DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fan fiction incorporating characters and situations from the Gainax manga/anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion and its related feature film releases. Gainax and its various media distributors hold sole exclusive rights to their use. The author is in no way affiliated with Gainax or its distributors, nor has this story been submitted for any commercial purpose.

I Promised
by Ikarus Onesun

Damn it.

I'm doing it again.

And I promised... I promised I'd never do it again.

How many times now have I made this promise to myself? And why is it always so hard for me to keep?

I lie awake in the early morning darkness of my ridiculously tiny room in Misato's apartment, biting my lip to try to stop the anger and frustration I'm feeling from bursting out of my mouth like vomit. I can't stop the involuntary blinking of my eyelids though, or the warm sensation that slowly tracks down my face from the corners of my eyes. I raise a hand and feel the wetness streaking my cheeks. I happen to graze my mouth as I rub the dampness away, and for a moment, I taste the salt from my own body on my lips.

I hate the taste.

It tastes like weakness.

Damn it, damn it, DAMN it…

Every time this happens, it takes me back to places I never want to go to again. Back to the cold, gray, austere interior of the cathedral in Berlin. Back to that long walk under low, leaden skies through the damp chill of the graveyard, past row after row of silent stone markers, to the place where they laid my mother to rest. Back to the black-clad figures of the mourners – people she'd really only knew in passing. Her colleagues at NERV. Our neighbours. The few relatives who bothered to show up.

And my father.

None of them knew her well though… not even him.

They all came and paid their respects, as they were expected to. They participated in the ritual, and then promptly returned to their daily lives, as if nothing had ever happened. My father had shed tears at the funeral, all the while clinging to the arm of that strange woman – the woman he'd start dating only a few weeks later, and eventually marry. It took me years to figure out that they'd probably been seeing each other even before Mama died, but I hated him for it then, and the more I thought about it in the coming years and put the pieces together, the more the hatred grew.

I know now that she was as much to blame as anything – looking back, I realize that it was probably pretty hard for Papa. People always said she was so devoted to her research, and that it came before everything else in her life, even her own family. But even when I was little, I never cared. I knew that my mother was doing very important things, and I was so proud of her. It didn't matter that she was hardly ever home, to eat dinner with Papa and me, or to tuck me into bed and read me stories, or to fix a skinned knee with a bandage and a kiss. To me, she was still the best mother anybody could ever have. And I always believed that one day, when her work was finally finished, we'd get to do all the things that mothers and daughters should do together.

EVA never gave us that chance.

It was her own work, the research that she had devoted her life to, that took her away from me in the end. I hate myself when I think how much better it would have been if she had died outright in the contact experiment with Unit 02. But EVA killed her slowly, shattering her mind instead of her body, leaving her to slowly waste away in misery like a fly whose wings had been pulled off. And I watched, every day, as she got worse and worse. Babbling incessantly, wide-eyed and haggard, dried spittle caked in the corners of her twisted mouth as she clutched and cooed to my favourite dolly, and called it "Asuka," over and over again.

I'd stand in the corner of the room, watching her laughing and smiling and telling my dolly about all the wonderful things they were going to do that day – she'd gush about trips to the Zoologischer Garten, eating Zitroneneis on walks through the Friedrichshain Volkspark, baking cookies, shopping for pretty dresses – all the things I never got to do with her. I'd try to get her attention, tried desperately to get her to speak to me, to look at me, but my tears and my pleas had no effect on her. All she would do is keep talking her nonsense to the doll, caressing its terry-cloth face and running her fingers through its red mop of yarn hair as she gazed lovingly into its button eyes. It was as if I no longer existed to her at all.

When she finally took her own life, my grandmother kept me beside her at the funeral while my father shook hands with all the mourners, said all the right things, and cried at all the appropriate times. I wondered why he had never been in the room with my mother whenever I came to visit her. I wondered why that other woman followed him around all the time – I wasn't even sure if she'd even known my mother, why was she even there? And as I watched my father weeping as they lowered the casket into the ground, the sight sickened me, and the iron entered my soul.

Tears couldn't make my mother look at me. Tears couldn't convince me that my father really cared that she was dead. Tears were false, tears were useless… tears were weakness. And when my grandmother told me that it was okay for me to cry, I told her that I would never cry again.

My mother was gone. My father had someone else to care for. All I had left was EVA, and like my mother, I made it my life. I would finish the work that she started. I'd make sure that her death wasn't for nothing.

I left my childhood behind – all four short, lonely years of it – in that cold cemetery in Berlin. From that moment on, I'd think for myself, and I'd live for myself. I'd become a grownup, and I'd make my mother as proud of me as I was of her.

And I promised that I'd never cry.

I promised.

For a long time, I kept that promise.

I threw myself body and soul into the EVA pilot program that I'd been selected for shortly before my mother died. I attacked the tasks I was given with the fervor of a religious zealot – synchronization tests, standard operating procedures, combat maneuvers, physical training – I took it all on without complaint, and refused to accept failure or substandard results. If I performed a task poorly, I'd insist on repeating it until I was satisfied with my result, and then the next day, I would strive to surpass it. When I was younger, people would praise my determination to succeed, and comment that I was definitely Soryu's daughter, which made me proud. As I got older, the comments became less flattering as I grew more confident in my abilities, and more demanding of my taskmasters.

Even when I started working with private tutors for my conventional schooling – I had no time to attend normal school like other children my age – I soaked up the extra workload and plowed ahead undeterred. I completed my high school diploma at the age of eleven, and received my B.Sc. from the University of Berlin at thirteen, a year before I left for Japan. More importantly though, Unit 02 was nearly ready for duty, and I couldn't wait to show the world the awesome power of the weapon that my mother had built and that I'd devoted most of my life to mastering. It was strange, but synchronizing with Unit 02, even in the test plug, was the closest I'd ever felt to being with my mother again, and together, nothing would stop us. I knew that there would be other EVA pilots, but I was determined that, no matter what, I would be the best of them all.

That's when I first met Misato. It was her second visit to the Third Branch since she had joined NERV – she had left after her first assignment here as a lowly 2nd lieutenant, and had returned as a captain and as NERV's Tactical Operations Director, which was quite a shock to many. She had been sent to Berlin to oversee the final stages of Unit 02's completion and its eventual reposition to Tokyo-3, and to give NERV HQ an assessment of my abilities as a pilot. I hated her on sight – the way she'd come strutting onto the observation deck with her uniform skirt hiked shamelessly high, showing off her legs for all the men, and wearing too much of that lavender perfume that couldn't quite mask the smell of alcohol on her breath. And the way people fawned over her, just because she was top brass from NERV HQ and worked in the Geofront, and because her father had been a famous scientist. I just thought she was so affected, and ridiculous. And her German was terrible, even though she'd spent an entire tour of duty in the country, which did not impress me at all. She needed interpreters for everything but the simplest questions, and even though I knew Japanese perfectly well, I refused to speak anything but German in her presence for the first three days she was there. To me, her only purpose was to rubber-stamp my active pilot status, and then she could get the hell out of my way, and out of my life.

When it was time for her to assess my piloting skills though, things changed. That's when I saw the real Misato – the one who had risen through the ranks of NERV so quickly, the callous, cold-blooded bitch who probably wouldn't hesitate to put a bullet through someone's head if they stood in the way of her objective.

I had entered the test plug and run through all of our combat simulations for Unit 02, and of course, I defeated each scenario quickly and efficiently, just as I had hundreds of times before. Misato sat and watched each run-though in silence, and then she got up out of her seat and had a quick word with the simulator's chief operator. She sat down at his terminal and punched a series of codes into the computer while the technicians looked on in disbelief – nobody thought this woman could even type her own name, let alone code data into a sophisticated computer mainframe – and then she asked me to run through the simulation again. This time, the enemy I faced in the simulator was completely different from the other times I had battled it – it seemed to move twice as fast as before, it could suddenly absorb three times as much punishment and regenerate as well, and most frustrating of all, it could learn. I would score a hit and knock it down, only to watch it get back up, shake off the damage, and come at me again from a completely different angle and attitude. All of the techniques and strategies I had come to rely on in my sim sessions had been effectively neutralized, and within the space of a minute and a half, the enemy had defeated me – my first loss in the simulator in years.

I remember storming out of my test plug and bursting into the observation room, LCL still dripping from my hair, and screaming at her – the first time I had spoken to her in her own language since she had arrived. I had never been so outraged – she had sabotaged me, and embarrassed me, in front of all of my colleagues. She just looked at me calmly as I raged at her, and then finally, she replied, "You've shown me that you're pretty good at playing games, Asuka – but this isn't a game."

"That," she said as she pointed to the victorious simulated enemy on the screen, "isn't a game. The real enemies you'll be facing in Unit 02 aren't machines – they're alive. And they're intelligent. They can think, and learn, and strategize, and change their strategy in the middle of a battle. And if you can't adjust to that, they won't just beat you, like in the simulator – they will kill you. You may have learned how to fight better than they can – but you'll be no good to us unless you can prove you can think better than they can."

That's when she turned around and walked out of the observation room. Nobody knew what to say, least of all me. I was frustrated, and embarrassed, and angry, so angry… because deep down, I knew she was right.

Three days later, after spending nearly sixty hours in the test plug, I finally defeated Misato's simulation. Three days after that, she returned to Japan. The day that awful woman left Germany was one of the happiest days of my life.

And now here I am, living under the same roof as that shameless, beer-soaked Schlampe.

They say God has a sense of humour. I keep wondering how long it will take for Him to notice that I'm not laughing.

Damn it…

I'm not going to start again…

It wasn't too long after Misato left that the happiest day of my life came, two months before we prepared to move Unit 02 overland from Berlin to Bremerhaven, where the UN supercarrier Over the Rainbow and its escort group were waiting to bring the completed Evangelion to Japan. My father had left for Nevada to help NERV's American scientists begin development of the first production S² engine for EVA Unit 04, and of course, my stepmother went with him, rather than stay home with me. In their absence, NERV decided to place me in the care of a guardian, which I strongly objected to – until I saw who my guardian was.

I'd never seen anyone who looked like him before. A Japanese man, but young and tall and handsome, nothing like the middle-aged, bookish types that I'd been used to seeing around the Third Branch. His thick black hair, tied up in a messy ponytail, was nearly as long as mine, he always seemed to be unshaven, and there was a carefree attitude about him, so unlike the super-serious types that NERV seemed to exclusively recruit. He was the first man I'd ever met who was even close to my age, and he was gorgeous, and funny, and kind, and the moment I saw him, I don't know… I just wanted to spend every single moment of my life with him. Something had changed in me – I felt things, both in my heart, and in… other places, that I'd never felt before – and I found myself thinking about him all the time. My sync scores dipped slightly as a result, but for the first time in my life, I didn't care. I suddenly had something else besides EVA to keep my mind occupied, to keep the pain and the anger and the loneliness at bay, and my thoughts began to turn more and more toward how I would make Ryouji Kaji mine.

The trip by sea from Germany to Japan was like a dream, a wonderful, but torturous dream. Kaji and I spent a lot of time together on the journey, which made me happier than I'd been in years, and I never missed an opportunity to drop a hint about my interest in him. I knew I was young, but I was developing quickly, and I was certainly mature for my age – certainly more mature than Misato, and she was twice as old as me. Although Kaji never made an effort to address my advances, he didn't discourage them either. Maybe he was just being polite, but he never gave me a sign that my interest wasn't unwanted. The only thing he had insisted on during the voyage was that I was never under any circumstances to enter his room, even if the door was open. I took this as a positive sign – maybe he believed that having me in there would be too much of a temptation for him – and in my heart, my hopes grew.

The night before Misato arrived on board the Over the Rainbow with the Third Child, I finally decided to come flat out and confess my true feelings to Kaji. It was a beautiful, warm night, and I had begged him to join me on the flight deck to look at the stars. He finally agreed, and when he came out on deck he seemed a little taken aback when he had seen that I had prepared a blanket for us to lie on, a radio, and drinks. For a long time, we lay side by side, gazing up at the skies and occasionally making small, insignificant conversation. I could tell that he felt uncomfortable, especially when I started talking about Misato, though at the time I had no idea why. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore, and I rolled across the blanket and on top of him, burying my face in his chest and finally telling him what I'd been dying to the whole trip – "You're the only one I love, Kaji."

So many times I'd said those words to him in my thoughts, and my dreams. But never, in all those happy fantasies, had he ever responded the way he did that night, when he stared up at me with serious eyes and said "Asuka… you're still a child."

I couldn't believe it. How could he say such a thing? Still a child? I hadn't been a child for ten years! It wasn't as if I was immature – I was a college graduate, the same as him! I may have been a few years younger than he was, but anyone who took a look at me could tell that I was a woman now, not a little girl! I was so humiliated, so desperate for his attention, for his approval, that I even tried to show him that I was a woman, in mind and body. His only response was to sit up, gently but firmly replacing my shirt over my shoulders and pulling it closed over my exposed cleavage, and quietly tell me that it was late and that perhaps I should go to bed. Every word he spoke was like twisting a knife deeper and deeper into my heart.

I just looked back at him blankly, completely disbelieving everything that had just happened. All of my hopes for the evening had been suddenly shattered in just a few short moments.

All I was to him was a child.

Despite my academic achievements, despite my prowess piloting Unit 02, despite the fact that I looked more like a woman than half of the adults that worked in the Third Branch, I wasn't good enough. I wasn't good enough for him.

But in the back of my mind, I resolved that one day, I would be. Once he saw me pilot Unit 02 in combat, once he saw me defeating the Angels and saving the human race from destruction, he'd see. He'd see that I wasn't a child – I was a woman, and he'd want me. I'd make him want me.

But that night, he didn't want me. He had rejected me, just like my mother and my father had. And it made me feel sick inside as I stared into his handsome, expressionless face.

I rose without a sound, clutching my now buttonless shirt around me, and made my way slowly back to my cabin, leaving him alone on the flight deck. But at least I didn't cry.

Not in front of him.

Thank God he didn't see me cry.

The next day, Misato arrived with the Three Stooges, and the humiliations just seemed to continue to pile up. That's when I first met stupid Shinji, the famous Third Child. To think that Kaji had even suggested the night before that I might be interested in him because he was my own age! From the stories I'd heard, the pilot of Unit 01 was this incredible prodigy, who had defeated two Angels solo and another with the help of the prototype EVA. What a letdown it was to see this nervous, quiet boy, who couldn't even string a simple sentence together without stuttering, and didn't even have enough backbone to look me in the eye when I spoke to him. How hard can it be to look at someone? His two idiot friends didn't seem to have any trouble looking at me, even though they were just a couple of perverts. But the Third just kept his eyes down whenever he'd speak, or rather, whenever he'd stammer and mumble. This was the fearless pilot who had destroyed three Angels? I couldn't believe it – if this boy could somehow manage to defeat an Angel, I was confident that I'd have no trouble with them at all.

When we all went down to the galley for something to eat, though, that's when I saw Kaji change. I had no idea that he and Misato knew each other, and as I watched him flirt shamelessly with her, and saw her become more and more flustered every time he'd make a suggestive remark about her sleeping habits or rub his feet against hers under the table, I realized that not only did they know each other, but that there was some sort of… history between them. It seemed straightforward enough – Misato hated Kaji, she said so more times than I could count the whole time we were sat together. She'd scowl at him, insult him, kick him under the table every time he'd try to play footsie with her… it was pretty obvious how she felt. So why, then, did I feel so… threatened, all of a sudden? I'd find out soon enough, but at that moment, I put it out of my mind. Whatever Misato had been to Kaji, she seemed far out of the picture now, and for me, that was good news.

I felt like I didn't have a care in the world as I talked about the Third with Kaji after Misato had taken the others to find their cabins. Soon I'd be in combat, and I'd get a chance to show Kaji that no Angel would be able to stand up to me. All my hard work, the dedication I'd shown to the EVA project for the last decade, was about to pay off. Once they saw me battle the Angels, the Third Child would be long forgotten, and I'd win Kaji's attention – and his love.

That's when he dropped another bomb on me, when he told me that Shinji had achieved a forty percent sync ratio in Unit 01 on his very first sortie against the third Angel.

Forty percent! It had taken me almost ten years of training to achieve a score that high!

I couldn't believe it. It took many months for me just to establish any sort of measurable synchronization with Unit 02 at all. And then there was the long, grueling process of fine-tuning – learning to walk without falling down, to pick things up without crushing them, to wield a progressive weapon and fire a palette rifle – and this stupid, boring boy had been almost literally pulled off of the street, thrown into Unit 01's entry plug without even the most basic of instructions, and had synced at forty percent with the EVA! And defeated an Angel in the process!

The fact nagged at me that whole afternoon. I couldn't understand how something like that could have happened. The only explanation I could come up with was that Unit 01 was the test type Evangelion, not a true production model like my Unit 02, which would obviously be more difficult to master since it was more advanced and sophisticated than both Unit 01 and the prototype EVA, Unit 00. But still, this wasn't enough to suppress the resentment and anger toward the Third Child that had begun to well up in me like bile. Forty percent was only a few points away from my own sync score, and this idiot, this weakling, hadn't done a thing to earn such a result. I'd worked too hard, for too long, and had sacrificed too much to be shown up by an untrained rookie, and I vowed that I'd show the Third Child who was the superior pilot, and who had the superior EVA, the first chance I got.

When the Angel alarm sounded just a couple of hours later, I knew my chance had come.

The Angel was attacking the fleet from below the sea, picking off destroyers and frigates one by one, their torpedoes and depth charges useless against its speed and tough hide. I was ecstatic – my first Angel battle, and Kaji would be here to see it! And the Third would see it as well, and I was going to make sure he had the best seat in the house.

I changed into my plugsuit as quickly as I could, and threw him a spare so that he could ride in the entry plug with me as I fought the Angel. I wanted him to see what a professionally trained pilot in a state-of-the-art fighting machine could do against the invaders. I wanted him to see how quickly and effortlessly I would put the Angel down, unlike his clumsy, bumbling attempts at fighting in his own outdated EVA. Had he ever battled an Angel without ending up in the hospital afterward? I wanted him to look at me as I sat in the pilot's chair, and wonder if he would ever be able to pilot his EVA with the skill and ease that I handled Unit 02.

It should have been easy. But again, I was humiliated, in front of Misato, Kaji, the Third Child – everybody.

Unit 02 was configured with B-type equipment – light armour that allowed the EVA maximum speed and agility in land-based combat. But in a marine environment, it was ill-suited to the crushing depths of the ocean, and it was not fitted with any kind of external propulsion system to allow it to move through water. Once the Angel had dragged us off of the flight deck of the carrier and pulled us under, we were sitting ducks – literally, bait on a fishing line. Unit 02 dangled helplessly on its umbilical cable as the Angel circled like a hungry marlin, and struck, catching us in its toothy jaws and threatening to crack the EVA's armour like a walnut.

It was just like being back in Berlin, when Misato had changed the simulator – I had been thrown into an unfamiliar situation, against an enemy I didn't understand, with none of the tools that I normally had to rely on in combat. And in that moment, I hated myself.

I hated myself because I didn't know what to do.

After all the training, after all the months and years of my life I'd sacrificed preparing for this very moment – I didn't know what to do.

And then suddenly, Shinji was reaching over me, twisting around from behind the pilot's seat and leaning against my legs as his hands replaced mine on the control yokes. He had kept his head, and had been listening to Misato's directions from the carrier, while I had wasted precious time… panicking. That's when I realized that I had essentially given up control of Unit 02 to him. I had been weak, and he had somehow stepped up and assumed command. Part of me was in awe – this shy, quiet boy, who looked like he'd run from his own shadow, was practically shielding me with his body as he grunted and grimaced, his gray eyes narrowed as he tried to will Unit 02 to open the Angel's jaws. The other part wanted to reach out and strangle him – how dare he think that he could pilot my Unit 02, my mother's creation? How dare he presume to fight my battles, and try to take my victory away from me?

But the Angel was strong, and time was short, and there was no time for selfishness. In the end, it took both of us to give Unit 02 the necessary power to pry open its mouth, exposing its core to the full frontal assault from the twin battleships that eventually destroyed it. The force of the blast propelled Unit 02 up and out of the water, and there was just enough power left in the batteries to twist the EVA through the air so that it would land safely on the deck of the Over the Rainbow. Seconds later, it collapsed on the flight deck, spent. I ejected the entry plug and told Shinji to get the hell out of my EVA, before I stormed off to my cabin… and collapsed myself.

My first battle had been an embarrassment, a disgrace. I had faltered under pressure – and worse, I had needed stupid Shinji's help to defeat the Angel. Even I couldn't deny the fact – it had taken two of us to force the Angel's mouth open. If I hadn't insisted on taking Shinji with me, I would have failed. The entire UN Pacific fleet would have been destroyed. Unit 02 would have been lost. And I…

I would be dead.

As much as I hated myself, I hated Shinji more. The only reason I'd taken him with me in the first place was so that he would see how much better I was than him.

And the biggest kicker of all was that Kaji had taken off for Tokyo-3 in a jump-jet before the battle was even over. He wasn't even there. He hadn't seen a thing.

God and his sense of humour.

Still not laughing, Lord.

Damn it.

I hate this taste…

And then we got to Japan, and I finally met the First. At least with her, I thought I knew what to expect, as I had seen the reports of her progress in Germany before I left for Tokyo-3. I never once felt that she would be any kind of challenge to me at all – I had progressed though my synchronization experiments much faster than she had, my sync scores were vastly superior to hers, and I had successfully activated Unit 02 months earlier, with no problems whatsoever. The First's progress had been painfully slow, her sync scores were barely enough to keep Unit 00 moving, let alone fighting, and she had lost control of the prototype and ended up in the hospital after her first attempt to activate it. It was clear that she was an inferior pilot, with an equally inferior EVA. Sure, Shinji had been successful with Unit 01, but once I joined NERV HQ I didn't see any reason why they would even need the First Child anymore, except as an emergency backup.

That's what I don't understand.

She can't pilot as well as I can. Her sync scores aren't even close to mine. Her EVA is old, outdated, and unstable. So far, the only thing she's been good for is holding a shield in front of Shinji, or passing him a rifle, or at the most, dispersing an A.T. field so that I could destroy an Angel's core, while Shinji held it back.

She never has to do any of the dirty work.

She's ­always in a backup role.

So why does she get all the attention?

I can see it whenever we walk through NERV – all eyes are on her, everywhere we go. And I know it's not just because she's a red-eyed freak who looks like she cuts that stupid blue hair of hers with a bread knife, and probably has nothing in her closet at home except fuku and plugsuits.

Misato worries about her. Ritsuko glares at her all the time, which I don't mind, but that means that Ritsuko is thinking about her all the time. Stupid Shinji can't help but gawk at the freak every time he's around her – no idea what that's about, but if that's where his tastes lie, then he really is hopeless…

But the Commander…

People always said that she was his favourite. I figured that it was only because for the longest time, she was the only pilot he had. When I heard that Shinji and his father didn't get along, I thought for sure that I would be the one who'd become the Commander's new favourite. Back at the Third Branch, I was the only one everybody ever talked about. I was the prodigy, the gifted child, the warrior who was going to save the world from the Angels. And once I got to Tokyo-3, and the Commander saw me in action, I was going to be the only one they talked about there, too.

But nothing's changed. I see the Commander with her, and he actually smiles. He asks her questions, he wishes her luck in her tests and on missions… she might as well be his daughter or something. But whenever he and Shinji meet, it's the complete opposite. They might as well be strangers – strangers that don't particularly like each other. The Commander just looks down at him like he's some kind of… insect. Shinji won't look at him at all, and the expression on his face whenever he's around him – it's like he's afraid, but also… ashamed. Ashamed that this man is his father. Sometimes when I see him like that, I feel like I can almost sympathize with the idiot.

But with me… there's nothing.

The Commander's never so much as spoken a single word to me since I arrived in Tokyo-3. Not once. I know he's seen all of my progress reports from the Third Branch – he must have been pleased with my progress and my abilities – but it's like he doesn't even care that I'm here at all. At least Shinji gets some sort of attention from him, even if it's almost always negative. But the Commander doesn't even seem to realize that I even exist. Wondergirl gets nothing but praise from him, and all he ever seems to do is scowl at Shinji, but still, at least he looks at him every once in awhile…

The Commander won't even look at me.

Why won't he look at me?

It's like… it's like he doesn't even need me.

I'm the best pilot. I am. But he's got stupid Shinji, and his precious doll, and I'm…

I'm the backup.

Not her.

I can't stand it.

And my sync scores… have been slipping lately. And I don't know why.

I'm so angry. I'm so frustrated. I'm so…

I'm so goddamned tired of all of this.

Nothing has gone right since I've come here. Nothing.

It's like a sick joke. Did you hear that, Lord?

Sick.

But I'm not going to give up. I'd rather die than admit defeat.

I'll show them, Mama. I'll show them all that they need me.

Then they'll look at me.

They'll all look at me.

And I promise… I promise I'll never cry again.

After tonight…

I'll never cry again...

-----

Author's notes: A little while ago, my good friend and fellow author Sideris released a great oneshot story called "This Is What It's Like," which is a sobering and very effective look inside the mind of Shinji Ikari, and a spot-on snapshot of his character, IMO. Not long after that, I read and reviewed a story called "Sleep," by a newer addition to FFN, underworldmuse, which was a similar look at the inner thoughts of Rei Ayanami. I highly recommend both of them if you haven't read them yet. After reading these fine works, I was inspired to write a response, this time from Asuka Langley Soryu's perspective. A few people have asked me why I don't write more for Asuka, and admittedly, I don't really have a good answer. While I do acknowledge a certain R/S bent in my recent work, I don't consider myself a "shipper," and I certainly don't want to pigeonhole myself or purposefully exclude good story ideas because of personal preferences toward certain characters. Asuka's a really intriguing character with a lot of levels, but to me, her character can be crystallized in one simple statement. She's brash, aggressive, and a showoff, but in her heart, she's not saying, "look at me," but rather, "why won't anyone look at me?" When I went back through the anime and deconstructed all of the scenes that she relates above, that same theme kept coming to me, and once I fixed on that idea, I started writing and the whole thing just kind of gushed out. I think it works, and I hope you agree.

Preread by Sideris, with my heartfelt thanks. He's really the master of the psychological drama, so I was grateful for his input and stamp of approval on this one. Also a big thanks to Steve Vader for fixing my crappy German. Vielen Dank, mein Freund. :)

Feel free to leave a review, or drop me a line at ikarusonesun(at)gmail(dot)com.

Cheers,
IO