Evangelion Third Genesis: Part Five
She didn't know exactly what it was, that woke her up from her deep sleep. Something had disturbed her, some unidentified sound, or maybe a familiar presence. Her eyes gradually opened up, first observing her surroundings, the tank full of liquid that she floated in, then looking outward to those who were gathered outside.
A tall, blonde haired woman in a lab coat stood beside a shorter, boyish looking dark haired girl in gray military garb. Not too far away from them, a dark haired woman in a bright red jacket stood alone watching other two. Finally, a much younger woman looked over at the tank itself, standing out with her shocking mane of bright red hair. Her two eyes met the girl's one, and she saw the redhead's eye widen in surprise.
"She's awake," the redhead blurted out.
The blonde turned, looking first at the redhead then her before trailing of in surprise, "Asuka, she can't be..."
'Asuka,' she thought, feeling some deep satisfaction rising within her, at being able to name the oddly familiar red haired girl at last.
The dark haired older woman grabbed the blonde's arm and asked, "Ritsuko, will she be all right in there?"
"She should be, Misato," Ritsuko looked at Rei thoughtfully, "it's the same LCL fluid we used in the entry plugs to protect the pilots."
It was strange, hearing those three names spoken aloud. She recognized them all, somehow, even though she knew that she had never seen them before today. She looked over at the smaller girl, trying to place her as well. There was a name on the tip of her tongue, but it slipped out of her mental grasp like water.
"Maya," Ritsuko turned to the shorter girl, "Go grab a uniform in her size."
"Right, Sempai," and Maya bolted.
"You aren't seriously considering letting her out of there," a frowning Misato said, sounding quite irritable.
The girl in the tube was a little surprised to hear Asuka speak up for her angrily, "Well, we can't just leave her in there."
"She's right," Ritsuko said, sounding quite gentle.
She saw Misato looking at her, and she met the dark haired woman's gaze calmly. Misato was the first one to turn away, sighing, "I guess you're right."
"Start pumping the fluid out," Ritsuko ordered the other scientists, "and then replace it with a standard oxygen blend."
She felt a moment of panic, as her environment around her began to change, but she quelled it forcefully. She tasted the air, smelling the tang of medicine and ozone in it, the scent of a science lab at work. She breathed deep, and it strangely felt like home.
In only a few moments she stood dry in the middle of the sealed tank. Ritsuko herself then stepped forward, grasping the catches set on the side of the tank. "Opening," she unsnapped them loudly one at a time, "now."
The blue haired girl stepped carefully out of the tank into the outside world, taking a breath of the air out there. She took another step but stumbled, suddenly falling, when strong arms grasped her, preventing any injury.
'Asuka,' she thought dazedly, looking up into the eye not covered by the black eye-patch.
"Who are you?" Asuka asked her softly.
She paused, and the name came to her much easier than any of the other ones had. "Rei," she murmured softly, "Rei Ayanami."
Maya arrived a few moments later, carrying another NERV uniform. "Here you go," she handed the pile of clothes to her.
"Thank you," Rei found herself saying softly before she began to pull the uniform on over her naked body. It felt a little strange, she noticed, because she was expecting it to be more skin-tight. 'Plug suit' she thought, unsure of what that name referred to.
"Rei," Misato asked her quietly, "what do you remember?"
Sitting on a bench Rei looked up to meet her dark eyes, knowing that the question was very important to the woman. "Nothing," she said softly. At Misato's confused look Rei quietly explained, "I know who you and the others are, I know that I'm in Tokyo-3, but I don't know how or why I know that. The knowledge is just... there."
Misato nodded thoughtfully, "Thank you."
"You're welcome," Rei responded to her automatically.
Rei looked around, noticing that Ritsuko was leaning over a console, one that looked like it was tied into the medical monitoring devices. She and several other scientists were talking together quite excitably, but Rei could only hear fragments of their conversation: "the bio-scans read human norms..." "if she has any of ADAM's DNA, it's recessive.." "far less anemic than was previously recorded..." "certainly looks much more healthy.."
A figure settled down beside her, and Rei turned to look at Asuka. The redhead looked at her thoughtfully, "You really don't remember anything?"
Rei shook her head, "No."
"Maybe that's a good thing," Asuka said to her softly, "I know that there are some things that I'd love to forget." She puffed out a sigh, "This time, maybe we can be friends."
'This time?' Rei thought curiously.
In an oddly old-fashioned looking gesture Asuka offered her hand to be shaken as she said, "My name is Asuka Langley."
Rei shook it gently, "I know." A smile, "My name is Rei Ayanami."
"I know," Asuka smiled slightly, a bit of humor in her eyes.
A brown haired scientist bustled over to them, roughly grabbing at Rei's arm and saying, "We need to get a blood sample."
Rei didn't even see Asuka move, she was up out of her seat that fast. She grabbed his wrist and squeezed it hard, making him release Rei's arm with a gasp of pain. Angrily she growled at him, "You could at least ask her politely."
Rei put her hand gently on Asuka's, "It's all right, he's just doing his job." With obvious reluctance, Asuka let him go.
"If so, he's doing it badly," Asuka glared.
The man rubbed his sore wrist, keeping an careful eye on Asuka even as he asked Rei, "Could I please get a blood sample?" Rei simply pushed up her shirt sleeve, revealing the bare arm underneath. He got his sample, then all but fled.
Rei wasn't quite sure what to say as she looked over at Asuka, so she smiled at her and simply said, "Thank you very much."
Asuka's cheeks went a bit red, "You're welcome."
Only a few moments later Asuka was called away, and Rei watched her go with a curious expression on her face. Asuka, Misato, and Ritsuko were talking over to the side, keeping their voices down so that they couldn't be overheard.
Finally Misato separated from the others, walking over to Rei silently. "We were just talking about you," she smiled, "when I realized we should probably ask you, first."
"Ask me about what?" Rei asked Misato quietly. She wasn't used to being asked things, given options for her to choose from.
"I was wondering if you would like to stay in my apartment, along with me and Asuka?" Misato asked her simply.
Rei hesitated, looking over to gaze at Asuka. The redhead smiled just slightly, and Rei looked back at Misato to say, "Yes, I'd like to."
To be continued...