Disclaimer: I don't own Evangelion or Gainax, though if I did I would make sure that this pairing never takes place. That, and all fanfiction that contained this pairing would get sued.
Summary: Thirteen years after the fact, she realizes her mistake. Inspired by Vienna Teng's ballad of the same name.
Whatever You Want by Nathan Yuen
Because of the cramped space and the military design of Tokyo-3, houses were rare. Mansions were even more so. And yet there was one, right in the middle of suburbia. Rei Ayanami requested its construction, citing how much she sacrificed to keep the city safe from the angel attacks. Or at least that's what Kensuke Aida told the city council seven years before.
Now the monstrous house loomed over the others with every room pitch black in the evening. It was as if the twelfth angel had taken up domestic living for a change, so final was the void within the walls of the Aida/Ayanami residence. It was even sterile like a void, not a speck of dust on any surface – a result of the lone caretaker's tireless efforts to at least keep the place in order.
It would surprise any visitor then that in contrast to the austere settings, an upbeat song was playing in one of the upper rooms.
The only other sound, barely audible to the resident upstairs, was the unlatching of the door as the man of the house stepped through. "I'm home," Kensuke Aida declared, flipping on the switch near the door and illuminating the cavernous entryway gilded in marble and gold. He grinned in disbelief, after seven years still not used to the sight of two marble staircases sweeping up to the numerous bedrooms on the second floor, doubling as an archway to the living room and then the kitchen.
The music clicked off.
After a moment, Rei Ayanami appeared on the second floor's landing, waiflike in a white flowing silk nightgown. "You have returned, Aida." she deadpanned as she drifted down the stairs with the edge of the gown trailing after her.
He half-grinned at her, sloughing his coat on to the floor as he strode toward his descending wife. "Oh, come on dear. I know you can do better than that."
Her sigh sounded resigned as he met her toe to toe after the last step. Then her face contorted as if she was swallowing some particularly bitter medicine. "Welcome home…honey."
Kensuke's grin grew feral. "That's more like it." Then he pressed her into a kiss, gripping her tightly to mash their bodies together. When he was finished, he turned to wander into the kitchen, leaving her gasping by the stairwell.
"So, where's dinner?" He called out, searching the kitchen.
Rei's faded response barely reached him. "It is in the microwave."
He plucked the dish out from the microwave compartment, grabbed some chopsticks from the open-air dish rack and plopped down at the glass table out in the formal dining room, right in front of the flat screen TV. He plunged into the meal, not even bothering to observe the custom of thanking its maker.
Rei was nonplussed. After all, she should be used to this behavior after thirteen years of marriage.
"The steak's a little overdone," Kenuske chastised around a mouthful around the beef in question.
Rei strode into the room, eyes downcast. "My apologies. The steak was to your specifications an hour prior to your arrival." She looked up, eyes flaring suddenly. "Had you informed me that you were arriving late, I would have made preparations –"
Kensuke dropped the chopsticks with a clatter. "I can't always tell you when I'm going to be home or not. Work is unpredictable like that," he reprimanded. "Sometimes you have to think for yourself, Rei."
Rei nodded in compliance, but did not bow out as she usually did when Kensuke presented her with such a litany. Mildly perturbed, Kensuke scarfed up the rest of the dinner and departed for the living room.
Rei retrieved the remains of the meal and headed over to the marbled sink, running hot water to begin the task of sanitizing the dishes. However, her mind was far and away from her present task.
Rei and Shinji were on the veranda to Misato's apartment, wind tousling their strands of hair into the night air. The question lingered, and Rei heard her own voice asking them, "Why?"
Rei's elaboration spilled out of her mouth, doggedly following the echo. "The invasion has ceased, and Third Impact has been prevented. I have no more obstacles, save for your refusal. Why?"
Shinji canted his head to one side, solemn gray pupils reflecting the city lights at her. "Because it's wrong, Rei."
Rei stepped forward, resisting the temptation to stroke his cheek. "That is no explanation."
Gray pupils flicked to one side. "We're… related. It'd be an incestuous relationship, Rei. Society frowns upon it. We'd be outcasts if we're found out. God, I can't think of being in a relationship with any sister of mine, no matter how late I knew."
"But I love you." Her voice, for the first time, sounded desperate to her own ears.
He looked at her again, mouth creasing in a sad half-smile. "And I you," he conceded, "But I can't." He swallowed a lump. "I love Asuka."
The revelation poleaxed Rei like a thunderbolt, and all the emotions roiling though her fell silent. With the silence came clarity – no matter what she did or what she said, she would not change his course.
Shinji turned to look back at Misato's indoor festivities, separated from them by the glass membrane of the sliding door. "Forget me, Rei. I will always be your friend, but find happiness with someone else."
Rei nodded, in surrender more than consent. "Whatever you want, Shinji," she said, wrestling down the sobs, "whatever you want."
The plate, strong as it was, shattered in Rei's hands when her fingers convulsed at the memory, each piece clinking into the marble cistern. Reacting quickly, Rei reached out and snapped off the running water. She placed her hands flat on the tiled counter and took a steadying breath. A look of pain creased her features momentarily as the counter supported her weight.
Then in a flash her features smoothed, concealing any indication of her agony.
She proceeded into the living room where Kensuke was lounging on the easy chair, watching the overlarge plasma TV while reviewing the month's financial bills. He gave her a mere glance before returning to his activities.
She stood in the doorway, in quiet contemplation. Finally, she stated "Shinji and Asuka called this afternoon."
Kensuke flipped over another page as he said, "Oh really? What did they have to say?"
"They invited us over to dinner with Suzuhara and Hokari. I believe it is going to be a 'barbeque.'"
Kensuke's eyes never left the page, but his drummed his fingers against his lips in thought before he hummed, "mmm… no."
A pause coated the room before Rei said, "They would demand an explanation for our refusal."
"I'm sure you can make one up."
"It would be more plausible if we could create one together-"
The loud rapport of Kensuke hitting his open palm against the armrest caused Rei to recoil. "Damn it, woman! If I say we don't need to go, we don't need to go. And that's final."
He eased back into the chair, focusing on the finances once again. "Now, be a dear and get me some wine?"
Rei bowed out again. "Whatever you want," she said, an indiscernible undercurrent in her tone.
A moment later she appeared with a chalice of wine, setting it down upon the armrest before retiring for the night.
Kensuke nursed the glass, sipping it over the course of an hour. When he downed the remains he yawned, feeling decidedly drowsy. He turned off the television, leaving the glass and papers where they lay, and dragged himself to the shower.
His eyes drooped as he lumbered toward the bed, where Rei was already dozing. He slipped into bed, back to her and was asleep before his head hit the pillow.
Rei's eyes snapped open when Kensuke's weight registered on the bed. She rose, unconcerned about disturbing him – the sedative she mixed in with his drink ensured his slumber for another six hours.
And by then, it would be all over…
She gripped the matches tightly in her fist.
Shinji woke up to the sound of the phone ringing urgently. Blearily, he looked at the clock, which glared back at him with the digital readout displaying 12:45. Dragging himself to a sitting position he reached turned on the lights despite Asuka's protests and reached for the phone. "Ikari residence. Oh, hi, Misato. What's –" Any pleasantries that Shinji said were cut off by the frantic yelling on the other end of the line.
Asuka turned over, pulling the covers tightly around her. "Tell her to keep it down, idiot. Doesn't she know what time it is?"
The phone dropped with a clatter.
Asuka opened her eyes just in time to see Shinji run from the room. Instinct screaming danger, Asuka ran after him calling, "What's going on, idiot!"
She found him in the downstairs hallway, fumbling with his keys, mumbling "got to go, got to go."
"Go where? Do you know what time it is?" Unheeding of Asuka's words, Shinji wrenched the door to the garage open, his wife hot on his heels. Before he could open the car door Asuka shoved him back, ripping the keys out of his grip simultaneously. "You're not going anywhere until you tell me what's going ON!" She screeched.
From his place on the ground the wild-eyed man summed up the situation while Asuka's eyes widened with every word.
In a minute, they were in the car, careening toward the Ayanami mansion.
The mansion was in full blaze when they arrived.
The Ikari's car screeched to a halt in front of a blockade as Tokyo-3's firefighters valiantly battled the inferno with everything at their disposal. The side door shot open, and Shinji bolted forward, only to be stopped by two burly firemen. Misato, haggard from lack of sleep and too many deaths, stepped into his vision. "You can't go in there, Shinji," she said dully, "We're struggling just to keep it away from the other houses. You'd be cooked alive."
"But you can't just leave them in there!" Shinji said wildly, "We've got to do something!"
"Shinji, the fire was started on purpose."
Shinji reeled from the pronouncement. "What? No, that can't be. They wouldn't do something like that."
Misato simply gave him a flat stare. "Eyewitness accounts say that the fire started in the bedroom. I looked over the plans for the house, and there's nothing in the bedroom that would start a blaze of this size."
Shinji rallied, saying, "We can still get them out!"
"What makes you think she wants to come out, Shinji?"
"Think, Shinji. Did Rei ever crack a smile when she was around Kensuke? Did she seem happy with him? Was there any evidence that it was a loving relationship?"
Flashes of memories, of Rei's dull eyes and almost noticeable grimace, hit Shinji like a sledgehammer as Misato concluded:
"All evidence points to the fire being self inflicted."
Shinji collapsed to his knees, all the will drained out of him. The flames danced languidly in his eyes as he recalled a particularly poignant memory.
A corner of his mouth flicked to one side, a bitter smirk in light of all that happened.
"Whatever I want, huh?" he whispered.
And the fire burned on…
Author's Rant: I remember my first foray into Evangelion fanfiction, before I was even into EVA manga. It took place at a karaoke bar, and Asuka and Shinji fell in love in one night, Hikari and Toji snuggled together, and finally, Kensuke and Rei made out near the fire escape.
With my gut churning, I closed that window and didn't touch EVA fanfiction for another two years. And I didn't even know Kensuke that well at the time.
Why I had such a visceral reaction to the pairing eluded me for quite some time, until Vienna Teng came out with her song, which summed up my feelings on the matter succinctly. (Shameless plug: if you're truly interested, go to viennateng(dot)com and pull it up on the flash player in the bottom right hand corner)
Let's face it, Kensuke isn't emotionally mature enough to handle a relationship. And considering that Rei didn't really have self-confidence (or, in Anomaly27's terms, "a personality,") until the end of the series, Kensuke'd walk all over her, thus leading to a loveless relationship that ends IN FIRE as depicted here.
To Asuka/Shinji fans: look, it's fine if you like your pairing. We understand that everyone has their preferences. But what is the point in pairing up two characters that you don't really care about? Is it some impulse to "leave no character behind?" Trust me, you aren't endearing the Rei fans to your side by pushing her into some tertiary relationship. I'm sure that if for every Shinji/Rei you saw an Asuka/Toji, then you'd get sick of it too. So, if you write a Asuka/Shinji, then it's fine to leave Rei well enough alone.
And I won't have to hurt you with an Asuka/Kaworu fic.