"OK, fine." you say at last. "Get in the car, I'll take you home. But before I do, I need to sort something out, so bear with me."
Touji beams. "Thanks! C'mon you two, we're outta here!"
"But what about the mortal remains of the Wunder?" whines Kensuke. "We can't just leave the poor thing by the side of the road!"
You sigh. "Oh, fine, we'll strap the bits of your spacecraft to the roof." you concede. It's not like the PimpMobile can possibly look any worse than it already does after all. Besides, it might come in handy.
A few minutes work getting the body of the suspiciously familiar-sounding rocket tied to the roof rack, and you finally set off towards Rei's apartment, with the three suckers in tow.
"So, you three are Shinji's classmates." you inquire. "What do you think of my embarra- sorry, lovely son anyway?"
"He's nice enough." says Hikari. "I don't know him too well, but he's always seemed like a good person to me. I mean, there was that one time he made Asuka cry but that wasn't really his fault."
You suppress the urge to chuckle. Somehow you're not surprised to hear Shinji is struggling to deal with women. He doesn't have the Rokubungi family knack for dealing with the opposite sex. Perhaps he inherited too much of Yui's softness. And kindness. And overall lovingness, and affection, and understanding, and seriously mean recipe for crab and sweetcorn soup...oh Yui, why did you have to-
"Erm, Mr. Ikari?" the pigtailed girl snaps you out of your reminiscing. "Are you alright? You seemed to be crying."
"What? Oh, yes, sorry. I, umm, need to clean those onions out of the air conditioning. I don't know how they got there." you stammer, trying your best to conceal any signs of weakness. "But, umm, yes. Where were we?"
"Well, Shinji's kinda quiet mosta the time." says Touji. "Me 'n Kensuke are his only real friends at school, though he's always bickerin' with Asuka, an' he seems to get on OK with Rei, wouldn't ya say, Kensuke?"
The bespectacled boy nods. "Yep. He's always nervous around Rei, for some reason, though she seems to get on with him. I think he's got a crush on her, myself. Wouldn't you say, class rep?"
"Yeah, I'd be inclined to agree..." she says, pensively. "Not that I think that's a bad thing, they'd be cute together, and it's nice to see Rei get along with somebody..."
Hmm. This is worse than you thought. If it were a one-sided flight of fancy on Rei's part, that would be bad enough. But for the two of them to be crushing on each other? This was a disaster. Rei is part of the scenario, and if she gets involved with Shinji it could ruin everything. Plus, even if she is a pawn in a much larger game, you are rather fond of her, and you don't want to see her getting hurt by that dysfunctional mess. Something needs to be done.
"Look, you three. I have something I need you to do." you declare. "You see, I really don't think Shinji and Rei would be a good match for each other. I need you to make sure they're kept apart."
"Huh? What makes ya say that?" asks Touji, puzzled.
"It's...complicated. But I really need you to stop Rei from crushing on him."
The trio start whispering to each other. Finally, Hikari speaks out.
"Saaaayyy...What are you up to?" she says, skeptically. "Are you...interested in Rei? I hope you're not, she's far too young for you."
You clench your fists under the seat, seething with rage at the implication. "Of course not! Where the hell would you get that idea from?" you splutter, trying to hide your anger. "No, Rei has...a heart condition, and too much excitement can set it off. I'm worried that if she gets involved with Shinji...well, you know."
Hikari's expression softens. "Oh, I see. Well, we'll see what we can do."
"Excellent. Oh look, we're here. I'll be right back, don't go anywhere."
The trio nod. "Not a problem. Can we have the radio on?" says Kensuke.
Satisfied that the silly children aren't going to run off with your car, you exit the automobile and stroll over to the entrance to the apartment complex.
You find Rei's apartment, and give three short, sharp knocks upon the door. "I'm coming in, Rei." you announce, before opening the door.
Wandering in, you find Rei sitting in her bed in her pyjamas, reading a biology textbook. With any other child this would be considered highly abnormal behaviour, but for Rei it is refreshingly normal.
She turns her head to face you, not putting down her book.
"Hello, Commander Ikari." she says, softly. "What brings you here? You do not usually visit my habitat, especially at this time in the morning."
You are about to immediately lay down the law with her about Shinji, but something stops you. There is something...different in her blood-red eyes today, something that makes you not want to upset her. You pray that this isn't a trick and that she hasn't evolved the ability to do puppy-eyes.
How do you start off this undoubtedly awkward conversation?
1: "Rei, this Shinji nonsense has to stop. It's for your own good." -tough love?
2: "Rei, I'm sorry, we need to have a little talk..." -try and make it painless?
3: "How has school been? -try and slowly work your way onto the Shinji topic?
4: Give her a hug?
Here lies Squigsquasher.