A Tale of Neon Genesis Evangelion
by Benjamin Donnelly
Based on Characters and Situations Created by Hideaki Anno
THE USUAL LEGAL BS: I don't own Evangelion, other than about ten figurines and three Evas. Everything else belongs to Studio Gainax. So there. Thbbppt.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: And now for something entirely different...remember "Geofront Rhapsody," when I drank too much Dr. Pepper, stayed up to 4 AM, and listened to entirely too much Queen? (By the way, I must have been subconsciously influenced by Studio Sokodei's "Evangelion ReDeath," which has practically the same scene in it, but better. I'm not worthy!) Well, guess what? This time it was Squirt and Bob Seger.
Also, it's worth noting that alcoholism is nothing to laugh about. This story, however, hopefully is...
"Goooood morning, Tokyo-3!"
Shinji Ikari stifled the sudden desire to fling the radio out the second-story window of Misato Katsuragi's apartment. Shinji was a morning person, but it was still entirely too early for that kind of cheerfulness. Besides, he had to go to school today, and at least one of his professors was planning an exam.
Instead of doing bodily harm to the radio, Shinji buttered his toast and sat down at the table. Pen-Pen took his customary position to one side, and both human and penguin began eating their breakfast simutaneously. Birds were chirping outside, the sun was just edging up over the Pacific Ocean, and all was well.
Naturally, that couldn't last. Two doors opened more or less at the same time and disgorged two women, neither of which looked particularly well, or for that matter, alive. Had Shinji not been used to the sight by now, he would have seriously considered the possibility that he was in a bad remake of Dawn of the Dead, with Misato and Asuka Langely Soryu as the zombies.
Asuka more or less had an excuse for looking like death warmed over. It was the third day of her period, something she had informed Shinji of the day before, which had been entirely more information about Asuka's bodily functions than he wanted to know. She was not stooped over, which suggested to Shinji that the cramps were gone, but the disheveled hair, the paler skin than usual, and the look that promised Shinji's imminent horrible death told him that Asuka was not going to be pleasant to be around that day. She mumbled something that was either a curse or a greeting and went off to the bathroom.
Misato didn't look much better, but the look she gave Shinji was one that asked pity and forgiveness. Her hair was a mess as well, and her color had something of a greenish tint. She wore a robe that was old, threadbare, and barely tied. Shinji could tell she wore nothing beneath it, but he was used to Misato's state of undress around her apartment that it no longer bothered him. Well, not much anyway.
"Ohayo," Shinji said, trying to put the best face on it.
"Mmf," Misato replied. She stumbled to the refrigerator, opened it, and grabbed a can of Yebisu Dry. "Damn," she grumbled, "that's my last beer..." She then turned around, retraced her steps around Shinji and Pen-Pen, and returned to her room, slamming the door–but not before Shinji heard the crack and hiss of the beer can being opened. From the bathroom, Shinji heard the shower running.
Shrugging, Shinji returned to his breakfast, putting in two more pieces for Asuka. The latter soon arrived, dressed for school, hair combed in place with the control interfaces that she used as barrettes. Without a word to Shinji, she got her pieces of toast, poured some orange juice, and sat across from him. Shinji thought he should say something, but Asuka looked upset that the rest of humanity was still sharing the world with her, so he remained quiet.
Without warning, Misato's door crashed open with a blare of jarring discords. With the squeak of skidding feet, Major Misato Katsuragi, Director of NERV Operations, slid into the kitchen wearing nothing but a bra, panties, and socks. Holding the beer can like a microphone, she was singing in English, or what passed for it. "Just take those old records off the shelf...I'll sit and listen to them by myself...today's music ain't got the same soul...I like that old time rock 'n' roll!"
Shinji turned around and his jaw nearly unhinged to hit the floor. Asuka's toast stopped midway to her mouth and clattered to the floor (butter side down, of course) from nerveless fingers. Misato, her face lit up in pure joy, continued to caper around the kitchen in her underwear, her voice getting progressively louder. Pen-Pen, unpreturbed, simply picked up the remainder of his fish and moved to a less vulnerable position under the table.
Finally, the song ended, and Misato crumpled the can in one fist and tossed it into the recycling bin. She then bowed and rose to her full height. "Good morning, Shinji and Asuka!"
"Uh..." Shinji wasn't sure if he was supposed to clap, return the bow, or move quietly to the exit. "Good morning, Misato."
Asuka looked down and saw that her toast was being devoured by Pen-Pen. "What's with the dancing?" she asked in a tone just above freezing.
Misato giggled. "Oh, I don't know. I suddenly decided to liven up the morning a little. You know how that first can of beer always gets me going." She reminded them of this fact with a monumental belch. "Oops. Sorry."
Shinji smiled–it was kind of amusing–but Asuka was still in a rotten mood, and as was her custom, had decided to share it with the world. "God, Misato," she snarled, "you drink way too much."
"Oh, come on, I do not," Misato argued, turning serious. "I have one beer before bed and one in the morning."
"You had more than one last night."
Misato waved that off. "I was out with Dr. Akagi. Girls' night out, so of course I had a little more than usual."
"I notice I wasn't invited."
"Er...you're only fifteen, Asuka."
"In Germany that's old enough!" Asuka insisted. She drained her orange juice and slammed the glass on the table. "You had a little too much at my housewarming party too, and Mr. Kaji had to take care of you!" Asuka got to her feet. "You know, Misato, I hope that if I do live long enough to get to your age, I'd be a hell of a lot more mature. I know damn well I could hold my liquor better–I bet even Baka Shinji could hold his liquor better than you!"
At that point, the doorbell rang. Shinji, glad of something to do rather than be caught between two angry women, got up, squeezed past the fuming Asuka, and opened the door. He was slightly surprised to see Rei Ayanami standing there, dressed as casually as she got. She was not carrying her schoolbooks. "Good morning, Ikari-kun," she said quietly, as usual.
"Ah...good morning, Rei-san. Please, come in."
Misato took her attention off Asuka and smiled at Rei. "Hi, Rei. Let me get dressed, and I'll take you to NERV." She spared Asuka a withering, this-isn't-over look and walked back to her room. If Rei noticed the tension in the room, or Misato's near nudity, she did not say anything. She merely stood in the kitchen and waited patiently.
Asuka looked towards Misato's room and gave a snort of disgust. "You ever drink, Shinji?" she asked out one side of her mouth.
"No," Shinji answered instantly. That was not quite true–he had drank sake once or twice at Kensuke's, but had never gotten past the buzz stage. "Just a toast or two," he amended. "You know, at your housewarming party and Misato's promotion..."
"Hmpf," Asuka said. "How 'bout you, Wondergirl?"
"I have not," Rei replied. "I've never cared for alcohol in any form."
"No, of course not, you're a frickin' vegan," Asuka snapped, as if that had anything to do with it. "You ready to go, Shinji? We should walk to school. I'd rather not risk being an accessory to a DUI."
Misato's head came around the corner. "That's enough, Asuka," she said angrily. Misato's tolerance had limits, and Asuka had pushed too far. "I may drink a lot sometimes, but I never drink and drive. You're just upset because I didn't invite you with us last night, but you know that they won't let you into the bars here–the bartenders don't care if you've graduated college."
"Or saved their sorry asses from the Angels!" Asuka shouted. "They're like you, Misato–they think I'm just some damn kid! Well, I'm not!" Asuka picked up her books and stomped out the door. "Let's go, Shinji!"
Shinji sighed and hefted his backpack. "Sorry, Misato."
"Not your fault." Misato sighed as well. "Have a good day at school."
Misato finished dressing and took Rei to the Geofront. EVA-00 was out of the repair bay and Ritsuko Akagi wanted to run some compatibility tests with Rei. The drive was remarkably silent, which didn't surprise Misato much. Rei was never much for conversation.
Still, Misato had to ask. "Rei, do you think I drink too much?"
Rei turned from looking idly at the window. She considered the question for a moment. "Not when I am around," she finally answered. "I'm not around you at your apartment, however. It's none of my business." With that, she returned to looking out the window.
"Well, you're no help," Misato whispered to herself.
Misato made her way to her office, and noticed a bouquet of flowers sitting on her chair. She picked up the note and read it. I always did like a girl in uniform, though you look better out of yours. Love and kisses, K.
"Kaji," she said aloud, not sure if she should put the flowers in a vase–assuming she could find one–or toss them into the trash can. Misato had to admit that for once, Asuka was right–she had drank too much last night. As was becoming usual on the few nights she and Ritsuko hit the bars, Kaji had magically appeared. The fact that Maya Ibuki was with him made no difference–Maya's affections probably lay with Ritsuko, and even if they didn't, they certainly did not lay with Ryoji Kaji. Maya was merely the convienent excuse for running into Misato at the bar, and Misato strongly suspected that Ritsuko and Maya planned it that way.
The phone rang, and Misato cleared off some of her paperwork to answer it. "Katsuragi."
"Good morning, Misato. Would you mind joining me down in the Eva bay? I have something to show you."
"Well, speak of the devil and the devil appears, Rits. I'll be there in a few." Before Ritsuko could ask what that was about, Misato hung up. She took one look at the papers that seemed ready to overrun her desk, and decided that whatever Ritsuko had in mind, it would be infinitely more interesting than this.
Ten minutes and only one wrong turn later, Misato was in the cavernous Eva holding bay. The three Evas sat quietly in their holding tanks, each filled with the orange, coppery-smelling LCL. As Misato walked onto the catwalk, she noticed that EVA-00's tank was being drained, prepatory to Rei's tests. She went over to where Ritsuko stood. The doctor was dressed in her usual attire of dark blue blouse and skirt, with a lab coat thrown over her shoulders. She showed none of the effects of the drinking she had done the night before, but Ritsuko never did. In one hand, she held a clipboard, which was nothing new. What was new was the bottle she held in the other hand. It was the size and shape of a whiskey bottle, though the fluid inside was reddish.
"Bit early in the morning for the hard stuff, don't you think?" Misato grinned.
Ritsuko looked at her over the top of her reading glasses. "You would know."
"Go easy on me. I've had a hard time of it this morning."
"That was nothing the hair of the dog couldn't fix. Nah, I'm talking about Asuka. She was Little Miss Super Bitch at breakfast. Worse than usual. I feel for poor Shinji–she probably tore him a new one on the way to school."
Ritsuko went back to scanning her clipboard. "Don't take it too personally, Misato. She's on her period this week."
"I know. I saw what she looked like. Well, you know me–I tried to cheer her and Shinji up a little this morning and did my Tom Cruise impression."
"Oh, God, you didn't."
Misato spread her hands sheepishly. "That used to get you guys laughing when we were in college."
"True, but I'm not Asuka and Shinji's hardly Kaji." A smile flitted across Ritsuko's face. "Speaking of Kaji, I really didn't mean to interrupt last night."
Misato groaned. "No, I'm glad you did." Asuka was right about one thing–she had drank too much the night before. The last time she had gotten that drunk with Kaji in close proximity, they had nearly kissed. Kaji had done his own Tom Cruise impression the night before and followed her into the ladies' room at the bar, and they had moved past the kissing stage. He had actually gotten Misato's bra off and was moving south when Ritsuko had walked in. That had killed the mood, and now that she was sober, Misato knew that the last thing she needed at the moment was to rekindle her old flame. At least that was what she kept telling herself, suppressing the tiny voice that had wanted–and still wanted–Kaji to keep going. It wasn't the beer talking, either. "That lech–taking advantage of me when I was drunk! I should go throw him into the LCL; maybe that would cool his ardor."
"Mm-hm. When I came in, you weren't exactly fighting him off tooth and nail."
Misato blushed and decided to change the subject. "Huh. So what's in the bottle, Ritsuko? Lunch?"
Ritsuko looked at the bottle. "Oh, yes, I almost forgot." She handed the full bottle to Misato. "Here, take a sip–but only a sip."
"Gendo will have my ass if he catches me drinking on duty."
"He won't. Just have a sip. It's from my own brewery."
Since when does Ritsuko have a still? Misato thought. Oh, wait, I get it...she wants a guinea pig. She smirked at the doctor over the bottle. Ritsuko, you hypocrite. I'll fix you. Misato uncorked the bottle, and before Ritsuko could stop her, turned up the bottle and took a swig.
The red fluid went easily down her throat, leaving a pleasant burn. When it reached her stomach, however, it promptly exploded like an Angel in a microwave, traveling back up her throat. Her sinuses instantly cleared, her ears popped, and the heat rose into her brain, where it burned out between her eyes. Misato blinked and wondered when NERV had installed floodlights in the walls of the Eva bay. Then she realized she was looking at the ceiling.
Ritsuko stood over her. "Are you all right?"
Misato coughed twice. "Yeah...that's...powerful...potent." She blew out her breath with a whoosh.
"How many fingers am I holding up?"
Ritsuko made a note on her clipboard. "Hmm, interesting. You've built up quite a tolerance to alcohol, Misato. I took a sip this morning and had to lay down for an hour."
Misato shakily got to her feet. Somehow, she had neither dropped the bottle nor spilled it. She handed it back to Ritsuko. "I give. Why are you brewing napalm?"
Ritsuko softly laughed and didn't answer. Instead she walked to the edge of the catwalk and poured the bottle into the LCL of EVA-01's tank. There was no noticeable effect on either the LCL or the Eva, but Misato wondered if EVA-01 would have a silly grin if she checked back later. "Um...Rits? Why are you pouring that into the LCL?"
"Like I said, you have quite a tolerance. This was specially brewed for an Eva's metabolism."
Misato's eyes rounded. "You're trying to get the Evas drunk?! Why, in the name of all that's holy?"
"No, no," Ritsuko said, as if to a small, rather slow child. "I'm not trying to get them drunk, Misato. That would require a tank car of the stuff. No, what this is for is to balance the Evas. We've seen them go berserk, Misato, and you remember when EVA-00 ran wild with Rei inside. This will be absorbed through the Eva's armor and circulate, which will hopefully ensure that none of them go berserk inside the bays. It's like how wine is actually good for you, if taken in small doses."
"Ritsuko, I know you're a genius and all, but...this isn't the best idea you've ever had."
Ritsuko shrugged. "Perhaps not, but it's worth a try. It's better than getting another pilot injured or killed in a preventable accident. And before you ask, Commander Ikari approved it."
"Did he try some?"
Ritsuko smiled. "No. One sniff was enough to convince him of its potency."
"Too bad; he could use a little loosening up." Suddenly a rather evil idea germinated in the folds of Misato's brain. "Say, Rits...what would happen if, say, Kaji had a sip of that?"
Ritsuko pondered the question for a moment. "His liver is no stranger to alcohol, so I should think that he might have to sit down, but that would be all."
"And if he had a big ol' swig?"
Ritsuko did not like where the conversation was going, but decided to play along in the interests of science, or simply from curiousity. "He'd probably end up like you, on the floor, but probably not as lucid."
"And if he finished the bottle?"
"Misato, he'd be dead of alcohol poisoning. No human could possibly survive a full bottle of this. You're not honestly considering..."
"Oh no, no," Misato insisted, waving her hands. "I'm not trying to kill him, Rits. I just want to give him a taste of his own medicine."
"And take advantage of him?"
Misato blushed again, and scratched the back of her head. That very idea had occurred to her, but it was not the main purpose. "Well, no, not really. I just wanted to shame him. Remember how we did that to Tamiya in college, writing all that filthy kanji over his arms and lipstick all over his face? Something like that."
"Mm. Not a bad idea, Misato, but it won't work. He knows about it; I asked his opinion last night after we dropped you off."
"Damn." Probably hoped to get me on my ass with the stuff, Misato groused. "We can't disguise its color or anything?"
"No, sorry." Ritsuko placed the empty bottle back into the inner pocket of her lab coat. "I'd better hide this. No reason to confirm the staff's suspicions that we're all drunk up here." She and Misato began walking back towards the control room. "It will actually take three or four bottles to have an effect on an Eva, but I wanted to see what one bottle would do."
"And to see what one sip would do to me."
"You do have the most knowledge of mixed drinks in this complex."
"Great," Misato growled.
Seeing that she had touched on a sore point, it was Ritsuko who decided to change the subject this time. "Misato, I know it's not my place to say this, but are you thinking about getting together with Kaji?"
Misato almost answered with a vehement no with expletives attached, but then considered it. Ritsuko and she had grown apart since joining the Evangelion Project, but they were still good friends. Besides, Ritsuko was very hard to pull the wool over. "I don't know, Ritsuko. If he wasn't always acting like a jerk and playing the field so much..."
"True, true. But I do think there's something there besides lust." Ritsuko sighed. "This will be hard on poor Asuka, I suppose. She's quite smitten with Kaji, you know."
The mention of Asuka did not cheer up Misato. "Hmpf. Puppy love."
"To you and I, but I think Asuka's quite serious. She's seeing you more and more as a rival, Misato. Your confrontation this morning was not entirely driven by hormones and Asuka's natural competitiveness. She's out to prove that she's better than everyone else. In the Eva, her rivals are Shinji and Rei–that's why she treats them so harshly. Outside of the Eva, her rival is you for Kaji's affections." Ritsuko dropped her voice a little, even though the hallway they were in was deserted. "I probably shouldn't be gossiping, but Maya overheard her holding forth about you. She's convinced you're an old has-been. I think Asuka will make a serious effort at getting Kaji in the near future. I don't think he'll accept, and that's a problem. Normally, office romances don't concern me, but it will affect her performance in the Eva."
"So she needs to be taken down a peg."
"I'm not sure that's what I had in mind...a talk, perhaps, from Kaji or even Commander Ikari..."
Misato was not hearing her. "So, little Asuka thinks I'm a has-been, neh? I'll fix her narrow young ass. Oh, yeah, Asuka, your time's coming." Misato wore a decidedly evil grin, and if she had a mustache, she would have been twirling it in true Snidely Whiplash style.
What have I unleashed? Ritsuko thought, looking at the ceiling for assistance. She did not notice where Misato was looking–at the bottle in Ritsuko's lab coat.