Disclaimer: I do not own Neon Genesis Evangelion, it is in fact owned by Gainax. Neither is there any intention to copy the works of any other writers. Any similarities in plot, situations, character dialogue, etc. found between this fic and any other fic is unintentional and purely coincidental.
Kensuke offered his hand to Keiko and pulled her up to the top.
"I feel like I need a tetanus shot just looking at this place." Keiko said and dusted herself off. "I can't believe you guys used to hang out here."
"It wasn't always this bad. It was a pretty stable place when we hung out." Kensuke stepped outside of the glass enclosure of the lighthouse point and tested the rusted railing. It creaked and groaned.
"How long ago was that?" Keiko pulled her coat tight around her body. The wind picked up and blew her shoulder length hair in her face. She sputtered and quickly brushed it out of her eyes.
"About…seven, maybe eight years ago when I last hung out with them." Kensuke pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose and thrust his hands into his pockets, gazing out across the bay. The bay was where the UN forces and the JSSDF set up their initial defense of the first angel attack. He remembered watching the footage on the television.
The moon reflected off the glassy waters. He couldn't even see the buildings beneath the surface. How long was it really? Six years since he last saw Shinji and Asuka. Four years since he last saw Toji and Hikari. Two years since he last spoke to Toji. Seven, maybe eight years since he sat with Asuka, Shinji, Toji and Hikari, smoking joints with them.
They would sit on the walkway around the top of the lighthouse. Asuka or Toji would fire one up. It would be passed to Shinji, to Kensuke, to Hikari who would take small puffs, guiltily, before passing it back. On the rare occasion that Rei joined them, Hikari wouldn't smoke at all, since Rei always declined. It wasn't a stoner hang out. It was their hang out. And they would sit and just look across the water, or they would look up at the sky, at the stars. Most of the time they sat in silence, sometimes talking about inane things. But it was comfortable. It was a place to forget.
"Ken, it's cold up here. And it's getting late. Let's go back to the hotel." Keiko rubbed her arms.
"Mm." He took one last look. "All right. Let's go."
Kensuke had kept himself in the shadows during the funeral. He didn't know why. He wanted to go up to Toji, to comfort him, but he felt uneasy being there. His name had been on the registry, Kensuke Aida plus guest. But he still felt like an intruder. He didn't see anyone he really knew. It was a small funeral. He recognized Nozomi and Kodama, but he didn't really know them all that well. Mostly in passing from Toji and Hikari's wedding. The rest looked like family. Toji's family, Hikari's family. The Horaki Family was the larger of the two by a great deal. He picked out Aiko, Toji's sister, from the crowd. She had grown into a beautiful young woman, despite her limp. She went up to Toji and they hugged fiercely.
Kensuke realized why he was uncomfortable. It regarded his notepad, his pen and his micro-cassette recorder. Keiko had gone off to talk to the family members, leaving him alone near the refreshments table. He watched her talk to them, quickly ingratiate herself with them. She had always been good at finding the right thing to say in the right situation. Unlike Kensuke.
When the service finally started, Kensuke had opted to sit in the back of the room. Keiko had joined him of course, though not understanding why he chose to sit away from his long time friend. During the service he looked around the room, looking for familiar faces. He realized that Shinji, Asuka and Rei were nowhere to be found. Neither was there Misato, nor any other NERV affiliated acquaintances. It didn't make sense. Though the papers had said the incident was because of a military mishap, he would've thought that NERV would've come out for one of their own.
The service ended and Kensuke left quickly, getting back to his car and proceeding to the cemetery on his own. Keiko had stopped asking why he was acting so strangely, for which he was grateful. By the time they made it to the cemetery, the sun was setting. The sky was a dark orange hue and Tokyo-3 was just a black blurb against the horizon. He looked back to the where the families congregated around the memorial marker. An ominous black obelisk. Apparently her ashes had already been buried, prior to the service. Keiko stood with them.
Kensuke stood away from the group, hands in his pockets, fingering his pen and his recorder. He found himself nervously chewing on his lower lip and stopped himself. He took a few steps forward, thought better of it and then turned away breathing a heavy sigh. Why did he feel like shit? He knew why. He knew the very reason why. He took out his recorder and checked the micro-cassette, making sure that there was actually one inside. He gripped it tightly and looked down to the bottom of the hill where the cars were parked. Something caught his eye.
Against the orange backdrop, another black blurb coming up the road. A line of black cars…no…SUVs…no…humvees. It was a military column. Humvees led the procession and covered the rear. Sedans were sandwiched between them. Shit.
Kensuke looked back at the families. They seemed to be done. They were slowly dispersing, talking amongst each other. He lost sight of Keiko. He turned and looked back to the road. The military column was slowing. He turned and made a beeline to Toji who stood proud, despite the occasion.
"Hey." Kensuke said, already feeling himself turn red.
"Kensuke." Toji looked at him, surprise on his face. "You came."
"Yeah, how could I not?" Kensuke thought his laugh sounded weak and forced, and felt himself turn even redder.
"Um…I didn't mean it…" Toji didn't move at all, his face seemingly frozen in apprehension and uncertainty. "It's just I thought you were still up in Hokkaido…Sapporo was it?"
Had it really been that long since he last saw Toji?
"It's not a problem. You're a friend, man." Kensuke fingered the record button. "Hey, I made plans as soon as…"
"Toji…" A very familiar voice spoke from behind him.
Kensuke turned and met dark blue eyes, set in a face made weary by constant lines of sadness and grief. A thin figure, done up in a crisp, black military uniform with officer's bars on the collar. He even wore snappy black leather gloves. Shinji, quickly looked away.
"Toji…" He said again. "I'm…uh…I'm…"
Kensuke wondered if he really changed that much so that his other friend couldn't even recognize him. He turned to look at Toji and saw his lip quivering. Toji's eyes grew weepy, his entire body tense, his fists balled up so the knuckles were white. Shit, he was going to clock Shinji again.
"So…sorry…" Shinji finally managed to say, cringing, grimacing, shrinking back as if he, too, expected the fist to fly.
Toji lunged forward and wrapped his arms tightly around Shinji and began to bawl.
"I'm…sorry…" Shinji looked panicked and his movements were jerky as he gently returned the embrace.
Toji's large frame shook and shuddered, quaked and shivered. His sobs were muffled. He looked as though he were going to snap Shinji in half if he hugged any tighter. But Shinji didn't seem bothered by it.
"Sh-she's gone…" Toji wept unashamedly. "Sh-Shinji…oh G-God…Shinji…she's gone man…she's gone…"
Well, shit, one disaster averted.
Kensuke began to search the crowd. The military had finally arrived. It was now or never time. Now or never, Kensuke. Look for the angle. Look for the opening.
A younger man, perhaps in his early-thirties in a similar, impeccable black military uniform. Captain's bars. Next to him was…a very familiar purple haired woman. Misato looked much older. Her red jacket was the same from all those years ago, but it had lost its shine. It had dulled into a maroon color. Same with her beret. The officer and Misato spoke with an older man, probably Mr. Horaki.
Near the marker, a Caucasoid looking young man with blonde hair kneeled with a rosary in his hands. His head was bowed, his eyes closed, and he muttered under his breath his fingers moving from bead to bead. He was dressed in NERV's black military dress uniform. He couldn't have been older than Kensuke.
Rei. There was no mistaking the blue hair. She looked like she had aged ten years. That's all that changed. Her uniform managed to look even cleaner and crisper than everyone else's. It still had creases. She wore a clean black beret, sunglasses, and stood at a distance. Kensuke saw her red eyes through the lenses of her sunglasses and felt them bore into his skull, into his mind, reading his thoughts and judging him. He shuddered and looked away. Jesus…Jesus…
Where was Keiko?
There, talking to the kids. No other family members around. Perfect. He took a deep breath and began a confident stride toward them. What were their names again? Kimiko? Jun? Something like that.
"Hey there." Kensuke said and tried to put on a smile as he approached. He felt like such a fucking snake. It'll pass in time, Aoto had said through his oily grin, you just have to keep doing it 'til it no longer bothers you.
"Hi honey. This is Ryoko and Shotaro."
Fuck. He had been way off.
"Hi there." He kneeled, still smiling, pulling out his recorder. "I'm a friend of your dad's."
"Ken, Ryoko is…how old? Two?" Keiko asked with a mock clueless look.
"Six." Ryoko Suzuhara giggled, despite the occasion.
"No!" Keiko feigned surprise. "And Shotaro is…ten."
"Four." Shotaro Suzuhara mumbled through his grin, his fingers in his mouth.
Kensuke wished Keiko would just shut up. He could feel his guilt pierce his heart. He just smiled and tried to steel himself.
"So…" This is your career on the line, he told himself. "How do you feel…"
His fingers popped as leather clad gloves ripped his recorder from his hands.
"What the fuck is this?"
"What the hell?" Kensuke stumbled as he rose.
The children started to cry.
"You make me fucking sick." Asuka popped the recorder and ripped out the tape. "You have the fucking nerve to come here of all places and pull this shit." She flung the recorder out and down the hill without looking.
"What the fuck?" Kensuke cried out.
"What are you going to do about it?" Blazing blue eyes ready to maim.
Kensuke gave out a grunt and he was shoved back forcefully, off balance.
"What are you going to do about it? Huh?" Asuka advanced, continuously pushing him, keeping him off balance. A predatory advance, lithe and quick. "Get the fuck out of here you fucking parasite."
"Asuka!" Shinji materialized alongside Rei, each grabbing a hold of one of Asuka's arms.
"Not here." Rei's soft voice barely managed to reach Kensuke's ears. He didn't know if that was meant for him or for Asuka. Maybe both.
"Let go of me!" Asuka yelled pulling and straining. "Let go! Fuck!"
The children wailed. The air was filled with murmurs.
Soldiers rushed up and helped Shinji and Rei hold Asuka back.
"Not me! Not me! Get that fucking leach out of here! Coming here for a fucking story! Fucking worm! Fucking parasite! You goddamn…" Asuka was cut short as Misato finally reached the scene and grabbed a fistful of Asuka's uniform.
Asuka was yanked in and Misato whispered something in her ear. Asuka stopped struggling.
"I can't stay." Kensuke heard Asuka say to Shinji, calmer. "I'm going to get…" He strained to hear her trailing voice as she turned away. "…meet you at home."
Asuka retreated down the hill in her strong, willful gait, surrounded by soldiers. Her hair trailed behind her like flames.
"Who was that?" Keiko asked in a shaky voice.
"The Red Devil." Kensuke muttered softly, more to himself. Damn it, he hadn't even seen her. If he had…
"No one important." Kensuke sighed, feeling his face burn. Shit, if he had seen her he wouldn't have…
"I think this is yours."
Kensuke turned to see Toji holding his micro-cassette recorder. He all of a sudden wasn't so skeptical of spontaneous combustion.
"Uh…thank you." Kensuke didn't know what else to say. He could feel Toji eye him up and down as he took his recorder and pocketed it as quickly as he could.
"Thank you." Toji placed his hands on Kensuke's shoulders and gripped them tightly. "Thank you for coming."
Kensuke found himself in a quick bear hug.
"I'm really sorry about that Toji." Shinji approached, apprehension and anxiety on his face, his hands looking for something to do. "I…she's just really emotional…"
"Don't worry about it." Toji released Kensuke and turned to hug Shinji. "I understand how she feels man. I do."
Fuck, it was if everyone was conspiring to make him feel even worse.
"Hey," Toji released Shinji and stepped back. "I should take the kids home. You tell the Red Devil not to worry about it. Okay?"
"Yeah." Shinji waved goodbye. "I'll do that. I'll give you a call soon."
Toji returned the wave and gathered up his kids, his sister in tow.
Shinji's hand dropped as if he had been holding it up all day. He ran his hands through his hair and sighed.
"She's still got a temper on her, huh?" Kensuke asked.
"Yeah…" Shinji said absently.
Kensuke just waited, but realized Shinji was too lost in his own thoughts. Same old, same old.
"Wait…Kensuke?" He finally did a double take.
"What's up Shinji?" Kensuke forced himself to smile and tried to forget the embarrassing events.
"You came! Damn, I didn't even recognize you!" Shinji smiled. It was a sad smile. But it was genuine. He stepped forward, arms out for a hug, but then hesitated.
Kensuke hesitated as well, but eventually took the extra step and embraced Shinji.
"Sorry." Shinji laughed. "Toji…he's kinda got me on the touchy feely thing."
"Yeah, I noticed." Shit…he needed a drink. Even with the people leaving, he could feel their looks, their disapproval. "Looks like…everyone is going."
"Yeah…" Shinji nodded, his eyes drifting over to Keiko.
"Oh! Shinji Ikari, Keiko Matsunaga. Keiko, Shinji." Kensuke kicked himself.
"How do you do." Shinji bowed.
"Nice to meet you." Keiko bowed as well.
"Shinji, we are going." The blonde haired Caucasoid spoke in heavily accented Japanese.
Rei stood nearby.
Kensuke made eye contact through her damn sunglasses again. His skin crawled.
"Aida." And a slight nod was all the acknowledgement he got. He shouldn't be surprised that she remembered.
"Um…well…uh…" Shinji seemed to look back and forth, his ever present uncertainty. "I…Kensuke, you doing anything?"
"You wanna get a drink? Catch up? I know this bar we can get cheap drinks at."
Shinji, you're a fucking lifesaver. It was exactly what Kensuke needed and he could feel the stress leaving him as he thought about it.
"Yeah, that sounds great. Wonderful."
"All right. I'll see you guys tomorrow, I'm going to get a drink with Kensuke." Shinji waved to the Caucasoid who just smiled and walked down the hill.
"Shinji." Rei walked in close to Shinji and spoke in a low voice. "Not too much."
"Yeah, I know." Shinji sighed. "I know. I promise."
Rei nodded and walked away.
"So…" Kensuke began. "Where is this place?"
The evening crowd had just begun to gather in the Red Raccoon Bar. It was a two story establishment on the outskirts of Tokyo-3 made out of plain wood without paint. A raccoon statue with a red sign displaying the bar's name sat outside of the front door.
The lighting inside was subdued. Games of hanafuda went on in the back booths of the bar. Just about half of the patrons sat around without shirts, tattoos exposed for anyone to see. Several TV's were suspended throughout the bar, each tuned in to a baseball game.
Asuka stepped into the bar and lit an unfiltered cigarette. The bar seats were completely occupied with hard-cases, but when Asuka approached several seats vacated. She took a seat and took a drag.
"Kitao here?" She asked the bartender.
"Yeah." Kenji the bartender said and served her a glass.
Asuka drained the glass without coming up for air.
"My ears are burning. Someone talking about me?" Kitao Asano walked up all smiles in his usual black, broad pinstripe suit.
"Yep." Asuka licked her lips and took another drag from her cigarette. "I'm looking for a little more than beer."
"Right to business? No hello? How are you?" Kitao put on his look of mock hurt, clutching at his heart.
"I'm in no mood. Just give me some…"
"Whoa, hey, not out loud." Kitao smirked and looked around mock indiscreetly. "Not that anyone here would say anything, but prying ears are always about. Come on, to my office."
Asuka sighed and beat down her ill humor. It wasn't his fault. She shouldn't be pissed at him.
"I'm sorry." She pulled her beret off her head and tucked it into her belt. "How are you?"
"I'm doing quite well, thank you for asking." Kitao bowed with a flourish. "How are you?"
"Shitty. I need something good. Choco, if you have it." Asuka reached for the bills in her pocket, her palms damp, clammy.
"My, my, going high class are we?" Kitao beckoned her with a wave of his hand. "Going back to the homeland of Germany? Feeling homesick? Watanabe! My office! Merchandise!"
Asuka quickly slipped the wad of cash into his other hand. Fuck, just get it over with.
"If I didn't know better, I would think you were trying to grab my ass." Kitao blew a kiss at her.
"Fuck you. I'm in a shitty mood. I've had just about all I can take." Asuka stopped herself from grinding her teeth.
"All right, I'm sorry." Kitao dropped the smile like it was used condom.
Asuka followed Kitao to the back of the bar and up the flight of stair to the second floor. Down a short hallway. Room 201. She shuddered. Fuck, just…just don't think about it. Past the restrooms, into Kitao's office. It overlooked the lonely road on which the bar was located. There were no cars, and the sun's last rays shone over the tops of the buildings. Asuka saw all those things before Kitao shut the blinds.
"Watanabe will be a little while. Have a seat." Kitao motioned as he took the seat behind his desk.
Kitao was actually in his early fifties, but he looked as if he were still in his early forties. He was a fit figure, with only a few silver streaks in his hair. His office was sparsely decorated, a few old samurai paintings, a book shelf, his desk, and a footlocker. His desk had an ashtray, which Asuka used to douse her cigarette before lighting another one. It also had a coffee cup used to hold pens. A picture of his family and his children sat framed at the edge of the desk.
"How are you, really?" Kitao asked, lighting up his own cigarette. "Whiskey?"
"Please." Asuka felt a migraine coming on and rubbed her sinuses.
Kitao reached into one of his desk drawers and pulled out two whiskey glasses and a bottle. He poured a little in each and handed Asuka her glass.
"Many thanks." She tossed it back and placed the empty glass on the desktop.
"I don't want to talk about it."
"You're looking a little sallow. Are you taking it easy? Has it gone up? Are you eating?"
"No. Yes. And no." Asuka leaned back and closed her eyes.
"Am I going to have to talk to Shinji?"
"Be my fucking guest." Asuka took a drag and tried to will her migraine away.
She heard Kitao sigh and heard his chair creak, imagining it was him shaking his head at her.
"How are your kids?"
"They're quite well, thank you." Kitao sounded exasperated. Good. He had given up.
"Sachiko pass her uni exam?"
"Placed first. Thank you, thank you, thank you again for that."
"She did it herself." Asuka took another drag and opened her eyes. "I just showed her how."
"Hiroshi didn't make the team cut though." Kitao sighed and sipped his whiskey. "I love him, but I'm beginning to think he just…really isn't good at sports." He laughed.
"Have you tried ballet?" Asuka allowed herself a smirk.
"Bite your tongue. He's not gay." Kitao pointed at her.
"I never said he was." Asuka laughed.
There was a slight knocking on the door. Asuka doused her cigarette, as did Kitao with his. Watanabe entered with a large lock box. He placed it on the desktop and Asuka had to stop herself from shaking her leg, from biting her lip, from going wide-eyed in anticipation. About fucking time.
"Cash?" Kitao asked. "Oh, never mind, you already gave it to me. That's right. How much did you want?" He counted out the bills and whistled. "You going out of town or something? What the fuck?"
"Having a rough time. Not a word." She instructed.
"Your life." He said and opened the lockbox.
Shinji stepped into the Red Raccoon Bar followed closely by Kensuke and Keiko. Cigarette smoke hung thick in the air.
"Kenji! How are the Dragons doing?" Shinji called out to the bartender.
"Up by two. Three one. Bottom of the seventh. You'll be a pretty wealthy man if the score holds." Kenji smiled and came out from behind the bar.
"Not just me." Shinji grinned. "You too." He'd have enough for at least a month if it paid out. Asuka would be thrilled.
"It was all you man, you called it. Yugawa can't pitch for shit in the cold." Kenji wiped his hands with a towel. "Friends?"
"Yeah, we're gonna want a steady stream of sake coming through. Warm." Shinji followed Kenji to the back corner booth, the one with the best view of the big TV hanging in the center of the room.
"Hey guys, fuck off. Take the game upstairs or something." Kenji rousted the thugs from the booth and cleaned it off. "I'll have someone bring it out for you guys in a couple of minutes. You want a pitcher to get you started?"
"Yeah, and uh…could we get a few rolls too."
"Sure. You got it."
Shinji looked over at Kensuke and Keiko who seemed to regard the establishment with wary eyes.
"Don't worry." Shinji said and tried to smile, feeling shame creeping up. "They…uh…they know me…" He had forgotten through habit exactly what kind of bar it was. Hell of a way to greet a friend after years of absence.
"Shinji Ikari." Kitao Asano approached, all smiles. "Don't you have a home? Not ten minutes ago Asuka was in here buying…"
Shit! Shinji ran his fingers across his lips.
"Whiskey. She picked up a couple bottles of my best stuff and went home. She wasn't looking too good. What's up?"
Shinji had always been impressed with how quickly Kitao thought on his feet. Close fucking call, that's what that was. Taking Kensuke and Keiko to the bar was bad enough, but them knowing…
"Our friend from high school died. She was a really good friend of Asuka's. The…uh…funeral was today." Shinji tried to smile.
"No shit?" Kitao lost his friendly demeanor. "Shouldn't you be with her?"
"She needs her alone time." Shinji sighed.
"With the amount of whiskey that she bought, you should probably be at home with her."
"We have a rule. We…uh…don't drink whiskey unless the other one is there too." Shinji looked over at Kensuke. He had been silent since they had entered the bar. "It's our rule. You know, so no one gets hurt without the other one around…" Shinji trailed off as he kept looking for a reaction from Kensuke.
"All right." Kitao sighed. "Hey, you take care of her. I'm worried about her. And take care of yourself too. I'm worried about both of you. Drinks are on me tonight. Get home as soon as the game is over."
"All right. Thank you." Shinji looked at Kensuke as Kitao left their booth. Kensuke and Keiko just stared. Damn it… "I…uh…they know me here."
"So I see." Kensuke spoke with raised eyebrows.
"Yeah." Time to divert the conversation elsewhere. "So…um…you two are…going…uh…going out?"
"Yeah." Kensuke smiled and Keiko moved in closer to him. "Met at the university. Going on…" Kensuke stopped and began to count on his fingers.
"Ken." Keiko hit him lightly.
"Three years." Kensuke said with a laugh.
"You guys going to get married?"
"Uh…we haven't really thought about it. We're living together and that's just about the same thing." Kensuke draped his arm around Keiko's shoulders as Kenji arrived with the pitcher of beer and three empty glasses.
"It works for us." The first complete sentence Keiko had spoken since Shinji had introduced himself. "We're both still trying to get started in our fields. We'll probably talk about it once we've settled down. Ken is trying to get a job as a reporter, I'm trying to get into the translations field."
"Oh? Translations?" Shinji asked and pulled out his pill bottle, popping two out into his hand and downing it with his beer. "Sorry, anxiety medication. Kensuke knows I need it."
"Mm." Keiko smiled. "Yeah, translations. Right now I'm translating English technical manuals for Japanese companies."
"Oh wow." Shinji nodded.
"Its mostly freelance work and the pay isn't the best, but if I can get into the notary business, international business contracts and documents, that'll be the top notch." Keiko sipped at her beer.
"What about you Shin-man? Full time working for NERV now? And I thought I heard that you're still living with the demon." Kensuke grinned mischievously.
"What?" Shinji went wide eyed. "Well, uh…" He laughed nervously. Damn. "It's not like that."
"You need new lines. That was the same excuse you two were using in high school."
"You and the…red head girl." Keiko looked puzzled.
"Asuka." Shinji tried to smile the best he could. But he knew it was coming out half assed. "Her name is Asuka. I lived with her in high school."
"Huh? But how…"
"Long story." Shinji cut her off. "Asuka, Rei and I became full time employees once we turned twenty. Got some university under my belt but when the war started back up again…you know…back to training.
"We moved out together as soon as we could…nineteen I think. I mean, it made sense. It was practical. We lived together that long and better each other than people we didn't know, right? And…we never had the occasion or the need to go our own ways."
"Ah." Kensuke looked uncertain.
Kensuke was different from how Shinji remembered. Or maybe it wasn't really different. Just…older. More mature. He didn't look like a kid. Whenever Shinji had thought about Kensuke, about the group, he always thought of them when they had been fourteen. Kensuke with his geeky military fetish and his video camera constantly on record. The thoughts of relationships had only begun to form in their minds. Even then, as high school progressed, Kensuke had never really tried his hand at the whole relationship thing, seeming to prefer his own extra curricular activities to trying to get a date. Then again…Shinji and Asuka had done the same thing. Maybe it just hadn't been as noticeable since their 'extra curricular activities' were the same, and so it made sense to spend time together.
"You guys didn't meet other people?" Keiko pressed curiously.
Shinji caught Kensuke's apologetic look. It was okay. He felt the pills kicking in.
"Not really." Shinji shrugged. "I'm not all that social and Asuka…uh…"
"She hates everyone, but hates Shinji a little less." Kensuke finished.
"Something like that." Shinji laughed.
Misato groaned and sat down in the conference room. Since Gendo went away, meetings had been moved from the creepy office to an actual conference room. It had a nice carpet, a nice wood conference table, and it even had a little green plant in the corner that was watered twice a day.
"How was the funeral?" Fuyutsuki asked.
"One dead person and a lot of very sad people." Misato spoke in irritation, grimacing. "Asuka caused a scene. Assaulted some reporter."
There was a collective groan.
"We need an actual leash on her." Captain Ryuunosuke Takeda, Tactical Operations Director.
"Are we looking at another lawsuit?" Commander Kozo Fuyutsuki.
"No. The reporter was a former classmate, Kensuke Aida." Rei Ayanami, Section-2, Supervising Field Agent.
"What? That was Kensuke?" Sub-Commander Misato Katsuragi.
"Yes. After the funeral, Kensuke Aida and his partner, one Keiko Matsunaga, went to the Red Raccoon Bar with Shinji." Ayanami never sat, always standing by the door of the conference room. It creeped Misato out.
"When are we putting them through detox?" Takeda asked.
"Detox at this time would prove more detrimental to their mental health and may render them incapable of piloting in an emergency situation." Doctor Maya Ibuki paused to take a breath. "Their habit is minor and…"
"Minor?" Takeda tensed up. "Minor my left nut."
"Casualties of war, Captain." Rei said softly.
"Their habits are peripheral." Fuyutsuki waved his hand to silence Captain Takeda. "Was…Ken…Kei…"
"Kensuke Aida." Misato rested her chin on her arms. She just wanted to go home.
"Kensuke. Will he be a problem? Was he there on business or pleasure?" Fuyutsuki asked.
"Inconclusive." Rei opened a manila folder. "I suspect a little of both. But my team is running a check to be certain."
"Watch him. The last thing we need is for him to get any information on the children by taking advantage of their old friendship." Fuyutsuki spoke seriously.
"Yes sir. I was thinking the same."
"You think Kensuke would do that?" Misato asked, curious.
"He had a cassette recorder with him at the funeral." Rei said and closed the manila folder. "I wouldn't put much by him."
"What about that other reporter?" Fuyutsuki finished his glass of water.
"He'll be dealt with tonight." Rei tucked her folder under her arm.
"Good." Fuyutsuki nodded. "Good. Well, that's it then. Dismissed, all except Sub-Commander Katsuragi and Captain Takeda who will meet me in my office."
Misato sighed. Home would have to wait.
The person in front of Kensuke wasn't Shinji. He looked like Shinji, he acted like Shinji, but it wasn't Shinji. The person in front of him had drunk twice as much as Kensuke. Kensuke felt tipsy, but the person in front of him wasn't even fazed. The person in front of him had taken anxiety pills that looked suspiciously like Vicodin.
Kensuke watched Shinji pull out a soft pack of unfiltered Cabin Cigarettes. Shinji hit the bottom of the pack and caught a cigarette on the way up. He helped it out with his lips and flipped out a silver Zippo lighter. Snick. And there was flame.
"Oh, sorry." Shinji looked embarrassed. "Do you mind?"
"No, please." Keiko said and wrinkled her nose in the way that gave away her distaste.
Shinji lit his cigarette and exhaled high into the air, like a smoke stack.
No, it was not the Shinji that Kensuke knew from all those years ago.
"I know it's a disgusting habit." Shinji pulled a face. "Got hooked when the war started."
"Who was that white guy at the funeral?" Kensuke asked, feeling for his tape recorder but then remembering that Asuka had taken the tape.
"White guy?" Shinji looked puzzled.
"The one with your people. He was praying?"
"Oh." Shinji took a drag from his cigarette. "That was Henry Bridger. The pilot for unit three."
"He's a pilot? What about Rei?"
"Rei was taken off of piloting. Her synch scores were the lowest and she wasn't having much luck with unit three. So…" Shinji took another drag. "So they moved her someplace where she would be of more use. Section-2."
"So you're an Eva pilot? You're the one that fought the angels?" Keiko asked and leaned forward.
"I am…" Shinji looked away. "One of the people who fought the angels. Yes." He turned back and gave a forced looking smile.
"Oh wow." Keiko all of a sudden looked interested. "Which one did you pilot?"
"I uh…pilot the big purple one." Shinji had gone from relaxed to looking extremely uncomfortable in a matter of minutes.
"That's so awesome. Kensuke showed me these videos that he made of the fights. He uses them as resume material for job applications…"
"Yeah." Kensuke butted in. Shinji didn't look too good. "Yeah, I hope you don't me exploiting you."
"Nah." Shinji took a drag and waved it off.
"So what about Section-2?"
"Oh…um…that's where Rei was moved…get him, get him, get him…" Shinji's attention was elsewhere.
Kensuke turned to see what had Shinji's attention. The baseball game.
"Yeah!" Shinji yelled and gave a thumbs up to the bartender who looked equally anxious. "One out. Two to go. Sorry." He turned back.
"Nah." Kensuke waved it off. "How much you gonna win?"
"Sh!" Shinji held up a finger. "Don't talk about it. Not until it's over."
Kensuke would've laughed at his friend's enthusiasm. Instead, he sat in silence. The drastic change in Shinji was nothing less than morbid.
"So where'd this Henry Bridger come from?" Kensuke asked.
"From…uh…shit, shit, shit…oh shit…" Shinji breathed a heavy sigh. "Foul ball. Thank God. Sorry, what?"
"Where's Henry Bridger from?"
"England. He came over the year after the war…fly! Oh! Out! One more." Shinji doused his cigarette.
Kensuke paused and just watched his friend. It was…sad. Shinji seemed more conversational, not quite so anti-social or reserved but…it seemed almost like he had gotten worse. As if…
"Out! Oh!" Shinji shot up, hands in the hair, laughing. Kenji the Bartender cheered and pointed at the TV screen. "Oh my goodness!"
"You called it!" Kenji turned to point at Shinji.
"How much you win?" Kensuke ventured to ask.
"Five million!" Shinji called out and fell back into the booth, laughing. "Kitao! Kitao Asano! Get your ass out here and pay me!" He continued to laugh.
"Yeah, yeah. The game's over now. You get the money if you promise to go home." The man in the black pinstripe suit began a walk across the bar, counting bills he had pulled from his pocket.
What the Hell was this place? Kensuke had felt uneasy about the bar from the moment he entered. Nothing but punks and goons populated the bar. He had felt the thugs eyeballing him. Not Shinji, just him. Him and Keiko. Shinji had walked in without hesitation. How long had Shinji been going to the Red Raccoon Bar? And how long had he known the people there? How did he know the people there? The gambling certainly wasn't legal. What else went on?
"I'll go home." Shinji held out his hand.
"Congratulations." The man named Kitao placed a wad of bills into Shinji's hand. "I'll get one of the guys to give you a ride home, so your friend…can your friend drive?"
"I can drive." Keiko piped up. "I haven't had much to drink. It's mostly been these two."
"Good. All right. Watanabe!" Kitao called back.
Kensuke felt his heart skip as a large man in a wife beater stepped out from the back. Tattoos ran up and down his arms and torso. He was ripped.
"Watanabe. Give Shinji a ride back to his place, would you?"
The gangster named Watanabe nodded and grabbed a leather jacket from behind the counter. He motioned to the door and pulled on the jacket.
"Sorry Ken. I got to get back."
"Nah, it's all right man. I'm going to be back in town for a while. Here's my card." Kensuke pulled his card from his wallet and took Shinji's.
"Thanks. I'll give you a call." Shinji stood up and stretched. "It was good seeing you again. Hopefully, I'll see you again in the near future."
"Yeah." Was all Kensuke could manage as he watched the man who was no longer Shinji, walk out of the bar with a gangster.
Gouki Bunya tick-tick-ticked away on his computer. Adding images, the final touches on his article. The glow from the computer screen was the only source of light in his cluttered room. Boxes upon boxes of files, old articles, developed photos and contact lists were stacked up to four feet high. There was barely any space in his bedroom to move. A mouse click to upload his article to the newspaper's website.
'PILOTS MAY HAVE BEEN UNDER THE INFLUENCE'
He leaned back in his computer chair and smiled at his work. Then he noticed the smell…
Gouki opened his eyes. There was a strong wind. Very cold. It bit at his fingers and toes. His eyes burned, and his stomach churned. He opened his mouth and felt his lips crack. The blood did him in. He turned his head to the side and vomited. It had no body. It was all thin liquid and bile. He tried to move...but couldn't.
"Your hands and feet are bound." A soft voice cut through the wind. "I actually didn't expect you to be up."
Gouki twisted his head around and saw a young woman dressed entirely in black tying a piece of rope to big, iron, industrial weights. He looked at her eyes and saw red. Oh Christ.
"Please." He choked out through a sob. "Please don't. Whatever you want…"
"Don't beg. It's not dignified and will do you no good." She seemed to be finishing up the knot.
Gouki tried to swivel his head around. A smell of salt…he saw the ocean. They were right near the bay. He flipped over onto his stomach, away from his puke and nearly rolled off an edge. He looked down…several stories to crashing waves below.
"Oh God." He could feel the vomit rising back up. "Whatever you want, please, I can try…"
"I told you what I wanted and you ignored me. I told you what the consequences would be and you ignored me." The woman said and lifted up the weights by the rope. She shook it up and down, as if testing to see if it would hold.
"You're with NERV, aren't you? You sent that voicemail."
"That's right." She dropped the weights. They made a hard cracking sound against the concrete. Then she picked them back up and seemed to just hold it, suspended in mid air. Her gaze never left the knot.
"People will find me. The current will be…too strong." He could feel tears forcing their way up. "They'll find me!"
"I don't care if they do." She walked toward the edge, weights in hand.
"You can't do…" He wasn't able to finish.
Gouki felt his knees pop and the weights yanked him from the edge and pulled him down…down…down…his breath had been taken from his lungs before he even hit the water. It was so cold.
Rei went back to her car and grabbed her night vision binoculars from the front seat. She went back to the edge and looked through them to the water. She waited for something, for anything. She scanned the waves. And she waited. After a considerable amount of time passed, she checked her watch. Ten minutes. Good enough.
She took out her cell phone and dialed Fuyutsuki.
"It's done." She said and hung up.
Rei put her cell phone away and pondered the time. She looked at her watch again. 12:30. The bar would still be open.
She headed back to her car.
Fuyutsuki hung up the phone and looked at his Sub-Commander and Tactical Officer.
"So?" Misato asked him, already knowing.
"The article is up, but the reporter is gone." Fuyutsuki sighed.
"Quite a few reporters have gone missing over the past year or so. Don't you think?" Takeda's voice was even. His words deliberate. "Kind of odd, actually. Certain people might draw a correlation between reporters' disappearances and articles they have written."
"That's quite enough, Captain. I've taken all the implied accusations I'm willing to take at this moment." Fuyutsuki stared right back at the prodigy tactician.
Takeda nodded and ran his hand through his hair.
"Are we done talking about the children?" He asked.
"Then I'm going home." Takeda got up and put his beret on. "I have to come in to work early tomorrow."
Takeda left the room without looking back.
"He's trouble, that one." Misato got up.
"He's young and righteous." Fuyutsuki rubbed his eyes until he saw spots. "Get some sleep Katsuragi."
"I'm planning on it."
The bath water had cooled. But Asuka felt no need to move. She took a drag from her cigarette, held it in, and then blew it all out.
The sirens sounded. She came to in a haze. She looked around her bedroom, vision seriously blurred. She tried to read the time. Jesus fuck, she couldn't see a damn thing. When she tried to move, she felt as though she were spinning. She stopped and gripped her head. When everything stopped spinning, she looked over at Shinji. Still asleep. She reached over and shook him awake.
"Huh?" He grunted without moving.
"You fucking idiot. That's the alarm!"
"What?" He turned over. She couldn't even make out his features. He lay still for a moment before shooting straight up. "Are those the alarms?"
"Welcome to the world." Asuka grunted.
Shinji slid out of bed and toppled to the floor. "Oh God." He groaned.
"This isn't going to work." Asuka muttered to herself.
She reached over to her night stand and felt around for her cell phone. She found it and hit the speed dial.
"Hello?" The voice on the other end answered softly.
"Rei, we're in a bad fucking way."
"What's the problem?"
"Me and Shinji…" Asuka felt her face burn. "Just come and pick us up. We can't get to base."
Asuka opened her eyes and directed them to the door. Shinji had already taken off his jacket and stood in the doorway looking sad. He always looked sad.
"Took you long enough." Asuka took a drag from her cigarette and let the ash fall into the bath water.
"Was a while, talking to Toji." Shinji said softly. "I won the bet I placed on the ball game. Five solid."
"Good." Asuka said and stood up. "Hand me my towel please."
Shinji grabbed it from the bathroom counter and held it to her.
Asuka wrapped the towel around herself and got out of the tub.
"Let's get started." She said and brushed past him.
Toji tucked Shotaro into bed. His son was asleep already. That was good. Neither of them had been getting much sleep, though Toji didn't doubt that he'd be up again that night. He sat on the edge of his son's bed and gently stroked his light brown hair with his good hand. In the moonlit room, he could see his son's freckles. In the quiet, he could hear his son's breathing. The comforter was dark blue with stars on it.
Toji got up and left the room. Nozomi was waiting for him in the hall.
"How's he doing?" She asked.
"He's asleep." He replied and choked back tears.
Nozomi looked a lot like her sister. Short length light brown hair and freckles. She wore glasses that made her look like a librarian. He did his best to look at her and not see Hikari. It hurt like Hell.
"Thank you." He said and leaned against the wall. "For letting us stay. I know it's a lot of trouble. Tomorrow I have an interview with Kishimoto-Goto construction in the city. Later this week I'm looking at places in the city…"
"You can stay here as long as you need." Nozomi stepped in closer, brow furrowed. "You should take some time to mourn."
"Thank you, but no." Toji tried to smile. "I need to get back to work. I've been…I need to work. The bills need to be paid. And I can't stay here for long."
"If you need someone to baby sit the kids, I can try, between classes."
"Thank you." Touji nodded. "I think I'm going to get some sleep."
"All right. Good night." Nozomi smiled and walked by him to her room.
Toji stood in the hallway a little longer before walking downstairs. The Horaki household was large, traditional domicile with many rooms. It reminded Toji of when he would stay with relatives out in the countryside. Sliding doors, wooden floors and tatami mats. Hikari had decorated their apartment the same way. Lot of light brown and bamboo.
He stepped out onto the porch. The night smelled sweet. He could see the city lights off in the distance. He heard the growl of a bus passing by the house. Stepping out into the yard, he noticed that it was also traditionally decorated. There was a shrine where the picture of Hikari's mother had been situated many years ago. Now there was one with Hikari's picture.
Toji stopped in front of Hikari's shrine and kneeled on the cobble stones. His prosthetic leg clacked against the stones. He lit the candles which surrounded it, and then lit a stick of incense. The picture they had picked for the shrine was one of their family. Hikari smiled and carried their son, who looked at the camera with a bewildered expression, his index and middle finger planted in his mouth. Toji had his good arm around Hikari, and his prosthetic hand on his daughter's shoulder.
They looked beautiful.
Their bedroom was sparsely decorated, as was the rest of their apartment. There was a king sized bed and two night stands, one on either side. Their dresser was pushed up against the wall near the window. In their closet, cleaned and pressed uniforms hung in meticulous order.
Shinji began to unbutton his dress shirt as Asuka let the towel covering her drop. She turned and grabbed him, pulling him closer to the bed. As he finished unbuttoning his shirt, she undid his belt buckle. His clothing was peeled off of him, bit by bit. He put his arms around her and gently pressed his lips against hers. Her mouth tasted like ashes and liquor. He was certain that his mouth tasted the same.
They moved to the center of the bed and pressed together. Shinji broke the embrace and began thrusting. Asuka moaned held the back of his neck with one hand. He felt her hand moving down by his crotch. He knew she was helping herself, but felt no offense. He didn't really want to wait either. He picked up the pace, feeling himself reaching his peak fast. He pounded harder and harder, grunting with each thrust. Her cries were short and high. He froze up and caught his breath as he came. Her nails bit into the back of his neck and she arched against him. Her eyes were closed, her mouth open. And then they both collapsed, exhaling deeply. He lay on top of her, breathing heavily. He felt her breath, heard her gasps, right next to his ear.
Rei walked into the Red Raccoon Bar. She felt the thugs eyeing her up. One got up from his stool and swaggered up to her.
"You lost, girlie?"
"Where's your boss?"
"I don't have a boss." The thug got into her face. His breath reeked of booze. "Why don't you take a walk if you don't want to…"
She grabbed the thug by his balls and twisted. The thug emitted a girlish scream.
"Hey!" The man she wanted to see. Boss Kitao Asano, in his pinstriped suit. "What are you doing here?"
"I need a word." Rei's soft voice carried through the speechless bar.
"Let go of my man's tackle and you can have a word."
Rei let go of the thug and watched him crumple before stepping over him. She followed Kitao up the second floor.
"Your men are rude. Considering that this establishment still stands because I allow it." Rei spoke as they walked.
"You have a real annoying habit of counting favors, you know that? It can be abrasive." Kitao sniped back.
"I'm not here to make friends." Rei followed him into his office, but opted to stand by the door instead of sitting down. "I'm here to call in and offer favors."
"Always business with you." Kitao opened up his pack and offered her a cigarette. Rei accepted.
"I'm going to need a couple of your men. Good ones who can control themselves." Rei lit her cigarette.
"I don't drink."
"You don't drink but you smoke?"
"I don't drink because it alters my state of mind. It has nothing to do with it being bad for me."
"So, muscle job?" Kitao poured himself a drink and lit his own cigarette.
"Something like it. A man, an old friend of Shinji and Asuka's is back in town. The man is a reporter."
"Skinny guy, glasses?"
"He was in here earlier. With Shinji."
"I know. A friend of Asuka's died in a military related accident. This man was at the funeral looking for a story."
"So? The guy's a prick. What's that to me?"
"I am concerned." Rei took a drag and scratched her eyebrow. "I'm concerned that he'll use his old friendship with them to snag a story. I'm concerned that he'll slander them in the newspapers. I'm concerned that he will fuck them to get ahead."
Kitao seemed to contemplate the bottom of his glass.
"You're gonna put the screws to him? To keep NERV's reputation safe?"
"Does it matter why?"
"I suppose it doesn't." Kitao tossed back his drink. "You're a cunt, you know that?"
"I've been called worse by better. What do you want in return for the service of your men?"
"I was gonna do it for the sake of friendship."
"I didn't think we're friends."
"We're not, idiot."
"They're my friends. But if you're offering, I'm not one to turn down a future favor."
Rei dropped her cigarette and stepped on it. "A get out of jail free card, then?"
"Nah. I have your number and I'll assume that you'll keep track of it. You're good at counting."
Rei nodded and left his office.
Keiko Matsunaga took off her pants and threw on an oversized shirt to sleep in. She grabbed a book and crawled into bed.
"When can we move into the apartment?" Keiko asked as she tried to get comfortable under the stiff hotel sheets.
"End of the week." Kensuke called out, voice slightly masked behind by the running water in the bathroom.
Keiko sighed and looked at her book cover. She wouldn't tell Kensuke, but she was definitely uncomfortable with the whole situation. She wanted to be with him, but she hated the city. She came from a small country town outside of Sapporo. But, she figured that she would eventually need to get used to city living if she wanted to eventually get into the translation field. You didn't hear about major business centers out in the countryside.
She shivered. Tokyo-3 just seemed to cold and distant, even when she walked the streets. Everything was metal and concrete. There were no plants, no trees, no fresh air. Everything smelled like exhaust and industry. It was creepy. Like Kensuke's friend, Shinji.
"How long have you known Shinji?" She asked.
"Years. Just about 10 years." Kensuke's voice sounded muffled. Probably brushing his teeth.
There was the sound of him spitting. It wasn't long after that the sound of water stopped and Kensuke came out, drying his hands with a towel.
"He transferred into our class from out of town. Him, me and Toji all hung out together." He tossed the towel and climbed into bed next to her.
Toji. Keiko liked him. She found his distinct Osaka accent refreshing, and thought she detected a very faint hint of country mannerisms. Accent aside, she thought he could've gone to her high school and fit right in.
"What's wrong with your friend? Toji? I mean, besides the obvious, his wife and all." She felt guilty for asking, as if it were some sensitive topic that no one liked to talk about. It was stupid, there was no reason for her to feel that way. "I mean, I thought it looked like he had a limp or something."
"Uh, yeah." She looked at Kensuke who grimaced.
"Sorry, I mean if it's personal…" She bit her lip and felt her cheeks flush. Damn it.
"Well, no, not personal to me. I mean, personal to him. But if you want to know, it would be better to ask me." Kensuke spoke quickly, stumbled over his words. It was cute. "You wouldn't want to ask him or Shinji about it. He lost an arm and a leg in an accident. He used to be an Eva pilot at one time. Short time. They recruited him and he joined because he wanted to get medical help for his sister."
"Was his sister sick?"
"I don't know if you noticed, but she's slightly scarred and walks with a limp too. She was hurt in an angel attack, years ago and was fighting a tough battle for a long time in the hospital. The NERV facilities, uh, NERV being the group that Shinji and the rest belong to with the Evas, they were obviously better than the regular hospitals, so he took the job as an Eva pilot to help his sister."
"Oh, that's sweet."
"I guess so. He went in for the test activation, his first day as a pilot and…there was a major malfunction of sorts. He lost his arm and leg."
"Oh, that's horrible."
Keiko sat on the information. So many people…
"Why would it be a sensitive topic? For Shinji, I meant."
"Uh…" Kensuke scratched the back of his head. "He, uh, was there when the whole thing happened. He witnessed it all, first hand. Tried to save Toji, but, uh, he blames himself, you know?"
Keiko only nodded to herself. Shinji. She shuddered. He still seemed creepy.
Heroin was first developed as a semi-synthesized morphine in 1874 and was marketed as a non-addictive, stronger form of morphine. Upon injection into the blood stream, it crosses the blood-brain barrier rapidly and triggers the release of endorphins. Upon injection, the time release is about 5 to 8 seconds. It causes euphoria like effects. It is estimated that the amount of endorphins a sneeze releases is roughly equivalent to an eighth of an orgasm. It is also estimated that the amount of endorphins released by an average hit of heroin is roughly equivalent to a hundred sneezes.
Shinji reached into his nightstand and pulled out his leather carrying case, about the size of a large paperback book. He unzipped it and pulled out two disposable syringes, cotton swabs, a torch lighter and a large, bent spoon. He turned to Asuka to find she had taken out their small, wooden lock box. She opened it and pulled out a large baggy.
"Jesus, how much did you buy?" Shinji muttered.
"Enough. It's choco, so go easy, right?"
"Good thing I won my bet. You blew…"
"Less talking, more cooking." Asuka sat back and lit a cigarette.
Shinji cooked up Asuka's dose and prepped her syringe. It was clean, disposable, medical.
"You have your can?" He asked.
"Mm." Asuka nodded in affirmation as she tightened her belt on her upper arm. A makeshift tourniquet. She held the excess belt length between her teeth as she flexed her arm, clenching and unclenching her left hand. She held out her hand for the needle.
"Wait." Shinji said and pulled the belt out of her mouth.
"What?" Asuka looked irritable.
Shinji leaned in and kissed her. He felt her give a start as if surprised, but then kissed back. He began to pull away, but she pulled him back in for a longer embrace.
When they separated, he looked into her eyes. He saw her smile without joy. And he felt her caress his cheek. He closed his eyes, savoring her affection. When her touch disappeared, he handed her the needle.
He didn't watch her shoot up. He was busy cooking his own dose. But he did hear her moan. He turned back to see her recline, eyes closed. He turned back to prep his needle. He held the syringe between his teeth as he put his own belt around his upper arm and tightened it. He flexed his forearm, clenched and unclenched his hand, found his vein. He replaced the syringe between his teeth with the excess belt length. He turned to Asuka to see her slowly turn to the edge of the bed and dump her syringe in her can. They had gotten the biohazard disposal units from the NERV hospital, provided by Dr. Ibuki.
Shinji inserted the needle and pulled on the plunger. His blood flooded into the syringe, settling at the bottom. He could practically see each individual cell separate from the heroin mix. He took a moment to enjoy the beauty before pushing down the on the plunger.
One. Two. Three. Four.
Oh God. Shinji pulled out the needle and swayed. He leaned over his side of the bed and dumped the syringe in the disposal unit. Everything left contrails in his vision. He felt as though he were out of his own body, drunk behind the wheel. Everything felt…fantastic. He undid the belt from his arm and flung it across the room. He giggled.
He pulled the comforter up and covered Asuka, who had already rolled over onto her side. He wondered if she were asleep. He slid beneath the sheet and comforter and cuddled up to Asuka. He wrapped his arm around her and cupped her breasts. She felt so wonderful, so soft, so warm. He nuzzled against her neck savoring her smell. He felt as though he were free falling. It felt so liberating. He closed his eyes and let the fall deepen.
End Chapter 1
Writer's Notes: Here it is, number 5...I think. First attempt...wait, that's a lie. Second attempt at something chapterized. The first attempt was an utter failure, but hopefully this won't be. But I don't guarantee any regularity of updates since chapters aren't really my thing. Anyway, all forms of criticism are greatly appreciated. If you think it's great, I'm glad. If you think I should have my eyes gouged out so I can no longer see a computer screen, so be it. Special thanks goes to Fresh C for pre-reading. He's good people and a good writer. Check out his stuff. And visit evafics dot org. Cause we need the activity.