Disclaimer: I don't own EVA. If the owners say to, I'll take this story offline. Thanks.
Life is mean. Shinji learned this little lesson at a very young age, and throughout his life, it had been reinforced time and time again. As long as he could remember, just getting by was fine with him. He had no desire to try to make his situation better, as that made Life (capitalized in this instance) pay more attention to you – like the time he found that bike in a pile of trash and tried to take it home, and ended up being taken into the police station by a 'helpful' patrolman.
Thursday, he found, was going to be very similar.
"Mail's here," he called, wandering into the hallway to pick up the rather sizeable stack of junk sitting by the front door.
"Don't touch mine," Asuka called from the bathroom, "I'm expecting something from Germany."
Shinji nodded, even though she was several rooms away, and quickly dropped a thick envelope with a foreign postmark onto the kitchen table. "It's here," he called, sorting through the other items – mostly junk mail – and arranging them in stacks based on who they were for. "Look, PenPen," he mumbled, holding up a thin envelope, "looks like you may have already won a trip to Bermuda… how lucky can you get?"
Glancing up at him, the penguin offered a simple, "Wagh," as if to say, 'Well, open it up!'
Handing him the envelope, Shinji looked at his own mail.
"Junk," he muttered, shuffling through the articles one by one, "junk, junk, junk… man, how do people find out you're a pilot when you work for a top secret organization? …and why do they think that you have tons of money? I don't want a credit card!" Sighing, he singled out a handful of letters in plain envelopes and shoved the rest into the garbage.
Selecting one at random, he tore it open and scanned the contents.
Mortgage? he thought dismally. I thought they had to put their company names on the outside if they were solicitations?
Tossing the letter aside, he tore open two more like it – from the same company, no less – before coming to an envelope with the official seal of Tokyo-3 on it. "What do they want?" he wondered. Usually, official matters were handled by NERV, unless maybe it was something to do with school, though even that usually went through Misato. He frowned as he re-read the address on the sticker.
It had been addressed to Asuka as well.
Has to be for school, he reasoned, wondering if he should wait for Asuka to be there to open it. Weird.
There was no way of knowing what the letter inside said, of course, so Shinji was perfectly within his rights to let out a little shriek at reading the headline… but in retrospect, he really should have seen something like this coming.
After all, Life… was… mean.
"What the hell are you yelling about?" Asuka demanded, fluffing her hair with a towel as she stomped into the kitchen. "You better have cut off a finger, Third Child," she muttered, "I-"
Without preamble, Shinji thrust the letter into Asuka's face.
Asuka read, her lips moving as her eyes scanned the page.
Shinji nodded as the girl's eyes went wide. "Y-yeah," he stammered, "I guess there's… some kind of law or something that says if you live together for six months you-"
"Pervert, pervert, pervert!" Asuka screamed. "You did this! You just want my tender, virgin body!"
"No!" Shinji cried, "I-"
"Wah!" Asuka cut in, clapping her hands over her ears, "Now you don't want me! My own husband won't even touch me!"
Paling, Shinji opened his mouth to argue that he did want to touch her… but a moment before he let this (probably fatal) comment go, he noticed the tiny smirk at the corner of Asuka's lips.
As the boy's lips clamped shut, Asuka snorted, dropping the act at once. "Feh," she mumbled. "Common law act of 2009, Third – everyone in grade school knows it. You have a week to contest the arbitrary marriage. Don't you read your textbooks? It was a protective measure instituted by the government to ensure the survival of the species, or some crap like that. It's only binding after a week's up, and even then, you can get it annulled within a month." Her eyes narrowed. "I've had the paperwork filled out for three weeks, just waiting for the notice to come in."
Shinji shrank in on himself. "Oh."
"Like I'd let myself be hitched to your dumb ass."
With this final barb, Asuka turned and headed back into the bathroom. Several seconds later, the sound of her hair dryer filled the apartment.
Sighing, Shinji reread the letter, easily spotting (now that he was calmer) the address to mail in your dispute paperwork. It was almost too easy, he mused as he set the letter on the table.
I guess marriage doesn't mean as much as it used to.
Glancing at the rest of his mail, he found nothing else of interest. With a wry smile, he went to his room to study, thinking that – even if it was only for a minute – he had actually been legally married to Asuka.
( 0 0 0 )
Several hours later, Shinji sat in his room, listening to his SDAT. Asuka had assured him that she would have mailed the papers before the notice even came in if she could have, so he really had nothing to do with the process at that point, but he was still marveling over the fact that the common law rules had changed so drastically.
I guess I knew about common law, he thought as his tape deck switched tracks, but in the old pre-impact movies it was always like, seven years.
Blinking, he realized that someone was tapping on his door.
"Come in," he called, clicking his SDAT off and sitting up in bed. "Oh, Misato… what's up? I'll start cooking dinner in a few-"
"It's a wife's job to cook dinner."
Shinji frowned. Misato did not look like she was kidding.
Holding up a very familiar looking letter, Misato said, "Saw this on the table."
"Oh," Shinji replied, "yeah, I guess Asuka and I are married… you know, until she sends the paperwork in tomorrow."
Looking a bit green, Misato glanced at the letter. "I umm… mine was on a different kind of letterhead."
Nodding, Shinji started to say, 'They probably have a couple different types,' but simply let his mouth hang open as he realized what she was saying.
"I was gonna tell you," Misato said guiltily, "you know, laugh it off for a few before I sent in the paperwork, but, well, there were angels, and work, and Asuka, and… and a whole bunch of stuff, and I… I kind of forgot."
"How… how long?" Shinji whispered, feeling a bit dizzy.
"Erm, two months," Misato said, looking very sheepish. "It's a little too late for contending, or annulment, so… we're going to have to file for divorce. Sorry."
"Why are you so sad?" Shinji wondered, seeing the tight lines around the woman's eyes.
Misato pursed her lips. "Psychological thing, I guess," she mumbled. "I just… kind of didn't want to be a divorcee before I was thirty – Hell, I didn't want to be a divorcee at all. It's just me."
"There's something else, too."
Shinji tilted his head. "What is it?"
"Married employees get more money," Misato informed him levelly, "like, a lot more."
"Isn't that discrimination or something?" Shinji asked, horrified that your income could be determined by your marital status.
Misato wrinkled her nose. "They call it incentive," she said in a lecturing tone, "repopulating the world is a top priority, don't you know. NERV is 'patriotically' trying to do its part. It takes a while for the paperwork to go through, so I didn't really think anything of it, but I just called payroll… and they said my check for this week is more than double what it usually is."
They fell silent for several minutes before Shinji nodded to himself. "Alright," he said softly, "then, umm… let's just leave it."
Averting his eyes, Shinji said, "I know you don't get paid much, and if we have to do the whole divorce thing anyway, we could just put it off for a little while, you know? I don't mind."
Arching an eyebrow, Misato gave him a faint smile. "Oh, you don't 'mind' being married to me if there's money involved, huh?" she snorted. "I've married a prince."
Slowly folding the paper up and slipping it into her jacket, Misato stared into Shinji's eyes.
"I really could use the money," she admitted quietly. "I could pay off my car, take care of some bills… maybe even save up a couple bucks for that vacation I keep telling myself I'll get someday. It would be a nice gesture, Shinji, but I don't think it would be really practical. You'd be married to a woman twice your age, and you wouldn't even be getting anything out of it – plus you couldn't get married to someone else until we were properly divorced. If you think about it, it's not such a hot idea."
Giving her a weak smile, Shinji observed, "I don't think I'll be getting married any time in the next few months, Misato, and if it helps you out, then I'm getting something out of it."
Chewing her lip, Misato pondered the situation. "You're making this really hard, you know."
"Not really," Shinji said. "Just don't tell anyone about it, collect your paycheck for a while, and then when you've got your stuff taken care of, we'll go get divorced really quietly. No one even has to know we're married at all."
Misato sighed. "I still think you're getting the short end of the stick," she said, holding out her hand for him to take, "but if you're up for it, what the hell."
Shinji shook her hand, blushing faintly all the while.
"Nothing will change," he said slowly, "so it's not like I'm really doing anything."
Nodding, Misato conceded, "I guess you're right. So, umm… thanks, then."
Unable to resist, Misato gave him a sly wink. "Goodnight, husband," she said brightly, "I'd sleep in here, but the bed is so small and I'm such a wild sleeper – you know how it is. Sweet dreams."
As Shinji choked on his own spit, Misato chuckled and headed into her room for the evening. With this setup, she thought, I might actually be able to get ahead for a change. And really, Shinji's right – it's not like anything's gonna change. It's just a piece of paper.
She closed her eyes, and was soon asleep.
Life is mean.
Misato and Shinji simply had no idea how mean it could be.
Author's notes: this little story was inspired by Hawk's Love Hina story, Married with Princess. I talked to him about using the idea before posting, and he pre-read it to make sure that it didn't come out too close to his. I know the idea of Shinji being hooked up like this has been done about a billion times (I can think of Innortal's I do and JimmyWolk's The Ikaris just off the top of my head) but I don't think anyone's ever had him saddled with Misato. If it ends up sucking, well, you can always read Hawk's original, which is probably a billion times better.