Standard Disclaimer

Summer has started! Pool open and now its been raining for days straight! Uh…wait…no bad things. Oh well. Well this be the last chapter of this little story. I got what I wanted to accomplished, a little funny story that went off the rails at times but I enjoyed it. Hope you did too. Now I'm down to only 2 active stories…need to start some ^_^


Bait and Switch

Chapter – 8

Maya finished her upload and sat staring at the screen. It flashed 'complete' at her, and she had to marvel at that little fact. A full week and a half of having the returned if not older looking Shinji free to move about as he pleased, Maya had the joy of hosting him the previous night. It started off simply enough, Shinji wanted to watch Maya work a little, to learn more about the Magi and their coding. He then asked a simple question about part of the code, and it got Maya thinking. Two hours after that they were both giddily updating what Shinji noticed, Maya doing most of the heavy lifting though. And here it was, running and improving efficiency. Maya requested a reward for her work on his idea, well the next hour had been world moving.

"Going to have to be patient with him though. Despite wanting him to make his choice," Maya blew her hair out of her face. She was letting it grow a little longer, hoping to give herself a more feminine look. Wouldn't help her to get Shinji's attention while looking quite the young boy herself. As much as she was glad to know, it still irritated Maya that Shinji wouldn't take that last step with her or anybody. 'It wouldn't be fair for us to do that.' Very gentlemanly of Shinji, but after he worked her up so much, Maya wanted a little less gentleman and more caveman. "Shinji man, Maya woman…Shinji make Maya HIS woman," Maya joked in her best Tarzan voice.

Powering off her station, Maya stretched her hands above her head, her uniform crested her belt and showed off her belly button. Makoto was setting next to her and noticed the move but not the whispered joke. The base was so empty anymore, a skeleton crew to keep a light eye on the monitors. No sign of Angelic activity, no attacks by Seele, and even the UN was augmenting security to make Nerv feel safer. The world's leading scientists were all up in a tizzy over Yui and Ritsuko's work on the LCL recovery theory. Since LCL could be created using normal chemicals though, research was going on worldwide. Nerv wasn't the focal point of the world anymore, the Eva's were planned for cryostasis.

"Heading off for the day Ibuki?" Makoto asked without looking. The man pretended to work, but the instance of an internet browser was evident on his screen and a stack of manga at his feet was telling. With the UN helping with recovery now, a plea-bargain to get full access to Ritsuko's notes, Makoto had little to do. "Want to go out for some drinks tonight? Shigeru and I were thinking the whole bridge crew could go out to celebrate now that the public knows everything," he referred to the press conferences detailing Gendo and Seele's failed plans.

Ritsuko wouldn't be going to that little outing, no Ritsuko was going off with Shinji to some symphony that was in town. Lucky bitch was able to parlay Shinji's status as pilot to get free seats for Rei, Shinji, and herself. "I think I could get a drink or two in tonight. Give me a call when and where once you know alright?" Maya loaded up her purse with documents. A quasi peace had settled in between Ritsuko and Maya, they didn't get in one another's way. Let Shinji make an unbiased or influenced choice. Leaning over Makoto's shoulder, Maya felt him squirm, "Hitting up the dating websites again?"

Snickering from further down the command deck, Shigeru spun his chair towards the group. "Our dear Makoto-chan has a date already for tonight. Some poor lady wants to cling to one of the heroes of Nerv, and saw him at Katsuragi's side during the press conference the other day," the long haired man giggled. Grabbing one of the manga Makoto brought in, Shigeru flipped through it and pulled out a picture of a plain looking yet smiling woman, "He's going to introduce us all to her tonight."

Snatching up the picture, Makoto clutched it to his chest. "Hey, I don't go ruining your plans, why don't you leave mine alone," he bent over the picture possessively. Taking a fugitive look at Maya, Makoto shrugged a little, and slowly relented in letting her see the picture. Sitting back up, sounded very bereaved to give details, "It started off like he said, but we've gotten to know each other more. Aoi-chan and I have a lot in common."

"Well I look forward to talking with her tonight then," Maya patted Makoto's shoulder and left the two behind. Both her fellow workers had significant others while she prayed she'd have one soon. It was terrifying though, the waiting and fearing. Getting the odd need to see Unit-01, Maya changed course to head to the cages. What if Shinji chose Ritsuko over her? What if he chose Asuka or even Rei over sempai or her? "Hell he could even choose Katsuragi-san now that he looks like he does," Maya crumbled at that thought.

Shinji had his choice of many women, and he knew it. Thankfully he wasn't playing the field as Yui had done, outright refused to do that one little thing until he chose. "A dear and unique man," her heart warmed. One good thing she had to admit, there little outing to get him clothing punched a hole in the sails those three high school girls had. They pressed Shinji for details on why he was older looking and out shopping with two 'old women'. Well Shinji confessed to everything he could, even to loving Ritsuko and Maya. Shinji confessed to being in love with her, Maya felt herself nearly swoon just at the memory. Shinji then confessed to 'liking' those three but not knowing them enough to say he 'loved' them, well they swore not to give up but they hadn't been heard from in the last week.

Walking out onto the catwalk that ran past Unit-01's face, Maya gasped and grabbed the railing. "Ayanami-kun, what are you doing here?" had something happened? Waving at Rei as the girl swiveled to face her, Maya saw a peculiar and not quite good expression on the girl's face. "Weren't you going to go to symphony with Shinji-kun and sempai?" Maya asked cautiously. If, only an if, Shinji chose somebody outside of Ritsuko and herself, Maya considered asking Ritsuko if she'd be…if she'd consider. Ritsuko was a fine woman when not competition.

Slowly turning back to the mighty face of Unit-01, Rei's shoulders shrugged. "I do not wish to be a hindrance. While I am overjoyed Shinji-kun wishes to include me in his activities, a romantic environment is not fitting for such," Rei said deadpan. The girl leaned forward and rested her chin on her folded arms. She muttered something unintelligible before shaking her head making her shaggy yet silky hair wave. A warmth normally not present in the girl's voice resonated out of her though when she next spoke. "It is good to have him back again, his true self. It was as I was told, he does not think any less of me as I feared. But a sadness still resides in him, and it is due to us meeting her," Rei just continued to watch Unit-01.

Misato told Maya about Rei's fears a few days ago, so the tech wasn't ignorant to Rei's state. Taking a page from the Major's book, Maya found herself unable to resist the urge to hug the girl. How much suffering Rei had endured in her short life, much like Shinji and Asuka, was literally criminal. Well they could fix that now. Molding herself against Rei's back, Maya was amazed at how warm the girl was, nearly as warm as Shinji. "Well nothing can be done about that, Ayanami-kun. We know Yui-san wants all you pilots happy, so we just have to trust that. And I'm sure sempai is happy you let her have her night alone with him. But how does that make you feel…how do you feel here?" her palm went to Rei's chest. Girl was stacked for a fourteen year old! How was that fair? But Maya meant more in the girl's heart, not her almost bigger than her own buxom.

"I do not know how I feel," Rei said somberly. Not fighting but not returning the embrace, Rei just allowed herself to be held like a body pillow. "Before when he was in Ikari-kun's body and I started hunting for mates for him, I was under the impression he was my sibling. Then Ikari-kun informed me of Shinji-kun's feelings for me, and that our genetics are different enough to not be a social stigma. But at this point…Akagi, Soryu, you…I cannot compete. But I do have something likely only I can do," she nuzzled Maya's hand.

Patting Rei's cheek, Maya suddenly felt a bit ashamed of herself. While Maya was worried Shinji would pick somebody, Rei had already given up on the idea. Rei who had set Shinji up with so many, forced a lot of their emotions into the open, sat her depressed and in regret. "You'll always be in his life, even when he picks somebody and the unfortunate move on…you'll always be there," Maya believed that whole hearted. Shinji would never abandon them, any of them. But those unfortunates wouldn't drag things on, they'd slowly bow out of Shinji's life. "Want to get something to eat?" she felt she needed to extend the offer.

Just shaking her head, Rei wouldn't look away from Unit-01. "I have a lunch Shinji-kun prepared for me. He insisted after I declined to join Akagi and him for their date," Rei kicked her foot softly to the side. Her foot scooted a cloth bundle at her side. "Asuka-kun is going to be joining me in the forest outside of town in several hours. She is dealing with an upset Hokari. Apparently Hokari's pairing with Suzuhara is potentially ending," Rei just shrugged at that.

"Well not every relationship works, especially for normal teenagers," Maya pulled away from Rei. Joining her in looking at the frightening visage Unit-01, Maya felt a pang of guilt knowing that Yui was trapped inside. But the woman had made her choice, and it was not fair to expect Shinji to suffer more for it. Her watch beeped breaking her out of her thoughts. "Well I guess I should be going. It's a shame we can't get her out of there, but we don't have any options. Take care Ayanami-kun, don't be a stranger now," Maya waved and smiled at the girl and headed back towards the exit.

A question, asked to nobody in particular and likely asked to herself, Rei asked caused Maya to pause. "Why must a relationship be only between two willing participants?" the girl continued to mumble to Unit-01 but too soft to hear.

Don't look into it, don't question it, Maya just forced herself to walk. Rei was just socially awkward was all. The girl didn't realize that it was just how things were, a relationship was between two consenting individuals. That was just how it was done. Maya hit the button for the garage and the door shut leaving her alone with her thoughts. That stupid idea though, a seed was planted, and it was in fertile ground. Maya did at times see Ritsuko as a woman and not a peer. Now Maya didn't consider herself a lesbian, just thoughts or ideas…but would it be that bad? What if Ritsuko and she got together and proposed to Shinji together? Oh that was a dirty and dangerous thought, Maya's legs got a little weak thinking about it.

When the door to the garage opened, a very irate Misato could be heard yelling loudly. "Damn it Kaji I told you to stop! We're done, over, through so stop doing this crap! No more flowers, waiting for me to show up, I made a mistake last night alright! I was lonely and depressed, that's why I called you. The fact you thought that meant I wanted you to come over for a quick hump is all the proof I need that we're not compatible anymore! So just leave!"

"But Katsuragi, you know I care for you. Who else would put up with all your baggage? I know you, you know me," Kaji could be heard in his collected tones. A loud smack and a grunt was the next thing to fill the parking garage. "Ok, so I kept my role with the UN a secret from you, used you for access to sensitive data, but that doesn't mean I don't care about you!" he defended himself.

To ignore them or not, Maya didn't know what was safer. She had to walk past the two to get to the exit leading to the train platform, but she could wait for them to leave. "Katsuragi called Kaji-kun though, I guess I didn't need to worry about her having feelings for Shin-chan," a weight off her chest rolled off swiftly. While Shinji demonstrated his improved and longer finger skills, Misato was sad and calling Ryoji. Being the timid mouse wouldn't help, and Maya did have things to do today, she headed out from around the corner and into view of the arguing pair.

A car door slammed and it was like a gunshot, Misato's shrill yell followed neigh instantly. "Who would put up with me and my baggage? What about the man I'm living with now!? He's never left me on the ground after a night of drinking, left me alone after a quick lay between the sheets! He knows my 'baggage' more so than you and yet he still lives with me! Damn it Kaji, to think I once valued you…that I hoped against myself that maybe someday you'd grow up. See beyond just the physical and honestly care about me…to think I once thought you actually cared," a hitch in her voice was telling.

Oh hell, Maya saw them and they saw her as she dropped her purse. The raw emotion in Misato's voice rocked Maya's core. This was what happened when you trusted somebody and they betrayed you so harshly. Misato was crying, Maya never saw such utter brokenness in somebody before. "I-uh…I didn't mean to eavesdrop. I'll…I'll just be…" Maya shuffled past the two towards the security door. Those accusing eyes, those jealous and haunted eyes of Misato lanced Maya deeply. Kaji did seem upset, more frustrated than anything. Hurriedly grabbing for her security card, Maya wanted out and out now.

They tried to lower their voices, but the garage made it impossible not to hear them. "Katsuragi, I do care. I had to do my job though, or just think of what would have happened. Gendo or Seele could have done any number of horrendous things. I had to do it. As for Ikari-kun, I know he's been in your care for so long, but you can't be serious about that. He's only fourteen, and hell he has a line willing to date him already. Give me a chance, love, give me another chance," Kaji begged getting down on one knee and holding the flowers out to her.

"I did give you another chance, yesterday, Kaji. And how did you take my call for help? A bottle of brandy and a box of condoms. Very romantic, very helpful. All I am to you is a body. As for your great work in breaking the Nerv conspiracy, how far along were you before Yui gave us both the files? As for Shinji…I've been in HIS care not the other way around. And I'd be his mistress if I already didn't know he'd never cheat. Unlike you, not get going and take your flowers with you," Misato's weakness was gone. The tears dried, the face firm and beautiful and full of conviction. Misato's tears over Kaji were over. Finding Maya looking at her, Misato rubbed her hand under her nose and gave the woman a heartfelt but bitter smile. The smile of somebody who believed their cause lost.

Oh god, Misato did love Shinji. Maya didn't want to think of that. The door chimed and she fled through it. Pressing her back against the door, her chest heaving as her breathing pitched. God did Misato look beautiful just now, defiant and proud over the man that didn't understand her. Maya understood, and that seed Rei planted in her head began to germinate. Shinji wouldn't cheat, they all knew that…but…no it'd never work, a fools dream. But fools rush in.


As much as Asuka loved attention, she was NOT enjoying the sudden influx of adoration and hero-worship she was receiving. It was undeserved, she had done nothing to achieve it, and yet the press were stating that the pilots had single handedly saved the planet. While they were the ones that did the most fighting, and they did deserve credit and attention, the lies being told made her sick! Somebody cut that rat bastards hand off and Rei slaughtered a trapped angel, not the greatest achievement but don't tell anybody that! Now she found herself hounded by press the nanosecond she left Hikari's place.

The official breakup occurred yesterday, Asuka had to miss the symphony she received free tickets for to see to Hikari. Girl took it hard, losing a jerk headed pig of a man that was taking his sudden fame to far. So Asuka would miss watching something she wasn't really interested in to help. Now Asuka loved classical music, but like baseball found it fun to play not to watch. Movies, conversation, games, and just reassuring Hikari that Touji's star was going to eventually dull, explode, and become a black hole was imminent. Once the press learned Touji's sole sortie ended with him being beat down like the punk he was which was why he needed that fancy new arm and leg, it was game over.

"I have no comment right now, please refer to Nerv's press release," Asuka covered her face as she walked out of Hikari's home. Flashbulbs, micro recorders, and many annoying people all demanding her attention. Official news agencies, teen magazines, and oddly enough two talent agencies hounded the poor girl as she fled away. Didn't they have anything more important to do than wait outside a poor heartbroken girl's place waiting for her? "This isn't want I wanted when I said I wanted to be famous," Asuka moaned.

Thankfully section-2 stepped up their game once people started watching and the trio of agents kept the fame hounds at bay as Asuka fled the scene. One day when she actually earned this level of attention Asuka would bask in it, right now it was fake and tawdry. "I don't want fake fame, I want…I will earn it myself," Asuka's fist shook mightily. If only that jerk Suzuhara was around now, she'd knock him down a peg. Riding the fame train into the arms of some glory hound, well Hikari was better off without him. Touji needed a little more pain though, just a fraction of what he caused Hikari. Damn girl actually loved him, and was going to stay with him even without the healed arm and leg. Now at least she wasn't a crying mess.

"Emotions are dangerous," Asuka shuddered. What was she feeling right now, emotions. What Yui had told her of that night, the things Shinji and she had said to one another. Could Yui have lied to her, yes. Did Asuka think Yui lied, no. Climbing up the stairs rather than take the elevator, Asuka had to ready herself. Friends, yes they had been good friends since this whole mess started, but it felt deeper now. "But how can I dump that on him now with all this other garbage?" Asuka asked herself. She wasn't sure if it was love or just fixation, but it did not feel the same as the emotions she felt for Kaji months ago.

Add into the mixture Shinji's physical change, well Asuka felt a warm tingle just remembering this morning! Shinji had slept on the couch without his shirt, Asuka found herself just watching him sleep. While not the same look as the guys in the magazines the girls passed around and claimed to play the plastic flute to, Shinji was damn easy on the eyes. And the girls at school noticed that two days ago too, they were all but throwing themselves at him! That damn trio of gold-diggers had approached him too, wanting 'to get to know him better'.

Listening at the door, the television was heard through the thin divider, Asuka closed her eyes and opened the door. Just being around Shinji made Asuka's heart skip a beat now. When he was his old self, she hadn't known him good enough and had been so judgmental. After the change from male to female opened her eyes to just how good a person Shinji was, Asuka had to reaffirm a few things. Now that Shinji was a man again, a fine man, and Asuka's thoughts of him changed…emotions were confusing.

"You better not be doing anything to ruin that couch," Asuka called out just in case. From the shoes at the door, everybody to be expected to be present was. Kicking hers off, knocking them into Rei's plain ones, Asuka was going to have to take that girl out shopping for nicer things. Dropping her school satchel down, "Those damn news hounds are out in force so if we don't have food for supper, order something or be ready to get mobbed." She held her breath and entered the living room, Shinji and Rei were on the couch at a respectable distance.

Putting an arm on the back of the couch, up behind Rei's head, Shinji peeked over at the newest addition. "I got food this morning so we're good. How is Hokari-san doing? Better?" Shinji asked with genuine concern. He continued to follow Asuka as she moved over to them, grabbed the remote, and sat in the chair next to the couch. Shaking his head sadly, "I wouldn't have thought Touji would have broken up with her so suddenly. He was so fixated on her before."

Holding onto one of Shinji's hands, Rei followed his gaze over to Asuka, something akin to sorrow knotted her forehead. "Hokari-kun stated she was not wanting to be put into my notebook due to Suzuhara. Maybe I should…no the documentations states time is required for the emotional rift to mend," Rei leaned closer to Shinji. She put her other hand atop of Shinji's making a sandwich of them.

Something was going on here, and Asuka wondered what it was. Ayanami was oft close to Shinji, but not so clingingly so. Yet Shinji made no note of it, he never would refuse the girl anything. Wasn't as if Rei asked for anything other than more food or just to be allowed to be close to Shinji. Girl was thinking something, Asuka just knew it. To the matter of the moment though, Asuka huffed. Crossing her legs, flashing Shinji some of her blue and white stripped under garment, she flipped the station. "She's doing better, not crying over the pig anymore. And you're right Rei, don't go picking up your pimp act anymore. Shinji doesn't need any additional potentials now," Asuka glanced at the girl.

"Maybe I should talk to Touji. See why he did that," Shinji kicked his foot pensively. Finally noticing Rei at his side and her capture of his hand, Shinji covered hers with his other as well. "Something wrong Rei-san, you've been really quite today," only Shinji could say that and not be considered a joke.

Offering both Asuka and Shinji a rare yet still darling smile, Rei freed herself from the embrace and got to her feet. "Nothing is wrong, Shinji-kun, only a matter I have been considering. I am feeling the need for some exercise now though. A jog," Rei stunned both observers by giving Shinji's cheek a chaste kiss and leaving the room. The door opened and shut moments later.

Now she had watched Rei extensively since the girl moved in, and never had Rei been THAT forward. Rei showed no intention of being on the make for Shinji at all, especially not while making that damnable book of hers. Asuka was going to have to stalk that girl to insure something stupid didn't happen. Speaking of stupid, "Don't bother talking to that jerk. He wasted his chance with Hikari and I won't allow him to hurt her again." Finding Shinji looking at her, that face so compassionate and worried, Asuka found herself falling into that face. If the girls at school could see him like this and not the shy/coy mask he wore at school they'd drag him into a closet or storage shed to try and 'help' him. Needing to keep her own mask up, "Stop staring at me, pervert, don't tell me you're on the make for me with all those others on your plate."

That got Asuka what she wanted, as Shinji blinked and turned away quickly. Finding the television was showing some sporting event, he grimaced but didn't comment on it. They watched the match for a few minutes, Shinji fidgeting growing as something played on his mind. "I-is there anything I can do for her? Hokari-san has been a good friend to me since this mess began, and an even better friend to Rei-san. Even before that she was never cruel to me…feel I should do something," his compassion was ever-present.

Must he always try to help everybody anymore? More things she had missed ages ago when she wrote him off as boring and worthless. "Just be nice to her when you talk to her. Don't bring him up. She's not glass," she didn't want to talk about this. Talking about emotions made Asuka aware of her ever increasing heart rate. Misato must be sleeping, effectively leaving Asuka alone with Shinji. Moving to Rei's spot on the couch, she saw that stunned look on his face, "Glare from the window from the chair," a known issue. Kicking her legs up on the coffee table, her toned and tanned legs showed tantalizing flesh. "So how was yesterday's date with Akagi?" she asked to remind herself that Shinji was off the market.

Rubbing his nose, a tell Asuka knew meant Shinji was nervous, Shinji found the wall opposite Asuka very interesting. "It went great. I never saw a full symphony before. And Ritsuko-san and I haven't had an evening out without me getting strange looks before. I know why Rei-san didn't want to go with us, but I still wish she would have. She's…I don't know if she's angry with me for risking my life to change back, but I can't help but worry about her right now," Shinji's hand fell to the couch in frustration.

Take his hand! No…he'd get confused or worried about it! TAKE HIS HAND! It could be seen as a sign of friendship, that you're worried about him. Asuka warred with herself over something as simple as touching a palm. Some adult she was, getting so worked up. "She nearly beat me into a pulp after you pulled that stunt, so maybe that is it," Shinji did have a point she noticed. That annoying pinch in her heart at hearing how well Shinji's date went, Asuka tried to forget it. "So you closer to making a choice between your two potential girlfriends?" Asuka took his hand on accident.

Quite to Asuka's amazement Shinji flipped his hand over and intertwined his fingers with hers. "You see it too though don't you," Shinji and Asuka locked eyes until she nodded. Once that confirmation occurred, he gave her a squeeze and returned to watching television. "As for making a choice, I wish I was closer. Every time I think I have it sorted out, somebody does something that makes it all jumbled again," he reaffirmed his grip again. Signing contently Shinji shimmed on the couch to lower himself and kicked his legs up much like Asuka's.

"You're not the only one that likes Aya-Rei, Shinji," Asuka felt her temperature increase. Just holding his hand felt so good, it was a big hand a strong hand. Flinching her head towards Misato's door, covering Shinji's arm with her hair in a sign of dominance, "What's up with her royal drunken mistress?" She had heard Misato come home late last night, grumbling to herself, grab a bottle of something and retire to her room. She saw her small sign of ownership, her hair masking his arm, and she smiled he hadn't shook it of.

Now it was Shinji's turn to glower angrily. "I think something bad happened between Kaji-san and her. He tried calling a few times to try talking to her, but she won't leave her room. She's too good for him," Shinji spat out with a scowl. Taking a deep breath, Shinji let his head list to the side to see Asuka's profile, "Thanks for…thanks for everything Asuka. I don't want to complain about this before I say it officially. Ever since the transformation up until now…you've been there for me, helped me. I know things go odd when we got drunk…can't remember anything about that night. Just wanted to tell you how much I respect and ca…"

Asuka couldn't hear that and NOT act. It was cruel of her, wrong of her, but Asuka was never one not to listen to her heart. So she shut Shinji up in the only way acceptable at the time, she shoved her tongue into his mouth to combat his. In the battle of words right now, Asuka would lose as her mind was frazzled. But in the great war of tonsil hockey she could hope to be victorious. Knowing she was just heaping more problems on him, another woman to consider…well Asuka was going all chips in. She felt her hand going to that lean chest, she guided his hand to her budding chest. Bliss, mind fogging, she was losing this battle as well, but not all losses were bad. Yui's comment about Shinji receiving 'dream training' was true, damn Shinji knew how to make her weak in the legs.

"Shin-chan!" Misato's voice wafted out from her room melancholy. Sounds of motion, a clatter of items falling from whatever precarious location Misato had them on in her room. Throwing her door open, just a moment too late to see Shinji and Asuka throw themselves away from one another. Eyes red and shoulders sagging the openly drunk woman shuffled out of her room with her blanket wrapped around her. "Shin-chan I need a hug. I need something to make the pain go away…stupid Kaji…stupid everything," cried out and a bottle of whiskey fell out from under her blanket and rolled out.

Now on the opposite side of the couch as Shinji, Asuka's heart was about to burst! How long had they been doing that? The game was well into the second half where it had been just starting when she shut the idiot up! It had been nearly a half hour but felt just like moments. She could taste him still, her cheeks flared, her legs rubbed together…oh god Asuka never felt such intense longing before. And for SHINJI, funny how life had ways of mocking you. Be careful of the quite ones as they could rock your world. "I thought you said you didn't care about him, Misato. Thought you were stronger than this," she sounded giddy! Stupid emotions.

"Now Asuka, we all have moments when we need help," Shinji chastised Asuka softly. Getting off the couch he approached the woman. Holding his arms out towards Misato, Shinji continued with , "I'm sure it's mostly just the booze talking. Misato-san, didn't we talk about you drinking whole bottle….bottles." Shinji's eyes shot open and his jaw opened and closed like a fish. The blanket had fallen revealing Misato was without of a scrap of clothing. Spinning around fast, "M-M-Misato-san you forgot your…ah!"

Misato didn't care or even notice, she wrapped her arms around Shinji and held him as Asuka watched. Once Asuka tried to escape to her room, Misato proved that alcohol did not slow her down. With one action she spun Shinji around to face her, grabbed Asuka, and pulled both in for a patented bear hug. "You two are too good to me! You're my family…all I need," she swung the pair like dolls. Asuka quite despite herself found herself enjoying it, her arms snuck around Shinji and Misato. Dysfunctional was an understatement, but she was enjoying this little family.


"Now just wait for another few minutes for the test to run," Ritsuko told Misato impatiently. For the last twenty minutes all Misato had done was argue and complain. Why do I have to be naked, why does it have to be me, can't you use one of the pilots, it went on and on. With Maya at her console, Ritsuko was busy reading the readouts on her station. "Human testing isn't approved yet…pilots have been in LCL for months now and nobody complained," she grunted at the envelope in her lap coat.

Four days after her wonderful date with Shinji, Ritsuko found an annoying little tidbit waiting for her at Nerv. Her emotional high was derailed by a UN insistence that the LCL rejuvenation treatments stop for further non-human testing. Likely some remnant of Seele trying to go back to the whole human liquifidcation project, idiots. The pilots had been submitted to LCL for ages with nothing but positive side effects, and that was on top of the years of research already done one it. Ritsuko was not going to be stopped here! So she called in one of the countless favors Misato owed her. Now a very nude Misato was floating in what had once been Rei's private tube for syncing with the Dummy System.

Blanching Misato stuck her tongue out and quickly regretted it. Covering her mouth, the woman comically tried holding her breath indefinitely and was finally forced to breath in the fluid. "Oh god this stuff tastes so nasty! How could the pilots stomach this," she whined as she pinched her nose. Floating to the floor of the tank, Misato stood defiantly as she glared at the two other women. "What is this supposed to prove anyway?" she pensively looked at the door.

Rolling her eyes, Ritsuko entered the command to begin the rejuvenation processes. "This is to prove the faux LCL has the same benefits as the old LCL. Since we can't get blood from the pile of ash Ayanami turned that thing into, we need this. And since the UN is prohibiting human testing, I'm circumventing them," Ritsuko rattled off. Idiot men playing at being superior when they just were afraid of a strong woman. Shinji didn't mind that she was more intelligent than he was, damn fine trait. And Misato was a damn fine woman Ritsuko was reminded of. Especially when the rejuvenation removed that scar, Ritsuko eyed the marred flesh.

"Katsuragi-san, I seem to remember you telling Shinji-kun to man up. Can't follow your own advice?" Maya teased. Making some slight alterations to her own work, the woman nodded to Ritsuko and smiled. "Everything is running five by five and all green. LCL is energized and performing as per with Suzuhara-kun. So how did the symphony go? Was thinking of asking Shinji-kun to go to a play with me," she asked while making longer looks at Misato.

Her hand covering her scar, Misato's brow twitched ever so slightly. "So I'm a human lab rat, just great. And as for this…why don't you try drinking some of it Ibuki-kun and then you can lecture me," Misato alternated between the two technicians. The hand over her scar started to rub the flesh, a bashful expression rested upon her. "This is starting to tingle, is that supposed to do that?" her legs fidgeted together, "and what is up with you two. Last week you were at each other's throats, today not so much?"

Last night's surprise visit from Maya had left Ritsuko more at ease with life. They reached an agreement regarding Shinji and one another. They would support one another, support Shinji so he wouldn't rush his decision. Over many a glass of wine for Maya and several large rum and cokes for Ritsuko, they got drunk. Very drunk…on a scale of a boy's first beer to Misato's nights off it was a black out night for Misato. From what Ritsuko could remember, they agreed to not make it hard for Shinji or one another after he made his choice.

"Unlike you Misato, we can learn to be civil for the greater good. Heard about the fight with Kaji," Ritsuko smiled at Maya who reciprocated. Maya did have a cute side too, and after the drink got both of them and their body temperature started to rise. Well things got fuzzy, thankfully Maya was gone by the time Ritsuko woke up the next morning. Liking what she was reading, the treatment should be working well, "And yes it should tingle a little. Just means it's working."

Spinning around in the tank, showing off a rather shapely behind for one Misato's age, the woman muttered unintelligibly. Then a mighty war bellow vibrated out of her, through the LCL, and even the heavy Plexiglas tube. "I'm done with him! Done forever! I saw him on the news last night with some UN aide draped over him like a cheap shall! Every time! Every time I try to forgive him, give him another chance he just shoves another dagger into me!" Misato pounded her fists against the tank. No sadness, just bitter anger. Sinking down into a kneeling position, buffered by the LCL, "That hussy can have him."

A sound, a light knocking on the door got Ritsuko's attention. "Maya start the shutdown procedure. This is enough for today to get some results," Ritsuko ordered. Knowing it was likely one of Misato's many admirers waiting on the other side, she only opened the door an inch. Right as always, Makoto was there rocking on the balls of his feet. "What did you need, Aoba-kun, in the middle of a test right now," he wanted a peek she knew it. They all heard of his new girlfriend, but everybody knew of his crush on Misato. So what better time to score points than the semi-annual Misato-hates-Kaji day.

"Well that saves me the trouble of finding her too," Makoto actually turned away from the door. Holding a trio of envelopes over his shoulder to Ritsuko, the man was showing restraint and discipline. "These arrived for you via courier with express instructions to get them to Ibuki, Katsuragi, and you," the man didn't sound at all nervous or even anxious. Making sure he couldn't see through the door, Makoto took a step further away from it, "Things going alright in there? It's odd not having to worry so much around the base."

Her heart skipped a beat when she read who the text was from, Shinji, all three letters. Ritsuko just held those flimsy envelopes in her hand so tightly she tore the top one's envelope a little. "Everything is fine, Aoba. Just a little test on the synthetic LCL. Nothing to be worried about. Could you get Unit-00 and 02 prepped for this afternoon for me? I think…think the three of us will have something to deal with," Ritsuko didn't wait for his answer, she just shut the door. Apparently that new woman in Makoto's life was already turning the screws to get him to behave, excellent.

"What did Makoto-kun want," Maya asked finally looking away from her screen. The tank was empty, Misato nowhere to be seen. Handing Ritsuko the readings that finished printing, Maya rotated a kink out of her shoulder. Speaking in a relaxed and welcome manner, "Looks great to me, the outcome, better than the actual LCL treatment in fact." Maya watched Ritsuko expectantly, an edge of nervousness ebbed and flowed.

Hiding the envelopes with the readings, Ritsuko didn't know what to do or say. She had expected Shinji to take longer in making his choice, hoped to have more time to enjoy her new life. A sensible woman, Ritsuko didn't expect a young man to choose an old and odd woman over younger and much livelier specimen. If he hadn't changed back from being in Yui's body, maybe. But now? No, he'd let her down gently. Surely that was what the envelope said. Why Misato got one, well that was anybody's guess. In those tiny pieces of paper was the details on how she was going to lose one of the better things to enter her life. She'd have her work, that had sufficed before and would again.

Sitting down, Ritsuko summed up her courage and handed Maya her letter. Spotting Misato walking in through the changing room, her hair dripping LCL, she handed the major hers as well. "It seems our dear Shinji-kun has something he wants to tell us all. So he sent us letters. I…I bet we know what this means," Ritsuko found Maya infatuated with the envelope resting on her lap. Thinking the same thoughts she was most likely, Ritsuko reasoned. Forcing Misato's shirt up from the scar she was hiding, Ritsuko hummed pleasantly, "Another trip in the tank should have that totally gone, it's so faint now."

Her eyes closed, Misato slowly peaked down at what Ritsuko was poking and prodding. "It's almost…it's almost gone! I thought I was going to have to live with that nasty thing all my life!" Misato cheered. Throwing her arms around Ritsuko, Misato hugged the woman for dear life. Bouncing up and down, grinding Ritsuko's face against the recovering flesh, the exuberant major was practically dancing. "This is marvelous," she finally let Ritsuko go, "but doesn't explain why I'm tingling…in there." Her hands shifted down to over her belly button.

Liking the smell of LCL, Ritsuko couldn't help but share in Misato's joy. They were friends, more so now thanks to her improved state of mind, so helping Misato made the good doctor feel better. It wouldn't even matter if the letter said Shinji was going to buy Misato the Yebisu brewing company and retire to a life of drinking and breaking headboards. Prying herself out of Misato's grasp, Ritsuko captured her letter and finished tearing it open. "Can't tell you anything about that, Misato. Not unless you were hiding something about the ol' baby factory," she held the folded paper in her hands, "read them together?"

"I'm being stupid…it's just a…just a relationship. Not the end of the world or anything, but I can't stop my hands from shaking," Maya confessed. She too held her letter unread yet opened. Comically swallowing hard, her throat pistoning like a well-oiled machine, Maya nodded. "Katsuragi, you want to read yours with us? It…he speaks so fondly of you, and we all heard you say that if he was older you'd…" leave it to Maya to bring up that technicality.

Sitting down on the one of the free seats, Misato tucked her shirt back in and found herself ripping the envelope into tiny pieces. "A good man is something to be worried about Maya, no reason to apologize. I remember feeling that way for Kaji years ago. Love makes us…makes us want to be better, fills our head with paranoia and butterflies," she held her letter out and the three women nodded. "On three we see who I have to accept as my boy's little lady," a deep breath for all three, and Misato counted.

Ritsuko read her letter after Misato's exuberant counting, once she finished the letter fell from her hands, she was unable to hold it. "Did he just…how could he expect…" Ritsuko didn't believe what Shinji just suggested. It was pigheaded, sexist, stupid, but yet it had potential.

'Dear Ritsuko,

I know this is not the socially acceptable norm, but I cannot make a choice between those in my life. I would request all of us attempt a group relationship. One of which is open, allowing for you to leave if you so desire. That would allow for all of us to be happy. I can financially support all of you, even without the profits of the new LCL treatment therapy. If you would wish to attempt such a paring, I will be at the Katsuragi residence waiting for those who wish to try this.

Shinji Ikari'

"That perverted little bugger! How dare he…how…how can he even suggest that we…that you two and me…" Misato just stared at her letter in disbelief. Turning from Ritsuko to Maya and back rapidly, Misato's verbose declaration was only marred by the giant smile on her face. "I know you and I had an odd time in college…Kaji. And Maya you are cute in a boyish way…but…I do love Shinji. That damn bitch Yui made me realize that, and she even changed it so we could. But I never…this isn't something we could…" Misato stood up and eyed the door.

Standing up alongside of Misato, Ritsuko just stared at the letter on the ground. "I don't know, Misato. It's strange. With the LCL treatment we'll be rich and live a lot longer than normal. But he's…I won't lie and say I don't think I love him. Maybe it's just loneliness creeping in, but my time with him both before and now…I feel its genuine. But to share, that thing only works in the movies. I don't think I could…could either of you?" Ritsuko felt her body pulsating. Every fiber of her being was saying 'go now! Run' but her sensible side, her logical side was warning her off. It would never work, no matter how they tried it was doomed to failure, so why even consider it.

"I'm going," Maya said with a deft sense of finality. Smiling softly at the others, a dew forming on her eyes, "I've never cared about anybody so much in my life, I won't risk losing this feeling now. Yes it is a bit…perverse…of him, but how does that change how things are now? I was ok knowing he was likely with Sempai when not with me. I was ok with being with Shinji as a woman…and I won't lie and say both of you aren't…aren't…I feel dirty saying it. But I'm ok with what he's asking, as long as his feelings for me don't lessen I'm fine with it," Maya nodded and headed for the door.

Maya was leaving, Maya was accepting of this asinine solution…the 'everybody is happy' solution. Nobody would be happy! Jealousy would spike, anger and bitterness over things, but still Maya was alright with this. Was love worth that risk, that risk of getting hurt so savagely? "Maya you can't be…what if he sent letters to Soryu and Ayanami? Those girls from the school…what?" Ritsuko felt her heart near bursting. How could Maya be so blaze about this? She was risking so much and for what? For her feelings, for the hope that that sensation of oneness that she got when with Shinji continued. "Misato…?" Ritsuko asked when seeing Misato folding her letter up.

Sliding the letter in her pocket, Misato smiled and winked at Ritsuko. "I can't let Maya have all the fun. Maybe this works out, maybe it doesn't. So what if he might have sent it to others. Who knows who will take him up on it. If Maya is the only one she'd have him all to herself," Misato headed for the door and grabbed the handle. "I, for all my life, have given my love to all the wrong men. To men that saw me as a body or some perfect vision never once seeing my flaws or judging me for them. Shinji does though. He's seen the good and bad and stayed with me, cares for me. I'll ride this as long as it lasts. Maybe this time it will be different, maybe I'm different this time," Misato opened the door and walked out.

Alone in the testing room, Ritsuko just glared down at her feet. "How can they do this? We all know its won't ever work. A pipe dream," she was crying. Frustrated and angry at herself, at Shinji, at the world, and everything that happened to bring her to this point. Was it worth trying, this impossible idea. Then it hit her, was it worth NOT trying? What would she gain versus what she would lose. Opening the door, Ritsuko brushed away her tears and headed to the train station. Maya and Misato's cars already gone. "If they're brave enough, so am I. Let's see if this is possible, some miracle," oddly Ritsuko felt good about this.

Her heart was light as a feather as she rode the train. The musty and stagnant smells of the car didn't faze her, didn't even notice them. Her mind was coming up with something scathing and teasing to say to that man that presented this option. Sexist little piglet, no…that was Kaji, couldn't say Shinji was that way as he was adamant to NOT do that one little thing until after he made a choice. Well, he'd have to start taking energy supplements to be able to service the plan he put into motion.

When she arrived at the Katsuragi apartment, it was in the expected upheaval. Loud noises and muffled voices wafted out through the slightly open door. Letting herself in, she'd have to get a key or move next door, she found Shinji standing in a corner with his hands up. "So not what you expected when you proposed this huh Shin-chan? Not ready for the four of us at once?" Ritsuko had not expected Asuka to be present. Girl had that air of non-sharing about her, so color Ritsuko confused. Seeing the abstract fear on Shinji's face, she paused, "What did I miss?"

Shinji was hyperventilating, waving his hands about madly, "Ritsuko-san too!? How many…how many letters did Rei send? Where IS she for that matter?" Shinji's head boggled like an over twisted spring with a ball affixed to the top. "A-all I know about these is Asuka rushing in after leaving to see Hokari-san and then…" Shinji gestured to Misato, then to Maya, and finally Ritsuko.

All Ritsuko could think was 'clever girl'. She then sat on the couch to work out the details of this little situation. Even if Shinji wasn't the originator, there was no reason to NOT go along with it, unless he objected. It made things even easier as the all now knew Shinji wasn't thinking with his little head, and yet they all agreed before knowing. She'd have to thank Ayanami next she saw her.


"Can you go a little faster, Misato-san?" Shinji couldn't believe the words he was speaking. But he had to get to Nerv faster, he just knew it! Feeling the car accelerate, his body pressing against the seat and his right hand gripped the door tightly. Thank god Misato was such a skilled driver, or Shinji would have likely passed out. He spared Misato's profile a sidelong glance, she appeared just as nervous and worried as he was. Licking his dry lips, his tongue felt like a wad of cotton, "Thank you for believing in me enough to drive me."

Defying all logic and safety, Misato turned and met Shinji's gaze. "Who else would know where she'd go better than you, Shin-chan," she said without a hint of disbelief. Moving up the insanity scale, Misato reached over and grabbed his trembling hand. Drawing it to her lips, she kissed the back of his hand and let go of it. Swerving around a slow moving van, Misato slammed her palm to the horn letting out several loud blasts. Even with the windows up she screamed loudly, "Move that slow mother fucker off the road!" She shook her fist at the old man as she passed him.

What was Rei doing and why? Shinji had to stop whatever madness she was planning. Sending those letters to everybody signing them in his name, that had to have taken a great effort. Samplings of his school work had to be how she was able match his handwriting. Why had she done it though, and at this time? If she answered her phone he'd not have worried. If she had told him why, he'd have believed her. But he got nothing, and could find nothing. Only a cold sensation spreading from his chest to his extremities and the inability to hold still came to him as he thought of it.

The car spun out, the back end fishtailing and nearly hitting a dividing wall, Misato slammed on the breaks. Expertly parked on the car escalator, Misato slammed her palms against the wheel. "Best time I've ever made. But I do have to ask Shin-chan," she took to calling him that like a fish to water, "why are you so sure she's here?" She took off her sunglasses and hung them on the pocket of her flight jacket. Lights from the tunnel flashed over them casting the duo in sickly yellow light. The smile was back on Misato's face, her hand ruffled Shinji's hair, "Relax, Shin-chan, I'm sure she's fine. Ayanami wouldn't set all this up and leave it without confirming it worked."

Oh how he wished he shared her belief in Rei, but Shinji knew her better. Rei acted on facts and probability, trusting more to raw logic over emotions when it came to people not him. And Shinji could see how Rei would interpret things. Send out enough letters to all those women she stalked, and it had been stalking, and the probability of all of them refusing was low enough to try. Added to the issue was how Rei was acting when it was just the two of them lately. She was shy, she was never shy with him, and she was asking odd questions about how he felt about the issue of his mother. To go from sneaking into his bed nightly to stonewalling him…Rei was up to something.

"We were supposed to hang out today. I felt bad spending so much time with Ritsuko-san and Maya-san outside of the apartment, and Asuka and you at the apartment…I asked her if she wanted to hang out today," Shinji tapped his finger against his armrest. She promised him she'd be at the apartment today, they planned a whole day together! "She agreed, but then this whole business of those letters! They drew everybody that I've been involved with at Nerv away and to the apartment. Away from Nerv and to the apartment to keep me there. But what could she want to do at Nerv," he had an idea.

Tugging on her low V-cut shirt, Misato turned the car back on and hit the A/C up high. "I can see that. The words in that letter were, in hindsight, not what I'd expect you to say. I'd expect a lot more romantic from my Shin-chan," Misato tapped her index finger to her chin. Taking her barrette off, she tossed it in the back seat. "But what if you're wrong? What if she just went to an ice cream parlor or a restaurant or something? What if she didn't want to be around when your little harem came over for some long awaited nookie?" Misato winked.

"N-N-nookie?! Harem?!" Shinji let out in a shrill yelp. His face burnt red, the cords of muscle in his neck locked in place and stuck out like wires. He hadn't really thought of that reality since the madness of the day began. "I didn't…I l-love you because of who you are…not because I want…not just because you're," he shut up less he dug his hole deeper. He wouldn't lie and say he wasn't attracted to those out hunting for Rei right now. They were all achingly beautiful and alluring in their own ways. He wouldn't lie and say he hadn't thought of making love to them either. His body ached for them at times, especially when they teased him. But he had sworn he wouldn't betray them, that he'd wait until he made his choice. Little did he plan for Rei to make the choice for him.

Driving the car off the escalator, Misato found an open parking spot close to the elevator. "I think that's why we agreed to it. Lord knows it's going to be odd. I wasn't expecting it. I know I had…have feelings for you. But I always thought you to young. Emotionally and mentally you are older than me," Misato frowned and got out of her car. She didn't continue until Shinji got out and she kept him from running by lacing her arm with his. "Physically you were just…well to young. After what your mother did," she snuggled into his arm, "I feel like I'm cheating. Ritsuko and Maya were willing to regardless."

Immune to Misato's physical effects on the male mind, well mostly, Shinji nodded as the boarded the elevator. "You're not cheating, M-Misa-chan, just being honest with yourself. I won't lie, at first I was confused at how I felt about you. Were you a mother figure, a sister, or something else? A friend, was what I ended up on, a dear friend. But like everybody else, out of my league. Who am I? Just a timid little boy who just does what I'm told," Shinji counted his blessings. He was lucky, beyond lucky for what life had thrown at him, he would NOT get a big head about…Misato was kissing him. WHAT? His eye popped open then closed as the sensation wafted over him.

The elevator dinged, the door opened, gasps where heard and the door closed again. After the door opened again, no sound this time, did Misato let the back of Shinji's neck go. "That is an adult kiss. It means I see you as an adult Shinji, act like it. We're not perfect, you're not perfect. You did things most grown men would have balked and failed at. You are Shinji Ikari, one of the saviors of humanity, and the man that treated an ungrateful slob of a woman like a queen. And when we get back to the apartment, I'm going to show you the rest. But that's for later. Right now let's show you that Rei just didn't want to hear the noise. Or were you hoping she'd be another in your harem?" she tickled his side.

Laughing despite himself, how was it that Misato could always get him to laugh and relax? Taking a deep breath, trying not to taste the Yebisu Misato deposited in his mouth. "D-don't say that word, Misato-san. Don't say harem, it makes it sound cheap," he did not see them as a collection of willing bodies. They were bodies yes, they were willing, but they were people before that. Misato's arm kept him from running again, but his agitation rose to his throat going tight and hard to breath. "You are a slob though, but I love you anyway," he could tease back.

Taking the bait, Misato released his arm to biff him on the back of the head, he dodged and took off running. "Ikari Shinji you get back here and let me hit you! This slob is going to make you sorry!" she yelled after him but didn't run. Degrading into catcalls and taunts to get to him, her words echoed down the halls and alerted what little crew was on staff just what Misato had planned for that evening. Noses were bloodied, jaws were dropped, and a new found respect was given to Shinji.

He knew where he had to go, the only place that made sense. Thankfully for Shinji, Misato didn't. His lungs ached, his feet hurt as he slammed them faster and faster towards his goal, the Eva hanger. Just as he expected, all three units were set up for testing. Asuka was going to have testing, Rei had a test for late in the afternoon…he didn't have a test planned. Gripping the side of the dividing fence, Shinji saw Unit-01's entry plug sealed but not inserted. "Rei-san what are you doing. We-we have plans today! You promised me," Shinji yelled out glad the hanger bay was empty.

Nothing happened at first, silence greeted Shinji's words. When it was clear he wasn't going to leave, the plug inserted fully. "REI! What are you doing? Why did you send those letters, why are you in Unit-01! Don't do this to me, don't…don't go where I can't follow! You said that to me, now…now I'm saying it to you," he cried out. It couldn't end like this, not with her alone after all she did for him. All those nights of them talking, bonding, being 'mother/daughter', Shinji would NOT let it end this way.

The speaker connected to Unit-01 burst into life in all its static filled glory. "I am giving you the only thing I can. I shall replace my half-sister as Unit-01's core, she will not refuse me. Our genetics are to…similar for society to allow our parings. I sent those letters to break the emotional barriers they set up and spared you the need to hurt others. I am not leaving you, I shall just protect you in another way," Rei informed. Unit-01's eyes flashed alive in their demonic glory, it was powering up.

Falling to his knees, Shinji pressed his head against the beam, "You can't do this to me Rei! You were always there for me as a person not just a shield. When I heard we were related I was both ashamed and relieved! Ashamed that I had such powerful emotions for a family member, but relieved that we'd always be together. Always have something that linked us together when you finally found somebody you loved and moved on!" he had written them all off. Asuka would get a boyfriend, Misato would marry Kaji. As Ritsuko and Maya came later he had hopes one would stay, but always feared they'd grow bored and move on. "I know I said I wish I could know my mother…but I can know her while I pilot. I made peace with her death…I can't make peace if you die," he pleaded as hard as he could.

"S-Shinji-kun, I didn't…I want to help you…give you what I can to make you ha…" Rei's voice went silent and the eyes flashed brighter. And then nothing.

Gripping the fencing so hard his fingers hurt, Shinji climbed his way back to his feet, pupils dilating. "Rei…Rei say something to me! Say anything!? REI," he screamed loud enough his throat went hoarse. But she didn't respond, nobody did, only silence greeted him. Failure, he had failed to stop her, and now whatever happened was outside of his control. Funny how that seemed to be the case in his life lately. So many things that happened to him were outside of his control, he just rode the waves and did his best. Asuka fought for and earned her pride, Rei was educated and garnered it, Ritsuko and Misato had experience and trained to achieve what happened to them. He was just there…and again his fate was destined to change based on the whims of others. He fell to the ground and just sat there staring at that damnable ugly purple face.

An hour later a worried Misato and Asuka joined him, flanking him with their legs joining his hanging over the ledge. Asuka just hugged his waist and leaned against him, sniffing hard. It was Misato that spoke, "Ritsuko confirmed she reached three hundred percent while talking to you. You did your best Shinji. We can only wait to see what happens now." She kissed Shinji's temple and got up. Waving at the command box, Misato pointed at Shinji's head and then at the door.

"I should have gotten here faster, realized it quicker to stop her," Shinji pouted. But like everything Rei tried to do, all the factors were accounted for. Don't do anything unless you're planned to go all the way, that was just how Rei acted. "Thanks for trying to find her, Asuka, sorry I made you run around for…" he closed his eyes and pressed his face against the fence. She just hugged him harder, Asuka was better at showing her true emotions with actions not words anyway.

Then the plug ejected slowly.

The LCL ejected from the plug, the entrance hissed and opened slowly and a hand clad in an unsealed plugsuit immerged. Asuka helped Shinji to his feet, and forced him to look. "Baka, she made her own choice, honor that. She may have tricked us into acting…accepting this bizarre situation where I'm your owner and lease you to those old hags. But we won't look away from what she did to herself," Asuka didn't turn away from the exiting body.

There standing before them was a now seventeen year old Ayanami Rei. Hair now longer than Asuka's, taller than the German but shorter than Shinji, and a figure that looked to be on time to pass Ritsuko in a year or so. Stumbling forward towards her fellow pilots, Rei looked at Unit-01 and back at her friends. "This was not…not what I had planned," she felt herself. Pinching her cheek she then cupped her breasts, "I am taller than Soryu and larger by several cup sizes? Your mother has an odd sense of humor."

"R-Rei?" Shinji called out incredulously as he rushed over to her. He lifted her off the ground and spun around with her in his arms. "Don't scare us like that again!" he threatened as he continued to spin. He wasn't even aware of how much she had changed yet, of how age or maybe his mother's hand at genetic manipulation had shifted an attractive Rei into something quite exquisite. Finally setting her down, oh and gawking at how the suit shifted and fell off her, "You caused this latest business, only fair you see how it ends."

Asuka's shriek cut off Rei's response as she pointed an accusing finger at the albino. "You knew that would happen! That is so unfair! That's it I'm going to go talk to MY mother and see if she can't make me look like some porn actress too!" Asuka yelled and fled into Unit-02's entry plug. And true enough before anybody could react…Asuka joined her fellow pilots in the incorporeal club.

While Asuka was in her quantum state, Shinji just let out the breath he was holding all day. This craziness was what life was going to be now. He accepted he'd never see his mother again, made Rei promise never to try to replace her again. It wasn't needed, Yui had given him all Shinji needed in life by sparking his motions and those around him. They'd try this madness Rei set into motion, see how it lasted, if it lasted. Whatever came, Shinji would face it knowing that his mother was watching on. She had baited the hook of emotions of all those at Nerv and many took it.

Climbing out of her entry plug, Asuka stood haughty and smiling almost deviously at her fellow pilots. Asuka didn't stop at seventeen, she went right on to twenty one and the full bloom of her young beauty. Misato and Ritsuko were livid at how the damn foreigner cheated, if they were blaming Kyoko or Asuka nobody knew. Ritsuko did say she was going to look into more rejuvenation treatments for herself. She wasn't going to be beaten by some German idol created by the demons of lascivious images. As Asuka walked at Shinji's side to the changing rooms, many many men were reduced to drooling masses of stupidity. Shinji however remembered a certain business card he had gotten weeks ago…and two young women he wanted to introduce to that odd gay man.


High school, Rei found, wasn't much different than middle school. People ran about without thinking, planning grandiose events that didn't pan out, and attempted to get into relationships. Two years after the mayhem that caused her family's formation, Rei was greatly enjoying life far greater than she ever expected possible. Problems came, problems went, and through it all Rei found something to enjoy about it. Even the bad, as the bad never stood for long. Sitting at her desk as yet another boy presented Hikari a love letter, Rei smirked.

"To think Hikari would become such an idol. Long way from the plain girl that was hard up for Suzuhara," Asuka leaned back in her chair. Her longer hair spilled over the back of her chair as she leaned back to stare at the ceiling. Idly chewing on a piece of candy, "Think we should bring her over to our side? She gets along fine with Shin-chan when we have our little group dates." Asuka winked at Rei swiftly as she hopped out of her chair. Her body hadn't aged a day since her LCL renewal two years ago, still the unequaled goddess of Tokyo-3 high school. Hard not to be when you're a sixteen year old with the body of a twenty-one year old German Aphrodite.

Putting her papers and books into her satchel along with Shinji's print-outs, Rei shrugged. "You would need to let her take away from your personal time with Shinji-kun," Rei was never good at public displays of affection. When others were around it was always 'Shinji-kun' and maybe a hand hold, in private however was a different story. "I got another request from Tokai-kun to do another calendar shoot. Would you be available? I want to get Shinji a birthday present," Rei abided by Shinji and Asuka's restriction. She was not to do any model work without one of them there, just to insure they didn't push Rei too far.

Walking towards Hikari with Rei close behind, Asuka nodded her head and had a bounce in her step. "Was hoping that man wanted to throw more money are way. Glad he's gay or I'd be worried about working with him. And it's not a good gift if we're using Akagi or his money is it," she confessed. Waiting for Hikari to turn the poor lad down, she was at least no wrenching his heart out of his chest, Asuka crossed her arms behind Hikari's neck and leaned against her. Blowing into Hikari's ear, "You need to get a boyfriend to knock that stress out of you, Hikari. What was wrong with that one?"

Flipping out her personal day calendar, Rei filled in the day for the photo shoot. A warmth spread through her heart, she was going to do something special for Shinji with this. Funny how it never dulled but actually got hotter in her chest over time. Her love for Shinji blossomed after that day from familiar to fully romantic the day she learned her genetics was changed. Now each day was just better. She had family, friends, and a purpose other than global genocide. Listening briefly to Hikari and Asuka's conversation, Rei was already thinking of what 'special' gift to give Shinji. A physical gift was nice, but the emotional was…well her face reddened.

"Watch out Hikari, the succubus has that look on her face again. She's plotting on ravaging some poor young man," Asuka too was more oft to smile. Girl was still a perfectionist that took to challenges as personal affronts to her honor, but the 'Red Devil' was only a thing for the bedroom now. Rei had seen that little Halloween costume emerge more than once, Asuka really got into THAT role. Sticking her tongue out at a boy that overheard and nosebleed, "Oh get off it Ayanakoji-kun, she's a one man demoness so put it back in your pants."

Hiding her face from the other students as they walked out into the courtyard, Hikari was beyond frazzled and went into full blown aghast. "Asuka you're going to get a reputation! This is a prestigious high school! And Rei-san is not like that, she can't be!" Hikari turned to Rei for support. Now their friendship had always been a little rocky. Rei was just not keen on social standards, she had been ready to love her brother/mother after all. So Hikari and Rei had issues at times, but they did complement one another quite well.

"But I am. For Shinji-kun anyway. Anything and everything he would ask of me I'd gladly do. Sadly he does not wish to 'sully' me, so at times I must force the issue," Rei rattled off. A boy at her side, Tenkawa if she recalled, had stopped mid stride and turned robotically towards her. She said something inappropriate again, she'd have to have Shinji 'punish' her again…yes delicious punishment. Blinking leather straps and scented candles out of her mind, "Has Asuka-kun pressed you harder into her plan on a three-way with Shinji-kun yet? She has feared you'd become a 'crazy cat woman', was that not the term?"

No longer sporting the twin-tails, the more classical beauty of Hikari twisted into flustered and near defeat. "Rei-san! We talked about this! Asuka you're not supposed to try doing that type of t-thing with me! What would father think if somebody said these rumors to him! And just because I like cats does not mean I'll become some woman with only cats in her life!" Hikari stomped her feet as she passed them. Heading towards her home, away from Asuka and Rei's, Hikari pressed her palm to her head. "Look, I like Ikari-kun, he's a great guy judging from how he knocked most of the bitch out of you and turned you into…into," Hikari just looked at Rei without an answer.

"A freak that if given the opportunity would take MY boyfriend and run away to live in sinful heathenistic passion until we found her," Asuka counted her fingers. Knowing Rei as well as she did, Asuka took a leap forward to avoid the sudden downward kick aimed at her shin. Now face to face with Hikari, more boys dropped like flies, Asuka held her hands out defensively. "Sorry, teasing to hard. I won't try to corrupt you with my well trained dog. Just don't want you feeling lonely. Rei and I do have a good number of dates with our little toy, just want you to know you're always welcome to join us if only for the company," Asuka admitted softly.

Ever the observant woman, Rei took a few notes on Asuka. Girl had changed so much in the last two years. Having a loving and safe home really turned the girl into something amazing. Rei still would never want to fight her though, Asuka still had her fangs and claws when needed. A boy that tried to blackmail her with up the skirt photos learned that the hard way. Asuka crushed the boy's manhood literally with her hand and smashed the phone. They kept that a secret from Shinji and the others. Walking towards the apartment, Asuka could catch up, Rei wondered if she had changed as much as the others.

"I believe I am mostly the same," she nodded to herself assessment. Her pencil at the clef of her lip, she rolled it back and forth along it. Maybe she wasn't fully the same, happier even if she didn't show it to many others. Oh and she took to physical pleasure to wicked heights, Misato had been a great teacher. Some might think obsession, she thought she was just affectionate and making up for lost time. "I wonder how Kibou-chan is doing today?" Rei pondered wistfully.

Slapping Rei's back sending the girl a step forward, the taller and more muscular Asuka rolled her eyes. "That girl is likely at Ritsuko's since her mother is to impatient," Asuka scowled at her coconspirator. Walking with her hands laced behind her head holding her satchel, the towering German giggled to the amazement of young and old alike. Oh how Asuka loved teasing now, Misato and Ritsuko had been great teachers in that. "To think that Misato would be the first of the old hags to get pregnant. But Kibou-chan is adorable for a four month old," Asuka tried her hide her affection but failed. Oh the pictures of 'Aunt Asuka' spoiling that child were many.

"Ritsuko-san did say if you are wanting a child you could be taken off the pilots roster for the necessary five months of detox," Rei wasn't ready for children. It was to much fun to try and make a child when you knew it was impossible. It wasn't just the physical sensation, it was knowing that she was loved unequivocally and equally as the others. Yes Rei could get addicted to that. Since they had no true proof that the angels wouldn't come back, two years and still no sign, the children were still required to keep testing and training to use their behemoths.

In another show of her growing and maturing Asuka didn't immediately shout out denials. No, she rubbed her belly and looked at it confused. "I don't think I'm ready for that yet. After I get my masters or doctorate degree. Not like time is a big issue for us or money. That damn LCL treatment is magic almost, so we'll have a long life to worry about popping off spawn. Need to get him to due his part more though. You'd think having five women WANT to sleep with you would have made him a horn dog…leave it to Shin-chan to not be a walking hard on," only in private did Asuka say his name with such tenderness and compassion.

Despite the great deals of money they had from Shinji's modified (time and time again) stock profiler and Ritsuko's rejuvenation and therapy treatments, the happy family still lived in the same apartment. Ritsuko and Maya shared the apartment next door to Misato's while Shinji lost having a room to himself. He slept in one of their rooms in either unit, more oft than not it was not his decision on which it was too. They did give a nice little bribe to the apartment owner to allow them to make a connecting door between units and modify one of the bathrooms to have some very nice equipment.

Walking down the hallway to her the apartment, her home, Rei stopped as the swell of emotions hit her again. "This isn't a dream correct? This is not something Yui crafted for me as she left me in Unit-01 is it?" Rei asked Asuka earnestly. At times life just seemed so perfect, so great that she had to ask. A cry reverberated out of the Akagi/Ibuki apartment that broke Rei from her revelry.

"Only you would ask that," Asuka just opened the door to Ritsuko's apartment. "Our lives aren't perfect Rei, you just have low standards is all," Asuka kicked her shoes off. It wasn't like they didn't spend equal time at this unit over the original, Asuka made a beeline for the plush couch. "We still get gawked at for being 'heroes' while Shinji is looked at like either a monster or an Adonis depending on what they know of his father. We have to share that lunk head with those harpies…we still have fights, get angry, and have problems. Life is not a dream, I wouldn't want that. I want this, good and bad. Happy and sad." Almost on cue another loud cry filled the room, "And loud and quiet."

Looking younger and happier than she had two years prior, the now non-smoking doctor walked out of her bedroom with a bundle in her arms. Sliding the bottle expertly into the young and greedy mouth, Ritsuko cooed unevenly into the swaddle of cloth. "And look who is here? Your favorite aunts ready to feed you and change your diaper," Ritsuko handed the feeding baby over to Rei. Trying a new hair style, Ritsuko's still faux blonde hair was a little longer, just three inches longer, and matched Rei's.

The trio of 'older' women that made up the family were no less enjoying their lives. Ritsuko took to her LCL theories and put any discoveries her mother made to shame. Living in 'her shadow' was not equivalent of saying the sun was in the shadow of the stars. Misato's new role of running Nerv with Kaji as her vice-commander was an easy job. All Misato had to do was have the Eva's help out every so often in construction or a show for the public kept her busy…oh and being a mother. She had been just as amazed as everybody else to learn she was pregnant, having thought her womb destroyed. Maya and Shinji took to coding and programs like birds of a feather. The duo continued to update/change/modify Yui's old program so that nothing of the original existed. They had made it their own, it was a game to them now. Oh and as Asuka was so oft to say, they cheated by keeping their physical ages locked in and could easily tease and churn Shinji into a froth on date nights.

Kibuo stopped crying the instant Rei held the spoiled girl in her arms. Cropped with purple hair yet hosting those serene blue eyes showed her heritage easily. Rei smiled warmly and shifted her wait form leg to leg, swaying the child to sleep. "You are right Asuka, life is not perfect. But it is far improved," Rei hummed a wordless tune to the baby. Listening to the news as Asuka scratched her belly in a very unlady like maneuver, Rei could feel Ritsuko watching over her shoulder. They had all gotten angry and bitter at one another from time to time, Rei and Ritsuko more than the others, but times like this…they may night have the same last name but they were united.

"You make a good mother for a sixteen year old," Ritsuko admitted. Shinji and Rei shared the top slot of caring for Kibuo, Maya was next, Ritsuko and Asuka followed, and fittingly enough Misato last. Joining Asuka on the couch as Rei took the sleeping baby to the converted room, she brushed Asuka's feet off. "Unless you two have prior claim, Misato and I were thinking of taking Shinji out to see a jazz club. Trying to get Misato exposed to some better music," she asked as Asuka reapplied her feet on her waist.

Drying her hands on her skirt, Rei felt a little sad at that, she had wanted to play a little music with Asuka and Shinji tonight. Thankfully Kibuo didn't need her diaper changed, that was a task Rei loathed, how something so cute could make such a stink was appalling. "It would be good to get Misato-san outside of the apartment. She has been a little depressed since…" Rei opted not to comment. Misato had gotten depressed over being the first mother, said it made her feel old, afraid she had lost some of her appeal. They all imparted as they could that it wasn't the case, and Misato had come a long way back to her normal poppy self.

The door opening and slamming behind her rattled the apartment, but Maya just pressed herself against it. "Uhm…some bad news and some good news for you all," Maya panted as she pressed against the door. A hand slammed against it harder and harder. Ibuki, the first to agree to this little cluster relationship, appeared a totally different woman than the one of two years ago. Gone was her mousy exterior of fear of being seen, always worried she was being evaluated and judged, or of being just overlooked and forgotten. Maya was exuberant, pouring out her own style now, and now just exuded joy. "We had an accident at Nerv today during Shinji-chan's sync test," the door burst open sending Maya spinning to the ground.

"I want to see my granddaughter!" Yui Ikari in all her insane glory was standing over the prone Ibuki. Yui had gleamed her new status from Shinji's mind, Maya eventually told, and just HAD to have a walk about to see her granddaughter. It was only for a few days, but Yui left a swatch of destruction in her wake, but it was much enjoyed. The smile on that woman's face was impossible to remove. Each and every woman that lived in those two apartments had to suffer her at some point, to see how they were feeling and getting along. In turn she informed them that Shinji lived every day in equal joy…oh and she made them repay her for her services in getting them together. Rei left it to the 'older' women to do that, as they were ones that were Lilies while Asuka and she only sampled one another if Shinji was there.

When Shinji was returned to them, Rei was the first to see him, first to hold him, and the first to tell him what Yui did again. She saw that smile, a family trait of the Ikari's, and warmed to it. Yui had it, Shinji had it, and now Kibuo had it. While she couldn't show it herself, Rei had that warmth inside that they showed. Yes, life was good and while it wasn't always going to be the greatest, it was all she could want. At times she hoped one of the others would wander off to find their man alone, but they never did. A strange group of people that clung together and supported. And only every so often a return visit from the instigator of the whole mix.

The End-

Author notes

Well it was quick and silly idea that I enjoyed but it seems not everybody else did. Can't win them all. And normally I'm not one for the 'everybody wins' ending but this story called for it.

Up next I'm debating between a Shinji/Ritsuko story (been on a Ritsuko kick)

A dark romance in the Eva verse

Or mix it up with a K1/Urd A!MG story or a Love Hina fic…so many options!


Ja mata