O, my Luve's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June.
O, my Luve's like the melodie,
That's sweetly play'd in tune.

IntelliAyanami sat at her desk studying the latest data gathered on the other factions. For the safety of both the hospital and its personnel, threat estimates had to be made and revised daily. No faction of note could be excluded. It does not matter if the intelligence analyst or her leader thinks a threat from a given faction is unlikely: if they have the capability to harm you, the nature of that potential threat must be weighed and appropriate countermeasures prepared. As such, she was very busy, and did not appreciate one of her sisters opening her office door. They knew better than to disturb her at this hour!

"Rei-san," said the receptionist with a mischievous grin. "You have company." She then stepped aside to let Iain Caduceus enter the office, and then closed the door. Rei immediately turned to face him, startled and thrown off by his unexpected visit.

Iain seemed a little ruffled, and more than a little nervous. "Hi, sorry about disturbing you. The receptionist wasn't going to let me in, but I told her it was urgent."

"Well, they do have strict orders not to bother me until noon unless it is an emergency. So, what is the matter?" Rei tried to keep her expression calm, but after that serenade, she felt a little nervous herself, and his perturbed demeanor wasn't helping.

"I've brought you a little something." Caduceus pulled out a flat container of burnished black metal. He set it down on her desk and opened it. Two-thirds of the interior was filled with a clear liquid. The remaining space held a keypad.

"What is it?" IntelliAyanami asked.

"It's a liquid crystal matrix, electromagnetically field-stabilized ... *cough* It's a gift. I hope you will like it. Just let me start the reconstruction sequence..." Caduceus keyed a release code and then pushed a button. It will take a few minutes. That will give me time to say something which needs to be said." Caduceus paused, taking a deep breath. He looked anxious. He then sat down, and drew his chair up, blocking IntelliAyanami's view of the liquid crystal container.

IntelliAyanami waited, seemingly impassive, but her heart rose into her throat.

"About the other night, the serenade. I was... er, very drunk at the time. Otherwise I'd never have done that." His eyes were downcast, and he fidgetted with his hands a little.

At Caduceus' first words, IntelliAyanami felt her heart stop, and an icy lump formed in her stomach.

As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I,
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry.

Then Iain took a deep breath and looked up at her. "Even so... the sentiments were real, if badly expressed. In the past few months, I... well, you've become very important to me. I probably should have said something earlier, but I'm not very good with words. I hope the whole thing wasn't too upsetting and embarrassing for you. I think ... no, I feel, that we've sort of moved beyond just being... just, you know, friends..." Iain paused again, closed his eyes and breathed deeply again for a moment, and then opened his eyes again and went on. "...and I'd hate to have changed that with my behavior the other night." Despite his attempts to stay calm, a nervous tremor had crept into Caduceus' voice, and his posture was stiff with tension. He sat as if poised for flight.

IntelliAyanami's heart began to beat again, and a wave of warmth spread through her, melting the icy lump. She closed her eyes and sighed with relief. "And I should have said something earlier as well. You are special to me. And Iain... C-kun... about not being good with words ... You're doing just fine. Both now and the other night."

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun!
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.

Iain's looked surprised for a moment, as if he'd not expected such a response, then his eyes lit up. "Really? You mean it?" Then he realized he'd leaned forward rather exuberantly, and sat back and smiled sheepishly. "I mean, er... heh, um..." he said. "Well, thanks. I was worried that you'd take the serenade badly. I'm glad you liked it."

IntelliAyanami smiled. "You have a lot to learn about women. We like it when men make fools of themselves for us," she teased.

"Oh ... ah." Caduceus clearly was at a lost for words. An electronic chime delivered him. "Ah, it's ready!"

With that, Caduceus stepped to one side, revealing his surprise. There upon her desk, gleamed a single crystal rose, blushing in the morning sun.


"Oh ..." IntelliAyanami said, her voice catching. Her eyes began to mist over with tears.
Caduceus began to look worried again, and said, "I'm sorry, I thought ... I'm such a baka~"

IntelliAyanami put a gentle hand over his mouth.

"Oh, you dear, dear man." she said, her voice choked with tears of joy. "Come here." And so saying she drew him close to her and kissed him.

And fare thee weel, my only luve,
And fare thee weel a while!
And I will come again, my luve,
Tho' it were ten thousand mile!
</pre><hr/> The poem is O My Luve's Like A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns (1759-1796).

Idea and original manuscript by AncestralHamster.
Dialogue revision by Caduceuskun.
Thanks to Meagen for script approval and use of IntelliAyanami.

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