Disclaimer: Evangelion is the property of Gainax and so on and so forth. I don't own it, this is only fanfiction. Nothing more.
Written by Organised Kaos
First Day Jitters
Shinji Ikari, age fourteen, was nervous. However, he had every right to be, he stood alone at the front gates of his new school, NERV Academy. One of the most highly ranked schools that existed in Japan, among the top three in academics, a top competitor in the district sports tournaments and his father is the principal here.
He felt small, insignificant even as he approached the forbidding black gates that contained the school's insignia, a golden half maple leaf with the letters NERV filling in the other half. Under that insignia the school motto was boldly displayed, "God is in his Heaven, All's right with the World".
Strange motto for a high school.
In the courtyard, his nervousness grew. Being the subject of dozens of suspicious stares could do that to you. He glanced around, as he expected none of the looks that went his way were friendly, most were dismissing. He felt that he was disliked everywhere he went, he must have been because people whispered behind his back when they thought he was not listening. Low whispers of how he must have been a bad child to be left behind by his parents, whispers of parents telling their children to keep away from him lest he be a bad influence on them. He had learned early on that it was his fate to be alone and frankly, after awhile he learned to shut himself away from them, but it did not lessen the pain in his heart.
Unaware to Shinji, more eyes than just the ones in the courtyard examined him. High above him, five pairs of eyes watched his progress as Shinji made his way into the administration building.
"So that's him."
Someone snorted, "He looks weak"
"As much as I hate ta agree with da Demon," A rough masculine voice responded, "He does look kinda scrawny, sorta like Kensuke."
"Hey!" Another male voice, this time indignant replied.
"The two of you, BE QUIET!" A girl's furious voice silenced the two bickering guys' voices.
"The class rep!"
In another part of the school, inside a dimly lit room, two men conferred quietly.
"He's here." The older, silver haired man stated.
The younger man, although by no means he was young himself, seated himself quietly on the leather chair behind his mahogany desk.
A panel flickered to life.
"So I see." The man murmured.
"What are you going to do?" The silver-haired man asked.
"Send Watanabe Kazuma."
The older man paused, "Are you sure about this, Ikari?"
"I will not repeat myself, Fuyutsuki."
After receiving his papers from the secretary, Shinji faced a curt dismissal. He sighed, he should have known, his father would not have wanted to see him in any circumstance.
He trudged out of the administration building and into the school itself. Class 2-A. So that would be on the second floor, he reasoned. He kept his head down as he climbed the stairs and thus did not see the person going the other way, coming down the stairs.
Shinji's hand flailed outwards into search of purchase with which he could use to stabilise his backwards momentum. His hand hit something but found nothing to hold on to and as the laws of physics would have it, Shinji continued to fall backwards and downwards. He landed awkwardly on his back, the breath knocked out of his lungs, his eyes instinctively closing from the pain that shot up his spine like liquid fire.
Something hard clattered near his face; he winced when little hard bits of something bombarded his face. Opening one eye, he found the shattered remains of what used to be a mobile phone. He did not have time for any further though before he was hauled roughly to his feet by the collar.
"What the hell do you think you were doing, asshole!" An obviously furious boy screamed into Shinji's face.
"I-I'm s-sorry," Shinji stammered.
This seemed to aggravate his antagonist even more. Shinji gasped in pain when he was picked up and slammed against the wall.
"Do you think sorry's gonna cut it, punk?"
"I-I'm sorry. It was an accident," Shinji replied feebly, wishing that he didn't come here or even existed in the first place.
"An accident! My girlfriend gave me that phone! You are going to pay for this. In the Arena."
By this time, a considerable crowd had gathered around the two in the landing between the floors. Murmurs and whispers had already begun, most of them excited for some reason when the other boy mentioned, the 'Arena'.
Shinji's antagonist threw roughly to the ground and stalked up the stairs, the gathered crowd parting before him. Shinji shook as he gathered enough of his wits about him to stand up again. He tried hard to restrain the tears he felt burning his eyes and for most part, he succeeded. With teary eyes, he gazed upon the suddenly predatory crowd that surrounded him.
Confusion beset him as various students pushed and prodded him verbally as well as physically.
"What? What do you want?" He cried out ineffectually as the crowd surged around him excitedly.
He yelped in panic when somebody grabbed his arm and forcefully pulled him along the flow. His newest assailant turned out to be a glasses wearing, sandy-haired boy about his age.
"You're new around here, aren't ya?" The other boy asked.
"Huh? Yeah, I guess I am," Shinji mumbled nervously, "But who are you? And why are you dragging me with you?"
"Oh? I'm Kensuke, Kensuke Aida. I'm in the ninth grade, like you are," Kensuke replied.
Kensuke eyed Shinji strangely, "Since you're new here, I guess you don't know what the fuss is all about."
"Not really…but that guy," Shinji replied hollowly, "That guy seemed really angry."
"His name's Kazuma Watanabe, a fourth year at this school. He's known to be pretty vicious."
Shinji finally noticed they were heading up higher and higher, well past the second floor where they were supposed to be.
"Hey! Where are you taking me?"
"To the Arena, of course." Kensuke replied cheerfully, almost too cheerfully.
"What? Why?" Shinji was beginning to panic; he didn't like the sound of this, 'Arena'.
Kensuke stopped and spun around to face Shinji. Adjusting his glasses so that it reflected the light, he whispered conspiratorially.
"Since you're new, you probably didn't know but this school has a tradition."
Kensuke saw the confused expression on Shinji's face so he went on.
"This tradition was started way back, around to when the school was opened. I would tell you more but we haven't got the time and you'll understand better when we get there."
When they had reached the roof of the school building, a sizable crowd had built up in the open area. Shinji looked around; it looked the same as any other school roof. Wide-open area with fencing on the sides, however in the middle of the open area was a construct made of wire fencing.
A rectangular box of wire fencing, enclosing all four sides and the top, like a zoo enclosure. Suddenly he was pushed through a doorway in one of the sides. He stumbled and fell on his face. Jeers and catcalls met his ears as his face met the sand floor. His head whipped around in confusion and fear at the hostile crowd until he found the familiar visage of Kensuke pressed against the now-closed gate of which he had been pushed through.
"Hey, Shinji! One thing about the tradition, when you or anybody else is in that cage," Kensuke gestured at the wire enclosure, "The Arena. Has to fight."
Shinji scrambled to his feet and ran at the fencing, clinging to it, shaking it in a futile attempt to get out, "What do you mean, fight? I don't want to fight. Let me out! Please! Let me out!"
Once again, jeers and catcalls met him. Kensuke looked at him sympathetically when he pushed his glasses back up.
"Sorry, man," Kensuke muttered regretfully, "No can do. That's the rules around here."
"What? No!" Shinji exclaimed desperately, "There has to be some mistake. Let me out!"
"Nuh-uh. Sorry, Shinji, but that's the way it is around here," Kensuke pointed over Shinji's shoulder and yammered excitedly, "There's your opponent now. That upperclassman whose phone you broke, Kazuma Watanabe."
"No please stop!" Shinji pleaded with his attacker as he ran around the cage, vainly avoiding the punches and kicks thrown his way.
"Got you now!" Kazuma snarled as he backed Shinji into a corner.
The din from the gathered reached fever pitch when Kazuma finally unleashed his full rage against the hapless boy. Dozens and dozens of punches rained down on Shinji's frail arms and shoulders in a brutal attempt to reach his face and more vulnerable areas. Stabbing kicks forced him to curl into a ball to protect his stomach and groin. Not that it stopped the assault, if anything else it grew in intensity as more blows came harder and faster.
Suddenly silence filled the crowd, and the blows slowed enough for Shinji to lift his head from his arms. Warily, he peeked out from behind his guard just in case it was a trick. He dared to glance up to find his attacker's attention diverted. Adrenaline and a brief flash of hope filled him, enabling him to clamber to his feet and run for the gate.
What stopped him short of his goal was not his attacker, but a ghost. A ghost of his past. The figure that had haunted his dark memories for every day of his life. The one who sired him, his father.
"F-fa," Shinji stammered, "P-please."
Gendo's white gloves glowed in the morning light when he pushed his tinted glasses further up his nose.
He huffed quietly at Shinji's frantic plea. With a snort, he turned his back to Shinji. His head faced the side so he could glance at Shinji from the edge of his glasses.
"You are weak. You have not grown any stronger. You…disappoint me"
Shinji stared at his father's back as he walked away with tears stinging his eyes, like he did all those years ago. And it hurt as much now as it did back then. Before he could slump on the fence, a shout made him turn around.
A front thrust kick broke through Shinji's raised arms and blasted straight into his chin. All Shinji felt was the burning agony and the metallic taste of a familiar liquid before darkness claimed him.
"What?" Kazuma exclaimed in surprise, "Eh? Are you that weak?"
He didn't get a reply from the unconscious boy.
Once the crowd realised that the fight was over and unspectacularly as well, they left jesting about the weakness of the kid who lost. Although they did wonder why the principal would leave his office to see some weak kid and talk to him so personally.
The crowd slowly trickled away, leaving Shinji alone unconscious and bloodied on the floor of this school's brutal tradition. Well, not entirely alone when five people surrounded his lifeless form.
A girl with blue hair and crimson eyes knelt down beside him and begun an examination of him. A brief check on his arms showed some impressive bruises forming already, purpling and turning black in some cases. Another girl, a brown-haired woman was wiping the blood from his face with a damp handkerchief.
"Kensuke Aida! You didn't have to push him in, you know! He was new here. Look at him!" The brunette screamed at the guilty looking sandy haired boy.
A redheaded girl standing nearby snorted contemptuously, "He deserved it. He was weak."
"Shaddup, Demon!" The fifth member of the group, a tall black haired boy scowled at the redhead, "He doesn't stand a chance against an upperclassman like Watanabe"
"Pfft, that's because he was weak like you, Neanderthal!" The redhead screeched.
"Be quiet please," The blue-haired girl stated. She bent down over Shinji's face and stayed there for moment.
The two boys' eyes went wide, "Oooooooh! Rei's sweet on the new kid!"
The redhead and the brunette rolled their eyes simultaneously at the display of immaturity. The brunette yelled at the two, "Be quiet, you two! Rei was just checking his breathing and his heartbeat."
"Duh, Hikari. What else would Wondergirl be doing?" The redhead sniffed.
"That's not very nice, Asuka."
"Whatever," The redhead, Asuka replied dismissively.
Rei picked up Shinji's arm and dropped it. It thudded against the ground, the action quieted them down like a gavel in a courtroom.
The next words that came from the blue haired girl surprised them all, "He can be trained."
The boy in question stirred uneasily as if in response to the fate that now awaits him.
Thanks to Ayanami-chan for prereading.