"Porcupine Embrace"

Coda

(Something for the Pain)

With a desperate scream, Shinji's fist slammed onto the wall, again and again and again until his hand, broken, or so he hoped, refused to move. It hung limply by his side. He stared at the bloody cavity he had made. Raw pain traveled across his arm, pulsating. His heart was pounding. Sweat was pouring out of every pore and breathing heavily, Shinji felt his knees buckle and fell to the floor. His forehead brushed against the wall. The wallpaper felt rough against his skin.

Inside his chest, there was a surge, an energy that kept expanding. No matter how hard he tried to expel it, it was still there, clawing at his skin.

"It's useless..." he heard himself say, unaware that he was even speaking, "It's too late..."

When the tears came, he didn't know how many times it had been. His eyes ached, the distant memory of the bathroom mirror told him there was no white left in them. As Shinji wept, one thought kept repeating: All I can do is cry. I'm completely useless.

His father's voice, buzzed from the intercom, echoed in his mind.

"Because I have a use for you."

Is this the use you have for me, father? Is this my use? To kill?

A sliver of sensation different from pain emerged in his palm. The minute details of an entry plug being crushed inside of it made him shudder.

I held his life in my hands...

The ghost memory clinging to the fading bruises on his neck.

I know what that's like now... and I know what it's like to go over that line... not being able to stop myself...

The vivid memory of that sound – the groaning metal, the cracking surface, the screech of the shattering.

With my own hands... with my own hands...

His hand was screaming now, making pain. To Shinji, it was as if this was all his hands were good for, creating pain. He looked at it, at the torn skin hanging from bloody knuckles... the blood was in his palm, marking the lines in white.

There's blood on my hands. My only saving grace is his breath...

His stomach churned. Shinji barely kept the bile down as he stood up and rushed out of his room. He turned and barged into the bathroom, barely registering a high-pitched sound before puking his guts out. Dry heaving on his knees, Shinji found that his head was vibrating. It wasn't a headache, not a bit, it was rather this feeling of a hand inside his skull, squeezing its fingers, putting pressure on his brain.

I can't... I can't...

Asuka carefully adjusted herself in the tub, her every move calculated and precise. She studied him as he slowly pushed himself back up to stand on shaky legs. He bent down to recover the first aid kit from under the sink. He pulled out the tools necessary as best as he could with one hand: antiseptic, cotton, bandages, and scissors. She was frozen in the water, silent as the walls around them, watching him patch himself up. He did a piss-poor job of it, had parts of his pants bleached with stray droplets by overdoing the antiseptic... but he wrapped his fingers rather skillfully, and extended the bandages to his wrist. Asuka realized that he was copying Misato.

Asuka saw him stumbling to regain composure, trying to reel himself back in. He placed the surplus materials back in the box, threw away the bloodied wads of cotton. He looked at himself in the mirror, wiped away his tears.

"I got into a fight." He said, and for a moment, Asuka thought he had noticed her in the bath. When he paused, she knew that he hadn't. "I won." His Adam's apple strained as he swallowed hard, "I nearly killed him. Nearly... killed him."

Shinji walked out. For a while, there was no sound. Asuka slowly settled back. She found that the water was slowly going cold and it didn't feel clean anymore.