Disclaimer: Neon Genesis Evangelion, and all characters, mecha, and concepts related thereto belong solely to Studio Gainax Animation. I claim no ownership over any facet of this story, and in the event that Gainax should request it, I will voluntarily erase any and all traces of this story in preference to any legal action against me. This is part 1 of Crimson and Azure, and may possibly contain strong language, violence, and sexual content - however, since this is just part 1, I do not know if any of these will appear. At this time, this story is rated PG-13, but this may change in future chapters. To avoid any confusion, let me make it clear now that this story will be centered around Shinji Ikari and Rei Ayanami. Enjoy.

Crimson and Azure

Part 1

Can you hear me?
By Random1377

Rei Ayanami was not what most people considered to be an overly emotional girl. In fact, some questioned whether or not she HAD feelings at all. Shinji Ikari had always felt different, and had even seen her smile once (even if it had been his suggestion), but being a shy boy he didn't quite know how to approach her.

However, even given his conviction that she might have more emotion than she let on (or was capable of showing), his mouth dropped open as she gently laid a hand on his arm as he got up to leave school one day.

"Pilot Ikari. May I speak with you a moment?" she asked.

Several of the other students stopped what they were doing to gape at the spectacle of Rei Ayanami speaking before being spoken to.

"Wh-what do you need Ayanami?" Shinji asked, perplexed and a little uncomfortable with all the staring eyes.

Rei seemed to become aware of the others, "May I speak with you in a private location?"

Looking around, Shinji nodded and held his hand to the side, motioning for her to go first. He followed her out of the classroom and up the stairs to the roof - a location he did not expect her to choose.

Once he was sure they had the roof to themselves, he asked politely, "Umm... what did you want to talk about, Ayanami?"

Her tone was flat, "I have always..." she hesitated, unsure of how to continue, "I do not have my own... voice..." she whispered, hoping that she was being clear.

Shinji looked at her, not quite understanding, but willing to listen.

She bowed her head as she sought the right words, then spoke with great care, trying to ensure that her meaning was clear to him, "In reading our philosophy textbook I discovered a passage regarding voice. It stated that each person has their own individual voice, and that finding that voice can lead to happiness." She raised her eyes, and though her face remained devoid of expression, her eyes shown with moisture.

"Ayanami, I..." Shinji honestly did not know what to say ((is she... going to cry?)). He had never seen her act this way before.

"Pilot Ikari..." she began, her words almost too low for him to make out, "I do not have a voice, and I am not happy. Will you help me find my voice?"

"I... Ayanami, I..." he took a deep breath, "I'll help you any way that I can, but I don't know how *I* can help..." He looked down, quietly adding, "I... I don't even know if I've found my own voice yet..."

She tilted her head, "I have heard you play your musical instrument, Pilot Ikari... that gives you voice."

He looked surprised. For one thing he did not know that she had ever heard him play, and for another the thought that his music might somehow define who he was had never occurred to him.

She continued, "Perhaps it will not help... but will you teach me to play?"

The request caught him totally off guard, "Umm... I... sure, I could try... I guess..." a thought occurred to him, "but don't you play an instrument already?"

"I am proficient in three instruments, the viola, the flute and the harp..." her answer surprised him. He knew she played the viola, but had no idea about the others. He refocused his attention as she went on, "but none of them bring me happiness."

He thought for a moment, "Ayanami, I don't know if the cello will either, I mean-"

She was already nodding her head in agreement, "I am aware of that possibility, however I have seen the happiness on your face as you played, and I am willing to... to risk it..."

Suddenly, Shinji became aware of just what it meant for someone as reclusive as Rei to 'risk it'. He nodded his head slowly, "Alright... when would you like to start?"

A little tension went out of her frame, "If it is not an inconvenience to you, I would like to start tonight, as it is Friday and I am caught up on my assignments."

"O-ok..." he said, nervous at the idea of trying to teach anyone, let alone her, "see you around five, then?"

She nodded and began moving towards the door. She paused with her hand on the knob, turning to him, "Th-thank you..." she said hesitantly, and left without another word, her cheeks burning as her mind churned, ((It does not get easier to say)), she thought.

"Anytime..." Shinji said quietly to the empty roof, "anytime..."

Continued...

Author's notes: I am only going to put notes and a disclaimer on this first chapter to conserve space. I am going to try putting additional chapters out fairly quick, and keep them short, as I still have other projects going, but this story would NOT leave my mind, so I plan to work on it in whatever free time I have. In general, this will be a character study of Rei and Shinji, and the (slowly) growing relationship between them as Rei tries to find meaning in her seemingly monochromatic life. I plan to incorporate as many of the other NGE characters as I can, but their time "onscreen" will be brief... have no doubt in your mind this is a focus on Rei and Shinji - period.

Feedback is always welcome at Random1377@yahoo.com, and big thanks go out to Ryoma for pre-reading and catching a couple of errors.