Disclaimer: I still don't own anything other than the plot. This isn't written aiming profits. Just entertainment. Please don't sue.


Chapter eighteen

After a long walk back, Shinji finally arrived home. Luckily for him, the door was automatic; he doubted there was any energy left within him to manually open it. "Misato, I'm back." He said, already going to the kitchen. Once there, he came face to face with the, until then, mute woman. "How are you Shinji?"

Giving a humorless chuckle, the boy flopped down on the chair across Misato. "I never expected to say this before a conversation but, I need a drink."

Wordlessly, she reached the cabinet and poured two glasses of scotch. Placing one in front of Shinji, she reclaimed her seat. "That bad?"

Shinji downed half of his glass in a single gulp. Over exaggerating on the grimace (or maybe not), the boy gave a long sigh. "Actually it went worse than you might think…" His mind tried to sidestep the subject noticing that Misato now was dressing satin robes, very provocative by the way. Giving a mental head shake to clear his mind, He ended that line of thought. It simply wasn't time to that sort of thing. Opening his mind once again, Shinji managed to tell her exactly what happened.

At the end of the story, she stood still for a few seconds, downing another glass before speaking in a resigned tone. "Damn that girl." Misato paused to indulge herself on another glass. "At least now we know what her problem really is…"

Meanwhile, Shinji looked at his glass. Actually, still is his first helping, as compared to Misato's current forth. His face assumed a light scowl. "Misato, don't you think you're hitting a little too hard on the liquor?"

Her scowl was way more extreme. "Can it Shinji! I not only passed through one of the most embarrassing experiences of my life, arguably the most one, but also found that a spoiled princess wants to steal my boyfriend! Who simply wusses about my drinking habit! As if all that wasn't excuse enough for me to get smashed if I wanted to!" To emphasize her point, Misato gulped down another entire glass.

The boy sighed and felt the start of a migraine. He was already mentally and emotionally drained and this was far away from the comfort he needed. Still, Misato's alcoholic tendency was a problem that only got worse as time went by. It was their major source of arguments, and another one was just brewing.

"Damnit Misato! Nowadays everything is an excuse for you to plaster yourself!" His tone was more resigned than annoyed. Shinji already knew it wouldn't end well.

A slight slurring was already evident on Misato's speech pattern. "What do you know of life? Living a sheltered life until very recently gives you no rights over what I do or don't. You're not my father, so stop thinking you can boss me around!"

"Misato, I'm not trying to boss you around! I'm only saying this because I care for you! I care for you enough to actually act like your father when in truth you're the one old enough to be my mother!" Shinji resisted the urge to slap himself. "Oh crap, that went out so wrong!"

Her eyes narrowed and Misato slammed the glass over the table, cracking it. "So now I'm too old, aren't I? Why then don't you go screw someone who's not an old hag? I bet Asuka would be more than willing!"

Sobriety quickly cut through her drunken stupor upon registering the hurt look on Shinji's face. The boy said no more, wordlessly turning around and slowly but purposefully, he walked out of the apartment.

With tearful eyes, Misato took the bottle and was going to drink it dry. But then, in a bolt of fury, threw it against the wall with all her strength, producing a shower of glass shards and wasted liquor over the floor. An overwhelming wave of guilt and self loathing assaulted her. Indeed, Shinji only argued with her concerning booze because he cared and she knew it. Still, her life had been so hard until now, and alcohol was the only comfort throughout the ride.

However, all that anger discharged at her boyfriend was actually from another related source. Her trusted alcohol had already betrayed her. She went to her room, a new bottle, this one full, on her hands. She couldn't resist its enticing lure, and sure didn't need anyone reminding her of that.


Shinji trudged out of the apartment and, if he could, would have slammed the door in utter frustration. Couldn't Misato see that he was looking out for her? Sure her life hadn't been a fairytale, witnessing second impact first hand and all the rest, but his hadn't been that great either. Actually, despite her claims, it was debatable who had it worse among them.

But worse yet, cleaning her room some days ago, the boy came by some medical exams. Obviously, she had no intention of telling him anytime soon, but he had already found out about her cirrhosis.

Fortunately, it was in a state that could be reversible IF she quits drinking. That's why he was being so hard on her about it recently. But Shinji had no delusions; Misato's tendency had already evolved into full addiction. He had been gathering the resolve to talk about it, but this recent episode with Asuka completely depleted him of any. And it wasn't something that he came up with simply by finding it in the corner.

His musings going on and on in a loop, Shinji realized that he needed to cool down. And this time there was only one way to do so. He would have to rely on his old patterns. Luckily, even after all the time in which he neglected it, his trusted SDAT player still lays in his pocket by sheer force of habit.

Now, there was only one thing remaining. Ok, there is it! The train station. All that Shinji needed to do was sit within it and lose himself in the sweet still of mind that his precious SDAT produced.

However, obliviousness still eluded him. The proportions and importance that recent events had in his life made it impossible for Shinji to simply ignore it all. And to be sincere, he was already tired of always running away. Not that he wasn't already tired of trying to deal with them. God only knew how much effort he did to deal with everything that happened since he decided to take that step into manhood. And he didn't mean sex. No, that was the easy, and enjoyable part. What he meant was the real meaning of being a man: taking responsibility for every act you did and realizing when you did it right or wrong. The part that, when the day is done, lets one lay his head on bed and rest. Assured that what was done was meant to be done hopefully, without regrets.

Still, for the time being, Shinji really needed to cool it down. So he kept trying to simply chill. Failing miserably at that, he took his time to think and form an action plan for his problems. First of all, he would concentrate in Misato. Even after his last talk with Asuka, he knew it wasn't the end of that issue. But dealing with Misato was more important for several reasons. The first and more important of those reasons was the fact that she was the woman that he loved, and it would be pointless to focus on other stuff at the risk of losing her. That cirrhosis wouldn't be cured by the powers that be, but it was still a tricky path: Coming too strong over it could just drive them apart.

Shinji stopped his SDAT player at that. Opening his eyes, he focused on nothing as his mind realized that he just made the most difficult decision of his life so far: He would deal with Misato's addiction even if it ended their relationship. Heck, it was preferable to see her alive away than dead in his arms. He couldn't miss the irony of it: Alcohol brought them together, and alcohol might bring them apart.

It was obvious that he would need help in this issue. And it was way past the time to look for it.

Getting out of the train at the nearest station, Shinji took some time to discern his location, downtown. Realizing his hunger, the boy entered a random restaurant and for the moment all his current thoughts were robbed. A few tables to his left was a man who until recently dominated his thoughts. Ikari Gendo.

Strange how the commander virtually vanished from his mind after this entire rhapsody started. And that made him happy. Why was he so obsessed to have the approval of a man that never cared for him? Hadn't he just decided that, for her own sake, it would be worth to be hated by the woman that he loved? So why did he care so much about a man that he never actually loved?

Smiling at the realization that he was free of that man's emotional prison, Shinji allowed the hostess to lead him towards a table and ordered his meal. Already dismissing any thought about his father.

Gendo for his part, upon noticing that Shinji entered the restaurant and saw him there, gave a mental sigh. It was obvious that the boy would come and pester him with the usual pathetic pleas of acceptance. He was an important paw for Gendo's plans, but it was simply disgusting how emotionally dependant the boy was of someone that made if perfectly clear he wasn't interested in useless bonds. He was surprised tough when Shinji gave a faint smile and walked away, not like a rejected dog, but like a man that thought nothing of who he just saw. Did Shinji finally grow out of his dependence?

Finishing his meal the NERV commander felt the inexplicable whim to have a word with his son. Aproaching the boy, he greeted as stoic as ever. "Shinji".

Returning from wherever his mind led him, Shinji took notice of Gendo standing right in front of him. He was extremely surprised that his father had decided to talk to him, but that was it. No nervousness or expectations. Just the curiosity of what he could possibly want. "Good evening commander."

Commander. Not father, just commander. And spoke in a tone that even if slightly guarded, didn't imply at all on the usual disgusting hope or fear. For the first time in his life, when concerning Shinji, Gendo was speechless. Deciding to simply save grace and end this awkward moment, he just dismissed the boy. "Good evening."

Walking away, he was completely confused. He was happy. But why? Was it because Shinji finally behaved like a man? But why would he be happy about someone he didn't care?

Shinji, in his turn, just blinked owlishly as his father simply went away without further ado. What was the point of that exchange? Well, who cares? Surprisingly enough, he didn't.


Dr. Kusanagi was happily sat in his office, looking at a picture of him and his wife, while talking with that very same woman on the telephone. Suddenly, the sound of knocks in his open door made the doctor's eyes look at it and see Ikari Shinji standing just outside. "I'm sorry Misuho, there's someone here to see now. I talk to you later." As the speaker went back to its base on the table, Kei looked at Shinji and smiled. "Come on in Shinji. Close the door and have a seat."

Doing as he was told, Shinji sat in front of the shrink, just across the desk. Noticing the frame on the man's hand, he saw a very beautiful woman with unusual magenta hair. Since she was in an affectionate hug with the doctor, Shinji rightly presumed she was his wife. "She's truly beautiful Kusanagi san."

The older man broadened his smile even more. "Certainly she is!" After another look at the picture, he placed it back on the table and looked at his young patient. "So Shinji, what brings you here today?"

Sighing, the boy started. "What can one deal with an alcoholic?"

Kusanagi raised an eyebrow. Sometimes Shinji bombarded him with a question or another worth of that Ayanami girl. That is whenever some teacher decided she needed to speak with him. Anyway, back to Shinji. "Err… Shinji, you will have to elaborate a little more."

"Well, you're aware of my relationship with Misato, right?" Seeing the doctor nod, Shinji pressed on. "Hn… some time ago I found one of her medical exams. One in which there was a cirrhosis diagnostic. And I already told you some time back how she likes to drink. Problem is: Her liking is actually a full blown addiction. And according to that exam, the cirrhosis is reversible is she stops drinking. Which I've being nagging her about a lot recently. However, the more we argue about it, the more impossible it seems to help her. What can I do?"

Kei took in the exasperation in Shinji's tone. Obviously the boy wanted to help, but addictions were a though issue. "Shinji, I know you and, albeit you've progressed a lot, old habits die hard. Have you being direct with Misato about it? I mean, have you said that you know about her decease?"

As Shinji wordlessly shook his head, the doctor continued. "First of all you will have to tell her that you know about it. You can't convince an addicted to let it go simply saying it's for better for them or because of probable reasons. You have to show a real reason for them to stop. Be it their jobs, relationships or real medical issues at stake. Second, you will have to stop drinking yourself."

Upon seeing Shinji's confused look, Kusanagi sighed. "You may have some legal permissions being an EVA pilot, but even if I never voiced my opinion, I'm extremely against a minor drinking regulary as you do. But the real point is: you can't tell someone to stop doing something that you do. Telling Misato to stop drinking while you keep drinking yourself will only make it harder for her to resist temptation. Your house must be alcohol free. And drinking outside won't be good either. If you go back home smelling of alcohol will only make it harder for her."

"Another thing: Providing that she agrees to stop, try to get her to attend groups like the Anonymous Alcoholics. It will do her good to have people with whom she can relate." Kei made a short pause. "But the most important thing is: Be adamant about this. You can't show weakness or doubts concerning the issue. Many relationships end because of one part trying to help the other. Are you willing and ready for this?"

"Yes." Shinji's seriousness would have taken even an angel off guard. "I've already came to that decision by myself."

"Then, I would suggest you talk to her about rehab."

Shinji felt a slight chill run through his spine. "Rehab?"

"Yes Shinji, a rehabilitation clinic. Since she already has cirrhosis, it's most important to stop drinking at all as soon as possible."

"But aren't those clinics only for the hopeless and unwilling to let go?"

"Actually no Shinji. You usually hear only about people that go there against their will, especially on the news, concerning famous people caught by the law after some illegal behavior, almost as punishment. The fact is that these clinics deal with those people, but even for those who are willing to stop, a rehab is the best option when the addiction is already too strong." Dr. Kusanagi produced a cloth piece from his shirt's pocket and proceeded to wipe his glasses with it. "They have the adequate structure to deal with the body's cleansing in the first weeks of abstinence. However, it's a very touchy subject as people usually have the same opinion you had about them."

The man opened a shelf in his desk and took of a notebook. Inside it were several cards, neatly separated and organized by plastic sheets. Searching through it, he finally found which he was looking for and gave to Shinji. "Here it is. This is the address of one. I recommend it due to their privacy." He looked even deeply into Shinji's eyes. "Shinji, good look with this and, if you need, I'll always be here to help."

Shinji took the card and gave a somber smile to the doctor. "Thank you Dr. Kusanagi. I really mean it." He stood up and went out of the office.

As soon as the boy left, Kei gave a long sigh. "He's so young and already has to deal with this kind of problem? I guess this EVA pilots really are some sort of adult children…"


That night Shinji slept at Kensuke's. He still couldn't face Misato and have the argument that was sure to follow. He would need a little time to steel himself. Hopefully, only one night would be enough for it. Besides, it was sure refreshing to be remembered that he had normal teenaged friends, with whom he could be as such. A night of pizza, videogames and small talk sometimes is just what you need to be refueled for life.

Interestingly enough, they even discussed women. Not personal things, but Kensuke brought forth some sexual questions which gave Shinji no small amount of embarrassment. However, those questions were surprisingly mature. It seemed that the Ikari heir was not the only one growing up after all.

After a dull day at school, the third child was on his way back home, towards a confrontation that, even if he had to have, there was simply no will to do it. Su, unconsciously, he took the scenic route, passing downtown and taking exceeding care about random things all around. People's clothes, items advertised in stores, street musicians and so on.

As a slight chilly windswept right through his lapel, Shinji shivered and decided to have a hot beverage. Stopping at a bar, he ordered a hot cocoa. Upon having the mug in hands, he stared at the swirling liquid within it and seriously debated if it was a good idea to spike it. After all, a drink could always help him in moments like the one he would soon go through. "Wait a damn moment there! I'm just musing about having a drink to talk to someone about stop drinking?" He gave a small gulp and stared at the world with fishy eyes. "Yeah, I definitively have to stop drinking. If not for Misato, for my own sake."


Because of her rotating shifts, Misato would be at NERV today until very late. So it was with no small amount of surprise that Shinji saw her blue Alpino parked at the garage. Was she at home right now? Strange.

Taking the elevator, the young man dismissed that thought, reaching the conclusion that Misato might just had taken the bus to work. His steps echoed through the empty hall while finally approaching home. Once the automatic door slid open, a faint lingering smell of alcohol attacked his nostrils. Heading towards its source, Shinji found dried remains of booze staining the kitchen's floor, along with several glass shards. A broken bottle. Upon further inspection, the one he and Misato were drinking yesterday just before their fight.

What had happened here? The stains on the floor and on the wall indicated that the bottle was thrown. And judging the fact that the shards were all over the kitchen, it was with force. Did Misato get that upset? Anyway, she would have cleaned it. The woman may be a slob, but with things like glass and others that offered danger, she never slacked off. After all, Penpen could get hurt.

Speaking of the water fowl, it decided to prove existence to the world that exact moment, opening the fridge's door and warking. But he didn't get out.

"Hi there Penpen. I'll just clean this right now. Them it will be safe for you to walk around." As the penguin warked again, as if agreeing with Shinji, the boy mused about the unusual intelligence that it often displayed. The bird was smart enough to know that this mess could hurt him, and the way the glass was all around, there was no room for maneuver for it. "Have you been there this entire time?" Shinji asked the penguin.


Was it his imagination or did the penguin actually nodded while warking? Regardless, he was sure the bird didn't leave his unconventional nest. So he began to gather the shards and placed them in the waste bin, wrapped in newspaper, of course. Finishing wiping off the stains on the floor, he once again addressed the penguin. "Ok Penpen. It's safe to wander around again." The bird immediately gathered his bathing supplies and went to the bathroom, but first it passed through his food bin and gave a quick wark. Shinji understood and as soon as he was finished with the cleaning, opened a sardine can and left it's contains in Penpen's bin.

Heading towards his room, amazed by the bird, he noticed Misato's room's light on. Deciding to turn them off, Shinji went there and almost went in shock.

On the floor, surrounded by several bottles in different states of emptiness, Misato was sprawled, and unconscious.

"MISATO!" In a flash Shinji was holding her, trying to awake her. However, the woman simply wouldn't awake. Her complexion was paler than a ghost. And slight cold to the touch. If not for her heartbeats, Shinji would believe her dead.

Still it was preoccupying enough as it was. No matter what he tried, she simply wouldn't wake up. That's when he called an ambulance.


Shinji arrived at the emergency and almost assaulted the nurse at the counter. "KATSURAGI MISATO! WHERE IS SHE? HOW IS SHE?"

Used to frantic people, the nurse slammed her fist hard on the counter. It stunned the boy enough to cut through his panic. "She's ok. Room 435. Who are you and what are you to her?"

"Ikari Shinji. Her boyfriend. I have to see her."

The nurse looked at the boy. He was no older than sixteen years old. And that woman was almost at her thirties. They were in a relationship? Well, it was not her place to say anything. Besides, the shift's medic said he wanted to speak with whoever came to see her. "Ikari san, please come with me. I will lead you to Katsuragi's room and the doctor."

For Shinji it took an eternity (actually it was less than 3 minutes. When he finally arrived at the room, he barely registered the white lab coat wearing person standing in the room. What he immediately registered was the woman lying on the hospital bed, IV sticking out of her left arm. Still her complexion was back to a healthy color, and her body temperature was back to normal. That he stated upon grasping her right hand. "How is she?"

The doctor smiled. 'Don't worry, she's gonna be alright. However, it was one heck of a party, Hun? The name is Mizuno Ami by the way."

Shinji was relieved. So Misato was gonna be ok. But something confused him. Looking at the doctor, he voiced his doubt. "Dr. Mizuno, what do you mean party? What did she have?"

"Oh, she just drunk WAY too much. Got to the brink of an alcoholic coma. And in her condition it is very irresponsible thing to do."

Drunk? Misato drank her way into almost oblivion? Damn, that had to stop real fast. "Yeah, I know. But as soon as she's ok I'll be sure to make her stop for good."

"Yes, that would be good. Alcohol is really for the fetus."

Young Ikari looked back at Misato for a split second before his head whirled back to the doctor so fast there almost were afterimages. "Fetus?"

The doctor smiled. "Yes. She's two months pregnant. By the way, do you know who the father is? I thought he would be the one to come here check on her."

Shinji dumbly stared at the doctor for a while before giving the mother of all sheepish smiles. "Well, actually… he came."


Author's notes: Well, it's being forever since last chapter. I won't give excuses. The thing is: I kind of lost interest in writhing and so it's difficult to keep doing it. However, a promise is a promise and I will finish this fic. It's being what? Six years already? Damn, that's a lot of time for a fic that isn't all that big. In fact, very small compared to several others around.

Anyway, there are two more chapters to go. See you whenever, whoever still bother to read this. For those, I say in capital letters: THANK YOU!