Disclaimer: I do not own Evangelion or any of its wonderfully psychologically fucked up characters.

Chapter 4

Philistines in Sporting Goods

"It's been four days since we last met! Why the hell hasn't he called yet!"

"Asuka, relax. It's not like you to worry over some guy not calling," Misato said languidly as she lounged on Asuka's sofa again.

Asuka paced frantically. "That's because it's never happened before!"

"Careful. You sound like you're dating him."

Asuka stopped mid-step to glare and opened her mouth when the phone rang.

Misato grinned at the great timing. "Aren't you going to answer it?"

"This isn't over yet." Asuka then stomped over to the phone. "Ikari! You better have a damn good explanation about why you're so late!"

To Asuka's surprise, a shy, feminine voice answered back. "U-um, Ms. Soryu, a Mr. Ikari is here to visit you."

"Oh! Er…sorry I thought you were….just send him up."

The receptionist eagerly hung up.

"Remind me to send her a signed CD of mine."

"Oh yes, that will make up for the psychological trauma."

"Shut up."

Kensuke shifted uncomfortably in his office chair. It was his lucky chair where he came up with some of the hottest dating sims to ever hit the market, but that didn't conceal the fact that it was old and tattered. Toji and Shinji often referred to it as "Kensuke's little Pain in the Ass".

"The real pain in the ass is them," Kensuke muttered.

"What was that?"

"Oh, uh nothing Makoto. Have you got any ideas for the next game?"

"None." Makoto leaned back in his chair and sighed. "I don't think we can consult the usual database of ideas. Most are stuff ripped out of anime. You know, childhood friends or maids or cat girls or childhood friends who happen to be cat girl maids. Gamers may like it, but we want to stand out. This is one of the hottest gaming companies out there."

Kensuke nodded sagely. "We need originality."

"Unfortunately originality requires life experience. While we may have had some girlfriends, I doubt any of us could actually write a decent love story without consulting another galge or anime."

"Yup," Kensuke concurred before taking a swig of his coffee.

"Man we need a new idea. If not, then our asses will be put on ice for a while. I mean we might end up having to take the butt monkey job of all butt monkey jobs."

"You don't mean," Kensuke gasped.

"Yes, we might have to program promotional tie-in games for shit like," Makoto shuddered before completing the sentence. "Twilight."

"Dammit Stephanie Meyer. Why did you have to write a book so ill suited for gaming!"

"Don't blame her. Blame the producers and merchandising people…greedy bastards," Makoto muttered.

"We need to get on this now. I like programming galges!" Kensuke loved his job, but gaming for movies was out of the question. Often he was handed a crappy script and rudimentary instructions…and that was it. It was as if the producers had no respect for the art of game programming or what games meant to people like him.

"How about a friend's life experiences?"


"Well, we've established that we have no life experience to draw on for this, so why not borrow someone else's?"

Kensuke nodded in thought. A smile spread on his face as a friend came to mind. "I like it."

The elevator door dinged as it came up to the penthouse. A frazzled, unshaven Shinji Ikari shuffled up to the door. He sniffed his armpit and realized he hadn't taken a shower yet, but he was too exhausted to bother caring. Raising his arm, he tiredly readied his fist to knock, but he was interrupted midway to the door.

"Where have you been?" Asuka demanded, hands on her hips.

Shinji looked up through bleary eyes. "Saving your rep. Now can I come in to debrief you, Ms. Soryu?"

"Fine. What have you been doing then to 'save my rep'?" Asuka asked, unconvinced.

"Can I get a cup of water or something? I haven't had much time to eat…or sleep."

"Aww. That's too bad. You want me to make it better?" Misato said in a teasingly coquettish manner.

Unfortunately for Misato, Shinji was in a sleep deprived state and therefore immune to any outside stimulus, sexual or otherwise. "That's nice of you to offer. Now about that water?"

Asuka stomped to the fridge in an apparent bad mood. Misato looked disappointed that any man was immune to her teasing. However, Shinji was oblivious to all of this in favor of staring at his feet in weary fascination. After chugging the entire water bottle reluctantly handed to him, he coughed.

"All right. Time to get down to business."

" 'bout time," Asuka grumbled.

Shinji slumped on the sofa. "Zzzzz…"

"Dammit! Wake up!" Asuka violently shook Shinji who remained non-responsive. "Misato, help me out!"

"Zzzzzz…" Misato snored like a sailor.

"Misato!" Asuka barked.

"Hm? Oh sorry. I've still got a hangover, so…" Misato apologized.

"Just help me wake him up."

"I don't know. He looks pretty pooped. Why don't you let him sleep for an hour or two? You've waited four days. You can wait a little longer."

Finally taking in Shinji's disheveled appearance and the bags under his eyes, she resigned herself to letting him sleep. "Grr. Fine. Where's Hikari?"

"She's out getting lunch for us…but she should've been back by now." Misato checked her watch.

Hikari's eye twitched from repressed frustration. The man in front of her had been talking up the cashier for at least 20 minutes. The two were too busy flirting to notice that a burgeoning line was developing behind them (reaching a point where the line now circled the entire restaurant twice).

"I don't have much time to do stuff with all my shifts and we don't make much so I can't go out and spend much."

"So do you like listening to music?" the man asked flirtatiously.

"Yeah," the cashier answered coyly.

"I actually work closely with a lot of musicians and celebrities. I'm one of the top agents in a highly respected public relations firm."

"Oh!" the girl tittered in fascination.

Hikari rolled her eyes. She knew publicists and they were usually sleazy assholes with the exception of Shinji and that was because he was actually smart and never wanted to join it in the first place.

"Do I know anybody you've worked for?" The girl fluttered her eyelashes.

"Oh, I don't know. Have you ever heard of Asuka Langley Soryu?"

Hikari blinked in surprise. She leaned to the side to get a better look at his face. It was Asuka's agent before Shinji. Hikari racked her brains for the name.

"Oh my god! You worked for Asuka?"


It then came to Hikari once she saw the smug smile at the corner of his mouth. Jiro Hasegawa. There were more than a few times that Hikari wanted to deck him (which Asuka later acted out).

"I wouldn't say just worked. We had a thing, but I had to move on, you know? She was getting clingy and needy. I want a girl who'll fight me a little."

Once again Hikari rolled her eyes. That was rich. She distinctly remembered the various attempts to flirt and hit on Asuka, but to no avail. At first Asuka was polite and thought that it was just harmless joking…until she found him wearing her panties. At that point, Asuka put her ass kicking skills to good use. Asuka didn't just fight him 'a little'. She fought him to a bloody pulp (without even getting so much as a scratch).

"Oh my god! I thought she was all bitchy and stuff!"

"Oh she is. Believe me." Jiro winced at all the phantom pains. "But she's also wild in bed. I mean she's a total nympho. Always wanting more of me. I couldn't take it! When I told her that, she went psycho on me! Total bitch you know. Maybe she was overcompensating. I got the vibe that she pitched for the other team."

Having had enough as Asuka's best friend, Hikari could not let this smear campaign to continue. So she walked up to the man and tapped him on the shoulder.

"What is it?" asked Jiro irritably. He then recognized Hikari's face, which was currently contorted into an expression of righteous female fury. "Oh, shi-"

Hikari leapt forward to give the most painful kneeing of the balls that has ever been given. This strike could make men speak falsetto for the rest of their natural life. This strike could feasibly end wars if threatened to any leader of a country. Jiro didn't stand a chance. He collapsed with all the grace of a falling sack of potatoes. She then looked at the line behind her as she realized that she just committed assault. However, all the people in the line (and indeed the entire restaurant) were conveniently looking away and most were actually giving her a thumbs-up for doing what should have been done ages ago.

"What did you just do!" screeched the cashier.

"What did I just do? I believe that I just stood here in line, patiently waiting for my turn to pick up my order. Isn't that right, everybody?" Hikari smiled gracefully as though nothing had happened.

Every man, woman, and child in that line swiftly nodded their assent.

"Yup, yup. No doubt about it"

"Such a nice young woman for waiting so long."

"I didn't see nothing, did you?"


Hikari just grinned and asked, "So I made a lunch order an hour ago?"

Seeing no chance for witnesses on what just occurred, the cashier was defeated and resigned herself to picking up the order. In the meantime, Hikari watched Jiro rolling around on the ground, clutching the place of the assault. As she observed the ex-employee, she noticed that he had a black eye.

"Huh. Where did he get that?" Hikari mused to herself, oblivious to the admiring gazes of her fellow customers.

Shinji woke up with a snort. Someone was squeezing his nose. "Huh?"

"Wake up! I'm not paying you to sleep!"

"Technically, you don't pay me. The record label does. But your point does stand. Just give me a moment." Shinji wiggled his right hand's fingers a little. His knuckles still stung. "Okay. We're having a conference tomorrow on Wednesday."

"What? Why?" Asuka looked supremely confused.

Shinji gave a self satisfied grin. "It took a lot of work and investigating, but I got it."

"Got what?"

"I looked into the incident with the old woman. That was the immediate issue that needed addressing. I didn't think that you'd try and punch an old woman for the sheer hell of it as the papers would suggest. You claimed that someone was groping you, but you missed in exacting justice."

"Yeah," Asuka muttered bitterly.

"Seeing as there was already a negative mindset against you and no evidence or witnesses, they didn't believe you."


"All right…so I got proof."

"What? How?" Asuka was confused. None of the photographers there caught the Seele charity worker groping her ass. Nor did anyone actually see him do it.

"Turns out there were actually a photographer that caught him. Unfortunately he hates your guts and decided to withhold the evidence for the media circus. He also got a nice picture of you knocking out the old woman."

"Who was it! I'll kick his ass!" Asuka raged.

"In order to get the evidence, I had to agree not to reveal his name," Shinji lied, thinking that he didn't need to add first degree murder on his list of things to fix.

"Man, if he hated Asuka so much, then how did you convince him?" Misato was very curious about the capability of the new agent.

"Let's just say that I'm not proud of what I did," Shinji said simply.

What really happened

Shinji stared intently at the oily man before him. The man stared back, the bristles of his walrus mustache moving according to each wheezy breath he took.

"You have a photograph of what really happened with Asuka's charity event, right? I'm willing to pay a fair price for them."

The man leaned back in his chair defiantly. "Maybe I do, maybe I don't."

"If you don't, certain photos of you and a young escort will be sent to your wife. I do say that you have quite…interesting taste in what sort of activities you enjoy with young women especially with regards to sock puppets. You've been married for thirty years now, right? And she used to be a police officer right? Be a real shame if she knew about this and especially if she retained that police issue pistol, huh?" Shinji kept a blank face the entire time.

The man reddened at first in embarrassment, but then he paled as the threat dawned upon him. "All right, I do."

"I'm a man of fair trade. What do you say I give you 200,000 yen for those pictures?"

"300,000 yen."

"250,000 yen and that's my final offer."

"Done." The man reached into his drawer and handed Shinji a memory chip while Shinji handed an envelope full of cash. "Wait, what about the photos and my wife? Don't I get those too?"

Shinji chuckled. "Nope. Might need leverage one day. See you soon."

Shinji handed Asuka the memory card. She then quickly ran to her room and grabbed her laptop. Once the picture was on screen, Misato had to admit that it was damning stuff. The charity worker's hand was placed firmly on Asuka's rear, but what really completed the picture was the expression of outrage on Asuka's face and the one of unabashed lust on the worker's.

"Oh-ho-ho, this is good," Asuka said. "Now all this shit can be put to rest. I thought you were a useless asshole before, Ikari, I am sorry for ever thinking that. I'll see you tomorrow once you've gotten some rest."

"We're not done yet."

"Huh? What else is there?"

"Strangely enough, once I saw the name of the woman that you punched, an opportunity presented itself."

"An opportunity?" Asuka never knew the name of the old woman since she was too busy trying to apologize to her to actually ask. Unfortunately, the woman was too offended to care and bought into the media coverage about Asuka's temper and attitude.

"As it turns out, the woman is the grandmother of my secretary and a respected judge of the courts who happens to abhor sexual harassment. Her name is Kaori Hinamoto."

"Wait, I remember that name. Like two decades ago, she was famous for her exploits in the courts, constantly bringing down Yakuza bosses and corrupt politicians." Misato recalled.

"Huh. I've seen you before," Shinji said, finally noticing Misato.

"Well, we just met about an hour ago, so…"

"No, no, not that...I've got it! I remember listening to your stuff everywhere back in high school!"

Misato blinked in confusion. She had been at a huge level of popularity then. For Shinji to have not gotten who she was by now was simply astounding. "Not to sound bigheady, but I was unbelievably popular back then. How are you just recognizing this now?"

"Well, I never listened to pop in high school. I was busy-" Shinji's voice faded. "I was just busy."

"That's fine and all, but I would rather we get back on topic," Asuka interjected. "Why is it so important that she's a judge or your secretary's grandma?"

"Oh right, the subject. Well, through my secretary, I managed to secure a talk with her."

Two Days Ago

"So you're the youngster that Ran-chan works for." Kaori Hinamoto was a small, slender woman with a fierce countenance. Shinji could tell that in her prime, she would've been a looker and saw a great deal of resemblance to his secretary Ran.

"That would be me, ma'am."

"Now what was so urgent that you needed to speak with me?" Kaori tented her fingers and critically examined the young man before her. He looked harangued and tired, but his eyes shone with purpose.

"I work for Asuka Langley Soryu."

"The shallow princess that rudely punched me? If she's trying to apologize, I won't accept it."

"No, I'm not here to apologize," said Shinji.


"I'm here to offer evidence. Ms. Soryu told you that she was sexually harassed by the Seele worker right?"

"Yes, but I do not believe it."

"How about I convince you otherwise?"

"I don't see how."

Shinji pulled a folder from his briefcase and handed it to Kaori. She flipped through its contents and her expression grew tighter and tighter with each photo. To Kaori's credit, she took the information in a very dignified manner.

"I suppose I now owe Ms. Soryu an apology."

"No need for apology, but I would like your support."

Kaori looked suspiciously at Shinji. "In what?"

"I've done my research on you and I do remember you pushing for harsher guidelines for sexual harassment and the advancement of women's rights."


"Well, I see a mutually beneficial opportunity for both my client and you."

"How so?" Kaori was more than a little curious.

"The way I see things, Ms. Soryu has been heinously robbed of her rights as a woman by having her personal space invaded and the man who has done it is not punished in any way whatsoever. In point of fact, he has been vindicated by this," Shinji said, eerily calm. He leaned forward in his chair and tented his fingers in a manner reminiscent of the infamous CEO of Nerv. "This cannot stand, especially for you, a champion for women's rights."

"Get to the point, sonny."

"I propose we make this man's misconduct public to the media with our own spin. With your backing, we can make this a war on misogyny and Ms. Soryu will be the face of this war. Think about it, she's already wildly popular, so by taking up this cause, Soryu will gather an immense amount of support for it with her fan base, so you should be very satisfied. And in return, Ms. Soryu will benefit by gaining higher respect for putting up with such intolerable media slander and championing equal rights. She won't just be a pop idol and pretentious diva; she'll be a pretentious diva who cares. So what do you think?" Shinji scrutinized the elderly woman sitting across from him.

"What if she isn't devoted to the cause and the media finds out about it? I'll have supported her. My reputation is at stake here too." Kaori arched one eyebrow.

"The deal is off if I even suspect for a second that Ms. Soryu isn't all in. I'm good at my job, Ms. Hinamoto. Ask your granddaughter. Your reputation is safe here either way."

"And what makes you think that Soryu's presence is necessary to bolster the progress of the feminist movement?"

"With all due respect, the movement is losing momentum. You and your generation have made significant progress in advancing women's rights, but as of present it's stagnant. Soryu could be the revival your movement needs. You stand to gain everything if it succeeds and lose nothing if it doesn't. So I ask again, are you in or out?"

"Don't act coy, you know I'm in."

Shinji nodded. "Thank you for your time. I'll call you for details. Good bye."

As he left for the door, Kaori spoke. "You're really not suited for PR, you know?"


"I've had to deal with a few publicists as a lawyer and they lie like nobody's business. You, you're not a liar."

"Thank…you?" Shinji was confused, uncertain as to whether that was a compliment or not.

"So why did you join then?"

Shinji frowned. "That's personal."

Asuka felt numb. "What?"

"Of course, we've set up a meet for you and Ms. Hinamoto for you to consider how to ally," said Shinji, oblivious to anything other than the job.

"Hold on!"

Shinji continued to blather on, more to organize his thoughts than anything. This only incensed Asuka further.

"Get out, you incompetent asshole!"

Shinji was shocked. "Why?"

"Do I need to spell it out!"

"Are you offended at the cause? Because I thought-"

"Just get out!"

A flicker of regret and confusion crossed Shinji's face. He tried to ask why she was so obstinate about this, but to no avail. At last, Shinji's stamina was at its end and he decided to admit defeat for now and left.

Misato was surprised and angry for Shinji since he was too exhausted to fight at the moment. "Asuka, what. Are. You. Fucking thinking!"

"None of your business."

"Maybe, but that guy seemed devastated. He looked like he went through hell to get all of this set up, so why the hell are you just ignoring it all?"

"Because he never listened to me!" The words came out of Asuka's mouth before she knew it.


"Forget I said anything." Asuka waved her hand dismissively, but her furrowed eyebrows and tightened expression told another story.

"No. I heard it. What did you mean by 'he never listened'?"

"It's nothing. Just forget it."

Misato crossed her arms and stared at Asuka expectantly.

"I said-"

"I know what you said," said Misato tersely.

"Fine! He was acting like a typical guy and not once did it occur to him throughout all his planning that I might not have wanted this! It's my life!" Asuka shouted. "Not his."

"Typical-" Misato repeated incredulously. "He was doing his job! If you're not even going to listen to him, then don't bother hiring him!"

"Look, I don't need another man in my life to order me around!"

"Another? There was one to begin with?"

Asuka averted her gaze. "Not now. Not ever again. I don't want to talk about it. Can we move on?"

"What did you mean by 'another'?"

"My jerk of a dad years ago, all right? Can we please move on now?" said Asuka, her eyes silently begging Misato to let the matter drop.

"All right. But I want you to apologize to that guy."

"No way!"

"You were a complete bitch to him. I think he might have been insensitive about it, but you did not need to snap like that." Misato leveled an adamant gaze that left no room for negotiation.

"Okay, okay. I'll call him tonight."

"You'll visit him."

Asuka shot a look. "I'll call. There's no need for me to come to his home."

"On the contrary, bitchiness of that level demands face to face communication. Look, if he messed up, then how can things ever get better if you just sit on your hands and never explain?"

"That's rich from the girl that locked her boyfriend in the pantry for two days."

"He left the toilet seat up!"

"He had no clothes! And it was winter!"

"Kaji's forgiven me for that by now…I think. Anyways, we're getting off topic. Don't call. Talk to him. Whatever I might have done, it doesn't make my point any less right."

Asuka couldn't refute that logic. "I don't know his address. I do know his phone number, so…"

"I'll get it from his offices." Misato picked up the phone.

Shinji mumbled incoherently as he shambled to the train station. He didn't drive. Driving required a permit and a lot of trouble to get a car. Normally, trains at this hour are packed especially in a bustling city such as Tokyo, but it was Shinji's lucky day because there was a seat available. He sighed and shifted uncomfortably on the worn out plastic seat. What was up with Soryu? He did all this work and she just ignored it all! If Shinji wasn't utterly exhausted, he would've been indignant. She didn't even explain why she didn't like his plan! Shinji shook his head, having had enough of anything today.

However, a sliver of regret still edged into the corners of his conscience. Shinji bit his lip. The inescapable doubt seeped into consciousness regardless of his justifications: did he wrong her in some way?

Toji slumped behind the counter. He had an office in the back of the sporting good store, but he really hated the closed off feel to it. Toji was an outdoorsy person, which was part of the reason why he opened a sports shop. He thought that there was a chance of actually being outdoors by doing this. As it turns out…

"Murgghh!" Toji banged his head against the hard wooden surface. It was so boring. It was the mid-morning lull and he hated it. Everybody was at work or school and didn't have time to even window shop, making it exceedingly dull for Toji. What made things worse was that he couldn't even watch anything while he waited for a customer. There were no games on and he didn't have a burning desire to watch daytime soaps.


Toji's head perked up from the counter. His ears twitched in a manner eerily remniscent of a dog awaiting a treat. A customer!

"Hello, sir. May I int-oh, it's just you, Kensuke."

"Nice to see you too," said Kensuke dryly.

"Not that I don't appreciate your company, but aren't you supposed to be at work?"

"I'm getting inspiration for my next game."

"In my store?"

"Nope. From great, understanding friends." Kensuke looked positively malicious.

"I'm understanding?" said Toji skeptically.

"No, of course not. Everybody knows you're a boorish philistine."

"And don't you forget it, so who's the friend?"

Kensuke shot a look.

"No…dude, come on, really?" Toji asked incredulously.

The look didn't change in the least bit.

"You know that he has no romantic life, so where's the benefit in watching him for inspiration? No offense to him, but you'd be more inspired from watching a pie bake or seeing a rom-com with Matthew McConaughey. Hell, even I'm a better choice."

"No, you're not."

Toji looked scandalized. "I've got romance in me! Hikari can vouch. Once I-"

"Yes," Kensuke interjected before he received a mental image that no amount of alcohol could scrub out. "But you have no conflict. You and Hikari are too stable to find inspiration for a dating sim, which inherently has to have conflict. It's in the very mechanics of a successful game. There has to be significant buildup and struggle that makes the ending all that much more satisfying as well as engage the gamer."

"Huh. Good point, but Shinji's not interested in finding a relationship. He's too busy with his job. The only time he gets off is when he hangs with us on Friday and that's a tradition we've had since college."

"No, no, no. Every man who says he isn't looking for a relationship is lying to appear masculine. Proven psychology. There's a common cultural stigma to men for them to be stoic and alone. Where desiring them in a truly emotionally intimate way will prove them to be just the opposite. In reality, men are exactly like women in yearning for a connection for someone, anyone. The only thing is that all our subterfuge and restraint creates barriers that prevent us from ever achieving this goal. You were lucky with Hikari. You found someone right off the bat because you met a compatible person early and spent most of your formative years getting over those barriers."

Toji blinked. "I…actually understood that."

"I'm surprised," Kensuke commented dryly, "But anyways, he will do for the scenario."

"Scenario? You sound like some hackneyed, middle aged villain. Are you going to start growing a beard and hit on fourteen year old girls?"

"Of course not…but now that you mention it, do you think I could pull off a goatee?"

Toji cocked an eyebrow.

"Point taken," Kensuke muttered forlornly.

Gendo Ikari rubbed his chin as he gazed into the bathroom mirror. Every day he repeated this routine over and over. It was to mourn the fact that he never had to buy a shaving razor ever again. Some years ago, his future wife found his growing facial hair to be irritating…so she proceeded to break into the college chemistry lab and made sure that nothing could grow there anymore. One could almost pity him, but then the second part of his routine started. Gendo shook the can of shaving cream to his side and sprayed it directly on his face. With the cream, he made a crude beard and posed in the mirror.

I do wish Yui let me keep the beard or even the promise of any facial hair. I believe that I was beginning to gain a badass appearance. Yes…badassery of magnificent villainous heights was within my grasp.

"Dear?" A sweet voice called from behind the door. Gendo shuddered. As much as he loved the woman who possessed that voice, he also had numerous flashbacks associated with the voice and horrible actions that followed the word "dear".

"Y-yes?" Gendo frantically fumbled with the faucet to wash all evidence away.

"Lunch is ready. Come out or else it'll get cold."

Yui Ikari insisted that her husband was to be fed by her and only her. Gendo never quite understood her logic in the matter. Food was food and it didn't really matter if he decided to make a sandwich for himself or get some ramen from the local stand. However, being the obedient (read whipped) husband he was, Gendo came in for every meal of the day including lunch.

"Ju-just a second."

A pause. "Dear…you wouldn't happen to be doing anything naughty in there, would you?"

Gendo froze with his hand a scant few inches away from the running water. "No…"

"All righty then." Gendo heard footsteps move away from the door. However, he knew his wife well enough that something worse would happen and braced himself. He was right.


The bathroom door fell with a mighty thud. Yui Ikari walked in with a battering ram labeled 'Yui's Little Enforcer'. Her slender figure was complimented by her apron and light green dress. However, the picture of domestic beauty was somewhat marred…seeing as there was a chainsaw strapped to her back. Gendo had yet to wash off the cream and sheepishly realized that fact as he stared at his psychopathic wife.

"Oh, dearest. You're so silly when it comes to that nasty little fuzz you had in college. It's a good thing you had a wonderful, understanding woman like myself to set you straight. Now wash up and come out for lunch. Or else." Yui patted the chainsaw lovingly before kissing her husband on the cheek and walking out.

Gendo complied; knowing that nothing good came out of defying his wife. I certainly hope Shinji has more success dealing with women than I do.

The door was a finely crafted plank of oak wood with well lacquered surface and a simple, but elegant shape. Indeed, it was a fine door and one Asuka Langley Soryu was staring at it and had been doing so for the past half hour. Every time she raised her hand to knock, she stopped and resented Misato's presence at the bottom floor to make sure she couldn't run from this.

"Stupid jerk. Had to open his big mouth about his big stupid plan to…" Help me. Asuka left the sentence unfinished. She bit her lip. Why did she have to give a damn about this jackass' opinion of her? He was working for her. She was paying him to do a job, not nurse his own wounded feelings.

Asuka breathed heavily through her nose to calm her rapid heartbeat. Summoning sufficient feminine indignation, Asuka raised her hand and finally knocked with absolutely no hesitation.

A/N: Yup. Another update. Overall, this chapter is more exposition and set up than anything. That said, it's easier to work on this because it's not quite as plot twisty or "deep" as Pick Up Lines. This story is venting my need for some lightness to my writing. I really hate stuff that gets overly deconstructive and gritty. There is a limit to how depressing and political a story can be. I've already finished half of the next chapter, so expect another update next week, so don't go foaming at the mouth over the cliffhanger. In the meantime, speak your piece about my work. Until then, good night.