Throughout all time, people have fought over it, debated about it, died from the lack of it and
because of it; and never, in all of human history, from the Egyptians to the battles over Tokyo3,
has any human found a working definition of love. The emotion that has had more works of art
dedicated to it has never been defined. Most wise elders when asked respond with
something like, 'You'll know it when you feel it.' This has left quite a few confused young
people out there wondering if they were really in love, or was it something else. The number one
question, of course, is 'Does s/he REALLY love me?' Just about all of the wise elders get a
coughing fit at that point and leave the room. Two of the special children, within our safety and
future rest, were wondering the same thing.
Rei lay back on her bed and listened to the sounds around her. Her apartment was never quiet, the sounds of the city, trains, cars, and the dull clang of the building itself had always been here. Rei didn't really mind; the place where she was born had been noisy with people yelling strange things, and him. He had been there of course, just standing there; her first memory was of him watching her. When she slept, it was with the knowledge that he watched even then. There was both fear and comfort in that thought. Now her sleep was once more disturbed by the image of someone, like him, but not him. He was younger, and asked her to smile. And she felt like smiling. Even for him, her smiles were more because it was expected, not because she felt like smiling. And she felt like it just to see him smiling in return.
She rolled over onto her stomach, contemplating her pillow. Why do I feel this way? she wondered to herself, unaware that billions of others have asked the same question. Do I... care for him? Why do I? What is it that I feel every time he looks at me?
Rei looked over at the table, on it sat the glasses, her one possession. She had even taken them away from...
"I am sorry, Ikari-kun," she whispered, and indeed she was. For everything that she had done to him, for what he had done to him, and even what she will do, what she was ultimately made to do.
"I am a tool, made by Commander Ikari, to carry out his will, I am replaceable, expendable." Unbidden, the image came to her mind.
"Don't do that, don't say goodbye like that, it's just too sad." He had been crying, although she couldn't understand why. The tears mingled with the LCL. It was ironic, that; blood and tears, the sum of the human condition.
"If he cries for me, does that mean he cares for me? If he cares for me does that mean I am worth something? That I am not expendable?" She considered that for a second, for the first time in her life she realized something. "If he cares for me, I do not want to die, I do not want him to die. I... I will not join with Lilith, I will not do what Commander Ikari asks if it means that Ikari-kun will die." Having said this, Rei got up out of her bed. There were a few people she wanted to talk with.
She waited a few minutes, unsure on how to get his attention. Finally, he stretched and caught site of her, albeit, upside-down.
Smiling, he swiveled his chair to face her. "Ah, Ayanami-chan, to what do I owe this pleasure?"
Rei blinked, unsure of his meaning. Sensing her silent confusion, he tried again, "Was there a reason you wanted to see me?"
Rei nodded in understanding, "I wish to ask you questions," she stated.
Kaji spread his arms wide, "Ask away," he declared.
Rei nodded, then asked, "Does Shinji care for me?"
Kaji was the one caught off guard this time; he blinked a few times then recovered. "Well, that is the last question I would have expected from you, Rei-chan."
Rei shrugged, although you really couldn't see it. "I need to know," she said softly.
Kaji smiled, it wasn't one of the charming lady-killers that he tossed off at anyone who was female, but one that he had shared with Shinji a few times when the boy had come to ask him questions.
"And why do you need to know?" he queried, although he had a pretty good idea.
Rei's pale face started to get some red overtones.
"Oh," he chuckled, "I see." He considered her question for a moment, "I'm afraid that I cannot really help you with that one. You see, Shinji is more of a private person than even you are. I can guess that he does in fact like you, but I'm not sure if he likes you in that way."
Rei felt disappointment, although she had known that Kaji was unlikely to help her.
Kaji smiled again, "You should go ask Misato. If anyone would know, it would be her."
Rei nodded, but did not leave.
"Was there something else?" Kaji asked.
"Yes, what is love?"
Kaji laughed at this one, "I should have known that you would only ask the tough questions. Rei, that, I'm afraid, is something that no one can help you with. You'll just have to find out for yourself."
Rei nodded again, then left.
Kaji looked at the door she just walked through, Commander Ikari's doll has just gained some new thoughts, he won't be pleased. He mused.
"Does Shinji like me?" she asked.
Misato put down the report she was reading to regard Rei, "I think so, but I cannot say for sure. Have you asked him?"
Rei shook her head, "I... don't know how."
Misato sighed; it was going to be one of THOSE talks. "OK, Rei, no one can really tell you if he likes you, only he can. And you need to ask him about it. Hiding it won't really help."
"But what if he doesn't?" That was what had really been worrying Rei. If he didn't, what worth was she?
"If he doesn't, I'll beat his skull in," Misato joked, then realized that Rei had taken her seriously. "Rei, I didn't really mean it.
"So, are you going to ask him?"
"I do not know."
Misato sighed again. "Well why not? If you don't ask, you'll never know, and he might get taken by someone else."
"Perhaps," Rei said slowly, "That would be for the best."
"If Ikari-kun finds someone else, I, he would be better off."
Misato did something very unexpected at that moment; she came around her desk, and enveloped Rei in a hug. Rei had never been hugged, not even by him.
Misato drew back a bit to be able to look Rei in the face, "Yes?"
"Why did you do that?"
Misato smiled a bit; "To try to prove to you that he wouldn't be better off."
"I... understand," Rei said.
"No, you don't, not yet anyway. I have a feeling that you will though."
Misato released Rei. "Go ask him, Rei, trust me on this. Don't put it off or you'll never know, and you'll always wonder about it."
Rei nodded once, then left her office. There was one more person she needed to talk to about this before she went to Ikari-kun.
"Ikari-san," she said simply.
"Do you need anything?" he asked.
Rei nodded, and approached his desk. "I need to know something," she stated.
Gendou nodded, waiting.
"If I am loved, if I love, does that make me unique? Unreplaceable?"
Gendou reacted with surprise, "What?" he asked, not quite sure what he was hearing. "Who..." Ikari got control of himself. "Who is it that you love, Rei?" he demanded. Whoever it is, he is dead, he thought darkly.
"Ikari-kun," Rei stated simply.
Gendou reacted like he had been slapped in the face. "Shinji?" he asked harshly.
Gendou sat back in his chair, his mind racing. He couldn't get rid of Shinji, the dummy plug wasn't quite ready yet, and that would mean that Rei would be made the pilot of Unit-01. And if he did get rid of Shinji, Rei might not pilot.
Getting rid of this version of Rei wouldn't work as well. Sooner or later, her memories would come back, and then...
"What do you want to do?" he asked in an effort to buy time.
"I wish to join with Ikari-kun, he and I shall become one." If he cares for me, Rei added silently to herself.
Gendou was trapped for the time being, but there might be a way. "You may see him, Rei," he said simply. Perhaps if he just kept an eye on them, this could be turned to his advantage. Shinji was pathetically easy to manipulate, and if he could get Rei to do whatever Gendou wanted... In the end, it didn't matter who controlled her, just as long as she did what she was told.
Soon, Yui, he thought to himself. Rei nodded, and left. She had not expected success, now all that needed to be seen was how Shinji would act.
Picking up her cell phone, she dialed the number.
"Hello?" his voice came over the line.
"Ikari-kun," she said.
"Ayanami?" his voice held surprise and, she hoped, pleasure.
Then Rei found out that she had no idea what to say.
"Ayanami?" Shinji said, "Is there something wrong?"
Rei finally found her voice, "No, I... I wish to see you, to talk."
There was a long pause. "Uh... sure. Where do you..."
"Could you come here?" she asked.
There was even a longer pause, then finally, "I'll be right over."
Rei hung up the phone. Success, twice in one day, but the big challenge was yet to come.
Rei looked around her room; it suddenly seemed to be too dark, too dirty. She bent down and started to clean. She was still cleaning when her doorbell rang. Getting up, she went to answer it, dropping a bag of trash off at the door.
It was Shinji.
"Ikari-kun," was all she said.
Shinji was still wearing his school clothes, and had a troubled look on his face.
Rei stood back from the door, silently inviting him in. He took the invitation, wondering at how much cleaner the place seemed to be, and warmer, tighter, uncomfortable, and just what WAS that electric current in the air.
Rei sat down on the bed, here it came, "Shinji," she began. He started at hearing his name. "I need to know, do you, care for me?" The words tumbled out very quickly, as if afraid of the answer.
Shinji looked like he was afraid of the answer as well. There was something about Rei right now, it wasn't her, and she was acting like, like, well, Hikari did around Toji.
He sat down next to her on the bed, "I... I don't know," he admitted. "I'm not sure just what it feels like, and I'm not sure if I should."
Rei blinked, this was not something she had considered, "Explain," she said.
Shinji rubbed his face, "I'm not quite sure that I deserve to, do you understand?"
Surprisingly, she did, and remembering what Misato did, she leaned over and gave Shinji a hug.
Shinji stiffened, his breathing increased, and Rei could feel his pulse jump.
She whispered into his ear, "You deserve it, I love you, I wish to join with you, Shinji."
He jerked back, but Rei did not let him go, instead she looked him in the eye and said again, "Do you love me?"
Shinji thought about it, "I think I do."
Later Rei asked, "What is love, Shinji?"
"This," Shinji said, and showed her.
(No, they didn't do it; at least I think they didn't)
Disclaimer: Neon Genesis Evangelion © GAINAX/ProjectEva•TX•NAS. No infringement is intended.