Story: NGE: Third Genesis (chapter 3)

Authors: Shanejayell

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Chapter 3

Evangelion Third Genesis: Part Three

A visibly tired Misato Kisaragi used her keycard to open up the door to her new apartment, and had to bend over quickly to stop the penguin from escaping down the hallway. "Hey, Pen-pen, I'm home," she murmured.

Misato looked around her, shaking her head as she thought about how pristine the place had been when she first moved in a week ago. Now boxes were scattered about, take-out containers littered every available surface, and beer cans were scattered around artistically.

"Well, at least the place finally looks like home," she laughed to Pen-pen, who was looking up at her expectantly. She opened up a food pack for him first, then she started to decide on what she'd have for dinner herself. Deciding take-out was too much trouble, she got a frozen dinner out and put it in the microwave.

Sitting down and waiting for the microwave to perform it's magic, Misato let herself begin to process everything that had happened that day. Ritsuko's return had been a godsend to her, actually. Having the clearly competent blonde haired scientist back to handle the technical end of things would take a incredible load off her own shoulders. Leaving Misato with just the military and politicians to deal with, something she was pretty good at.

'Not to mention Ritsuko doesn't take any garbage from me,' Misato thought. She grinned impishly, 'And what's Ritsuko without her side-kick, Maya?"

Having Maya Ibiki around was almost as much of a relief to Misato as Ritsuko. The young lady had been in the control room throughout the entire Angels crisis, and had seen a lot of stuff go down. She had developed into a quite capable young woman, and once Misato got that promotion for her rammed through she'd be an even greater help.

Misato got up to collect her tray of food, taking a short detour by the fridge to collect a can of her favorite beer. "Ah, the drink of the gods," she sighed to herself happily, taking a long drink. She then dug into her meal vigorously, alternating mouthfuls of food with slurps of her beer. Finishing, she pushed the tray away with a soft sigh.

'They're so cute together, too,' Misato thought, remembering how Maya had gently helped Ritsuko out of Misato's office earlier that day. 'Maya's got such a crush on Ritsuko, but she doesn't notice,' Misato thought, 'or she doesn't choose to notice.'

But thinking of Maya brought to mind another dark haired figure, one she wasn't sure she wanted to think about. Misato closed her eyes, knowing that the pain she felt had nothing to do with her wounds. 'Shinji,' she thought bleakly.

The boy had been a total wreck, when the army launched it's surprise attack on NERV. Shinji had just been forced to kill a friend, compelled by an override of his EVA that had left him trapped in the very machine that was doing the killing. Misato had dragged him to his EVA, and in a move that was still giving her cold sweats of guilt when she thought about it, all but bribed him with her body to get him in to the EVA.

'I thought I was helping save his life,' Misato thought, remembering the serious gunshot wounds she had received in the battle, 'thought that I was protecting him.' It was only later on that she found out that things had gone totally bad and crazy outside, and that poor Shinji had been caught up right in the middle of it.

No one knew quite what happened out there to Shinji, honestly. Any satellite photos that were recovered of the events were confusing, to say the least. All that was really known was that he and Asuka had been found together unconscious, Rei Ayanami and the EVA 01 were both gone, and that Shinji wouldn't wake up.

When Shinji slept the first few days away, it was just assumed that exhaustion had taken it's toll, but once Asuka awoke up and he didn't, they began to worry. Physically, the doctors couldn't find anything wrong with him, and the psychologists could only guess that the built up stress had been too much for the boy.

'And then there's Asuka,' Misato thought to herself grimly. The mass production EVAs had destroyed the EVA 02, nearly totally dismembering it, leaving the girl badly traumatized. 'And we get to go see her tomorrow, and try to talk her into climbing into an EVA once again,' she sighed.

"I wonder if I could just stay in bed all day tomorrow?" she asked Pen-pen, who decided to just ignore her.

Misato looked over at the fridge, strongly considering pulling out a few cans of beer, enough to dull the pain of her body. 'And maybe my conscience?' she thought. With a shake of her head she bypassed the beer, heading for her bedroom and settled down for a fitful night's sleep.

The next morning Misato met Ritsuko and Maya outside of the building housing her office and just had to sigh. 'They're showing the same body language from yesterday,' she thought irritably, 'I gave them a half day alone together, and nothing happened? Give me a break.'

"Is something wrong?" Ritsuko asked curiously.

"Never mind," Misato sighed, leading them over to the waiting jeep. "Maya, you get to drive," she ordered.

"Sure," Maya smiled, climbing into the driver's seat. Before anyone else could take their seats she said, "Sempai, would you like to ride up front?"

'Way to go, Maya,' Misato had to smile as she climbed into the back seat, taking the decision out of Ritsuko's hands.

"Right," Ritsuko blinked, a bit of a flush to her cheeks. She looked back at Misato, "So where are we headed?"

"The city hospital," Misato sighs softly. She looked at Maya, "You know where it is?"

Instead of answering her question directly, Maya started up the jeep. Taking the shortest, most efficient route through the streets of Tokyo-3 she had them there in only a few minutes. "You had to ask?" Maya smiled. As they were getting out she quietly added, "I memorized the city map earlier, just in case."

They showed their ID at the front desk, though it was interesting to note they were all recognized instantly. 'The last defenders of NERV,' Misato had heard someone talk about them and that last stand, and had nearly hit him. It hadn't been heroic, it was mad, chaotic and bloody, people who should have been on the same side trying to kill each other. But everyone who had been there had acquired a certain legend around them, and Misato wasn't above using it if needed.

"Asuka's upstairs," Misato said, leading them over to the elevators.

They walked in together, and Misato pressed the key for the top floor. Not having heard Misato's speech earlier Maya asked, "How is she?"

"Physically, she's recovering," Misato answered Maya quietly, deciding not to mention Asuka's mental condition. They reached their floor, striding down a long hallway to a hospital door, which Misato knocked on firmly.

"Go away," A familiar voice cried out in reply.

"It's Misato," she called back in return.

A moment's silence, then Asuka said, "Come in."

It was an odd moment, looking at the bandaged woman standing by the window. White cloth wrapped her arms, running across her head, she looked almost eerily like Rei Ayanami had. But then she turned, her red hair becoming more visible, and the illusion was shattered.

"Good morning," Ritsuko put her hands in her lab coat pockets nervously. Maya hesitated behind her, not quite sure what to say.

Misato made sure to keep a bit of distance as she said, "Are you going to take another shot at me?" She reached up to her cheek, and a nearly faded bruise that was there.

"Not this morning," Asuka smiled faintly, looking out at them through her right eye. The left was covered up by a simple bandage, concealing the sightless eye beneath it.

Misato met her gaze steadily, looking into her eye to try to read what she was feeling. Not an easy task, considering Asuka's anger and intensity. "Try not to pound on any of the doctors," she murmured, "they're just doing their jobs."

"If they try to tie me down to a bed again," and Asuka caressed her bandaged arms, "they'll just get what they deserve."

Misato, Ritsuko and Maya stood there awkwardly. Misato wanted to say something, to try to get started on what they had to do, but she couldn't seem to manage it. All she could do was think, 'Do I really want to put her through this again?'

"I'll pilot the EVA for you," Asuka said as she turned back towards the window.

There was an extended moment of dead silence. Misato finally managed, "What?"

There was an impish little smile on her face as Asuka looked back at the three of them, "I said, I'll pilot the EVA for you."

"Are you sure?" Ritsuko asked her quietly.

"It's what I do," Asuka murmured, "what I'm good at. I've heard about Shinji, so it's not like we have a lot of options, either."

"We can find another pilot if we have to," Misato offered quietly as she walked to Asuka's side, "I'm not going to let anyone force you into the pilot's seat."

Asuka looked up at her gratefully as Misato put her hand on the red head's shoulder. "It's not that I'm not scared," Asuka murmured, "but I'm sure that I can do this."

Misato nodded slightly, "All right." With a slight smile, "It's good to have our ace pilot back with us again."

Asuka looked around the sterile hospital room in clear distaste, "Now could I please get out of here?"

Ritsuko picked up Asuka's chart, "You're just under observation. I think we can get you out of here without too much trouble."

"I'll go get you some clothes," Maya offered.

"See if you can get me an eyepatch, too," Asuka called out after her. She turned back to Misato, already looking more self confident, "Where to next?"

Misato tried not to grin, "We're going to go see Rei Ayanami next."

There was a moment of dead silence, as Asuka looked at her in surprise. "What?" she finally managed to get out.

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