DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fan fiction incorporating characters and situations from the Gainax manga/anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion and its related feature film releases. Gainax and its various media distributors hold sole exclusive rights to their use. The author is in no way affiliated with Gainax or its distributors, nor has this story been submitted for any commercial purpose.
Down for the Third
by Ikarus Onesun
"Such a boring little boy…"
Asuka Langley Sohryu sighed disappointedly as she turned and walked away from the poolside table where Shinji Ikari sat red-faced in front of his laptop. The Third Child gazed down in embarrassment at the concrete floor of the pool deck as the voluptuous redhead made her way to the far end of the pool, and the pile of scuba gear that lay waiting for her. Only moments before, she had been standing before him, rubbing her breasts practically right in his face as she attempted to explain the physical principle of thermal expansion to him. It was a… strange example, to say the least, and Shinji didn't know for sure if Asuka had truly wanted to help him with the basic physics primer he'd been working on, or if she simply just wanted to show off her new red and white striped bikini while mercilessly torturing him at the same time.
He was fairly certain that it was the latter.
This was a terrible idea, he thought to himself morosely.
Every single student in his class at New Tokyo-3 1st Municipal Junior High had left the mainland for a school outing to Okinawa – everyone, that is, except for the three Children who piloted the giant Evangelions – Shinji, Asuka, and Rei Ayanami. Captain Misato Katsuragi, their Operations Director and Shinji and Asuka's legal guardian, had denied the Children permission to go on the class trip, citing security concerns and the need for the pilots to be available in the event of an Angel attack. Asuka had been livid at the news, as she had spent a small fortune on her new bathing suit and scuba gear, but Shinji had taken the decision in stride. Misato had suggested that Shinji and Asuka take advantage of the free time they now found themselves with to catch up on their studies, as their grades had been less than impressive on their last reports. As well, Misato proposed that this might be a good opportunity for the three Children to spend some time together. A little bonding wouldn't hurt, she had reasoned, when they'd likely be risking their lives for each other at some point.
It had been Asuka who had suggested that they spend the afternoon at NERV's aquatic center – she was determined to make use of her new suit and equipment, Okinawa or no Okinawa. Although they had not consulted Rei, or even bothered to call her, they knew she would almost certainly be there – the blue-haired girl made regular use of the pool facilities at NERV and was as regular as clockwork in her habits. Shinji had noticed that the First Child was an exceptional swimmer when he had first come to 1st Municipal, and always thought it was strange that Rei had never gone out for the school's swim team – she was easily as fast as their best swimmer, if not faster. She seemed disinterested in competition, though, or even in socializing with the other girls, as she usually just sat by herself during P.E. period while the others took their turns in the swim heats. It was just one more thing about the enigmatic girl that he had a hard time understanding.
Shinji would have preferred to have done almost anything else – he couldn't swim, and even just sitting so close to the water made him nervous – but Asuka had been insistent, berating him for his cowardice and accusing him of not wanting to spend time with his fellow pilots, against Misato's wishes. Finally, he grabbed his laptop in frustration and said that he would work on his studies while Asuka and Rei swam. This seemed to placate the redhead, and the two of them made their way to NERV where, sure enough, they found Rei doing what seemed to be endless laps in the Olympic-sized pool when they entered the aquatic center.
The clanking of metal caused Shinji to glance up from the deck, and he cast his gaze to the end of the pool to where Asuka was strapping on her scuba gear. Her back was turned to Shinji, and she was bent over at the waist as she fiddled with her tank's shoulder straps, giving the boy a clear view of her shapely bottom. His cheeks instantly colored – her bikini bottoms were cut high to the waistline, and there was barely enough material in the back to leave anything to the imagination. There was no denying that the Second Child was physically very attractive, despite her brash, hard-edged demeanor, and even though embarrassment and shame were twisting his insides, Shinji simply could not tear his eyes away from the sight of Asuka's well-presented… assets.
It was a sudden splashing from the other end of the pool, followed by a sighing sound, that finally broke Shinji's reverie. He turned his head in time to see Rei Ayanami, clad in a white NERV-issue one-piece racing suit, lifting herself out of the water in a single lithe motion, setting her feet on the lip of the pool and rising smoothly upright before making her way over to a table where a purple towel lay waiting for her. She proceeded to dry herself off, starting from her feet, moving the towel up her long, slender legs and across her taut torso before wrapping it around her head and tousling her light blue hair. To Shinji, the entire process seemed to happen in slow motion as she finally draped the towel around her shoulders and stood there for long moments, contemplating the water she had just left with those striking crimson eyes of hers.
As Shinji shifted nervously in his seat, his rapt attention fixed on the quiet First Child, he was once again distracted by Asuka at the other end of the pool. She was now wearing her scuba tank and regulator, and she was squatting at the edge of the pool with her back to him as she called out over her shoulder, "Hey Shinji, lookie lookie! Back roll entry!" As soon as she saw him gaze in her direction, she flashed him a wide, mischievous smile before she let herself fall backwards, entering the water with a pronounced splash. As the water settled, his attention was caught by a pair of curvaceous calves scissoring briefly above the surface, before drawing together and sliding silently from sight.
Shinji sighed heavily. He was getting absolutely no work done at all, and having the two female pilots in such close proximity to him – and in such skimpy outfits – was proving to be almost too much for him to take. He was a boy, after all, and even though he did his best not to think about his colleagues in… that way, there were times when he just couldn't help it.
Like when they're walking around in dripping wet swimsuits, he mused. The plugsuits they wore when piloting their EVAs were actually more revealing, as they were absolutely skintight, but something about seeing so much exposed skin – the peaches-and-cream coloring of Asuka, and the alabaster complexion of Rei – did something else for him entirely.
Just then, he caught his breath as Rei walked right by him as she passed by his table on her way to the girls' change room. He glanced up shyly at her as she passed, and for the briefest of moments, their eyes met, his slate-gray eyes fixing on her deep ruby ones. She let her gaze linger on his for exactly three strides, her expression oddly pensive, before she turned away and continued on without a word toward the other end of the pool.
Shinji's mouth felt dry. It had been almost three months now since the fifth Angel's attack, when Rei had smiled at him after he had rescued her from being literally boiled alive inside of Unit 00, but she had not treated him to another such display since. She seemed to have reverted back to the silent, impassive girl she had been before Operation Yashima. He had thought he had made a real breakthrough with her after Mt. Futago, but in the weeks since, he felt as distant from her as ever. Asuka's recent presence in his life had much to do with this, he felt, as the redhead demanded the attention of all who surrounded her. At this point, he didn't know if Rei liked him, or if Asuka liked him, or if anybody did, for that matter.
All he knew was that the last time Rei had looked at him like that, it had felt… good.
As he watched the blue-haired girl walking away, the only sound coming from the bubbles rising to the surface of the water from Asuka's scuba tank, he suddenly felt a desperate need to get something to drink. He rose from his seat and turned to make his way to the pool's foyer, where several vending machines were located. As he made his way along the lip of the pool, heading for the foyer doors, he glanced back over his shoulder for one last glimpse of Rei before she disappeared into the locker room.
He was aware of something hard slamming into the toes of his right foot, but the pain took a back seat to the panic that instantly filled him as he lost his balance on the lip of the pool and tumbled, arms flailing madly, into the waiting water.
His eyes opened wide with shock and fear, and he gasped in alarm as he immediately began to choke on the taste of chlorine that suddenly filled his mouth. Gagging and coughing, he struggled to keep his head above the water as he thrashed about madly, his childhood fright of the deep revisiting itself upon him in a paralyzing terror. The last time he had been in this situation, as a small boy, he had nearly died. He tried to scream for help, but the sound came out only as a waterlogged gurgle as his head abruptly sank below the water, strangling his desperate cries.
At the other end of the pool, Rei had just reached the door to the girls' change room when she heard the splash. She turned toward the sound and her crimson eyes shot open at the sight of the Third Child in the water, floundering furiously to stay afloat, before she saw his head sink below the surface, the water around him a frothy white from his flailing. A puzzled expression crossed her face before she realized that the boy did not know how to swim.
Her eyes quickly swept the water and lighted on the Second Child, who had surfaced in the middle of the pool, and Rei's light blue brows knit together in confusion as she realized that the redhead was making no move at all to aid Ikari, who had just broken through to the surface again and was gasping desperately for air. Sohryu was watching the Third with a look of passing interest on her face, almost as if she were… enjoying the sight of the brown-haired boy struggling to stay afloat – and to stay alive.
Ikari's head dipped below the water again, his fright and panic clearly evident on his face as he disappeared from view once more. Rei glanced from the foundering boy to Sohryu, who was still treading water at her end of the pool, clearly not intending to intervene. The First Child was astounded at the Second's callousness – how could she just remain in place and watch Ikari struggle, when she was only several meters away from him?
Without another thought, she suddenly found herself in motion, sprinting to the edge of the pool and launching herself through the air toward the struggling Third Child. The blue-haired girl cut through the water as smoothly as a dolphin, and within seconds she had urgently stroked across the distance separating the two pilots. Shinji's eyes were wild with terror as he worked desperately to stay afloat, but a spark of recognition appeared in them as Rei pulled closer to him.
"Ikari… I have you. Please do not struggle," she said to him as calmly as she could manage as she approached the frightened boy.
Doing her best to avoid his thrashing arms, she slid in behind him and reached around his body, tucking his head below her chin as she wrapped her right arm around his chest below his armpits. She grabbed his left arm with her free hand and guided it to his chest to keep him from flailing about any further, and then, with several surprisingly powerful kicks from her slender legs, she propelled the two of them toward the side of the pool. After only a few moments, they had reached the side, and with Rei's help, Shinji clambered awkwardly out of the water and collapsed onto the concrete deck, coughing and sputtering, his chest heaving heavily as he stared wide-eyed up at the ceiling.
Oh God oh God oh God oh God of God oh God, he thought over and over as he gasped for breath, his head and heart pounding rapidly.
A head abruptly appeared in his field of vision, crimson eyes regarding him through the dripping wet tendrils of blue hair that clung to her delicate features.
"Are you all right?" Rei inquired flatly.
His eyes met hers, before traveling down her face and neck, and lighting for the briefest of moments where the "V" of her white swimsuit's top met between her breasts. She was leaning over him, and he was treated to a sight that he had not seen since he had first visited her apartment months before.
Oh God oh God oh God oh God oh God…
"S… sorry… yeah… I'm… I'm fine… uh… sorry, I… uh, I better g- g-get out of these clothes… th-thanks, Ayanami… sorry… oh, God…"
The mortified boy scrambled to his feet, giving Rei one last embarrassed glance before he quickly hurried off toward the boys' change room.
The First Child remained seated by the pool, her head tilted slightly in the direction Shinji had fled, a small crinkle furrowing her smooth forehead as she watched him depart. Whatever she had been thinking as she watched the boy disappear through the locker room doors, her train of thought was abruptly derailed by a single word from directly behind her.
Rei turned her head and glanced up to see Asuka standing over her. She had shed her scuba tank and was now looking in Shinji's direction, shaking her head in disgust. The harshness of the Second's expression and her disparaging tone prodded Rei to respond to the insult.
"It is not his fault that he cannot swim," she murmured quietly.
The redhead regarded the seated girl with something almost resembling amusement. "I wasn't talking about him, Wondergirl, I was talking about you," she remarked, arching an eyebrow at Rei. "Although he is an idiot. A big one, too."
A look of genuine puzzlement spread across Rei's face. "I do not understand… he could have drowned, and yet you did nothing… I assisted him when you would not, and you insult me for it. Why?"
Asuka reared back in shock, and Rei braced herself for another torrent of vitriol from the tempestuous redhead – and was further confused when Asuka instead burst into peals of laughter.
"You really are an idiot! I can't believe you fell for that!" she chortled. "The oldest trick in the book, and you bought it, hook, line, and sinker!"
"I… do not follow you."
"Of course you don't, Wondergirl," she smirked. "I can't believe you come to this pool every single day, and you didn't even see it. I guess you only had eyes for him, nicht?"
Rei's only response was a blank stare.
Asuka sighed, shaking her damp mane of ruddy hair as she reached down and gathered up her diving gear. "I've had enough of this Unsinn for one day," she grumbled. "Look, Wondergirl, think about what just happened, then take a good look around you, and see if you can't figure it out." She then turned and walked off toward the girls' change room, muttering something under her breath in German that sounded to Rei like "bloody forts," which only puzzled her even more.
Deciding to take the redhead's advice, Rei replayed the scene in her mind once more. She had been walking to the change room – what had she been thinking about? – when she heard the splash. She saw Ikari in the water at the far end of the pool, thrashing madly, his eyes wild with panic. Closer to her, Sohryu was treading water in the deep end, watching him with a strange smirk on her face. She had waited for the Second to move to Ikari's aid, and when it became clear to her that Sohryu did not intend to help, and that Ikari was in danger, concern had overcome her and she had rushed to…
She paused, frowning.
Sohryu was treading water in the deep end…
Rei glanced out into the water to the spot where she had rescued Ikari, and traced the path she had swam to bring him to the side of the pool – and her ruby eyes opened wide with recognition as she read the bright yellow letters painted on the concrete lip.
DEPTH 4 FT (1.2 M)
For long minutes, all she could do was sit and stare at those large yellow words, a pink flush slowly spreading across her face as she struggled to understand what had just happened… and why…
Author's notes: This is my response to DartzIRL's one hour oneshot challenge. I've had this idea in my head for a long time now, where it was pretty much fully-formed, but other projects kept it on the back burner until I finally got Chapter 8 of "Godchild" completed, and got the time to take a good crack at writing it. Completed in 57 minutes 14 seconds, to be exact. :) Hope you enjoyed it!
Please feel free to leave a review, or drop me a line at ikarusonesun(at)gmail(dot)com.