Chapter 26

The Swim of Things | By: | Genre: Humor, Romance | Rating: M | Series: Evangelion | Status: In Progress | Tags: Alternate Universe, Post-Series, Post-TI, WAFF | Summary:

This is a classic Rom/Com staring the Evangelion cast. It has just about everything you would expect, and probably read before, but is my latest personal take on the genre. Hope you enjoy it.

It was early in the morning when Hikari's little sister, Nozomi, was walking down the street with a note in her hand. She was looking for a particular address while thinking to herself `You owe me big time for this sis.' She had gone to the dance the night before too and didn't get home till late. Too late in fact thanks to her worthless ex-boyfriend. But her father showed some compassion for her problems and instead of a lecture she got a note by Touji handed to her. She also got a “This would be a nice thing to do for your sister” comments from her dad as well. Nozomi was no idiot and easily understood that the only nice thing about that line was the way her father said it. This was an indirect command. Of course that didn't mean she had to be happy about this. Sure she knew she was going to have to be up early today anyway as she had been volunteered to help clean up the school but this new task got her up even earlier and she wasn't exactly a morning person.

Finally she found the house she was looking for and she went up and rang the door bell for it. An older lady answered. “Hello. Can I help you?”

“Yeah. I'm looking for Satoru Yasuda” Nozomi answered. This was the name of Tokyo-4 High's student body president.

The woman, who Nozomi guessed was his mom, told her “I think he's still sleeping. Is it important?”

“I have a note for him from the vice-president of our school” Nozomi replied. “I was told that he needs to read it right away.”

Since this was a school thing the woman let Nozomi in the house and told her to wait for a second while she went upstairs to wake her son. About five minutes later a sleepy looking kid dragged himself down the stairs. He looked at the girl standing there waiting for him. While she was cute she wasn't from the student council and he didn't recognize her. “Who are you?”

“Nozomi Horaki” she answered with a polite bow. The only reason she bowed was because the sleepy looking senior was kind of cute. “And I have a note for you from my big sis… Well not exactly her but Touji, but that's really the same thing if you think about it.” The way Nozomi said that though was very different from how she was talking to his mom. Screw the tired voice, this was a cute boy and he deserved to hear her cute voice.

The kid scratched his head for a second at that cute bit of rambling before he took the note from the cute girl. It didn't really matter anymore right now who the note was from, he was already awake so he might as well read it.

I turned off Hikari's alarm clock so she isn't going to be around to clean up. But since you guys made her do everything yesterday you can pick up the slack today.

Touji Suzahara.

ps. Do it or I will kick your ass.-

“He didn't have to put the last part in” the kid said more to himself than anyone else.

“That's just Touji for you” Nozomi said back. “Now let's get going before we're late. Knowing our school if we aren't there right away everyone will leave.”

“You really are Hikari's sister” the boy said while letting out a big yawn. But he also went upstairs right afterwards to go change quickly as while those words were reminiscent of his bossy vice president they were also true. When he came back downstairs he told her “Let's take my bike.”

“Cool” Nozomi replied as she was rather used to getting a ride on one of those. She had a penchant of making friends with people who owned such vehicles. And being she was a rather cute girl with some ample assets she rarely ever had to walk home from school or ride the bus. Much to the consternation of her father of course as most of those friends turned out to be boys.


Satoru and Nozomi got to the school about five minutes before the designated start time for cleaning the school up. “That was fun!” Nozomi said excitedly. “Your bike is so cool. It goes really fast!” The class president had one of those flashy and fast crotch rockets, which to Nozomi made him even more exciting.

“Too bad. Because that's the last time you will be riding on it” Satoru said distancing himself away. Right from the start Nozomi pressed herself up against his back and wrapped her arms around him tightly. Normally this would be a good thing as Nozomi Horaki felt awesome but the fact that she was Nozomi Horaki was also the problem. Her being a first year didn't bother him at all. He was generally a big fan of women and if you were cute and interested he was usually game. And the way Nozomi was moving up against him while they rode to the school said she was very interested. What did bother him though was the fact that she was Hikari's younger sister. He could easily see Hikari having a problem with him fooling around with her little sister and if Hikari had a problem with it so would Touji. So as far as this beautiful girl went she was a no go.

“A c'mon” Nozomi said back in a cute way. “I like riding with you. You're so much stronger than the other boys I usually hang out with.”

He looked at this girl who was flirting with him and came to a conclusion. He was completely mistaken about who Nozomi was like. “I was so wrong. You're nothing like Hikari and everything like Kodama.”

“You know my ane?” Nozomi kept up as she asked that in a flirty way.

“Every senior boy in the school knows your big sister” Satoru replied. “She used to torment and tease us to no end. She basically had all of us tied around her little finger.”

“Yeah, ane was really good at getting boys to do stuff for her” Nozomi said back with a little titter and even bounced her boobs at the boy as an extra attraction. “She tells me her stories all the time now.”

The warning bells went off very loudly when Satoru heard that. Nozomi was even scarier now than before. Not only was she a girl that could get him beat up but she was also one that could potentially burn him badly. Her oldest sister was rather well known for burning guys from what he remembered. “Listen Horaki” Satoru started, being as formal as he could. “I think you need to hang out with guys your own age. I'm going off to college next year and I don't think starting any sort of relationship would be a smart thing to do.”

“Who says I'm looking for a relationship?” Nozomi smirked at him and then walked off to let him think about that. She seriously thought he was cute. Maybe breaking up with her boyfriend last night wasn't such a bad thing after all, there were plenty more cute guys out there that were much better.

As for Satoru, he turned his head away from that cute little ass walking away. `Don't look, don't look, don't look! That girl is nothing but trouble!”


As for slumbering Hikari, she woke up in a big panic. It was well past time for her to get up as it was already11:00 in the afternoon. The last thing she remembered was hearing the alarm go off early this morning when Touji had to get up to go to work. He told her to go back to sleep and that he would reset the alarm for one hour. That was five hours ago though and she bolted out of bed because it looked like her fiancé forgot to do what he said he was going to.

But as she got out into the hallway she was told “Slow down Hikari or you will trip and hurt yourself.”

It was her step-mom, complete with Hikari's little brother in her arms. “I'm really, really late for the culture fest cleanup!” Hikari exclaimed. “Oh god they're going to kill me for this.”

“No they won't” Asuna answered. “According to Touji you don't have to help them out.”

Hikari looked at her step-mom with confusion. “Huh?”

“Nozomi left earlier in your place” Asuna explained. “Touji said she was going to get the president to run the clean up for you and that you can relax for the day.”

“So that's why he didn't set the alarm” Hikari said understanding the situation better. It was a really sweet thing her fiancé had done for her but she didn't know if it was the right thing. “You sure I shouldn't go over to the school?”

“I'm pretty sure the others can handle cleaning up without you” Asuna assured her. Personally she was under the same assumption Touji had. Hikari had done enough for the school already and she deserved this break. “I think you should go take a nice long relaxing bath. If anyone deserves a reward today it's you.”

That was a very tempting offer and Hikari was left standing there to think about it while she watched Asuna walk off towards the baby's room. It was time for her to nurse her little guy and put him down for a nap. Unfortunately Hikari was too responsible to just do what her step-mom told her and she walked back into her room and grabbed her cell phone.

“Hey sis” Nozomi answered as her caller ID told her who was calling. Not that she didn't expect to be getting this call eventually.

“Hello Nozomi” Hikari greeted back. “Is everything going ok over at the school?”

“Not really” Nozomi pouted back. “Satoru gave me a ride over here from his house on his bike but now he won't talk to me.”

“Stop creating drama” Hikari told her younger sister as that is not what she was calling about and she knew Nozomi was aware of that.

“Relax” Nozomi laughed as it was only a joke. Her older sister was way too uptight sometimes. “The school's getting cleaned up and we'll probably be done by the end of the day.”

“Probably?” Hikari questioned as that is not a word she wanted to hear. The plan that she had laid out beforehand had them definitely done by today.

Nozomi realized her mistake quickly and in an effort to stop Hikari from coming over there she hurriedly said “I meant we will positively be done today… I promise.”

Hikari could easily hear the panic in her little sister's voice. And of course the only reason for there to be panic was if she didn't want Hikari to see what was going on for herself. “You know better than to lie to me.”

“But you can't come down here onee-san” Nozomi begged. “If you do then Touji and dad will get mad at me.”

“Why would dad get mad?” Hikari questioned as she didn't know how their father figured into all of this.

“Because I'm supposed to be doing this in your place” Nozomi explained. “And if you have to come down here that means I failed and dad will be really disappointed in me.”

Hikari could understand that easily enough. There was a little more to this right now than Nozomi simply picking up a little slack for her big sister. “Ok I will stay home for now. But please do a good job for me?”

Nozomi let out a relieved “Yes onee-chan. I will.” But she also had to add on “Do you think maybe you could possibly call Satoru and tell him he has to give me a ride home?”

Hikari had to giggle at the sweet way Nozomi said that. It was almost a little beg. “What do you see in that boy?”

“He's cute and he has an awesome bike” Nozomi answered.

“You have to have better reasons than that” Hikari said back in a way that was sort of chiding her little sister while also at the same time quite playful.

“Not right now I don't” Nozomi replied sounding a whole lot like her oldest sister when she was in high school. “I just want to have fun. I'm tired of having boyfriends.”

And right there was the fundamental difference between Hikari and her two sisters. Her sisters wanted to act their age while due to her past experiences Hikari was much more grown up than she had to be. A lot of this was because when their mom died it was Hikari who stepped up to take her place and was the one who kept the family together as best she could. In many ways she was the oldest sister in this family and the one the other two relied on. “Just don't do anything that will upset dad, ok?”

“Don't worry, I won't” Nozomi answered in that sort of offended way that teenager commonly do after they get scolded. She then said bye to her big sister and went back to work.

Hikari on the other hand went to take that nice long bath her step-mom suggested and decided she needed to reward her fiancé for being such a sweetie. She was going to go over to his place and make a big dinner for his family tonight. And as a reward to herself for all the hard work she did over the past week she was going to stay the night. Very begrudgingly she had the right to do this now from her father. Touji and she were betrothed after all.


Asuka got up at the crack of noon. Which for her wasn't that bad considering this was a weekend and she was up very late last night. Just by listening she could tell what her boyfriend, along with her male guardian, were up to as she could hear a baseball game on right now. This was pretty typical for the two boys and while she sometimes joined them she didn't feel like watching a game right now. So instead she went looking for Misato, which she found easily enough sitting in her own bedroom stitching up a stuffed animal.

“Keiko play a little too rough with that one?”

Misato nodded her head yes. “Then she had a major fit because she couldn't take a nap with it. God only knows how you slept through it.”

Asuka chuckled to herself about that. Basically she had gotten used to it by now and she was pretty tired after last night. “So any big plans for today?”

“Not really” Misato answered. “I might run over to the grocery store to pick up a few things later on… or depending on how cranky Keiko is when she wakes up I may make you do it.”

“Sure” Asuka said back as she didn't mind running an errand for Misato today. It would give her something to do.

“So how was the dance?” Misato then asked.

“Pretty fun actually” Asuka answered. “I especially liked the part where you made Shinji go to the dance.”

“He actually told you I made him go to the dance?” Misato said with a little shock.

“Yes” Asuka answered. “He said it was because he kept whipping you at video games.”

“That little snot” Misato cursed. It was bad enough he beat her as easily as he did, the boy didn't need to be telling others that too. “If he had any brains he would've said he came of his own free will. That way he would look all noble and crap.”

“Like I would believe that” Asuka snickered. “The second I saw him step through the door I knew you made him go. Just like you made Rei go.”

“I didn't make Rei go” Misato said back a little confused. She thought Rei went due to peer pressure by Asuka and Hikari. “I thought you did.”

“No” Asuka said shaking her head with just as much confusion now. “I mean I was going to try and convince her go but when I talked to her about it she already said she was going to so I figured you got to her first.”

“I never even talked to her about it” Misato replied. “She didn't decide to go on her own, did she?” That would have been very out of character of the girl.

“Well if neither one of us said anything then I guess she did.” Asuka then thought up a reason why. “Maybe she did it for coach. She likes her a lot.”

“I suppose” Misato said as that made a little sense. Rei was a lot better than she used to be about going out in public so if it was for a good cause she could see the girl swallowing her shyness and helping out. “She didn't happen to meet anyone?”

The shock was obviously over with as Asuka could tell Misato was now genuinely curious about what happened at the dance. Personally Asuka wished she could tell her something exciting but that really wasn't an option. “Nope. In fact she was barely there at all. She came in for a bit in the beginning but then left because she thought something was wrong with her bike and waited outside the school for Kensuke to come over and fix it.”

“Well that certainly makes it hard for her to meet someone” Misato commented thinking maybe she should have drove Asuka and Rei to the dance instead.

“I did try and get her to dance with someone later on but she didn't even let me ask.”

Now that sounded like Rei to Misato. “Did you try again?”

“Couldn't” Asuka answered. “She left shortly after that with Kensuke as he wanted to make sure he fixed her bike.”

Misato let out a little “Damn” as it would have been nice if Rei would have been more outgoing and stuck around. Personally she wanted the shy blue haired girl to meet someone and have a romance. It would be very good for the girl in her opinion.

“Well at least she wore a nice dress to the dance” Asuka said as that was better than nothing.

“Which one?” Misato asked.

“Her blue one with the flowers” Asuka answered.

“Really?” Misato asked sort of surprised. And after she saw Asuka nod yes she added on “That's probably the most flattering dress she has. I'm surprised she wore it.”

“Probably because the theme of the dance” Asuka said as a possible explanation.

“I guess” Misato replied as she couldn't think up anything else.

“Oh and speaking of what Rei was wearing” Asuka started as she remembered something. “Where did you get those earrings you gave her? They looked cool and I want to get a pair.”

“I didn't get her any earrings.”

“What?... But she said someone bought them for her because they thought they looked nice.” This was turning out to be a very baffling conversation. “The only people Rei knows who would do that are you and me.”

Misato could think of another person and she asked “What'd they look like?”

“Three sets of blue stones in a white gold setting.”

Misato thought for a second and she was now sure that they didn't come from her. She walked out of the bedroom and over to the living room couch. “Did you buy Rei any earrings recently?” She figured Kaji might have done something nice like that if he knew she was going to the dance.

Kaji though shook his head no. “The only jewelry I buy her are hairpins.” When giving gifts Kaji tended to ere on the safe side of things. He knew Rei liked hairpins so that was about all he was going to get her. In fact the hair pin she wore to school's culture fest yesterday was one of them.

Misato walked back into her bedroom saying “We have a mystery on our hands.”

“So it wasn't Kaji?”

“Nope” Misato said back. “Are you sure they were new?”

“She said someone had just bought them for her” Asuka answered.

“What exactly did she say?” Misato then asked as she was trying to figure this out but needed more details as everything was still too fuzzy.

Asuka had to think for a second but she did remember what Rei had told her. “She said a certain someone bought them for her recently because they thought they looked nice on her” Asuka answered. But as she repeated those words she caught onto something. That line meant something entirely different when Misato wasn't the person that flashed through your mind. “….You don't think?” Asuka said alluding to the thought that Rei might actually have someone special in her life. After all that would be the only other explanation right now.

“I'm tempted to say yes” Misato answered. She knew Rei pretty well now and how good the girl was at playing upon thoughts and words. She didn't lie to Asuka and Hikari when she said that line while at the same time she didn't correct them in who she knew they would be thinking of. And the only reason Rei would do that was if she wanted to hide something. “Have you noticed her talking to any boys lately?”

“Not really” Asuka answered. “She's still pretty shy around most of them. In fact the only boys she says more than one word to are Shinji, Touji, and Kensuke.” After thinking about that for a second Asuka added “Maybe I should ask Kensuke if Rei's with anyone? If anyone other than me or Hikari would know that it would be him. They talk to each other a lot now.”

“I'm sure you would get told no” Misato said developing a smirk. She was piecing this puzzle together much faster than Asuka. She had never thought this way in the past but she was starting to now.

Rei had some serious trust issues so feeling comfortable around a boy would be very hard for her. But a few had managed to get to that trusted point where they could be friends with her. A few being four. And of those four, two were already in relationships and one was her guardian. So that left Misato with the choice of one. But that in itself meant nothing as Rei was definitely not the type of girl to like someone out of convenience. There had to be more so Misato started to inquire about some things so she could clear up the thoughts in her mind. “Let me ask you some questions? I want to see if what I'm thinking is true.”

“Go ahead” Asuka said as she herself wanted to know what Misato was thinking. Currently she didn't have a clue what to think anymore and the quandary was giving her a headache.

“Who did Rei hang out with at the school's culture fest?” Misato sort of already knew the answer to this one as she had seen the two walking around together when she went there.


“Who was Rei with at the dance most of the time?” From the previous conversation Misato thoughts she knew the answer to this too.

“Kensuke” Asuka answered again as most of the time Rei was outside overseeing him work on her scooter.

“Lately who has always been over at Rei's place?”

Asuka could tell where Misato was going with this by now and quite frankly it was weirding her out. “Kensuke… But that's only because he studies with Rei and his cat is over at her place.”

“Are you sure all they're doing is studying?” Misato asked with a big grin. “Kensuke's going into engineering so he has to bone up on a lot of math and science. And while Rei's comfortable with those subjects she's much more into literature and arts now. In fact when it comes to math and science shouldn't he be asking you for help as that's your strong area?” In the past Misato would have never imagined those two even being remotely compatible. But many things had changed, maturity had taken hold, and the two teens in question were very different people now than they were before third impact.

Even though that made sense Asuka explained it away. “I might be better at math and science than Rei but she's advanced enough to help him out on the tests at least.”

“I'm not so sure of that anymore” Misato answered. “I think there's another reason that he isn't coming over seeking help.”

Asuka fought this idea. “No way those two are together. They have nothing in common.”

“Really?” Misato asked. “Let me ask you a couple more questions then?”

“No” Asuka said back flatly. This was as far as she wanted to go with this conversation already. It was all too bizarre to her.

Unfortunately Misato's question was rhetorical and she asked them anyway. “They work together, right?”

Asuka refused to answer. She wanted this to stop. While she didn't mind Kensuke or Rei dating she didn't want them dating each other because she was afraid of how it would change the group dynamics of her closest friends. More accurately you could say she was afraid of what might happen if that relationship didn't work. It had the potential to rip the group apart and she didn't know if she could handle that.

Misato could tell what Asuka was doing but she wasn't going to let the girl use her avoidance of the issue tactic work. In that way both Asuka and Shinji were incredibly alike so she was well used to dealing with it. She placed a hand on Asuka's shoulder and looked straight at the girl, giving Asuka the clear signal that the girl was not allowed to leave right now. “If you don't want to answer the questions that's fine. But that doesn't mean I'm going to stop asking them” Misato told her. “Not only do Rei and Kensuke work at the same place but they have the same work attitude, correct?”

As much as Asuka wanted to say no she couldn't. Misato was dead on about that. And not only about that but also that she knew something Misato didn't. “They take their breaks together now too when they are both working.” In the past Asuka had always explained this away as it was lonely eating by yourself so being with a friend was better.

“That doesn't surprise me” Misato said taking her hand of Asuka's shoulder since she was being cooperative again. “They both like riding around on their bikes too?”

“Yes” Asuka said back.

“Both obviously like cats?”

“Yes” Asuka said again.

“And if you think about it they have similar study habits.”

“I guess so” Asuka said but then added “But those things are so minor. You can't build a relationship on that stuff.”

Misato was well aware of that. Mainly because she was doing it on purpose so she could prove her point before she moved onto bigger issues. “It's obvious you learned a thing or two from being with Shinji so let's skip the rest of the small stuff and move on to the biggies. “How good are either of them at trusting other people?”

As big of a question as that was the answer to it was rather easy. “Not very.” It was easy to tell Rei had trust issues and she had a good read on Kensuke in this aspect as well. He might have been more outgoing towards people than Rei but at the same time he didn't trust most of the people he talked with. Too much had happened to him in the past for him to develop trust quickly. Oddly enough it was very similar to Shinji and her.

“And romantically, how are the two situated?”

“Here's were I got a big problem” Asuka said as this wasn't as simple of a question to answer as the previous one. “Kensuke may act like he can't get a date but I know he's turned girls down in the past.”

“And why did he turn those girls down?” Misato asked.

Asuka didn't have an answer for that.

“I'm surprised you don't know” Misato said as Kensuke shared this in common with her. “How many boys in your school want to date you simply because you look different than all the other girls?”

Asuka was left a little dumbfounded by that question. It wasn't like she didn't know the answer to that was a lot but it was a totally different issue when you compared her to Kensuke. “The rules about that for boys and girls are different Misato. Plus the only reason they want to date me is because they want to be “with” a foreign girl so they could see what “it” would be like. Not because they actually want to have a relationship.”

Asuka answered that question exactly the way Misato thought she would. And now the raven haired woman had a little life lesson for the girl. “The difference between guys and girls is not as big as you think. That whole being with a foreign guy is as much of a thought for us as it is for the boys. Being as young as you are you just still think it's different. And about that second part, why don't you say that again over to yourself in your head. It will sound a touch familiar I bet.”

Misato won that bet in more ways than one as Asuka fully realized what she herself had said. She knew for a fact that was Kensuke's given reason for not dating such girls. In the past she didn't really believe that but now she was starting to. And if she replaced the word foreign with different it also perfectly explained Rei's reluctance to date guys. Those two were sounding more similar than different the more this conversation went on. “I have a feeling what's coming next” Asuka frowned. It was another deep similarity between the two people.

“You mean the whole issue of betrayal by people they trusted and how it has affected them?” Misato said with a huge smirk. This was basically the nail in the coffin. Rei's trust issues went back to her situation with Commander Ikari and how she felt he betrayed her. And Kensuke had the same deal with his father and that side of his family. Well in Kensuke's case he felt they betrayed both him and his mother so there was even more venom stored up. “And of course I bet they both might have the whole guarded heart thing going on as well. Avoiding letting people get too close to you because you're afraid of the pain it might cause is a hard thing to get over, isn't it?”

Asuka couldn't even respond to that one. Her own history was fraught with that major affliction. The only thing the red headed girl could do was exhale a greatly troubled breath.

Misato disagreed with that bodily expressed statement. “Personally I think they're going to be good for each other.”

“It's not that” Asuka argued. “It's just that… what happens if it doesn't work out or if something goes wrong?”

Misato's obvious answer was that they would simply have to deal with it. That was part of growing up and living life.

Misato's answer though wasn't what Asuka was talking about. She was actually more concerned with her friend's well being. “No, I mean what if someone's heart gets broken. You know as well as I do how painful it is to cry yourself to sleep at night because you thought you lost that one person you loved the most.” Despite outward appearances Asuka did this quite often in the past. Before third impact it was over her mom and after it was due to how she thought she had completely screwed up any chance she had with Shinji. “Rei may think being lonely is bad but it's nothing compared to that.”

Misato gave Asuka a little hug after she said that as she knew exactly what Asuka was talking about. Those feelings of pain and loss were about the worst thing she had ever felt in her life. “I don't want Rei to go through that either but unless she at least takes the chance she won't ever get to be happy. She deserves to have the same happiness I have with Kaji and you have with Shinji.”

“I know” Asuka sighed back. “But I'm worried.”

“That's because you're a good friend” Misato smiled. She was proud of Asuka right now. Asuka wasn't disapproving of this relationship only out of her own petty worries but mostly out of concern for the two people involved.

“How am I supposed to act towards them now?” Asuka then asked.

“Like normal I would guess” Misato said.

“That's going to be a little hard” Asuka rebutted.

“Maybe” Misato simply said back. “But I don't think you should do anything else.”

“Why not?” Asuka asked as she had every intention of going over to Rei's place right now and delving into the truth of the matter.

“Both those two knew you and Shinji were dating long before it was public knowledge didn't they? Yet they kept their mouths shut out of respect for you two. Don't they deserve the same kind of respect?”

That was one of those motherly responses that Asuka couldn't contend with. “Shit Misato. Now you made me feel like a total ass about even thinking of talking to her.”

“Well you should” Misato said back enforcing the feeling. “I fully expect you to keep your mouth clamped until one of the two brings it up. My guess is that they're treading carefully and want to be left alone for a while and I ain't going to do anything to stop that.” And with the complete version of the mommy stare right into Asuka's eyes she added “And neither are you.”

The message was delivered loud and clear as Asuka replied with a submissive “Yes ma'am.”

And it was a good thing Asuka listened too as if she went over to Rei's place right now she would have found a relationship confirming sight as Rei and Kensuke were snuggled together on the couch fast asleep with a kitty snoozing away between them.


*********** OOO ***********


It was midway through October and Asuka was getting ready for school. She listened to what Misato had told her and was still keeping her mouth shut concerning the Rei and Kensuke dating thing. Well for the most part she did as she did tell one person about it, Shinji. But the snot agreed with Misato and acted like nothing was happening or different between the two. That made it just that much harder for Asuka. With every being of her fiber she wanted to ask Rei what was happening but she knew that wasn't allowed. Rei wanted some privacy and that meant Asuka couldn't even clue her in that she knew about her relationship with Kensuke. This was turning out to be a rather trying lesson in friendship and patience for Asuka.

“Hey Shin-kun, what's the temp supposed to be like today?”

“Rainy with temps around 16°C” Shinji answered with what he remembered from the TV yesterday.

That wasn't too bad so all Asuka grabbed in extra was an umbrella. “Ready to go?”

“Just one sec kätzchen” Shinji replied tying his shoe and then grabbing his backpack.

Once ready both of them left the apartment to go to school. Out in the hall waiting for them was Rei. Normally she would drive her scooter to school but ever since the temperature started dropping below 18°C on a regular basis she stopped doing that. She wasn't getting any better about the cold thing either as she was wearing a hat, mittens, and a heavy jacket. “What, no scarf?” Asuka joked as they started walking down the hall towards the stairs.

Asuka joke though got taken seriously and Rei pulled one out of her pocket that she stashed in there just in case. “It's getting unnaturally colder earlier this year” Rei then complained.

“No, this is the normal temperature from what I understand” Asuka said back to the freeze baby. “Give it a couple more years and I bet you'll get used to it.” The look Asuka got back from Rei said otherwise though and Asuka had to giggle at it. “I guess I should be thankful you're not already wearing your winter gear.”

“If it drops below 10°C one more time I will” Rei said back seriously. While what she was wearing now was a heavy jacket it wasn't her winter jacket. That was a blue super insulated jacket with white faux fur trim that always made Asuka call her Nanook. By now she didn't care if Asuka called her that name or not because that jacket kept her nice and warm. Of course she wondered what Asuka was going to say when the girl discovered she now owned the matching blue snow pants that went with the coat and fully planned on utilizing them this winter.

“So I take it no free ride to the university today?” Asuka said as if Rei was going to school with them that meant the scooter was staying home.

“Sorry you will have to take the bus” Rei replied. Rei then noticed the two of them didn't turn towards the direction of the nearest bus stop when they left the building. “You aren't going to walk to school today?”

“It's not that bad” Asuka said back.

“But it's cold and it looks like it might rain” Rei argued.

“I got an umbrella” Asuka said back and she continued to walk towards the school with Shinji.

While Rei wasn't fond of busses she was even less fond of being cold and she went the opposite direction towards the bus stop. Those two were absolutely nuts to want to walk to school in this horrible weather. And she wasn't alone in that thought as when she got on the bus most of her school mates that took the same bus as her to the school were on it as well.

One of them was her classmate Rini. It might be a stretch to call those two friends but they were friendly towards one another. A lot of this had to do with Rini talking to her during Culture fest. Rei wasn't as scary as she thought and if you treated the blue haired girl with respect she was rather kind. In fact Rini was one of the few other people now that went to Rei if they needed help on something school work wise. She would go to Asuka too but Asuka was harder to pin down for help because she would help anyone in the room. “Hey Ayanami. Where's Asuka and Shinji?”

“They decided to walk to school today” Rei answered while also nodding a hello back.

“What?... Are they nuts or something? It's cold and rainy out there.” When it came to weather ironically enough Rei was much closer to the norm than the other two.

“I said the same thing” Rei replied. “But they chose not to listen to me.”

“You know I like Asuka and all but sometimes she acts really weird” Rini conversed back. “I wonder if it's because she's German and stuff?”

Rei shook her head no and said with a small roll of the eyes “It is because she's Asuka.” Asuka's eccentricities had nothing to do with her being American, German, or Japanese and everything to do with her being Asuka Langley Sohryu.

Rini giggled at that comment. When it came to Rei the rules were very different about slighting Asuka. If anyone else slighted the brash red head, other than Rei or Hikari, Asuka would throw it and a whole lot more right back in their faces. And the term fighting fair was not in the girl's vocabulary. She had been raised to do whatever it took to win and if that meant verbally hitting below the belt she would do it and be proud of the action. But if Hikari or Rei slighted her Asuka actually did little. And a lot of times instead of saying something argumentive back she usually laughed about it and agreed with her friends.


About half way to school Rei heard the first little pitter patter of rain starting and she sighed. She wasn't the biggest fan of rain to start with and a cold rain was even worse. Worse yet she was going to have to be out in it quite a bit today. She had the walk from the bus stop to inside the school which was almost a block. Then she would have to leave in a couple hours to walk back out to the bus stop and take the bus to the university where she would then have to walk around even more as she went from building to building for her three classes. After that she would have to wait in the cold rain again for a bus to take her back to the high school and then again for the ride home from the school. And if that wasn't bad enough she had to work today so that meant another venture out into the cold after school was over with. Maybe if she was lucky she could get Misato to give her a ride to work.

But it wasn't all bad as when she was walking from the bus stop toward the school she got joined in company. “I forgot my umbrella. Mind if I share yours?”

Rei gave Kensuke an innocent nod yes and the two walked into school together under the same umbrella. No one thought anything of it as just about every other kid who forgot their umbrella was looking for their nearest friend to do this too. The only difference between them and Rei and Kensuke was that Kensuke actually did have his umbrella. He just hid it away in his backpack.

“Hey guys” they were greeted when they got into school.

Both Kensuke and Rei said hello back to Touji with Rei adding on “Is Hikari up in the classroom?”

“Nah” Touji answered. “She's talking to the president about something.”

“What about?” Kensuke asked being curious.

“Damned if I know” Touji said back. “He's always bugging her about something.”

“Maybe he's asking her to be in charge of the prom committee” Rei suggested as that event was right around the corner so something like that was a possibility.

“If he does I'm gonna stick his head in a toilet and flush it a half dozen times” Touji replied in a gruff manner.

Right after that he got a little lecture “Stop threatening to give the president a swirly. He's really getting paranoid about it.”

“Good” Touji said back to his fiancé.

“You're so bad at sharing” Hikari laughed. Both Kensuke and Rei snickered at that as well.

“I don't care. You got stuck doing the last dance so you shouldn't have to do this one.”

“Don't worry hun” Hikari said with a little head shake as he was being pigheaded right now. “He was only asking who I would put in charge of the committee not actually making me the head of it.”

“Good” Touji said again. “Then we can actually go the damn thing instead of having to work it.” He was well aware of the fact that if Hikari was running the show he would be helping her.

“Don't forget this is my senior prom too” Hikari smiled at him. “I don't want to miss out on it either.”

That feeling wasn't exactly mutual as neither of the other two people there felt the same way. “I think I will take a cue from Asuka and Shinji and be staying home” Rei commented.

“Too many people, right?”

Rei nodded a yes back at her friend. “All the noise and commotion is unsettling. Plus I don't like to be around so many people who are putting up false appearances.”

“Yeah, that showboating shit is stupid” Touji agreed with her in a much more simple and crass way. “You gonna go Kensuke?”

“Nope” he said back. “I'm either going to work or go with Rei's idea.”

Rei thought for a second. “I will probably be working as well.” Prom would mean a mass influx of people at the restaurant. And even her area would see some of those teens as going to expensive places before the big dance was traditional if you could afford it.

“Where are Asuka and Shinji?” Hikari then asked as if Rei was here so should they.

“They decided to walk to school” Rei told her.

“Those two are so weird” Hikari replied back at that.

Rei let out a little “Tell me about it” and they headed for their classroom, Rei with a blanket in her possession that she took out of her locker. Even with the school being adequately heated it was still chilly to her and she commonly wrapped a blanket around her legs to stay warm. While she wouldn't be the only girl to do something like this she was definitely the first and if she had her way she would upgrade that regular blanket to an electric one come winter time.


The day had been long and drizzly but it wasn't over with yet as Rei was at work. Her arrival though was in the middle of a troubling situation as Li Mei greeted her with “Thank god you showed up early.”

“I something the matter?” Rei asked.

“I need you to be a server today” Li Mei told her. “Konaka got caught in the rain and came down with something so we're a person short right now.”

This meant that Rei would take over that girl's spot since she knew how to be a server and Li Mei would pull a girl from downstairs up to be the hostess. Most of the girls downstairs spent time beside Zukav acting as a hostess sometime or another during their work experience so they knew how to do the job. Up in the fancy area the only difference was that you had to mind your P's and Q's much more, wear a pretty kimono, and speak very clearly and politely. The trade off for that service was that you got a bump in your pay while you worked up there so most of the girls were up for it. If you were good enough it might even mean a permanent promotion up to that level.

When Li Mei got downstairs she went after the first girl she saw. “Hey Asuka, you want to work upstairs for a couple hours?” By then Li Mei figured she could get one or two of the normal girls for up there to come in.

“I suppose” Asuka kidded back sounding like this was a real bother. This wasn't the first time she did this and since she liked the extra money hopefully not the last. Plus right now there was four waitresses sharing all of seven tables so things were a bit slow and she was getting bored.

“Enough with the sassiness” Li Mei said knowing full well that Asuka was just fooling around. “Just get changed and up there PDQ, ok?”

“Yes ma'am” Asuka chuckled and took off.

Li Mei then went down to sit on her stool. Technically she was supposed to be taking it easy since she was pregnant but at the same time she wanted to watch over her kitchen. This was her kitchen and she was finding it hard to give up the reigns. The compromise was that she was given a comfortable stool she could sit on while she worked on various dishes. For the most part it was just stirring and watching as the other cooks handled the major work for her but it was still better than not being able to do anything at all. She looked over at the kid chopping up sausages so they looked like little octopuses. “Your girlfriend's a pain in the ass.”

“I know” Shinji smiled.

Li Mei could only shake her head at that as it was obvious Shinji was perfectly fine with the fact. When it came to unique couples, Shinji and Asuka certainly took the cake in her opinion.

And speaking of Asuka she actually did a rather good job upstairs. She was pretty, looked rather international, which was befitting to the type of high class cuisine the restaurant made, and for short periods of time could be polite. What kept her from being a more permanent fixture was the look in her eyes and a unique attitude on how she handled some patrons. Some famous people went to the restaurant for the sole service of showing off. So they naturally showed looks of superiority and they talked down to you. The other girls there would bite their tongues and politely lead them to their tables, where the person's server would take over. Asuka though was incapable of this. If you looked down at her with eyes of superiority she looked right back up with eyes that said `I don't care what you think, I am better than you.' Plus while she would politely ask you to follow her to your table it was said in a way in which you didn't know if she was mocking you or if she was serious. Of course Asuka only did this to people who she deemed were too full of them selves, everyone else she was nice and polite to.

A potential situation like that actually came up as a very big VIP showed up an hour into her shift. Well to the rest of the world at least. “Hey! What're you doing back here? I thought you were still down in Australia?” Not exactly the most polite greeting in the world but for this particular VIP it was what he expected and quite frankly wanted.

“Actually the tour ended yesterday and I hopped on the first plane back home” the VIP answered back. “I got sick of the road.”

“Not as much fun as you thought it would be?” Asuka kidded as she led him to his table. Technically he didn't have a reservation but he was VIP enough to get one of the special tables set aside. Although to her the VIP status had more to do with him being ex-Nerv bridge bunny Shigeru Aoba than it had to do with him being the lead signer/guitarist for the band Nerv's of Steel.

“It goes from new and exciting to a living hell real fast” he said back. “All I want now is a cold beer and some one real to talk to.”

Asuka looked over and saw Rei coming out to serve him. She also saw two very disappointed girls who looked like they wished they could be serving him but that was probably why Rei was the one doing it in the first place as this was not one of her tables. Shigeru needed someone who would serve him food and drink, not themselves. “Rei can help you with the beer…” Asuka said and then reached under her kimono pulling out her cell phone. She scrolled down her list of numbers and placed a call. “… and he can give you company.”

The first thing Shigeru heard was “What do you need Asuka?”

Shigeru chuckled at the greeting. Obviously this guy was used to Asuka calling him by now. “She's just lending me her phone, but I could use some help… I'm getting two cold beers but I need someone to drink the second.”

“Hey Shigeru” Kaji greeted back. “You back in town already?”


“Where you at?” Kaji asked. “Because if you're buying I think I can cut from work early.”

“Shin Seiki's”

“Be there in fifteen” Kaji replied.

Shigeru then gave Asuka her phone back. “Thanks Asuka.”

“No prob” Asuka said back. “But if you really want to pay me back I could use three backstage passes for some of my friends next time you guys play a gig in town.”

“Sure thing” Shigeru said.

Asuka wasn't finished though and she added “… and you need to buy me and Shinji one of the fancy desserts they make up her later on.”

Shigeru chuckled an ok to that too as he watched her turn around and walk back to her post so she could go lead some other customers to their tables.

“I apologize for our hostess” Shigeru then heard from his pretty server. “She should not be asking for such things.”

“If she didn't ask for something I wouldn't be sure it was even Asuka” Shigeru smiled back. “It's good to see you again Rei. How's life going?”

“Very well” Rei answered back politely. Of the three main bridge bunnies Shigeru always came off as the one most concerned about her. Rei didn't really know why but she always had a feeling that he knew more about her than the other two. Or at least figured something out that he wasn't supposed to know. Despite his long hair and rocker attitude she knew he was a very astute person. He was much like Kaji in her opinion as while he gave off the appearance that he was not very serious and sort of a slacker that was probably his gambit in finding out the truth lying below. Just because he didn't look like he was paying attention didn't mean he wasn't. Plus Rei knew the guy was a certified genius. All the bridge bunnies were as no person of normal intelligence could handle the job they did. “Is there anything else you would like besides a beer?”

Shigeru opened up the menu that was on the table and gave it a quick glance. “You know, I could go for some sashimi right now. Which one's the best?”

Rei was probably one of the better people to ask this question to. When it came to food she had a very sophisticated palette now. She still ate all the other normal food but if you were to give her a preference she would take the high class meal every time. “The salmon roe is very good today. But I noticed we just got in a very fresh bluefin only fifteen minutes ago.”

Two very tempting dishes that Shigeru was having troubles choosing between. But after a long road trip he thought he deserved a special treat and he ordered both. “Why don't you bring me an order of the salmon roe with my beer and then some of the tuna with another beer in about fifteen minutes.”

Rei bowed politely and responded with a “Hai” and went to do what she was told.


Kaji's arrival fifteen minutes later set off a chain of events. What fun was it with only two guys? And soon a call was placed to Makoto and Fuyutsuki. But even that wasn't enough as since Aoba was in town a proper welcome home party was in order and the womenfolk were invited too. A very pregnant Maya and a Keiko toting Misato were more than pleased to be invited to an evening out of the house. And after Asuka and Shinji finished their shifts they too went upstairs to join the party. After all Shigeru did owe them a dessert, which got upgraded to dinner and a dessert since they were hungry. Even the elegant waitress serving them was drawn into the fray as there was no way Li Mei was going to deprive Rei of a chance to eat with her family and friends. This made some of the other servers very happy as now they got to wait on the rock star Shigeru Aoba. Unfortunately though with the large crowd you couldn't really hit on him and get anywhere because it was not a private situation.

As for the other patrons, most of them were trying to figure out who everyone was. The noticeable ones were Shigeru and Maya. Shigeru because he was a rock star and Maya because she was a regular on the news. She no longer did the investigative thing and instead of the station firing her for getting pregnant they actually promoted her to a permanent position on the news cast. She went from being the cutey that did investigative reports on Evangelions to the respectable housewife who did light and fluffy family stories at the end of newscasts. Personally she would have preferred if she got fired as this domestic diva thing they were trying to make her into was not her. She was a true blue techie just like her husband. She wouldn't have been a bridge bunny if she wasn't. The other person who was semi-recognizable was Professor Fuyutsuki. He was pretty well known in the learned circles. Makoto you could tell was the wife to Maya Hyuga, the good part about her new role at the TV station was that she got to use her married name. Now the other set of people was a mystery. They very much acted like a family while they ate but no one really knew who they were because none of them were famous. Well a couple people in the restaurant knew who that family was but they weren't saying anything.

Being recognized wasn't a big thing for those involved in this get together though. They were all having fun listening to Shigeru's regaling, and a touch nihilistic, stories of life on the road and being a rock star. Oddly enough not once did Asuka's old thoughts of being famous pop into her head. A life of fame, glory, and popularity simply could not compete against her current one. “So meet any interesting groupies?” Asuka sassed.

“Groupies are fun to look at” Shigeru answered. “But dangerous to touch.”

“Learn something the hard way?” Misato kidded.

“Not me” Shigeru said looking away. “But the tabloids might have a field day with Hajime in a few months or so.”

“He didn't” Maya said shaking her head.

“Oh yeah” Shigeru said back. “Some lady down in Tanzania is going to have a kid with the affinity for the drums.”

You can easily guess Asuka's response to that. “Baka!” And her response pretty much echoed what everyone else was thinking. “You didn't let any of your sleaze ball band mates make a move on any of my friends, did you?”

“Don't worry Asuka” Shigeru said back looking over at Misato and laughing. “No one has or ever will touch those girls.”

“What did you do?” Asuka asked looking at her guardian. It was obvious something had happened.

“Oh, I just told the guys to leave those girls alone. That's all.” Misato said in an act of diffusion.

Shigeru though wasn't going to let her get away with it and he laughed “She death threated them.”

“I did not” Misato rebuffed. “… Well at least not that far.”

“That's how Andy took it” Shigeru said back. “When Asuka's friends came back stage after the concert the most he did was wave hi to them. He was literally too scared to even talk to them.”

“A little over-reactive isn't that?” Asuka commented as he could have at least said something to Yuma and her friends.

“I told him he was but he's still afraid of you” Shigeru said answering Asuka's question and looking at Misato again.

“He saw something he shouldn't of, didn't he?” Fuyutsuki questioned.

Shigeru nodded yes to that and said “I'll tell you guys later” as he was aware of the rule in place right now. With Keiko understanding more things now talk of the old days was curtailed around her. There was no reason to let her learn of some of her mothers old facets of life or any of that other really bad stuff. Same went with her father, aunties Rei and Asuka, and her uncle Shinji. And in this case it was justified as Andy was a security guard who witnessed a terrifying sight during the Nerv invasion by the JSSDF. He saw when one of the invaders tried to kill Misato and Shinji with the result being Misato charging the guy and blowing his brains out at point blank range.

In an effort to talk about something happy again Shigeru shifted the conversation. “So how's your little one growing?”

“Kicking away” Maya grimaced.

“Just keep thinking only a couple more weeks” Misato said back as she was the only one at the table who truly understood that answer.

“I tell myself that every morning” Maya smiled back. Her kid was all of three weeks out.

“Have you picked out any names yet?” Kaji asked.

Makoto nodded yes. “We know it's going to be a girl so we decided on Ritsuko.”

There wasn't a person at that table that didn't know if that kid was going to be a girl that was going to be her name. There was just too much history there for it not to be. “I think that's a good name” Kouzou Fuyutsuki responded and then proposed a toast. It was to the new baby's namesake. “May she be at peace.”

Everyone raised their classes in toast to that. Even Rei did as she understood her old doctor much better now than she used to. They were very similar actually in they were both used as means to Commander Ikari's end. Dr. Akagi wasn't a mean person, just a very flawed one who had her emotions played with and twisted. There were days that Rei sat around and wondered if she had understood emotions better when she was of Lilith would she have become like Ritsuko?

After the toast everyone went back to general conversations with each other and some events were planned. The first of which was the weekly poker game was back on since they were all in town. And after that maybe they could even have a Christmas party or something as this was the first time in a long while all of them were going to be around during that time of the year.


*********** OOO ***********


It was a Friday and the classroom was busy with the buzzing of students finishing up an assignment. Mrs. Amano was one of those people who was big into her family history and as such one of the weekly assignments was to give a report on your family's history. You had to do the research, draw it up on a line chart poster board, and then give an oral presentation of your family's lineage. It was that last part that the students were buzzing about as they didn't like it that just about every weekly assignment had them standing up and giving some kind of report.

Of course this was on purpose as Mrs. Amano didn't want her students to leave high school without sound public speaking skills. It was also this reason that next trimester Rei was planning on taking as many Friday classes as she could to get out of this. Well that was if she able to as she noticed most college professors didn't have any classes scheduled for Fridays. (A/N: This is true. During my final three years at college I went without having classes on a Friday for every semester but one.)

“Okay class” she called out as she had given them enough time to prepare. “Let's get started. Do I have any volunteers to go first?” She in fact did. Unfortunately it was Asuka. Almost always Asuka was the first one up as she had no problems with public speaking. In fact the teacher had to put limits on the girl or she would go on and on and weed out the time for other students. Worse yet most of the other students would egg her on and ask questions as the more time she was up there the less time they would have to be. “All right Miss Sohryu, you can go first. But you got a ten minute time limit understand?”

“Ten minutes?” Asuka whined. “I can't even get through my mom's Japanese side in ten minutes, let alone my Prussian heritage.”

Mrs. Amano put her hand over her face and let out a little pout. It was obvious Asuka was excited about this assignment and that meant the girl would want to take her time and say everything she was thinking. That could literally take hours depending on the subject. “Okay, if I give you fifteen minutes do you promise not to go over twenty five?” In her head she was praying for thirty five as no matter what kind of maximum time frame she gave Asuka the girl would always go over.

“I suppose” Asuka sighed. “But that's going to make things tight. I have at least four centuries worth of Prussian Royal lineage to go through.”

“Four centuries?” the teacher questioned as that was a pretty far way back to go.

“If you want I can go six but then you will have to give me more time” Asuka responded seriously.

Despite the encouragement from the class Mrs. Amano said “Four is more than enough. Why don't you get started.”

And with that Asuka took off. She started with her Japanese heritage as she deemed that as the less important lineage as it only contained long lines of nobility but no royalty. This was sort of an insult to her classmates as she was in Japan so logically she should have been playing up that line of ancestry being the most important. But this was Asuka so logical thought was relatively absent. What she wanted to talk about the most with her Mother's Prussian heritage as it was full of kings and queens and everything else. And not only did she have the history written down this was the perfect excuse for her to wear her mother's necklace to school. This was physical proof of her heritage and something she was very proud of. But as important of a sign of her heritage as that necklace was the thing she treasured it for above all else was that it was a keepsake from her mother.

All in all Asuka took almost forty minutes to cover the bare minimum of what she wanted to say. “So any questions?”

“So the reason you're so stuck up is because you're royalty?” she got questioned.

“It's better than the peasant class your whole family is probably from” Asuka shouted back.

“That's enough” Hikari said as this was not the time or place for a friendly squabble between her best friend and her fiancé. Especially since she knew her fiancé was doing it so he could get out of giving a speech himself. He hated do stuff like this.

The teacher though did have a serious question. In all the time Asuka was talking all she covered was her mom's side. Not once had she even mentioned her father's. She was weary of asking any questions because she didn't want Asuka to go any longer than she already had but she asked anyway. “What about you father?”

Immediately she regretted asking that question as she saw the reaction from her class rep. Hikari had the total expression of someone telling another person that they had just made a colossal mistake.

And that the teacher did as Asuka cursed “That fucking asshole doesn't deserve to be reported on and can go to hell for all I care.”

“Language, please” Hikari implored as while she knew Asuka was very angry at her father she didn't need to be using such foul language in class.

“Sorry Hikari” Asuka told her. “You can ream me out later on but there's no way I'm going to hold my tongue when considering that asshole. After everything he did to my Mother, me, my former step mother, and my stepsister the fucker deserves every bit of vileness I can direct at him.”

What caught everyone's ear was the word stepsister. Asuka had never mentioned having one of those before. “You have a sister?”

“Duhhh…” Asuka said looking at the kid who asked the question like he was an idiot. Just because she didn't talk about her didn't mean you shouldn't have known she had a sister. Well at least this was Asuka's twisted and self centered logic speaking here. “She lives over in Germany with my old step mom.”

Mrs. Amano pounced on this statement as it was a way to get off the previous subject she had made the mistake of bringing up just a moment before. “I notice in the afternoons you are commonly speaking to someone in German on your computer. Is that her?”

“Uh huh” Asuka answered. “Well at least most of the time it is. I also keep in touch with one of my old professors from back home too.”

“I always wondered who you were talking to” the teacher said.

“It's ok that I do that, right?” Asuka then asked. Technically she knew she shouldn't be doing this during class but early afternoons were one of the few times when she could talk to her sister. There was everything from their busy lives to the time difference factored into picking this time.

“It's fine with me Miss Sohryu” the teacher responded. “Everyone here knows I'm more your babysitter than your teacher.”

“Why do I have the feeling Misato told you specifically to say something like that?” Asuka asked as that was an uncharacteristically sharp answer from her teacher concerning this subject.

“Go with your gut” is all the teacher would say while she smirked. Asuka needed to be put in her place from time to time and that was exactly what happened as Mrs. Amano then told her to go sit down and asked who wanted to go next. Like normal the next person up was Hikari. Due to her position as class rep she felt inclined to do this and would have gone first if she didn't know Asuka liked to do that. And as always her report was very good. Well researched, perfectly timed, and voiced very cleanly and clearly.

It was after the combo of Asuka and Hikari that things got tough. No one wanted to follow those two as they were by far the best public speakers in the class. And after wasting her breath asking who wanted to go next she went with her old standby. She randomly picked someone. Today it was Rei Ayanami.

Rei though answered her teacher with “It would work best if I gave my report after Shinji.”

The teacher gave Rei a little “Huh?”

“Just listen to her and don't ask questions” Asuka spoke up. “Trust me on this, the answer will only give you a headache.”

“Okay” the teacher said as this wasn't a big enough deal to hassle with. It was also handled rather easily as all she had to say was “Then why don't you go next Mr. Ikari.”

The teacher chuckled to her self as she could see Shinji mouth a sarcastic “Thanks a lot” at both Rei and his girlfriend. Rei looked absolutely unapologetic while Asuka winked at him. Mrs. Amano then watched as Shinji slowly made his way to the front of the classroom. When it came to public speaking Shinji was one of the students at the bottom of the list. He hemmed hawed and said “ummm” about a hundred times during his reports. He also was the exact opposite from his girlfriend as his reports were very short and the teacher always had to goad him to start.

“Any time you are ready” Mrs. Amano announced out as Shinji was taking a bit too long to set up his poster board.

“Uhhh… ok…ummmm…. My mom was Yui Ikari and ummm ….” And Shinji went on. Topic wise he did very good as he covered both sides of his family. He went further with his mother's side than his father's though but that was mainly due to some confusion about his great grandparents on that side. Shinji already knew this from before but his father's family was as mysterious as his dad was. Just getting to his great grandparents was a Herculean effort and involved a lot of computer research. It seemed like every generation changed their surname through the process of marriage or some other way of advancing the family in a hierarchal sense. His mother's side was a lot simpler as the Ikari name was easier to track and everyone on her side kept it. His mom was from a rather prominent merchant class family line but there was a little variety in it as he said his great great grandfather was Dutch.

“So that's why you have blue eyes” some said right after that. It had always been a big mystery to the class as Shinji looked perfectly Japanese except for that little trait.

“Well duh” Asuka said as Shinji having foreign blood in him should have been obvious by that fact.

Mrs. Amano gave Asuka a little look as she didn't want her belittling her classmates before she asked Shinji a question. “Was he part of the Dutch East Indies Trading Company?”

That was a pretty good educated guess as Shinji nodded yes. There was more to this than simply a marriage between trading partners though. His great great grandfather was also the one who integrated the Ikari family into SEELE. This fact didn't need to be public knowledge though and with that withholding of information Shinji ended his report and went to sit down before anyone else could ask any questions.

And since he was finished that meant it was Rei Ayanami's turn. Out of everyone's her report was going to be the shortest and she didn't even bother making a poster board. There was no point to it and the carefully fabricated, but sort of truthful at the same time, report she gave explained why. “As many of you know I was involved with Nerv at a very young age. Due to this fact and Nerv headquarters being destroyed during third impact I have no real information regarding my parents. The only thing I know about my past is that I am in some way related to Shinji's mother, Yui Ikari.” And that was Rei's report as she sat down before anyone could ask any questions at all.

“Umm Miss Ayanami?” The teacher started to say as she did in fact have some questions.

“Don't bother” Asuka spoke up stopping her teacher. “That's all any of us know. Somehow Rei and Shinji are related and we just leave it at that. Although I do have a question for the class. Is anyone here actually surprised by that?”

The reaction to that question was priceless in Asuka's opinion as both Rei and Shinji blushed heavily under the intense scrutiny of their classmates. The consensus though was they could believe it. Not only were their natures pretty similar, you could see a family resemblance between the two if you were looking for it.

“You did that on purpose” Rei accused a laughing Asuka.

“Yeah… I did” Asuka admitted.

“You're evil.”

“Yeah… I am” Asuka continued laughing. She then looked over at Shinji. “Sorry Shin-kun.”

“It's ok” Shinji grumbled. He didn't want the attention of the class on him but somehow he knew it was going to be this way. With Rei saying she had no parents but was related in a way to his mother, how could he not? But as embarrassing as this was it was still better than the truth. He didn't want to think about what people's reaction would be if Rei had said she was created from a cocktail of the angel Lilith's and his mother's DNA.


Asuka, Hikari, and Rei were sitting next to each other in front of their lockers, changing into their swimsuits. “That went better than I thought it would.”

Both Asuka and Hikari nodded a yes to that with Asuka adding on. “I figured the class would go ape shit after learning you and Shinji are related.”

“Not for something like that” Hikari told her. “The way you explained it, it was like you and Shinji are cousins. That's not really a big deal.” Hikari obviously knew more than the rest of her classmates. Mainly due to being around when Asuka teased Shinji and Rei in being alike. But while she knew more she didn't know the exact truth either.

“I suppose if you look at it that way” Asuka said.

“Then that is the way it will be” Rei said as she wanted as little reaction to the news as possible.

Yuma then came into the locker room and sat down by the three of them. She looked at Rei very closely with an expression of someone trying to figure something out. Asuka chuckled at this. “Looks like the news has hit the first years already. So Yuma, what's everyone saying about Rei and Shinji?”

Yuma got caught off guard by this and actually started blushing while she apologized to Rei for staring. Rei didn't mind at all and told her it was ok, and also to answer Asuka's question. She was sort of curious as to how much the story got twisted in its travels down the stairs. “Well…” Yuma started nervously. “I heard two different stories. One is that Rei and Shinji are really half brother and sister…”

“Nope” Asuka interrupted as that was not the story they wanted floating around, even if it was closer to the truth.

“…And the other one is that you two are cousins” Yuma finished.

“Go with that one” Rei told her.

Yuma nodded yes to that as she was going to do whatever Rei told her to. She then quickly got changed and followed the other three out to the pool for practice.

Once out on the pool deck Coach Kumara lined Rei right up next to her senior team manager. She looked at the both closely and said “I can see the resemblance.” Then she ordered her girls to get in the pool and start swimming hard as they had just won their meet yesterday and that kept their undefeated streak going. She had high hopes for the team this year. “Ok girls! Let's start out with some four by four sprints.”

“But we won the meet yesterday coach” one of the girls complained. “Why are we getting punished for it?” Four by fours were typically reserved for them doing something wrong so this girl wasn't the only one thinking that.

“Oh I'm not punishing you” the coach replied back. “I'm helping you all attain your true potential.”

“I love how you can say that with a straight face” Asuka laughed. “But I don't think one four by four will be enough to do that. I say four, maybe five, would get us in real good shape.”

“I have taught you well” Coach Kumara smiled evilly while the rest of the team glowered at their captain.

Asuka response to the dirty looks was “Fine if you guys want to be such big babies I'll give you an out. If any of you beat me in any of the four by fours we'll stop and you can have the rest of the practice off.”

That was a hollow offer as no one could do that. Not even Yuma could beat Asuka in a four by four. She could be ahead of her for the first two laps but by the third Asuka would have pulled even. And on the fourth Asuka would beat her by more than a body's length. But it was all Asuka would offer and the practice was started.

“Yo Shinji!” Touji called out from the stands signaling him to come over. And when Shinji was he asked “What's with the psycho captain routine? Asuka usually doesn't pull that shit on Fridays.”

“Coach told her to” Shinji answered. “Even though they won yesterday it was close. And according to her the team we face next week is even better.” There was a meaning behind this madness.

“Well try to convince the coach not to push them too hard. Me and Hikari are going somewhere tonight” Touji said back.

“That's Hikari and I” the coach corrected him as she overheard that comment. “I know I taught you better than that Mr. Suzuhara.”

“Sorry ma'am” Touji replied in a contrite way as he just got scolded by his old teacher. “Hikari and I have a date tonight.”

“That's better” Mrs. Kumara said. “And don't worry too much. After the four by fours I'm only going to make them do a long distance swim and then have them break into their groups for a half hour. Since they did win they will be allowed to end practice early.” After telling him that she added on as she spotted someone. “But if I were you I might be worried about him” while pointing at a certain boy.

And to that boy in question she quickly said “Don't even ask. If I've told you guys once, I've told you a hundred times. You're not allowed to interrupt my practices.” And then Coach Kumara turned her back on the kid and walked away.

The kid feebly threw out a “But it's important…” only to get no reply from her at all. He did get a reply from someone else though.

“You better not be looking for Hikari.”

“We need her help” the kid said to Touji.

Touji obviously disagreed with that statement as he stood up and stretched his arm around the guys back, and with a little force, guided him out of the pool area while saying. “Right after practice me and Hikari are going someplace. So she's too busy.”

“But it won't take long” the kid argued back.

“Sorry man but I've heard that one too many times and I'm sick and tired of sharing her with you dorks” Touji said back very directly and then pushed the kid out the door. “Whatever the problem, solve it your damn self!” And with an added cracking of his knuckles as he made a fist the conversation was over.

Down in the pool area Asuka had seen the tail end of what happened. The team had just finished up a four by four and she was letting the girls catch their breaths. “Your boy just strong armed Yoshiro and told him to get lost.”

“I didn't see anything” Hikari replied as her back had been turned to the whole event. “And besides, he's the head of the prom committee. Whatever the problem is, he can handle it.”

“Shirking your responsibility eh” Asuka teased. “You must have something good planned.”

“I will tell you the full details Monday” Hikari winked. “But it involves a hotel.” After practice was over she was going somewhere romantic with Touji for the weekend and that was that in her book.

That was a deliciously dirty answer. “I can't wait.” She then looked over at Rei. “You have any plans?”

While catching her breath Rei answered. “I'm working tonight and tomorrow. And then on Sunday Kensuke's coming over so I can help him study for the practice exams coming up.”

“You need any help?” Asuka had to majorly bite her lip as she wanted to add on “… or will I just be in the way while you two make out.” But she was being a good girl and was keeping quite about what she knew.

Like Asuka expected Rei answered with a “No. I think I can handle any questions he has by myself.”

“I'm sure you can” Asuka said in an innocent way before turning to Yuma. “How about you?”

“Shopping?” the precocious swimmer asked with expectant eyes.

Asuka thought for a second. “Well since I got nothing to do on Sunday sure.”

The second after she said that though she heard Shinji say to the coach. “I just remembered something. I need to make a quick call.” He knew Touji was going to be gone for the weekend and that Kensuke was going to busy on Sunday too so he had to make some plans quick. He figured a fishing trip or a ball game with Kaji would do the trick.

“Don't even think about it baka-boyfriend” Asuka called out as she knew what he was up to. “You're going with us since you have nothing else to do.”

“But Asuka…” Shinji started to whine as he didn't want to go shopping with her.

“No buts about it” Asuka quickly cut him off though. “I'm going to have money to spend so I need someone to carry my bags.”

The groan from Shinji was very much expected. Granted it was in vain as there was nothing he could do anymore. He just got roped into shopping whether he liked it or not.

Author's Notes: 

(A/N: And that is the end of chapter 26. So I finally confirmed it, Kensuke and Rei are a couple. But how did it happen?… Well you people are just going to have to keep reading as I already have plans on when Rei is going to spill the beans. And just a little warning, it won't be the next chapter as that one is going to be dedicated mostly to swimming. (Mean little bastard aren't I? :-p) In fact it may be several chapters away as I got other ideas I want to fit in before I divulge their story. But I will give you a hint, an open air hot spring with three naked girls is somehow involved. I Re-re-edited. Changed a few words around. Fixed some grammar. Broke up some of the bigger blocks of text. And expounded on some parts to make them clearer. Basically gave this a good once over to improve its quality.)

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