W S Christmas

[22:38] <W> …finally. Away from the dust of the continually rebuilt Paris-2. The cool Milanese night air floated into the hotel room through the open window. The bed W was lying on was very soft indeed. He'd have time to follow up on everything the next day. For now, he could just…
[22:40] <@Ayanami‘Rei> [Knock knock.]
[22:43] <W> …be interrupted. He was a fool to think anything would change here. "That’d better be room service," he called out.
[22:45] <@Ayanami‘Rei> [Knock knock~]
[22:51] * W didn’t flinch. "Non disturbare, grazie."
[22:51] <@Ayanami‘Rei> [Knock knock knock knock! The knocking was out of beat with his music, too.]
[22:53] <W> It wasn’t in rhythm with -anything-, for that matter. It was like he was trying his best not to attract Shai-Hulud. Soundlessly, W got up and limped his way to the door. He opened the door. "What is it."
[22:54] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["Double-chan~!"-
[22:55] <@Ayanami`Rei> [He would find himself staring at none other than Nagisa Kaworu, wearing a uniform of the hotel waiting staff, pushing a room service table.]
[22:56] <W> "I see. Which elderly couple is going without dinner today, Nagisa?"
[22:58] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["Oh, elderly couple? No no, Double-chan. This is the food -you- ordered!"]
[23:04] <W> "And what kind of food is that?"
[23:08] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["Beef lasagna garnished with freshly picked basil. Also, a small chicken cooked in champagne."]
[23:14] <W> "…where the hell did you get that." He’d been thinking of requesting the latter, but had decided against it on closer inspection of the hotel's kitchen staff.
[23:18] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["I got it from my heart, Double-chan. Which is why it tastes so good."]
[23:22] <W> "…I’m sure, Nagisa. Do you mind if I savor it in peace, then?"
[23:22] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["Of course not, Double-chan!" He masterfully slipped inside and closed the door.]
[23:28] <W> "Very well." W took the platters and set them down on a table, then sat down, Nagisa firmly within his field of view. He set everything up on the table and began his meal, paying his partner no attention.
[23:29] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["Double-chan, can I ask you a question?" Kaworu sat down on the table, pulling his lasagna towards himself.]
[23:30] <W> "Go ahead, Kaworu."
[23:31] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["Have you ever been drugged unconscious before?"]
[23:33] * W hesitated with his fork, but took another bite regardless. There was no turning back, anyway. And it was good food. "Only when I planned for it."
[23:34] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["You plan to be drugged, Double-chan?" Asked Kaworu with wide eyes. "That’s amazing!"]
[23:36] <W> "Do you plan on ending that streak?"
[23:38] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["Of course not, Double-chan."]
[23:41] <W> "Good. I like not having been drugged nonconsensually." W moved on to the chicken and the wine, now. "Did you find out anything about our man on your adventures?"
[23:45] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["He likes pinot noir and garlic bread. Also, I think he’s cheating on his wife."]
[23:49] <W> "Good, good. Would you like to recommend a plan for tomorrow, Kaworu?"
[23:49] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["I’d much prefer to recommend a plan for tonight, Double-chan~"]
[23:50] <W> "And what would that be, Nagisa?"
[23:51] <@Ayanami‘Rei> [Kaworu smirked.]
[23:53] * W looked at Kaworu for a few moments, then returned to his chicken.
[23:53] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["Do you like your chicken, Double-chan?" Purred Kaworu.]
[23:57] <W> "The chic-" W’s chair slid back a few inches suddenly. His face stayed a mask, however. "The chicken is fine, Kaworu. You do realise we'll need to go over the tapes and study his schedule before tomorrow, don't you?"
[23:58] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["Do we have toooooo?"]
[23:58] <W> "Of course."
[23:59] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["Can’t we just…" Kaworu sighed, looking downcast. "It's Christmas Eve…"]
[23:59] <W> "Are we going to get a more distracted mark to follow on any other day than christmas day? No, we aren't."
[00:00] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["I wanted to spend tonight together." Said Kaworu miserably. "I even brought you a present."]
[00:23] <W> "Aren’t we together enough when we're both reviewing the footage?"
[21:02] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["Well… No. Your attention is never on me." Said Kaworu sadly. "What do I have to do to gain your complete attention, Double-chan?"]
[21:09] <W> "Commit a murder. Organise a grand conspiracy. Something worth my time. But I think you’ll find it difficult to rival the importance of this case, so the best thing you can do is help me solve it as efficiently as possible, is it not?"
[21:10] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["But I could never do any of those things, Double-chan!" Said Kaworu, despair heavy in his voice. "I… I could give you a mystery, though…"]
[21:11] <W> "And what makes you think this mystery could be worth my time?"
[21:13] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["Why, no one’s ever solved it, that's why." Said Kaworu. "And Double-chan, six weeks ago you stole my tv guide and when I got it back, -all the crosswords- were done. You can't even ignore mundane mysteries."]
[21:16] <W> "That'd be stupid. There was just no reason not to. What would I ever be able to accomplish if I couldn't focus on what's important?"
[21:39] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["What indeed, Double-chan? But you’d have to be very focused- or unfocused- to solve -my- mystery."]
[21:49] <W> "Really, now?" W finished his meal, put down his utensils and stared at Nagisa impassively. "You're enjoying this. You're just trying to distract me from tonight's work, aren't you?"
[21:49] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["Is it working?"]
[21:53] <W> "We’re still here, aren't we? But we won't be if you don't start getting to your point soon."
[21:53] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["Fiiiiiine." Kaworu sighed. "Alright. The mystery. Are you ready for it, Double-chan?"]
[21:55] <W> "Naturally." W leaned back.
[21:55] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["I want you to figure out how I opened your case."]
[21:56] <W> "What do you mean? I told you how it opens. Two-layer passcode, my key and voice sample."
[21:57] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["I didn’t use any of those to open your case, Double-chan."]
[21:58] * W shook his head. "I know you know I won't tell you everything that easily. Don't think others haven't tried that on me."
[22:01] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["Ahem." Kaworu cleared his throat. "’Thusly I, Weaver, solemnly vow to fulfil this contract to its bitter end.'"]
[22:06] <W> A twitch of a corner of his eye, for a person like him, betrayed a wealth of emotion. Behind his mask, W seethed. "How."
[22:07] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["I know you know I won’t tell you everything that easily."]
[22:09] <W> "Hmph. Easy. It's not like I didn't expect them getting jealous, or -bored-." The word was like a curse, or an insult. "You can tell them whatever chance they had of me abiding by that thing is gone, now."
[22:10] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["Wrong again, Double-chan. I definitely opened that case."]
[22:13] <W> "Bullshit. I would’ve noticed if you'd broken in. Those parts are unique."
[22:14] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["Broken is too harsh a word, Double-chan. I simply asked the locks very politely to unlock themselves."]
[22:15] * W -glared-.
[22:15] <@Ayanami`Rei> [Kaworu was completely unpurturbed. In fact, he giggled and tilted his head to one side. "I thought they were very cute, though. No wonder you don’t need poor little me to snuggle at night…"]
[22:22] <W> "You have my attention, Nagisa."
[22:23] <@Ayanami‘Rei> [Kaworu beamed. "Excellent. Now then. Let me see. What time is it now? 7:30 PM? You have until midnight to solve the mystery. Otherwise, you have to be my slave for the 25th of December. Deal?"]
[22:29] <W> "And if I win?"
[22:29] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["And if I win, I’ll tell you my special secret, so we're even."]
[22:31] <@Ayanami‘Rei> <If you win*>
[22:32] <W> "I’ll need a guarantee of this never getting out. If you can't give me that, I'll face better odds just killing you right here."
[22:37] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["Double-chan, you should know better than to think you could even lay a hand on me." Said Kaworu cheerfully. "But I’ll give you my solemn guarantee."]
[22:40] <W> "You have a deal," he muttered and moved his attention to that mobile device of his. He tapped on it a few times, got up and moved to the window to stare at the scenery outside.
[22:40] <@Ayanami‘Rei> [Kaworu nonchalantly returned to his lasagna. "Good luck, Double-chan."]
[23:12] * W stood there for a while, just staring. Then, he took out the slim, metal-grey suitcase from under the bed and began to examine it, lid still carefully toward Kaworu to obscure the security measures and contents.
[23:16] <@Ayanami`Rei> [The locks weren’t forced, the voice activation key wasn't disabled. But he couldn't have unlocked them normally…]
[23:22] <W> "And you say you had no contact with them..?"
[23:23] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["Cross my heart and hope to die, Double-chan."]
[23:32] * W snapped the case shut with just a little more force than he’d intended, and shoved it back under the bed.
[23:33] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["Pass me the TV Guide, Double-chan? I want to see when my documentary’s on."]
[23:39] * W looked at the guide (its sudokus finished) for a moment and tossed it over to Kaworu. "Whatever subfaction hired you… If they'd told y— shit, no, they would've used it earlier…"
[23:43] <@Ayanami‘Rei> [Kaworu was whistling Beethoven’s Ninth to himself as he flicked through the TV Guide.]
[23:48] <W> "You seduced Blanc. That's it. I knew there was a reason! She wouldn't need much more than a synch test to open Dirac Portals that small!"
[23:48] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["You need direct lines of vision to create Dirac Portals, Double-chan." Said Kaworu without missing a beat.]
[23:51] <W> "Aha, but are you telling me she couldn’t do it with exact coordinates? And what's to stop you from taking my case and holding it outside 00 for her while I'm away?"
[23:53] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["Video footage, would be too obvious, and no, she really literally needs direct line of vision to create a portal -inside- the case."]
[23:55] <W> "But she still used -some- kind of trick!"
[23:56] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["Nope." Flick. "I didn’t -seduce- her, by the way. We simply enjoyed each other's bodies for a night whilst she was full of grief."]
[23:57] <W> "That's so much worse."
[23:57] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["… Don’t worry. I was full of grief too, so it's not predatory or anything."]
[00:06] <W> "…I'm sure. So you -didn't- use an AT trick to do it, to cheat your way through the material or locks?"
[00:07] <@Ayanami‘Rei> [Kaworu flicked another page. "No, I didn’t use Aline's AT shenanigans to crack your case."]
[00:32] * @W stared at him for a few more moments, then gave up on it. He sat back down on the bed to Ponder.
[00:34] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["Iteza gogo kuji don’t be laaaate~" crooned Kaworu.]
[00:48] <W> "You're one twisted little creature, aren't you, Nagisa."
[00:50] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["Only on command, Double-chan~"]
[00:55] * W gritted his teeth. "How did you come to work here, Nagisa?"
[00:55] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["Well, I asked the head chef, hey, do you need some help? I cook a wicked lasagna, and he was like, sure."]
[00:57] <W> "NERV. Or whoever of that twisted family owns you, anyway."
[00:59] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["Well, I happened to know a person who worked pretty closely with NERV, and thanks to her help, I was employed with Section Two as a sort of semi-official detective."]
[01:01] <W> "Fontaine?"
[01:01] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["Not Fontaine. I could tell you, but you probably haven’t heard of her."]
[01:07] <W> "Then why don't you?"
[01:08] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["Alright, fine~" Kaworu smiles. "Eugenia Ranvier?"]
[01:20] * W frowned. "Ranvier? From St-Louis? Why would she have anything to do with NERV? And, though I fear to ask… how could you have found out about it -and- convinced her to put in a good word for you?"
[01:21] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["Ranvier was the Zeroth Child."]
[01:23] <W> "What does that mean?"
[01:24] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["Ok, do you remember what the First Child, Second Child, etcetera designations mean? They’re pilots. The number designates in what order you were chosen." Said Kaworu patiently. "NERV, however, also tends to start counting at -zero-. Usually designates the prototype."]
[01:25] <W> "Yes, of course. But the pilots are pilots, just people - some of them, at least. What reason would there have been to have a prototype?"
[01:26] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["To test the synchronisation technology out on, of course! Or at least, base it on her. Other things, too."]
[01:28] <W> "Other things? And why did she suddenly show up at their school all those months ago?"
[01:28] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["Because she felt like it. Say, Double-chan, have you ever heard of Lilith?"]
[01:51] <W> "I can see why you and Blanc hit it off, now. Yes, I know of Lilith."
[01:52] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["They put Lilith’s soul in Eugenia Ranvier."]
[01:52] <W> "…they did, now?"
[01:53] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["They did." Kaworu poured himself some wine. Sipped it. "Wow, this wine is nice, Double-chan! You have good taste."]
[01:56] <W> "I know I do. What happened? I find it unlikely she survived and could be rehabilitated to a well-adjusted life just like that."
[02:01] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["They put her in EVA-00, and it nearly absorbed Lilith’s soul." Said Kaworu nonchalantly. "If it had succeeded, it would've started Third Impact. So they took her out, put her through some psycho-conditioning, then sealed her away for a few years."]
[02:09] <W> "What happened to -her-? There's no way they could get rid of all the effects with some conditioning."
[02:09] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["Well, Azariah Caine sort of… Took her when he left, you see."]
[02:18] <W> "He returned her to Paris-2 later, then?"
[02:19] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["Yes and no. She was released and told to go liaison with Atticus Nelson."]
[02:26] <W> "I see. But when he died..?"
[02:27] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["She lost the will to live, but it was Zhang Yanmei who helped her to recover."]
[02:37] <W> "Atticus Nelson already had a liaison, however. He wouldn’t have needed another even if Zhang hadn't killed him."
[02:38] <@Ayanami‘Rei> [Kaworu leaned back. "Indeed?"]
[02:38] <W> "Indeed. Your story doesn’t make sense."
[02:38] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["Doesn’t it? Why not?"]
[02:51] <W> "It makes no sense for Azariah to fail his plans -that- gloriously. There's too many contradictions in there to shake an objecting finger at… except with one explanation."
[02:52] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["Oh?"]
[02:54] <W> "There was one thing I would never have counted on earlier today. But it was simple enough, once I saw through it. The thing you made me realise is…"
[02:55] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["Yes…?"]
[02:57] <W> "How much of a pretentious -asshole- even you could be! Who the -hell- tells a story about themselves in the third person? What is this, the 20th century?!"
[02:58] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["Would you prefer I have narrated it in the noir style?"]
[02:59] <W> "I would’ve preferred if you'd told me earlier and told me straight, you idiot."
[02:59] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["But on a scale of one to ten, where does noir style narration fall?"]
[03:03] <W> "The narration can only be as strong as its mystery. So, how far did Azariah go? It seems like more than one of the factions used the same prototype. Which is only appropriate, I suppose."
[03:03] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["Well, he went to Kenya…"]
[03:05] <W> "With the -experiments-."
[03:06] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["They went to Kenya too!"]
[03:06] <@Ayanami`Rei> [Kaworu is wearing an utter shit-eating grin as he says this.]
[03:09] <W> "Are we going to just wait until the brain cells with the definition of ’metaphor' wake up and we can move on?"
[03:10] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["Ok, ok. The experiments were a mixed result. He was able to produce a human being who, when spliced with Angelic DNA, could project AT Fields. But there was a drawback."]
[03:15] <W> "A drawback? Different from Blanc’s?"
[03:18] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["Yes." Said Kaworu, and quite suddenly, the warmth in his tone, the amusement, was gone.-
[03:19] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["The product’s body is at war with itself. It wasn't supposed to live past 2016. It certainly won't see 2018. And every time it spreads its AT Field, that lifespan shortens."]
[03:31] <W> There was a long pause. The clock on the wall ticked on. "So for all we know, this could be your last christmas, huh?"
[03:32] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["Almost certainly."]
[03:35] <W> "Well, I guess…" The clock approached midnight.
[03:37] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["I wish Atticus were here…"]
[03:50] <W> "I guess you really did use your AT shenanigans just to catch a glimpse of a secret. What… exactly were-" The clock ticked midnight anticlimactically, mostly unnoticed. "-you trying to achieve?"
[03:51] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["I wanted you to notice me."]
[03:52] <W> "Why me, then? There must be easier ways and easier people."
[03:53] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["I guess it’s because I wanted to make sure that I was remembered. So I wanted to be noticed by someone who never forgets anything. I wanted to stand out in that person's mind. Even if it was a negative memory, I wanted that memory to exist."]
[04:07] <W> "…well, you've certainly accomplished that. But what happens now? Not solving this case might significantly drop the world's life expectancy, and that would affect your lifespan, no matter how short it may already be. And if any of the big factions moving around get their pieces in place too soon, well… it'd make -that- a lot harder."
[04:16] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["It’s alright, W. I've already solved this case."]
[04:17] <W> "…"
[04:17] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["I’ll give you a minute to connect the dots, ok?"]
[04:19] <W> "…You magnificent, self-aggrandising, bucketlisted -bastard-."
[04:19] <@Ayanami‘Rei> [Kaworu blushed.]
[04:24] <W> "What were your plans for tomorrow, then?" W asked plainly.
[04:25] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["Make one last attempt at seducing you before skipping off to Naples to get back to the Zhangs. Eugenia can’t be away too long."]
[04:29] * W looked away. "I… see. Good luck then, Kaworu."
[04:30] <@Ayanami‘Rei> "… Can I ask you a favour?"
[04:34] <W> "Go ahead." He faced Kaworu again, his voice Professional. Such a voice could certainly face up to any request.
[04:35] <@Ayanami`Rei> [But Kaworu wasn’t sitting there. Instead, wearing Kaworu's clothes, sitting in Kaworu's spot, was undeniably Eugenia Ranvier, her hair long, her eyes blue.-
[04:35] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["I was born Eugenia Ranvier, and that is the name I will bear when I die. So please, call me Eugenia. Remember me as Eugenia."]
[04:38] <W> Any request but this. It was W’s turn to blush. "…n-no problem," he finally stammered, struggling to keep his voice under control from the shock.
[04:39] <@Ayanami‘Rei> [Eugenia smiled, standing up and crossing the distance, placing a hand on his cheek.-
[04:41] <@Ayanami`Rei> ["Zhang Yanmei, Aline Blanc and Sera de Pteres hold the keys to the reality that you seek. They can lead you to every conceivable end. Beware Mary Caine. And finally… If we ever meet again, my dear Weaver, it’ll be in a place far south from here, where the greatest challenge awaits."]
[04:51] * W nodded, wincing as his breathing grew more rapid. "…I'll remember, Eugenia. And we'll all remember you, when we get what's ours."
[04:52] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["Thank you, Weaver. I’ll never forget you, either." She turned, smiling her fond, sad, smile, and headed for the door.-
[04:52] <@Ayanami‘Rei> ["It… Was fun."]
[04:54] <W> "…the best case," Weaver muttered.
[04:54] <@Ayanami`Rei> [One last smile, and a mild blush from the pale Eugenia, then the door closed behind her.]
[05:10] <@Ayanami`Rei> [Eventually, W would find, untouched under the plates and the cloth of the table, Eugenia’s gift.-
[05:11] <@Ayanami`Rei> [A book, filled with puzzles of all shapes and sizes.-
[05:11] <@Ayanami`Rei> [And his reward for finishing these puzzles…?-
[05:11] <@Ayanami`Rei> [The key to a new life, should he accept it…]

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