FORWARD AFFECTION

by Gunman

Disclaimer: I do not own anything but my wits and they are at their end!

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Rei Ayanami was confused, and she did not like the feeling. In the two weeks since she had been saved from the fifteenth Angel by Unit 01's pilot, the First Child had this nagging feeling burning inside her. A feeling, she knew she should not have at all, that lead itself to an increase in her confusion.

Why? she asked herself as she walked to school, Why does he place himself in harms way simply to protect me? He was not ordered to do so, and the risk was entirely on him. He could have suffered greatly in this last battle, beyond recovery.

Her mind filled with the image of Unit 01 placing itself in front of the downed Unit 02, taking the psychokinetic attack of the Angel to protect it. And then doing the same again when the Angel focused it's attention on her. She remembered feeling pain and suffering before Unit 01 moved again and placed itself between herself and the Angel, shielding her so that she could kill the Angel with the Lance of Longinus.

Twice he placed himself in harms way to protect his fellow pilots, but Rei felt it was more than that.

She was also perplexed by the changes in her other fellow pilot, Asuka Langley Sohryu. The girl seemed downright... friendly to Shinji Ikari, Third Child and pilot of Unit 01 (though never to her), which was an abrupt turnaround from her abusive behavior since the fifteenth Angel. At first she had thought that WAS the explanation... until she realized that the change had begun beforehand.

The Third and Second Child had been spending a lot of time together. Before the Sixth Angel it was just herself and Shinji. But she had learned that they had to joint-pilot Unit 02 against the Sixth, which implied cooperation. Then there was their synchronization drills together so that they would be able to coordinate their attacks to defeat the Sevenths. And after that Shinji had saved Asuka from dying in the volcano when they attempted to capture the Eighth Angel.

It only made sense that all this, and possibly more, had lead the Second to come to better terms with the Third.

I will speak to him today, she determined, I must not allow this lack of understanding to affect me... the Commander would not approve.

At the thought of her Commander, Gendo Ikari, a small smile graced her lips. After all, was he not the man who raised her, clothed and fed her as she grew? Was he not the man that lavished attention upon her when no one else was around, listening to everything she had to say with a look of infinite patience? (Even though she said very little) Was he not the man who defined her very existence?

Her smile faded a little.

But was he not also the man who had ordered Unit 00's arm to be detonated when the fourteenth attacked, even though it would have only taken a moment to cut the connection to her and her Eva? Was he not the man who had been willing to put her into Unit 01 to fight the Third Angel, even though she was still bleeding from the wounds she had suffered from the Unit 00 activation failure? Was he not the man who had sent her to taunt Naoko Akagi, knowing that it would drive her insane with rage and... what? This memory was still hazy to her.

"He only does what he... must..." she whispered as the darker thoughts came to her... but she was unsure.

She hoped that Shinji would be free this afternoon to answer her queries.

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Shinji turned around, sensing a presence and expecting to find Asuka waiting for him.

After all this she still doesn't have much patience, he thought. However, when he turned around he was met with another face. "Ayanami, hi!" he said, brightening, "I thought you had gone for the day."

She just looked at him. "I wish to speak to you." She said plainly, standing before him, tall and straight.

"About NERV Business, right?"

"No."

His eyes widened. Wow. he mused, Ayanami never seemed to want to talk about anything but NERV. He turned to address her. "Sure, what's on your mind?"

"Pilot Ikari," she said quietly, "why do you attempt to kill yourself?"

Shinji was surprised, "WHAT? I don't try to kill myself, Ayanami!" He said with a certain amount of shock, realizing that he hadn't had any suicidal thoughts this month.

"Then why do you place yourself willingly into harms way?" she inquired, tilting her head to the side in curiosity.

"I don't...," he said, trying to understand why Rei was asking him this, "understand what you..." he only paused briefly, but Rei caught it. "You mean why did I put myself in the path of the Angel's attack for both you and Asuka."

"Yes." she said in her calm voice, "The Second Child was in anguish when the Angel attacked, and I myself felt incredibly uncomfortable when it attacked me. Yet you placed yourself in the path of the attack willingly. Twice in fact. Despite the obvious pain you must have endured. It has been my experience that people tend to avoid pain, yet you throw yourself into these very situations. Do you enjoy pain? Are you a... masochist?"

"God, NO!" Shinji quickly stated. "No one likes to be in pain, Ayanami."

"Then why put yourself into positions where pain is the obvious result?"

Shinji bowed his head for a good minute, trying to come up with the appropriate answer. Rei waited patiently.

It's true. Piloting Eva has given me nothing but pain. How could I enjoy that? He thought. But if I didn't, then others would suffer more from my inaction.

Realizing that was the most accurate answer, Shinji lifted his head to Rei.

"I guess...because I don't like seeing others suffering." he answered.

That sent Rei's mind whirling. She recalled the time she had been injured, and ordered to pilot, and she remembered Shinji trying to comfort her after she had been thrown off the gurney during the Third Angel's attack. She remembered how Unit 02 had been burned with acid from the Ninth Angel and how Shinji tried to comfort Asuka after she slipped down the shaft when the pain became too much for her.

"So, you place yourself in harms way, to protect others, because you are concerned for them." Rei stated. "Because you...care for them."

Shinji really didn't have to think about it, "Yeah, I... guess that sums it up. When you are concerned with other people, you want to help them, no matter what. And if you care for them, you want to be close to them to protect them, regardless of the danger." he said, not adding 'and because others people lives have more value than my own.'

Rei nodded. "I understand. May I ask another question?" He nodded, "If a person tells you that they do not like you, do you feel sadness?"

He looked at the floor, "Yes... if I asked someone if they liked me and they said no, I would feel hurt..." He became aware that she was watching him intently, "What is it, Ayanami?"

"Do you like me?" she asked, stepping closer.

Shinji was a little shocked by this, his natural fear causing him to take a step back.

"Umm..."

He felt trapped by his own words. While it was true he did like the girl, he was scared to say 'yes' because he wasn't sure how she would react to it. Given the fact that Rei Ayanami wasn't known to ask very personal questions. He gathered his courage, hoping for the best.

"Y-yes, Ayanami, I like you... but-"

"Then will you tell me, what is affection, love and care?" She suddenly asked him.

She knew the answer, but she had no experience. She wanted to know in order to become more human. To become less naïve. True she could have asked The Commander, but in his world, things like that were useless and unimportant. Dr Akagi, being of the same logical nature as herself, might not have been much help. The Captain would have been more helpful, but from what she understood about her 'home life' according to The Second and Third Child, she was confident the older woman wouldn't give her the 'appropriate' answer she sought.

This left Shinji, the only person who had actually tried to make friends with her. The only one who showed her true, genuine kindness and concern. The Commander did, but he had since grown cold as of late. She noticed that Shinji was deep in thought, obviously thinking about her question. He stared away for a second, while she noticed his features. His short brown hair that hung just low enough to cover his eyes, his slim build that possessed hidden strength. She couldn't help but think how he rejected that strength, having no desire to be a pilot. Before she met Shinji she never gave anything else consideration. There had been nothing else for her to live for.

"Affection, how could I describe it…it has different levels. Its obvious meaning is love and goodwill for another person. I can't really describe it…" he sputtered.

"Can't or won't?" she asked. It probably felt like she was pushing him, but Shinji was used to other people being blunt around him.

"Well, it can be shown through words or actions. Such as saying something like 'I love you,' or actions such as a kiss..." he said with a blush.

If that is all it takes... She thought as she took a few steps forward, forcing Shinji up against the wall, "Will you not kiss me, then?"

He swallowed as she drew closer to him, a sense of unreality washing over him at her bold advance, "I don't... think it would be... appropriate, I- "

"Do you love the Second Child?" she whispered, her face now inches from his.

Though they had never strayed from the general topic of relationships, the question still caught him off guard, "I..." He didn't know what to say. Do I? he thought. Having never been in love before, he had nothing to compare it to.

While it was true that he and Asuka had never been close, as of late they had become much friendlier to the point she didn't hit or insult him in public (and only mildly in private), but there was no 'love' between them, he was sure. Sure he liked her, even admired her, but...love?

Rei asked the next logical question, "Does she love you?" she waited patiently for his response.

He looked down, "I care about Asuka, but..." he whispered honestly. However, to the second part of her question, he was fairly certain that Asuka didn't feel that way about him. Considering the way she still swooned over Kaji.

"If there is no love," Rei said quietly, reaching out and placing her hand on his shoulder, "then there is no shame in kissing another..." she paused, "another who may also have love for you."

Shinji's eyes widened and he opened his mouth to speak, but he never got the chance.

Rei's world was one of logic and reason. At that specific point, her logic had deduced that the reason she thought of Shinji so often was that he was very appealing to her... and, after their conversation, her reasoning found no just cause for her to not act on her logic.

She placed her other hand on his unoccupied shoulder and took the next logical step...

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Shinji was in his room. It was about 6:00 and both Asuka and PenPen were enjoying their meal that he had prepared for them. He had declined to eat anything and opted to go to bed early. Asuka hadn't really complained about that but still found it curious. Shinji had left a plate for Misato in the microwave with a note on the table.

Ayanami... he thought as the music of his SDAT played through his head. His face flushed a little at the image of the young woman, and what had happened to him this afternoon.

He had to admit that he did have feelings for her. He admitted that she was attractive, and intriguing at the very least. When they first met, she had been injured. He remembered the feeling he had at seeing her like that. Weak, helpless, in pain. He wanted to protect her, comfort her, shield her from any and all things that came about.

But after she had slapped him for his comment about his father he thought maybe she didn't want to be protected. He had to admit he admired her for trying to stand on her own. He wondered if he could ever have had that kind of strength. He wished he could, then maybe his father would look on him as he did Rei.

He sighed as he realized that idea would virtually never happen. Still, he wondered what his father would think if he found out about the kiss.

A blush started in his cheeks and threatened to spread to his entire face.

He got out of bed and headed to the living room. He needed to talk to Asuka about something.

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Rei sat on her bed, most pleased with herself. "Ikari..." she whispered softly, a very small smile creeping across her face.

Her mind went back once more to the events played out several hours ago. The way his lips felt against hers, so soft and warm. The way he had closed his eyes and tilted his head to the side, allowing more of her mouth to press against his. The way he had moaned softly as she ran her hands across his cheek. The small thrill that had run through her as he touched her the same way.

And then, as quickly as it had begun, it was over. His eyes had flown open and he had broken away, stammering an apology and some vague excuse about needing to get back home.

She ran her fingers carefully across her lips, trying to recall the exact feel of the kiss.

"It was most pleasurable," she said, with contentment in her voice, "I hope that it will not be long before we can do it again..."

She briefly considered the idea that Shinji might not want to do it again, but discounted it immediately as she remembered his arm coming around her waist to pull her closer to him... and his simple words, 'I like you...'

In her mind, it was a good start.

She rolled over onto her stomach and closed her eyes, satisfied with the conclusion she had reached: Shinji had kissed her back, which meant his relationship with Asuka couldn't possibly be serious.

And as The Commander would have taken advantage of any situation to turn it to his benefit, Rei fully intended to take every possible opportunity to kiss the Third Child again... and again... and again... until she was sure that she loved him... and he loved her.

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Rei entered into the classroom and looked around. It had been little more than a week since she had kissed Shinji, and since then had been unable to find him alone. He always seemed to have just left, or be on his way somewhere with a rather insistent Second Child.

Rei was starting to get annoyed. Not angry, because it took a lot to get her angry... just - 'annoyed'. She was certain that the redhead was somehow keeping her away from Shinji, however the reasons seemed to be legitimate.

Finding only Asuka in the empty classroom, she approached her.

"Something I can do for you, First?" Asuka said with a small smile.

"I am looking for Ikari... have you seen him?" she said, frowning slightly.

Asuka glanced around the classroom. "You don't see him here, do you?"

"I did not see him leave with the other students." she said softly, ignoring the sarcasm.

Asuka shrugged, "Don't know what to tell you, Wondergirl... I haven't seen him."

Rei frowned and left the room, realizing how difficult Asuka could be, especially to her.

As soon as she had gone, the object of Rei's searching climbed out from under the redhead's desk.

"Whew... that was so close..." he said, relief evident in his voice.

"Yeah, really." Asuka agreed. "But we can't keep doing this day in and day out. Speaking of which... You didn't peek, by any chance?" Asuka said, frowning, "Because I'd hate to have to kill you."

Shinji immediately put his hands up, "I wouldn't do that, Asuka!"

"Oh? Are you saying I'm not worth it?" she said, grinning a little as if playing with him.

"No, no! You are, it's just that... I'm not Toji or Kensuke." he quickly stated.

Asuka realized that he was speaking the truth, at least in that respect. "You're sure?"

"Not one tiny peek, I swear! I looked at the floor the whole time!" he muttered.

Asuka seemed satisfied with that answered. "Alright. Come on... let's get out of here before she decides to comes back."

"Ok," Shinji replied with a smile. As Asuka turned to leave, Shinji thought to himself, Never knew she wore little red hearts. So cute! he hurried after the Second Child, his smile widening.

However, Asuka seemed to notice. "Shinji, why are you grinning?"

"Well, I was just thinking what Misato would say if she found out about this." he said quickly.

That seemed to deter Asuka's logic from the fact that if he was thinking about what their guardian would have said, he would be blushing instead of grinning.

"Oh, GOD! We'd never hear the end of it!" Asuka flailed.

Shinji just continued to smile, mostly at how it had come to this.

After Shinji and Rei had kissed that first time, the rather panicked Third Child had ran home and all but barricaded himself in his room. After a while, he had come out because he needed to talk to someone about all this. Since Misato was working late again, and PenPen couldn't understand him, that left Asuka as the only option.

Asuka's relationship with Shinji had developed nicely over the few months she had been in Japan, and when she was approached by the boy looking to talk to her about a problem he had, she simply asked what it was. When Shinji told her about what Rei had said and done, the German redhead was... conflicted.

At first she felt jealously, as if she thought Rei was moving in on her boyfriend. But she blasted that thought and moved on to disbelief, confused as to why Rei would even show such emotions all of a sudden. Disbelief lead to curiosity, curiosity lead to sympathy, and this sympathy lead to concern.

It was at that point, thinking that Rei was up to something, Asuka agreed to help Shinji avoid the blue-haired girl until he was sure of his own feelings on the matter.

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

It was four hours later and Shinji and the other pilots had just finished their synch tests. Shinji had just changed and was walking carefully out of the locker room, looking both ways for any sign of Rei. Asuka had promised to keep the First Child busy for a few minutes so he would not have to deal with her. It was the only thing he wasn't looking forward to after such a boring test. He wondered if he was getting Asuka's mentality regarding such repetitive activities.

Seeing nothing, he sighed and began walking towards the exit when he passed a side-corridor and found himself face-to-face with the red-eyed pilot of Unit 00.

"Hello, Ikari..." she said, quickly closing the distance between them.

"Umm... hello, Ayanami." he said, looking around for some way to escape without seeming rude.

"You have been avoiding me, Ikari." she said quietly, coming to stand directly in front of him, "Why?"

Shinji gathered his courage, deciding it was time to put a stop to the situation before it got any worse, "Rei, I've been avoiding you because I-"

Rei's patience was wearing thin, and normally she was not so forthright, but she had been waiting for several days to find Shinji alone, and she was not inclined to miss such an opportunity. She leaned forward and pressed her lips against his again.

All of Shinji's arguments... all of his well thought out statements... all thoughts of anything, vanished from his mind at the heat of her kiss. She tilted her head as she had done days before, and placed a hand on his chest.

This is right, she thought happily, Ikari should be mine. She opened her mouth and ran her tongue across his lips, seeking access.

Shinji's breath was short as he felt Rei trying to force her tongue into his mouth. Stop this... STOP THIS! his mind cried, You shouldn't be doing or encouraging this! His mind struggled to focus as Rei pressed her body against his, Why not? a dark corner of his psyche whispered, She's made it pretty clear that she likes you. Hell she's kissing you right now, isn't she?

Shinji's thoughts distracted him from the kiss, which gave Rei the perfect chance to pry open his mouth open and force her tongue into contact with his. The sensations overwhelmed the boy and he felt his whole body getting weak from the intimacy that the blue-haired girl was inflicting upon him. Shinji wondered how many other people who had girlfriends knew how lucky they were.

And he realized he could never be this lucky.

He pulled back from Rei, breaking the kiss gently. "Rei," he said, his voice shaky, "I don't think that I can kiss you anymore. You want something I don't think I can give you. It wouldn't be fair to you." He knew it was a weak excuse, but to be fair, to him it was the truth. He took a deep breath, "I'm sorry." He turned and walked down the hall, still feeling her lips on his.

"Shinji!" Rei caught his attention by using his first name. He stopped, turning to face her. She moved to him, taking his hands in her own, staring into his eyes. "I love you, Shinji." She said in a firm, quiet, confident voice. "I do not want to stop kissing you, touching you, I do not want to stop being close to you."

Shinji gasped at what she was saying. "You... love me?" he asked, thinking the idea preposterous that anyone could love him. "Are you... are you sure?"

"Yes. You have shown me more care and concern than most. You have protected me when others would have left me for dead. You have extended your hand in friendship to me repeatedly when others have given up. Therefore, you are most deserving of my love."

To say he was honored, even flattered, would have been an understatement.

"Rei, I... you... want this?"

"Yes." she said, releasing his hands and sliding her arms under his to embrace him, "Now tell me, Shinji." she said softly, "Do you not want someone to love you? Someone to hold you, to kiss you? Someone to return your affections and kindness?" she asked as she leaned closer to him. Her voice in a whisper. "Because if you do... I would like you to try and love me."

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Asuka stepped around the corner looking for Rei, but immediately froze when she saw that Rei was talking to Shinji down the hall.

She frowned as she noticed Rei had her arms around Shinji, holding him close. She smirked a little as she noticed the slightly panicked look on the boy.

She sighed, "Great, I can't even keep Wondergirl occupied for a few minutes." she whispered to herself in exasperation. "Not that they're a bad couple, it..." she trailed off as Shinji shook his head emphatically and pushed the blue-haired girl gently away from him.

She heard his voice rise for a moment. Her mouth opened in surprise as she heard her own name. She felt a little bad for spying on them like this, but kept listening her best as she heard the frantic quality of his tone. Rei reached up and touched his cheek gently, saying something that Asuka couldn't hear. Shinji bowed his head and Asuka saw the harsh glow of the fluorescent lights over their heads cause the tears running down his face shine a bit. He nodded, apparently in response to her.

Asuka suddenly decided she should find out what was going on and took a step forward She froze when she saw Shinji gently reached up and moved Rei's hand away from his face. He kissed her hand and let it go, speaking rapidly before turning and running off down the hallway.
Fearing the worst had just taken place, Asuka's hand turned into a fist as she strode up to the First Child, who watched Shinji's retreating form round the corner and disappear.

"What did you say to him, First?" Asuka asked angrily as she drew up beside the young pilot.

Rei turned to the redhead, unfazed by her sudden appearance. "I told him that I loved him." she replied calmly, ignoring Asuka's stunned look, "And I asked him to love me."

"What?" Asuka stammered after a minute, "Why would you do that, you know that he and I are-"

"You do not love him." Rei cut her off coolly. "I would not have approached him if you had love for him. But as you do not, I saw little reason not to ask him to be with me."

Asuka felt slightly ill, "Why would you think I don't love him?" she asked, but secretly she knew the answer to that question.

"I asked him if you did." Rei answered flatly. "He told me that he cares deeply for you." she went on with a small frown as Asuka gasped. "But that he could not love me, until you were taken care of. He also told me that he could not bring himself to tell you of his love because he was certain that you did not love him in return. He knows that you care, but a deeper emotion than love is not present in your current relationship."

Asuka collapsed against the wall, her hand going to her mouth, Shinji, she thought, you do care, don't you...and I... her eyes widened, no...I really don't deserve you, do I? The words came to her in realization. While she had great affection for the boy, she didn't love him. Not like that, anyway. She looked at the calm red eyes of the pilot of Unit 00, "What did he say when he kissed your hand? Where did he go?"

Rei shook her head, "He did not say, but he did say that he would not be able to see me for a while, or anyone else, until he was certain of his own feelings." She said, looking back down the hall that Shinji had disappeared into, "He said that perhaps, after you were happy, he could find room in his heart for me... but until then, there was only enough for you."

Asuka's heart lurched as a tear threatened to run down her face. She had wanted someone to be close to, someone who could love her and care for her. At first she thought it might have been Kaji, but that had become a failed reality. And now, fairly recently, she was becoming close to Shinji, a boy she now knew truly cared for her.

But now he was in the middle of two girls, one of whom admitted she loved him, the other who was slowly starting to admit to her own feeling for him. And knowing Shinji he wouldn't want to hurt either girl by choosing one or the other. That's the kind of person he was.

While Asuka contemplated this, the young woman next to her calmly inquired, "When will you be happy, Pilot Sohryu? I would like to begin a relationship with him, because I DO love him... and by being with you, he is wasting time."
Asuka felt like she had been punched, Why didn't I tell him? she thought, I've known I loved him for months, why didn't I just TELL HIM! She knew the reason, though. She was scared. Scared of letting someone, anyone, into her heart only to have them leave was something she wouldn't risk. So she had pushed them away, even her coworkers and potential friends. And especially Shinji.

She had not been sure of his love, and did not want to risk him not loving her in return. It was almost laughable that as grown-up as she professed to be, she was still so immature when it came to her own feelings. After everything they had been through together, they were still unable to bring themselves to admit their own feelings for each other.

Her mind flashed to every event, every battle, every conversation they had ever had together. She knew that she cared for the boy, more recently than ever before, and yet...she did not love him. Not the romantic love that Rei felt for him, it was something more...maternal. A sisters love if anything. One that filled her with more warmth than she had ever known.

"So...you do love him? Why?" Asuka asked the blue-haired girl.

"Because...he makes me feel things I have never felt before. He awakens within my heart feelings and sensations I have never known could exist. I feel at peace, at ease, when he is near. I feel...warm and safe. As if I am more than I had been."

Asuka just stared at the young woman. She was sure that she had never heard her say anything that heartfelt in her life. It was the most... emotional... thing she had ever heard The First say.

She realized that Rei was staring at her, awaiting a reply, "Don't worry Rei, I don't think you'll have to wait long." she said with a friendly smile and ran off in the direction Shinji had.

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

"I thought I'd find you here, Third Child." Asuka said as she approached the boy staring out over the city of Tokyo-3.

This was the place that Misato had shown him when he first arrived in Tokyo-3, after his fight with the Third Angel. A place that only he, Asuka and Rei had ever come. Once together.

"Asuka? What are you doing here?" the boy gasped.

"Looking for you, baka." she smiled as she moved to his left.

"I...just needed to get away. Clear my head." he replied, not even thinking about the affectionate way she had said 'baka' to him.

"Yeah, I saw."

He panicked slightly. "Saw? You mean..."

"She's a good kisser, isn't she?" she teased.

Shinji blushed.

"She loves you, you know." the redhead started.

"I know. But I don't know if I can love her...not yet anyway."

Asuka's lips turned to a sour expression. "It's got something to do with me, doesn't it?"

Shinji didn't look at her, but tilted his head down. She knew, and she wasn't going to let him go until he admitted it.

"Yes. It does."

Asuka looked at him now. His face still downcast. She knew that she liked him, but there wasn't more to that, was there? Her mind shifted into overdrive at how she could possibly alleviate this situation.

On the one hand, she and Shinji had grown much closer in recent days. They were friends now, and she liked the fact that she was no longer shouting at him anymore. On the other hand, a dark cloud of worry was building up around her at the possibility that maybe she wanted more out of this. More in terms of...a boyfriend? Lover? Husband?

No, no, no. She couldn't. Shinji was a good person, but she didn't want him that way.

Maybe it was being mind-jacked by the 15th Angel that caused this change in Asuka's personality, maybe it was the self-realization that she had been a horrible person and needed to change. But for whatever the reason, Asuka knew that she didn't really deserve Shinji to make her happy.

Now there was an interesting idea. Would he actually marry her just to make her happy? Would he do so just to appease her, even if it meant he would be miserable doing so? She decided that 'yes' he would. He was that kind of person, as good and honest as they came.

She had heard it from Rei herself, and the girl never lied. She was way too straightforward. As was her affection, apparently.

If she asked Shinji to love her, and stay with her, forsaking all others, he would do just that and hold to his promise for the rest of his life. If she told him that she loved him, and asked him to be with her and only her, Shinji would do it.

And she realized she couldn't ask that of him.

Therefore Asuka was left with but one recourse.

"Shinji, I want you to kiss me."

"WHAT?" the boy suddenly 'woke up' and stared at the redhead, stunned.

"It's the only way, Shinji. I have to know just how much you care for me, and how much you care for Rei. It's the only way to know for sure." she said, giving him a little pout that she knew could easily undo him.

Asuka moved to Shinji as she saw his shoulders slump. He was relaxed, but looked a little nervous, but not so much as when they had first kissed. She closed her eyes and leaned forward. Shinji somehow took the initiative and wrapped his arms around Asuka's waist, pulling her flush against his body as his eyes closed and their lips met.

In that one brief exchange between both children, the answer came instantly to the Second.

No, I don't love him. Not in that way. Too bad, he's really good at this. And I was really hoping for something to fight with Wondergirl over. She mentally grinned. But Rei needs Shinji, he's good for her. I'm not losing him to the First, just a little bit. Shinji will always be mine, but he needs to be happy too.

Their lips parted as Asuka looked at him. "Shinji?"

"Yes, Asuka."

"Rei's a very lucky girl. You two should be very happy together."

Needless to say that wasn't what Shinji was expecting to hear. That Asuka was admitting defeat?

She saw the expression on his face and answered him. "You and I are friends Shinji. We're close. But...I love you like you're my own brother. I realize that now. You and Rei have known each other longer, you have feelings for her, I know. She needs you."

"But...what about you, Asuka?"

She smiled at his concern. "I'm not going anywhere, baka." she smiled, nuzzling her nose against his. "I'll always be here for you, just like you'll always be here for me."

"I promise." he replied.

"Then go to her, Shinji. Go to her and love her with all your heart."

A tear fell down his cheek as he smiled. "I will." he said as he slowly let her go and rushed off.

Suddenly, Asuka called back to him. "Shinji!"

He stopped the second she called him. "Yes, Asuka?"

"You can give Rei your heart, but I expect a kiss every now and then!"

Shinji merely smiled and nodded as he ran back to the city.

Asuka watched him go.

That's right Rei. You'd better appreciate what I'm doing for you. And you'd better be good to him!

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Rei was waiting at her apartment. It had been two hours since she had left NERV after speaking to both Shinji and the Second Child. She was a patient person, but this was beginning to grind on her nerves. She knew that she loved Shinji, and that he cared for her. But his relationship with the Second Child was a stumbling block. Never before had she felt so strongly about something before, not even for the commander.

When Shinji? When will you come to me? She wondered.

There was a knock on the door to Rei's apartment.

Could it be? She wondered as she got up from her bed and went over to the door. She smiled widely as she saw the image of Shinji standing before her. "Shinji?"

Shinji said nothing, just smiled. He didn't know what to say to her at this rather delicate moment. So he decided to take a page from her book.

Shinji moved to her, taking the blue-haired girl's face in his hands and pressed his lips to her own.

Rei immediately returned the kiss as she had been expecting to do for some time.

The door closed behind them as the pair stumbled back to Rei's bed, kissing as though there was no tomorrow. Their tongues battled against each other as Rei felt his hands roaming over her body. She felt thrilled at his touch, moving down her body, gently caressing her breasts and eventually finding the curves of her bottom underneath her skirt.

She pulled him in closer, wrapping her arms around his neck and holding him tightly, as if making sure he never left. Shinji felt her tighten, felt what she was feeling, and knew that he wouldn't leave her. He couldn't. This was the love he had wanted and he wasn't about to give it up.

The pair fell back onto Rei's bed, the blue-haired girl underneath the blue-eyed boy. Their lips never left each other, continuing to taste their partner as they fought for dominance. It wasn't really a fight, but more as if they were trying to prove their love for each other. See who was the most passionate of the two. Even with their clothes on, their bodies rubbing against each other was turning them on. But Rei felt something as well, rubbing against her body. Something that belonged to him.

Shinji must have sensed it as well because he stopped kissing her, moving apart as Rei let out a small protest and tried to pull him back in for another kiss.

"Don't stop, Shinji-kun." she whispered.

"Rei, I... I think we should... move a little." he whispered back.

"Why? Because you are rubbing against me?"

"Uh...what do you mean?" he blushed, trying to feign ignorance.

"You're manhood, I believe you call it."

"Rei I..."

"Do you wish to become one with me?" she said in such a way that his heart began beating wildly.

Shinji was frozen. He had just admitted to himself that he loved this girl, he was kissing her in ways only lovers would do. And right now he was on top of her as they were making out.

But to go that far, even after all this, made him balk.

"No." he said to her.

"What?" she asked, looking confused at him.

He settled down next to her, pulling her in close to him. "Rei... I love you. But... we're too young for that. Some day, when we're older, then yes. But right now..."

She ran a hand over his cheek, nodding at his common sense. "I will hold you to that." she said as she pulled him into another kiss.

The pair kissed and held each other long into the night.

Misato was informed by Asuka as to the reason that Shinji wouldn't be with them tonight. Needless to say, the older woman would have much teasing to do later on.

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

The dark office of Gendo Ikari...

The grim commander of the powerful NERV organization had just learned of his son's affiliation with his little pet.

And he was outraged.

"Something will have to be done. Rei is scheduled to die and soon at the hands of the 16th Angel. My scenario will be realized."

"No. It won't." a voice emanated from the shadows.

Gendo spun around quickly.

"What? Who is there?" he demanded.

From the shadows, two people emerged. Actually, it looked more like one person and a long snake like creature.

"Who are you?" he demanded reaching for his gun.

"I am Kaworu Nagisa. But you may call me Tabris." the white-haired, pale-skinned, red-eyed boy said.

"Tabris? You mean..." the man paled as he leveled the useless weapon at the boy.

"I am the 17th Angel." he said with a smile.

"But... you're early." he said as sweat began to slowly crawl down his face.

"Indeed. And I have brought a friend." he said, gesturing to the long noodle-creature next to him. "This is Armisael, the 16th Angel." he said, indicating the thirty-foot long and lean Angel.

Two Angels... at once? This is... "This is not in the Dead Sea Scrolls." he said, standing up and trying to back away, absently wondering why the Angel Alarms hadn't gone off.

"No, it isn't. But as I am the Angel of Free Will, I decided that adhering to another's timetable puts me in a position to lose. And I don't wish to lose." Kaworu said as he walked towards the man."And I wouldn't count on your alarms going off anytime soon. We're not putting out enough of an energy surge to be detected." he tilted his head to the side. "You have an Angel in your hand."

Gendo went even paler.

"You pathetic lilium, thinking you could control Third Impact. Control the Angels. Or even your own estranged son."

"You know about Shinji?"

"I know a lot of things. You should know better than to try and keep secrets from SEELE. They know more than you think they do, and they tell me everything. I have not personally met the Third Child, but it will not deter my mission." he said as the 16th Angel at his side began to get 'jumpy'. "Oh, and before I forget, SEELE wanted me to tell you that I killed them." Kaworu said as Armisael lunged forward and buried itself into Gendo's body.

No one heard the man of evil scream in bloody agony.

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

The call came in at 2:30 in the morning.

Gendo Ikari was dead. The Angel in his hand was gone. As was the Angel locked away in Terminal Dogma.

There was also a message from an unknown person.

It basically said that the war was over.

There was no final battle, no Third Impact, no Instrumentality.

No one complaining.

Tucked away in Rei's apartment, unaware of the events of the night, two teenagers held each other tightly as they slept, fully clothed and happy. They had agreed that they would wait until they were older, or married, before they became one.

They would not be told for hours that the war was over, that Gendo was dead, or that their pain and suffering had ended.

But they didn't care. Rei's forward affection had given Shinji something that he had always wanted. Something that he wouldn't let go of if he could help it. He just held his angel in his arms and for the first time in his life, let himself be happy.

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

And now, a completely random OMAKE!

"Rei, why did you want me to wear this collar again?"

"I say it in the window of a curio shop and thought it would be perfect for you."

"Oh. Uh, thanks."

"Will you not put it on?"

"Uh... well..."

"You do not like it?" she said with some sadness.

He caved at those pouty eyes of hers as he slipped the collar around his neck.

"Good. Sit Boy!"

Shinji suddenly crashed to the ground.

"What was that?"

"Yes! It worked! Now come, ShinuYasha, we have much work to do."

"ShinuYasha? I'm not..."

"Sit Boy!"

Shinji crashed into the ground again.

"Now will you listen?"

"Ouch... alright, alright."

"Good boy. Now I will not have to get you spayed."

"WHAT?"

"I always wanted a pet, but the commander would not approve unless he was housebroken."

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

I hope everyone enjoyed this omake.

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Authors Notes:

Before anyone can flame me, I borrowed a lot of this story from the interactions of Shinji and Rei from the Shinji/Maya story, 'Chances Missed'.

I couldn't resist doing this, amping up the story to make Shinji and Rei the center of this story. The idea has been on the back-burner for months, and I only recently decided to finish this story because my readers wanted more Shinji/Rei stories from me.

Also, I know that Gendo really didn't deserve a place in this story, but the lingering doubt in my mind was that he would still be around and the 16th and 17th Angels still hadn't come. Not wanting to go into a long, drawn out battle and story involving the last two Angels, I chose instead to have them just kill Gendo and take back their two captured parents. Nice and simple, and a good ending I thought.

Furthermore, if anyone thinks I'm being too subtle with Asuka's character, her personality not being right, keep in mind that she has been through a lot and she did get mind-jacked to make herself a more open and kinder person. It's a lot to accept, I know, but hey, fanfictions are like that.

Please read and extensively review.