By Ekai Ungson

DISCLAIMER: Neon Genesis Evangelion (Shin Seiki Evangelion) copyright GAINAX and other related enterprises. Characters used without permission.

Possible entry for the WAFF-athon challenge?

The sun rises from her left shoulder, and he raises his eyes to the sky outside the enclosed spaces, astounded and awed, and utterly mesmerized with her silhouette against the light.

He wonders vaguely of two things: why, when everything else of her was dark, her blue eyes remained blue, and how her eyes could be that color; infinitely, perpetually vivid. The clarity within them was astounding, something he could not fully comprehend—- how she could keep her eyes so clear when the whole world was crashing around them and everybody else's had clouded with purest despair.

Her eyes, remained, unchanged.

The stars hid behind her back and the darkness retreated to give way to light. She kept her eyes trailed on the horizon, to a realm far beyond the limits of man, and the beginnings of a somewhat poignant smile graced her features, still wishing of what was to come.

He wondered where she kept the stars during the day and how she sprinkled them over the sky at night. Surely, they shone for her, the way the world itself turned, for her, and suddenly he found himself wishing, wanting to be what they were—- the best that he could be, for her.

She closed her eyes, and he closed his. He tried to be as silent as possible, and he heard from a distance the first sounds of a world waking—- wind on the trees, flapping of birds' wings, quiet voices speaking in tongues he could not understand, and the sound of her, breathing.

Such strength within such infinite beauty was a cliché, but maybe not. Diamond in the rough, unpolished and stained, and brittle and without facets, but a diamond just the same, shone like one just the same. And hard, though weathered, though fractured, though broken.

Where life was a tragedy, a chore, where they all could simply choose to stop breathing-- every intake of air she took was a reassurance, a testament to her desire to stay still alive. The mere fact that she took breath was clear proof of that.

Fight. They did that, and then some, faced with creatures from origins unknown, staking lives and effort on the line to save a world that cared not the slightest bit for them. They faced fright and desperation countless times a day for something they did not truly understand. But fight, they do, and win, because no human, really, truly wants death, no matter how dire the circumstances. They knew because they were, in fact, humans who had hit rock bottom who still rose to battle.

He opened his eyes to find her rising from her perch. Fireflies followed at her wake, on the tips of her hair and her fingers. She extended her hands to the skies in tribute and the heavens returned her favor with the softest whisper of the wind on her hair, the slightest touch of it on her skin, and he burned from her flames, was scorched and consumed.

He knew then that he would do anything for her.

In a world constantly moving, constantly turning, he could not stand still, could not remain sturdy. His weakness was his fragile humanity. But with burning words she threw him he found in himself a sort of strength, a sort of endurance. Only she had given him the knowledge that he could fight back at her because she was neither inferior nor superior. She was equal.

How could he stand with her and not be moved?

In a world that constantly left him behind, it was her who pushed him with heated hands to a pace where he could finally catch up. She stayed and she remained so that he could have someone to hold on to. Together, they met the falling sky and embraced it as their own.

How could he stand with her and not be moved?

In a world where he was constantly lost, she was two things: light from her eyes was what guided him, taken him to a place far better than the world they were in. It was the clarity of those eyes that brought him the very meaning to his life. Also, her breath was the strength with which he kept walking. In a world that he would've given up on, she urged him on, however way she could. Scorched him and burned him and heated him.

How could he stand with her and not be moved?

And finally, in a world that generally did not care, generally left him to his own machinations of doing and undoing, she needed him. Before pouring rain and dark skies she had pressed her head to his chest and the most profound of emotions ran through him, scorched his heart and burned his soul.

She lent him direction. WAS his direction.

And he stood, and he moved.

He wanted to be worthy of what she was—- worthy to protect her strength, worthy to keep her beauty. He wanted to be worthy of her happiness, worthy of her smile, worthy of her need.

He wanted to be the one she clung to.

Her flame-red hair burns, light on the edges and tips. From where he sat, she bore resemblance to an angel-- not those they fought today, but an angel from tales he imagined his mother told him, before she died.

When she looked so serene and peaceful the way she did today, he could believe that he had the strength to keep her that way, he could believe that he could do anything and everything for her.

The skies are red three times a day—- sunset, midnight and now, at dawn. Where the heavens were not yet full blue, but scattered with splashes of crimson. Red as her flaming hair, red and boundless and brave, like her, as she laid command over the horizon.

The sky, now, was a mixture of red, yellow, and purple-gray. She straightens.

"Come on, we'll be late, dummkopf."

In a sudden burst of rare courage, he grabbed her hand as she walked past, before she could walk away. She turned, pinpricks of light in her flame hair, startled.

I love you' were words too used, too worn out for the rest of the world, words he did not yet deserve to say to her. But he had to say something--- somehow---

"I--- need you, Asuka."

She blinked once and the world stopped turning. Slowly, she regained her balance.

"You're hallucinating."

But he saw the traces of a smile on her lips and saw, also, that this time today, the sun had risen in her eyes of sky.

Daybreak's name was Sohryu Asuka-Langley.

He was resolved.