What We Wished For

Asuka and Shinji have both been scarred. After Third Impact a particular series of incidents leads them to confront how and why.

Koros45 doesn't own Neon Genesis Evangelion or End of Evangelion

1

Love is Destructive

He woke up and she wasn't there. Judging by the sky it was at least four in the morning. The orange sea was still the same size as the day they'd washed up on the shore. That had been four months ago. Five if one counted the current day.

The electricity worked. And the apartment was in working order – the generator stolen from NERV HQ still giving the Soryu – Ikari household enough to get by. And water hadn't been an issue either. There were times where one of the two would wake up and leave the room prompting the other to look for the other. Usually it was due to personal nightmares. It made it difficult to move on, but so far they had managed. Even if moving on was just making it to the next day.

Shinji saw the door was swung open in the bathroom and he stepped inside, doing a double take as he didn't see anyone in there at first, yet the light was on. Then he noticed the A10 headgear on the counter. Something Asuka would never take off unless for sleep . . . or for bathing, he supposed.

He turned and saw she was huddled up in the shower, her arms holding her bunched up legs to her chest tightly as she shuddered. Her face was buried between her knees and her expression was unreadable.

"Asuka?" Shinji asked quietly. She gasped with a start and peeked out at him from over her knees, long red hair frizzed up into bedhead as her tired eyes registered it was him. She looked completely dejected and powerless – the very opposite of what she regularly projected.

"-I". She started and then stopped. Her eyes glanced down and she closed them again.

"Right before Third Impact, I wanted to . . . kill myself." She said suddenly, her bitter voice the only thing in the air.

Shinji stood, body hunching slightly over as he stared at her with uncertain eyes. What was he supposed to say? What would make things right? How could he help her? He didn't know.

"It was in a bathtub. I planned to . . . cut my wrists and bleed out all over the place." Asuka said as she shook again. "That's how Section 02 found me. That's . . . how I was until I heard from Mama."

She closer her eyes again. Idiot, idiot, idiot! Why tell Shinji this!? Wasn't it in the past!? Didn't it all die with the old world?! She wanted to do something drastic to make the thoughts stop. The silence was not helping things. Her thoughts kept churning and she wondered what would happen now.

/

The only other time they'd been in the bathroom together had been when he'd helped her out of the bandages and they'd washed up. It had been predictably Shinji of him to avoid touching her unless he needed to. She supposed it was better than the unpredictable Shinji's actions at the hospital, but as far as she was concerned, that Shinji was dead. She'd been comfortable enough with sharing a bed with him for what? Over three months now? Holding one another had helped with the nightmares. Until now.

In the dream she saw Shinji looming with hands on her throat as he pinned her against the sandy beach, a wild look in his eyes and a grin that gave her the chills. It had been a dream, but the damage was done.

Asuka woke up with him sleeping right next to her, his head on her shoulder. She shoved him off, rolling over and running out of the dark bedroom into the bathroom. The shower basin had practically called to her as she sat in it, clutched the sides of her head and exhaled, telling herself that it had been a dream.

Reverse psychology, she'd told herself. If she faced the fears of her past, she might be able to conquer them and get some sleep. But it seemed those fears were still very real to her. The voice in her head would always be there, trying to sabotage her. Asuka grabbed the shower curtain and pulled it, hiding her from his gaze.

"Did I wake you up?" She asked, looking up at the ceiling as she processed the shade of paint on the ceiling.

"No. I woke up by myself." He said. "I wondered where you were."

Then silence. Silence she didn't want him breaking again with another obvious statement.

"Asuka, are you going to be ok?" Shinji asked.

"Well - you found me." Asuka said after making an obvious statement of her own, staring now at the water nozzle. It would be so easy to return to the past habit of scalding water to distract herself with pain.

It would be so easy to hate herself again.

"I don't know." She said, now surprised at how open she'd been showing her fear. Her forehead fell to her knees and she gave herself another squeeze.

"Would it help . . . if I were to join you?" He asked.

" . . . Go ahead. Just give me some space." She answered, sounding a bit annoyed.

/

Shinji was surprised at her answer. Yet another day of something new, he supposed as he threw off his pink t shirt and dropped his pants and underwear to enter the shower, quickly mirroring Asuka's pose both to cover his body and put space between them.

"I saw you in the nightmare." Asuka said, suppressing more shakes as she looked him in the eyes.

Shinji gulped and the action prompted Asuka to start thinking frantically. "Where were we?" He asked.

The voice in her head began whispering to his response. Of course. Of course he knows! It was obvious! Either the hospital, the table, or the beach! You're an even bigger idiot than him if you thought he wouldn't guess any of those places!

Asuka winced and shut off the voice trying to tear her down.

"The beach. Choking me. Right after Instrumentality and Third Impact. You looked . . . happy to do it too." She finished, looking up to see his expression. Asuka felt nothing as she saw his face, eyes sink and mouth open in surprise. His whole body that he'd mirrored hers with moved, rocking back against the far wall.

Surprise my ass. He had better be grateful you're still so pathetic that you sleep with him! The one who used your hospitalized and unconscious body to whack off to! The one who strangled you twice for rejecting him! Yet - after all that, that's the one that you forgave. And to think you used to call him pathetic!? You're no slouch in that department yourself!

Asuka clutched her temple with her left hand and winced. She had to shut up that voice. "Shinji, I know that you've had low points but . . . these last three weeks have been good. Concerning the two of us I mean." Asuka said.

Liar! You hate him! And he hates you! He just wants to strangle you again when you least expect it! Or even worse! You know he just wants to use you as an object! As a doll even! How could he not!? Now that you're not an EVA pilot anymore, you're useless!

Shut up!

Asuka thought. Even if he's done terrible things, I still – I still . . .

The silence permeated for about ten seconds before Shinji spoke again.

"Asuka, did you want me to sleep in my old room tonight? You can have – your room to yourself if you want." Shinji proposed. "I completely understand if you need privacy."

It was a fair idea considering the circumstances. To be honest he was surprised that she wanted to share anything with him at all - least of all physical contact after such a personal nightmare.

"No. I can't sleep right now. I just needed to do this. See if the urge to end it all was really there. But I'm . . . glad that's not the case." Asuka said.

/

"Then why is she still here? Was she planning on just staying like this until the sun comes up?" Shinji thought.

"If she's really . . . just like me then – she wouldn't really want to push me away. But – she wouldn't know how to go about approaching me either. She's shaking. Even though we know each other, it still doesn't make being human any easier."

He extended out a hand. It was all he could think of.

Asuka looked at it for a moment and then back up at Shinji.

"In Instrumentality Asuka wanted me to give myself freely to her. I think she was being dramatic but – at this moment reaching out to her with all I have is really all I can think of. Did Misato and Kaji have to deal with this sort of thing?"

Asuka grabbed his hand and had a slight blush as she leaned forward. "Turn on some warm water, Shinji."

The voice all but died in her head as she crawled into Shinji's arms as she lay her head on his chest, feeling the water as he held her for a bit.

"That nightmare sounds really terrible. I'm glad you're able to talk about it." He said, for once not apologizing as though it was his fault. As though saying 'I'm sorry' would make it go away.

Bare skin on skin was new to Asuka, a pleasant and constant warmth - yet it still was a faint spark comparatively to feeling her whole soul mash together with his until they stopped being individuals. At least this level of intimacy was manageable. Controlled. Not an unstoppable forceful union of everything that was in her head and in his own. Just sharing the moment of quiet with him was calming despite her aversion since the beach.

"This doesn't feel bad." She said and was shaking again for some reason. Letting down her walls. Her metaphorical AT field she supposed.

She took a breath and tried to relax. But the tears still came anyway.

/

Shinji's mind was racing and he was sure Asuka knew it given how his heart was pounding. It felt like some ridiculous dream. But here they were, only about three weeks after his incident in the hospital. Souls already bare to each other, now bodies much the same. He held her as it was pretty much all he could do. The intensity of the closeness was a faint ember compared to the shared experience they'd gone through. But this was at least enjoyable while the former had been anything but.

As soon as Asuka was feeling better, they started to wash up. Shinji felt it all happen as a blur. The only thing he was fixated on was how hard it was not to imagine the two of them giving into the strongest tugs of the intimacy.

He distracted himself with washing her hair, taking his time to soak the entire length of lustrous orange in the shampoo and then rinsing it out. He turned around and let her wash his scalp, but this time she was also more meticulous as she wrapped an arm around his chest, pushing her front into his bare back as she scrubbed his head with the shampoo.

She laughed for a moment, almost like the old Asuka, but the old Asuka wouldn't pull him back up and hold him, giving him a grin as he met her gaze. They finished cleaning up and dried off, each quickly putting on their underwear and returning to bed.

They both faced the center of the bed so they could clasp hands even with their bodies on opposite sides. Neither of them fell asleep for a long time but the shared contact was always a good remedy for anxiety and nightmares.

2

More Than You've Ever Dreamed

She dreamed she held the boy in her arms, his frame like a cats' – seemingly boneless as he was draped over her, the feel of his flesh directly against hers. It was strange. There were no monsters this time. No white toothed phantoms to rip her apart. No pair of hands at her neck. No boy sitting over her and pleasuring himself while she could only watch. The nightmares held their breath this time.

Asuka woke up and Shinji's form in the dream was self-explanatory as she was clutching a sheet in place of a boy.

The boy was gone and it was distressing. The toll of living alone with just him as company had weighed on her – even with his cooking and cleaning – his patience and quiet, stubborn persistence.

Asuka heard the sound of a cello playing for a few seconds. Then a yell, followed by a crash.

The first notes she heard were that of a familiar song. Asuka's brain went into recall as she saw a fragment of Shinji's memory. A chunk still lingering in her brain from Instrumentality. He was on the beach and a boy with white hair faced him. She could hear the strange boy sing the same song.

Asuka remembered his offer to go to his old room he'd proposed last night. In case she'd wanted privacy. Asuka had a hunch and she followed her gut. As predicted, she found him not in their room but his previous one. His back was turned and he was sitting on the bed, his bare back showing off his lanky form as he looked down to the fallen instrument and wept.

"Shinji . . . " Asuka began and wished she hadn't. He tensed and looked over his tears were fresh and the streams down his face were hard to see given the dismal candlelight he saw by. He clutched the baton in his hand as though it were an EVA's prog-knife and it shook with his worries.

"Shinji. What's - ?" She asked, the image of the red-eyed boy's relaxed smile and warm eyes triggering a feeling of intense sadness in her heart. As to why, Asuka was not sure. The shared Instrumentality had shown her most of Shinji's darkest secrets, after all, as they were the things he'd wanted to hide from the world.

The boy was someone she knew of, of course. Even in the few days Shinji had known him, he was one of the most important people in his heart. Right up there with herself, Misato, and Wonder-girl.

She hadn't met Kaworu Nagisa but Instrumentality had shown her plenty. Shinji's memories of him were still crystal clear. The white haired boy already beat her in the 'communal bathroom time with Shinji' department. And he'd actually said the three words 'I love you' to him. No strings attached in them. Nothing as complicated or desperate as a sudden kiss he was magically supposed to know how to reciprocate.

Shinji bent down and put the cello and baton away, closing the case and shoving it away as he stayed on the edge of his bed.

The fact that Kaworu was an Angel was registered as almost an afterthought to Shinji. Hell, through his memories it FELT like an afterthought. Comparatively, Asuka still felt the loss of Kaji, but this was far different. Kaji had been a caretaker to her and a man she had a crush on – no where near the love that Shinji and Kaworu had shared. Even being held by him after her nightmare felt less like love and more like therapy to her at this point.

He exhaled and it was mixed with a sob. The boy's body was in a state of defeat.

It was a hypothetical Angel in the room. And one that would not leave. Even with her best efforts to cheer him up (and Asuka was sure she hadn't tried her best efforts yet), Shinji wasn't the type of person who would just forget about a friend. Even if it was a far cry from herself, Rei, or Kaworu. He still missed Kensuke and Toji, for crying out loud.

Asuka took stock of the room. Shinji was only wearing striped boxers and most of the room was empty, dust adorning the empty shelf in the corner. Most of his clothes had been moved to their room since they'd shared a space more. And he was almost as vulnerable as she had been a few hours ago. Asuka narrowed her eyes. She hated evening the playing field for most cases.

She discarded her night shirt, a yellow sleeveless shirt that left her in plain white underwear, and walked through the door, approaching him. So far so good.

He didn't do anything as she put a hand on his shoulder, hoping the touch was tender. He was warm, yet he shook as though he were shivering.

Still nothing as he kept shaking. Shinji was at a low point, she could tell.

She climbed on the bed, embraced him from the back, wrapping her legs around his lower waist and wrapping her arms past his neck and across his chest. It was a full body embrace and she could feel his breathing as the shudder continued. Then she squeezed, placing the underside of her chin over his shoulder.

The move was executed flawlessly. She only wondered if the payoff would be worth it.

"What's wrong?" She repeated. She hated when he was like this. Withdrawn. Unresponsive. A wraith in human skin that didn't speak his pain to the world. But she'd learned quickly after their fight in his head that fists and a barbed tongue would solve nothing.

She squeezed again and listened to him crying as the sobbing reached a breaking point, the dam shattering as it turned into a brief wail.

"I killed him."

Dammit. Asuka winced and was glad he faced the other way. The shared memories were a kaleidoscope of images and colors and sounds but – she suddenly understood why the Angel boy's smile was so distressing to him. Unit 01's hand was clenched around Kaworu's pale form, his white school shirt a contrast to the immediate scene in the memory.

"The boy I saw in your head. I know he meant a lot to you. Tell me more about him - if you want to." Asuka repeated, adding the second bit to see if Shinji would respond as himself and not because she ordered it. Her head rested his shoulder and she tried to relax on her tense partner.

He took a few seconds to speak.

"He was . . . so kind. He really loved me for who I was. And he was the final Angel." Shinji stopped and Asuka could feel him think as his fingers moved around in her hand.

"He said to me . . . he said that he might have been born in this world just to meet me." Shinji said it as though meeting himself would be unremarkable. Typical Shinji.

Then the song's meaning was crystal clear, as were Shinji's actions a few minutes ago. He'd tried to replicate the song and it triggered the memories. Or maybe he was just like her – trying to face the darkest parts of his heart and unable to do so alone.

"I killed him." Shinji said again and the words hung in the air like a smog.

Then she saw it again. Terminal Dogma. Unit 01's clenched hand. Her Unit 02's damaged form as he'd had to disable it to stop Kaworu.

"He told me that I had a heart made of glass. That I was fragile. And he even asked me if I was ok with letting people keep their own individuality - because they might betray my heart again and hurt me. Even after he died, he still loved me."

"And what did you love about him?" She asked, moving a hand down to his abdomen and stroking his stomach with her dry fingertips.

"He was so kind. When he had no reason to be. Even with all of my problems, he still loved me." Shinji said and he squeezed Asuka's hand with his own. Finally a physical response she could work with.

"I wish you could've met him. Without NERV or the fighting." Shinji said simply.

"That way we could've been friends. But to be honest – I think I'd let my pride of being Unit 02's pilot get in the way of that." Asuka whispered.

"Asuka, why did he have to die?" Shinji asked and Asuka froze as she felt him begin to shake.

Shinji's voice became frantic as he choked up, fighting to be coherent.

"It happened so fast. He – he really could've ended e-everything if he'd w-wanted to! But for some reason he s-stopped and let me k-k-kill him! It was so difficult. To be honest I still can't believe I did that." He said and kept shaking.

She was unsure of how to proceed but nevertheless found another big step to take with him.

"I'm going to pull us back, OK? So lean back." Asuka commanded and Shinji grunted as a reply.

She yanked backwards, pulling them both down against the mattress. His head was brushed against her neck and now she put her right hand on his forehead while the left kept the loose grip on his right hand. It was the first time they'd been this naked together – at least in a bedroom. She shoved the perverse thoughts out of her head and focused on what to say next.

"You broke down. Same as me but for a different reason. Mien Gott. I wish we'd talked about this stuff before everything went to Hell." Asuka sighed.

"Well, when wasn't everything Hell?" She asked and let him keep crying. The nightmare was still fresh in her mind, but the Shinji she'd seen in that was worlds apart from the one in her arms now. Some time passed and she said what was immediately on her mind. If it was unsaid it would drive her crazy.

She'd said the most distressing thing to him earlier the night. When he'd carried her back to her bed. The only compromise she could make with how alone the two of them had been.

"I want you to know that I'll always remember what happened. What I saw you do with me through your eyes. I trust you'll never do that again. And if you can hold yourself to that, then I think I can find it in my heart to forgive you, Shinji Ikari." She'd said to him before. It had been right after he'd pulled her back in bed and she'd continued to cling to him like a life raft.

Now it was something else. "I can't be him, Shinji. I – just can't. I can't – love you the same way he did."

"I'm not asking you to." He said, rising back, sitting up and staring at the wall.

Dammit again. Then her second big step had been too much.

Asuka felt her heart pound as her mind went back to that terrible image of seeing herself on the hospital bed from Shinji's point of view, the boy's most latest action present in the palm of his hand and the air lingering with the scent of his regret.

"How can you forgive that?! I was despicable for what I did! The lowest of the low! How can you forgive me when I can't forgive myself?!" Shinji had asked earlier, looking up from to meet her gaze in the candlelight.

Even though he had been crying, she had seen a stubborn streak in his gaze. Figured. He'd probably never run out of either self pity or self loathing one way or another.

She breathed. Time to dig even deeper in her head.

"Shinji - I hurt and belittled you more times than I could count. And - I kept pushing you away when it mattered. And it all blew up in my face!"

She sighed and kept speaking. "Not just because of how I treated you. Misato and Rei as well. And then I had the gall to criticize you for your problems when I have most of the same ones myself."

He turned around and looked down at her with an unreadable expression.

"And-." She kept going so he wouldn't just rebuke her. "-I made everything about myself. All the damn time. It took the end of the world to make me open my eyes, Shinji. Even though I tried to act like an adult my whole life since I was a child! Even then, I've been acting like a brat this whole time! How obstinate can I be?!""

She let go when she realized how hard she was gripping his hand. The way he was positioned looming over her was frightening. Once again the similarity to their shared past made it hard to move forwards.

"But he – he just loved you. A whole lot. And yes, he betrayed you, but – that doesn't make your feelings for him wrong. And it sure as hell explains how you were acting back then. He died and you never got a chance to deal with your feelings."

"Misato said – she said that I had done well. Like he was just another Angel to kill. After Ayanami was replaced – after you ran away – he was all I really had left." Shinji said, trembling.

Asuka frowned and put her free hand on his shoulder, coaxing him to lie down. She had always been in control when they shared a bed. Always on top of him, only letting him lie upon her when she had felt strong and him weak.

This was a little different. She didn't feel strong. No longer the best pilot in the world. She was just a girl with a college degree in a world where college degrees and reputations didn't matter. But he was hurting and here she was.

He fell into her embrace, Asuka seeing a snapshot of – herself? She was a still image from the neck down. Her hair and breasts, and arms loosely hanging down as if to suggest a similar embrace. Right. The thing he'd wished for when Lilith as Rei . . . and Kaworu as Adam asked him to do so. Right before their minds merged in that living nightmare.

She hissed at the coincidence to the image and wrapped her arms around his head and upper back. His cheek pressed against her collarbone and she suddenly felt the fire return to her spirit.

"He depends on me, just like how I depend on him! Mama, I'll protect him, just like how you protected me!"

She pressed his face lower until she could feel his soft breath on her chest. She felt the fire ignite something else in her as she wrapped her thighs around his lower back and bent her knees to get a more solid grip. Even though she was in her underwear, it dawned on Asuka just how intimate the hug was. She wondered if she'd gone too far with it.

"Even using Kaworu's death as an excuse – that still doesn't justify that I'm a despicable human being! I used you in the worst possible way!"Shinji said as she kept her grip firm.

"How can I say that I care about you after that! How can I keep telling myself things will get better once I've done something that unforgivabl-!"

"Enough." She thought. "If being sweet won't fix this, I'll have to be firm!" Her inner voice roared.

He stopped as she grabbed each of his writs and pulled outwards with her arms, stretching them as far as they could go so he was pinned. Even with the positions reversed, it was too similar to one she'd felt sharing a mind with him for comfort. That coincidence only made her angrier as his blue eyes looked to her with a broken stare.

"No! Shinji, don't be an idiot! You're just a human being who did one thing that was despicable. And even then, you kept going. You still had enough love in yourself to give all of us a second chance. For crying out loud, you're still going on now." She said, feeling strange that her disagreement was as much of a motivational speech to him as it was a rebuttal.

"What do you mean? How have I kept going, Asuka?!" he shouted now, not even struggling in her grip. She held her breath and stopped pulling with her arms.

She squeezed his wrist and stared him in the eyes as the thoughts formed slowly and she filtered them to make the overall message a bit softer.

"Every day I see it. You keep the place tidy. You keep us fed. And deal with all of my problems on top of your own. You're more than twice the man than your father ever was."

"Yeah but . . . He had power. And total control of the situation. And all sorts of plans. I'm just here, taking baby steps."

"You have things he stopped having at some point. Compassion. Empathy. Hope. Even with all of your problems, you still chose the world over the darkest part of your own heart. And that saved the world. Gendo Ikari would never do that."

"But still - I wished for you. Selfishly. Thoughtlessly. Just like how he wanted mother."

"You also wanted me selflessly, idiot. I saw how much you wanted EVA Unit 01 to move. I knew you wanted to help me. Even if it was selfish, at least it was genuine."

"But I hurt you. Who says I won't do that again?" He asked.

"You might. And I might hurt you too. I'm sure we'll argue about stupid things that don't matter in the end, Shinji. But I know you regretted what you did in the hospital. I felt your regret the second I saw what you did."

She stopped and took a breath, letting go of his wrists to grab both hands, smiling as he wound his fingers with her own.

"Even if what you did was monstrous, if you don't do that again . . . then I can make peace with it." Asuka finished and took a deep breath.

"But why?"

"Because I . . . I need you. And I love you, Shinji. And Kaworu does too. And I've been getting off track but – you can cry for him. I understand now. I see how much you were accepted by him. And how much losing him must've hurt you."

He started to shake and Asuka kept talking.

"After Rei died. After Misato kept going after the Angels and made you afraid. How I ran away. He had been the only one there for you. So it's OK to cry. You're the last man on Earth and I need you. All of you. Even the parts you're not proud of."

She put her hand on his cheek like she'd done on the beach and Shinji resumed crying as it broke into full on sobbing, her partner shuddering as he pressed his face into her neck and shoulder.

"You helped me get back from a bad place. Now I'll stay here with you. For as long as you need me to." Asuka said. "After all, I'm the only person equipped to deal with someone like you."

He mumbled a positive 'mmnm' as a way of saying yes.

She started breathing slowly and eventually he did the same.

"Asuka?" He said, his voice shedding some timidity as he asked the question.

"Yeah?"

"Thank you. I – I didn't think you'd want to talk about him. That you'd think it was taboo or something."

"Shinji . . . you cared about each other. It was love. I don't need to say anything else about it."

"Mmm." He eased into the embrace and she felt him relax. His breathing slowed, his grip eased up, and he snuggling his face closer to hers.

"Thank you. Asuka – I never had the time to mourn Kaworu." He said and she could feel the side of his face was wet. "Thank you." He repeated, shivering as his sobbing escalated. All she could do was hold him.

"Blanket?" She asked after he'd calmed down a bit.

He grabbed the flimsy sheet and she took it, making a game of staying as still as possible as she draped the sheet over the two of them, pulling it tight around them to trap as much heat as possible. It wasn't cold out, but the apartment could get drafty.

She pressed his face lightly against her chest, using the leverage to relax the grip of her thighs. They would both be nice and warm soon. And that was good because the fire burning in her soul seemed to spread through her body.

"Want to have a real time lesson on Thermal Expansion?" She asked.

"Asuka-!" He yelped as she held him in place, feeling the body heat start to rise.

She laughed and enjoyed the feeling of holding him.

"Well – Such a pilot of my skill has to appreciate her co-pilot as well, Third Child." She said and realized just how different saying it was now. Now that the EVAs were gone. And now that they were really partners.

"There. Now we should warm up soon." She said as he breathed against her. Deeper and deeper until he was relaxed.

"Asuka. Thank you."

"Somebody's got to look after us." She replied. "I'm glad we both decided to do that."

3

All to Myself

She decided she needed a break from their contact. Now it seemed too easy to hold him. To enjoy his company. Something that had always been a bit awkward in the past at best. He was tired and in a stew of his own thoughts. She told him she'd be back and went on a walk.

The empty streets were still surprising. It had been almost a month since Third Impact and still they'd encountered no one. She avoided the sea of orange and instead went to some destroyed buildings. She normally did the 'shopping' by taking things no one was using from the warehouses, but for now Asuka just wanted to see what she could see.

The labels came in her head too easily. Shinji the weak. Shinji the pathetic. Shinji the monster.

Not fair? Too harsh on him? She didn't know.

Despite what he'd done, the fact he – at his lowest point – had decided to give humanity a second chance was enough. She'd heard enough from her mind telling her that he was a monster. What he'd done in the past was horrible but she certainly had enough context for it now.

But then there was also Shinji the cook. Shinji the cellist. Shinji the housemate.

The walk went into an empty supermarket full of expired meat and no lighting. She'd brought a flashlight and jumped into though a freshly broken window, discarding the stray brick behind her as she entered. It was orderly and tidy as any Japanese establishment would want to be. Even with the expired food and whatnot.

Animals were something she'd noticed, however. Pen-Pen was the first thing and the second she'd heard were some crickets. The third some birds. And now she was sure there were some manner of insect in the store.

Asuka shone the light to the right and went by a row of snack foods. She'd not been in this store before. The experience of exploring the world after Third Impact was – kind of fun? Sometimes at least. Complete chaos meant she could get whatever she wanted. Be it good food that could be preserved, the best clothes, or whatever books or video games she wanted.

She left the snacks and explored the rest of the store, not really planning on taking anything today. She wondered if she'd been too abrupt just leaving Shinji like that. But on the other hand she didn't want to coddle him. She liked it when he did things for himself. Those moments had been rare in these last three months. Now they knew each other more than before. Intimately, like they'd each worn the other like a glove or even like an Evangelion.

She couldn't hate him. Even if he was impossible in the past. Now she knew why. And he knew her own problems. Old news, but reminding herself that they both could see the other clearly was important. The previous night had been surprising but not in a bad way.

The names kept coming into her head.

Shinji the classmate. Shinji the pilot. Shinji the savior.

Shinji the lover.

She found herself smiling at the thought of more exploring before a well-deserved walk home and then some dinner. Giving herself time to sort through her own thoughts was important. Especially when they concerned the only other person around. Asuka shone the light around a corner and started walking in a new direction.

/

It was night and she got up, hearing the sound of the toilet bowl move and the jingle of a belt buckle. The noise repeated and the jingles increased. He had gotten sloppy.

Asuka knew about his masturbation from Instrumentality but this was a red flag. If he was going to do it now while she was asleep, chances were he'd done so before. That did not help with her paranoia.

She sprung open the door to find him hunched over on the toilet, face red as he covered his crotch with his hands while his pants hung loose around his legs. He looked dumbfounded for a moment and then scared at the invasion of privacy.

"Shinji, why do you need to do that?" She asked, sounding more tired than she'd wanted to.

"I – I have urges and I need to - deal with them." He said, sounding unsure of the answer.

Asuka felt herself get angry and turned around. "Pervert! Well by all means, finish up and then meet me outside when you're all done!" She yelled, shutting the door and sighing as she crossed her arms and leaned against the opposing wall. An invasion of privacy to be sure, but in this particular case she was justified.

Shinji emerge from the bathroom with wet hands, dripping from the quick rinse he'd given them. His shirt was stuffed into his belt and it looked ridiculous. Asuka wanted to hit him but it wouldn't solve anything.

"Shinji, you know that I'm here, right?" She asked.

"Yeah."

"So you don't have to just play - with yourself. I'm not saying – that I'm wanting to force anything. Just that – well – this is a difficult thing for me considering what happened. But-." She began, mad that the words wouldn't come.

"I know. And that's why I can't . . . why I can't ever really trust myself. Who's to say I won't just mess up again?" He asked. On one hand she was relieved he understood what she was getting at. On the other she was mad that he used that understanding to kick himself again.

"Old news, Ikari. Valid point, but I've heard that before." She stood up and off of the wall, putting her hands on her hips.

"I just get so stressed out by everything. It's a release for me." Shinji looked desperate as he said those words to her.

"But is that really healthy for you? Coping by doing something that's supposed to be pleasurable?" Asuka asked him.

"I-"

"Shinji, I have my own things I want too. So if you want to just . . . . I don't know . . . . hold me or kiss or just . . . play with yourself, you don't have to do it alone."

"But-! What I did – there's no excuse for that. I can't fix what happened. But I can say that I'm truly and completely sorry. It was a terrible thing to do." Shinji said.

"Thank you, Shinji. I – I've been trying to force you to just accept that I accept you - but that's not true. I also can't forget what happened. But - we are moving on from that. So like I said. . . "

"You really are Ok with that?" He asked.

"I was OK with sharing a bed with you. We've been naked around each other too. This is just like that but . . . we'll be even closer."

"Just because of my bad habit?"

"No. Don't think you're the only one who thinks about that. Or that does it when she has privacy." Asuka said, looking away as she admitted it.

"W-well if you're OK with it, I suppose that it could work. J-just it would be . . . like you said. Not forced or anything." Shinji said and Asuka grinned.

"Alright. Well, if you still need to . . . finish up here, do it. I'll see you in bed." She said, covering her mouth to stifle a yawn.

"R-right."

/

The next morning was different. He woke up to her dozing off, breathing quietly. They were both on their sides, her likely having rolled over once he'd fallen asleep. He wrapped his arms around her as it was something to do and she cuddled into him closer. Then gradually she woke up.

"Shinji." She blinked.

"Guten Morgen." He said back to her and she exhaled.

"Idiot. You're saying it all wrong." But it was a playful tease rather than an insult.

"Shinji . . . can you do something for me?" Asuka asked him.

"Yeah . . . what do you want?" He responded.

She sat up and looked dead serious, shrugging off her shirt and tossing it behind her in the darkness.

"Put your hands around my neck." She said, her eyes turning cold as her stare became intense.

"W-why?!" Shinji half exclaimed, sitting up and looking shocked.

"Because – I want to know if you – would ever do that to me again." She responded.

Shinji did as she asked, her laying down and him mounting her and grabbing her as instructed. Then she heard him exhale sharply as he winced. He couldn't even grip around her neck as his hands fell to his sides.

"I . . . could never do that Asuka. Never again." He said softly.

"I'm really – I just wanted to know." She said back to him.

"You – that was really cruel." He said, taking a deep breath. "But I – hurt you. So I understand why." He managed, sounding upset.

"Well. I had to know, Shinji! How else can I care or trust you? What else can I do?!" She shouted as she sat up and grabbed his wrists.

"We could have just talked about it. Like with the . . . hospital." He said, looking away.

" . . . Right. But Shinji, . . . .I had to see if you'd really do it." She said.

He couldn't believe it. She was back at it again. Changing moods at the flick of a switch. Playing with his emotions like they were the strings of his cello.

"Well, I didn't." He said, sitting up and staring at her. Half scared and half frustrated.

"What do you want for breakfast?" He asked.

"We don't have power." She responded as though her tone would shoot him down. Still, she let go of his wrists to cross her arms, looking at him as though he had two heads. It had gone out right before bed and seeing as they could do little to fix it, they decided to ignore it for later.

"I don't care if we don't have power. What do you want for breakfast?" He repeated.

". . . Pancakes." She settled on, wondering what he would do without any electricity.

"Right." Shinji said and laughed humorlessly.

"And we don't have all the ingredients either." Asuka repeated.

"Well sit down. I'll get you a pancake." Shinji said. Asuka raised an eyebrow but said nothing as he led her to the main area of the house.

"A pancake." Shinji said as he sat a piece of bread on a plate in front of Asuka before setting a bottle of syrup beside it.

"Shinji's Diner. Best pancakes since Third Impact." Asuka said before drizzling the poor piece of bread in the sugary topping. It wasn't much but at least it was food.

/

The white Evangelions awaited her with toothy smirks. Unit 02 fought as hard as it could, every time. Asuka would think of new ways to kill them, ripping off heads, bisecting the bodies, caving in their skulls, or crushing their rib-cages.

But they always came back. Ready for a round of combat she no longer had power for.

The grinning red lips and white mouths opened wide and ate her alive. Unit 02 could do nothing as the spears held it in place. She was literally torn apart, every time.

Asuka woke up, silently crying. Luckily this time Shinji was awake. Often he was unaware to this particular nightmare as it was not a nightly ritual.

She felt his hand caress her face as she used to do for him. And she cried in his arms. But it wasn't enough.

"All to myself. I want you all to myself or I want nothing to do with you." Asuka repeated, pulling off her shirt and reaching for his own once her hands were free.

/

Morning. Sunrise. She put on sneakers and ran outside, wearing a striped swimsuit and nothing else. He followed her as they ran into the sunrise, returning to the beach once again.

She waited for him to reach her position and discarded the shoes before leaping into the orange ocean with a splash. He followed suit and surfaced only to get a splash of LCL to the face.

She laughed and they rinsed their hair. Without power they'd find days going outside was fun. If they were lucky they'd be able to fix that issue before sundown.

She sat in the sand and let the sun dry her off as Shinji lay beside her.

"Hey Shinji. Care to sit on my lap?"

"Why? Shouldn't the man offer to do that?"

"Come on. It'll be like when we were piloting my Unit 02 together."

Shinji did so and she embraced him, closing her eyes and taking a breath of the ocean air. "To think Mama got to know her daughter met the Invincible Shinji on a day like that."

"You slapped us all when the wind blew up your skirt."

"It served all of you right! Looking at a lady like that!"

"As if we controlled the wind."

"W-well, what else was I supposed to do?!"

"Cover . . . yourself with your dress?"

She laughed. "Now it doesn't matter. We're the only ones left as far as I know. To think that my wish came true. You're really all to myself."

"There's a chance everyone else can come back. Misato. Ritsuko. Rei. Toji. Hikari. And everyone else." Shinji said.

"Shinji, it's been five months. Don't you think they'd come back earlier?"

"I was controlling that even though I wasn't aware of it at first. And I wished to see you again."

"Well what about Rei? Or Kaworu?"

"I don't know. Either they left as Lilith and Adam, or they could come back. They were at least part human, after all."

"You miss them."

"Yeah, I do."

"Well, let's hope some people come back soon. I don't want things to play out exactly like they did for Adam and Eve." Asuka said, looking at the sky.

"It won't be like that. Because – we decide for ourselves how this happens." Shinji said, feeling silly to sound so profound.

"Ourselves . . . that's right. We'll figure it out. Of course we will." Asuka made a fist and held it up to the sky, grinning as it echoed Shinji's words.

Then she felt at peace. And she was really aware of it. The anxiety and fears that were just around the corner were gone. She was happy. Even if things were mundane, or each day uncertain. Or if they were still alone, they'd be alone, together. It was something she could work with.

/

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Sooooo this sat in my drabbles for a long time. I wanted it to be something both characters worked for because – even if Shinji and Asuka lived together and had an understanding it would still be rife with issues.

I also felt that End of Evangelion gave both of them plenty of things to angst over without adding onto that afterwards. World After Terror and Dawn of a New World were the initial kneejerk fics that came to me after seeing EoE but I really wanted a fic with a bit more umph – giving the characters something to do rather than just adjust to the ruined world they are in but not enough to be a story spanning several chapters.

So here I am after writing this fic. It's well past Asuka's birthday at the time of finishing but that's OK. Giving current events I felt that a self indulgent fluff fic was in order - even if it was about two kids with a bunch of problems. I wanted to write fluff that wasn't only self indulgence and I hope that's what is presented here. If you stayed for reading all of that, thank you. I'd love to hear what you thought of this story.