Marie Oliviarte-Sohryu is the child of a rather successful widowed doctor who married the widower of a sadly deceased patient. While never getting along strictly well with her stepfather and particularly having a heated relationship with her step sister, who was also quite a bit more famous in addition to being something of a firebrand. That changed some eight years ago when Asuka returned to Germany and arrived on their doorstep. That was a long night, filled with forgiveness, explanations, and a good amount of overdue bonding between sisters.

Of course, Mother took it as quite a shock when it was explained that the widower's first wife as not quite dead and instead the primal spirit occupying a 200' tall weapon of mass destruction that sacrificed itself to save Asuka, and Mr. Sohryu himself didn't look that happy either.

They bonded in their contempt of their parents, if nothing else. Years passed as Asuka returned to college, got her PhD in record time and took a position. Marie named Asuka her Maid of Honor at her wedding six years ago, and the godmother of her children, of which two are here and quite a few more are planned.

Her husband, Saul, is watching over her prides and joys as she escorts Asuka's own, the small bundle of energy bouncing along with her as they walk down the entrance ramp to Tokyo-3 international airport. The hustle and bustle of the dozens of people walking through the glass covered ramp lessens as it empties out, and there is indeed a welcoming committee.

A bruised, battered, and somewhat bleeding welcoming committee.

-

-

Chapter 3: Motherhood

-

-

Nursing a drink at the bar closest to the Ramiel-turned-base, Rei Ayanami fumes silently. She always does this sort of thing silently, after all. She is just a silent type of person who prefers to not call attention, as if she did she would most likely also call attention to the fact that she is not entirely human.

But recently, she has come to a startling conclusion, of which she only told in confidence Sub Commander Katsuragi. Which prompted her to stare at her and ask the heavens why she decided to stop drinking.

Rei Ayanami wants babies.

Babies. Babies babies babies babies babies babies babies babies babies babies.

The part of her that is Lilith, mother of Mankind, has been working overtime, and that part wants babies. Babies.

Perhaps that is the reason for her recent spat of aggressive behavior. In her earlier days, Sohryu was her rival. She attracted Ikari-kun's attention, and that has become more obvious since Ikari-kun's realization that she is his half sister. Besides which, Sohryu has a child, although to most but the two of them, it is obvious she would not mind having Ikari-kun's children.

Then again, neither would Rei. Of course, there is the incest issue. Lilith does not seem to mind. The part of her that is Lilith keeps telling her to tie Ikari-kun to the nearest flat object and make babies.

Babies babies babies babies babies babies babies babies babies babies babies babies babies babies babies babies babies babies.

It also tells her that, compared with the crimes against God Yui Ikari committed, shaking your brother's willow tree is pretty tame. Perhaps, Rei thinks, as she sips the drink, sitting at a table in the corner of the bar, that is why she provoked Sohryu. She wanted to either make her admit her attraction and end the guessing game, or maim her so she could have Ikari-kun all to herself.

And make babies.

"Ayanami? Rei?"

Looking up, she narrows her eyes before recognizing the person in front of her table. Not very tall, but well tanned, blonde hair sun bleached and glasses having seen better days. She smiles, faintly, in recognition, as the young man sits down across from her with beer in hand.

"Kensuke Aida," she says, "You have not been in Tokyo-3 in some time."

He smiles. Widely, teeth separated slightly, as he takes off his worn hat and places it next to his drink. He is dressed in a leather jacket, a white buttoned shirt and worn, dirt crusted genes. Jeans. There is stubble on his chin, but not as if he is trying to grow a beard. The stubble is more that of a man too busy to shave.

"I've been around," he says, nursing the beer, "I keep an apartment here to live in when I'm not out."

"You are a film maker," she says.

"Nature documentaries, mainly," he says, pressing the bottle against his forehead, "I've been around. And you? I hear you're in Misato's old job?"

He grins, leaning on the table. His eyes are on her face, which is an improvement over the gawky fourteen year old who could not take his eyes off her breasts. There is an alertness to his eyes that is new, and for her, intriguing.

"I have," she says, "I am currently Ops Commander for NERV-1."

"The look suits you," he says with a smile.

Reflexively, she blushes. That is the problem. Any potential mate she finds usually falls into two categories; attached and related. While she is sure that Pilot Suzuhara could make many strong babies, she also knows Mrs. Suzuhara would not react kindly. The same goes for the entire bridge crew and many of those under her command. Those not related or attached are put off by her appearance, which is admittedly not normal.

Except…

"You have been in dangerous situations?" she asks.

"A few," he says, scratching the back of his head, "I had to outrun a lion last month when I got too close to a pride. I stumbled on a flock of Emperor Penguins when investigating the polar shift, and in South Africa of all places. It's dangerous work."

She nods, smiling.

"I would be interested in seeing it," she says.

"Really? Well, I keep collections in my apartment. I mean, you're…well, I've known you for a while, I wouldn't charge you to see a documentary."

"Do you live near here?" she asks.

"Yeah, as a matter of fact. I'm two blocks down."

*

*


*

*

"What the Hell happened to you?"

Asuka rolls her eyes, placing the last suitcase against the living room wall. In the time she was gone after the fight, Misato had people come in and clean the mess, which she will admit she is grateful for, albeit not to Misato's face. The room looks as good as new, and she leans against the couch, before walking to the kitchen medicine cabinet and downing a pill.

Dr. Akagi's cure-all, she thinks, Good as new in the morning.

"I had a disagreement with a co-worker," Asuka says, "It won't happen again."

"I hope to God not," Marie says, arms folded, standing in the middle of the living room, "Asuka, I know this is rough, but I can't just leave Ari here if you're picking fights with people!"

"It. Won't. Happen. Again."

Jerking her head to the side, she points to the bedroom.

"Let's go," she says, "Private."

Marie nods, and walks into the bedroom, disapproving eyes on Asuka at all times. Grunting to herself, she walks in after her. Neither of them notice the door peeking open into the small, second bedroom.

*

*


*

*

"So, this is my personal favorite," Ken says, walking along the two side by side book cases full of photo albums, "I mean, I've been doing this for God knows how long. I love photography, I love seeing the world, and since people are interested in how the environment's been recovering since Second Impact, I've got a big market. I made this trip over to Alaska two years ago."

"This is agreeable."

"Really?"

He takes the album, turning on his heel.

The photo album drops to the floor.

Just in time with the last of Rei's clothes. Standing stock still, eyes wide as saucers, Ken takes in the full impact of the scene before him. Mouth open, stammering, he can only stare.

At least until the pale hand grabs him by the shirt.

*

*


*

*

Shinji looks up from the wok in front of him as a light knocking echoes in the kitchen. Turning down the heat, he walks to the door and opens it, finding no one there. Then, he looks down.

Standing before him is a girl no older than five, with red hair tied into pig tails and dressed in a red, frilly dress. She is holding her hands behind her, swaying back and forth, and smiling. The smile is warm, comforting, and genuine, and she giggles as he is taken aback.

"Ariel?" he asks.

"Hi," she says, "You were with my Mama at the airport, right?"

"Yes I was," Shinji says, "Does your Mama know you're here?"

"Nope. She's yelling at Aunt Marie right now," Ariel says with a sigh, "They're locked in her bedroom. It takes hours when it gets like that."

Leaning against the doorway, Shinji sighs. The more things change, the more they stay the same. He knew Asuka had a step sister, and while he's only met Marie by proxy when she helped him trick Asuka into dinner and when she showed up at the air port, even eight years couldn't have made the relationship smooth.

"I'm about to have dinner," he says, "Say, tell you what. We'll leave my front door open, and you can join me."

"Okay!" Ariel says, and purses her lips, "You're a good cook, right?"

"Would I offer if I was a bad cook?"

"No," Ariel says, leaning back and forth. He gestures her in, locking the door into open position and jamming in a wooden door stopper underneath, setting out two plates as he empties the contents of the wok onto them. Grilled and steamed vegetables and fish, filling the kitchen and living room with their airy smell, as he hands her a fork and they begin.

"Why does Mama call you Third?" she asks.

"Because when we were kids, that was my job title," he says, sitting on the stool across from her, "She was called the Second."

"If she was Second, and you were Third, was she better than you?"

"Oh, most definitely," he responds with a grin, "A lot better trained than me, for starters. And she was a lot better at fighting than I was."

"You fought?"

"Ms. Sohryu, are you telling me that your mother never told you what she did here?"

She shakes her head. Odd, he thinks, she was always proud of her time as a pilot. Pride was actually…well, more like borderline sociopathic. It was her world, her life. For her to just discard it…

A door slams down the hallway. Frantic footsteps.

"ARI!"

Asuka skids to a stop in the doorway. At the table, Ariel waves, and Asuka visibly deflates, grabbing the doorway for support.

"We're just having dinner," Shinji says, "If you and your sister need to talk, she can stay here."

"I…okay," Asuka says, nodding as she composes herself, "Okay. I'll be back for her. Don't...worry me like that."

She shakily walks back to her apartment, door slamming. Some yelling, incoherent, from the other side. Ariel continues happily eating, as Shinji tents his fingers in front of his face, knotting his brow…

*

*


*

*

Whumpa.

Whumpa whumpa whumpa whumpa squeeeeaky whumpa whumpa squeeeeeaaaaak.

"Oh…oh my God. Oh my God, Rei-"

"Round two."

"…oh god-"

Whumpa whumpa whumpa whumpa whumpa whumpa whumpa WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA squeak.

"Do you require anything?"

"…an IV and a glass of orange juice…?"

"Do you require anything that does not require me leaving the bed?"

"Uh…"

"Do you want me to untie you?"

"…yes, please."

"Mm."

"Rei?"

"Too bad."

WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA-

*

*


*

*

He let Ariel watch television after she helped him clean up dinner. He doesn't subscribe to any dirty channels, since he is, as her mother once put it, a 'boring little boy'. So, satisfied that she is occupied, he walks into his bedroom to get his laptop and work. Walking in, he kicks the door closed, walking to the charging computer as-

"Don't you DARE lecture me!"

That was Asuka. Pressing his hand against the wall, he hears the vibrations from the sound against the wall, the yelling and-

He pulls his hand away. From what he can tell, one of them just slammed the bed frame to make a point. Sitting on his bed, he listens.

"It's different, Marie. You know it's different-"

"Asuka, if you're not ready to take care of Ariel I can take her back with me-"

"You are NOT taking my daughter from me! You are NOT leaving me here alone when she's the reason I came here in the first place!"

Lying back on the bed, he folds his hands behind his head, listening. He's always been good at listening, at waiting, at taking in information that others may not want him to know. This is one such case.

"You're not ready, Asuka. I'm not blaming you. We both know you never planned to have Ariel in the first place, and it's not your fault."

"No, you're saying I'm going to f___ this up as bad as my mother did, Marie. You're saying I'm going to end up screwing her up as bad as she did!"

"I'm not saying that-"

"She's the same age I was, damn it! She's the same age I was when I came home and found her SWINGING FROM A LIGHT FIXTURE! I will NEVER do that to her, do you understand?"

"I believe you Asuka. Really, I do. But…Asuka, can you do this?"

He sighs, listening. He remembers reading reports, reading personnel files. At one point, when Shinji thought he had enough of her, Misato took him aside and explained. Asuka found out and didn't speak to either of them for a week.

"I…can. I can. I think I can. God, I hope I can."

"Your cute next door neighbor is willing to help."

"I can't do that to him, Marie. He…Ariel's not his, you know? I can't make him play father to a child that isn't his."

"How do you know, Asuka? You said it yourself…"

Eyes snapping open, he sits up.

"You have no idea who Ariel's father is."

*

*


*

*

WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA-

"Nn…uh…"

"Yes?"

"Dear Penthouse…I never thought this would happen to me…"

"One more smart comment and I gag you."

"Yes ma'am."

WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA WHUMPA-

*

*


*

*

The night sky has a bright hanging moon, a swath of red running over it, and Asuka is looking at it, staring. Ariel is asleep, and Marie has checked into her hotel, leaving Asuka alone with her thoughts as she leans on the railing, clad in her nightgown and robe.

The scent of coffee brings her back to her senses as a cup is held under her nose, and she turns, taking the offered cup and smiling, faintly, tired, at Shinji.

"Thank you," she says.

"Not a problem," he responds.

"No. No, I meant…thank you. For helping me with Ariel. I…I'm not really ready, I think. In Germany, Ari would spend so much time with her grandparents and her aunt and…"

She trails off, sipping her coffee, sucking back tears as she stares at the sky.

"Asuka," he says, "Why don't you know?"

She stares at him…and bites her lip, turning away.

"Spying on me, now?"

"Our apartments are inverted. Your bedroom's on the same wall mine is," he says, "Please, talk to me."

"No."

She turns from him, hugging herself. Taking his life in his hands, he grabs her shoulder, turning her to him, nearly spilling the coffee as her face turns down, eyes closed.

"Talk to me," he says, "Please."

"What would you do?" she asks.

"What?"

"What if it wasn't my choice," she says, "What if I was, I don't know, drugged, kidnapped, and woke up finding myself pregnant? What if I don't know who the father is because I've been f___ed so many times I can't remember? What if it's…"

"Were any of those true?"

"What if they were," she says, pulling away from him.

"Then I'd find the people responsible and I'd ask my father for tips on torture," he says, hands clenching and unclenching, "But you're just trying to get a reaction out of me. Asuka, please, tell me."

"What if it's yours?"

"I can't see any way she is," he says, "For one thing, the only time you've even been civil to me was when you were drunk. Second, I wouldn't forget."

Lip trembling where he can't see, she wraps her arms tightly around herself, her back turned. Slowly, gently, he places his hands on her shoulders, drawing her into an unsteady hug, her back to his chest, her nose in his hair. Tears begin leaking from her eyes as she turns and buries her head in his shoulder.

"I named her after my mother and the Angel that raped my mind," she says, voice muffled, "I named her after the two things who f___ed me up beyond recognition, just so I wouldn't do that to her. I can't…I can't tell you, not yet. Okay?"

"Okay," he says, "I can wait. You should get to bed so you're alert for tomorrow, okay?"

She nods. And standing on her tip toes, she leans in and presses her lips against his. Moaning through the kiss, his arms wrap around her, her lips sliding against his. No tongue, no heavy breathing. No slamming against walls or tearing at clothes.

Just a long, tender kiss, under the moonlight.

She smiles, stepping back.

"Thanks," he says.

"For?"

"Not holding my nose closed," he responds.

She smiles. A small, genuine smile, and walks back into the apartment. And sighing, he turns and walks back into his.

*

*


*

*

The plaster is cracked, the bed frame is warped, and Kensuke Aida has the widest grin he has ever worn on his face. Groaning, he sits up as Rei finishes buttoning her uniform jacket, slipping on her shoes.

"Disappointed?" he asks.

"The maternal side of my nature is demanding I procreate," she says, "However, my heightened sense of self-awareness tells me I am not with child."

"Oh."

"You are an acceptable candidate," she says, running a hand through her hair, "Shall we try again?"

"Dinner, tomorrow?"

"Acceptable."

She turns on her heel and walks out. Arms wide, Ken collapses onto his bed with a groan. Finally, shakily, he raises a hand, closing it into a fist and pointing his thumb up.

"Well, that settles it," he says, "There is a God."