"When anger rises, think of the consequences." - Confucius

Interlude I


To be blunt, Shinji felt like shit. The kind of shit that would come out of a butt, the kind of shit that would be dropped in a toilet, and flushed away without a care. He wanted desperately to be flushed down that toilet, and disappear into the drainage, never to see the light of day again.

It had only been a week since the attack of the Ninth Angel, and now it seemed as if the pseudo-biblical beings were the least of his troubles.

Rei was out of commission during the attack due to his…"accident," but through a combined effort with Asuka and thanks to a plan she crafted in the midst of the sorty, the Angel was taken out with relative ease.

Rei had not shown up to school for that week either, and when he went to check on her in a desperate attempt to assuage his guilt, he was treated as if his "accident" never happened. Rather, it seemed Rei was thoroughly convinced she was hurt badly in some way during the Angel attack.

Was it her unique way of telling him that they should put it behind them? To move on, and pretend it never happened? Had she forgiven him? Shinji laughed. Of course not. He thought so briefly, but was convinced otherwise once he spoke to the girl some more.

She was not the same after the "accident," that much was clear. There was a constant unfamiliarity in the way she acted and referred to him.

Rei was not the most expressive girl, but she had brief moments of emotion in the time Shinji knew her. It seemed as if she was back to how she had been prior to the attack of the giant octahedron-shaped Fifth Angel. Perhaps even worse, as she had never been so unresponsive before.

What confused him even more was one of the things she said in response to his questions about her memory, and refused to elaborate any further on:

"Because I think I am the third one."

Was she trying to tell him something? Did she not want to see him anymore, to act as if she didn't know him? Did he scare her off that badly? Of course she didn't want him around, why would she, when he was the one responsible for hospitalizing her?

Shinji remembered his meeting with Doctor Akagi after the defeat of the Angel. He told her everything about what happened in the air duct in excruciating detail, hoping to know if his fellow pilot was fine. The doctor's solemn expression morphed into one of disgust before settling into one that clearly communicated a restrained desire to laugh. He had never seen such genuine humor on her face, not even when they had dinner at his guardian's apartment.

The doctor explained away Rei's condition with copious amounts of medical jargon, the only thing to make sense in Shinji's mind being that Rei had a "unique constitution."

Once he was done relaying his guilt, he was promptly told to leave the doctor's office. At some distance away from her office, he heard what sounded like hysterical laughter. Of course she would laugh at him. He was a complete and utter joke.

Misato's attempts to cheer him up went ignored. It was not something done with the intent of being rude, it was so that he did not hurt her.

After all, that was all he could do. Hurt others, just like he hurt Rei. Just like he hurt Asuka.

Asuka.

If what he did to Rei traumatized her to the point that she wanted to no longer associate with him, then surely, what Asuka felt must have been far worse.

Since the Angel attack, not a word had been shared between him and the redhead. Of course not.

Who would want to talk to someone who passed gas point-blank in their face? And with such intensity? Why would she ever dignify him with another conversation, even if to berate him as she always did?

The anger he briefly felt in the air duct seemed to leave as quickly as it arrived, along with his brutal breezer, his curdy cheeser.

It was funny, actually. Shinji was so sure he had tried his best to understand his redheaded roommate, so sure that there was no more he could do to salvage what was there of their relationship, that he doomed whatever was between them by crossing a line he had never known to exist.

She would never speak to him again, and it was what he deserved. He never pushed past the boundaries he set for himself, never asked her about her past, knowing that they may share some similarities in that regard, and he would never get another chance.

If some miniscule part of her held something other than hatred for him before, that part was surely gone by now.

Rather than hate, it seemed that he no longer even existed to her, outside of providing for her and during life-or-death situations.

No more bickering, no more derision, no more being called an "idiot" or "stupid" or a "pervert." Just silence, accompanied at times by her cold gaze. It was becoming too much for him to bear.

Just another relationship ruined by Shinji's lack of control over his bowels. No, he could not blame his bodily functions entirely. The "accident" was not entirely an accident, after all.

He felt it coming, and in that split second, made the decision to let it rip. For that second, he felt satisfaction at knowing Asuka would suffer, thinking he would be paying her back for her treatment of him.

He hurt her, he hurt Rei, and he felt good when he did it.

He was scum, the lowest of the low.

"I'm so fucked up."