"You see, dear, it is not true that woman was made from man's rib; she was really made from his funny bone."

J.M. Barrie

What Every Woman Knows

Chapter 4: Ring Training

Shinji was lying on his bed in his room of Misato's apartment. He was staring up at the ceiling again and thinking back on the battle that he had with the Angel. It wasn't so much the battle itself but the aftermath that stayed with him the most.

"Why did you ignore my orders?" Misato shouted.

Shinji said nothing.

"I'm the one who's in charge of your operations, aren't I?"

"Yup."

"You do know that you're supposed to obey my orders, don't you?"

"Yes."

"I'm warning you not to do it again."

"I won't."

"Aren't you going to say anything in your defense?"

"Yes, I am." Shinji said looking up at her. "I did what I did because I had to. The enemy was in front of me and I had to fight it. If I didn't then others would die."

"It may be easy to go through life with that attitude Shinji but if you get in an Eva like that it will kill you."

"Oh yeah?" Shinji asked. "Tell that to Toji Suzahara's sister. She's the one in the hospital after being crushed under debris thanks to the Angel attack. How many others are in the hospital or in the ground because of that? Huh? How many? HOW MANY?"

Misato said nothing.

"I not only pilot the Eva because I'm the only one who can but I do it so that no one else will have to die. And if I die in the process then that's an occupational hazard. It's easy for you since you're the one sitting behind the operations monitors while I'm the one actually risking my life."

Within a flash, a hand had smacked across Shinji's face. He felt the red welt against his cheek swelling as he looked back at Misato who had her arm frozen in place after she made her own attack.

"Don't talk about your life like it's worth nothing, Shinji. Think about the ones who stay behind if you die."

It felt very awkward to come back home to Misato's place after having such a confrontation. The dinner between the two of them was unbearably silent like they were eating before going to a funeral. Even Pen-pen kept looking at Shinji and Misato back and forth hoping someone would say something and break the unbearable weight of the silence. But no one did.

Neither one said a word even after having a bath and going to bed.

Shinji pulled up his hand towards the ceiling and looked at the ring that no one else could see.

"There's got to be a better way." He thought. "A way for me to fight the Angels so that no one would get hurt and so no one will find out my secret."

The ring began to glow and there was a voice, "There is a way."

Shinji sat bolt upright in his bed.

"Do not worry. Only you can hear my voice."

"Who are you?" Shinji asked in his mind.

"I am the ring." The voice said.

"The ring?"

"Yes. I am the onboard artificial intelligence of the Green Lantern ring that will assist Shinji Jordan in any endeavors that are needed."

"So, you were the one who helped me out in that battle, aren't you?"

"Yes, I am and looking for a way to utilize me and still be secret. There is a way but we must leave this place for it to be done."

"How? Knowing NERV they can detect you."

"And I can mask myself from their eyes. Now will you listen and hear my lessons?"

"Yes."

"Then open the window."

Shinji did as the ring had said.

"Now, let's fly." The ring had said.

Shinji stood back from the window. He clenched his fist and the ring grew brighter and brighter until it covered his entire body and he found himself wearing the Green Lantern's uniform. Squatting down he made himself ready as if he were about to leap onto his bed but instead the green light had encircled him and he was flying out the window, above the apartment complex, and over Tokyo-3. The feeling of flight was a little like swimming through the deep waters of a pool. There was a little resistance but he was cutting right through it. And despite the cold of the night and the tightness of his suit he could not feel the tiniest shiver anywhere within him.

"Man, this is cool." Shinji said to himself looking down over the city. He didn't know how high he was but it felt like he was looking down at an aerial photograph of the city. With it being night and the street lamps on it was like he was looking down on the stars until he looked up and saw the stars and the moon above.

"No time for sight seeing." The ring had said. "Time for training."

"Where shall we do it?" He asked.

"Over there in the mountains."

Then without warning he could feel a tug on his finger almost like someone was pulling at it. He looked and soon realized that the ring was leading the way on its own. It was leading him down towards a wooded hill just south of Tokyo-3. At first it seemed like Shinji was about to crash but the ring had slowed down and allowed him to land onto a grassy clearing among the trees.

"What will the training entail?" Shinji asked the ring.

"You will be learning how to create constructs with the ring."

"Constructs?"

"Do you remember the battle with the Angel and you created a battering ram?"

"Yes. But I didn't know how I did that."

"What you did by instinct others do by design."

"Others? You mean there are more Green Lanterns?"

"Yes, but that is not important right now. Concentrate on using the ring. Start with something simple. Try a sphere."

Shinji closed his eyes and concentrated on a sphere. He opened his eyes and there in front of him was a green sphere connected by a green tendril of light that flowed from the ring.

"Very good. Now a cube."

Once again he concentrated on a cube.

He did it again and again he found that he had created a cube out of the green light.

"Let's try for something more complex." The ring instructed. "Try chopping down a tree with a construct."

Shinji concentrated hard upon an axe, the length of the shaft, the blade, its weight, and its sharpness.

Just like the sphere and the cube he found the green axe. He took hold of it and felt it as solid as if he were holding a real one. Feeling immense pride that he had come so far with this training in only a few short minutes he went to the base of the tree and took a swing at it but something went wrong as the axe came down the light had shattered as if it were glass and did not make a single dent or scratch in the tree.

He looked at the tree then back at the ring.

"Do not be discouraged." The ring said. "Try again."

He remade the construct and took another whack. This time he did make a small dent in the tree. But not much.

"Do not concentrate on it making any kind progress cut." The ring said. "Imagine the axe going through the tree. Remember, the green light is the light of will. Will is the precursor to any action. You must will the tree to be cut."

With a twinge of frustration, Shinji materialized the construct again. He looked at the tree and imagined it falling from a single slice. He held onto the axe, brought it way back into its preparation for the onslaught and brought it down in one swift motion. But he didn't feel a thing. At first he thought that the construct had failed but the axe was still in his hand. He looked back at the tree and found that it was still standing.

"Damn." He said and gave the tree a swift punch.

That was when he heard a great creaking. He looked and saw that the tree was shaking and shimmying. Its branches were rustling as if it was in a high wind until it started falling backward and then down, down, down to the ground where it made a great crash.

"Holy shit…" Shinji uttered.

"Good work." The ring praised. "That will be enough training for tonight. But we must come out every night so that we may train your mind to create constructs. The plan is that once your mind is trained enough you will be able to create a construct of a human body. Once that is done you may use it as a decoy to avert attention and suspicion from you."

"Gotcha." Shinji said. "Now let's get back home."

Shinji slept soundly that night knowing that if the ring can make any kind of construct for any purpose then the answer to the problem is very simple.

The next morning Shinji woke up feeling a little more chipper than last night. He made a little extra at breakfast for himself and Misato who woke up looking like she was recovering from a hangover since her eyes were bloodshot and her hair was tangled and messy.

"Morning, Misato." Shinji smiled.

"Good morning." Misato said rather listless as she sat down and actually drank a can of beer.

Shinji didn't pay it any mind. He simply went on eating breakfast and as soon as he was finished Misato had stopped him.

"Shinji…" She said.

"Yes?"

"I…um…" Her eyes looked down at the table. "I want to…"

"Misato, you know I have school today so let's get a move on with this."

"I'm trying to say I'm sorry, okay?" She snapped before becoming downcast again. "I wanted to say that I'm sorry for yesterday."

"Its okay, Misato." Shinji said. "It is part of your job to maintain authority."

"It's not about that." Misato shook her head. "It's about me slapping you and telling you to think about the ones you leave behind if you die."

"It's no problem." Shinji smiled.

"But at least let me make it up to you. I'll cook tonight."

Shinji raised an eyebrow knowing how bad Misato can be in the kitchen but he didn't want to compound the situation by turning her down.

"Okay then."

"Alright!" Misato smiled.

That day at school, Shinji had greeted Toji and Kensuke who were glad that Shinji was alright. They told him that they were chewed out, hard, for going out of the shelter and being involved in the Eva battle. Shinji had to smile at it because it sounded a little like what he had to face when he met up with Misato after the battle. But after that school life had gone on normally as one would have expected.

Although, there was still something that started to nag at Shinji's mind. Rei Ayanami. Her days of coming into class were still as sporadic as ever but when she came into class that day she was completely free of her bandages. Just to see her without the bandages was like pulling back the curtain that was covering up a view and finally seeing what was beyond it. That was the reason that Shinji had found himself staring at her every now and then. Even during gym class when the boys were doing basketball and track while the girls were up at the pool.

Shinji, Toji, and Kensuke were sitting on the sidelines looking up at the girls at the pool and staring like they were pinups in a porn magazine.

"Man, they all have such nice tits." Toji commented.

Some of the girls had noticed them staring and started giving out cat calls.

"Perverts!"

"Gross!"

All the while Shinji kept looking at Rei who was sitting curled up in her swimsuit against the chain link fence. In a way it reminded Shinji of grade school back in the U.S. where he would be usually the kid that was last picked for everything. At least in the first years before his dad started helping him out in physical training. But being alone in that corner, Shinji knew was such an isolating feeling. That was when he wondered if Rei was there of her own choice or because of her peers.

"Hey, big shot." Toji called.

Shinji turned to see a rather evil grin on Toji's face.

"Who're you staring at so intently?" He asked.

"At Rei Ayanami." Shinji answered.

"Oh yeah. At Rei's tits. Rei's thighs. Rei's calves."

"Calves?" Shinji asked with a cocked eyebrow. "Of all the body parts of a woman you think of calves?"

"Well, what else should be included?" Kensuke asked.

"What about the ass?" Shinji asked. "Back where I'm from we sometimes call that a badonkadonk."

"A what?" Toji asked.

"Badonkadonk. It means a very nice rounded ass." Shinji explained as his hands mimicked the shape of that area of anatomy. "In other words, baby got back! But that's not what I was thinking about with Rei. I was just wondering why she's always alone."

"Come to think of it she hasn't had any friends since she started here back in the seventh grade." Toji said.

"There's just something about her that makes it difficult for anyone to talk to her. Almost like she's in her own world."

"She probably just has a lousy personality." Kensuke concluded. "But you two are both Eva pilots so you should know her better than us."

"I suppose but we don't talk."

He couldn't put his finger on it but there was something oddly familiar about Rei. That she knew her from a very long time ago.

That night back home, Misato was busy in the kitchen. To Shinji's complete lack of surprise he found a box of instant curry, ramen and a few other items that she was busy working with. And keeping in with her true style she was wearing her pink tank top and cut-off shorts.

"I'm home." Shinji called out as he changed out of his street shoes.

"Welcome home." Misato called out from the kitchen. "Oh Shinji, I should tell you that Ritsuko is coming for dinner as well."

That was when Shinji felt a great swell of pity in his throat for Ritsuko coming to dinner.

"What is this stuff?" Ritsuko cried out in revulsion as Shinji was serving dinner.

"It's curry." Misato explained.

"You mean you're still eating this instant junk?"

"Hey, you're a guest so you've got no right to complain."

Shinji was about to serve some to Misato but he observed that she had no plate or at least there was an overturned small plate. She then took it off to reveal a large cup of Green Onion Roast Pork Ramen. She opened it up and presented it to Shinji.

"Slop some of that stuff onto this stuff." She smiled.

"You're kidding, right?" Shinji asked.

"Trust me it's delicious." Misato pleaded.

Shinji shrugged and poured the curry into the ramen cup.

"Ordinary curry flavored ramen can't taste as good as this." She reveled as she stirred the noodles with her chopsticks. "The trick is to put less hot water in so it forms a sludge."

She began eating the ramen noodles with the look of a kid enjoying the best candy on the face of the earth. On the other hand, Shinji and Misato took one bite of the curry and developed the same look as someone biting into a lemon.

"Misato cooked, didn't she?" Ritsuko asked.

"You can tell?" Misato asked with a full mouth.

"Of course…" Ritsuko said. "Next time you invite me please be sure it's Shinji's turn to cook."

Shinji then looked over at their pet, Pen-pen, who took a taste of the instant curry as well and fell over like a tree being cut down. Shinji looked back at the "dinner party" and saw that Ritsuko had witnessed Pen-pen's revulsion as well.

"You know, Shinji," she began, "you should consider moving out. You shouldn't let one bad roommate spoil your life."

"I'm fine with it." Shinji smiled.

"He's right, Ritsuko." Misato agreed after taking a sip of her beer. "Never underestimate the ability of the human animal to adapt. Besides if he does move he'd have to go through an awful lot of red tape. He did just get his permanent security card."

"Oh yes! That's right." Ritsuko blurted as she dug through her purse. "Shinji I need a favor. Could you give this to Rei before you go into headquarters? It's her new security card."

She handed Shinji a similar plastic card like the one that he had been given.

"Sure, I'll give it to her." He said as he took the card and took a moment to look at the picture on it. She had that same blank and blasé expression like there was nothing in the world that could make her frown or smile. That was when he found himself staring further because there was something about the shape of her face and the style of her hair that was so damn familiar.

"You're staring at Rei's picture aren't you?" Misato asked in a derisive tone like a child calling out the rhyme of two kids kissing in a tree.

"I was?" Shinji asked.

"Oh yes, you were Shinji." Misato grinned. "Now you've got an excuse to go over to Rei's place, don't you?"

"What? Are you jealous that I go for younger women?" Shinji smirked.

"WHAT?" Misato bellowed.

Shinji giggled, "Gotcha. You're so fun to tease."

"Looks like you met your match, Misato." Ritsuko observed.

"But it is strange that we're both Eva pilots but I know so little about her." Shinji stated.

"She is a nice girl." Ritsuko told. "But she is like Commander Ikari. She's just not very adept."

"Adept? At what?"

"Living."

After cleaning up the dishes and Ritsuko had headed home Shinji went back to his room where he had unpacked all of the boxes that had been sent to him from home. Among them was a fairly new and advanced laptop. His mother and father told him that he should stay in touch but instead of calling international he should simply use the internet.

He was given both Hal's and Carol's IM names but he wasn't entirely sure what the time would be back home in Coast City. If he were to venture a guess it was probably morning. Carol would definitely be up but Hal would be another issue entirely.

He connected to the apartment buildings' Wi-Fi and logged on and sure enough there was Carol's IM name in the online status.

A message popped-up.

CarolF1062: Shinji! There you are! How are you? Are you well?

Shinji smiled knowing his mother was still acting like a mother.

ShinjiJ0601: I'm fine, mom. I know I should have done this earlier but unpacking and school has been nuts.

CarolF1062: Its okay, Shinji. Just as long as you're fine.

ShinjiJ0601: Yup. Things are fine now that I'm with Misato Katsuragi.

CarolF1062: Oh yes. How is Misato treating you?

ShinjiJ0601: She's a little like dad. Just tonight she was eating instant ramen with instant curry poured over it.

CarolF1062: She's still doing that? How disgusting! She's the same as ever. It's a good thing you were taught how to cook or you'd be in a real mess.

ShinjiJ0601: Yup. Hey, is dad around? I need to talk to him about something he gave me.

CarolF1062: Just a second.

He only waited for a couple of minutes but then Hal's screen name came up.

HalJordan1059: Hey kid. How's it going?

ShinjiJ0601: Never better, dad. I wanted to thank you for that gift you gave me before I left.

HalJordan1059:Has it been working for you?

ShinjiJ0601: Works like a dream.

HalJordan1059: Keep practicing with it. Your mother and I hope we'll be able to visit Japan soon. But you know how work is at Ferris-Jordan Aircraft, right?

ShinjiJ0601: No rest of the wicked. That's what you always say.

HalJordan1059: Damn right. Anyway, you best get to bed must be getting late.

ShinjiJ0601: Yeah. Talk to you later, dad. Love you.

HalJordan1059: You too, Shinji.

And Hal Jordan had gone offline.

ShinjiJ0601: Good night, mom. Talk to you later. Love you.

CarolF1062: I love you too, Shinji.

And Carol Ferris had gone offline.

Doctor Akagi had given Shinji Rei's address but he kept double checking the paper and the location that he found himself in. The area seemed like it was ready to be torn down. The street had more cracks in it than a dried mud puddle. There were broken windows in the apartment complexes. Even the concrete for the buildings themselves were cracked.

Added to the dreary atmosphere of this part of the city was the continuous sound of the nearby construction equipment that went on a rhythmic and slow bang.

BANG…BANG….BANG…BANG

After hearing it for the first few times Shinji could already feel an oncoming headache like a sensitive nerve in a tooth that had been bitten down too hard but he had to continue on because he did volunteer. And there was the added admittance that he found it an opportunity to fulfill his curiosity about Rei.

Her apartment was number 402 and just like the rest of the apartment complex the place was in such disarray with empty plastic bottles, aluminum cans, newspapers, and wrappers at the edges and near the water drains.

He also looked at Rei's door, particularly at the mail slot that was stuffed full of letters and junk mail.

"If NERV cares so much for its pilots they should move Ayanami to better housing." Shinji thought to himself as he rang the doorbell.

But there was no answer.

He knocked but there was still no answer.

As a last ditch effort he reached out to the doorknob and amazingly enough the door was unlocked.

"That's odd." He thought to himself.

There was the issue that what he would do could be called breaking and entering but his curiosity got the better of him. He opened the door and entered.

"Hello?" He called out. "Anyone home? Miss Ayanami? It's me, Shinji Jordan."

He took off his shoes and stepped through the apartment finding it to be just like the rest of the apartment complex: poorly kept. The sink was full of dishes, the walls were drab and gray, and in her bedroom her clothes were scattered across the bed along with bloody bandages in a cardboard box in a corner with a refrigerator. The curtains to the main window were pulled over just enough to allow one streak of light to come through and fall upon the floor in front of the refrigerator.

"Is this really a girls' apartment?" Shinji thought. "Makes me think of my dad's garage."

He walked over to the chest of drawers and found a pair of glasses. He picked them up and looked at them. They had a gold frame to them and the lenses were cracked.

"They can't be Rei's." He thought as he heard a sound behind him.

Turning around he found her, Rei Ayanami, and she was naked except for a brown towel that was draped around her neck. And just like all the other times and encounters that he had with her in passing she just looked at him as if she were just staring at the wall. Until she looked at his hands. That was when she developed a disapproving scowl. She walked over to him.

"Rei, this isn't what it looks like." Shinji said as Rei tried to grab the glasses out of his hands.

While she was pulling at it, Shinji tried to back himself up but his socks slipped against the slick floor. At first he toppled backward and the strap of his back caught on the corner of the open top drawer. He fell forward onto Rei and the strap yanked the drawer out and along with it bras, panties and socks flew everywhere like New Year's confetti.

It was one of the longer moments that Shinji had experienced – next to sitting in the dentist chair and the long pinch of the Novocain needle. Rei was on her back staring up at him and he was on his hands and knees above her. He even noticed that one of his hands was upon one of her breasts. That was when he began to laugh.

"Why are you laughing?" Rei asked without any emotion.

"This is so wrong." Shinji explained.

"What's wrong about it?"

"I'm still dressed."

"Would you get off me?"

Shinji climbed up to his knees and then to his feet and turned to face the corner to give Rei some privacy.

"What are you doing here?" She asked.

"Doctor Akagi asked me to give you your new security card. You didn't answer the door and it was unlocked so I let myself in."

It seemed very strange to Shinji that even though she was basically naked in front of him and that he copped himself a feel on Rei that she had given no protest or any kind of shock. Did she just not care? Or did she experience something like this before?

He turned around and found that Rei had already dressed herself and was about to head to the door. He stepped up his speed so that he would catch up with her. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the card.

Presenting it to her he said, "Here's the new card. You're old one won't work."

She looked at it, then at him and back at the card. She grabbed it and headed out the door.

"Your welcome." Shinji grimaced.

Next time:

Misato's voice: A new Angel arrives in Tokyo-3 that seems almost invincible as it drills its way down into Tokyo-3. Shinji tries to fight it but before the fight even begins a burst of light shoots from the Angel. Will this be Shinji's last fight?

Carol's voice: Please pull through, Shinji.

Neon Green Evangelion: Chapter 5 – Green Shinji