The sounds of the quartet faded away and out of his memory but as Shinji slowly opened his eyes he could still hear the rhythmic tapping of the metronome. He could hear it just as perfectly as he could remember hearing it in his dream counting out a steady 4/4 beat. His body felt strangely heavy as his eyes fully opened and he found himself looking towards the corner of the room.
'I feel… strange.' He thought to himself as he tried to move to roll over and go back to sleep. He made the attempt but his body did not comply with the request. Instead he found that when he tried to move any part of his body from his hands and arms to his feet and legs he could not move at all.
Fear immediately gripped him as he felt his heart start to beat faster in his chest. His mouth went dry as the sounds of the metronome sped up and the beat changed. He recognized it changing to 9/8. Once again he made the attempt to move but all Shinji was able to do was lie paralyzed in his bed.
Finally he was able to blink but he regretted it immediately at the terrifying sight that welcomed him on his eye opening again. The corner of the room he had been staring at before was no longer empty. If he could have done he'd have opened his mouth to scream. If he was able to he'd have leapt up from the bed and ran away but Shinji was unable to do anyone that.
The sounds of the metronome got louder as Asuka Langley Soryu stood in the corner of the room glaring at him. She looked just as she did when he had seen her on the beach on that day over a year ago. She was standing up straight wearing her tattered plugsuit which conformed exactly to her body. She had her head tilted as if she was considering his existence.
Shinji could see the bandage over her eye. A faint trickle of blood running down from it giving the effect that she was crying. His gaze was forced to her arm now. That too was bandaged and he watched as more blood trickled from the ends of her arm down onto the carpet below.
Shinji desperately wanted to scream and run away but his body refused to move even an inch. His gaze was forced back to Asuka's face which was now wearing a nightmarish grin. The blood from her wound running down faster and thicker as she continued to grin.
"You killed me Shinji…" She snarled, her voice echoing through the room, "You abandoned me and left me for dead. Now it's time you die!"
Her mouth opened wider as she let out a high pitch scream and with lightning speed charged towards him. Barely a second later she was standing above his body and staring down at him. She brought her bandaged hand up to his face and grinned.
"Wake up Shinji."
Shinji's eyes shot open and he let out a scream as he sat upright and immediately through the sheets off of him. His body shook as he darted out of the bed scrambling for the door, his body nearly tripping on the way there. He struggled to catch his breath as he slid the door open and escaped into the hallway and dashed into the living room.
He made it a small way into the room before his body gave up on him. The pain in his chest and stomach became too much and he sank to his knees. Pain shot through his knees and legs as they connected with the hard wood flooring. He retched violently, his stomach in pain as nothing came up.
Another door slid open and the light suddenly came on in the living room. His vision was hazy but he could make out a human looking shape moving towards him. He felt two hands on his shoulders as he was guided back and propped up against a wall. He sat trying to catch his breath as the figure worked on moving his legs and propping his head between them.
He thought he could hear them speak but could not make out what they said. He was sure it was Misato's voice. She didn't stay in front of him for long as she dashed into the kitchen and brought out a bowl shaped object placing it in front of him.
Her arm was wrapped around his shoulder as he just sat there trying to get his breath back and come down from this panic attack. His vision had returned somewhat, he saw Misato with her phone out. She placed it down on the ground before wrapping her arms around him
"Shinji, are you okay?"
Shinji found himself still unable to say anything as he gasped for air. Misato asked him no further questions. Instead she just kept her arms around him and attempted to comfort him, "it's alright Shinji. Just keep taking deep breaths, it'll be alright."
His vision had now fully returned but he was still having trouble speaking. Tears were streaming down his face spilling onto his pyjama pants and the ground below. All he could do was take deep breaths and try to wipe away some of the falling tears.
Seeing this Misato stood up and grabbed a box of tissues from a nearby table and handed them to him.
"T-T-T-Thank y-you…" He was able to stutter out as he reached out with trembling hands to get the box. He fumbled with it for a moment before grabbing one of the tissues and wiping some of the tears away. Misato keeping a close eye on him as she returned to her position next to him and kept an arm around him.
No further words were said as they sat in silence. Shinji letting out the occasional sob as he continued to try to calm himself down. She was about to get up to make some tea when the sound of the front door opening was head. This was instantly followed by a panicked yell, "I'm home! What's happening?"
Misato was given no chance to even begin to answer before Asuka had dashed into the room. She looked around the room and saw Shinji. Immediately she started to kneel down to say something but on seeing her he screamed out and scrambled away from the pair of them to the opposite side of the room as far away from her as he could.
Asuka and Misato exchanged a concerned glance before she slowly took a few steps towards him and knelt down near to him, "Shh… Shinji, it's alright. It's just me."
She reached out towards him with her hand to attempt to stroke his cheek only see his eyes widen with fear and him press himself up further against the wall. She withdrew her hand and tried to not look hurt as she backed away from him, "I'm not going to hurt you Shinji, it's just me."
Misato stood looking between the two of them and shooting Asuka a sympathetic glance, "I'll make us some tea."
Asuka simply nodded and stood up to remove her jacket. She kept her eyes focused on Shinji as she did so, "Yeah, good idea."
With her jacket off she knelt down in front of Shinji again but maintained a bit of distance from him. Shinji was trembling and barely able to look back at her. She frowned and shook her head. It was so horrible to see him like this, it had been a long time since anything like this had happened and it never got any easier.
She sat herself down cross-legged in front of him and said nothing just keeping an eye on him and watching him as he trembled and shook. After a few minutes Misato re-entered the room carrying a small tray and setting it down on the coffee table.
Asuka turned towards her, "What happened Misato?"
"I don't know. I was in my room reading and I heard a scream followed by a loud thud. When I came out he was on the floor and hyperventilating. He looked terrified, like he had seen a ghost or something."
"Nightmare then." Asuka flashed him a smile, "What have I told you about eating cheese before bedtime Shinji?"
"Sorry for calling you back from Hikari's like that Asuka. I know you don't get the chance to hang out with her often." Misato said apologetically.
Asuka waved her hand, "It's fine, don't worry about it. I'd rather be here anyway."
"It must have been a really bad nightmare." Misato added as she say herself down.
Asuka nodded, "They usually are… for either one of us. Shinji will be alright though. He is the invincible Shinji after all. A nightmare isn't going to be someone like him.
Asuka was sure she could hear a small laugh from him as she took the opportunity to move a bit closer to him. She reached out her hand again and smiled at him, "Come on Shinji, the couch is much more comfortable than the floor."
Shinji finally raised his head and reached out his hand towards her. He let out a sniff as tears were still slowly trickling down his cheeks. His hands were still trembling but he seemed to be breathing at a steady pace and was back in reality at least.
Their hands met and their fingers entwined with one another's. Asuka gently pulled him to his feed and guided him towards the couch and sat him down. She sat herself down as Misato looked on sorrowfully.
"So… you're still having nightmares as well Asuka?" She finally asked.
Asuka was in the middle of sipping from her tea, she looked away, "I'm fine…"
"Asuka, it's important."
"Yes… I am." Asuka finally admitted albeit through gritted teeth, "They aren't as bad as they used to be though."
Misato let out a sigh, "That's good at least. I wish there was more I could do."
"They're nothing more you can do." Asuka reminded her, "This isn't easy for either of us but we are getting better."
"Yeah I know but maybe I could have gotten a better therapist or not forced you back to school or… I don't know… just something more."
"Misato there is nothing more any of us can do except for what we have been doing. I hate it too. I hate seeing Shinji like this! I hate having to admit to you and others that I have nightmares. I hate having to talk to a therapist about my past and I'm fairly sure Shinji hates waking up like he has done tonight but we-"
"P-Please don't fight." Shinji said weakly, his voice and body still shaking slightly.
Asuka instantly shut up unaware of how raised her voice was. Both Asuka and Misato glanced downwards slightly embarrassed. Asuka shuffled slightly closer to him and put an arm around him, "We weren't fighting Shinji. We are just a bit…"
"Stressed I suppose." Misato finished the sentence for her, "It's just hard."
"S-Sorry…" Shinji muttered.
Asuka squeezed him tighter to her, "You have nothing to apologize for you idiot! Are you feeling a bit better now?"
"Y-Yeah… a little bit. I'm sorry I scared you both and ruined your night."
Asuka laughed and rested her head on his shoulder, "Don't worry about it. You haven't ruined my night at all."
"How is Hikari?" He asked.
"Hikari is doing well. Her father just got a new job in the city and her older sister is going away to college soon. They're preparing for that at the moment." Asuka explained, "She is still dating Touji of course, I still don't understand what she sees in that idiot."
Misato let out a laugh, "You should be a bit fairer to him. He is one of Shinji's friends after all and he is a good person."
"Yeah… well he's still an idiot." Asuka grinned, "I suppose she could have done worse."
"Much much worse." Misato finished her tea and yawned, "I think… it's probably time we all went back to bed. Are you alright now Shinji?"
Shinji gave a small nod and smiled, "Yeah… I feel a lot better now. I'm sorry for making you worry."
Misato moved towards him and gave him a hug before kissing him on the forehead, "Don't ever apologize for that sort of thing. It's my job to worry about you, I'd be doing it even if you were fine. We are both here for you though Shinji no matter what. You've been through things that no one else should have done."
"i-I know but it's been a year." He started to protest.
She put a finger to his lips, "It can take way longer than a year to get over something like that. Me and Asuka are living proof of that."
Asuka nodded, "Yeah… We are."
"I-I guess…" He said as Misato kissed him on the forehead again.
"I love you Shinji, good night." She wandered towards the door to her bedroom before turning back towards the pair of them, "I love you too Asuka, take care of each other. Alright?"
Asuka grinned, "What, not going to tease us like you normally do?"
Misato shook her head, "Maybe in the morning. Right now I'm in serious Misato mode. Good night."
When Misato had entered her room Asuka stood up and grabbed Shinji into a hug of her own. She let him nuzzle his head into her should as she rubbed his back, "I'm here for you Shinji. You don't need to be scared alright?"
Asuka led him back towards their bedroom and watched him as he climbed back into the bed. She looked on curiously as she noticed him glancing towards the corner of the room every couple of seconds. She glanced there herself to see nothing there before looking back at him, "What is it? A spider?"
Shinji shook his head, "No… not a spider that was where… it was."
"It? You mean your nightmare right? What happened, was it one of the usual ones?" Asuka asked him as she found her pyjames and started to remove her own clothes.
Shinji sat up in the bed and waited a moment as the awful memories of that bad dream rushed back to him, "It was a different one. There were the four of us. There was me, you, Rei and Kaworu and we were in a quartet. I was on Cello, Kaworu on Piano, you were on violin and Rei on viola. We were playing on some empty stage and I think it was Air by Bach."
"A classic" Asuka said as she pulled on her pyjama bottoms.
"We finished playing and then that was when I woke up. Except I could still hear the metronome. It wasn't in the standard time anymore though it was faster and… it had shifted to 9/8" He shivered as he spoke, "I also… couldn't move either."
"That sounds horrible." Asuka put a loose fitting pyjama top on and got into the bed next to him draping an arm over him.
"It was." He said, "There was nothing there at first and then I was able to blink and she… appeared."
"She?" Asuka asked.
"Y-Yeah… it was you actually but as you were on the beach. You were stood there looking at me angrily. I could see your bandages and there was blood… and…" Shinji sniffed and rolled over to face her. She stroked his face softly.
"You don't have to say anymore if you don't want to Shinji." She offered.
"N-No… I want to. We said we'd tell each other our nightmares didn't we?" Shinji said in reply, "Besides it'll make me feel better when you tell me it was stupid."
Asuka laughed, "Well I am good at saying that."
"Anyway she was just… looking at me at first but then she started to grin at me. She rushed towards me and said to me that I let her die and that now I was going to die… I… I…" Shinji stopped again and a sob escaped him as he was pulled towards Asuka's chest, crying into her.
"Shh, It's alright Shinji it was just a stupid nightmare. A stupid and horrible nightmare and it wasn't real. She was not real but I am real and I'm not going to hurt you, not now and not ever." She consoled him, "You did not let me die, you didn't hurt me and we're past all of that now."
As she spoke to him she couldn't help but let her own gaze wander towards the corner of the room where Shinji said this apparition of her had stood. She felt a cold chill run down her spine and suppressed a shiver.
She knew how stupid it seemed but she half expected to see the grotesque version of herself that Shinji had described to her standing there and ready to taunt her too. She looked along the carpet from the corner to the bed nervously looking out for the blood drops that Shinji had mentioned and holding her own breath until she confirmed nothing was there.
'Of course there is nothing there you idiot! It was Shinji's nightmare!'
"It's fine now Shinji. It was just a nightmare."
"A-Are you sure?" He asked nervously.
She laughed, "Yes I'm sure."
Shinji rolled over and she held him in her arms his body still trembling. She softly stroked her hand along his side and dotted small kisses onto the back of his head and neck.
"You're still looking aren't you?" She asked him flatly.
She felt him nod his head, "I-I can't help it Asuka. It was scary and I keep thinking… what if what it said was true."
Asuka found it hard to blame him for having those sorts of thoughts. What he must have gone through would have been horrible. Asuka herself had succumbed to a similar sort of night terror once or twice when she had been alone and it was also a terrifying experience.
She also knew first-hand what feelings he had running through his mind right now. All the fear and guilt from what had happened over a year ago were still there for the both of them. Some days it felt much stronger and others they could suppress it but it'd never go completely.
They were going to beat it though. She was the great Asuka Langley Soryu and he was the Invincible Shinji Ikari, alone they were good but together they would be unstoppable. It had almost not happened though. She could still remember how they were in the first few months after the Third Impact.
Both she and Shinji had lapsed into that way they were before the Third Impact. During one particularly bad argument Shinji had went to attack her after she had mercilessly taunted him. He had gotten within a metre before realizing what he was doing and broke down crying.
He fell at her feet sobbing and begging to know why the two of them had to be like this. Why they were doing this to themselves and each other. They had both came back to try to understand one another hadn't they? Asuka had no reply for him but to kneel down and cry with him, holding him as finally the barriers crashed down.
They had talked properly after that. Finally admitting their feelings for one another. Resolving to always talk to each other and be there for one another. It had been tough at times but they were managing. Misato and their friends had been supportive.
She slowly turned him back around to face her and when she spoke her tone was stern, "Listen to me Shinji Ikari."
Her hand cupped his cheek, "That thing you saw in your nightmare and whatever it said to you… it was not real. It was your guilt and your fear doing this to you. You have nothing to feel bad about and nothing to be sorry about."
She leaned in closer, "The scars on my body… they have healed and I forgave you a long time ago for what happened. Those things we did on that day and leading up to it… we were all as bad as each other Shinji."
"I know that but…"
"But nothing Shinji." She cut him off, "I know we can't just let it go. It isn't that easy. I know it's tough and we both feel bad. I feel like I don't deserve to lie next to you sometimes, like I should just go."
"Asuka you shouldn't! Ever, I don't want you to go!" Shinji protested.
"I know that."
"You're a good person Asuka."
"And so are you Shinji. No matter what that voice in your head or in your nightmares tells you. So don't you dare even think about listening to that fake me. Listen to me instead, I am the real me. I am Asuka Langley Soryu and I am here for you and I always will be."
"I'll always be there for you too Asuka."
She leaned in and kissed him firmly on the lips, "I love you Shinji."
"I love you too Asuka."
Author's Notes: Hi everyone, I don't normally like to leave too many notes on my work but I wanted to explain the inspiration behind this one. The other night I had an Evangelion related dream. Which inspired the opening scene to this little one-shot. Basically I was observing, or I was Shinji Ikari and I was walking down a street. I was able to hear the track Air playing in the background and the sounds of a metronome. It was a steady beat and as I/Shinji walked I was witnessing faded images of scenes from the series.
Until it got towards the end when the metronome sped up. That was when Asuka appeared and dashed forward to attack me/Shinji.
So that was the inspiration for the opening scene. Obviously I altered it quite a lot to make it more of a night terror/sleep paralysis situation for Shinji and then added the rest to make this a WAFF/Comfort fic. I couldn't put him through such a horrific nightmare without him getting some snuggles at the end.
As for the name, it comes from two songs I like. The first is Visions by Haken which is the name of a concept album by them and a track on the album. The album itself is about a person who at a young age witnesses their own death in dreams and spends their life attempting to avoid said death as he believes it is going to actually happen. If you're a fan of Prog Rock/Metal similar to bands like Dream Theater definitely give it and Haken a go.
The second part comes from a part of the song Suppers Ready by Genesis. It's a 24 minute track that details a journey through Revelations in the bible. The part of the song is called Apocalypse in 9/8 and it's in 9/8 time so I worked the metronome to go to that as a reference.
Anyway enough of me rambling. Please feel free to leave reviews/comments and check out my other works. Thank you so much for reading.