This fic is a one-shot of a particular scene in my upcoming fic (which is a WIP). This upcoming fic WILL HAVE this scene and will be posted sometime. Basically, this story is technically done, but more will be coming. Thanks for everyone who read and left a review, I really appreciate it! :-)
Shinji strolled through the park. It was evening and fast dimming as orange lights bounced off the skyscrapers of Tokyo-3. The trail he was following led to nowhere and everywhere at once. Shinji was stuck in the valley between doing something and doing nothing. He was going through the motions of existing.
It was only by chance that he was able to see Kaji sitting on a bench, who had a whimsical grin on his face, closed eyes set on the horizon, legs kicked out, and hands interlocked behind his head. Shinji caught him in his peripheral vision. His eyes blinked back into life as he mustered a response.
"Kaji. . .", he said.
Kaji opened his left eye.
"Good evening Shinji!", Kaji said. Kaji fixed himself into a sitting posture to better talk to the pilot.
"It looks like you're out here on an evening stroll. Going somewhere maybe?"
"Umm. I guess so.", Shinji said.
"I'm sorry to interrupt your stroll, but would you like to sit down?", Kaji gestured to the empty space next to him.
Not really caring and slightly intrigued, Shinji sat down.
"Beautiful isn't it? The view?", Kaji said. Kaji referred to the view of Tokyo-3 that glimmered in the sun.
"Yeah," Shinji said. It's no surprise that Shinji can be unbearably dull to talk to. Especially if he wasn't in the mood. But Kaji is more than patient enough to deal with this.
Kaji took a contented breath.
"You know I've been wondering what you and Asuka have been up to recently. Especially since you two have been under the same roof for a while.", Kaji gave an implied wink making Shinji blush and turn his head.
"It's been okay I guess."
"That's good to hear. Hmmm. Say, what do you think of Asuka as a person?"
"Huh? Asuka? I don't know. She's a nice person I think.", Shinji said, "But she irritates me sometimes."
Kaji chuckled softly, "She does doesn't she? But why would you still say she's nice? I've heard that she's a bit mean-spirited, especially to you."
Shinji reflected momentarily. The way Asuka rubs him the wrong way. The way she takes too much time in the bathroom. The way she constantly complains about dinner or breakfast. The way she constantly hits him or asks him to do this or that. All the while she puts on airs as if she was the most important thing to mankind. The problem is, she was kinda right.
Shinji wrinkled his nose. "Bitch," he thought. And perhaps rightly so.
Then he reflected on the one occasion she sleepwalked into his room. The way she vulnerably layed next to him. The way he tried to kiss her before she cried out for her mother in the dead of night. The constant shame and guilt on his mind for even thinking of taking advantage of her. No amount of excuses to help him repent for what he could've done. This prideful, invincible redhead was reduced to a child. The paradox boggled Shinji, and he could never reconcile his image of her. On the same note, Shinji thought back to the time he had synchronized with her to defeat Israfael. Or the time she went out of her way to bear the brunt of acid Matareal flooded into HQ. Both were extraordinary feats of cooperation and trust, especially since it didn't come too easily from her.
"Yes. But I know that she isn't all bad. There are some good moments.", Shinji said.
"Oh is that so? Which moments?", Kaji asked.
"Well. The one time we had to synchronize and defeat that angel. Or when she offered to protect us from acid. And she's not bad to talk to."
"And she's pretty too? No?", Kaji jibed.
"What? Why are you asking me this!", Shinji said. He was getting flustered and exasperated with this interrogation. It didn't help that it concerned a very cantankerous girl. If Shinji continued talking like this, he might be in danger of growing a backbone.
Kaji sighed, "Well it's good that you think that way. Asuka is a fiery girl. And sometimes she tries to make herself stronger than she actually is. More older. More mature. I trust you know this already."
"Yeah", Shinji said. She was always too mature to do this or that. Too mature to hang out with a few people in his school. All the signs of immaturity she gives are somehow branded as being 'mature'.
"But the truth is that she's not as strong as she wishes she is. No one is really. She still has a few soft spots she's still trying to cover. She thinks that time will give her strength, but maturity and age don't solve all the questions," Kaji continued.
"Which is why I'm asking you to look out for her more."
"Me? Look out for her?"
"Yup. If you don't mind of course. She probably needs you more than anyone. As for me? I can't always be there all the time. And frankly, I don't want to as well.", Kaji laughed. It was an underhanded jab at Asuka behind her back that did more to relate to him than anything else. It was still sorta mean-spirited, even in Shinji's eyes.
Shinji said nothing but his face clearly said, "Yikes."
"Look out for her? Asuka?" Shinji said, "She doesn't even want me around or need me. What would I even do?"
"Well, for starters, she likes you more than she lets on. Secondly, don't be afraid to reach out about personal stuff. She talks more than even she wants to, consciously or not."
Some parts of Shinji felt touched, but he still remained reserved.
"She likes me?", Shinji said.
"Well, at least more than you think.", Kaji said.
"After all, you did save her once. Didn't you? She's also pretty impressed with your piloting. Although don't tell her I said that."
"Yeah. I guess so.", Shinji said. The more he thought about the volcano incident the more he started to understand. It wasn't crazy to assume she has found more respect for Shinji ever since he saved her. But again, this was Asuka. Whatever good he's done must've gone through one ear and out the other with the march of time. Or did it?
Kaji saw the consternation on Shinji's face. He realized that convincing Shinji of his worth to Asuka was something he's going to have to realize himself.
"Look Shinji. There's a saying that what's important is invisible. People function along that same principle. Asuka is no exception. Words are just monkey-talk. Look past that and there's something people really want to say. Something that even they don't know."
"Something people really want to say?", Shinji puzzled.
"Yeah. You'll get it. Eventually.", Kaji said. "Hopefully", Kaji thought. With a final smile, and a glint of pity in his eyes, he stretched and walked off. Shinji's eye trailed him as he meandered off.
Before going, Kaji stopped and turned his head. "Oh yeah, Shinji! When women annoy you! It means they need your attention!", Kaji said. And with that he walked off with the sunset riding his left shoulder.
Shinji leaned back into the park bench. He internalized what Kaji said. Shinji wasn't as stupid as Asuka thought he was. It might've made sense that maybe Asuka didn't hate him as much as he thought she did, which brought him some relief. But this burden of trying to help her. To look for something that he can't see or understand.
It scared him.
It was much easier to stick to what people said in real life. The textbook definition.
"Monkey-talk", Shinji thought.
Uhh so that's it folks. My first fic posted on this site. I'm working on incorporating this into a larger fic, but I thought I'd post it to wet my feet a little and get used to the process. Thank you to all the readers who gave it a shot!