Imprisoned in Ice

--

"Ayanami!" The girl turned to see an out of breath Pilot Ikari standing a few feet behind her. "I--" He gasped "I didn't expect to run into you here."

"You did not." She began to turn back, intending to resume her previous course, but sensing the boy's confusion, she explained further. "You are still several feet away from me." She began to walk away.

"A-Ayanami! Wait up!" She did not slow her pace, but in a few moments the boy was in step with her (precisely in step -- there were no variations in the beat frequency, so their footsteps were not at all out of phase). "So where are you going?"

The girl would have normally been annoyed by such questions, however in this case, she was not clear on the answer herself. "I am unsure. Occasionally I engage in random walks, and often if I follow my intiution --" she cringed at her own word "-- I end up finding something interesting. In such cases, I feel a need to move, a restlessness, and as I get closer to my destination, it--"

"Ayanami?"

"We have arrived." They were on the opposite side of town from NERV, even further into the ghetto than Rei's apartment. They were standing in front of an odd brick frontment, very shabby and looking nearly out of commission. Painted on the door was "Hrothbert & Associates, fortune telling" in flecked faded guilding.

"That's wierd. I've never noticed this place before."

"You frequent this part of town?"

"Well, no..." But Rei was already inside. "R--Ayanami! Wait up!"

The inside looked like a pretty traditional fortune telling venue, perhaps like one that might be seen in movies of the previous century. The walls were not only covered in esoteric diagrams, but also painted with odd symbols. The tables were covered in bits of curios. One piece caught Shinji's eye...

"Hands off the skull!" Shinji withdrew his hand as if from flame, as a tall, slim, dignified looking man with short white hair seemed to appear from nowhere. "Sorry I startled you, Master Ikari. That... artifact is somewhat important to me." The man looked about himself as if he had not seen the room in years. "Everything seems to be in order still," he mumbled.

"Hrothbert-san..."

"Please, My Lady. Call me Bob. Everyone else does."

"I do not know why I came here. If we are not welcome, we can leave."

"Miss Ayanami, please. You are welcome for as long as you like. As is your... companion."

Shinji looked around the room, gazing at all the interesting things that were scattered haphazardly. Rei, however, stood quite still, staring straight ahead, her eyes burning holes through the air in front of them.

"Ah, where are my manners? Have a seat, you two. Please, ignore the mess --" Shinji sat down on the ragged sofa, only for a thick cloud of dust to rise up from it "-- and the dust. You see, no one has cleaned this room, or sat in it, in a very long time." Rei sat more carefully, but still gave a slight sneeze from the lesser, but still ample level of dust rising from her seat. "Now, I imagine you two would like to hear your fortunes?"

"I do not believe in fate." This statement startled the younger Ikari, as Rei had always told him that she had a definite purpose in life, and that her whole existence was planned. He, however, did not realize that she was not speaking metaphorically. He should have known -- she rarely speaks metaphorically.

"Ah, yet you feign being bound by it. Let me let you in on a little secret: Fate," he began, "is a prison enforced by belief. Master Ikari here believes in fate -- you can see it in his eyes -- and because of that, he is resigned to take what he is given and do his part. Even if he tries to escape his fate, he will only be brought back or bring himself back, because he is resigned into believing that what he is given is all that is. Isn't that right, Master Ikari?" He turned slightly. "You must not run away" he mimed "because if you try to escape one fate, you are trapped with another that is worse?" Noting the change in the boy's eyes, his voice softened and became consolatory. "I am sorry -- old wounds, my friend; we all have them. That one is still sore, I suppose. Well, picture this: if one can see the nature of a person from physical appearances -- which are, of course, interpreted by the mind and therefore subject to the mind's own warpings and intuitions -- then what does one see in Miss Ayanami?"

Shinji looked at his companion with a gentle, bashful gaze. "Her hair -- the colour is calming, like water, but in the light it's cold and blinding, like ice. Her eyes --" She looked at him, and he gasped slightly with the contact "-- her eyes have an intensity, a... heat. Like fire."

"Very good. You see, Miss Ayanami is just as she appears -- to you, at least. She has a soul of fire -- her eyes betray this -- but she entraps her passions in a prison of ice. This ice is a mask, like everything else -- and like everything else, it is a tool." Rei winced, almost imperceptably. "She hates red things -- blood, meat, flesh, wine -- because they remind her of the fire in her eyes, the fire inside of her that is slowly, inch by inch, melting the ice. She defines herself by her prison -- her mask -- because she has been trained to, yet it is her fire that will save her, in the end. Have you ever heard the phrase, 'Thou must have chaos in ye, to become a dancing star'?" A shiver went through the room. "Of course not -- you are too young to have studied Nietzsche. But keep that in mind -- and keep in mind that there must always be a balance."

"I suppose you shall ask me now what I see in Sh--Ikari-kun?" She berated herself for nearly saying his first name.

"Bright girl. Yes."

"His hair... is brown, like the earth. His eyes are blue, like water. And his" his smile, his tears, his... "his eyes are blue."

"Yes." The man gave her a knowing glance, as if he could read her mind. "His hair -- his outer shell -- is that of the earth; he blends in with his surroundings, and for those who do not truly know him, he is forgettable, unnoticable, invisible. This is what he is afraid of -- like with you, his outer shell binds him, but he does not wish to break it, because it is all that he knows how to deal with. However, his eyes -- like his soul -- are calm, like water, like sky. Like water, he is flexible -- he can mold himself into any type of person. Also like water, he can be gentle one moment, and then the next, be hard -- like opening a dam into a gentle brook. These aspects are best utilized with a mask such as his, but he needs to remember that the person that he really is is different than how others see him, especially those to which he is a passing stranger -- an unknown soldier, a forgotten face."

"I see." Shinji sat, stunned, especially at Rei's composure. She had... changed, somehow. And so had he.

"Well, you two should be going. You are about to get a... shall we say, a ring?" Suddenly, they were in an empty alley, with nothing but newsprint tumbling in the wind for company.

Suddenly, both heard the distinctive wail of the city's emergency siren system. An attack.

--

A/N:
This is just a small Shinji/Rei oneshot that I thought up on a whim. I don't think I'll make any more chapters (maybe keep it as a oneshot for now), but hey -- if there's popular demand, who knows? Oh btw, I borrowed Bob from another series -- points to whoever can figure one which one :P.