Supposedly, it was to conserve power for defense. Even when not in times of crisis, the enormous amount of electricity it took to move any part of the Evangelions at all was taxing on Japan's power grid. When there were Angels to be fought and lives were on the line, there was simply not enough power to always keep Tokyo-3 alight. On the whole, people were willing to sacrifice late night television to prevent the Third Impact.
And so the blackouts.
It was scheduled of course, so in theory the citizens of Tokyo-3 would be able to plan around the inconvenience. The sections of the city that would lose power were broadcast on the television weeks in advance, detailing exactly what time the power would go out for what areas, and when it would return. Unlike the blackouts however, checking to see the scheduled time of the power outage was not compulsory.
And so Asuka had forgotten to check the times. And now it was cold.
She shivered under her single thin sheet and cursed herself for the millionth time for not packing her heavy blankets when she had moved from Germany. She could have left out some of her seemingly endless supply of bathing suits and summer dresses to make room for one damn comforter. It's not like she ever got the chance to wear any of her cute clothes. School uniforms – really should have thought that one through. As if there was anyone in Japan worth impressing anyway…
Asuka felt a chill run down her spine and pulled the sheet tighter. It wasn't helping anything, and the Japanese winter was proving unforgiving even through the walls of the shared flat. She heard snow hitting the window on the other side of the room, the wind howling all around the building, and she felt very alone.
She hated feeling alone, and it happened so often lately. She missed seeing Kaji on a daily basis, and even the other people she knew back home. There hadn't been many friends, but there were a couple of girls she would eat lunch with sometimes, when Kaji was busy. They were good company, and they had seemed to like her, but she hadn't kept in contact with them once transferring overseas. Asuka felt a little guilty about this at first, but it wasn't as if they had reached out to her, either. She wasn't sure if it counted as friendship if no one cared when it began or ended. She wondered if anyone in this country would worry about her when she shipped back home.
She reminded herself that it was the providence of geniuses and prodigies to always be alone, out in front of everyone else looking back. She didn't feel any warmer.
Asuka sat up, hugging her arms to herself and glancing over at the wall.
Shinji was on the other side of that wall. She had run into him briefly, earlier in the evening, right as the power had gone out. He had been carrying blankets and looking very smug. The Third Child, evidently, had not forgotten to check the schedule.
A message on the answering machine had let the pilots know that Misato had opted to spend the night inside the Geofront. NERV's headquarters was one of the few places in the city where the power never went out, and there was surely a bed hidden somewhere in the massive facility she could lay down on. At the very worst: somewhere lurked a space heater and a wall to lean against. Misato was resourceful.
Asuka was envious of the woman's foresight. She realized miserably that her only real option was to walk to Shinji's room and ask him for one of his blankets.
She clenched her teeth. Screw that, she thought. She'd never hear the end of it.
But still, the other option at this point seemed to be to sit in her room and succumb to hypothermia. How long did these damn blackouts last again? She couldn't remember for the life of her.
Asuka put her ear to the wall, wincing as her cheek touched the icy plaster. She closed her eyes and strained to hear if Shinji was still awake. Maybe she could sneak in and steal a blanket so she wouldn't have to talk to him at all? There was a faint noise, but Asuka couldn't figure out what it was exactly. It almost sounded like a window sliding open, but she couldn't think of a single reason why anyone would be stupid enough to open their window during a storm like-
Asuka sprung away from the wall immediately and pretended to be asleep. Shinji stood in her doorway, flashlight in one hand. His brow knit with slight confusion.
"…what were you just doing?"
"Wh-what are you talking about, you idiot?" She propped herself up on her arms, faking a yawn. "I was sleeping! You know, what most normal people are doing this time of the night!" Asuka was blushing furiously, despite herself. She hoped he didn't see in the low light, or notice how stupid her babbling sounded. "What are you doing in my room, anyway? When did I give you permission to come in?"
"Sorry. Look, I brought you some more layers." Asuka noticed for the first time that Shinji had stuffed an armful of blankets in the hand not holding the torch. He turned slightly so she could see them. "I thought you might be cold."
"Cold? Oh, is it snowing?" Asuka looked out the window. "Wow! I hadn't even noticed. I'm fine, you just worry about yourself, okay?" She pulled the thin sheet up to her chin and wished for her teeth to stop chattering.
Shinji stood in the doorway.
"…you look cold." He remarked.
Asuka shot up from her bed.
"I said 'I'm fine', Ikari! I mean, jeez, if you want to leave some of the stupid blankets there, then go ahead, but I don't need your charity! I'm trying to sleep!" Asuka waved her arms around wildly, partially to bring them warmth and partially to distract from her shivering.
She didn't understand why she did this to herself. Asuka realized that Shinji was actually offering her exactly what she had wanted – what she had been very close to walking next door and demanding, as a matter of fact – but when they were offered to her like this it made her feel… what was the word...?
Asuka Langley Sohryu was not dependent on anyone, least of all Shinji Ikari. She was a genius. She was in front of the pack looking back. She was alo-
"You know what?" Asuka threw the sheet off of herself and leapt to her feet. "I'm up now, and I'm hungry. I'm grabbing some food."
Asuka muscled her way past Shinji into the mutual dining area, which she soon discovered was completely black.
"Hey, gimme that flashlight." The redhead snatched the torch from Shinji's hand and illuminated the cabinets all around them.
"How many shirts do you have on?" Shinji asked off-hand. Asuka spun on him venomously.
"Sheiße! Mind your own business Ikari! Honestly! I don't need your damn blankets!" She whirled on the cabinets. "Where the hell's the herbal tea, anyway? Pen-Pen's always friggin' moving things in this house…"
Anything to keep warm, anything to keep warm, I don't need him, anything to keep warm...
Her hand brushed against the box for the Mint Medley and Asuka felt a rush of triumph sweep over her.
"Ha! Finally! Where's the teapot?"
"Um… the stove's not working."
The flashlight turned accusingly on Shinji, illuminating him brilliantly in the black.
"It needs electricity, Asuka. So does the microwave." Shinji laughed lightly. "Didn't you go to college?"
The small box of tea rocketed through the air and hit Shinji in the nose, stunning him for a second. A hand quickly grabbed the scruff of his neck and he felt himself being violently shaken.
"Don't you talk down to me! I'm the best damn pilot in this hemisphere! You should be on your knees worshipping me, BAKA! When I was in Germany I had so many frien-"
"Would you cut it out?" Shinji shook himself free of his tormentor's grasp and glared with irritation at where he assumed Asuka's head was. "What's the matter with you, anyway? Your hands are freezing. Just take the blankets and go to bed."
Shinji turned to go back to his room. "...you're welcome."
The flashlight hit him in the back of the head when he was two steps away from his door.
Shinji spun around, angrily. "There is something fucking wrong with you!" He bellowed into the darkness. "I was trying to be nice!"
No response came from the kitchen. When the flashlight had hit him, Shinji had vaguely heard the batteries fly out from the back of it, and now the entire apartment was under cover of darkness.
Shinji sighed. He slunk to the floor, massaging the back of his head.
"God damn it... That really hurt, Asuka."
Silence. He took a deep breath before continuing.
"I don't understand you at all. I don't get why-" Shinji cut himself off and shook his head.
He stood up. "Nevermind. It doesn't matter. I'm going to bed."
He felt for his door.
"'You don't get why' what?" Asuka's voice was closer than Shinji had expected it to be, and he jumped a little, despite himself. "What were you going to say?" she asked.
Shinji leaned his head against the wall.
"It's stupid," he admitted.
"A lot of what you say is stupid." It was an insult, but in the darkness it was somehow softened. Shinji swore he could almost hear a smile behind her voice. "Tell me anyway."
Shinji sighed. The blackness made him feel like he was talking to someone else. It made things easier to say – there were things he had to get off of his chest.
"I don't get why… we're not friends," Shinji began. "We live together. We work together. We're in the same class. We use the same shower for God's sake. We share so many things, Asuka. Probably more than I share with any other person alive. Why don't we get along?"
"I mean, I've always tried to be nice to you," he continued. "I just don't understand why you hate me so much. Did I do something to offend you? You seem to be friends with Hikari-chan, which is great, but I mean..."
He shook his head, the pain at the back of his skull flaring up. "You know what? I don't really care. I don't care what it is you have against me, or why you throw fucking flashlights at me when I'm trying to help you, or if you freeze to death in your room. I just don't care anymore. I'm going to bed."
He turned to his door and slid it open. For a moment, Shinji paused to see if she was going to say something – anything.
Shinji began to step through the door when he felt a small tug on the back of his shirt, and the pressure stopped him in his tracks. She was standing right behind him. He heard her breathing in the dark, uneven and slightly raspy.
After what seemed like an eternity, she opened her mouth to speak.
"...do you hate me?"
Her voice was tiny. It sounded like she was admitting her deepest secret. "I know I can be difficult sometimes, but... I've always sort of considered us..."
Shinji had never heard this tone of voice come from the proud German pilot. It sounded so meek. He tried to imagine what her face could possibly look like at this moment.
He felt her take a small step closer. "I mean, do you really...?"
God, she sounded so fragile. He thought of her blue eyes and how angry they usually were. What did those eyes look like when they were vulnerable, when they could be hurt? Could she be hurt? Shinji found it hard to believe anything ever got through that tough skin of hers.
Shinji sighed. He was so tired. His head ached.
"You know, Asuka. Sometimes, I really do."
Shinji stepped out of her grip and slid the door shut behind him.
He found the sheets outside of his door the next morning, folded and cold.
AN: This is actually not done yet. So there's that. If you liked the chapter (or have any constructive criticism) reviews and feedback would be much appreciated. :)