Chapter 3: Unexpected Union: Flashback Pt. 2
Shinji stuck his bank card into the ATM again with a groan.
Come on... Come on, you piece of...
But the offending machine, as if purposefully mocking him, spat the card out for the third time while the words "TEMPORARILY OUT OF SERVICE" flashed across the small LED screen. The teen sighed aloud as he grabbed the thin rectangle of plastic and shoved it back into his wallet.
Jeez...if it's not working, at least have the decency to leave a note! Shinji thought, silently cursing the bank's administrators or whoever was in charge of keeping the automated tellers running. Finally accepting that it was futile, he began the long walk around to the entrance of the Tokyo Metropolitan Bank, not noticing the peculiar car that had just pulled into the parking lot's driveway.
There was nothing odd superficially about the car, outside of what it was in context of where it was. It was first and foremost a foreign car-- a sky-blue Volkswagen Beetle, with a khaki-colored retractable soft-top. Moreover, it was one of the vintage kinds--possibly from as far back as the late 1960's. It would not have been strange to see one of these in Europe 30 years ago, or even in the United States. But it was in Japan, and a car this old and of this type in this country was sure to turn some heads.
However, the driver of said motor-vehicle had no concerns about whether or not people noticed the little Beetle. No one could steal it, provided the out-of-place security system worked; and besides, it wasn't like anyone had a chance of catching her while she was behind the wheel. The woman in the driver's seat parked the car close to the exit, which would help shave precious seconds off her escape time. She adjusted her long, purple-tinted wig and slipped on a round-rimmed pair of dark sunglasses before stepping out and hitting the 'lock' button on her car remote, making it beep twice. Without turning around, she headed for the front door when she bumped shoulders with someone reaching for the same handle.
"Oh--sorry!" Shinji said reflexively as he pulled back to allow the odd-looking woman to pass. She had purplish-colored hair that fell just past her shoulder blades, which contrasted horribly with her pale skin, or what was visible beyond the boundaries of her black windbreaker. Her eyes were hidden behind her sunglasses, which seemed fine to Shinji because he was sure that they had to be as strange as her other features.
"...Forgive me," the woman said with a nod as she stepped aside. "You can go ahead of me." Had Shinji accepted her offer, he would have gotten out of the bank before trouble started. Unfortunately for Shinji, however, his mother had drummed a philosophy of chivalry and humility into his skull.
"Oh, no really--it's my fault," he responded with a polite smile as he held the door open. "...You go first." The purple-haired woman gave him a quizzical expression before smiling and entering through the open gateway.
"Well, that's very nice of you. It's nice to see that some people have manners these days." She walked straight up to one of the shorter lines and waited for her turn behind an old woman and a middle-aged mother with a bawling child in her arm. Shinji, seeing that the other three tellers had lines that stretched to the back of the building, got in place so that he was right after the woman with purple hair.
Damn... she thought as she narrowed her eyes from behind her shades. Well, I guess I'll have to keep it careful this time. No casualties if I can avoid it.
"...And here's your reciept. Have a nice day, ma'am." The teller smiled at the old woman as she hobbled away on her cane, then grabbed the nearly 10 pounds of rolled pennies at once, groaning as she leaned down to the safe.
Damnit, this is SO not my day, she whined to herself as she entered the last number of the combination and opened the heavy steel door, tossing the pennies haphazardly into the secure box. I can't imagine how this could get any worse... She screwed her smile back into place as she got off the ground and back to her small section of the counter.
"Hello, welcome to the Tokyo Metro Bank...What can I do for you today?"
"Yes," the purple-haired woman said with a smile, speaking quietly enough to not be overheard by the other patrons. "...I'd like to make a withdrawal."
"Well, certainly, ma'am. We'll just be needing your ID and account number--"
"...No, I don't think we'll be needing that," the sunglasses-donning female said gregariously as she slipped a derringer out of the inside-breast pocket of her windbreaker and pointed it at the teller, positioning herself so that the tiny pistol was barely visible to anyone besides the two women. "...Don't scream," she said in barely a whisper upon seeing the other woman's eyes widen in fear. "...Now I'd like to keep this quiet. 'Civil,' if you will. So if you wouldn't mind emptying out that safe, and any cash you have access to, I'd very much appreciate it." The woman didn't need to be told twice. She turned around and, as calmly as she could, headed toward the safe. Neither of them saw one of the other tellers take notice of them from her stall, or slide her hand beneath the counter to hit the silent alarm.
Ritsuko walked casually up to the disorganized desk of her partner, sighing as she looked at the stacks upon stacks of unfinished papers and depositions.
"Damn, Misato, when the hell are you gonna clean this place up?" From behind the wall of dead trees a violet-haired woman popped up her head, taking a moment to swallow the chunk of burger in her mouth before answering.
"Hey, I'll clean it up whenever I get around to it. I just haven't had any free time is all."
"What are you talking about?" the bleached blonde said accusingly. "...You're eating lunch right now--If you've got time for that, then you can at least take a few minutes to organize some of these." She picked up a stack of the papers and leafed through them for about a second before sighing and pulling a paper-clipped set out and waving them at Misato. "Look at this! The filing department's been breathing down my neck for this document for the last three weeks! You could've at LEAST had the decency to say that they should have been yelling at you instead!"
"Wah wah wah! Baby Witsuko's scawwed of da big bad papah-pushahs!" Misato mocked in an exaggerated baby voice before bursting into laughter at her own joke. Ritsuko sighed again, unable to believe how she could possibly have endured a friendship with this exasperating woman for the last 10 years.
"...Look, all I'm saying is that you should be more responsible. I can't imagine that it's very easy to tell your assignments apart from each other like this!" Misato, who had slumped over onto the desk in a state of post-meal drowsiness, didn't bother to look up at her friend.
"...You know, they say that being 'un-organized' is a sign of genius," Misato wearily said, as though proud of it.
"Don't you mean disorganized?" Ritsuko sarcastically quipped. Misato was silent a moment as she suddenly realized how easily she'd painted herself into a corner. She'd never admit that to Ritsuko's face however.
"...Whatever," the lazy woman muttered before shifting her head into a more comfortable position. Her friend glared at her from above the desk.
"Hey! Don't fall asleep at work, damnit!" Ritsuko barked angrily, but within seconds the only sound coming from Misato was an occasional snore. The blonde rubbed her forehead in disbelief. "I swear to God, Misato, you're such a--" she was cut off by the blaring of a siren in the middle of the room. Misato stuck her head up instantly, her body conditioned to stop napping as soon as duty called.
"...Looks like someone tripped an alarm system," Ritsuko said over her shoulder to Misato as the violet-haired woman followed her to the giant digital map on the far wall of the precinct. After a few seconds spent staring at the flashing dot indicating the location of the alarm, both women turned to each other in shock.
"...Do you think it's..." Ritsuko began warily.
"No doubt about it," Misato said with a satisfied smile on her face. "...It's definitely her. A bank in broad daylight? Only she's that bold." With that, Misato turned to the other cops surrounding her, all fatigue gone from her voice as she spoke clearly and with an undeniable zeal. "All right, boys--time to nab us a bank robber!" At once every available officer in the building headed for the parking garage with Ritsuko, while Misato ran to grab her light-brown trenchcoat and matching fedora.
Shinji hummed to himself as his SDAT played through Beethoven's Ninth again. He'd taken the beloved music player out of his backpack shortly after getting in line, but he could only take standing here waiting for so long.
What the hell is that woman doing? he thought in annoyance as he glared at the purple-haired girl in question, who had been at the counter for nearly 15 minutes now. Is she selling her firstborn or something? He would have said something excepting the fact that he would never be so rude in real life, regardless of how annoyed he may have been.
And I'll bet Mom's worried about me, too...
Suddenly the woman made a nod at the teller and turned around, carrying a very big bag. Shinji couldn't help staring at the burlap sack, wondering just what kind of money this weird lady had. She was about to pass him and head out the door when the flashing and ringing of sirens came out of nowhere and to a stop in front of the frosted glass of the bank entrance. The boy looked up to see a dazed expression on the woman's face. Before Shinji could put two and two together, she grabbed him in a headlock with her right arm, dropping the sack in the process.
"Hey, what the--" Shinji began, but instantly stopped upon feeling the cool metal of a gun barrel on his cheek. The woman leaned her face close to Shinji's, so that only he would hear her.
"...If you play along and don't make a fuss, I won't have to kill you. We clear?" Shinji didn't have a chance to answer as the bank patrons, finally realizing what was going on, began to whimper in fear and try to run. "DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!" the violet-haired woman yelled out as she pointed the derringer in her hand at a suited man attempting to nonchalantly escape through the side door. He instantly ran back to the group as they put their hands in the air and gathered in the middle of the bank.
The policeman set down his binoculars and turned to look at his two commanding officers.
"Dectectives Katsuragi and Akagi-- it looks like there's only one assailant!"
"Good," Ritsuko said as she took a final drag on her cigarette and tossed it into the street. There were about 5 squad cars stationed around the building, and officers in groups of four were surrounding the exits.
"Perimeter secure!" a voice crackled over Misato's walkie-talkie. She picked it up with a smile on her face.
"All right, on my signal, all squads move in. Ready?...Go!" Misato yelled into the communicator as she ran for the nearest door.
The woman couldn't help but sigh as a swarm of gun-toting officers kicked the building's doors in, smashing the glass as they moved to surround her in a semicircle.
Same procedure as everywhere...I swear, cops just don't have any ingenuity.
She was shaken out of her disdainful thoughts as one of the policemen stepped towards her, his gun raised at her head.
"Drop the weapon and let the boy go!" He screamed at her. She only looked at him carefully. The slight shaking of the pistol in his hand, the telltale beads of sweat running down his face... She couldn't help but chuckle slightly. "WHAT IS IT?" the officer bellowed, his agitation becoming more evident by the second.
"...You've never fired a gun outside of target practice, have you?" she said with a slightly mocking tone. His eyes widened in surprise, but he said nothing verbally to confirm she was right. Instead his mouth opened and closed slightly, like a fish gasping for breath.
"Easy, Hyuga," came a confident woman's voice from one of the entrances. Misato walked up to the semicircle as the officer she had called 'Hyuga' lowered his pistol slightly and stepped back in line with his fellow officers, quickly shifting his Magnum to his left hand while he pushed the square-lensed glasses on his face back up the bridge of his nose with his right. "Well, well, well. So we finally meet face-to-face," Misato said with unbridled cockiness as she smiled at her quarry. "...I have to say, I love what you've done to your hair." The woman holding Shinji hostage gave Misato a sly grin.
"So...You're the great Misato Katsuragi, eh? I've only heard your voice before, myself. You're not as young as I thought you'd be." To her satisfaction, the detective bristled visibly upon hearing the implication that she was 'old.'
"...Don't bother, kid," Misato said as she recovered herself. "...You're outnumbered AND outgunned here. So drop the gun and put both hands into the air." To Shinji's relief, the thief dropped her gun on the floor with a clatter, then slowly released her grip on him and put her hands at her sides. "...I said, BOTH HANDS IN THE AIR!" Misato repeated with a deadly urgency. The woman complied, but not before slipping her right hand, shielded from view by Shinji, into the pocket of her light jacket. "That's much better. Now," she motioned to Shinji, "...Just let the kid go." Shinji started to walk towards the detective when the female thief stopped him with her voice.
"...I wouldn't do that..."
"SHUT UP!" Misato growled at her, unable to stop herself from getting riled up. "...You're in no position to make threats, little girl. If you're lucky, you might get off with 25 years by the time we're done with--"
"Detective! There's something in her hand!" Misato flinched at hearing Hyuga's warning, and at once every cop in the bank was staring at the heretofore-unnoticed bulge in the woman's right hand.
"What is that?" Misato demanded as she whipped out the Magnum hidden beneath her coat and aimed it squarely at the other woman's chest. "DROP IT!" The thief smiled to herself as she let fall from her hand a small round object, only slightly bigger than a rubber ball. It bounced about half a foot upon impact, and before it could touch the ground again its owner kicked it towards the ring of policemen. They had no time to react as it exploded into a blinding flash of light that enveloped the room.
Shinji felt the woman's hand shield his eyes and pull him into another headlock just as the tiny Flashbang went off.
"Come ON!" she said urgently as she dragged him toward one of the exits, grabbing the fallen bag of cash as she went.
Misato rubbed her eyes, trying to make the room stop spinning and to ignore the ringing in her ears as every other person in the bank suffered from the same symptoms as she.
"W...what the hell...?" She managed as she forced her eyes to focus and find that the building was short one bankrobber, hostage and a sackful of money. "She's gone!" She wanted to curse her head off, but there was no time for that. If they hurried... "On your feet, boys!" Misato yelled over her shoulder as she ran for the door.
If we hurry...
The squad outside... they had to have slowed her down...
Misato ran out the exit to find nothing more than Ritsuko and four of her five officers standing around in a daze. It took the trenchcoat-wearing detective a moment to process what she was seeing.
"W-w-what the HELL is THIS!" she screamed at them. "You're all just sitting on your asses? Why didn't anyone try to stop her!"
"We DID, Misato!" Ritsuko said defensively as she stepped to the side. Misato gasped involuntarily when she saw what her friend had been standing in front of. "...And this is what happened." Lying in the parking lot was a policeman, his eyes twitching slightly as he shook like a leaf.
"Wh...what happened?" The violet-haired woman asked in shock.
"...When she ran out here, this poor guy headed straight for her getaway car. Cut her off, you know? Well, the second he touched the body, he fell over like he was having a seizure. He's showing all the signs of electric shock, but we're not sure how much voltage was running through him before he fell."
A booby-trapped car...
Misato glared off in the distance as she threw her fedora to the ground in a fit.
"DAMN YOU, AYANAMI!"
Shinji glanced nervously over at the woman from his position in the passenger seat of the light-blue Beetle. She was in the middle of juggling the tasks of looking through her 'earnings' and watching the road she was driving on. It took him a moment of solid thinking for the impact of what had just happened to hit him in full force.
Oh God...Oh God...What's going to happen to me? How did this happen? What about my parents? What if they think I'm dead? What if--
"Damn, it's just chump change," the thief sighed as she tossed the bag into the cramped backseat.
If I'd had more time or the place wasn't so full, I might have been able to snag a bit more. And now I've got a hostage, of all things...
Her mind kept on this train of thought as she unconciously reached up to the wigline of the purple mop on her head and yanked it off in a single tug, letting her real hair spill carelessly into the wind. It was a few moments before she noticed that her 'hostage' was staring at her in bewilderment.
"...What is it?" she asked as she turned her face to the boy, who recoiled at the unexpected question. He made a few incoherent stuttering sounds, which she got tired of rather quickly, and decided instead to follow the path of his eyes to where her short bob of hair was. "Oh, never seen a blue-haired woman before?" the woman queried with mock innocence. When he didn't respond, she decided to lower her glasses, giving Shinji a brief glimpse of her even more bizarre crimson eyes. Not much of a glimpse, but just enough that he let out a doglike yelp and nearly jumped out of his seat. Satisfied, the thief let out a long, mirthful laugh, one that to Shinji sounded like a psychotic cackle more than anything else.
Eventually she stopped giggling at his expense and the only sound became the rushing of wind over their heads. Shinji glanced back over his shoulder at the cityline rapidly disappearing behind them. Out of nowhere he put his hand on the pocket where his SDAT was only to realize he must have left it at the bank. He sighed in lament for his beloved piece of hardware, then slowly turned his attention back to the road ahead. After a few more minutes passed, he decided that now was the time to speak.
"U-u-um...ma'am?" The woman said nothing, not even bothering to take her eyes off the road. "L-l-listen...c-could I--"
"...If you're going to ask if you can go home..." the woman started and Shinji instantly shut up, "...I'm afraid that I can't let you. Not yet." Before the boy could gather the indignation to ask why, she spoke again. "...You'd probably just help them find me and I don't feel like being caught because I was turned in by some whiny little snitch. I SHOULD just kill you right here and now..." Shinji cringed as she reached into her coat and threateningly flashed the handle of another one-shot pistol, "...But I'm feeling rather generous today." She slipped the weapon back in, triggering a sigh of relief from Shinji as his heart switched back to its normal pace. "So I've decided to let you come along. I could always use some extra help anyway." The last statement was spoken just low enough that Shinji was about to ask what she had said but thought better of it.
As long as I'm not gonna die, then hell, I don't care...
"Well, we may as well get acquainted," the blue-haired woman said as she stuck her hand out to him. "...What's your name?" Shinji hesitated at first. What if she knew his family name? Just about everyone did... If he told her, then there's no telling what she'd do. She might even hold him for ransom...
"Uh...S-Shinji," he finally managed. At first she gave him a skeptical glare, made evident by her raised eyebrow.
"That's it? Just 'Shinji?'" she chuckled wryly at him. "...You think you're the 'man with no name' or something?" Finally Shinji decided that he may as well try making something up, if only to throw her off.
"Your first try was better," the woman said with a smirk, seeing straight through his poorly-constructed psuedonym. Shinji cringed again, but she only shrugged passively. "...All right, 'Shinji'... you don't wanna tell me your real name, that's no problem. I don't really care anyway." She offered her hand to Shinji, who slowly took it and weakly shook it. The woman offered him another sly grin as she shook back.
"My name's Ayanami...but you can just call me Rei."
A/N: And that's how they met...: ) I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who reviewed the last chapter-- it's the most I've ever gotten for a single installment before! I'll try to keep this as entertaining as I can, so I hope you enjoy it!
P.S. Oh, and regarding ages:
Shinji: 17 (second-to-last year of high school)
Rei: 19 (College dropout, by choice not stupidity)