Asuka Langley Soryu

I rush out into the hallway and hear the sound of his door slamming itself shut. I hurry along into the entranceway of the complex and pull open the door freeing myself from the confines of the building. A cool breeze immediately hits my face and I stop halfway up the path and take a few deep breaths to calm myself.

My heart is pounding so quickly in my chest now, I can feel sweat trickling down my forehead and a wave of dizziness rushing over me. I prop myself up on a wall unable to go any further at this moment in time.

I glance guiltily back at the entrance to the building. Kaworu doesn't seem to have followed me. He probably won't, why would he after what I just did? The poor guy probably hasn't got a clue as to what the hell just happened. He's probably stood there next to his oven, devastated after seeing me run out like that. I hope he understands that I had to do it though, I had to run away.

He had gone to so much damn effort, it was perfect and he was perfect. It was all so goddamn nice and what I wanted. He had been thoughtful and nice and was going to prepare a meal and serve wine. He even bought a fucking table with a goddamn candle on it. All of that effort for me? All of that for the wretched example of a human that I am.

Kaworu… You think I'm someone I'm not. You think I'm… some nice girl who can be a good friend to you but I'm not that person. I am not…

"Asuka…"

I freeze up as I hear the trembling voice from behind me. I fix my gaze on the road and daren't turn around to look at him. I try to take a step forward but feel only stiffness and pain in my joints. It's just like one of my dreams, I can't move from this spot.

"Did… Did I do something wrong?"

His question is like a knife being thrust into me and twisted. I should have kept running as far from here as I could. Now I have to answer his question and there is only one way I can do that.

"Idiot!" I snap back at him. It's all I can do at this time is to revert to that angry frightened girl. I feel my hands curl up into a fist, my nails digging into the palms.

"Please Asuka…" He continues, "I… If I did something wrong then I'd like to know. I apologize for any-"

"Stop it!" I snap at him again, "You didn't… You did nothing wrong Kaworu, you…"

My head lowers as I trail off and shake my head. I can't be bothered with fighting anymore, I'm sick of putting up those defences. I've been doing it for so long and I just… I can't bring myself to hurt him. I turn around to finally face him but I can barely meet his gaze.

"It's me Kaworu, I… I'm broken alright." I shrug, "You didn't do anything wrong. Everything you did was fine… It was lovely, in fact it was perfect."

"Then… why did you run?" He asks me, his voice still trembling. It's that trembling in his voice that is getting to me. It's that trembling that cuts into me.

"Because I don't deserve any of it Kaworu." I answer him as honestly as I can, "You… You're a nice guy but me… I'm not a nice girl, I never have been and…"

"Asuka…" I watch as he takes a single small step forward. In response I take a step away from him and hold out an arm to stop him.

"Don't… Don't come any closer to me, just… just stop it Kaworu, you…" I shake my head, "You're only going to get hurt. It's better that I just leave."

"Asuka… Those things that you say you are, those things that you think you are… they are not the person that I have come to know you as. They are not the person that you actually are."

"How the hell would you know? You've known me for less than a month!" I bark back at him, "You don't know the things I've done to other people! You don't know what I've said to them or how I've hurt them! You don't know what sort of monster I really am!"

Kaworu lowers his head slightly and I think that maybe I've 'won', maybe I've got that tiny hollow victory that my mind seems to be craving and I can leave this place. I can get away from this and go back to being alone like I deserve. A moment later Kaworu raises his head again and I see no fear in his eyes, only a fierceness as he takes another step towards me.

"It is true that I might know have known you for a long time but in that short period of time I can confidently state that the Asuka you claim to be is not really who you are. I may not be able to see into the hearts of others like I once did but… I do not need that to see that you are no monster."

His words catch me off guard, not only that but his way of speaking too. The trembling in his voice has gone, replaced only by a calm confidence. I open my mouth to reply but no words come out. I contemplate turning and running but I can't.

"You are a kind soul Asuka, you helped me when you had every reason to hate me. You knew what I was and shown no fear of that." He continues, "I want to do the same for you. I do not fear you Asuka, no matter what you say or what you claim I am not scared of you. The mistakes of your past are just that, mistakes in your past."

He takes another step forward, "I have seen what true monsters are in my former masters and you are not like those people. You are not like those people. You are a kind and compassionate soul with a fragile heart, you deserve to be happy."

Before I know it Kaworu is barely a step away from me. His arms wrap themselves around me pulling me towards him in a warm embrace. I should be fighting this and running away from it but I can't. I'm just so fed up of running away so all I can do is stand there as this guy hugs me. My arms reach up around his back to return the gesture and my head rests itself softly on his shoulder as he rubs my back. I feel a few silent tears trickle down my face as I let him hold me.

We stay like this for a few moments before he finally breaks the embrace. I look at his face and see him blushing but also smiling at me, "Asuka… Will you still have dinner with me?"

I start to shake my head but then my stomach lets out an audible growl betraying me. I feel myself blush as I look up at him with a sheepish smile, "Yes… Yes I will."

Shinji Ikari

I put the now clean cello bow down on the bedside table and pause the music on my player as I look towards the instrument in the corner of my room with a satisfied smile. I take a moment to actually enjoy the rare sense of pride I get knowing what I was able to accomplish today. I was not only able to go to that session but I actually played in front of other people.

For me it feels like such a big achievement and I'm trying my best to hold onto that happiness for as long as I am able to. I know that maybe tomorrow or the next day those doubts and fears will start to creep back in but at I want to try to hold onto this happiness for as long as I can.

As it is my mind has already started to wander to thinking about the next session. I'm already starting to wonder what I can play next time and wondering about playing with the others in the group. This will be the first time, outside of the two teachers I have had, I'll have played music with another person. I'm used to either a metronome or a backing tape so I'm a little bit nervous about the whole thing. I'm also excited and eager to hear what we can all do.

I start to get up from the bed to put the bow back into its box when I hear a soft tapping at my door. I sit back down keeping the bow in my hands and call out, "Come in."

The door slides open partially and Misato playfully pokes her head into my room, "Shinji! I'm not interrupting anything am I?"

I shake my head, "Hey Misato, No I was just cleaning my cello a bit."

Misato slides the door open fully and steps into my room. She takes a look at the clean cello and then the bow in my hands and grins at me. I can feel myself blushing already as I know what she is about to say.

"You know… I'm really proud of you Shinji, it can't have been easy doing that today. Well done."

I lower my gaze in embarrassment, I can't say I dislike or don't want the praise from her but it does embarrass me to hear it said so directly, "Thank you, I… I really enjoyed it. I know that… maybe this good feeling won't last but it's a start. I'm feeling… good at the moment."

"Well that is some progress Shinji! It's just one small step forward but it is a step forward nonetheless so just make sure you keep telling yourself that. When you are scared or doubting yourself just remember that you'd already made a stride down the path and you can keep on going."

"Yeah… Thank you." I smile back at her, "I'll be going again next week. My tutor said that is going to try to get us to play something together and talk to us about ideas for a show."

"A show?" She exclaims, "Well you tell me the time and the place and I'll be there! Do you know what it'll be?"

I shake my head, "No not yet. He seems to… like a lot of stuff when I spoke to him so it could be anything."

Misato closes the door behind her and I see her look around the room for a moment before taking hold of and pulling out the chair under my desk. I nervously set the bow back down on my bedside table as I watch her. Misato isn't just here to talk to me about the session today, she wants to talk to me about something else.

"Actually…" She starts, "There is something else I wanted to talk to you about Shinji…"

I brace myself for the discussion and to think about that name and person once again. I've been anticipating this for the last two weeks, ever since Rei told me that he was back. I've tried to not think about him and push him out of my mind so I can focus on the music but I knew Misato would want to speak to me eventually.

"It's about Kaworu isn't it?" I ask her.

Misato merely nods, "Yeah… What did Rei tell you about him?"

"That he came back earlier in the year and that she saw him in Germany. She didn't… I didn't react well to it I guess so she didn't say more than that."

Misato gives me a concerned look when I tell her I didn't react well to Rei's news. I try to ease her worries, "It's fine though I… it was a big shock. I hadn't… thought about him in some time and it brought everything back."

Misato averts her eyes from me. After I had… done what I had to do to Kaworu Misato was the first person on the scene. She was the first person to see it and tried to keep me away from it. She tried to make me feel better about it but that was an impossible task at that point. It'd be impossible now, how do you make someone feel better when they're forced to kill what they thought was a friend?

"So it's… true then… he is actually alive?"

She nods, "Yes… Yes he is."

Immediately on her saying that I feel my face heat up followed by a churning in my stomach. I immediately start to focus on my breathing like I've been told to, the feeling doesn't fade but it also doesn't worsen, "How… I don't understand."

"We don't know either Shinji, I've tried to find out what I can but we don't know how or why he came back. They said that he is human now though…"

"Kaworu is… human…" I repeat her words and think about what that might mean.

"Yeah… So… We're all safe from him I guess. I just… I wanted to talk to you about him and find out how you feel about it. I just… couldn't find the right time."

"I don't know how I feel." I answer her truthfully, "I… I can just remember those few days Misato… I can remember everything about it and…"

"I know Shinji…"

"I know I had to do it but… I killed someone Misato."

"He was an Angel Shinji, you had no choice."

"He was a person as well!" I snap back at her, "Sorry."

She shakes her head, "No, it's fine. This is a difficult subject for this time of night… I should have picked a better time."

Misato starts to stand up, "Wait! It's… There isn't a better time."

She sits back down and I continue to speak, "I... I just don't know how I feel about it. I try to not think about Kaworu it was just… too much. I know I had to do it but that doesn't stop me feeling guilty about it. I always wondered if I could have done more or tried to find another way."

She leans forward and puts a comforting hand on my knee, "You did what you had to do Shinji. You did what he wanted you to do."

"I know." I shake my head, "I know that but I still wonder if it could have been different. Now that he's back I don't know if I should be happy that he somehow survived or angry about it. I don't know if I should hate him or not. I… I'm sorry, I know I make this difficult."

"Shinji you aren't making anything difficult." Misato pauses, "It isn't… easy to talk about this sort of thing or even think about it especially when it is still so fresh. You don't need to have all those answers now, you don't need to have them soon or at all. Just… I just want you to know what if you need anything at all or to talk I'm here for you."

"I know, thank you Misato."

Misato gets up off of the seat and hugs me, "I'm sorry you have to go through this."

I hug her back, "It isn't your fault."

She breaks the hug, "I'm going to go to bed now Shinji. I have a meeting early tomorrow morning. I love you."

"I love you too Misato." She hugs me one more time and starts to exit the room. Just as she leaves I stop her, "Misato… What if I wanted to see him?"

She frowns for a brief moment, "Then… Maybe it could be arranged but he would have to agree to it as well. Why… What would you say to him?"

"I don't know I guess… I'd ask him why he did what he did."

"I understand, goodnight Shinji."

"Goodnight Misato."

Misato gives me one final hug and I watch as she leaves the room and me alone with my thoughts about Kaworu. It's strange and maybe stupid of me but I've never been able to bring myself to hate him for what he did.

I was definitely angry with him at first. He was the only person, the only friend I had at that time and it felt like he took advantage of that. He betrayed me and the trust I put in him but I can't hate him because I guess I just want to know why he did it. I know why my father did what he did and I do hate him for that. I know why others acted the way they did too and I've come to terms with most of it.

Kaworu… I never had an explanation for it. He was an Angel, the last one but why was he an Angel? Why did he have to do what he did? I know about SEELE and that he was sent by them so did he know what he had to do? Kaworu tried to tell me something when it happened but I didn't understand at the time. He spoke about humanity going on and living and how he had to die but I don't understand why. Why did he have to die and why did I have to be the one to kill him?

Maybe if I had the answer to that I could hate him or maybe I could forgive him. I don't know and I don't know what Misato and Rei would think of it either. I suppose they think I should hate Kaworu for what he was and what he did. After all he did hurt me, I'm aware of that, he hurt me so much and yet I just can't hate him.

I'm scared of him though. As stupid as that sounds and I can definitely hear that voice again telling me I'm stupid for being scared. I am though because I always wondered if maybe I could have done more to save him and what if he hates me for that.

I shake my head and get up off of my bed to put my pyjamas on. I try to push these thoughts out of my head for now. Kaworu can wait, these thoughts won't ruin what has been a good day.

Asuka Langley Soryu

I find myself following silently behind Kaworu as I enter his apartment again and once more look over the neatly set out dining table. With quite a lot of shame and embarrassment I sit myself down and try to not focus on Kaworu as he goes back into his kitchen to start preparing the meal. He gets to the fridge and smiles sheepishly at me, "I… asked before but what sort of wine would you like? I… Well as I said I'm a bit unsure as to which would have been appropriate so bought more than I probably needed to."

For a brief moment I consider just asking him to bring everything he has over. Maybe I can get myself so drunk I'll pass out and forget all about the last two weeks. The more sensible side of me asks him to bring out a simple French white wine. Truth is I can't really answer his question, I likely know as much about wine as he does. I know French whites are supposed to be nice though.

He takes the bottle out of his fridge and opens it before bringing it over to where I'm sat. I avert my gaze as he fills up two wine glasses. I take the now filled glass and sip at the substance, it tastes nice enough I guess. I give him a smile and go back to thinking about how shamefully I've acted since getting here. I hate myself for not being able to keep it together and running away like that.

It would be one thing to have just not come here or to have gotten upset like I did earlier today. That was fine because I was alone. I wasn't alone when I did that, Kaworu witnessed it and I can only imagine what he thinks of me now. Not only that but he actually stepped forward and hugged me. He held me and as nice as that was, as much as I longed for it, it has not helped me figure out these feelings.

"Do you feel better now Asuka?" Kaworu asks me as he moved back into the kitchen.

I nod my head, "A little bit. I'm sorry, it's just… been a rough couple of days and with my book nearly finished I have a lot to do and think about, just… a lot of things…"

"It must be a stressful time for you." He talks to me over the sounds of a pan starting to heat up, "How do you like your steak?"

"Rare." I reply.

Kaworu says nothing further as he continues to work in the kitchen. I watch him as he goes between cooking the steaks and sorting out the rest of the meal. I have to admit the smells coming from the kitchen are very appetising. I feel my stomach growl again in anticipation as he finishes setting everything out and brings a plate over to me. I can feel my mouth start to water at the sight of the food. The steak looks great, seemingly cooked just as I like it. The sauce, a peppercorn is drizzled lightly over the steak and the vegetables are also appealing.

I wait for Kaworu to sit himself down before taking hold of my knife and fork and cutting into my steak. I make sure I get a good portion and take some of the sauce with it. I try to ignore his expectant gaze as I chew through it and finally swallow. I normally dislike anyone watching me eat but I'll let him off just this once seeing as I can only imagine his nerves right now.

I've barely finished the mouthful before he asks my opinion, "Was it… to your liking?"

I nod at him, "It is delicious."

"Thank you." I see some of the tenseness in his body leave as he also breathes a sigh of relief, "I was hoping that you would like it."

Kaworu now starts to eat and the two of us sit there in a comfortable silence enjoying this meal that he has prepared. Neither of us speak during the course of it but every now and then we glance and catch each other's eye. We sip our wine and smile at one another.

I'm the first one to finish both my plate and also my first glass of wine. I put my knife and fork down on the plate in satisfaction, "That was really nice Kaworu, I didn't know you were so capable."

Kaworu laughs, "I am still… learning and there have been many accidents along the way but I am improving. It pleases me that it was to your liking."

"It really was." I reply as Kaworu also finishes up what is left on his plate and sets his cutlery down. We fall into silence again but this time it's also accompanied once more by the thoughts of how I acted previously. I know I hurt him when I did that and he deserves an explanation for it. I wasn't going to talk about it tonight but maybe I should.

Maybe that would ruin the night though. I've already nearly done that by walking out, I don't want to do it again by bringing up that subject. If I don't now though then when will I? I might not have this chance again. That thing Kaworu did earlier for me, saying he wasn't afraid of me and just hugging me, he has no idea how much that means to me. I can trust Kaworu, not only that but those things I feel… maybe I'm justified in feeling them so I have to tell him.

"Kaworu… I am… I'm sorry about what happened earlier. It is not just the book that is bothering me. It's… something else. Something happened earlier today and you have a right to know."

"You do not need to apologize Asuka, I understand."

"No." I shake my head at him, "You don't understand, at least… you think you do. Earlier today I wrote an e-mail, a lengthy e-mail talking about a lot of things. I was going to send it to Shinji."

"Oh… I see." I look up just in time to see Kaworu sag his shoulders and lower his eyes, "I understand."

"I don't know why I wrote it, I just… I guess since you arrived I've been thinking about certain things and maybe I felt it was time to get back in contact with them. In it I was going to tell them everything, why I left the way I did and why I've had no contact. I was going to tell them about being friends with Rei and explain that to them and I was also going to tell them about my meeting you."

"Why could you not send it?" Kaworu asks me after a pause.

I shrug my shoulders, "I don't know… I just couldn't. I read through it a few times and it seemed fine but I could couldn't bring myself to click send. I guess…"

I let out a sigh, "I'm an idiot, I guess all my life I wanted independence and to prove I could do things on my own but when it comes to something like this I want approval first. I wanted to tell Rei and… I wanted to tell you about it first."

I shake my head, "Damn thing involves you so I guess it was only right you were told just in case something happened. Not that it would, I'd make sure of that."

"Yeah…"

"Anyway I… I tried to phone Rei this afternoon but it wasn't her who answered the phone. It was Shinji…"

Kaworu snaps to attention on hearing me say that. His eyes are locked firmly on me and I can see that same terrified look on his face that he had when I first met him, "You… You spoke to him?"

"No. No I didn't." I shake my head again and smile, "I heard his voice and I kept silent. Eventually I just hung up and then not long afterwards you called me to arrange this."

"So that is the reason you did not seem alright on the phone?" Kaworu asks me.

"Exactly." I admit, "It put me in something of a bad place. Maybe I should have told you this on the phone, it might have made things easier. When I came here tonight I still felt awful and… what you had done was so nice it just overwhelmed me. I'm sorry I ruined it, you must have spent a lot of time planning it and I've not exactly been the guest you anticipated."

I feel my shoulders sag as I wait for him to reply. In a strange way I do feel better now for having told him about all of this. I glance back down at the table hoping that he'll say something soon, it'll make the rest of this night easier.

Misato Katsuragi

I slide Shinji's door shut behind me and let out a sigh when I'm back in the middle of the room. I honestly don't know what I was expecting Shinji to say when I spoke to him about Nagisa but on the top of that list was the idea of meeting with him. I know Shinji didn't directly ask about it and maybe he won't but I certainly didn't think about the possibility.

One thing I do know is that I cannot allow a meeting between those two to happen. I can't allow for Nagisa to hurt Shinji again like he did so many years ago. I'm not just Shinji's guardian anymore, I'm now his mother, I am now his family and I swore to protect him. I don't want to hurt him or deny him anything but this… This I feel I have to deny him if I have to.

Since learning about Nagisa's return I have been making an attempt to find out what I can about him. I've heard very little from Fuyutsuki about the boy which I suppose is a good thing. There was mention of an incident two weeks ago which resulted in two members of security being removed but the details aren't known to me.

Despite there not being any major incident I still have this bad feeling in the pit of my stomach about the situation. I've been reassured that Nagisa poses no threat but I just don't think I'll be able to see it that way. I know what he was and I know how dangerous he was.

Nagisa wasn't just an Angel. He was an Angel that came to us in human form. He was an Angel that managed to get into NERV and manipulated Shinji before tearing the poor kid apart. He worked with the true enemy in SEELE to get himself into that organization and do what he did. He was aware of everything he was doing.

I can still remember the horrific scenes I witnessed when I went down after Shinji had to kill him. I was the first one on the scene and I had to pull Shinji out of the entry plug. I held him as he vomited into the lake of LCL upon witnessing it all himself. I heard Shinji speak as he blamed himself and said that he should have been the one to die instead of Kaworu.

Maybe I should take some of the blame for how broken Shinji was back then too. Maybe I should have done more in the months before to help him… No, not maybe. I should have done a hell of a lot more to help him, I failed both Shinji and Asuka back then. I made no effort to understand them nor help them. I was content to use them as tools to aid my own personal crusade.

In many ways I was no better than his father. I drank myself to excess to forget it all back then and make jokes and acted like a fool. I've tried to change that now though, I've tried desperately to rectify it. Asuka… Well she went away and we haven't heard from her in years, I failed her but with Shinji… I won't let myself fail him. I can't let Shinji be hurt like that again, I have to help him and protect him. I won't let Nagisa hurt him.

As I sit myself down on the sofa I look towards the hallway at the other closed door there, the one belonging to Rei. I realize that ever since I picked her up from the airport I haven't really had the time to speak to her about this either. Even worse I left it up to her to tell Shinji about Nagisa coming back. For all my promises I can't help but feel I'm not doing a good job of this parenting thing.

I get up from my seat and make my way over to the door and slide it open. I'm about to stick my head in and say something when I hear her talking to someone.

"… I hope you are alright, please call me when you get this message. I will talk to you soon."

Rei hands up the phone and I announce myself, "Rei?"

She jumps in fright at the sound of my voice, "Is everything alright?"

Rei puts her phone down and sits herself at the edge of her bed, "It is fine, I was just trying to contact a friend."

"Oh?" I can't help but feel a little smile creep onto my lips. Judging by her reaction I wonder if maybe this friend was a bit more. Whilst I do my best to not tease either of them about their lives of friends but occasionally I do feel that urge, "Was it a… special friend perhaps?"

Rei, unlike Shinji, is pretty much impervious to any of my teasing and shrugs it off, "No, it was just a friend I made whilst I was travelling. They have been unwell recently and I was concerned about them."

"Oh! That's very nice of you Rei." I respond, "It's nice to see you making friends in your travels, maybe one day we can meet them."

"I do not know if that would be likely given the circumstances, but it would be nice." Rei replies, "Is there something troubling you?"

As Rei speaks I notice her gaze shift ever so slightly away from me. I sense that there is possibly something more to her 'friend than she is actually willing to tell me. It's funny but despite her being impervious to my teasing, unlike Shinji, she does share other traits with Shinji. If there is something bothering the two of them they each have this little way of averting their gaze and having a certain expression that gives them away.

I wonder for a moment if maybe I should pursue the subject further but figure it best not to for the moment. I don't want to seem too overbearing when it comes to Rei, I want to be there for her but I also want to give her the space to figure things out. Also, unlike Shinji, if something is bothering Rei she will generally speak to me first. It's a situation that has led to some interesting conversations, ones that have even made me blush.

"You could say that." I answer her, "I spoke to Shinji a moment ago about the Nagisa thing."

"I see, how was he?"

"He seemed alright but he… said something that worried me I guess. It's probably nothing to worry about though. I just… I wanted to see how you were doing as well I suppose, I realized I haven't really spoken to you about it either."

Rei nods, "I am fine with it as long as Nagisa does not attempt to make contact with my brother. If he stays away from us and does not cause any problems then I see no reason to worry about him. What did Shinji say that worried you?"

"He asked me what would happen if he wanted to meet Nagisa." I answer her truthfully. Straight away I see a scowl from on her face. In some strange way it comforts me that she seems to share my views on Nagisa. I know from our discussion a few weeks ago she doesn't view him favourably and what she has just said also confirms that she sees Nagisa the same way I do, as a threat.

"I do not believe that would be a wise decision." She finally says.

I nod my head, "Yes, I agree."

"Did Shinji say why he might desire this?"

"Not really, said he wanted to know why Nagisa did what he did. You know what Shinji is like though, I don't think he sees Nagisa in the same light we do. I think he might still see himself as being the one at fault."

"That is certainly a possibility." Rei nods, "I do not believe my brother has ever been able to confront that particular time in his life. It was not a pleasant time for any of us to come to terms with."

She lowers her head, "Nagisa… for all he was and all he did was something of a source of light for Shinji and it is hard for him to extinguish that."

"Nagisa was the enemy." I state flatly knowing that Rei is right. When Shinji was with Nagisa he actually seemed happy. Nagisa's interactions with him seemed genuine and I know Nagisa did bring Shinji some fleeting happiness which was so valuable back then.

"I know that and it would be my desire that Nagisa does not have any contact with my brother." Rei says coldly before pausing, "Yet, I would also not wish to stand in Shinji's way should he desire contact again."

"Even if it could hurt him?" I ask, somewhat confused by what Rei has said.

"If my brother were to be hurt by Nagisa he would have me to answer to. I would be sure to warn Nagisa of this before contact is made."

"So if Shinji did ask, you think I should let him?"

Rei nods, "It is against what I believe and what you believe but it is not for us to make that decision. Shinji must be able to figure it out for himself and I think blocking him would hurt him more."

I feel a smile spread as I listen to Rei speak, it's strange but despite her only having been completely human for a few years she has grown so much in that short space of time. She has matured so much and can provide good insight when needed. So many times when I speak to her I forget that I am supposed to be the adult.

Yet I am still concerned about this whole thing and I can tell from the frown on her face that she is too.

"I still don't know Rei… but you are right, I… can't control what Shinji does and he has to make his own mind up on these things. I don't want to push him to do anything he doesn't want to and I don't want to stop him doing things he wants to… within reason of course."

"I understand and I promise…" Rei turns to look at me, "Should Shinji make that request and this happen, I will ensure Nagisa does not have the opportunity to hurt my brother again."

Kaworu Nagisa.

"No." I look at Asuka as she shakes her head, "You don't understand, at least… you think you do. Earlier today I wrote an e-mail, a lengthy e-mail talking about a lot of things. I was going to send it to Shinji."

"Oh… I see." I try to hide the disappointment I'm feeling at hearing her say those words but I do a poor job of it. I can feel my shoulders lower and my gaze go to the table as I mumble out a reply, "I understand."

"I don't know why I wrote it, I just… I guess since you arrived I've been thinking about certain things and maybe I felt it was time to get back in contact with them. In it I was going to tell them everything, why I left the way I did and why I've had no contact. I was going to tell them about being friends with Rei and explain that to them and I was also going to tell them about my meeting you."

I pause as I process what she is saying. I suppose that perhaps I should have expected this event to eventually take place. I am not ignorant to her feelings for Shinji nor am I ignorant of his feelings for her. When I spent time with Shinji so long ago he would speak of Asuka fondly and told me he was scared of what would happen to her.

When Asuka has spoken to me of Shinji I can see the emotion in her eyes. I can't sense the feelings in her heart but I know they are there. I have always known and yet I still feel this strange sensation of disappointment within me. I feel this tightening in my chest and lump in my throat.

Finally I am able to speak again, I try to sound as normal as possible, "Why could you not send it?"

Asuka shrugs her shoulders, "I don't know… I just couldn't. I read through it a few times and it seemed fine but I could couldn't bring myself to click send. I guess…"

She sighs, "I'm an idiot, I guess all my life I wanted independence and to prove I could do things on my own but when it comes to something like this I want approval first. I wanted to tell Rei and… I wanted to tell you about it first."

As strange as it sounds my heart lightens ever so slightly at hearing her say she wanted my approval first. I listen to her as she continues, "Damn thing involves you so I guess it was only right you were told just in case something happened. Not that it would, I'd make sure of that."

"Yeah…"

"Anyway I… I tried to phone Rei this afternoon but it wasn't her who answered the phone. It was Shinji…"

My head snaps upwards and I lock my eyes firmly onto Asuka on hearing her say that. That terrible feeling of fear creeps into me once again, "You… You spoke to him?"

"No. No I didn't." Asuka shakes her head and I see a small smile come to her lips, "I heard his voice and I kept silent. Eventually I just hung up and then not long afterwards you called me to arrange this."

"So that is the reason you did not seem alright on the phone?" I ask her.

"Exactly." She tells me, "It put me in something of a bad place. Maybe I should have told you this on the phone, it might have made things easier. When I came here tonight I still felt awful and… what you had done was so nice it just overwhelmed me. I'm sorry I ruined it, you must have spent a lot of time planning it and I've not exactly been the guest you anticipated."

I admit I am somewhat lost for words when she finishes speaking. I know I have to say something to her to reassure her. I need to tell her that just her being here and sharing a meal with me is more than enough for me to be happy. Yet I do not feel happy right now, I don't know what I feel really, it's a mixture.

I feel afraid, afraid that the moment I have known will happen eventually but tried to avoid could happen soon and I am in no way ready for it. I feel embarrassed, embarrassed that I allowed myself to get carried away with my feelings for Asuka knowing what I do about her. I also feel ashamed at myself for thinking about her in such a way, when I should have been happy with the friendship I have.

I muster up as much of a smile as I can, "It is okay Asuka, I apologize that this seemed to coincide with such an event. If I had known this than I would not have…"

"No please… Don't you dare apologize, you had no idea and this is… I really appreciate all of this." Asuka interrupts me, "This food… it's delicious and you are… well… never mind."

I watch as she shakes her head and lowers her eyes, a moment later I too go back to staring at my empty plate. We both fall silent as I try to think of something to say to her. What has happened tonight is not the way that I had perhaps hoped it would. I don't really know what grand ideas I had in my head, ones perhaps influenced by romantic media and conversation. A fantasy where she would come over and jump into my arms.

I realize how ridiculous that sounds though. In trying to work out my own feelings I had allowed my mind to wander down those paths. I allowed it to conjure up a fantasy where I would impress Asuka and by the end of the night confess my feelings. She would be impressed and confess hers and we would be… something.

Another silent minute passes us by as I continue to struggle for something to say to her. Everything I can think of now sounds ridiculous in comparison to what she has just told me. A part of me doesn't wish to talk about any of it. Perhaps it is selfish on my part but I am too scared to know why she made that sudden decision and too scared to speak about it further. What exactly am I scared of? Losing my friendship with her? Confirmation that my feelings are not reciprocated? I don't know, I'm just scared.

"Would you like me to leave?" Asuka finally speaks after another long and silent minute passes us by.

I look up at her and shake my head, "N-No… Please, I would like you to stay, if you would like to of course. I am sorry for my silence I am just… finding it difficult to find appropriate words to say right now."

I take in a deep breath and try to think things over one more time. I think about all Asuka has told me since I met her. How she vanished from their lives the way she did and how Rei was the one who found her. It is not hard for me to see that Asuka would perhaps be happier if she were to re-establish those bonds with those people. I would wish to see Asuka happy above all else so I should encourage that, should I not?

I'm unable to bring myself to say anything yet. Instead I just look dumbly towards the kitchen and then back towards Asuka. I don't wish for Asuka to leave but I can sense her discomfort for being here, perhaps if I gave her the opportunity she could leave.

"I will go and get dessert. I made us ice cream, I hope you enjoy it as much as you did the steak."

I get up from my seat and wander over to the kitchen keeping my back turned. I crouch and open the freeze and put one hand in and on the tub of ice cream. Once there I wait for the inevitable to happen. Sure enough after a few seconds of waiting I hear the sound of Asuka getting up off of her chair. I close my eyes and listen for the sound of my door closing.

After thirty seconds I become confused when the sound doesn't come. I finally open my eyes and hear her voice, "Kaworu… Are you alright? You've been crouched there for a minute?"

Her voice startles me and I jump in fright, pulling the tub of ice cream out of the freezer and knocking myself off balance, I land on the solid floor with a thud. Feeling somewhat embarrassed I slowly get up and turn to see her stood in the kitchen, "A-Asuka I thought you… I heard you get up and thought you had left."

"Idiot…" She chuckles, "I was coming to see if you needed any help. It's the least I could do for fucking your night up."

"Oh…" I feel myself blush at her words as I clutch the tub of ice cream to my chest, "Then can… bowls…. Two please?"

She nods and pulls two bowls out of a nearby cupboard and sets them down on the counter top. I place the tub of ice cream down near to them and reach into the drawer to retrieve the ice cream scoop I purchased. Before I'm able to find it I feel Asuka's hand on my wrist as she gently pulls it out of the drawer.

"Asuka what are you-"

"Shut up." She commands me, "For just a moment there is something…"

She takes both of my wrists and guides me to the centre of my kitchen. I feel myself blush as her warm hands envelop my wrists and she looks into my eyes. She opens her mouth to say something but immediately closes it before shaking her head, "Kaworu can you… close your eyes for a moment please?"

"Why?" I ask.

"Just do it, please…"

I comply with the request and close my eyes completely unsure of what is to come next. The instant I shut them I feel her hands tighten around my wrists and I can sense her taking a step forward.

"Kaworu…" I hear her speak, "I'm going to say something to you and I want you to listen to me and not say anything until I'm done, is that okay?"

I nod.

"Good." She pauses for a moment, "I probably made a mistake by agreeing to come here tonight after what happened but… despite that I am glad I came. If anything it… and you and what you did earlier has… confirmed something I guess. Something I've been thinking about for a while."

I open my mouth to ask her what that thing is but immediately close it remembering her instruction from earlier.

"I made some mistakes today but what I'm about to do… I'm certain this isn't a mistake."

I feel her move forward again and then a brief moment later I feel a heat near to my face, close to my right cheek. Then a second later there is a softness that makes contact with my cheek. Almost instantly I open my eyes and see her moving her head away from me. She glares at me, "I thought I told you to keep your eyes closed!"

I open my mouth awkwardly, "A-Asuka I…"

I don't quite know what to make of what has just happened. Did Asuka really just do what I think she did? If so what does that mean? What do I do now? How do I respond to that? I stand there dumbly as she continues to glare at me. I can no longer speak but it seems to don't need to. Her glare softens, and she moves forward again.

"I was right, that wasn't a mistake."

This time my cheek is not the target and I'm ready for it. She presses her lips up against my own and my instincts take over. I bring my hands up and place them slowly and carefully on her back. I respond by trying to return the kiss as best I can. I can feel her arms come up and wrap themselves around me and we stand there for over a minute of blissful silence.