Story: NGE: Third Genesis (chapter 4)

Authors: Shanejayell

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Chapter 4

Evangelion Third Genesis: Part Four

        'It's strange, how peaceful it looks,' the red haired woman thought to herself dreamily. Her lips twisted in a bitter little smile, 'Almost like it hadn't happened at all.' Asuka heard the firm knock on the hospital door, disturbing her thoughts as she was looked out at Tokyo-3.

        Irritated Asuka called back at whoever it was, "Go away!"

        "It's Misato," she heard her answer.

        Asuka blew out a breath, then quietly said, "Come in."

        They came in the room together, Misato, Ritsuko and Maya, and Asuka was reminded of other times she had seen the three of them together like this. But it was different now, her arms wrapped in bandages as she looked out at them through only her right eye.

        "Good morning," Ritsuko said as she put her hands in her lab coat's pockets nervously, and Asuka had to fight back a smile. Standing behind her Maya hesitated, not quite sure what to say.

        'They do look good together,' Asuka noted a bit sadly as she looked over at the blonde and dark haired officers.

        Asuka noticed that Misato made sure to keep a bit of distance between the two of them as she asked, "Are you going to take another shot at me?" Misato reached up to her cheek, and touched a nearly faded bruise that was there.

        "Not this morning," Asuka smiled back at her.

        A little smile in return. "Try not to pound on any of the doctors," Misato murmured, "they're just doing their jobs."

        Asuka bared her white teeth, fighting back a sudden surge of anger at that comment. "If they try to tie me down to a bed again," she said dangerously, unconsciously rubbing at her bandaged arms, "they'll just get what they deserve."

        Asuka watched Misato, Ritsuko and Maya standing there awkwardly. They looked at each other, and for a moment she almost wanted to laugh. It was so obvious what the wanted to do, why they were here. Why not get on with it?

        "I'll pilot the EVA for you," Asuka finally decided to answer the unspoken question as she turned back towards the window and the view of the city.

        Asuka heard an extended moment of dead silence right behind her. After a few seconds Misato finally managed, "What?"

        Asuka actually could feel herself smiling again as she looked back at the three of them, "I said, I'll pilot the EVA for you."

        "Are you sure?" Ritsuko asked her quietly.

        Asuka smiled at the blonde scientist. "It's what I do," she 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," Asuka was almost surprised to hear Misato quietly offer as she walked to her side. Her voice was almost caring as she continued, "I'm not going to let anyone force you into the pilot's seat."

        Asuka looked up at her gratefully as she felt Misato put her hand her shoulder, squeezing gently. "It's not that I'm not scared," she murmured to Misato, feeling that knot of fear in her gut, "but I'm sure that I can do this."

        Asuka closed her eyes and seemed to feel Misato nod as she said, "All right." A little pause, "It's good to have our ace pilot back with us again."

        Asuka looked around the sterile hospital room and couldn't hide her distaste, "Now could I please get out of here?"

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

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

        Asuka called out after her, "See if you can get me an eye-patch, too." She turned back to Misato and already felt a bit more self confident as she asked, "Where to next?"

        Misato seemed to be trying not to grin as she answered seriously, "Well, we're going to go see Rei Ayanami."

        Asuka looked at her in surprise for a moment while she tried to take that in. "What?" she finally managed to ask.

        Ritsuko gave Misato a scolding glance, "Would you please stop teasing us with her? You've been doing it for days."

        "Sorry," but Misato didn't look very repentant. She pushed her hand through her dark hair, "It's easier to show you than try to explain."

        Maya, a mistress of good timing, came in just then carrying a folded uniform shirt and pants, the black eye-patch laying on top. "I hope these are the right size," she smiled tentatively at Asuka.

        "Thanks," Asuka smiled back at her as she took the pile of clothes. The other women stood around for a moment, and Asuka gave them a pointed look.

        "Oh, right," Ritsuko blinked, and herded the other two out of the room to give Asuka some privacy to change.

        Asuka smiled slightly, striping off the skimpy hospital gown first. The bandages she quickly unraveled into a messy pile at her feet, and she paused to trace those thin pale red lines left by the surgery with her fingers. She smiled slightly as she pulled the standard NERV uniform on, feeluing a bit of relief that it wasn't a plug suit. She wasn't quite up to wearing one of those just yet. The eyepatch was a bit akward as she tried to get it settled over her left eye, but she managed. Socks and shoes on, and she was ready to go.

        "Much better," Asuka looked at her reflection in the mirror with satisfaction, tugging the bottom on the shirt to make sure it was straight. She strode out into the hallway, "Let's go."

        Misato gestured to Asuka to walk beside her as they strode down the hallway, Ritsuko and Maya following behind them. Misato gave her a tentative glance as they filed into the elevator, "Would you like your old room back?"

        "What do you mean?" Asuka answered her quietly.

        "I've got an empty room in my new place," Misato said quietly as she pressed a floor number, "if you want to take it."

        "Yeah, I'd like that," Asuka smiled back. She paused to ask teasingly, "Are you as much of a slob as you used to be?"

        "Pretty much," Misato answered as the elevator stopped, the doors sliding open.

        "I was hoping being promoted would change that," Asuka noted, "guess not."

        Ritsuko snicked softly from behind them, and Misato shot her a glare. The floor was obviously devoted more to medical science, the walls unpainted. There were sounds ahead of them, growing louder as they walked on.

        "So the Rei we're going to see is another clone?" Maya asked tentatively.

        "To be honest, we're not sure," Misato admitted. She looked at Ritsuko, "That's one reason I wanted you back here, to examine her." They reached a set of large double doors, and she pushed one open before nodding to the others, "Go on in."

        A group of scientists were clustered around a large metal tube, and once Misato cleared her throat loudly they shifted aside so that they could see what floated within. Asuka had been expecting to see the Rei Ayanami she had known, but the woman who floated there wasn't quite the same.

        Some of the differences were quite obvious, the others more subtle. The hair was a much darker shade of blue, looking a bit more normal. Asuka blushed faintly, noticing the better developed body. Tearing herself away from that detail she saw the vibrant skin tone, the pink to her cheeks. Overall she looked healthy, a word Asuka wouldn't have ever used to describe the old Rei.

        Pacing around the collumn was a man who looked like the living stereotype of the typical mad scientist. His black hair stood on end, the white lab coat had a few coffee stains, his eyes were blood shot and his face was haggard.

        Misato frowned at him worriedly, "Dr. Stingray, how long have you been here?"

        Dr. Stingray shrugged, "I don't know. What time is it?" Misato told him, and his eyebrow went up, "Remarkable. All right, what day is it?"

        "Go home, get some rest," Misato pushed him bodily towards the doors. He tried to protest and she added, "I'll make it an order if I have to."

        "Yes, ma'am," Dr, Stingray shuffled off with a sigh.

        "Is that his real name?" Maya asked Ritsuko softly.

        "Yes, poor guy," Ritsuko answered absent mindedly, her gaze focused on Rei. Quietly she asked Misato, "You said that she was found in a storage chamber. Are there any records of when she was placed there?"

        "The room was sealed, apparently shortly after Tokyo-3 was constructed," Misato answered her quietly. "Other than that," she shrugged.

        "What does the scan data say?" Ritsuko asked, fully in her scientist mode.

        "It's fully shielded," another scientist volunteered softly, "the scans couldn't get through."

        "So the only way we may be able to find out anything about her," Asuka said softly as she looked at the floating girl, "is to open it up?"

        "Looks like it," Misato agreed softly.

To be continued...

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