Grit Those Teeth

Shinji's voice wavered just as his fists close to his sides shook. "I-I'm not getting in there again. You can't make me!"

The newest young pilot of EVA-01 never wanted to step inside that strange machine and fight Angels once more. But here he was now, dragged to NERV headquarters and being goaded by his uncaring father to pilot the Evangelion. What did he do to deserve this? Why him, of all people? Was this his punishment for wanting to run away, or just being the son of the NERV commander? Tears pricked at the corners of his eyes. "I barely even know how to control the EVA. What if it goes berserk again?"

"We won't let that happen," Misato replied firmly. "We'll keep a close eye on you, Shinji. The pilot's safety is our top priority."

Still the boy furiously shook his head. "How could you trust someone like me to do the job if it's so obvious that I can't? I haven't been fighting very long at all!"

"Well, you don't have much of an excuse, kid. Simon and I haven't been fighting that long either."

Shinji's head jerked up in confusion and surprise at the sudden unfamiliar voice. Next to EVA-01 situated in the pool, a smaller red mech landed in the hanger. Its appearance looked nonsensical and almost ridiculous, with a great grinning face as its torso and numerous drills sticking out at every imaginable angle.

What happened next was all a blur. The mouth of the torso snapped open, the pilot leaping out with one fist cocked back and shouting at the top of his lungs: "Let's see you...Grit. Those. Teeth!"

The mysterious loud-mouthed pilot socked Shinji right in the face, his knuckles digging into the boy's cheeks and sending him flying. Shinji landed hard on the metal floor and sprawled on his back. He groaned in pain and rubbed his red cheek. His dazed, blurry eyes tried to focus on the surprise assailant: a blue-haired young man sporting glasses just like the one on the mech.

"Snapped out of it yet?" the man barked.

Misato frowned with worry. "Kamina, don't you think you're taking this a little too-"

"Relax, Misato. If what I heard about the kid is true, then what he needs is a little pep talk from me."

Shinji stumbled to his feet and managed to say, "Who...who are you?"

"So glad you asked, kid." The man crossed his arms over his bare chest and flashed a bold, cocky grin. "The name's Kamina, proud co-pilot of Gurren Lagann!"

"Gurren...Lagann? That mech back there?"

The hatch of Gurren Lagann's head unraveled and opened to reveal a boy about Shinji's age. He waved and called out, "I'm Simon, the other co-pilot. Kamina and I are blood brothers and partners in battle."

Shinji blinked slowly, still in a daze from the whirlwind of events and unorthodox introductions. "I've never seen you two before. Where did you come from?"

"Simon and I used to live underground," Kamina replied. "Long story short, we reached the surface, got our hands on Gurren Lagann, and our fighting spirit impressed the hell out of NERV, so they recruited us on the spot!" His hand lunged out to seize Shinji by the collar and pull him up to his tip-toes. "So you're a new kid to the whole business, big deal. Now's not the time to mope around when there's a world to save and a name to make for yourself! Just get in the damn robot!"

Shinji looked away, finding that he couldn't look long into the spirit blazing in Kamina's eyes. " dad..."

"Don't worry about your dad, NERV, or anything else," Kamina shot back. He jabbed a finger against Shinji's chest. "It's all about what you want. Don't believe in me who believes in you. Don't believe in you who believes in me. Believe in yourself who believes in you!"

Shinji stared in awe at him. He had never met a man so bold and confident. For a moment he wished he had even the slightest bit of courage Kamina had.

Kamina released Shinji and chuckled. "You know, you remind me a lot of how my bro used to be not too long ago. He always doubted himself and liked to run away, but I knocked some sense to him. Now that I knocked some sense into you, maybe you'll come around eventually." He turned to face Gurren Lagann. "Until then, Simon and I will show you how Team Guren does things! We'll fight the Angel for you!"

"Y-you are?" Shinji exclaimed.

"Heh. Just who the hell do you think I am? I'm no brainiac like Simon, but I just know to aim for the big red thing in the Angels, and shatter them with our drill and with our all combined might." Kamina jabbed a finger straight up in the air. "One day, our drill will pierce the heavens!" He turned with a dramatic flap of his cape and jumped back into Gurren Lagann. His voice came out echoing from the mech.

"Misato, we're heading out!" he declared.

"Roger! I'll inform Commander Ikari!"

Gurren Lagann ignited in a blaze of spirit and fire, and it soared out of sight to the surface. Kamina let out a loud, wild whoop all the while. Shinji stared after where it had left.

"How could they be so willing to throw themselves into battle like that? How can they be so brave?"

Misato folded her arms and smiled. "I haven't known Kamina very long, but I think he's always been like that. His spirit rubs off on Simon, too. His hotheaded optimism and indomitable fighting spirit...that might just be the thing this world needs."

Shinji's hand flitted to his cheek, which still stung and throbbed from Kamina's sucker punch. It was then he resolved that he wouldn't run away anymore.

Contrary to what most NGE fans feel, I don't hate Shinji, so this short fic isn't character bashing. I just thought that an interaction between him and Kamina would be interesting to write about. Anyways, I hope you liked it haha.