Rei's Present 2 (L)
By Suika Roberts
inspired by
Chris Burke - wyrm engin. umich .edu's `Rei's Present 1'

Rei frowns.

I worry for an instant, suddenly glad we hadn't gone with Misato's choice.

`We got you a present,' I say, holding out the rather large cardboard box. The creature inside scratches lightly.

Rei steps out of the doorway, heading back up into her apartment.

I glance down, the we follow, both of us shedding our shoes in the genkan. Misato sets down the bag of dry puppy food, and I set the box carefully in the middle of Rei's main room.

I step back, settle into seiza, and wait for Rei to reappear. After a few minutes she does, looking us over with a glance that, I'm sure, would have been an irate glare on anyone else's face.

`You want me to open this.' she looks down at the box, that tiny frown still on her face.

`He might prefer if you did.'

`He?'

`Your present,' Misato answers.

`You got me a creature?' I glance down, and hide my smile behind my hand, pleasantly surprised to get such an extreme responce out of Rei.

`You'll see, if you open the box,' I manage, trying for something like Rei's flat tone.

Rei settles down next to the box, sitting with her legs crossed like a man, then opens the box, pulling the flaps open. Her frown disappears, replaced by shock, then her face settles, and she reaches into the box.

A quick scrabbling of claws sounds from inside, then she brings her hands out, a few faint lines of blood and several angry red scratches on her fingers, and the box's occupant angrily swiping at her fingers with his claws. She ignores that, settling the fifty centimeter lizard carefully in her lap, where his claws catch in her skirt. She strokes his head with gentle insistance, moving steadily, almost slowly, but somehow keeping him from biting her fingers again.

`What is he?' she asks, continuing to stroke the slowly calming lizard's buff colored scales.

`A savanah monitor,' Misato answers, `I wanted to get you a puppy, but Shinji thought you would like this better.'

`Thank you,' she says, looking over at me and smiling that tiny smile.

`Um, you're welcome.'

`Do you know anything about how to take care of him?' she asks, looking at Misato.

`The guy at the store said that he would like to have his own enclosure eventually, but that one can keep them in a box or a canvas bag if one takes them out for exercise regularly,' Rei nods, so I continue, `and they feed them wet puppy food, with the occasional small animal for a treat,' the thought of watching anything, even a mouse, eaten alive bothers me quite a bit, but Rei just nods.

`How small?'

`Mice or small rats, he said,' Misato answers.

`Hmm,' Rei pulls her fingers back a little quickly, the break in rythm catching my attention as the lizard tries to bite her, `I think he's hungry. Do I have to make his food move for him, or can I just put it in a bowl or pile?'

Misato looks at me, equally clueless. `I don't know.'

`OK. Get me a bowl and some puppy food.' I suppose she would have to untangle the lizard from her skirt to get some on her own. I get a bowl of water from the kitchen, and Misato opens the bag, holding out a handful of the dry lumps. Rei takes a few, adds them to the water, then fishes one out and sets it by the lizard's nose after a few minutes.

The lizard snaps at her fingers, then eyes the lump distastefully before tilting his head to one side and taking the piece of food between his teeth. With a sudden movement of his head it disappears.

Rei actually laughs, stroking the lizard's head, her blood drying on her fingers.

`Maybe you should wash the blood off?' I prompt, a tiny bit worried.

`Maybe. Later,' she sets another piece of puppy food next to the lizard's face. This one disappears a little more quickly, and she strokes his back.

-0-

`What happened to your nose?' I ask Rei Monday morning as I make my way towards my desk.

`I stuck it in Gojira's face and he bit it,' she smiles, turning the page in the book she's reading, which I notice is about keeping lizards.

I keep from retreating by force of will.

-0-

`Ikari-kun?'

`Yes?'

`Gojira is a female lizard.'

`Oh.'

-0-

I blink at the girl walking by with the leash. She looks a lot like Rei, but can't be . . .

I look at the end of the leash, then back up at Rei's back as she walks along the road at a normal pace, the lizard trudging down the sidewalk with a determined air, his whole body swaying with each step. Suddenly he breaks into a run, and Rei jogs along with him, her enthusiasm something I've never seen before.

-
1999 July 28: Read `Rei's Present part 1' and just couldn't think of any way getting Rei a puppy could turn out anything but traumatic for the both of them.

So I was thinking about what else one could carry around in a box, which has claws, eats puppy food, and would make a better present for Ayanami.

This was the result ^^;

Most monitors, especially the larger ones, can be rather bad tempered, and are strong enough to back up that temper with a good deal of damage if one isn't careful or prepared for it.

One should definately talk to a lot of people and read a couple books about lizards before buying one, since, while they do have lower metabolisms than mammals, they are somewhat delicate and have a low survival rate if they are not cared for properly.

-Suika
1999 December 23: looked it over again, with a few months of having a Nile Monitor under my belt, and did a tiny bit of editing. (Gigan was a present ^_^ -S)

2009 June 1: prepped for posting to ff.n