She Said Special

[15:44] <Ayanami‘Rei> [Below her, Paris-2 sat, much of the city showing the dual polar signs of destruction- burned out, gutted buildings, girders melted into slag, craters and devastated gouges into the earth…-
[15:50] <Ayanami`Rei> [And the forest of cranes and endless trucks that flowed into the city, to rebuild it anew.-
[15:56] <Ayanami`Rei> [Sathariel’s rampage had been destructive, on a level not seen in Paris-2 since Qaphsiel had savaged the city. Rei had helped with some of the repairs and rescues…-
[16:09] <Ayanami‘Rei> [In fact she’d even helped Zaizai as he attended to field casualties. He knew what to do, and he was so dedicated… She smiled a little, looking away from her blushing reflection in the window. Of course he was dedicated, with people like Meimei to support him? Rei remembered how brave and heroic Meimei had been, fighting that Angel, even landing the killing blow.-
[16:22] * Ayanami‘Rei looked around her new apartment. She would be living here for awhile… Alone, technically. But it was just down the hall from Aline’s apartment, so it was ok.-
[16:27] <Ayanami‘Rei> She’d had a good seven weeks to decorate it. But despite that all she'd really touched was her own bedroom. Blue walls, posters and a shelf for her toys and books. A chest of drawers, a full bed- not a futon, a bed that fit her- and some clothes. She was supposed to buy more clothes, furniture for the living room… But she didn't know what to buy, and she was supposed to go out with Meimei at some point and find stuff.-
[16:27] <Ayanami‘Rei> … Admittedly, some of that was an excuse just to spend time with Meimei and Zaizai. But she really wasn’t sure what to buy.-
[20:01] * Ayanami‘Rei glanced over at her clothes. She hadn’t been able to go out with Meimei that one time, so the clothes were mostly things her mother bought her. A light blue dress… Pyjamas… Some 'sporty' clothes, which translated into a pair of shorts and a blue t-shirt. A big black coat, because Paris-2 was cold… And her new uniforms. She'd bought five.-
[20:07] <Ayanami‘Rei> One for every school day of the week, so she’d look her best. She opened her wardrobe, took one out and stared at it.-
[20:10] <Ayanami‘Rei> It wasn’t just a school uniform. Rei thought about her old uniform, the one she'd worn in Tokyo-2…-
[20:18] <Ayanami‘Rei> … A uniform she’d never put on. It was the uniform of a child, for a child's body. She… Wasn't a child. She didn't have that child's body, not anymore. She still didn't really understand. She could -remember- wearing the uniform. Remember her friends. Rei knew that she was… Well. Different. That 'that' Rei had worn the uniform, and 'this' Rei only remembered wearing it because 'that' Rei had. She was like a person whose entire life had been spent watching someone else's movie.-
[20:19] <Ayanami‘Rei> People told her again and again that she wasn’t Rei. But she really didn't know how to accept that. She -was- Rei.-
[20:20] <Ayanami‘Rei> … Until she’d found herself leaving home. A crying mother- Rei's heart had ached!- and a father who had seen her off. Now she was in Paris-2, and slowly an understanding was coming to her.-
[20:25] * Ayanami‘Rei slipped out of the clothes she wore, carefully dressing herself in the uniform. She’d practiced tying the ribbon until it was perfect. She looked at herself in the mirror. She remembered how she'd felt, the first time she'd looked at herself wearing the uniform- and felt the same sensation. A sort of dizziness.-
[20:30] <Ayanami‘Rei> The clothes were utterly different to anything little Ikari Rei’d ever worn. The sunny, giggling girl who'd worn the yellow sundress was gone. The girl in the mirror had a serious expression, like she was thinking about something. And in her elegant long skirt, crisp white shirt, red ribbon and red blazer, topped off with the red beret that tucked her fringe away and seemed to make her face look… Different. All in all, she looked ladylike and grown up, closer in ways to her mother or Meimei or her teachers than Ikari Rei. Simply put, at first she hadn't recognised the girl in the mirror at all.-
[20:32] <Ayanami‘Rei> Ever since she’d woken up from that capsule, Rei Ayanami had battled with her appearance, seeing familiarity and unfamiliarity in equal measure, in ways that confused and distressed her. She had clung to the familiar, as had her mother. But others saw the unfamiliarity first, which made the familiar look unusual.-
[20:32] <Ayanami‘Rei> But the girl in the mirror seemed almost completely unfamiliar. The dizzy, overwhelming feeling Rei’d felt had been a sort of realisation. Ikari Rei…-
[20:34] <Ayanami‘Rei> Would never have worn these clothes. Or rather, would never have had the chance. In essence, what she -was-… What Rei Ayanami was, was someone Ikari Rei would never, ever be.-
[20:39] <Ayanami`Rei> A little girl who’d had a sudden life-changing experience… An experience which had utterly altered her intended course through life. Ayanami Rei had been locked in trying to live out that intended course, not realising that it… Wasn't -her- course anymore. She was trying to cling to the familiar, but she couldn't help but acknowledge the unfamiliar. That was unhealthy, because over time she'd started to realise that in many cases, good things which happened to her… Happened only because people saw the familiar. They didn't see the unfamiliar. And only recently had Ayanami Rei realised that she -was- the unfamiliar.-
[20:43] <Ayanami‘Rei> In her mind, it was rationalised in a rather fantastical way. She and Ikari Rei were two sisters walking together, coming to two doors. One of them took the Ikari door. The other took the Ayanami door. The Ayanami door was special, and no one knew it was there- she’d walked through by mistake! Everyone else thought she'd gone through the Ikari door, but they somehow knew she hadn't, like if the door left paint on your hand. Everyone would ask, 'why do you have paint on your hand? If you had walked through the door there wouldn't be any paint'. She swore she'd gone through the door, but no one seemed convinced.-
[20:44] <Ayanami‘Rei> It was only by looking behind her that she realised she’d gone through a door that only she could see.-
[20:44] <Ayanami‘Rei> And it was a special door with paint on the handle. Which meant that out of everyone in the world, out of all the Ikari Reis who lived, she was the -only one- with paint on her hand. No Rei would ever have paint on her hand except her. Never ever. She was -special-.-
[20:47] <Ayanami`Rei> "Special." She whispered to herself. It was a heady, significant feeling, but it was one even she had trouble actually believing, even if she’d been the one to think about it.-
[20:47] <Ayanami‘Rei> In truth, it wasn’t entirely her own idea.-
[20:49] <Ayanami‘Rei> She walked over to her shelves, taking out a particular manga. It was about a little girl who died…-
[20:50] <Ayanami`Rei> But she’d woken up in heaven, and was very happy. There God had talked to her and said that she had been a very kind hearted person, and if there was anything she wanted.-
[20:51] <Ayanami‘Rei> Little Hanako talked about her worldly troubles, about how her mother and father were fighting, and how if Hanako were dead, wouldn’t they fight more? And how her big brother had run away from home to get away from them, but he'd run into trouble and was being beaten around by gangs. And how her sister had been studying so hard now that she was at university that she never came home anymore…-
[20:53] <Ayanami‘Rei> And God had told her not to worry, because Hanako was happy, and one day her family would be happy too. She shouldn’t worry about that.-
[20:54] <Ayanami‘Rei> But Hanako couldn’t avoid worrying. They were her family! She told God, she had to help them, because she loved them all very much, and it doesn't matter who you are, you have to help the people you love. So God asked, do you want to go back and help them? Hanako said, 'yes'.-
[20:56] <Ayanami‘Rei> He said, you might be very lonely, Hanako. You will be a special person- the only person to ever go back to life. He said, Heaven has two doors. One of them takes people to Heaven, and the other leads away from Heaven. No one ever used the second door, so she’d be the first. She'd be special, but she'd be lonely. And Hanako didn't mind, because she'd be able to use her specialness to help her family.-
[20:57] <Ayanami‘Rei> So God sent her back, but he promised her that she had to do special things for him- protect people from evil spirits who wanted to take away their happiness.-
[20:59] <Ayanami`Rei> Little Hanako returned, older (because a little girl couldn’t help anyone), smarter (because she'd have to be really smart to help really hurt people), and given heaven magic (because normal people couldn't fight evil spirits). And no one seemed to recognise her, and anyone who did panicked and ran away until she used magic on them or helped them. But she didn't mind, because she just wanted to help people.-
[21:00] * Ayanami‘Rei stared down at the cover of Magical Angel Girl Hanako. The cover showed Hanako, wearing an elaborate long dress of black and white and wielding a staff against some giant monster.-
[21:00] <Ayanami`Rei> Right now, she felt very much like Hanako. She put the book away.-
[21:01] <Ayanami`Rei> … And walked out into her living room. There was a large metal trunk against a wall. 5 feet long.
[21:02] <Ayanami`Rei> She opened it. Within were various items. Body armour. Several pistols, a submachine gun, a sniper rifle, shotgun. But there was something else.-
[21:03] * Ayanami`Rei took it out. It was four foot long, a thin metal staff with gold thread built into the shaft. The staff terminated in a hexagonal head. Fitted upon it perfectly was a hexagonal ruby prism.-
[21:05] <Ayanami`Rei> NERV scientists had called it the Prototype AT Focusing-Emitting Weapon. Or the ’Force Staff' for short. It was, simply, a weapon that channelled her AT Field.-
[21:06] <Ayanami‘Rei> Humans didn’t have claws or anything, and had to rely on weapons. But humans with powerful AT Fields could combine the two and create something more powerful than the sum of its parts. It'd cut through armour, bone… It was amazing.-
[21:07] <Ayanami‘Rei> To say it was ’cutting edge' would be a vast understatement. Some of the technology had been the result of advancing S2 Organ research, which had naturally thought of ways to focus the AT Field. A Force Staff like this could 'maintain' an AT charge, allowing it to unleash greater power than if she'd just wielded her AT Field naturally. It was a personal-scale prototype for a weapon that would eventually be planned and wielded for EVA-00.-
[21:09] <Ayanami‘Rei> She held it firmly in her hands and looked over towards the kitchen.-
[21:09] <Ayanami`Rei> She had magical powers, a special divine weapon… She was ’special'. She told her father, before she left, that she felt like she had no place with people. That she didn't have a future.-
[21:09] <Ayanami‘Rei> He’d said, "You have no destiny."-
[21:10] <Ayanami‘Rei> That had upset Rei very much. If she didn’t have a destiny, then she really wasn't real, was she? Her father corrected her.-
[21:10] <Ayanami‘Rei> "It simply means that what you do with your life is entirely in your hands and no one else’s. You have no destiny or goals until you decide you do."-
[21:11] <Ayanami‘Rei> Rei decided what she’d do.-
[21:12] <Ayanami‘Rei> The air around her stiffened. Six steak knives pulled themselves out of their block, slowly, and turned their blades towards her.-
[21:12] <Ayanami`Rei> With a rainbow prismatic flash, they flew at her.-
[21:13] <Ayanami`Rei> At the last second, she brought her Force Staff up, a wall of AT energy flaring into life, blocking the knives.-
[21:14] <Ayanami`Rei> Another flare of energy. The knives flew backward, then back at her.-
[21:14] <Ayanami`Rei> She ducked to the side, and brought her Staff up, the edges blurring with a burning energy. It cut through a blade instantly, the halves falling to the ground.-
[21:16] <Ayanami`Rei> It worked. Perfectly. More than perfectly. It worked as she’d hoped…-
[21:18] <Ayanami‘Rei> She spun it around, let the Staff hover in the air. Her AT Field shimmered once more, and the Staff slid downwards, disappearing into a minute hole in the middle of the air.-
[21:19] <Ayanami`Rei> There, it’d stay, nice and safe, and always within reach. At a moment's notice, Ayanami Rei would be armed and ready to fight evil spirits…-
[21:20] <Ayanami‘Rei> … The thought should’ve been silly or embarrassing, but it wasn't. To Rei it felt natural. She felt very much like Hanako.-
[21:20] <Ayanami‘Rei> And more than ever, she felt like following in Hanako’s footsteps.-
[21:20] <Ayanami`Rei> She felt like being- like living- the life of a Magical Angel Girl.

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