Evangelion Fan Fiction
By Kraven Ergeist
"He's incapable of piloting, sir."
If Ritsuko's words had affected the Commander, it certainly didn't show. Gendo Ikari looked back at her with the same dispassion with which he looked at just about everything.
In truth, Ritsuko was more than worried. Shinji had, for all purposes, blacked out in the midst of combat. If not for the unprecedented behavior of Unit 01, the fight would have been lost. If this was the way that all future Eva battles would be proceeding, Ritsuko could almost guarantee their failure. Not because Unit 01 couldn't handle it – it had proved itself worthy – but because Shinji couldn't.
She had seen his psych graph before and after the battle. A good description of his mental state before the battle was nervous to the point of terror. His mental state afterwards, Ritsuko thought bitterly, was firmly within the realm of 'warped.'
Ritsuko had known the man before her for the better part of eight years. While few could see it, his personality had its legible cues. She could tell when he was under pressure, and when he was truly calm. Right now, he was simply exuding confidence.
He was already confident that his son could do it, despite the proof she had just shown him. He wasn't even going to consider backing out. Despite what he knew it would do to him. His own son.
Before he even spoke, Ritsuko already knew any argument she made in the boy's favor would be shot down.
"Incorrect," the Commander replied. "As long as he is within the pilot seat, Unit 01 will be useful."
Ritsuko shook her head, flipping through the papers in her hand.
"His sync level is nominal, but his value as a pilot and combatant is next to nothing. He has no combat experience, no training – indeed, no desire or motivation to fight. If anything, Sir, he's a liability-"
"Did you not here me, Doctor?" Gendo said, not shifting at all where he sat. "It does not matter whether or not he can fight – just whether or not he can pilot. The Eva handles the rest. He is like a living dummy plug, Doctor, do you understand? He's the perfect tool for the task we need him for. Therefore, he shall remain here."
Ritsuko nodded, biting her lip. She was not about to win this argument, and she knew it. She could feel the deep resentment she had been developing for the man increase with every passing second. There was very little she could do to amend the situation whatsoever. Her authority only extended so far, even as Chief of project E. The only thing she really had a say in was…
"May I make a request, sir?"
Gendo nodded. "Go ahead."
Ritsuko spoke out before she could truly think about what she was proposing. "I am officially requesting permission to…keep a closer eye on him."
The Commander blinked. "Please clarify."
Ritsuko straightened up. "My residence has an extra room. With the Third Child's current demeanor, I doubt he would have any objections to living with me."
Gendo lowered his glasses. "You would have the Third Child stay with you?"
Ritsuko nodded. "Yes, sir. Since Rei has been with us since her childhood, we know her psychology inside and out. Shinji, on the other hand, is still a mystery. He would be under constant scrutiny, which I, as a scientist of NERV, would greatly benefit from, which in turn, would benefit us all. Is there a problem, sir? Do you doubt my intentions?"
The Commander paused. "Very well, Doctor. I'll be expecting a full report on the Third Child on my desk on a regular basis."
Ritsuko nodded to her superior as she left the office. Taking a great sigh, she bit her lip. What had she just gotten herself into? Boarding with Shinji would accomplish nothing. If anything, it would make her days more hectic, and the Commander wouldn't even bat an eyelash.
"I'm sorry, Shinji…" she breathed as she stepped down the halls of NERV. "I'm just trying to help. If I could have convinced the Commander that you weren't cut out for this, he would have sent you home, and you wouldn't have to face everything that comes next."
Staring, ruefully, back in the direction of the Commander's office, she spat. "He's not just a tool, he's your son. Does that mean nothing to you, sir?"
Needing no answer, Akagi continued down the hall.
"WHAT!" came a disbelieving gasp over the phone. "He's living with you!"
Ritsuko winced as the high pitch sounds emanated from the receiver of her cell phone. She had just filed out the final preparations for Shinji's residency, and was walking down the halls to pick him up.
"For psychological screening," she said, hesitantly. "It's also a convenient way to keep an eye on him."
She heard an exasperated breath of air from the other end. "Boy, when they say great minds think alike…"
Ritsuko paused her step. "What?"
"Nothing, nothing," Misato sighed. "You sure can pick 'em though, Ritsu."
The blonde woman made a face, even though it couldn't be seen. "And just what is that supposed to mean?"
The sardonic laugh on the other line should have been expected, as well as the biting comment that followed it. "Please, Ritsuko, when's the last time you had a guy over at your apartment? Four years? Five? Now, after all this time-"
"Stow it, Misato," the blonde huffed. "I should have known someone like you would imagine doing perverted things with a teenage boy."
Ritsuko grinned proudly at Misato's feeble attempts to cover her ass after that remark.
"All joking aside," Misato quirked, "You think maybe he's up for this whole thing?"
Ritsuko turned a corner and slid her ID card over a scanner that let her through the next door. "Not at all, personally. But the Commander seems to think differently. Hopefully, in the time I'll have spent with him, I'll be able to better prepare him for the difficulties ahead of him. You saw his psych graph after the battle, Misato, even you know that those weren't healthy numbers."
The Captain had to agree. "Yeah, but on the flip side, neither are Rei's. She seems to be managing, albeit barely."
Ritsuko nodded to no one. "Yeah, but Rei's a special case and you know it. Shinji's a more or less ordinary boy suddenly thrust into this extraordinary world."
Misato hummed her agreement. "I wouldn't go so far as to say 'ordinary.' Talk to the boy, Ritsu, the kid clearly has issues to sort through."
Ritsuko nodded. "I'll do what I can."
She finally found the boy sitting out in the hallway of the hospital wing. She paused to observe him undetected, noticing the way he clenched his fist open and shut over and over again. She grimly noted that it was the same fist that had snapped on his Eva during combat. A nervous recourse, clearly. But the fighting was already over. Was he still remembering the battle?
Ritsuko shook her head and stepped over to him.
"Shinji…" she said in a gentle voice so as not to startle him.
The boy turned his head slowly towards her. "Doctor…Akagi?"
Ritsuko nodded. "Yes, that's me. You can call me Ritsuko or Doctor Akagi, it doesn't matter which."
The boy made no response.
The doctor cleared her throat. "Well, first I'd like to say how grateful we all are for what you did out there. A lot of innocent people will go on living because of what you did, Shinji. I know that you suffered a great deal, and I want you to know that it was not without benefit. I know that's a lot to take in, but please understand, we're asking you to do this for a reason."
"I know that, Doctor Akagi…" the young man replied, his stare verging on angry, thought not focused on her.
Ritsuko nodded. She changed the subject, not wanting to make an enemy of him this early. "There's…well, there's no other way to say this, so I'll just spit it out: I enrolled for you to stay with me for a couple months."
Shinji turned his face up at her and fixed her with a surprised look. "Why?"
Ritsuko could tell that he was testing her with that question. Not understanding why someone would vest that level of care in him, he was asking why she was bothering. She smiled, deciding to be honest. "If you want to know, it's so that we can learn more about you. You've spent so much of your life away from us, Shinji, and there's a great deal about you we don't understand. Like how you could have such a high sync ratio with no prior experience…anyway, the more we know about you, Shinji, the easier it will be. For us and for you."
Shinji nodded. "I understand."
"Also," Ritsuko said, trying to sweeten the deal. "My place is substantially nicer than anything NERV will enlist for you. It's just for a few months. At the end, if you want, you can move on out and into NERV housing, but for now, would you mind living with me?"
Shinji shrugged his shoulders and got to his feet.
I'm not sure if this could be defined as typical or not, but I definitely wanted to have Shinji and Ritsuko living together in order to form a bond between them similar to the one between Shinji and Misato. Once at that level, a romance between the two won't be too hard to substantiate.