When Shinji first heard the gentle sobbing coming from the broom closet next to the pilot's locker room he froze up. Why was someone in there, he wondered.

When he opened the door, he was in for the shock of his life.

"Asuka?!"

Asuka Langley Soryu was crumpled in one corner of the broom closet next to a kicked over bucket and mop. Her mascara streamed down her face.

Asuka was crying.

Shinji's fragile little mind shattered.

"Go away!" she demanded.

"Asuka — what happened?"

"Nothing, baka Shinji!"

"Please! You can tell me!"

"Shinji, I... the doctors ran some tests. I... h-h-have cancer," she whispered, then hid her face in her skirt and sobbed. "Cancer of the prostate!"

Shinji's eyes went wide. "Asuka...." He got down on the ground and ran a comforting hand down her back, helping her work out her hurt.

Several minutes later the Second Child looked up, his face red and screwed up from her crying. "I don't know what I'm going to do, Shinji! I never thought prostate cancer could happen to me! I thought it only happened to all those other, people!"

"The less beautiful ones?"

"Are there any other kind?"

"Oh, Asuka!" He hugged her. Asuka resisted at first, but the tender care of Shinji quickly and improbably melted her cold, dead heart. "My uncle had prostate cancer. I feel your pain."

And he did feel her pain.

And by pain, I mean swell of her sweet, sweet emotional trauma.

"K-kiss me, Shinji!"

"W-w-w-w-w-w-w—" he slapped himself, "—what?"

Asuka did it for him, because she is a modern, twenty-first century kind of girl.

"Mmmmmmmm-mmm! Shinji-kun! Oh, Shinji-kun!" She drew Shinji over onto to the floor with her. With a throaty voice she whispered into his ear, "Mein Affe Butter muss, die alle über Ihre Waffel, Schlampe."

The Third Child groaned into the crook of Asuka's bare neck.

She went on, her breath hot in his ear, "Pink Blumen gut unter Wasser auf einer Teetasse Nachmittag. Enten legen in den Schlamm mit reinem Gänse zu schaffen goldene Eier, Shinji-kun."

"I... I love you too, Asuka."

Despite the obvious build up, this admission shocked Asuka. "You... you do?"

"Yes," he said. "Even though every life experience has taught me to fear and distrust others and keep them at a distance in order to avoid emotional pain, I love you, Asuka. I can totally put aside the fact you've only ever shown contempt for me. I can also ignore the fact that, as a native of Japan, I would probably harbor some xenophophic tendencies towards gaijin, especially ones that act so completely against what my social norms tell me a girl should act like. I can do all those things because, of the three girls I could possibly hook up with, you're not interested in my friend Touji or related to me through some Freudian plot device." He paused. "Oh, and the whole prostate cancer thing. Hawt."

"Oh Shinji! You should act out of character more often!"

"Baby," he said, grabbing a handful of her ass, "you ain't seen nothing yet."

"I'm hurt, Shin-kun! Comfort me with your improbably large fourteen year-old schlong!"

And he did.

Twice.


Commander Gendo Ikari, face hidden in gloomy lighting and framed by a cross-shaped shadow, stared across his desk at his family practitioner. The elderly doctor stood in the middle of Gendo's vast, barren office. This was a good thing, because if wasn't standing there then he would be standing someplace else and Gendo wouldn't be able to stare him down.

"Commander Ikari," the doctor began, "there was a lab mix-up. Your test results were mislabeled under another patients name." He smiled sickly. "Sorry."

Gendo glared at the doctor. "You mean to tell me I've spent the last few hours thinking I'm going to die of cancer and all you can say is that you're sorry?"

"Commander Ikari," said the doctor, voice firm and professional, "I am sorry, but I can say with absolute certainty that you are not dying of cervical cancer."