Disclaimer:Eh, it's better off not being mine anyway...

The Wanton Angels

Episode 1

By Traingham

"Oooh, how about this one here?" Misato Katsuragi's delight at her own discovery did not go unnoticed by the other customers browsing the wares of the bike shop; When a charming woman of her particular figure and temperament walked into a closed space filled with hopeful young men every cause for her excitement would naturally fall under scrutiny without fail, however, the display she was putting on wasn't for their attention. Her beauty was a curse, truly it was.

"Hey, Asuka, how about that second opinion I brought you along for?" Her address drew the eyes of the customers over to her companion who could not have been said to be equally as lovely, but likely to be a fair contender given a few more years of development.

The redhead schoolgirl frowning at her reflection in the shop window made a sort of noncommittal sound with a shrug of her shoulders, arms crossed like the unwilling participant that she was. The mention of going out to do some shopping did the trick of luring the German spitfire out of the dreary confines of her room, but as soon as it became clear to Asuka that this bike shop had been their intended destination all along the initial excitement that she flew out of the apartment with immediately died and she fell into a brooding mood again that conjured enough negative energy for a rain cloud to be imminent. When Misato asked the floor attendant that had been ogling her from afar to point them toward a good selection of bikes that he felt would be suitable for a young man attending high school, the second child's mood became just a little darker for it because there was only one person the older woman could be referring to with that particular preference in mind.

The lovely major directed a glare at the moody girl for her unwillingness to provide a decent response, glancing at the bike that had caught her eye a final time before tearing herself away from it to stalk over to the window, where Asuka appeared determined to remain for the entirety of their visit, with a honeyed call of, "Oh, Asuka, why can't you pretend for just a moment to be interested in anything other than yourself?"

Of course the sweetness of her voice only made the words sound harsher; that was the intention, and she received a smoldering glare in kind that should have singed the perfectly threaded eyebrows on her lovely face with all its intensity. That didn't deter Misato from prying the young woman out of her fortified, cast iron shell in the least. Her relationship with the second child was not what could be referred to as genuinely friendly in nature; the most they could ever manage was to show an acceptable measure of civility to one another just short of airing out what personal opinions were truly on their mind–especially when Kaji happened to be occupying the same room with them. Still, she was the stubborn girl's legal guardian, which placed Misato in the unenviable position of having to observe every aspect of her delicate personality up close and she knew that Asuka was capable of honest kindness in her heart, particularly when Shinji Ikari was concerned (Not that it ever managed to last long enough to leave a positive impression on the boy. He didn't have enough psychiatric experience to anticipate the emotional land mines that accompanied their every interaction).

Misato's provocation struck a nerve in the girl because her shoulders shifted with a light cringe. Good.

"Why did you drag me along into this, Misato?" Asuka asked tautly, the daggers in her eyes biting, though not as hard as before. "Why would I know what that idiot likes anyway?"

Resting both hands on her cocked hips, Misato answered in a contrastingly cheerful tone, "I brought you along so I wouldn't be lying to Shinji when I tell him that we both picked out this gift for him." The major's smile was accommodating in a gloating sort of way, or at least that's how It appeared to the younger woman. "Besides, Asuka, it doesn't matter what you pick out for him. It's the thought that counts, and he'll be grateful for it either way, I'm sure."

"Doesn't matter what I pick, hmm?" The upward curl in Asuka's lips appeared wolffish at best. Misato got the impression that her intentions weren't noble. "Then how about–"

"Assuming that what you have in mind isn't pink, or involves tassels and butterflies." She stopped Asuka before she could point to the glitter littered bike on display in the girl's selection at the far left corner of the shop. "C'mon, Asuka. Let's be nice about this."

"Why does Shinji suddenly need a bike anyway?" The German girl argued with a toss of her hair before she resumed crossing her arms. "If he needs to get anywhere faster he can just rely on his legs and run like he always does." She broke eye contact with Misato, looking back to the window with a low, mean spirited grumble of, "He's pretty good at that."

"Because he almost collapsed in the middle of the street hoisting the groceries from the market yesterday, and I thought it would be nice to make things easier on him." Misato reasoned, choosing to let that snide comment slide in favor of some teasing at the girl's expense. "If it bothers you so much, you can always try helping him whenever he does the shopping. Maybe you two could benefit from sharing a nice, long walk together once a week."

"I already do him the favor of walking to school with him in spite of how much higher I am on the social ladder, and he doesn't even appreciate that." Asuka retorted with a humph. "I don't need that pervert getting the wrong idea about us. He might do something stupid."

"Gee, because that would be unforgivable, right?" The major quipped with a shrug of her shoulders. Asuka's brow twitched in response. "You know, I think this bike would be great for Shinji, maybe for more than just shopping."

"Yeah?" The second child responded, but didn't seem to care either way. At this point she refused to make eye contact again, turning her attention to just about everything else in the shop but her guardian, mostly the back ends of the bicycles racked up on display. Shinji's bike would have one of those backseats, wouldn't it? That was inevitable–not that he would use it for anything other than groceries though. The thought of Shinji Ikari riding his shiny, little bike around with a girl sitting in the backseat was laughable at best. That wuss would never work up the nerve to offer some girl a ride!

Misato was either unaware that Asuka had lapsed back into her state of brooding, or too caught up in envisioning the benefits Shinji would receive from her brilliantly conceived gift to take a moment to reel her back to the present conversation. She continued to talk either way, explaining, "Having a bike might encourage Shinji to broaden his horizons and explore the rest of the city. You know, make him more adventurous!"

Asuka spied a sleek, black mountain bike hanging from the wall to Misato's back. "Adventurous, right." She droned with a vacant look gracing her lovely features. The sports bike beside it had a color scheme awfully similar to Unit-01; could that have been intentional? Wouldn't have been the first time she saw those colors matched together on a product, like those name brand headphones that were gaining popularity with the younger adults.

"And guys with a sense of adventure tend to be bold, you know?" Misato went on like she was doing a voice over for an animal documentary. "Some girls will take notice of that." And with that last line Asuka perked up from her reverie, now fully present for the rest of the conversation. "It'll be a matter of time before Shin-chan is pedaling along with a cute girl sitting in the backseat." The major crossed her arms and nodded like an approving guardian granting her blessings to a worthy suitor. "Yeah, a girl would be great for him."

Asuka's response was a derisive snort, and Misato could not understand for the life of her just why the German girl felt the need to respond in such a way toward anything remotely positive when the young Ikari was concerned. It was beginning to grate her nerves.

"Seriously, Asuka." She quirked a brow at the girl in question. "What the hell is your problem?"

Asuka immediately went on the defensive, shoving the question right back at her. "What's your problem, Misato?"

"I swear, you hate Shinji." Misato nearly threw her hands in the air, but restrained herself when she realized how much more attention that would draw. "Its like you want nothing but the absolute worst for him, and for what?"

"Hate him?" Asuka's face gradually grew a shade of red. "That would imply that I actually have feelings for that perverted idiot!" Her reaction would have implied just that, but the second child was ever adamant to convince the whole world otherwise. "Don't be stupid!"

"Then how about laying off of him for a while?" Misato suggested, one eye narrowing with a slight cock of her head.

Asuka's immediate expression was confusion. "Laying off him?"

"Yeah, quit bothering him." The major's lovely expression grew dark. "Stop belittling him at every opportunity, for one. Think you can do that for more than a day?"

"Maybe if he stopped giving me reasons to do it!"

"He's an inexperienced boy in puberty, Asuka." Misato argued in a controlled voice, her mounting anger held at bay by her obligations as a guardian. "And you're not helping that when you're wandering around the apartment in nothing but a towel, knowing that you can just as easily head directly to your room after a shower. Its like you want an excuse to complain about him."

"You're joking!" The flame haired pilot argued incredulously. "Why would I intentionally do something like that?"

Misato held a hand up, turning her head to the side. "I'm not gonna stand here and discuss that with you now, but here's some food for thought..." Misato turned back to look Asuka in the eye. "...Let's assume that you really do hate all the attention you receive from Shinji; the shy glances that he steals at you when you're dressed especially nice, or the stupid things that he says when you tease him. Don't you think it would make things easier for you if another girl came along and took him off your hands?"

Asuka suddenly felt as though she was staring down a basilisk. "...Off my hands?" But how could someone take away what has never been in her possession to begin with? She felt a rising heat beneath her lower eyelids, a feeling she commonly associated with the frustration of being unable to help herself. She hated it. She hated the fact that Misato Katsuragi could actually push her so close to tears without actually trying, but most of all she absolutely hated how thinking of that idiot always stirred about such intense emotions within her, powerful enough to remind her just how alone she felt in the world.

She wouldn't allow herself to cry, not in front of this bitch.

"I didn't come out here for a lecture, Misato." Asuka kept herself in check at a simmer; anymore and things would have escalated quickly. "Buy your precious Shinji a fucking bike, see if I care. If we're lucky he might just use it to pedal far away from Tokyo-3 the next time he throws a bitch fit." The cruel smile that twisted her lovely face could have caused an entire bed of flowers to wither. "And with his luck he might just get hit by a truck." She held both hands up with a casual shrug. "Either way, we might all benefit from that."

A soft gasp slipped from Misato's mouth before she could catch herself. "Asuka..." Her right hand twitched with the tell tale signs of a possible slap across the redhead's face, but it clenched tightly and remained held at her side.

Satisfied with herself, Asuka gave the major her back and walked smoothly to the door. "I'll be waiting inside the car."

We've had a misunderstanding...