Disclaimer: Studio Gainax animation is the sole own of the rights to Evangelion. I own no rights to anything currently, and will happily remove all traces of this story should they ask, rather than being sued by them for copyright infringement (hopefully, it won't come to that... after all, I'm not making any money off of this.)

Part 1
Emotional elements
By Random1377

Rei Ayanami was confused, and she did not like the feeling. In the two weeks since her defeat at the hands of Unit 01, she had watched with great interest as Shinji Ikari and Maya Ibuki had grown steadily closer to one another... but her interest also lent itself to an increase in her confusion.

-Why?- she asked herself as she walked to school, -Why do they tie themselves to one another, they are very different in age... and why did he not disable me and conclude his mission when he had the opportunity?- Her mind filled with the image of Unit 01's progressive knife descending towards her mecha's head, stayed only by the words of Miss Ibuki.

She was also perplexed by the changes in her other fellow pilot, Asuka Langley Souryu. The girl seemed downright... friendly to Shinji (though never to her), which was an abrupt turnaround from her behavior before the fifteenth angel. At first she had thought that WAS the explanation... until she realized that the change had begun beforehand.

-I will speak to him today,- she determined, -I must not allow this lack of understanding to affect me... the Commander would not approve.- at the thought of her Commander, Gendou Ikari, a small smile graced her lips. After all, was he not the man that raised her, clothing and feeding her as she grew? Was he not the man that lavished attention upon her when no one else was around, listening to everything she had to say with a look of infinite patience? Was he not the man who defined her very existence?

Her smile faded a little. But was he not also the man who had ordered Unit 00's arm to be detonated while she was still connected to the machine, even though it would have taken only a moment to cut the connection? Was he not the man who had been willing to put her into Unit 01 to fight the third angel, even though she was still bleeding from the wounds she had suffered from the Unit 00 activation failure. Was he not the man who had sent her to taunt Naoko Akagi, knowing that it would drive her insane with rage and... what? This memory was still hazy to her.

"He was only doing what he must..." she whispered as the darker thoughts came to her... but she was unsure.

She hoped that Shinji would be free during lunch period to assist her with her questions... unfortunately for her, he was otherwise occupied.




**

"Maya?" Shinji said, "Have you seen my other shoe?" Maya looked up from her morning paper, an odd look on her face. "What?" Shinji stopped rummaging through the closet, "Did I say something wrong?"

She tried to speak but no words came out. Shinji was at her side in an instant, dropping the one shoe he had found and pressing his hand to her forehead, a look of concern on his face as he asked again if something was wrong. She threw her arms around his waist and pressed her face into his stomach, crying, "N-no! Everything's fine!!" she sobbed, further confusing the boy.

He held her, wondering what could have touched this off, "It's ok, Maya... I..." he didn't know what to say.

After a moment she calmed down, "I'm... sorry..." she gasped, pulling away from him, "it's just... when you asked me where your shoe was, it just made me realize how glad I am that you're here, and it made me... made me realize how HAPPY I AM!!" she grabbed him again, fresh tears flowing down her face.

"Umm... ok..." he whispered. When she had calmed down, he said, "Umm... I'm glad you're happy... I am too." He licked his lips, "I'm going to find..." he trailed off as she tensed, remembering why she had started crying in the first place, "I'll be right back, ok?" She grabbed him tightly, "I'm just going in the living room for a sec, I'll be RIGHT back..." he gently pulled her hands away and kissed them, "ok?"

She nodded, "Hurry..."

He nodded, surreptitiously pulling his cell phone from his back pocket, "I will." He blew her a kiss, and she smiled radiantly, her tears forgotten... which worried Shinji even more.

In the living room, he dialed frantically, "Come on..." he urged the phone, "Doctor Akagi? It's Shinji... no, I'M ok... but Maya's... acting strange..." He listened for a moment, "Yes, it's the fifth, why?" He listened another moment, "Her WHAT?! ...no," he said, irritated, "I took biology, but thanks." He said goodbye and hung up.

He looked at the door leading towards the kitchen, "I mustn't run away..." he whispered. He took a deep breath, steeling himself for the storm, and stepped through the door to confront his darkest fear.

**

Misato was not amused. It was bad enough that Shinji had not shown up at school that day, and then have Rei of all people ask after him, but what annoyed Misato most of all was the fact that she knew exactly where to find him. It didn't really bother her that Shinji and Maya were dating, -Hell,- she thought, -I dated guys WAY older than me in college.-

What bothered her was that Shinji was becoming... not rude, exactly, but less considerate. He spent every night with the bridge tech, which Misato could understand - they were just starting out, after all, and VERY into one another... but what she could NOT approve of was being left in the dark on his whereabouts during the day.

And, truth be told, she also missed his cooking. It was hard to go back to instant junk after eating the kind of fare that Shinji was capable of making... and Asuka wasn't exactly trying to pick up the slack.

Misato shook her head, focussing on the task at hand, "I hope they're not doing it..." she muttered as she approached Maya's door, "I'd have to kill her... AND him!"

She had nothing to fear... today least of all.

She knocked on the door and waited a moment. She was raising her hand to knock again when a hushed, rather frantic sounding voice said, "Come in."

She tried the door and found it unlocked, so she made her way for the first time into Maya's apartment. She walked through the short hallway to the kitchen and looked around. From the kitchen she could plainly see the bedroom (empty, -Thank God,-) a small study, a bathroom, and a door that could only lead to the living room.

Her jaw dropped as she saw the living room in disarray, and Maya lying on the floor asleep with Shinji's leg draped across her abdomen.

Frowning, Misato said, "Shinji! What are you d-"

"For God's sake, don't WAKE HER!" Shinji whispered fiercely, taking his guardian by surprise. He looked fearful as Maya stirred and mumbled in her sleep, then sighed in relief as she smiled and stayed unconscious.

He raised a finger and crooked it at the purple-haired woman, waiting until she was close to him before speaking, "She has cramps..." he whispered, "this makes them hurt less." He shook his head, "As it is, it took an hour and a half to find a comfortable spot so she could sleep..." he scrubbed a hand over his face, "an hour and a half of crying and laughing and everything between."

Misato blinked, then smiled wickedly, "That time of the month, eh?" She took a closer look at the boy, noting several small scratches on his arm and a bruise on his cheek.

Shinji nodded, "And how... Doctor Akagi says it's ALWAYS like this on the fifth of the month... she even has Maya scheduled off every fifth - just to avoid seeing her this way." He frowned, "Though I doubt it's for Maya's benefit..."

Misato laughed quietly, "Well... I'll just leave you two alone then, I just wanted to make sure you were ok."

"I'm sorry I didn't call," he said, then pointed to his face, "but I was a little busy."

Misato smiled, and Shinji was afraid. "No problem," she said sweetly, "I didn't like, worry myself sick about you, or anything like that." She rose and left the room with exaggerated care. -Should I?- she thought as she walked out of the apartment, -Yeah... I should...- She slammed the door as hard as she could, yelling, "Talk to you about it later!!"

She laughed as Shinji frustrated scream echoed through the house, "DAMNIT MISTATO!!!"

**
Asuka lay on her bed thinking. Like Misato, she knew exactly where Shinji was when he couldn't be found, but unlike the purple-haired woman she bore him no animosity. If anything, she was slightly envious.

What she DID feel when he was gone was a vague sense of abandonment. In the days before the fifteenth angel she had felt herself growing closer to him... and it had secretly pleased her that she had been the only one he had confided in before his relationship became public knowledge. Because even though she had found out about them on her own, he had still talked to her about his concerns and fears... which she certainly never would have in his place.

"But now what?" she whispered, "You're hardly ever here anymore, and I want to talk to you."

That she wanted to talk to him did not strike her as odd - even in light of her previous actions and words - he was, after all, one of only two other people in the world that knew what it was like to pilot EVA. What frightened her, though, was a growing sense of... disconnectedness. A slow drawing away from those around her that she could feel... but could do nothing about.

Of all the people in her life, she only felt close to him... and his constant absence was taking its toll.

She briefly considered going over to Maya's to find him, but immediately thought better of it, "We're not exactly on good terms..." she whispered sadly.

So she pulled further back from the world and waited for the time she could see him again - the time when she could open up to the one person in the world that might understand her.

**

Shinji and Maya lay quietly in her bed, the worst of the storm now over. Shinji sighed quietly, thankful that this would only be a once a month experience.

"I'm sorry..." Maya whispered, pressing her face to his chest so she would not have to meet his eyes, "if I hadn't broken down when you were looking for your shoe, you would have gone to school and you never would have had to see me like... that..."

He lifted her face and kissed her, "No," he said as he pulled back, "I'm glad I did."

She frowned, touching the bruise on his cheek, "Uh huh... sure you are..."

He grinned, then kissed her fingertips, "This is going to sound corny," he began, "but I'm glad I saw you this way, because... well, it's a part of you. And I want to know everything about you."

She laughed, "You're right, that IS corny!" She kissed him softly, "But it's also very sweet... and I'm glad you were here with me. I hate being alone."

He folded his arms around her, "Don't worry - if I have any say in the matter, you'll never be alone again... ever."

She sighed, thinking of all that his simple statement implied... and all the ways he might NOT have a say in the matter. But she just let it go without commenting and snuggled closer to him, letting herself believe - even if just for a moment - that he would always be with her.

-Who knows?- she thought as she began to drift off to sleep, -Maybe he's right... maybe people CAN stay together forever...- the thought made her smile as she slid off the edge of consciousness and into a calm, restful sleep...

Continued...

Author's notes: and so begins book 2 of Should a chance be taken? I know I said I would focus more on the reactions of the other characters in book two, but ultimately this story is about Shinji and Maya, so they will be getting more time than the others.

Thanks to JobFaust for pre-reading.

Feedback is always welcome at random1377@yahoo.com