After the Volcano

Disclaimer: I do not own Neon Genesis Evangelion. Wish I did, though.

Author's Notes: What if Gendo had secretly praised Shinji's rescuing Asuka? What were Asuka's thoughts during that time? Let's find out.

As he looks up at Evangelion Unit 1, Gendo Ikari, Commander of NERV, suddenly notices a presence beside him. Looking to his side, he sees Doctor Ritsuko Akagi, the scientist in charge of the Evangelion project.

"How bad is the damage to Unit 1, Doctor?"

"Surprisingly nonexistent, considering Shinji jumped into the volcano without a Type-D armor suit."

"I see. What did the MAGI have to say about it?"

"The MAGI calculated a 95 certainty that EVA 1 should have been destroyed from exposure to the intense heat. With only a 5 certainty it would have survived relatively intact."

"So, what you're saying, essentially, is that the Third Child made his own odds and to Hell with all else."

"That's right, Commander. Plus the fact that Shinji did a clean dive into the magma. A gamble that, in all likelihood, should have ensured his death. Yet, he survived it. He's a born survivor, sir."

"He is indeed. How long will it take for repairs to be completed on both EVAs?"

"As you can see, EVA-1's armor has no need to be repaired. All it needs is 24 hours in cryostasis to completely cool the Unit." The fake blond looks down at her notes before adding, "Unit 2, however, is going to be slightly longer."

"How long is 'slightly longer', Doctor?"

"I'd say 48 hours. Tops." Gendo's raised eyebrows ask her the unspoken question. "Yes, it was that bad, Commander. The left leg below the knee was destroyed and the Type-D armor suit was totally trashed. We'd have to make a new one for the next such mission."

Gendo can't help but lightly wince, saying under his breath, "Ouch."

"You said it, Commander." Looking up at EVA-1, she adds, "I'd have never expected your son to do something so reckless."

"Nor have I, Doctor. But, if there's one thing he got from his Mother, it's her humanity toward others. It's his greatest strength." Mentally, he adds, 'Along with his fatal weakness. He needs to learn to control such impulses if he's to fulfill our objectives and stay alive.'

Ritsuko nods at that as she looks up at Unit 1. "I agree, sir. However, in a way, I kinda admire the way he rose to the occasion. He's come a long way since he arrived here."

"As do I, Doctor Akagi. And he has come a long way." Smirking softly, he mentally adds, 'Gutsy move, son. Gutsy move. I'm sure your Mother would greatly agree with me on that front.'

At the hot spring, after chat with Misato Katsuragi, Asuka Langley Sohryu is mentally going over the events related to her narrow brush with doom.

"That's it. I'm done for."

Her eyes closed, Asuka prepared for her death. Suddenly, she felt a massive halting jerk and opened her eyes. The sight before her stunned her. EVA-1, without a Type-D suit, was dangling from the end of the severed cooling-lifting lines. Even more, he had saved her by grabbing onto the suit's end of the severed lines

"Shinji!" Smiling softly, she said, "Idiot. You showoff."

"You okay, Asuka?" His voice was music to her ears, but she won't be telling him that any time soon.

Nodding happily, the German replied, "I will be once we get out of here, Shinji."

"On it. Misato, I've got Asuka. Pull us up, please."

"You got it, Shinji. Bringing you two up now." As the operation began, Shinji's voice came over Asuka's comm. circuits.

"How're you feeling?"

"So far, so good. Shinji, how about you? How'd you survive the jump, you crazed baka?"

"It was a hunch, Asuka. That's all."

"A hunch? You risked getting yourself roasted to death on a hunch? Shinji Ikari, when we get out of here, I'm going to do one of two things. Slap you silly or give you a big hug and kiss. Maybe both, order to be determined yet." Feeling her face go beet red again, she thought, 'If I can't handle thinking about it, then he probably can't handle it.' Asuka, however, was pleased when Shinji did not budge his EVA's hand one bit after her remark.

When they got to the magma's surface, Asuka turned off her video transmitting equipment. Without thinking, she blew a kiss toward Shinji's face without him knowing about it.

"Asuka, is something wrong? I lost visual."

"No, Shinji. I just turned off my vid-trans. No need to worry. Yet."

Shinji's stammering had Asuka in stitches as both Evas were set down at the edge of the volcano. Once her entry plug was ejected and the LCL purged out, Asuka opened her plug's hatch and exited the entry plug. As she expelled the LCL from her lungs, she found herself wanting to thank him in some way. Looking over toward EVA-1, she saw the entry plug for it eject as well and the LCL purge before the hatch opened. Along with Misato walking over toward EVA-1

'Of course. Leave it to Misato to check her precious Third Child. Then again, after what that baka just pulled, who could blame her? It was a ballsy move. Stupid, but ballsy.' Smirking externally, she thought, 'Just a little more to go and he'll be perfect for any other girl!'

"Hey, Asuka! You awake or what?" Asuka can't help but shake her head at Misato's voice as it snaps her out of her revelry. "Thinking about Shinji and how you want to thank him? Maybe kiss him and even more?"

Her face glowing bright red, Asuka replies, "No Misato. I was just trying to think of a way to thank Shinji without him thinking hentai thoughts about me. Or anything else."

"Are you afraid he'll see you as going soft?"

"I don't want that baka thinking I've gone soft."

"Asuka, thanking someone doesn't mean going soft. It takes great strength for someone to show gratitude, true. But it's the weak ones that don't show gratitude." Misato could tell the German is confused and adds, "Or, you could give him the offensive role next time you fight an Angel."

"Hmm, offensive, huh?" Asuka taps her chin lightly as she ponders it. 'Well, it'd make us even, but it'd make Shinji a sitting duck. I'll think on it some more.' Sitting back, she says, "I wonder what was going through his mind anyway. It's like he thought he was 'Batman' saving a person he doesn't even know."

"Who knows what was going through that silly boy's head? When I saw him jump in there, I thought he had lost his marbles." Misato chortles lightly, adding, "Then again, he'd lost his marbles when he agreed to pilot EVA for the first time."

"Why did he, Misato?"

"Pilot Ayanami. She was badly hurt still and Shinji chose to pilot in her place."

"Wow. For a wimpy baka, he's got a big heart." Misato's nod has Asuka curious. "Why'd he jump in, Misato? I mean, I'm nasty to him. If anything, he should've let me die."

"It's like you said, Asuka. He's got a big heart. Now, if only we could boost his self-confidence without making him nuts." Misato's eyes suddenly take a sly look as she says, "I know! You can go on a date with him! Maybe even have sex with him!"

"Misato!" Asuka's bright red blush has the purple-haired Captain laughing raucously.

"Oh, come now! Don't tell me you never even pondered it! I see how you look at him at times. I also saw how you looked at him when you two first met. Right from the start, you were smitten with him!"

Asuka's blush can't help but deepen while the red-haired German girl shakes her head furiously. 'Nein, nein, nein! I can't be smitten with baka Shinji! I want Kaji, not that baka pervert!'

Wanting to distract herself, Asuka snippily says, "I bet he didn't have such a close call as I had."

"Actually, he did, Asuka." Misato's voice gets the young German's attention as she goes on. "It was around the time of the Fifth Angel. As soon as Shinji popped up in his EVA, the Fifth blasted him."

"Mein Gott!" Misato nods grimly at how Asuka had worded it.

"The LCL was boiling all around him and he was screaming. If he'd been in position five seconds more, he wouldn't even be alive." Misato's face goes bitter as she adds, "Not even the Commander could take time away to check on his only son. It's like he didn't even care if Shinji lived or died. At all."

'Shinji!' Suddenly, Asuka can feel moisture falling from her eyes. 'I'm not going to cry. I'm not going to cry. Shiesse! I am going to cry!' Letting out silent sobs as her body shakes, Asuka looks up and sees Misato's doing the same thing. "Misato?"

"Yeah, Asuka?"

"How scared were you that Shinji wouldn't make it?"

"I was very scared, Asuka. I mean, I'd gotten used to having Shinji as both my roommate and ward. Since his 'old man' didn't even want to take responsibility for him." Misato's comment has Asuka growling angrily.

"What planet are we on, Misato? I mean, Shinji may be spineless at times, but at least he's willing to care for other people. How can Commander Ikari even be related to Shinji if they're so different?"

"It's because of Shinji's Mother. Yui Ikari."

"At least I now know where Shinji got his heart from. His Mom must have been as kind as he is."

"I'm sure she was, Asuka. Back when Doctor Ikari died, I wasn't even working for NERV. Shinji was sent away until the Commander decided it was time for Shinji to come."

"Shinji was right. Only a jerk would be that uncaring. I mean, not wanting to spend time with his only child? It's like the way I was brought up. Only I was brought up to be an EVA pilot." With that said, Asuka goes back to the dividing wall and softly asks, "Shinji, are you still there?"

"I'm right here, Asuka. Both me and Pen-Pen. You need something?"

'Such a big heart.' Smiling softly, Asuka replies, "I'm just wondering how you're holding up. That volcano must have felt like the Fifth Angel."

"It did somewhat, but the Fifth Angel's beam was hotter in the plug. Compared to that, the volcano felt like a sauna while the beam felt like a vat of boiling oil." Shinji's description has Asuka wincing lightly before she finds herself curious.

"Shinji, when we were in the pool, why were you wearing your school clothes?"

On his side of the fence, Shinji Ikari's eyes can't help but go wide at Asuka's question. Getting his composure back, he replies, "I don't have any swim trunks to swim in. Even more, I can't even swim."

Her eyes going wide, Asuka shrieks, "Shinji! Are you kidding me?" Asuka's voice has a hint of concern in it. "I thought all Japanese students swam."

"I'm not kidding you, Asuka. I don't know how to swim."

"Such a boring boy." On her side of the wall, Asuka smirks lightly as she thinks, 'I will teach you to swim, Third Child. Count on that!' Next thing she knows, she hears Shinji snickering lightly. "What's so funny, Shinji?"

"Oh, just thinking about what Touji did after you slapped us when we first met on the 'Over the Rainbow'. I'm sorry he was so crude."

Asuka's face goes in a blush when she recalls what Touji Suzuhara had done. "It was unexpected and uncalled for."

"Yeah. Like I said, I'm sorry he was so crude."

"Well, compared to him, you're a much better person, Shinji. Along with very handsome." Those words alone have Asuka blushing furiously until she returns to Misato's side.

Back in the bowels of NERV, Gendo is meeting with the SEELE council.

"Ikari, was it a wise idea for the Third Child to escape punishment for such a reckless move? It would have jeopardized all that we've worked toward."

"Kiel, first off, that's my son you're talking about. Second of all, he made a judgment call. Had he stayed in position, we'd be short of both a pilot and Evangelion. As far as he's concerned, with the Angels as they come, we'll need all the pilots and EVAs we can muster."

Another SEELE member then says, "Utter nonsense. Unit 2 and it's pilot were and still are expendable. You know this as well as we do."

"Shinji doesn't think the same way you do, Number 2. If someone's in trouble, he'll do whatever it takes to protect those close to him. Even someone as obnoxious as the Second Child. As long as he lives, that's the way he'll be."

"Then he'll simply have to die when the time comes, Ikari."

"Just one minute there, Number 3." Gendo's voice is hard and cold as it goes on. "I may have been a prick that abandoned my son, my one real bond to Yui, but he's still my son. Any of you get any ideas to go after him, be warned. I will go against the scenario and turn your asses in. Is that understood?"

"Yes, but understand this, Ikari. You have to teach him that sacrifices are necessary in our battles with the Angels. It's the only way for him to truly grasp the situation."

"I understand, Kiel. But don't be too surprised if Unit 1's pilot doesn't buy your philosophy." As the meeting room fades into darkness, Gendo scowls and clenches his fist. 'How dare that prick threaten my boy!' Picking up his phone, he says, "Rei, I need you in my office."

Five minutes later, Rei Ayanami, the pilot of Unit 0, enters the office. "Commander Ikari."

"Rei, I need you to begin work on an override system for the EVAs. Especially Unit 1. Work in conjunction with Doctor Akagi. Can you do this, Rei?"

"Yes, Commander." Gendo nods in approval before Rei asks, "Is everything alright, Commander?"

"Aside from a threat on Shinji's life, not really."

"Do you want me to watch over Pilot Ikari?"

"If you can, that'd be a help, Rei. Of course, he's not to know about any of this. At all. Shinji's got more than enough on his hands as it is."

"Understood, Commander." For a slight instant, Gendo can swear he hears eager excitement in Ayanami's voice. "When shall I begin, Commander?"

"Upon your return to school. Along with Shinji and Pilot Sohryu's return from the hot spring."

"Understood." Rei then turns around and exits the office. Leaving a smirking Gendo behind. The smirk then fades away as his cold demeanor comes back.

"Now for what I hate the most. Being an uncaring asshole to my only son. Why did I do that shit when Yui vanished into Unit 1?" Opening a desk drawer, he brings out a framed picture. Of he and Yui holding Shinji as a baby.

"Yui, can you ever forgive me for what I did to our son? Major Katsuragi is doing a tremendous job in watching over him, but there's so much I've missed out on with him. All because the experiment caused you to vanish into Unit 1." Sighing sadly, he adds, "I miss you, my Yui. As does our Shinji. If you're in there still, watch over him as he fights. I can't bear to lose him as well."

Author's Notes: Well, what'd you think? My first Evangelion story and I finally got it finished. No thanks to the moron that stole the laptop I was originally writing it on. Idiot can't even get into it! Especially given the password I'd devised was so obscure, it's not even funny.