Sausages, It was a Tuesday
By Lord Raa
Disclaim-me-do: Is there ever a bad time for pudding? IS THERE?
An angry Ritsuko Akagi sat in her office chain smoking and chugging coffee as she considered what had happened to her earlier that day.
"That bastard! Thinks he can treat me like that? It's bad enough that he calls out his wife's name in the throes of his 'passion', but to say that…" she grumbled.
Her eyes flicked across her desk and settled on the latest Sync Test reports, with Shinji's on the top as the most improved.
"Perhaps I should seduce Shinji as revenge," she joking suggested to herself as she picked up the file.
When she saw the picture of Shinji, a small voice in the back of her head noted that Shinji would be a handsome young man, if he could get over his poor sense of self worth. Discarding that idea with a shake of her head, Ritsuko read through the results.
She got to the part that mentioned the pilot's respective heart rates, when the notion that Shinji could help her with her revenge returned to the front of her mind.
Closing her eyes tightly, Ritsuko put the file down and reached for her coffee. She sighed when she noted that both the cup and the pot were empty. Standing up, she went off to the vending machines.
When she arrived, she punched the buttons on the machine. As she waited for her life giving liquid, her mind wandered to the idea of becoming closer to Shinji, if only to annoy his father.
"Damn it," the blonde scientist cursed. "Why can't I be free of the damn Ikaris?"
"Sempai?" a quiet, feminine voice asked.
"What? Oh, it's you, Maya. Is there anything you want?"
"Well, I was wondering if you were alright. You seem a bit distracted," the doctor's assistant said in a concerned tone.
"I'm just tired, Maya," Ritsuko replied, rubbing the bridge of her nose.
Before either could say anything else on the matter, their attention was turned to the pilots walking past them.
"And why can't you cook a proper breakfast in the morning, Baka?" Asuka complained to Shinji.
"Miso soup, rice and fish is a proper breakfast," Rei countered when she saw that Shinji was keeping quite to avoid a confrontation.
"Well perhaps it's time for a change?" Asuka snorted, before getting in Shinji's personal space.
Ritsuko saw the scene unfold before her and made a decision. "Shinji, could I speak with you for a moment?"
"What have you done now, Baka?" Asuka angrily demanded.
"I haven't done anything," Shinji protested weakly.
"I know, Shinji," Ritsuko said in an attempt to reassure him. "I wanted to talk to you in private. See me tomorrow after school."
"Y-yes," Shinji stammered when he felt the lab coat clad woman's gaze try to meet his.
The next day, Shinji was not feeling comfortable as he sat on the train to NERV headquarters; his mind kept going over the possible reasons for Ritsuko wanting to speak with him.
Asuka had teased him about it all last night and all day today, claiming that it was because he was such a bad pilot or because he was doing poorly in Sync Tests.
Misato had shrugged when she was asked for a reason. "She didn't tell me anything," was her reply.
It all added to the feeling of dread in the pit of Shinji's stomach, not that there was ever much in the way of joyful feelings for him.
Sighing like a condemned man, the young Ikari wandered up to the blonde doctor's office. He knocked gently on the door, not wanting to call too much attention to himself.
"Enter," a female voice replied.
"Hello, Dr. Akagi, you wanted to see me?" Shinji hesitantly spoke.
"Yes, please come in and close the door, Shinji-kun. And call me Ritsuko."
"Ok, Ritsuko-san," Shinji replied as he sat down. "What did you want to see me about?"
Ritsuko took a deep breath. "Well, I was wondering if everything is all right with you. I'm concerned that piloting Unit-01 is taking out a bigger toll than we thought."
"Why me? I'm not the only pilot," Shinji tried to deflect the attention.
"Well," Ritsuko smiled at Shinji, "Rei spends a lot of time on the base and Asuka tells us pretty much everything that goes on in her life. It's you that's the unknown quantity, Shinji."
"I-I'm sorry," Shinji apologised as he stared at his feet.
"It's alright to be a little mysterious, Shinji-kun. It's when you're secretive, is when we have a problem," Ritsuko smiled. Her smile was partly to reassure the young pilot, and partly because she found great irony in telling Shinji not to be secretive. "How're things at home?"
"It's ok," Shinji's answer was unintentionally vague.
"Yes. But is there anything that would make it better for you?" Ritsuko probed further.
"I don't know," Shinji replied.
"Surely there must be something that we could do to improve things for you," Ritsuko asked.
Shinji shrugged. "I don't know."
Ritsuko was tempted to pick Shinji and shake some sense into him. "I mean, we could move you or Asuka to different lodgings."
Shinji perked up ever so slightly at that idea, causing the faux-blonde to smile.
"You like the sound of that, don't you, Shinji-kun. It would mean a bit more space for you, perhaps even giving you the chance to bring home a girlfriend?"
Shinji nodded, before Ritsuko's second point sank in, then the Third Child's face became as red as a stop sign.
"Don't worry Shinji-kun, I'm not trying to poke fun at you, but I do want to keep NERV's best pilot at the top of his game."
"I'm the best pilot?" Shinji asked, slightly unconvinced at that suggestion. "That's not what Asuka says," he added in a quiet voice.
Ritsuko pretended not to hear that and prepared to make a note as she changed the subject. "So then Shinji, what do you do to relax when you're at home?"
"I like to play the cello," Shinji answered. "But I'm not that good."
"I'd have to hear you in order to make a proper judgement on that," Ritsuko commented reassuringly. "Do you still practice?"
"Occasionally, but I don't get the chance," Shinji admitted. "What with Angel Attacks, school and Asuka complaining that I'm making too much noise during her TV programs."
Ritsuko made a note that she'd have to get Shinji away the German firebrand before the two had a confrontation. One that Shinji would either require a visit to the hospital for or one that he'd regret. Both possibilities were not scenarios that the blonde wanted to deal with.
Shinji shifted in his seat, willing the Q&A session to be over with. "Can I go now, Ritsuko-san? I have to prepare dinner."
"Does Asuka cook at all?" Ritsuko asked, curious as to what the redhead did other than pilot Unit-02, brag about her skills and complain about everybody else.
"Not really," Shinji admitted in a tone that suggested that Asuka not doing her chores was a massive secret.
Ritsuko noted that it had been a while since she had eaten a meal that wasn't cafeteria or snack food. "Can I come over for dinner, Shinji?"
"I guess so. But we don't expect anything fancy, I haven't had a chance to go shopping," Shinji explained.
"Shinji, as long as it isn't instant ramen or Misato's slop, I'll be happy," Ritsuko smiled at the young Ikari. "How about I drive you home and we can pick something up?"
Shinji nodded dubiously, until the blonde doctor swore that she was a better driver than Misato. Not that it was hard for Shinji to believe.
After a brief shop, the pair returned to the Katsuragi apartment with some groceries; Ritsuko had picked up some beer as a bribe for Misato, and Shinji had bought some vegetables, diced chicken and a chocolate cake for dessert.
"Misato-san, I'm home," Shinji called out.
"Ah, there you are, Baka," Asuka appeared from nowhere. "Do you have the notes for the kanji test?"
"I-I think so," Shinji replied, not expecting an inquisition the moment he entered the residence.
"They had better be good," Asuka threatened. "I've got better things to do than spend my weekends doing remedial schoolwork because of your crappy note-taking."
"Isn't it your responsibility to take your own notes, Asuka?" Ritsuko asked, not liking the way Shinji was being treated.
Asuka glared daggers at the smirking blonde before storming off to her room.
"How about you get started on dinner, Shinji?" Dr. Akagi asked as she heard Misato's steps on the hallway to the apartment.
"Ritsuko? What are you doing here?"
"Hi Misato. I brought Shinji back and I'm staying for dinner."
When the purple haired woman's eyes caught sight of the beer, she quickly agreed.
Shinji's cooking was being consumed in relative silence. Asuka was plotting to embarrass Shinji and Ritsuko, Shinji was enjoying the quiet, Misato was guzzling beer and Ritsuko was casually observing Shinji in his home habitat.
After the main course, Shinji brought in the chocolate cake. Misato ignored
Asuka complaints about how it was inferior to Black Forest gateau and turned to Ritsuko.
"So what did you want to talk to Shinji about?"
"I wanted to see how our best pilot was holding up to the strain," Ritsuko answered.
"I'm holding up fine," Asuka bragged.
Ritsuko sipped her coffee as she waited for the other shoe to drop.
"Wait a minute! You were talking to that idiot! What do you mean he's the best pilot?" Asuka slammed her palms on the table.
"He's got the best record for defeating Angels," Ritsuko started to check points off with her fingers. "He's improved his sync ratio the most in the shortest amount of time."
"And he doesn't complain about half as many things that you do," Misato teased from behind a can of beer.
"That's because he's a spineless wimp!" Asuka bellowed. "He wouldn't say shit if it were in his mouth!"
"I would!" Shinji countered, rushing up from his seat.
Asuka snorted in amusement. "Yeah, right. I could slap the shit out of you and you wouldn't do a thing about it!"
Ritsuko saw a potential train wreck happening and knew that she had to do something. A thought popped into her head. "You're right Asuka, but that's only because Shinji's a gentleman."
Asuka glared at the bottle blonde. "Why are you sticking up for this idiot?"
"Because Shinji is the only one that does anything around here," Ritsuko replied with a sweeping gesture.
"What? Without me, there wouldn't be a world for us to live in!"
"So my suffering had nothing to do with it?" Shinji asked, trembling with rage.
"No!" Asuka shouted as she punched Shinji on the jaw, sending him to the floor.
"Asuka!" Ritsuko shouted. "What the Hell do you think you're doing?"
Asuka blinked. "Oh shit."
The redhead fled from the kitchen, tears forming in her eyes.
"Shinji, are you alright?" Misato asked as she rushed to Shinji's side.
The Captain was answered with a groan as Shinji lifted his head up.
"What hit me?" the Third Child asked in a weak voice.
"Hurricane Asuka," Ritsuko said with a frown. "Misato, you deal with Asuka, I'll take Shinji to the hospital."
Ritsuko rushed out to her car with Shinji cradled in her arms.
"Hang in there Shinji, I'll take care of you."
"I'll be alright," Shinji said quietly.
"I know Shinji, it's just that I want to check you for a concussion. You have to stay awake, ok?" Ritsuko pleaded with the injured pilot.
"I-I'll try," Shinji yawned. "So sleepy."
"Oh no, you don't!" Ritsuko shouted in Shinji's face. "You have to stay awake, Shinji!"
"Yes ma'am!" Shinji automatically replied.
"That's better. Now I want you to keep talking to me so I know that you're conscious," Ritsuko ordered.
"But what can I talk about?" Shinji asked, worried about boring his co-worker.
"It doesn't matter, Shinji," Akagi insisted. "I don't care if it's about your hobby of watching grass grow or how you cooked dinner, just keep those lips flapping!"
"I guess I can tell you about dinner," Shinji started quietly. "I marinated the chicken in a sauce of my own recipe."
"What's in it?" Ritsuko asked as she started up her car.
"It's based on soy and chilli sauce, with a bit of sugar."
"That wasn't just chilli, soy and sugar, Shinji."
"I know," Shinji smiled. "I added a secret ingredient."
"What's that? I promise I won't tell anyone," Ritsuko said sincerely as she checked a junction was safe to pull out of.
"It's made from anchovies," Shinji explained.
"What, those little fish they put on pizzas that they complain about on in Pre-Impact movies?" Ritsuko checked with her passenger.
"The very same. It's a real chore to find the good stuff," Shinji added.
"Because the best stuff is made in Britain." Shinji yawned, closing his eyes for a moment.
"Wake up Shinji," Ritsuko warned.
"I'm awake, it's just that's it's been a long day."
"I'm well aware of that, Pilot Ikari," Ritsuko took a stern tone to keep the boy alert.
It had the intended effect of forcing Shinji's eyes open.
"Don't worry, Shinji, we're nearly there. Shinji, how would you feel about moving in with me?"
Ritsuko faced the bruised boy in her car. "Shinji, you just had your lights punched out by your roommate. Has she hit you before?"
"Once or twice," Shinji answered.
"Not according to the Section Two report." Ritsuko sighed before continuing. "Shinji, no-one should have to live with domestic abuse. I want you to move out of there."
"Another unfamiliar ceiling," Shinji muttered.
"Shinji, I know you've moved around a lot, but would it make you more comfortable if you moved in with me?" Ritsuko asked, hoping her suggestion didn't sound too sordid.
"You'd take me in?" Shinji asked in a hopeful voice.
"Shinji, I would love to have you as a roommate. You're clean, you're tidy and you don't cause a lot of fuss, I can't think of a reason why I'd object to you staying with me."
"Thank you, Ritsuko-san," Shinji smiled.
"Don't worry about it, Shinji-kun. Now, we're here."
Shinji checked out ok with the physician, though he wanted to keep Shinji in for observation.
Ritsuko immediately agreed, but didn't cite the reason for Shinji's emergency visit.
When the morning came, Shinji was treated to a nice peaceful wake up call. Opening his eyes, he saw the young nurse smiling at him with a tray of breakfast.
"How are you this morning, Shinji-kun?" the short, raven haired woman asked.
"Better, thank you," Shinji answered. When he took in his location, he apologised for being a bother.
"It's no bother, Shinji-kun. Now eat up, you need your strength."
After Shinji ate his breakfast, he was visited by an emotional Misato.
"I'm so glad that you're ok, Shinji. I was worried about you," the Captain said as she hugged her friend.
"I'm ok, Misato-san," Shinji blushed at contact, which included Misato's breasts pushing against his chest.
"So then, Misato, what's up with Asuka?" Ritsuko asked from the doorway.
Misato released Shinji from her embrace and faced the blonde.
"Asuka says she's sorry about hitting Shinji like that."
"Good. But, I've got some news for you, Misato."
"Oh, and what's that?"
"Shinji is moving out of your apartment," Ritsuko answered.
"Why Shinji and why not Asuka?" Misato asked. In her opinion, it would solve the problem if they moved Asuka not Shinji. Plus she would still get to eat decent food and have a place to live in that wasn't a pigsty.
"Because she's such a volatile person, it's best if she's not on her own. She could start harming herself, lashing out at neighbours or even picking up men," Ritsuko replied. 'Plus no-one wants to bunk with Asuka,' she added silently.
"Oh," was all Misato could say to that.
"I'm sorry for being such a bother," Shinji apologised in a quiet voice.
"Don't worry, Shinji-kun," Ritsuko assured the boy, "I'm sure that we'll get along just fine."
"What? Why is Shinji moving in with you?" Misato demanded. "You hate people being near your stuff!"
"This is different, Misato," Ritsuko insisted. "One, this is not about people borrowing makeup or music, but keeping a very important pilot fit and healthy. And two, Shinji can keep his hands to himself. I won't have to worry about him trying to cop a feel when he walks past me, unlike Kaji."
Ritsuko, of course, kept her third reason for wanting Shinji to move in with her a secret.
"I suppose so," Misato grudgingly agreed with her college friend's assessment.
To be continued…
This story came about because I wanted to take a break from Ranma fics and try something new.
It was pre-read by Chi Vayne and written in a couple days.
Are there any questions?