Enjoy.

*********

To My Dearest Honey
By: Karina Kineshi (coronaflare@mail.com)

Today is D-Day.

As soon as I woke up, Misato whirled us into her beaten up car and spirited us to NERV headquarters. I think we were about halfway there before I realized that I wasn't in my futon anymore. Misato chattered on and on about something I didn't care to listen to, like she had drunk an undue amount of coffee this morning.

In the car, I readjusted my eyes to the light and saw Shinji sitting in the front seat. I had the back all to myself and was lying down. Once I saw that we had gone into the tunnel leading to headquarters, I sat up. "How much time do we have to defeat this Angel?"

Shinji jumped in his seat as if a firecracker had gone off next to his ear. He turned around and stared at me. "Good morning, Asuka," he finally said. Then he turned back and faced the front.

"You too..." I didn't know what to say.

"Actually," Misato corrected, "It's a great afternoon." We careened to avoid a slower Toyota .

"Afternoon!" If I wasn't awake before, I was awake now. "Already?!"

Misato nodded, driving the car in excess of 70 MPH. I didn't want her to talk anymore, it was like driving and talking were in the same area of the brain. If she did one, she couldn't do the other. I would prefer to have my body extracted from the remains of my Eva than charred to a crisp in Misato's hunk of junk.

"Yes... I couldn't wake you up yet because I wanted to see if you were truly synchronized. Neither of you woke up at 7:00 ... and you both finally opened your eyes within five minutes of each other." She looked at her watch and I felt the car losing control. "That was eight minutes ago. Shinji opened his eyes and woke up, but you opened your eyes and went back to sleep."

Shinji turned around and admitted that they carried me to the car. I couldn't believe they could do that and I didn't feel anything... or even resist. I screamed at him, saying my neural plugs were beside the futon. I threatened to dismember him if he left those behind. He stammered that he picked them up and held them out in his hand. "H-Here."

I snatched them and slid them in my hair. "Do you need a brush, Asuka?"

"And what's the supposed to mean, Misato?!" I asked, insulted.

"Nothing."

Once we got to headquarters, Ritsuko informed us that the Angel was starting to stir. Within an hour, it would be fully mobile. She told us that we could take this hour to synchronize and "do whatever it is you do". She steered us to the locker room as if we didn't know where it was. Then Ritsuko left us there, plugsuits in hand and staring blankly after her.

Now... what just happened?

I glared at Shinji's duffel bag. "You know, if you woke me up instead of hauling me to the car like a sack of potatoes, I could have gotten my duffel bag too."

"Uh, sorry..."

"Look at me!" I commanded. He did so, but then he started to blush. I was dressed in my sleeping clothes, certainly not tasteful attire to wear outside. "You paraded me throughout all of Tokyo-3 looking like this!"

"I already said I'm sorry!"

I teased him. "Say, did you like touching me when you put me on the backseat of the car? Were you the one who insisted on it?"

"N-No!" he exclaimed. "Misato told me to put you in there!"

"Oh..." I nudged him. "Then you didn't complain, did you? Did you?!"

I was determined to make it hard on him, but not too hard. When he didn't answer, I shoved him to the curtain separating the two locker rooms. "And let that be the last time you ever step in our room!"

"Sorry! Ritsuko put me in there, you know!"

"Whatever." I waved my hand although I knew he couldn't see it and started to take off what little clothing I had. "Just think about what we're going to do, okay?"

"Fine."

We took quite some time getting into our plugsuits, during which neither of us said a word. The only sounds I could hear were breathing in my head and the rubber squeaking of the suits as it rubbed against my skin. Once, I heard Shinji unzip his bag.

"You know, if you would have woken me up sooner, I could have packed some shampoo and a towel." I looked over my clothing with aversion. I hope Misato had some extra clothes or something in her trunk, because I wasn't leaving here wearing my bedclothes.

Shinji's shadow was by the curtain again, giving me an odd feeling of déjà vu. I trusted him that he wouldn't just throw open the curtain to ogle at me. I sighed. "That damn yellow liquid dries in my hair and makes it crusty. Stupid Shinji."

He didn't say he was sorry. Instead, he said that he was going to the cages. Then he disappeared from the curtain. Seeing that my complaining wasn't going to get me anywhere, I rearranged the clips in my hair and walked out.

Asuka, let's go.

On the way there, my heart shattered in two when I saw Kaji walking down the hall. With Misato. She was obviously doing her best to ignore him, but I know that it's impossible to ignore Kaji. Disregarding all the feelings that coursed through me as I saw them, I did the thing I always did.

"Kaji! Hi!!"

I ran up and threw my arms around him. Kaji felt rigid, and then relaxed into my embrace and hugged me back. His arms made me feel so content. "And here's the most beautiful girl in Tokyo-3."

My heart stung. Wasn't I a woman? No wait, I already know who he thinks the most beautiful woman is. I slapped on a cheesy smile although I was crying inside. "Are you going to watch me?"

He smiled. "I'm going to watch both of you."

"By the way, where is Shinji?"

I shrugged at Misato. "He said he was going to the cages already."

She looked at me sternly. "Then you should be up there too."

I told her not to worry about us and that we had it all under control. Kaji slid an arm around Misato's waist and said that she was always so uptight. She shoved him away, but I saw what he didn't. The small nuances a woman had when she enjoyed the attention but didn't want it. They were written all over her face.

"I have to kick some Angel ass. I'll be back soon!"

Kaji waved back at me. "Good luck!"

I turned around and headed to the cages with a shattered heart. I knew that there was no other option than to keep on loving Kaji. To stop abruptly would mean that I made a mistake in the first place, and I don't make mistakes. He would never look at me in the way that lovers do. Was I content with just his hugs and smiles?

I would have to be.

I got up to the first level and looked around for Shinji. There was no sign of him. Evangelion 02's luminous eyes stared down at me, unseeing and lifeless. Then I looked at Shinji's, the test type Evangelion 01. I briefly wondered why all these dolls looked different. Why did the armor look different? Aesthetical reason?

I snorted, there's no way NERV would blow money on making the Evangelions look good.

Someone told me to get in my cockpit already, "You're late!" I grudgingly climbed up the mecha's side and slid into the LCL. I could almost feel my crinkly and unshampooed hair now... but while floating in the liquid, it felt soft and wavy. After closing my eyes to find that burst of fire that was synchronization, the Eva sputtered to life.

I turned on the commlink and said, "Shinji? Are you there yet?" There was no answer from his Eva. In fact, the cockpit was empty. "Hey!" Didn't he say he was already up here?

Not half a minute later, I saw him submerge himself in LCL and close his eyes. The lights from the Evangelion's activation cast a soft glow on his face. I thought he was sleeping. "Where have you been?"

He opened his eyes and looked at me. "I had—"

Misato's voice immediately overrode his. "The Angel is moving around Sasuga Bay and has reached land. We're sending you up right shortly, so be prepared."

I took in a deep breath. LCL was no substitute for oxygen. For one thing, oxygen didn't smell. For another, too much of it didn't turn your hair lighter.

"Are you ready to do this?" Shinji asked softly.

I gave him a confident smirk. "Of course, we'll beat this thing easily. After all, you're with the best."

"That's right."

A man's voice came over the commlink. "The target has entered the mountains." I could hear assorted voices talking in the background.

Damn, this thing was fast...

We were going to beat this Angel. I wanted to make sure of it. "Just remember Shinji, full power, maximum performance." As the people in Germany would say, I got my drinking contest face on.

"I know that. We'll finish in sixty-two seconds."

I heard the same man's voice again. "The target has entered Ground Zero."

"Detach the external power cables... and launch." The giant countdown materialized over my head and I felt the ground move up from under me. Within seconds, I was flying through the air and looking down at Israfel. The Seventh Angel.

"You take the right!" shouted Shinji. "I've got the left."

Our objective was to keep the force the Angel to separate and come back together again. The computers in Dogma calculated that once it separated and was forced back together again, two blows from two Evas at the same time would knock out both sides, therefore destroying it.

We did a rotation in the air and grabbed our especially designed spears on our backs. "Got it!" Shinji and I threw them down, and the two spears formed an AT field between them. Our aim flew true and it divided the Angel in half just as we crashed to the ground.

"Shinji! Asuka! Get the guns!"

Time flew by rather quickly from there. I remember firing, dodging, twisting, contorting, shooting, doing backflips... when the two halves avoided our bullets, I heard Misato faintly order that a barrage of missiles be fired. Within seconds a vortex or fire slammed into the Angel.

25 seconds.

"Now!" we both cried. I started to yell, all the savageness and fury exploding in one long breath. I heard Shinji shout as we spun around and kicked the two halves together.

I grinned in a split second of brief triumph. "Let's finish him off!"

13 seconds.

Both Evas catapulted into the air and I had that sensation that I was flying again. On pure instinct, I whirled along side Unit 01, our feet coming together for a final blow. It connected with the two S2 orbs of the Angel with three seconds to go.

With two seconds left, I saw the red globe crack.

Time's up.

An explosion that made my ears ring with the fury of all hell swallowed the earth and sent it careening to the sun. I felt something slam into me from my side and I smashed into the ground, knocking all the air out of me as though someone punched me in the stomach.

"Con... tion... Eva... perational..."

Endless day turned into black night as the Eva's power supply finally ran out. We did it! I must have lain there in that cockpit, celebrating on how awesome Shinji and I were to finish off that monstrosity.

Shinji... and I?

I gasped. It took a wimpy boy to snap me out of my feelings of superiority?! I lost it already? Well... we'd see about that.

Once I saw Shinji crawling around on the outside of that Eva, I called him up on a telephone. Odd how they put those things on an Eva in the first place... but oh well. I demanded what in the world he was doing on my Unit. He shot back that I was the one who fell on him. I looked down and saw that in fact, my Eva was on top of his.

Well dammit!

"You're the one who lost your timing first! What the hell were you doing, staying up so late last night!"

Of course, I already knew the answer to this. But it wouldn't hurt to have a little bit of fun with him; we were the only ones who knew.

He sputtered. "I... I was image training! Image training for today's battle!"

I narrowed my eyes suspiciously. Image training? What a horrible excuse! "You liar... I know you tried to kiss me in my sleep!"

What now, Ikari Shinji? Come up with another weak excuse like image training? Or tell the truth? Or...

"You... you cheated! You were awake?" His voice was one of disbelief.

Yes, I was awake. I know everything, Shinji, but damned if I showed it. "Oh my God!" I screamed. "I was just kidding!! Did you really kiss me in my sleep?!"

I shouldn't have said that. The conversation was being broadcast all over Tokyo-3, and if he admitted that he kissed me (although he didn't), he would go down in history as the only boy that Sohryu Asuka Langley got really close to.

Shinji's voice grew slightly quieter, obviously aware of everyone watching him. "N-No! I... I stopped!"

Then I let loose a long string of curses and tried to hit him on the head. I didn't think that a hologram could hurt anyone physically, but was I was wrong. I heard laughter in the background, no doubt from the personnel on the bridge. Truth was, although I had a scowl on my face, I was having fun too.

*****

After the laughter died, an airplane carrier picked us up and took us back to headquarters. I refused to look at Shinji, pretending I was still angry. I would act this way for a while, just to salvage my dignity. I don't know what it is about me, but somehow I wanted to make a fool out of him to see how he would deal with that. I thought he learned his lesson on trying to argue with me, but apparently not.

As soon as I stepped off that launch pad, I felt my hair with a scowl. Not only that, but I was cold, I smelled, and my skin felt like it didn't belong on me. I would be looking forward to take a shower but those damn towels...

"Congratulations, pilots. You were excellent."

Shinji and I didn't say anything to Ritsuko's praise. I was going to brag about how wonderful I was, but I decided against it. I wanted to wash myself as soon as possible.

"Shinji! Asuka!" Misato waved at us as she came running down. Despite our smelliness, she took both of us into a giant hug and swept us off our feet. "You guys did so well!"

"T-Thank you..."

"Of course we did."

Even Kaji appeared from behind Misato, giving Shinji a manly shake of the hand and putting his arm around my shoulder. My hair crackled to his touch like brittle fire. "Way to go. But if I were you..." he winked at Shinji, "I would have went on and done it anyways."

I crossed my arms.

Yeah right.

I removed Kaji's arm from my shoulder and said sweetly that as much as I liked to be around him, I needed to take a shower. He said that pretty girls should smell good, but I was an exception. I rolled my eyes and walked off with Shinji following close behind me.

I walked into the elevator that would take us to the ground level and stepped inside. Shinji did the same. After everyone congratulating us on our success, there was still one other person to congratulate.

Each other.

"We did—"

"Hey Shinji—"

The raspy grating of the elevator sliding down its track cut us both short when we tried to talk. We both looked at each other, and then quickly looked away. Why was I acting like such a schoolgirl? "Listen here Third, I hope you won't be taking advantage of me again in my sleep."

I expected an answer, but he gave none. The point was painfully clear that he could have done whatever he wanted, and it was comforting that he didn't gloat over it. We really didn't say anything else until the elevator squealed to a halt and the doors creaked open. Once I stepped outside, he was to go to the left and I was to the right. "By the way, nice job Shinji."

Shinji turned to face me, a curious expression on his face. He blinked, and then smiled at me. "It's because I was with the best."

"Damn straight."

I turned around and confidently sauntered to the locker room; that boy certainly knew how to make me feel important.

Ikari Shinji. The Third Child.

I think he was starting to grow on me. He's a welcome change from all the hounding college boys, I guess. Still, I wouldn't change my outward opinion of him. He'd remain the spineless, cowardly, and inferior to me. But inside... I knew that he had surpassed all my expectations.

Congratulations Shinji.

When I stepped into the locker room, I saw a shadow move behind the partially open curtain. I swear I caught a glance of short brown hair. On the bench where my nightgown was lay a complete change of clothing, neatly folded. Beside it was a familiar pink towel, freshly laundered and soft to the touch. Lying on top, a new, unopened bottle of Misato's shampoo, gleaming amber against the pink.

I looked at the curtain separating the two locker rooms.

And I wondered.

The End

~~~~~~~~~~~

Author's notes: This is the fastest I've ever completed a fiction, Rurouni Kenshin or otherwise. I know the idea probably isn't original, but I hope I put a new spin on it. Thank you again to Blue Taboo. Also, thanks to Ghola, Reizig, and Rev'd for reviewing my story and giving me helpful suggestions. I love you guys, but in a purely platonic way, of course =) Lastly, Lord Deathscythe for letting me step foot inside darkscribes.org and making me a Dark Lady. Site is at darkscribes.org The second round of Takoballs voting is up, and there's lots of goodness at the forums and the Fanfic Yakuza reside here, so be off with you and get thee to the site!

I've grown to like Asuka a lot more than I already did. My next project has already been narrowed down to two ideas, one's an epic and the other is similar to this one. Methinks I'll do the latter first, so expect ol' Karina's name next to a Shinji/Asuka fic sometime in the very near future.

Until later... keep on writing!