I shall use this space to cover my own ass: I do not own any of the intellectual property I use on this site (or story, in this case NGE and 10 things I hate about you/the taming of the shrew).

If you stumble across an original character of mine, feel free to pilfer it for your own amusement, as it would it be pretty hypocritical of me to tell you not to.

If you happen to own something that I have played around with here, please do not sue me.

Disclaimer taken from Agent Orange's own disclaimer, with minor differences.

The Outcome.

----- -----

As they made their way towards the ramen stand, the peace and calmness both teens had between themselves felt like something anti climatic, an uneasy treaty made possible only if both chose to maintain the soothing silence accompanying them.

Of course Asuka felt like she needed to mark the rules of the game clearly

"Let's get one thing out of the way first...this is not a date..." She grumbled, not turning to look at Shinji, instead focusing her eyes in front of her.

"Yeah, you already said that…" Shinji sighed; it had been too much to hope for a quiet walk to the restaurant, get a bite to eat and then head home, into an environment he knew and felt safe with.

Right at this moment, what he wanted more than anything was to be in the apartment he shared with his sister and his guardian, and do the normal things they did on Friday after music practice; watch aimlessly and pointless television, while they ate takeout, Misato in the background grumbling about stupid paperwork as she graded the papers she had been too lazy to grade during the week, while Rei would just sit next t him in a soothing silence, reading a book and every now and then looking up to watch an event Shinji would point out on the TV.

Instead he was cold, he was wet and he was with Asuka. Shinji's train of thought changed tracks for the last word.

Asuka.

Shinji was the first one to admit that he knew very little about the redhead, other than she was the charge of Mr. Kaji, and that she was related, shockingly to Mana.

He was also aware that both redheads were the exact opposite of the other, or at least, he felt like that before the long chat he had with Asuka. Somehow, he felt a bit of a connection, or rather, a bit of comprehension for the German girl. He felt-

Oh. Wait. She's still talking. Shinji thought.

"...and people might get the wrong impression that's why..." Asuka turned to Shinji and glared at him. "Hey are you even listening?"

"Yes, you said that this was not a date and that I would be as lucky to be out with you..."

Asuka turned to Shinji, her eyes narrowing at his flippant answer. She had to admit those few hours they had spent during the rain in the gym room had somehow changed her view of the boy; he wasn't a stupid, whiny perverted idiot; he was only a perverted idiot, however she still doubted his intelligence.

She was also curios about the reasons why Ayanami had offered her money to keep Shinji occupied and to decline tutoring her in German.

"This is simply convenient...we're both hungry, we're both at the same place, and were both sitting in the same table because getting another one would be troublesome..."

Shinji frowned at that. There was something in her logic that made it seem so...true...

But on the other hand, she was technically insulting him.

"Besides, I wouldn't be caught dead having any kind of meal with you..." Asuka smirked, turning towards him, her familiar arrogant self in place. "Let's face it, you are in front of the great Asuka Langley Sohryu, and you are...well...you." She waved her hand dismissively at him.

"W-well..." Shinji answered. "What makes you so great anyway..?"

"The fact I'm beautiful and brilliant..." Asuka drew her fingers through her red tresses, flipping them and looking at Shinji's eyes. "Imagine...beauty and brains...Who could resist that combination..?"

"Yeah, yeah..." Shinji grumbled. "I should be grateful of being in your general vicinity..."

"Precisely..."

"And I would have to be something akin to a masochistic to actually like being with some one who has a long standing history of violent outbreaks..." Shinji quipped as he kept walking.

The sound of Asuka stopping made him turn around.

The view of Asuka's fist made him run as fast as his legs could carry him.

"I'll show you violent..."

And with that, Asuka screamed and took off running after Shinji's zig-zagging escape tactics; hot on his trail. Shinji decided it was in his best interest to not stop as Asuka was shouting him to do, so they ran past the restaurant entrance, across the streets and into the alleyways surrounding the various restaurants and locals located near the school, not caring for the amused glances people threw their way…

Just as Asuka ducked behind a corner yelling a string of colorful adjectives at Shinji in English, German and Japanese, Rei, Mayumi, Hikari and Mana were exiting the restaurant the other way around.

"What is it Rei..?" Hikari asked, noticing how Rei had stopped walking the minute they had touched the street. Rei shrugged into her school blazer.

"Nothing…I think I heard someone verbally assaulting someone else…"

"Yeah, probably my cousin harassing your brother…" Mana joked, smirking.

"It could have been the other couple, you know, they actually reminded me of both Shinji and Asuka." Hikari added thoughtfully, as the girls began to walk away from the restaurant.

"Y-yeah, they do seem to have that kind of relations." Mayumi added. "Although I don't understand how someone can stand being so…"

"Abused." Rei added calmly. "Love is a funny and strange thing; it makes normal sane people do stupid and crazy things." Rei continued talking in a dispassionate manner. "However, I do think that that particular couple have that strange way of expressing how they feel."

"Why would you think that..?" Mana asked. "The guy seemed obviously pissed off at the violent girl, he even told her in no uncertain terms to take a hike."

"And the girl reacted by being honest with him, which proves my point." Rei continued not even batting an eyelash. "It's confusing how people would behave so uncharacteristically in such a situation."

"You mean like you did with Kaworu..?" Hikari added snidely. "I have to tell you Rei, I never thought I'd get to see you become such a terrible cliché with a boy."

Rei blushed but kept quiet, while Hikari kept mortifying the pale girl with azure hair as they continued walking.

"You were all blushing and fidgeting, trying to be all cool and stuff..." She turned towards Rei. "Kaworu was also cute…all blushing and nervous, I think he bonded nicely with the boys."

----- -----

"I'm telling you 'Sashi…that Ka-Wo-Ru guy is gay…" Toji kept grumbling, elongating the syllables on the ash haired teen's name, as he and Musashi made their way towards Kensuke's house. The two missing boys had gone ahead to have "everything ready" as Kensuke had so eloquently put it.

"First of all, it's Kaworu, not Ka-Wo-Ru… and second of all; whatever Toji, you say the same thing about every guy you meet." Musashi grumbled, hand deep into his pockets.

"No, for real…my gaydar is tingling." Toji said as he placed his index and middle fingers against his temples as if he were trying to will his brain to generate some sort of psychic response.

"When you first meet me you called me a fag and I had to punch you; when Kensuke was forced onto us on that school project you said he was hitting on you, and He had to punch you…" Musashi counted with evident boredom in his voice. "When Shinji came into school and presented himself on class you told him to take a hike and not to sit near you citing a Fruit-less zone." Musashi air quoted the last part.

"Yeah, but I was the one who punched him."

"And ended up the following 3 months in detention with old man Tokita." Musashi sighed tiredly. "Do you see a pattern?"

"Well ok, those three were a dud, but you gotta admit that Ka-Wo-Ru looks really girly."

"You're sounding like a retard when you say it like that. And besides, what's your point..?"

"What if he hits on m-us..?"

"If he did, I doubt he'd go for the butch jock type; he'd probably be more into the delicate, artistic type."

"Like Shinji."

"Dear God…" Musashi groaned. "Now you're gonna tell me Kaworu is talking Rei up so he can shack up with Ikari."

"Well. It's possible." Toji fiercely admitted. "I mean, look at him all prim and proper, soft spoken and-"

"It's called cultured and refined; it may come as a shocker to you, but there are people who do other things besides playing sports and read other things besides comics."

"Kensuke says they're graphic novels."

"Kensuke's a nerd."

----- -----

"It's very generous of you to allow us to stay at your apartment tonight…" Mana began. "I completely forgot about the schools lock up system not allowing us to go into the dorms…"

"That is not a problem Kirishima…" Rei said quietly. "What worries me is the state in which our guardians could show up later tonight…"

"I'm pretty sure Kaji can take care of himself, as well as Miss Katsuragi." Mayumi said softly besides Rei.

"I'd be more worried about those two taking care of the other." Hikari interjected mischievously. "I can't believe those two actually went to continue their partying somewhere else."

"Yeah, now I won't be able to look at any of those teachers under the same light."

"They are only human." Rei said quietly. "And as any human being, in the event of a free day, they intend to make use of it."

Mana chuckled at that statement, but remained silent, tempted to continue talking with the girl besides her, but also relishing in the tranquility of a late night stroll.

"Kirishima, I need to ask you something, and require you to be truthful." Rei asked suddenly.

"Sure Rei, and call me Mana."

"You are aware of Shinji's feelings for you, are you not..?" Rei coolly ignored Mana's request.

Mana gasped at this, she had sensed the question to be troubling Rei during their awkward conversation, but was prepared for the bluntness in how it was delivered. She turned to look at her and saw Rei's eyes still positioned on the road ahead.

"W-well, yes, I know that Shinji has a bit of a crush on me…" She began, a small blush gracing her features. "But…"

"The reason why I'm asking is because part of Miss Horaki's plan is to try and set him up with Sohryu, and I would like to prepare ahead for any contingency that might arise."

"Well…" Mana squirmed. "I-it's not like it is a top secret mission of who gets to bag Shinji."

"Hardly. The other point to consider is the need to come with a plausible explanation for Sohryu's involvement with our daily activities."

"We-well…what if we tell him that Asuka thinks he's cute." Mayumi ventured to the pigtailed girl, several steps ahead of the other girls, discussing the same topic.

"Please Mayumi." Hikari snorted. "First of all, have you ever seen Asuka refer to any one of the boys at school as anything short of perverted idiots..?"

"W-well no, but-" Mayumi stopped as they arrived to the front door, waiting for Rei and Mana to arrive.

"Besides, this isn't some lame story where Shinji suddenly becomes a popular stud that has all the girls in the vicinity head over heels for him." She said as Rei and Mana finally made their way to the front door.

"Those are not even believable in harem mangas." Rei said stiffly. "It took both Shinji and myself the better part of 3 months to convince the student body we weren't involved in an incestuous relationship." She said as she glared at Hikari's freckle covered face.

"Well…" The pigtailed brunette chuckled nervously. "What was I supposed to think when I go to Miss Katusragi's house to give her the checked printouts and Rei answered the door dressed in a long shirt and Shinji walked behind her brushing his teeth..?"

"I still don't understand why you had to shout to us both that what we were doing was immoral, especially considering our family history." Rei continued. "I do not see Shinji like that. Besides, incest is wrong."

"Well…" Mayumi squeaked. "Historically speaking…Y-you are his half sister and-"

"Incest. Is. Wrong." Rei punctuated each word forcefully, leaving nothing open to debate.

"We're straying off topic here…" Hikari reminded the girls. "The plan is to save Asuka and Shinji from being expelled for assaulting those two perverts."

"Agreed, and from what I could understand, Mister Kaji plans to get them both to be paired together on all of their assigned classes."

"That would explain his chattering with Miss Mogami, Ooi, Agano, Ibuki, and Akagi, as well as with Mister Huyga and Mister Aoba."

----- -----

"So we have them pretty much occupied during classes, I don't see the point of having them together afterwards." Toji noted as he continued to get a severe beating from Kensuke on their current video game match. Musashi looked up from one of Kensuke's more risqué Graphic Novels and looked at Toji with a look of incredulity.

"C'mon Toji, you seriously can't be that stupid."

"He can." Kensuke chuckled as he began to fiddle with the joystick and buttons, engaging in a special move that filled the screen with light and blur. "Remember that one time during lunch break when he actually went to Asuka and asked her if that was her real color and if he could see if the carpets matched the drapes..?"

"Oi!, That was a stupid dare." Toji defended himself and selected another character.

"What about that time she stepped on your cap and you flipped her skirt up..?"

"And then you dropped your pants after she slapped you…"

"Wow…" Kaworu muttered. "You really are stupid."

"S-shut up fruitcake…" Toji screamed. "And you better stop calling me stupid."

"Ok. How about we call you slow and dimwitted instead..?" Musashi smirked.

"That's it…" Toji roared and launched himself towards the other jock, locking themselves in a freestyle wrestle. Kensuke watched as both teens grappled against the other rolling around the living room then turned to Kaworu.

"Hey! Your idea of moving all the furniture actually paid off."

Kaworu watched the entertaining to some, but for him rather disturbing spectacle as Toji kept grappling with Musashi.

"HEY MAN! HANDS OFF THE FAMILY JEWELS!!" Musashi screamed and kneed Toji in that same area.

"Is he gay..?" Kaworu asked Kensuke in a low voice, pointing at a groaning Toji.

Musashi's and Kensuke's snorted laughter was answer enough.

----- -----

"Hey idiot, wonder girl." Asuka greeted Shinji and Rei in her typical fashion, entering the doorway and waiting for both siblings to get ready.

"Hey." Shinji answered dejectedly.

"Good morning." Rei's answer, although formal did sound a bit colder towards the red haired girl.

"Are you ready to go..?" Asuka questioned impatiently, watching as Rei and Shinji got up from the small center table and placed their cups and plates in the sink to be washed once either of them had returned.

"Give us a minute…"

"Where is your louse of a guardian..?" Asuka began uninterested, as Shinji zipped his jacket. Rei was already putting her shoes on. "She knows today is her turn to be homeroom teacher for class 2-B, right..?"

"Shinji woke her up before beginning breakfast." Rei provided, fully aware that Shinji wasn't going to strike a conversation with Asuka. "She should be out shortly."

"Great, let's go before she offers to ride us to school again.…"

All three exited the small apartment, not waiting for Misato to finish. Moments later the purple haired guardian exited the bathroom leaving chaos on her wake.

"Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God…" Said guardian shrieked, exiting the bathroom while hopping on her left foot, putting on her boots. Her screams could be heard to the ground floor, just as Shinji, Asuka and Rei made their way towards the school grounds.

"Kids; in the car on the double…" Misato began as she peeked her head out noticing the absence of said kids.

"Where did they go..?"

Meters away, Shinji, Rei and Asuka made their way quietly to school; each thinking how to get through this particular day, their faces reflecting their current sate of mind.

----- -----

"What are you doing here..?"

It's really easy for Asuka Langley Sohryu to get angry. She has been regarded to be the same as an explosion; with fiery red hair, and a personality to match, most people tend to get out of her way; most people, that is, except her close friends.

And those dumb enough, or desperate enough, to need something from her.

In the case of the group of female students currently flocking her, it's the first reason.

"Well, Miss Sohryu…" The first student, an anonymous from the bunch, someone that can easily be addressed, and just as easily be forgotten began with apprehension.

"We heard that the reason you are always paired by the teachers with Ikari for any school project or activity is because you are both secretly engaged and…"

"WHAAAT..!!"

The shrill shriek, emanating from Asuka could be heard thru out the whole gymnasium, making all the other girls stop whatever they were doing.

"Mein Gott..! This has gone long enough…"

One of them somehow managed to make the soccer ball she was kicking to go flying past the goal and straight into the chain-link fence separating the girl's area from the boy's area, scaring known perverts Izurumi and Mogudan, who were using gym hour to ogle at Asuka and Rei.

"Let me make this perfectly clear for both of you…" Asuka exploded, as she turned, pointing at a startled Rei. "And you, Wonder girl…you are gonna help me explain to these losers why I am being forced to spend time with that pathetic loser your brother is…"

Rei gasped when she found out Asuka was aware of her current position, but regained her coolness immediately.

"He is not a loser, this is as much a punishment for him as it is for you…"

"Ha! As if…" Asuka retorted, just as Mayumi, Hikari and Mana were jogging towards the small group. "I bet he suggested this to Fuyutsuki and Kaji, and that drunken slob of a guardian you both share just as surely also played a part on this…"

It was at this point the girl who had started everything timidly raised her hand.

"Uhmm…" She began, stuttering. "I-if you could please explain to us…" She turned towards Rei, figuring it was better to deal with her than with the irate Red head.

Rei sighed at this and cleared her voice.

"It was something like this …"

----- -----

As Asuka opened the doors, she came face to face with the person outside. In front of her, Rei simply stood there, waiting for the red head. Noticing this, Asuka could only find one word to sum her feelings for this particular moment.

Before the words could exit her mouth, though, a faint sound made her look past the blue-haired girl in front of her, down the staircase, noticing for her distaste…

"You…" She said simply, narrowing her eyes as she saw who was standing there.

It took a minute for them to acknowledge their positions. She was standing in one of the stairs several centimeters in front of him, and he was staring right up towards her.

Having a good view of her underwear.

Blood slowly began to trickle down his nose.

"Uhm...I-I..." Before he could finish, a solid slap had been connected to his face, with such force that it had landed him on a heap in the floor.

Asuka stood there, her whole body trembling with anger and fury, looking down at the fallen boy. Asuka's face darkened, like an oncoming storm, her eyebrows knitting into a tight frown, her lips curled into a familiar snarl, almost like a blood thirsty tiger that wasready to pounce on her victim.

"Izurumi...! Run..!!" Mogudan yelled from the other side of the library.

----- -----

"Wait…" one of the girls interrupted Rei. "That's almost as possible as you and Sohryu becoming some sort of pop culture icon or idol…" The whole bunch simply nodded at that, walking behind the two girls as they all made their way to the girls changing room to put on their bathing suits for swimming practice.

"What the hell is that supposed to mean..?" Asuka asked, turning around and facing the startled student.

Rei frowned at the jive but chose to simply answer the question, ignoring Asuka's flaring interruption. "My assumption at the time was that Izurumi and Mogudan were looking for either me or Sohryu, or both, to stalk us."

There was something in the quiet dignity and dispassionate tone Rei used that made everybody simply look blankly at her.

Asuka decided then that Rei had seized the spot light for enough time and choose to relate her side of the events.

"Obviously those perverts were after me, it just so happened that THEY met me and the twerp here as we were making our way to the library with Hikari, Mayumi and Kirishima."

The way Asuka spat Mana's name made everyone aware of the animosity between her and the other red head, who stopped changing and turned to glare at Asuka, but chose not to say anything.

"Any way, what happened next was this…" Asuka continued, tying her red tresses in dual ponytails, getting ready to exit the changing room into the indoor pool.

----- -----

Both perverts ran towards the library, hearing behind them the promise of a thousand untold horrors and tortures courtesy of Asuka Langley Sohryu.

However, as they neared one of the corners, Izurumi grabbed Mogudan by his pudgy neck, pushing towards the wall and using the momentum to turn as quickly as possible, this action caused Mogudan to dive to a side, delaying him for some vital seconds in the process as he tried to turn the corner and run down the corridor; Izurumi himself had bolted at the notice like a frightened rabbit, but Asuka leapt forward, almost as if her legs had powerful springs in them; one minute she was crouching to gain momentum, the other she had her elbow firmly planted on Izurumi's back.

"ACK..!" He yelled as they both went down, Izurumi holding his camera over his head so he wouldn't fall on it.

"Help..!"

"Jetzt hab' ich dich!" Asuka grunted as she wrenched Izurumi's right arm sharply across his back. "Du bist tot..." Asuka screeched, pinning him to the ground with a forearm across the back of his neck. "Give me that..!"

"NOOOO.!!" Mogudan yelled as he dove out the door to beat Asuka's climb to steal the device from Izurumi's wildly waving hand.

She planted a foot in the center of Izurumi's back, ignoring the pained gasp form the skinny boy and lunged again, driving the breath from Izurumi and cracking a few ribs in the process before grabbing Mogudan by the waist. "Damn you perverts, give me that..!"

Mogudan shrieked like a little girl, staggering away and keeping his prize held out of reach. "But we have such great picture from you and Ayae-OWW..! SHE'S BITING ME!"

"Why can't she bite me..?" Izurumi asked himself still in pain, while he saw his brother's desperate fat face, before Mogudan threw the camera with all his might forward into Izurumi's hands.

Unfortunately for Izurumi, he wasn't able to grab it and fumbled with it once, twice before it sailed again in the air towards the door, which just happened to be opened by Shinji, entering the library, determination clearly written on his eyes.

"The pictures...! Catch...!"

Which turned into blue saucers as he saw a digital camera flying his way followed by Mogudan's shriek. Shinji, simply cringed before the camera smacked him in the face.

----- -----

All the girls were now sitting next to Asuka and Mayumi, dipping their feet into the pool water, Rei, Hikari and Mana emerging and easing their slick wet hair back.

"No way…so Ikari is a pervert too...?"

"That is not accurate…" Rei said before Asuka could say anything more. "He was there for another reason…"

"What reason..?"

Rei blushed, turning towards an equally blushing Mana who decided to submerge herself again.

"I…do not have the liberty of saying."

----- -----

"Uh…Y-you…I mean…H-hi…" Shinji finished with a pathetic sigh, his face cast down, not daring to look in front of him.

"Miss Kirishima, you're probably wondering what am I…" He began before being cut off.

"What are you doing here..?"

The question echoed in Shinji's ears, as he stood there, simply staring in front of him.

Into red eyes.

Rei simply stood there, opening the door that led to the library hall but not entering the library, concern written clearly on her face. Shinji sighed, frowning at his feet before looking in front of him once more.

"I'm really pathetic…" He ended pitifully, looking at his reflection on the glass pane, before replacing the morose look in his eyes with a fierce resolved look, and walking in long, purposeful strides towards the library. Rei simply frowned and followed her brother's retreating form.

"Where are you going..?"

"Mana is in the library…" Shinji said as he stopped in front of the library door, turning towards Rei. "I'm gonna tell her that I like her…" He finished opening the double doors.

He never saw the stunned look on Mana Kirishima's face, as she flattened her body to the wall for fear of being seen by him.

"Did you hear?" Rei asked softly, while Mana simply nodded.

----- -----

"Admit it Wonder girl…" Asuka said as she emerged from the water. "That no good brother of yours was in with those perverts Izurumi and Mogudan since the beginning."

"But…" One of the girls interrupted before Rei even had a chance to answer. "We all know that Shinji is really overprotective of Rei, and that Mogudan has been stalking Rei ever since he saw her."

"So what's your point..?" Asuka asked as she climbed out of the pool.

"Why would Shinji team up with Mogudan if we all know he'd rather punch him..?"

Asuka stood there, quietly taking this in. After minutes of thinking, she gave her best answer.

"How the hell should I know..?"

"Any way…what happened next..?"

----- -----

Enraged, Asuka pushed the fat pervert forcefully to one side. "Shinji! Give me that or I will kill you!"

"Wait, Asuka..!" Shinji cried as she leapt for him, as Asuka hit him high, flipping him nearly onto his head.

"Oof..!"

"You..!" Asuka yelled, landing on top of Shinji and grabbing the camera before throwing it against the wall, making Izurumi fall on his but, whimpering as his precious pictured were no more.

"Oww!"

Her glare turned towards Shinji as he tried to get away form her. Asuka grabbed both of his wrist and held them over his head, straddling him, pinning his lower body between her thighs and his hands on top of his head with her hands. "You...You! Perverser! Hurensohn!" She punctuated each German word with a squeeze of her thighs. "YOU SUCK!"

"Oww! Asuka, it wasn't my idea..!" Shinji protested, bucking his hips, trying to reverse his position on her while attempting to roll her to the ground.

----- -----

"WHAAAT..!!!" The girls chorused shocked at the graphic depiction.

"Hikari, 'Yumi…it wasn't like that…" Asuka shouted mortified.

"We're only calling it like we saw it, Asuka." Hikari finished with Mayumi simply nodding her head, assenting.

Behind them, protected by the wall, Izurumi openly wept.

"Why couldn't it be me..?" He cried as Mogudan attempted to comfort him and still take pictures of Rei emerging from the pool.

"It was at this moment that Miss Mogami chose to appear at the school library, followed by Mister Tokita." Rei explained flatly.

"Oh…"

"O.k. girls, that's enough chit-chat." All the girls stood up as a young woman, clad in the school's gym uniform of white/red ringer t-shirt and dark blue bloomers came into view, her long blond hair tied neatly in a high ponytail, peeking from her red cap.

Satsuki Ooi looked at the red head and smiled ruefully at her. "Sohryu…you know the drill…"

Asuka got up and walked towards the changing room. "Yeah, yeah…take a shower, change and go wait for the pervert to finish his music class…"

----- -----

Shinji walked slowly thru the halls, shuffling with his book bag to take some papers, not seeing in front of him, which led to him bumping into someone he wasn't expecting to see there. And now, they were both on the floor.

"Oh…I'm sorry…" He stated, getting up, bending down to offer his hand, before noticing the person in front of him.

"Oh, it's…you…"

Red eyes blinked at him in curiosity. "What are you doing here..?"

Shinji shrugged. "I was going towards the music room." He offered his hand. "What about you..?"

Rei took his hand. "I was going to the room as well…" she picked her own bag and began to place her books inside it. "Mister Aoba said that I need to practice on my violin solo."

"Yeah, he told me the same thing about my Cello solo…"

Both siblings began to walk slowly thru the halls.

"How is your punishment going..?" Rei asked after the silence stretched for quit some time. Shinji merely shrugged.

"Well, I understand Misato and Kaji saying that I nee to pick up my scores, but I still don't understand why they chose to pair me with Asuka."

"I think that was meant as a punishment."

"Well that's cruel and unusual punishment if you ask me." Shinji added ruefully.

Just then, Rei did something she rarely did.

Rei smirked.

"Funny; she said the exact same thing about this arrangement."

This made Shinji pout in an unmanly manner, stuffing his hands into his pants pockets.

"Go ahead and laugh it of, Rei…I'd love to see how you would feel if it were the other way around."

"As it is, you are the one who has to suffer the consequences of your actions…I will only remind you of all those times I told you I did not require your assistance with handling Nahayoshi."

"You are my sister and I needed to do something about it." Shinji answered back, still shuffling thru his notes. "Besides I only roughed him up a bit."

"You threatened to, and I quote, rip a new body orifice so he could expectorate his bowels."

"Rei, has anyone ever told you that you talk like a hostess for the discovery channel. You could just say rip him a new a-"

"I chose to maintain a certain degree of civility in the way I refer to anything in particular, and will not stand so low as to use your exact same brutish words." Rei rolled her eyes, while Shinji snickered at that.

----- -----

At first glance, anyone would confuse Shigeru Aoba with a stereotypical metal head; He had long straight head, and although he had to wear the standard uniform all teachers had to wear, whenever no one was around and he left his jacket opened, one could see that the under shirt always had some rock group's name on it, and during the weekends, one could actually see him strumming his guitar and singing covers and original songs.

However, Shigeru was actually the head of the music department, and right now he was on a mission.

Or at least he will be once I finish greasing him up. Kaji thought as he kept bullying Aoba.

"But Kaji…"

"Look, Aoba, I already told you, there is no place in the school budget for the music department other than what has been assigned to extracurricular activities…" Kaji calmly replied, taking a sip from his cup of coffee. It had been pure luck that the school faculty had entrusted him with overseeing the teacher's acceptance of the new budget policy proposals.

It had been a stroke o good luck and insight when he realized he could make this work in his favor, and Misato's by making him keep his job.

"But there should be something we can do about that…" Aoba huffed as he kept checking the logs and pie charts, thinking Kaji was doing him a solid favor.

"You can do a rally…"

"A rally..?" The disbelief in Aoba's voice was as thick as the caffeinated liquid Kaji tasted, remembering that he had swiped the cup from Misato.

"Yes, a rally." Kaji smirked, while he threw away the offending drink. "The same way the cheerleaders get the extra money they need for the uniforms, or the way the AV club get those expensive toys they use. A rally."

"The Athletic Department doesn't do anything like that." Shigeru said with a pout, coming eerily close to throwing a tantrum.

"That's because the Athletic department had been from where most of the all-state basketball rooster comes from for five consecutive years. Not to mention 4 of the actual board members."

Without another word, Kaji got up from his chair and exited the lounge, stopping next to Shigeru, offering a last piece of advice.

"The only way you can convince the school board of assigning more resources for extra curricular activities and sending them over to the Music department would be if you did something out of the ordinary."

"Like what..?"

Oh God, not again. Kaji silently griped. "Remember that brilliant plan we talked about a week ago..?"

"Ugh…All I can remember are endless bottles of Yebisu as well as sake cups, and the wonder two singing awfully bad karaoke. " Aoba pointed out, referring to Maya Ibuki and Kaede Agano's collective name

"How about a concert..?" Kaji asked, on the verge or throttling Aoba's throat. It has to be the decibels of his speakers that have diminished his higher brain functions.

"Pfft!" Shigeru snorted. "The only kids with an ounce of music on their genes are Ikari and Ayanami."

"Not really…the new student, Kaworu Nagisa is also good…" Kaji paused, attempting to recollect his thoughts.

"Yeah..?" Aoba asked surprised. "How good..?"

"He has been a regular attendee to the city's "Young Promise" music gala for the last three years…"

Shigeru Aoba whistled, clearly impressed by this. If this kid Nagisa had attended this gala, that meant he was more than a young promise. Better yet, the only other two students currently enrolled in the school who had also been attending this gala were, in fact, Shinji and Rei.

"And..?"

"I took the liberty of assigning him to some after school activity. He is currently en route to your special music class today at four…if you can get him and Ikari to play a sample tune together, then you might be able to better gauge his musical prowess."

"Interesting…" Aoba muttered. "So what instrument does he play..?"

"I believe he plays the viola." Kaji said, waiting for the wheels in Aoba's brain to begin to turn. I don't think he's that du-

"Yeah so..?"

Kaji sighed, deciding Aoba might need a diagram and some pictures after all.

"And if I'm not mistaken Ayanami plays the violin, and Ikari plays the cello…"

"So you're suggesting a string quartet..?" Aoba asked, thinking about the possibilities.

Eureka. Kaji thought pleased.

"Well…Chairman Keel is a big fan of classical music, and I'm sure that if you were to arrange a performance by such an ensemble, if done correctly, we could be discussing a different budget for the next year."

"But I'd still be one violin short…" Aoba muttered. Kaji was about to propose a student's name, but decided to sit back and watch. Aoba looked down the hallway and realized class would start in 10 minutes.

"It's a great idea Kaji; let me give it some thought, after all, now all I'd need to do is get another violin player…"

As he watched the young music teacher walk down the hallways to his scheduled practice Kaji thought about the possibilities, measured every angle and watched everything for anything left a miss.

----- -----

Kaworu tested his violin again, humming softly to himself and attempting to replicate the hum on the chords. It wasn't until he had attuned the strings to his taste that he took a big gulp of breath, and began to glide the bow across, the notes breaking the stillness of the classroom.

He held his breath, making the note touch the highest alto he could allow the instrument to play, then letting the string mellow back, intertwining the alto with the basso, then quickly climbing to the alto again, playing what was in his head, not a set of notes written on paper.

Then he quickly wrapped it up, smiling to himself as he let the bow stay a while longer, relishing on the intense vibration this created on the instrument and its strings.

He held his serene smile, until he heard a firm clapping behind him, startled, Kaworu turned around quickly, entangling his feet together and landing in his butt unceremoniously.

"I was about to compliment you on your good form but I feel now that might have been a rushed judgment." The voice, while delivering the words in a dead panned tone, somehow retained a sense of whimsical laughter, some sort of ethereal sense of humor, something not easily seen or appreciated by the normal sense, but still there, which made it the more precious to Kaworu.

"A-Ayanami…"

"It is good to see you again Nagisa…this is my brother, Shinji Ikari…" Rei continued, stepping aside to let Kaworu stare into the eyes of Shinji who had a questioning look in his face.

"Nagisa…" He rolled his name in his mouth, trying to place the feeling of familiarity before asking again. "You are…Kaworu Nagisa…right..?"

"Y-yes." Kaworu got up, extending his hand to Shinji.

Rei looked back and forth, her red eyes unblinking. "You two have met already."

"Yeah, it was during last year's philharmonic Young Promises concert." Shinji smiled. "You're Sonata No. 1 was superb…The way you made the keyboard and violin interact in various ways throughout the piece was awesome…" Shinji gushed, while Rei simply shook her head muttering the word geek.

"I'm glad you liked it…the violin echoing the tune of the keyboard was tricky, since the two are required to move in synchronicity. The violin would sometimes double the tune, especially when the keyboard was providing the bass." Kaworu agreed while Rei gave him a disbelieving look, muttering again.

"I have to agree with you both; it is quite a lively and light-hearted work."

From the classroom door, Shigeru Aoba had a peculiar smile, some would say a smirk, on his face.

"I see you've meet the new member of our little club, Mr. Nagisa…It's a good thing you are all here, saves me the hassle of waiting to introduce you all." Aoba shrugged." "I also got us some new strings…" He continued walking towards the back of the room, leaving the children in the center.

"O.k. kids. lets tune 'em up..." Shigeru Aoba smiled at his current students.

Silently, Shinji began to tune his cello, plucking the strings, feeling the sounds flow thru the wooden instrument. There was an art in myself; he kept plucking the strings, tuning them to his heart's content. He smiled ever so often feeling the cello, grow, transforming into a tree, setting roots deep in the ground as the notes began to hit lower and lower notes, sounding almost like a bass. He pictured nature, waterfalls, grand majestic flows of water, surrounded by the ever present blue tint of the night sky against a starry backdrop that seemed to pulsate, to absorb and disperse the very sounds emanating from the cello he held.

Kaworu closed his eyes, losing himself on the subtle rumble emanating from his viola, a grand, noble tunes slowly resurfacing, accompanying, enveloping the bold notes that Shinji drew forth, complying to the setting and the mood, the tempo and the timbre.

Behind them Rei and Shigeru, each witnesses by themselves of the way an impromptu jam session had began to turn into a private concerto began to lose themselves against the soft, sad notes.

Shinji would at first grasp everyone's attention with his bold, earthy strong notes, so out of place for the normally shy, kid, followed immediately by Kaworu's lighthearted notes, then how they would suddenly begin a simple two pieced note, Shinji's cello again setting the mood and tempo, and Kaworu's violin would complement the sounds so perfectly; Shinji's strokes sounding the flapping of leather, like a bat's wings during flight; while Kaworu's violin mimicked the beating of a heart against such a dark, firm background, easily heard, easily understandable.

Then came Rei's and Kaworu's turn, and Shinji silently left the seat he had taken. A long, low note hummed, the beginning of a newer musical note, slowly, reverently rising in pitch, with a smooth, perfect tone as Kaworu's fingers moved along the strings, Rei waiting for the appropriate moment to add her string to the rich texture of sounds.

A simple, string of notes, uplifting in the beginning, then suddenly vanishing into thin wisps of air. Silently The began a slow, melancholic tone, Rei's violin leaving a rich imprint in the air, beginning in soft, rapid successions, against Kaworu's viola, now taking the space in the background left over by Shinji's Cello.

Silently, Shigeru whispered something to Shinji, who simply nodded and walked back to the cello, while Shigeru sat near the piano on the back ground.

"Ok, guys that was wonderful…you really are a good team…Shinji and Rei have a very similar style of playing, and I think this is because they practice very often ." Shigeru couldn't hide the awe in his voice. "Now Kaworu has a very systematic approach on his viola, which will be an excellent bridge between the altos of a violin and the baritones of a Cello…"

Shigeru began to play a simple tune quite similar to the one Shinji had played with Kaworu; two simple partitas, over and over on the lower spectrum of the piano.

"Think you can emulate Shinji..?"

Shinji simply placed the bow against the cello's string, drew a long breath of air, and began to draw out music form within.

A sad tune, a sorrowful tune; a bittersweet overture.

"Rei…"

Rei nodded and added the light tones of her violin to the obtrusive, dark tones of the cello, starting softly and ending in the same way. A faint ray of light in the otherwise pitch black darkness of the music.

Shinji quickly matched Rei's last tones with his cello, suddenly enveloping the air on the room once more. And Rei did the same at the finale; her violin's shrill notes making, forcing Shinji's tone to become higher and higher, a deafening crescendo.

"Wonderful." Shigeru nodded. "Now I want you to do the same, only this time, allow Kaworu to become the bridge...Shinji, finish in a low tone, but not lower enough that Kaworu won't be able to pick it up from his viola."

Shinji nodded and Shigeru turned to the other boy. "And Kaworu, I want you to do the same, only this time it would be with Rei's violin, thus you'll be able to travel the whole spectra of tone on the viola."

Looking at one another, the three teens nodded and began to play, again, Shigeru marking the tempo every time Shinji would lower it reflectively by accompanying him on the piano, but quickening the tones.

As time passed by, and the tones, the cues, the slight changes in moods and timbre, the tempo and the spaces full of an audient silence became more and more natural to the trio, Shigeru finally decided that the practice had served it's purpose.

"Ok gang…this was great, for never playing before, you kids show a great understanding of each other…Shinji, you still need to work on taking charge and setting the mood and tempo correctly…" Before Shinji could say anything, Shigeru held his hand up, noticing Shinji frown, Shigeru decided to throw the kid a compliment, knowing in advance how fragile Shinji's own self esteem was.

"I know that you don't like being in the spot light, but the cello is the timekeeper of the trio or quartet, taking the place of the piano. You need to work on the cues and the tones."

"T-thank you..." Shinji smiled. "But I like the cello better."

"Yeah, so you've told me every time I ask you about it." Shigeru chuckled. "Any way…" He turned to Kaworu. "Kaworu, you need to work with Rei on abridging in a more effective manner her lows into your highs, but I must congratulate you on the way you complimented Shinji's cello."

Kaworu smiled shyly. "Thank you."

"And Rei…" The blue haired girl turned after putting away the violin. "Excellent job as always…."

"I was off when accompanying Shinji by half an octave, it wasn't right."

"The only problem you have is that you tend to over focus on perfection." Shigeru bantered in a friendly way with Rei. She blushed a bit but held her voice, a sall smile playing on her lips, which made it hard fr Kaworu not to stare at her.

Shigeru smiled, before muttering under his breath. "Now if only I could find another kid with at least an ounce of talent you have for the other violin position for this semester project…."

Rei blinked at that. "You mean we can have the string quartet completed..?"

"Well we have three fourths of it...You on the violin, Shinji with the cello and Kaworu on the viola..."

"So all we need is another violin player..?"

"Nope..." Shigeru laughed as he popped the "p". "If it were that easy, we would already be practicing several pieces…We need some one who can really play the violin if we want to convince the members of the board with our recital that the school's music department budget needs to be revised."

There was a beat as the kids registered the information.

"You mean they are planning on cutting down the music department..?"

Shigeru laughed. "Don't worry, they might make some cuts, but I'm sure it will still be an elective."

As the teacher and the students began to pack everything, Shigeru noticed Shinji staying behind.

"Ah…Mr. Aoba…"

"Call me Shigeru, Shinji…"

"Ok, Mr. Aoba…" Shinji ignored the proffered pleasantry. "Do you mind if I stayed a while longer to practice..?"

Shigeru smiled at that.

"Not at all…"

----- -----

Asuka grumbled to herself as she walked down the halls of school.

"Stupid Misato, and stupid Kaji…" She kicked her feet against the ground. "And stupid Shinji for being grounded with me…"

"Where could he be?" The red head muttered to herself as she stomped thru the halls. "I swear when I find him I'm gonna..."

Before she could finish her thoughts she heard a low rumble echoing thru the otherwise deserted halls, making her stop.

Cautiously she made her way to the classroom from where the sounds where coming from.
The classroom would have been completely dark where it not for the light shinning from the atrium where a lone figure sat shaking to and fro, moving to the rhythm of the music made a sad grand tune melancholic at the start then suddenly ominously growing starting into a more serene one before beginning once more into a crescendo that at times was melancholic and at times fierce a tune that seemed to reflect the author's nature.

Asuka cautiously peeked inside and saw the straining, calm face of Shinji Ikari, the grand cello she had seen often times when she had ventured into the music room for some "alone time" resting comfortably, almost like an old toy he had grown accustomed too, against his frame.

The music emanating from within seemed to flow inexorably, almost as if someone had opened up a faucet, and left the liquid flowing freely, cascading out and forward, enclosing the atmosphere of the room in a serene yet cautious way, the reverberating echoes of the powerful string shivering against her skin.

And thru it all, she saw his peaceful almost-there smile.

She couldn't help herself a she sat on the steps and rested her head on the threshold of the door, letting herself be taken y the music the boy was making, catching every tune, every twist and turn of melodic backlashes along, her fingers unconsciously fooling the same patter but with different precision, drumming like a timekeeper piece would and noticing that throughout all the slopes and hills of music he had created, Shinji Ikari never lost the basic tempo he had started.

She laid like that not noticing he face had changed from frown into a clam, serene demeanor, softly humming to herself accompanying the music in the room until she felt it.

The climax was coming.

Despite the sexual connotations of the word, every music player knows when it comes because it resembles the sexual climax, it's all the pin and sorrow and fear and hate, all the guts that had been used to play and create, l the feelings both burrowed beneath layers upon layers of solitude and fortitude as well as those skin deep, obvious to everyone but the player itself being pushed forward like a rushing, stampeding wave crushing against the feeble remains of a long ago crushed sand castle.

It's a tingling sensation beginning in the base of your spine, pushing up thru the back and flowing thru your shoulders, rushing thru the nerves and muscles of the arms before it can finally find release in the fingertips of the player, and then the whole world becomes purer and brighter, more defined and sharper because of it.

It leaves the person who is playing spent and panting, looking for air and like a broken, joint less doll resting against a chair, one cannot move, cannot think, one can only stay there panting and gasping for air and trying to understand how something so powerful, so perfect and harmonic can be held within, and how it can choose the precise moment to be left out.

The minute Shinji Ikari felt the notes piling up in his frame, the moment his senses were overridden by the sounds convulsing in perfect harmony inside of him, the playing became more powerful and defined; the bow became an extension of him as it thirsted back and forth against the thin coated strings, taking away all the sounds they could make and making them purr and groan at his will, being in compete and total control.

He felt them coming and saw them folding and made them fuse in one powerful swimming motion and nimble fingers on the chords.

And when it all stopped, when his body had been spent he could only lay back against the chair and focus on his won erratic breathing once all the feeling put behind the sounds of music had left the mortal coil of flesh and blood they had resided in, he never felt the red head that had been his own captivated audience of one, staring at him with a look that one would have trouble describing in her face.

Asuka simply stepped back and gasped for breath, and then began to grumble again in a loud enough voice for Shinji to hear.

"Hey idiot! We're supposed to be outside in 20 minutes fro Kaji to drive us back! Pack it up!" She said sticking half of her body inside and looking at a still sitting Shinji.

She turned around and left, humming under her breath the same tune she had heard before.

Shinji simply packed everything where it had been as quickly a possible and hurried behind Asuka, his running steps echoing in a two to one range against Asuka's own steps against the wooden boards of the floor.

No one noticed the pair of legs that looked at them leave with great interest.

----- -----

"This is all your fault idiot…" Asuka grumbled as she and Shinji walked in the distance the main doors for campus.

"You know…you always start your sentences like that…" Shinji grumbled, running next to her and, once they had passed the gates of school, slowing down from a full blown run to a mere jog, finally resting his hands on his knees, panting in exertion. "It's getting annoying…"

"That's because you are an idiot, besides, we've been doing the same routine for the better part of the year, I go next door to wake you up, and we end up running in five minutes what we could walk in fifteen if only you woke up on time."

"You could always leave me and come on time…" Shinji grumbled softly.

"I did it only once ever since this whole joke of a punishment started, and Kaji and Misato grounded me two whole weeks for ditching you…" Asuka snorted. "I'd rather kick you out of bed and run with you and arrive on time than spent another two weeks grounded…But that's not the point…"

Shinji and Asuka made their way into the hall ways both aware of the various glances the student body were throwing their way. Quietly they entered the library and sat on one of the desks located near the end.

"The point is now the whole school has the stupid idea that I'm going out with YOU. " Asuka grumbled. "Apparently the fact that I walk to school everyday with a male is so out of the question they think it's has to have some sexual reason…perverts!"

"Well…I don't have class until 9.00 on Thursdays…I can come to school by myself…" Shinji began as he sat in front of Asuka. She simply pulled out a book from her bag and began to read. This made Shinji sigh and attempt another approach at the German girl.

"I know you don't have class until the same time because we have the same schedule…" he threw offhandedly, waiting for any other type of reaction from the girl in front of him, and when she lifted her book to try and block his view, knew she was still listening.

Shinji let out a puff of air, took a deep breath and started again. "Look…When we get out of here, we're gonna go back home, and I have to go grocery shopping, and I'll end up cooking, and like I said I don't feel like cooking for the both of us…" Shinji rambled on.

"If you have a point, spit it out." Asuka grumbled.

"How about today we go out to have dinner..?" Shinji continued. "Rei has stay after school pool practice with Kirishima, and…and I don't feel like cooking only for the two of us."

Asuka placed her book quietly on the desk and looked at Shinji. Her face was a mixture of confusion and shock.

"Y-you mean together..?" She asked.

"I'm thinking about getting something to eat, you can come with me if you like…" Shinji dodged the question.

"You know, I can cook…it's not like I need you to pick my clothes and clean my room and cook my food…" Asuka's said, while her eyebrow raised an inch. "And why would I want to do that, go out with you..?" She picked her book again and placed it in front of her face, reading it as she continued talking to Shinji. "We're just study partners, so don't start getting the wrong idea just because I am being forced to spend time with you."

Shinji's eyes narrowed at that. Asuka continued form behind her book.

"This is as much a punishment for me as it is for you…"

I doubt it… He finished in his thoughts.

"Look, I'm not asking you on a date or something." Shinji grumbled a she opened his book as well it just a simple meal together…we've had plenty in your house and mine…" And I always seem to be the one doing the cooking…

"Look idiot…" Asuka began in a cool collected manner as she closed her book after marking the page she had been reading. "Everyone is pretty much assuming that just because I was forced to move with Kaji, who happens to live next door with you, and we are being paired for practically every single school related activity, and are always arriving and leaving together that we are probably dating…"

"Yeah…you already mentioned that…" Shinji said back evenly.

"And don't you think that if we go and have any meal together by ourselves is going to make everyone believe it more..?"

"It wouldn't be the first time we-"

"Wrong!" Asuka cut across him, her eyes fixed on Shinji's dark blue ones. "WE have eaten together WITH my friends and your sister and those idiots you call friends…and only once alone…" She replied stubbornly.

Shinji frowned at that. Without saying anything he placed his books inside his book bag and got up. "Well, if it's the same with you then, I'll be going to the cafeteria and getting something to eat." He muttered before exiting, not waiting for Asuka to agree or not.

Asuka didn't answer back, and Shinji was already half way thru the door when she turned to look at his departing form. She waited for the door latch to click closed and then sighed softly to herself, putting her reading book back into her own bag.

"You know…you could be a little more agreeable with him…"

Asuka gasped and turned to look at Mayumi, currently indexing several books, checking them into the schools library system before placing them in their respective place. Asuka simply huffed and turned to look straight ahead.

"I'm only spending time with him because otherwise Kaji will end up fired."

Mayumi sighed and kept arranging the books, humming a tuneless tune. "He's only spending time with you because Misato might end up fired as well."

Asuka opened her mouth, intent on saying something but closed it and huffed.

"You know, it wouldn't kill you to try something new every once in a while…"

----- -----

Shinji looked up from his book, in silence at Asuka as she placed her book bag in front of him. Without saying anything else, both teens took out their books and began to study, answering questions and typing away on their laptops. It had become a routine; after gym practice for Asuka and Music class for Shinji, they were ordered to report to the library until either Misato or Kaji came and picked them up.

"Hey kids…" The upbeat voice of the librarian greeted them. "How are you..? All set up..?"

"Yes Miss Mogami…" Both children answered at unison, not even looking up.

"O.k. Kids…" She said as she began to scan the books. "Shinji your class starts in twenty minutes; Asuka you're welcomed to stay here while Shinji finishes his music elective."

----- -----

"Look, if you don't want me to be here, just say it, I can be on the library by myself!"

Shinji sighed for what felt like a thousandth time.

"I told you Asuka, It's allright if you want to be here, I just think that you should have asked Mister Aoba first."

Asuka harrumphed and crossed her arms at the back of her head, the very picture of nonchalance as she walked next to Shinji who kept looking at his music score sheets.

"I wouldn't put it past your louse of a guardian if she had already infected Mr. Aoba's minds with a ridiculous story about me."

"Yeah, because I'm sure he's deaf dumb and blind." Shinji grumbled back quietly.

"What did you say?" Asuka asked as she turned to look at him, a cross between a smirk and a growl in her face.

"N-nothing!" Shinji's higher brain functions took control and adjusted his behavior accordingly to survive a pummeling.

"Wimp."

The bantering exchange continued as Shinji opened the door to the classroom where Music was going to be taken; the first thing he noticed was Rei tuning up her violin while Kaworu was muttering something, making Rei grace him with a small, shy smile.

"You brought a guest."

It was very hard to notice the displeasure on the flat tone by which Rei said those words, but it was there.

"Stuff it wonder girl."

It was hard not to notice the animosity Asuka held on her voice, so Shinji simply shrugged and went towards the cello to tune it up.

"I would appreciate it of you could keep the harpy quiet while we practice." Rei told her brother, ignoring the already close to exploding red head.

"I hope your violin doesn't sound like a cat drowning, smurfette." Asuka simply grumbled, went to one of the chairs and took out her books, intent on getting some school work done. Kaworu simply looked from one girl to the other and shrugged, deciding to stay out of it and tune his viola. They were passing the time until Shigeru could make it to start the practice.

"Why don't we try again to work on what mister Aoba said?" Kaworu added after some time. "We can try with uhh…" He shuffled the pages looking for an adequate piece for the three instruments to focus on the harmonizing parts, before finally picking up a score.

"how about this one?" The ashen-haired teen asked with a smile pointing to a particular page.

"Very well." Rei held her violin to her chin and turned to look at Shinji, waiting for him to begin. Shinji simply sucked a long gulp of breath, held it in and then let it out slowly, before his left hand changed postures, form holding the cello by the neck to grasping it, fingers pressed softly yet firmly against the nylon chords.

Rei closed her eyes and felt the tone setting up, Shinji's experimental plucking of the chords and odd notes telling her he was still trying to tune the instrument to perfection. Kaworu too closed his eyes and began to tune his own viola to the scratching of the low, grave notes.

And then Shinji began to play.

Just like last time he began in a soft note, the humming of the cello, slowly increasing in tone and force as it came back and forth, and then suddenly dipping back down before resurfacing again, Rei kept her bow poised onto the violin before her low, soft notes began to slowly mix with Shinji's more powerful staccatos, slowly rushing and molding, before she stopped abruptly, frowning.

Shinji let out a sigh. "You were a bit sl-"

"Yes." Rei said curtly, not happy with herself. "Let's try it again."

They regrouped and began in the same manner, Shinji once again doing some minor playing to set the tone and tempo, and when he turned to look at Rei and she nodded, he began from the low and deep once more.

Halfway through the piece, Rei stopped again and frowned, looking at the violin, checking on the chords and their distension, plucking them, clearly not satisfied with how they were tuned.

"I can do it slower if you fl the pacing is too quick." Shinji offered his sister, while Kaworu sat next to Rei, taking the violin and checking it himself.

"You're starting half a time before and climb up the notes too fast."

All three turned towards the red head looking at her with a mixture of shock and annoyance. Asuka simply kept leafing the pages on her text book, scribbling something on the notebook she held on her lap.

"The piece requires for me to start at that time and to shift the notes quickly." Rei retorted while she grabbed the violin again, a but miffed at both herself and the fact that Asuka had caught up so quickly what had been eluding her.

"No, the piece is written like that because the players are generally male, and their fingers and forearms hold much more power than a female's." Asuka said in a displaced tone. "You don't have their reach, nor their power, you need to make up for that part in precision and solvency." The red head ended as she closed her book and looked at the three people in front of her.

"Why don't you show us how it's done, then?" Rei asked quietly as she got up and walked over to Asuka, holding her violin out. Asuka simply snorted and turned her face.

"I don't have to show you anything, you can take my advice or not, I don't care."

"Maybe you are not so sure of your own abilities put on the spot light." Rei egged the redhead while turning around and walking back. Asuka looked on thoughtfully.

She got up and snatched the violin from Rei's hands. She turned to Shinji and tapped a tempo on the handle of the cello. "This is the tempo we will need, it's only a bit slower, not really noticeable but it will allow any female player to be able to modulate the notes better. You got it?"

Shinji kept his eyes on the tapping bow, making a few notes to familiarize himself with the tempo.

Do it again." He asked softly as he closed his eyes, and began to feel Asuka's tapping on the wood, on the air and n the chords, he waited for the tip-tap he wanted and then began playing, The red head allowed him a few minutes, and Shinji began to let the notes flow, before Asuka closed her eyes as well, and waited for the appropriate cue to intervene.

It began with a low rumble; a sew-saw motion that began growing with the tremble force of the cello, faintly growing, escalating into a full blown solo before it receded equally softly, following the notion of elongation and decrease; it was here, and suddenly it wasn't, and the echoes reverberated all the more powerful because of that.

Shinji's face was one of complete and outmost concentration, eyes closed, brows furrowed as he imprinted his strength onto the cello, before Asuka decided to cut in; light, soft notes form the violin making their way thru the rumbling echo left behind.

And then Shinji's cello began to play again, first in the background, becoming the focal point as Asuka's notes disappeared, and then Asuka was on the center stage once more, the soft, precise notes flowing commanding attention because of the clear, crystal sounds, as well as the slow increase in forte.

And then they began to play together, Asuka following and then guiding Shinji's continual 4 notes on the cello, and Shinji marking th tempo before he became like the waves, coming forth and then back, teasing Asuka's violin with a powerful bass and then letting the note rest.

They increased the tone and the notes and Asuka once again became the lead, while Shinji kept the accompanying rhythm, marking it, creating it, laying the frame work for Asuka to create, to paint, to draw the picture of her self with the notes o the violin.

Again the repeated with more force, more [precision before slowly, letting the notes rest, allowing the sound to go away, and the class room remained silent as Kaworu and Rei watched in surprise as Shinji blinked, before turning over to Asuka who simply laid down the violin and walked back to her seat.

"That's how you do it." She said to Rei, before the sound of clapping made her stop, turning to look at the entrance, where Shigeru Aoba was clapping and smiling.

"I think we've just found our second violin."

Asuka looked from the teacher to the others and then simply muttered softly.

"Verdammt."

----- -----

"No…forget it." Asuka grumbled as Shinji, Rei and Kaworu kept pestering her. "That was a once in a life time fluke which I won't repeat anytime soon."

"Asuka but that was wonderful!" Shinji gushed. "I really didn't know you could play like that"

"What? You though I simply walked around campus stuffing sausages down other peoples pants and punching the lights out of perverts?"

"W-well, yes, but…"

"Shut up idiot."

"But Miss Sohryu…" Kaworu jumped in. "We really need a fourth person who can play the violin for th-"

"I don't care." Asuka said as she kept walking. "I don't play in public."

"B-but Asuk-!"

"Save it idiot." Asuka held her hand out to Shinji, silencing the boy instantly. "I don't want to hear anything about it."

"C'mon Asuka, plea-"

"I SAID NO!" Asuka shouted at both siblings, before leaving without saying anything more. Shinji watched her as she made her way to the lobby waiting for Misato, frowning at her.

"C'mon Asuka." Shinji tired once more. "It wouldn't kill you to stop being such a bitch and help someone lese than yourself!"

Asuka's middle finger, apart form a few colorful expletives in English, German and Japanese, was the only response he got

"You know…" Kaworu began after a moment of tense silence. "I think we should let her be."

"Kaworu, she can help us for the concert…all we need to do is convince her!" Shinji murmured to the other teen before turning to Rei. "I'll go with her and try to convince her of helping us."

"Shinji." Rei said flatly. "I do not think you have the capacity to make her agree, nor would I have high hopes for her to do so." She said as she placed the violin back in it's case and began to walk towards the pool for her after school swimming club practice.

"However, try to speak with her." Rei added, turning back a little a sad look in her eyes. "She's some one like us, brother. You might try and be more civil towards her."

"Well, I have until Misato picks us up." Shinji grimaced. "Maybe on a quick turn she will bang her head and et amnesia."

"I just hope it's selective amnesia, and she remembers how to play the violin."

----- -----

Ryouji Kaji has always been regarded as an affable jovial kind of guy; laid back, and a bit on the scruffy side he exudes an air of confidence and coolness about him, which might be the reason why most of his students show him some sort of respect.

Of course, being regarded as an attractive teacher by both the female staff and students from campus, with his signature long hair tied in a messy low ponytail and sporting a five o'clock shadow may also be a factor.

As it is, it is a rare sight to see Ryouji Kaji angry.

A sight even his charge, Asuka Langley Sohryu, has rarely been privy to.

This is one of those times.

"What do you mean you can't pick them up...?" He screamed into his phone.

"Well…I didn't realize that tomorrow was the deadline for me to turn in these papers and I have to stay at school and grade them." Came the reply.

"Well, I'm stuck here for at least another 3 more hours, and even if I left right now, There's no way I'd make it on time…" Kaji grumbled back before a thought occurred to him.

"Wait, Misato…if you have to stay at school, why can't you just take the kids with you..?"

"Oh..! Uh-uhmm… Ohmygoshlookatthetimegottagobye…" Kaji heard the jumbled words, quickly followed the dial tone. Frowning, Kaji looked at his watch and noticed the day.

"Of course…happy hour at the bar…" He mused to himself before shrugging nonchalantly. "Well…both Shinji and Asuka have been hanging on with each other now…surely they'll be able to go home without any problems." He said to himself, sounding more like he wanted to convince himself rather than expound his reasons for doing something like this.

"You don't really believe any of this, do you..?" behind him Makoto Hyuga asked, frowning.

"Who'd believed what..?" Shigeru Aoba asked coming from behind Makoto.

"Kaji is considering sending Shinji with Asuka alone back home."

Shigeru stifled a laugh at that. "B-but I thought today was Misato's turn to…"

Before he could finish, Kaji silenced them both with one phrase.

"Friday happy hour…" He said dialing another number.

"Shinji?" Kaji asked with a smile. "Hey thanks for answering kid, bad news, Misato and I won't be able to pick you and Asuka up, so…"

"Yeah, and remember to do your…"

He smiled lopsidedly. "Excellent, oh and another thing Shinji…" Kaji drew out a long breath and stared out into space, thinking of the correct way to word it. "Regarding Asuka, just…remember to give her a chance...she might act tough, but she is still a girl."

Both males registered this, but neither said anything until after Kaji had ended the conversation.

"I just hope that Shinji has a decent medical insurance plan…" Shigeru finally said.

"Why is that..?" Both Makoto and Kaji questioned.

"Because I think typhoon Asuka is going to test it...badly…"

"Well guys, that's it for me…" Makoto excused himself. "Gotta go and pick up Satsuki were going out to dinner tonight."

Both men waved back, smiling.

"She's gonna end up three sheets to the wind." Kaji said with the smile still in place, then he turned to Shigeru.

"Hey Kaji, so what do you think about that thing I told you?."

"I don't know…it sounds like a wild, fancy thing…" Kaji said of handedly; he had to hand it to Shigeru, he was a tough cookie; he had been pushing the topic at hand ever since the ramen stand.

"Look…You need those two to be together, and this is another way for them to be under close supervision…" Shigeru continued. "So how about it..? You in…or you out..?"

Kaji pretended to think hard about it, letting out a tired sigh.

"I mean, you can't simply hire a nanny or something, right..?" Shigeru pressed. "And let them stay with Misato? Please…talk about the blind leading the blind."

Kaji laughed out loud at the notion. "You're right, if I could, I would do it, but with this new teaching position at the university I'd be lucky to make it in time to sleep and go teach at the institute." He said as soon as he could control his laughter.

Shigeru clapped Kaji's shoulder. "C'mon man, We'd be doing each other a solid one here…"

Kaji decided to keep quiet. Let him stew a little in his own broth.

"Look Kaji, I understand that you want to save yours and Misato's ass, which is why I want to help you babysitting Shinji and Asuka, besides…" He sighed. "I need them both to come up with something to save MY job…"

"Why's that..?"

"I just found out thru the grapevine the school board is cutting down some electives and they say music might be one." Shigeru grumbled.

"Fuyutsuki told me if I could whip up something by the time the board meets by the end of the school year I might pull something off…"

"And do you have something in mind..?" Kaji asked his long haired friend.

"I was thinking about making a concert or something, but the only kids that have some talent are Shinji and Rei, and they play classical instruments."

Kaji smiled at that.

"And how does Asuka factor in on this?"

"Well, I once meet Chairman Keel, he's German, you know…"

"Yeah, so..?" Kaji said a she ordered another beer, knowing full well that-

"Here...I'll get it." Shigeru offered, stopping Kaji from reaching for his wallet. Kaji simply smilled to himself as he instead extracted a cigarette and lit it, letting out a plume of smoke

"He happens to be a classical music buff." Shigeru said slowly, waiting for Kaji to take the bait.

"Wow, really..?" Kaji had trouble masking the over the top shock, but Shigeru's tone became more upbeat at that.

Hook, line and sinker. Both thought at the same time.

"Yeah, He told me once he especially love the works of Bach...you know…Prelude fur Violonchello, which Shinji just happened to play during the last city sponsored concert for promising musicians along with Rei." He said conspirationally. "Keel was actually on the first row and was one of the first to give them both a standing ovation."

"Wow, so if you do something like-" Kaji began before Shigeru cut him off. "Of course he actually prefers the string pieces by Bach."

Kaji simply nodded at that, letting Shigeru control the flow.

"And it just so happens that I know another excellent violin player…" Shigeru waited for Kaji to turn to him before letting the name out.

----- -----

"Arrgh…I can't believe it…" Asuka shrieked as she and Shinji waited on the threshold of the apartment buildings where she now resided with Kaji. The same building that housed the Katsuragi/ Ikari/ Ayanami apartment.

"This is all your fault idiot." She said, pushing him towards the rain and the cold outside of the apartment.

"Mine..?" Shinji asked her with disbelief while attempting to maintain as much of his body as possible within the confines of the small room. "What do you mean my fault..?"

"If you had brought your keys…"

"I already told you I was sorry for that…" Shinji yelled at her, wrestling with her to stay inside the meager shelter the threshold gave them. "How was I supposed to know Rei would be going to the mall with Horaki and Yamagishi..?"

"It's also your drunken slob of a guardian's fault then…" Asuka retorted. "She was supposed to come pick us up…instead old man Tokita came to the library and threw us out of the school."

Shinji, knowing his guardian, realized the red head had a point. .

"I swear to god…if I die from pneumonia, I'm gonna kill you…"

"Well…" Shinji began trying to defuse the red head. "We could go to Kaji's apartment…"

"Kaji never gave me the key…" She muttered. Noticing Shinji's questioning look, she explained. "He said something about me coming by in the middle of school day and not going to classes…any way…why am I telling you this..?"

Shinji decided to keep silent. They both stayed in silence on the stairs, guarding themselves with Shinji's jacket. Shivering Asuka scooted closer to the boy. Before Shinji could say anything, she growled.

"Don't get your hopes up dork…I'm only doing this to get some body heat…if you get any perverted ideas, I'm punching you…" She forcefully pushed Shinji onto the small roof above them. As they both huddled together Asuka felt something hard and pointy against her inner thigh, she looked down and saw Shinji's leg almost draping over her own, a suspicious bulge on it.

"Shinji…" the red head growled so very close to his ear Shinji shivered involuntarily. "Those better be your keys so I can punch you for being a moron, and no another thing so I don't punch you for being a pervert."

---------------

"Ok, Shinji…" Asuka growled once the door was opened and she pushed the helpless boy inside. "You have 10 seconds to get your stuff in the living room; I want to start as soon as I change." She grumbled as she took the towel Shinji was offering her and barged into his room.

"Do you have any dry clothes I can use..?"

Shinji frowned at that. "Uhh…no, but Rei might have something, you can check in her room."

Asuka didn't waste more time, marching into Rei's currently unoccupied room, closing the sliding door while telling Shinji not to peek or else. She quickly took off her uniform, letting it pool at the floor, shivering into the warmth of the towel..

"Aachoo!" Asuka sneezed from within Rei's room. "I 'm in hell, that's what it is…" she grumbled as she wet thru Rei's t-shirt.

"Huh…" Asuka muttered. She never knew Rei's odd sense pf humor permeated to her shirts, as all the times she saw her, Rei was either in the school uniform, the school P.E combination of bright red shorts and white/red ringer shirt, or thee school's swimming suit.

Asuka saw the shirt once more with suspicious; a little gray number that seemed like it was one size to small for Asuka's body, with lettering that consisted on a "caution" triangle with image of a female form walking by a fence with a male from peeking at it on above was stretched across the chest, Beware of men peeping emblazoned across it.

She snorted and saw at the other alternative; a similar t-shirt of the same color, only this one had the image of a man touching a woman's ass while both left arms grasped at a train handles., the lettering in bold red letters of Beware of perverts, followed underneath by a Dangerous persons are in this area.

Muttering about this, Asuka decided to go with the first, exiting Rei's room.

"Your sister has some strange tastes in shirts." She said simply as she tugged on the lower part of the shirt to cover her midriff, as well as feeling the shorts were rather…short; She was starting to feel rather self-conscious while standing in the boys living room while using his sister's clothes. Shinji emerged from his room toweling his head dry, while throwing another towel at Asuka who caught it effortlessly in mid air and began to towel her hair dry.

"Good thing you didn't see her Respect the Emperor, Expel the Foreign Barbarians one."

"Whatever." Asuka rolled her eyes, but held a mall smile. "Now let's get to your homework."

---------------

"Mein Gott! You really are an idiot!"

"It's not that, it just that I don't understand-" Shinji grumbled as he toweled his hair dry, now wearing an old T-shirt and a pair of shorts after putting his drenched clothes in the dryer along with Asuka's,

"How can you not get this?" Asuka mumbled as she scribbled down on Shinji's mock test the correct formulas. "You're probably doing the problems already thinking you're not able to do them…" she kept scribbling while Shinji watched amazed as she solved in a matter of second what had taken him more than 20 minutes to grasp.

"Overlooking small things, and probably not using the correct formula…There!" Asuka exclaimed with pride. She finished scribbling and pointed to the strewn papers.

"Those are the formulas you need, but they aren't in correct order; I want you to solve those problems before I'm gone or I'll hit you." She said dead serious.

"What?!" Shinji gawked, narrowing his eyes. "You're supposed to tutor me, not physically abuse me…"

"I'm done with your pessimistic and defeatist attitude." Asuka snapped. "I'm gonna start tutoring you using physical intimidation…" She pushed her palms against the table and stared at him long and hard.

"For every screw-up, I'll hit you." She began as she counted of with her fingers. "For every wrong answer, I'll hit you. For every blank answer, I'll hit you."

"I'm pretty sure this isn't what Kaji and Misato had in mind when they-OW!"

Shinji stood there nursing his head as Asuka cracked her knuckles and gave him a look that clearly meant she could care less.

"For every whiny comment that shows you are a pathetic, spineless worm who also happens to be a pervert, I'll hit you." She finished as she walked to the kitchenette and grabbed a cup of ramen, filled it with water and placed it on the microwave oven. As she waited for the timer to finish she turned to look at Shinji who was glaring at her.

"I'm sure you have potential, Shinji, which is why I'm wasting my time with you…so I'll make a promise with you…" She turned to look at him.

"I'll whip you into shape, and after I turn you into a real man, then Mana might turn around and look at you twice." She finished as the oven pinged to signify the time was up.

"I'm sure you know a lot about being a man." Shinji grumbled as he picked his pages and began to scan them.

What did you say?" Asuka asked with an angry tone from the kitchen.

"Nothing!" Shinji said with discontent.

"Just as I thought." Asuka smirked, coming into the living room again and sitting in the couch, turning the TV set on and pretty much making herself at home.

"Now hurry up and get going; Schnell, schnell!"

Uhg….What does she want from me? Shinji thought to himself, as he slumped more than sat into the table.

"Crap..." click

He felt Asuka sitting directly behind him; he could feel the warmth from her legs as they curled into themselves, he could sense her eyes shifting every now and then from whatever it was she was watching to his essay problems. And it was making him very nervous being in such close proximity with a girl al alone in the apartment.

"Crap..." click

Especially when that girl had previously issued a warning about No perverted stuff or else while she held her fist menacingly at him.

"Worthless..." click

Shinji sighed, attempting to get once again with his study program. 'Why does physics have to be so...complicated..?' He thought dejectedly. Glancing around the room he figured he might as well get a move on, since those problems weren't going to solve themselves.

"Ugh...Megacrap..." click

Thermal expansion. He frowned at the concept. 'Why do I need to know about thermal expansion..?' He skimmed the pages quickly realizing he had no idea what they were talking about.

She's supposed to explain this to me.

Across from him, he could see that Asuka was having the same problem as he had only she was squinting at the screen, trying to understand the Japanese characters flashing in a brilliant yellow tint on the screen. Amused, he began to make a bet against himself to see who would be the first one to out flat ask for assistance.

From the looks of it, it appeared to be Asuka.

"What are those drunken salary men doing in that telephone booth..?"

Shinji's smirk floated away as he looked up from his book at the TV set. There were, in fact two telephone booths painted in a bright red color; the same type one would see in all through out Europe currently occupied by two middle aged salary men who were drinking a large bottle of some kind of liquor. They were both obviously drunk and were instructed to dial to certain people's number and ask them for their help in answering several questions ranging from geography to common knowledge to trivia to the bizarre.

"They are dialing to a stranger's phone number to ask them for help in answering the questions posted inside the phone booth." Shinji explained burying his face within the books again.

"You Japanese are weird and the television shows are so boring." Asuka said absentmindedly as she clicked away from the couch, channel surfing with reckless abandon. "I mean, look at this: Who in their right mind would think it's a good idea to show cartoons at such an ungodly hour of the night..?" She asked rhetorically as she stopped briefly on a channel to see the animated violence of a cartoon purple robot resembling an Oni battling against another robot, only this one was green and had a pointy face.

"I'm taking a shower then going to bed." She said, tossing the remote control at Shinji who was still sitting in front of the couch under the heated table with various books strewn around him in no discernable order whatsoever. Asuka got out of her chair, stifling a laugh as the remote bounced off of Shinji's unprepared head.

"Ow..!"

Rubbing the sore spot on his head, Shinji glared at Asuka as she went into her room and back out again.

"Little early for bed isn't it..?" He asked sourly, looking at her. "Have you finished your homework..?"

"Yes I have, and that's why I'm taking a shower first, idiot." Se retorted flipping her auburn hair with an air of majesty. "And if you try and peek I'll gouge your eyes out and feed them to a bird." She added with an afterthought.

Shinji blinked at that; Asuka's way of expressing herself had recently become a mystery to Shinji. He could sometimes feel the playfulness in the words that to someone else would sound harsh and uncaring.

Other times he was sure she meant each and everyone of the words uttered, specially those involving a slow and painful existence should he do something considered by the German as 'perverted'.

Unfortunately for Shinji, almost everything he did was considered as perverted.

"Make sure you don't 'forget' the shower is occupied will you..?" Asuka remarked in passing at Shinji on her way to the bathroom, ruffling his hair and earning a soft growl and another glare from the brown haired boy.

Outside, the rain kept falling, making the already dark night pitch black. On the back of Shinji's mind, the message he had received from Kaji and Rei kept replaying once and again.

Give her a chance...she might act tough, but she is still a girl.

She's some one like us brother. You might try and be more civil towards her.

Sighing, Shinji turned the small table lamp on and opened his book to continue studying. In the background he could hear the sounds emerging from the bathroom.

The water faucet turned off.

The soft throaty moan that escaped from her as Asuka submerged herself in the warm water.

the soft ticking of the clock, marking each passing moment as Asuka remained inside the bathroom, followed closely by the sound of her softly humming a song.

Shinji willed himself to continue studying. He glanced at the clock.

Just then, the telephone began to ring. Frowning, Shinji got up and picked it up.

"Hello?"

"Brother."

"Rei."

"I will be staying in a sleep over with Kirishima, Horaki and Yamagishi."

"Oh…all right…"

"I'll see you in the morning then, good bye."

---------------

When Asuka stepped out of the shower, clad in her towel, she found Shinji still on the table. Not as he had been before she walked to take a bath, all hunched up, with his face deep inside the books, but with his head on top of his folded arms, a calm and placid look on his face, soft snoring coming from within him. Asuka hummed a soft melody to herself as she went to Rei's room to change into her already dried clothes.

Minutes later, she emerged from Rei's room and stopped in front of the table, glancing down at Shinji's sleeping form.

He's a pervert, of that I'm sure. Asuka frowned and then, doing something definitely out of character for her, she kneeled down close to him and brushed away his bangs, watching him carefully, taking in the expression of utter calmness and relaxation on his face.

But maybe he's not that much of a pervert. Asuka's secret smile never left her face.

"Hey, idiot." Asuka said softly, shaking Shinji's shoulder. The boy mumbled something before he stirred.

"Huh? What time is it..?"

"Time for you to pack and go to sleep." Asuka said smirking. "We can continue in the morning, the test isn't until next Thursday, so we still have 6 more days."

Shinji yawned and nodded. "All right…" He said as he began to absentmindedly pick up his books and notebooks. As he continued to do so he sleepily walked towards his room and ended walking straight into one of the beanbags strewn around, crashing into the floor.

"Oww…"

Asuka simply sighed "Boy…you are an idiot…" She muttered as she helped Shinji get up.

"But you did finish the whole study pages I gave you, so I guess we'll have to keep on studying using the 'I'll hit you' method."

"Yeah, then you'll have to come up with a good excuse as to why I'm suddenly coming with all those bruises, I'm sure Fuyutsuki would love to hear how you traded one victim for another."

"Not to worry, I can always tell him you walked into a door or something."

"If you weren't a girl…" Shinji grumbled.

"And physically able to kick your butt." Asuka finished for him sticking out her tongue. Shinji grumbled but otherwise did nothing, making Asuka giggled from her place, sitting in front of Shinji not realizing or not caring that by pulling her knees to her chest, her short skirt actually gave a Shinji a good peek of her long creamy legs and silky thighs; if she leaned back a little more he could actually see her p-

"I'm just kidding Shinji, you should lighten up..." She smiled, leaning forwards close enough to make Shinji break into a sweat, and snatching his reading glasses from his face. She got up and made her way to the veranda.

Smiling, she turned from the window where she had been overlooking the city. The Shadows from above hanging like a curtain, encasing her face and serene gentle smile as she turned to look at him and Shinji was finally able to take a good, long look at the true beauty that was Asuka Langley Sohryu.

Wow... Shinji thought still gawking at the red head, his heartbeat making an echo on his head, his whole face felt like it was on fire and his own thoughts were going against his rational mind.

She really is cute…

"Besides, no one likes a squealer..." She ended with a smile as she placed Shinji's glasses on her face, the frames making her seem the outline of her features that much softer, but also making Shinji focus on her breath taking eyes..

"Hmmm..." Asuka hummed critically as she kneeled on her hands and knees before Shinji. "Take off the glasses and you're actually kinda cute..." She squinted a little but never stopped looking at Shinji's confused expression.

"No dashing hero cute though, more like a sad poet kinda cute." She smirked at him, but the soft tone in her voice took away the bite in her comment.

Until she looked at his essay problems.

"Wait! What's with these answers..?" She asked as she snatched his homework before the dark haired boy could react, taking advantage of Shinji's perplexed state and shuffled thru the papers.

"You did this on your own, didn't you? And this the result of a whole night's work? No wonder you need help...You really are an idiot, I mean look at these problems…And they are elementary stuff!"

Shinji frowned realizing she did have a point, however all the pent up frustration bottled after such a day exploded like a soft drink droppedone too many times; his feelings of frustration, both him for failing after trying so hard, and towards Asuka for not giving him the answers made him snap.

It also didn't helped that he had actually thought that Asuka, Asuka, for God's sake, was cute; The Asuka that smacked, pushed and generally belittled him at any occasion.

"Yeah, like you should talk...you are the one who has the knowledge of Kanji equivalent to a ten-year-old..."

"You know what..?" Asuka asked narrowing her eyes and smirking at Shinji's flustered expression. "Not only are you an idiot, but you are a sexually deranged idiot -- you're a pervert and a klutz."

"Oh yeah..?" Shinji got on his knee, ready to pounce. "Well I-I…" His mouth suddenly appeared to get disconnected from his brain, and babbled the first thing that it could.

"I take it back too, you're not cute..." Before Asuka could process what he had said, Shinji continued, jumping forward and snatching at her face.

"And give me back my glasses..." He finished lamely, more like a small kid pouting than a young man demanding something.

"Ewww...don't touch me...your stupidity might be contagious!" Asuka yelled, while scooting back as he fell inches short from her spread legs, his face a mixture of embarrassment and anger.

This continued on for quite sometime; until Shinji lunged forward one last time to get his glasses. Somehow, while he had jumped towards Asuka and she had tried to get away from him, both succeeded in being tangled up with each other.

Whit a crash, Shinji's upper back ended resting against the wall, his right hand clenching his glasses' frame as Asuka's face hovered inches from his. She, in just as uncomfortable a position, was nearly straddling him, her forehead a breath away from touching Shinji's; her left hand clutching his upper arm for support, a soft, tingling sensation of skin against skin on her digits.

It also didn't help that the current position was giving Shinji a good peek at Asuka's cleavage. Neither, however, seemed bothered by this. They were simply there, transfixed,looking into the other's blue eyes; stormy blue waters against the quietsummer blue skies."

G-get off..." Shinji whispered, his face fully flushed.

"N-no...you..." Asuka stammered, not able to take her eyes from his.

"You first..."" Shinji said as he inched his way towards her lips.

"Pe-pervert..." Asuka muttered, smiling softly and involuntarily turning her head to give him better access.

"H-hold it..."

"Y-your breath is tickl-"It was in this awkward position that they suddenly heard the jiggling of keys and the unmistakable voice of Misato using the phone.

"Sheesh...I just got home, Kaji…" Misato grumbled as she opened the door, taking her shoes and walking inside the apartment. "No I did not go binge drinking with Satsuki until this late hour, we took a couple of beers and then we had to grade some papers…"

Whatever Kaji told her, made Misato stick her tongue out at him through the other side of the phone, making faces as she mimicked his words. "It's not you business if I decide to grade my papers this late after the exam or not, besides it's not like they need the bad news that no one passed…"

Shinji swallowed a lump in his throat and noticed Asuka's eyes mirrored his own; uncertainty, and fear plastered in them.

"Look Kaji, why don't you go ahead and I'll meet you as soon as I..." She stopped, digesting in the scene in front of her

Everything was in its proper place; Shinji and Asuka were sitting feet apart, clenched hands on their legs and their faces flushed, sweating...

Both not looking at the other.

Something was definitely amiss.

"Misato did you hear me? I said it's happy hour on all the alcohol..." Kaji repeated quizzically thru the phone.

That was enough to break Misato's feeble grasp of the situation. Her priorities shifted as her more primal instinct took charge.

"YEEEE-HAWWWW!"

----- -----

"I will accept the fact that they are very much in love, only if you accept the fact that he is a wishy-wash indecisive boy and she is a violent banshee begging for everyone to look at her, and then getting angry at anyone who actually looks at her." Rei exposed her point of view as Hikari, Mayumi and Mana sat in semicircle, each girl carrying a different type of junk or comfort food; popcorn, Pocky and Preech, ice cream…the usual staple diet on a girl's sleepover.

Hikari sighed, and not for the first time wondered how she had gotten into this argument, especially against the queen of cold, hard logic herself, Rei.

"But Rei…" Hikari drawled her name like a petulant child. "C'mon…you have to admit they make such a cute couple." She said as Mana giggled next to them.

"Yeah, if not for the fact that he is head over heels for her I would do something about it."

"Perhaps, however I maintain my point; he is what you would colloquially call a wimp." Rei coldly stated.

"That's harsh..." Mayumi grumbled.

"That's the truth."

Hikari decided to try a different approach.

"Maybe he is that way because he has a more zen-like attitude, you know..." She made some martial arts-esque movements. "Be like water, and all that..."

Rei's eyebrow raised a millimeter, the only outward sign of surprise on her otherwise completely blank face. "I don't think he is like that...if you take a good look at his actions you will see that, while he is very much attracted to her, and she is attracted to him as well, they never say so out loud."

"B-but he would if he felt she is slipping away." Mayumi added suddenly. "And she would too if she sees the same thing…or she feels he is moving on."

"Yeah!" Mana added as she grabbed a box of Preech before Mayumi could do so, smirking at her as the dark haired, eye glasses wearing girl stuck her tongue out. "But then, she tries to sabotage his dates, and when he finally confronts her and tells her in no uncertain terms he likes her, she runs away."

Hikari sighed. "Yes that's true, but I mean c'mon…when the movie started, he was the least liked guy…" the class representative began to count on her fingers. "He was a klutz, and a pervert, all the girls disliked him, especially her."

"Which is why the whole concept is improbable." Rei said as she grabbed a fistful of popcorn. "The chances of a male like him existing are lower than you think, and the chances of a male such as him actually getting to date a woman like the lead are beyond the realm of normal statistics."

"But they got together." Mayumi tried to temper Rei's cold hard logic.

"That is why that was a movie…" Rei sighed. "In real life some one like him would have long ago given up on his dreams and hopes, and she would have gone out with a rich top student."

"How you managed to actually feel something for Kaworu is beyond me." Mana grumbled good naturedly. "What happened..? did he asked you how was your day and you took time to actually think of your day so far, the definition of good versus the meaning of good and realized he was attempting to make conversation only to tell him asking about how my day has been so far is irrelevant and illogical, the day has not ended so far, thus I cannot give you an accurate answer." Mana said, delivering the last lines in an emotionless, blank face and automaton tone of voice.

It was, however Rei's blush what made them realize that Mana's assessment was actually not that off.

"I didn't say that."

"It was in the subtext." Hikari explained to Rei shrugging in a non committed way.

"Since when do you even know what subtext is..?" Rei asked, raising an eyebrow, a faint glint of amusement in her voice.

"Oh please. It was absolutely in the subtext."

"I do not think you have an accurate perception as to what subtext means."

"You know…" Mana interjected again. "The question still stands…and I still don't understand why you are so adamant about getting those two together…everybody knows it a fact: Shinji is a spineless wimp, and Asuka is a heartless bitch." She ended with a nod.

"That sounds like something Toji would say." Hikari replied dryly. "Besides, she's your cousin; shouldn't you be standing by the corner..?"

"Please…" Mana waved her off. "It's not like Asuka is a defenseless submissive helpless lady." She muttered. "Besides I'm sure she says the same things, if not worst about me at any given time."

Hikari sighed. "Ok, you have a point…" She drew another long, suffering breath before she sat in front of the girls.

"Well, it's like this; ever since we became friends, Asuka has shown zero to no interest in boys…it's almost as if she was a lesbian…not that there's anything wrong with that." Hikari quickly amended.

"Sorry to break your homo dreams Hikari, but nope, she's not." Mana smirked.

"I would love to know how you came to that conclusion." Rei noted solemnly.

"Well, first of all, she had this huge, and I'm talking massive crush on Kaji…" Mana giggled recalling the lengths Asuka had gone to show Kaji her appreciation. "When she was little and he came to visit, she would follow him everywhere, cling to him like a koala, and generally border on being his stalker, molester and everything in between."

"Then something must've happened for her to outgrow her Kaji phase." Mayumi said nibbling around a stick of Pocky. "I-I mean she hasn't been so much as clinging to him as opposed as just hanging…with him..?"

"Well, something did happen during her stay in that German boarding school, that made her forget about Kaji, drop all pretenses of men and then afterwards, become the regular ray of sunshine we have today." Mana said sullenly. "It was as if she made a whole 180° change, going from being the popular outgoing cheerleader type to this new anti men guerilla fighter."

The whole room remained silent after this, all the girls thinking about what could have happened.

And all the girls came to the same conclusion.

"A boy." Mayumi mumbled.

"Yeah, I'd bet on that." Mana sighed. "Ever since, she has become a nuisance to all of you and the bane of boys everywhere."

"So…do we know anything that might tell us she is planning on dating in the future..?" Hikari asked dejectedly. "Or should we stop pretending and start giving her plaid shirts and helping her choose between buzz cuts or mullets..?"

"Well, she owns a pair of black underwear." Mana supplied cheerfully.

"Saucy…" Hikari smiled disturbingly, before noticing the strange look from Mana, the panicked look from Mayumi and the blank look from Rei before she got up and went to the microwave oven. "Uhh…what I meant was…"

"Look, Hikari whatever floats your boat…" Mana grinned impishly. "Anyway, you still haven't explained to us why them…"

"Well…it's my very own personal challenge; find someone for Asuka." Hikari finished crossing her arms and nodding empathically.

"And why my brother..?" Rei asked as she returned with another batch of popcorn.

"Because, so far, he is the only one she has shown a modicum of respect." Hikari smiled. "Besides, I'm sure that since they are both as mature as two preschoolers, and behave like them as well, all her teasing and name calling and what not is her screwed up way of letting him now she likes him."

"Like Arnold and Helga!" Mayumi screamed triumphantly, not noticing the strange looks the girls gave her. "Oh…sorry…" She uttered around the biscuit stick in her mouth. "It's just that it reminded me of an old American animation show I saw in-"

"Sure, why not..?" Mana cut on Mayumi's ramble, while looking over the Pocky she kept munching, wondering worriedly if it was laced with something.

"We should let them work it out by themselves…" Mana continued. "I mean we've been meddling enough as it is…"

"No! This can't go on like this." Hikari shouted and got up, pacing from one way to the other, talking wildly and gesticulating with her hands to emphasize her point. "Shinji's pathetic in his own pathetic way…" Hikari carried on, ignoring Rei's frown. "But Asuka's not much better…." She waited until Mana finished whooping her approval.

"If we have to continue to coexist with those two and their kindergarten tactics we'll all end old, shriveled and petting cats in a nursing home before anything happens. We have to take the initiative!" She grabbed her can of pop and held it high in front of her, ready to make a toast.

"Or we'll die trying to set up those two morons.!!"

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AN: And thus, ends the "official" release of chapter 4. I have no other words but to thank both Fresh C and Blackfire, my betas, though I doubt they would like to be associated with this crap, or even remember giving it the once over.

Not much to say, if it feels rushed and incomplete, that's because it is, in both accounts, but there is a reason and method to my madness, I…just haven't figured it out yet.

This will most certainly continue, but as to an actual date of when to post the next chapter? Well I have tons of words and sentences, now I just have to give it some sort of…format, I guess.

Updated: 8/29. Jimmy Wolk was kind enough to point out some horrendous Geman grammar on behalf of Asuka, and we all know Miss Sohryu cannot have anything less than perfection, hence an update.