Disclaimer: Neon Genesis Evangelion belongs to Gainax. We make no profit by writing this fiction. All ideas in this story are our own; similarities with other fictions are purely coincidental.

Authors' note: This is a sequel to another R/S one-shot "Shooting Stars", which was also written by Optimus Magnus and Seamok, and is available on Seamok's profile page.

Twilight: Valentine's Day

Written by: Seamok

Pre-read by: Optimus Magnus

"Mmph…mmph…mmph…" The soft moaning of a young girl sang melodically in the otherwise quiet room. Rays of morning sunlight crept in from the window sills, transforming the dusty apartment into a sacred sanctuary. The only occupant in this little paradise tossed and turned herself around the bed, with both her small fists tightly squeezed onto the thin blanket. Her eyes were still closed. A certain part of her small frame was extremely wet. The sweat on her feverish body plastered the thin pyjamas onto every single curve.

"Mmph…Mmph…Mmph…" Her moans gradually grew louder; her chests heaved heavily; her supple breasts rising and falling to a steady rhythm; her pelvis thrust lustily into the warm air. The blush on her cheeks became uncomfortably hot. However, just before she reached the peak…

RRRRIIIINNNNGGGG!

As usual, the alarm clock ruined the moment all boys would pay their lives to witness. Well, not every single one of them. At least there was one living in Tokyo-3.

In any case, her moans ceased; her hands released the sheet; her eyes opened; her pelvis stopped thrusting. Without the girl's lovely arousal, the room returned to its old abandoned self. Ayanami Rei sat up on her bed suddenly. The sticky wet spot on her panties informed her of what she had been doing.

It was the fourth time that week. And it was only Thursday.

She placed her feet onto the cold hard floor and stood up. The young girl then walked to her desk with her fists balled angrily. The fire in her womanhood faded; but another flame of fire began to burn inside as she stared at the alarm clock. That stupid device just destroyed her dream! And it was such a romantic dream, with a particular boy doing all these funny things to her and all.

Rei wanted to smash the offending object into pieces. Instead, she just pressed a delicate finger on a button and the ringing halted immediately. She did not have the heart to even scratch it. After all, it was Shinji who bought her the alarm clock when they were cleaning her apartment a few weeks ago.

Unknown to everyone, Rei always looked forward to Thursday. To be more precise, she always looked forward to all weekdays, especially the mornings. It was at those mornings that she would go to school; it was at those mornings that she would get to see the boy in her wet dreams. However, there was a slight difference today. Rei somehow knew she would not be enjoying herself, not because today was a school holiday, but because there was something she had been made promised to do.

The blue haired girl proceeded into the washroom to clean herself. She undressed and turned on the shower. The water was cold, but she paid no attention. The girl squeezed some toothpaste onto her toothbrush and started brushing her teeth. Her other free hand soaped the creamy skin on her body, making sure that she washed away the slimy fluid between her long legs.

It felt good, but Rei had never fully explored her own sexuality. The young girl simply did not know how to do it. No one ever guided her. The only time she could reach those heights of fantasy was when she had one of the dreams. And even then, she never climaxed. Something was always in the way. It had been frustrating, but time was running short.

As soon as she finished dressing, the doorbell rang. Again, it was Shinji who fixed it. Rei walked slowly to the door and opened it, revealing an excited Hikari.

"Good morning Rei! So are you ready?" She chirped happily. Rei frowned. Honestly, she really liked the cheerful class rep. What she absolutely hated was…

"WHAT TOOK YOU THIS LONG!" It was Asuka's explosive manners.

"I came to answer the door as soon as I could."

"AND YOU NEEDED FIVE SECONDS!"

"Five seconds are required for me to walk the distance between my bed and the door." Rei stated the obvious. If Hikari had not been so persistent on having her join them, she would most likely be enjoying herself with her wet dream by now. She honestly could not understand why the freckled girl would care to be such a close friend to someone as annoying as the Second Child.

"Come on Asuka, stop picking on her," The class rep said, nudging her elbow on the red head. Asuka, on the other hand, chose to ignore her. The Second Child just noticed a familiar smell. She took a few sniffs. And then she stuck her head into Rei's apartment. She took a few sniffs again.

"AHA! That's why! Wonder Girl you're busted this time! I caught you masturbating!"

Rei would have blushed heavily, but she didn't. The innocent girl simply did not understand what Asuka meant by masturbating. She had never tried it before. "I do not understand."

"What are you talking about, Asuka?" Hikari asked, sounding genuinely confused. It confirmed that the German girl was the only one who had masturbating experience among the three girls.

"Huh? Don't tell me you never tried it," Asuka said, surprised.

"Tried what?" Hikari asked again. Rei shared the same curious look.

There was a tense silence. Asuka began to blush guiltily, hoping that she could somehow get out of the situation. Hikari stood there, waiting patiently for Asuka to explain herself. Rei stepped outside and closed the door. She was getting impatient.

"Let us start shopping immediately," The pale girl said. She wanted to get the mission done and over with as soon as possible. Rei was grateful for Hikari's kind intention, but she found it increasingly difficult to tolerate the Second Child's hostility towards her.

And so, the three girls made their way to Tokyo-3 Imperial Theatre, the city's poshest shopping centre. Asuka had quickly recovered herself, and she had been babbling all the way from the apartment to their final destination. Hikari forced a laugh every now and then at her friend's tasteless jokes. Rei walked along, tailing them at the back. Her mind wandered off to a certain boy whom she shared her first kiss.

It had been four months since the timid boy gathered the courage to make that imperious move on the train. Rei had great fun on that particular day, and she learnt and experienced many things that would forever live in her memory. However, there was a little problem. Relationship with Shinji had improved, but not as much as she had wanted.

They talked to each other occasionally, but Rei honestly thought with what they did on the night of her birthday, they should have been lovers by now, not just good friends. Both were shy by nature, and the school gossips certainly did not help. Romance between two Eva pilots had always been a temptation. The blue haired girl certainly was not happy when there was a catalyst trying to flame the already hot topic.

"What do you think Hikari?" Asuka asked enthusiastically as she danced around in the shop, dressed in a yellow silk gown she had just put on. "Does it make my butt look big?"

"No, and it's gorgeous," Her friend answered, "I think it suits you really well. What do you think, Rei?"

"The tailor forgot the straps," She replied simply, referring to the strapless gown.

"No, dummy," Asuka laughed triumphantly, "It's something called fashion. Village dolls like you will never understand."

"Asuka! Stop being so rude!" The class rep wasn't pleased.

Rei, however, was not impressed. She walked out of the shop and sat down on one of the wooden benches, while the other two girls skipped off to pay for Asuka's luxurious new clothes. The quiet girl did not understand why they were willing to spend so much on pointless accessories. She slipped her hand into her pocket and retrieved the two vouchers, which Asuka and Hikari had given her on her birthday. They were 100,000 yen each, but the girl did not know what to do with them.

It wasn't long before her two companions returned with handfuls of bags. They were all Asuka's, but kind Hikari offered to carry a few for her. Rei didn't bother helping, but her German rival wasn't about to let her go.

"Here, Wonder Girl," She said and forced a heavy bag into the quiet girl's arms, "Carry this for me. They're not cheap, so be careful not to cause any damage."

Rei kept her face expressionless, but inside her heart twisted into a big frown. She opened the bag and peeked inside. There were full of expensive chocolates made by famous manufacturers, each box costing more than 50,000 yen. However, the cumbersome weigh mainly came from a professionally wrapped gift box, although Rei could not guess what was inside.

Asuka noticed her curious look, so she declared proudly, "It's a yacht, carved from pure crystal."

"Wow…" Hikari said dreamily, "That must be so beautiful! When did you get it?"

"Just now, at the counter, I pre-ordered it. It's the only one of its kind!"

"How much did you pay for it?" Her friend asked.

"Money is no problem. I only want the best for my man." Asuka replied, feeling pleased with herself, "He won't be able to resist my charm."

"Oh Gosh! Is this for Valentine's Day? Who's the lucky guy?" Hikari asked again excitedly. Rei just kept quiet and listened.

"Who else? My Kaaajjjeeeee-chan of course!" The Second Child squeaked happily before she started to babble, "I've arranged the restaurant and everything. I'll put on this new dress of mine, and we'll spend the night at the beach resort, and then we'll…"

As two girls chatted merrily about what they were planning for Valentine's Day, Rei followed at the side, silently wondering to herself what was so special about that particular day. She had heard about it before, but she never understood the true meaning behind it. The pale girl wanted to ask her companions, but Asuka's heavy bag was killing her arms.

The next few hours passed by slowly, as the girls left the Imperial Theatre to an open air market. The atmosphere was becoming hot and humid, and the huge crowd of noisy people certainly didn't help much. By then, all three of them were sweating heavily, with their shirts so wet that they plastered onto their bodies like a second layer of skin. Their young flesh became visible to the public, but unfortunately for the boys, they all wore bras today.

Hikari blushed heavily as the girls continued to attract male attention. She urged for Asuka to return home, but the red head wouldn't listen. In fact, she was enjoying it immensely. Rei, on the other hand, did not even notice that people were staring at her. Her mind kept asking herself what Valentine's Day could possibly be. She could not find a reasonable answer, so she decided to ask. Her chance came when Asuka left her alone with Hikari to buy herself an ice-cream.

"Hikari, I have a question."

"Yes? What is it?" The freckled girl asked as she took a sip at her orange juice.

"Can you explain Valentine's Day to me?"

Hikari spat a mouthful of the cold juice onto her shirt upon hearing the unexpected question. She knew Rei wasn't the sociable type, but Valentine's Day, in her opinion, was something that should be common knowledge, at least for girls. Rei stood there looking at the class rep curiously, waiting patiently for an answer.

"Yes, of course I can," The brown haired girl said smiling. She took out a piece of tissue paper and started wiping the juice off her white shirt. "It's a day when girls give presents, traditionally chocolates, to boys they like."

"What purpose does it serve?"

"It's just a simple way for girls to express their affections. In return, the boys would then prepare their own gifts and give them to the girls on White Day. A lot of couples got hooked up this way. It works especially well for shy people."

"I see. I understand now." Rei replied. A part of her mind wanted to know more, but the normally withdrawn girl could not find the proper questions to ask. Hikari broke the silence after a while.

"So, how are you and Shinji doing?"

"I am doing fine, thank you. I have not spoken to Shinji lately, so I could not be sure about him." Rei answered, totally misunderstanding the nature of the class rep's question.

"No, dear," Hikari laughed, "I was asking about your relationship with him. Are you two going out? Going out as in dating?"

"No, we are not dating. The rumours are incorrect." Rei replied, slightly blushing. She knew that the class rep and Suzuhara were dating; something which she secretly wished would happen to her and Shinji. Part of her couldn't help but feel saddened, and her tone showed it when she spoke again, "We are only good friends."

Hikari sensed her disappointment, "Well, do you like him?"

Rei hesitated for a moment, but the innocent girl was never taught how to lie, "Yes I do."

"Then that's it!" The class rep chirped happily, clasping her hands together, "You have a chance on Valentine's Day! Just give him some chocolates next Monday and tell him how you feel!"

Before the blue haired girl could give Hikari's idea a proper thought, Asuka returned with two ice-creams each on a hand. She had very strange taste indeed; the right one was banana flavoured; the left one was durian. Her fleshy tongue lapped on the two cold desserts as she walked. A few boys on the opposite side of the street whistled. Asuka waved back at them.

The rest of the day moved on without much happening. Asuka continued her shopping spree; Hikari followed the similar pattern until her money ran out; Rei just followed the girls, carrying their bags and feeling like a servant, although she didn't really mind. Her mind was busy thinking how and whether she should confront Shinji come Valentine's Day.

It was not until late evening that Asuka decided to call it a day. By then, their bags had increased to such amount that they had to take a cab home. It was not surprising that none of them belonged to Rei. Once the girls finished loading the bags into the car's boot, Asuka and Hikari climbed into the back seats. Rei stood outside.

The class rep motioned for her to get inside, "Come on Rei! Let's go home."

The pale girl hesitated for a while, before firmly shaking her head, "No, I forgot something. You can leave first. I will see you tomorrow at school."

"What? What's wrong? What did you forget?" Hikari asked feeling concerned.

"It was nothing important. Do not worry." Rei said as she shut the car door. However, her friend was not satisfied. She rolled down the window.

"Are you sure, Rei? Was it Asuka? Did she upset you?"

"Hey! What did I do!" A voice shouted angrily.

"I will be fine." Rei gave a simple reply and chose not to comment about the Second Child.

"Alright then, we'll talk again tomorrow, ok? See you!" Hikari said reassuringly before the cab sped off into the evening streets. The road lamps twinkled as night life in Tokyo-3 began. Strangely dressed teenagers started to appear in crowded areas. Couples strolled along, bathed in the light of romance. Family and friends gathered in coffee shops for chit chats. It suddenly made Rei feel very lonely.

She watched as the car disappeared into the horizon. Then, she turned and walked back through the shopping mall, heading back towards the Imperial Theatre. Hikari had been with her throughout the day, and Rei truthfully enjoyed her company. The class rep had been very caring towards her these few months. Rei was grateful, and perhaps she had subconsciously come to regard her as a close friend.

Approximately half an hour later, Rei stopped at a gift shop back in the posh shopping complex. She went to the chocolate section and scanned the area. As her hand ran through the beautiful boxes, her heart was once again filled with sweet memories she shared with Shinji. Rei had decided to take Hikari's suggestion, but she did not know which chocolate she should pick.

In the end, the choice was made quite randomly. She simply picked the one which had a picture of a rose on its cover. Rei proceeded to the cashier. It wasn't a long queue, but just as she was about to make the purchase with her vouchers, something caught her eyes.

It was a small booklet sitting at a corner of the counter. On its cover was written the words "a simple guide to making chocolates for your Valentine".

Something chimed inside her stomach. She took a long look at the box of chocolate she was carrying, and then she returned to staring at the booklet. Her mind immediately reminded her of how Asuka had bought her expensive chocolates so easily with a wave of her cash, and how ordinary she thought the crystal yacht was when Asuka told her that she had not carved it herself. There was a thing or two that didn't feel right, but Rei couldn't point out exactly what it was.

"Miss? Are you alright, Miss? Are you buying that or not?" The cashier asked impatiently at the static girl. Some people at the back of the line began to voice their displeasure.

At first, Rei was having difficulties in deciding what she should do, but then something happened. Perhaps it was a rush of adrenalin; perhaps she was being adventurous; or perhaps she only wanted something special for Shinji. The girl tossed the chocolate box away, grabbed the small booklet, handed the cashier her 200,000 yen vouchers and ran off immediately.

"Hey Miss! That's just a gift! It comes free with the chocolate!"

Nevertheless, the blue haired girl never stopped. She ran through the crowd and disappeared into the night. No one ever saw how heavily blushed her face was. It was not an easy decision for the shy girl, but she was determined to make the important step. She wanted to give Shinji something that came from her heart, not from the vouchers. She wanted to make the difference. In other words, she decided to make her own chocolate for Valentine's Day.

The following few days would eventually test Rei's patience and determination to its extreme.

It started on Friday night. She finished reading the book and decided to try the one that sounded the most impressive to her. The girl then took some money from her piggy bank to purchase the ingredients. They weren't cheap, because what she picked were all of top quality. She tied an apron around her thin frame and started working.

The first few steps were easy. Rei broke the courveture chocolate bars and rested them in a bowl. She then put it into the oven and set the temperature to moderately high. While the chocolate bars were melting, she prepared the flying pan, a waxed paper lined tray and a jar of hazel nuts for the centres. The girl made sure that she checked the oven frequently and kept the melting chocolate properly stirred.

Once the chocolate was completely melted, she scooped three handfuls of the brown fluid into the cold frying pan. The low temperature in her apartment made it an ideal environment for making chocolate. With her fingers together, she cupped her right hand slightly and started moving the chocolate in an S motion. The sweet aroma filling up the room made her lips curved upwards into a small smile.

Gradually, the dark fluid began to feel cool. As instructed, Rei tested the temper by touching a chocolate covered finger to the waxed paper lined tray, leaving a small dot. She then waited and resumed the stirring. As her hand continued with the repeated motions, her mind drifted off to a certain boy.

Her affection towards him was something she had never been able to fully understand. There was no proper explanation, and sometimes she wondered why and how the bond was formed. Perhaps it had always been there, and she had just discovered it; or perhaps it was the way his gentle personality and caring attitude fitted into hers.

She had never dared to ask Shinji about her own appearance, for fear of an unfavourable response. Being unique was a beautiful way to put it, but Rei had always been different compared to others. Perhaps Shinji was just sympathizing with her; Rei shook off the thoughts and returned her attention to the chocolate.

The small dot had by then hardened. Feeling satisfied with her progress, Rei took a nut from the jar and dropped it into the chocolate. She then flipped it over to coat both sides before lifting it up. Her fingers brushed against the side of the frying pan to remove the excess chocolate. She then set up the coated nut on the waxed paper lined tray and allowed it to dry.

For the next two hours, Rei repeated the same motion. Taking the warm chocolate from the oven and coating the nuts with the thick fluid, and setting them on the tray. Once they were done, she showered the pieces of chocolate with tiny mint flavoured flakes, adding something extra to the now ready candies. A short moment later, they all looked ready and done.

Carefully, the quiet girl took a piece and held it close to her nose. The smell was pleasant. She then parted her lips and let her mouth received the chocolate from her fingers. Her tongue swirled the chocolate ball around, savouring the sweet taste. Rei felt pleased with her work so far. Finally, she smiled and took a bite.

Nothing happened.

She tried harder to clench her jaws.

Again, nothing happened, except that her teeth began to hurt a little.

Rei opened her mouth and took out the piece of chocolate, still glorious in its rounded shape. The young girl stared at the object curiously. She then flicked several times at the chocolate. It was almost as hard as rock.

She then cautiously picked up another piece from the tray and put it in her mouth. Again, she tried to nibble it. Unsurprisingly, it was the same as the previous one. Refusing to believe her failure, Rei tried another piece, and another, and another, with each one giving the exact same result. Her will faded with each attempt until finally, she threw the rest of the rock-like candies into the dustbin.

Rei did not bother cleaning up the kitchen. Her frail legs were too tired from standing there the entire night, and her heavy eyelids were urging for her to go to bed. Slowly, she returned to her mattress, pulled the blanket over her body, lay down and drifted off to sleep.

The young girl spent the following day in similar pattern. She repetitively read the same pages in the booklet, trying to understand what she had done wrong in the previous night. In the end, she couldn't find any possible explanation. So she decided that instead of simply letting the chocolate bars melt, she would add water to the mixture. And hopefully the end results would be much softer and taste more agreeable.

There were still a reasonable amount of ingredients left from her last attempt, so she began to make preparation for a second try. Once again, she broke the chocolate bars and put them in a bowl. She then put it inside the oven and turned on the temperature. Just then, her cell phone rang. The girl went to pick it up.

"Hello. Ayanami speaking."

"Hi Rei! It's Maya here."

"What can I do for you?"

"Oh, it's nothing much. Dr Akagi wants me to inform you that you have a synch test tomorrow afternoon. She wants you to be here by one o'clock, are you alright with that?"

Rei looked at her kitchen, silently wondering if she would have the time for another try should her current attempt at making the chocolates fail. However, she was not one to disobey orders from her superiors. "Yes, I will be there."

"Ok thanks," The technician replied before asking teasingly, "Say…are you doing anything on Valentine's Day?" Like Hikari, she was one of the people who had been acting more friendly towards Rei.

Initially, the blue haired girl did not want to reveal her plans, but she was worried that Maya would ask her to do another synch test on Monday if she said no. Rei wanted to spend it with Shinji, so she replied, "Yes, I am."

"Oh that's so sweet!" Maya squeaked happily, "Tell me more!"

"I am making chocolates."

"You're making chocolates yourself? Wow that's so romantic…" The female technician said dreamily, "Is it for Shinji?"

"Yes, it is for Shinji," Rei began to get impatient. Her chocolate bars were still melting in the oven, and they needed her attention. "Maya, I must return to the kitchen. Is there anything else you wish to tell me?"

"Oh! Sorry about that, I'll just stop bothering you now," She replied cheekily, "but you must promise to tell me the whole story about you and Shinji after this, ok? You promise?"

"Yes, I promise," Rei answered, although a little reluctantly. There was a faint blush on her cheeks.

"Good! See you tomorrow then!"

"Goodbye."

And with that, the blue haired girl hung up the phone and returned to the kitchen immediately. She opened the oven and stirred the brown fluid, before scooping them into the frying pan. This time, she made sure she added a cup of water into the mixture. It wasn't written in the instructions, but Rei figured this would make the chocolates softer and eatable.

She repeated the following steps as she did the previous night. Once the hazel nuts were coated, Rei left them on the tray to dry as she scattered some mint flavoured flakes on them. After that, she went to sit on her bed and waited.

The young girl had not been feeling well. Her legs were sore and her arms were tired. The muscles on her shoulders and her back felt really tense. Her cheeks were flushed hot. She reached up and touched her forehead. It was sweating with high temperature.

Rei did not bother too much about herself being sick. After approximately thirty minutes, she went back to the kitchen to try the chocolates she made. Her fragile heart was dealt another blow when she saw the candies. The chocolates were not hardening, and it had dissolved onto the tray leaving a mess, with the hazel nuts being left exposed to the air. She digged a finger into the brown fluid and suck it with her mouth. The chocolate tasted a little less than sweet, and it was very watery.

It was the second time she failed.

The girl checked her watch, trying to sort out her predicament. It was Saturday night. Valentine's Day was on Monday. She had a synch test on Sunday afternoon, so the only time she had left was Sunday night. There was only enough time for one last try.

Admittedly, Rei was becoming worried. She had yet to find out what she did wrong. The booklet clearly lay out the instructions, and she followed every one of them, and still she had not been able to get it right. The girl returned to her bed with a heavy heart that night. She could not bear the thought of failing to give Shinji something special on Valentine's Day.

Sunday morning came very soon.

Rei was still feeling feverish when she woke up. Her head felt light, and her eyes were hazy. Nevertheless, she cleaned herself in the washroom and got dressed for the day. The girl then emptied her piggy bank and took the money. She needed it to replenish the ingredients. The fever was giving her an awkward gait, and she had to spend the entire morning walking to and from the supermarket where she acquired the new ingredients for the chocolates.

By the time she reached the NERV headquarters, the sick girl was already feeling faint. Unfortunately, Ritsuko was not present. She had taken a leave, explaining that it was an emergency and personal situation. The three technicians were given the responsibility to carry out the procedure, but they only noticed how pale and fragile Rei had become after the synch test was over.

"Rei, are you alright?" Maya asked, sounding concerned, "You don't look so well."

"Yes, I am fine," Rei lied. She checked her watch, only to realise that she had forgotten to put it on, "What time is it, Maya?"

"It's half past seven. Are you sure you're fine? Do you need me to walk you back home?" The female technician would have given her a ride if she had a car. Maya usually took the monorail train to work.

"I will be fine on my own. Thank you." Rei replied as she hastily left the NERV complex. The girl struggled to keep her balance as she walked back to her apartment. There was not much time left for her, and she needed to make use of every second. The First Child had not been able to achieve good results in the synch test that afternoon, but she at least felt lucky that the kind technicians decided to let her off after noticing her poor health.

Rei started working as soon as she reached her accommodation. This time, she decided to stick to the instructions manual and not add anything. The girl could only hope that her last attempt would give her a decent result.

As usual, she broke the chocolate bars and melted them in the oven. She then scooped them into the frying pan and kept them properly stirred. Her legs were getting shaky, and her hands felt very heavy. Rei was fatigued from the hours she spent doing the synch test. She hardly had any energy left in her thin frame, but her will to make Shinji happy kept her going.

A few minutes later, she began coating the nuts with the rich fluid. Rei made sure that the centres were properly and evenly covered with chocolate before allowing them to harden on the waxed paper lined tray. She finished the job by decorating the mint flavoured flakes on the chocolates, giving them a pleasant look.

Then, she walked tiredly to her bed and sat down. Her eyes scanned the room and stopped at her piggy bank. It was already empty, with just a few stray coins lying nearby. Rei only had enough money to buy the necessary ingredients for one last try that morning; and she genuinely did not know what else she could do should her current attempt fail. The girl did not even have the money to buy the cheapest pre-made chocolates from the supermarket anymore. So she waited anxiously for her home made ones to be ready.

Around an hour later, Rei returned to the kitchen. The smell was fresh and the small pieces of candies on the tray looked done and dry. She was still feeling unwell, but happy and relieved that she had at least managed to finish making the chocolates. Rei picked up one piece with her thin fingers and put it inside her mouth.

She spat it out reflexively. It tasted very bitter.

Sweats of panic started to form on her feverish body. She tried another piece, but it still tasted the same. It was her last chance and she refused to give up, so the poor girl tried another, and another, and another, but they were all the same and she was forced to spit them all out. Some fell on the sink; some on the pan; some on the floor.

A cold chill crept up her spine. She retrieved the wrap paper of the chocolate bars from the dustbin and examined it carefully. It was unsurprising when she found that the chocolate was well beyond its expiry date. Rei felt totally spent.

She couldn't possibly give this to Shinji. The boy would be unimpressed and it would ruin everything. Dejectedly, she walked back to her bedroom. Her eyes glanced at the alarm clock. It read eleven o'clock. The room suddenly felt so dark, as the girl began to fade out. She leaned against the wall, looking for support for her worn out legs. A short while later, Rei sat down at a corner. Her knees were drawn tightly to her chest.

The girl opened her mouth to say something, but then stopped halfway. Rei honestly felt like swearing, and she would have if she knew any swear words at all. She took a few deep breaths. Her eyes started to sting. She wiped the fluid away. Rei was completely exhausted.

In the end, she just sat there and wept quietly.

Perhaps the Second Child was right. Money was the best way to solve everything. Perhaps Rei should have bought that box of chocolate at the first place, instead of foolishly making the effort and trying to create something special. Shinji wouldn't even tell the difference between a pre-made chocolate from a home made one. And now everything was ruined and she had nothing left. Rei cried helplessly at her own failure.

The blue haired girl became so withdrawn in her little world that she didn't even notice her front door opening and a person walking in. The guest scanned the apartment, slightly amused at the sight of the messy kitchen. However, her heart broke when she saw her child crying at the corner. The instinct inside took over. She ran and crouched down beside Rei immediately.

"Rei, what's wrong? Are you hurt?" Ritsuko asked.

Upon hearing the doctor's voice, Rei stood up reflexively, before immediately falling to the floor again. Fortunately, Ritsuko caught her with her arms. The child's skin felt extremely hot.

"Oh dear," The doctor said as she scooped up Rei's thin body and lay her on the bed. "You've got a fever. That can be quite nasty…"

Rei kept silent as her still teary eyes followed the doctor around the room. Ritsuko took some bottles and an injection tube from her bag. She then filled the tube with a colourless fluid before attaching a needle onto it.

"I thought it was only a cold. Maya should've been more precise," The blonde said as she sat down beside Rei. She then wiped a piece of wet cotton on Rei's arm, "If I knew it was this serious, I would've come sooner. This may hurt a bit, but it's for your own good."

Rei felt a small prick on her right arm. She was already used to receiving injections from the doctor. What she didn't know was that these injections that Ritsuko had been giving her contained anti-bodies necessary for her to maintain good health. Rei had been taken away from her mother as soon as she was born, and the many experiments performed on the child since then had impaired the proper growth of her immune system, resulting in her having a generally weak body.

"Here, take these pills," The doctor said after she was done with the injection, "They'll make you feel better." She then handed Rei a few colourful pills and a glass of water.

The quiet girl did as she was told.

"So…" Ritsuko said, trying hard to get her child to talk, "What have you been doing to the poor kitchen?" She joked.

"I was making chocolates, madam," Rei replied politely. Needless to say, it stirred up a sour memory inside the doctor. She silently wished that one day she could get her child to call her a mother. However, she refused to let her misery show.

"Oh I see, that's very good," Ritsuko said smiling, "Mind if I try some?"

"No, but I failed. They tasted bitter," The girl answered; disappointment evident in her tone.

"Oh…well, don't be sad," The doctor kept her smile, "I didn't succeed when I first tried to make chocolates either. It's very normal."

"It was my third attempt."

If sweat dropping was possible, Ritsuko would be doing it by now. It seemed to her that Rei was probably as big a kitchen disaster as her dear friend Misato. There was a long silence. The blonde wanted to change to another topic, but couldn't find a proper one. And then her heart broke again when she saw Rei wiping away a teardrop.

Ritsuko wanted to make her child happier. She opened her mouth to say something, but couldn't find the words. And then something struck a chord inside her.

It wasn't normal that Rei would suddenly be interested in making her own food. It certainly couldn't be just a coincidence that this happened on the night before Valentine's Day. And a simple fever shouldn't have been enough to make Rei cry. The child may be weak physically, but her mother fully understood how strong she was on the inside. It all strung together and suddenly Ritsuko had a mischievous grin.

"Say…this doesn't have anything to do with tomorrow, does it?"

Rei was a little surprised. She gave an honest answer nevertheless, "Yes, it does."

"I see. So," The doctor laughed, "Who's the lucky boy?" She already knew the answer, but she wanted to hear his name from her daughter. It was simply a mother's nature.

Rei's cheeks were already flushed from her fever, but they were made even redder when she replied, "It is Shinji."

"That's an excellent choice," She laughed again, "So do you have anything for him tomorrow?"

"No." The young girl replied as she wiped away another teardrop.

"Then I guess it's your lucky day," Ritsuko said happily as she went to retrieve something from her bag. It was a packet of chocolates wrapped in transparent gift paper, with thin red linings running along the sides. "Misato forgot her own inabilities and promised her boyfriend home made candies on Valentine's Day. I was helping her this afternoon. That's why I wasn't able to attend the synch test. Sorry about that."

Rei's didn't want to question her superior, but she eventually lost to her curiosity, "But Maya told me it was an emergency and personal situation."

"She did?" Ritsuko raised an eyebrow. "I only told her it was personal…Misato must have added the emergency part then…" She sighed at the thought of her purple haired friend, "In any case, you can take these chocolates and give them to your boy tomorrow."

Rei received the packet from the doctor, with her cheeks heavily blushed. She stopped crying, but then there was a tear of gratitude, "T-Thank you…"

"You're welcome," Her mother smiled, "It's just some leftovers from this afternoon. I thought you might like it, so I brought it here. Looks like I did the right thing."

The blue haired girl kept staring at the packet, as hope returned to her heart. It wasn't what she had initially wanted, but she felt blessed for not having to go to school empty handed the following day. At least now there was something she could give to the boy. Ritsuko, on the other hand, noticed Rei's tired eyelids. She stood up, took the packet away from the child's hands, and pushed her onto the bed.

"I'll keep the chocolates for you," Ritsuko said, putting the packet on the table, "You must rest now. I'm staying for the night, so if you need anything, just tell me," She then pulled the blanket over her child's body, "Don't worry, I'll wake you up tomorrow and give you a ride to school."

Rei looked at the mother whom she still didn't know was hers, "I…I do not know what to say…It means a lot to me. Once again, I thank you…"

The blonde doctor would have kissed her on the forehead, but she knew Rei wasn't ready to accept the truth. So instead, she put up a warm smile as Rei drifted off to sleep. It wasn't long before she started to hear the soft snores coming from the exhausted girl.

Ritsuko stood up and walked to the kitchen. Rei's apartment was a mess as usual, and she thought it was time she took responsibility and helped her daughter. The doctor scanned the room for one last time, and then she picked up a wet cloth. Ritsuko was about to start cleaning when she was suddenly reminded of one thing.

Rei was the sort of person who would keep her own sufferings and complaints to herself. She would prefer to keep quiet, rather than share her burden with other people. It was one of the reasons why she was rarely given any credits for what she had done. Ritsuko knew her daughter well. The girl was too innocent to be asking for any kind attention she richly deserved. Perhaps the time had come for it to change.

The blonde looked at the sleeping child, and then at her apartment, and then back at her child again. She then put aside the wet cloth, walked to the chair beside the bed, and sat down. Her head leaned onto the bed as she slowly fell asleep. It was the first time the mother had spent a night with her daughter.

Monday came quickly.

Ritsuko woke up early in the morning, but she didn't want to disturb Rei's peaceful slumber. She wanted her feverish daughter to get enough sleep, and she figured a one-day-miss at the school wouldn't do Rei too much harm. So when Rei finally woke up, it was already four o'clock in the afternoon. School would end in half an hour.

The quiet girl wasn't one to complain, but admittedly she was a little worried, and nervous. She got changed into a new dress and followed Ritsuko out of the apartment, with the packet of chocolates carefully being carried in her arms. The doctor then gave her a ride to school. Ritsuko made sure she reminded Rei to tell Shinji that Rei herself had made the chocolates. It wasn't usual that a parent would teach her child to lie, but the blonde thought this was for Rei's own good.

The ride to school didn't take too long, but by the time they arrived at the front gate, the students were already swarming out. Rei climbed out of the car and proceeded to search for Shinji. Ritsuko waited in the car patiently. She wanted to make sure Rei got back home safely.

As the blue haired girl walked through the crowds, her eyes scanned the area repetitively, making sure she wouldn't miss the boy when he finally appeared. She noticed that there were already quite a few couples strolling together hand in hand and chatting happily. It seemed that everyone had found someone.

It certainly wasn't surprising when she saw Hikari and Suzuhara walking closely together, with the boy's arm wrapped around the girl's shoulder. The class rep had a faint blush on her cheeks, but she was chirping merrily with the boy walking beside her. They were simply bathed in their own world of romance. Rei felt happy for her friend, but her eyes never stopped looking for a certain brown haired boy.

Unknown to Rei, while she was doing the search, her target was waiting patiently for a certain unique looking girl to turn up.

Shinji had been very edgy during the whole day. The quiet girl had not come to class, and he was worried that she might have fallen sick, again. His eyes darted from left to right, hoping that by some miracle, he would be able to at least see her once before going back to Misato's apartment. Admittedly, the boy was a little concerned for another reason. He was hoping that Rei would give him some Valentine's chocolates, but so far, the only chocolates he had been receiving were from the girls whom he didn't even know their names.

What Shinji did with those chocolates made him feel a bit guilty, but he only cared about the ones from Rei. And at least his friend felt happy.

"Hey Shinji, I must thank you again man," Kensuke said, standing beside Shinji, "You saved me from embarrassment."

The Third Child glanced at his friend. Kensuke was holding bags of chocolates in both his hands, smiling triumphantly. They were all from Shinji actually; Kensuke himself received none. The nerdy looking boy shifted his balance from one foot to another, looking evident pleased with himself. After all, he still thought he looked like a cool geek.

"Yeah, don't mention it. I don't need them anyway…" Shinji replied.

As he returned his attention to the crowd, a mop of blue hair was suddenly spotted. The gentle sunlight made it look so silky, and her pale skin finally lit the light in Shinji's anxious heart. It seemed that Valentine's Day would not be wasted after all. His lips began to quiver; his eyes became watery. He wanted to shout, but couldn't find the voice. Shinji was simply too happy when he saw Rei skipping towards him.

"I knew you would come for me, Rei-chan!" In the end, he managed to squeak gleefully when the girl of his dream finally reached him.

"You knew I would come?" Rei asked, blushing heavily at the term Shinji just used. She was smiling, however, with the chocolates in her hands.

Before Shinji could reply, Kensuke snatched the packet from Rei, "Finally, someone who knows how to appreciate me!"

Rei was surprised. Shinji was simply mad. A punch to the geek boy's stomach later, his Valentine's chocolates were finally successfully delivered to its rightful owner. "Thank you Rei, thank you so much!" The boy said as he began rubbing the packet on his face.

"Are you alright, Shinji?" The blue haired girl watched on, slightly amused with what Shinji was doing. She then remembered what Ritsuko had told her. "Shinji…these chocolates…"

"I love it!" The boy blurted, his face still rubbing the packet.

"No, what I wanted to say was…was…" Rei stuttered, "Was that I did not make them myself. Dr Akagi made them and gave them to me." She finally finished the sentence, feeling a little disappointed with herself.

Shinji, on the other hand, didn't seem to care much. He simply adored the little gift she gave him. The boy picked up his bag and prepared to leave, "Come on, Rei! Let's go. Kensuke, are you coming?"

"Nah…" His friend answered, "I think I'll stay a bit longer. You two go and have fun."

Kensuke wasn't about to leave school so soon. There were still a lot of students around, and he figured if he stayed a little longer, perhaps a girl would come and give some Valentine's chocolate to him. Besides, he wanted to show off the bags of chocolates he received…Well, he received them from Shinji, but who would find out anyway.

"Alright then, I'll see you again tomorrow!" Shinji waved goodbye to him.

"Goodbye, Aida." Rei said, still smiling. She was slightly surprised at how much chocolates Kensuke had received, but she felt happy for the boy.

And so, the two children left the lonely Kensuke and proceeded to the front gate.

It was always amazing how fate intercepted when its target least expected it. No one ever knew exactly when their paths would cross with their eventual life long partners. People were always waiting, for something to happen, for their light to shine, for the rivers to meet, and today, Valentine's Day worked her magic.

Amidst the brilliant orange of the evening sun, a shocked Kensuke finally received the first box of Valentine Chocolate in his life. It was from a girl called Kirishima Mana, and this starting point would soon blossom into another lovely romance in the tales of Tokyo-3, but that was another story for another day.

Back to the First and Third Child,

"Why were you absent today, Rei? I was worried…" Shinji asked as they walked closely together, sounding concerned.

"I just felt a little tired," She half lied. Rei didn't want to bother Shinji with her health. Honestly, she was still feeling a little weak.

"Oh I see…" The boy said. The packet of chocolates was clutched tightly to his chest. "Anyway, do you…um…would you like to…"

Rei waited patiently for Shinji to finish, but it seemed that the boy needed some encouragement. So she gave it to him, "Would I like to do what, Shinji?"

"I was just wondering…if you would like to come home with me…" The timid boy said with his cheeks heavily blushed, "I'll be cooking tonight. Misato is away with Kaji; she said she'd be spending the night at the beach resort."

Her lips curved upwards into a small smile. A surge of warmth crept into her heart. However, once again, her curiosity prompted her to ask the next question, "What about Asuka?"

"Oh, I'm not too sure actually. She told me she was going to stalk Kaji and Misato though. I hope she was just kidding…but I haven't seen her the whole day."

Rei felt really happy just being with Shinji. She was about to agree with him on going home together, but then they had arrived at the school exit. Ritsuko's car was parked outside waiting for them. Remembering what Rei had told him, Shinji walked towards the doctor to thank her for the chocolates. Rei followed closely behind.

"Hello, Dr Akagi," he greeted the blonde.

"Hello, Shinji, I see you've got the packet from Rei," Ritsuko smiled teasingly.

"Oh, yeah, thank you for the chocolates, doctor. Rei told me you made them."

The NERV scientist shot a curious look at her daughter. It certainly wasn't normal that Rei would disobey her, but perhaps the young girl had begun to understand that not every order deserved to be followed. And for this, she smiled for the child. Ritsuko's inside swelled with pride at her daughter's courage to be honest.

"You're welcome, Shinji. Hmm…maybe you can return the favour by walking Rei back home? I've got some work to do at NERV."

"Oh…that…" The boy blushed heavily again as he replied, "Well…I invited Rei to come home with me…so…"

Ritsuko, however, wasn't fazed. She pressed her hands on Shinji's shoulder and whispered into his ear, "No, trust me, walk her back to her apartment. And make sure you step inside her home. There's something I think you need to see for yourself."

Before Shinji could ask any further questions, the doctor got back into her car, restarted the engine, waved goodbye to the two children and sped off into the horizon. Valentine's Day was the day designed to bring couples together, but whoever said couples needed to consist of a guy and a girl? Different people were born with different affections, and Ritsuko felt blessed that a certain bubbly female technician was waiting for her somewhere in a local bar.

And so Shinji and Rei walked back to her apartment together. It had always been a mystery how comfortable they felt in each other's presence, even when silence was the only sound. Perhaps they were not just friends anymore; perhaps they were only waiting for the right age; perhaps they were already lovers; or perhaps they were more than that. It didn't matter, however, because things just happened. In a world full of uncertainties, the bridge bonding their young hearts stood solid and proud.

Couples strolled along the streets. The young ones dressed in all kinds of fashions, energetic or just casual; and the old ones simply joined in the fun and shared a laugh in the memories of the past, their hearts never fading and their love living in eternal smiles.

"Shinji, do you think about the future?" Rei asked suddenly.

"Sometimes, why do you ask?"

"I am just curious."

The boy turned and looked at the girl. The evening sunlight washed over her pale skin with a brilliant orange. Her feathery hair danced elegantly along the wind. His heart melted; there was an urge to just bend over and kiss her on the neck. It was time like this that made Shinji grateful for having lived.

"Don't worry about the future," He said, "Let us treasure this moment, and allow it to live forever, in our memories…"

And so it was decided that their first step would happen on a Valentine's Day. Amidst the melodious songs celebrating the couples in the streets of Tokoy-3, the boy slipped his hand onto hers, giving it a gentle squeeze. Their faces blushed; their fingers slowly interlocked. It finally happened. Rei and Shinji were officially dating at last.

The story didn't start here, and it certainly wouldn't end as long as the flame of humanity kept burning.

There was the moment when Shinji eventually stepped inside Rei's apartment and saw the mess in her kitchen; there was the moment when he became too moved by her efforts that he just couldn't stop crying; then there was the moment when he simply knelt down on the floor, picked up the failed chocolates, and ate them hungrily even though they tasted so bitter. In the end, it was the hearts that counted, and it was moments like this that kept the love and passion blazing brilliantly.

Rei and Shinji didn't spend their night on a five-star ocean liner; they didn't have their dinner in a restaurant by a beautiful beach resort; they didn't buy their gifts from the posh Imperial Theatre; neither did they wear expensive clothes decorated by gold and jewellery. Luxuries were secondary as long as the two Valentines were happy and together.

Perhaps one day in the future, they might even look back to this day, and share a laugh about how they spent their first Valentine's Day eating instant noodles and boiled eggs in that cluttered kitchen of Rei's apartment.

In the end, they had fun. And that was all that mattered.

The teenage couple spent the night caressing each other on Rei's bed, touching each other on places they normally wouldn't do. Nothing serious happened, unfortunately. They had their clothes on. Everything was mutual. And so, with Shinji sleeping by her side that night, Rei experienced the first orgasm in her young life.

And somewhere in the horizon, a shooting star soared across the night sky into the twilight, carrying a wish that Shinji made long ago. "My future, with you will be something I'll get a hold of and I'll never let it go."

Authors' note: Part two will be posted by 14 March (White Day). Optimus Magnus will be writing it and Seamok will be doing the pre-read. We wish all Rei fans a Happy Valentine's Day. Thank you.