Disclaimer: see part1

Part 7
Letting go/holding tight
By Random1377

Shinji awoke with a start, blinking in the dim mid-morning light. -Where am I?- he thought, confused, -This isn't my room... or Maya's...- He smiled softly as he realized that after yesterday... Maya's room WAS his room.

His smile turned to a frown as he tried to figure out where exactly he was. He looked down and found Maya asleep at his side, her right arm and leg thrown over him and her head lying on his (numb) arm.

She was smiling softly in her sleep... and judging by the feel of smooth skin against him - she was topless.

He tried to sit up, and winced in pain as he felt daggers shoot through his head. -How... how far did we go last night??- He thought dizzily, as he figured out by the feel of blanket against him that he was totally naked.

Maya stirred and nuzzled closer to him, sighing in her sleep and kissing his side. He stole a peek under the blanket, but seeing that her panties were covering her was small comfort, -She COULD have put them back on...- he thought doubtfully.

Looking around he was finally able to ascertain that they were on Maya's couch, and SOME of the previous night fell into place. After getting him to move in with her, Maya had insisted that they go out for a 'proper' party for their combined birthdays.

There had been singing... (they had found Aoba and Hyouga off-duty and more than willing to join them) there had been good food at a high-priced restaurant... and there had been wine. Shinji had hesitated at first, and Maya told him he didn't have too... but Hyouga had insisted that it was a right of passage.

Two glasses later, Shinji had been thoroughly drunk... and he had a couple more after that.

They had staggered into her apartment very late, after Maya had finally convinced the other two techs that she REALLY had to get Shinji home before he passed out. They had gone into the living room to talk about how they would tell Misato that Shinji was moving out... and they had ended up engaging in a very deep kiss.

The last thing he remembered was whispering something to her... then she had pulled away from him and drew her shirt up over her head with a soft smile.

"Maya..." he shook her gently, "Maya, wake up..."

"Nnnn..." she groaned, "nooooo... too tired..." she pulled the blanket up over her head.

"Maya!" He said more firmly, "Wake up... please?"

She pulled the blanket down partway and opened one eye, "What time is it?" She rasped.

He tried to remain calm, "It's eight-thirty..." he said, looking at the clock on the wall.

She closed the eye and pulled the blanket back up, "Then why are you waking me?" Her muffled complaint came, "I'm off today... and I'm sleepy..."

He pulled it back down, inadvertently exposing her breasts. He gasped. Though he had seen Rei naked the one time, he was still not terribly familiar with the female form.

She opened her eyes at his gasp, "What?" She said, confused, "You're the one who told me to take my shirt off..."

Shinji blinked, "I... I did?"

She frowned, "Ummm, yeah!"

"Maya?" he licked his lips, hesitating, "Why am I naked?" He asked, struggling to remember.

She smiled broadly, "That was your idea..." she said, "You said that you..." her smile went away as she finished softly, "you said you wanted to make love to me."

"Did we?" He asked, unable to meet her eyes.

She briefly considered toying with him... it would have been so easy - and so fun! But as she looked into his eyes and saw the worry in them, she discarded the notion. "No, Shinji..." she whispered, smiling reassuringly. -Is he scared that we might have done it... or scared that he can't remember it?- she thought, slightly amused.

"What..." he began, "how much DID we do?"

She blinked, "You really don't remember ANYTHING?" She sighed as he shook his head, then kissed him softly, "You said you wanted to be with me. It was pretty romantic, for that kind of advance... at least I thought so. You said, 'I want to get closer to you... I want to be one with you...' And then you told me to take off my clothes." She smiled at his shocked expression, "You were pretty forceful..."

He put his hand on his head, closing his eyes, "I... TOLD you to take off your clothes?" He asked, still not believing it, "I didn't... ask?"

She found the situation terribly amusing and laughed, covering her mouth. She stopped as he opened his eyes and fixed her with a frown, "Your exact words, if I recall correctly, were, 'Maya... take off your clothes.'" She giggled again as his jaw dropped, "Wasn't really a question, was it?" She leaned against him and looked into his eyes, no longer laughing, "Shinji... do you still want to make love to me?"

"I..." suddenly, he was very aware of her. The way she pressed up against him, the way she smelled, the way her eyes locked with his - everything about her seemed to fill his senses. Unable to speak, he merely nodded.

She sighed happily... then carefully slid over until she was on top of him and kissed him deeply. "Shinji?" She whispered as they broke away, "I... this means a lot to me... for it to be with you." She studied his face closely, shivering slightly as she thought of what they were about to do together, "It's been five years... and I'm glad I waited until I found someone that I love..."

He smiled, pulling her body tight up against his, "I've thought about how this would be so many times..." he whispered, "but I never thought it would feel this..." he fumbled for the right word, finally giving up, "right..." He kissed her again, finally allowing his hands to move across her body the way he had so often wanted them to.

No further words were spoken... or needed.

**

Asuka woke slowly, a soft sigh escaping her. She looked up at Shinji's ceiling, -I think I'll stay home today,- she thought, smiling, -or maybe I'll go to Maya's house to find him...-

She blushed as she thought (and rightly so, ironically enough) that they might be busy with other activities and not WANT her to intrude.

She turned her head to the side, regarding the SDAT that had slipped out of her hand as she slept. "Should I be jealous?" She whispered quietly.

She picked the device up and held it up in front of her face, "He IS cute... and I know he likes me..."

She smiled lightly, "I'm thinking like Rei..." she whispered... then giggled, "poor Rei... she tried so hard to catch him." She sighed, "I knew better... and I'm not stupid enough to chase after something I can't ever have."

Sitting up, she said, "Still... I think I am jealous of her..." she grinned and stood to stretch, dropping the SDAT on the bed, "I mean, since they started dating he hardly ever says 'I'm sorry,' and he actually seems to be developing a spine."

Another giggle escaped her, "Maybe now that they're living together she can get him to-'

Her thought went unfinished as alarms started sounding and her cell phone began ringing. "Yes?" She said, answering it on the second ring, "I understand... I'm on the way..."

She ran to the door, but paused. She looked around the room one last time... then smiled and said softly, "Yeah... this one's for Maya..."

She turned around and continued her run, her legs working hard as she exited the apartment building and bolted down the street, breathing hard as she met Misato four blocks away and jumped into her car.

Back in what she already considered her room, Shinji's SDAT player calmly clicked from track twenty-five to twenty-six... playing its music to the empty room and announcing in its own little way that it would be there when she (or he) finally came back to claim it...

**

Shinji and Maya dashed through the corridors of NERV, the alert system toned down but was still active.

Their hands were linked.

"Get to Unit 01," Maya said as they reached an intersection and came to a halt, "I have to get to the bridge and-"

She was cut off as he pulled her into his arms and kissed her soundly, "It's been locked down again," he said as they broke apart, "what good will it do?"

The tone of his voice made her frown. "Shinji..." she said softly, gently pulling away, "you know just as well as I do that a lockdown can be cancelled." She raised her hand to cut him off as he tried to speak, and went on in a quieter voice, "I can't... not again," she looked at the floor between them, whispering, "I've... made certain promises..." she brought her head up and stared into his eyes, her expression infinitely sad, "but please... please have faith that things will turn out right, ok? Do it for me... I can't stand to see you..." she touched his cheek and her voice dropped so low he could barely hear it, "to see you not care..."

He flushed, unable to meet her eyes. "Ok..." he said softly, "I'm sorry... that was mean, especially after... after..." his flush rose and he trailed off.

She smiled, "It's ok, I understand how it feels to be powerless - believe me..." she kissed him once more, softly, "Now please, get to Unit 01 so you can protect me if necessary, ok?"

He nodded, "Ok..."

As he started to move off, Maya called out, "Shinji?" As he turned around he found her blushing intently and looking at the floor, "After the Angel's been defeated umm..." she took a deep breath, going forward as her heart guided her, "we should go home and... umm... and... again." She finished, lamely.

Shinji's breath caught, then he smiled faintly, "Yeah..." he said softly, making her smile.

With a mutual 'I love you' they turned and ran to their designated posts.

**

Rei felt anxious as she rose to the surface and took the large rifle from the weapons storehouse. -This feels, wrong...- she thought, -I should not be able to...-

Her thought trailed off as Misato warned her to caution, "No..." Rei whispered, feeling something... tugging... at her senses, "it is coming..."

The giant circle in the sky broke apart, becoming a long snake-like thing and rocketing towards her at incredible speed.

Rei barely had time to gasp as it rushed her, punching through her hastily spread AT field and driving into Unit 00's stomach. Pain flared in her midsection as the mecha reported the breach to her.

Her eyes narrowed and she brought the rifle up to bear and grabbed the middle of the burrowing angel in her Unit's free hand. "I will not allow this..." she whispered, feeling the angel trying to make contact with her mind, "I will not fail..."

She pressed the rifle firmly against the angel and pulled the trigger, hitting it over and over again at pointblank range... to no effect.

**

Maya reached the bridge and took her seat, "Unit 00 is fusing with the angel," she reported, quickly taking stock of the situation, "already fifteen percent merged..."

"Asuka is ready for launch," Misato gasped, entering the room in time to hear Maya's report, "Asuka! When you reach the surface, spread your AT field and fire a volley into the angel's back."

"Yes Ma'am!" Asuka's voice came back, sounding confident. As the red EVA shot to the surface, she smiled, -Maybe the hero is rubbing off on me,- she thought as the elevator neared the top. Her smile broadened, "And now," she whispered in a rather non-Shinji-ish manner, "I'll show Wondergirl how to fight!"
Everyone watched with breath held as the elevator opened and Unit 02 stepped out. Asuka brought her rifle around and raised her AT field... and the angel attacked her.

"Wha-?" Asuka didn't have a chance to finish as the bar of light that was the angel's other side burst past her, shattering the rifle and almost hitting her Unit. If it was not for her superior piloting skills, the fight might have ended right there.

Asuka growled, "Ok..." she said angrily, "let's do it the old-fashioned way!" Unit 02's shoulder hatch popped open and its progressive knife flipped down.

She grasped the knife firmly, extending the blade and crouching the red mecha to wait for the angel's next attack.

She didn't have to wait long.

The angel came back around, blurring as it accelerated towards her. With a shout, she threw the Unit to the side and stuck the knife out, digging a long trench in the angel's glowing side.

A long gout of blood issued from the angel as its flesh parted. Asuka grinned savagely, "Yeah!" She yelled triumphantly as the angel retreated a ways, "How does THAT fee-" Her victory cry ended abruptly as she registered the sound of screaming.

"Rei's life signs just dipped down!" Maya called out, "She... she's feeling what it feels..."

Misato watched in horror as the angel wavered, then charged Unit 02. Whispering, "No..." as Asuka dodged and sliced the angel again... her mecha moving almost reluctantly.

"It's... I'm killing her!" Asuka was distraught. Though she did not really like Rei, she did not want to hurt her.

She froze as Rei screamed again, her mind filled with the horrible echo of her own tormented wails when the last angel had invaded her. "I... I can't..." she whispered, "I CAN'T!"

"Asuka!" Misato cried out as the red machine sheathed its knife and dove to the side, rolling to avoid the angel's latest move.

In Unit 01's entry plug, Shinji listened to the fight in helpless terror. Wishing he could be released, but knowing he would not be able to fight if he was... and feeling his face flush with shame as he realized how thankful he was that it was Asuka fighting and not him.

"Unit 02 can't dodge forever..." Maya whispered, then raised her voice, "Unit 00 is now forty percent merged with the angel..."

Within the blue mecha, Rei's body arched away from the pilot's seat. Every vein in her body stood out in stark relief as she gasped and whimpered in agony. Both cuts that Unit 02 had inflicted on the angel resonated in her body like deep trenches of liquid fire. She felt her vision growing hazy as the angel's mind touched hers.

Asuka desperately threw her Unit from left to right, repeatedly avoiding the angel's strikes... but she was tiring, and the angel was getting faster. -There has to be a way out of this...- she thought frantically, -THINK!-

Rei found herself standing at the edge of a deep pool of LCL, staring at a mirror image of herself. The image spoke quietly, staring down at the pool, "Do you not wish to join with me?"

"No..." Rei replied coolly, "I am I... you are you... I do not wish to be joined with another."

The image smiled softly, "This is false... there is one you wish to unite with. The one you call Ikari..."

Rei's head bowed, "He is... not for me." She whispered, feeling a sense of loss as she spoke the words.

"He could be..." the image said softly, its words echoing in Rei's mind.

"Fifty percent..." Maya reported, "it's accelerating... I think..." she hesitated, "I think something's happening inside the Unit..." She tapped a quick sequence on her keyboard, "four minutes to total loss."

Rei looked at the image, "He... he loves another..." she said hesitantly.

She shivered as she saw the image of herself smile, "If you join with me... we could make him love us... we are the ones that are worthy, are we not?" Before she could reply, the image continued, "So alone... Rei Ayanami... you are so lonely, and you are not even aware of the feeling that eats away at your soul... let me show you this pain... let me show you what loneliness is..."

The world wavered and Rei's vision of the real world was once again restored. She gasped as understanding flooded her. Images of Shinji filled her mind... him crying after the fifth angel, distraught that she might be hurt... him smiling and laughing with his friends, pausing to smile shyly at her... him refusing to fight the thirteenth angel because someone he cared for was inside, and her knowing on some level that he cared for her... his lips pressed against hers, and his head tilting to the side to make the contact deeper...

She felt something wet tap against her leg... and became aware that her cheeks were wet. "Is this a tear?" She whispered, "Am I the one who is crying?" She looked out at the desperate fight going on around her, "All I want is him..." she said softly, more tears flowing down her face, "and I cannot have him..."

She knew there was only one thing she could do. She turned around in her seat and pulled the red handle located behind it. "I will not allow him to be harmed..." she said firmly, "though he may not love me... I love him. And I WILL defend him."

"Unit 00's self-destruct just went online..." Maya said, "I... I can't stop it!" Her breath was stolen, and she barely had enough to gasp out what her instruments were telling her, "seventy percent of Unit 00 is now fused with the angel... its taken control." Her eyes widened, "Self-destruct cancelled from within the Unit..."

Onscreen, the blue mecha stopped writhing and rose to its feet, shuddering as its will was bent to its new master. Rei's scream of frustration was cut off abruptly as Unit 00 drew the free end of the angel into itself and stood facing Unit 02.

"Oh God..." Asuka whispered, "not again... please..."

"Unit 00 is completely in the Angel's control..." Maya reported through numb lips.

"Activate Unit 02's dummy plug." Came the cold reply.

Maya's head whipped around and her mouth opened to form a protest... but Gendou's icy stare was enough to freeze her solid. She turned back around slowly, remembering her oath to obey... and the consequences to the one she loved most of all if she did not.

"Engaging dummy plug..." she said softly, entering the command on her console. As she hit enter, she whispered, "God have mercy on me... God have mercy on us all for this..."

**

To recount in detail the remainder of the fight would be an exorcise in brutality. The ferocity of Unit 01 was nothing in comparison to the shear, unadulterated fury displayed by Unit 02 as it tore into the angel-infested blue mecha, slapping aside the feeble attempt at defense that the still-unsteady machine offered.

Though Asuka tried valiantly, she could not usurp control of the Unit from the dummy plug... and could only watch in mute horror as Unit 00 was ripped apart. -Now I know...- she thought numbly as one of the Unit's blue arms was wrenched off and thrown aside, -now I know what he felt... now I truly know what it is to be powerless...-

In the LCL... unseen by anyone... unable to accept what was happening... Asuka Langley Souryu wept. She wept like a little girl who's best friend had just moved away - knowing full-well WHY it was happening... but unable to cope with the feeling of loss.

When it was finally over, Ritsuko ordered the entry plug marked as off limits until she got there, ignoring Maya's stunned protest that the retrieval crew should be allowed on the scene and marching from the command room with her head down and a frown on her face.

Shinji climbed out of Unit 01 feeling as if he had not slept for weeks. He made his way slowly to where Unit 02 was now docked and keyed in the eject sequence for the entry plug. Saying nothing, he climbed in with Asuka (who had stopped crying and was now sitting still in her seat, staring straight ahead). He closed the hatch behind him... pushed the buttons on her control yokes to reinsert the plug... and gently drew her into his arms, cradling her against him and holding her tight.

Asuka let herself be held, thankful for the contact. Silently she shivered, not wanting to cry in front of him... but unable to stop herself. Her tears flowed unacknowledged by either of them as she shuddered and gasped quietly, pretending not to weep. After some time, she slowly put her arms around him and rested her head against his chest... pressing her face into him to muffle her sobs as the words, 'I killed her' were torn from deep inside of her, over and over again until finally she drifted off to sleep... her nightmares held at bay only by the warm, loving arms that enfolded her.

Maya watched Shinji and Asuka on the monitor at her station, feeling a strange mixture of pride and jealousy flit through her. She decided after a moment that she was more proud that he was so loving and understanding that the first thing he thought of was comforting a friend than jealous that he was holding another woman so tenderly. That Rei had died, Maya was certain... there was no way that anyone could have survived the decimation visited on Unit 00 by the dummy plug controlled red EVA. She also knew that there would be tears that night... and that no matter who he comforted during the day, she would be the one he came home to - now and forever.

And that was enough.

End of book 2

Other possible ways Shinji's awakening might have gone:


"You fell asleep before we could," she said softly, "you were so tired." She smiled and ran her hand across his stomach, making him shiver, "We could... try again now if you want..." she whispered gently, leaning forward to kiss him.

"We... we don't... have too..." he said hesitantly, blushing bright red.

"I WANT too..." she answered, "I... I want to be with you."

Shinji could only stammer, "I... I want that too, but-"

She smiled and leaned forward quickly, pressing her lips to his and preventing any further comments (or thoughts, for that matter) that he might have had...


Another possibility:

"Yes..." she sighed, "it was... very nice..."

His jaw dropped open, "We... we did?" his voice sounded disappointed.

"Are you upset because we did it, Shinji?" she asked softly, pressing herself against his side and lowering her voice, "Or are you upset that you can't remember it?"

He met her eyes, "I would never regret being with you..." he answered, hoping that was sufficient.

"I could always refresh your memory," she said seductively, as she slid over on top of him, "I know *I* wouldn't mind..."

Shinji found that he would not mind either...

One last way:

Asuka woke slowly, a soft sigh escaping her. She looked up at Shinji's ceiling, -I think I'll stay home today,- she thought, smiling, -or maybe I'll go to Maya's house to find him...-

She became aware of someone else in the bed with her, and her breath caught, -He... he's here!- She thought frantically, -What do I do? What SHOULD I do??-

She closed her eyes as she felt a tentative touch on her stomach, over the blankets, -He's so... bold...- she thought, wondering if she should stop him.

When the touch didn't move up or down, she took a deep, uneven breath of relief that she would not have to decide what to do just yet. When she breathed in, she became aware of another fact, -He STINKS!! Like... like...- Her eyes snapped open, "Fish?" She whispered in confusion.

"Shinji??" She turned her head to the side.

"WARK!" Came the reply.

On that day in Tokyo-3, the tracking system at NERV headquarters was the first to track the orbit-bound flight path of an erect-crested, warm water penguin...



Author's notes: this marks the end of book 2 of the Shinji/Maya story Should a chance be taken? Sorry it took so long, but as some of you may have noticed, my writing time has been severely cut down... but rest assured I will not abandon ANY of the fictions that I have currently going... I just... won't be updating as fast as I used to. Sorry. :(

Thanks to JobFaust and Lord Deathscythe for pre-reading.


Feedback is always welcome at random1377@yahoo.com