Chapter 4: Better not get on her NERVes...
Last bastion against the Angels.
Midpoint of the gigantic Geofront.
Stronghold of secrets and mysteries.
Workplace of more than a hundred people.
Huge labyrinth of corridors, treadmills and lifts where one could easily get lost.
He, however, was the Commander! He was the conspiring genius! He was the true puppet-master that was fooling everyone! He was the one who played the most high-ranking and powerful people on earth off against each other!
He didn't get lost!
He was just... checking the paint job of the corridors...
And that he now followed a person of who he could be sure to go near a place close to his office eventually was just... coincidence.
Though, walking with a certain blue-haired pilot could get quite boring over time.
"Are you feeling fine today?"
"Yes. I learned several interesting information since school yesterday."
"Oh? How is school?"
Gendo sighed inwardly. This was getting nowhere. Maybe he shouldn't have left all the child-education to Yui. Then he might would have been able to teach her at least some semblance of social skills. But then again, there wasn't that much he could teach her either...
"What is it that you are reading there, Rei?"
" 'The little ABC of wedding ceremonies all over the world' "
Gendo's eyes flickered in surprise. Wedding ceremonies?
"Is there someone I should know of?"
Shinji looked around him. Almost everyone he seemed to know, at least to some extend, was there; surrounding him, friendly smiling and applauding.
What exactly had happened? The latest events had been... 'strange', if that was the right word. He had gone through hell; his mind had been messed with more than he could comprehend. But he had made his decision and was ready to face the consequences. And now, standing in the middle of all these people that were cheering him on, he strangely didn't mind it as much anymore as he would have before. Actually, he felt at peace. For he knew that this would be the end...
"WILL YOU STOP THAT ALREADY?!?"
...because Asuka looked, as if she would kill everyone here at NERV any moment...
And there she had thought the guys at school had been bad. But as it seemed, adults were much worse in this regard. While she hurried through the corridors towards the changing rooms, tagging that twerp of Shinji behind her, everyone seemed to feel the need to congratulate them. Congratulate! Asuka wondered if they would also congratulate someone who stepped in a bear-trap.
Were they so afraid of being left on the shelf that they actually thought marriage was something good? Well, they were free to switch places with her!
Not that anyone would want this idiot. Who would want to be married to someone who was always excusing and whining and a coward and a wimp and hers... uhm... her - s...stinging pain in the neck...
She shook her head to get rid of thoughts that... she didn't have.
Now where was she? Ah yes, no one would want to be with him. Besides perhaps...
"Eh?" Startled by the soft voice behind them, Shinji turned around. "Oh... hello, Ayanami."
Asuka rolled her eyes at the mentioning of the blue-haired pilot. That was just what had been missing today...
"...Ikari...?" Rei called again, after waiting several seconds.
"Uh... yes, Ayanami?"
Hadn't he made it obvious enough that he was listening? That doll was getting stranger every day...
"...No..." she continued, after a few more moments of uneasy silence. "I requested to talk with Ikari..."
"Oh. S-sorry, I don't know where my father is..."
"Actually, I was referring to your... spouse..." She pointed at Asuka.
"NOW LISTEN! I'M NOT..."
"Would you come with me?" Rei cut the fuming redhead off, obviously not caring for her rants, because she already turned and was walking down the corridor.
It may have been because of sheer curiosity, but instead of simply letting her go to wait till Third Impact, she actually found herself following the enigmatic pilot.
"Okay, we're alone now! So what is..." The disgruntled redhead was cut off, as a small present-box, neatly wrapped with a blue ribbon, was held under her nose.
Asuka glared at her opponent. She could see very well were this was going. "Listen: If you have a present for your little Shinji, give it to him yourself..."she spat.
"No. Though he will be positive effected by it as well, this present is meant for you."
"For... me...?" Asuka was speechless. "What is...?" she asked; though even if she got an answer, she was currently too confused to notice while she unwrapped the unexpected gift.
With her fingertips, she held the 'garments' away from herself, as if it was a poisoned snake.
"This is so-called 'hot lingerie'," Rei said casually, as if she was giving an instruction how to use the toilet to a toddler that just outgrown the diapers. "I am aware that you prefer the color red, but I rather dislike it. Also I came to the conclusion that the black would be an adequate contrast to the color of your hair. So I hope this is a satisfying compromise."
"But... I... wha... why...?" Asuka stuttered; her mind racing in complete confusion. As if it wasn't crazy enough that Rei made gifts (not to mention gifts like this) now she was giving fashion advice? Maybe Third Impact was closer than she thought...
"It came to my notice that presents like these are typically given at an event called bachelorette party, where the bride celebrates the passing of her single status with her female acquaintance. From what I gathered, undergarments like this is supposed to stimulate the mating behavior, which has positive effects on starting a family unit."
"Fa-family unit?!?" Asuka paled.
"Yes. Is that not the reason to get married?"
"Well, usually..." the redhead began to explain casually, but then stopped; gritting her teeth. "Listen," she continued slowly, with a sarcastic-friendly tone, "I don't know, if you're even able to comprehend this, but: This has just happened, because we were extremely drunk and because the baka did something to trick me into it. That is the whole and only reason for this. AND DEFINITELY NOT FOR 'CREATING A FAMILY UNIT' !!"
Rei just watched her calm as always, while Asuka panted and calmed down from that outburst. But then something happened to the First's face that scared the usual fiery EVA-pilot more, than if she had grown wings and declared herself to be an Angel that was going to kill everyone on earth. She... smiled warmly...
"If you think so..." she said, before she turned and quietly made her way down the corridor; leaving a confused Asuka behind.
It took a few seconds before the baffled redhead regained her logical thinking. Her eyes wandered to the underwear at the other end of her still outstretched arm.
"Well, at least she doesn't have that much of a bad taste..." she muttered under her breath, as she took a closer look at it. Who knew; there might be a use for it eventually...
"Argh! To hell with these thoughts! It really sucks to be a teenager someti..."
Her face flushed in an instant at the voice behind her.
"WHAT?" she fizzed in panic, not turning around, while quickly trying to hide the 'present' under her clothes.
"Uhm... what did Ayanami want from you?"
"Nothing! Nothing at all!" she snapped back at Shinji.
"You're sure? You sound kinda upset by somethi..."
"SHOULDN'T YOU BE CHANGING FOR THE TEST NOW?!?"
"Y-yeah... sorry... I just wanted to... eh... never mind..." Shinji mumbled cringing and went off towards the boy's locker room.
Angry sighing, she went after Rei to get ready for the synch-test herself.
"Stupid Shinji, stupid Rei with stupid present, stupid... STUPID NERV!"
She didn't even notice the technician that just went down the corridor and looked after her with a hurt expression. "But... but, I haven't done anything...?" he mumbled sniffling.
Misato let out a deep sigh, after she had stretched her limps; tired from the long ride to the NERV-department at Matsushiro.
"You know Rits, I had almost forgotten about this. Now I'm missing all the fun..."
"If you ask me: It was about time you got back to work!" Her blonde companion glared at her from the truck-seat. "Since this 'incident' you only showed up to gossip about 'the blissful couple'."
"You have to admit, it was more fun than waiting here, out of nowhere, for yet another machine of mass destruction..."
"Well, technically, an EVA is not..."
"Yeah, yeah, whatever," the Major cut her friend quickly off, before she would find herself in another boring technical-lesson of which she wouldn't understand a single word anyway. "But you know what's worst about it?"
"That you can't accompany and embarrass them at their first counseling session?" Ritsuko replied rather annoyed.
"No..." Misato trailed off and paused a second, before she shrugged, grinning. "Ah, okay, that as well. But what I meant was that I didn't even have the chance of telling them who the Fourth is..."
She fell silent again for a moment. Then, slowly, she turned her head towards the doctor.
"What was his name again?"
"Ah, great..." Asuka muttered. "This must be the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to me..." She paused for a second.
"Oh, wait... the second-most embarrassing thing, of course..." she added groaning.
"Ah, that's okay," Lt. Ibuki friendly said, in whose small and apparently seldom used office she had been called after... staying a bit longer in the test-plug than necessary, "I guess it can be quite boring for you pilots during the tests. And they told me it would be best not to wake you up..."
The Second Children sighed. "It's just that... I don't like being in someone's debt and after all, you had to stay longer because of me. So... ehm... I'm... sor... sorry, okay? It's just that I didn't get much sleep lately."
"Oh, no need for excuses," the young technician assured, "It's only natural that newlyweds are quite 'busy' at night."
"Oh, please, not you as well..." Asuka groaned at the Lieutenant, who was giggling like a schoolgirl that made her first dirty joke.
"Sorry, sorry," she appeased. "Truth is: I still had a lot to do anyway. You two gave us a good load of work, you know? Just changing your name everywhere to Asuka Langley Ikari had cost several hours..."
"YOU DID WHA- Argh, just tell me the test-scores and I'm out of here..."
"O-kay, let's see..." the short haired woman said, while her eyes and index finger flew over the untidy desk. Eventually, she picked a printout that was actually directly in front of her.
"Oh, I'm afraid your synch-ratio went down a few points..."
Asuka sighed. "Well, it was to expect after all this, wasn't it? I bet Shinji's are even worse..."
"Actually, he more or less hold his last results," Maya pointed out. "And surprisingly, Rei's ratio even went up a bit..."
"...great..." the pilot hissed through gritted teeth. "Well, if that's all I'll be going now..."
"Oh, wait a moment! While you're here..." the young woman began, before she leaned over the content of her desk-drawer. After a while, she obviously found the file she was looking for and presented it to Asuka. "Family-relatives have access to each other's personal files; so if you want to take a look at Shinji's..."
Asuka stared a while at the presented folder.
Shinji's personal file...
Everything NERV knew about him was inside; his past, his education, his interests; everything that made him tick; everything that would explain why he is like he is...
She abruptly shook her head.
"I don't think I have any need for that," she grumbled as polite as possible.
The other just giggled. "You know, you two are really kinda alike."
"We are no..." Asuka started annoyed, but then a sudden fear hit her. "Wait a moment, did... did he look at my file?"
"No," Maya smiled; obviously not noticing the anxious look in her eyes, "That's what I meant: he said almost the same; something like: 'If you would want him to know something about you; you would tell him.' "
The redhead stared at her for a while, but her face betrayed nothing of the confusion inside her head.
"Whatever..." she muttered finally. "If there's nothing else, I'd like to go now..."
"Sure, bye then!" Maya dismissed her without even looking up again from her monitor, where she was already back working on.
Asuka hurried towards the exit as fast as she could to avoid as many well-wishers as possible. Those were the last she needed now. First that thing with the First, then she disgraced herself by falling asleep during the synch-test, then she learned that her synch-ratio went down, and now that thing with the personal files!
Oh, why was she even thinking about that? There wouldn't be anything besides some basic personal information, like name, age, physical condition and the rest would be censored anyway. And why should anyone be interested in that bit information of stupid...
She stopped, cringing. Just why had everyone to sneak up from behind today?
"What the hell are you still doing here, Shinji?" she cursed at him, when he had caught up with her.
"I... had... been waiting... for you..." he panted, already exhausted from his little sprint to reach her.
"W-why?" Asuka asked taken aback. "Eh... I mean, you could have been home for a while, and have finished my dinner by now!"
"B-but we're supposed to meet Mr. Matsura in half an hour!" Shinji whined at her outburst. "We have our first ma-mar... our marri... our first counseling session, remember?" He still had problems saying the 'M-word' without extreme blushing and stuttering.
"Ah, damn!" she grumbled. "And just today Misato had to remember that she had to take a trip!"
"Oh? Did you want her to be there with us?"
"Of course not, baka! But now she can't give us a ride and we have to see how we'll get there! Well, come on then!"
With that she grabbed the sleeve of Shinji's shirt and tugged him towards the nearest exit.
But just as they stepped out, they were stopped by Rei blocking their way. Before they could ask what she had in her closed fist, the blue-haired girl threw the content of her hand over them.
"WHAT THE HELL...??" Asuka cursed, as she tried to get rid of the rice corns in her hair.
"Eh... Ayanami, why...?" the perplexed Shinji managed to ask.
"It is an old wedding tradition; the rice is a symbol of fertility. While there are alternatives to it in several cultures, rice has been the most common." She bowed slightly. "I apologize, as I am aware that this should have taken place at your wedding ceremony, but since I had not been able to attend there, I had decided to make it up now."
Without any other word, she turned around and went, leaving the two baffled teens behind, just as she had done before.
Asuka was the first who managed to speak up again.
"What the hell is she thinking?!?" she cursed, her voice becoming louder with each word. "Oh, when I get that little...!"
And while she cursed on, Shinji found his voice again as well; though it was nothing more than a tiny squeak.
Hiroya failed to suppress another yawn, as he looked at his watch yet again. The Ikaris were now 20 minutes late. Plus his tendency to show up to an appointment much earlier than agreed (so he wouldn't be late to any important meetings), he now had been waiting for almost 42 minutes in front of the multistory building where this 'Miss Tagawa' had her office.
Absently, he had pulled out her business-card again.
[We never fail, you hear me?]
A bit of research had shown that this was indeed true. Well, not that he could hear a written text. But, as it seemed, no couple that had her as counselor had actually been divorced afterwards.
He jerked at the sudden call of his name.
"Geez, don't startle me like that" he asked from the newcomers, clutching his heart. "I'm not the youngest anymore!"
"I thought you haven't even reached your thirties..." the redhead inquired, eyeing him suspiciously.
"Maybe, but I feel a lot older the last days," he admitted. "And what took you two so long? I thought you wanted to get this over with as fast as possible?"
"Oh, sorry abou..." the boy began, but was immediately cut off by his 'wife'.
"We got into an ambush!"
"Ambush?" Hiroya mumbled, but actually, he didn't even want to know...
Just a few minutes later, they entered a rather ample, comfortable and well-lit (as least compared to the darkening hours outside) office. Hiroya had to admit that he felt a tingling sensation that could have been envy - or a growing stress-conditioned ulcer. The wide room was furnished with some plants, an almost ostentatious large closet and even a couch. And of course a large desk with some comfortable looking seats in front of it.
Behind the desk sat a young woman in her mid-twenties with short, rather tousled, dark blonde hair.
"Hello, Mr. Ikari!" She rose as she noticed their entrance to shake Hiroya's hand. "But I actually expected you to bring your wife along; not your children! And I'm afraid your lawyer is even more late than you are..."
"Uhm, I think there's a little misunderstanding, Miss Tagawa," mumbled the bewildered lawyer. "I'm Hiroya Matsura." He pointed to the two teenagers. "They are the Ikaris."
"Are not!" came it immediately from the redhead. "I see only one Ikari here!"
"Oh, not again..." muttered Hiroya under his breath.
The young counselor shifted an irritated look between the three attendees.
"Well, I have to admit, this is not a case I get to see every day," she wondered. "Uh, well, why don't you all sit down so we can start?"
Once the three had followed her lead to the seats in front of her desk, she took out a pen and obviously prepared to write down everything that might be of importance.
"Why don't we begin with you telling me how you two have met?" she asked friendly.
"He stared at my panties!" "She slapped me!" the answers came simultaneously with each of the children pointing at each other.
"Eh... an... interesting first encounter, I guess...?" Saori asked slightly bewildered.
"Ha! That wasn't even half of it! Shortly afterwards he peeked on me, while I was changing!"
"I-I just wanted to know what you were doing so long!"
"Uh... and what happened afterwards?" By now, the pen barely moved anymore.
"She got me in her plug-suit!"
"You've got in her plug-..." She stopped and leaned over to Hiroya. "Is it that what it's called nowadays?"
"You're asking me?" he shrugged.
"Oh yeah!" The teens obviously didn't even notice them anymore, lost in their quarrel. "Next you'll say you minded being with me in that entry-plug. You used every possible chance to touch me anywhere!"
"It was you who wanted to show off how good you are in front of me. It's not my fault that we had to do it in that narrow thing."
This would most likely have continued for a few hours, if they wouldn't suddenly been interrupted by the ringing of two cell-phones.
"Oh, could you please turn them off?" the counselor friendly asked. "I don't think it's very productive, if we are disturbed by something like these..."
The children however didn't seem to listen as they frantically fumbled to answer their phones.
"You don't understand," the boy muttered visibly nervous.
"This means an Angel attack!" Asuka confidently added.
"Angel Attack?" the two adults asked simultaneously, but were ignored.
Only a few words were exchanged on the phone; and while one face grew more serious with each one, the other's smirk grew wider and wider.
"Well, seems like another Angel wants his butt kicked by the great Asuka Langley I... Soryu! DAMN! Now look what you guys have done! I almost did it myself! Arrr... Someone get me some soap for my tongue..."
"Asuka, didn't you listen? Matsushiro... That... that's where Misato is today!"
"Phht! It's her own fault if anything happens..."
"Misato?" Saori asked whispering, as she leaned over to the lawyer again. "A rival?"
"Not that I know of..." Hiroya answered, but she already seemed to take notes.
"Now come on, baka! You'll have to watch me stomping that Angel into the ground!" the girl declared, shoving her 'husband' to the door.
"Isn't that cute?" the young woman asked no one in particular.
Hiroya gave her a questioning look. "You're kidding, right?"
"But... but... Asuka..." Shinji stammered.
"No 'buts'! NOW!"
A few moments of silence passed, in which the adults just looked bewildered in the direction of the slammed-shut door.
"Phew, finally!" the lawyer sighed, as he stood up. "These two... I have no idea how I'm supposed to slow down this whole thing. I mean, it's quite obvious that there isn't much hope to save this 'marriage'; don't you agree? "
But the young woman at the desk didn't seem to listen. Gone was the innocent and naive appearance. She had shifted into a position that somehow reminded him of the blin... the Commander.
"Finally a challenge!" she said with a grin that sent shivers down Hiroya's spine.
A/N: Maybe you should print out this one on a T-shirt along with the line: "I waited months for an update of 'The Ikaris' and all I got was this lousy chapter!"
Hmm, what to say about this one...? The second ACC is finally introduced and now the counseling, which was the main idea for this whole thing, can start at last. Yes, I know that people don't like ACCs that much, but believe me: If there would have been a stressed, forgetful lawyer and a slightly crazy marriage counselor-workaholic in the show, I would have used those, I promise! :P
Rei-fans out there have finally some 'action' of their favorite blue-haired pilot. And yes, you can expect some more (even if slightly too late) excerpts of 'The little ABC of wedding ceremonies all over the world'. ;)
Otherwise, there is a little hint of the original, (at least a bit) more serious 'script' that I couldn't ignore completely anymore. There might be a few similar scenes in later chapters.
And yes, I'm aware that I'm messing terribly with the timeline...
Oh, and thanks to LD, Divine Chaos & dennisud for pre-reading.