3

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03/11/2005 - 00:00

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Three

  1. 1

    Rei Ayanami was being watched. Not in the spy-thriller, duck behind a
    lamppost sense, but in the, 'There's someone staring at you openly' sense. Though the train that would soon pass NERV
    central was full of after-school passengers and salarymen,
    she could easily see the person staring at her.

    Mostly because she was sitting right
    across from her.

  2. 2

    Rei opened her eyes and sat up in her bed, blinking in the
    dark as her phone rang a second time.
    Swinging her legs off the mattress, she walked slowly though the
    apartment and picked up the handset, whispering, "Hello?"

    A horrible keening wail came through the phone, making her
    pull it away from her ear with an uncertain blink. She was moving to hang it up when she
    recognized the voice of the Third Child, struggling to be heard over the din.

    "Ayanami!! Ayanami, can you hear
    me??!?"

    "Ikari?"

  3. 3

    Rei raised her hand and knocked on
    the apartment door, waiting patiently for the Captain or the Third Child to
    open it for her. She was not
    particularly enthusiastic about spending the evening with her coworkers, but
    she had decided on the train ride over that she should make the best of it.

    Always look on the
    bright side,
    she told herself as she waited, that is the old expression, correct?

  4. 4

    Everything went smoothly for three days. Since Shinji was not at school, and
    unauthorized personnel were not allowed at NERV headquarters, avoiding contact
    with Bella was simply a matter of rejecting Shinji's invitations to dinner and
    avoiding getting trapped somewhere that he might be able to corner her and ask
    for an explanation. Captain Katsuragi,
    it seemed, had been briefed on her orders, as the purple-haired woman made no
    attempts to encourage Rei to come over any more. The downside to this was that the Captain was

  5. 5

    Misato's apartment was quiet once again. The refrigerator hummed softly, supplying a
    gently soothing drone to the kitchen's two occupants as they sat together in
    silence, one happily licking her fingers clean as the other stared solemnly
    into space. Pen-Pen had decided to
    remain secluded for fear of another attack, so there was nothing to break the
    calm.

  6. For what felt like the hundredth time, Shinji wiped his left
    hand on the leg of his pants, trying to wipe away the accumulating sweat. Any
    minute now,
    he told himself, stealing a glance at the other three occupants
    of the kitchen with a nervous, sickly smile, she'll be home any minute now...

    The she in question - his guardian, Misato - had called
    twenty minutes prior to let him know she was on the way and to have a beer
    waiting for her arrival.

  7. Hikari lay very still, staring up at Shinji's ceiling and
    listening to the sounds coming from the living room. From there, it sounded as if a gang of wildly
    obnoxious pixies had overtaken the house, their shrill voices cutting through
    the entire apartment and driving aural nails into the minds of anyone
    unfortunate to be within hearing distance.

    It was the sound of fear.
    It was the sound of madness. It
    was the sound of...

    "Teletubbies."

  8. 2,3

    "Hey, Shinji," a husky voice murmured in the Third Child's
    ear. "Your wife can't find her panties,
    and your daughter wants cocopuffs."

    For a moment, Shinji simply lay on the couch, feeling
    certain that his dream of quietly watching clouds go by with the pretty, dark
    haired girl he had seen on his way out of NERV the day before had somehow
    accelerated into the future, where the two of them were married and happily
    living in the suburbs.

  9. Rei glanced up from the
    television, cocking her head to the side and straining her ears to hear past
    the squeaks and whistles coming from the kid's show currently on the screen.

    Bella, always quick to notice if something was wrong - or
    rather, always quick to notice if Rei was about to
    leave - looked up. "What wong Wei?"
    she asked around her thumb.

    "Nothing," Rei replied
    quietly. "I just thought I heard
    something."

  10. Hikari let out a long, deep sigh,
    rubbing her upper arms with her palms as she stared out at the rolling
    sea. I
    think I can see the mainland,
    she thought, trying as hard as she possibly
    could to keep from thinking of the fight with the angel.

  11. "Could you please pass the salt?"

    "Yeah... sure."

    Barely glancing up to make sure his hand was moving the
    right way, Shinji reached out and picked up the salt
    shaker, thrusting it somewhere in the direction of the voice that had asked for
    it.

    "Thanks."

    "Sure."

  12. Rei stared up at the ceiling of Shinji's small bedroom,
    trying to piece together the confusing events that had led her to be
    there. Since she had no active Unit, she
    had been in her apartment minding her own business - which, as usual, involved
    sitting on her bed and pondering her existence - when the phone rang. Captain Katsuragi had been most insistent,
    Rei recalled, that she needed someone to watch Bella for the evening, and that
    the Commander had already okayed it.

  13. It was not... a good morning.

    "Shinchi - waygup!"

    Shinji groaned, flinging his arm over his eyes as he felt an
    insistent tugging on his sheet. "Justaminute," he mumbled, wondering if he had ever been
    more tired than he currently was. "Tired."

    "No," the voice demanded, "Shinji waygup! Guroh es... Shinchi, wayGUP!!"

  14. Hikari stepped off the train
    feeling unusually light and upbeat, a marked change from the depression she had
    been suffering since moving back out of Captain Katsuragi's apartment. Touji, and even
    Shinji himself, told her repeatedly that she had done all that could be
    expected of her and more, but until today, Hikari had
    not been able to forgive herself for what she had done to Bella.

    Nothing can hurt a person like self-deprecation.

  15. Shinji fiddled with his NERV ID badge, balancing it on the
    backs of his knuckles for a moment before letting it slide down his fingers and
    trying to flick it into the air with his fingernails with the intent of catching
    it deftly between his first and second fingers.

    He sighed as the card tumbled to the floor with a dry clack.

    "How much longer do we have to sit here?"

  16. Shinji blinked as his alarm clock went off, blaring away
    whatever dreams he had been having (something better than real life, he was
    sure) and forcing him up and out of bed with a disgruntled sigh. Throwing his curtains wide, the Third found
    it to be a hazy, overcast day, threatening rain almost as palpably as Asuka's narrowed eyes threatened a smack to the side of the
    head.

    Fortunately, these little 'playful' taps had been less and
    less frequent, especially given the events of the last four days.

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