Author: Shibata Kimiko PM
A series of one-shots exploring the motives of various Neon Genesis Evangelion characters leading up to the events of End of Eva. Related one-shots. No lemon, pseudo-implied yuri and yaoi, nothing explicit.Rated: Fiction T - English - Hurt/Comfort/Friendship - Chapters: 3 - Words: 5,268 - Reviews: 13 - Favs: 7 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 07-29-11 - Published: 06-25-11 - id: 7116934
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Hikari sat on the edge of her couch, watching Asuka play video games. She was worried about her red-headed friend. Asuka'd done nothing but hang out in Hikari's living room playing video games for the last three days. She hadn't gone to school, or gone home, or even eaten unless Hikari made her. She wouldn't talk about whatever was wrong, either, and that only added to Hikari's worry. Asuka had always been proud and headstrong. It was part of why they were friends; Asuka was everything Hikari wasn't. But this behavior wasn't like her. She was trying to avoid something, and whenever Hikari tried to ask about it Asuka snapped at her.
Asuka tossed the controller down in a huff, crossing her arms in irritation, face red. "Hikari, this game cheats! No matter WHAT I do, it won't let me get through this level!"
Hikari blinked. "Well, you DID miss the super-jump powerup in the first third of the level." She grabbed the fallen controller, quickly showing Asuka where said powerup was located. "See? It's hard to get, but it's there."
Asuka snatched the controller from Hikari's hands, grumbling as she resumed blasting through levels. Hikari sighed, brows knit in concern. Asuka had barely even acknowledged Hikari's presence since she'd arrived. She could be stuck-up and mean sometimes, but Hikari was usually the one person Asuka was unfailingly nice to. The way she'd been acting since the other day was just… weird.
Eventually, Hikari's father came in to tell the pair they needed to go to bed. After changing into pajamas and unrolling the futon mattresses, Hikari turned out the lights and laid down on the bed next to Asuka, staring up at the ceiling and thinking.
Asuka'd been popular from her first day in Japan. She was pretty, she was exotic by virtue of being foreign, and she was smart. All the boys followed her around like puppies, even though she never showed interest in any of them. Everyone wanted to be her friend, or at least to be noticed by her. She even got to be an Evangelion pilot, a fact many of her classmates envied, though Hikari didn't know why. It seemed like a stressful, terrible job.
Maybe that was the problem. Hikari knew there'd been a fight the other day, and it had been that night that Asuka showed up at her door, asking if she could stay over at Hikari's home for a while. The look on her face was almost pitiful, and Hikari found that she couldn't say no to her friend. Since then, Asuka had been retreating further and further into herself, as if she didn't even want to think about anything but the games she'd been playing non-stop since her arrival.
Hikari sighed, rolling over and going to sleep.
At school the next day, Hikari cornered Shinji during cleaning duties, worry written all over her face. "Ikari, can I talk to you?"
Shinji gulped, embarrassed to have a girl so close to him. "Umm…..sure, Class Rep. What's going on?"
Hikari sighed. "Well… Asuka's been at my apartment for the last few days. She doesn't do anything but play video games, and when I try to talk to her she just ignores me. I'm really worried…I mean, this behavior isn't like her, right?"
Shinji briefly thought about telling Hikari about some of the times Asuka'd been the same way to him, but then the full impact of what she'd said worked its way into his mind. He frowned, confused. "She's been doing it for days?"
Hikari nodded. "That's right… I think something's really wrong. What happened in that last fight you guys had? Did she get hurt?"
Shinji gulped again, knowing he shouldn't be talking about this. "Well…kinda, yeah. I mean, the…uhh…the enemy kinda hurt her." He couldn't think of any other way to explain it without talking about things that could get him in real trouble.
Hikari's eyes widened, a mix of alarm and concern playing across her face. "You mean she got hurt and she didn't tell me?" She sighed, still looking worried. "I…I guess I should just leave her alone, then… Thanks, Ikari."
Shinji nodded, confusion all over his face as Hikari plodded away, looking like she was carrying a huge load. Well, that was weird…
Later that night, Hikari was once more watching Asuka play video games. She had to admit, Asuka was really good at it. She was flying through games it had taken Hikari weeks to complete, her unwavering focus almost unnerving in its intensity. Hikari couldn't help but wonder what had happened in that fight that would make Asuka so determined to ignore the world. Physically, she was obviously fine, but it seemed like her mind was somewhere else entirely.
Hikari cleared her throat quietly. "Asuka?"
Asuka replied tonelessly, not even looking away from the TV screen. "What?"
"Umm…are you okay?"
"I'm fine. Now stop bothering me. I'm almost through with this game."
Hikari sighed, sitting back. It was no use. Asuka'd never talk to her, and she should have known better than to try. Asuka was too stubbornly independent to ever ask for help, or accept it when it was offered. Hikari sometimes wondered what had happened to Asuka that made her this way, but then she reminded herself that it was none of her business and it'd be rude to ask. Instead, she simply did her best to tolerate her friend's eccentricities and keep her out of trouble.
A little while later, Asuka spoke quietly, again without turning around. "Hikari."
Hikari was surprised to hear her friend speak, and hesitated slightly before answering. "Y-yes?"
"Let's go to bed."
After their preparations were complete Hikari laid on her back, staring at the dark ceiling, Asuka half-curled on her side on the bed nearby. Hikari sighed, wishing once more that she had some way to help her friend. She knew Asuka was suffering somehow. It was obvious. But if she wouldn't talk, Hikari couldn't help, and she was too mild-mannered to really press the issue. Her mind was split, part of it urging her to pester Asuka until the other girl caved and told her what was wrong, part of it (the more proper, respectful side) telling her that if Asuka wanted to talk, she would, and trying to push her into it would be disastrous, not to mention rude. As often happened to her lately, Hikari found herself unable to decide what to do. She'd tried to talk to Toji about it when she went to see him earlier in the day, but he didn't seem very interested. He'd never liked Asuka, and she knew that, but it disappointed her to see him so apathetic in the face of her concerns. Of course, part of that could have been because his family was moving to New Yokosuka in a few days, and he was being transferred to the hospital there. The odds were good that he and Hikari would never see each other again. The very thought made her want to cry, but she knew there was no way for her to change it so she stayed calm, not wanting to add to HIS pain.
Asuka spoke quietly, her normally peppy tone disturbingly flat. "Sorry for inconveniencing you, Hikari."
Hikari blinked, responding just as quietly. "You're not, really."
A few silent moments followed, after which Asuka spoke again, sounding like she was talking more to herself than to Hikari. "I lost. Even with my Eva, I lost. All my hard work was for nothing. I just…I hate it. I hate everything….."
Rather than angry, Asuka's last statement sounded hopeless, despairing. The complete lack of her friend's former fire and enthusiasm scared and saddened Hikari. What could have happened to her that would destroy her like this? Hikari knew that Asuka was absurdly competitive, but…this was more than post-loss depression. Asuka seemed crushed, destroyed, as if she'd given up on life entirely.
Asuka continued in the same hopeless, empty tone. "I hate myself the most, though. I'm useless now. I can't do anything worthwhile."
Hearing her say this drove home to Hikari how deeply Asuka was hurting right now. She responded quietly, but honestly. "I think you can still do anything you want to. I don't blame you, Asuka. You've done really well. I'm sure there are still worthwhile things for you to do."
Asuka curled up tighter, her body shaking as she began to cry. "No…no, you're wrong…if I can't pilot, I'm useless…"
This was more than Hikari could take. Asuka never cried. She was always the strong one, who laughed at challenges and charged in where anyone else would turn around. Yet here she was, crying herself to sleep because she thought she was useless for some reason. Unable to hold back anymore, Hikari rolled onto her side, hugging Asuka from behind. She spoke quietly, trying to keep her pity out of her voice, since she knew it would only anger Asuka to hear it. "You're not useless. You're just not, so stop saying it. You're smart, and pretty, and you're my friend, and I'm sure there are lots of things you can do that are just as important as piloting. Please stop saying you're useless…"
Asuka recoiled from the hug, wrapping her arms around her chest. "How would you know, huh, Hikari? I can't even do what I've been training to do for years. What good am I if I can't even do that?" She shivered, expression one of misery and fear. "Nobody will want me if I'm not the best…and now I can't do it at all."
Hikari's eyes widened in surprise. "Asuka…I'm afraid of that too sometimes. That's why I'm the class rep, and why I'm always trying to get everybody to follow the rules. I'm always afraid that if I'm not the perfect student and everything, nobody will like me anymore…that nobody will want me around. But you and I…we're friends, right? Maybe we don't need anyone else as long as we're friends…"
Asuka froze, her reply quiet and guarded. "What do you mean?"
Hikari gulped, afraid she was about to bring Asuka's legendary wrath down on her for the first time. "I…all I'm saying is you're not the only one who's afraid of being unwanted. And I guess I'm trying to say that even if you couldn't do anything at all, I'd still be your friend, because I like being your friend. I don't like hanging around with you because you're famous, or because you're a pilot. I like spending time with you because you're fun to spend time with."
Asuka curled up a little more, bowing her head so that it rested against her chest, muttering. "You're just saying that. You don't mean it."
Hikari was almost offended for a moment, until she reminded herself that Asuka was really upset and probably didn't mean it to be insulting. "I do mean it, Asuka. I promise. I'll always be your friend."
Asuka was silent, seemingly thinking about this statement. Hikari hesitated, then decided to risk pulling Asuka back into a loose hug again. Asuka didn't resist this time, instead starting to cry again. Hikari started crying as well, unable to restrain herself in the face of her friend's pain.
After a little while, Asuka's crying slowed and she spoke again. "Why? Why do you like me so much?"
Hikari hesitated, not sure how to explain how she felt. "I…I guess it's because you're all the things I'm not. You're smart, and pretty, and everyone looks up to you. I'm just…plain. Nobody notices me much, unless they're making fun of me. I just…I like being around you. It makes me happy to have you as a friend, I guess."
Asuka half-turned so that she could look at Hikari, an almost desperately searching look in her eyes. "Do you mean that?"
Hikari blushed, but nodded. Her mind was whirling right now, trying to figure out how to cope with this unexpected situation. Asuka was actually turning to her for comfort, for reassurance. She'd never thought anything like this was possible. Asuka never showed weakness, but here she was, apparently depending on Hikari to…well, to save her. "I mean it." Acting on impulse, Hikari pulled Asuka into a hug, speaking quietly in her ear. "You're my friend, and you always will be, because I don't care what you do. Only who you are matters to me."
The next evening, the two girls sat on a bench overlooking the still-smoking crater that had been their hometown, now nothing more than a charred pit with a new lake forming in its center. Hikari's hands were folded together in her lap, her eyes subconsciously looking for familiar landmarks that had been annihilated by Unit 00's detonation.
Asuka nodded, face flat. "Guess so. Nothing could have survived that explosion."
Hikari nodded slightly, then sighed heavily. "Asuka, there's something we need to talk about…"
Asuka glanced at her friend, cautious. "If it's about what happened last night, I don't think we should talk about…that again."
Hikari shook her head. "It's not. I…I'm not sure how to say this, but…my family's moving away. Our apartment building was destroyed, and Dad says it's too dangerous to live in the city anymore. We're moving to Tokyo-2 tomorrow."
Asuka blinked, a shocked look slowly replacing her former apathetic gaze. "But…what about your promise?"
Hikari squirmed, guilt eating at her already. "I know, Asuka…and I did mean what I said…but there's nothing I can do about it. Dad's already decided."
Asuka stood, disbelief and hurt evident in her tone. "But…but you promised…and we…we…how could you do this to me?"
Hikari flushed, eyes starting to fill with tears, tone full of hurt and shame. "Asuka, if I could stay, I would! But…Dad's already made up his mind. I can't change it. I can come visit, though…"
Asuka grabbed Hikari's shoulders, expression almost manic. "No! You have to stay! I know, I'll make Misato let you stay with us! We can share a bed, it won't be such a big deal…"
Hikari pulled Asuka's hands off her shoulders, sad but resigned. "You and I both know my dad wouldn't be okay with that, Asuka…I'm sorry, but I've got to go. Our train's leaving soon."
Hikari pulled her friend into one last hug, forcing herself to hold in the tears that were threatening to spill from her eyes. She hated this whole situation. Having to leave, having to hurt Asuka this way, having to leave her behind…it was the hardest thing she'd ever had to do, but Hikari knew it was the only thing she could do.
The two girls stood like this for a moment, the setting sun casting long shadows behind their forms. Hikari was the first to break the embrace, eyes red but still dry, just barely. "I…I have to go now, Asuka. I'm sorry, I really am…"
Asuka watched as her only friend walked away. She could feel her heart crumbling, and all her other emotions were swept away by a tide of despair. Nothing would ever matter to her again. If this was all that happened when you cared about someone, then it was better to not care at all. She collapsed on the bench, sobbing as the sun vanished behind a mountain, leaving the former city in darkness as deep as that in Asuka's mind.
(Author's Note: This story was inspired in part by a random convo I was having with a friend, and partly by the End of Eva Ep. 25 secondary title, "Love is Destructive". And yes, I made the story ambiguous on purpose. Whether or not these two are in love, or simply very good friends, is left up to each reader to decide. I've had friendships that were closer than any love relationship, so don't discount EITHER possibility. And I'm sorry about the depressing ending, but this is Eva. There are no happy endings. That's just how it is.)