Several days after the mall trip, Shinji's shoulders and arms still ached from the sheer amount of items purchased by Asuka that he unfortunately had to lug back to Misato's apartment, on his own naturally. And pack away, and the clean up after.

Exiting the school gates with a finger tip idling rubbing against his right temple from the small throbbing headache pulsating against his skull his eyes calmly scanned for lost any signs of telltale blue haired girl who seemed extra morose lately with her usual gaze trained outward of the classroom window. Perhaps he was imagining it, or deluding himself that he would possibly know her so well to pick up something so minuscule in her normally bare mannerisms.

So lost in his own inner ramblings he jumped suddenly as a warm hand slid around his wrist, body jerking and twisting around out of reflex before swallowing once at the female now striding next to him so easily.

"Hi, baka." Asuka greeted, tucking a lock of her fiery hair behind her ear and failing to relinquish her grip on his wrist. "Watcha' doing?"

Shinji blinked, taken aback by her absolutely nonabrasive and friendly tone. "Nothing..." He replied lamely, attempting to nonchalantly turn his wrist out of her grasp. The pressure of her fingers however only tightened.

"Okay." She smiled at him lightly, her thumb beginning to lightly trace small circles on his inner arm. She lightly tossed her head back and forth, discreetly noting that they were now well away from the student mass still leaving the school building. "So I was talking to Hikari earlier and I got the scoop on a upcoming dance the class is throwing to alleviate some of the stress of you know, the Angels and junk... Of course you had no idea but I was wondering now that I told you if you'd have any idea of who you might want to take on such an event."

This all seemed to come out in a rush, her face seeming slightly flushed to Shinji's eyes as he stopped, bringing Asuka up short with her iron grip still pressing into his flesh.

"Dance?" He breathed. "I don't really... You know I hate those kind of things." He mumbled quietly, "I'll probably not go at all. And I'm not sure we should be talking about the Angels and everything in public." He finished with a non-committal shrug of his shoulders. "I'm still sore from all the shopping you had me carry back the other day and I was looking for Rei-"

"What the hell are you looking for the Doll for?" Asuka suddenly snapped, cutting off his statement as she whirled around and finally released him, bringing the hand up to point a finger directly into his face. "What does it matter if I am talking about work? It's not like anybody else is around to hear us stupid." She charged on, reaching up with her other and delivering a quick box to his ears that left him cringing.

"A man is suppose to help a lady carry her things you big dork, secondly nobody would ever ask that thing anywhere, let alone a dance so she's lucky she got to join us on our trip to the mall." Asuka was breathing heavily now, her eyes glittering hotly as her face flushed again, heat rising from her neck up to her hairline.

Taking a deep breath her demeanor changed once again as she dropped her hand from in front of him and grabbed his wrist, tugging him back along the sidewalk. "We shouldn't even waste our breath talking about her anyway." She quipped lightly, offering him a smile.

"Asuka, she just seemed down lately... More than usual and I wanted to make sure everything was all right with her..." Shinji offered quietly, lifting his free hand to rub his ear as it smarted from her slap.

"Ugh, what did I just say? Do you even listen to anything I talk about?" Asuka rolled her eyes over at him, turning a block and yanking him along as the view of their apartment building came into sight, outlined back against the red rimmed sky, clouds drifting to and fro in the dying sunlight.

Debating on if he should say anything else and deciding against it he quietly followed in her wake until they reached the apartment, popping his shoes off before stepping over the threshold and onto the tiled floor. A note was tacked against the side of the wall as he entered and he quickly tugged it down.

Scribbled hastily and quite messily Shinji had a take a moment before he could properly read Misato's obvious writing.

Going to be at work late, don't wait up. M.

"Misato is going to be at work late tonight, Asuka," Shinji hollered from the hall at Asuka retreating back while his head throbbed painfully again at the sliding door slamming closed. Sighing to himself and debating on if he should change before grabbing a bite to eat and deciding against it he quickly made his way into the kitchen, running a palm over the counter top as he headed to the fridge to grab sandwich ingredients.

Laying out two slices of bread and grabbing a knife from a strainer he looked up over the top of the bar to see Asuka coming out of the room, her school bag still in her hand as she sat down on the couch, her school clothes replaced with tight, form fitting jean shorts and a loose yellow top.

Without turning around and looking at him she called over her shoulder, "Don't forget to make me something to eat also." She muttered absently grabbing the remote to flick on the television set as the news popped on the screen.

"Sure thing." He replied, having already been in the process of grabbing two extra slices of bread from the box on the counter top. After both preparing and finishing his own sandwich he placed Asuka's on a small plate, moving out of the kitchen and rounding on the couch in the living room to offer to her while she snatched it quickly from his hands without a word.

"Guess I'll go shower then..." He thought to himself, moving around the back of the couch and heading toward the bathroom. However he came up short just outside the door as he heard his name.

"Shinji!"

He turned obediently and his eyes widened slightly in surprise to see Asuka standing just at the opening of the hallway schoolbag in hand, his gaze flicked over her face a moment noting the stray bread crumbs stick to her upper lip and a small smear of mustard on her cheek.

"Yeah? I was just gonna shower and then get to cleaning..." He began, before he received a face full of leather and plastic, knocking him balance and ungracefully ending up on his rear on the hallway floor.

"That's for not offering to carry my bag back home! Baka, and you are going to the class dance because it's required of every student." She sniffed, turning on heel and throwing a stray flick of her fingers over her shoulders at him.

"Also don't even think about asking me to go with you, I have standards you know."


A/N - Long time no see! First off thank you everyone who has been sending me messages regarding how much they like my story and offering tips and ideas. It really, really helps. :) In fact, I'd like to hear more from all of you out there reading this, so please drop me a PM and let me know what you like, what you don't, what you'd prefer seeing! All grammatical errors and formatting are my own and my computers fault as I have no Beta. Lastly I know this chapter is short as are my others given the downright awfully long wait you've guys have had to endure and I am sincerely sorry for that.