Standard Disclaimer

Yeah yeah I know I shouldn't start another story, but I like have a four story rotation. This idea has been rattling around in my brain for some time, and I think its got promise. It'll be slightly longer, and will be darker in some respects than my other stories. Yeah, you know when I go dark its usually pitch, but I don't think it'll be 'that' bad.

X-X

Due to Chance

Chapter – 1

He could hear sirens in the distance yet saw no cars, in fact Shinji Ikari saw no signs of humanity at all. Holding the phone receiver in his hand, the polite automated voice repeated the fact that all lines were down, the confused boy set it back onto the receiver. "I shouldn't have come," he mumbled and stole another glance at the photo that came with the request he come to Tokyo-3.

The picture was of a shocked looking blonde woman eating a Popsicle. Clad in a white lab coat, black slacks, and a dark blue top that had two buttons undone, the woman had a sense of stern beauty to her. Her eyes were wide with a hint of anger, the arrow drawn to point out her ample cleavage did attract Shinji's attention, but not for long. There was no point in getting excited over things like girls, why bother when he knew nothing would come of it.

"Repeat all non-military personnel please report to the nearest designated shelter" the firm voice shouted over a nearby speaker. From the lack of activity on the streets it was evident that nobody was taking any chances. Windows and doors were shuttered, cars abandoned on the street, and a sense of desperation lingered in the eternal summer air.

Checking his watch, Shinji hummed loudly, his ride was due any minute, but with the public address system screaming out danger he felt inclined to listen to it. "I guess I'll find out what father wanted from me later," he said as he stuffed the attractive photo into his back pocket. Looking up for a moment, his body seemed drawn to move against his will he saw a girl in the far distance. "M-miss?" Shinji called out to the girl with strange blue hair and pale complexion.

Revving the engine, Kaji pulled up right along side his target and honked the horn. Things were moving faster than he had hoped, and he needed to get the potential pilot back to base. Finding the boy staring off into space rather than hiding was a plus. Rolling down the window of his economy car, "You're Shinji Ikari, right? Get in, sorry things aren't as calm as I had originally planned." He flashed his best smile at the teenager hoping to calm him. Kaji saw the face of the boy from all the reports he read, a boy he had to change.

Turning away from the girl to the car, Shinji pointed at the girl's location, "What about her? Isn't it dangerous for her to be out?" Looking back however, Shinji saw the girl gone. Shrugging, Shinji quickly climbed into the passenger seat of the man's car. "N-never mind, I must be seeing things or she left," he rushed as embarrassment crept in. "What happened to the w-woman from the picture. I thought she was going to pick me up," Shinji hoped he didn't sound as pitiful as he thought he did.

Nodding as his sense of relief increased, Kaji just laughed and smacked Shinji's shoulder playfully. "I sent you that picture of Ritsuko, Shinji-kun. Thought it might make your more interested in being on time," Kaji had told Ritsuko he destroyed said photo, but she should have known better. "Sadly you'll have to wait to see her in the flesh, you're stuck with me on the drive in. Ryoji Kaji at your service, but please call me Kaji," he offered the boy his hand as he kept his eyes on the road.

Shaking the man's hand, Shinji didn't know how to feel about this man. "S-Shinji Ikari, pleased to meet you," he introduced himself cautiously. The suave man seemed to have good intentions, but Shinji wasn't one to trust others easily. "Do you know why I was called here?" he asked with a pleading desperation. Maybe life would be getting better between his estranged father and him, but Shinji had little hope for that.

Before Kaji could reply, the reason Shinji was summoned presented itself in the form of a giant foot stomping down nearby and making the tiny car pop into the air. The tires strained and the axel almost snapped, but the car survived. Swerved madly on the street as the airborne wheels reconnected with pavement, it took skill to prevent slamming into a pole.

Popping a cigarette into his mouth, Kaji's nerves were frayed yet he kept his composure before the boy. "That is why you're here, Shinji-kun," Kaji said after he lit his smoke and took a drag. The man had thought long and hard about how much to let Shinji know before getting to base. Official word was not to say a damn thing, but Kaji wasn't known for following the rules. "I'm going to tell you a few things that I shouldn't, but I think you need to know them before you make your decision," he swerved into the entrance ramp to Nerv and parked on the car-elevator.

Pulling out the brochure that came with the letter and photo, Shinji started scanning it frantically. Nothing said anything about giant monsters destroying cities, and oddly that made Shinji a little more relaxed. "What can I possible have to do with that…that monster back there?" he balked and pointed back at the lip of the doorway just as it vanished behind the elevator belt. A loud explosion forced the boy to wince, and thank the heavens he wasn't still outside.

"N2 mine, JSDF must be getting desperate," Kaji explained after his own ears stopped ringing. Almost laughing as Shinji continued to peruse the Nerv pamphlet, the spy took the flimsy paper out of the boy's hands. "You won't find the reason in there. Because Nerv's, and your father's, use for you is secret," Kaji flicked his smoldering butt out the window and rolled it back up. "Nerv created a sort of biomechanical giant, sadly it only responds to certain people. We hope you're one of those people, and using that mech, we call them Evangelions, you'll fight that fucker up there," he jerked his thumb back towards the angel.

Laughing dryly, Shinji shook his head and responded, "That's crazy. Even if you had something like that there is no way I can fight in it!" His slim hopes for a positive reason for the summons vanished like the smoke from Kaji's cigarette. "Anyway shouldn't there be more people that have had training for this than some stranger off the street?" he said at the incredulous nature of Kaji's statement.

Starting the car again and driving it towards the parking area, Kaji shrugged sadly. "We do have two others, but one is hurt and the other in Germany," Kaji was nervous about the second pilot. Who knew what type of upbringing Asuka was receiving under Katsuragi's tutelage. "And you'd have as much instruction as we can give you. But in the end it is your choice, and I wanted you to have time to think about it rather than blitz you with it all at once."

That had been part of Gendo's plan, and Kaji knew it. Put everything on Shinji all at once and force the teenager into a choice he wasn't ready for. If Shinji looked ready to bail, Kaji half suspected Gendo would have rolled Rei out to drive the knife deeper into Shinji's resolve. The extensive psychological reviews of the boy painted a sad picture of a child easily manipulated by a man such as his father.

As the pair walked in silence, Shinji's mind worked heatedly on what this man had said. It wasn't lost on the lad that Kaji admitted to breaking the rules in informing him about his real reasons for being in summoned. Shinji liked that, made him trust Kaji just a little bit more. "H-how badly hurt is this other pilot?" Shinji asked ashamed of himself. He wasn't a fighter, and if this other pilot was capable he was going to leave.

Closing his eyes and wincing, Kaji was glad he was a step ahead of Shinji so the boy didn't see the reaction. "Badly, she's on a lot of pain medication and banged up pretty badly from a test gone wrong," he relented in telling. It was playing right into Gendo's hand, setting Shinji up with no recourse but to pilot. "But think of it this way, you'll be saving the damsel in distress and that earns you big points when it comes to women," Kaji turned and flashed Shinji a thumbs up. Knowing the girl was Ayanami Rei, Kaji was reluctant to use sex appeal, but it was something.

"And what would you know of women?" Ritsuko asked as she walked out of an open elevator. Wrapping her arms lightly around the man, she kissed his cheek before turning to Shinji. "I won't guess why you two were talking about Ayanami, I'll just assume you were going against orders again," she said mockingly. Disengaging herself from Kaji, Ritsuko extended her hand to the timid boy, "Ritsuko Akagi, pleasure to meet you."

The woman truly was beautiful, but something about her made Shinji leery of her. She appeared cold and calculating, he felt she was evaluating him as she bore down on him with those unfeeling green eyes. "Kaji-san was telling me about the other pilots," Shinji meeped out and extended his hand to grasp Ritsuko's. Her hand was soft but the grip firm and steady.

Her eyebrows rose at Shinji's admission, "Something you shouldn't know about until after we presented you with our request." She didn't sound angry or reproachful, just stating a fact. Turning to Kaji as the trio boarded the elevator, "When will you ever learn and follow regulations? Or do you want to be reprimanded?"

Chuckling, Kaji nudged Shinji in the gut, "Nothing like the picture is she?" He had to lighten the mood, had to keep Shinji upbeat and freethinking. "You'd never guess under her heartless exterior my dear Ritsu-chan is a real softy," Kaji accentuated his comment by hugging his girlfriend tightly. It was a dangerous game he was playing, working as a double agent, but with Ritsuko's help he was sure he was in safe hands.

"What picture?" Ritsuko asked in general confusion as Shinji presented the aforementioned article. Grabbing the eight by ten image of herself, Ritsuko's face flared a brilliant red as she tore the thing to pieces. "How could you sent that to him! You told me you destroyed the damn thing!" she fumed and stomped on the picture. It had been taken a month before they started dating, and she was in a real low spot in her life. Everything had been falling apart, but then Kaji asked her out and things started to change.

Whispering loudly to the giggling teenager Kaji hoped to keep the atmosphere pleasant, "Isn't she adorable when she's embarrassed?" He knew how far he could push Ritsuko before she actually got angry, and he was nowhere near that point. Things were to tense with the angel attacking to get overly offended by a simple picture that was borderline lewd. "Anyway, Shinji-kun, we're taking you to the Eva's loading area. Will you have made your decision before we get there?" he could see the boy still debating.

"Oh speaking of that, they've already suited Ayanami up and have her ready to load," Ritsuko's tone was harsher than she wanted it to be. Kaji was just to prone to acts of stupid heroism that it made Ritsuko worry. He was ordered not to let Shinji know anything about the Eva's in hopes to shock him into piloting. The boy was the only real chance they had at living, Rei would die if she piloted. If Kaji was fired or worse, Ritsuko didn't know what she would do, her life was now bound to his a little too tightly.

His demeanor of relaxation dropped almost instantly and he slammed his fist against the side of the elevator as the door opened. "Why the fuck did they do that? Is it more of the commander's bullshit to get Shinji under thumb before he gets a chance to fucking think?" Kaji raged. Gendo was up to something, something dangerous and Kaji had to find out what it was. "Why else would he be parading the First around like that?" he questioned.

Catching sight of Shinji unconsciously taking a step back from the man, Ritsuko sighed heavily. "When the EMP effect of the N2 blast made us lose track of your car the worst was feared. Even though I told them your car would die well before you do," Ritsuko tried joking. "Regardless the commanders' believed it was a justifiable excuse to get Rei prepped," but Ritsuko half suspected Kaji was right about things.

The rest of the walk from the elevator to the hanger was in silence. Shinji noticed Kaji and Ritsuko held one-another's hand and grinned a little at that. While he never expected to find somebody to care about, he enjoyed seeing others that did. People got happiness where they could, his came from music while normal people found it in other people. He still wanted to run away, now knowing his father only called him because of a potential use.

The trio walked through an assembly of workers that frantically prepped computers and machines. A frenzies energy lingered over everybody as they waited for either salvation or death at the hands of the beast they knew was coming. Many noticed the teenage boy walking with part of the command staff, and almost disobeyed orders. They were told not to address the boy, not to hint/beg/mention anything about his purpose. But it was hard, knowing if that boy left they would die made it painfully hard not to prostrate themselves before him and plead he take up the mantle of pilot.

Walking into a darkened room, Shinji saw Ritsuko head to a computer console and enter a few commands that resulted in the lights coming on. Seeing the head of Unit-01, Shinji took a stutter step backwards. "That is the thing you want me to pilot?" he asked with amazement and fear radiating from his words. It was gigantic, it was foreboding, and more than intimidating. "How can you expect me to pilot that?" he turned to Kaji as the man stood gazing at a medical bed.

"We just want you to try, Shinji-kun, that is all. If…if we don't stop the Angel we're all going to die," Ritsuko answered for Kaji. Part of Ritsuko would never like Rei, not knowing what she did about the albino, but most of her hatred for the child had drained over the years. "Will you at least try?" she asked as Shinji took a few fugitive steps towards Rei's bed.

"If you will not pilot, she will in your place," Gendo's voice boomed from the command box above the hanger. He had been listening to Kaji's breach of doctrine ever since the two males entered the base. Gendo left nothing to chance, and while Kaji was rough around the edges he did get the job done.

His breath caught in his throat as Shinji recognized the body on the bed. It was the girl he saw up on the street, but covered in bandages. "I don't really have a choice do I? She can't even sit up," his voice was borderline cracked. He felt like he was pushed up against a wall with no options. He didn't want this, didn't want it at all, but he couldn't let that girl die for his cowardice. "I-I'll do it," he said as the girl opened her undamaged eye and gazed up at him.

X-X

His eyes dully opened to the easily forgettable dimly lit hospital room. Staring up at the droll ceiling tiles, Shinji rubbed his forehead. "What happened," he moaned and sat up. He couldn't remember much of anything after he was put inside that monstrosity. Pain, confusing, fear, and yet something familiar were vague recollections passing into and out of his mind. Swinging his legs over the side of the bed, Shinji had one thing he had to do before all others, use the bathroom.

On unsteady legs he shuffled to the toilet and let lose his several hours of unconscious buildup. "Must have won or we'd be dead," he mused. Shutting the door behind him, Shinji meandered out of his room and into the hallway. Compelled to move, he just let his body take him wherever it wanted. It wasn't the first time he got wonder lust, it came hand in hand with his depression. He never felt like doing anything constructive so he'd just walk, and he felt no desire to lie back down on that thin and itchy mattress.

The windows gave a glance of the Geo-Front, but with the lack of lighting the night time scene was more a glob of bizarre shapes. The hallway was mostly vacant, an older man sat leaning against the wall with a hand wrapped around an IV-stand, an illuminated nurse's station had a bored looking forty-ish looking woman with shaggy brown hair reading a magazine. It was the typical scene in hospital at night, nothing going on except people sleeping or trying to stave off boredom.

Trailing the window with his fingers, the cool touch was nice on his fingers, Shinji walked away from the nurse's station towards an elevator. "What happens now?" he mused as he turned and put his back to window and leaned against it. Did he stay and continue to pilot that machine until the girl got better, or did he just leave? He had nothing to go back to, his teacher had over the years made it painfully clear he wasn't a part of the family, and he had very few friends at his old school.

A ding emanated from the elevator as its doors opened. Two night nurses wheeled the bed with the now gowned Ayanami Rei down the hall. They knew better to ask questions about the girl, anybody who did stopped showing up to work. How she got hurt was listed as an accident, the female night nurse hoped the girl didn't scar, and the male just remembered the rumors about the girl and the commander.

Rei's brain was foggy with drugs and pain, but she was able to catch sight of the boy by the widow again as she was wheeled past him. It was the commander's son, not that it mattered. Ryoji had informed her that his name was Shinji, and he piloted to prevent her from doing so, in effect saving her life. What that fact was supposed to convey Rei didn't know, she'd ask the commander if she was supposed to respond in some way. Seeing his hand trailing out towards her, Rei's head tilted as far as the pain would allow. He looked sad, why would he look sad if she was the one hurt? No matter, her brain just shut down as the drugs took hold and sleep overcame her.

Watching the bed, one of its wheels squealed and flailed about madly, Shinji's heart did go out to the girl. He didn't like seeing people hurt, especially that bad. "I guess I'll stay until she's at least better," he whispered. Did he expect repayment or even acknowledgement from her for his actions? No, Shinji had long ago abandoned the idea that doing a good deed garnered any form of positive karmic repayment. He did it, because he felt he had to, because he wouldn't wish pain on others. His mind did catch one small glimmer as the pale light illuminated the girl's features as she passed by. She was cute.

But cute girls were a dime a dozen, and not being attractive himself meant he was destined to look but not touch. Why bother trying when you knew it was pointless, it would only result in more pain than from the start.

Walking back to his room, suddenly more tired than before, Shinji found the bed wasn't nearly as bad as when he first woke up. Pouring himself a glass of water from the bedside pitcher, he took a long gulp to eliminate the cotton mouth he had, pulled the thin sheet up to his neck and fell asleep.

X-X

Reading the print out of Shinji's supposed living arrangements, Kaji's mind started thinking. He had seen the interplay between the commander and his son, and it wasn't pretty. Gendo just bore down on the kid, and Shinji shrunk in on himself. Kaji would have believed the idea that if Gendo told Shinji to jump off a cliff the boy would ask which one. Gendo had too many dragons under his control, and it was Kaji's duty to undermine that until either Gendo proved to be on the up-and-up or exposed.

That and something about Shinji, Kaji liked and didn't want to see the boy suffer more than he had to. Kindred spirits, the fact they shared a similarly shitty childhood, or maybe it was just a whim, whatever it was Kaji was going to see to it that this boy didn't fall through the cracks. "Are you sure you're alright with living on your own in that part of town, Shinji? It's not the safest," Kaji asked leading the lad away from the commander's office, in which Shinji said a full two words.

"I'll be fine, Kaji-san, I'm used to it anyway," Shinji confessed with a shrug of his shoulders. The spell his father cast on him broke after he didn't have to stare at the man's face. Gendo intimidated Shinji to nearly a catatonic state, he was terrified of the man yet hated him for abandoning him. "I learned how to cook and clean at my old place, so it'll be alright, really," he repeated on seeing Kaji giving him a slight frown.

Clapping down on Shinji's shoulders, Kaji beamed a toothy grin at him, "Good way to be, but how about you move in with Ritsuko and me." They had just gotten a new place upon the joint decision to start living together. It allowed them to pool their knowledge better, and Kaji just loved being around the aloof woman. "We have a spare bedroom, two actually, so it wouldn't be a concern unless you don't like cats," Kaji's nose wrinkled at that. Ritsuko's two damn cats hated him with a passion. The black female, Luna, tore his clothing to shreds, and the white male, Artemis, used his case for its litter box.

Quite despite himself, Shinji found himself smiling back at the man who had a magnetic personality. "I wouldn't want to be a nuisance, so I-I'm good on my own," but his voice was all but singing. Something in how Kaji acted and spoke to him, Shinji liked it, made him feel actually welcome. "A-and I wouldn't want to get in the way of you two…" Shinji was more worried he'd embarrass himself in front of the beautiful woman.

Spinning Shinji around, Kaji kept his hands on the boy's shoulders and propelled him forward towards his car. "Speak nothing of it my boy, you're living with us now whether you like it or not. And don't fret about Ritsuko to much, like I said before she acts all distant and cold, but once you thaw her…she's butter," Kaji got the response from the boy he hoped in a spreading blush. Kid had self esteem issues all right, but that wasn't anything Kaji and Ritsuko couldn't fix. "Just don't let me catch you putting the moves on my woman, young man, or we'll have to fight it out," Kaji joked.

The image of the torn photo popped into Shinji's mind and his blush spread. "I-I wouldn't dare, Kaji-san! Seriously I wouldn't try that!" he flubbed. Girls were something Shinji put on the 'nice to look at, but outside of my world' category of things. Women like Ritsuko were paramount to goddesses that wouldn't deem him worth of piss if he was on fire. "Are you sure you want me to move in with you?" that hope in his voice dripped off with its clinging anxiety.

He could see it, Kaji could see Shinji timidly reaching outside of his comfort zone and trying to believe in something. It was so pathetically sad that it struck a cord deep inside the unshaven man. "Of course I am, boy. Wouldn't have said so otherwise. Now come on, this calls for a celebration," he wrapped an arm around Shinji's neck and gave the boy a few a noogie. It was going to be a lot of work, the kid's past really did a number on him, but Kaji had hope.

The duo got into Kaji's nearly dead car, and drove out of the Geo-Front with the afternoon sun starting to fade into dusk. They passed the drive time with idle chatter, Kaji learning more about Shinji with each carefully masked question. Few friends, dependency issues, severe depression, but underneath was a solid core of determination and that was a perfect foundation. The car came to a sudden stop on the rise above the city as the sun hung in its giant orange brilliance just against the western horizon.

"Come on out, buddy, I have something to show ya," Kaji gestured to the boy that had been silent the entire time. Pulling a smoke from his pack, he only had two left, Kaji grimaced. The cost of cigarettes was always on the rise, and both Ritsuko and he had a pack a day habit. Pulling out his celphone, he gazed at the tiny instrument and back at Shinji and his shoulders sagged. She'll either kiss me or kill me over this. He really should have checked with her before altering their lives with a child.

Standing with his hands gripping the metal divide, Shinji's eyes sparkled with an odd childlike joy he thought himself incapable of. "The buildings are growing out of the ground!" he cheered and marveled at the manmade miracle he was witnessing. Turning to Kaji, he saw the man on the phone and turned back to watch more of the city growing. He had protected it, with his own hands he had protected it. He couldn't remember much, but he did know that it was he that stopped the beast, and that did make him feel a little better.

Sliding his phone back into his pocket, Kaji let out the sigh of a man who knew he had just burnt a bridge. Ritsuko wasn't super keen on the idea of taking Shinji in, but relented that Kaji had a point. Shinji's wellbeing was paramount to survival, and the boy's mental state could only be improved by having what was akin to actual parental supervision. "Amazing sight isn't it? Great place to bring girls up on dates. The imagery gets them every time lets you get in for a little reward," he said to announce his arrival at the bar with the boy.

"It really is something else isn't it," Shinji chose to ignore Kaji's comment about women. He just watched as the sun finally vanished behind the horizon leaving a wonderful mixture of reds, blues, and oranges in its wake. Slapping at a mosquito that chose his left arm as a good place to score a bite, Shinji took a few steps backward from the divider. "Was Akagi-san alright with this?" he asked with the belief that Ritsuko not only hated the idea but vetoed it right out of existence.

Boy was quick thinker too, Kaji couldn't help but notice. Stuffing his hands in his pockets, he walked back towards his car. "She thinks it will be good for you," which wasn't a lie. "Just as long as you don't turn out to be a cat torturer, in which case she'll kill you, things will be fine," Kaji just hoped that if either of them were exposed that Shinji didn't catch the flack for it. "Come on, lets hit a grocery store and score us some eats, if we don't hurry and get home Ritsuko will try cooking and I don't think I want the place burnt down," he was only half joking. Ritsuko made a passable instant meal, but beyond that it was either frozen or burnt.

X-X

Lying in their bed, his arm wrapped around Ritsuko's side gently cupping her exposed breast, Kaji kissed her shoulder lightly. "Still angry at me?" he asked in a hushed tone. He had yet to dislodge himself from her, but it wasn't something they worried about. Ritsuko was on the pill, as neither of them really wanted kids yet, not with their uncertain futures.

Rubbing her back against the man she first thought was a pig but eventually came to love, Ritsuko tittered. "No, I still hate you as a person, but love how you make me feel. This is a purely physical relationship after all," she replied in the same hushed tone. One of the things she picked up from Misato was the ability to tease and joke around with Kaji. Misato…Ritsuko didn't know if she feared or hated that name. Kaji had loved Misato, Misato broke it off, but what if Misato came back?

Giving the nipple a little tease, Kaji breathed in deeply of Ritsuko's scent, it was medical and sterile like the lab she worked in, but he grew to enjoy it. "Well if that's the case I better start acting my part as the male stud more often," he gave the woman a quick pump more as a joke than any real start of coitus. "Seriously though, I think having him move in with us is a good idea. We can keep an eye on him, maybe help him out of that shell of his. Though I think he might have a crush on you," Kaji accentuated that with another kiss to Ritsuko's neck.

Murmuring pleasantly as Kaji did what he did well, Ritsuko agreed by shaking her head. "He does seem to need some help, but I think you're exaggerating his feelings for me. I get the impression he's afraid of me. Maybe he's afraid of women in general, you know how shy kids can be," she bit down on her lip as Kaji started moving again. "But what about…you know?" she asked hoping to keep her voice soft.

"We get him nose canceling headphones so he doesn't hear the screams you drag out of me with that sexy body of yours," Kaji said huskily as he slowly started to build up steam. He knew Ritsuko was referring more to his work as a mole for the government, and her cooperation with him that lovemaking, but players were supposed to play. "As for that other thing, we'll just have to be extra careful about it. With him here it's likely to actually detract some of the heat we might get," he hoped at least.

Covering her mouth with her hand, Ritsuko closed her eyes as the made love for the second time that night, and the second time in their new apartment. It wasn't the best exchange they had, both to nervous about Shinji hearing to really get into it, but it helped calm them down. As she felt the man withdraw, her eyes hazy with incoming sleep, she slipped, "Do you think about Misato often?"

He could feel her body going tense against his as she spoke. Misato was going to be a shadow on their relationship it seemed forever. "I get updates from her over in Germany ever so often. She apparently hit it off really well with the Second Child," Kaji tried all he could to make Ritsuko stop feeling inadequate but it was yelling at a brick wall it seamed. "So I don't really think about her much, she was a great friend, but we just didn't work out. Not like us," he moved to kiss her again but Ritsuko's hand prevented it.

"Then why do you keep that coin, Kaji, why do you keep it?" Ritsuko asked with a sudden sorrow in her voice. The sound of a woman terribly afraid the person behind her was just going to vanish one day. She lived in fear of that coin, as everything good about her current life came from the outcome of it. What would her life had been like if Kaji had went to Germany instead of Misato. How would she have gotten out of her depression, would she have gotten out of it? "Do you keep it to remind yourself of her, or how you lost her?" Ritsuko forced her eyes shut to keep from seeing the damn thing on the nightstand.

Pushing her hand away, Kaji forced the woman to roll over so he could get a good look at her. She was shaking, borderline ready to cry, and it worried him. Yes he loved her, but he couldn't keep reinforcing it when she had such low opinion of herself. "I keep it because it was that coin flip that eventually lead us together. You know what I was like back then, I was lucky I didn't get my damn self killed with how brazen my actions were. You helped me overcome that, you are not Misato's substitute, Ritsuko. I liked Misato a lot, Ritsuko, but I love you. Never think otherwise," he pleaded hoping the believed it this time.

Nodding, Ritsuko didn't believe him. Misato was more fun, sexier, more normal that she was. Ritsuko had seem so many men try and fail at wooing Misato, only to see Kaji knock her out of the park so effortlessly that it seemed they were destined for one another. "I know you do…and so do I. Now lets get some sleep, I want to get Shinji into Nerv early tomorrow to get him started on tests and to get a plug suit ready for him," Ritsuko yawned and cuddled closely to Kaji's broad chest.

Wrapping his arms around her, Kaji pressed his chin to the top of her head and held her until he was certain she was sleeping. "I hope we all live through this, I really do," he yawned and joined his mate in the wonderful experience of sleep. They'd deal with the Ayanami issue later, just like they'd deal with Misato. If something came of it, they'd face it, if not it was just something on the backburner.

In a room on the far end of the apartment, Shinji slept soundly in his new bed under the unfamiliar ceiling. A new life was starting for him, he only could pray it was better than the one he left behind.

X-X

Authors Notes

And there you have the premise! I always wondered what would have happened if Misato and Kaji traded places. Asuka's comment about having met Misato before the ship got me thinking…maybe it was possible. It might be a stretch, or it might not be. Either way I'm going to try my hand at this. Hope ya enjoy

Ja Mata

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