Shinji was exceptionally young when he met his first and oldest friend. Too young to really remember anything, after his mom died and her had been given to foster-care as Gendo Ikari had been uninterested in raising a small child, the young Shinji had run away, looking for his 'Momma' and gotten himself lost in the woods.
Scared and alone, and hopelessly lost up on the untamed wilderness of a mountainside, he happened across an abandoned shrine, and met with the shrine's guardian. A lone fox had taken up residence, and Shinji, being too young to understand a wild fox was simple creature and a dangerous thing for a small child, walked straight up to it and tried to talk to it.
The fox paid attention, and curled up next to the crying child until he could manage words between his sobbing. Shinji tried to pet it as best he could, though he was clumsy at it and his entire body was shaking as he sobbed uncontrollably.
The fox curled up closer to Shinji, cuddling him with her body. Shinji tried to return the gesture, holding close to the fox and as the sobs subsided, the young Shinji fell asleep, his only source of warmth and comfort being the vixen he'd found.
With morning came a new day full of new possibilities, and Shinji found himself clumsily chasing after the little fox he'd found, down the mountain trails, through underbrush. The vixen wasn't letting him fall behind or catch up. Always one step ahead, Shinji's arms and legs burned, but a few careful moments where he nearly caught her again kept him going.
Shinji laughed as he chased after his new friend. Though he had no idea where they were going. Eventually the land flattened out and gave way to increasingly urban terrain, people taking note of a five-year-old chasing a fox through town, but ultimately not caring enough to do much.
Shinji found the people assigned to care for him staring at the fox, marvelling at it, until Shinji caught up and grabbed her with a big two-armed hug, squeezing it as hard as he could.
"You lead me home again! Thank you so much!"
The fox yipped, her voice muffled as her weight and the way Shinji was holding her pushed her thick coat of fur around her muzzle.
Shinji's adoptive father disappeared into the house for a moment before coming back with a camera. Shinji looked at the strange new device until it flashed and Shinji's eyes hurt and had a ghost of the flash bulb floating around in it, dropping his new best friend.
With a mechanical whirring, Shinji's surrogate-father waited for the photo to come out and shook the polaroid in the air whilst he waited for it to develop. Shinji marvelled as he saw the picture of him holding the fox.
"Can I keep it?" Shinji asked "It saved me and brought me all the way back here after being lost."
"I don't know-"
"It's a wild animal"
"I'll make sure it doesn't make a mess."
"You don't even know if it's a boy or girl."
Shinji looked at his new best friend, and he asked her "Are you a boy or girl?"
The fox only whined at him.
"Oh… can you bark once for a boy and twice for a girl?"
To the surrogate's surprise, the fox barked exactly twice for Shinji
"So you're a girl-fox? Then I think I'll call you Kiyone."
"Well, she'll be your responsibility. You'll have to clean her and feed her and take her out for walks, and if she makes a mess you'll have to clean it up." Shinji's surrogate dad told him.
Shinji modded his head vigorously. He would do his best to make sure he always gave Kiyone the best of care.
His guardians watched in bemusement as Shinji rushed around, packing his bag full of things for his pet fox.
"Seems like only yesterday he was coming in off that hill with her."
"He was lucky he found that shrine, and Kiyone."
"Old thing, can't imagine it's much longer for the world."
"I'd hate to see Shinji when that does happen. Kiyone's the world to him… she doesn't show it any."
"Indeed, it's been ten years and she hasn't slowed down one bit."
"Who'd have thought that telling him to make sure he looked after her would lead to him getting a doctorate."
"Indeed… though, I suppose it's only natural that he save the sanctuary… he wrote the book on foxes, it'd be a shame to have to let go of the creatures he studied like that."
"And now a mystery call from this NERV… I wonder what it could be."
"Who knows. We'll surely find out eventually though."
Shinji burst in suddenly. "I can't find my tape deck, have you seen it?"
Shinji's caretakers giggled and pointed, and Shinji turned aroudn to find Kiyone had the tapedeck in her mouth, waiting for him expectantly.
"Oh." was all Shinji said as he went over and plied Kiyone with pats and scratches to retrieve his tapedeck from her.
Shinji was sure he was in the right place… this 'Misato' was just late. Looking up at the Fox standing on his shoulder, Shinji pat her to keep her occupied.
"Hopefully it won't be much longer now, Kiyone, or we'll just have to get to a shelter without her." Shinji said
As he said that, Kiyone barked, gripping his shoulder as her hackles rose, and she assumed a defensive posture. The drone of several helicopter's blades became audible not long before a terrifying, black monster littered with white bone-like protrusions all over its body came around a mountain, surrounded by attack helicopters from the JSSDF.
The Helicopters shot at it with salvoes of missiles and hailstorms of bullets, but nothing even scratched it. The kaiju swatted one o the helicopters out of the sky, sending it careening through the air to crash near Shinji. Kiyone leapt off Shinji's shoulder and pulled at his pants leg until he followed her into a nearby alleyway as The Kaiju then leapt, one foot landing on the crashed helicopter and touching off the fuel. The explosion rained shrapnel and metal fragments up and down the streets.
Shinji pat Kiyone as the Kaiju leapt away, emerging from their hiding place just as a blue car pulled a bootlegger's turn and came screeching to a halt in front of them.
The driver rolled down the window and said "Get in."
"Are you Misato?"
Shinji nodded and piled in with the bag full of his things, Kiyone jumping in his lap and rolling over, tail wagging. Shinji just rolled his eyes and scratched her belly, enjoying the happy purring it caused… or at least the fox equivalent of purring, which sounded a lot like a dog's whining.
"It doesn't sound like she likes that." Misato said
"Foxes vocalise differently. We're hardwired to understand dogs, not foxes." Shinji informed Misato
"How old is she?"
"She was two or three when we met, and I've had her for close to ten years… at least twelve, maybe older." Shinji said "she's quite old, but it doesn't show in the slightest."
Shinji got a swat on the arm from Kiyone's tail for that. Shinji just gave her more bellyscratches to mollify her.
They stopped to take a break two hours later on the city outskirts. Misato was watching the fight through a pair of binoculars as Shinji let Kiyone run around for a bit.
Shinji had just let Kiyone back in when Misato shouted "They're using an N2 Mine?! Get Down!"
Misato curled around Shinji to protect him, who was doing the same for the fox in his lap. There was an explosion that lit up the horizon, and a steadily growing trail of destruction as the pressure wave raced towards them at breakneck speed.
Kiyone cast a small warding spell to help protect them as the 'Bang' reached them, and the wind blew fiercely against the car, eventually lifting it up and throwing it dozens of meters, rolling over and over until it came to a rest on its side. Even with magical protection, that had still sucked.
All three took a few moments to disentangle themselves and poked their heads out the car, the strong wind off the clean nuke's blast blowing their hair around.
"We should get moving."
Everyone climbed out and set about getting moving again. Misato and Shinji worked to push the car back onto its wheels, pushing and working as hard as they could for several minutes. Misato tried the key and found that the starting motor wasn't turning. Looking under the bonnet revealed that her battery had been cracked and was leaking fluid everywhere, and most definitely not holding a charge.
Kiyone arrived not long after with a spare taken from a different car.
"That's… one resourceful fox." Misato said
"Yeah… she has this weird tendency to have what you need right as you need it." Shinji said "I used to think she stole my stuff until she showed me she was just good at finding it… well, she does steal things, but she also gives them back when I need them too."
Misato blinked, staring at Shinji like he'd grown two heads as he kept babbling on about his pet fox.
"And I thought Rits said he'd be an introvert…"
"Did you say something Misato?"
Shinji shrugged, before going back to talking about his pet fox as Misato finally got her car running again.
[Insert transition noises here]
Misato was ready to shoot Shinji first, then herself, if she couldn't find the EVA-01 soon.
"...Did you know that foxes normally only live two years, but live up to 15 in captivity… Kiyone here's managed about 12 and she's still going strong. I think she's gonna have a world record for world's oldest fox soon."
Misato had to resist the urge to slam her head into the wall as Shinji spouted out more fox facts. Thankfully, Ritsuko chose that moment to step into the Elevator.
Misato immediately told Ritsuko "I have a splitting headache; He's your problem now." and stormed off.
Ritsuko stared at Shinji "What got into her?"
Shinji just shrugged.
"No Matter. Come this way, we have a lot of ground to cover very quickly." Ritsuko said, Leading Shinji in the right direction at long last.
Shinji found himself travelling by boat across a lake of orange liquid, and passed through a wall that was several meters thick to find a giant robot.
"A giant robot?" Shinji asked
"Indeed." Ritsuko said
"Why are you showing me this?" Shinji asked
"We need you to pilot it." Ritsuko supplied
"Pilot that thing?"
A lone figure appeared silhouetted
"That's Gendo Ikari"
Ritsuko blinked in surprise "It's your father."
"... oh. Hi." Was all Shinji said before bending down to pat Kiyone some more. Foxes were high-energy, high-maintenance pets that needed a lot of attention at the best of times.
"Who's a good girl, you are! Yes you are! Who gets lots of belly scratches!"
The fox whines happily, much to Gendo and Ritsuko's frustration.
"Shinji, I need you to get in that robot and defeat that angel."
"Sure. Can you look after Kiyone for a moment whilst I do that" Shinji said, handing the ball of red-orange fur to Ritsuko
Ritsuko reluctantly accepted Kiyone and handed Shinji the neural headband, before showing him where to get into the Entry Plug.
EVA-01 rocketed to the surface, Shinji in the LCL was left mostly unaffected by the intense G-forces of such a rapid ascension.
"Just focus on trying to walk, Shinji" Ritsuko said, before sneezing several times as Kiyone rubbed against her face from her seat in the scientists lap.
Shinji nodded, grabbed the controls, and managed one step before falling flat on his face.
The fight was… short, at least, even if it wasn't bloodless or clean. At least EVA-01 had protected Shinji from Sahiel's self destruction… Shinji, remarkably, didn't suffer much psychological duress. When Sahiel had grabbed his arm, it had reminded him of the many times an overly aggressive fox had bitten his wrist at the sanctuary, and he'd almost reflexively broken the hold.
His studies of hunting techniques had led to him shoulder-checking Sahiel and then pummeling it whilst it was down, avoiding its attempts to grab him or attack him whilst it was down from hours of playing with Kiyone and her sharp digging claws, as he trying to attack anything that looked vulnerable until he found the glowing red thing, which looked like a clearly telegraphed weakpoint if he'd ever seen one, and had promptly smashed it to bits.
Now Shinji stood before Gendo, and was trying to keep Kiyone still. She didn't like him, and that was reason enough for Shinji to not like or trust Gendo. Kiyone had never been wrong once. Usually, whenever Kiyone had proven to not like someone, that person had gone on to mean bad news for someone Shinji knew, from bullying to bad rumours to attempting to kick Kiyone, Shinji knew to trust Kiyone's judgement.
And Kiyone said Gendo was bad news… in fact, he'd heard her growl or bark at some bad offenders, but Kiyone had her hackles up and looked ready to fight or run.
This was unprecedented, and Shinji wondered what sort of evil, evil man his supposed father was.
"We will need you to fight again, Shinji. There will be more angels coming."
"Sure" Shinji said, not able to muster more of a response from attempting to calm Kiyone, primising extra pats and special treats if she would calm down and behave herself.
It wasn't until he mentioned Tofu that Kiyone seemed to take notice of the bribe.
"Then go. I will need you tomorrow to run some tests." Gendo said
As Shinji left, Gendo began to place a call. "Pilot Ikari's fox… I need it 'taken care of'. Pilot Ikari is far too attached to it to allow it to remain and still accomplish our scenario."
"Understood sir. I'll see to it immediately."
Shinji had just finished cleaning out Misato's place, and he was feeling sticky from the sorts of… 'refuse' he'd had to deal with; Mostly beer cans with that last little bit at the bottom leaking all over him. Mostly.
Shinji was taking a shower whilst Misato prepared dinner for the two of them, and Kiyone was exploring the apartment, running to and fro.
It didn't take long for Kiyone to encounter a man sneaking in a window.
Kiyone screeched and growled, but Shinji couldn't hear her in the shower, and Misato probably didn't know what Kiyone's vocalisations meant.
The man saw her making a racket and pulled out a large t-shaped bit of metal with a hole in the front- a modern welrod-style pistol.
The man pointed it at the fox and squeezed the trigger, the pistol barked quiet enough that Misato missed it from the other room and Kiyone lay bleeding on the floor.
The man then squirted a little lighter fluid and dropped a lighter on the floor to ensure no one would find evidence. The fire spread rapidly along the accelerants until it touched the bleeding fox.
To the assassin's great surprise, the fire immediately snuffed out, shooting straight towards the fox, who stood back up, suddenly missing the bleeding hole in its side.
Then the fox opened its mouth and instead of a screech or other alarm sound, Kiyone breathed a steady stream of fire.
The man screamed, trying to beat out the fire and accidentally pummeled himself in the crotch. Panicking, a headbutt from Kiyone was all it took to send him tumbling backwards out the window and falling all the way down to ground floor. As luck would have it, he smashed into and through the upper boughs of a tree and landed mostly unharmed by the time he ate dirt.
The man's burning crotch quickly spurred him to start rolling to try and put out the fire, to little success until someone put him out and called an Ambulance.
Kiyone watched from the window sill before walking off with her nose in the air.
"How's that for foxfire."
Ok, this is rough as hell, but Saraphima insisted I publish this, and after putting me through Evangelion, End of Evangelion AND Rebuild, I'm too jaded to really argue. Have a floofy christmas all.