Family Bond

It's just a simple one-shot idea that came to mind.

"Pretty," a child exclaimed as she gazed at the stars out her window, happily sitting on her bed hugging her favourite teddy bear. She had the good life: a good home, good friends, and most important of all, as told by her mother and father, a family. She loved her life. Her parents were always there for her, and even if they couldn't, she always had the support of close friends, even if they were much older than her.

She simply happily sat on her bed without much of a care in the world. The everyday drabbles of life never crossed her mind as she spent each and every single day in bliss, content with letting everything pass by as she enjoyed life to the fullest. The stars shone brightly, calling upon her to gaze upon them and let her troubles slip away.

However, tonight her troubles couldn't slip away as her thoughts drifted to her parents. Lately, they were somewhat distant, almost aggressive towards one another. She had begun to see sides of her parents she had never thought existed. Her mother became increasingly reclusive, hardly ever talking unless spoken to, and even then her answers were direct and crisp, often lacking the warmth she used to have, even towards her. And her father she hardly saw anymore. He often kept to himself, locking himself in his office for hours, or hiding in his music for long periods of times.

Even dinner was strained as she struggled to try to talk about her days. Although they gave her attention, she missed how her parents always had silent conversations towards one another. Though no words were ever given, she had always enjoyed how her parents looked at one another throughout the meals. Simple looks of affection warmed her heart, for she knew her parents loved each other, but as of late, it lacked any of that. In fact her parents hardly saw each other eye to eye anymore and she missed it.

"You want to do what?!" a voice suddenly shouted, pulling Yui from her thoughts causing her to jump in fright as she looked at the wall that divided her room from her parents.

"I wish for us to separate," another voice calmly replied.

"What do you mean? What brought this up," the first voice shot out, desperation written throughout the voice which Yui recognized as her father's.

"Over the course of the week, post-incident, our lack of proper communication has led me to conclude this relationship holds little to no substance," the calm voice stated in a calm monotone, a shadow of the voice that once belonged to her mother.

"Lack of communication?" her father shouted indignantly. "I was waiting for you to approach the subject!"

"You required me to approach the subject?" her mother questioned. "Why should it be I, when it was you who had been caught with Soryu-san in such manner?"

"I told you it was an accident," he hotly shouted, the anger in his voice rising every minute. "She only kissed me because she was drunk! She was deranged at the time!"

"Yet you failed to restrained her," she countered. "You allowed her to throw herself upon you, and from what I recall, you were aroused even after I had separated the two of you."

"Rei what's happening to you," he cried out. "You're acting like you did 11 years ago when we first met!"

"Do no attempt to change the subject," she vehemently spat. "The point of this discussion is to peaceably sign Yui to my care."

"It's not that simple!" he yelled out, exasperated over the whole situation. "What will Yui think of this?! Have you forgotten we had promised to never let Yui suffer like we did?!"

"It is pointless to bring up such an agreement," Rei replied. "You brought it upon yourself, this request for separation."

"I brought it upon myself?" he hotly retorted. "You're to blame as much as me! You never said a thing! You never tried to confront me for days, and the next thing I know, you want a divorce?!"

"It was not I who had allowed another woman to throw herself upon me Shinji," she calmly stated.

"Damn it Rei don't have you more trust in me than that?" Shinji bellowed, horrified by his wife's words.

"How can I trust you, when you have failed to approach the subject," Rei calmly and emotionlessly countered in the calm cold demeanour that began to terrify Yui as she listened. "I have also believe the love you and I share, is nothing more than a superficial attraction, born from our experiences." A pregnant paused followed. Yui felt her body freeze. Although she couldn't truly understand the words that were used, the meaning rang deep within her soul that it scared her.

"Tou-san and kaa-san love no more?" she weakly asked herself, absolutely terrified of the possible results.

"You don't mean that?" her father gasped, utterly shocked by her words.

"I have sufficient evidence to support such a statement," she stoically stated, never revealing how it was tearing her up inside. Another silence followed her words, leaving everyone on teetering on the edge as they waited for Shinji's response.

"You know what?" Shinji harshly whispered before his rage exploded as he bellowed, "I wish I had never met you! I wish I never saved you that day, and I wish I never even came to this city all those years ago! Asuka was right! You're nothing but a doll!"

Yui gasped as she heard the familiar snap of a slap, followed by her mother yelling, "Get out!" Having never heard her mother scream before, she failed to suppress an involuntary shudder that ran down her spine. It felt fierce. She heard the door slam as someone stomped downstairs.

Quickly getting up with teddy still in hand, she made her way to her parents' room, carefully opening the door as she peered in. Looking in, she saw her mother quietly sitting on her bed, staring blankly at the wall in front of her. Yui felt her heart break as she watched her mother. The image she often remembered was creamy alabaster skin that always had a light glow, azure hair that radiated with energy and crimson eyes that burned everlasting love. But what sat in her mother's place was a shallow, darkened, soulless being. Her hair that reached down to her shoulder blades seemed flat, while her skin had a really pale, almost ghostly appearance. However, her eyes scared Yui the most. Her once bright crimson eyes were nothing more than a dark void that revealed nothing but darkness and pain.

Yui wondered what could've caused such a state. Unfortunately due to her age, her parents had never explained much of their pasts, especially her mother's absolute hatred of being referred to a doll. And the fact Shinji of all people had made such a reference had hurt her beyond anything she had ever suffered, leaving the near-dead husk that sat before Yui.

Daughterly instincts kicking, she silently walked in, with the intent of making her mother happy again. She rarely saw her mother and father sad, but she hated it when she did, and had always called on the help of one parent of the other to cheer up the one who was sad. But now, it was up to her to cheer the two of them up.

"Kaa-san?" Yui quietly called out as she slowly approached her mother, tightly holding onto her teddy bear. Rei silently gasped as she looked towards her daughter, seeing her slowly approach.

"Why are you and tou-san fighting?" Yui weakly asked, stopping right before her mother looking up at her, absolute worry written across her child-like features.

Rei was utterly horrified. During the fight she had forgotten that they were right next door to Yui's room, and that she might've been sleeping. The fact she had heard everything scared Rei, knowing full well how her daughter's mind was most likely in a state of utter confusion by now, trying to comprehend what had occurred between herself and Shinji. She felt her throat tighten for some odd reason as she saw the fear and worry in her daughter's eyes.

"Yui, I," she weakly began, struggling to form a coherent sentence. She was at a loss of what to say to possibly comfort her daughter, let alone explain the gravity of the situation they were now in.

"Why can't we be normal family?" Yui weakly asked. Rei paused as the question sunk in. Vaguely remembering what Shinji had said and the vow they had made on the day of their wedding, Rei began to slowly see the folly of her idea. Why she had brought it up in the first place was beyond her comprehension. Perhaps it was the stress of it all, the fact they had never discussed about it until now, or the fact Shinji had been lazing around in their room when he could've been trying to rectify the situation, she didn't know. All she knew was that in a split second decision, she had come up with a destructive idea which brought them to the situation they were now in. They had both wanted a family badly. They had strived in order to get past the many hurtles that didn't want them to marry, and now she had brought up what could possibly destroy what they had worked so hard to again.

Tears began to stream down her face as she was hit with a startling realisation: she was destroying her family.

"Yui," Rei sobbed, falling onto her knees as she pulled her into a hug.

Dropping her teddy, Yui held onto her mother as she felt her mother's tears soak the top of her head.

"Gomen nasai Yui," Rei sobbed, clutching Yui close to her heart as she cried. "Gomen nasai." She had never wanted things to go this far. She had never wanted to anger Shinji this much, or to jeopardise the family she and Shinji had fought long and hard for. And now, because of some stupid mistake, she possibly destroyed what little chance their family had left.

"Kaa-san, what's a divorce?" Yui curiously asked, looking up at her mother, who suddenly had an expression of surprise.

"It's," she weakly began, "it's when a mother and father do when they don't love each other. They leave each other."

"Kaa-san doesn't love tou-san anymore?" Yui asked, horrified by such a thought.

"I don't know," Rei sobbed, holding her daughter tightly. "I really don't know." They stayed like that for some time, holding each other, supporting each other as they let the moment pass.

Rei had always been depicted as an absolute pillar of strength in Yui's mind. Although occasionally there were cracks in which Rei needed her support, Rei had never really collapsed, or ended up in such a state as she was now. Her mother seemed powerless at the moment as she struggled to stem the tears that flowed down her face, threatening to break the leaking damn.

What felt like 10 years but in reality 10 minutes had passed, Rei finally ushered her daughter out of the room to give her some time alone.

Having done what she could with her mother, Yui quietly made her way downstairs, with her teddy in hand in search of her father. Quickly finding him in the kitchen cooking, she quietly approached her father, gently tugging the leg of his pants, quietly calling out to him.

Looking down in curiosity, he plastered on a simple smile as he affectionately ruffled his daughter's blue tresses. Despite what had happened, he would never dare let any harm come to his daughter.

"Why did tou-san and kaa-san fight," Yui asked, slightly clutching onto her father's leg, somewhat begging for an answer. Shinji's expression immediately changed. Quickly turning off the stove and kneeling so that he somewhat levelled with his daughter, he put on a confused expression.

"What are you talking about?" Shinji asked, hoping that she was kidding around. "Your mother and I weren't fighting or anything like that."

"Liar," Yui declared, clutching her teddy closely. "I heard you and kaa-san in my room." Shinji faltered as he realized the magnitude of the argument he just had. Unfortunately he had been extremely angry, and he wasn't fully aware of how loud he had been. Worry now engulfed him as he stared at his daughter, noticing the tears that began to well up in her eyes.

"Don't go," Yui pleaded. "I don't want tou-san and kaa-san to leave each other."

"Yui," Shinji began.

"No!" Yui shrieked. "I don't want to leave! I want you to stay! I want kaa-san to stay!"

Shinji opened his mouth to speak again when everything suddenly went dark. He nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard his daughter shriek in absolute fright, jumping into his arms, the force knocking him back onto his haunches.

"Kaa-san! Tou-san!" Yui cried out, absolutely frightened. Shinji inwardly cursed, remembering how much she feared the dark. Looking out the window, he nearly gagged, as outside he witnessed a violent thunderstorm raging just outside his window. He feared the worst for his daughter, realising how two of her fears were now present: darkness and violent thunderstorms. He held onto his daughter tightly as she lightly whimpered, muffled by his chest.

"Yui-chan, it's alright, it's alright," he quietly cooed, lightly stroking the back of her head. "It's alright, I'm here."

"I want kaa-san!" Yui shrieked, moments after a crackling thunder boomed through the night sky. "I want kaa-san here!"


"Kaa-san!" Yui cried out happily, looking back to see her mother rush in, flashlight in hand.

"Yui, are you alright?" Rei immediately inquired, kneeling down before Yui as she scooped her into her arms, and right out of Shinji, without giving it a second thought, the affect of his words lingering still within her.

"I'm so scared," Yui whimpered, the rage of the storm continuing to blow through the night.

"It'll be fine now," Rei assured, placing a kiss atop Yui's head. "I'll take care of you." Yui smiled somewhat as she turned her head somewhat, one hand letting go of her teddy bear to hold it out towards Shinji. He, however, looked at his daughter strangely, not exactly understanding what she wanted.

"Hold me too?" she weakly asked, absolutely frightened by the fact she could hardly see anything, especially her father.

"I," Shinji weakly began the idea of being that close to Rei still uncomfortable territory in his mind, "I don't think so."

"Onegai," she whimpered. "Don't leave me and kaa-san." Shinji sighed reluctantly, as he scooted closer towards the two of them, and held onto her hand. Yui frowned somewhat, but accepted it. However, she silently promised herself in her way that she would get them back together.

"Tou-san, why you no protect kaa-san and Yui?" she asked a bit louder, feeling more comfortable that she had contact with bother her parents. Yui watched Shinji paused somewhat as he tried to formulate an answer.

His mind struggled to find an answer that would appease Yui, while at the same time not aggravate Rei. It was bad enough she had heard them argue, and the last thing she needed was to witness the two of them actually arguing first hand, an experience he and his wife did not wish to happen. He continued to search through mind, hoping to find the answer. He knew his daughter was getting impatient and to some extent his wife, but he wanted something that would somewhat explain the situation they were in, or at the very least calm Yui down enough. Soon enough the answer came, one he hoped would not be what many would say to be the salt in the wound.

"You're mother always could protect herself," Shinji weakly offered, lightly thumbing his daughter's hand. "She always could." His voice dropped to a near whisper as he said, "Better that I could." Unbeknownst to him though, his words reached the ears of his daughter and wife. Yui merely tilted her head, unable to comprehend his meaning, so she turned to look at her mother. Rei had a forlorn expression upon hearing that, saddened by what he had stated.

What remaining anger faded away as she somewhat comprehended the possible meaning of his words. It was true, she was always more than capable of handling herself, whether it be gathering groceries for herself, to taking care of any illnesses and injuries that befell her. Shinji, although throughout the angel wars had done things for his own household, never truly took care of anything. He had always clung to others, having never stood on his own to feet, and even then clung for a short amount of time before find someone else to cling to. She knew of his shame for his old self, and if his words meant what she believed to be, she knew he saw himself as a failure again, as it was she who was protecting their Yui at the moment.

However, he had done so much more than he realised. He was the one who brought in the real money needed to survive. He maintained the house, he cooked the food, and it was he who provided the means for Yui and herself to do anything. Most important of all, it was he who showed her the true meaning of living, its wondrous pleasures which including something she slowly began to come to grips with again: a family. Rei let out a half sob as she realised what was happening: the family was falling apart.

"Besides," said Shinji as he slowly let go of Yui's hand and got up. "Your mother would do a better job protecting you, than I ever could." Yui and Rei felt their blood run cold as Shinji pulled out one of the hidden flashlights from the cupboards and turned to leave.

"I'll be upstairs if you need me," he weakly stated, as he left the kitchen. But before he could so take three paces from the doorway, he nearly stumbled, looking down to see a tearful Yui clutching on his leg.

"Tou-san, don't go," she wailed. "I don't tou-san or kaa-san to go! Stay!" Shinji smiled sadly as he gently removed his leg from Yui's grasp.

"Gomen ne," he weakly apologised as he started to walk, only to find a pair of slender arms entrapped him as a weight pressed up against his back.

"Rei?" he whispered, surprised she would suddenly grab him, considering how she had just a little while prior had told him she wanted a divorce.

"Don't go," Rei whimpered into his back. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry." Shinji smiled sadly as he placed his left hand atop hers, lightly caressing her ring.

"Don't be," Shinji regretfully whispered. "You were right. I could've resisted, but I didn't. I'm the one who should be saying sorry." Gently prying both girls off him, he continued his way towards the stairs.

"Don't run away," Yui cried out, stopping Shinji dead in his tracks. "You promised you never leave! You promised you never run! You promised kaa-san!!"

"Have you forgotten your vow to me?" Rei weakly asked, struggling to hold back the tears that threatened to fall.

Shinji stood there dumbfounded as the words of his wife and daughter slowly sank in. The all-too-familiar chant of, "I mustn't run away," echoed within his mind, a phrase he had long thought had left him. His mind slowly trailed back into the recesses of memory as the words of his vows echoed within his head.

"Through this ring, I Ikari Shinji, swear to you, Ayanami Rei, through everything, be it sickness, war, death, I will never leave your side or our family's. I will stand by you forever."

Those words continued to each through his mind as he slowly turned to see the pained faces of his family. His mind reeled as he slowly began to understand the impact of his actions. His mind sparked as another memory surfaced, this time a quote a friend of his once said.

"The moment you become a leader, you lose the right to think for yourself. The needs of your followers come before you. The same can be said when you become the head of the household. The needs of your wife and children come first."

"The needs of my wife and children," Shinji whispered to himself.

"Tou-san, please don't go," Yui whimpered, clutching her teddy bear tightly. "I don't want to be alone."

Her words served to be the final push as Shinji fell to his knees, pulling his daughter into a tight embrace, as he silently let his tears flow. Looking up to Rei, his expression held remorse as it asked for forgiveness, which was readily given as Rei too fell to her knees and embraced her husband. Yui sobbed into her father's chest as she knew things would be alright.

They stayed like that for some time before Shinji ended the silence, "Yui, do you want to help me cook dinner, or help your mother bring up the generator?"

"Can't we do both?" Yui asked, wanting to be near her parents at the same time. Rei simply grinned as she picked up her daughter in arm, taking Shinji's hand on the other as she took the two of them downstairs, silently asking him to humour Yui, considering how frightened she was. Shinji simply smiled as the two of them quickly pulled out a couple generators, hooking one up in the master bedroom, the other in the kitchen, where Shinji quickly whipped up a small dinner for the family, with a bit of Rei's help while Yui was content to watch her parents cook.

Dinner passed by quickly and silently, but it wasn't one of those uncomfortable silences that had been occurring over the past week or so. It was just one of those nights where words weren't needed. All three were comfortable with silence, just happy to be in each others presence. All felt that much more light-hearted, the weight of the incident no longer hanging over them, allowing them to enjoy the meal with little worry or pressures of sorts. Yui smiled happily as they ate. It was like the events of the past week never affected them, and the argument had never occurred. This was the life she liked, and hoped to continue for years to come.

"Shinji-kun, perhaps it would be wise if we bathed, and immediately retired for the night," Rei quietly suggested as the three of them quietly hand washed the dishes.

"Why?!" Yui whined, huffing somewhat. "I want to play with tou and kaa-san!"

"You're kaa-san is right," said Shinji, as he took a soapy hand and lightly prodded her daughter's forehead. "Besides, we could always play while we bath, right?" Shinji could only smile as Yui's eyes lit up brightly as she shouted in joy, running in random directions across the kitchen floor.

"Yui sit down before you injure yourself," Rei calmly commanded, the smile betraying the serious intent of her command. Yui simply complied as she sat down in front of the tub of dirty dishes, a wide grin plastered across her childish features as her parents continued to clean the dishes.

Having finished the dishes, the three of the quietly made their way upstairs to the master bathroom, where Shinji quietly prepared a warm bath with what leftover hot water that was in the tank, while Rei gathered everyone's clothes with Yui's help.

The bath had been a joyful affair, with the three of them sitting in the path, helping each other bath while occasionally splashing each other. Yui was utterly delighted as she and her parents spent the time bonding with one another, yet utterly oblivious to the moments her parents glanced at one another, silently gazing at one another, longing to have a special occasion to themselves. Nonetheless, they continued on, happy to bask in the joy that was their daughter as she joyfully sloshed in the water.

"Yui-chan, c'mon, it's time to go to bed," said Shinji as he tried to coax his daughter out of the tub, holding out a towel for her, his secured around his waist. Yui huffed as she crossed her arms and turned around, only to see her mother make her way out, as she secured her own above her breasts.

"Do I have to?" Yui whined.

"Yes you have to," Rei calmly cooed as she gently lifted her daughter out of the tub and placed her down before quickly taking the towel from Shinji's hand and started to dry her off.

"But I was having fun," she pouted, trying to give her a puppy look. Rei simply smiled as she kissed her forehead.

"Nice try," she said as she started to help Yui get dressed for bed.

Shinji on the other hand simply leaned against the sink, dressed in shorts and t-shirt, as he watched the mother-daughter interaction, while wondering what it would be like if they had a son. He couldn't help but wonder who she got her personality from. Neither of them was ever that resistant, but perhaps she was the representation of what they could've been, had they been given a chance to have a childhood. Of that, he silently swore he would give to each and every last one of his children, and any generations to come, so long as he lived.

Having finally gotten Yui into her pyjamas, Rei sighed in slight exasperation as she quietly dressed in a pair of panties, and pyjama top, leaving the top two open for some ventilation. Rei watched with interest as Shinji cased Yui out of the bathroom and onto the bed as he mercilessly tickled their daughter, her laughter filling the room with joy. Rei sighed contently happy to just lean against the doorway and watch, as she thought about her husband. He had long changed from the closed off boy she had met all those years ago, and had she from that near-emotionless, socially inept girl she was. Lying on the bed was the fruits of hers and Shinji's labour. Years of fighting and struggling amounted to the life she shared with her family, something she would cherish for the rest of her life.

"Let us retire for the night," Rei calmly stated, noting how Yui's laughter seemed less energetic, her expression showing signs of fatigue. Shinji simply nodded as the three of them climbed into the bed, Yui sandwiched comfortably between the two of them.

Her parents simply watched her as she silently made herself comfortable, a smile plastered on her face, closing her eyes as she went to sleep. Yui uttered a light goodnight as she drifted off to sleep, the night's events finally taking its toll on her weary mind and body. Her light breathing indicated her slumber, as her parents glanced at each other a moment before they shared a light kiss, as Yui slept soundly, happy her family was still together.