Love In 30
A Neon Genesis Evangelion fic
Disclaimer: All credit goes to Gainax and to the Instrumental Human himself, Hideaki Anno.
The 30 prompts scheme was taken from the 30moments LJ community here: http/ It is not being claimed, and I am grateful to the creators of the community for their inspiration.
Warning: Powerfully, positively Gendo/Rei. Freudian and so deeply twisted. I apologize for nothing. They are The OTP.
1.Bending the Rules
She's fourteen; Gendo reminds himself. For the umpteenth time, she's barely an adolescent. Her face has that… unfinished shape of a growing girl, round and doll-like. She's half his height.
She's not human.
He is her guardian. If it's a girl… Rei. And the only one she ever smiles at. When he talks to her in the shadow of the great Evangelion, he repeats, many times, in his head the words he will say to her when the world ends.
Take me to Yui.
He rehearses these words. They give him confidence.
Sometimes, though, she raises her head like so, and the tilt of her neck like such, and he looks further downwards…
And she does.
2. Breakfast Nook
"Huh… no, he lives on work!"
Misato makes that a throwaway comment during Synchronization training when Gendo isn't in the Geofront. It's seven AM in the morning, somebody dared to ask if maybe the Commander is having breakfast.
Inside Unit-00, Rei is suddenly very hungry.
The Commander lives on work... When Asuka or Shinji miss their breakfast, they always come in to practice grumpy and complaining…
"Rei? … you missed."
"Just a little more, all right? Then we can all go eat together."
Rei doesn't want to eat; she wants to get the next shot right.
3. Lighting the Way
"She is the means to Instrumentality; She is a very lucky girl."
"That and other things."
Take me to Yui…
"She isn't a girl, Ikari. She's a… a… machine. We made her… almost from spare parts. She even looks like a doll."
His fist lands on the table just next to Ritsuko's hand.
"She isn't a doll."
She is the means to Instrumentality. She is luckier than any of them, in a way.
"… and better than us… yes. She could teach us many things."
Ritsuko keeps looking at him. "She's not human, Ikari!"
Of course she isn't, Gendo knows; does that make it better or worse?
4. Lemony Fresh
Asuka is making a fuss. "But Kaji's coming! Where did you hide my shoes? Did you see where Misato put the lipstick? What do you mean it's hers? Shinji! Baka! You don't know anything about men do you!"
Rei backs away from the doorway a little. "Who is coming?"
"Kaji!" Asuka flares up. "Right around the corner. Can't you smell him? He's got the most wonderful smell!"
"Kaji." Rei nods. "And Commander Ikari."
Asuka and Shinji look ready to die. The Second Child looks at her, like she always does.
"Can you smell him or something?"
Rei would tell her that she doesn't, she just knows; but she has a feeling she should not.
5. Grocery Shopping
"Whatever you wish."
Gendo has never seen quite this sort of look on the Children. So he studies it briefly. Shinji looks like Shinji always looks.
Asuka is staring at Rei. "I can't go shopping with her!" She says.
And Rei says nothing.
You misunderstand, Gendo thinks, you are being given permission, and enough credit to spend a day purchasing whatever you deem right, within reasonable limitations. The decision of whether to exploit this or not is in your hands.
But what he says is, "you can, and you will."
6. Petting the Cat
Dr. Akagi's cat jumps up on the desk again. The cat has been loose in the NERV complex for almost three days now. For some reason, Commander Ikari's desk is his favorite place to sleep.
Fuyutsuki, Misato and Dr. Akagi are all talking up a storm around Commander Ikari and Rei. They're arguing, disagreeing, brainstorming, fighting, getting inspired and offended. Sometimes he punctuates their conversation with a few precise words that no one can argue with.
With one hand, he strokes the sleeping cat.
If I walk out, Rei thinks, he'll stop.
But she doesn't. She likes watching his hand move.
What you need is a guilty pleasure, Misato says to him one day, he doesn't remember the circumstances. And somehow the thought sticks. The shopping trip is not a disaster and not a success. Rei comes back with all of her money unspent.
"What you need is a guilty pleasure," he tells her.
Rei blinks. "What do you mean, Commander Ikari…?"
What does he mean? "Bad television. Expensive shoes. Peanut butter sandwiches."
Rei blinks again. And she smiles at him, just a little bit, just a tiny, unnoticeable, miniscule little smile. "I don't know how to make them."
And Gendo says "come with me" before he lets himself think about it.
8. Road Trip
When Commander Ikari is away (business trip, he said, and the look in his eyes said, I hate this, please believe me), NERV base is a very quiet place. Misato sleeps in almost every day, and only wakes up when PenPen reminds her to feed him. Ritsuko finds her absentee cat again.
Shinji is happy all day long, and he and Asuka don't fight quite as much, although they do fight of course. Asuka stays over with friends three nights in a row because she can. The Evangelions lurk in their cages and look content.
And Rei cries herself to sleep at night.
9. Walk through the Roses
"Don't go in there with that."
The image sticks in his head; a small fourteen years old girl, with pale hair and red eyes, holding a rose, just on the other side of his closed door.
"Why…? Isn't today - ?"
"Oh don't waste your breath, Third Child! She doesn't really understand Valentine!"
Gendo cannot stand roses, a natural mix of apprehension, allergies, bitter memories and vulnerability.
"I'm only trying to do what everyone else – "
"No, you're not!"
He hears Shinji shout; he pictures little hands cringing about the rose. He gets up and opens the door.
10. Salt Water, Sand, Beach
"It's so peaceful here."
"Yes; I love this place. The waves make a very calming sound, don't you think?"
"They smell wonderful too… Mm, salty. Nothing smells like the sea."
"We used to come here, you know… me and her. That's her favorite place, right off under those cliffs. Maybe…"
"You don't have to take me there. I understand. You have all the time you need."
"Thank you, you… you always understand."
"Only because you do."
Rei gives Gendo a smile; at that same moment, when she realizes they have not actually spoken a word.
11. Teaching a Lesson
Now every time she climbs into the entry plug his pulse speeds up.
Not for Shinji; if anything happens to Shinji, it would be the boy's own fault. Not for Asuka; Asuka is indestructible for the time being. When Rei's Synchronization rate starts showing up on the screens, his hands tingle unpleasantly.
"I am to act as backup to Unit-01."
"I will do as Commander Ikari says."
And he learns the flipside of creating something perfect.
12. Play boy/girl
"Well, go on then! Go to her! Don't mind me! I'm just the not-important Asuka Langley Sohryu! Nobody! Nothing! I surely don't matter as much as Wondergirl!"
"Ooh, don't 'Asuka' me! I know you prefer to spend time with her, she's harmless, isn't she? She's just Commander Ikari's little doll!"
"Asuka, it isn't – "
"Just like you! You're his plaything too aren't you? Shinji-doll! You make such a couple!"
"Come on, Asuka!"
"You two should go and be boy-doll and girl-doll together! Maybe when he gets very bored one day he'll – "
Rei isn't there at all.
"I think you should go to the school for Rei," Misato says.
"You will be the one to go, Major Katsuragi."
"You're the closest thing she has to a parent figure."
"All the school requires is a figure of authority in the child's life."
"You are the authority in Rei's life, Commander Ikari. I don't think I'll understand what they tell me about her either way."
"This discussion is over, Major."
"You didn't do it for Shinji. I understand. But Rei is… you've played the role of father to her before, Commander, she needs - "
And they never speak about it again.
14. Champagne and Handcuffs
"People do the strangest things when they're in love," Asuka says one day.
Rei and Shinji look at her. "What do you mean 'strange'?" Shinji asks.
Asuka flips over and lies on her stomach, legs in the air. "Ah, they bring champagne to work and say they don't know who send it, neh, do you really believe Misato about that? And she keeps handcuffs in the drawer by her bed, I saw them!"
Shinji goes as red as Unit-02. "That's none of your business, Asuka!"
"That isn't what people do when they're in love," Rei says quietly, just as they get ready to start a fight.
For the rest of that day, they avoid her.
15. Midnight Drinks
When the clock strikes midnight Fuyutsuki is on his doorstep with a bottle of something so strong Gendo can smell it from across the room. "Don't argue with me," he says. "Drink up. I know you need it."
Gendo has been resolving himself to a hangover since he woke up. He doesn't argue.
"You know," he says, after the fifth or sixth glass. "She isn't really dead. There isn't a body."
Fuyustuki just nods like he understands. Gendo hates that.
"She isn't really dead," he insists, dimly knowing that this is what he always says when he's drunk. "She's in here. In this complex. In EVA. In… "
"In Rei," Fuyutsuki says quietly.
Gendo looks down at the empty bottle, and knows that he did this to himself.
16. Larger than Life
He keeps wincing, just a little bit, whenever Misato speaks out too loud.
He is pale and behind his ever-present dark glasses his eyes are more often than not half-closed. These are things that only Rei sees. He is stone-still and calculating, distant and unresponsive; he is hunched up and tight about some inner pain, sleepy and apathetic.
He's sick? Her Synchronization rate begins to drop. He didn't sleep enough. His head hurts. You can see it. They can't see it. He is Commander Ikari Gendo.
He is not looking at her. Maybe he is human. And the maybe frightens her.
17. Four Poster Bed
When he opens the door, Ritsuko is already there, on the bed. "You work late," she says meaninglessly. It is a thing she says, so they won't both be silent.
He sits down on the bed next to her and takes his glasses off, it is the one thing he never allows her to do. His jacket, next, she already takes off herself, and his shirt and trousers, and he lets her. She enjoys it. He imagines that he can understand.
When he thinks that he shudders hard, and when that happens, he sends her out of the room and tells her not to come back for tonight. She does, but she sobs on the way, damn her.
She is an incompetent lover; and looks nothing like Yui; but he has to keep the fantasies at bay somehow.
18. Blades of Fate
Rei lies in bed and listens to the silence. It is the first day of salvage.
Her mind, where the water does not flow, is filled with the sounds of hissing and sizzling, steam coming and fluid giving way, and the faint sounds of effort and pain from somewhere on the outside.
She raises her head just a little bit, and Gendo is sitting at the foot of her bed as she knew he will. She is hurt, and so he is there. He is always there when she is hurt.
It is the first day of salvage.
And Rei wonders about love.
19. Fast and the Furious
On the thirtieth day to salvage, Gendo asks Rei whether she misses him.
"I miss him," Rei says. "Do you miss him?"
Gendo doesn't answer, which Rei understands.
They are standing by the EVA, the bandaged, mauled, staring thing.
"Do you fear it?" Rei asks.
Yes, Gendo says. He fears it. Any sensible man would fear it, and take measures to control it. He said as much to Ristuko, Misato, Fuyutsuki.
But not to Rei.
To Rei he says, "it's happening too fast. It's happening too soon."
Because he fears it, after all. He fears it deeply.
Later, he doesn't recall which of them says that this was never supposed to happen – they were never supposed to be here. But it doesn't matter; they both know the answer to that.
20. Digging Deeper
Tell me about your mother, Ikari-kun.
She would come to him at school. She would talk to him in class. She would time the conversation, and when a teacher came in they will have to stop.
Tell me about your mother, Ikari-kun.
She would come to him early in the morning, when Misato and Asuka are in the other room, getting dressed maybe. She would talk to him when either of them might come in any moment and they will have to stop.
Tell me about your mother, Ikari-kun.
She will come to him before they go in for a testing session. She will talk to him in the sight of the Evangelions. She will ask him when any moment, Commander Ikari might come in and they would have to –
Tell me about your mother, Ikari-kun.
No… she isn't that cruel.
21. Admitting the Truth
He takes off the glasses and stares into the mirror.
This could be the end of us, Ikari. You knew that, you knew that all along.
She isn't human. She'll never be real like you and me. How can you choose her?
What are the EVAs? What is she? What are you!
I'm not yours…
"It's all right," Rei says behind him. "I'm here."
22. Secret Treasure
She has his glasses. In her room.
They are broken, and the break is by now very old, and the lenses are murky, and have lost most of their color. This, even though she kept them safe inside a special box, and opened it only once in a while to look at them, and sometimes, sometimes, hold them in her hands.
He has new glasses, since, because broken glasses are the sort of thing you change, and he needs them, anyhow. You don't come back to ask for your broken glasses, and he doesn't know she keeps them, and sometimes takes them out, and holds them near, because even though they are rusty and broken and out of shape, they make her feel safe and warm.
They are just broken glasses, but she had his glasses in her room.
23. Counting Your Blessings
"It's for Rei," Gendo says.
He feels rather stupid standing there with Fuyutsuki looking over him; he feels very young. The older man takes the book from his hand and studies it.
"A bit too much for a girl her age isn't it?" He comments sharply, and Gendo wants to break his jaw.
Ikari Gendo wants a lot of things. He pulls the book back defensively, fixes his glasses on his nose and stands still. She doesn't really need any more books, there are plenty of books in the NERV complex, but no one will give them to you. Find them by yourself.
"What are you doing, Ikari?" Fuyutsuki asks him for the first time.
"Counting my blessings," he says as he starts walking, and he is the only one who admits it.
24. Fight or Flight
"Well need a new pilot for Unit-01; Shinji won't pilot EVA anymore."
"We'll need a new pilot for Unit-02; Asuka can't pilot her EVA anymore."
Her plug is comfortable and warm and smells of her; there is always Rei.
"Do you only pilot EVA for the appreciation of others?" She wonders out loud. And "Why do you hate your father?"
"What was that, Rei?"
"Nothing." There is always Rei. In her Evangelion. Safe.
And there is always Ikari Gendo watching her from the Geofront. Why do I pilot EVA?
25. Black Mist
"Tell her I..."
… married Yui on this day fifteen years ago and today I can't breath so…?
"She just wants a moment, Commander."
"Tell her, I…"
… want to sit here until this day isn't anymore…?
"Tell her to…"
Leave me alone, Rei… I can't look at you. I can't look at you. I can't…
"What should I tell her, Commander?"
Help me God, I'm talking out loud.
"Tell her to come in."
26. Book Shelf
Rei is sitting and reading a schoolbook, and Gendo has fallen asleep on his desk.
Falling asleep in a stranger's presence is something most people are psychologically unable to do, Rei read once in a book that Gendo gave her. For those for whom trust and confidence come hard, falling asleep next to anyone but a family member is all but impossible.
She puts the book aside, drags her chair over and puts her head next to his on his arm, and breathes with him for a while.
But it doesn't work; all she can see are the lines of distress in his face, and the movement of his eyes under their lids, and hear the faint roughness in his breath, things that she could never see unless she was very close. And she certainly cannot fall asleep.
27. Cooking; in the Kitchen
"Rei, bring the pan over, please."
"Mm… yes. Here."
"Do you like the way this smells?"
"I think so. It's spicy. I don't know if I would like the way it will taste."
"Well. Cooking is half the pleasure of a meal."
"I think you need to teach Shinji how to cook too."
"Shinji already knows. Besides, I don't think he would enjoy it very much. Not with me."
"Maybe if I was there…"
"Rei, that's a lovely idea. But do you really think you could stand us both in the same room?"
She smiles, and he smiles; but Gendo can't help but wonder what they have actually said.
28. Nobody's Angel
She is in pain. Ayanami Rei. She is Ayanami Rei.
She is lonely. Is she lonely? She is one. Is she one? She wants to share. Does she want to share?
She shares. She shares everything.
And then she is crying. Because nothing was ever of my own?
There is an Angel. Invading her EVA. Intruding her body. Breaking her AT Field. She is scared. She is in pain. She is Rei Ayanami and she is crying.
She does not know loneliness. Loneliness? I don't understand it. Pain. Sorrow. Hurt. Fear.
Never loneliness. Never.
My soul wants to become one with Ikari-kun?
And so, Rei's heart denied her soul.
29. Like a -
"I love her."
"I wish to protect her."
… Ikari Gendo?
"She is my – "
- daughter? –
" – hopes."
- lover? –
"For the future."
- wife? –
"She isn't Yui!"
"She isn't Yui."
She isn't Yui.
"She is – "
"She is – "
Say her name.
"She is – "
"She isn't – "
"I love her."
"I love her."
Like a child.
"I am not – "
Like a kitten.
"She is my – "
Like a -
"She – "
"She – "
- isn't –
"Yui… Yui, forgive me…"
30. In the moment
"Take me to Yui."
He has rehearsed these words. He has said them to himself countless times, on countless nights, over years and years, and miserable years.
It's time. The world is ending, and the LCL is sparkling invitingly. Rei is falling apart.
It didn't hurt, Rei thinks; it'll be all right, it didn't hurt.
"Now, take me to Yui," Gendo says, and he touches her.
An end to loneliness, an end to incompleteness, an end to pain and sorrow. He touches her.
It hurts, Rei thinks. Touching hurts. And still, she was created for this; she prepares to take him into herself.
Take me to Yui, Gendo thinks a third time; but he is looking at Rei and touching her. And Rei feels him hesitate.
In the moment, everything begins to shift.