Disclaimer- I don't own Neon Genesis Evangelion.

"It's raining..."

Shinji Ikari sighed deeply, head bowed. He didn't normally mind the rain... but the storm had come suddenly and without warning, not to mention its furious downpour was battering the school windows, making him not want to leave the classroom, for the first time.

"Ah crap... at least I left my umbrella in my locker." Touji Suzuhara muttered, glancing at his melancholy friend. "What about you?"

"Nah... I forgot mine." The Third Child replied, placing his head down.

Kensuke Aida gave him a sympathetic look, and tried to find a way to cheer (well, make less somber) his friend. "Well, at the very least, you can have Misato run up a hot bath for you..."

Unfortunately, even that blatantly suggestive scenario could not get a rise out of Shinji today.

On the other side of the classroom, a certain redhead had overheard the conversations of the trio, and glanced down to her bag. She, fortunately, was smart enough to have listened to the radio this morning, and the possibility of a heavy downpour was reason enough to have an umbrella.

But Asuka Langley Sohryu had two.

Of course, this was definitely not because she knew that a certain pilot of Unit 01 was probably too busy cooking and cleaning to hear the news, and absurd to think that she cared that her roommate would get completely soaked and probably sick in that rain...

No, it was pure coincidence that Asuka had two umbrellas.

"You should give one to Shinji," Hikari Horaki commented airily, reaching into her own bag for an umbrella.

While the expected sputter and German expletives about "that idiot" were expected, the Class Rep raised an eyebrow at the blush that announced its existence on Asuka's cheeks.

"This is the perfect opportunity, Asuka!" Hikari whispered conspiratorially, leaning forward. "He needs an umbrella, you have an extra... come on!"

Flushing and trying to fight the warmth that passed over her body as she imagined the scenario playing out in her mind, the Second Child merely muttered, "Who says I even care..."

Sighing, Hikari decided that a change in tactics was in order. "Well..." the brown haired girl began, "You are a genius Asuka, and the better pilot. Shinji can't be expected to think as far ahead as you, so its only natural that you look out for lesser beings." Tactic- play on the redhead's ego.

Eyes brightening, the pilot of Unit 02 nodded feverently, smiling slightly. "Yeah... I mean, that idiot can't even take care of himself," which was strange, considering he cooked and cleaned for her, "And since I am his comrade, I need to make sure he's there to back me up in the next Angel attack."

Overwhelming success.

Fighting the urge to roll her eyes, Hikari merely nodded, watching Asuka grab both umbrellas, preparing to head out into the hallway where the Stooge trio had just entered.

Touji and Kensuke, as they were friends with Shinji, did what most other males did to help cheer their friends up.

Teased them mercilessly.

"Oh come on Shinji, you can't say that the idea of Misato giving you a warm bath doesn't make you at least a little hot and bothered?" Kensuke asked, grinning at his still down best friend.

Touji, while fighting the images of the Major in that... position, decided to throw in Shinji's Achilles heel.

"Or maybe, Kensuke, our friend here wants a devil to warm him up with her Hellfire?" the jock elbowed his friend lightly, sharing a grin.

"Maybe that was Casanova's plan, Touji. To make sure he and demon girl share an umbrella, walk close in the rain... just like the married couple they are." The spectacled boy ribbed, smirking.

And, like a charm, Shinji rose in protest, as he always did when teased about the "married couple" relationship he seemed to have with his redheaded roommate.

"Guys, for the last time, there is nothing between me and Asuka!" the Third Child all but shouted, glaring at his friends. "It's not like that at all! We're just friends," Well, maybe, "Nothing more!"

Touji and Kensuke merely shot him the standard "We-know-you're-lying" looks that aggravated him further.

However, they were silenced when a dark chill sucked all the warmth in the atmosphere.

A pit of fear grew in the Third Child's stomach. "Guys... what's-"

Eyes widened as Asuka stormed past the Stooges without even a word, moving so quickly that those caught in her path barely had enough time to see a scarlet blur ram into them.

And Shinji was left staring after the redhead, eyes uncomprehending and staring.

"Shinji!" Hikari shouted, grabbing the Third Child's ear in that manner that normally only Touji was forced to endure. A yelp escaped the pilot's lips, which was remarkable, considering normally Touji became a whimpering, sobbing mess when that move was executed.

Then again, he lived with Asuka, not to mention took beatings from Angels many times over.

"That was mean! You hurt Asuka's feelings!" the Class Rep scolded, executing step two in her Ear Twist Of Doom technique.

Briefly, Touji and Kensuke, showing that Stooge bond, glanced at each other in unison, and both decided that commenting that the redhead had no feelings was not worth the agony...

This time.

"What! What are you talking about!" Shinji managed, between whimpering and yelping in pain.

"Go apologize!" Hikari snarled, shoving the pilot forward.

The Third Child looked disoriented for a moment, shaking his head, trying to take a moment to regain his bearings...


But decided that he didn't want to die at the hands of the Class Rep.

The remaining Stooges watched in amusement as their comrade stumbled through the crowd in the direction that the Second Child had stormed off through. (Not that hard... just follow the bodies). However, their own enjoyment was short lived, as the Ear Twist Of Doom made a second appearance.

"And you two! You're in cleanup duty!"

"AW, SH-"

Hikari whirled on them, eyes full of fire, and both Stooges agreed that she had spent far too much time in Asuka's company. "Want me to make it for a week?"

In unison, Touji and Kensuke sighed deeply, submitting. "... no ma'am."

Asuka kept her held high, not really paying attention to either keeping her umbrella completely over her head nor really thinking about the route she was taking back to the apartment. In her hand, she clenched the second umbrella tightly, her fists shaking.

She wasn't hurt or offended by Shinji's statement... after all, they were friends, in a strange sort of way. You couldn't be in that much contact with someone and not grow somewhat attached to them.

Then why had she felt something break, deep inside her as Shinji spoke?

Trying to keep abreast of these thoughts, she continued on her way, barely noticing that her umbrella often drifted to the side, letting an errant raindrop fall on her from time to time.

"Asuka! Asuka!"

The redhead nearly stopped and turned, but kept walking on, head held high and ignoring the calls of her fellow pilot.

"Asuka! Slow down!"

As if to spite the boy, the pilot of Unit 02 switched to a brisk pace.

But still, Shinji caught up to her, grasping her shoulder with a slight gasp, sucking in breath after breath. His dark hair was matted and flattened by the rain, and his clothes clung to him, soaked through completely.

The Second Child whirled on him, brushing his hand off her with a furious glare. "Don't touch me." She hissed, and then turned again.

Stung by the rebuttal, Shinji did an unexpected thing-

And ignored Asuka's tone of voice, grabbing her arm again. "Wait, please Asuka!" he pleaded, gripping her arm tightly.

"What do you want?" the redhead asked rudely, glaring at him as she turned.

"Why are you so angry?" the Third Child questioned, "What did I do?"

"Why do you care!" Asuka shot back, shoving Shinji backwards.

The boy stumbled, and slipped on the ever growing puddle, landing with a loud thump on his bottom. Rubbing it, Shinji groaned. "Ouch..."

Briefly, the Second Child half the irrational impulse to offer her hand to the Third, but squelched it.

Without her help, Shinji stood, still groaning and rubbing his sore bottom. "You didn't have to shove so hard," he complained.

"Shut up!" the pilot of Unit 02 snarled, and moved to storm off again. This time, Shinji was quick enough to grasp her arm for the third time.

"Please... why are you so angry?" he whispered, bowing his head. "Whatever I did... I'm sorry." He hated it when she got angry with him, but never knew how to solve it.

For some reason, this just pissed Asuka off further. "Oh, you're sorry," she drawled, pulling back and glaring with even more vehemence, "Are you? Well, that just makes everything fine and dandy, doesn't it, Third Child!"

"Well, you won't tell me what I did wrong! You never tell me anything!" Shinji shouted, feeling a crack in the emotional dam he had built up over the years. "I never know what to say or think, because you're always yelling at me! I can't even figure out what I did wrong half the time!"

Somehow, this forced Asuka to pause and reflect on what the Third said. Opening up was not in her policy, not even to Kaji. And yet... and yet there was always one part of her that wanted to say these things, let someone in, and finally take away the loneliness.

"You can't understand me!" Asuka finally managed to scoff, "You're nothing but a weak little boy."

"Damn it Asuka, I'm trying to! If you'd just let me in..." Shinji's second sentence lost its vehemence, and became softer, quieter, but that soft force destroyed any retort the redhead had coming.

The second umbrella in her hand trembled. The Second Child glanced down at it. Wasn't that what she really wanted? To take some of that invincibility Shinji projected in battle, and take comfort in it?

Why had she brought that second umbrella, if not for him?

They were quiet for a long time, neither able to say anything further. If they had been older, wiser, or less damaged by the past, they may have been able to go another step.

But for now, something had changed, and that was enough.

"You're soaked." Asuka pointed out softly, smiling.

Shinji's breath caught in his throat, and he found his mouth dry. He was reminded that Asuka was very beautiful. It was even better than her face as she slept that night before the Seventh Angel. The smile was soft and warm and just for him, and he felt that as long as he could see that smile, he was capable of defeating a hundred Angels.

"Hello? Earth to Shinji?" the redhead smirked slightly, waving her hand in front of his face, jolting him back to reality.

Glancing at himself, Shinji nodded, sighing as more rain poured down on him. However, he blinked in surprise as an object was lightly shoved into his gut.

"Here." The redhead said quietly, a slight blush on her face, and then turned, and walked away.

Blinking, Shinji just held on to the umbrella for a moment, staring at it. What...

"Hey! Idiot! Are you just going to stand there or what?" Asuka shouted, glancing back at him coyly over her shoulder.

Nodding, the boy ran after her, umbrella raised, a smile on his face.

Maybe this rain wasn't so bad after all.

Author's Remarks

I'm going soft... I actually wrote a WAFF fic... then again, I'm up at four in morning, hyped up on ice cream, soda, and chicken. I suppose anything can happen with that volatile mix. I always seem to write WAFF in the wee hours of insanity. The umbrella scenario, while typically cliche, is inspired by an Evangelion Doujinshi. I took care to keep as much character integrity as I could, but... I am up at an absurdly early hour. Am not at my best.

Alright, enough of my pointless rambling. Complaints, comments, etcetera, should go in a review.