Chaos Element: Book One
Chapter 1: Brand New Day
Disney/Buena Vista Studios own the concept of Gargoyles. Neon Genesis Evangelion and related characters are the property of Gainax Studios. They are used without the knowledge and/or consent of the rightful owners. The character of Kenshiro Maza is the property of the author.
Author's note: This story will in no way be canon. It will borrow elements from the original anime and manga, as well as the "Rebuild" movies. All of which are different from each other to begin with.
Sub-Commander Fuyutsuki entered his Superior's office. The vast room was dark, as usual, lit only by the painted Tree of Life that glowed eerily from the ceiling. Ikari was at his desk, reading a report from the computer monitor embedded in his desk. When Fuyutsuki reach the desk, Ikari looked up from the report.
"Have the Mazas left yet?" He asked folding his hands in front of his face.
"Hai," Fuyutsuki answered. "The Magi computers confirmed the same strange energy readings as when they first arrived." Ikari nodded. "Ikari, we have a problem."
The Commander looked to his chief aide. "What is it?"
"Dr. Daniel Jackson, Head of Archeology stationed in Jordan, has found another, more complete, copy of the Dead Sea Scrolls."
"How is that bad news?"
"While translating the new portions, he realized that our translation of the prophesy is in error. He sent us a copy and his notes." Fuyutsuki handed Ikari the file in his hand. Ikari took it and began reading the report. Fuyutsuki saw Ikari's expression change from curious to angry to worry in the span of only a few pages. Fuyutsuki had read the report before coming to Ikari. The implications of the new prophesy was nearly soul-crushing. The translation regarding the number of Angels had changed. From "A score less three messengers shall search for Adam." to "A score and three." If Dr. Jackson was correct, NERV now had to contend with twenty-three Angels. So far, only seven have appeared.
"What is this about a Chaos Element?" Ikari asked, bringing Fuyutsuki out of his thoughts.
"Hmm, I found that odd myself when I read the report." He reached up and scratched his chin, bringing what he remembered into focus. "If I understand correctly, this "Element" is to help the new messiah in his task."
"Born from the blood of a divine demon and a daughter of man." Ikari's eyes suddenly widen after reading the passage. "Masaka! (Impossible!)," he said in disbelief. He reread Dr. Jackson's report, and then looked at the report on his monitor. What were the chances he would have both of these at the same time? A germ of an idea began to form in his mind. "Has Dr. Jackson sent this report to the Seele Council?"
Fuyutsuki thought for a moment, wondering what Ikari was getting at. "Ei, I don't believe so. Why?"
"Good. I need to speak to Jackson before he does. And off the record as well."
Fuyutsuki nodded. He saw Ikari reaching for his phone. As the Sub-commander left the large room to make the arrangements to communicate with the archaeologist, he could have sworn he heard the Commander say, "Mysterious ways, indeed."
Two Years Later
The three children of NERV were walking down one of the many corridors of the Geo-front heading to the locker rooms after a long day of training. They had made plans with friends to go to a festival that was being held in one of the many parks throughout the city.
Since they became Eva Pilots there have been twelve angels to attack their city. There have been death and destruction, yet Tokyo-3 still thrived with industry and families. There was always construction happening around the city, from large factories to multi-story residential buildings. Tokyo-3 was actually larger and more densely populated than it was at the height of the Angel attacks.
"Which park are we suppose to meet Toji and the others again?" Shinji asked.
"Anta baka? (Are you stupid?)," Asuka asked with little heat in her tone. "Some friend you are. You make plans with friends and don't even know where to meet them." She grinned, showing she was only teasing.
"Sawada park, Ikari-kun," Rei answered softly. "The northeast entrance."
"Arigato Ayanami," Shinji replied. He grinned at the sour face Asuka made at Rei for spoiling the teasing of her boyfriend.
"Why do you always have to spoil my fun, Rei?" the redhead asked.
"It is how I have fun, Souryu," Rei replied, a ghost of a smile fluttered over her feature.
Asuka answered with a wet raspberry at her friend.
Shinji shook his head slightly. No matter how long he lived, he would always be amazed at how much the two girls in his life have changed since he first met them. When they were younger the girls didn't get along very well. Actually, Asuka didn't get along with many people her own age and Rei cared little about what others thought of her. Now they were friends, perhaps not the best of friends, but they got along. One of Shinji's friends, Kensuke, referred to them as "Fox-hole buddies".
Asuka was possibly one of the most opinionated, bossy, overbearing and egotistical woman he had ever met. Frankly, she was a pain. Even though she still had those traits, she seemed to have gained better control over the more negative aspects of her personality, allowing the caring, loving young woman he loved to emerge.
Rei was Asuka's polar opposite. She was quiet and introverted, and she rarely showed any sign of how she felt. There were many who thought she was cold-hearted and didn't care for anything or anyone. Honestly, it wasn't something she had control over. Even though Shinji's father was Rei's legal guardian he did little to raise her properly, practically forcing the girl to raise herself, isolated from those around her. Because of this, she never properly learned to portray her emotions. Thankfully, interacting with Shinji, Asuka, Misato, Rei greatly improved. In the two years Shinji had known her, Rei had virtually blossomed emotionally. Though only those who had known Rei for a long time learned to read the subtle expressions on her angelic face.
The girls weren't the only ones to change and grow as a person. Shinji had changed as well, for the better if anyone asked someone who knew him well. From a shy, frightened boy with a serious inferiority complex who feared letting people get too close, he became a young man with confidence in his ability. According to Asuka, he grew a backbone.
They had passed the main doors to the Eva docking cages, when Rei stopped suddenly. A perplexed expression was on her face.
"Ayanami?," Shinji asked. "Doushta no? (What's wrong?)"
Rei shook her head slightly. "I do not know," she answered. "An odd feeling. As if something is coming."
"Uh-huh. And what would that be, Wondergirl?" said Asuka, an impatient look on her face.
Suddenly, a *whump!!* echoed through the corridor, as an explosion of some kind rocked the hallway. The force of the explosion disrupted power to the area, plunging it into darkness. Klaxons blared as the emergency lights ignited, bathing the trio in harsh red light.
"Asuka! Ayanami! Are you two alright?," Shinji asked.
"I am fine," Rei answered, looking around.
"I'm o.k.," Asuka answered at the same time. "Where'd it come from?," she asked.
Shinji shrugged. "I'm not sure. But it sounded close."
"The explosion came from the docking cages," Rei said. She turned toward the doors, staring unblinkingly, almost as if through them. She began to head in that direction.
Asuka grabbed the other girl's arm. "You're not seriously thinking of going in there are you?" Rei didn't answer her. Her unwavering gaze fell upon Asuka. The look Rei gave her had always given Asuka the creeps. It was as if Rei didn't care about her own well-being.
"Someone may be injured inside," Rei replied coolly. She gently removed Asuka's hand from her upper arm and proceeded to activate the manual override to the door. Asuka and Shinji looked at each other for a moment before they went to the door, helping Rei pry the steel doors slowly open.
As the doors inched its way open, the smell of burned metal, ammonia and ozone rushed them, filling their noses and causing their eyes to tear. They could hear a low steady thrumming coming from the distance.
Asuka listened carefully as the wrestled the doors open, for any injured, hoping there would be none. A damage control team arrived moments later, followed by Misato and Dr. Akagi. The trio stepped aside, letting those trained to handle emergencies to do their jobs, but sticking around to help if the need arose. The team finally forced the doors opened.
What they saw inside shocked them all to the core. In all the years the pilots were a part of NERV, despite seeing and fighting Angels of varying shapes and sizes, the vision before them would easily top the list of strange happenings. Asuka knew immediately what it was, she and the others were seeing, even though she had never seen one before herself. She knew of it only through her studies in Germany.
A Einstein-Rosen Bridge. A theoretical rip in the space/time continuum, believed to be able to connect two points that were great distances apart. If Asuka remembered correctly, her astrophysics professor said there were also theories that such a vortex could connect one reality to another. It looked like a whirlpool made of blue and purple fluid tilted onto its side. Mist of the same colors emanated from the event horizon, the absolute edge of the phenomenon.
"What is it?," Misato asked.
"Something is wrong," Rei said quietly. No one seemed to have heard her.
"It's a Wormhole," Asuka answered. "We need to get to the Evas. It might be an Angel attack."
At that moment, an unearthly wail came from the vortex. A brilliant flash blossomed from the center of the whirlpool, temporarily blinding everyone, and then disappeared.
Asuka blinked her eyes clear. Half expected some monstrosity from her darkest nightmare to tower over her ready to wreak havoc on the base. Instead, a single figure stood a distant away on the docking bridge, the mist from the vortex clung to him, obscuring her view. After a few seconds the colored fog dispersed. She saw a tall figure in the distance with short, black hair. His clothing was torn and tattered, as if he had been in a car wreck. An odd brown cloak hung half off his shoulders. Blood flowed down the side of his face from a cut above his hairline, and his right arm drooped loosely from his side.
"Where...?" The unknown person said quietly in English. He took two unsteady steps forward, his eyes suddenly rolled up into his skull and he fell forward. A loud, wet *thud* echoed within the massive room as his head hit the metal floor.
Misato and Ritsuko stared at each other for a few moments. They nodded to each before they took a tentative step towards the fallen figure. Misato drew her automatic from its holster under her jacket, aiming it at the unconscious intruder. Everyone else was ordered to stay back.
Misato approached slowly, weapon aimed towards the head. When she got within five meters, she got a clear view of the figures face. A twinge of familiarity formed in her mind. 'Where have I seen him before?' she thought before the answer came to her. "Nic?"
She saw the look of recognition on Ritsuko's face. She quickly holstered her weapon and ran the rest of the way to the man on the floor.
The doctor turned to the team at the door. "Get a medical team down here. Now!" She focused her attention on the gargoyle. "How the hell did Maza get here?"
Misato helped Ritsuko turn him over onto his back. Getting a better look she realized it wasn't Nic. He was too young, couldn't be any older than sixteen. And what she had thought was a cape of some kind was actually a pair of large leathery wings protruding from his back. She looked up and saw the same realization on her friends face. "Do you think...?"
"I wouldn't doubt it," Ritsuko replied. She checked the young man's pulse. "Thready. Whatever that thing was, it gave him a hell of a beating. Rei, get me a first aid kit from one of the entry plugs. Someone find out what's taking the med team so damn long!"
Moments later, Rei returned with a large first aid kit. She set the kit down and began assisting Ritsuko, handing the doctor, with uncanny perception, what she would need without being told.
The med team finally arrived. At first they faltered, not expecting to find a person with wings and a tail to be the patient, but a few choice threats from Misato brought them around. They quickly stabilized the injured gargoyle and placed him on a gurney, wheeling him towards the infirmary as fast as they could, partially out of fear of Misato.
A week later Misato walked silently besides Rei as they headed to the secure room where the gargoyle was being held while he recuperated from his "voyage". She was perplexed by the gargoyle. More specifically, how did he arrive in Tokyo-3?
They stopped in front of the door flanked by two large, imposing guards. They saluted the Major, who returned the salute. The soldier on the right turned and punched a five-digit code into a keypad next to the door. "Has he started talking yet, or is he still giving everyone the cold shoulder?" Misato asked the soldier on the left.
"He's still keeping quiet, Major," Sgt.Gado replied. "He's cooperating with the doctors, but he won't reply to any of their questions. Just glares at them."
Misato nodded. "Yeah well, I'm sort of hoping bringing someone his own age might help bring him around." She gave Rei a hopeful smile, who returned it with a faint one of her own.
Rei had been wondering why the Major had asked her to accompany her to this... she wasn't sure if interrogation was the right word.
She heard the faint hum of the magnetic seal of the door die, unlocking. Sgt.Gado turned the handle of the door, opening it into the room; Gado closed the door behind him as he entered the room with Misato and Rei as a safety precaution.
That was another thing Rei found curious about the whole situation. There was little doubt as to who the gargoyle was; D.N.A. testing confirmed he was Nicodemus' and Miyabe's son. So, why all the security for a single, injured individual?
The room was typical for the infirmary wing, a pale blue-green color and rows of fluorescent lighting suspended along the ceiling. Up against the far wall a single bed with a night table and chair on either side. The gargoyle wasn't there. She looked to her right after hearing an annoyed sigh. The gargoyle was sitting on the long windowsill, one leg dangled loosely over the edge, his long flexible tail wrapped around his calf.
Rei noted his color had improved since she first saw him. His arm was in a sling; apparently his shoulder had become dislocated at some point.
Their eyes made contact, for a brief moment her heart increase in tempo. She saw that his eyes were a deep green color much like his mother's and his ears seemed to be a bit longer than his father's if she remembered correctly. Except for the wings and the shape of his eyes, exactly like Miyabe's, he was the spitting image of Nicodemus.
He broke eye contact and focused on the woman besides her.
"I'm Maj.Katsuragi Misato, and this is Ayanami Rei. We knew your parents," Misato said, trying to sound as non-threatening as possible. "How are you doing this morning? Feeling any better? Is there anything you need?" The gargoyle looked at Misato for a few moments, glancing periodically in Rei's direction. He didn't answer. "Listen," Misato continued, "we're not going to hurt you. We just want to help." Still no answer. Misato kept trying to reassure the gargoyle they meant him no harm.
Watching him, Rei had the sudden impression he was studying them, trying to ascertain if they could be trusted.
"Look," Misato began; obviously frustrated by all of the non-answers she was receiving. "Can't you at least tell us your name?" No answer. Misato let out a low curse. Rei found it mildly amusing to see Misato's jaw visibly tighten as she crossed her arm, her fingers drumming lightly on her bicep in annoyance.
"Maza-kun," Rei said softly, assuming he used his father's surname instead of his mother's, "Onamae wa nandeska?" He turned his eyes on her. Again their eyes made contact, and for a moment, it felt as if she was the only person in the room with the gargoyle. She felt suddenly awkward speaking to him. She knew if she spoke again she would probably stumble over her words. Thankfully, she did not have to continue.
"Kenshiro," he answered. He hopped off from his perch, paused for a moment as if deciding something, then bowed slightly to them. "My parents told me a lot about you Maj.Katsuragi." He turned to Rei again. "Rei, right?"
She nodded; fighting down a blush she felt was trying to form. "Hai," she replied softly.
"I'm assuming you're going to finally start cooperating with us, Kenshiro-kun?" Misato asked, a knowing smile on her face. "We really just want to help you."
"Yeah, I'm sorry about that. You can't really blame me for not answering any questions. I mean one second I'm home, the next thing I know, I'm in a hospital bed and everyone's talking Japanese." He paused for a moment, letting out a sigh. "For some reason my memory is kinda fuzzy. I thought I was drugged or something, that's why I wasn't answering any questions."
"Souka. Understandable, I guess," The Major replied. "Do you have any idea how you got here? What caused that vortex?"
Kenshiro thought for a moment, as if sorting out his memories. A look of confusion slowly formed over his features. "I... I'm not sure. I don't remember. I think it...," He looked to Misato; panic began to take over his features. "I don't know!"
"It is alright Maza-kun," Rei said, trying to sound comforting but not quite succeeding. "We will help you if we can." The panic in his face lifted, but worry remained.
"She's right Kenshiro-kun. NERV will do whatever it can to help you." Misato placed a comforting hand on the young gargoyles shoulder. After a moment, he let out a relaxed sigh this time.
He seemed to accept his situation swiftly. He didn't have much of a choice really. Rei assumed, going by the older gargoyle's description of his world, he had learned to accept the unusual quickly. With all the examples of magic that existed in his world, it probably helped to keep his sanity intact. Those who worked for NERV learned the same skill rather quickly.
It was with this acceptance, Shiro ("Grandpa's the only one who called me Kenshiro.") decided he would help NERV in any way he could, while they tried to figure out how to return the young man home.
Fuyutsuki stared out into the conference room filled with reporters. He and his team had gone over their presentation a number of times, trying to anticipate every foreseeable outcome. Deep down, he knew that was impossible, all it took was human nature to assert itself, and an unpredicted question from a reporter could ruin all they had worked to keep secret. Ikari was against this at first, but logic and basic consideration for their "guest" was all it took to convince Gendo this was the best course of action.
The reporters were abuzz the moment Fuyutsuki, flanked by Dr. Akagi and another scientist entered the large room. Light bulbs and more than a dozen reporters from several television stations and newspapers yammered questions all at once.
"Sub-commander Fuyutsuki, can you..."
"Fuyutsuki-san, is it true..."
"What is NERV doing about the..."
The three NERV officials ignored the questions launched at them. The scientists calmly took seats placed on the raised platform on either side of the podium. Fuyutsuki waited a few moments as he adjusted the position of the microphone. "Ladies and gentlemen," he began, making a sitting motion to the crowd. Eventually, they stopped their volleys and settled down. "Arigato. First of all, I would like to thank you all for coming today. I'm sure there has been much speculation on the nature of this press conference. Before we continue, I'd like to introduce Dr. Akagi Ritsuko, Head of Project E and Dr. Josef Sevarius, NERV's leading researcher in Genetics and Xeno-biology.
"Xeno-biology?" a reporter from Osaka asked. "Nanda?"
"Dr. Sevarius?" Fuyutsuki redirected the question to the balding, middle-aged man sitting on his left. Sevarius rose to his feet, taking Fuyutsuki's place at the podium.
The man coughed to clear his throat. In a pronounced German accent he spoke into the microphone. "Xeno-biology is the theoretical study of life from beyond this planet. In other words, alien life."
"Do you mean the Angels, Doctor?" another reported asked.
"That's part of it," he answered. There was a murmur from the reporters. "Until recently the thought of extraterrestrial life was nothing more than a mental exercise. The coming of the Angels proved that to be true." He paused for a moment to let that sink in. "That, I'm afraid, was how the general population discovered other-worldly life. However, twenty years ago, the American government found out differently."
"Are you saying the Angels came to Earth before?" The other reporters seemed to take this as a cue to erupt into a frenzy of questions.
"Ladies and gentleman!" Fuyutsuki shouted getting up from his seat. "All of your questions will be answered after Dr. Sevarius' presentation." Things were starting to get out of hand. He could see some of the reporters were getting agitated from others screaming questions over them. Fuyutsuki finally regained some semblance of order after threatening to cancel the remainder of the press conference.
When the crowd of journalists was sufficiently calm Sevarius continued. "As far as NERV can tell," he coughed to clear his throat again. "The Angels that have been attacking mankind have never been on this planet before. However, approximately twenty years ago a craft of interstellar origin landed in the eastern most part of Washington State in America." Sevarius could tell the reporters wanted to burst into questions again, but each managed to suppress their urges and waited for him to finish. While Dr. Sevarius continued his speech on how the government established contact with the occupants of the craft. Half a dozen video monitors, set up around the large room, came to life.
"The individuals you see on the monitors are the occupants of the craft." The televisions flickered to life and images of eleven humanoid figures appeared. There were six males and five females. They were of various shades of blues, reds and lavender. One of the males appeared elderly, with iron-gray hair and a yellowish cataract obscuring his left eye. Most of them were quite tall, except for one male and all but one of the females. They all had long tails that reached the floor. Each but one had a set of large bat-like wings.
Sevarius barely manage to hold back a chuckle of amusement at the awed faces of the reporters. The images were admittedly quite impressive, created by the best programmers NERV had. It took them less than three months to create the footage using only written descriptions and file footage of Nic Maza and Miyabe Tendo. How they managed such a feat, he had no clue.
"Though their language is nearly impossible for humans to articulate, they managed to learn the English language quite easily." The footage showed one of the males, the only one who didn't have wings, speaking into the camera as an unseen speaker asked him questions. "This male, given the code-name 'Nicodemus', was the first among them to master a human language. When asked what his species was called, he told the interviewer there was no actual translation. But the closest human word was 'Gargoyle'."
Sevarius continued with the cover story, spinning a web of falsehood like a master story teller. He told the reporters, the planet the Gargoyles were from, Wyvern, had been attacked by the Angel. As far as this group knew, they were the only survivors.
"This brings us to the second reason for this press conference." Sevarius' speech was winding down. He knew he had their complete undivided attention. "As with all species, sentient or otherwise, there is a call to propagate. To be "fruitful" as it were. As a result, three children were born about sixteen years ago. Of the three, only one was found to have the right genetic and psychological make-up for NERV's needs." Sevarius paused as interns went around the room passing out copies of a document, which the reporters scrambled to snatch up. There were murmurs as the audience read the report.
"To elaborate on the report, my colleague, Dr. Akagi Ritsuko will explain. Dr. Akagi."
Ritsuko rose from her seat, taking Dr. Sevarius' place at the podium. "Handed out to you is a report from the Marduk Group. In case you didn't know, the Marduk Group is a research team made up of skilled geneticists and psychologists created to find those individuals who are capable of piloting the Evangelion Units.
Two months ago the Commanding Officer of the base where the Gargoyles reside, requested the young gargoyles be tested. Of the three, the one named Shiro was found to have the desirable characteristics to be a pilot. Last week he was officially recognized as the Forth Child." Ritsuko looked to the side door and nodded. A NERV security officer opened the door and ushered Shiro in.
The young Gargoyle was tall, standing almost equal to his security escorts. He had straight black hair that covered his forehead. His ears were long and tapered reminding a number of the journalists of a Vulcan. Dark Green, almond-shaped eyes complemented a pleasant looking face that seemed agitated by all the attention he was getting. He looked as if he wanted to be very far away at the moment. His wings were folded around his shoulders, giving the impression of a leather cape.
Cameras flashed and reporters screamed questions that were unintelligible due to the noise of dozens of reporters yelling at once. Shiro flinched and blinked repeatedly at the flash bulbs exploding before him. He made his way to the dais, flanked by two guards.
Ritsuko placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "Just relax, Shiro-kun," she said just loud enough only he could hear her. "Just stick to the cover story and you'll be fine. It'll only be for a few minutes. Just answer a few questions and then we'll take you back to the Geo-front."
Shiro looked between Ritsuko and Fuyutsuki. The Sub-Commanded gave him a noticeable smile and a nod of confidence. Shiro took a deep breath, held it for a moment then released it. "I'll do my best, Doc."
"That's all we ask," Ritsuko replied, before taking a seat besides her superior.
He turned to the reporters. Staring at them as they stared at him, he collected his thoughts. I'd rather fight a squad of Quarrymen right now. "He-Hello. My name is Kenshiro Maza..." He turned his head to see if Akagi and Fuyutsuki didn't abandon him. He was relieved to see they were still there. He again faced the reporters. "I was asked to help NERV protect Earth from the Angels."
There was a brief rumble from the reporters. One of them, a young man that looked like he was barely out of college rose to his feet. "Maza-kun, why... why do you want to do that? I mean no disrespect but you're not human."
Shiro flinched internally. He spent a good portion of his life being feared by humans that didn't know him back home. They just saw his wings and tail and usually ran. But now he was being asked, essentially, why he should be trusted. He wanted to leave the room. He wanted to be home. He wanted to be back with his family, his clan.
The thought of his clan reminded him of something. When he was small he had asked Brooklyn why they patrolled the city, when a good portion of the people was afraid of them. Brooklyn smiled down at him and answered.
Shiro smiled lightly at the memory. He looked at the reporter. "Simple," he said. "An uncle told me something that always stayed with me.'A Gargoyle protects the castle and everyone in it'. I was born on Earth, this is my home. And as the saying goes: A man's home is his castle."
Asuka, Hikari and Rei were seated together in their class during the lunch period. Asuka was standing while Hikari and Rei were seated on either side of Rei's desk. On the desk was a large manila folder that Asuka had just dropped.
"What's this?" Hikari asked looking to Asuka.
"Just some pictures of the gargoyle that's going to be coming to class tomorrow," she answered. "I figured I can make a little extra spending money selling these to the girls in school."
Hikari looked at Asuka with a dumbfounded expression. "You can't be serious, Asuka."
The Red-head smirked at her best friend. "Listen Hikari, if those idiots could make money selling pictures of any cute girl, why can't I do the same thing with the guys?"
"But... He isn't human."
"You just haven't seen the pictures," Asuka responded poking the folder with her finger. She opened the folder and handed Hikari half of the pictures. Asuka chuckled seeing the wide-eyed look on Hikari's face. The pictures were that of Shiro at various places within the Geo-front. Some were of him speaking to NERV personnel or of him in the gymnasium. Asuka guessed those would be fairly popular. There were even a few of him gliding within the Geo-front.
"I had to use a computer to blow up those pictures of Maza flying," Asuka said, answering the unasked question. "That's why they're a little blurry."
"Won't he get mad if he finds out about this?" Hikari asked, flipping through the photos. She saw one photo showing Shiro landing from a flight in what looked like a field that she thought looked kind of cool.
"I'm doing him a favor."
"He's shy around a lot of people," Asuka explained.
"I do not see how this will help with his shyness, Souryu," said Rei, speaking for the first time.
Asuka made an annoyed face at the First Child. "It's simple. Even you can't deny he's cute. Ne, Hikari?
"I... I guess," she answered, blushing just a bit.
"I figured, if the sooner he sees people aren't freaked out by him, the better." Asuka smiled. "And I'll make a little money for my effort."
"That was the reason for the press conference last week." Rei picked up the photos Hikari had put down and began sorting them.
"That can only do so much, Ayanami," Asuka replied. "A press conference is fine for someone on the other side of the country who'll probably never meet him. But, what about the students in school? We'll be seeing him almost every day."
Rei looked at Asuka, and then nodded. "That makes sense." She accepted the logic, and continued her sorting. Rei paused on one photo of Shiro and Shinji. From the looks of things, Rei guessed Shinji had said something humorous, because Shiro was laughing openly.
Asuka noticed the pale girl was looking intently at a photo of Shiro and Shinji talking. Almost as if she was trying to guess at the conversation. Could it be Rei held some sort of interest?
Nah! Asuka thought to herself. Not Wonder-girl
As Hikari looked over the remainder of the pictures, Asuka had a monologue going, explaining how she was able to take the photos without Shiro noticing.
The Class Rep suddenly gasped when she reached the last few pictures. They were of Shiro in a locker room and he appeared to be putting on a dark green and black plug suit. The photo seemed to have been taken when the suit was just over his hips.
"Asuka How did you...?" Hikari put the remaining photos face down on the desk. She quickly looked around to see if anyone was nearby. She let out a small sigh of relief when she saw no one else in the classroom. She didn't want to risk some kind of strange rumor begin about the three of them.
Rei reached over and looked at the photos. She blushed lightly before placing them in the folder.
"I snuck into the boy's side of the locker room just after Shiro went in to try on his plug suit for the first time." Asuka had a slight grin on her face as she spoke. She began fanning herself with her hand as if the air-conditioned room suddenly became warmer. "It looks like I got there a little late."
Hikari blushed again. "You are so bad, Asuka."
A silver Toyota pulled up in front of the school gates. The passenger of the small car stared out the window. Not at the multi-story building he would be staying in for the next few hours, but at the dozens of students milling around, waiting until the last possible moment before having to enter the school. Shiro was suddenly having second thoughts about attending. He had been told NERV would provide tutors for him if he decided not to go to school, but Maj.Katsuragi insisted he should attend, telling him being hole up in an underground military complex all the time could not be good for his mental health.
"Don't tell me you're having second thoughts, Shiro-kun." The driver, Maya Ibuki, said to him.
He turned back to the Lieutenant before answering. "I'm... I guess I'm still nervous, Maya." He gave her an embarrassed smile. "I've never went to school before. I'm not exactly sure what to do."
Maya smiled at him. "You'll be fine. Just be yourself. I'm sure you'll make plenty of friends." She patted his upper arm. "Besides you're not going to be alone. Shinji, Asuka, and Rei will be there to help you out. So don't worry about it."
Shiro smiled shyly suddenly at the mention of the First Child. Rei was the first of the pilots he had met. Memories of a particular conversation came to him. He wished he could show how he felt for her without things blowing up in his face. As much as it seemed the people of this world accepted him, he wasn't sure how much they would accept.
The sound of a school bell brought him out of his thoughts. He looked to Maya again before speaking. "I guess I'll see you later?"
"Of course," she replied, gently pushing the larger teenager out of her car. "I'm your guardian after all. Someone's got to look out for you. Now get going before you're late on your first day."
"Hai, Onee-san," he mocked the brunette, as he opened the door of the car and exited. He chuckled hearing a raspberry come from the driver's side.
He suddenly felt multiple sets of eyes on him. He looked towards the school and saw that a good portion of the student body was still in the courtyard, watching him. His keen hearing picked up scraps of conversations.
"He's bigger than I thought..."
He tried to ignore the few insults, knowing they would happen no matter what NERV did to assuage any fears.
"Shiro-kun!," Maya called him. He turned around to see her standing beside her car holding up her cell phone towards him. "Say Cheese! It's your first day of school, cheer up." He couldn't help but smile as Maya snapped a picture of him standing at the gate of the school.
He waved good-bye to Maya as she drove off back to the Geo-front. He turned back to the school, and was surprised to see the Eva pilots standing by the main entrance waiting for him. His smile grew wider when he saw Rei motioning him to hurry.
"C'mon, Bat-boy," Asuka yelled. "I'm not going to be late because of you!"
"Alright, Red, I'm coming."
Request for help: If anyone out there is willing to beta this story for me please e-mail me and I'll send whatever chapters I have written so far. Thanks in advance.