THE PRICE OF FAME
Used with permission by JimmyWolk
Disclaimer: I do not own Evangelion or it's characters.
Summary: Seven years after Tokyo-3, Asuka has become a world-famous celebrity. Now, lonely and bitter, and friend from the past has come to save her from the life she thought she wanted.
"No... No! What? ... They asked again? ... I've... Listen. Listen! I've told them already I won't do it! ... Yes. Yes, I know! ... I don't care if it's 'the biggest and most respectable magazine of its kind'! Those perverts got enough with the swimsuits-calendar! ... Yes... yes, I know, 9 a.m. tomorrow. I'll be... what do you mean: 'be on time'? I'm always... ah, whatever... yes, I'm a bit tired... yeah, see you tomorrow... 'night..."
Grunting, she pressed the off-button on her mobile phone. Even on the last steps to her home they had to pursue her with work. It was at times like this that she would love to throw everything away - if she could still muster the strength to do so.
When the door closed behind her with a hiss, a sigh of exhaustion escaped her as she let herself fall backwards against its metal frame, as if it marked the point from where she had time for herself again. Herself alone.
And so, as she opened her eyes after a few seconds of relaxation, all that greeted her was the dark apartment.
Sure, it was a nice, fairly big apartment; the rooms were wide and some, like the kitchen, were partly open, creating the illusion that it was even bigger than it already seemed to be. Large windows in the west wall of the living room revealed an amazing view over the city. The other walls were painted in a bright white.
And still, it was dark.
Dark as always when she came home after a stressful day of work.
She didn't even bother to switch on the lights; the moon and city lights illuminated the rooms enough to get to the kitchen without bumping against anything.
Hunger determined her first destination, though she already expected to be disappointed. The fridge was poorly filled; she barely had time to go shopping, and she still could only afford a cleaning lady that worked twice a week, but not a steady housekeeper. Not that she felt like preparing a big meal anyway. So it would be just some instant-food for dinner yet again.
A tired grin found its way on her face as she put it in the microwave and set the timer. She didn't even remember how often she denounced Misato for her eating habits, but now she only needed to have a few beers more in the fridge and in her veins and she would have been just like her former guardian.
She sighed tiredly, as if an unknown weight was placed on her shoulders. The past seven years suddenly felt like an eternity.
An eternity since she left them.
When NERV had been officially disbanded after the JSSDF's failed attack on their Geofront HQ, and Commander Ikari's attempted suicide to avoid jail, the people had finally learned the truth about the EVAs, the Angels, and of course the identities of the Children. But since Shinji never liked the attention and Rei was never very talkative, reporters and audience soon focused their attention on the last of the pilots who was more than willing to answer any questions about her glorious fights; especially her greatest victory against SEELE's Mass Production-EVAs.
It hadn't taken long until the media had elevated her to a celebrity. Since then she had been invited to several talk and game shows, gave or made interviews or other tests or "reportages" for printed or TV boulevard magazines who wanted to present themselves with a known face. She had appeared in a few commercial spots as well as a guest in some second class comedy-shows and third-class soaps. She even made a small appearance in a few movies and tried herself as singer, and though neither of that was a big hit, it definitely helped to increase her popularity. And of course there were the occasional photo-jobs, premiere-galas and other festivities she had to attend.
But it also hadn't taken long until she had to leave Tokyo-3 to follow the call of fame.
The loud beep of the microwave brought her thoughts back to the present.
She quietly cursed at the heat as she quickly carried the plastic plate to the table. Grabbing a fork and knife from the drawer and a drink from the fridge, she sat down to 'enjoy' her 'magnificent' meal. And what a great meal it was: A blob of dry mashed potatoes, a tiny slice of meat that could have been either pork or beef drowned in a dark sauce and some unidentifiable vegetables. Maybe it was good that she could barely see what exactly she was eating there.
But she only picked halfheartedly at her food. How she hated this microwave-menus. She would give anything for the very same Japanese cuisine that she always had cursed Shinji for back then. She failed to suppress a smile at the thought of her yelling at him to make something better.
After only a few more bites, she decided she wasn't that hungry after all. Maybe it was better if she just went to sleep. So, without bothering to throw the rest away, she left the table and shuffled to her bedroom.
Sleep rarely came easy to her, and this night was no different. After she had changed into her nightgown, she went straight to bed, not caring about the usual evening-procedure of beauty care.
She shivered slightly under the thin cover. It was not that the temperatures were that low, but the large bed always seemed somewhat cold.
Pulling the blanket closer around her, she rolled onto the other side. But even with that she couldn't shake that feeling. Why couldn't it just vanish?
She lived on her own. Everyone knew and cherished her. She had everything she always wanted.
Then why did it feel like something was missing? Why did she feel so... empty? Empty like her apartment when she came home at night; empty like her book with friend's phone numbers; empty like the shallow praise she got at work. She would exchange fifty of the flat "nice work"s for one of Shinji's enthusiastic "That's great, Asuka!"
Again she found herself wearily smiling at the memory echoing in her mind. She could still see his face, beaming at her when she had told him that an agency wanted to promote her, as if he had been the one who got the chance at becoming one of the most famous persons on earth.
But he had been always like that, always cheering for others and also for her. Even more so NERV and EVA were gone. He had almost seemed relieved after they had told him that he would never pilot again. Then again, he never liked it anyway. He always preferred his boring "normal" life. But she had to admit that he had become an almost... enjoyable company.
No, that wasn't quite right. When EVA wasn't between them anymore, they had actually been much... closer than before. Even though never that close.
She suddenly noticed the fresh wetness on her cheeks. Had she been crying again? Another thing that happened much too often as of late, without even knowing why.
Who was she kidding? She knew very well why.
She missed those times. She missed having someone around. Sure, she always said she wanted to live on her own, but she had never expected it to be so hard, so... painful.
Not that she could do much about it anymore. She couldn't just go out into a bar or restaurant and search for 'real' friends. Everyone would only want to bathe in her fame or even try to 'score with a celebrity'.
Sure, she had a few relationships, usually with other celebrities in the last few years, but those had been mostly made up by her PR-Agents, much to her detest. It was sickening, always acting like a happy couple for press and paparazzi with someone you barely liked, if at all. She had to beat one of those wannabe Stars senseless when he had tried to 'emphasize their role' until her management finally stopped with these bothering hookup attempts.
No, she really didn't need one of those guys. She rather needed someone who actually cared for her. Someone who would be waiting for her when she came home. Someone who would try to cheer her up after a bad day and be glad for her on a good one. Someone who would... just be there for her. Someone like...
She silently shook her head as she sat up in her bed. Someone with such selfish wishes didn't deserve someone like him. Yet, as she drew her arms around her legs and rested her head on her knees, her view fell on the phone on the nightstand. And before she even realized why, she took it and tried to recall an old number from her memory.
For a moment she stared absently at the phone in her hand, before entering the last digit. Why was she doing this? Was she that desperate to attempt such an impetuous act? Or had it actually taken her that long to realize...what?
Her thumb finally brushed over the last button.
She hadn't even noticed how much her hand quivered until she lifted the receiver to her ear. Her stomach was cramping; her heartbeat was louder in her ears then the seemingly endless ringing of the phone.
What was she thinking? Chances were more than good that he had left long ago. Or at least changed the number. Or she got the number wrong. Or...
"Hello?" a voice startled her.
She almost dropped the phone, when her trail of doubts had suddenly been interrupted by the voice on the other end. Thousands of thoughts filled her mind at once, a floodgate of emotions she couldn't stop or ignore. But she couldn't put any one of them into words.
"Hello? Anybody there?" the voice asked.
Just say something; anything!
"...Shi... Shinji...?" she merely managed to ask hoarsely.
"Uh... yes, Shinji Ikari here. Who's... Oh, sorry, could you wait a second?"
Her breathing stopped for a moment. It was him. It really was him. But what was she supposed to tell him now?
'Hi there! Remember me? The bitch that used to order you around and abused you constantly? Mind becoming my caring b... friend?'
What was taking him so long? He seemed... Did he talk to someone? Curiously, she tried to understand the low voices.
"... then what is it, Takuro?" Shinji spoke.
"When comes Mama back?" a small voice on the other end said.
"She'll be back soon. Please, you see that I'm talking with someone on the phone. Why don't you go playing with your new car Auntie Misato gave you?"
Then there was some sort of mumbling, followed by footsteps that hurried away.
"Ah, kids..." she could hear him playfully sighing. "Now, what can I do for you?"
Startled, as he suddenly addressed her again, she found the lump in her throat even thicker as before.
"I... I... S-sorry, wrong number!" she stuttered and slammed the handset on its station.
She should have known...
Why should he have waited for her all these years? Why should he have waited for her at all? It was not like there had ever been something that would give him a reason to do that.
A sob rocked her body.
What had she hoped to achieve with this call anyway? She surely didn't want to crawl back to him or saying something about she loves him or even that she wanted a family or something. Just...
She shook her head and tried her best to ignore the tears that trailed down her cheeks.
It would be the best if she would just forget everything. Just concentrate on the work as she did before. Yes, she should better get to sleep. She had to be up early the next morning.
But sleep didn't help much to fill the emptiness in her heart...
"Who 'as that, Unce Shinni?" the small boy asked.
"I... don't know..." Shinji still looked confused at the phone in his hand, where the caller just had hung up. Even the caller-ID hadn't said who it was.
Just as he put it down, the doorbell got his, and even more so the 3 year old boy's, attention.
"Mama!" the child cried happily and hurried to the door.
Shinji smiled, shaking his head, as he followed him slowly. By now, Takuro had somehow managed to reach the knob and jumped in his mother's arms immediately.
"Whoa, what a stormy greeting!" the young woman commented, with a big grin on her lips. "Hello, my little darling. Did you have fun with Uncle Shinji?"
"Well, he seemed eager to get away from me," Shinji pouted playfully, as in contrast to the boy's nod. "He asked for you at least ten times in the last five minutes alone, not even counting the previous half an hour. One would think that a former Class-Representative is more on time..."
"Sorry, Shinji," the long haired brunette excused and shifted her son in her arm a bit that he would have a better hold than just on her green evening dress. "We would have been here earlier, but Toji wanted to celebrate our anniversary also in... eh... a special way..." She blushed a bit, eyeing Takuro who seemed to drift into sleep already on her shoulder. "But you know he really likes you."
"Of course I know. And you know that I always like to watch out for the little rascal, whenever I can." Shinji said.
"Yes, we're very grateful for that. And you always take good care of him. You know... I'm sure you'll be a good father some day..."
"Hikari," he groaned, rolling his eyes a bit. "We talked about that often enough."
"Well, it's just that there's this girl who works with Toji, and we think you two would..."
"Hikari..." he interrupted her once more, this time more sadly. "You know that there's only one that I'm interested in."
Hikari sighed. "I know... But it's like you've been hunting a ghost. It just can't be healthy for such a long time."
Shinji didn't respond to this and just looked merely on the floor. She sighed again. She knew he would wait for her, even if it would kill him.
"Have you at least tried to contact her again? I mean..."
"Of course I did!" he snapped more forcefully than intended, almost bringing Takuro out of his slumber. "I... I mean... it's just... I seriously doubt that any message can reach her. Her agency blocks any letters, shrugging them off as fan-mail, which she most likely not even has the time for to look through. It's the same with calls or e-mails. And her actual address and number is kept secret."
"But doesn't it help if you just say who you are?"
Shinji stifled a laugh as he shook his head. "Have you any idea how many people claim to be one of her 'good old friends' just to reach her? There are at least twenty 'Shinji Ikari's in the forums of her fan club-site alone."
"Oh, Shinji, I'm..." Hikari began, but he cut her off again by shaking his head.
"Don't be. It was a price that I was willing to pay for her happiness..."
(Halfway across the city)
"...It was a price that I was willing to pay for her happiness..." Shinji's voice played over the comm.
"Are you sure this is a good idea?" the blond-haired Eiji Spiegel asked.
"You're job is not to question your assignment. Besides, we do this a hundred times a week." the green-haired Spike Shinjo said.
"But Spike, this guy is no threat to national security. He's a hero for crying out loud." Eiji huffed.
"Which is why we need to monitor him." the blue-haired woman emerged from the shadows.
"Major!" the pair stood up and saluted.
"Has anything unusual happened at residence 01?" Major Rei Ayanami, dressed in formal military attire, asked.
"Nothing much. Hikari Suzuhara just came by to pick up her son, Takuro. Oh, and there was a call made to his apartment." Eiji answered.
Rei perked up. "A call? From who?"
"Don't know. Here's the playback."
Rei listened to the playback, over and over until she was satisfied.
"I see. Very well then. Gentlemen, we have a new assignment." she said.
One week later found Shinji Ikari on a plane headed for Hollywood, California. Of course, he wasn't Shinji Ikari now.
Rei had approached Shinji on an urgent matter. Or so she said. Rei had said that the government had need of an agent in California, someone no one knew, yet didn't have the appearance of a spy. But she said that that was what the government wanted. The real reason...was for Asuka.
At hearing this, Shinji gave her his full attention. Not like he never did before.
Apparently Rei was concerned that something might happen to Asuka, and that she would be better off with a trusted friend to help her out. But since 'Shinji Ikari' couldn't get close to her, due to her numerous 'Shinji Ikari' fans, Rei had given him a new identity.
After all this time, he was going to see her. He had mixed feelings, naturally. After all the time they has spent together, they did know each other fairly well. He had often thought of them as friends, but she had been rather...mean to him. She had demeaned him, abused him, insulted him and used him. She had made him do her choirs, clean her clothes, cook her meals... But that was Asuka. She was fiery as anything, with a confidence that radiated as bright as the sun. She had a beauty second-to-none, and a personality that you couldn't ignore if your life depended on it.
Despite it all, Shinji knew that she hadn't done all those things to be mean, she was just the kind of person who wanted others to notice her and did whatever it took to be recognized so that she wouldn't be lonely.
But now he was on his way to see her, whether she needed him or not, and he wasn't about to let her down. If he could do anything to help her, he would. He didn't care about his happiness, only hers.
"Attention passengers! We are beginning our final approach into the city of Neo-Angeles. Please have your passports ready as you disembark." the flight attendant said over the loudspeaker.
"And here we go." Shinji muttered to himself as the plane tipped its nose downward.
Shinji had gotten through customs without trouble, and was met by Asuka's business manager. Fortunately he didn't recognize Shinji, which wasn't the surprising. They proceeded to Asuka's apartment via private car and Shinji found his breath catch in his chest with anticipation.
It was nearly six o'clock at night as Shinji was lead in through the front door of the apartment and just stared in shock at how large the apartment itself was.
"Something wrong?" the manager asked, noticing Shinji staring.
"No...it's so big. One person lives here?" he asked, astonished.
The managed smirked. "One person, but you could fit a whole family in here if you wanted to." he said as he opened the file that Shinji had given her. "Now, I understand that the Japanese government has sent you here for a specific purpose, and I'm not opposed to having you around, but Asuka has a set schedule and I won't have that interrupted, nor her social life. Is that understood?"
"Of course." he nodded.
"Good. Though I'm a little confused as to why they would want to assign someone to this matter. Whatever the matter is." the manager said.
"All I was told is that Ms Sohryu might be in some kind of danger. I'm only here to help." Shinji said to the man.
"Very well then. Your cover will be as housekeeper. Can you handle that without drawing attention to yourself? Or at least make it seem as though you know what you're doing?" he asked.
Shinji smirked. "I assure you, I can manage."
"Good. Then I'll just...ah, here she comes now." he said .
Just then, Asuka came out of her room. She was dressed in sweatpants and a tank top. She froze as she saw her business manager Gerald and...no, it couldn't be.
"Asuka, this is, Simon Icarus. He's going to be your new housekeeper." her manager said.
"..." she froze, speechless as her mind worked to confirm who this person was.
Japanese? Yes. Brown hair? Yes. Blue eyes? Yes. Sorrowful expression? Yes.
"Asuka?" her manager said.
She snapped out of her trance. "Uh, you checked him out, thoroughly?" she asked.
"Yes. Complete background check. He's clean." he said, holding up his paperwork for her.
She took the papers and turned to address him. "Well, he's not much to look at." she quipped in typical Asuka-style, hoping he would pick up on what she was playing at. "So, Mr Icarus, what do you do?"
"Oh, cooking, cleaning, washing clothes. I'm your typical housebroken male." Shinji said with a smile that Asuka knew all to well.
As her manager was going on about the background check and résumé, Asuka just stared at him, taking all of him in. She noticed that he had gotten even more handsome than when she last saw him. He had definitely gotten taller, more muscular, and physically he was next to gorgeous. And he was happy to see her, that she knew right away. But there was something bothering her. If he had a family then why was he here? And where were they? At that thought she noticed that he wasn't wearing a wedding band. This was confusing to her, especially if what she had heard over the phone was right.
"So, your basic job will be to keep the apartment clean, cook any and all meals Ms Sohryu requires, make sure her clothes are clean, and drive her wherever she needs whenever her regular driver is indisposed. Is that alright?" the manager said.
"Nothing I can't handle." Shinji replied.
"And for sheer convenience there's a spare room next to the kitchen so you're not too far away if Ms Sohryu needs you. It's not very big, I'm afraid." Gerald said.
"I'm Japanese, sir. We're used to small apartments." he assured.
"Alright then. The agency is paying your salary for the start of the next three months, after that Ms Sohryu will be paying you directly. I'll leave you to get settled in, and I'm sure Asuka will put you to work right away. I've got an appointment to keep for a director, so I'll see you later, Asuka."
"Alright, Gerald. Go on, off with you." she smirked at him.
Once her manager had left, Shinji got settled into the servants quarters of Asuka's apartment. He was about to head to the kitchen when Asuka jumped him.
"Shinji! God, is it you? Is it really you?" she cried into his chest as he tried to sit up.
"Yeah, Asuka. It is." he said as he hugged her back.
She took his face into her hands, just holding him and looking at him to make sure he wasn't a ghost. Her tears started to flow before she knew they were upon her.
"Asuka, why are you crying? You're going to ruin your beautiful face." he said as he helped her up and grabbed a paper napkin to blot the tears away.
It is Shinji. She thought as he attended her. "And just who the hell is 'Simon Icarus'?" she asked.
"Actually, that was Rei's idea." he said, tossing the napkin in the trash can.
"Wondergirl?" she asked.
"She figured that Shinji Ikari wouldn't be able to get through the door. I'm still something of a minor celebrity. And with all your fans claiming to be me..."
"Right, right. I get quite a few of them lately." she said. "So... Icarus?" she asked.
"The boy with the wax wings who flew too close to the sun and fell into the ocean."
"I know the myth Shinji, but why..."
"Boy with wings. Like... An Angel?"
Asuka laughed. Wondergirl's sense of humor is improving!
The pair were quite for some time, until Asuka spoke up again.
"Why are you here? Won't your family be worried?"
"You mean Misato? No, she's got her own problems, what with her own kids."
"She's got...wait. I thought you were...I thought you had..."
He looked at her, confused. "What?"
"I...I thought you..." she picked her words carefully. "..would have gotten married by now."
She thought I'd be married by now? He wondered. Shinji looked at her stunned for a few seconds. "I wanted to. But the girl I love left."
Asuka looked at him stunned for a few seconds. Was he talking about her?
"How's...Takuro?" she asked.
"He's fine. He really has his father's spirit. I didn't know you'd talked to Hikari lately, especially about her son." he said.
Hikari's son? Shinji hadn't married then. He must have been babysitting or something when she called him. Which made sense since Shinji was always the trustworthy and dependable type. Her heart lifted at hearing this.
"Alright, Shinji. Tell me everything." she said.
"Everything?" he asked.
"Everything that's happened since I left. I really want to know."
Shinji just looked at her and smiled.
"Hmm. Where to begin..."
Suddenly, Asuka's stomach gurgled.
"How about I tell you while I make something." he said, and got right to work.
Fortunately, Gerald made sure the pantry and fridge were fully stocked. Not that Asuka cooked or anything, but when word reached Gerald that a new 'housekeeper' was coming, he made sure that the apartment had plenty of good food.
As Shinji talked, and cooked, Asuka just listened. She smiled at just being able to sit and listen to a friend again. A real friend.
"Well, to start with, after you left, NERV was officially disbanded. Most of the original staff went into the military or government work. Sub-Commander Fuyutsuki went back to teaching again. He's the head of Tokyo-3 University now, dean of admissions or something like that. Most of NERV has been integrated into the Japanese Government, and the Geofront itself is being used for research, and a possible backup shelter in case of nuclear attack." Shinji explained. "Let's see... Misato still has PenPen, even though Hikari loves the little penguin to death. She married Kaji, by the way. They tried to send you an invitation, but your manager said you were busy."
I really want to fire that guy sometimes. She thought. "Figures."
"Anyway, they had their third child seven months ago and I think they're trying for a fourth." he said. "They named their second child, a girl, after you."
Asuka's felt her heart flutter at this. They hadn't forgotten her, despite the long of time apart.
"Hope they don't pick up Misato's drinking habit." she smirked.
"Don't need to worry about that. Right after Kaji proposed to her, she quite drinking. Cold turkey." he said as the meat sizzled and the vegetables simmered.
At this, Asuka was obviously surprised. Misato quite drinking? Wow.
"Seriously?" she asked.
"Seriously. Anyway, Hikari and Toji just celebrated their fourth anniversary together last week, so I was the designated babysitter." he said, carefully stirring the food.
Must have been right when I called him, she thought.
"Kensuke's got his own computer company now. It's small, but he's doing really good. Rei's working for the government now. Rumor is she's a spy or something, I haven't really asked her about it. Ritsuko's the head surgeon at Tokyo-3 General. Maya actually went with her."
Asuka started to smile at that. "Hmm. Are they..."
"Don't know. Could be. Wouldn't surprise me, but I never pry into their personal lives. Let's see, Toji is the head coach for the high school football team. Hikari's doing public relations for the city. Pen-Pen's doing commercials now." Shinji rattled off the list.
"Commercials?" she said, a little shocked. Guess they haven't made it here, yet.
"Yeah. For beer and TV dinners. Weird, huh?"
"Considering who he lived with?"
"Right." he agreed. "And, oh, Kaji's an investigative reporter now for the Tokyo-3 Tribune. Misato... well, she's doing this and that. She's had a few modeling jobs too. She's still as pretty as ever, and pregnant or not, she's still getting work."
"Figures." she said with a smile. Then her expression turned sour. "What about your father?"
"Well..." Shinji gulped, not really wanting to talk about it. "He should be up for parole in about 200 years. Apparently treason, embezzlement, murder, genocide and illegal genetic manipulation caught up with him."
"Right." she said, quickly trying to change the subject. "And what are you doing?"
"Me? Taking care of you right now." he said as he turned off the stove and searched for a couple of plates.
"No, that's not what...I mean, what have you been doing since I left? I figured you'd have yourself a girl or something." she said as Shinji grabbed the plates and set the food out.
Shinji blushed. She thought it was cute when he did that.
"Well, Toji and Hikari have been trying to set me up left and right, but I...I wasn't too interested. And I haven't been doing too much lately. Living off my government pension is enough for me. I'm actually trying for a position in the Tokyo-3 symphony. Tryouts are every six months or so."
"Really? That's great."
"Yeah. So, tell me, what's been going on in your life?"
Asuka went on to tell Shinji about her various jobs, her acting career, her 'relationships', but Shinji got the feeling she was holding something back. Something seemed to be missing from her life, he could see it. He could feel it. He was grateful to be here now, for her.
Shinji's arrival was like a godsend to Asuka. That same day, she felt a tremendous weight lift off her soul. An emptiness inside her filled. She felt, complete, at the arrival of her friend. He became the bright light in her life, helping her to become the celebrity everyone wanted. She realized now that trying to ignore her old life, shut it out and concentrate on her new life was all just a front. She had been fooling herself into thinking that that was what she needed to do. When what she needed was right here with her.
Shinji became much more than her personal housekeeper and cook. He was her valet, her driver (after the other one got caught trying to sell Asuka's private number on the Internet) her attendant, and best friend.
Some people even said that she treated him better than anyone else. The change in Asuka was the most shocking. Most couldn't believe that this was really her. He went everywhere with her, always giving her sincere compliments and constructive criticism. She wasn't offended by any of it, even his worry. She was actually touched that he was so concerned for her. Genuinely concerned.
Some nights they just talked, and Asuka was glad for that at least.
Every time they came home, Shinji had something prepared for her. Sometimes it was Japanese cuisine, sometimes Western. When it came to Western, Shinji had to practice and experiment. Asuka savored every bite of food he made, all for her. And he made sure she ate healthy. He made sure the apartment was clean and all her clothes were perfectly pressed and ready for whatever nighttime event she had planned. Or her manager had planned.
She absolutely relished the time she spent with Shinji. She felt whole again, and happier than she had in a long time.
In fact, the only times she really felt happy, was when she was with Shinji. She had missed that in her life. His honesty, his sincerity, the way he genuinely cared for her. His...warmth. Yes, that was what she had missed the most.
But a live-in housekeeper, valet, cook, etc., did cost money. To supplement this, Asuka had taken several photo shoots (even swimsuit ones), which gave her the exposure to acquire more acting jobs and even managed to get a movie role. She preformed her best, giving a 110% all the time. She did this for Shinji, to keep him with her. At Asuka's insistence, Shinji was allowed on set, helping Asuka memorize her lines, getting her drinks when she was thirsty, a towel when she was sweaty, bringing her special home cooked meals for her lunch, and drove her home at night.
(Though this was difficult when they were filming on-sight, out of country, but as long as Asuka had Shinji she didn't care)
She made five movies within 18 months, all blockbusters with her in the starring role. She had never worked so hard in her life, but she didn't complain. So long as Shinji was with her.
Her greatest movie, according to Shinji, was a remake of a Pre-Second Impact movie, based on a video game, called BloodRayne. It was about a redheaded half human/vampire heroine named Rayne who used her incredible powers to battle the forces of evil.
Not a big stretch for Asuka considering what she had done nearly a decade ago. Asuka teased him for thinking that it was the sexy vampish leather outfit that Rayne wore that made the movie great, but Shinji, after blushing, said that seeing Asuka portray Rayne, made him remember their time as Eva-pilots, when Asuka's fiery personality was at it's peak.
Again, she thanked Shinji for reminding her about the woman she had been. The strength she had had, and the confidence that she had all but lost.
Of course, not being publically romantically involved made Shinji a target for several young women, some of them Asuka's co-workers.
Some of her modeling friends had practically begged her for a date with him, and Asuka had to make up a variety of creative excuses to get Shinji out of dates he didn't know about.
She just didn't want to share him, and that was the plain truth.
But she liked it. Pushing herself physically and mentally. And it was all for Shinji.
One instance in particular made her really appreciate Shinji being there.
Asuka had just gotten back from a date with a rather annoying and vainglorious celebrity, and was both upset and flustered at the whole thing. She felt she was about ready to scream when she walked in the door. Memories of her past 'Hikari-blind-dates' had obviously resurfaced.
Right from the start, Shinji knew what he had to do. Having received a phone call from her manager about what had happened, Shinji was able to prepare for it.
He cooked her favorite Italian meal and had a rather romantic setting waiting for her when she got back. Soft music and a relaxing atmosphere. Right as she walked in the door, her anger melted away and was replaced by happiness. Shinji stayed by Asuka while she ate, ready to get anything she might want when she needed it.
Damn this is good. Those restaurant cooks could learn a few things from Shinji. She thought as she ate the lasagna dinner he had prepared.
Once she was finished, he asked if she would like to dance.
Her heart nearly beat out of her chest as she put her hand in his and was lead to the living room. He put the music on, smiling as he asked, "May I have the honor of dancing with the great Asuka Langley Sohryu?"
"Yes you may." she beamed at him.
This was probably the boldest thing that Shinji had ever done in his life. Not that she was complaining, mind you.
Asuka held him close as they danced, the whole night seeming to slow to a crawl as they just held each other to the soft rhythm of the music. She held him tightly, clutching at his back as if she were afraid he would turn and run from her if she didn't. He felt her shivering and asked what was wrong.
"I've missed you, Shinji. I've missed you so much." she said, crying into his chest.
He held her tightly, gently rubbing her back, physically telling her that he was there for her.
"I won't leave Asuka. I promise you." he whispered back to her.
"You won't?" she asked, lifting her head up to look at him. "Shinji...I have to know. Do you...do you..."
But Shinji knew what she wanted to know. "I love you Asuka. I always have."
"Then why did you let me leave?" she snapped.
There it was. The thing that had been silently bugging her all this time.
"Because I wanted you to be happy. That's what I want for you." he answered.
Asuka broke down into tears. "You idiot! If you loved me, why didn't you keep me from leaving? Why couldn't you be selfish for once in your life?" she weakly beat his chest with her hands.
"Asuka, you know the answer to that." he said, unfazed by her 'assault'.
"I know. But, I want to know, what do you want?" she asked.
"What?" he asked, unsure if he wanted to know the answer.
"If you could have anything in the world, anything, any...one, just for yourself, what would it be?"
He really didn't have to think about that as he tightened his embrace "To be married to the woman I love."
A simple answer, the dream of all romantics. Asuka seemed content with that answer, hoping that she was the one he loved. Of course he had told her he loved her, but she just loved hearing it.
"I just want you to be happy, Asuka."
"I'm happy with you!" she said, almost on the verge of tears. "This is the happiest I've been in years." she said, tears now starting to stream down her cheeks. "But...why didn't you ask me to stay with you in Tokyo-3?"
"I couldn't be greedy. After all the publicity you got I knew you wanted to go to Hollywood. And you got everything you wanted." he said, wiping the tears away with a paper napkin once again.
"And I lost everything I needed." she said in a soft voice.
He looked at her curiously. This was something he hadn't expected to hear from her. "What do you mean? You're...you're the most popular woman in the world, millions of people want to meet you, worship you. They do anything just to catch a glimpse of you and get your autograph. Heck, hundreds of women even want to be you!"
She closed her eyes and shook her head, nearly crying. "I've been alone Shinji. I've been so alone since I came here. I don't have any real friends. I had no one here to welcome me home, no one here who liked me for me. It's been so empty...until you came." she said as she looked Shinji directly in the eyes. "I was never so thankful for anyone just being there for me in my entire life. You don't care that I was an Eva pilot, of that I'm a celebrity. You don't try to use me or get something out of me. You like me for me."
"You're wrong, Asuka. I don't like you." he said with emphasis on 'like'.
She looked stunned and confused at what he just said.
"I love you."
Tears fell before she could stop them, not that she wanted them to. She pulled herself to him and kissed him full on the lips. A hungry kiss that he savored with all his might as he held her to him.
Eventually the paparazzi caught wind of the pair's relationship. Rumors were flying left and right that Asuka was having an affair with her housekeeper.
Her manager wanted to fire Shinji, but Asuka said she'd fired him before that.
As for a potential scandal, Asuka played it off like it was a natural thing. Like it was expected.
However, the attention and lack of privacy were quickly becoming too much for them, especially for Asuka. Things were getting so bad, that Asuka finally decided that she had had enough, and just wanted to get away from it all. Go on a vacation somewhere.
"God! I am so sick and tired of all this damn publicity." Asuka growled, slamming down the phone again. "It's worse than imagining people jerking themselves off to photographs of me. You know, the ones those two Stooges took of me back in school?"
Shinji nodded. I still have a couple of them. He thought.
"They just won't leave us alone." Asuka huffed.
"I thought you wanted publicity." Shinji said, making her another sandwich.
"Not this kind of publicity." she said. "I mean, they're even talking trash about you!"
"I don't care, Asuka."
"Well I Do!" she all but shouted.
The pair were silent as Asuka rampaged around the apartment, back and forth just letting her steam die out.
"What do you want to do Asuka?" Shinji finally asked once he figured Asuka was calmed down enough.
Asuka stopped pacing and just looked at him. "I'm tired Shinji. I want...I want to go home."
"Home? You mean, back to Germany?" he asked.
"Not Germany. I want things back the way they were. I want to be with friends and family, with people who really care about me. I miss them, Shinji, I miss Misato and Hikari. I miss Pen-Pen, Ritsuko, I even miss Wondergirl and those damn stoogies."
Whoa. He gasped, realizing that it must be bad if she wanted to see Toji and Kensuke.
"I want to go back to Japan, even for a visit." she said.
Shinji smiled at that. "Then let's do it."
"What?" she asked, almost incredulously at his immediate suggestion.
"Let's take a vacation, just you and me. You're not doing any projects right now. We'll go to Japan, see everyone. I'm sure they'll love to see you again Asuka." he smiled again.
I hope they will. She thought.
(Reports are sketchy at best, but is known is that the private flight that international celebrity Asuka Langley Sohryu was on, has crashed somewhere in the Pacific Ocean between Japan and Hawaii.) The news reporter said. (According to local sources, Ms Sohryu boarded the plane out of LAX with her housekeeper, one Simon Icarus, apparently headed to Japan for a vacation. Unconfirmed sources have leaked to the media about their illicit affair, though neither people were available for comment. Search parties have yet to turn up any wreckage, though authorities have yet to rule out the possibility that the ocean currents may have carried the plane away from it's last reported position. As of yet, no survivors have been found.)
However, the news service was wrong.
The planes crash-landing in the ocean had been orchestrated by Rei Ayanami, who had kept an even closer tab on the pair than the media had. She had arranged for the pair to be rescued via underwater pickup, and brought aboard a special submarine before the plane got too deep.
It wasn't difficult. The pilots and stewardess worked for Rei. To make things even better, and to shock Asuka when she was brought aboard, Rei had arranged for all of their friends to be present. Even Takuro, despite his age.
Misato, Kaji, their kids, Hikari, Toji, their son, Kensuke, Ritsuko, Maya, PenPen and Rei all greeted them once they were onboard.
Once the long and tearful reunion had passed, Rei explained to them that the world already thought Asuka was dead, along with her housekeeper/lover, Simon Icarus. And if she wanted the world to keep thinking that, then she would have to change her name and return to Japan. And the best way to do that, would be to get married.
Asuka was naturally shocked at hearing that, until Rei shoved a small box into Shinji's hands and pushed him towards the gorgeous redhead. Before she could ask what was happening, Shinji dropped to one knee and proposed to her in front of everyone.
"You asked me once if there was anything, or anyone, in the world I wanted for myself. Well, my answer is... I want you Asuka. I want to spend my life with you, make you happy, give you a family, grow old and die together. Will you have me?"
Asuka's eyes filled with tears once again and said 'Yes', once the lump was out of her throat.
The pair were married aboard the submarine, priest brought by Rei. To make the whole thing more believable, and so no one would get suspicious, Asuka agreed to take Shinji's name.
Rei had even provided suitable wedding clothes, and a reception party aboard the sub.
When the pair got back to Japan, the newly married couple of Shinji and Asuka Langley Ikari disembarked from the submarine and went to spend the rest of their lives together back in the newly rebuilt city of Tokyo-3.
While some would have thought that a celebrity like Asuka would have missed the glitz and glamor of Hollywood, Asuka knew first hand that something like that only brought pain and loneliness to her life. The thing she wanted most was to be loved. She had that now, and she wasn't going to let it go. Not for all the fame in the world.
It was true about what people often said. That the price of fame was high. Asuka could attest to that.
Asuka moved in with her new husband and eventually got a job, as a legal assistant to the DA of Tokyo-3. Shinji eventually gained a place in the Tokyo Symphony, playing cello, and both of them settled into a quiet life. They had two children, two girls that they named Yui and Kyoko, who they loved with all their hearts. Asuka even managed to patch things up between her and Rei.
It was during one of Rei's frequent visits, that the pair actually got talking.
"Rei... I've always wanted to ask you something." Asuka said as Rei sipped her tea.
"Why did you do it? All of it? I mean... it wasn't just for me."
"No. It wasn't for you."
"Then why? Was it..."
"Yes. It was for Shinji." Rei said.
Asuka said nothing as Rei continued.
"Shinji is, and always will be, special to me. I wanted him to be happy. But he loved you. So..."
"You set up this whole thing just for him." she said, looking outside to see her wonderful husband playing with her two precious five-year old daughters. "Thank you."
Rei looked at Asuka in shock.
"You did it for him. But you saved me from a pain I never want to remember ever again." Asuka said.
"Then... you are welcome, Asuka." Rei said with a smile.
And Asuka was right. Everything she thought she had wanted wasn't in Hollywood. It was right here, in Japan. Shinji was a loving father, a devoted husband, and, she blushed, a fantastic lover. This is what fame had almost cost her, a price too high for even the great Asuka Langley Sohryu.
A price, she would never pay again.
A long time ago I read this story. While I never really was a fan of Shinji/Asuka pairings, this one story caught my attention. For the longest time I tried to write up a way to give this a better ending, and after nearly six years I finally got around to finishing it. With the original authors permission, I posted this story and I hope that everyone enjoys it.
Not much I can say about all this, just that I hope everyone likes it and will leave me lots of reviews and comments.