30 Kisses, 30 Ways: Shinji and Asuka
Themes: K#10 (#10), W#09 (Oops!)
Title: The Hustle
A.N.: I shall use this space to cover my own ass: Not mine. I'm attempting to get out of this writers block, so I'm gonna take 2 challenges at once: 30 kisses and 30 ways in one story. Hope you like. I'll update with another one shot if I'm still blocked, if not, expect the other chapter of 10 things briefly. Ohh...and about the setting, this thing is definitely AU, read further down and you'll see... The whole thing came to my mind as I was watching an old movie "The Hustler" with Paul Newman…man is it cool…
Maybe if I get the inspiration I'll give Shinji a backbone and turn him into Steve McQueen
Yeah I'm that old…
During instrumentality an infinite number of worlds were created; from the Edo period to the end of the millennium. All of them different, all of them unique.
But all those worlds have one unifying rule in common; in every single one we met, and invariably, we fall in love. And sometimes we hurt each other.
And we connect to each other deeply.
Worlds made with both you and me in the center.
That's the single, unifying rule. (Retake 04)
Outside, the wind was howling, sounding like a wild hurt animal, raking leaves and scarves and coats and dresses.
Inside, the bar was almost empty, impregnated with a musky odor, an offending mixture of smoke, ashes and bourbon. The young girl made her way inside, in part to save herself of the cold that was starting to pick up this late in the evening, in part to get herself a drink.
This wasn't the first time she had entered this particular establishment; she was a natural born killer, a predator. As she made her way to the bar, he saw the usual couple already there.
The bar man, a man rather older than her, with his hair tied in a messy ponytail at the base of his neck, a 5o'clock shadow adorning his rugged features, and a roguish grin that could just as easily turn from a lady killer smile to an impish smirk was chatting up a mauve haired meter maid, who spent half her time rebutting him (if calling him a callous idiot could count as a rebuttal) and the other half smiling at him when he though he couldn't see her.
"Hey Kaji, Hey Misato..." The girl waved happily, surprising both of them. Kaji smiled warmly at her, winking. "Hey Asuka, how ya doing..?" He smiled at them, and the purple haired woman, having caught sight of him smiled and waved.
"Hey you...long time no see..." She said in a rather loud voice, clashing completely against the somber background of the bar. Asuka simply smiled and made her way to them, greeting both, telling Kaji to give her the College Special and sat on a table next to Misato, next to the pool tables.
"Kaji." Asuka smirked, but her eyes were warm. "You still trying to hook up with Misato..?"
"When are you gonna dump her and date me instead..?" Asuka asked, pouting like a little girl denied her favorite toy. Misato stuck her tongue good naturedly at her, making Kaji laugh. He had a hearty, throaty laughter.
"Asuka, I'm not worthy of the honor of dating you..."
"Besides Katsuragi here will always have my heart."
"Kaji..." The aforementioned Misato swatted his hand away smiling. She gestured to her mug. Kaji wordlessly refilled her mug, placing Asuka's glass in front of her.
"You should never let a girl like me stay so long without a drink."
Asuka smiled at that and turned towards the almost empty hall, catching sight of three young men in a table; the tallest one was dressed in a track suit, the one playing against him with sandy blonde hair, freckles and glasses trying to play.
Trying being the operative word.
The last one was trying very hard to not be noticed. He was tall, of thin build, somber dark blue eyes, a polite shy smile that never quite reached his face, and the unruly hair which made him look significantly younger.
Some would say it even made him look like a choir boy.
Asuka's rather sharp people instincts made an immediate assessment; a little timid, a little shy and prone to weasel his way away from trouble. Always trying to appease the others, choosing the easier way; to run away from his troubles.
"Hey Kaji..." Asuka asked absentmindedly, sipping at her drink. "Do you think any of those boys is a hustler..?"
Kaji saw them and shrugged. "Dunno...never seen them..." He motioned to the tallest one with his head. "The uniform is from the college varsity team...my guess..." He finished smirking at her.
"They're pigeons." Asuka smirked at that. "Get me another College Special." She turned to Kaji. "Bring it to the table the second you see me grab the cue."
Slowly Asuka made her way to their table.
"Hey idiots..." In a single motion she downed her drink and grabbed the cue. "Wanna shoot some pool..?"
Asuka made her way to the bar chuckling to herself. Ignoring the angry yells of Tracksuit demanding his money, insisting she had hustled them. Glasses simply moaned, looking at his thin wallet.
"Better luck next time chumps…"
As the three of them made their way out, she felt one of them sizing her up. Dark blue eyes locked against clear ones. No words were exchanged, but She knew a challenge had been made.
Bring it on.
The next day after the following found Asuka making her way to Kaji's again. She entered and said hi, and went to sit at the bar.
"Good hustle..?" Kaji said as he effortlessly gave her a College Special.
Asuka simply whistled a happy tune, counting off the bills in front of him. Kaji chuckled at that.
"I've never seen you work it…" He began conversationally.
"What about last Tuesday..?" She asked.
"That was a lightweight…" Kaji smirked. "I want to see you work it for real…"
"Maybe someday Kaji…"
"Well…" Kaji sighed, walking towards the back of the bar, grabbing a bottle from where they all were. "Some one's here to see you…" He said, motioning to her back.
Frowning she turned and came face to face with blue eyes.
Asuka smiled at him.
Blue eyes stuttered. "U-uhmm…do you play professionally..?"
"No, I just spend my days here." She said leaning on her elbows against the railing, showing of her figure, enjoying how he blushed and looked away.
"I'm a college girl. Two days a week - Tuesdays and Thursdays - I go to college."
"You don't look like a college girl."
"I'm the emancipated type. Real emancipated."
He paled. "No, I didn't mean that..." He said quickly seeing Asuka's lips turn down with a scowl. "I mean you just look very young."
"Well…" Asuka said smiling; a girl always loved it when they told her she appeared younger than what she really was. "I'm not."
"So I see..." Shinji said reflexively. "So why go to college..?"
"Got nothing else to do on Tuesdays and Thursdays."
"What do you do on the other days..?"
"I drink..." She said, taking her glass with nimble fingers and downing it in one gulp. "And I shoot pool."
Not caring for his answer, she turned towards Kaji, grumbling when she caught sight of him chatting Misato again. Sighing, she turned and looked at the kid, still standing there in front of her. Not paying him any attention, she made her way to her favorite table, racking the balls and making her move.
A glorious sound, an unmistakable sound, and for one of them, the sound that would become the beginning of the end.
As Asuka circled the table she was aware of blue eyes.
"What's your name..?" He said in slow, modulated tones.
"Asuka, Asuka Langley Sohryu." She finished curtly.
"I'm Shinji...Shinji…" Before he could say his last name, Asuka cut him off.
"Nice to meet you." Asuka said with a sweet smile and saccharine tone, only to let her smile settle in a scowl and emit a low growl. "Now move. You're next to my table."
She circled around him and made her shoots in a deliberately show off way. In time she came again against him.
"Hey idiot." She said in an impossible sweet, sweet, voice.
"Move it, you blocking my shot."
She pushed him away with her body, making him stumble against the bar.
"I'm not doing anything." He said defensively.
"I'm shooting pool, idiot. You're not allowed to do nothing when I'm shooting pool."
Before she could continue, Shinji withdrew something from within his coat.
"Do you like to gamble, Asuka..?" He said in a serious voice. "Gamble money on pool games..?"
Her demeanor changed when she saw Shinji roll out a thick was of bills from his coat pocket and place it on his table.
"Listen idiot..." She began in a tired voice. "I just hustled some poor salaryman of his hard earned money." She placed the cue on the table and turned to him, crossing her arms under her breast, pushing them up and together.
"Do you think I'll blink twice before taking your money…Preppy..?"
Shinji immediately recognized her for what she was. Asuka was a hustler; a girl who made her living duping people, taking their money, betting against them, making them play their best, as she took dive after dive, only to do a last call; an all-in bet at the end, pulling all the stops to win.
"So..." He continued. "You any good..?"
The familiar smirk in Asuka's face was back with force. "I'm the best you ever seen, idiot..." She said, pointing arrogantly to herself. "I'm the best there is. And even if you beat me, I'm still the best."
Shinji flipped the wad on the table.
Asuka scratched the back of her neck, smiling. "It's your funeral, idiot."
"I don't believe it…"
"How did you do it..?" Asuka asked shocked, once Shinji straightened up after sinking the last ball on the pocket. Shinji simply picked up the money in silence and shrugged.
"Just lucky I guess…"
Asuka scoffed at that. "Beginners luck..."
Shinji stood there, staring directly at her. "Asuka…" Shinji began but was cut of by her.
"Is it alright if I get personal..?"
"I-I guess… " Shinji said shuffling his feet. Asuka crossed her arms and looking at him petulantly.
"Shinji…you're a born loser."
He stood there, shocked at what she heard. "B-but I…won…"
"What the hell is that supposed to mean..?"
Shinji frowned. "Uh…W-well, I did win and…" he began, changing slightly, standing straighter, his shoulders not as slumped as before, and somehow, he reminded Asuka in some way of Kaji.
"Listen Shinji, this was the first time in years I was ever hooked... really hooked." Asuka said, grabbing her cue, unscrewing the top half to put it away.
"…But you let me off. You let me off easy, Shinji."
Shinji stood there, not knowing what to say to the strange red head in front of him.
"I told you; you got lucky. "
"Sure… I got lucky." Shinji said, waving his hand in the air.
"You have the best excuse in the world for losing…" Asuka continued, picking up the balls, juggling them with ease.
"No trouble losing when you got a good excuse. Winning... that can be heavy on your back, too, like a stone." She punctuated the sentence by making the balls come back to him into the rack, aligning them perfectly, still juggling 3 balls; number 8, number 1, number 15 and number 10.
"You'll drop that stone too when you get an excuse." She let number 1 fall in it's place, followed by 15, juggling numbers 8 and 10 still.
"All you have to do is learn to feel sorry for yourself. One of the best indoor sports is feeling sorry for yourself. A sport enjoyed by all, especially the born losers."
She finished placing number 10 on the rack.
"Thanks for the game." Shinji said as he picked his winnings and made his way to the door.
Asuka watched him walk away before snorting. "Ok…" She said, making Shinji stop and turn at her.
"You won…but you owe me…you owe me a rematch…"
Shinji looked at her, not knowing where she was going with that. "What do you mean I owe you..?"
"One last game…winner takes all…"
"You don't have anything left to bet…" Shinji pointed out, not looking at her.
"Wrong…" Asuka said as she closed the distance between them, facing him. "I bet myself…."
"If I win, I get the money back…"
"And if I win..?"
"Not gonna happen…" She crossed her arms arrogantly. "But if by some freak chance you managed to win, or I managed to lose, I'll let you do whatever you want with me…"
"C'mon…admit it Shinji…" Asuka continued, circling him, sizing him. "I could tell ever since you saw me that you wanted me. So I'll give you a shot."
Shinji stood there, not knowing what to say, letting the silence drip in.
"Ok…let's do it."
Silently they raked the balls again. And Shinji allowed Asuka have first crack.
Asuka leaned slowly, painfully, flaunting her assets in an obvious manner.
"How should I play that one, Shinji..?" She asked, wiggling her behind for greater effect, her voice becoming like that of a 14 year old, sweet and tempting and everything in-between.
"Should I play it safe? That's the way you always seem to play it: safe..." She sunk the first ball. Shinji remained silent.
"You always play the percentage. Well, here we go: fast and loose." She sunk another ball, but her rival still remained stoic.
"Another ball, corner pocket…" She said, lightly tapping the ball, gloating.
"Problem is…percentage players die broke, too, don't they, Shinji..?" She turned to look at him, flipping her red tresses. However a deafening Thud made her turn around shocked and swearing at what she saw.
The ball had hit the corner at an odd angle, sliding down the rail, not going inside.
Shinji stood there, his hands cupping the top of the cue, almost as if his hands were stapled in front of him, obscuring his mouth, not making it possible to see if he was serious or smirking.
Finally, he walked towards the table, leaned down and lined his sight. Before he made his shot, however he spoke.
"If I win…I get to keep my money and my friend's as well. You can keep the rest."
Shinji was quietly pulling out bills from the wad before giving it to Asuka who swiped it from his hand. Something wasn't right, but she couldn't place her finger on it.
Until Kaji came by.
"You're Ikari's kid…right..?"
Shinji said nothing, but his hand became fist, clenching and unclenching.
"I'm nothing like him…" He said in a low, grave voice.
"Wait a minute…Ikari…Gendo Ikari..? Gendo The Shark Ikari..?" Asuka asked shocked. "He…He hustled me..?" She turned to Kaji.
"You just realized..?" Kaji supplied between laughter.
Shinji stood there, looking towards his feet.
"I have to go…"
"Like hell…" Asuka roared before Kaji placed his hand on her shoulder.
"Let it go Asuka, he won fair and square." Kaji said, taking her arm gently but firmly, even though Shinji never looked up.
"Go Kid…" Kaji gestured to the exit smiling. "You got talent kid, better than your old man."
"But…" Asuka said, not willing to let go.
"Just go…." Kaji said easily, pushing Shinji towards the door.
"Thank you." Shinji said, before turning towards Asuka. "Sorry."
Asuka watched Shinji exit the bar. She turned to Kaji, demanding an explanation.
"I don't get it…why did I lose..? Don't I have talent..?"
"I don't think there's a pool player alive that shoots better pool than I saw you shoot today." Kaji said calmly, giving Asuka another drink and lighting himself a cigarette.
"You got talent, kid…I'll give you that. But he's Ikari's heir, there nothing like that; it's on the blood, on the genes." He paused for a second, collecting his thoughts.
"He was playing the game like a fine tuned instrument…like a cello…" Kaji exhaled the smoke and then continued.
"Ikari was masterful…I saw him play once. Boy was he great..!" Kaji said with a far away look on his face.
"The old men; Keel and Fuyutsuki, they trained him, and he was the best. You could look at the way he moved, and it was like a dancer..." Kaji chuckled.
"And those fingers, those long fingers always enclosed in white gloves. That stroke...it was like he was, I don't know…like he was playing an instrument; a violin or something." He let the smoke billow off, going up toward the ceiling in various fantastic figures.
"So I got talent. So why did I lose…? How did he won..?" Asuka asked still numbed after finally being beat.
"Character." Kaji simply said, going back towards the bar.
"I don't get it." Asuka said morosely.
Kaji smiled at that. "Some day you'll get it, kid…" He turned around the bar, noticing only Asuka and him were the only ones left. "Can you lock up..?"
Asuka watched Kaji go thru the back door. She waited for a couple of minutes, shooting idly with no real intention until a soft tingling announced her the front door had been opened.
"Beat it dead beats, we're closed…" She said not turning around. The person behind her, however grabbed her by the shoulders turning her to face him.
"ACK! PERVERT!" Asuka screamed, turning around in a flash, hand lashing out in a swift left cross.
A hand caught her punch in midair, and lightly, slowly, almost reverently, the other person's finger were intertwined with hers.
Shinji stood there, looking directly at her.
"I came to collect my debt."
And without saying anything else, he leaned towards her and placed a soft chaste kiss on her lips.
Well here it is, my first foray into the realm of Shinji/Asuka one shots, hope you like it, It's a load of crap, but it's MY load of crap.
Like it..? Hate it..? Tell me why.