Evangelion Fan Fiction

Never Tell Me The Odds

By Kraven Ergeist

A/N: I don't own Evangelion. Evangelion, on the other hand, seems to have pretty solid ownership over me

Chapter Four

Shinji hid his blush as Maya pecked him on the lips as he sat down in the front seat of her car.

"…Isn't it…?" he finished a sentence that had begun with the words "nice evening." That was, of course, before she had laid her lips on his. After that, speech sort of became a lost cause.

Maya smiled, the small bit of lipstick she had added to her makeup punctuating her cute, trim smile. "Now it is."

Shinji absently brushed his lips as he put his seatbelt on. "That one felt…different, somehow…"

Maya winked. "Anticipation," she said, as if that explained everything. She leaned over again and kissed him on the ear.

This time, Shinji couldn't hide his blush as she put the car into gear and sped down the road.

"You know the way?" Shinji asked when he had regained himself.

Maya nodded. "I looked up the directions. I still can't believe you're willing to pay for all this. It's unreasonable."

Shinji smiled, pulling out his NERV ID card. "I've got it covered…trust me."

xxxxx

Shinji had to admit, as hard as his life was at times, being a member of NERV had its advantages. The reaction from the Maitre D' had been instantaneous. As soon as he saw that card, Shinji and Maya were seated immediately, their waiter instantly at their table, pouring sparkling water into glasses.

Maya looked quizzically at that. "What was all that about?"

Shinji smiled. "Just a little trick Misato showed me. Everyone in town knows about the children who pilot Eva's, so there's no way they'll turn one down."

Maya frowned. "Now, Shinji, is that any way to be using your sphere of influence?"

Shinji sighed. "With all the crap I'm taking as a pilot, I might as well indulge in some of the perks." Steepling his hands in front of his face, he struck a surprisingly convincing imitation of his father. "Familial resemblance doesn't hurt either."

Maya felt her heart skip a beat. "Whoa…don't…don't do that, Shinji…it's creepy…"

Shinji sighed, dropping his hands back down. "Sorry, sorry…man, I just keep screwing things up tonight…"

Maya sipped her drink, eying him. "Huh?"

Shinji shook his head. "Oh, it's just Asuka. She's still bent out of shape over the whole blackmailing scheme. I don't think she's stopped scowling since it happened."

Maya smiled. "Oh…well, then, this makes the good news all the sweeter."

Shinji raised an eyebrow. "Good news?"

Maya pinched her cheek. "Long story short, I spilled the beans to Senpai."

In the next instant, color abandoned Shinji's face with the speed in which frightened civilians might flee an impending nuclear apocalypse.

"Don't worry, she's not going to separate us!" Maya added, quickly. "That's the good news!"

Shinji's face rediscovered some of its hemoglobin count, but pulmonary activity was still somewhat rocky. "Maya…for the love of God…don't do that to me!"

Maya giggled. "Sorry, sorry…well, anyway, as far as NERV is concerned, everything's A-Okay between us – apparently, with the affect it's been having on your sync ratio, they can't afford to separate us. So Asuka can spill the beans all she likes, and it won't make a difference."

Shinji frowned. "It will if she starts telling people in my class."

Maya's smile faded. "Oh…right…"

Shinji shook his head. "Yeah, it'd be pretty bad if the principle found out. It might be dismissed a rumor, since no one aside from the Eva pilots at my school knows who you are, but still…I wouldn't risk it."

Maya bit her lip. This could get bad. She had thought there were out of the woods, but their predicament was no less risky.

"So, we're no better off than we were before," Maya frowned.

Shinji raised his glass. "Well, at least NERV won't be an issue. That's a pretty big step. And ever since Rei found out, I'd been nervous that my father might do something. Now, at least, we know that's out of the way."

Maya raised her glass to his. "To progress then," she smirked. "No one said this would be easy."

Shinji clinked his glass with hers. "No one said anything at all, as far as I can tell. It's sure be a bit easier if someone did, though. I'm playing it all by ear here."

Maya sipped her glass and rested her head on her hand. "You're doing a fine job so far."

Shinji shook his head. "I kept thinking of what I should be doing tonight. When I called you like that, I hadn't really thought it through. I didn't know whether I should bring you flowers or wear a tux or call a limo or-"

"Settle down, Shinji," Maya said, reaching over the table to clasp his hand in hers. "Jeez, it's no wonder you're so nervous all the time. You shouldn't pressure yourself like that. It's bad for you."

Shinji sighed, shaking his head. "Yeah, I know. I gotta work on that."

Maya smiled. "The truth is, everyone plays it by ear. Most of the time, if we seem confident, it's because of experience, not because of outside advice. And if someone seems experienced, you can bet your bottom dollar that they've made their share of mistakes. No one gets by through life without making mistakes, Shinji. You might as well venture out and learn from them when you make them."

Shinji looked at the girl's hand on his, examining the delicate looking appendage in his hand. She had polished her nails a light pink that barely stood out from their normal color, and her fingers rested delicately in his hand. He ran his thumb over each finger individually stroking the smooth skin of each digit, before taking her hand in his, raising it to his face, and kissing it.

"Like that?" Shinji asked, trying something new. She was right, he realized. He wouldn't learn anything by remaining staunch. Everyone he knew made mistakes, he knew. Mister Kaji, who was someone he had seen in particular as an experienced charmer, had probably made the lion's share of mistakes in his never-ending quest for lady love.

"Just like that," Maya winked. "Only you haven't made any mistakes just yet."

As though to confirm her approval, Shinji felt the arousingly invasive feel of her stockinged leg draw up his pant leg.

"Maya!" Shinji hiccoughed, memories of the day before coming back like a ton of bricks. "Not here!"

Maya could barely contain her fit of giggling. Already, the two of them were earning their share of stares from the other guests. "Oh, you are just too cute, Shinji! Every time I so much as touch you, you turn as red as a beet!"

Shinji responded by pouting. "Dang it, Maya…you take advantage of me way too much."

Maya winked. "I'm not always as nice as I seem, Shinji."

Shinji didn't know how to respond to that. "What?"

Maya leaned in close to him, an unmistakable look in her eyes. "In fact…catch me at the right time…and I can be downright wicked…"

Shinji tugged at his collar. "Uh…yeah…"

Maya found herself releasing another fit of laughter. She just couldn't help herself! He was just so precious! Poke him or prod him with the most remotely erotic idea, and he lit up like a candle! It was intoxicating!

She internally chided herself. Just because she had been victim to that exact type of emotional banter in the past was no reason to dole it out on this poor little boy! But then, it wasn't like he wasn't getting anything out of the deal. Heck, if things went well that night…

Maya shivered. She was getting ahead of herself. Besides, Asuka and the Major would never let them do anything at Shinji's place.

But at her place…

Where she lived all by herself…

Maya shivered again.

She was really getting ahead of herself…

xxxxx

Misato looked up from her beer when the door slid open. She saw Shinji step in through the doorway, looking somewhat flustered.

Misato grinned, winking. "So…how'd your date go?"

Shinji caught site of her, and almost started. "Oh, um…I guess that's common knowledge now, isn't it?"

Misato grinned again, taking a long gulp from her beer. "Sure is. I knew it all along, of course."

Shinji idly fed Pen-pen his neglected dinner. "I haven't a doubt."

Misato winked. "So…how serious is it?"

Shinji gave Misato an awkward look. "Can we…not talk about it right now? I'm a little confused right now."

Misato shrugged. "Take your time, Shinji. Just remember that we're here for you if things go sour."

Shinji nodded, pulling off his tie as he went for his door. "You may be…but Asuka sure isn't."

Misato nodded. "Yeah, I heard about that too…Shinji…be careful, okay?"

Shinji nodded. "I will, Misato."

Misato sat up. "I'm serious, Shinji – don't turn your back on her. Piloting is everything for Asuka. You know that. If she see you or Maya as a threat, there's no telling what she might do."

Shinji shivered. "There's a morbid thought to sleep on. Goodnight, Misato."

Misato sighed. "Goodnight…and good luck…"

Shinji smiled. "Wasn't that the name of an American movie from about a decade ago?"

Misato shrugged. "Might've been."

xxxxx

The next day of school was, in a word, not pretty.

No sooner had Shinji set foot in the school building, when he felt a hand suddenly take hold of his collar, and then a wincing pain against his back as Asuka shoved him against a wall.

The look in her eye was unmistakable.

"You. Rooftop. Now!"

Shinji gulped.

Not pretty at all.

He stumbled up the stairs, no end of whispers on his tail, and emerged out onto the rooftop under what would otherwise have been a beautiful day. He stood facing Asuka under the hot sun.

"What's this about, Asuka?" Shinji ventured a guess. "The blackmail?"

Asuka's brow furrowed. "Try lack thereof. I get home from sync testing, and Misato greets me at the door. Guess what she tells me?"

Shinji shifted his weight on his feet.

"What makes you so special, Third Child?" the redhead demanded. "Why is it okay for you to enjoy an illicit relationship when Kaji won't even look at me!"

"You're still on about that?" Shinji groaned. "Has it ever occurred to you that Mister Kaji doesn't think of you that way? That maybe knowing you since childhood has had a stronger impression on him than how beautiful you are now?"

Asuka glared, cheeks flushed. "Shut your face already! You act like you understand everything, Ikari! And you don't! You just don't!"

Shinji shook his head. "What I don't understand is why you're taking this out on me. What does going out with Maya have to do with you and Kaji?"

Asuka glared hard at the boy. She took a step forward.

"I'm really getting sick of this spine you've been growing, Shinji…"

Another step.

"And for your information, you hooking up with Maya has everything to do with this! You don't deserve that kind of happiness! You've done nothing to deserve it!"

Another step.

"I'm the one who's bent over backwards to get where I am today. The least you could do is step aside and let me have my dues."

Another.

Shinji started to back away. "You're…jealous…?"

Asuka's arm shot out before Shinji could get away. Seizing him by the collar, she glared at his face.

"Jealous? Of you?"

Shinji shook, but his eyes were hard. His whole mind was caught up between fear and determination.

"You are jealous!" Shinji blurted out, more in realization than in retort. "I've got everything you want – the highest sync rate, fame for piloting, the recognition of all of NERV, and now…now, I'm dating an older coworker, and you-"

SMACK!

Shinji fell to the ground, a welting bruise on his cheekbone.

"Try it!" Asuka raged. "Go ahead and just try to finish that sentence, Third Child! I dare you!"

There was a moment of silence, as Shinji stared up defiantly at the furious redhead.

"Pilot Soryu," a voice came. "Please refrain from striking Pilot Ikari."

Asuka turned around and stared at the intruder.

"And you…" she seethed, her blue eyes locked on the red eyes of the First Child. "Keep your nose out of other people's business!"

Rei stood in front of the door leading to the rooftop, a stern look on her face.

Asuka turned back, and saw Shinji getting to his feet. With a growl, she shoved him while he was still bent over, sending him tumbling again.

"I told you once before…" she crowed. "You are so not off the hook yet, Third Child!"

Asuka then found herself staring right into the eyes of Ayanami Rei. She reared back, astonished that such a swift approach had come so unnoticed.

"Perhaps you did not hear me," Rei said, plainly. "Please refrain from striking Pilot Ikari."

Asuka jeered. "Alright, First Child…you're asking for it…"

The Second Child's fist collided with Rei's cheekbone.

Rei didn't so much as flinch.

"If it is me you wish to harm, then feel free to do so," Rei said, bluntly. "But you may not strike Pilot Ikari."

Soryu punched Rei in the face. Blood began to drip from her nose.

"Asuka! Stop it!" Shinji shouted, rushing forward.

Rei's eyes rose in surprise as Shinji put himself between her and the fiery redhead.

"Ikari…"

Shinji kept his eyes on Asuka. "If you're going to hit anyone…hit me. You leave Ayanami out of this!"

Rei touched Shinji's shoulder. "Ikari…"

Asuka stared at the two and almost laughed. They were both trying to protect each other. It would almost be funny if it weren't so infuriating.

Asuka let out a growl, and stormed off. "Damn it! God damn you all!"

She slammed the door to the school hall. Only afterwards did Rei raise her hand to her face to touch the bruise under her eye and the trickle of blood from her nose.

"Ayanami…you're bleeding!"

Rei eyed the red splotch on her hand. "Yes…it would appear that I am…"

Shinji took her by the arm. "Here…let me take you to the nurses office…"

Rei's eyes came down to where his hands lay. Her cheeks began to flush. "Ikari…please… I am not worth-"

"I'm the one who's not worth anything, Ayanami!" Shinji shouted. "Asuka's right - I have everything she doesn't have, and I'm just rubbing that in her face by enjoying something else she can never have! I'm such a horrible person!"

Rei shook her head as he helped her to the door. "That is not true, Ikari…if you were such a horrible person…then I do not believe Miss Ibuki would choose to spend so much time with you…"

Shinji felt a tear leak from his eye and he brushed it away.

"…Thank you…for coming to my rescue by the way…"

Ayanami flushed again, her eyes fixed on where his hands clenched her arm.

"That is…not necessary…" Rei stammered out. "You were…clearly at stake…"

Shinji unlatched the door to the stairwell and smiled. "Still…thanks anyway…"

Though it was dark in the unlit stairwell, Shinji could have sworn he'd seen Rei smiling.

xxxxx

Ritsuko frowned. Maya sat still, wondering what would come next.

"This is not the first time the Second Child has acted out against her fellow pilots," Ritsuko sipped her coffee. "But it's one of the most violent."

Maya bowed her head. "I'm sorry, Senpai."

Ritsuko raised an eyebrow. "What on Earth makes you think this is somehow your fault? I was just letting you know what was going on."

Maya bit her lip. The exchange had been ugly, and the school camera, complete with audio feed, had caught the entire debacle.

"It's because of me and Shinji that she's acting this way…" Maya sighed.

Ritsuko shook her head. "And if it hadn't been you and Shinji, it would have been something else. Asuka Soryu is a volatile human being, and has a habit for jumping at things that simply aren't there. She'll make up the craziest stories to validate her feelings, and believe them from the bottom of her heart. The problem of course is when something like this happens…" Ritsuko pointed to the screen. "It leaves the rest of us effectively powerless to help her. Only she herself can get herself out of this. She's convinced herself that effort always equals reward, and she has had a certain reward in mind for some time. Learning that sometimes, luck of the draw offers more reward than effort not only shatters the foundry of her own discipline, but forces her to give up the goal she's set for herself for years to come. She'll blame anyone and anything for hindering her before she accepts that fate doesn't always work out the way we want it to."

Maya looked sadly at the screen. "Still…I can't help but feel sorry…"

Ritsuko lit a cigarette and put it to her lips. Inhaling deeply, she smiled. "You know…you and Shinji make such a pair."

Maya looked back at her senior. "Hmm?"

"You both apologize for things you have nothing to do with," Ritsuko sighed. "Shinji can't shoulder the burden of the whole world, and neither can you, Maya. Rather than place the blame on everyone else like Asuka, you two both accept responsibility for everything yourselves. That's good for when things actually are your responsibility, but for something like this…"

Maya nodded. "I'm sorry, Senpai, I'll try not to-"

"You just said sorry again," Ritsuko pointed out.

Maya eeped. "Sorry!"

Ritsuko sighed. "Well, I can't expect you to change overnight. But try to work on distancing yourself from other people's problems. I know you're a caring person, Maya, but don't let the whole world affect you. You need to learn to be resilient to some extent."

Maya nodded her head. "I'll try, Senpai."

Ritsuko smiled. "And make sure Shinji does the same. If you both check each other whenever one of you tries to take responsibility, you'll end up realizing that neither of you are to blame."

Maya brightened. "That…just might work…"

Ritsuko chuckled. "I hope so, Maya. You know…I'm starting to think you and Shinji have a real shot."

Maya's smile brightened even further. "Thank you. Thank you so much, Senpai."

xxxxx

If there was one person who could beat Commander Ikari in a staring contest, it was the First Child. Rei stood before the Commander, an aloof expression on her face. It was no different from the other times he had faced her. The lack of emotion in her face made it easier not to see the face of the woman he loved.

"Would you care to elaborate on the events that occurred today at oh-nine hundred and thirty hours?"

The blue haired girl nodded. "Yes sir. I noticed that Pilot's Ikari and Soryu had ventured to the rooftop of the school. The Second Child's demeanor was measurably hostile, so I determined that it was the best course of action to follow them and ensure their actions didn't endanger either of them."

The Commander didn't blink. "And so you did?"

Rei nodded. "I interposed myself between Pilot Soryu and Pilot Ikari. The Second Child was hurting Pilot Ikari, and it made sense that I risk myself to protect the pilot of Unit 01. I am, after all, replaceable."

Gendo was gracious for the shaded glasses that inhibited the visibility of his eyes. If they hadn't been, someone might have seen him blink. Rei, after delivering her speech, had yet to do so.

"Very good, Rei. You handled the situation as you should have. Dismissed."

Without preamble, or so much as a nod, Rei turned to leave the office.

xxxxx

Looking up at Shinji in his test plug, Maya felt her mind drifting as she watched. Ritsuko had to clear her throat twice to get her attention back on her data retrieval duty. By some sort of coincidence, Misato happened by, and had seen the little exchange. Whistling, she gestured Ritsuko over to her.

"I know their relationship has been proven beneficial to Shinji, but how's Maya been doing lately?"

Ritsuko bit her lip. "Honestly? I've never seen her this slow. Pilotting Eva isn't like any other job. Your mindset affects your performance exclusively. On the other hand, Maya's job, when it comes to its perfunctory action, is just like every other job, where being in high spirits means your mind's often not on the job at hand."

Misato sighed. "Is it going to be a problem?"

Ritsuko shook her head. "I'll have to talk to her if it keeps up. She's a skilled and experienced worker, and I don't want to let her go, but if she can't get her head out of the clouds…"

Misato frowned. "Mind if I talk to her?"

Ritsuko blinked. "You?"

Misato winked. "You know, as Shinji's guardian?"

Ritsuko shrugged. "Are you doing this just to be funny, or do you have something up your sleeve?"

Misato rolled up the cuff on the arm of her jacket. "Nothing at all! See?"

Ritsuko sighed, watching her old friend step up to her subordinate. "Go easy on her, okay Misato…?" she murmured.

Maya felt the presence over her and instantly snapped to attention.

"I'm sorry, Senpai!" she eeped. "I'll get back to…"

She looked up, realizing it was someone else.

Misato grinned. "Hello, Maya. Mind if I have a word with you, seeing as how you're not really doing much anyway?"

Maya flushed. "Umm…okay…"

Misato grinned, innocently. "Good. So how's Shinji?"

Maya blushed. "Um…his sync rate has reached an all-time high of-"

"That's not what I was asking, Maya…"

The brunette eeped again. "Um…he's doing okay."

Misato smiled. "I see. He tells me he's a bit confused about things. I was wondering if you could shed some light on the situation."

Maya blushed, profusely. "Uh…is this really necessary, Major?"

Misato did not reveal a smidgen of emotion. "Oh, I'm not asking as the operations director of NERV, or even as a fellow coworker…I'm asking you as Shinji's guardian."

Maya gulped. "Uh…"

Misato sighed. "Look, Maya…you know how liberal I am about these things…so let me just tell you now that I support your relationship."

Misato locked eyes with her.

"Usually, it's the guy's responsibility not to make the woman cry. But you and I both know how sensitive Shinji is. So let me make this clear: I don't ever want to see Shinji cry because of this relationship."

Maya slowly nodded. "…You have my word, Misato…the last thing in the world I want to do is hurt him. He's already…been hurt so much…"

Misato smiled. "Good. Now that we've got that cleared up, do us all a favor, and try to keep your mind on the task at hand, m'kay?"

Maya nodded, a bit less sure this time.

Misato smiled, turning away. "Good."

Maya watched nervously as Misato returned to her post. She slowly returned her focus to her station, eying a mug of coffee she had been holding.

Half of its contents were lining the table beneath it.

She let go of her grip and tried to stop her hands from shaking.

What had that been about?

xxxxx

Asuka fully expected to be questioned about her behavior that morning on the rooftop. As blind as she was to her own faults, she was hardly an idiot. What she didn't expect was to be greeted upon exiting her test plug by the Supervisor of Project E herself, as well as her direct subordinate.

Asuka glared at the young brunette, as she looked up from squeezing LCL from her hair. "What do you want?"

Maya shuffled uneasily, before Ritsuko cleared her throat, indicated that she would be doing the talking. "There is a matter I would like to discuss with you, Pilot Soryu."

Asuka smirked. "This about my little 'talk' with the Third Child?"

Ritsuko remained expressionless. "Frankly, Asuka, your words don't have me nearly as worried as your actions."

Asuka shrugged, walking down the ramp. "Not my fault if words just don't reach some people."

Maya grumbled as she and her Senpai followed the pilot as she arrogantly strode away, expecting her superiors to follow. "She's one to talk…"

Asuka decided that hitting the woman in front of her superior would not have been one of her brightest ideas.

"Please, Maya," Ritsuko chided. "Asuka, have you fully considered the consequences of your actions today?"

Asuka shrugged. "It's not like I hindered his piloting ability. That's all that matters, right?"

Ritsuko nodded. "It is for that exact reason that I'm not handing you your last paycheck right now."

Asuka's throat resounded uneasily, but she did not respond.

"I have a feeling, Asuka, that you very well might've hindered his ability to pilot had Rei not shown up."

Asuka flushed. "Yeah, well, I didn't. And you can't prove that I was about to. You gonna kick me out for something you have a feeling I'll do? Is there anyone in this organization who doesn't hate my guts?"

Ritsuko eyed her coldly. "Is there anyone in this organization whose guts you yourself don't already hate?"

Asuka grinned. "You're quick."

Ritsuko decided to promptly dispense with the nonsense. "Asuka, I'm telling you right now – the next time you're charged with assault, you will be kicked off the roster. Am I clear?"

Asuka harrumphed. "Crystal clear, Doctor Akagi. Crystal clear that I'm the only one who ever gets dinged for breaking the rules. Crystal clear that all that that loser has to do to earn respect is to smile and behave, whereas I work myself to bone and get scratch! Crystal clear that-"

That was all she got out, before Maya seized her by the wrist. "'That loser' doesn't attack people for being better than he is! 'That loser' actually gives a damn about his fellow pilots! 'That loser' has had it worse than you can possibly imagine!"

Asuka inhaled sharply. Ritsuko did the same.

"Maya…"

"You want to receive your dues for all the hard work you've done, Asuka?" Maya exclaimed through tears. "Well, maybe you should open your eyes! You're not the only person on this planet, Asuka! And for your information, Shinji hasn't broken any rules! He puts in effort where it's due, he never steps out of line, he genuinely cares about people, and on top of it all, he does it after having dealt with a tormented childhood! You're the one who ought to step aside and let him have his dues!"

Ritsuko was astonished. She'd never seen her subordinate lash out like that before.

"Maya…you…"

Asuka, for her part, couldn't have been more pissed.

"Say what you want, Maya…" Asuka spat, seemingly unaffected. "Say what you want about rules we've broken or crap that we've dealt with…"

Asuka turned her back, clearly ending the conversation.

"But no matter how you slice it, I'm the one who always loses out," she said, without emotion. "How fair is that?"

Spent and beaten, Ritsuko and Maya watched her leave the platform.

"Maya…" Ritsuko breathed, still stunned. "You…"

Maya shook her head. "I'm sorry, Senpai…I shouldn't have yelled like that. All it did was make Asuka even more of a stranger."

Ritsuko placed a hand on her shoulder. "I'm not upset for that, Maya…actually, I should have told you earlier…what you said isn't true…"

Maya blinked. "What?"

Ritsuko frowned. "Shinji has broken the rules before. Remember? He let a pair of civilians into his entry plug, and he's been absent without leave. He's been reprimanded and forgiven, but the fact of the matter is, he's no saint either. Furthermore…"

Ritsuko took a great sigh.

"Asuka has had her own problems to deal with. You heard about the trouble Shinji's dealt with…but the things that have happened to Asuka in the past are even more terrible than with Shinji. You see, Maya…her mother committed suicide. And Asuka…she was the first one to see it."

Maya stifled as gasp. "Senpai…"

"I'm not saying that Asuka's right, Maya," Ritsuko frowned. "But I am saying that she deserves to be forgiven…"

Maya shook her head, frowning. "I was always willing to forgive her, Senpai…but she has to admit her mistakes first…"

Ritsuko nodded. "I know, Maya. Despite all that's happened, I'm pleased to say that this is something that Shinji has managed to do."

Maya frowned. "Just like me. Always blaming ourselves."

Ritsuko smiled. "And again - the fact that you realize it is a step in the right direction, Maya."

Maya sighed. "This could go on forever."

Ritsuko nodded. "It could. Let's just make sure it doesn't."

The brunette took a deep breath. "Thanks. For everything."

Ritsuko sighed. "Don't thank me just yet. I still need to reprimand you for zoning out during the entry plug test."

For the umpteenth time that day, Maya let out a shrill "Eep!"

xxxxx

As Maya drove home that evening, she had a lot on her mind. Not the debacle with Asuka. That issue would resolve itself in time, she knew. What got her on edge was what had happened the night before.

She and Shinji had stopped by her apartment after dinner. She'd fixed him some tea, and they sat down to watch a movie together. His arm was around her, her arm around his, nothing too serious.

Slowly but surely, she had begun to get closer to him, inch by inch. He hadn't seemed to mind. He did react, however, when she began to drape her legs over his. And his attention left the TV set altogether when she suddenly straddled his hips.

She remembered how much his face lit up when she began nibbling on his ear. She could see him squirming as she began to kiss more and more of him. She could feel his eagerness, swirling around a mixture of confusion and helplessness. Her own heart had been thundering. Here they were, alone, and unsupervised. She knew that she was supposed to be the adult, but it was at times like she that she really felt like a kid inside.

She had already began to unbutton his shirt when she had felt his hand on her shoulder.

"We…we should wait, Maya…"

The kissing slowed to a slow rasping breath.

She got off him and sat back down.

Those words had hurt. But at the same time, they earned her respect. Here they were, a young man and woman, and which of them had made the smart choice? Which of them had overcome their desires to do the right thing?

He had.

Parking her car, Maya strolled up into her apartment, kicking off her shoes, hanging up her coat, and looking for something edible in the fridge. Settling for three day old takeout, she began munching. It was a bit of a step down from what Shinji had treated her to last night.

Someone who was both generous and caring, but at the same time smart and steadfast…

Someone who would defend those he cared for…

Someone who was the good guy when it mattered the most…

Maybe her Senpai was right.

Maybe they really did have a shot.

xxxxx

A/N: A bit shorter than the previous chapters (2 pages typed to be exact) but this seemed like a good place to stop (mostly because I ran out of story idea). Honestly, I have no plan for where this goes from here. I'm hoping to get at least a few more chapters out. Any ideas for where to take this (beyond a lemon – I'm saving that for a side story) would be appreciated.

Read and review.