Title: I Love You, Asuka (18)

Author:  Yih

Written: December 2001; January 2002

Dedication:  I couldn't do it without all my wonderful reviewers.  Thanks a bunch!

Disclaimer:  All rights are Gainax. 

Visit my website at http://www.seiki.f2s.com  and check out another Shinji x Asuka (oneshot) called So I Love You Now. 

Do you want me

Like I want you

Or am I standing still

Beneath a darkened sky

With the scenery flying by

Out of the corner of my eye

Was that you passing me by

From "Standing Still" (Jewel)

Chapter 18: Standing Still

Are you here, Asuka?  Were we ever together?  I miss you.  I miss you.  I can't live without you.  I tried and I can't deal with it.  Have you been watching from above?  Have you been seeing my pain in my dream?  Don't you know how important you are to me?  I can't live like this—lonely all the time.  Where have you been when I've needed you the most?  Can't you borrow my strength?  I'd give it to you. 

You were never alone, Asuka.  How could you do this to me?  How could you abandon me?  How could you?  How could you leave me alone?  Why else did I put up with your mean retorts, your angry words?  I'm not that spineless.  It was because I thought it made you happy, I thought you needed to boss someone around—to dominate.  Was I wrong?  By giving in, I gave you up?

Tell me, can you hear?  I was too late, wasn't I?  You're gone; you're gone, and it's killing me inside.  Was this what you wanted?  The kiss we shared… was it all planned torture for me?  Answer me, dammit.  I know you can hear.  The dream was too real, the feel of you was too warm for it to merely just be me… I know that you're gone… you're gone you're dead you're dead you're lost to me now.  You're gone you're dead you're lost to me now.  I hate this desperation inside. 

You drive me insane, Asuka.  But I don't want to face the reality without you.  I can't face it anymore.  All the suffering, all the torment, all the cruelty… I can't do it without you by my side.  You were the one thing that was holding me together throughout all the hardships, the troubles, and the misery.  Now that you're not here anymore, I don't have the will power to go on…

Unless I forget what I've felt for you since… you moved my heart. 

I don't know when it happened.  How could I ever love something—someone so loud, so rude, so arrogant?  But somehow I do—and all your faults seem beautiful to me now, like rays of precious sunlight in the growing darkness that's taking over my heart.  You were the one thing that gave me a piece of happiness and a contented peace.  If anything, I should have loved Re and I do—just not in the same way. 

Why did I have to love you?  Why did I have to love the one person that wasn't capable of loving me back?  Why am I such the baka, you said I was?  Baka.  Baka Shinji.  I'm that many times over, as many times as you've said that word, I'm that and that again.  I never should have believed that you and I were even a possibility.  It was all hopeless wasn't it?  From the very beginning…

When I first started liking you, I knew that it wasn't the wisest thing to do but I let the feelings grow and that was pure foolishness. 

Shinji.

Asuka?

Shinji…

Is that you Asuka?  Tell me please, did you ever love me just a little?

I'm tired.

Asuka!  Answer me Asuka!  Answer me!

I must be hallucinating again.  I must be thinking too hard and dreaming too uneasily.  I feel so tired too.  Maybe that was what was calling to me… my subconscious is trying to ask me to rest.  Yes, that must be it.  I'm so tired.  I'm so weary.  I should rest and forget that unbearable pain.  Then maybe I can live with myself a little easier.  Yes, yes, I can live with myself a little easier if I just let sleep overtake me and draw me into it's calm, unconscious world.  Yes, take me; yes, take me. 

Then maybe I can forget about my misery for a little while and rest… yes Asuka was right, this is tiring.  I can't do this.  Why not sleep forever and give up?  The reality has nothing meaningful to me anymore.  Asuka's dying… dead  now… And I've given up, so sleep take me… take me… far from this aching torment… this unbearable agony.

"Shinji?" Misato whispered his name softly.  "Shinji, you have to wake up.  Asuka doesn't have much time anymore.  I don't know how she's hanged on, but she's survived for this long… the least you could do is see her one more time.  There's so much that you haven't said to her, even though she may not hear you—she might hear you.  There's always the chance… the chance that your voice can bring her back.

"We've tried everything," she murmured, stroking his hair.  "But nothing's worked.  Won't you come out of this dream of yours?  Help her, help her.  Maybe it will help yourself.  I know you've been under a lot of pain, and I know how important she is to you—but you need to face reality.  Would it be worse to see her die or never even say goodbye? 

"It would be worse to see her die and never say goodbye.  I know that myself, but Shinji you can't just give up.  You're too strong for that; you're the strongest person I've ever known.  It's not Asuka; it's not Kaji; it's you.  Do you hear me Shinji?  Shinji!  Wake up now," she cried out, clutching his hospital gown, "wake up before it's too late.  I know that unconsciousness lets you forget about the pain momentary, but when you wake it's going to much, much worse. 

"Asuka doesn't have much time, but time is negligible.  It is what you make of it.  She might have an hour or even a day, perhaps a year—but you can make the hour feel like eternity as long as you don't yearn for the future and accept the present.  In the space of one hour, you could have memories that seem to stop time as you look back, do you want to miss out on that Shinji?  Shinji!"

You could have memories that seem to stop time as you look back…

Asuka?  Asuka?  Where are you Asuka?  I hear your voice calling me.  But it's not time to come back yet, I'm still in pain.  I can't stand to see you die, to say goodbye forever.  I won't ever see you again, will I?  Because I don't believe there is a life after this… and… I'm a coward. 

You're too strong for that…

What?  Asuka?

It would be worse to see her die and never say goodbye…

No, no, that's not true!  It would be worse to see her die and say goodbye, that's twisted logic!  No, no, that can't be true.  I don't want to say goodbye.  I don't want to say I've given her up to death.  No, no!  I can't give her up to death… I can't say goodbye, it's too much for me.  I'm not strong; I'm so weak inside that I can't stand to look myself in the mirror everyday. 

We've tried everything…

Everything?  We haven't… Well, we've kissed; we've argued; we've been friends to the end… or are you talking about your dying on me?  I hate you for that, Asuka.  I hate you for that and if I had had the chance to relive everything again… I wouldn't have ever left you by your side.  I still want to be with you and do all the normal stuff that couples do, like travel together and shop together… just be together.  It's not too much to ask, but it will never come true, will it? 

Shinji?

Yes, Asuka? 

Come back to me Asuka, when I hear your voice, I feel—I feel as if you're going to be by my side forever…

Shinji's body began to move as he reached out for anything to grab and held Misato close to him, burying his fingers into her dark hair his lips parted as if waiting for something to happen before his body shuddered and… he let go.  "Shinji?" she murmured.  "I know you miss her.  I miss you too.  If I lose you, I don't know what I'll be able to do.  It would be like losing a part of myself.  Do you understand Shinji?  It's not only Asuka that will lose, it's all of us that care for you.  And there are a lot more people than even you believe.

"But you're dreaming of Asuka aren't you?  That's why you grabbed me so tenderly… you love her so you won't let her go.  But sometimes when you love someone that deeply if they're suffering so badly inside, it's better to let them go.  I know Asuka must have been tormented and is still tormented even in sleep, you can see that on her facial expression.  But somehow she hangs onto life, but you're just letting go.  And I know you're stronger than that. 

"If you must let her go, then you truly love her.  Other than that, it's just selfish need." 

When you love someone that deeply if they're suffering so badly inside, it's better to let them go. 

But I can't let you go, Asuka.  I can't.  I can't.  It's not possible.  It's not possible.  If I could, I would have when I first knew I was the fool, the baka you always called me.  But I couldn't then, and I damn well can't now.  It's too hard inside to… to suffer through this reality without you.  I can't do it, don't ask me to.  If I could… If I could, I'd lose a part of myself. 

It would be like losing a part of myself. 

Yes, do you understand, Asuka?

I miss you…

I miss you, too.  Do you finally understand my feelings for you?

Asuka, don't leave me.  Asuka, I can't let you go.  Asuka, I'd do anything for you.  Asuka, I love you.  I always will. 

I don't mind hallucinating as long as I can continue to hear your voice in my head.  I don't mind being crazy as long as I can hear your voice, your sweet voice.  Then I know I'm not alone.  And I can survive off just that. 

I'm tired…

You came back… You came back.  And I know, I'm tired too. 

"Shinji!  Shinji!  Asuka's going now.  She's leaving us, don't you want to say goodbye?  Get out of your dream world, I don't care how pleasant it is or how much you want that fantasy to come true," shouted Misato, "it's not the reality.  It's just your mind making it up.  Asuka's there across the hall, waiting for you.  But she can't wait forever because she is dying.

"Do you hear me, Shinji?  She's dying, but I know she's waiting for you." 

She's dying, but I know she's waiting for you. 

I can't face the reality though.  Are you the voice in my head, my reasoning?

She can't wait forever because she is dying. 

Yes, I know that. 

She's leaving us, don't you want to say goodbye?

Yes, but…

Asuka's going now. 

I know, the pain inside is too much. 

Shinji!  Shinji!

I know it will be too painful.  I know it will hurt too much. 

You could have memories that seem to stop time as you look back…

When you love someone that deeply if they're suffering so badly inside, it's better to let them go.

I'm coming, Asuka. 

"Shinji!" cried out Misato with relief.  "You came back." 

"Yes," he whispered weakly.  "Is she dead?"

"No, but she is dying.  Her body isn't taking the trauma of her attempted suicide that well." 

"I see," he murmured.  "May I see her?"

"I've been waiting for you to say that." 

"I'll get a wheel chair for you."

"No, I'd rather walk."

"Okay."

It took Shinji a while to get out of bed and if Misato hadn't remember his IV hook up, he might have ripped every single needle off of his left arm.  But she guided the IV stand behind him right into Asuka's hospital room right across from his one.   He paused at the doorway, then gave a heavy sigh and walked in.  His eyes burned with anguish as he saw Asuka's limp body and her skeleton-like appearance. 

He sat down on the side of her bed and took her hand into his, stroking every knuckle and every vein as if it were a jewel. 

"Asuka?  Can you hear me?"

"I know it's been hard for you, everything from your past haunts you, much like it haunts me now.  I think of what could have been and it kills me inside to not have it.  If I had acted differently to you instead of being the baka, the wimp, perhaps I wouldn't have to be here right now.  Maybe we could have been a real couple and gone places, we might even be at the park now instead of here.  But I was a baka, a wimp, a weakling and now there's nothing to do but say goodbye to you."

He place her hand gently down onto of the other and gathered her body close to him, in a tender entwinement of limbs—his arms cradling her body as if she were a newborn infant, gentle and lovingly.  Every once in a while, he reached up momentarily and brush his fingers across her still luscious lips and reminisce of that fateful kiss.  And then he would smile because the memory was so fond. 

Goodbye to you

Goodbye to everything I thought I knew

You were the one I loved

The one thing I tried to hold on to

But just as quickly the smile would fade and his hold would tighten over her frail body for a second before he loosened his hold and stared down into her closed eyes, remembering how he use to think she was possessed when the rage would burn into her eyes.  Yet, even then he felt something unusual when she use to yell at him, something like love. 

I still get lost in your eyes

And it seems that I can't live a day

Without you

Closing my eyes and you chase my

Thoughts away

To a place where

I am blinded by the light

But it's not right

He leaned down, his lips nearly touching her for one last kiss.  His tongue traced the surface of her mouth and he enjoyed the her sweet taste as he remembered it well.  Dipping his head down, his lips pressed against hers with every aching emotion he felt within his soul, he pushed away all the bad feelings and thoughts aside and kissed her with everything that was good, everything that was love, everything that yearned and burned for her. 

And it hurts to want everything and

Nothing at the same time

I want what's yours

And I want what's mine

 I want you

But I'm not giving in this time

"Wake up, Asuka.  Wake up.  Please wake up." 

But this was no fairytale. 

Goodbye to you

Goodbye to everything I thought I knew

You were the one I loved

The one thing I tried to hold on to

The one thing I tried to hold on to

"Shinji?" whispered Misato, not wanting to disturb him.  "The doctor is here." 

"Ask him if he can give me another moment."

"Alright." 

He waited until Misato came back with an affirmative nod.  "Ten more minutes."

"Can you leave me alone with Asuka?"

"Of course." 

And when she left the room he carried Asuka's unconscious body to the window. 

And when the stars fall

I will lie awake

You're my shooting star

"Everything goes dark when you're not in my world," he murmured into her ear, kissing each closed eye lid.   "You are my sun; you are my love; you are my soul mate.  There was no one, but you I could feel this way for.  I hope you know that Asuka.  I love you, Asuka.  I always will.  I'll let you go if I have to, but I just want to let you know… I'll be waiting for you.  I don't care how long, you could wake a year from now and I would love you all the more.  You might wake up a decade later and all the more I would love you.  Nothing's going to change my love for you.

"Nothing ever could."

"Time's up," the doctor announced as he entered the room. 

Shinji moved back toward Asuka's hospital bed and placed her body down, not before feeling something grasp his hospital gown.  He glanced down and saw Asuka's fist ball up the fabric in her hand.  He caressed her hand before disengaging her fingers gently from his gown.  The doctor and Misato stared on in amazement as he kissed her forehead. 

"I love you, Asuka.  And I'll wait forever to be by your side." 

T H E  E N D

Song Note: The song featured in the fanfic is by Michelle Branch and it's called "Goodbye to You."

Author's Note: I know Shinji got sappy at the end, but the progression between Misato's voice of reasoning and Shinji's thinking it's Asuka is suppose to develop his understanding and acceptance of his love for her.  Just be glad I didn't decide to split this chapter into two parts, which I could have, leaving you at a major cliffhanger, but I decided not too because it might take me another 4 months to get out that last little section.  The reason Asuka got so OOC at the end of the dream was b/c the real Asuka's body was not responding well to medical treatment.  And the "I'm tired" statement did come from Asuka, somehow yes Asuka was in Shinji's dream as hinted by her thoughts, but you notice they disappear later…?  I may do a sequel, don't hold your breath.  It's as sweet of an ending as is possible for this fanfic.