Disclaimer: Evangelion… Gainax… such wonderful sounding words. They go together so nicely, almost as if… one OWNED the other. In short: I don't own Evangelion, they do, and I hope they don't sue me because I'm not making any money off of this.

Touch'

By Random1377

Part 1 – One Week

Sunday

One bright Sunday afternoon, Shinji Ikari found himself in the unfamiliar situation of being happy. Setting up the DVD6 system to watch the movie he had purchased, he looked to the couch where Rei Ayanami sat quietly staring at the television, her red eyes fixing unblinkingly on his for a moment before he looked nervously away.

I finally asked her over for something unrelated to EVA… and she said yes! he thought happily, completing the configuration of the disk player and popping the movie in.

"I hope you like it, Ayanami," he said, offering her a shy smile.

Rei glanced at him, then back at the TV. "You said you were sure that I would, Ikari," she said flatly.

Slightly deflated, Shinji pushed Play on the remote and sat down next to her.

Rei watched with something akin to polite boredom, much to Shinji's disappointment. Damn, he thought sadly, I really thought she would like a good romance movie. He stole a look at her from the corner of his eye. It's nice to be this close to her, though. Sighing internally, he scrapped the notion of telling the First Child that he liked her. Probably just stare at me anyway, he thought dejectedly, but hey – at least I actually had the nerve to ask her over. That counts for something, right?

As the movie reached the midpoint, Rei inclined her head towards the television and quietly murmured, "This is something I do not understand."

Shinji pushed Pause.

Carefully studying the screen, he saw the hero leaning in for a kiss. "What?" he asked, confused, "The kissing?"

Rei shook her head minutely. "That I understand," she said succinctly, "it is an expression of mutual physical attraction." Shinji could only think that it sounded rather boring when she described it, but listened attentively as she clarified, "What I do not understand is why the protagonist is touching the love interest's face like that."

Shinji frowned slightly. "Hasn't… hasn't anyone touched you before?" he asked uncertainly.

"I do not understand your question," Rei replied, "Doctor Akagi touched me when she taught me how to put a plugsuit on. Commander Ikari touched me when I still needed help dressing. You touched me when you fell on me in my apartment, do you not remember? Your hand landed on my brea-"

"Yes, yes," Shinji cut in hurriedly, blushing at the memory. "Those are all accidents," he pointed out, "hasn't anyone touched you just because they like you?"

Rei's brow furrowed slightly as she tried to recall any instance where someone had touched her as the woman on screen was being touched. After a minute of silence, she looked Shinji in the eyes and gave her flat reply.

"No."

Shinji averted his gaze, finding himself unable to look her in the eye as he nervously whispered, "M-may I touch you, Ayanami?"

Rei considered the idea for a moment, intrigued by the offer. She glanced to the screen, taking in the look of pleasure on the woman's face. It looked tempting – and as far as she could see, it posed no threat to the Commander's scenario or her physical wellbeing. What harm could come of it? she thought realistically.

"Yes, you may."

Shinji turned so he was facing her straight on. This is about the time I usually wake up, he thought ironically, not quite letting himself believe that this was real. Slowly, he reached out and gently caressed her cheek, sighing softly with released tension.

Rei felt a slight tingle at his touch, as if his hand was conducting electricity. She closed her eyes, trying to isolate the sensation. This is an odd… feeling, she thought, It is merely his hand, touching my face… nothing more. But somehow it was. Just that simple, deliberate human contact – so foreign to her – felt so proper… as if it was something she had been seeking, but never quite realized.

Slowly, she opened her eyes and raised her hand. Shinji, who had lived with two temperamental women for some time, flinched and closed his eyes. He opened them with a soft gasp as, a moment later, he felt Rei's light touch on his cheek.

"Does this hurt you, Ikari?" Rei asked, watching his face intently as she slowly ran her hand over it.

"N-no, I was just… surprised," he cast his eyes downward. "I thought you were going to hit me."

Rei tilted her head to the side. "Why would I do that?" she wondered, slowly bringing her other hand up and gently exploring both sides of his face, a look of supreme concentration on her features.

"W-Well… I don't know," Shinji admitted, "but Asuka's hit me a couple times – not, like, a lot, but when she thought I was being a pervert." He frowned, "And you hit me once, too."

Rei shook her head slightly. "I struck you because of your lack of respect for our superior, not out of anger." She examined his face carefully, slowly sliding her hands down to his neck and noting with some interest his rise in body temperature and change in skin hue. After a moment she said, "Do you enjoy being struck by the Second Child?"

Shinji looked confused. "No, of course not!"

"Then why do you allow it?"

His skin is very warm… Rei thought, hmmm… mine is as well… this is most enjoyable.

"I don't let her," Shinji protested, finding it rather difficult to concentrate on a conversation at that moment, "she just does it… and it's only sometimes – it's not like she spends all… all day… hitting m-me…"

The feel of the girl's hands on his neck and face was making it very difficult to form complete sentences.

Rei stopped suddenly. "Ikari," she said quietly, "why do you not use your other hand as well? This is most… pleasant."

Shinji tried not to let his surprise show, though he was positive that he was unsuccessful. "Umm… sure."

After a few minutes more, Rei slid her right hand down his chin and began unbuttoning his shirt.

"W-what are you doing?" Shinji stuttered, his hands freezing.

Rei was intent on undoing the buttons one at a time as she said, "I am removing your shirt."

The thought that he might be able to stop her never entered into his frazzled mind as he replied, "Y-yes… I can see that…" his last button came undone and she pulled the garment from his shoulders. "B-but… why?"

Rei's brow furrowed. "You offered to touch me," she reminded him, "should I not touch you in return? Is that not proper?"

"That's…" Shinji took a deep breath as she slowly ran her hands over his shoulders, "that's not it… it's just that… just that." He trailed off as her hands worked their way down do his chest, softly stroking his skin with avid curiosity.

"Just what?" Rei asked, slowly reaching around to touch his back

Shinji's voice came out as a high-pitched squeak, his thought train derailing with an abrupt mental crash.

Rei considered his face for a moment. "Is it because your shirt is off?" she wondered.

The boy nodded. "Y-yeah…" he stammered, seizing the excuse, "that's it."

"I do not understand why this bothers you, Ikari." He blinked, wishing suddenly that she would stop calling him that. "We are not in public, and you are physically fit, as far as I can see," she ran a hand over his chest, eliciting a shiver from the boy. "I see no reason for you to be uncomfortable."

Shinji's mind raced as he tried to think of a way to explain it. He closed his eyes, feeling her hands leave his body as he did. This isn't going like I thought it would… he thought with some consternation, I just wanted to tell her that I liked her and ask if she would go out with me some time, and now I have to explain why I'm uncomfortable with my shirt off while she puts her hands all over me? How did THAT work out?

A rustling sound caused him to open his eyes. When he did, they just kept opening and opening until he was wide-eyed and staring – because the only time he could remember seeing that much of the girl was when he had fallen on her, and even then he had looked away as quickly as he could.

"Is this better, Ikari?" Rei asked quietly.

Shinji could only stare, his mouth hanging open.

Taking his silence as a yes, Rei leaned forward once more and pressed her skin against his. This is much better, she thought with a trace of happiness, Why was I not informed of this before? As she continued to caress his skin, his clarifying question came back to her, 'hasn't anyone touched you just because they like you?' This must be something that is only done between people that like each other, she reasoned.

He must like me, because he asked to touch me, she went on mentally, not noticing the fact that Shinji was sitting rigid as a fence post, and I must like him, because I enjoyed his touch so much… Satisfied with her slightly flawed reasoning, she spoke quietly, "I like you, Shinji."

Hearing his name drew his attention partially away from the fact that he had never felt this much skin before in his life – including his own – and he asked, eloquently, "W-What?"

"I said I like you. Since this is the case, I can no longer call you 'Ikari,' as this would be too formal." She leaned back a bit, causing him to stare down and drool slightly. "Also," she said calmly, not noticing his fascination with her upper body, "I believe that when two people like each other, they 'date,' correct? Therefore, I would like to be your girlfriend, if that is acceptable to you."

Unsticking his eyes from their glued-on position on her chest, Shinji replied with some force, "Uh… O-Ok…"

Rei gently placed a hand on his forehead. "Are you unwell, Shinji? Your temperature has elevated considerably more than mine, and you seem to be having trouble formulating thoughts."

Shinji was about to reply with more of his clever repartee – something along the lines of umm, err, well, that is… umm – when the front door slid open, and Shinji's roommate, Asuka Langley Souryu, came into the room.

Taking quick stock of his options, Shinji decided that the best thing to do was remain motionless and hope that his skin tone blended well with the sofa.

He was not so fortunate.

Asuka looked at them, rubbed her eyes, looked at them again, then rubbed her eyes harder. Finally convincing herself that she was in fact seeing a topless Shinji with an equally topless Wondergirl clinging to him as if she was trying to get into his skin with him, Asuka responded the only way she knew how.

"WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?!"

Rei, being quite well-read, but lacking certain social skills… such as tact, replied, "We are touching."

Asuka, also being well-read, and also lacking certain social skills… like tact, said, "I can see that, you idiot! Why? Why are you doing that? And where is your shirt?! Have you no shame?!"

Rei regarded her calmly, still running her hands over Shinji's body. "Shinji is now my boyfriend," she informed the other girl quietly, "so why should I feel ashamed?"

If not for the fact that it was attached, Asuka's jaw would have broken through the floor and descended into the street. "Shinji…?" she whispered, incredulous, "boyfriend…?" She shook her head, absently pinching her own arm to ensure that she was not dreaming, "What are you talking about!?" She stomped over to them and grabbed Shinji's chin, causing him to whimper, and brought his face closer to Rei's. "He's a boob! Why would you possibly want to be with him?"

Frowning, Rei pulled Shinji closer to her. "Because I like him," she whispered. "Please release him… I believe you are cracking his jaw."

Shinji let out a thankful gasp as Asuka let him go. "Whatever," the redhead cried, throwing her hands in the air, "on second thought, you two are perfect for each other – the hero and the zero." She leaned forward, smiling maliciously, "I will tell you this, though, First Child," her voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper, "he's an awful kisser."

Still smiling, she walked out of the room. "I'm going to Hikari's – where there's less danger of throwing up… and don't get anything gross on the couch!"

There were several moments of awkward silence after the Second stormed out, filled only with quiet breathing and uncertain thoughts. She's going to leave, Shinji realized sadly, I know it.

The silence was finally broken by Rei's soft inquiry of, "Did you enjoy kissing Pilot Souryu?"

Shinji noticed that she did not seem to be mad… yet.

"No," he answered truthfully, "she pinched my nose closed… I couldn't breathe."

Rei considered this, then asked, "Why?"

Shinji frowned. "I think she was just teasing me," he said slowly, "she said it tickled her. Then she was mad the rest of the night – until Kaji got here," his frown deepened, "then she was all smiles. I don't think she ever really wanted to kiss me… she just wanted to kill time."

"So you did not do it because you like her?" Rei asked curiously.

Shinji blushed, not really wanting to tell her, but not wanting to lie. "No… I did," he confessed reluctantly. "I… really admired how strong she was, and I thought maybe there was more between us than just… just roommates." He sighed. "But then I realized that she didn't like me, or at least, she didn't like me the way I liked her, so… we never talked about it again."

Rei pondered this for a moment, slowly drawing imaginary patterns on his skin and listening to his tense breathing. "Shinji?" she finally asked, coming to an inescapable conclusion, "would you like to kiss me?"

Shinji grimaced unconsciously, remembering the last time her had heard those words. "Umm… are you sure you want to? I mean, most people wait until they've known each other for a few weeks, and…" he trailed off. "What? Why are you shaking your head?"

"Your logic is flawed," she pointed out, "I have known you for eight months, Shinji. Also, in the film you showed me, the main couple had only known each other for a few days. Additionally," she concluded, "you kissed Pilot Souryu, whom you have known less time than me."

"Well…" Why am I trying to fight this?! Shinji thought suddenly, Maybe because… I'm the STUPIDEST MAN ALIVE?

"Do you find me… unattractive?" Rei asked, looking him directly in the eye.

"No!" Shinji protested, "Not at all, but-"

Rei cut him off, "Mutual attraction is expressed through kissing, correct?"

"Well, yes… but-"

Rei leaned forward, studying his eyes, and quietly whispered, "I find you attractive, Shinji…"

Shinji swallowed, but said nothing.

Realizing that he was still too nervous to make the first move, Rei put her hands on the sides of his face and asked again, "Shinji… do you want to kiss me?"

He let out a shuddery breath. "More than anything…"

Rei smiled faintly… and Shinji forgot to breathe.

I really, really am stupid… he thought, putting his hands on her shoulders, "No… no thanks, Rei… I don't want to KISS you – that would be too perfect, so I'll have to pass." God… Asuka's right – I AM an idiot.

Rei closed her eyes as Shinji leaned slowly forward, tilting his head to the side. Their lips met slowly… delicately… awkwardly, neither daring to do more than sit in rigid silence.

After only a moment, Rei broke away, her cheeks graced with the palest blush Shinji had ever seen. "I must go," she whispered, "it is late."

Shinji looked at the clock, surprised at how much time had passed since he had pushed pause. Reluctantly, he let her go, looking the other way as she rose and put her bra and shirt back on.

Donning his own shirt, he showed her to the door, wishing they had more time – wishing he could believe that he was awake.

Rei paused at the threshold, "Shinji," she said slowly, "may I… come over again tomorrow afternoon?"

Shinji gave her a look that said, 'you have to ask?' and nodded vigorously.

Nodding to herself, Rei whispered, "Very well… I will see you then."

Frowning as she turned and walked through the door, Shinji thought, Wait, what about school?

Monday

"Aren't you going to walk with me, Asuka?" Shinji whined as Asuka walked out the door for school the next morning. He hated walking alone – in fact, he hated BEING alone in general.

The redhead shot him a withering look. "Walk by yourself, you pervert!"

If the door had not been the motorized kind, she would have slammed it.

Shinji sighed deeply. Oh well… at least Rei will be there when I get to school.

He daydreamed all the way, imagining all the things the two of them might do together now that they were boyfriend and girlfriend, and making himself quite late.

As he walked through the door, he spotted her and waved.

She did not wave back.

Frowning Shinji started to speak, but Hikari Horaki cut him off. "Ikari, please take your seat." As he moved past her she whispered, "You big pervert." He looked at her, surprised, and she smiled at him apologetically, blushing slightly as she pointed at Asuka.

Asuka looked at the ceiling, whistling.

Shinji frowned. Guess I should have known she would say something to Hikari, he thought. He sat down, hoping she was the only one who knew.

On that point, his luck held… but he was entirely unsuccessful at getting Rei's attention, though he tried all day. Did I… do something wrong? he thought sadly as he walked home. Yesterday we were so close, and now…

Even though he knew she was not following him, he still looked back over his shoulder at every stoplight, and every empty backward glance made it clearer and clearer that he had done something to lose her affection.

Late Monday afternoon, Misato Katsuragi was surprised by a knock at the apartment door. It being her day off, she was relaxing in the living room with a can of her favorite beer and having a soulful conversation with her warm-water penguin, PenPen. Actually, it was more of a drunken, one-sided conversation, but Misato felt that she had never been closer to a man in her life.

Human or avian.

"Coming, coming…" she muttered as another knock sounded. Who could that be? We were just getting to the good stuff!

Misato was not a woman who surprised easily, and she was also quick to hide it when she was, so when she opened the door to find Rei standing there, her eyes went wide and she stared over Rei's shoulder, proclaiming, "That is the biggest mosquito I've EVER seen!"

No one said she was good at hiding her surprise, just quick.

Rei waited for the operations director to get over the shock of seeing a big bug, thinking, For someone with as high a rank as she holds, she is easily excited. Perhaps she has a phobia.

Realizing that the young girl would not have cared if there was a swarm of giant mosquitoes, Misato brought her attention back to her. "Something I can do for you, Rei?"

Rei nodded slightly. "Yes. I would like to speak with Shinji. Is he in?"

Misato's eyes widened slightly at the use of 'Shinji,' but she nodded, taking another drink. "He's in his room… go right in."

Rei bowed. "Thank you, Major Katsuragi."

Odd girl, Misato thought, going to resume her 'conversation.'

Having Misato's invitation, Rei opened Shinji's door and walked in, closing it softly behind herself.

Shinji was lying on the bed with his arm thrown over his eyes, listening to his SDAT – track 25, Rei observed – so he did not notice the young lady's entrance. Her presence became impossible to ignore, though, at she lay down on the bed and rested her head on his chest.

Had he not immediately noticed the blue hair, Shinji may very well have screamed in mortal terror… he was a rather tightly wound boy, after all. As soon as he recovered he said in a sad voice, "Why are you here, Rei?"

Rei looked up at him. "I am here to see you," she said calmly, "is that not correct behavior for a girlfriend?"

Shinji stared at her. "I wasn't so sure that you were after today," his brow furrowed as he remembered the classroom, "don't you like me anymore?"

She looked faintly surprised. "Of course I still like you," she said slowly. "Why would you ask that?"

Shinji turned his head, trying to hide the moisture in his eyes. "You… you wouldn't even talk to me in school today."

Rei nodded her understanding. "I… did not want others to see us touch," she admitted.

"Why? Why not?" Shinji, rubbing quickly at his eyes as he tried desperately to understand the shift back to her old self.

"Because," Rei replied simply, "it is for us, Shinji… you and I." She met his eyes steadily. "You are the only one that makes me feel… that I am special," she said carefully, "I am not… very adept at displaying my emotions, Shinji… will that prevent you from being my boyfriend?"

Shinji shook his head vehemently. "Of course not!" he exclaimed, tentatively wrapping his arms around her, "I just… I didn't know what to think today. It was like yesterday never happened. I thought maybe I had dreamt it."

Rei returned his embrace thankfully. "I… I am… s-sorry," she said awkwardly, unused to having to apologize, "I did not mean to upset you." She rested her head against his neck, once again marveling at the sensation of his skin against hers, "I will… try to be better, but I need some time before I am… able to display my affection for you publicly. Is that alright?"

Shinji nodded, gently stroking the back of her neck. "Take all the time you need, Rei," he answered, unable to hide the note of pitiful gratitude in his voice, "just… as long as I know you still like me."

The First sighed contentedly, then sat up and began taking her shirt off, pleased that this issue had been resolved. A slight frown creased her brow, though, as Shinji leaned forward and laid a hand on hers, stopping her. "What is the matter?" she asked, perplexed.

Shinji looked at the door, wetting his lips apprehensively. "Umm… Misato's home." Noting Rei's blank stare, he continued, "She might not understand if she were to come in and find us with no clothes on."

Rei tilted her head to the side. "Why should it be an issue?" she asked softly. "You are not involved with her, are you?"

Shinji scratched his head, pretending that he did not hear the second question. "Well, she's an adult," he explained, "but I don't think she thinks we are. Plus: she's my guardian, and she might think that us touching is, ummm… inappropriate."

This, Rei could understand… but she was not to be deterred. Gently she pulled away from him and untucked first her shirt, then his. Pulling each halfway up in the front, she nestled in close to him, her stomach touching his side. She smiled faintly, throwing his sense of balance entirely off.

"Now if she should happen to come in, we will still be clothed," she pointed out reasonably.

Shinji laughed quietly. "Wow… when you make up your mind, you don't let anything stop you, do you?"

Rei ran a hand across his stomach, loving the feel of his skin on her fingertips. "No," she whispered seriously, "I do not, if I can affect the outcome." She looked up at him, "Will you kiss me again?"

Shinji looked at her as if she was crazy for a moment for needing to ask, and then complied.

Tuesday and Wednesday passed in the much the same manner. Shinji would go to school and be quietly tormented by Asuka and ignored by Rei (not that he minded the later… or at least, not too much anyway, since he knew now how she felt), he would then return home and wait for Rei to arrive, and they would spend an hour or two just touching and gently kissing. Shinji loved every second, believing that, as the NERV emblem states, all was right with the world.

Then Thursday arrived… and things started to change.

Thursday

Rei caught Shinji as he sat alone in his usual lunch spot. It is fortunate that Mister Aida and Mister Suzuhara are both out sick today, she thought with some relief.

She approached him carefully. "Shinji?" she asked, still looking to make sure she was not observed. He looked up at her, surprised. Bringing her hands out from behind her back, she presented him a small, black box. "I… made this for you," she whispered awkwardly, "I am not very good at preparing meals, but I wanted to do this for you. That is proper behavior for a girlfriend, correct?"

Shinji stared at the box with wide eyes. "Yeah, it is. At least… I'm pretty sure, I mean I've never had a girlfriend before and I-" he cut himself off, averting his eyes. "…thank you, Rei." He took the bento almost gingerly, laying it carefully at his side and – keeping his eyes averted – whispered, "Will you eat it with me?"

Rei studied her feet. "I am still not ready," she said slowly.

Shinji nodded, smiling. "It's ok, I understand." He hesitated, then timidly asked, "Maybe… do you want to come over later…?"

Another faint smile appeared, just at the corners of Rei's lips. "Have I not come to your residence any time in the last four days?" she asked quietly.

Shinji returned the smile, feeling relieved in spite of her level reply. "Then I'll see you this afternoon."

Rei nodded, torn between her desire to stay with him and her fear of being observed by others. "I will see you later," she said finally.

Offering him another soft smile, she turned and walked away.

As she reached the corner, Shinji called out, "Rei?" She turned to him, a questioning look on her face. "Umm… Misato is… not going to be home until late tonight…"

Rei nodded her understanding. That means that tonight, we may touch as we did on Sunday, she thought happily, how… exhilarating.

Rei came into Shinji's room as she always did; pausing briefly to observe him as he quietly listened to his music. He had asked her repeatedly to tell him what time she would come, but she had flatly refused, never letting herself be pinned down. As a result, he had promised to leave the door unlocked for her on the days he knew she was coming to visit. Of course, the true reason for her reluctance to give a time was simpler than he would have believed: she merely wanted to watch him breathe without him knowing she was there – nothing more.

She walked to his bed and lay down next to him, watching his face as his eyes opened and he smiled. This smile is so open, she thought, feeling a faint sense of warmth in the pit of her stomach, this smile that he gives only to me.

She would have been surprised to know that her tiny, uncertain smiles had the same effect on him.

Rei laid her finger against his lips as he tried to speak, shaking her head, then leaned forward and pressed her lips to his. I only want to touch today, she thought, hoping he would somehow recognize her wish, there will be other days to talk… but today I only want to touch. She ran her hands through his hair, parting the strands one by one with her fingers.

Easily picking up on her desire for quiet – her lips against his also making it difficult to speak – Shinji kissed her back for several minutes, exploring her face with the tips of his fingers. So she wants silence, does she? he thought, amused and intrigued at the same time, fine… I won't say a word.

He reached tentatively down and pulled her school shirt up, then slowly unbuttoned it and drew it from her shoulders, still kissing her, but ready to stop at the least hint that she was uncomfortable. He broke away from her gently, watching for any sign of resistance as he slid his right hand slowly up to her bra clasp and began to unfasten it.

Rei, who had never really had a problem with being naked, especially with her boyfriend, watched his eyes with a vague sense of amusement. She knew that he was as fascinated with her body as she was with his, and the notion of his skin touching hers in places he had previously deemed 'forbidden' while his guardian was home excited her.

As her bra fell away, she reached down and began to pull his shirt up, but he stopped her with a touch, smiling. Still unwilling to break the silence, Rei arched an eyebrow in question. He smiled nervously and held up a hand, and noticed it trembling.

She waited for a moment, not quite understanding his intent.

Frustrated, Shinji began to speak, but Rei immediately leaned forward and kissed him, forestalling any comment he might have and taking several minutes to make sure her message was clear. No, Shinji, she thought as she pulled away, do not ruin this quiet.

Now looking a little frightened, Shinji stared into her eyes, thinking as hard as he could, Is this ok?

After a moment's hesitation, he reached out and laid his hand lightly on her breast.

Rei's eyes widened as she finally understood his unanswered question, but she made no move to dissuade him. He is becoming bolder; she thought approvingly, I enjoy this side of him – it is something only for me.

She leaned forward and kissed him again, reassuring him, then leaned back to see what he would do next.

Swallowing, Shinji carefully explored her breast. She is so soft… he marveled, gliding his fingers across the smooth tissue as delicately as he could.

Rei closed her eyes. This is… very nice… she thought, I did not know that this would be so pleasurable. She realized she was holding her breath, and let it out in a small sigh.

Taking this as a signal to continue, Shinji gently rolled over so he was resting on top of her and carefully caressed her soft skin. She drew in a sharp breath, then bit her lower lip gently, bringing her hands up to run her fingers slowly through his hair.

She likes this, he thought ecstatically.

Greatly encouraged, he leaned forward and pressed his lips to hers once more, still caressing her gently, and tentatively opened his mouth to gingerly run his tongue across her lips.

Rei moaned softly and parted her lips, allowing him access to her mouth. This is… incredible, she thought as his tongue clumsily roamed across hers, he is so gentle with me, and his touch is… is so warm… she moved her hands down and embraced him, trying to create more pressure.

Her moans intensified as his other hand found her neglected breast. Yes, her mind cried out, like that. Unconsciously, she began to gyrate her hips against him, her body trying to seek release for a tension she had previously be entirely unaware of.

Though he did not mean to, Shinji hit the right combination of spots at just the right time… and Rei achieved her first sexual orgasm by his hand. It was not a spectacular one by any stretch, but as first times go it was not bad. He was exploring the roof of her mouth with his tongue and gently caressing both of her breasts when her body suddenly arched against his and she moaned louder than before, crushing his body against hers as lightning ran through her veins, sharpening all of her senses until all she could see, hear, feel, taste, and smell… was him.

Then it was over. She released him and slumped against his bed, her smile the only indication that she was ok. He tried to ask her what was wrong, but she shook her head, still smiling, and kissed him softly. She broke away and rose from the bed. Obviously disappointed, Shinji tried one last time to speak, but she gave him one last, long kiss and pointed to the clock.

His jaw dropped as he realized that they had been kissing and touching for two hours.

Rei refastened her bra and kissed him on the cheek, then mouthed, 'I will see you tomorrow.'

Pulling her shirt over her head, she left without a word.

Friday

Rei's heart was beating faster than usual as she checked her wristwatch. I have never been late before, she observed, pausing with one hand on the door to the classroom, and I am… excited. Not in the same manner as Ika- Shinji excites me, but this IS very thrilling.

Her heart seemed to actually skip as she thought of the reason why she was late. Everyone must see, she thought, hardening her resolve, it is… proper for a girlfriend to display SOME affection. It is important that everyone witnesses, so there can be no doubt.

With a deep breath, she slid the door to the classroom open, hoping to draw the attention of the entire class.

She was not disappointed. Every eye focused on her, drawn away from the rather dull lecture being held to stare in her direction, causing her determination to waver slightly. As calmly as she could, Rei walked to where Shinji was sitting and stopped, waiting patiently until he stopped casting uneasy glances around the room and looked up at her.

"Umm… he-hello, Ayanami…" he murmured, puzzled by the intensity of her stare.

"Hello, Shinji," Rei replied softly, "I wanted to tell you something."

"W-what is it?"

Slowly, Rei put her hand on top of his, giving him an uncertain half-smile. "I have… had enough time now, Shinji," she said quietly, intensely aware of the class – the teacher included – exploding into a series of whispered, disbelieving conversations.

So saying, she reluctantly reclaimed her hand, continuing towards her seat with a light flush on her cheeks.

As the classroom tried to recover from the shock, Rei glanced back over her shoulder. "I… I would like you to come to my apartment later, will you?"

Shinji just nodded dumbly, his mouth gaping wide open as he realized that now… everyone in the school would know that they were together.

Rei smiled one more time, then took her seat and began staring out the window, ignoring the immediate eruption of cheers and catcalls.

Yes, she thought with some satisfaction, that 'advice' magazine was correct. This was the best course of action.

They walked to her apartment in the silence of the sunset, neither of them wanting to break the peaceful reverie of the afternoon. Halfway to Rei's apartment, Shinji shyly took her hand in his.

As they entered the apartment, Shinji noticed something out of the ordinary. "You cleaned!" he exclaimed, blushing as he realized how surprised he sounded.

Rei looked at the floor, embarrassed. "Yes," she confessed, "after you straightened for me that day, I wanted to keep it clean." She led him over to the bed and sat down, motioning for him to sit beside her. "Major Katsuragi is not here…" she observed quietly.

Shinji swallowed. "No… she isn't, huh?"

"Shinji," Rei whispered, "I… would like to feel your skin against mine. All of your skin."

With that, she got to her feet and slowly undressed, watching him the entire time. Her school jumper… her socks… her button-up shirt – all slowly, quietly slid to the floor.

As she got to her underclothes, Shinji said, "Rei… are you… umm… sure you want to… umm… what exactly do you want, Rei?"

Rei paused with her fingers wrapped loosely around the clasp of her bra. "I want to be naked with you, Shinji," she said quietly, her tone indicating that this should be clear – especially based on their prior activities and conversation.

Shinji blushed. "Oh," he whispered, not sure if he was relieved or disappointed, "I thought you wanted to… you know what?" he said quickly, "Never mind what I thought."

Rei's cheeks were graced with a pale blush as she realized what Shinji was thinking. "Is that… something you desire?" she asked, her eyes falling to the floor.

Shinji waved his hands, a look of consternation on his face. "No! I mean… well, yes, but…" he took a deep breath, forcing himself to be calm. "I would love… to be with you, Rei." He smiled timidly. "I'm sorry," he said softly, "I don't ever want to lie to you, so… yes, some day I would like to… to…" he trailed off, unable to say the words.

"Make love to me?" Rei supplied levelly.

Shinji nearly choked on his own tongue, taking another, steadying breath and wondering how it was possible for her to look sexier with just a little bit of clothing on than entirely naked. "Yes Rei," he nodded, "some day when we're both ready."

Rei considered this. "I believe… I would enjoy that," she whispered, raising her eyes. "But I believe… that I am ready now."

Slowly, she unclasped her bra.

Shinji swallowed laboriously. "You're… very pretty, Rei…" he said lamely, not quite knowing if he should admire her body or not – and not quite letting himself believe that he had heard what he thought he had heard.

"I am… unremarkable," Rei said coolly. She met his eyes as he blinked, uncertain of how to reply, and held out her right hand. "Will you let me touch you?"

Shinji nodded, taking her hand as she sat on the edge of the bed. After a moment spent quietly (guiltily) admiring her near-naked body, he averted his eyes, shifting uncomfortably on the bed at her side and staring at the floor between his feet.

"May I undress you?"

"Y-yeah… yeah, ok…"

Rei rose to her feet, turning to face Shinji and slowly encouraging him to follow. When he stood, she slowly began slipping the buttons on his shirt free of their restraints, finding herself reminded rather forcibly of the first time they had touched.

He is… shaking, Rei thought, carefully easing his shirt up out of his pants and sliding it down over his shoulders, or am I? Perhaps we both are.

As Shinji's shirt hit the floor, Rei wrapped her arms around him, resting her head against his shoulder and gently caressing his back until the shivers running through his body abated. "You are… very thin," she said awkwardly, reaching down to pull his dark blue undershirt up around his waist.

"M-Misato s-says I should e-eat more," Shinji stammered, automatically raising his hands as she pulled his undershirt the rest of the way off, "I- oh…"

Soft warmth pressed gently against his chest, driving any thoughts of nourishment quickly from his mind.

"This," Rei said quietly, the note of satisfaction in her tone unmistakable, "is nice."

You could say that, Shinji's feverish mind quickly agreed. Just-

Again, Shinji's thought pattern was disrupted as Rei's slim fingers slipped across the front of his slacks, carefully capturing the pull-tab on his zipper and slowly easing it down, then pulling the small metal clasp at the top free of its loop.

With a soft whisper, Shinji's pants slid down to the floor, allowing him to step out of them with a nervous chuckle. "S-so," he managed, looking anywhere but at Rei. "It, ummm… it was a nice day today."

Rei said nothing for a moment, forcing him to bring his eyes up to meet hers. When they did, she whispered, "Please… tell me why you do not want to make love to me."

Caught off-guard, Shinji replied with the only half-way reasonable answer his mind could wrap itself around.

"You could… get pregnant."

"I do not believe that I am capable of bearing children," Rei said softly, "I do not have a monthly cycle."

Shinji averted his eyes again. "O-oh."

Rei waited until he lifted his head once more, and slowly, gently kissed him.

"If you love someone," she asked as they parted, "and you know in your heart that you only want to be with them… should lovemaking not be the next step in the relationship?"

"Well," Shinji said reluctantly, "if you're ready to take that step I gu- wait!" His mouth worked for several moments as he stared at her, his eyes wide with shock. "Wh-what did… you just say?"

Rei blinked. "I said, 'should lovemaking-"

"No, no!" Shinji cut in, "Before that! The… the part about… l-love…"

"If you love someone, and-"

Shinji gently put one finger over her mouth, bowing his head as a strong tremor shook his body. Slowly, he pulled her into his arms, putting his mouth right next to her ear, and when he spoke, the pure misery in his voice took Rei's breath away.

"If you're saying that you love me… and you're lying… I will never forgive you. Do you understand? No one has ever said that to me, Rei, and if you say it, and you don't really mean it – I mean, if you only think you… damn it… I can't even say it again – but if you're only saying th-that because you think I want to hear it, I-"

"I love you."

Rei felt Shinji's body go stiff in her arms.

"That is your concern?" she asked quietly, "that I am insincere?" She waited for him to give a hesitant nod, letting out a soft sigh as he tightened his hold on her – acting almost as if she was about to tell him that she was being false – before whispering, "No one has ever used those words with me either, Shinji, and I would not say them if I did not mean them. I am… I do love you," she said slowly, surprised to find that she had never really considered vocalizing the emotion she had been feeling for the past few days, "and I want you to love me too."

Slowly, the shivers that dominated Shinji's body subsided, leaving the couple standing in perfect silence by Rei's beside. Neither spoke for well over a minute; they simply… touched, their hands moving unconsciously over each other's bodies as they tangled with the question, 'what happens now?'

Finally, Shinji took a deep breath.

"I think-

"Be one with me, Shinji," Rei said abruptly, pulling away to study his face, "since you first touched me, I have wanted to be one with you – body and soul. Do you not feel the same?"

For a very long minute, Shinji simply stared at her bed, his mind a complete confusion of right, wrong, love, lust, passion, reason, and the maddening awareness of her nudity, so close to his body. If he said no… what would become of their relationship? …what would become of it if he said yes? It was all so complicated – like trying to figure out thermal dynamics, only without the pleasing mental image of running ones hands over soft-

That's not helping… he thought, finally turning to face her one last time, she loves me. So if I love her, this is ok… right?

He closed his eyes, painfully aware of just how much of a justification this train of thought was… but finding that it was the closest he had to the real truth.

And Real Truth, in his opinion, was something best not faced. Ever.

After what seemed like an eternity, Shinji gently pulled free of Rei's embrace, reaching down and drawing the covers on her bed back with a hand that would not quite stop shaking. Nodding, Rei slipped her panties off and slid under the covers, waiting patiently for Shinji to follow suit.

When he finally did, taking her in his arms and tugging the covers up over their nakedness, Rei knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt… that she was loved.

Continued…

Author's notes: OK! Anyone familiar with this story will notice immediately what's missing from this version – the sex. :P Hey, I had to make it clear – not everyone's read it… though it is interesting to note that the story ended up being LONGER after the sex scene was cut – go figure. shrug What might not be clear (from the length of time it's been since the last update and loss of memory due to waiting forever) is how much has changed. I reworked a lot of the dialogue, for one thing, making it – hopefully – not quite as cheesy, and I tried to do a better job of characterizing (especially Shinji and Rei) and added detail to the scenes, to really try to get as close to EVA as I possibly could. Now some might argue that Shinji and Rei having sex is so out of character that it's laughable. Obviously, this fic is not for you – but then again, the first version probably wasn't either. :) But hopefully, for those that liked the first version (or even thought it was so-so) this version will be a truer, easier, more enjoyable read, and I dedicate it to you.

Pre-read on this chapter was done by Akodo Tim, who I knew would never let one Rei mischaracterization go unchecked (damn Rei fan :P), Ryoma, who I knew would never pass up a chance to read ANYTHING with sex in it (damn hentai fan :P), and LeperMessiah, who absolutely refuses to put his stamp of approval on anything that's even remotely flawed (damn perfectionist :P).

Feedback is always welcome on any site with reviewing capabilities or by e-mailing