No: 7 – Two Halves One Whole
Disclaimer: I do not own Evangelion or any of the characters they are the property of their respective creators. Please be aware that no profit is being made from this work of fan fiction.
As Misato and Kaji walked ahead of them, Asuka tried to keep herself from stepping in front of them and leading the way, reminding herself that in this reality she would never have been to Nerv Japan before and thus should not know her way around. If she were to let something like that slip, then it might lead to questions about her behaviour with Shinji, and eventually to other things… thing that she did not want to think about. Instead, she kept pace beside Shinji, watching him out the corner of her eye as he walked silently along the hallway. Whenever she closed the distance too much he would quickly step away, trying to keep a constant distance between them, each time he moved away, Asuka felt a small flare of pain in her chest, reminding her of when he had killed himself…
He seemed pleased by the progress the pair had made in their training, obviously not expecting Asuka to slow down for him when he hesitated slightly. It was strange, it almost felt as if he had this before, gone through this same training despite the fact he knew he had never met her before their encounter on the boat that day. He still could not fathom her actions, the fact that she acted as if they had known each of for a long time when in reality it had only been a few days. Perhaps a part of him relished the attention she was giving him, for the first time in his life a girl, an attractive girl no less, was paying him attention, something at which even the most introverted male could not help but feel pride. Still, that did not explain the phantom pains in his chest, right over his heart, that surfaced when she was too close.
Her voice had called him from his thoughts, causing him to pause for a moment, to regard her face. He saw worry in her eyes, flickers of some unknown pain and for an instant, he wanted to reach out to her, to offer her comfort as he had done when the nightmares came. Yet, the pain held him back, dissolving almost entirely when he drew back his hand. When he spoke his words were confused and uncertain but still he tried his best to show her a brave face, that he was not afraid of her, that he did not want her to go away, simply that he was not yet ready for her to be so close.
"The training is going well, isn't it?"
He paused once again, fumbling for the right words to say. As best he could tell it seemed to be rather successful, they had mirrored the moves almost perfectly and despite his prior reservations he allow himself to grin slightly.
She laughed gently at his reply; comforted by his grin, by the fact he was trying to reassure her. In that one moment she recalled how much she had missed seeing that rarest of smiles upon his face.
"Hey, if we keep going at this rate then perhaps Misato will let us go and fight the Angel before the five days are up, take it out before it's back up to full strength."
Of course Misato chose that moment to cut in on their conversation, breaking the flow and allowing a lot of the tension that had dissipated to seep back in.
"Asuka, just because the two of you did well the first time doesn't mean it will be the same way all the other times. We are going to keep doing the drills after lunch, maybe if you do as well the next few times I might consider speaking to the commander about it."
This signalled the end of the conversation as the four of them entered the cafeteria, both Asuka and Shinji lost in their thoughts. Both were considering Misato's words, but for very different reasons. Shinji, because he still had no desire to fight again, his only reason for doing this simply to earn the respect of his father and perhaps because a tiny part of him knew it was the right thing to do. Asuka's motive was far more personal, her desire to pilot Eva was driven by a desperate need, to keep from losing him again. Already things had started to change, events were not progressing as she remembered them, there had been times before when he had looked death in the face, were one of those to change only slightly…she could not even bear to consider the result.
The two of them regarded the food with partial attention, not really interested in the food on offer so their reactions were minimal when the two adults asked them what they would like. Perhaps somewhat concerned by the behaviour of their charges and for a moment forgetting their own agendas, the pair took a moment to confer silently, looking to the other to come up with a plan. Asuka noticed this, realising that her behaviour must be worrying them and at once put on the mask she had worn for so long, shifting a smile onto her face before moving quickly to catch Shinji by the arm before the boy could realise what was going on. She began to pull him in the opposite direction, towards the seating area. She paused for a moment; turning back to the adults to tell them what was going on.
"We'll go and find a table."
Before anyone could object, Asuka pulled Shinji quickly away and into the main body of the cafeteria. As it happened it was well past the normal lunchtime and as such most of the cafeteria was empty, save for a few techs and engineers dotted about here and there. None of them look up as the two teenagers passed, Asuka dragging a reluctant Shinji, who despite his discomfort at Asuka's hold on his arm forced himself not to pull away, as Asuka led him over to a table in the corner. She eased him into the booth before sliding in after, preventing him from leaving. He fidgeted slightly, still uncertain about her proximity but since she had released his arm and was not acting overly familiar again he didn't find it too bad.
He spent a few moments simply watching her from the corner of his right eye, seeing another side of her once again, and finding himself strangely attracted to her despite the other feelings that haunted that back of his mind. An image arose unbidden from the depths of his memory, a place that looked like Misato's apartment, Asuka was in front of him, her lips pressed over his, her fingers pinching his nose, halting his breath. Then, the world faded only to be replaced by another, a darker place with a sky the colour of fresh blood, an naked Asuka writhed and wriggled atop his nude body, revelling in the pleasures of the flesh. Not understand these things, thinking them dreams or desire he shook himself free of them, focusing instead on the task they shared.
It was then the adults arrived, bearing trays of food for the four of them. Not knowing what the children had wanted they had done their best, choosing things they hoped their charges liked. The food was accepted graciously and the four began to eat in silence, none willing to be the first to break the silence. When at last the meal was finished, they carried their trays over to the receptacles before pausing for a moment at the exit. It was Misato who finally broke the silence, informing the children of what they had already expected.
"Ok, back to the training room you two. You did reasonably well this morning but I want a repeat performance before I even consider talking to the commander."
The two nodded before following the adults back to the training room and resuming their movements.
The training continued for the remainder of the afternoon and long into the evening. As the hours passed the two of them continued to show the same performance, matching one another's moves time and again. When they finished the final session, Misato grudgingly agreed that if they were to continue like this tomorrow then she would speak with the commander regarding an advancement of their mission timetable. This had cheered the pair somewhat and they had journeyed to the cafeteria for the second time that day in a more buoyant mood. They ate a brief meal before being escorted back to their room and locked in for the night. At once a subtle tension had settled over them, Shinji clearly recalling the events of the previous night and torn between simply allow her to sleep with him from the outset or sleeping alone, counting on the fact that the nightmares would not visit her again.
He continued to ponder as she disappeared into the bathroom to shower and change, barely noticing when she returned to the room, this time unlike before she was dressed for bed, obviously not willing to attempt a repeat of the night before given his reaction that time. Seeing he was lost in thought she approached him quietly, closing the distance till they were only inches apart. She paused for a moment, not willing to close the gap and risk setting him off again with a kiss, instead she simply was content to watch him, to trace the counters of his face with her eyes. Still, it did little to ease the need that sat like a lead weight in the pit of her stomach, she wanted him, needed him, to feel his warmth once again…but for now at least that was not possible, this time he would love her of his own free will.
Shinji finally surfaced from his thoughts sufficiently to notice Asuka's proximity. He had only a moment to realise that she was not trying to kiss him before he tumbled backwards following his reflexive movement away. He fell from the bed landing hard against the floor, his back taking the brunt of the impact. Somewhat sore he looked up into the concerned face of Asuka before managing to grin sheepishly at his clumsiness. She calmed at seeing he was ok, before offering him a hand that he hesitantly accept before being pulled to his feet. Once more the two were very close to one another, again Shinji found his thoughts brought back to what he had been pondering before.
Damn it, why does this have to be so hard.
He struggled to find the words and the courage to speak them.
"What is it Shinji?"
"Do you want to sleep here…with me…in case the nightmares come back I mean!"
She smiled at him, pleased that he had asked her rather than forcing her to take matters into her own hands. It was sign that perhaps he was becoming a little more comfortable around her, despite his reaction a moment before. She nodded in agreement, standing up from the bed and allowing him to pull back the covers and slip inside before following suit and lying down beside him. Even as she settled next to him she could feel the tension in his body, a clear indication that it would be unwise to try and go any further tonight. Instead she settled for leaning her head carefully upon his chest, falling asleep listening to the rhythmic beating of his heart.
When they woke the next morning it was the to the sound of alarms screaming, at once Asuka had bolted upright, her mind a tangle of confused thoughts and memories.It's too soon! This can't be happening!
But still it was, the Angel had awaken after little more than a day and was already resuming its journey towards Tokyo-3. Misato and Kaji were already at the door, screaming at the two to wake up, telling them that they must come now. Awash with uncertainty Asuka turned to look at Shinji, his eyes open yet there was no consciousness behind them, and they were empty and blank. She screamed, the full horror of his dead eyes looking up at her, the same eyes she had looked into once before…she woke with a start, the room wrapped in darkness. Beside her Shinji lay sleeping soundly, the rise and fall of his chest barely visible in the darkness. The last vestiges of the dream still clinging to her mind she moved closer to Shinji, pressing the length of her body against him, feeling his warmth spread into her, reassuring her. She began to allow herself to drift off once again, her arms tightly wrapped around him, making sure he could not leave her side.
When Shinji woke, it was to find Asuka far closer than she had been when he first fell asleep, her arms and legs tangled with his, preventing him from moving away. For a moment he felt a sense of deja vu, this had been almost the same position they had been in the previous morning. The only difference lay in the fact that this time he did not need to pee…although a different and more embarrassing problem had just made itself known. Hormones, being the fickle things they are, had left him experiencing what was commonly known as morning wood, a condition he did not wish to be in when Asuka finally awoke. The problem was that as best as he could recall, the best way to get rid of this was to go take a pee, yet with Asuka wrapped octopus like around his body there could be no escape.
Sighing in defeat and settling as best he could with the twin discomforts he closed his eyes and was about to return to the land of nod when the voice returned.Shinji. You must come to me now Shinji, the beast awakens, now is the time to fight!
Then the alarms screamed into life and Asuka began shifting and moving, causing them to tumble from the bed in a tangle of limbs.
Asuka woke to the sound of alarms; at once her mind came to full consciousness, fearing that her dream had become reality. When she looked down into Shinji's awake and surprised face she felt the tension flood out of her. Despite the fact that the Angel had come early, just as it had in her nightmare, Shinji was alive and well, perhaps it had simply been her imagination after all. Misato and Kaji had burst into the room then, screaming at the pair to get up and follow them. There was no time for the two to get dressed; they would need to change into their plug suits as soon as they reached the locker room. Managing to finally disentangle themselves, something Misato would query them about later, they followed the to adults down the halls towards their respective locker rooms as they prepared to go out into battle.
Already their Eva's were prepped and ready, the two children were immediately ushered to their entry plugs and slid inside. For the first time, Asuka took note of the third Eva that lay silent in the cages and her thoughts for a moment turned to its pilot. She had not seen Ayanami yet, despite the fact that in the previous timeline she had encountered the other girl more than once by now. In truth she was quite glad of this reprieve, images of the giant decaying head that had lay in the blood red ocean of the post Third Impact world had not yet left her mind. This had left her wondering what the other girl could be, for obviously she was not human, yet until now her thoughts had been of Shinji and him alone, not once considering this other mystery.
She vowed that she would find out some how, that perhaps by understanding the part the other girl had played in Third Impact, she might be able to stop it from happening,and prevent whatever nightmare had occurred so that she and Shinji might live their days out together in a world that was not robbed of all other life. For now, her attention was drawn back to the present, even as her Eva was being hastily loaded onto a transport ready to intercept the Angel before it could reach the city itself. They had no time to formulate a proper battle plan; this would all be on the spot improvisation. The only thing that was clear that together they must strike the two cores simultaneously or their attack would fail.
As the Eva's deployed upon the beach and had their power cables towed into position, the Angel once again split down the middle, reforming itself into two distinct forms. It seemed somewhat…shabby, as if its reconstruction was not complete yet it had sensed its impending doom and had struck out before it was ready. This became more evident when it struggled to fend off the twin attacks of the Eva's. They managed to tear into it a number of times, inflicting small wounds. At last they backed the two Angels who were one against the other and were about to land a final blow when it cried out in a voice that seemed to shake the very earth and forced back the two Evas. As Unit-01 crashed to the ground, both halves turned their attention onto Unit-02.
The moments that followed where a blur, Unit-01 had roared, as if responding to the Angel's exclamation before pushing itself from the crater it had made before advancing on the Angels. They turned to defend themselves, only to be stopped as the Evangelion's hands ripped into their chests, pulling the twin cores free and crushing them in its bare hands with a great roar of triumph. The command centre staff visibly relaxed, a disaster had been averted and the Angel was defeated. But, it was not over yet. Unit-01 began to advance on the recumbent Unit-02, its massive hands coiled about the throat of the second Eva and started to choke it as one would a human. The staff simply stared in shock until the commander's orders snapped them back to the present.
"Cut the power to Unit-01 immediately!"
The cable ejected from Unit-01 and the countdown began as they continued to watch as Unit-02 struggled against Unit-01. The internal camera in the entry plug of Unit-01 was hazy an intermittent, some unexplainable malfunction corrupting the signal. Still, they could make out Shinji screaming along with his unit, his eyes like two pools of darkness even as his hands seemed to move without his will.
Gendo watched the tousle silently.
This is not in the scenario.
He thought with a small amount of irritation mingled with curiosity as Unit-01 finally fell silent in time with his son.
AN: Ok, I know that took half of eternity to arrive but I would hope it was well worth the wait. None the less it may be a while again till the next, as I said in the previous update for one of my stories I am going to try a round robin with them, updating them in sequence. That means Juugo is next in line, Forgotten because of it's far longer chapters will be kept out of this loop as well as Another Time which remains on hold for now.
Thank you for reading and a happy new year to you all.
Till next time,
PS. Extra thanks to my pre reader, That Other Guy, for jazzing up the final few words of the chapter
Chapter preread by That Other Guy