SKI TRIP

by Gunman

Disclaimer: I do not own NGE or its characters.

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It had been several months since Third Impact was averted. Normality had returned to the world, and the NERV crew had finally earned a well-deserved vacation. Especially after the months of inquiries into the events of the Angel Wars and Gendo's highly suspicious activities.

And so with Gendo locked in solitary in a SuperMax prison, the crew of NERV, who had been acquitted of all charges, had decided to go on a well-deserved vacation.

Their choice, with the return of snow, was The Pine Cone Ski Resort.

The group: Misato, Ritsuko, Maya, Shinji, Asuka, and Rei, brought Hikari, Toji and Kensuke.

They had arrived on Monday, got settled in and taken skiing lessons. Of course Asuka, being her usual over-confident self, said she didn't need skiing lessons, despite the fact she had never skied in her life, and just took to the slopes.

She came back that night with a broken leg, dislocated arm, a torn up ski jacket, and some of her hair missing.

Despite all this, she was well enough to inflict pain upon Toji and Kensuke when they inevitably made fun of what happened to her.

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It was Thursday afternoon and the group was just lounging around the hotel. Misato and Ritsuko were in the rear observation lounge that was next to the café and overlooked the ski slopes. Shinji was enjoying a cup of hot chocolate in the café. Rei was with Maya, the older woman taking the blue-haired girl shopping. Asuka was talking with Hikari in the café a table over from Shinji. And Toji and Kensuke had just returned from a good run down the main trails.

"Man! I can't believe we're on a ski trip! And it's paid for by NERV!" Toji cried as he dusted the snow off his jacket.

"You can thank Misato for that." Kensuke grinned. "Who knows how much this is costing her, though."

"If she's charging it to NERV she can probably write it off as a tax deduction." the jock said.

Kensuke nodded at that usually wise statement.

"Yeah, we should really do something to repay her for all this." the otaku said.

The pair started drooling in synch at several possibilities.

Shinji looked at them and sighed. He knew that look and what they were thinking about.

When are they ever going to learn? The boy thought as he cupped his hot chocolate and slowly sipped it.

"Hikari are you serious?" Asuka asked her friend, loud enough to catch Shinji's attention.

"I am Asuka. I'm going to tell Toji how I feel." Hikari said to her friend.

Asuka's leg had healed nicely and she was able to get around without crutches now. Shinji figured it was more her stubborn nature rather than her ability to recover.

"Argh! Of all the people in this world, why him? You could do better." the redhead snapped.

"I couldn't do worse." the pigtailed girl said back.

"That's debatable. Heck, Shinji would probably be better for you than..." she stopped herself at that and started blushing, little knowing she had caused Shinji to blush as well.

"What?" Hikari asked, wondering why she had paused.

"Uh...don't pay any attention to the jabberings of this crazy German." she quickly waved her off.

Hikari then noticed Toji and Kensuke leave the lobby and head towards the stores. Hikari decided to follow them.

"I'll be back soon, Asuka." Hikari said and quickly left.

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"What do you think of this one?" Toji asked his friend as he stared at the display case.

"OUCH! When did you become Daddy Warbucks?" the bespectacled boy recoiled.

"Okay, okay. I just thought it'd look nice." the jock explained.

"No doubt, but you'd have to put a down payment on it with your soul!"

"Whatcha doing, Toji?" Hikari asked, appearing next to the pair.

"Oh, Hikari!" Toji and Kensuke shot up and spun around to face the girl. "Uh...perfect! Maybe you can help me with something." the jock said.

"Okay, what?" she asked, naturally curious why they were in a jewelry store.

"Uh, see, there's this...person...that I like, and I was wondering if you'd tell me what...they...might like." he said, trying to be as vague as possible.

Hikari blushed a little. Not from the fact that she thought it was cute that he was trying to hide his true intentions, but that she assumed he was getting something for her. She looked over the display case and spent a few minutes to make what she felt was the right decision.

She stared at a pendant that had a bright blue crystal in a gold setting. There was a smaller one next to it, but it was just as elegant.

"This one." she said, pointing to the pendant.

"You sure?"

"Oh, absolutely, she'd love it." the girl beamed.

"How did you know it was a girl?"

She gave him a disbelieving look. "You're looking at jewelry, Toji. It's not hard to guess."

"Oh. Right." he said, coughing a little in embarrassment.

"And I'm pretty sure you can afford it." she said, indicating the price.

Toji thanked the girl and then proceeded to purchase it as Hikari left to inform Asuka.

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Shinji watched Hikari run back to where Asuka was sitting, a joyous look on her face.

Uh-oh. Shinji thought crestfallen.

Years of living his life in disappointment and unhappiness had given the boy a veritable sixth sense when it came to people who were happy for the wrong reasons. Even if they didn't know it.

"Asuka! I think Toji's getting me something." Hikari said to her friend.

Shinji remained silent, his back to the girls.

"What makes you think that?" Asuka asked.

"He was buying a gift for a girl. And he asked me my opinion. Mine!"

"Hikari you're probably reading too much into this." she said, trying ease her friend from getting her hopes up.

"Asuka, I'm sure."

"So what was this gift that you picked out?"

"A crystal blue pendant in a gold setting."

Shinji had been listening to this, and he knew something was wrong. With the pair still talking, Shinji finished his hot chocolate and headed off without them noticing.

Please be wrong, Shinji, please be wrong. He thought to himself as he entered the jewelry store and went right up to the shopkeeper.

"Can I help you young man?" the older man asked.

"The two teenage boys that came in here, they bought something. A pendant in a gold casing."

"Yes, I believe they left just a couple minutes ago."

"Do you have something, or anything, like that?"

The shopkeeper brightened at the possibility of another sale and so soon.

"Right this way."

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"Here he comes! Here he comes!" Hikari whispered excitedly to Asuka as Toji and Kensuke walked towards the girls as they sat in the observation lounge... and Asuka felt Hikari's energy crash as they walked right past them and headed towards Misato.

"Major Katsuragi, on behalf of myself and Kensuke, we'd like to present you with this token of our appreciation for taking us on this ski trip." Toji said as he handed the purple-haired woman a case with the pendant inside it.

The pendant that Hikari had chosen.

"Oh, you didn't have to do that, boys." Misato said, smiling as she accepted the gift.

"We just felt it was appropriate." Kensuke replied with a mile-wide grin.

That was the moment that Shinji chose to enter the lounge looking for Hikari and suddenly watched as the young pigtailed woman ran past him in tears.

Damn it! I wish I had been wrong. Shinji thought as he put the box in the inside pocket of his jacket, then turned to see a fuming Asuka jump on Toji's back and tightly headlock the poor boy, which was more than enough to convince Shinji he was too late.

At this point Shinji felt his best course of action was to go after Hikari.

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Shinji raced out of the lodge and saw Hikari get on the ski lift, headed to one of the higher points of the mountain.

Grabbing his skis and poles he followed her up.

He was about four chairs behind her but he could hear her sobbing. His first thought, of course, was that crying in this cold weather would not be good for her. What with dehydration and the fact those tears would freeze both her eyes and skin.

She got off more than half-way up the mountain and quickly took down a black diamond path.

Oh, great! Thank you very much, Toji! Shinji cursed the boy as he hurried after the upset girl.

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Ritsuko and Maya were still trying to unclamp Asuka's hands from around Toji's neck. Kensuke was off to the side, too scared to help. And Rei was standing with Misato next to the window. It wasn't that they were insensitive to the jocks plight, it's just that the darkening clouds coming over the mountain didn't look friendly. Add to that the fact that Rei mentioned that Shinji's skis were gone.

"And you haven't been able to find him, at all?" Misato asked, not looking at Rei.

"Knowing Shinji-kun as I do, there are only a handful of places he would actually be found. And he is nowhere in those places." the blue-haired girl said.

"Go look again."

"But, major..."

"Go... Look... Again." she slowly repeated.

"Understood." she said and turned to leave.

Misato really hated ordering Rei around like that, but if Shinji wasn't inside the hotel when the storm hit, then that meant he was outside, maybe on the mountain. And if that was true... she paused that thought, not wanting to continue.

Shinji-kun. Where are you?

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"Hikari!" the boy shouted as he finally managed to catch up to the girl, buried in the snow.

For the last twenty minutes, Hikari Horaki had been barreling through every twist, turn, mound and mogel on the mountain, as if trying to outrun the sorrow/misery inside her. What Toji had done, regardless of whether it was deliberate or unintentional, mattered little to Hikari. He had done it.

How could I be so stupid? She cursed herself as she skied. You know the way he looks at Misato. The looks of desire and want. You just didn't want to admit it. You thought if you were nice, if you were kind and helpful to him, he'd actually...

But her thoughts were interrupted as a sharp turn she hadn't been paying attention to caused her to hit it wrong, sending her flying into the air and splaying headfirst into a snowbank.

She lay there for untold minutes, absorbed in the cold as it started to seep into her jacket and boots. She felt drained, unable to move or even try to will herself to move. She didn't feel hurt, only a little sore, yet she felt no real desire to get up. Heat was slowly beginning to leave her body, her will to fight or even survive had all but vanished.

Her last thoughts were of Asuka and then Shinji as darkness overtook her.

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"Come on, light!" a voice said, calling the girl back from the darkness.

She didn't feel cold anymore. Slightly less so.

"Yes!" the voice shouted once more as Hikari managed to open her eyes.

The first thing she focused on was the young man before her.

Shinji. She thought. But... what is he doing here? Why is... did he... come after me? She wondered. Then she noticed that his own jacket was covering her as she was propped up against the wall of some kind of cave. At least that's what it appeared to be. The cave was rather small by itself, like a perfectly carved out circle, but it seemed to provide enough shelter, as she noticed that outside the nearby entrance that the snow was really coming down. A blizzard, she thought, judging from the way the wind was howling and the snow was rapidly moving. She was lucky that the caves unique shape didn't allow for any cold wind to actually enter the cave, yet the smoke from the rather small fire wasn't staying trapped inside with them. Shinji had started the fire with a small bundle of wood and...

"A lighter?" she asked weakly, noticing the zippo-style lighter he had.

"Hikari-san! You're awake!" the boy gushed happily as seeing her open her eyes.

"I didn't know you smoked."

"Smoke? I don't smoke."

"Then why do you have a lighter?"

He looked at his hands. "Oh. It was a gift from Dr Akagi. In case I needed it." He realized the fuss Misato had made when the chain-smoking doctor had given the lighter to him, as if the woman was trying to get Shinji subtly hooked on nicotine.

"To start a fire when you're caught in a cave during a blizzard?" she asked, mildly joking.

"Exactly."

"Okay." she said, playing off the event.

Hikari just watched the boy as he tended the fire. She noticed immediately that he wasn't trying to take advantage of the situation like she had overheard Kensuke would if he and Misato were in this situation. She realized now that Toji shared that sentiment moreso than most.

Maybe he's not the stooge I thought he was. So why does he associate with Toji and Kensuke so much? Hikari wondered.

"Shinji?" she asked.

"Yeah, Hikari?"

"Aren't you cold?"

"A little. I'll be alright." he said as he rubbed his arms and chest with his own hands.

Hikari was silent for several seconds as she just watched the boy. "We could share out jackets." she suggested.

He blushed a little at that. "Uh...that's okay Hikari. You need it more than I do."

He's so shy. It's kinda sweet. "Shinji, please, I don't want you to get hypothermia. And we'll be able to keep each other warm. Please?"

Shinji caved and moved closer to Hikari, but didn't do more than slowly get under the jackets. He was clearly nervous being this close to the girl, and said girl realized she had to be bold.

"Shinji? Hold me." she said, looking at him.

"What?" he gasped about ready to make a break for it.

"Put your arms around me, like you're hugging me." she elaborated.

"But...then we'll be..." his nerves clearly strained now.

"Generating enough body heat to survive until the rescue party finds us." she explained.

Her argument was well founded, and Shinji slowly put his arms around the girl. She smiled a little as she rested her head on his chest and snuggled into his embrace, grateful for both the warmth and comfort he provided.

Shinji was not an aggressive person. Nor would he ever take advantage of a girl in a situation like this. Not that Hikari was complaining. To her it was rather refreshing in a way. She could tell this by the way he was blushing and not looking at her. She knew that look. It wasn't one of disgust or disinterest. He was trying not offend her by doing something she could consider perverted.

She smiled at that, and felt warm all over as the fire slowly started to die down.

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Shinji was resting against the rock wall of the cave with Hikari leaning against him, and she was far more comfortable. Her suddenly felt her arms, nudge something inside Shinji's jacket.

What could that be? She wondered as she decided to poke her hand into the pocket and retrieved the small box. There was also a note attached to it. Curious, she opened the note and froze in shock. This... this note is from Toji... but it's Shinji's handwriting. Even Toji's name. She thought. Having been the class representative long enough she recognized the differences in the various students handwriting styles. Toji's was a little messy and hard to read sometimes, but Shinji's was always neat and even. And this note was obviously written by someone with neat handwriting. She then opened the small box and practically felt her heart stop.

Inside was the blue crystal pendant, wrapped in a gold setting that she had been looking at earlier. Of course, this was the smaller one. It's big sister was currently in the possession of one Misato Katsuragi.

He got me the pendant I picked out, and signed Toji's name to it. But why did he... how did he know... her mind continued to ramble as she stared at the pendant. Finally she realized two things: 1-Shinji must have gotten this for her and signed Toji's name to it so she wouldn't think less of him. and 2-she didn't pay enough attention to him or she would have noticed him following her when she went to pick out the pendant.

That's it! He must have seen me choose the pendant and Toji buying it and overheard me talking to Asuka about it. He must have known that Toji wasn't doing it for me and got me this pendant so that I'd think Toji was thinking about me. She suddenly paused. Whoa. Where did that well-thought out deduction come from, Sherlock Horaki?

Hikari refocused her thoughts on the pendant and doesn't fight the tear that streams down her face. She turned to Shinji and kissed him gently on the cheek.

That actually woke him up, where he shuffling did not.

"What...what was that for?" the groggy boy asked.

"For being such a nice guy." she said, holding up the blue crystal pendant.

The second Shinji saw it, he mentally freaked, waking up fully, and trying to explain. "Uh...Toji... wanted me to..." he tried vainly to say.

"Buy the pendant and sign the note in his name?" Hikari replied.

"Uh..." he froze, realizing he had been caught.

"You bought this pendant for me, and signed Toji's name to make it seem as if he was thinking of me and not just Misato." she explained.

"Yes." he admitted, lowering his head in shame.

Hikari kissed him again. "Thank you. It was very sweet of you, Shinji-kun. Really. Toji doesn't deserve a friend like you. Don't ever change, promise me?" she said, sweetly and slightly pouting.

"Uh...alright, Hikari. I promise." he said with a great blush.

She smiled again and settled back into his arms, the pendant and note placed back into her jacket, as she rested her head against his chest.

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Twenty-four hours later the rescue crews found them. They found them because Shinji was standing outside the cave to flag them down. He wasn't wearing his winter jacket as Hikari needed it more to stay warm. Needless to say he was more than half-frozen when the ski patrol found him.

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Shinji awoke to the sight of another unfamiliar ceiling, but was brought out of his musings as Asuka and the others-Rei, Ritsuko, Maya, Toji and Kensuke-were standing around his bed.

Naturally, the first words out his mouth, were...

"Is Hikari alright?"

"Hikari is just fine, baka-boy. Hikari told us what happened before the Ski Patrol found you." Asuka glared said with a glare.

"Asuka, we weren't doing any-" Shinji started to explain, but the redhead cut him off.

"Relax, Shinji. Ski Patrol said if you hadn't been hugging each other, you probably would have died. Body heat. So, I'll let it go this time since you helped Hikari." she said, tossing a glare at Toji and Kensuke to make sure they didn't tease him about this now or later.

"Where is she?" he asked.

"Asleep right now in our room. When Ski Patrol found you they said you were half-frozen because you gave her your jacket. That was kinda stupid of you, but she would have been worse off if you hadn't done that. So... thank... you."

Everyone froze at the words that came out of her mouth.

Asuka was thanking Shinji? Considering the reason, they simply accepted it.

"Hikari managed to explain everything to us before she too passed out. You were already out of it when they brought you in." Ritsuko said.

"At least everything's back to normal, now." Shinji said.

"Well... almost back to normal." Asuka said.

"Um, I think I should warn you, Shinji.," Maya began hesitantly.

"Yes?" the boy asked curiously.

"Misato's on her way from patrol headquarters… She just heard you woke up-" Maya was distracted by a low noise, that began to grow exponentially. Shinji soon began to make out the sound distinctively, but by then it was too late.

"SHHHINNNNNNJJJJIIIIII-KUNNNNNN!" The purple-haired woman shrieked, in a potent mixture of joy and fear. Shinji also screamed-Mostly in fear-as Hurricane Katsuragi flew across the room and pounced on the hospital bed.

"AUGH! MISATO! PLEASE!" the panicked boy cried as he struggled to get free of his guardian's vicious embrace.

"Major! What are you doing to Shinji!" Maya shouted as she tried to peel the woman off the boy.

"Quit it, ya drunken lecher!" Asuka shouted as she tried to help the lieutenant.

"Did anyone bring a camera?" Ritsuko laughed off to the side.

"Major Katsuragi, please desist…" Rei said calmly, unmoving from her place.

"Oh god, Shinji is just so lucky!" Toji cried as he watched the one-sided wrestling match.

"You can say that again!" Kensuke grinned widely as he video taped the whole thing.

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Unaware of the molestation her savior had just endured, Hikari Horaki came emerged from her room and went down to the recovery wing. Right as she got in, Asuka was the first person to see her. The second person was Toji, who quickly got up and went to talk to the pigtailed girl.

"Hikari. Uh, can we talk?" the jock asked, hoping to make up for what he had accidentally done the other day.

"Sorry, Toji. I actually came to see Shinji." she said politely stepping around the stunned jock and headed for the bed.

Asuka realized what was going to happen and quickly ushered everyone out.

"Alright, everybody out!" the German redhead practically ordered.

"What?" Toji gasped.

"Do I have to repeat myself, monkey boy?" she glared. "On second thought, maybe I should. Out. Out. Out!" she said, emphasizing each word with a push towards the door.

As soon as the room was clear, Asuka gave Hikari a wink and left herself.

"How are you feeling, Shinji?" Hikari asked as she sat down next to his bed.

"Better. I'm glad you're alright." he said with a smile to the girl.

Hikari blushed. Shinji then noticed something around her neck.

"You're wearing the pendant."

"Oh, Yeah." she smiled, fingering the small blue gold-encased crystal.

"You didn't have to."

"It's the gift you gave me. The one I thought Toji was going to pick out for me." she said, sounding a little sad.

"Don't give up on him, Hikari."

She looked at him, a little confused.

"He may be thick some times, but he's a good guy." he said, trying once again to help his friend.

Hikari shook her head. "No. You're the good guy. Sticking up for him like this."

"But..." he tried to protest.

"No. Please don't." she interrupted. "I've chased after Toji long enough, and I'm tired of waiting. I need someone else in my life. Someone... like you."

Shinji's eyes flew wide open.

"Like... me? You mean..." he tried to ask as she reached out and placed a hand on his own while it still rested on the bed.

"Would you like to get some hot chocolate?" she asked him with a kind smile.

"I..." he said, then let himself have a smile as he felt Hikari's hand tighten a little. He knew what he would have to say, and he liked the fact that she was asking him because she wanted him to say yes. "Sure. I'd love to."

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Epilogue:

Shinji and Hikari began dating exclusively after that day. They spent the rest of the ski trip with each other, either on the slopes, eating meals, or just cuddling by the open pit fire in the observation lounge. Hikari never took off her pendant gift from Shinji.

Asuka didn't complain too much about her best friend hanging out with her new boyfriend. At seeing the looks of affection pass between the two, and the realization that Shinji would be a good, kind, loyal and generous boyfriend, Asuka instead did her best to help the pair whenever she could.

Needless to say, Hikari never gave Toji a second chance, or a chance to make up for what he had done. Whether it was accidental or not. Shinji was the only one who just accepted the jocks actions and tried to make the boy feel less weighted by his guilt.

Misato would tease her ward somewhat, but that wasn't something that could be avoided.

As for the others-Rei, Ritsuko, Maya and Kensuke-they were all happy for Shinji and Hikari. More so for Shinji since they all figured it was about time he got himself a girlfriend.

And Shinji couldn't agree with them more.

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Authors Notes:

I don't know if The Pine Cone Ski Resort actually exists, but I remember it from an old Sailor Moon episode called 'Ski Bunny Blues' so I decided to use it.

I hope I got Toji's obliviousness right. I figured that in his mind, if he had a choice between Hikari and Misato... he'd try to get Misato.

This story has been another of mine on the back-burner for months. I was originally planning to have this become a Shinji/Maya story, but half through the idea/summary phase I chose to put Hikari into it. The reason I did this is because it would have been more emotional and hopefully have more substance to it.

And I was right.

Anyway, hope everyone liked it and will show their appreciation with positive reviews.

And now... my OMAKES!

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OMAKE 1

"Uh, Shinji?"

"Yeah, Hikari?"

"Umm...there's something you have to know." she said sheepishly, looking down at the ground.

"Yeah?"

"You remember that night we spent in the cave?"

Shinji blushed. He nodded.

"Umm...I'm pregnant."

Eye's popped wide open, jaw dropped to the floor. Voice was gone.

Eventually he found his voice.

"But...but...we..didn't..."

"Uh...actually we did." she blushed.

"But..." he whispered. "We agreed not to tell anyone about that."

"I know. But this is harder to ignore."

Shinji sighed, and straightened up.

"Then, I guess there's only one thing to do." he said as he got down on one knee and took the girls right hand. "Hikari Horaki, will you marry me?"

The look in his eyes was serious, no hint of amusement or teasing.

She smiled, a tear going down her cheek. She fell into his arms and hugged him tightly. "Yes, Shinji Ikari. Yes I'll marry you."

He hugged her back tightly.

(I know, not as funny as other omake's, more dramatic, but I kinda liked writing it)

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OMAKE 2 (random)

"You should apologize for stepping on Pen-Pen." Shinji said to the German redhead.

"Why? He's just a dumb bird. He'll probably forget it aAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!" she soffed and then started screaming. "HELP ME! HELP ME! HELP ME! GET HIM OFF! GET HIM OFF! GET HIM OFF!" Asuka shrieked as she ran around the room with the warm-water penguin's beak firmly attached to her buttocks.

"I tried to warn you." the boy said as he watched, very amused.

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OMAKE 3

"Dear?" the elderly woman said.

"Yes, hon?" the man replied to his wife.

"You do realize that that big crystal you sold those two boys was nothing but Cubic Zirconium, right?"

"And the smaller one was a real crystal, yes I do. But they won't."

Elsewhere...

"What do you mean it's a fake?" Misato gasped.

"I mean it's a fake. It's Cubic Zirconium. Practically worthless." the appraiser said to the woman.

Oooooooh. Those boys are so going to get it! The woman scowled.