Disclaimer: No, I do not own Neon Genesis Evangelion, Shinji, Rei, Asuka, Misato, Toji, Kensuke, Hikari, Gendo, Fuyutsuki, Ritsuko, Kaji, Pen-Pen, the Bridge Bunnies (interesting name despite two out of three being men, hmmm), the MAGI, the Angels, Tokyo-3, or the Geofront. Phew, that should be everything. {Cry, Sob} BUT I plan to be in talks with Anno and GAINAX to remedy that… oversight shortly. {Evil Laugh} {More Evil Laugh} {Insane Evil Laugh} {Crickets} …ahem. Now for the second chapter of my saga.

"Dialogue"

thoughts

Chapter Two

When Shinji woke, the first thing he noticed was that he didn't know where he was. It only took a quick look around the room to fix that and confirm that he was indeed in the hospital.

The second thing was that there was somebody sitting in a chair next to his bed, reading. This didn't seem right, as Misato and the Commander would get a report on his condition with no need to visit personally. It was a female somebody. A very particular female somebody, in fact…

As if he had called out her name, the blue-haired girl put her book down and looked at him. "You are awake, Pilot Ikari?" She asked in a deadpan voice. Display no emotion before you are certain of how it will be received. This advice has served me well.

Shinji sat up, wincing from the effort. After taking a moment to rattle his head and make sure he was thinking right, he then turned and replied, "Yeah, but I still hurt in places I didn't even know I had… hey, you got all those bandages off!" Man, she is really cute. But cold, it seems. "Did they tell you…?"

She cocked her head to the side and said, "I have been told nothing, only ordered to watch you until you woke. To what do you refer?" He believes I should have been told something which has been withheld from me. Why would that be?

Oh, she was ordered to be here. I guess that makes more sense. Shinji laid back down, saying, "I see… then they must not have wanted you to know. But I think you need to." He looked right at her. "That you're the reason I agreed to pilot, I mean."

Her eyes got wide as she shook her head, to show that she had indeed not known. Why? That is highly illogical.

"Well, you are. I told my father, the Commander that I wanted nothing to do with whatever plot he's concocting, then just as I was leaving, they wheeled you in on a stretcher. That's when I agreed to do it, but I told him straight out that I could care less about him and his plans, and made it abundantly clear that it was to spare you. Never in my life have I walked away from a girl in distress, even when it would have been better for me to not get involved, and I wasn't about to start. I simply couldn't live with myself if I left then." I don't think I should mention what I heard you say, though.

The girl was very confused, to say the least. She knew her job, and her place. If she was ordered to die in battle, then die in battle she would. And a glorious death it would be, too. But there was no reason for this boy to go out in her place, with no training, and likely end up dead himself for it. That was stupid. If he doesn't really want to pilot, he'll just be killed.

Shinji sat himself back up again, with an effort, and said to her, "Well, since apparently you're another pilot, just like me, I suppose we should at least know each other's names, right? You already know mine, it seems, but I believe a more proper introduction is in order. I am Shinji Ikari. And it is very much a pleasure to meet you." He smiled that lady-killer smile he hadn't used for so long, and extended his hand out toward her.

The girl rose from her seat and clasped Shinji's hand in hers. It was a new sensation, one that she filed away for future reference… what use it would be to her, she had no earthly idea, but seemingly pointless knowledge often ended up being the most vital. This she knew.

"I am called Rei Ayanami. I must go now, it is late. I will let the doctor know you seem well." Then she turned and walked out the door, leaving Shinji alone.

Cold, as I thought. How do I crack that kind of shell? He wondered. I hope they let me go home soon… wait a minute. Home? Where is home, in this place? Well, I suppose I can take care of that when I wake up. Then he settled in to get one more good night's sleep before having to deal with the real world.

For the first time, but most assuredly not the last, he dreamt of Rei.

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In a long, strategically lit room sat a man behind his desk, gloved hands folded in front of his face so one couldn't tell whether he was smiling or scowling. And that's the way he liked it.

As much as Gendo Ikari could be said to enjoy anything, he enjoyed messing with the minds of his underlings. But now was not the time. He turned to his second-in-command, with a question that was not a question. His specialty.

"Fuyutsuki, what seemed odd to you about that battle?" Shinji, how did you do it?

Fuyutsuki responded to what he knew the Commander was really asking. "You mean Shinji knowing what to do despite never seeing Eva before. The battle followed the Committee's Scenario, did it not? They won't care about something ridiculous like an over-talented pilot. Personally, I think he's really just that good. Maybe too many video games or something. Notice how he could move and shoot, but was caught off-guard by the AT-Field. That means he doesn't really 'know more than he's telling', if that's what you think. This should only make our job that much easier."

Gendo returned to his steepled hands position. "You might be right. I will have to speak with him, though. It is strange, and if the old men are trying to play me somehow, they might find they have severely misjudged their opponent."

Fuyutsuki looked at him and thought, maybe the stress of being Supreme Commander of a worldwide organization dedicated to the research, development, construction, and deployment of the only means of saving all mankind from destruction is finally starting to get to him. I think he's getting more paranoid than normal.

Outwardly the old man just nodded slightly and said, "Indeed."

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Early the next morning, Shinji once again woke to find Rei at his bedside. I'd like to see her without orders, but somehow I doubt she'd be here on her own. "Good morning, Rei," he said to her. "How are you today, and what are my new orders?"

"I am physically and mentally well, and your orders are as follows. You are to dress and report to Commander Ikari's office immediately for debriefing. I have also been called in, therefore I shall accompany you. I will wait outside for you to dress. Be swift, the Commander despises waiting."

After receiving a nod of acknowledgement, Rei turned and left the room, taking a seat just outside the room. I know the Commander wished to speak with Pilot Ikari regarding the battle, but for what purpose must I appear as well? I do not like not knowing things, Rei thought and frowned.

Shinji was excited and dismayed at the same time as he dressed. I'm getting out of the hospital, but I have to go see Him, that cannot be good. Oh well, I can at least hope he'll give me a place to live. A home, for however long I stay here. I've gotten wrapped up in this and I don't even know anything. I'll ask him, straight out, and he'll either answer me or dodge the question. Shinji smiled. And if he does that, it just shows that he's hiding something deeper. He laced up his shoes and exited the room, rejoining his blue-haired companion.

Rei stood and said to him, "If you are ready, Pilot Ikari, follow me. The Commander will be irritated if kept waiting." Then she turned and walked quickly down the hall.

Shinji nearly had to run to keep up with her. Jeez, what's with this Pilot Ikari business?He called out, "Hey, Rei, slow down a bit!" So she did, but just a little, and if you could read her body language you could tell she was annoyed at the need. Shinji caught his breath and told her, "You don't have to address me as Pilot Ikari, you know. It sounds kind of awkward. Just call me Shinji, alright? Like everyone else does?"

He is causing me mental discomfort. This must be what they call getting on one's nerves. Rei turned and asked Shinji, in return, "If I do this, Shinji, will you leave me be?"

Uh-oh, I recognize this tone. Okay, fine, but what'd I do? "Why so aggressive, Rei? All I want is to be your friend, but I'll leave you alone if you want me to." Shinji put his hands in his pockets and did his best to look dejected.

Rei was saved from needing to reply by the fact that they had arrived at the Commander's office. She pressed the intercom button and waited for nearly a minute before the gruff voice replied, "Enter!"

The two walked in, Rei questioning but managing to look indifferent, Shinji trying to look indifferent but was actually quite intimidated (as was the room's intent by design.) Rei took Shinji's arm and tugged him to the center of the room, saying just loudly enough to be heard, "Pilots Ayanami and Ikari reporting as ordered, Commander."

Gendo spoke. "I've little time to waste. Let us finish here quickly." He directed his gaze to Shinji. "Pilot, I've read the report of your battle with the Angel. How is it that you, with no training and zero prior knowledge of the Evangelion, move so fluidly, as though you trained your entire life?"

Shinji forced himself to remember, and met the Commander's eyes as he spoke. "To tell the truth, Sir, in movement and combat control, the Evangelion greatly resembles an untold number of video games. The only things in that battle that took me completely unaware were the pain intensity and the AT Field."

Gendo nodded. "I see. So your piloting ability is tied directly to your prior experience with these video games. Fuyutsuki! Note that."

"Yes, sir. Noted," came a voice off to the side that couldn't be seen.

"You say you were caught off-guard by the pain level and by the AT Field. I will have Dr. Akagi run some simulations with live-combat conditions for you. You will be ready next time. Here is your dwelling assignment." He slid a paper across the desk. Shinji walked up to retrieve it, then returned to his place beside Rei. "You are dismissed. Wait outside for Pilot Ayanami."

"But Father! I have questions to ask you!" Shinji exclaimed.

Gendo raised an eyebrow at Shinji, but he couldn't see it. "I don't recall asking if you did, Pilot. You will follow your orders. Dismissed!" Shinji took his paper and left in a huff.

The Commander turned to face Rei. "You and Shinji will return to school next week. I expect you to keep an eye on him for me. Section 2 can't be everywhere at once. You will report any... anomalies immediately, and I will decide whether they merit concern. You will also assist him in moving into his new apartment and try to answer some of these questions of his, and I will have Dr. Akagi write some special simulations for you, as well. Do you have any concerns for me?"

Rei replied softly, "No, Sir."

"That is good, Rei. Then you are dismissed."

Rei turned and left the office to find Shinji waiting as ordered. "Come, Shinji. I have been ordered to help you move into your new apartment and answer some of your questions, if I can. Let me see your housing paper." She snatched it cleanly out of his hand, and upon reading it, an expression that could've been amusement, shock, disapproval, or maybe just curiosity came over her face. What is the meaning of this, Commander?

Shinji was worried by the look on her face and asked, "Rei? Is something wrong? Do you... know something about this address?"

Rei looked up from the paper and said, in a voice just a little higher than her usual deadpan, "Shinji... this is MY apartment!"

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A/N: Shinji and Rei, living together? Well, let's just see how it goes, hmmmm? Already, this story has begun to write itself in a direction I didn't foresee when I started this chapter. Review! C&C welcome, flames will be used for firewood (wait, that made no sense...), etc. Still taking suggestions on where this story should go; if I use your idea, you will get credit in the A/N for the chapter in which that idea begins. Unless I was gonna do it that way anyway. Laters!

Holy Pudding Lord