"...... At which point I fired several rounds into the Angel, killing it. Upon its death, the illusionary prison it had trapped us in vanished and I found myself in my entry plug before losing consciousness."
There was the slow rumbling of machinery and quiet melody of Mozart in the air as Rei sat in the Commander's office. Under the low lights and intimidating atmosphere, the blue-haired girl had slowly outlined her experience to the bearded man seated behind his desk, sparing no details. True to the secrecy meant for NERV, he wrote nothing down and made no recordings.
In fact, the commander remained totally motionless and silence until she had stopped her story. When she'd ended her recollection, he finally spoke, "Have you spoken to your fellow pilots about this?"
"No sir," replied Rei at once.
"Their official reports were taken by Major Katsuragi yesterday evening," he said simply, picking up a clipboard that included their statements. "Their recollections of the event were fragmented and sketchy, reporting very little beyond vague images and feelings. Soryu actually suggested that the entire experience was a dream."
Ayanami said nothing as Commander Ikari said in a more calculating voice, "What is your opinion of the way they handled themselves in the Angel's prison?"
"Poor, yet I think that evaluation may be unfair," replied the blue-haired pilot bluntly. "I was only able to overcome the effects due to my....."
Rei trailed off, seeking for the proper word to describe her condition. The Commander helpfully finished for her, "Uniqueness. But if the Angels are now attempting to attack us mentally as well as physically, I think it would be worth training the pilots to resist psychological contamination."
The Commander sat in silence once more, his mind ticking away behind his orange glasses. When he finally spoke, it was with a tone of finality. "Having communicated with an Angel the way you did, what do you feel their understanding of humanity is?"
Clearly this question required Rei to speculate to come up with an answer. Rei felt strange when her situation was not in clearly defined terms or needed her own personal input, especially on such a matter as this.
It was only after pondering the question that she replied apologetically, "I am sorry, sir. I found myself deeply confused by the behavior exhibited by Ikari and Soryu during our abduction. The psychology of small children is not something I am experienced with... I suppose, given how easily the Angel was able to manipulate them to its wishes, she understood their behavior quite well."
And we grow no closer to understanding them, thought Rei in her mind. She was certain the commander was thinking the same, as he sat pondering, slouched in his desk for a few moments more. At last he began to rise, "Your descriptions of the Third Child while under the Angel's influence do certainly sound like his behavior when he was very young."
"I thought he was.... cute."
The word wasn't a familiar one to Rei's tongue, and when she said it, Commander Ikari's movement paused. Unfamiliar with emotions as she was, the girl had trouble reading his expression. At last he continued on his way, rounding his desk to walk beside the pilot. "I must go and oversee the repairs to the Evangelion's outer armor. You may go home now, Rei."
"Yes, sir. Thank you."
"Here...." A clipboard of Ikari and Soryu's accounts on the event was placed in the pilot's hands and the pair neared the door. "Eventually you will be asked what your memories of the experience were. Read these reports and give a similar, if distinct account. If possible add credibility to the possibility that the event was a hallucination. Leave no definite hint that you or the other pilots were ever in communication with the Angel."
Rei nodded and toned off another "Yes, sir," before bidding farewell to the Commander and heading down the corridors. She was able to find a secluded spot around a corner where she was able to quickly look over her fellow pilots' accounts and formulate an experience of her own. Once she'd finished, she deposited the clipboard into the nearest waste bin before taking off toward the exit.
"Well, it's the second time in a row, so there's got to be something wrong."
"Third, actually. It happened when they were in the hospital as well."
The voices of Misato Katsuragi and Kaji Ryoji reached the girl's ears. It didn't phase her of course, even when they entered her vision. She was quite prepared to walk past them until Misato placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Rei, hang on a sec...." The girl was turned at once to face the purple-haired major, who asked, concerned, "Hey, how've you been doing since the Angel attack?"
"Fine," replied Rei. She'd discovered that the word "Fine" was typically enough to satisfy any inquiries about her well-being, schoolwork, or most other subjects.
"Have you had any uh..." A surprising blush came upon the adult's face as she inquired, "Accidents? Y'know, since it happened?"
"My motor coordination has been unaffected by the experience," explained the girl. "Thank you for asking."
With a bit of a chuckle, the Major grumbled out, "Not quite what I meant."
"She means have you wet your bed since it happened?" said Kaji in a much blunter tone of voice.
Rei hesitated to answer, since she was unsure what "Wet the bed" could be referring to. Certainly Katsuragi was asking about it since Ikari and Soryu were experiencing the same thing, whatever it was. Rei was certain that her sleeping patterns, and all other activities involving her bed, had remained unchanged since the attack.
Given the habit of involuntary urination in the Angel's prison, she began to wonder if that referred to urinating while unconscious. Thinking that might be the answer to go with, and sensing impatience from the two adults, Rei finally answered, "No."
"Well, that's just great...." noted the Major, clearly annoyed. "I guess that's not it... You don't think they're sick, do you?"
"I talked to Shinji earlier, he seemed fine," explained Kaji. "Wanna talk to Ritsu?"
"I guess, though I can guarantee they're not gonna want to tell her about it," added Misato with a shrug. "I have to do something, the laundry bills with the three of us were already too high."
With a teasing grin on his face, Kaji asked, "What're you going to do, diaper them?"
"If they both spill on me for one more night, you bet I will, even if I have to chase them down," added the woman, determined. "Asuka's been acting... well, easier lately, so might not be that tough."
That was all Rei heard as she'd already taken to walking away from the pair by that point. She left them behind and crossed to the mass escalator that would begin her trip to the surface. Once the metallic lift took her up to the higher levels of the Geofront, two figures came into her field of vision as she arrived at the top. Shinji and Asuka were standing by a nearby corridor, speaking to each other.
Having not seen the other two pilots since the attack, Rei was content to simply wait until Monday when they had school to see if they were injured, but as long as they were here there was no harm in speaking to them. Particularly if they were suffering some after-effects from the experience.
She stepped toward the other teenagers, who seemed to be pouting at one another. Unused to greeting others, she did put an awkward effort into stating, "Hello."
"Oh... Hi, Rei," said Shinji happily, a light smile coming to his face. "How're you doing?"
"Fine," came the answer. But, feeling she wanted to actually discuss things with Ikari's son, she found herself struggling for a way to continue it. Eventually she settled on, "Yourself?"
"Umm... Fine, yeah...." A blush on his face as he spoke, Shinji soon asked, "Uh... I haven't s-seen you since the angel fight..."
"Yes," replied Rei simply. "I'm afraid my memories of the event are unclear. What do you recall from it?"
"Not much..." Asuka had apparently invited herself into the conversation, however grumpily. A hand went to the redhead's temple and her eyes unfocused, as if looking at something unimaginably distant, "I remember... There was like a giant and.... painting or something.... I was wearing my yellow dress...."
The German teen trailed off at that, and Rei took the opportunity to speak up, "I recall very little besides soft colors and stumbling around as if paralyzed. I would surmise that the experience was some form of hallucination made while under the angel's mental attack."
"That's what I said!" Snapping out of her distant daydreams, Asuka stuck her tongue out at Shinji before gloating, "See? I toldja I was right! It never happened."
"Alright, already.... Don't be mean...." whined out Shinji with a pout.
Odd behavior from the pair of them, thought Rei to herself. Typically, Asuka's scolding of Shinji would be accompanied by a swat to the head.
That was quite worrying, in fact. At first, Ayanami was very happy to hear her comrades had been declared free of any mental contamination from the Angel following its effects. Perhaps that decision was pre-mature. If so, these minor, seemingly harmless infantile actions might be hinting at something far more serious.
"Um... Rei?" The blue-haired girl was called out of her thoughts by Shinji, "Look, M-Misato's working late tonight, and I've got too much food at the house so uh... D-Do you want to maybe come over for dinner?"
Going to the apartment would be a fine way to monitor the other pilot's behavior further. And some steps had to be taken on that front, since Misato might have little knowledge of what to watch for in their mannerisms. And, being unaffected, it was clearly Ayanami's job to look into the subject.
Plucking her thumb out of her mouth, Rei answered with a simple, "That would be acceptable."