DISCLAIMER - I don't own Neon Genesis Evangelion or any of its characters as you well know. However, if you want to pretend that I do, I certainly wouldn't mind (though GAINAX might), it's past time for a good ol' fashioned ego boost.

Coming Closer, a Neon Genesis Evangelion fanfiction by Richard Abraham.

Chapter 3 - Full Circle.

Shinji Ikari was not a boy of many possessions. Thus, it would come as no surprise to note the rather Spartan quality to his room. Even after several months of living here, there were no posters, no paraphernalia. There was little here apart from his clothes, his S-DAT player and tapes, and himself. Of course, the lack of decoration meant that there was little comfort to be found within the cold barren walls of his room.

The boy on the bed stared up at the ceiling of the room. He had been lying as such for almost two hours, though time holds little relevance for someone trapped in his own thoughts.


It was an accusation, warped from the original speech given by the original speaker a mere two hours ago.


An evaluation of his own life, conducted, of course, by himself. He couldn't do anything right. He couldn't even pilot his own Eva. How many times had Unit 01 gone berserk?

Spurred by the question, his thoughts drifted to the fourteenth angel.

Just before he lost control, he had heard the heartbeat, the precursor for the violence that had followed. The heartbeat had carried sensations with it that still confused him. There was certainly the primitive rage of the beast within the technology, but there was something else as well. Something warm and familiar, and that in itself disturbed him.

His recollections became vague and hazy after his Eva had absorbed him, but he knew that, near the end of his occupancy, there were a lot of positive feelings associated with the broken images.

Beep... Beep... Beep... Beep...


The startled boy almost leapt out of his bed at the unexpected intrusion of the bedside clock's alarm. He quickly switched the alarm off and sat poised on the edge of his bed, hand clutching his chest and trying to calm his panicked heart.


Once his heart rate returned to normal levels, he recalled the reason for the odd timing of the alarm.

Misato was due back within the hour and he had thought that he might as well delay preparing dinner so that it would be ready when she returned.

Misato had phoned the house from NERV headquarters mere minutes after the incident with Asuka. The original purpose of the call was to inform Shinji that she would be late back from her shift. Of course, this intention quickly died when she had heard the poorly concealed distress in the boy's voice as he answered the phone.

After five solid minutes of assurances concerning his physical and mental welfare, Shinji had finally managed to fend off her concern and had managed to end the call. He didn't believe for a minute that Misato had bought a word of it.


Still plenty of time to prepare dinner.

Stepping out of his room, Shinji was somewhat surprised to hear the outside door unlocking and opening with a motorised hiss. Since he knew Asuka was still in her room, that left only one candidate. His assumption was quickly proven correct as his guardian stepped into view in the hallway.

Misato stopped in her tracks and quickly appraised Shinji's appearance. He could almost feel her gaze raking over him, gleaning information on his current state and wondering whether she should approach him or leave well enough alone.

"You sounded upset on the phone," she said, letting the statement explain her unexpected presence. "What happened?"

Shinji broke eye contact and his head slumped forward, the action giving away the lie before he even opened his mouth.

"Nothing Misato. I...I was just going to make some dinner. Is there anything you'd like me to make?"

While he couldn't see her eyes narrow, he could feel her disapproving glare burn into him. It was obvious she wasn't going to buy into his admittedly pathetic attempt at evasion. Before she could pick apart the lie, Shinji started towards the kitchen.

He didn't even make a second step before he felt someone impeding his progress with a firm hand on his shoulder.

"Nothing, huh? Well, let's talk about this nothing in your room okay?"

There was no escaping this and Shinji knew it. With little more than a tired sigh, he let himself be led back into the room he had just left, Misato's hand on his shoulder.

Once inside, the hand on his shoulder was lifted and the soul weary boy automatically trudged over to sit on his bed. After a few moments of intense carpet studying, he lifted his eyes to determine a reason for his guardian's silence.

She stood there in the middle of the room, her posture projecting unease and uncertainty. It looked as if she was debating what would be the correct course of action to undertake.

Shinji didn't think that running away was one of the plans being considered.

After a while, Misato came to a decision. Her personal problems could wait a little longer. After all, wasn't that why she was at work today? In order to run away from her problems? Shinji needed her, and it was the least he deserved after last night.

Dismissing the depressing thoughts before they could take shape, she drew up to her full height. Gathering her courage, she started moving towards the bed.

Shinji missed this movement as his gaze had again drifted to the floor sometime during Misato's inner debate.

Thus, it was with a certain amount of surprise that he registered the presence of Misato as she sat next to him on the bed. She reached out and touched his chin, gently turning his head so she could look him in the eyes.

"Shinji, please talk to me." The voice was unsure of itself yet still had a soothing quality to it.

For a moment, Shinji contemplated remaining silent. At the very least it would buy him some time. The notion was rejected however, when he realised this probably wouldn't deter her. Not tonight anyway. Besides, he was too tired and too hurt to bother with an attempt to run away from Misato.

"Why? Why do you do this?"

"Do what Shinji?" Misato asked, surprised by the question.

Shinji didn't elaborate further. Misato sighed, but pressed on.

"Shinji. What happened?" Misato tried to inject a little levity into her voice, "You never know, I might actually be able to help, even without a beer in me."

Shinji didn't look as if his guardian's attempt at humour had done much to improve his mood. However, he knew that an offering was needed in order to calm her concerns. He opened his mouth, intending on telling a short, watered down version of the truth:

"We had a fight. Me and... and Asuka. She was really mad when she got home and... she saw me. She started shouting at me. I... I told her that I came back to save her. She blew up at me. Called me useless. Useless."

His voice, which had been barely above a whisper to begin with, trailed off and broke. It was clear to Misato that Asuka's words had wounded the boy in front of her.

Shinji was berating himself for spilling his guts. So much for selective editing. Dismally, he wondered what Misato must think of him now. After that, she probably viewed him as the pathetic little boy that he was in his own mind. When he looked up into her eyes though, it wasn't pity nor disgust he found. Instead, he found concern and sympathy reflected in the windows to her soul.

"Asuka's, a very proud person Shinji. She won't admit that anyone is her better in anything."

Shinji nodded. That much he already knew, after all, it had been pretty obvious right from when he had first met the volatile redhead.

"I know that. But why... why is she always taunting me and yelling at me, hurting me?" Pleading, raw and simple. A need for understanding.

Misato paused to ponder the ethics of continuing further. Revealing anything more to Shinji could be seen as a betrayal of Asuka's trust. Her past and feelings were her business and should be of no concern to Shinji. However, it obviously was a concern seeing as her behaviour was hurting Shinji, a boy under her protection.

"Asuka's had a tough life Shinji. Her mother died when she was very young and since then, she's devoted her life to being the best Eva pilot."

Shinji remained silent though wide eyed. Asuka had lost her mother too? That might explain why she never talked about her home life. He didn't let his concentration drift though, as Misato continued speaking.

"I think Asuka sees you as a threat. A threat to her status as a pilot, and because of that, a threat to her self image and worth as a person. Haven't you noticed that she's become more temperamental since you returned?"

Shinji nodded. He had indeed noticed, it was, after all, why they were having this conversation.

"You're the only pilot who has beaten an angel without any assistance. That, and the fact that you have overtaken her synch ratio has made her resentful. I wouldn't be surprised if she thinks that you're deliberately trying to undermine her piloting abilities."

Shinji was stunned. Asuka thought that he was trying to beat her? It was quite a revelation, and there was only one response that he could formulate.

"I... I'm sorry."

Misato smiled, amused by Shinji's stuttered apology.


"Huh?" Shinji had been taken by surprise by the question and it showed all over his face.

"Are you sorry because you have a higher synch ratio than Asuka?"


"Are you sorry that you saved all of our lives by piloting again?"

Silence reigned for long moments until Shinji bowed his head in defeat.

"Shinji, don't apologise for the good things that you do. It belittles your actions and cheapens their worth as well as your own."

By this point, Shinji's mind was swirling with feelings of defeat, depression, shame and anger. This was reflected on the outside by the continual clenching and relaxing of his right hand.

"It's just so frustrating. I... I don't know what she wants from me. She taunts me and hits me, but then, she'll smile at me sometimes, for no reason, and I'll feel... feel like..."

Shinji's voice broke, and he showed no sign of continuing.

Misato looked on as her young charge showed increasing signs of distress and despaired at her inability to comfort him. Her own feelings of grief, never far below the surface, rose as she wondered if this was how she had looked the previous night.

Memories trickled into her conscious thought and carried with them the powerful emotions that had been prevalent at the time.

There had been grief, of course. She had lost the man that she loved without ever getting a chance to say those words to him.

Again, the grief surged. There were no more chances, only loneliness. Glancing at Shinji though, she pondered if that need be the case.

Last night, Shinji had come to her and comforted her with just his presence. She had always known that Shinji was more than just her charge, more than a subordinate. Last night had proved that. She still remembered the warmth of his body as he had awkwardly cradled her in his arms.

Shinji had crossed a barrier last night. One barrier of many that each of them had erected. The purpose of these was to distance the other. After all, the closer you got to another, the more deeply they could hurt you.

Misato realised that somewhere along the line, while thinking about Shinji, the clinging darkness of grief had retreated from her mind, held back by the emotions inspired by Shinji's act. Looking at the depressed, frustrated, and weary boy before her, she came to her decision.

It was time for the barriers to come down.

Gathering her courage, Misato reached over and pulled Shinji into a warm embrace, her arms wrapped around his body. Leaning back against the wall at the head of the bed, she moved one of her arms upward and started to stroke his hair. She found she was quite willing to stay in this position until her Shinji was no longer hurting.

For his part, Shinji was rather stunned by the sensation of someone wrapping their arms around him. He tensed at the unexpected contact, but quickly relaxed as the warmth of Misato's body seeped into his own. His arms found their way around her body, and he let himself relax completely into the embrace of the most important woman in his life.

Exhaustion finally caught up with the young boy, and, as he slipped into unconscioussness, he knew that his dreams would be untroubled, at least for tonight.

His last thought before sleep took him, was that the sensations he was feeling were familiar though they were vague. Like a memory, faded with age, but which carried with it an eternal impact.


Authors notes

First off, I would like to apologise to anybody out there who have been waiting patiently for this last chapter.

If you remember the announcement I made a couple of months ago, you'll know that I had intended on posting this chapter a long time ago. (A long, LONG time ago)

Things changed. Firstly, it took over two weeks for all my prereaders to get back to me. By that point, I only had a couple of days of my uni term left (and my only access to the web), and was busy packing to go home.

I thought when I got home I'd be able to post through my local library's computers. Unfortunately, it appears there's a phrase in the 'Add chapter' section of the site that the library had banned.

And so, it is only now that I finally have my own internet connection at home, that I am able to post this chapter.

I would also like to apologise to the people who e-mailed me and didn't get a response. I lost any e-mail addresses that I didn't put on paper (which was virtually all of them, including two of my prereaders) when my university e-mail account closed.

Well, despite the huge delay, I hope that you have enjoyed this last chapter of Coming Closer.

I would like to thank my three prereaders for top notch assistance. And of course God, for at last seeing fit to giving me a break to post this.