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Neon Genesis Evangelion: The One I Love Is...
Chapter 1 - Valentine's Day
Written by Alain Gravel
Story based on characters created by and copyright to GAINAX

http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Teahouse/2236/

Disclaimer:

This story begins after the 14th episode and goes on until the end. So if you haven't seen the entire series and the End of Evangelion movie, expect spoilers. I won't warn you anymore.

(*) Click to reach translations notes



Chapter 1

    I was surprised to find my two roommates already far ahead of me for breakfast. That was odd. It was my turn to cook. But it appeared that Asuka had opted for raspberry jam on toast. As for Misato... as long as there was beer in the fridge, she was fine. And the fridge was rarely short of beer. I guess she drank so much of that stuff, she could now survive solely on it.
    "It's not fair!"
    Trouble. Asuka was already in a bad mood. That wasn't totally unexpected. I had already witnessed a similar scene two weeks before. And I knew that I would see the same scene in two weeks.
    So, Asuka was in a bad mood, which meant that she would eventually pick on me to vent her frustrations. Still, I was lucky; things could have been a lot worse. At least it wasn't that time of the month! Well, that was what I thought. Couldn't be really sure...
    Silently, I decided to accept my fate while preparing my own breakfast. Simple eggs and toast. I wasn't sure I had the energy for something more complicated. For a moment, I considered saying "Hi!" to my two companions, but from the look on Asuka's face, I decided to keep quiet. Better to stay unnoticed for as long as I could.
    "Life is rarely fair, Asuka."
    Well, what a surprise. Misato seemed to be in her serious mode. Not typical. She would probably soon revert to the irresponsible-happy-teasing mode soon. Her aim was probably to throw Asuka off-guard.
    "But it's Sunday!  Not only Sunday, but Valentine's Day, too!"
    Asuka was definitely unhappy. I couldn't help but shudder at the thought. While I personally didn't care about a stupid holiday, Asuka was bound to make a big deal of it.
    "I just know I'll go through hell today." I silently thought. "Maybe an Angel attack will save me..."
    But then again, the Angels were responsible for this mess.
    "Asuka, you know perfectly the position of the Tokyo-3 School Board. Due to Angel attacks, many days of school have been lost. Therefore, one Sunday every two weeks is now a school day."
    I could feel that Misato was loosing her patience. Asuka had already lost the argument. She just didn't know it yet.
    "This sucks!"
    "Maybe. But you'll go anyway, even if I have to make it an order."
    "But it's not fair! Baka (*) Shinji, say something!"
    Well, so much for staying unnoticed.
    "Don't we have synch tests, today, Misato-san?"
    The classic Ikari Shinji evasion tactic. If you try very hard to ignore reality, it may go away. However, I knew it likely wasn't going to work. Already, Asuka was fuming and mumbling a few German insults, if I guessed right. A full-scale explosion was imminent. But luck, under the name of Katsuragi Misato, was on my side.
    "No, Shinji-kun". I could see a really big smile on the Major's face. For a second I wondered if it was a good, or a bad sign. "Tonight, we'll have a PARTY!!!"
    That caught Asuka's attention. A party... While I wasn't enthusiastic about the idea of yet ANOTHER party, at least it had calmed Asuka down considerably.
    "A party?"
    Asuka was suddenly quite enthusiastic. That only made Misato more cheerful.
    "Yes! We'll have Ritsuko, Maya, Shigeru, Makoto... You can also ask your friends at school, if they want to come. Don't forget to ask Rei too..."
    "Who cares about Rei! What about Kaji? Will he come?"
    All the blood seemed to suddenly drain from the Major's face. I almost couldn't help bursting out laughing.
    "Well, I don't know if..."
    "Yay! I'll call him right away!" said Asuka, ignoring totally the Major's reply.
    "... he should come. Damn! She didn't listen to a word I said..."
    Silently, I finished my meal. Seeing that Misato was obviously not in a mood to eat anymore, and that Asuka had forgotten about her own meal, I cleaning up the table. Otherwise, the dishes would just remain there.
    A party. While it was always nice to see those people I thought of as my friends, I wasn't too thrilled about it. Parties were too noisy and crowded for my taste.
    Oh, well, that was better than having an angry Asuka on my back.


    School. Another boring school day.
    Or at least that's what I expected.
    The class was actually quite alive this morning. The girls all appeared to be making quite a fuss about this Valentine thing. I was really surprised to see Hikari give chocolates to Touji. I had guessed she had feelings for him, but never would have imagined that she would tell him, much less make such a public display. Touji was sooooo embarrassed that his face reminded me of a tomato. Kensuke's comments didn't help the poor "couple". I just hoped Touji wouldn't say something stupid. Hikari was a nice girl. It would be a shame if Touji hurt her feelings.
    For some reason, Asuka appeared to be fuming. She kept throwing me dark glances. Not knowing what was the matter with her, I decided it would be best to just ignore her for a while, at least until she cooled down. So, I put my head down on my desk and waited for the boring lecture on the Second Impact to begin. With any luck, I'd fall asleep.
    Suddenly, everyone fell silent. Curiosity got the better of me. I raised my head, and was shocked by what I saw.
    Ayanami Rei, holding what was obviously a Valentine's Day chocolate box and slowly walking right toward me.
    No! She wouldn't... She couldn't...
    I literally froze.
    Her usual neutral expression was gone. Her hands and lips were shaking. I could see in her red eyes... fear. Yet there was something else. I wasn't entirely sure: a spark of vitality, which I had never seen in her.
    I was mesmerized.
    She handed me the box. I was surprised to see my own hands shaking. For a brief moment, our fingers touched. It was one of the greatest sensations I had ever felt.
    "This is for you, Ikari-kun."
    I'm not sure, but I think I managed to say thanks.
    She smiled. That rare, so very precious, and beautiful smile.
    All around us, some students fell off their chairs. Others literally fainted. I didn't notice. I was in heaven.
    When I came back to my senses, Rei was walking toward her desk. The neutral, emotionless mask was back on her face. Only the box of chocolates in my hands convinced me that this wasn't a dream.
    "Way to go Shinji! You lucky dog!"
    Happy to have the pressure off his back, Touji was now teasing me about what had just happened. Already, the mighty Student Gossip Machine was hard at work, trying to figure out the 'what', 'why', 'when' and 'how' of my 'relationship' with Ayanami. Rei now back to her normal emotionless self, I was almost torn apart for answers by the others girls in class. This was far worse than the attention I had received a few months earlier, when everyone found out I was the Pilot of Unit-01. I knew by the way my cheeks burned that I was blushing terribly. Quite frankly, I would have liked to crawl under my desk and hide.
    Surprisingly enough, in the background, I heard some girls saying how they envied Rei. That was a surprise! Much more of a surprise than the deadly looks I was getting from some of the guys in class. While I knew Rei's personality, or actually lack of, scared people, I also knew some guys did literally drool over her. She was, after all, quite attractive, in a mysterious way. And now, I was suddenly those guys number one rival. How great...
    For a second time before class even started, the classroom became dead silent. I could feel that something was VERY wrong.


    "IKARI SHINJI!"
    Oh, God! Asuka!
    She didn't look mad. No. She looked beyond mad. She was scary. More than those goddamn Angels.
    I froze. Again.
    Fear is quite an interesting thing. I can avoid the tentacle of a giant building tall monster while piloting an equally tall mecha and still manage to get slapped by a girl. Damn did that hurt! I was really glad I hadn't been hit by a fist. I swear, that girl could give Touji a run for his money.
    Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Rei had stood up. Her face showed an anger likely equal to the one I could see on Asuka's face.
    "Ayanami!"
    I was surprised by my own voice. No hesitation. No sign of my usual shyness. It was more of a... commanding tone. A lot like my father. That thought was... disturbing.
    Rei didn't move. Acknowledging my unspoken command, she nodded, smiled to me, then shot an angry glare toward Asuka.
    The matter with Rei solved, I turned my attention to the redhead. She still looked angry, but... She had tears in her eyes. I found myself unable to be angry at her.
    Asuka always had extreme reactions. It wasn't unusual. Actually, it was part of her charms. But tears. I had only seen her cry once. On the night before the Seventh Angel battle. And it had been only a single tear in her sleep. To see her like this... Almost fragile. Without her usual arrogance. I couldn't quite believe it.
    "Why?" I softly asked her.
    Again, she gave me a look full of hate. I prepared myself to be hit once more.
    "Baka Shinji!!!"
    Then... She ran out of the class, almost hitting the old sensei on her way out.
    "What's the deal with that girl?" asked Touji.
    He was silenced by an angry Hikari.
    "Suzuhara!"
    Touji suddenly became quite calm. Very, very calm. But he had asked a very interesting question. What was her problem?
    Could she possibly be...
    No...
    She wouldn't be jealous. Would she?
    No. Way.
    Then... Why the tears.
    Maybe it had been something in her eyes. Yes, that was it. It was something, perhaps just a speck of dust.
    Surely I wasn't stupid enough to believe that...
    Soon, everything seem to go back to normal. Hikari did the "Rise", "Bow", "Sit" routine. Another school day finally started.
    Once the sensei had begun his lecture on the Second Impact, I collapsed on my desk. I felt completely drained. Dealing with Asuka's usual mood swings was bad already. Today, she was worse than ever. Those tears... And on top of that, I had to deal with a overemotional Rei. This was simply too much. My thoughts were a mess. I got tired of trying not to run away from reality and drifted to sleep.
    Nobody would notice, and even if they did, I didn't care.

    "IKARI-KUN! How could you do this to Asuka?!"
    I woke up, my body shaken by an angry Class Rep. I opened my eyes, completely disoriented, my senses a mess. I was promptly saved by Touji.
    "Don't shake him like that! That kid still has to save the world, y'a know."
    Yeah... That was better. Now that my head wasn't moving back and forth, it was easier to try to understand what was going on. Apparently, I was in school. Which was normal since it was the place where I had first fallen asleep. And since the only students remaining in class were Hikari and Touji, most likely to save me from Hikari, I guessed it was time to eat. I did feel hungry. A glance at the classroom clock confirmed it. It was a little over noon.
    "How could you do that?!"
    "Do what?"
    "You ignored her! And you made her cry..."
    What did she mean? I hardly ignored Asuka. It was kinda hard ignoring a girl when she was trying to beat you up. And I certainly didn't do anything to make her cry. She didn't cry. No. Those were tears. But she wasn't crying.
    What then?
    "I didn't do anything!"
    "Exactly! You didn't do anything! You just stood there and accepted Ayanami's chocolates!"
    "And?"
    "Don't you care at all about Asuka's feelings?"
    "What do you mean by 'Asuka's feelings'?"
    Hikari was obviously surprised. She seemed about to say something, but decided against it.
    "Suzuhara-kun, could you please wait for me outside..."
    I really didn't like the sound of that.
    Touji hesitated a while. But in the end, he chose Hikari's warm smile instead of my pleading look. No surprise really. The Class representative waited for the tall boy to leave the room before finally saying what was on her mind.
    "You don't know Ikari-kun? Asuka loves you! Aren't you two a couple?"
    What was that? Did Hikari actually say what I thought she said? And did she actually believe that?
    "What?! We're not a couple!"
    Where did she get this idea? Asuka. My girlfriend? Must be the worst joke I ever heard.
    "She's always teasing me! She's always trying to put me down! I'm probably what she considers her biggest rival. We hardly manage to live together. I wouldn't be surprised if she actually hated me. And you're saying that she's in love with me?"
    "Yes!"
    "Didn't you listen...?"
    "You boys can be so blind! She wouldn't even bother teasing you if she hated you! You're probably the only person she truly respects! Yes, you are likely her biggest threat. But you're also the only one she can identify herself with. When you aren't such an idiot or a wimp..."
    I couldn't believe it. I wouldn't believe it. She couldn't be serious, could she?
    No. It wasn't true. Yet, if I thought about what happened this morning...
    No, no, no...
    "Can't be..."
    It was just too much. Too much. I tried, as hard as I could, to tune out everything around me and all those thoughts in my head.
    Nothingness. I only wanted nothingness.
    I didn't want to think about Rei. Her smile.
    I didn't want to think about Asuka. Her angry expression. Her tears.
    I didn't want to think about friendship.
    I didn't want to think about love.
    I didn't want to think.
    But I couldn't. There was... no place to run to.
    When I snapped back to reality, only Touji and Hikari were staring at me, a worried expression on their faces. Hikari had probably called Touji back.
    "You... you okay, Shinji?" asked Touji.
    I found myself unable to answer. I nodded.
    "I'm so sorry Shinji! I didn't think... I didn't think about your feelings..."
    Hikari was almost on the verge of crying. Girls. So sensitive...
    "It's ok."
    An expression of relief washed over their faces.
    "Man, you freaked me out!"
    I turned my attention to Hikari.
    "What do you want me to do?"
    She gave me that "What do you mean?" look.
    "I don't know what to do. Me. Rei. Asuka. So complicated. I don't know what to think. Just tell me what to do."
    "Well, you could at least start by apologizing to Asuka... maybe also give her a gift!"
    "A gift..."
    For a while, I looked at the chocolate box Rei had given me. A gift. A sign. What kind? Of friendship? Of love?
    I thought about giving this box to Asuka. But I realized how unfair it would be to both of them. Rei and Asuka.
    "Yes."
    I got up, picked up the box, and walked toward the door. Only when I was about to leave did I look at my friends again.
    "Thanks."
    Then, I remembered something.
    "Misato is throwing a party tonight. Please come. Asuka may need you Hikari and I don't think I could handle it alone either. Tell Kensuke. And... tell Rei."
    Touji nodded.
    "Count on me."
    I would. God knew I would.
    I then set out to achieve the task given to me. I had something to do. I could focus on that task and forget about everything for a while.
    There was always time to worry later.


    After a few minutes, I started to wonder why I had panicked earlier. I had to be honest. At a time, I had been very interested in Rei. Now, I was quite interested in Asuka. Both of them were very attractive. Why shouldn't I be happy with the idea that the two most attractive females of my class may have an interest in me.
    Wasn't it what I ever wanted? Somebody who would care for me.
    Yet, I couldn't manage to be happy about the idea. I guess I didn't want to believe it. If I did and was wrong... And even if it was true. How long would it take for them to just leave me behind, alone, like Father did? Wasn't it just better to simply avoid the trouble and ultimately the pain?
    Why did I let them be my friends in the first place?
    But were they my friends? Asuka just kept teasing and annoying me. Rei... was Rei.
    I didn't really know either of them.
    I sighed and rubbed my forehead. I was starting to have quite an headache.
    I finally arrived at a small general store. I knew the place quite well. After the arrival of Misato in our apartment nearby, the owner had tripled his alcohol sales. At least that's what he told me.
    I looked at what was left of the Valentine gifts display. Not much really. But I wasn't planning on anything fancy anyway. I really just wanted to get rid of this as soon as I could, then forget the whole thing. Besides, I didn't have much money. Only a few yens left from the last time I had gone on an errand for Misato. I had forgotten to give the money back and she had been too drunk when I came back to ask for it.
    I don't know why, but this triggered a thought in my head.
    We weren't paid.
    We were piloting EVA, saving the world from angels and worked for free. Well, survival of the human race was a nice reward, but what about us, really?
    I made a mental note not to forget that thought.
    I didn't have much use for money. NERV paid for the food, apartment and school uniforms. Still who knows, I could find a use for it.
    I would need to talk to Misato.
    But now was the time to get back at the real problem, which was buying one of those boxes.
    I finally opted for a red heart shaped box with a single blue ribbon. It wasn't exceptionally cute, but that would have to do. I didn't even bother to look what kind of chocolate was inside. I just paid for it and added an order for beer to be delivered at the apartment tonight, along with a few snacks to eat. I knew Misato would probably forget about it. Or did she expect me to think about such matters?
    I exited the store and made my way toward the apartment. The hardest task yet remained to be done.
    Talking to Asuka.

    The apartment looked empty. But I knew better. Like myself, Asuka tended to take refuge in her room when she had a problem. She had only lived in Tokyo-3 for a short time. Since Hikari was still in school, she couldn't be at her home. And she couldn't go to NERV Headquarters without Misato noticing. So she had to be in her room.
    Besides, a pair of shoes lying on the floor attested she was here.
    I went to my own room. I didn't stay long. Just long enough to put Rei's gift in a drawer. I had been carrying it with me for too long already.
    Then I proceeded to the kitchen. I took a look at the kitchen clock. 13:13. It was well past lunch time and I was definitely hungry. And eating would buy me some time. With any luck, Asuka would make the first steps and come to talk to me herself. She had to be aware of my presence. If she came... It would make it much easier.
    Taking a few ingredients out of the fridge, I gave myself the task to make two quick sandwiches. One of them for Asuka. I doubted she had eaten anything since breakfast. I could tell, cooking and housecleaning was, after all, mostly my responsibility.
    I tried to take my time to eat, but I was torn between getting over the imminent discussion as soon as I could and avoiding it altogether.
    Needless to say I didn't enjoy my meal one bit.
    Much sooner than I would have liked, I found myself standing before her door. I knocked.
    "Go away Shinji."
    There was annoyance in her voice, but also something else. Possibly sadness.
    Scenes from the morning replayed in my mind. Asuka running away. Tears in her eyes.
    "I'm sorry Asuka."
    I didn't know what came over me. But I suddenly felt the need to open up to her, to actually say what was on my mind.
    "I never know what to do. Or what to say. I can't figure out what you're thinking. You're always teasing me, harassing me. What am I to you? A nuisance? A threat? A friend? Do you actually hate me? Or do you actually not care? I can't tell. And you won't tell me, will you? You'll just call me an idiot."
    I couldn't believe I was saying all this.
    "But I care about you. I like you Asuka. You're one of my only friends. Even if you're a pest most of the time. I'm sorry if I have hurt your feelings. I'm even more sorry if I'm too much of an idiot to figure out what exactly your feelings are..."
    We both remained silent for a while. This was going nowhere, so I decided to simply leave her alone. So what if she didn't even care about me enough to say anything? I should be used to it. It's not like I could win a popularity contest.
    I've put the heart shaped box in front of her door, along with the sandwich. Might as well get this over with and get back to school. I was beyond late, but it's not like anybody would care anyway.
    "I'm leaving some lunch outside your door. I know you haven't eaten anything yet."
    Without another word, I left the apartment.
    Time to catch what was left of the afternoon classes.
    I spent the rest of the day trying to listen to the sensei's lecture, trying to avoid thinking.
    When I came back home to clean up for the party and prepare dinner, I noticed that both the sandwich and the chocolate box had disappeared from where I had left them.
    I entered my room to drop my school bag and noticed something on my bed. A box of chocolates like the one I had given Asuka, but a bit smaller. And to it, a small card was attached, with three words badly scribbled on it:

"Baka. Thank you"

 

[To be continued...]
 
 

Next time:

The One I Love Is...
Chapter 2 - Shinji belongs to me!
 


Omake (extra)

    Without another word, I left the apartment.
    I spent the rest of the day trying to listen to the sensei's lecture, trying to avoid thinking.
    When I came home to clean up for the party, and prepare dinner, I noticed Asuka lying on the floor, her neck bent at an odd angle and her eyes vacant. From the info we received after the autopsy report, it seemed she had slipped on the sandwich which resulted in a really nasty fall.
    Well... I guess it was one way to solve my problems...
 
 


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Started on February 16th 1999
First pre-reader draft finished on February 21st 1999
Second pre-reader draft finished on March 2nd 1999
Final draft finished on March 7th 1999, revised on April 20th 1999
Additional corrections on May 30th 1999
Final revisions on March 6th 2000