Disclaimer: I do not own Neon Genesis Evangelion or any of its characters.

A Date with Asuka Langley Sohryu

Ikari Shinji opened his eyes. It was still dark outside and the clock on his bedside table flashed 4:30 in neon green numbers. Shinji took a deep breath, feeling the cold morning air fill his lungs, and got up from his bed.

After washing his face and brushing his teeth, Shinji proceeded to change for work. He wore a simple white shirt and black pants. With everything done, he went to the kitchen.

Misato was sitting in the dining room, sipping her coffee while reading a newspaper.

"Oh, morning Shinji." Misato said, not looking up from what she was reading.

"Good morning. What do you want for breakfast?" Shinji asked.

Misato never liked waking up early. But ever since she was promoted, she had to go to work earlier and she had no choice but to comply. More surprising is that Misato now goes to work sober as she no longer drinks beer in the morning.

"Anything you make is good so...anything I guess." Misato smiled.

Shinji rummaged through the refrigerator. He took out some eggs and bacon. He put on his apron and fired up the stove. Shinji began frying the items he took out. As the bacons and eggs sizzled, Shinji took a loaf of bread and put the slices in the toaster. Rice is a must for Misato so Shinji also switched on the rice cooker.

"Are you going there today again?" Misato asked.

Shinji nodded silently as he continued making breakfast. The eggs and bacon were already done and he put them on a plate. The bread slices popped out of the toaster and Shinji also put the bread on a separate plate.

"I might be bit late because of that so-" Shinji began.

Misato shook her head.

"It's fine. I'll overlook that since you've been performing well in your synch tests. Even after what happened, I'm glad you got through it." Misato said.

Shinji began to space out for a bit but was interrupted when the rice cooker signaled that the rice was ready. Shinji got a bowl and gave it to Misato. Then, he got two bento boxes and began filling it with the food he prepared.

"I'm sorry Misato-san but I'll go ahead." said Shinji, putting the bento boxes in a basket.

"Be careful. See you later."Misato nodded.

Shinji went out. Tokyo-3 was still dark. He began to walk down the street. He still had to stop by somewhere and he wanted to get to his destination before sunrise.

The flower shop was already open and the old lady who owns it was arranging the flowers on her display. She looked up and saw Shinji approaching.

"Good morning. Wait here for a bit. I'll get it." the old woman smiled warmly.

Shinji smiled back and the old woman disappeared inside her shop. When she returned, she was holding a large bouquet of red roses wrapped in red paper.

"Here you go. She must really love red." said the old woman as she handed the bouquet to Shinji.

Shinji nodded and smiled.

"Yes. She really loves red more than any color. Thank you obaa-san." Shinji said.

"She's a very lucky girl to have someone as devoted as you. You've been giving her flowers every day. Well, I hope you two end up together." said the old woman, smiling.

Shinji smiled and took his leave, thanking the old woman. He now took the path that leads to a hill. The sun was slowly creeping up and a faint light can be seen over the horizon.

After a few more minutes of walking, Shinji arrived at the foot of the hill. There was clear path that goes straight to the top. He continued walking, each step taking him nearer to her.

By the time he reached the top, the sun had already begun to rise, filling the sky with its golden rays.

"It's beautiful, isn't it...Asuka?" Shinji asked.

He put down his basket and reverently placed the bouquet on a carefully tended patch of green grass. The green patch has a marble slab on it, elegantly carved with: "Asuka Langley Sohryu" and "2001-2032".

"I know you get grouchy without breakfast, so I brought you some. Here you go." Shinji said.

Shinji sat down beside the grave. He took out one of the bento boxes, the bright red one, and set it beside the roses. Shinji took out the blue bento and opened it. He picked one of the bacon slices with his chopstick and put it in his mouth.

"How is it? I wasn't able to bring milk because I forgot to buy yesterday and we ran out." Shinji continued to speak.

He was facing the sunrise and his face was illuminated by the sun. Shinji's expression became serious.

"I'm sorry Asuka...I could've...I could've saved you back then. If only I was powerful enough to...to get out of the Angel's grip then maybe..." Shinji whispered.

The events two years ago flashed before Shinji's eyes as if it just happened yesterday. An Angel attacked Tokyo-3. Of course the Evas had to be deployed. The Angel had a strong Anti-A.T. Field and managed to capture Asuka's Unit 02 in one of its many tentacles. Those in the NERV headquarters were surprised at the Angel's ability. Ritsuko later theorized that perhaps the Anti-A.T. field was an ability possessed by whatever the Angels origin was. Misato suspected Ritsuko to be hiding information but she kept insisting that she didn't know where the Angels come from.

Shinji makes a pained face. He can still remember Asuka's voice. The last transmission before her communication was cut off.

Do something baka Shinji!

Shinji's Unit 01 continued to assail the Angel but it kept on spinning like a top, its large tentacles preventing him from getting close. The momentum of the movement also rendered long range weapons useless as they were deflected by the massive monster.

Shinji was about to launch an aerial attack when he saw the tentacles glow. The glow was a harsh red and slowly, Unit 02 was being seared. The red Eva kept on struggling but more and more tentacles wrapped around it, smoke clouding everyone's vision as the Angel burns the Eva.

Unit 01 kept approaching but was always flung away by the Angel. As desperation took over Shinji, he saw Unit 02 go limp and stop struggling.

Shinji's memory stops. Perhaps he blacked out because of rage or exhaustion in that moment. Misato said Unit 01 went berserk and managed to tear the Angel into bits. In the end, he managed to win and came out unscathed.

Asuka however, was a different case. Her mental link with her unit severely damaged her nerves because of the intense pain. For a few weeks, she was in a coma. But her condition gradually worsened. Her nervous system slowly failed. Without her central functions, her vital organs soon followed. Asuka was hooked up to a life support system but it can only delay the inevitable for so long.

Shinji felt his tears on his cheeks. Regret, powerlessness, anger. Two years have passed and he still can't forgive himself.

"I...I could've saved you. I could've done...more" Shinji tearfully said.

Most people around him thought he has moved on. Shinji himself though so too. But every time he comes back to the top of the hill, he knows that he probably never will be able to. Ever since Asuka's death, Shinji has been visiting her grave every day.

"I'm sorry...I know you hate it when I apologize but...Why does it have to be you?! Maybe I can get over this but I can't because...because...it's...you." Shinji exclaimed as tears continued to stream down his face.

Shinji always thought that he felt this way because of the regret he felt that he could have done something to alter her fate. That's what he always thought but now, he realized that the regret isn't the same anymore.

He regrets not telling her the important things. Now he lost that chance forever and it was also because of him.

Shinji tightened his fist. Even now, he can't bring himself to tell her. Even now when he realized what should be said.

Shinji took a deep breath and composed himself. His tears have stopped and he has calmed down. He packed his bento box and put it inside the basket again.

"I'll be seeing you then." Shinji said as he stood up.

He began to walk away, his grip on the basket tightening. Is he going to walk away again? Will he leave her again? Alone?

Shinji stopped. He was now a few meters from Asuka's grave.

"I know you might get angry. I know you might hate me. But...I want you to know..." Shinji began.

His hands were shaking. Shinji did not face the grave as he spoke.

"...I love you, Asuka."

The words came out naturally. They were his feelings which have always been there and saying them did not feel wrong in any way. Shinji sighed in relief as he released his honest feelings.

Baka Shinji.

Shinji's heart skipped a beat. Those words were said tenderly, as if it came from smiling lips. He cannot be mistaken.

Shinji turned around. No one was there. Shinji knew he heard that loving whisper but...

"Just my imagination, huh?" Shinji mumbled, looking downcast.

But before he can turn his back, Shinji noticed that the flowers he put on the grave were gone. Only the red paper used to wrap them was there. Not even a trace of petals was there.

Shinji frowned. There was no one there but him. Shinji scanned the area, looking around to find the flowers. They really were gone and in the end, Shinji's attention was caught by the sky.

The sun has risen already and the golden sky has already turned into a peaceful hue of blue. Clouds slowly sailed through the azure sky. Then something else caught his eye. Something was falling from above.

It was dancing in the wind, slowly descending from the clouds. When it was near him, Shinji held out his hand and caught it. He opened his hand and looked at the object.

It was a red rose petal.

Shinji smiled. He felt a surge of happiness and looked up in the sky.

"One day, we'll meet again...Asuka."