Disclaimer: I don't own the rights to Neon Genesis Evangelion – Studio Gainax does.  If they have a problem with me writing this non-profit fan-fiction, I will gladly remove it from the web.

The Complexities of Human Interaction

By Random1377

Contact 1: Will you Take me in?

Shinji Ikari glanced at the clock on the kitchen wall as he made his way towards the front door of the apartment.  "Three o'clock?" he mumbled, pausing to right himself as his equilibrium decided that 'prone' would be far better than 'upright.'  "I'm coming," he called quietly, "hang on."

He reached for the door, never expecting to see Hikari Horaki, his class representative, standing on the other side.

"Miss Horaki?" he asked, wondering if he was still sleeping.

The girl looked as if she had been thoroughly trounced.  There were two long scratches on her cheek, and a small tear on her dirty long sleeve shirt.  Her hair was in disarray, and her eyes looked haunted and slightly vacant.

"Ikari," she said quietly, her voice sounding thick and uneven.  "Is… Asuka here?"

Shinji's mind struggled to work.  "She's, ummm… no," he shook his head, "she and Misato are on duty tonight."

"Oh I see," the class rep replied listlessly, "well then… goodnight."

She turned away, sniffing slightly and wiping her eyes.  "Wait!" Shinji called, "Ummm… are you ok, Miss Horaki?"  He hesitated.  "Do you… want to come in?"

"It's kind of late," Hikari pointed out, sniffing again.

"Hmmm," Shinji nodded, stepping to the side and gesturing for her to enter the apartment, "well, I guess you'll have to sit in the living room until it's a reasonable hour, then go to the front door and knock again, k?"

Hikari frowned.  "What?"

"It's nothing," Shinji said lightly, "I'm just kind of loopy when I'm tired.  Come in, please… I don't think Asuka would forgive me if I let you wander around alone at this hour of night."  He jerked his head in the direction of the hallway.  "Come on," he said gently as she hesitated, "I'll get some alcohol for those cuts…"

Hikari nodded, covering the scrapes with her hand as she came into the apartment.  "I'm sorry that I woke you up," she apologized as they headed into the living room.

"It's ok," Shinji replied, making sure she was comfortable before heading into the kitchen to get the alcohol, "I was having bad dreams anyway."

"Really?" Hikari asked weakly.  "Well, still, it's pretty late…"

"It is that," Shinji shrugged, coming back into the living room with a small brown bottle and a handful of cotton balls.  He paused in the doorway, assessing her for a minute, then whispered, "Can I ask you what happened, Miss Horaki?  You don't have to tell me if you don't want to."

Hikari lowered her eyes as the boy came the rest of the way into the living room and sat on the couch, opening the alcohol and putting a cotton ball over the top.  "I had a fight with my sister," she said slowly, deciding that – considering the hour and the inconvenience – Shinji deserved an explanation.  "We've been kinda… at each other for a few weeks now, and it just all exploded tonight… so I… I left."

When she looked up, Shinji was wringing the excess antiseptic from the cotton ball, an expression of anger-tinged concern on his face.  "Did she do this to you?" he asked quietly, nodding towards her cheek.

"No!" Hikari replied quickly, "Oh no!  She's not… violent or anything, we just yelled and threw a couple plates…"  She chuckled sadly, "Dad's gonna be pissed."

"I see," the boy murmured, relaxing a bit.  "Here," he said, "this might hurt a little."

Hikari flinched slightly as the alcohol stung her skin.  "Don't apologize," she told him, closing her eyes as Shinji opened his mouth, "it was my own stupid fault… you have nothing to be sorry about."

"If it wasn't your sister, what happened?" Shinji asked, blushing as the girl opened her eyes and looked at him.  "Never mind," he said quickly, putting the cotton ball back on the bottle and tipping it up once more.  "You don't have to tell me if you don-"

"It's ok," Hikari cut in, putting her hand over his and turning the alcohol back over to keep it from spilling.  "After the fight," she whispered, closing her eyes once more as the boy rang the cotton ball out and reached for her cut, "I was so upset, I just ran… I ran all the way from my house to school.  I don't know why, since the place was all locked up and dark, but that's where I ran."  She hissed slightly as he gently wiped the longer scratch.  "Well," she sighed, "once I caught my breath, I started thinking of places I could go… and I kept coming back to Asuka, so I started over this way, and…"

"And?" Shinji prompted as she trailed off, blushing brightly.  "How did you get-"

"I tripped," Hikari blurted.  "Like, two blocks from here, I tripped over my own stupid shoe lace and fell into a bush!"

There was a moment of quiet, then Shinji – his voice very grave – replied, "Those bushes are tricky."

Hikari stared at him in absolute shock, then threw her head back and laughed.  "Ow…" she gasped, "ow, that hurts my cheek… don't… don't make me laugh, Ikari…"

"I'll try not to," Shinji said gently, wiping the last of the blood and dirt from her cheek and discarding the cotton ball.  "There," he declared, rising from the couch, "now let's get you something clean to wear."

Hikari looked down at her shirt, her laughter dying off as she noticed just how dirty she had gotten.  "Ikari?" she whispered, waiting until he looked back to her before asking, "Can I… use your shower?"  She smiled halfheartedly, "I know you can't loan me any makeup, but can I at least get clean?"  She lowered her eyes.  "I'm sorry I'm so much trouble."

"It's ok," Shinji smiled, "I'll just make you do the dishes for me."

Hikari stood, covering her mouth and trying not to hurt her cheek as she giggled.  "You're funny," she said happily, "I never knew that, Ikari.  You're totally different at school – how come?"  She hurried on as he looked away, a light blush on his cheeks.  "I mean, I… I'm having fun hanging out with you, and I never would have thought that could happen.  Why not be more-"

"I don't like it when a lot of people look at me," Shinji cut in awkwardly.  "I'll get you a towel."

Before Hikari could reply, he was gone.  Lowering herself to the couch, Hikari sighed.  "Let me just get this foot out of my mouth, Ikari," she grumbled darkly, barely resisting the urge to slap herself in the forehead.  "Remember that whole talk dad gave you about a right place and a right time for things?  Hey, guess what – this is neither."

She looked up as Shinji cursed.

"What's wrong?" she called.

"It's… well…"

Shinji came back into the living room a moment later, carrying a large, fluffy towel.

"Asuka's room is locked," he told her, his voice a bare whisper.  "I don't… I can't get any clothes for you."  He was obviously pained by this announcement, as he continued, his words coming faster in his distress.  "I mean… I just folded the laundry and put it away today, and there's only like, a dirty tee shirt in the hamper.  I could get something of Misato's… but all of her stuff has…" he blushed brightly, "holes in it, and anything I got would probably be too big, so… I…"

Hikari smiled reassuringly as he trailed off, fumbling to come up with another apology.  "Do you have any sweatpants?"

"Hmm?"

"Well," Hikari clarified, averting her eyes, "we're about the same size…"  When she next looked at the boy, she was alarmed to find his face a brilliant shade of red. 

"T-towel," he stammered, thrusting it straight out at her and pointing down the hall with his free hand, "b-bathroom."

Hikari nodded, wondering if her face was the same color as his.  I can't blame him, she thought tiredly, God… I just asked to wear his clothes – he probably thinks I'm a tramp.  You just don't DO that!

She headed towards the bathroom, but paused as Shinji whispered, "I'll leave something outside the door for you…"

Several minutes later, feeling almost entirely human, Hikari made her way back into the living room, still drying her head with the towel and wearing a pair of dark blue sweatpants and a green tee shirt.  "Thanks, Ikari," she whispered warmly, smiling as the boy kept his eyes on the floor.

"Sure," he shrugged.  He hesitated, his eyes never straying off the floor.  "You can't sleep in Asuka's bed," he said finally, "and I don't think you want to sleep in Misato's… so I changed my sheets."  He managed a smile.  "I turned off the alarm too, so you can sleep as late as you wa-"

"Ikari!" Hikari cut in, shock evident in her tone.  "I can't take your clothes and your bed!  That's… that's just not right!"  Her cheeks glowed a warm crimson.  "Be… besides… we're not even dating.  It would be… God, it would be so… improper!"

"I didn't mean I'd be there too!" Shinji gasped.

Oddly, this struck Hikari as funny.  "You don't know much about stuff like this do you?" she grinned, shaking her head as her voice took on a lecturing tone.  "It's not that you'd be there, Ikari, it's that I would be there, do you understand?  It's not proper for a girl to be in a boy's bedroom."

"It isn't?" Shinji asked curiously, "Why not?"

Hikari blinked.  "It, ummm…" she bit her lip uncertainly, "it just isn't," she said finally.  "A girl's not supposed to sleep in a boy's bed unless she's related to him or married to him."

"Really?"

"Really."

Hikari's eyes went to the sheet and blanket the boy had laid out on the couch.  "I'll sleep there," she said firmly, smiling as he tried to protest.  "Thank you, Ikari," she whispered, bowing formally.  "For taking me in, and for showing me that people aren't always what they seem to be."

Shinji scratched the back of his neck, mumbling, "You're welcome," and starting towards his room.  Fifteen minutes later, he climbed back out of bed, drawn by Hikari's soft, hesitant call.  "What's wrong?" he asked, rubbing his eyes tiredly as he found the girl sitting up on the couch, the blanket wrapped around her shoulders.

Her face a study in misery and shame, the class representative barely whispered, "Will you sit with me for a few minutes… please?  You don't have to talk to me… just be here, ok?"  She looked up, her eyes heavy but frightened.  "I won't ask you for anything else, I swear…"

Shinji nodded, walking over and sitting on the floor next to the couch.  "I don't mind doing things for you, Hikari," he yawned, offering her a sleepy smile, "you can ask for…" he yawned again, covering his mouth and closing his eyes, "anything you need."

Hikari smiled as the boy folded his arms, resting his head atop them and yawning a third time.  "Anything I need?" she asked softly.

"Uh huh…" Shinji confirmed, his voice already growing faint, "any… thing…"

The young class rep wait for a moment until she was sure the boy was sleeping.  Then she leaned down, covering his hand with hers and putting her mouth right next to his ear.  "If I can ask you for anything," she whispered, smiling softly, "then I'm going to ask you to be my friend, Shinji.  I like the you that you showed me tonight, and I want to be friends with that you…"

She sighed, squeezing his hand briefly before sitting up and rearranging her blankets.  Then she lay down on the couch, trying to get as close to the sleeping pilot as she could without touching him, and closed her eyes.  Slowly, she drifted off to sleep, soothed by his closeness, and warmed by his soft, gentle breath on her cheek.

Continued…

Hikari's Excess Baggage

Hiya! Hikari Horaki here.  I just wanted to take a second to introduce this section and tell you about this week's segment.  Hikari's Excess Baggage is a collection of cut material, extra scenes, and one-liners – some humorous, some serious – that have no real place in the main story.  I asked to be allowed to introduce each part because… well… it's my story.  Call it selfish if you want, but hey – I'm here now, so here we go.

This scene is just a light piece of WAFF that obviously did not fit with the tone of the story.  I mean, it's a good scene, I think, but… well, see for yourself.

Begin segment.

Hikari smiled as the boy folded his arms, resting his head atop them and yawning a third time.  "Anything I need?" she asked softly.

"Uh huh…" Shinji confirmed, his voice already going faint, "any… thing…"

The boy's eyes sprang back open as a soft, tentative touch registered on his lips.

"Lie down with me, Shinji," Hikari breathed, giving him another feather-light kiss.  "I know that we're not that close, but I really need to have someone with me tonight."

Shinji simply stared as the girl draped her wrists over his shoulders and drew him closer, kissing him a third time.

"Why are you crying?" Shinji whispered, choosing to focus on the dampness on the girl's cheeks rather than the heat of her mouth.

"Don't ask," the girl replied brokenly, "just lie down with me and let me hold you, ok?"

Shinji did as he was asked, blushing brightly as Hikari's arms encircled him and she buried her face in his shirt.  "It's ok," he murmured, carefully stroking her back as she sobbed.

He held her until her tears trailed off into deep, even breathing, sensing somehow that the kisses she had given him were out of desperation and the need for closeness.  He knew that there would be no more in the morning, but that was ok… as long as she was happy, that was all that mattered.

End segment

See why it wouldn't fit?  Ikari's a great guy and all, and we had a lot of fun on the set of Survivors – especially with the kissing scenes (hey, that guy can kiss, what can I say?) – but this isn't Survivors, you know?  So this scene would have just been out of place… and you know, its a little cliché too, so I'm sort of glad it ended up on the cutting room floor.

Anyway, I guess that wraps it up for this chapter.  Make sure you read next week's installment – Will you Shelter Me?  I think it's gonna be a little longer, too.

See ya next time!

Pre-read of this contact was by Ryoma – star of stage and screen.

Feedback is always welcome at random1377@yahoo.com