Disclaimer: the rights to the anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion are owned exclusively by Studio Gainax animation.  I claim no rights to their characters or concepts, and will remove this story from the web should they request it.  Also, this is an R-rated story.  It contains graphic language and deals very openly with sexual situations.  Please do not read if this subject matter offends you.  Thanks.

The Lifespan of a Love Affair

By Random1377

Week 1:  Starting Something.

Shinji Ikari yawned as he slid the door to his Lovely Suite closed behind him and started towards the kitchen.  Since it was a Saturday, and he did not have any scheduled tests at NERV, he had come straight home from school and slipped thankfully into bed.  Sleep had become somewhat of a valuable commodity to him since the encounter with the Jet Alone robot. Between school, tests, and worrying about being responsible for others – an entirely new concept for the boy – he would have estimated his average nightly sleep at around six hours or so.  He had read once that nine and a half hours was supposed to be the target for a boy his age, but he simply did not see it happening.

He just thanked his lucky stars for Saturday naps.

Coming into the kitchen, he yawned again.  "Hi Misato," he said, covering his mouth with his right hand.

Misato Katsuragi, Shinji's guardian and immediate supervisor, waved to him with her left hand.  Waving with her right would have been difficult, Shinji decided, since it was currently in the process of upending a can of beer.  "Hey Shinji," the woman replied when she had finally finished.  "Sleep well?"

Shinji shrugged.  "Yeah," he said absently, "wouldn't mind another couple hours… but I couldn't stay asleep."

"I hate that," Misato said quietly, "you're tired, you don't have anything else better to do, you want to sleep… but you just can't…"

The boy nodded, leaning back against one of the counters.  "It's ok," he told her, "I'll just do some laundry or something and start dinner early, so… yeah…"

"Yeah…" Misato echoed, idly making patterns in a small pool of spilt beer.

Shinji watched in silence as the woman continued drawing in the liquid, a small frown coming over his features as he slowly became more aware of how she looked.  In his opinion, in all honesty, Misato looked horrible.  Her face seemed haggard and glum, which was somewhat shocking when he paused to think about it.  In his experience, her expression was always smiling, teasing, or determined.  He could not recall her being sad before. Another thing that was beginning to concern him was that her hair was disheveled.  Always before, the Captain's long, lavender hair seemed flowing and vibrant.  That day, though, it just seemed lackluster and dull.

Overall, he decided… Misato looked like hell.

"Did you get all your homework done?" Misato asked suddenly.

I can't blame him for staring, she thought tiredly as the boy confirmed that his studies were up to date, I probably look like shit right now.

Another silence fell as the woman opened another can of beer.

"Shinji," she whispered finally, setting the can down after one sip and leaning back in her chair, "you know I was on a date, right?"

Shinji nodded.  "Yeah," he said quietly, "you didn't tell me, but I kinda thought that's why you were dressed up."

Guess I wasn't too subtle, Misato thought, nodding and taking another drink, not that I should have to hide things from Shinji, of all people, but… she frowned as her thought trailed off.  If it's not a secret, she thought uneasily, why didn't you just tell him?

"Did you have fun?" Shinji asked.

Misato closed her eyes, forcing herself not to reply with, 'Yeah, for about twenty minutes.' 

"I've had better times, Shinji," she murmured, upending the can and slamming it back on the table.  "Let's leave it at that."

"Umm… ok… sorry."

Misato shook herself.  "It's not your fault," she sighed.  "I just…"  She leaned back in her chair, laying her hands backwards across her forehead and gazing at the boy.  "In all honesty, I don't date that much… and I'm having a little trouble figuring out what guys want from me."

"Oh," Shinji nodded.  "I see."

"I mean, really," the woman went on, "I don't get it.  I try to be fun, I try to be…" she hesitated only a moment before pressing forward, "sexy, and just when I think I've figured out what a guy wants," she averted her eyes, lowering her voice to a whisper, "and give it to him… it all just falls apart."

Feeling out of his depth, and oddly embarrassed, Shinji nodded.

"Am I so hideous that they can't stand to be near me?" Misato whispered, toying with the cans and staring off into space.  "Or do they see me as just an easy lay – the kind of girl that's good for a fuck, but not worth keeping around the morning after?"

Shinji gaped at her, wondering if she was even aware of what she had said.  "I, umm… don't… don't know…" he managed finally.

"What about you, Shinji?" Misato asked softly, arranging the empty cans in a triangle and setting the napkin on top before leaning back and folding her arms over her breasts.  "What do you want?"

"From… from you?" Shinji asked uncertainly, "You mean… do I want to be with you??"

For the first time in their relationship, Misato blushed.  "That's not quite what I meant," she said awkwardly, absently rubbing her upper arms with her palms.

"I don't understand…"

Misato leaned forward and put her elbows on the table, resting her chin in her palms.  "I guess I'm asking if you would ever want someone like me," she murmured.  "I'm sorry, I shouldn't weigh you down with my personal affairs, I'm just… I'm just feeling kinda like no one wants me, you know?  The last…" she took a deep breath, her voice lowering to a bare whisper, "the last three guys I've slept with have dumped me – one of them practically the second he pulled out."

Shinji paled.

Misato looked up, catching his expression, and chuckled.  "I don't envy you," she said quietly, "since you live with me, you see me like no one else does.  You get stuck listening to my dirty mouth, you have to clean up after my messes, and you have to hear all about my pathetic sex life."  She closed her eyes, slowly lowering her head to the table as her voice cracked.  "How do you stand it, Shinji?" she asked unevenly, "You're the only guy that puts up with all this shit from me… how do you stand it?  You know you can leave any time… so how come you've stayed with me so long?"

Of course, she thought tiredly, lifting her head to fold her arms under it, you can't answer that, can you?  Running away isn't always physical, is it?  No… you can run away just by saying nothing, can't you Shinji.

She frowned as she felt a light, tentative touch on the top of her head.  Opening her eyes, she looked up… and found Shinji gently stroking her hair, his eyes focused on the far side of the room and a look bordering on absolute terror on his face.  Misato felt her eyes growing damp as the boy tried his best to sooth her, too scared, it seemed, to even look at her as he did it.

Slowly, she rose, smiling reassuringly as Shinji quickly reclaimed his hand and took a step back.  "Do you… wanna get some dinner?" she asked softly, putting a hand on the boy's shoulder.

As he blinked, confused by the sudden change of topic, Misato's mind went into an uproar.  Stop that! her thoughts demanded, Don't look at him that way – he's not for you!

Shinji's mind must have been operating along the same lines, because he seemed to pale even further.  But in spite of the expression on his face, he managed to give her a weak smile.

"I'd… I'd like that…"

Oh now what? Misato thought, her smile slowly collapsing, He thinks you want to date him!  And he's interested!!  What now, genius?

Slowly, the boy stepped past her, lowering his eyes.

"Wait…"

Shinji instinctively flinched.  "Y-yes?" he replied, fully expecting her to retract the offer.

Misato was silent for a minute as she tried desperately to sort out her tumultuous feelings.  "Dress nice," she whispered, finally squelching the internal argument.  "I want to take you someplace special."

"Yes ma'am."

**

Darkness defined the apartment, shrouding everything in shades of sepia and ochre.  The entire space held a baited feeling, as if the air was charged with expectation and premonition.  Everything seemed to be on hold – waiting for the two human residents to arrive and reveal if tomorrow would bring change… or a return to the static, day-in-day-out routine of the past three months.

It was seventeen minutes past ten o'clock when the silence was parted, the sound of a key sliding into a lock disturbing the stillness with an oddly hesitant rattle.

"We're home," Misato called softly, sliding the door carefully open, "PenPen?"

"He's probably asleep," Shinji pointed out quietly.  "It's kinda late."

"Well," the woman replied, shrugging and stepping into the apartment, "he's kind of a nightowl."  She grinned as she slipped off her heels.  "Or, nightpenguin, I guess."

Shinji chuckled weakly, sliding his shoes off and following her into the kitchen. 

"You want a drink?" she asked, opening the refrigerator and pulling out two cans of juice.

"Sure."

Misato handed him one of the cans and leaned back on the counter, assessing him.  She smiled.  "When did you get that shirt?" she asked softly, popping the top on her drink.  "It looks great on you."

Shinji regarded his can for a moment, shifting his weight awkwardly from one foot to the other and trying not to stare at the woman's modestly cut, but formfitting, midnight blue evening dress.  "We had a dance at school right before… father called me here," he said uneasily, pulling slightly at the neck of the black longsleeve he was wearing.  "I bought it for that."

Misato nodded, setting her drink down.  "Did you go, Shinji?" she asked warmly.  She smiled soothingly as he shook his head.  "Well," she told him slowly, "it looks good on you, Shinji, and I have to say… I had a really good time with you tonight."

"Really?" Shinji asked before he could stop himself.

"Uh huh," Misato confirmed.  "It's been a while since I've had a quiet dinner with a guy.  It was nice."

"Oh," the boy replied noncommittally.

"It's kinda strange," Misato said thoughtfully, "I'm usually not that… I don't know, polite on a date."  She shrugged.  "Either I like a guy, and I make sure he knows it, or I don't… and I make sure he knows it."  She smiled as the boy shifted from one foot to the other.  "I didn't feel like that with you, Shinji," she murmured softly, "it was like a tenth date with you – I could be myself and not have to worry that I might be leading someone on."

Shinji nodded, sighing softly as he came to a conclusion.  Lead me on, he thought, nodding again, she doesn't want to lead me on, she was being herself… so she doesn't want to do more than-

"Shinji?"

Shinji blinked, looking up into Misato's deep brown eyes.  "Hmm?"

"Did you have fun tonight?" she asked quietly.

A small, almost guilty smile appeared at the corners of the boy's lips.  "Yeah," he murmured, "I had a great time, Misato."  His smile wavered into uncertainty as she reached out and put a hand on his shoulder.

"Do you want to do it again some time?" Misato whispered, moving her hand up to cover his cheek.  She met his eyes straight on, banishing all doubt.  "Do you want to go out with me, Shinji?  Kinda… see what happens?"

Shinji swallowed.  "Is that… ok?" he managed.

Misato stepped closer to him, shaking her head.  "No," she told him calmly, "not really.  I'm twice your age… it would be going against NERV guidelines, and probably your father's wishes… and we absolutely, positively, could not tell anyone about it…"  She leaned forward.  "So… do you?"

Nodding before he could even think, the boy stammered, "Why would you… want to?"

Sighing, Misato shook her head.  "I can't tell you right now," she told him bluntly, "I don't think you would understand…"

Shinji found that he had no reply for this.  Will you throw me away when you're done? he thought with sudden, sharp bitterness.

"So," Misato said lightly, drawing his attention back to her, "since this was a date – our first date… I guess… you deserve a goodnight kiss."  As Shinji's eyes bugged out, she added, "Close your eyes."

Clenching his eyes closed, Shinji forced himself to remain calm.

"Ready?"

He nodded emphatically, his hands becoming nervous fists at his sides.

Misato grinned, leaning forward and pressing her lips against his cheek.  "Thank you for a lovely evening, Shinji," she whispered, kissing him again, "sweet dreams."

Shinji's cheeks were burning as he opened his eyes, putting his hand over the place she had kissed with a look of wonder on his face and watching as she walked towards her room.  "N-night…" he replied.

And so ended the first date between Shinji Ikari and Misato Katsuragi.

Continued…

Author's notes: What is Misato's reason?  How will this new relationship be affected by the arrival of the Second Child?  With all that influences Shinji and Misato's lives, when will there be time for a second date?  With all that influences Shinji and Misato's lives, should there be a second date…?  Answers to some of these questions will be revealed in the next chapter – Making Assumptions.  Coming soon.

I chose not to have a pre-reader for this chapter, since I wanted to have a totally unbiased release.

Feedback is always welcome at random1377@yahoo.com