Disclaimer: Neon Genesis Evangelion and all of the characters and concepts in it are the sole property of Studio Gainax animation. I claim no rights to this story, and will remove it from the web should Gainax or any of its subsidiaries request it. Further, this story has been deemed R rated by myself and my pre-readers due to harsh language, violence, sexual content, and drug use. If any of this content offends you, please do not read. Thank you.
What do you need?
Do you need friendship?
Someone to hold your hand?
Do you need love?
Someone to keep you in their heart?
Do you need me?
Like I need you?
What do you need?
It's a familiar dream… one that always shakes her. Something wet, pattering gently onto her face…. the wind, howling all around her… her eyes open painfully as she is set down on (in?) something soft. "Is… that you… dad?" she whispers, struggling to focus her eyes.
The only reply is the whoosh of a powered door as it closes, leaving her in darkness. Alone, the girl weeps. "Daddy?" she sobs, an image of his bloodied face lingering in her mind, "DADDY!!"
The escape pod (she knows now where she is) is buffeted by a massive explosion, throwing her against the cushioned interior and making the wound in her side throb angrily.
Frantic in the dark she still fears, the girl's fingers scrabble against the door, finally finding the release and pulling it. She stands, looking out over the icy water to where a pillar of fire reaches into the sky… a pillar whose base has eradicated the only family she had left….
Misato Katsuragi awoke quickly, breathing hard in the darkness of her room. She never screamed when she woke from this nightmare memory - it took too much out of her. All she could manage was a miserable moan.
She put her head in her hands, "God…" she whispered, scrubbing the tears from her eyes, "I need a drink…" she swung her legs out of the bed, looking down at her sweat-soaked shirt and panties with a frown.
She stripped out of the wet clothes with a grimace of distaste and pulled a clean shirt on. She briefly considered putting on a bra and panties, then shook her head, "After…" she muttered, making sure the shirt covered her lower half, "Shinji'll probably still be sleeping anyway…" she went towards the kitchen, only one thing on her mind.
Another bed, another nightmare…
It's all so big. The boy looks all around him, his eyes wide and fascinated as they take in everything. He does not understand why his mother is wearing the funny cat-ear things on her head and the shiny silver suit, or why father is frowning so much when he usually can't stop smiling around mother.
He does not understand anything they say – how could he? He knows nothing of A-10 neural connections… has no concept of what a sync-ratio is - or why it could be risky to have a high one. All he knows is that mommy is holding him, and whispering that something important is about to happen… something that will make the whole world better.
She sets him down, kissing his forehead and whispering, 'I love you.' She steps away, a small, sad smile on her face, and walks through a door marked simply, '01'
The boy runs over to a huge window and looks down, waving as his mother comes into view. She waves back and steps into the strange looking tube connected to the big robot.
Pressing his face to the glass, the boy smiles the last uninhibited smile of his life, watching in ignorant bliss… as his mother is ripped away from him forever…
Unlike his guardian, Shinji Ikari DID have the strength to cry after his dream. He put his face against his pillow to stifle the sobs, wishing deep down inside that he could cry aloud… and that someone would comfort him when he did.
After several minutes, he gathered himself and got out of bed, throwing on a clean nightshirt and underpants, then headed for the kitchen… thinking of the small bottle in cupboard, and the relief it promised…
Misato sat down at the table, trembling slightly as she pulled the tab on the can of beer. Her eyes slid closed as she upended the can, holding her breath as she gulped the amber liquid as fast as she could.
She held the can up long after it was empty - relishing every drop - and smiled, feeling almost human once more. She set the can down quietly, not wanting to wake her young charge. When she opened her eyes, she was surprised to see him standing in the doorway, his eyes fixed on the cupboard.
"Shinji!" she exclaimed, pulling at the bottom of her shirt to make sure she was covered, "Up early, aren't ya?" She forced a smile, waiting for that warm feeling in her stomach to spread.
"I… have a project due… at school…" he mumbled, scratching his forearm absently, "wanted to get a head start…" his eyes never strayed from the cupboard… and what it held.
Her eyes followed his, "Need something?" she asked quietly, making him jump. -What is up with him?- She wondered, catching the guilty flush on his cheeks.
"N-no…" he said, his mind working in a fever pitch, "just… thinking I'd make breakfast." As calmly as he could, he walked to the cupboard and opened it. Making sure his back blocked her line of sight, he quickly grabbed the small bottle from its hiding place and popped it open.
"Where's the wok?" he asked loudly, shaking out a pill and popping it quickly into his mouth. He dry-swallowed the capsule, grimacing slightly, and put the lid back on the prescription bottle. "Never mind," he said, pulling the large pan out and slipping the pills back into their hiding place, "found it…"
Misato blinked, confused by his odd behavior, then shrugged and went to the fridge for another beer as he began to cook for them.
Three days passed…
Shinji was again cooking, trying to ignore the shaking in his hands. –God…- he thought, -it shouldn't be this hard…- His eyes kept slipping to the cupboard.
Misato was sitting at the table, nursing her third beer… and feeling sorry for herself.
"It's a shame…" she said thoughtfully, polishing off the beer, "she had to be sedated when they found her, you know…"
Shinji barely acknowledged her with a grunt, not feeling up to the task of talking about Asuka just then. –She knew…- he thought suddenly, -she knew about all of this, I think…- oddly, he felt a brief stab of hate for the hospitalized redhead, -Why couldn't you help me?- he thought angrily, -you knew what I was doing… why couldn't you just help me??- He knew this thought was unfair, and that Asuka might have actually tried to help him, given time – he didn't believe she was as hard as she claimed to be… but she had been broken by the fifteenth angel's attack… and her failure with the sixteenth.
"Hand me another, wouldja?" Misato asked, breaking his train of thought.
"Cooking…" he replied simply, feeling his anger redirect towards his guardian. –Why does she get to escape when I'm stuck this way…- he thought, "get it yourself…"
She blinked, then shrugged, "Whatever.." she got up and headed over that way. –What is HIS problem??- she thought, frowning at his back as he set the spatula down.
Shinji's breathing was labored, and his eyes kept shooting towards the cupboard, -I'm gonna die…- he thought miserably. He looked at his guardian, his anger and frustration focusing on her.
"What IS your problem," she mumbled, opening the fridge.
"Yeah," he said savagely as she reached in, his anger and shame finally finding a focal point, "have another – that'll make everything better…"
She froze at the icy tone in his voice, "What?" she whispered, unable to believe what he'd said.
His eyes met hers, and she became aware of the light sheen of sweat that had broken out on his face as he went on, "Have another beer, Misato - have a whole six-pack if that makes it ok…" he turned away, muttering, "fucking lush…"
"How DARE you…" she growled, narrowing her eyes, "how dare you judge me! You don't know the stress I'm under – the never-ending pressure to keep you alive and safe."
"Yeah, so I can pilot for you!" he shot back, "If the Fifth Child was found today and could pilot Unit 01, you would throw me away like an empty beer can. Of course," he added wryly, "you have LOTS of experience with THAT, don't you?"
"Get out of my sight!" she snapped, "NOW!"
He shrugged, turning to leave. He paused just inside his room, "But then you won't have an excuse," he said cruelly, "only alcoholics drink alone…" he closed his door seconds before a full can of beer slammed into it…
In his room, Shinji put his head in his hands, shivering. "Please let her leave…" he begged. On one level, he felt awful for the things he'd said... but that level was deep inside, buried under the overwhelming need that was even now urging him to open the door and see if she had left - to see if he could get the relief he so desperately needed.
While he was aching for her to leave, Misato was sitting on the kitchen floor… an unopened can in her grasp. –I'm not that bad…- she thought, staring at the label, -I'm NOT!-
But the thought rang untrue to her.
Closing her eyes, she popped the tab on the can… and drank…
A week went by. Shinji and Misato avoided each other as much as possible, each growing more and more upset with the other as the silence deepened.
It was a Saturday morning when the mounting pressure could not be contained anymore…
"Shinji…" Misato called from the kitchen, sounding irritated, "where's my beer?" –Bad enough I had to go without last night,- she thought angrily, - and it's not like I could have any at work. Damnit! He said he'd buy more before I got up…-
"There isn't any." Shinji said flatly, coming into the room.
Misato slowly stood from where she had been kneeling in front of the fridge, still in her nightclothes (she'd had the same dream again… and was not in a forgiving mood). "What do you mean, there isn't any?" she whispered, narrowing her eyes dangerously, "You said you-"
"I lied," he said, folding his arms, "there's no beer in the house."
She sighed, "I should have known you would forget," she said, "you never get anything right." She flushed, "Sorry…" she said, "I just… I'm going out to get some…"
She started for her room, "Why?" he asked, bringing her up short, "You can wait until later, can't you?"
She turned back to him, irked, "I can…" she said, "but I don't want to. It's my day off, and I want-"
"To get plastered?" he offered.
She ground her teeth, trying to maintain her composure, "To relax…" she said tersely.
As she turned for her room once more he said softly, "You've got a problem, Misato… I want to help you."
She froze, "What?" she whispered.
He sighed, "I said you have a problem Misato," he said clearly, frowning deeply at her back, "I want to help you beat it… so I've taken your keys, thrown away all of your beer… and locked the door." He took a deep breath, "I've called in to NERV, and we both have the next five days off… all they ask is that we check in."
"I see…" she said, not turning around, "I guess you know what's best, with all of your years of wisdom…"
Before he could reply she left, heading to her room.
He sighed. He had hidden it well, but he had been really nervous. –That went better than I hoped…- he thought. He was starting to feel edgy again… it had been a while since his last pill, and he hadn't had time to take one yet that morning, as he wanted to get things ready to help Misato with her problem.
He walked over to the cupboard and opened it, rifling through it for a moment, first frowning… then outright panicking as the small bottle continued to elude him.
"Looking for these?" Misato's voice whispered behind him, making him freeze.
He turned slowly to face her, his heart racing. A small moan of despair escaped him as his eyes found the prescription bottle in her right hand.
"You look like shit," she observed, shaking the bottle.
"M-Misato…" he gasped, "I… need those… my leg…"
She smiled, opening the bottle and shaking a capsule into her left hand. "No," she said thoughtfully, "I talked to your doctor last week… he said to make sure that I disposed of all of these, since you didn't need them anymore…" her smile widened, "guess I missed this bottle."
Shinji moaned miserably as a soft pop filled the room. "Misato…" he whispered, his eyes focused helplessly on the shattered capsule between his guardian's fingers.
She shook out another pill, "Now what kind of protector would I be then?" she grinned maliciously, "Can't have you hooked on pills, can I?"
"Please…" he begged, flinching as another pop was heard, "please give them to me…" He knew he sounded desperate… he knew he sounded pathetic… he also knew that he did not care. The craving was practically a tangible thing now - clawing at his senses and making him forget everything that was important to him.
Everything but one, single, important vow.
"Give me the key," Misato said sweetly, shaking out another pill, "that's all I want… then you can have these." Pop… another pill was crushed to dust as she went on, her voice taking on a conspiratorial tone. "Been a while, hasn't it?" she whispered.
Shinji barely nodded, feeling a bead of sweat roll from the top of his shoulders to his buttocks, his eyes never leaving the bottle. –Three…- he thought desperately, -that's three so far…-
Pop… Misato made it four. "Bet you can feel it already," she said with a smile, "the shaking, I mean." Pop… another painkiller was annihilated. "You tried to quit last week, didn't you?" she tilted her head to the side, "That's why you were so fucking cranky. Guess you were too weak… but that's ok," she smiled, offering the bottle, "I understand…"
He reached out a trembling hand to take it from her, but she grabbed it, saying softly, "Just give me the key…"
His eyes went wide and met hers. "N-no…" he replied, shaking from the effort of that simple denial.
A look of pure rage flashed across the purple-haired woman's face, but she closed her eyes and took a deep breath… then smiled a small, crafty smile and stepped closer to him, forcing him to press himself back against the wall. "Shinji," she whispered, leaning closer, "I'm not wearing panties…"
Shinji gasped and tried to pull his hand back, but she held it tightly.
"I know you've thought about me…" she whispered, pressing his hand against her breast and smiling, "I've heard you say my name in your sleep… I know you want me…"
"M-Misato!" he stuttered, his eyes wide as she held his hand against the soft, warm flesh hidden under the thin, thin fabric.
She licked her lips and started edging closer to him, "I'm… very, very good, Shinji…" she breathed, coming closer and closer to his trembling mouth. "Just give me the key, let me have a few beers… and you can do anything you want to me…" she moved his hand slowly from her breast to the juncture between her thighs, her lips less than an inch from his, "anything…"
Shinji's muscles were weak from resisting… his mind on the brink of collapse as the nerves in his hand relayed the sensations of heat and moisture to his mind… and other parts of his body. He longed to close the minute gap she had left between their lips… to give her the key and go with her into her bedroom, her with her beer and him with his pill, and have his way with her in a frenzy of drug and alcohol induced pleasure.
"No…" he nearly sobbed, knowing that he would not be able to say it again in ten seconds.
She didn't give him the option. "You little shit!" she screamed, her face growing dark with anger as she yanked his hand away and grabbed his shirt collar, dropping the pills on the floor. "Give me that fucking key!"
"Misato…" he gasped, struggling to free himself as the shirt bit into his throat, constricting his breathing, "you're… hurting me…"
"Hurting you?" she screamed, "I'm HURTING YOU?!" she let him go and pulled back… then slapped him across the face, knocking him into the wall and onto the floor. She knelt in front of him and yanked him up so he was resting with his back against the wall… then wrapped her hands around his neck, grating, "I'll fucking KILL you if you don't give me that key… do you hear me?!"
He struggled for breath as her grip tightened, feeling a trickle of blood running from the corner of his mouth and seeing spots dance in his vision. He met her eyes, smiling as consciousness began to slip away from him, "Thank… you…" he mouthed, his hands slipping off of hers to fall to his sides.
Her brow cleared. "Oh God!" she sobbed, pulling her hands away as his body went slack, "Shinji?! SHINJI!?!" She pressed her head against his chest, holding her breath. "Thank God…" she moaned as she listened to his heart beating slowly, but strongly. She sat back, all of her energy suddenly gone. "What am I doing?" she whispered, rocking back and forth as tears began to course down her cheeks, "What have I become?" She watched his face, shame washing over her in waves… and fighting with her need.
-The key!- a dark corner of her mind whispered, -He MUST have it on him… just take it, silence this awful hunger inside, and then get him some help. I mean, he's OBVIOUSLY hooked, or he wouldn't be-- her thought process snapped off suddenly as she put her face in her hands. "OHHH…" she moaned, a shiver running through her, "He's right… I'm sick… and weak…"
Shinji moaned and stirred, his hands coming up to rub his throat. His eyes opened and he looked around. "I'm… not dead?" he whispered hoarsely.
The note of disappointment in his voice was more than Misato could take. She wrapped her arms around herself, not caring if it exposed her nether-regions to his eyes or not, and sobbed hysterically. She could smell alcohol… and knew it was coming from her. She was saturated with it – so much so that it was coming out of her pores. "Shinji…" she gasped, unable to look at him, "please give it to me… can't you see? Can't you see how much I need it?"
When he didn't reply right away, she forced her eyes up to seek his out… and found him staring in horror down at the floor. She followed his gaze and found the small bottle of pills – and its remaining contents – crushed to dust on the hard linoleum. She saw blood, and realized with dull shock that it was hers. Her right knee was a mess of cuts and scrapes, the pain deadened by a combination of the pills that had been pulverized and forced into her skin… and the still-overwhelming urge to find a drink – ANY drink.
"Shinji…" she said softly, "if you give me the key… I can go buy some more pills…" She flushed a bright red as he finally looked at her, but did not rescind her offer. She knew how she sounded… she knew what the Commander would say if he found out she had offered to get the Third Child – his SON – drugs in exchange for letting her go get alcohol. She knew all of this, but she could not stop – she needed it too badly.
To her surprise, a dull smile appeared on his face, "It's starting, isn't it…" he whispered, a strange mix of sadness and cruelty in his voice, "the shaking, I mean…"
Misato moaned in despair and buried her face in her hands. She didn't beg him to give her the key again… she didn't have to – she knew what his response would be. They sat in silence for several minutes, until the first of the real shakes hit Misato… and the first cramps as her body DEMANDED what had until recently been given so freely.
Shinji crawled shakily across the floor and put an arm around her upper chest, laying his head against her back. She put her hands on his arm and whimpered as the tremor intensified. "Shinji…" she moaned, "I don't know if I can take it…"
He opened his mouth to reply, but was seized by his own fit of trembling. With a wretched wail, he pulled away and dropped to the floor, his head leaning down towards the bloody mess that was the bottle's remains.
"NO!" Misato shouted, interposing her hand between his face and the drugs, "No, Shinji…" she whispered, her voice shaking, "don't… don't give up now… we… we can do this… together, I think we can do this…"
He moaned, his skin feeling alternately hot and cold. "Please…" he begged, "it hurts so bad." Like a dog, he licked her hand… shaking all over as he debased himself in the vain hope that she would relent and let him have the relief that he so desperately needed. –I can SMELL it…- he thought deliriously, -so… so close…-
Misato felt disgust wash over her as he moaned and pleaded like an animal… but the disgust was more for herself than for him, as she knew she was no better. Instead of scolding or hitting him, she pulled him up off of the floor and into her arms, holding him tight.
And together, they shook…
"Has Major Katsuragi checked in yet?" Kouzou Fuyutsuki inquired as he came onto the bridge.
"Yes," Maya Ibuki replied, looking up from her terminal, "five minutes ago."
"What a time to take sick leave," the man muttered.
"Ummm, I think she really is sick," Maya offered, "she sounded terrible."
"The last angel could attack any day," Fuyutsuki reminded her, "though as long as she's prepared for that, I suppose a little time off couldn't hurt."
"Yes sir," the brown-haired woman replied vaguely. She was still reeling from the shock of her superior, Ritsuko Akagi's act of treason and subsequent incarceration.
Whether or not the Operations Director was really sick was not high on her list of concerns.
"Call her back," the older man said on a whim, "tell her to take it easy and not worry about checking in for a few days." –Let the woman have some real time off,- he thought.
"Yes sir," Maya replied.
"I heard somewhere that the first twenty-four hours is the worst," Shinji whispered as Misato hung up the phone, "it's… not so bad…"
The purple-haired woman looked at him as he sat shivering on the couch. "We can do it," she said quietly, "we're going to have to unless you give up the key."
He grinned, "I can't do that," he said, shaking his head.
"So you've said," she replied with a sigh.
He uttered a short, bitter laugh, "No, I mean I really can't…"
"What?" she asked, confused.
After a moment of silence he looked up at her and quietly told her what he had done with the key.
"Oh that's just great…" she muttered, sitting down next to him.
"I didn't mean for it to be like this," he whispered, "I just… I thought if I could get you to say that you needed help, I could get it for you…" he smiled wanly, "then I would have been the hero…"
Suppressing an irrational desire to slap him, Misato slowly leaned forward and embraced him. "We're here now," she said as calmly as she could, "we have to get through it."
He nodded, feeling another shaking fit slowly building up (the human body is not forgiving of mistreatment), and asked quietly, "Can you… forgive me for this?"
She closed her eyes, holding him tight as the fit washed over him. "I'm going to need to," she replied, "I can't do it alone… and neither can you."
"I could have!" he snapped, trying to push her away, "If you had just fucking said you had a problem I wouldn't have had to do all this!"
She kept her eyes closed. –What happens to him when I lose it like this?- she thought, not letting him get away, -I might hurt him… he's not strong enough to hold me like this…-
"I'm sorry!" he sobbed, once again relaxing and throwing his arms around her, "I didn't mean it Misato! I'm so sorry…"
"Shh…" she whispered, "I know, honey…"
She took a deep breath, wondering if they would make it.
It was only by an odd twist of fate that it had gotten to this point. Shinji's leg had been injured a simple tumble down the stairs. The doctors had seen his record, including all the mishaps and injuries he had sustained as a pilot, and decided that a stronger painkiller would be needed, as he had built up a resistance to mere aspirin and ibuprofen.
She felt that his resulting addiction was her fault. She was his guardian – she should have accounted for all of the pills… but she had been too caught up in the angels, and Asuka's deterioration.
At least… that's what she told herself.
As the shakes subsided, she whispered, "Five days… right?" He nodded, wiping sweat off of his forehead, "Do we have enough food?"
"Yes," he replied, "I made sure we had everything we'd need…"
"You planned well…" she whispered, shaking slightly, "but for a party this long you forgot the beer…"
Shinji laughed weakly. "Sorry…"
And so it began. The longest five days either of them had ever known.
The world condensed down to the point were only the apartment mattered, as the side effects of giving up a harmful substance became more and more extreme for both of them.
If they could have done it alone, or why they were in that situation became meaningless questions as they became simultaneously closer and more reliant upon one another. Realizing that matters of guilt and blame paled in comparison with how much they now needed not the substances that had brought them to that point.
But instead needed each other.
"Why am I here?" Maya asked herself as she exited the elevator, "I don't know them any better than any of the others."
She sighed as she approached Misato's door.
"Major?" she said, knocking hesitantly, "Are you there?"
Getting no reply, she frowned.
"Her car was in its spot," she whispered to herself thoughtfully. She looked at the floor, and her eyes widened.
Lying on the floor was a set of house and car keys.
"Oh God," she moaned, visions of an intruder filling her mind, "I hope they're ok."
Quickly stooping, she grabbed the keys and unlocked the door. She threw the door open and hurried inside, taking a breath to call for the Major.
The shout died on her lips as she reached the living room.
Amid various food wrappers and haphazardly thrown clothing, books, and sofa cushions, sat Misato Katsuragi and Shinji Ikari. They were both asleep, sitting straight up in the middle of the floor… with their arms around one another and their heads resting on each other's shoulder. Maya put her hand up to her mouth to stifle the small gasp that had threatened to escape.
It wasn't a scandalized gasp, or one of shock or horror… but rather, the sound one makes when a deep insight hits them. She didn't know what exactly had happened here, nor did she know why Shinji had a long cut across his cheek – hastily and clumsily bandaged, but still evident. She couldn't have told you why Misato's right eye was blackened, or why her shirt was ripped almost to the point of exposing her.
What Maya could tell you in that moment of insight was this: she had never before seen two people clinging to each other the way they did, and she doubted if she would ever again witness a scene of such pure, raw, unabashed need as long as she lived…
Author's notes: Ok, I don't have a drug or drinking problem… but I've known people with both – and detoxification is not fun. Shaking… irrational behavior… violent outbursts… hallucinations… all can be side effects of the body ridding itself of an addictive substance. Fortunately, I've never had to watch the process. As a result, this story may be a bit… optimistic, as I don't think it is really that easy to kick any habit – especially one as long running as Misato's… but I did my best based on what people have told me and what I've read. Hopefully, I've at least come close to capturing the sadness and pain of addiction. I'm not going to sit here and preach to you that drugs and alcohol are bad – my opinion is ultimately not going to sway your way of thinking… all I want to do is illustrate how bad things can be, and remind people that they are not alone. Help is out there… all you have to do is ask for it. I know this may sound a bit corny and contrived… but it's true…
Once more, I must extend thanks to Ryoma for pre-reading for me. Thanks! ^_^
Feedback is always welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org