Disclaimer:I don't own Neon Genesis Evangelion or anything associated with it. Gainax created this world, I just play in it. I do however own this story so don't even think about thieving it.

Finally, after a lengthy absence, I have a new story to present. Hope I'm not too rusty.

Those of you who know me may need to sit down and take a breath. You were not seeing things in the summary where it said this was an Asuka story. (Looks directly at Himonky, Fresh C and, particularly at Eric Blair) This does not mean that I have come over to the dark side. I shall not fall victim to your cult of red-headed madness!

Actually, my thanks go to 'The Blair' for being a sounding board when the earliest hint of this idea came to me.

Seriously though, this is the first time I've written Asuka as the main character. This story originally started out as a one hour one shot that I planned to release around the time that I did Too Late, As I Lay Dying, and Double Life. I couldn't make that work, and the first half page of this version gave me no end of trouble. Typical of Asuka to be so difficult.

I hope it turned out alright and I hope you enjoy it.

Broken Devil

On the southern fringe of Tokyo 2, on the edge of a new annex to the city, there was a modest ten storey apartment block. Renovated at the beginning of the project nearly six years ago, once order had been restored after Third Impact, it had gone from temporary housing for construction workers to low rent, publicly available housing. The units were small, barely large enough for one occupant, consisting of a combination kitchen/dining room/living room, a tiny bathroom, and a single small bedroom. But, the building was clean and well maintained, as well as safe and secure.

It was three o'clock in the morning and on the eighth floor, in apartment 804, one of the occupants was restless, since sleep would not come to her no matter how much she wished for it. Dressed in only a pair of white socks, panties, and a worn man's dress shirt, Asuka Langley Sohryu sat on the end of the dresser by the open window. Silhouetted by the light of the full moon, she adjusted the patch that covered her left eye.

A new nerve regeneration procedure offered her a strong hope of being able to see out of that eye again some day, but even the soft light reflected by the moon was enough to make it ache and throb if she didn't keep it covered. However, the mild ache in her eye this night was only a very small part of what was keeping her awake.

Largely, it was the increasingly fragmented puzzle of who she had been, who she was, and where she was headed that kept sleep from claiming her. They were questions that she wasn't sure she had satisfactory answers to and her recent behaviour only served to make the situation worse, leaving her feeling like she was about to lose everything her heart held dear

She looked to the bed and its lone, peacefully sleeping occupant and smirked slightly. If someone had told her six years ago that she would be happily sharing her life, an apartment, and a bed with Shinji Ikari, and that she would be so completely in love with him, she probably would have pounded them into the dirt for suggesting something so utterly moronic. She would have told them that they were insane if they thought that she would ever let that little pervert lay his hands on the perfection that was her.

It would have greatly surprised them to know that when it came to Shinji, she had been the bigger pervert of the two by far. How many times had she found herself in her bed or in the shower, letting her hands wander and imagining that it was him exploring her body? How many nights had she dreamt of laying next to him and holding him and chasing away the loneliness they both felt?

Of course, when she would leave either of those sanctuaries she would try to deflect her true feelings for him by pitching into him for some imagined grievance that only served to drive him deeper into depression and farther away from her. Deep in her heart she had desperately wanted him to be close to her, but her defences kept pushing him and everyone else farther and farther away and she hadn't been able to stop it.

Now, she did have him close to her. She no longer had to imagine what it was like to have him explore her body and kiss her in places she could only dream about. She had let him into her heart and she never regretted it for a moment and she loved him more than she ever thought she possibly could.

But, she also felt like she had become an ever increasing burden to him, especially so in recent months. While he had learned from the things he saw and experienced during Third Impact and had begun the long journey to build a life that he was happy with, she seemed to be losing herself and trying to drag him down with her.

Gone was her supreme arrogance and overconfidence. Well, mostly at any rate. Much of it had been speared and shredded out in the Geo-Front along with her and her Eva. She had come from her lowest point as a catatonic basket case, and gone to her highest upon discovering that her mother was still with her as she fought her magnificent battle against the mass production Eva's. Then it all came crashing down around her when she ran out of power and the MP Eva's revived and descended upon her like a flight of ravenous vultures.

She still relived it in her sleep, waking up in the middle of the night screaming and crying and bathed in sweat, feeling like her eye was exploding and her guts were being torn out. And there would be her sweet baka Shinji, wrapping his arms around her and comforting her the best he could through the guilt he still felt to this day at not being there to help her during the battle.

He was no longer the exceedingly timid and frightened boy she had known then, though he was still a little shy around others. He was no longer afraid to touch her or hold her or express his feelings to her, and she was truly happy for that. Third Impact had changed him significantly, it had made him see his life and the world around him for what it truly was.

When she awoke on the beach with his hands wrapped around her throat and the insanity of all that he been through still gripping him, she could see all of the pain in his eyes as he tried to squeeze the life out of her. She couldn't blame him really, after all she had contributed greatly to his misery. Waking up in that desolate place beside one of his chief tormentors had been a little too much for him.

She was never one to say she was sorry, but that was exactly what she did when she gently touched her hand to his face, breaking the murderous trance he was in. It was the only way she had at that moment to express how truly sorry she was for the way she had abused him. He broke down and cried for a long time, so long in fact that she had wondered if he was ever going to stop. When he did, he seemed remarkably calm, almost alarmingly so, and set about helping her and finding them some shelter. For once, she didn't decline his kindness.

People returned from the LCL sea at a rapid rate, but it was a good eight months before any kind of order was restored on a national level. They spent most of that time scrounging for edible food and drinking water, while avoiding other scroungers who wanted what little they had managed to find.

She didn't say much for a long while and it had made him fear that she didn't want him around. Even so, he continued to look after her and tried to be her friend, just in case she needed or wanted one. He hadn't known where he stood with her and she hadn't been able to tell him. So much had happened and it was all spinning around in her head and her mind was having trouble comprehending it all.

To break the crippling silence that had been sitting between them, he took a chance and gradually opened up to her and told her about his life before they met, making her realize that they weren't that different. He also told her about everything that had happened after she fell into her unresponsive state after the Sixteenth Angel. He told her the truth about Rei and Misato's last words to him, and everything that he experienced during Instrumentality, right up until he awoke beside her on the beach.

She soon gained a better understanding of him and found herself greatly regretting the way she had treated him. While their pasts had similarities, they had both dealt with it in opposites ways. She had externalized her pain, using it to drive her and shun everyone around her. If no one could get close to her, they couldn't hurt her when they left her like they always seemed to do. If she had to make others suffer to keep herself whole, then so be it.

But Shinji had internalized his pain, taking upon himself the blame for everything that happened to him and around him, hating himself for being so useless and such a burden to the world. From the time his father abandoned him until Misato took him in, no one had cared about him and he knew no other way of being. No one had tried to show him another way or show him any kindness or compassion. Not even to just be his friend and expect nothing in return.

He wanted people to like him and he wanted to be useful, but he was unable to open himself up and take the risk of exposing himself to the world. He couldn't fight for his own happiness because he had convinced himself that he didn't deserve any.

She finally understood what had caused him to withdraw so deeply within himself and why he was so easily hurt. After hearing his story, it prompted her to be able start talking again and tell him about her life. He was the only person she had ever told the story to and in the end she was glad that she did because it allowed her to let him into her heart and she no longer felt quite so lonely.

She looked over at him again and smiled lightly. If they hadn't had each other to lean on, she knew that they never would have made it through the immediate post impact world, and she knew that she had leaned on him more than he had leaned on her. She hated being dependant on someone else but she knew that she couldn't have survived alone, especially not in the state she had been in.

He had tried so hard to be strong for her, hiding the pain and uncertainty he felt, while trying his best to look after her and keep her spirits up. He tried equally as hard to never let her see his down moments, where he would go off by himself for a little while to think and cry and put himself back together again when he was falling apart.

She finally confronted him about it one day and he broke down, unsure of himself and his ability to become someone better than he had been. To find out who the real Shinji Ikari was and to become someone worthy of her trust and respect. She told him that she did trust and respect him and she promised to help him find the real Shinji Ikari if he would help her find the real Asuka Langley Sohryu.

Without realizing it they become dependant on each other and they worried about each other when they weren't together. A far cry from the previous nature of their relationship to be sure, but not an unwelcome one. There was something to be said for the knowledge that there was someone in your life who cared about you enough to worry about you and who would be there for you when you needed them.

The nature of that dependency was proven when the UN sent investigators to Japan to find out exactly what happened at Instrumentality's 'ground zero'. Overzealous investigators refused to believe that two people as important as the pilots of the Evangelions could have such little knowledge of the larger picture of what went on at NERV.

They had been separated and questioned extensively, telling what little they knew over and over and over. They begged their interrogators to let them see each other, they both needed to know that the other was alright. The investigators told them that they could see each other again if they would just tell the truth. That's all it would take.

By the time the investigators realized that they were getting everything the two former pilots knew, it was too late. With the constant questioning and harassment and without the support and safety they felt with each other, they both broke down completely. The investigators found themselves with two very frightened and psychologically damaged teens on their hands, and a whole lot of very uncomfortable questions coming their way from UN headquarters.

Asuka smiled sadly at the memory of their reunion. They hadn't seen each other for nearly two weeks and they were so messed up. When they were finally allowed to see each other there was no thought or grace to their actions. It wasn't some melodramatic Hollywood scene where they rushed into each other's arms and professed their love. They literally collapsed into one another, crying and sobbing and sinking to the floor, each holding onto the other as if their very lives depended on it.

It was sometime after that long and tear filled embrace that she was finally able to fully accept for herself that she did indeed have very strong feelings for Shinji. Though, letting anyone else in on that little secret, including him, would take a while for her to accomplish. It scared her to death.

The next three years saw them make it through the rest of their schooling and re-enter a normal life, largely due to regular psychotherapy sessions. While Shinji had taken to it like a duck to water, she more or less just went through the motions. She didn't trust her doctor enough to open up, feeling that she was little more than a case study and a stepping stone for someone's career advancement plans.

Enough of the old Asuka remained that she was able to tough it out and bluff and bluster her way through the sessions. She figured her doctor knew what she was doing, but by the time the mandatory part of the treatment program was done, the 'pig nosed bitch' as she liked to call her, had had enough of trying to 'deal with the devil'.

Once they were finally allowed back out into the world on their own, Shinji got a job at a restaurant and entered college a few months later, training to become a chef. The Yamada's, the people Shinji worked for, treated him like the son they never had and the restaurant would probably be his someday. The money he made there just barely covered tuition and rent, and if it wasn't for their kindness and allowing him to bring leftovers home, there would have been many nights when they wouldn't have eaten.

She had gotten together with some lawyers from the UN who were trying to claim some of SEELE's assets as compensation for the people who had returned and were formerly employed at NERV's Tokyo 3 branch, as well as going after the government for their role in the attack on the Geo-Front. A couple of very Asuka like outbursts from her during some of the meetings about the lack of progress succeeded in getting her barred permanently from all future proceedings.

She couldn't just sit on her butt and let Shinji carry the weight all by himself, so she went looking for a job. Her German college education apparently meant little to most of the places she applied to. Snooty bastards, they all seemed to prefer applicants who had studied in Japan. Her continuing difficulties with kanji, though less obvious now thanks to Shinji's help, probably didn't help either. After a couple of months she decided that she would have to take whatever job she could get. Money was tight and she absolutely refused to let Shinji leave school to cut the cost of his tuition out of their severely strained budget.

She got a job at a retail clothing store not far from where they lived. It wasn't her ideal job by any means, but she did know a thing or two about fashion, and while it wasn't much, it would help pay the bills. At least it would have if she hadn't lost it a month later. Apparently the customer was always right, even when they were really quite wrong.

She worked for three clothing stores, a shoe store, a department store, four convenience stores, and half a dozen bars and restaurants in less than a year, never keeping any job for more than a couple of weeks before getting fired. Hell, she even took a job on a construction site which lasted exactly one hour. The foreman grabbed her ass and she broke a two by four over his head while cursing furiously in a mixture of German, Japanese, and English.

She was discovering that she simply couldn't deal with or relate to other people like she was able to with Shinji. Shinji understood her, he had been through the same things that she had. Damn it, they had fought a war against otherworldly creatures and in living weapons they couldn't begin to comprehend. At the age of fourteen no less. How the hell was she supposed to be able to relate to anyone who hadn't been through that horror themselves?

The old Asuka would have loved it when people recognized her on the street or at her job and wanted to hear glorious stories of battle and heroism. But the Asuka she was now hated it. None of it was glorious, hell, even Kensuke had finally gotten that through his thick, otaku head. Why couldn't they?

She didn't find it glorious to be blind in one eye, have half a dozen thin scars clustered in the middle of her abdomen, and another one running down the length of her right arm. She didn't find it glorious to see the scars in the palms of Shinji's hands. It wasn't glorious when they had nightmares and awoke screaming in the night, terrified and feeling the phantom pain of their injuries.

She didn't find it particularly glorious to go back to Tokyo 3 every month and pay their respects at the memorial near the spot where they emerged from the LCL sea. The place where they would say a prayer for the return of their big sister Misato and their fellow pilot Rei. It wasn't glorious at all. It hurt, and it hurt a hell of a lot.

And yes, despite what she had thought of her, she wanted Wondergirl back as well. Shinji had told her all about Rei and the story had made her sick to her stomach. How someone could create a life just to shape it and use it the way Shinji's father had…it was too much and she felt like absolute shit for treating her the way she had. It didn't matter who or what Rei was, or what kind of tragedy Asuka had suffered in her life, there was no reason to treat her the way she had.

She wanted to apologize to Rei and thank her for her sacrifice against the Sixteenth, where she had given up her life to preserve Shinji's. She wanted to thank Misato for keeping Shinji alive and for putting her in her Eva and giving her the chance to live and to hear her mother's voice again.

The trip to the memorial was hard on them, but they never failed to go. It always left them on their knees weeping on the shore, but every month they came back. Shinji had been closer to both of them than she had and it hurt him so much that Misato and Rei hadn't come back. They had given their lives for him at a time when he was sure his life was worthless and despite all of the therapy he had taken and all of the progress he had made, he still had trouble dealing with the loss of two people he held so dear.

She turned from Shinji and looked back out the window at the moon. Despite the sad memories, she found a smile coming to her face. It was about a year ago, right after one of those heart wrenching trips, that they had finally admitted in words what their hearts had known for years. They were in love with each other.

Having both lost people they truly loved, it was scary for them to admit it, but there was no denying it and they certainly couldn't ignore it. The need to love and be loved outweighed the pain of the past and they could not keep their hearts closed off anymore.

She nearly laughed out loud. If admitting their love had been hard and scary, it had nothing on their physical relationship. It wasn't the matter of sharing a bed, heck, they had been sleeping next to each other since Third Impact. And it wasn't entirely a matter of modesty either. Their tiny apartment made it hard to maintain any level of personal privacy, though they did try. Of course, they also spent a great deal of time peeking at each other as well.

Despite all of this, they had never had intimate contact with each other. She had always disliked being touched by anyone and he had always been afraid of contact. They had to gradually learn to trust each other's touch and allow themselves to feel what it could bring them.

Shinji's school and work schedule, and her sporadic working days, left them with precious little time to be intimate, but it was probably just as well because it meant they moved at a slower pace and didn't rush things. It allowed them to slowly become more and more comfortable with their own bodies as well as each others and it made those moments together seem a little more special.

Even though the opportunities were few and far between, they made the most of it, and the time they spent touching and tasting and teasing each other deepened their connection. When the night came that they took the next big step, they were so nervous. But as they had looked into each others eyes they knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was what they wanted and they felt they were ready.

And it turned out to be exactly nothing like the stories everyone hears their friends tell about it, or like you read about in those cheesy pulp novels.

She had to stifle another chuckle. Oh god they were so clumsy and uncoordinated. They really had no clue what they were doing. They were nothing close to skilled and experienced lovers, and they certainly didn't hit every previously unknown erogenous zone the body had with multi orgasmic precision like the characters in some bad romance story. Hell, they actually both panicked and nearly quit entirely when she cried out in pain and they noticed the trickle of blood escaping from her.

But when they had looked into each other's eyes, they saw nothing but love and trust and they saw how far they had come from where they had been. Neither let their gaze stray from the other and as the pain subsided they carried on and gently made love to one another.

They forgot about everything else in their lives and gave themselves over completely to the other without reservation or compromise. There was no pain, no anguish for the ills of their lives, there was just each other and the pleasure they were feeling as they tried to look into each other's soul. For the first time in their lives they felt completely free and unburdened by the world around them. Nothing else existed at that moment besides the two of them.

And right now she was afraid that she had thrown all of that and everything else away.

The real reason she couldn't sleep, and hadn't been able to for the last two nights, was due to the 'new' Asuka acting far too much like the 'old' Asuka. And it was scaring her to death.

She was getting too hostile when things didn't go right and she was closing herself off, slipping back into the way she had been for most of her life. She didn't want to go back to that but she couldn't seem to stop it from overtaking her.

She couldn't hold a job, she couldn't seem to get along with anyone other than Shinji and Hikari and maybe the other two stooges. She simply didn't seem to be able to function outside of her tiny little comfort zone and even that was becoming difficult.

She was angry and frustrated and hurt and confused and when the emotional dam burst, she let it out in a moment of blind, aggressive denial and stupidity in the only way she knew how. She attacked, with her mouth and her fists.

And she took it out on Shinji.

She turned back from the window and looked at him again, this time with tears streaming down her face. She could just see the results of her handiwork in the light of the moon as it caressed his face while he slept. The big, ugly bruise around his left eye, the size and shape which roughly matched that of her right fist.

Two days earlier, as he had dropped off his books and got ready to go to work, he told her that he had something he wanted to talk with her about. She could see the look of concern and worry on his face and she knew what he was going to say and she wasn't happy about it. She was in another of her bad moods, which had been all too frequent as of late.

He wanted to take her to see his therapist, Dr. Aramaki. He knew that her experiences with her own therapist hadn't been good and had done little to help her. He knew she had been trying, but everything had caught up to her. The stress and the frustration was beginning to make her physically sick and she was regressing. He was worried about her and he couldn't let her keep going the way she was.

He had been uncharacteristically firm in his request and when she began to protest he made it clear that he wasn't going to take no for an answer. He even went so far as to tell her that if she said no, he would throw her over his shoulder and carry her there if he had to.

If anyone else had seen her expression and body language at that moment, they would have thought that they had gone back in time about six years. It was the look and posture she had when he beat her synch scores. Maybe even as bad as the times when he was folding the laundry and she would walk by him right at the moment he happened to have a pair of her panties in his hands and she'd beat on him and accuse him of being a raging pervert.

She exploded into full 'red devil' mode. Who the hell was he to tell her what she was going to do? Especially when it involved being dragged off to a psychiatrist. He was such a wise little baka now, wasn't he? He was all cured now and able to tell her how insane she was. Of course, he got a shrink who didn't look at him like a name to use to pad their resume like hers had, because, after all, everyone loved the invincible baka Shinji! He was their hero, the saviour of mankind! They'd bend over backwards and kiss his ass for no reason at all!

And her, well she was just some crazy German bitch, a foreigner not worth the time of day. She was Shinji's weak little damsel in distress, the fragile little girl he had to keep saving. She was the devil, an evil demon in human skin. The skinny little baka was going to throw her over his shoulder and carry here there if he had to? What a joke! She would make schnitzel out of him. She didn't need his help or a shrink's help, or anyone else's help! She would stand on her own and make it on her own just like she always had!

But she knew that he was right and she knew that she needed help, but she couldn't stop the meltdown. She paced back and forth across their tiny apartment like a caged animal, tears streaming down her face while she screamed and cursed at him in three languages. Her head hurt so much, the pressure making it feel like her eyeballs would explode. The world felt like it was twisting sideways and she was shaking and pulling at her hair.

There was a loud, meaty smack and her world shattered into a thousand pieces.

Shinji had stepped towards her, wanting to take her in his arms and hold her until she calmed down. As soon as he was within range she had hit him as hard as she could. She didn't even realize what she had done until she heard the smack and saw him stumbling back as if in slow motion.

He fell back hard against the kitchen counter, the edge of the countertop painfully catching him just below the shoulder blades. The thud sounded like thunder to her. Dishes fell from the drying rack and hit the floor with a deafening crash. She couldn't breath, her heart felt like it had stopped and she couldn't move.

When he picked himself up off the floor she nearly died, or at least she wanted to, when she saw the look on his face. It was the face of the old Shinji, the Shinji she used to belittle and humiliate. The Shinji who felt he was useless. He looked betrayed.

And she had done this to him. She had thrown his love and his concern and his worry back at him with her acid tongue and a vicious right hook. She may as well have ripped his beating heart right out of his chest with her bare hands and held it up for him to see as she crushed it.

He didn't speak. He didn't look up. He lightly laid his hand over his already swelling left eye and winced, then swiped a trickle of blood from his nose. He stared at the crimson stain on his hand as if he was having trouble identifying what it was. Silently he picked up the small athletic bag that held his work clothes and he slowly walked out of the apartment.

He never heard the pathetic whimper of his name as it escaped her trembling lips.

By the time he got home that night, she had fallen asleep at the kitchen table as she waited for him, not awakening until after he had showered and already gone to bed. She didn't wake him. Between school and work he was burning the candle at both ends and needed the sleep badly. Besides, she had absolutely no idea how to apologize to him for what she had done. The words she had spent the day rehearsing in her head just seemed woefully inadequate.

She laid down next to him but didn't try to cuddle up to him like she usually did. She had blown that privilege and she wasn't even sure she deserved to be anywhere near him after what she had done. It didn't matter much because she couldn't sleep anyway and ended up spending most of the night pacing around the apartment, tearing herself up inside.

As dawn was breaking she took a shower, hoping that the hot water and the steam would clear the fog out of her head so she could try talking to Shinji when he got up. There was only one problem with that idea. When she got out of the shower, he had already left.

And so here she was, having another sleepless night and staring out the window, fearing that she had destroyed the love that they had only just realized. Her body shook as she tried unsuccessfully to stifle a sobbing cry and the tears flowed freely down her cheeks.

"Please Shinji," she pleaded, her gasping whisper barely audible. "Please talk to me. Let me apologise." She sucked in a shuddering breath. "I'm sorry. Please Shinji, I love you and I'm sorry…."

She buried her face in her hands and cried like her heart was breaking, all the while whispering that she was sorry and that she loved him.

It wasn't long before she felt a pair of hands gently settle on her shoulders. She let her hands drop into her lap where she began to nervously fiddle with the tail of her shirt. He stood before her, wearing just a pair of boxers and Misato's cross. His left eye was still slightly swollen and very bruised.

"I'm sorry Asuka," he said softly. "I shouldn't have walked out like that and I shouldn't have avoided you." He sighed heavily. "After all this time, after everything, I still ran away."

"I gave you good reason to," she sniffled.

"No Asuka, there is no good reason for how I reacted. I left you alone when that was the last thing you needed. I failed you."

She raised her trembling right hand and gently caressed his cheek, careful not to touch the hideous bruise she had left. "And I hurt you, with my hand and with my words. I promised you a long time ago that I would never hurt you again, but I did. I'm no different now that I used to be."

The look of despair on her face and the sound of it in her voice brought him to tears. "That's not true Asuka. You've changed a lot. You've learned that it's okay to let people get close to you, and you've learned that it's okay to cry, that it doesn't mean that you're weak. You still have your ferocious spirit and that's one of the things I love so much about you."

"And look where that spirit got me," she said, her voice shaky. "When things didn't go my way I started lashing out at everyone again. You've worked so hard to get better and you're working so hard at school and the restaurant and I'm doing nothing but falling apart and being a burden to you. And when you try to help me, I hurt you. I love you, yet I still hurt you."

"If me getting hurt is what it takes to help you, then I'll do it anytime," he said softly. "I'll do it because I love you and I don't want to lose you." He gently placed a hand on either side of her face and looked into her eye. "You have never been a burden Asuka, ever, and I know that I wouldn't have gotten this far without you. If we hadn't been able to lean on each other, neither of us would have come this far. We've both been damaged and broken for most of our lives. We've already been through more than most people ever face in their entire lifetime and we're still standing."

"But I'm still broken Shinji," she cried, her tears coming heavier again. "And I've only been getting worse. I don't know how much longer I can keep standing."

He gently wrapped his arms around her and held her close. She clung to him desperately and buried her face against his chest, sobbing heavily. She didn't cry very often, but when she did it was usually the best thing for her, breaking the enormous strain and tension she always seemed to put herself under.

But this, he thought, as he felt the hot trail of tears flowing down his chest, was the worst he had ever seen from her. He knew that she had been in pain and had felt like she was a burden, that's why he finally decided to put his foot down about her seeing Dr. Aramaki.

He knew that her doctor had been nothing but a ladder climbing egotist who never really had her best interests at heart. But, Asuka had been Asuka, and as soon as she had clued into that fact she began to play it out, antagonising the doctor the whole way while figuring out what it would take to pass her evaluation and be released from mandatory care.

They had talked about her resuming treatment before, but she would just smile at him and laugh, telling him that he was worrying himself over nothing and that she was fine and everything would work out. She was Asuka Langley Sohryu after all, and nothing was going to keep her down.

What she hadn't counted on though was that he was far more observant about things than he used to be and he knew her better than anyone else. He could see right through her and he knew she was in trouble.

But Asuka was not someone who could be easily convinced to do something that she didn't want to do. He had been at a loss to figure out a way to convince her to go until it started to affect her physically. She wasn't eating very much and wasn't as energetic as she usually was. Finally he decided it was best to just bite the bullet and risk an open confrontation.

While he hadn't discounted the possibility of having to face the Red Devil when he did so, he hadn't been prepared for the venom she spewed at him or the devastating right hook. Both had hurt and it took him a while to remember that most often her words were meant more to act as a shield to keep you at bay than as an offensive weapon.

"I'm afraid Shinji," she said when she could speak again. "I'm afraid that I'll always be like this and that I'll drive you away. I'm afraid that I'll lose you."

"You won't lose me Asuka," he assured her, holding her a little tighter. "I love you and I will never leave your side. You've beaten me up and yelled at me before and I never gave up on you. And that was before we ever admitted that we loved each other. I'm not that easy to get rid of."

Despite her tears, she couldn't help but choke out a small laugh. It was a shameful yet somehow strangely humorous truth, and she was glad that he hadn't given up on her.

"Baka," she chided hoarsely. "Even after everything I've done to you. Even back then you still wanted to be my friend."

"And then some," he admitted. "I think you had my heart from the moment you stepped out on the carrier's flight deck and flashed us."

She gave him a light thump in the back with her fist, a small grin coming to her face despite her tears. "I did not!" she protested. "It was the wind. Pervert."

"No, I'm pretty sure you were the pervert," he teased. "You flashed three strange boys."

"More like three stooges," she barked as she jerked her head up to look at him and found him looking at her with a big, goofy grin on his face. "Idiot."

"But I got you to smile again didn't I?" he asked as he brushed the tears from her cheeks.

She kissed him and leaned her forehead against his, nodding her agreement. "Why Shinji?" she asked him seriously. "Why do you put up with me and all of my crap?"

He shrugged. "Because I love you." It was as simple as that.

After a moment she let out a tired sigh. "I'll do it."

"What?" he asked.

"I'll do it," she repeated with a sniffle. "I'll go see Dr. Aramaki. We promised that we'd help each other find our real selves and the real me isn't this messed up thing that I've been. So I'll go and I'll do my damnedest to let him help me. I don't want to be broken anymore."

He kissed her. "You'll be alright Asuka, and we'll find the real you." He felt her starting to go slack in his embrace. "Think you can sleep now?"

She nodded. "I'm exhausted."

He slid his hands under her thighs and lifted her off the dresser and carried her to the bed, laying her down gently. He laid down next to her and took her in his arms, her head laying against his chest.

"You'll never let go of me will you Shinji?" she asked sleepily.

"Never Asuka," he answered as he kissed her forehead. "I promise."

I hope everyone liked this. Hopefully you'll leave a review and let me know.

And by all means, check out my other stories. You know how to find them.