A/N: This one is quite long, so you might want to get some popcorn. Some of you will be happy to know that with this chapter I have brought back the funny. Oh yes there will be laughter. Well, maybe just some snickering. At least a smile or two. Also just a warning some of the material here is a little more mature than I usually put. I don't think I have to raise the rating, but if anyone thinks I should (and I do mean anyone) then I will do so without a moments hesitation. Without further delay. Here's Johnny!
Acceptance and Compromise
"You can't have it both ways," I yelled at him. It was probably the most emotional exclamation I'd ever made, but he just looked at me sadly.
"But that's what I want…"
And then there was silence.
It was the type of all consuming silence that fills up the air around you. I thought that if I were to listen hard enough, I could hear the beating of my heart, maybe even Shinji's as well. It was that quiet. We just stared at each other like it would change something. I really wanted him to say something else, but he kept his mouth shut. I figured that he had talked last so it was only proper for me to finish things up.
So I said the words that I really felt, the words that came deep from within my heart. My voice was still filled with the telltale quiver that proved I had recently been crying. I hated that, but what was I to do. I couldn't just stare at him all night. So I spoke those three little words that I had never said to him before.
"You really suck."
Shinji… he smiled when I said that. I don't think I'd seen him smile since I spit in his food for the first time and that had to have been at least a month ago. It was so strange to see him smile, yet so necessary as well. He couldn't have helped it, I'm sure. If he would have been able to stop himself from smiling I know he would have. I knew that because I felt the same thing. Despite myself I was smiling too.
Then he spoke again and only made things worse.
"I know," he said and I couldn't help what I did next.
I giggled. No I didn't laugh, but I giggled. It was almost an exact duplicate of one of those ditzy girlie giggles you hear preppy girls make in the movies. It was such a sick sounding thing that I tried to suppress it. Tried and failed. And would you believe what Shinji did when he heard me? He broke out laughing, full-out laughing. And when I heard him I couldn't even try to hold it in anymore. I was cracking up. We both were… maybe in more ways than one.
It was crazy. I was so sad just seconds ago and there I was laughing. I kept thinking about how messed up I was, how I wanted to die, and how things could never work out right, but all the while I couldn't stop laughing. I looked up from my position on the floor and saw Shinji holding his sides as his voice bellowed throughout our little tent. This only made me laugh harder. Soon Shinji sunk to the ground, fell on his back, and started to roll. He was literally rolling on the floor laughing. And there I was rolling right along with him.
I clutched at my sides painfully and my cheeks felt like they were going to explode. I laughed so hard I was in pain. Shinji didn't seem to be fairing much better. None of it made a lick of sense. None at all.
After what seemed like forever we both stopped laughing. There were several times before that when we thought we had stopped. We then looked over at each other and burst out laughing even harder. When we were finally finished there was silence again, only this time it didn't feel awkward. I used the time to reflect.
Right then I had absolutely no idea what was so funny, but when I looked back on it later I at least had a theory. It seemed as if both of our lives were horrible from the start. We experienced more tragedy and sorrow in 14 years than many people experience in a lifetime. We were an anomaly in the universe that was just too crazy not to laugh at. I'm positive that God must have been looking down at us and laughing his behind off. And on that night I think the two of us were in hysterics because we finally understood the cosmic joke.
So when the silence ended it was all still too fresh in my mind. I still couldn't stop smiling, even though I wasn't remotely happy. I turned to look at Shinji and saw that he was smiling too.
"Truce?" I asked quietly, hoping desperately that I would not start cracking up again.
"Truce," said Shinji with his smile still firmly in place.
I opened up my blanket and patted the spot next to me. Shinji scooted across the floor and wrapped the blanket around his shoulder. I put one arm around him and squeezed him tight in a half-hug of sorts. Then I just let the arm loosely encircle him. It was strange accepting him back after all that time. I was feeling a lot of emotions right then and happiness was not the prominent one.
But I just wish you knew… I wish I could explain to you…
I'm sorry. I don't mean to ramble.
You can't even imagine…
How great it is…
to hold him.
It was kind of awkward being with Shinji after we had made our truce. We just didn't really understand how to act around each other anymore. I didn't want to hurt him and he just wanted to make me happy. He said as much anyways. It was slow going at first, but we worked ourselves into a nice little routine of sorts.
On the first day, Shinji was all but too eager to please. I woke up and he had made me breakfast and brought it to me in bed. He laid down next to me as I ate and hesitantly put his arm around my shoulder. It was a nice feeling, but I could tell that it was forced affection and that sort of threw the whole thing off. When I was done eating we both got up and went outside. I hadn't realized how late it was until I saw that the sun was high in the sky.
We spent a lot of the day talking about all the work we had neglected since our little fight. None of my original goals had been met. We hadn't supplied power to any part of the city, there was no running water anywhere, and we were still eating a diet of canned foods and beef jerky. I started to explain some of the things we needed to do to Shinji. This time I could tell he was really trying to pay attention, but he just wasn't getting it.
"Don't worry about it," I told him. "When the time comes I'll tell you exactly what to do."
But there were other problems on the beach besides that of a technical nature. There were shopping carts everywhere. It seemed as if you couldn't take a step without running into one of them. I faintly remember telling Shinji something about getting rid of them a long time ago, but he insisted upon keeping them there. I think he said that it'd be a lot easier to keep grabbing new shopping carts than to take them back each time. He can be so lazy sometimes.
All in all, the day was quite productive, if not a little boring. When it got dark Shinji insisted upon taking a walk along the beach. I was very surprised when he grabbed my hand in his though. It just seemed so… not Shinji. But then his hand started to shake and I realized how uncomfortable he was. He must have felt weird about the whole thing. So I let go of his hand and told him that I wanted to be alone for a little while.
I walked by myself for a bit and thought about how strange everything was. Why was I living on a beach near a city I didn't know with a boy who couldn't stand my touch? Why did I want to be touched by him so much? Was it just because there was no one else around? But that didn't really make any sense because I was never this forward with anyone else in my previous life. I had never wanted to hold someone so badly or to kiss someone that deeply. Sure I'd dreamed about doing such things with Kaji, but there just wasn't that same… intensity. I never wanted something from someone so bad that I'd force it from them the way I had done to Shinji. Weren't such things below me? If not, what was below me? I really didn't know, but the thought scared me a lot.
Right after that I started thinking about how nice it was to be with him. How his skin felt so warm and how he smelled so… Shinji-like. His lips were always inviting, even if his brain didn't seem to enjoy the party. And his tongue… don't get me started. The brief amount of time that he'd allowed me entrance into his mouth was pure bliss. Just the mere thought made my stomach twist and my mouth go dry.
But then I realized what I was doing. I was using Shinji to distract myself from my problems. It was so easy to do. Having a bad day? Then kiss Shinji. Feeling down? Nothing a little make out session can't fix. Can't get that much needed sleep at night? Go embrace your man. He doesn't like it, you say? Well do it anyways. Who cares if he hurts as long as you don't?
The longer I thought along these lines the more I realized that I was a monster.
I was a monster.
I stopped walking. I stopped thinking. I almost started crying… almost. Then I pulled myself together and started thinking again.
That didn't make sense. I was not a monster. I was me, Asuka Langley Soryu, 14 year old former pilot of Evangelion Unit 02. I was a college graduate, much too smart to let myself become something I didn't want to be. And of course I did not want to be a monster.
So what was I? Besides not a monster, that is. Well, I was a girl. A very good looking one from what I could gather. That's why all the boys at school used to want me. All of them except for maybe Shinji, I guess. But that didn't explain what I was. It just explained what I looked like.
Monsters want to hurt people. I never wanted to hurt him. I just wanted to help me. Is it wrong to choose yourself over another? Really, I didn't know. But I still felt bad about it. I wanted to say that I would never hurt him again, but I knew I couldn't promise that. It was a fact. I was going to hurt him again. So I decided right then and there that if one of us had to be hurt, at least it wouldn't be him all the time. I knew it wasn't a perfect resolution, but it was definitely something.
It was the best I could do.
When I got back to camp I planned on explaining all this to him. I was going to apologize, to poor my heart out to the boy. But I never got the chance to, I never really needed to I guess.
I got distracted when I found this crumpled piece of paper taped to the tent.
"Shinji, what's this?" I asked.
He came out of the tent yawning and looking as if he'd just waken up.
"This," I said as I held the piece of paper out in front of his nose. When he saw what it was he immediately started to freak. He made a lunge for it but I was too fast for him.
"Don't look at that! It's nothing… just something stupid I wrote!"
"Shut up, Shinji," I said quietly. His protests only further interested me in the piece of paper. I tilted it to the sun and begun to read aloud.
"I'm hurt are you sorry? I didn't hate to make you want me, but I did. I don't understand for what I can forgiven be. I don't to forgive want to longer. I just want amends. I'm to dying you so that you may to live. I can be happy can you? I'll hurt you where I'm going again.
I looked at Shinji utterly confused, but he seemed to be trying to hold back a laugh.
"What is this crap Shinji?" I asked. "It's all gibberish!"
"It's nothing," he said as he took the paper from my hand and threw it in the fire. He was still trying not to laugh. "It's just some poetry I was trying to write in German."
I considered this and decided it made sense. Only Shinji would write something so terribly stupid and emotional at the same time. Sometimes I wondered if he really was a girl and I didn't know about it.
"Well it's not very good at all."
Shinji blushed and said, "It was my first time. I didn't really know what I was doing."
"I can see that. Well, next time you write something let me look at it. I took a class on poetry in college. I could probably help."
Shinji let out a sigh (an action I found quite odd for the moment) and said, "thank you for your kindness Asuka."
He said it so formally that I thought he was making fun of me for a second. But when I looked at him closely I could see he was sincere. He looked so sincere that it nearly hurt to return his gaze.
But still, I smiled back.
Life started to make some sense after that first day of our truce. Asuka… she was nice to me. She tried to make me comfortable and at ease. Sometimes she'd take over some of my duties, like cooking or building the fire. Other times she'd just help me along or come with me in order to give what she called "moral support". She also seemed to require less "physical attention". She didn't feel the need to kiss me that often anymore and when we went to sleep sometimes all she asked was that I stay close by, just so she'd know I was there.
It was just too kind the things she was willing to do and give up for me. She had really tipped the scales of give-and-take in my favor. At first it made me happy to think of her generosity, but soon I began to feel a little guilty about it. I really wasn't doing anything special for her. I was just taking her kindness for granted.
So I said to myself, "Shinji, what can you do for Asuka?"
Then I answered myself, "I don't know really…" This response caused me to frown.
"Well come on! You've been living with her for… God knows how long. You've got to know something about her."
"Well we never really had that sort of relationship. We just kind of… existed around each other, ya know?"
"Don't give me that. You know she's a girl, right? What do teenage girls like?"
"Uh… chocolates and flowers… some of them like dolls, but Asuka hates dolls… uhhhh… annnnd… I don't know."
"They like teenage boys Shinji, teenage boys!"
"So what are you saying then? You want me to walk over to her and say, 'you can have me Asuka. I'm all yours.' That's a little weird don'tcha think?"
"What I want you to do is stop talking to yourself and go give that girl some much needed affection!"
After determining that I was not crazy for talking to myself, I decided that I'd do just that. I'd continue to give Asuka the affection she had demanded before. And it wasn't easy. Not by a long shot. I started off simple. I gave her little hugs and such whenever she did nice things for me. I recognized that this was the type of thing that I often saw girls who were "BFFs" do all the time and that embarrassed me a bit. But I thought of it as an equivalent exchange of sorts. If she could be nice, then I could be affectionate.
I soon came to realize that working up the nerve to touch Asuka had its advantages. It gave me this feeling of accomplishment. Even though I was nervous every time I did it I always felt proud of myself after the fact and sometimes during the exchange. I don't know what it was I was so proud of. Maybe it was because I was "allowed" to touch such a beautiful girl. It could have been because I was making Asuka happy. But I think I was more or less just glad to be facing my fears and overcoming them. Such growth does not happen everyday. At least not for Shinji Ikari. It was quite rewarding.
It felt like every time I touched Asuka our lives improved that much more. She was happy. Not just to be held or kissed. But she was happy that I was doing it of my own free will. The first time I kissed her she looked at me like I was some other person. She was just that shocked.
"Why'd you do that?" she asked.
I said, "Because it makes you happy."
She frowned for a second. Then she smiled again and it was a wonderful moment. I don't really know how to describe it really. I didn't want it to end. But when it did, I found myself fantasizing about it. It really was one of the best memories of my life.
Things were going well for us. Asuka was happy with me. I was happy with myself and also happy that she was happy. She was happy that I was happy as well. Everything was so darn happy. We could have gone on the rest of our lives like that. Just living for each other. Trying to be civil. Trying to be kind. Trying to be happy. It really could have lasted a lifetime. And if things stayed the same it would have too. Life would have always been like that. I think it was that realization that scared Asuka. It scared her into trying to get in my pants.
Personally, I blame the campfire for how things went. There is just something about sitting around a fire and talking that loosens your lips. It's just this feeling of ease and warmth that seems to reach all around you making it easy to tell your deepest secrets or your darkest fears. It didn't help that we were talking at night (the time for deep thought, reflection, and romance). Heck we were even holding hands and that was my doing. The point is that the setting was perfect for what was to come.
"Instrumentality," said Asuka quietly making me jump about a foot into the air. It was the first time either of us had mentioned that dreadful event. "It changed me a lot Shinji."
I nodded. She was different. Still fundamentally the same, but different somehow.
"I used to think… that I hated you. That I hated everyone, especially myself. I thought that I had no reason to live without Eva. I had no family, I had no friends, (this comment hurt, but it was still quite true… except maybe Hikari) I didn't even have a hobby to fall back on. I wanted to die. But not just that. I wanted everyone to die. Because they let me become who I was."
She paused for a second and I really wished she hadn't because what she had just said seriously creeped me out. Even though I had had similar thoughts of death I had never taken it as far as to wish the fate on everyone.
"But I didn't die. Because I was afraid. I didn't know if death would be better or worse. I didn't know what death would be at all. And then, before anything had a chance to get better or worse, instrumentality started. I realized that Mama… Mama was there all along. I had someone there all along trying to protect me."
I understood completely.
"But then I was in there," she said pointing at the sea we'd both grown to love and despise at the same time. "In there everything was laid out for me. Every world, every possibility, all of it was just sitting there for me to explore. It was scary. Everything that I thought was fact could have just as easily been fiction. Do you understand what I mean? Nothing was for sure."
I nodded once again feeling the unease of that world return to me. It was true. In there nothing was concrete. Everything was possible. Everything.
"I saw lots of realities. I forgot a lot of them, but I do remember some. In one of them I killed you."
I shuddered. Why was she telling me that? I tried to let go of her hand but she held on tightly. I don't think she was doing it consciously. It was probably just a reflex.
"It was horrible. And it felt so real. I don't even remember why I did it. In another one we were married. We grew old and we started to hate each other. It was… sad. Pointless in a way. Don't get me wrong though… not all of these realities had you in them. It was just the ones that… the important ones. There was this one with Rei living with me and Misato and we actually got along, sort of. There was also this one with Kaji and… well you probably don't want to hear that one."
She was right. I definitely didn't want to hear that one. I didn't even want to know it was a possibility.
"I also remember a similar one with you. Let's just say you weren't too shy, Shinji."
My face was burning. I knew it was. I couldn't help it.
"There was this one… where we were best friends. And I liked you but I wouldn't tell you. Mama was there. So was Daddy. Your parents were there too and they were friends with my parents. We always spent so much time together. You complained constantly that there was nothing to do, but I was just happy to be there with you. And when you went off with your other friends and I went off with mine, I sort of missed you. I didn't die from the loss or anything, but I still missed you."
She looked over at me then and I smiled. I had to because it seemed like such a great reality. Almost like a dream. A true-life dream.
"We had all these weird things between us. We had a secret handshake, tons of inside jokes, and that look. You know that look that some people give each other right before they burst out laughing. It's such a strange, wonderful thing that you can only do with certain people. I loved it. I couldn't tell you any of this in that reality, but I loved it."
"It sounds nice," I said in what I now recognize as the wistful tone one always uses when speaking of realities that were never meant to be.
"It was. That one was my favorite. Later in life, when we were about 18 and going off to college, I kissed you. Right when we were about to leave for our separate schools. You looked so shocked, but I didn't even care. And you said (I'll always remember this) you said, 'what was that for'. And then I said, 'I want you to remember me… forever.' And I knew you would because that was your first kiss. It was mine as well. And then you hugged me for a long time and said, 'take care of yourself Asuka. I'll miss you.' It made me feel… so loved. I would have never thought it was possible. And then you left. And I was sad, but somehow I wasn't because I knew you'd be sad too."
Asuka wouldn't look at me anymore. I don't think she even recognized I was still there. She was caught up in another world, with another life, and another Shinji. She loved it there. She liked it a lot better than here, that's for sure. And who could blame her. That place sounded wonderful. That life sounded great. That Shinji… he must have been some great guy. But he wasn't me.
"Years went by and I met lots of interesting people. Hikari and I went to the same college so we always stayed close. I dated a few guys and many of them were really nice. But for some reason or another it just didn't work out. I never came home over vacation. There was always some internship or some ski trip or something that kept me away. And before I knew it I had graduated from college (it was the first time I'd done it in this reality). I finally came back home from school to see my parents and can you guess who else was there?"
Of course I could guess. This story… excuse me… this reality was beginning to sound more and more like I'd heard it before. It was almost like a movie. Or a novel. Or maybe even a fairy tale. Still I was greatly interested.
"You were there Shinji. Our parents had thrown a surprise graduation party for the both of us. It was the first time I'd seen you in four years. I was so excited I literally jumped into your arms. Later we snuck away from the party. We spent the rest of the day together, catching up and relearning everything about each other. All of our inside jokes were still funny, we still knew the handshake, and I was so glad that the look was still working. It was like we had never been apart. Then you kissed me that night. You said, 'I've been waiting to do that for four years.' I just laughed at you and pulled you into another kiss. One thing led to another and before I knew it we were both naked in your bed."
"What?" I asked shocked out of my mind. That Shinji was not me. Definitely not me.
"Grow up," said Asuka blandly then she continued. "It was both of our first times. I was surprised to find that you hadn't done it in college. I myself had had a few close calls, but I always felt too guilty to go through with it. But I didn't feel guilty at all that night. I can't recall exactly how it felt, but I know that it was the best night of my life… well in that reality anyways. Once again everything just felt so right. It was magical. Let's just call it what it was. It was a dream."
She smiled a smile that was both happy and sad. A bittersweet twist of the lips that caused my chest to burn inside. I looked down at the fire. In a little while it would be completely burnt out. I contemplated throwing on another blanket, but decided against it. I couldn't interrupt Asuka's story. Looking back on it I kind of wish I had. It seemed as if ever sentence following that moment sent a jolt of shock through my body.
"Shinji… we got married. We had kids. I was a mother and you were a father. Our kids were perfect Shinji. Just perfect. And we were the best of parents. We punished them when they did wrong and gave praise to them when they deserved it. I never thought I could have loved anyone more than you. But somehow those kids… they were my life Shinji. They were my life. I could tell they were yours too. But we still loved each other. We loved each other so much. Yet we loved them more. And I realized. Life doesn't have to be bad. I didn't have to kill myself… or anyone else for that matter. I could live and I could be happy. I could love others. I could love myself."
Asuka got so excited at this point in the story that I was hanging on to every word. She really meant all of this. She believed it so deeply. I wanted to believe it with her. For that moment I did.
"Then I found myself here. The reality was over and but the true reality didn't quite set in. I saw you Shinji and I… I still loved you. I thought you were him… the other one. I wanted to kiss you, to touch you, and to hold you, but you… you were trying to kill me. You strangled me, Shinji."
"I didn't mean to… I was confused… I-"
"It's ok. I understand now. It's just I didn't back then. Even after I understood that you weren't the same Shinji I couldn't wrap my mind around it. I kept thinking, 'Why is my husband of so many years so afraid to touch me? Why does he say he hates me? Why isn't Shinji… Shinji?"
I looked back to the fire. I couldn't look at Asuka. I just couldn't.
"But that reality began to fade from my mind as did the rest of them. I realized that you weren't that guy. You couldn't be. I hated you for that and I'm sorry."
"It's ok," I said even though we both knew it wasn't.
"And now we're here and things are ok. In fact, they're pretty good. I feel good, don't you?"
"Yeah, I do feel good," I said. And I smiled because it was true.
I remember thinking, 'There's always a but! Why is there always a but?'
"There's still something missing. I want something more."
"Like what Asuka?" I said perhaps a bit too eagerly. "Just say the word and I'll do it."
"I miss… being needed. I miss caring for something and loving it to death."
"Uhhh…" was all I could say.
"I miss… my children."
"It's not your fault."
"But I'm still sorry. If there's anything I can do for you, just say it, ok."
I was so stupid.
"Just say the word."
So terribly stupid.
"Are you sure?"
Really I was an idiot.
"Well if you're sure…"
"I am," I said further revealing my stupidity.
"Then I'd like you to…" she said, but stopped. She seemed hesitant to even suggest what it was.
"It's ok, you can say it."
"I'd like to…"
"Whatever it is I won't mind."
"Shinji, I want to have your baby."
After I came back to consciousness and started breathing again I attempted to engage Asuka in rational conversation.
"Have my baby?" I asked in disbelief.
"If everything goes right it would only be two."
"Two of them!"
"Well, in theory it'd only be two. We'd just have to hope that one was a boy and the other a girl so that they could-"
"Please don't finish that sentence," I said. I then thought desperately of reasons for which I could decline. "Asuka we're just kids, we can't raise a child."
"Children," she corrected. "And we're not just kids. Look at us. We're living on our own and taking responsibility for our lives. That's what adults do."
"Well… isn't that kind of stuff for married people? I want to wait till I'm married Asuka."
She just sighed. "Shinji, we're the only two people on earth. There are no ministers in sight. I think we're as married as we're going to be."
Well that seemed to be the game, didn't it? Asuka 2, Shinji 0. A complete shutout.
"Just give me a little time to think about it, ok?" I asked in a desperate move.
"Ok," she said and we sat in blissful silence for a moment. I used this time to dream. I thought about this one reality of mine where my father had raised me in a beach house in Okinawa. It was a wonderful wooden house filled to the brim with comfort and love. I was just a little boy of 5 and Daddy (as I called him in that reality) was teaching me how to fly a kite. He said, "Shinji you can't fly this thing without a tail?" and I said, "why not?" and he said, " because it won't be able to-" But just at that point I was drawn from my happy distraction into the world of harsh reality.
"So what do you say?"
What could I say? I said I'd do anything. I assured her numerous times that I'd do it for her. Just say the word, I had said. But I had no idea that instead of doing something for her I'd be doing it with her. The thought alone made me cringe with fear. But I was trapped. I had to do it. I had to do it. I had to do her.
"Well?" she asked quietly and hopefully. I think she knew exactly how much she was asking of me.
"Ok," I said resigned to defeat. I had no choice. It wasn't fair. I started to feel bad for myself. There really wasn't anything else I could do. But then I thought, 'at least she's hot.' I wanted to hit myself.
Asuka became unbearable the moment that "ok" slipped from my mouth. She was happy at first, but I couldn't quite share in her joy.
"This is so great. I'll be a mother… again… for the first time. And you'll be a father Shinji! You'll be good at it too. Or else! Haha, just kidding… not really. Anyways this will be great. But we have a lot of work to do Shinji. A lot of work to do."
Two thoughts went through my mind at that point.
Or else? A lot of work to do?
Neither of these two concepts sounded all that great. I decided to vocalize my concerns on one of them.
"What kind of work?"
"Well we've got to get ready, of course."
"No, we have plenty of time to worry about that while I'm pregnant."
"Pregnant?" I asked in shock. I know it was stupid, but the thought of Asuka being pregnant had never crossed my mind.
"Yes, pregnant. How else do you think we're going to have a baby? Idiot."
It had been so long since Asuka had called me an idiot. I'm not sure if I missed it or not. I just recognized that it had been a long, long time.
"Oh," I said quietly. "So what are we getting ready for then?"
"For sex, of course!"
I'm not sure what I expected her to say, but that definitely was not it. Not in a million years.
"Wha-wha-what?" I said.
"Come on Third, even you're not that dense."
It had been so long since Asuka had called me Third. I'm not sure if I missed it or not. I just recognized that it had been a long, long time.
"We've got to prepare ourselves to have sex. Neither of us really knows what we're doing so we've got to learn how. I want our first time to be perfect."
"Perfect?" I seemed to be asking a lot of questions.
"But how do you prepare for… for… that?"
"You just leave it to me Shinji. When the time comes I'll tell you exactly what to do."
And she did. Believe me she did. It was the most embarrassing week of my life.
She gave me a lesson on the female cycles. She was particularly happy that she'd be ovulating pretty soon so we wouldn't have to wait long to get started. I, of course, didn't want to know such functions existed in any creature of any sort. It was just plain… disgusting. Upon seeing the faces I was making Asuka promptly told me to suck it up.
"It's only going to be worse when the birth starts," she said once again bringing up a situation that I had not yet contemplated. I didn't even want to think about that one.
We had make-out lessons in which Asuka taught me various places on the female anatomy that were more sensitive than others. This might not have been such a horrible thing if the girl had not been shouting instructions throughout the whole experience. It's kind of hard to get lost in the moment (as she constantly instructed me to do) when someone is whining about you kissing the wrong spot on their neck.
She also gave me tons of reading material. I almost gasped when she gave me the one book I had already read. I decided that it would be in my best interests to read none of these books and to just pretend like I had.
The trusting sessions down by the lake were particularly embarrassing. Asuka's desire for us to develop a perfect rhythm was maddening. We stood across from each other practicing our motion by mirroring the actions of the other.
"You're thrusting off tempo!" she would yell at me constantly until I got it.
"It looked pretty close to me," I said.
"Pretty close doesn't cut it. I want magic and I will get magic if we have to stand here thrusting all night!"
She was so wound up about this particular part of my training that she even got mad at me for arriving earlier than her. I just wanted a little walk by myself up to the lake, but she had to blow it up into some big deal.
"You came too early!" she yelled at me in discuss.
"I didn't think it mattered."
"Of course it matters. We're supposed to be in unison. So you need to come when I come."
"I don't see what the problem is. We both came. That's what matters."
"That's besides the point. Next time we're coming together or we're not coming at all!"
"Fine," I said in defeat. I had no idea what she was getting so worked up about.
I'd say the worse lesson she gave me was the one dealing with positions. Some of the things she described and the pictures she showed me have scarred me for life. Scarred me for life. And when she asked me which one I'd like to try I think I nearly fainted. I ended up picking the most traditional one, as it was the only one that I was familiar with through movies and such.
But the worse experience of that week, by far, was "naked day". Asuka decided that we would both stay completely naked for one full day so that we could become comfortable around each other in the nude. I argued against it, but she said it was essential. Asuka was… beautiful, but she was naked. I didn't feel comfortable looking at her and just being near her caused things to heat up down below. Of course she took note of all this and continuously made fun of me. To this day she still mockingly calls me a "Stand-up-guy". I think that day was much more scarring than the positions lesson since it was scarring both physically and mentally. Do you know how painful it is to spill hot beans on your crotch? Do you!
I have to say that that was the most humiliating weak of my life.
Well, time heals all wounds (except hot beans to the crotch) and before I knew it Asuka's ovulation cycle had hit its peak. I don't know how she knew it, but the time had come.
I was scared. Desperately scared. I knew what was going to happen and exactly what was expected of me, but I was scared. That day Asuka seemed to be a bit too calm. It was the type of calm you see before a battle or the sort of resolve a brave man has when he knows he'll die. It wasn't comforting to me in the least.
I was sent into the city for supplies while Asuka opted to stay back at the beach. She said she had a few things she needed to prepare and it would be best if I didn't come back before dark. I almost asked her what she could possibly be preparing that we hadn't already taken care of in the past week, but I thought better of it.
On the way to the city I was lost in thought. So many questions left unanswered. What was Asuka going to do while I was gone? What was going to happen after we did… well you know. And how were we going to react to the change. I'd heard somewhere that after people do that stuff they're completely different with each other. I had finally begun to enjoy my relationship with Asuka, but what if this changes things? What if I messed up? Would she end up hating me again? If it goes as perfectly as Asuka wants, will we enjoy it? Will I end up wanting to do it all the time? I don't want to lose control. I told myself I'd never do it again… especially after that instance in the hospital.
Such doubts and fears ruled my mind. I realized that after all the time spent preparing for that day, I still wasn't ready. But maybe I never would be. Maybe it was just something you had to just dive into and hope for the best. Like a cold swimming pool. But I decided that it didn't matter if I was ready or not. I'd told Asuka I'd do anything. Anything. Just say the word. So I had to do it no matter what. Whether I wanted to or not.
Once I had come to this conclusion the day became a little bit easier for me. I realized that no matter what I would be… I'd be… ah screw it, I'd be having sex with Asuka. This realization allowed me to relax for the time being. There was no weaseling out of this. If I were to do anything, it would have to be an effort towards making the experience better (or more magical as Asuka would say). So while I was in the city I picked up some flowers and chocolates. Those where the other things that girls liked after all. I had to grab fake flowers because all the real ones in the floral shop seemed to be dead or dying. Even though they weren't real I thought they looked nice enough. But you never know. With a girl like Asuka it's never just the thought that counts.
During the walk home I kept going over all I'd learned from the past week. I tried desperately to recall all of those special places that I should touch or do whatever to, but for some reason they wouldn't all come to mind. I knew I was missing one… oh well. I'd just hoped to God that I had the trusting rhythm right. She'd kill me if I didn't.
As I neared the beach I realized a few changes. There was a large pallet of blue blankets and pillows splayed about in the middle of the camp right next to fire pit. In a circle around this pallet there were about 12 white candles dimly burning. The fire blazed intensely almost as if it were especially for this occasion. And in the center sat Asuka wearing the strapless blue dress that I had picked out for her. The full-moon shone brightly from the sky mixed with the flickering light from the candles and the fire creating a visual splendor of her dress. It seemed to glimmer as she moved. The lighting was just as flattering to Asuka as it sent mysterious shadows flickering across her face. As I neared where she was sitting, she smiled up at me. The sight took my breath away. This is what she had been doing. Setting the mood. Making everything just right. I silently wondered how long it took her to do all of this. I wondered if she understood how beautiful she looked.
"Asuka… this is all very nice," I said sounding like an idiot, but I think she understood that I meant it. In fact I'm positive she did.
"Thank you," she said quietly and I found myself almost wishing she would have insulted me or told a joke at my expense. The feeling in the air… it was… something serious… something deep. It really was suffocating. I'd never been more aware of any person than I had been of Asuka at that moment.
"I got you some flowers and candy," I said in an effort to break the silence before it came.
"You didn't have to," she said so seriously that I almost thought I shouldn't have. But I knew that wasn't the case.
"I wanted to… for you."
She smiled and took my gifts in her hands. She then chucked them beyond the ring of candles.
"I don't want them getting in the way," she explained. "I'll be sure to try some of that candy later."
"Ok, I'm glad you like it."
There was a silence that was spent staring into each other's eyes. It was creepy, but somehow necessary. I wanted to look away, but I couldn't. Yet at the same time I didn't want to look away… if that makes any sense. I knew nothing would happen if we just kept looking at each other.
I said, "Well, I guess we should um… uhh…" but I was silenced when Asuka put a finger to my lips.
"Let's not say anything else ok. Let's make this… special."
It started then. It was so strange to be swept up like that. It was just a little kiss at first. That turned into a big kiss. Our hands went around each other and then they went everywhere. I was touching parts of her that I never even thought to touch before. Who cares about the inside of one's elbow? I did that night. Her hands were all over me as well. The kisses kept coming and it felt good. It felt sweet. It felt right. Before I knew it we were both naked and Asuka was on the ground under me. Just waiting for what was to come. We were at the point of no return. It was either stop now or forever hold your peace. I hovered over her for a long time it seemed, but I was going to do what I had to. I knew I was going to do it and I thought Asuka knew that as well, but for some reason she broke our vow of silence.
"Shinji… do you really want to?"
I looked down into her face and thought, 'Now's a heck of a time to ask'. But decided I'd answer. I did want to, but at the same time I didn't. I couldn't tell her that though. I never would.
"Yes, I really want to."
There was silence for a few seconds and then Asuka spoke again.
"You don't have to, you know. I won't hate you or anything. I won't even be sad."
"I want to Asuka."
"No you don't."
Once again there was silence, but this time I was the one to break it.
"I don't care if I want to or not. I'm going to do it."
Asuka closed her eyes at that point and I was a bit confused. She then nodded her head two times as if coming to a mental decision. Then she looked back up at me.
"Ok, Shinji," she said. "Go ahead then."
I smiled at Asuka… it was my brave smile. The one I'd never used before. She smiled back.
I was going to do it. I was really going to do it.
I slowly lowered myself. Ever so slowly. Our faces were getting closer as well as other parts of our anatomies. It was just an inch more I had to go (or at least that's what I mentally assumed) when I stopped. Actually it was more like I was stopped. What happened next… well that's the stuff history is made of.
"What the heck areyou kids doing!" someone yelled from the ocean shore.
I flinched so badly I think I hurt myself. I could see Asuka had flinched too. But the strange overpowering voice was not through with us yet.
"Shinji, get off of her! Get off her right now!"
I rolled off the girl so quickly you'd think she had the plague. Surely this couldn't be happening. I thought I was having a mental break down. Then I looked up and saw that face. That face with the purple hair. It couldn't be… but it was. She was drenched from head to toe in LCL, but sure enough it was Misato.
There was so much I had to do. So much I had to say. I wanted to hug her. To talk to her, to tell her I was sorry for everything. But I never got the chance. The most unlikely thing happened in that moment and for that reason alone I will never forget it.
Asuka got up off the beach floor. She got up and she ran to Misato as if her life depended on it. Then, naked as the day she was born, she embraced the older woman in the most desperate of hugs as she wept on her shoulder.
"Misato," she gasped harshly. "he almost… we almost…" and then she completely lost it. She sobbed so hard I thought she'd bust a blood vessel or something.
"Shhhhh… It's ok Asuka," Misato cooed gently in her ear. "I'm here now," she said as she stroked the young girl's hair.
I couldn't believe what was happening. Asuka had been so egger to go through with it, but there she was bawling her eyes out. I shouldn't have been so surprised though. After all, she was just a girl. And really I was just a boy.
Anyone could see we were both justlonely and confused children.
But we finally had our adult back.
Things seemed to speed up after I arrived on the beach. The kids, well they were just happy to see me. They were so happy to see me that they spent almost all of their time with me. The first day I was back I had a talk with them about how their lives had been before I arrived. It sounded pretty rough trying to survive alone, but it seemed as if they both handled it well. Still I felt that they were both holding back information. In the next few days that past it became clear that whatever it was they were holding back was vital.
I began to notice little things that seemed… just off. Like the way that Shinji would sometimes touch Asuka's shoulder to get her attention. He would just hold it there for a while, even after she had turned around. And then there was the way Asuka had started to cook for us both sometimes. In the past it had always seemed like Shinji was the one doing all the housework. The thing that really got me was the way they sometimes looked at each other when they thought that I wasn't looking at either of them. I could tell it wasn't a romantic type look, but it was a connection all the same. It was as if the two of them were experiencing something beyond what I could see. Almost as if they had constructed a personal world for just each other. It was eerie in a way.
I began to wonder just how long they had been here before I arrived. The way they talked made it seem like no more than a week or two, but the way they acted almost made it seem like a lifetime. When I asked them about it Shinji just shrugged. Asuka claimed she lost track of the time. She had more important things on her mind. I could understand that. Instrumentality can give a person a lot to think about. But I still felt they were lying to me. I suppose it was my fault for asking them both together.
Soon, the past that the two of them shared was the furthest thing from my mind. Within a week after I came back another man walked out of the sea. He was a middle-aged man of short stature with a bushy eyebrows and a thin mustache. It was night when he came. He woke me up by unzipping the tent.
My first instinct was to draw my gun and pull the trigger. I settled for half of that action. The man put up his hands to show he was unarmed and it was my turn to make a move.
"Who are you?"
"Takashi Mizuho," he said politely without a trace of fear.
"Why are you here?"
"I'm not really sure. I was going to stay in there but… I love playing the keyboard. I want to compose something that everyone will love. But in there… no one will really care."
"I'm Misato Katsuragi," I said never dropping the gun. I then pointed to Shinji and Asuka with my free hand. "These are my charges."
"Nice to meet you Ms. Katsuragi," he said oh-so-politely. "Do your charges always sleep together like that?"
I frowned. Asuka had her arm around Shinji's back and both their legs were intertwined. It seemed as if Shinji was laying half on his back and half on his side and Asuka was in a similar situation, but on her stomach. "I don't know… this is the first time I've seen them like that."
"It's kind of weird. Can't be too comfortable either."
"I think they've been alone for a really long time."
"Oh," he said sadly as if talking about some great tragedy. "You know you can stop pointing that gun at me."
I thought about it for a moment then said, "I suppose I can."
Takashi finally lowered his hands and I took a good look at him for the first time really. He was wearing a suit and tie and he definitely looked like a businessman.
"So what happens now?" asked Takashi.
"Well… for tonight you sleep outside. In the morning I'll introduce you to the children and we'll get you a tent set up by nightfall. There's plenty of tents, but the local stores are running out of blankets. The kids have been burning them."
"Ok," he said co-operatively, "but before I go lay out in the cold for the night, I've got to ask you a question. It's been bugging me ever since I got here."
"Shoot," I said.
"What's with all the shopping carts?"
More and more people came and flooded our little beach until there just wasn't room for everyone to stay. Luckily some of these people were technicians, doctors, and other women and men of learning. Unfortunately some of these people were also lawyers, but that's another story entirely. Before long the city was up and running, good as new.
Asuka and Shinji however refused to live in the city. They wanted to stay out on the beach. I managed to get a few people together and they built the three of us a modest beach house overlooking the shore. When people come out of the sea my bright shining face is usually the first thing they see. It's nice to live in a house again, but I kind of miss the outdoors to a small degree.
Now life is stable for us. Things are almost back to normal. Asuka and Shinji are attending school again and all is right in the world. Even Shinji's friend Kensuke has come back now and Shinji couldn't be happier. We're all worried about some of the people who are still out there, but more people seem to be coming each and every day. It seems that the will to live is strong in almost all of us. Even the most desperate of cases.
There's one thing that worries me though. It's Asuka and Shinji. Sure we've gone back to the normal routine of life (with a few changes here and there) but something still seems off about them. At night, when they think I'm asleep, Asuka often creeps into Shinji's room. What they do in there, I don't know. I'm afraid to find out. But they're always quiet and they seem to want to keep it a secret. I guess they just don't want me to know. I tried to reason with myself and look at things positively. Maybe they're just sleeping. After what they've been through is it so wrong for them not to want to sleep alone? But then I think back to the sight that greeted me when I first arrived on the beach. Just what did they think they were going to do? Did they honestly think they could restart the human race on their own? I want to confront them about it, but I can never work up the nerve. The truth is, I'm not sure if I even have the right to ask. Still I fear for them. I don't want them to get hurt. But I suppose I'm just worrying too much. Those two can handle themselves… yeah that's right. They'll be fine. As long as they have each other.
A/N: Don't hate me guys, but it's over. This is the last chapter. Really it is. Unless somebody can prove to me that this ending was horrible (and I mean literally prove, citing examples and everything) then it ends right here. I'm sure some of you are thinking, "What? Why?… How?" but I assure you my reasoning is sound. It's not because I've run out of ideas. In fact I had already thought of at least two solid possibilities in which I could continue this story . One includes an alternate ending and the other would a possible continuation of the current ending. The first one is not going to happen. It would consist of Asuka and Shinji having and raising a family in a desolate post impact world. The second one is likely not to occur as well. The reason for this is because this story has a theme and possibly a point or moral… even if I couldn't tell you exactly what that was. And I know that if I were to continue it past this point I wouldn't be able to have the same theme and moral, therefore I'd just be writing pointless crap. The continuation could happen, but it would be in the form of a sequel, yet the main point of the story would still be drastically changed… and I'd probably put it in third person if anyone cares. Anyways… the point is this story is over after this chapter. If you want a sequel then you better bug me like heck about it and even then you'll only get it if my interest in the story is high after I'm done. Hope you all enjoyed it though.
P.S. – I always wanted to end a story with Fin and have an Epilogue. It's like a dream come true.
P.P.S - Ignore most of what is in the Author's Note above. There will be a sequel. I've already posted it. It's title is "The Eight Day". Sorry to get you all worked up like that, but it wasn't until recently that the inspiration hit. Check out the new story if you dare.