Chapter Ten: After the fire

The dull throbbing sensation in her side woke her just after noon. The feeling of old sweat clinging to her forced her to stand, and fumble out the door without bothering to remember if she was dressed.

Misato looked at her self in the bathroom mirror, and frowned.

Pull it the fuck together, tofuckingday. Asuka's home, and Shinji probably was up with her half the night again.

Peeling her clothing off, she stopped for second to look at her scar. It was still moving, like it had since the commander touched her with Adam. The hot water hit her and the scar began to calm just a bit.

Just like last time, tissue in the scar reacting to my immune system. They'll probably want me to do monthly physical scans until this calms down. Other than giving Shinji a nose bleed that will be a pain.

Its been three whole days since it happened, and last night was Asuka's first home. I need to shut the water off now, wring out my hair, and go buy some breakfast for everyone.

Slowly she turned off the water, and stepped out of the shower.

Wrapping her self in a towel. She left the bathroom to find Shinji popping his head out of Asuka's room. The bags under his eyes made her frown.

" Hey, kiddo, looks like you had a night. "

" I really didn't sleep. When I tried Id see Asuka with scissors or a pencil or something. I had to . . . "

Misato put a finger on his lips, and leaned in close.

" Shinji, let me guess. She didn't calm down till you got in bed with her? "

Shinji blushed as he spoke.

" Yea. "

" Some times kiddo, we just want to be held. Understand? "

" Yea, I guess. "

" Good boy. I'm running out for food, so take care of things until I get back k?"

" I will. "

Taking a moment to dress, Misato headed for the door

She closed the apartment door behind her and walked to the elevator.

Poor Shinji, doesn't even realize does he? Oh well, I was pretty clueless about things like that at his age. That is before I ended up in the rubber room.

Stepping into the elevator she couldn't help but focus on Shinji as she went.

Everything Asuka's been through I keep thinking Shinji Shinji Shinji. I guess he is my favorite, as messed up as that sounds. He just reminds me of myself at that age. I know how much I needed some one to . . be there. Asuka she's a lot like me now I think. I can't help my self half the time, how do I help her? Shinji's one thing, but she'll need me too, so I'd better figure it out I guess.

The door of the elevator opened, and she met a pair of red eyes. Taking a step back she noticed the hair was a shade of dye bottle brown, and for once the body had something on that wasn't a plug suit or a school uniform.

It was her and not Rei. For some reason the hair on the back of her neck stood up. She stepped out of the elevator, and spoke.

" Doctor Ikari, right? "

The woman in a girls body seemed nervous as she spoke.

" Yes. I was hoping to meet you Major, and see Shinji if I could. "

" Shinji's . . taking care of Asuka right now. I'm going to get breakfast, care for a walk? "

It was bizarre watching Rei's face smile just a little, as she spoke.

" Sure. "

A black, un marked Section Two car followed at a distance, as they walked. Yui broke the silence.

" I wanted to say sorry for what you had to go through. Gendo . . wasn't always like this. "

" I could argue that, but it's the kids that are more important. First things first, you aren't taking either of them. I told them they had a home with me, as long as they wanted. "

" I'm glad you care for them, and as much as I want my son back I know I don't have the right to just step in after so long. Could you tell me about him? All I know comes from Rei. "

Misato dug into her pockets and fished out one bent and probably stale cigarette Lighting it she responded.

" What did Rei tell you? "

" She said he was kind to her, without asking for anything. I was glad to hear that. "

The look of sadness in her face reassured Misato just a bit.

" The Shinji I know is shy, scared a lot, and more then a little lost. He really beats himself up some times, but he always comes through. He's braver then he knows. "

" His father was like that, when I met him. "

Reaching the corner store, Misato threw the cigarette away.

" I can't imagine how Asuka must be feeling right now. Shinji spent the night in her room, trying to calm her down. "

" You let them sleep together? "

" I didn't say that now did I? Not that I'd mind them being together, just Asuka's not her self right now"

Take the bait you little ghost. I need to see what your made of.

Those red eyes grew wide, and she spoke.

" What ? They are just children! How can you just say that? "

So far so good.

" They're fourteen, and we ask them to fight a war. If that's what they need to keep it together, after what we ask them to do, who am I to say anything? Hell, I'd probably sleep with either of them if they asked. "

" What kind of a person are you to just say that? "

" You don't remember anything from inside the EVA do you? "

" I-I do. It needed to be done, for all of us. "

" Tell that to Shinji. First night I had him, after he got plucked from a train and stuffed into an EVA with no training, he woke up screaming. Every time we put those kids into those things, we cut of a part of them. You don't like that, take it up with the person that built the damn things. "

" There wasn't another way. I needed there to be a world for him to grow up in, that's why I made them! "

Misato stayed calm, and spoke.

" Kyoko didn't think so. Your husband disagreed "

" . . . "

Checkmate, bitch! Now lets see what you're really like, Yui Ikari.

" I didn't want any of this. He was supposed to take care of him, and get him ready. I though if she was successful, I'd be the only one that would have had to die. "

Stopping in front of the corner store, Misato spoke before entering.

" It didn't turn out that way did it? We still have a war to fight, and only murdered women, and broken children to fight it with. Deal with that. "

Maya felt the sweat drip down her body and she walked the aisle looking for tampons.

I need to wear a sweater in this heat to top off this week. Figures it would be the only long sleeved shirt I own that's not a uniform, and that I am not wearing. I could take it off and have everyone wonder why I have handcuff shaped marks on my wrists, but that I do not need. Hard enough finding a date as it is.

The night before wouldn't leave her mind, as she shopped.

I finally confess to Ritsuko after all of this and what do I get? She transfers to Germany! Gee Maya thanks for all your hard work, and taking care of me! What's that? You're a dyke and you to be with me? Bye now! How could she just. . .all I wanted was . .

" Hey Maya! "

Looking over her shoulder, she saw Misato with a basket full of instant food.

" Misato, you're OK! How are the children? "

" About as well as you can expect She's out side, Shinji's Mom, I mean. Section Two following close."

Maya felt her wrists on reflex, and got an annoyed look.

" I think I'm out of NERV, after all of this. "

" I was hoping you'd hang around after Ritsuko bolted. Still a war to fight, and I could use some one I can trust around. "

" I can take a look at . . . well, you know, if you want me to. They won't let any of us leave for a while at least. Until the Committee finishes restructuring NERV. "

" Thanks but its more the kids I'm worried about. I could use a new side kick though. "

" Maybe "

" Any advice before I go out there with her? "

" Umm she's got no AT field, so not really. What's the plan?"

" I think she's not that bad. Like an idealist that just got her first taste of reality. "

" I'll be around a while so if you need help call me. "

Misato winked, as she turned to leave.

" Thanks, Maya. "

Did she just? Naa I really need a date.

Shinji lay there, holding Asuka, and feeling to tired too sleep. A slight scratching at the door made him open his eyes.

Pen-Pen, I forgot to feed him last night.

Again slipping from under the covers, and out of the room, he picked up the bird as he went.

" Sorry little guy. Just give me a minute, and I'll put something together. "

Setting the bird down on the couch, where it promptly picked up the remote and began channel surfing, Shinji walked to the kitchen. Looking around he noticed both fridges were empty, and nothing but instant rice in the cupboard.

" Good thing Misato went shopping. "

Hearing Asuka begin to stir, Shinji walked over to Pen-Pen.

" You might want to hid out a while, she's not in a good mood. "

The bird looked up from its favorite TV show, and protested.

" Wark! "

" Ok then, but if I'm in the bathroom or something, I'd hide out if I were you. "

" Wark. "

Asuka lumbered out her bedroom wearing her bed shorts, bra, and haggard look on her face.

" Baka Shinji, where did you go? "

Turing his head to the side, Shinji spoke.

" Asuka, you're half naked again. "

She looked down at herself as if surprised

"Baka, you're supposed to want my clothes off. "

Shinji retrieved a large blanket from the couch, and wrapped her in it.

" Yea well . . ummm"

" I'm awake now stupid, I know you're not going to bend me over. Just read it again, OK? "

Shinji smiled, as she handed him her diary.

" Sure. Dear Asuka. Part of me wants you to wake up and not even know I was here. Better that you could just move on with your life than have an old ghost show up out of the blue. I was never the betting kind, so let me take time to say, I'm sorry. Whatever part of me that made it out of the EVA wasn't enough to survive on its own, and I know you'll never forget what happened, but please forgive me. I should have been strong enough to get out then, and what you saw shouldn't have happened. Since I've been back I've seen a lot of what you've done in life while I was gone, and I'm proud of you. Please don't lose that pride you have in yourself, or listen when people like your father say things to belittle your accomplishments. You're special, and I love you, baby. Please don't forget that.

The people you live with and I didn't really get along, but I really didn't give them a chance. I have to say this for them though, they could tell from the first minute I was here that I wasn't you.

I need to go now baby. I have to comb your hair a while, then get some sleep before I give you your life back tomorrow

Please remember you need to live though this war, because life has a lot left for you. Don't forget that.

One more time I love you.

Momma."

Asuka sat their in silence until Pen-Pen flopped off the couch with a thud and waddled away.

" Why did she have to write the fucking thing in Japanese? "

Shinji handed her the book back, as he spoke.

" I don't know we really didn't talk much. "

" Except when she kicked your ass? "

" Ha-Ha. "

Pen-pen made it to the front door just as it opened, and he began to squeal.

" WARK WARK WARK! "

Misato walked in with a bag of food, as Pen-Pen nipped at her feet.

" Down you, we have company. "

The bird poked Yui's ankle with his flipper, and looked up at her.

" Hello little one. "

The bird ran between Misato's legs and squawked in protest.

" WARK! "

Yui frowned, as Misato spoke.

" Sorry he knows Rei, and you probably confuse him. Shinji, your mother is here, would you like to talk to her?"

The boy looked at the ground, and mumbled

" I Umm . . . Couldn't you have called or something?"

Yui took a step forward and spoke in a whisper.

" Shinji, its Mother. I'm sorry its been so long, I didn't want it to be this way. "

Shinji snapped back.

" So you're sorry and its all over? I forget walking up in the middle of the night, and screaming in an empty house? The Winnebagors complained, and I get sent to live with tutors. "

Yui spoke in a pleading voice.

" Shinji . . ."

Seeing Shinji wind up for more, Asuka dropped the blanket and stepped between th two. She raised her right hand and slapped him across the face, before speaking.

" If you want to hate her, go ahead, but don't forget you've only got the one Mother, Baka."

Turning her attention to Yui, Asuka walked right up and looker her inthe eye.

" You are a fucking fool to think you can just say sorry and get everything back the way it was. I'd fucking hit you too, but I hurt my hand on Shinji rock hard skull. Now, grow the fuck up, and accept you slept with a snake, and move on mm'kay? "

Shinji opened his mouth to say something as dull humm of a cell phone rang in Yui's pocket. Closing her eyes with frustration she she answered.

" Yes, Rei? He is doing it again? I'm trying to talk with Shinji, can you . . .Tell him I won't forgive him if he doesn't put the razor down. Alright. Alright. Tell him I'm coming home. "

She hung up the phone and frowned as she spoke.

" I need to go Shinji it's your Father, he's . . .upset. I think if you came with me, it might help "

" I'm sorry, but I don't care. "

She turned to leave with out another word.

Asuka spoke up.

" What the hell was that, Baka? "

" Asuka, my mother woke up one morning and took me into a room to watch her die. She wasn't sick, and she did it knowing it might not even need to happen. I'm sorry you lost your Mother again, but mine wasn't blameless. "

She walked over to him and he braced for another hit. She instead leaned in and kissed him, on the cheek.

" Thank you for last night, but I think I'll sleep alone tonight. "

She left the room and Shinji turned to Misato.

" What the hell just happened? "

" You did what you thought was right, and it didn't turn out the way you intended. You lost more than you thought you would, its easy, really. "

Shinji just tilted his head, and spoke in frustration.

" This . . . sucks. "

" Happens, its called life. Relax She'll calm down later, and you'll get another chance. "

Misato left the room, and Shinji stood in silence.

Keel sat in the back seat of a NERV staff car,smoking a fine Cuban cigar. The guard was one of those that had been on shift the night he was shot, so making him inhale secondhand smoke for an hour and a half made Keel smile.

All things come around my friend.

The door opened disrupting the lovely cloud of smoke he'd word so hard on. Yui Ikari sat next to him, and the driver began the trip back to her residence

" That woman . . . . "

Keel interjected as she trailed off.

" That woman has an IQ of 150, and an impressive military record. It would be a shame to lose her, and there is the issue of the children's ability to pilot in relation to emotional stress. "

" When this all started . . I didn't want any of this. "

" My Dear, our ambitions have a way of taking us places we do not expect. Take us both for example, we have both left or original bodies behind so long ago. I for one have forgotten the feel of mine "

" The only reason I'm even able to be here, is because he made that girl in my image. I know this body looks like me, it sounds like me, but it just feels wrong. It's too big, and I know it will never feel right. "

The look of confusion and sadness looked alien on her face, after a decade of seeing the First Child.

This is the idol Ikari spent a decade worshiping? I've met college girls with more sense of the real world. One in particular as a matter of fact. Now that Ikari is a wreck contemplating suicide on the bathroom floor, the Major and I will have will trouble handling NERV till this is done with. My gamble with Pandora's box paid off. Now that the bastards are all dead, all the remains is a war. Then an old man can rest at last.

The car stopped and Yui got out, leaving Keel alone with the driver.

" Once more around the block. "

End