all agreed that you should at least be given the chance to atone."

"I see." Said the doctor, having no idea what was going on.

"You know, if you take that third choice, you could always ask him why he wants to give you the chance." She pointed out to the fake blonde. During the month-long convalescence, her hair had gone dark at the roots again.

"And what do you think should be done with me?" wondered the doctor.

"Maya and I both argued for your being turned over to the UN, but Shin wouldn't hear of it." She shook her head at the memory. "He seems to believe that they can't be trusted with the information they could get from you. Wonder where he got that silly idea?" she asked rhetorically.

"Maya survived?" wondered Akagi. Misato nodded.

"While you were having you little heart-to-heart with Gendo, she was supporting the Children as best she could." Confirmed Misato. "She took your betrayal rather well." Noted the woman.

"But something tells me that she won't call me `sempai' again." Mocked Akagi. Misato silently shook her head.

"Probably won't even talk to you for the first few months." She agreed. Akagi nodded to herself. Figures.

"You said that I could ask Shinji why he wanted to give me a chance to betray him again." Noted the doctor. "What skills of mine are needed by the new NERV?" she asked.

"Much like before: you'll be head of care for myself and my family, which includes Maya and the pilots, due to certain…irregularities with Rei and the other pilots. You'll oversee the R&D projects as well, and head up the science division. Of course, you'll be primarily tasked with beginning development of the next Eva series." Misato saw Akagi bare her teeth. "Any you will make absolutely sure that it fails miserably. No more Eva. Ever again." Stated Misato. Akagi smiled.

"I can deal with that." She said.

"So, you accept the third option?" pressed Misato. Akagi nodded.

"I'm yours, Major." She said.

"It's General, actually." Corrected Misato, standing. "I'm going to get the ball rolling, doctor Aramaki." Said the Commander, heading for the door. "I'll be in touch." Akagi negligently flipped an arm at her.

-

"Ugh! It's good to be home." Moaned Shinji, dropping his bag off on the floor of the house they called home for the time being. Likewise, Asuka, Rei and Maya dropped their bags. Kicking the door closed, the German girl began to shed her sundress, Rei's dark blue one already on the floor. Maya was struggling with her uniform. Shinji paused to give her a hand. His hands were joined by Rei's pale hands, and a moment later, the Major was naked as well.

"Bath's filling!" yelled Asuka from the bathroom. Shinji gathered the clothes up from all the females and headed for the small laundry room.

"Go ahead, you two." He said, swiftly sorting the clothes into the appropriate bins. "I'm going to start supper." He could feel the pout through the wall separating him from Asuka, Rei and Maya. He chuckled. "It won't take long." He assured them.

"It better not!" snapped Asuka petulantly. Shinji chuckled as he quickly went to the kitchen and got the food started. He picked an easy meal that needed minimal tending, swiftly getting it going before heading for the bathroom and the three waiting women. This has been a long PR tour. He noted. The four of them had been selected to be the `face of NERV' on a public relations junket that Misato had had to set up to keep the UN off her back while she tended to other matters. Initially, it was supposed to be Misato and Shinji going to Europe, Asuka and Rei to the Americas and Hikari and Maya to Asia, but Misato had refused to have all the core group out of NERV for more than a couple of hours.

So, it had ended with the four of them taking on the world while Hikari and Misato minded the shop. The group had hit each major NERV branch country, and several neighboring ones. The trip to Germany had been a real eye opener for the group, as it was Asuka's hometown, and she reveled in it. The fact that the group had been greeted by a crowd of a few thousand chanting her name and waving banners with her picture on it had been a dead giveaway that the pilot was considered a hero in her own land. Asuka ate it up like cream.

Unlike the old Asuka, she didn't try to freeze the others out, though she did act as their collective spokeswoman. During that trip, Shinji had discovered a strange thing: he could read and speak German like a native provided he didn't think about it. Guess that's an unexpected side effect of Third Impact. he thought. The pilots had been merged into one for a brief time, and had lived each other's lives. I always thought the saying was `walk in their shoes', but I guess we `lived in their lives'. Still, it's…nice to know them so well. And know each other they did.

There were no more secrets between them. Everything they had done, seen, said, thought and experienced was the others to experience. The three had died with the first Rei, choked to death by Naoki Akagi. They had opened the door to the room where Asuka's mother's shell was to find her hanging from the ceiling, clutching the doll she called `Asuka' in her lifeless hands. They had experienced the lost and lonely existence of Shinji until he came to Tokyo 3. They were each other for a bit, and therefore they knew. Since then, they were one.

"What are you thinking about?" asked Maya as he entered the bathroom. He blinked, coming out of his introspection to the sight of three naked lovers watching him expectantly.

"Oh, I was just thinking the past." He said, smiling at Asuka and Rei for a moment. The other two parts of their strange trinity smiled back. Silently, Rei knelt by the edge of the tub as Asuka tugged the shower nozzle free and handed it to her fellow pilot. Shinji sat on the small stool and Rei immediately began soaking him with the nozzle. Maya rinsed off and handed the body soap to Rei, who nodded her thanks and began to gently scrub Shinji down. The older woman carefully stepped into the large tub with Asuka, who made room for her.

"What part of the past?" asked the Major, sinking to her neck in the warm water. Shinji shook his head slightly.

"Just the past in general, Maya-chan." He said softly. Third Impact is not something I really want to remember. In truth, though they had experienced it first-hand, the three pilots found that they had few clear memories of the experience. It was Asuka's hypothesis - seconded by Rei - that the things that they had seen and learned were too much for their minds to deal with, so for their own protection, they had sealed the memories away from themselves. Still, there were some clear impressions here and there.

Shinji in particular remembered laying on something flat and cool, surrounded by LCL-colored things, Rei sitting on his hips, the two of them joined. She had asked him what he desired, and he had answered that he desired his loved ones. Things got a bit hazy after that, but cleared a little later as he found himself on a beach beside an ocean of LCL, the remnants of the MP Evas littering the area, along with the broken remains of a city. Above them, a red ring circled the earth, and a second, smaller moon was present, black as the pyramid that housed NERV. He had felt movement beside him, and had turned to see that Rei was laying next to him on his right, and Asuka was on his left. All three were naked. He remembered thinking that he wanted to be with them and Hikari, Maya and Misato. That means a world where you can be hurt, and where others can be hurt by you. Rei had cautioned him. He simply nodded, and everything got hazy again.

"Is this enough for you?" he mother had said, as he felt himself drifting apart from her. "Can you live with this?" his mother had asked. Shinji had taken a long look at her. She did remind him a lot of Rei, except for the hair and eye color. There were other differences, but they were minor. The two drifted apart a bit more.

"I still don't know where my happiness lies, mother." He had said, "But I will seek it as long as I have to in order to find it." He promised her. She had smiled at him.

"That's my Shinji." She had said, her tone proud and loving. Yui Ikari turned to look beside the boy, and Shinji turned to look as well, wondering who she was looking at. Beside him was Asuka and Rei, their hands linked. "Care for him, as he cares for you." Said Yui. "I entrust the future to you all."

"Aren't you coming back with us, mother?" asked Shinji, not wanting to be without his mother again. Yui shook her head.

"No, my Shinji." She said. "This is the price for saving you, and I have no regrets." She said, her eyes warm on his. "Don't live you life looking backward, Shinji. Be happy in the love of those you love." Shinji nodded. "I entrust him to your care, girls." Said Yui, fading into nothing. Shinji felt warmth from all sides. Blinking, he saw that Asuka and Rei were on each side, hugging him to themselves. Behind him, Misato had her arms around all three, and in front of him, Hikari and Maya were hugging the three as well. The sense of security and love was more powerful than he had ever known, and he had vowed then and there to protect them as best he could forever.

"Gut dies ist ein Sehvermögen ich, obwohl ich nie, meine Tochter sehen würde" came a voice from beyond the group. Six pairs of eyes turned to see a woman drifting away from them, much like Yui had. Asuka had simply giggled.

"You haven't seen anything yet, mom!" promised Asuka, her eyes dancing.

"You know, I always wanted grandchildren." Noted Kyoko Zeppelin. Asuka had blushed.

"Ein Ding auf einmal, Mutti!" she had muttered. "I'm not ready for that right now." She had added. Kyoko had just laughed.

"When the time comes, you will be, Meine Liebe." Assured Kyoko. She surveyed the group clinging to each other and shook her head. "This isn't how I pictured it." She mused. "Still, your future is assured, and ultimately, that is all that matters." She said, her tone satisfied.

"Mom, is that why you…left me?" asked Asuka. Kyoko nodded.

"Ja. Es war die härteste Wahl die ich je habe machen müssen, Asuka. Wenn Yui, ist gehabt worden der nicht von mir jenen Brief geschickt hat, ich dürfte nicht gewählt haben, als ich machte, und Sie wären tot - oder schlimmer." Asuka blinked in perfect synch with Rei and Shinji.

"Wha…you and Yui planned this?" she asked, shocked. Kyoko frowned.

"Not as such, my beautiful daughter." She explained, drifting farther from them. "Yui realized where her project was leading, but until she was pregnant with Shinji and I with you, Asuka, she didn't comprehend the danger her work posed to the future of mankind - and you two in particular." Elaborated Kyoko. "By the time you two were born, we were already looking for a way to insure your future. By then, however, it was too late to simply pull the plug." She paused, her form growing indistinct. "Yui came up with a solution, though the price was high." Kyoko faded from view, but a whisper remained of her. "We will watch over you all forever." She promised. Things got hazy again, and next thing he knew, he, Rei and Asuka were clenched in a hug in the footprint of Unit 1.

"Shinji." Came Rei's voice, cutting though his introspection. He flinched, then looked to her first lover. "Will you join us?" asked the pale First Child, inclining her head slightly to the tub, which could hold four comfortably, and six if they loved each other. Maya and Asuka were watching him and Rei. Shinji smiled and rose, taking Rei's hand to help her into the tub.

"Of course I will, Rei-chan." He said. Rei smiled. Just as Shinji's foot touched water, the phone rang. The group glared at the wall between them and the phone. Shinji sighed. "Be right back." He said, pulling his foot free of the water.

"Just leave it." Groused Asuka. "If it's important, they'll call back." She added.

"And what if it's Mi-chan or Hi-chan?" he asked. Asuka sniffed disdainfully.

"Were it either or both of them, they would be here in person rather than call." Suggested Rei. Shinji ducked out into the hall to grab the cordless phone. Stepping back into the bathroom, he connected the call. A moment later, he frowned and looked at Asuka.

"It's for you, A-chan. Someone claiming to be your father." He said, offering her the phone. Asuka took it, motioning for Shinji to get into the tub with them.

"Ja, dies ist Asuka." She said. Whatever the other man said made Asuka's lips compress. "Nein.. Es gibt nichts mehr, zu sagen, Vater." Asuka bared her teeth. "Good bye, Mr. Sohryu." She said, ending the call. Negligently tossing the phone to the counter top, she leaned back against the tub.

"Problems, Asuka?" asked Maya. Asuka shrugged.

"More of the same, Maya-chan." She said. While they were in Germany, Shinji, Rei and Maya had gotten to meet Asuka's father. The man seemed not unlike Gendo in his handling of Asuka, though he was nowhere near as coldly cruel as the late commander. Still, his lack of warmth toward his daughter bothered Shinji immensely, as did his assumption that he had some right to run her life. That was a matter that Asuka had made clear to him when she told him that she had gotten used to managing her own life over the last eight years, and damn well didn't need anyone to do that, father or no. "He seems to have this idea that I want him back in my life." She said.

"You don't?" pressed Maya. Asuka frowned as she contemplated that. Finally she answered.

"No, I don't. Shin, remind me tomorrow to call the German Consul in Tokyo 2 and get the process started to legally sever myself from him." Shinji nodded.

"If you're sure, A-chan." He said. Asuka smiled at him.

"I don't need him, Shin." She said, leaning over to kiss him. "I have you all." She added.

-

"Well, this is more awkward that I could have imagined." Said doctor Aramaki as Shinji, Rei and Asuka entered the medical lab deep in the bowels of NERV. It had been six months since the doctor had come to work at NERV, and in that time, she had gotten a good idea of the hard road ahead of her. There were few left alive that knew her from before, and her new appearance - dark brown hair, a tan and some minor touch-up work - served well enough to conceal her true identity. Still, there were some who knew her, and they were distrustful of her unanimously. "Still, I can't say as I'm surprised." She added. The Trinity, as they were known to the command structure of NERV, paused to study her intently.

"Doctor." Said Asuka tightly. Her being here at all for a physical had been a major fight for Misato and Maya. That she knew that it was Akagi doing it made it nearly impossible. Still, Misato had been dealing with a much worse version of her for months before Third Impact changed everything. The General played dirty. So, with the right…leverage, the German was here for a check up. That Shin and Rei would be riding shotgun was a forgone conclusion. Misato was not above using that against them, as she had ordered the other two to have physicals done at the same time as Asuka. Two hours later, Misato had her way.

"There's something I have to say before we begin, Asuka. And Rei and Shinji as well, I suppose." Said Aramaki. She habitually reached into her coat pocket for a cigarette, only to be reminded again that Aramaki didn't smoke. Pushing the craving to the back of her head, she withdrew her hand. "I know that my treatment of you all was biased and often needlessly cruel." She said. The Children said nothing. "Misato told me that you wanted to give me the chance to right some of the wrongs I committed. I want to try to make things right with you three, most of all." She said. Asuka's eyes were hooded.

"Let's cut the shit, Akagi." She said, stressing the doctor's old name. "I don't like you. I don't trust you. I don't want to be here. But," she paused, "I know that you weren't exactly clear-headed before. So, I will give you a final chance." Aramaki nodded as Asuka said that. The German girl raised a finger warningly. "Betray me or my loved ones again, and I will kill you." She snarled. Aramaki knew that the girl meant it will every fiber of her being. And if she didn't, one of the others would. Most likely Rei. Thought the doctor.

"That's fair enough." Agreed Aramaki. "We can get started whenever you're ready." She said simply. Asuka sighed and, after a glance at each of her companions, she tugged her tee shirt off, tossing it to the near-by chair, only to have Shinji snag it and fold it before setting it back down. She chuckled at that, as she reached back and unfastened her bra, letting it drop down to hand from her arms for a moment. Dropping it to the chair as well, she reached behind her and pulled her USP free, setting it on top of the shirt and bra before unbuttoning and unzipping her skirt so she could step out of it. Her thong bikini panties were next, leaving her naked save for her socks. Asuka used her toes to take those off, then moved to the examining table and sat down.

Aramaki pulled a tray closer and selected a rubber tourniquet and a syringe to take a blood sample. Unlike she used to do, she took a moment to make sure the band was comfortably settled and to wait for the veins to rise fully. Also unlike she used to, she was extra careful to make the insertion of the needle as painless as possible. Once she had her blood sample, she set it aside and moved on, methodically working her way over the pilot from top to bottom. Asuka tolerated the touch of the woman, and had to admit - to herself only, of course - that her bedside manner was much improved. "So, why the new physicals?" asked the redhead as Aramaki pulled another tray to the side of the table. Her bright blue eyes caught sight of the implements on that tray and she grimaced.

"Misato is concerned that you might be experiencing some side effects of your exposure to Third Impact." Said Aramaki, reaching under the edge of the table and unfolding some stirrups.

"That's stupid. We've never felt better." She sniffed as Aramaki got the stirrups positioned.

"Put your feet in the stirrups, Asuka." Directed the doctor. Asuka grunted and did as asked, making sure that Shin and Rei were watching the doctor with an appropriate level of alertness. I wish one of them was holding a gun to her head this whole time, but I guess they're alert enough. She thought to herself. "And that is what has Misato worried. She told me that since Third Impact, none of you have gotten so much as cold, or felt bad, or anything. I know some of that could just be your good health, but it can also indicate that Third Impact has done something to your physical makeup." Explained the doctor, settling between her legs, raising and spreading the stirrups. "And there are the school physicals, as well." Asuka's lips twisted into a sneer.

"What a bother." She muttered. She felt the older woman's hands on her vaginal lips and her hands tightened into fists. Unlike the last time she had had this examination, Asuka found that her `new' doctor was being more considerate of her, gently applying some lubricant before easing a surprisingly warm implement into her.

"You believe this to be a sign of the presence of an S2 organ." Stated Rei. Aramaki froze for an instant. Forgot how sharp she is.

"Yes." Said the doctor. Asuka felt some sensations inside her sex and a few moments later, the instrument was withdrawn. Asuka started to relax until she felt the doctor's hands touch her again. "We need to get a swab, Asuka." Said the doctor, gently easing her open a bit before slipping a special swab into her passage.

"That is not standard procedure for a pelvic exam." Noted Rei. Aramaki felt Asuka's body tense.

"It is when she's sexually active with multiple partners." Said the doctor. Shinji frowned. Could she be referring to…? No, I don't think she knows about how deep the bonds go between us.

"Multiple partners? What are you talking about?" demanded Asuka.

"Before Third Impact, you had unprotected sex with two men. Once with former agent Kaji in the theater, and the other was in the front seat of the car the doctor you went on that date with drove." Clarified Aramaki. Asuka felt her face flush.

"I didn't have sex with them!" she denied hotly. Aramaki shrugged.

"Section 2 reported that you were engaged in sex with Kaji, and when they checked the car, they found your bra and semen, in addition to your cum on the seat. Certain conclusion are inevitable." She said calmly. Shinji caught Asuka's worried look at him and gave her a reassuring smile.

"She didn't have sex with either man." He said to the doctor.

"The conclusions drawn are in error." Said Rei. Aramaki let it go without comment. Shinji and Rei knew the truth, as they had lived those nights with Asuka. In the case of Kaji, it was due to certain…limitations. The clumsy position and his equipment made it impossible for him to enter Asuka, his tip just barely nestling between her outer lips. The situation wasn't helped any by the fact that he shot his load before Asuka could figure out a way to fix the reach problem. Other than a pair of cum-stained panties, she hadn't gotten anything out of that night with Kaji. Which is why she had come home and gone straight to Shinji, who had not suffered from a lack of reach or endurance issues. Asuka had not seriously considered attempting to sleep with Kaji after that night.

With the doctor, it was a different story. With her top and skirt out of the way, and her panties around her calves, the doctor had moved on top of her after he lowered her seatback, using his knees to nudge her knees father apart as he settled between them. With three glasses of wine in her, she was feeling pretty relaxed, and was aroused by all the petting they had been doing earlier. Using her hand, she had started to guide him into position, wiggling her hips to get his tip between her wet lips. He had taken her left breast in his hand and pinched the nipple, making her wince. "Oh, you're really into this, aren't you?" he had breathed into her ear, pushing forward with his hips, his tip beginning to enter her. Asuka had pushed back with her hand, keeping him from entering her. "What's the matter? Scared? Don't worry, I'll be gentle - at least at first." He had panted, trying to push into her. Asuka had tugged his dick away from her opening.

"No." she said, feeling ill at ease. He's not like Shinji. She had thought at the time. He had stopped to stare at her.

"What are you? A fucking tease?" he demanded. Asuka wasn't sure how to answer that. "You think you can just lead someone on, then just break it off? What's you damage?" he asked angrily. Asuka had just shook her head.

"No sex." She said simply. The doctor had pinched her nipple again, making her hiss in pain.

"Then what am I supposed to do about this?" he huffed, pushing his boner over her pubic bone.

"I…don't know." She said, feeling a bit dizzy. The doctor had begun to push his dick back and forth over her pussy lips, his length getting slick from her juice. Each thrust took his full length over her clit. Asuka was moaning after only a few passes.

"Come on, you know you want this, you little slut." He wheedled. He dipped lower and tried to push his tip into her, but she tucked her hips, pushing his tip up between her slick lips to run over her erect clit again. Her moan was half aroused, half angry. Reaching down, she managed to hook a finger into her panties and pull them up, though they tore a bit as she yanked them past his knees. He felt the cotton cover her slick entrance and cursed. "Fucking little tease." He muttered angrily. He resumed humping her now-covered pussy, her cotton panties getting swiftly soaked with her arousal. The doctor felt the increased wetness and began to thrust more rapidly, causing more friction against her clit.

Within a few minutes, she came, a small orgasm, but an orgasm nonetheless. Hearing her panting and moaning, the man had increased his pace, nearing climax himself. A few moments later, he spurted all over her panties, skirt and belly. It got some on him as well, but he didn't care right then. Panting, he managed to get off her, slouching in the driver seat. Asuka, recovered from her small orgasm, sat up and tugged her top back on and pushed her skirt down over her hips before opening the door and stepping out of the car, disheveled and hot. The doctor had called after her, but she had just swiftly walked toward the nearest train station, heading for Hikari's place.

All this was just a moment's memory to Shin, and he pushed that away, hearing Rei resume her questioning of the doctor. "It is your belief that Asuka might have an S2 organ in her now?" she pressed the older woman. Aramaki nodded.

"She gives every sign of it. I'll know more from the blood work." She replied.

"So I might have an S2 organ like Rei? Big deal. What does that matter? Rei's fine with one." Protested Asuka.

"Yes, but Rei isn't like you - she has both human and Angel DNA in her makeup. A functional S2 organ could be serious problems for a human." She said.

"Shinji has had a functional S2 organ since he returned from Unit 1 after the Fourteenth Angel." Noted Rei. Aramaki nodded. "Yes. But he is the first human to have one, and we have no way to determine how it is affecting him without regular physicals." She finished up and move from between Asuka's spread legs. "We're done, Asuka." She said the teen, who immediately removed her legs from the stirrups and slid off the table, reaching for her clothes. Aramaki looked at Rei and Shinji. "Who's next?" she asked them.

-

"So, what did you find out?" asked Misato of her new physician. Aramaki was in her office, a stack of reports in her hands. She had finished the physicals of the pilots the day before, and the MAGI had finished the detailed analysis that morning.

"There is no doubt. All of you possess fully functional S2 organs." Said the doctor. "More specifically, they are all producing some very unusual effects on your systems. I'll need to make regular checkups to see what will be effected over time, but for the moment, it's safe to say that you called this one right. Showing a regular physician this would be very bad, both for you and for the rest of the world." Said Aramaki.

"Bad? What do you mean?" wondered Misato.

"Well, let's start with this: the doctor would want to biopsy this strange organ. It would protect itself, of course, most likely with an AT Field of some sort. Instantly you would be called an Angel. Not healthy, seeing as we just finished a war with them. Best case scenario, he gets the biopsy and sees the strange tissue, misdiagnoses it a cancer, and tries to remove it. All of your organs are sitting just below and behind your hearts, and are fused with your hearts, liver, lungs and spinal cords. Removal of that would be impossible for intents and purposes." Said the doctor.

"Setting aside that issue, if they accidentially caused the S2 organ to overload or go into collapse status…well, even ones that small could take out most of a large city if they went." She added. On her report, she turned a page. "By the way, your blue tab cells are well past the benchmark set by Rei." She noted.

"What does that mean?" asked Misato, who had been absently touching her scar. Aramaki shrugged.

"Don't know yet. Give me a few months to a decade or so and I can probably tell you." She said flippantly.

"Ritsu." Said Misato, her tone scolding. The doctor shrugged. "Well, we all have one, so whatever happens, it will happen to us all." Mumbled Misato. Aramaki thought of something.

"Tell me, why are you six the only ones that this happened to. I've been checking the rest of NERV staff and can't find anything even remotely like this with anyone else. Is there something special about you six?" she asked.

Misato shrugged. "Give me a few months to a few decades and I can probably tell you." She repeated the other woman's words back at her. "What about the LCL saturation levels?" she asked, changing the subject. Aramaki shifted through the pages.

"Still high." She said. Misato nodded. Still don't have to worry about getting pregnant, then. Still, better line up some backup, just in case.

"Ritsu, I want you to get some birth control implants ready." She said. Aramaki raised an eyebrow. "Well, they're sexually active, and I don't want any accidents." Deflected Misato.

"And just who are they active with, Misato?" asked Ritsu. Misato shrugged.

"Each other, most likely. You've seen them." She said, carefully unspecific,

"And you live with them. Are they having sex with you and Maya as well?" countered Aramaki. Misato was ready for that one.

"Oh, I wish he were!" she moaned hotly. "He would be so good in bed!" she licked her lips. Aramaki shook her head.

"Still the shameless hussy, I see." She muttered. Hasn't changed since college.

"You really don't want to go there." Said Misato warningly. She's got a worse past than mine; more recent, too! Aramaki stood.

"Well, I think I better get back to work, Misato." She said. Misato nodded.

"Keep me informed, Ritsu." She said. The doctor headed for the door. "And good work, Ritsu." Added Misato.

-

Maya sighed as she pulled up to the newly-reopened Tokyo 3 high school. I think I'll have to talk with Mi-chan about this tonight. She thought, exiting her car and making her way into the school, her Vice Commander's uniform pristine and perfectly pressed and fitted. Shinji's so good at spoiling me. She thought absently. The Third still took the bulk of the housekeeping chores on himself, though Hikari was eager to do her share as well, as were Asuka and Rei. While the First and Second had no real skill in domestic matters, they were both fast learners and Shin and Hikari were excellent teachers. Not that that stopped the females from letting Shinji pamper then outrageously.

"Ah, Major Ibuki." Said the woman at the small desk next to the teacher's office area. "Back again, I see." She smiled. Maya nodded.

"Third time in two weeks." She said. The four pilots were finding that school presented unexpected difficulties for them. It hadn't helped that in the last few months there had been a growing clamor for an investigation into the activities of NERV prior to Third Impact, and Misato had seen evidence of a definitive witch hunt against the only person who still owned the name Ikari. Questions had been raised by the world media about his and the other pilot's roles in the war. Misato herself had taken more than a few shots about her past and her legendary drinking problem. Of them all, Maya - who had been a lowly tech and therefore below their notice - had been the only one to emerge with an unscathed record.

Shinji had not reacted well to the smear tactics of the media. He would take any insult again him with only a shrug, but when you attacked someone he loved - most especially his mother - you were asking for trouble. Gossipy editorials speculated on Doctor Ikari's love life. Op-ed pieces painted lurid pictures of a deviant mad scientist bent on annihilating the world through her scientific genius. Society columns stressed that NERV and it's members were the cause of nearly all the world's ills. From there, it had gotten personal.

First, someone in NERV leaked Asuka's pre-Third Impact psychological evaluation to the media. For nearly a week, her every mental issue had been front page news, a fact that sent Misato and her fellow pilots into a rage. Retaliating, Misato had leaked some of the gold mine of blackmail material that Gendo had had in his files about the activities of the owner of the three largest media outlets in the world. Asuka's mental issues slipped from the headlines a few days later, but not before the UN had ordered her and the others to undergo thorough psychological evaluation. It had been decided by the group at large that this was a minor compromise, and they would do it go buy time as they worked toward the final goal.

For a week, they had played merry hell with some of the best psychologist in the world. Rei went to her mandated sessions with her shrink and spent the entire two hour period staring a hole into the man's eyes. Nothing he said or did got a reaction from her, and she never made a single sound. On the twelfth visit, the man had tried a desperate gamble to break down her defenses and made a pass at her. Getting less than no reaction, he had touched her. That was unacceptable to her, and she snapped his arm too swiftly for him to see. It was decided that she was done with psychological evaluation.

Asuka attended her sessions as if she were a queen and the shrink but a court jester. She only spoke German, nothing else. She always gave her replies in twisted, neutral terms. Sometimes, she didn't answer at all. Sixteen visits into the sessions, the woman doing the evaluation gave up. Her replacement lasted four sessions, as his German was too weak to keep up with her. Quietly, the UN released her from the evaluation process.

Hikari took the approach of endlessly babbling about anything and everything but what the doctor evaluating her wanted to know. Hair, makeup, recipes, gossip - it didn't matter as long as it wasn't about her feelings, thoughts or her relationship to her loved ones. Endless, non-stop prattle, occasionally punctuated by her talking on her cell phone in the middle of a session. The psychiatrist doing her profile hadn't gotten to say more than a word or two a session - usually a `hi, Hik…' before she started in on him, followed by a `wait…!' she exited the room. Eighteen sessions and he walked off the job without a word to the UN taskforce leader assigned to handle this issue.

Shinji was the one they wanted into the most, and he was determined to freeze them out. He would tell his lovers anything they wanted to know, but anyone else was shit out of luck. Realizing that he was the most vulnerable, he had taken steps to armor himself against their attack. Before each session, he spent at least fifteen minutes with one or more of his lovers, preferably Rei or Asuka, and focused on the coming session. Every question asked him was answered by another question, preferably one that shifted the topic in a different direction. Transcripts of the sessions showed that he never uttered a sentence that wasn't an interrogative sentence. Not once in thirty sessions. He never instigated a conversation, he said hello or goodbye to the doctor, and he never showed more than minimal emotion. Not that the UN had made that easy.

His doctor was a young woman, fresh from her post-grad degree ceremony, who was very easy on the eyes. The first couple of weeks had been a king of get-to-know him period for her. By the tenth session, she realized that he wasn't going to get any more open with her as it sat, so she tried another tack. Judging him to be a typical teenage boy, she had gradually shifted from a prim business suit to silk tops and miniskirts, then to sheer tops that didn't hide her bare chest beyond a slight blurring of the fine lines and skirts that showed her bare pussy when she sat back. Shinji had not changed his reaction to her. Easy on the eyes or not, Shinji had an advantage she didn't know about; or rather, five advantages she didn't know about.

Still, he admitted to himself, she did try her very best. Along about the twenty eighth session or so, he had arrived, sat on the couch and prepared for another two hours of verbal skirmishes. His doctor had arrived a few moments later and locked the door. Shinji's attention had focused on her, his hand touching his bag where the USP rested. Ordered by the UN not to carry their guns to these sessions, they had disregarded that silly order out of hand. Looking at Shinji, the doctor had walked over to her desk, her sheer shirt revealing her firm chest as she did so. Taking a seat, she studied him intently for several minutes. He watched her passively. Finally, she spoke. "Shinji, we haven't reached a balance in all this time, and you know full well that unless we open a dialog, we're both wasting our time." Shinji said nothing. As I thought. The doctor mentally sighed. "So, I'm making a proposal." She continued. "Each time you answer me without making it a question or an evasion, I'll take off a piece of my clothes. When I'm naked, I'll reward each question with contact of your choosing. If you go an entire session without evading or answering with a question, I'll get us a hotel room and I'll do anything and everything you want me to do for the entire night. Deal?" she said, watching him closely. Come on, hormones, don't fail me now. She silently begged.

"Why should I agree to that?" asked Shinji carefully. The doctor was highly attractive, almost as much as his lovers, but he didn't feel any real connection to her at all, unlike his lovers. No, she was sexy, but he just didn't want to have sex with her; well, beyond the basic hormone response, anyway. The doctor stood and stepped over to stand in front of him.

"I'm serious, Shinji." She said simply before pulling her top off and dropping it in his lap. "I'll strip naked and let you touch me any way you like if you stop playing this little game of yours and simply talk to me." Shinji watched her eyes closely, ignoring her bare breasts. "I know you must have some dark fantasy or sexual kink you want to try out. All you have to do to be able to have me any way you want me is to simply talk to me for an entire session. That's all." She said softly, kneeling in front of him and touching his knees. Shinji reached down and firmly pushed her hands off his knees.

"What makes you think that I want that?" he said. The doctor tried again, her hands touching his knees again, a little higher this time.

"You're a teenage boy, Shinji." She said, her tone low and sultry. "I've seen your physical reports, and I know that your hormones are well within normal range, so at least a tiny part of you wants me." She eased her hands a bit farther along his thighs. "You must be curious what it feels like to touch a girl." She hinted.

"You think I haven't before?" he asked in a nearly disinterested tone. The woman considered that for an instant. While she did that, Shinji once more pushed her hands off his thighs. Only my lovers can touch me like that. he thought to himself. The thought of his lovers made his dick twitch. The doctor noticed that. Standing, she unzipped her skirt and let it fall, leaving her naked before him.

"Every had a blowjob?" she asked him, smiling at him seductively.

"Why ask?" he replied. She reached for his zipper.

"Because I plan to give you one." She said simply. Shinji caught her hands, standing as he did so. Stepping away from her, he released her hands.

"Did I mention that I have an appointment?" he said, slinging his bag over his shoulder. Turning for the door, he paused as he unlocked it. "Why do you degrade yourself like this?" he asked her softly before stepping out of the room, closing the door on the naked woman. She had turned in her resignation two sessions later. Shinji had won by out-lasting her. His lovers had been livid at the doctor's actions when Shinji told them of the session, and Misato was muttering about pressing charges, but Shinji reminded her that he was legal and it would only give the UN greater means with which to control them.

But that mess was only the beginning. Since then, there had been leaks and allegations in a steady drip-drip-drip pattern from the media and the UN. These drips were the secondary cause of Maya having to come meet with the principal of the school for the third time in two weeks. As she and Misato officially shared the guardianship of the pilots - Misato being Shinji and Asuka's legal guardian and Maya having assumed guardianship of Hikari and Rei - the Major and the General had been called often about the behavior of the pilots. Today was no exception.

It had started, Maya learned, with some name calling from some of the other students, which her pilots had ignored. As the day went on, the name calling had escalated to thrown erasure chunks and some minor shoving. A little before last period, two boys had groped Asuka and Rei. Shinji had decked one from behind while Hikari had swung her loaded book bag around and hit the second one's face, necessitating seventeen stitches and three teeth being replaced. Asuka's kicking the downed boy's ribs in was just icing on the cake. Rei had simply taken hold of the arm of the boy Shinji had cold cocked and thrown him into the bank of lockers hard enough to fracture his skull and break five ribs while hyper extending his spine.

"I see." Said Maya, glancing at the four pilots, who were sitting there calmly, no sign of remorse on their faces - or nervousness, either. "Well, there has been some discussion of the matter between the commander and myself and I believe that the best course of action is to remove them from this school for their protection." Said Maya reasonably. The principal blinked.

"Their protection? Miss Ibuki…!" he began.

"That's Major, not miss." Corrected Maya distantly. "My pilots have been repeatedly attacked, both verbally and physically here, and it is obvious that the school has no plans to curtail this trend. So, from here on, they are withdrawing from this institution." Said Maya. Hope Misato is in a good mood. She thought absently. "Come on, let's go home." She said softly to her pilots, who just nodded, their gaze warm on her own.

"Just a moment, Major Ibuki!" demanded the principal. Maya ignored him.

"You can expect an investigative detachment from NERV intelligence to arrive soon to look into the cause of the attack on my pilots, Principal. I suggest you take this time to assemble as many of the known associates of the attackers as you can. It will make things less painful." Said the Major, holding the door as her pilots filed out. "Good day." She said, stepping out and closing the door behind herself.

-

Misato snarled as she closed the door to her house, muttering under her breath. "Of all the nerve!" she snarled, reaching for a beer. Closing the refridge, she cracked the top and took a pull before pushing away from the counter and fumbling with her uniform's fastening. Shedding clothes, she headed for the bathroom. Along the way, she heard sound from the master bedroom. Hmm. Sounds like Maya-chan and my Shinji. Doesn't sound like they're having sex, though. she thought. Changing course, she stepped into the master bedroom to find Maya laying face down on the bed, with Shinji straddling her hips, rubbing oil into her skin as he massaged her. Misato smiled.

"I'm next." She called, setting her beer down so she could strip off the last of her uniform. Naked, she picked up her beer and drained it, tossing the can into the trash. Shinji turned to her and smiled, even as he continued to work on Maya.

"Welcome home, Mi-chan." He said warmly as the General eased onto the large bed and leaned in to kiss him soundly. For several seconds, the two were busy with each other. Finally, Misato eased back and smiled at Shinji before leaning over and kissing the nape of Maya's neck.

"Hey, Mi-chan." Said the Major. "How did it go?" asked the younger woman. Reminded of the cause of her foul mood, Misato grunted and lay down beside Maya, face up.

"I couldn't get them to listen to reason." She said. "Five hours and the presentation, and they still don't get it!" she said, her tone exasperated. Maya nodded.

"I told you they won't let it go so easily." She said sagely. Shinji went to work on her lower spine, making her moan in contentment. "Ah! That's good, Shin." She said.

"That's why we're going to go through with it." Said Misato softly. "But that's not all that's going on." She said sourly. Shinji made an enquiring sound. "Guess what the undersecretary of the council told me after the meeting with the Armaments Committee?" she prompted.

"I have no idea." Said Maya.

"It seems that the Pope is coming here for a visit to NERV." She snarled. Shinji froze. Misato sensed his anger, and touched his leg calmingly. "I know, Shin." She said. "I told them in no uncertain terms that he was not allowed into the area due to his church's continued attempts to incite hatred of my pilots. Also the fact that he is no scientist or soldier means he has no right to be inside the Geofront."

"They bought that?" marveled Maya, raising a bit to turn and study Misato. The General shook her dark purple tresses.

"Not exactly. But I did manage to make them promise to keep him the fuck away from us." She said. Maya dropped her face back into her pillow.

"Great." She said unenthusiastically. "When's the old buzzard arriving?" she asked Misato rose to hug her naked body to Shinji's naked body.

"Tomorrow morning." She said.

-

Asuka entered the house with the others right behind her, huffing and snarling in German as she threw her purse to the couch and all but tore her dress off. She had been hot since the night before when she heard the Pope was coming to see Tokyo 3. That morning, they had gone to NERV for some more testing that Aramaki had planned to help her judge the impact of their S2 organs on their bodies when they had seen the morning TV news. There were reports all over the airport, and they were speaking with the Pope.

The pope was a younger man than his predecessor at only his mid forties. This was his first tour as Pope, and he was really working the whole man-of-the-masses angle. Shinji and his family had nothing but contempt for the pompous asshole. Of course, there wad the de rigueur interview. After some soft warm-up questions from planted people in the small crowd, the pope had announced that he had come to hear confession from the pilots and their commanders. Asuka's cursing could be heard for blocks. Misato had immediately called NERV and told them to put the base on high alert.

With that done, she and the others had tugged Asuka away from the smoking wreckage of the TV in the small convenience store where they had stopped for some morning coffee and resumed their trip to NERV. Passing through security, Misato had gotten a call from the undersecretary asking her why the base was on high alert. She had told him flatly that the last time Catholics had come calling, they had left a trail of dead NERV personnel behind them as they tried to kill the pilots. This time, she told him grimly, they wouldn't have it so easy.

The day hadn't gotten any better. The Pope had tried to get them to play nice for the cameras, but Misato was having none of that, denying him entrance, and making him ask if the pilots could spare the time to see him. They had each told him that they didn't believe he was anything but a cheap politician and couldn't spare the time to indulge his delusions of godhood. His attempt at righteous authority fell flat when Rei offered to test his status as a god by killing him. At that point, the Pope had cut his losses and left. Asuka told him to make sure the door hit him in the ass as he left.

Of course, these aggressive acts had consequences, as it was obvious to Misato and Maya that the UN was courting the Vatican in an effort to gain even greater control. As it was, she and Maya got called to the Secretary General's office, where he attempted to chew their asses for destroying his carefully-arranged photo-op with the big cheese of the Church. Misato had flatly told him that anyone who would traffic so freely in the arena of politics was untrustworthy, and the fact that the group that had tried to kill Asuka and the others had been linked to certain groups within the church made it impossible to consider him as anything but an enemy. A half hour later, they left, neither side getting a decisive victory.

The two entered the house to find Shinji on the couch with Rei and Asuka, who was sleeping. All three were naked. Hikari was in her room, talking to her sisters. Rei was cuddled up to Shinji's side, as Asuka was sleeping against his other side. Bending over to kiss him, she tasted Asuka on his lips and knew why Asuka was sleeping. Hopefully I can get some of that tonight! She thought gleefully. Not that getting some was difficult; Shinji seemed to have excellent stamina in that area.

-

"Excuse me, but what did you say, Doctor Aramaki?" asked the head of the Weapons Development Committee. Doctor Aramaki stood before them, calm and collected.

"I said, the Eva project is dead and buried." She said simply. "Due to the damage to the MAGI in the attack on NERV HQ two years ago, and the subsequent death of the key architects of the Project, it is beyond the ability of NERV to re-create an Eva-series weapons platform." She reported. Serves you right, you greedy assholes.

"But we fielded a full platoon of the Evas during the war." Protested the man. Aramaki nodded.

"Yes. However, the one who created the process to make an Eva - doctor Yui Ikari - did not leave sufficient notes for anyone else to follow her work save for Doctor Akagi, who died in the raid. With the subsequent damage to the archives - both MAGI-based and traditional - there is too little left to attempt it, not to mention the loss of the primary sample." She added. Which you know full well was your doing!

"Where does that leave us?" asked another member of the panel.

"It leaves us with the peripheral technology from the development of the Eva series." Said Aramaki. "We have advanced medical procedures and cybernetic technology, as well as computer technology and genetic manipulation theory. Not much of that is of use to this panel, however." Said the doctor.

"You're telling me that we've spent hundreds of billions of dollars over the last two years for nothing?" growled the head of the panel. Aramaki frowned.

"I don't consider the technology to make artificial limbs so life-like that the person using them can't tell the difference `nothing'." She said. Touji was the perfect test subject. And seeing Maki chase Shinji around calling him Shinji-Sama was too funny for words! It had been six months since the last of the adjustments were made to his biotech cybernetic prosthetics. He was once more playing basketball and doing all the other things the jock had done before being the Fourth Child - however briefly. "Likewise, the ability to regenerate damaged and destroyed nerve tissue is hardly `nothing'." She continued. The panel obviously didn't agree.

"Thank you for your time, Doctor." Said the chairman of the panel. Aramaki gathered her reports and left, smirking. Right now, three floors above her in the UN headquarters, another meeting was taking place. The UN assembly had called Misato to explain certain things she had been doing for the last six months. Now was time. The doors opened and Misato walked into the room full of self-important assholes, smirking to herself as she thought of what she was about to do to them.

"General Katsuragi, you're not in uniform." Noted the Secretary General. Misato nodded, skipping the salute. Behind her, Maya entered, a laptop in her hands. "Major Ibuki, you also are not in uniform." He reprimanded her.

"You're right." Said the Major, stopping beside Misato. Both women smiled at them. "You called me here to report on the activities of NERV, so I'll make this brief." Said Misato. "There is no more NERV." She said simply. The startled group erupted into noise. It took several bangs of the S-G's gavel to silence them.

"What is the meaning of this, Commander Katsuragi?" he demanded.

"That's former Commander." Corrected Misato easily. "Effective 0545 hours today, I have resigned all my commission and retired." She said. "However, before that, I oversaw the dissolution of NERV in it's entirety."

"On whose authority?!" roared a member of the assembly.

"On mine as Commander of NERV." Said Misato, unaffected by the hostility leveled at her.

"As well as on my authority as Vice Commander." Seconded Maya. "I also resigned all my commissions and retired effective 0545 this morning."

"NERV has completed its obligation as set forth in the charter under which it was formed. The Angels are dead. The Evas are destroyed forever. There is no longer a reason for NERV to exist. The research and development sections have been folded into various companies, universities and think tanks for greater development. The primary fields - biotech, cybernetics and computer science - have been reformed as new companies. The remaining staff of NERV have either been transferred to the new divisions and or companies, or retired. Effective 0600 hours this morning, NERV has been dissolved."

"You can't just…!" screamed the S-G. Misato pinned him to the podium with her glare.

"Can, would and have!" she snapped. "I recommend you all check you emails immediately." She added, turning away from him and toward he exit. "We're done here, Maya." She said. Smiling, the two left the outraged, confused and somewhat scared assembly behind. Their loved ones waited for them. Their future waited for them.

-

It was a nice day in the secluded valley where many of the surviving NERV personnel had homes or summer homes. A small lake occupied the center of the valley and around it were the simple homes of the retired members of NERV. During the summer, the lake was often a swimming pool in addition to being a fish holder. In winter it was often used as a place to do some quiet boating. Around the small village, the mountains were steep but manageable, covered in green grass and flowers. A few hundred feet up the side of one of these mountains, a small group of people were sitting on the hillside, watching the sun sink toward the horizon.

"Well, it's almost time to head back." Said a red-headed girl to her blue-haired companion. Beside the other girl was a brown-haired girl.

"Shinji should have the meal prepared by now." Noted the blue haired girl. Her brown haired companion giggled.

"Not if Misato and Maya don't leave him alone." She said. The three shared a naughty laugh. After a few minutes, the red head stood and stretched.

"Eighteen." She mused. "Who would have thought it?" Her hand absently touched her lower belly. Her companions noticed.

"You have been dreaming of having children again." Stated the pale-skinned girl with blue hair. The taller girl nodded.

"Yeah." She said softly. "Don't you?" she asked. Both her companions nodded.

"I'm…still a little scared of the thought, to tell you the truth." Said the brown haired girl. The red head nodded.

"I'm more than scared, Hikari." She said. "What if I turn out to be a bad mother?"

"Shinji is likewise scared of becoming like his former father as well." Noted Rei. Hikari giggled a little nervously.

"I've had some practice with Nozumi, so maybe I'm a little less scared than you two." She conceded. "But I don't think I'm ready for that. And I don't think Shinji is, either." She said softly.

"But I can't help but wonder what they might look like." Murmured Asuka, touching her lower belly once more. Rei reached over and touched Asuka's hand as it lay on her belly, just below her bellybutton.

"There is time for that later, Asuka." She said softly. The three shared a look before nodding.

"Plenty of time." Said Hikari, smiling as they began their descent to the house that was now their main home.

-

Misato and Maya were enjoying a warm soak before the birthday party of Hikari, who was turning eighteen that day. She and Maya had only awoken a half hour ago or so, having spent nearly two hours in bed with Shinji. Both women were giggling like schoolgirls as they entered their spacious bathroom. "Hey, Mi-chan." Said Maya, her tone contemplative. Misato looked over to her companion, indicating she was listening. "Have you ever thought about having kids?" she asked the older woman. Misato blinked.

"Well, yeah, I guess so." Said the woman, touching her belly unconsciously. Maya noticed and smiled a little.

"Are you?" she asked Misato softly. "With Shin, of course." She added. Misato sent her a derisive look.

"Of course it'd be with Shin." She said dismissively. "And you?" she asked, seeing Maya's cheeks color.

"Y…yeah. I've dreamed about it a time or two." She said. Misato leaned over to her, her hand touching Maya's tight belly.

"Are you wanting to start now?" she purred. Maya blushed a little more.

"Well, not right now." She managed. "But it's there, in the back of my mind. Do you think Shin would want to? Have children with me, I mean." She added stupidly. Misato considered that.

"I hope so." She said softly. "But let's face it, Maya-chan: we're not the youngest of his lovers." She said seriously. Maya nodded.

"That's what I'm afraid of." She said. Misato took her hand in her own and squeezed it. The two were silent for a bit. Finally Maya spoke again. "Did you hear that Aramaki is coming to the party tonight?" she asked. Misato nodded.

"Yeah, it'll be good to see Rin again." She said. Or rather, Ritsu. The doctor had taken to her new identity as a chance to make a clean start. When NERV had been dissolved, she had headed up the company formed from the biotech section as well as the computer sciences division. Hyuga had chosen to go with her to keep her honest, and over the last two years, they had drifted into a relationship. Misato wondered if her former bridge bunny knew about Ritsu's interlude with Gendo. If not, there was no point in bringing it up. Besides, they were both happy enough, so what did it matter?

"She said she had something to tell us. Something important." Noted the former Major as she and Misato stepped out of the tub. Taking a towel each, they began to dry off as the door opened and the other three females entered the bathroom, naked and a bit sweaty.

"Food will be up in a half hour." Said Asuka, rinsing off before stepping into the tub. Hikari did likewise, making room for Rei to follow their lead.

"Tell Shin we'll be there soon, ok?" prompted Asuka. Misato nodded, draping her towel over her shoulders as Maya did likewise. Leaning over, she kissed each of them lightly on the lips before exiting, Maya following her lead.

"Enjoy your bath." She said, closing the door to the bathroom to keep the steam in. In the double master bedroom, the two oldest members of the household draped their towels over the towel rack to dry before fishing for some comfortable clothes to wear. Settling on silk tops and short, loose shorts, the two headed for the kitchen. Before they reached it, they heard the door chime.

"Can you get that for me, Mi-chan?" came Shinji's voice from the kitchen. "I've got icing all over my hands." He explained. Misato smiled.

"No problem, Shin." She said, heading for he door. Behind her, Maya picked up the USP that rested on the table next to the spot where the hall met the living room. In the drawer just under it were six magazines, two grenades and a combat knife. Life was peaceful, but not taken for granted in this household. Misato peek at the small TV that showed the entire porch area. Seeing two people there, she smiled and opened the door, making sure not to block Maya's line of fire. "Rin! Hyuga! Come on in!" she said, motioning to the house. The two entered, Hyuga touching Rin's back gently.

"It's good to see you, Misato. Maya." Said the doctor, slipping off her shoes. "How are they?" she asked.

"We're fine, Rin." Came Asuka's voice. The German girl was drying her hair, a tee shirt covering her chest and a pair of lightweight cotton short on her hips. Behind her, they caught sight of a naked Rei entering the kitchen.

"Rei-chan!" came Hikari's scolding voice. "Put on some clothes!" Rin chuckled.

"Still the same, I see." She said, shaking her head.

"We're working on it." Said Misato, shrugging. Still, she's changing us as much as we're changing her. It's not every day that we bother to wear anything when it's just us. Misato checked to make sure the door was closed, then tossed her head to the living room. "Make yourself at home; dinner will be up soon." She said. The two settled next to each other on the couch. Maya took the large chair by the end of the couch as Misato settled into it's matching chair on the other end.

"So, you said you had something to tell us?" she asked her old friend. Rin nodded.

"Three things, actually." She said, smiling a bit.

"Well, share." Said Misato as Shinji emerged with glasses in his hands, which he handed to Misato and Maya. Hikari handed glasses to Rin and Hyuga. Nodding their thanks, the guests sipped their drink.

"This is good. Thank you, Shinji." Said Aramaki. The young man nodded.

"My pleasure, Rin." He said simply, stepping back into the kitchen. Aramaki turned her attention back to the two women.

"Well, let's start with this news item: I've finished the last of the term analysis of you six." She said simply. Misato felt her heart speed up a bit.

"And?" she demanded tensely.

"The S2 organs have in fact had great effect on your biological functions." Said Rin. "In the case of the pilots, it's less noticeable, due to their age. In you and Maya," she paused to indicate the other woman, "it has had an unanticipated side effect. It has slowed your body's ageing and even reversed some of it." She saw the looks on the faces of the two woman. "In short, you two are - from a biological standpoint - barely older than the others. I estimate that you two would be about twenty if your age was matched to your bio status." Her eyes noticed a look pass between the two women, small, happy smiles on their faces. Yeah, I thought as much. She mentally crowed.

"Moving on," she said tactfully, secretly enjoying the flinch from both women, who snuck a peek at Shinji, who was still in the kitchen. "I want to give you all this." She said, retrieving something from her purse and handing it to Maya. The woman read it.

"A wedding invitation?" wondered the short-haired woman. Rin smiled smugly. Misato leaned over and took the paper. Scanning it, she nodded once.

"Congratulations." She said.

"Congratulations on what?" came Asuka's voice as she settled on the couch next to Hyuga. "You're looking good, Hyuga." She noted calmly.

"Thanks, Asuka." He said.

"Rin's getting married." Said Maya. Asuka's eyes narrowed as she considered the situation.

"I see." She said a moment later. "Congratulations." She added.

"Why the rush?" asked Hikari, settling in with Misato, who instinctively wrapped the young woman up in her arms like an old lover.

"That's the third thing." Smirked Rin. "I'm two months pregnant."

-

The party had been warm, comfortable and boisterous, since Hikari's sisters had arrived, along with Touji, his wife Tomo and his sister Maki. Kensuke had arrived half way though dinner, still in his dress uniform. He had apologized for being late, claiming that the valley was hard to find. Asuka had snippily informed him that that was the intent. Within minutes, it was like they were having the Asuka-welcoming party backing Tokyo 3 all over again.

After dinner and the traditional presents had been dealt with, the group had settled into the living room, talking and playing some cards. Each caught the others up on their life in the time since they had last seen each other. Kensuke was a second lieutenant with Military Intelligence now, and he was loving his work, though he still missed not getting to go into the field. He was currently working on an assignment that was very important, and he made much of not being able to tell them anything. Shinji had sent him a look that promised hell if he was involved in anything that risked his family. Kensuke had assured them that they were still off the radar, so to speak.

Tomo announced that she was going to become a lawyer and go into the private practice sector. She explained that many people had died needlessly and would need her services. Though this wasn't exactly something that the group cheered about, they were at least glad she was moving forward toward a goal. Touji surprised them by telling the group he was working on his teaching degree. When asked what he thought he could teach, Asuka had replied `Stoogery, of course!'. He had laughed and told her that he would teach philosophy and history to gaijin devils with German accents. Asuka had kindly told him to kiss her ass.

Around two am, the guests were sleeping in the guest room, and the house was quiet. In the twin master bedroom, the household was snuggled together, comfortable in their closeness. Third Impact hadn't broken them - it had made them. Shinji was comfortable in the warmth of his lovers, and not for the first time, he blessed his fortune in not running away. Plenty of time to find my happiness. He thought, half asleep. Maybe even have kids someday. I wonder if the girls would want to have any…?

END OF EPILOG: NGE

END OF STORY: THOSE WHO HUNT…EVA?