Disclaimer- I doubt I have the boldness or the genius to come up with Evangelion, so no, it's not mine.

"What are you doing! Get up off your lazy ass and make dinner!"

"Sorry." Shinji Ikari sighed, and nodded passively, slouching towards the kitchen, trying his best to absorb the relentless tirade of the redhead as he normally did. But, like most things, even the deep reserves of patience of the pilot of Unit 01 had their end, and the girl was forcing him to call upon endurance he had never tapped before.

"Stop apologizing and do it!" Asuka Langley Sohryu snarled, backhanding him in the head harshly. She absolutely hated his sniveling, cowardly attitude, the way he constantly let life just push him around, and the manner in which he simply let things happen. It sickened her, and reminded her of everything she truly hated.

He was like a machine... or a doll.

Without a word of protest, the Third Child slipped into the kitchen

Even after he accepted that he would never be close to Father, he had made friends, and opened his heart to others in this new, strange life, and they responded in kind, each growing slightly closer, even Ayanami...

All save Asuka. Her defenses were walls of scourging flame, and her tongue was venomous and sharp, capable of cutting him to the quick. She was ever hostile, ever shoving him away, and each time he tried to get close, he was burned.

Every day, he did the same thing over and over, taking her abuse and trying his best to keep being nice, keep putting up with his fellow pilot. Every time she lashed out, yelled, slapped, or otherwise poured her anger out on him, Shinji merely accepted it, hoping that she would one day realize that he was her friend.

"Move faster, Third Child!"

Of course, he reflected bitterly, as Asuka continued her rant, that would have to be a day far off into the future.

Hissentiments seemed to be prophetic, he noted irritably, as he continued walking through the halls of NERV. Asukacontinued tobelittle and berate him, boasting her superior sync scores and "obviously superior piloting skills", even going so far as to attack his precious masculinity. It got the point where he stalked off and tried to find a place to calm down, instead of heading home.

Though the boy could normally tolerate a vicious amount of abuse, due mostly to his father abandoning him and his lack of any real affection as a child, even he had limits, and Asuka was fast racing towards his.

Anger, fury, and even a smidgeon of hate burned in him after any of her particularly stinging barbs, and it was getting to the point where he could verbally agree with his friend's on the demonic nature of the Second Child.

Not that he would ever actually say it... more for fear of the repercussions from an angry Asuka than anything else.

She could be nice to anyone else, but to him, Shinji reflected angrily, all she offered was her undying disdain and hatred. Was he really that low in her eyes, that he didn't even deserve a little kindness, even after all the times he put up with her abuse and still offered her his friendship? Didn't she understand that all he wanted was to be her friend? To try and be close?

Hadn't he at least earned some semblance of civility?

So great was his seething anger that Shinji didn't even realize that someone was standing in front of him before he collided with the person.

As he stumbled, the Third Child stammered out an apology without even knowing who he ran in to. But a slight, amused chuckle caused him to realize exactly who it was. "Hi Mister Kaji." He greeted quietly, eyes downcast.

"Problems, Shinji?" the unshaven man asked, bemused. Kid looked like he was about to kill someone...

"Just an old one..." the pilot of Unit 01 murmured quietly, mostly to himself. One that I've had for a while now...

"Of the feminine kind?" Kaji questioned, raising an eyebrow. "A certain German pilot, perhaps?"

Shinji sighed deeply, placing his hands inside his pockets. "Yeah..."

The older man chuckled again, causing the Third Child to look upwards with a curious stare. "I really admire you kid. If that was me, I'd have hit that damn girl by now." Kaji remarked, casting his amused eye over the boy. "You're either crazy, masochistic, or in love."

Blushing furiously at the insinuation, Shinji shook his head quickly. I'd have to be crazy to love someone who only belittles me. "I don't think I love her... I just put up with it, and hope that she'll be my friend." He replied quietly.

It was Kaji's turn to stare curiously. "Why would you want a friend who abuses you constantly? Hell, why would you even tolerate someone like that?" the spy was actually curious, not for any intelligence purposes, more to understand this complex fourteen year old.

"I admire her drive, her strength." Shinji admitted quietly. "I thought that if I was her friend, I could learn to be that strong."

"You are strong, Shinji." Kaji assured him, placing a cigarette in his mouth. After flicking on the lighter and inhaling the smoke, he continued, "You're an Eva pilot, after all." After a moment, he smirked. "And to still keep trying to be Asuka's friend, you must be strong." He paused, flicking some of the ashes away. "I've got to thank you for that, Shinji. She needs friends her own age."

And someone to keep her from glomping me every time she sees me, he added silently. Though he really did care for the girl, her crush was irritating and annoying... plus the disgusted looks people kept sending him as she clung to him was decidedly hazardous for his job.

"I'm not that strong... I keep thinking about giving up, and just hating her, or at the least, stop trying to be nice to her." The Third Child whispered softly.

"That just means you're human." Kaji said, exhaling a small cloud of smoke away from the pilot. "And though I'd like to see you become her friend, I'll give you a piece of advice." He cast his eyes downwards. "Some battles can't be won, no matter how hard you fight."

A flash of rare insight struck Shinji, and his eyes widened in surprise. "Are we talking about me and Asuka, or you and Misato?" he asked innocently.

Kaji seemed thrown for a moment, but grinned at the Third Child a moment later. "You're pretty perceptive, Shinji." He muttered, and flickered the cigarette away. "But yes, I think that me and the good Major are a lost cause... and losing battles aren't my style." To put a period on his sentence, he ground the smoke with his boot.

Closing his eyes, Shinji whispered softly, "I don't think they're mine, either."

"I'm home..." Shinji said quietly, before he closed his eyes bitterly. Not that anyone is about to shout, "Welcome home Shinji!" in this place...

As he kicked off his shoes, he briefly noted that Asuka was home, while Misato was not. The pilot of Unit 01 did not want to see the redhead right now, and tried his best to sneak off to his room for at least a little bracing time.

No such luck.

"Idiot! Where have you been!" the girl shouted irritably, standing up from the couch.

Perhaps it was the talk with Kaji, or perhaps he had finally had enough, but for whatever the reason, Shinji's control snapped, and shouted angrily, "None of your business!" and stormed off to his room, leaving a stunned Asuka behind.

Did... he... just... her thoughts were ground to a decisive halt, her internal batteries momentarily frozen as she assessed what had just happened.

While she truly despised his meek, docile nature, which was only heightened by the fact that he was an Eva pilot (and fairly skilled, she grudgingly admitted, mostly since he had a higher Angel body count), this sort of fury was not only unexpected, it was infuriating...

By the time she realized she had been standing in the hallway for a minute in shocked silence and began to scream obscenities and furious abuse at the Third Child, he had already had enough time to start up his SDAT player at full sound, she realized.

Pen-Pen, wisely, retreated into his frozen home, with a soft and heartfelt prayer for the safety of the nice food provider. He would miss the poor boy, who would be leaving the penguin with the angry one and his drunken master.

Asuka did not burst into the Third Child's room, more to not give him the satisfaction of knowing just how pissed off she was than any sense of privacy. But she did, as an afterthought, tear the "Shinji's Lovely Suite" sign to pieces, before moving to storm off to her own room.

But as she turned to leave, the door opened and Shinji stepped out. Somehow, he had noticed that the screaming had stopped, meaning something worse had occurred. He paused in shock as he looked at what remained of the innocuous sign Misato had jokingly constructed months ago.

As he stared at the shreds of that silly paper, he snarled in a way that reminded Asuka uncomfortably of the berserk Unit 01 she had seen in recordings.

Before she could speak, Shinji did something completely unexpected.

He struck her. Hard.

And as she fell to the floor, he loomed over the redhead, eyes darkened with fury... and hatred. "I tried." He said quietly, in almost a whisper, and yet it's quite force was stronger than a gale. "I tried to be nice." His fury unabated, Shinji kicked the girl in the shin, causing her to stumble back to the ground when she tried to stand.

"I'm tired of being nice."

"What the hell are you doing!" the redhead shouted, but Shinji continued to tower over her, and kicked her kneecap when she tried to stand again.

"I don't want to be nice anymore."

Asuka was deathly afraid as he heard that calm fury that laced the Third Child's voice. Through all of her tormenting, all her relentless abuse, she never once believed that the seemingly spineless Shinji Ikari would snap and actually try to harm her.

But now, here he was, towering over her, seemingly doubled in height and width, his quiet voice seeming a loud roar. He was every inch the Invincible Shinji, slayer of Angels.

"I tried to be your friend, Asuka." Shinji whispered, and his shadowed eyes narrowed in fury. "But you never tried to be mine. I tried my best to help you, to be kind, and you threw it in my face."

The Second Child, despite her fear, was still defiant. "So what? I don't need friends, and I certainly don't want to be a friend to a weak little boy!" she hissed, and moved to slap the pilot of Unit 01.

But Shinji pulled away in time to avoid it, and pinned her hand to the wall with a violent movement, causing Asuka to cry out. "I know that... but I still tried." He paused, and tightened his grip, half unconsciously. "But I don't want to try any more... I'm tired of always being your whipping boy, waiting for you to come around and start being my friend." His voice was still quiet and soft, but it was merely steel wrapped in velvet.

At this point, Asuka no longer tried to struggle, too dumbstruck by the terrifying monster that replaced the meek boy. Mein Gott... is he going to kill me? It certainly didn't seem to far-fetched, what with the dark hatred that loomed in his blue eyes, the dominant, looming position he was in.

"So... I won't try any more." Shinji let go of her hand, and pulled back, but his eyes remained dark with terrible fury and hatred. "I'm sorry..." this wasn't his normal apology. This was sad, sorrowful, and deeper than any of his previous apologies, and was not expecting an answer.

"But I've had enough."

And with that, he left her in that empty hallway, alone.

Author's Remarks

Its funny how a fic like this can be created after listening to a song several times. I really did try to make Asuka not sound so bitchy, but unfortunately, that's how this story turned out. I like her, really, but for the purposes of this tale, which is to show what would happen if Shinji decided that he would stop trying to be nice and catering to Asuka's whims, she had to actlike that. It's not a "Shinji grows a spine" story so much as a "Shinji gives up ontrying to be friends"tale.

I briefly considered this creating a change of heart for Asuka, but the original intent would be lost then. So, it remains as it is.