Children (Looking Back 2) Glistening. That's what it was. The sunlight made the scar glisten, an almost viscous reflection bulging out gently but abruptly from the centre of his palm. Shinji looked on with no small interest as he guided his hand through a half-rotation at the wrist, turning it over in the light. On the other side, the exact replica of the scar on his palm; circular, smooth... glistening. He'd had it for so long that it no longer seemed a blemish, not even when he touched his fingers to it. It used to be a nervous tic of his, massaging those scars while under pressure. Well, one scar, really. It went directly through his hand, through the muscles and cartilage...a single, cylindrical mass of undifferenciated flesh. Of course, he thought, lifting his other hand into the light, it had a twin anyway. On his left hand, a perfect mirror image of his right, was a similar scar. It, too, was circular, and penetrated through his hand to the other side. Without really thinking any further on the subject, Shinji watched them glisten with a morbid kind of fascination, his face at ease and his mind wandering, an almost bored expression filling his features. He hadn't looked at those scars in a while...they almost faded into his hand with time. A soft grunt to his left brought that hand back to its original position, cradling a familiar warmth to his side. Satisfied, Asuka settled in closer still, dropping the weight of her head against his chest. A contented breath only confirmed that all was well in the world. Shinji glanced back at his hand and the now-imperceptible aberration that rode upon it, then dropped it to the thin sheet that covered them both. "'Morgen, dummkopf..." Asuka's eyes remained shut, as she lazily tried to append what further rest she could to her already extended sleep. "Hmm...almost afternoon...I think," Shinji replied, half-sleeping himself, as he shifted slightly so that he could reach around her with his free hand. Asuka clearly approved. As he stroked her hair that tangled about her shoulder, he found another slight lump just beneath the collar of her tee-shirt. The texture was quite familiar to him; he'd touched his own glistening scars enough times to know a keloid when he felt one. For the moment, however, he found it impossible to prevent his fingers from lingering over it...almost playing with the abnormal contour as he caressed it. This scar was almost as known to him as his own. In fact, he was well-versed in the locations of the others she bore: there was another a handbreath beneath this one, riding on the lower edge of her left shoulder blade; another between her right kidney and the line of her spine, and so on. Seven, in total. What was truly frightening about hers, however, were that they traveled through her body, and were mirrored on the front of her torso. Just like his, except that hers often passed through major organs and other vital parts of her body. "Mwhat time is't?" she slurred, a slow ripple moving through her as she moved next to him. She pushed a hand between her cheek and his torso, making an impromptu pillow for herself. Shinji detached his right hand from her scar and managed to maneuver it over to the clock radio sitting quietly by his head. Squinting, he only barely succeeded in making out the numbers against the streaming light of the sun. "Twelve...forty-five? About...or is that thirteen?" "Must be twelve...look at the sun." Shinji looked back to her as she lifted herself off of his chest, depriving him of the gentle contact he'd been wallowing in all night...and morning, apparently. Asuka yawned into her fist, her eyes closing involuntarily as she drew herself into a kneeling position on the futon. Shinji didn't feel like moving, yet, so he stayed put on his back. Massaging her neck, Asuka slumped down next to him again. Evidently, what volition she'd summoned to kneel had left her. "Man, am I ever sore...you'd think I'd be used to sleeping on the floor by now..." His left hand closed around the back of her neck, gently opening and contracting his fingers against the tight, corded muscles that appeared to be the source of her discomfort. It seemed his hands were the only part of him that wanted to move this morning. Smiling, Asuka propped up her chin on her hand. "Well, looks like we missed it," she said. "Ah... that feels good." Shinji frowned. "Missed what?" "The only time all week we get to spend alone with each other: Saturday morning." "Oh." Asuka's head tilted and swayed as she tried to get his hand working in the worst spot, a hard spasm just next to the nape of her neck. Every gentle squeeze seemed to bleed out the pain and tension that had built up over night. When one problem area disappeared beneath his hand, she let her head loll again, guiding it indirectly. As if on cue, there was a short scuffling sound from the other side of the thin door panels, followed by a short, high-pitched whine. Hushing sounds followed, and the patter stopped. "Be quiet!" whispered one voice, muffled through the door. "Speaking of the devil," Asuka said, throwing herself across Shinji's body. "Or devils," she added, grinning. Knowing she wouldn't have much time left, she quickly pressed her lips against his. They parted again, as the door slid open a crack at the far end of the room. "...It only makes sense...they're your children after all. And your dog." "Hey! He's a very nice dog!" The door slid open, rattling in its tracks, and subdued noise from the hallway burst inside, trailing two girls and a black and white dog in its wake. "See? I told you they were awake!" the younger of the two shouted, forgetting the mutual pact she had made with her sister about being quiet. "See?" "Okaasan! Papa!" The elder of the two seemed to have forgotten as well, also shouting in the odd mixture of German and Japanese she'd been brought up on. "Good morning!" "Good morning to you, too," Asuka finally said after they'd quieted down somewhat, poking the seven year-old in the nose as she sprawled out on the futon in front of her mother. "And," she added, looking at the adolescent husky, "Sit!" The dog half-whined, half-snorted, but dropped his haunches to the bamboo mat and pricked his ears. The ten year-old, on the other hand, remained standing, looking down carefully with a pensive frown on her face. Shinji was the first to notice. "Hey," he said, shaking her pant leg, "what is it?" She obliged him, pointing to a small, pink, circular patch on the back of her mother's leg. She squatted down to get a closer look, experimentally reaching out to it with one finger. "That...what is it? It looks like...it looks like the one Arisu has on her arm...except hers is bigger." The reference to one of her school-mates eluded him entirely, but Shinji held up his hands for comparison. "Yeah! That's a scar. I have them too! See?" His daughter looked from one hand to the other, then back to her mother. Asuka had rolled over part-way to see what part of her anatomy they were discussing, and was now talking to their other child about the same. "Cool...will I get one?" Shinji laughed. "I hope not. You don't get scars without getting hurt." "You got hurt?" "Uh-huh. Me and Okaasan were in an accident before you were born, remember?." "A big, big accident," Asuka threw in, for emphasis. "Wow," their daughters said. They spent another few minutes prodding and poking the scars. Asuka looked Shinji in the eyes, and they silently exchanged thoughts on patience versus curiosity. When it looked like their children weren't going to finish any time soon, Asuka leapt off of Shinji without any warning and shouted "Springen Sie auf Ihr Vater!"*. Shinji understood too late, as he was promptly smothered beneath the combined, giggling weight of his daughters. Asuka looked down at him, smiling maliciously. Shinji tried to look betrayed, but the dog's tongue was seriously hampering his efforts. "Inu!" he splurted out, "Sit!" The dog refused to obey him. Feeling a sudden burst of pity, Asuka scooped up her children, one under each arm. Shinji tried to fend off Inu by himself. He didn't seem to be having much success. All three -- mother and daughters -- could barely restrain their laughter as Shinji finally wrestled the dog over. Shameless, it lifted its paws for a belly rub. Shinji stumbled to his feet as the two girls continued to play with the dog. "Urk," he mumbled, wiping at his face with the side of his hand. "Remind me not to kiss you until we've had a shower," Asuka said, throwing her arms around him playfully. Her eyes turned to his face as she rested her head against his shoulder. His mind seemed a little distant. "An accident," he muttered, almost disdainfully. "They're smart girls...they won't believe that much longer." "No...I guess not. What's scary is that 'a big, big accident' isn't that far from the truth, is it?" Asuka reached for the scar on her shoulder, feeling it through the fabric. Shinji shook his head. Their younger daughter giggled as the dog slathered her face with the same treatment it had given her father. "I...no. Should we? Ever?" "I don't want to lie to them forever," Asuka said, almost solemn, now. "I don't...I don't like covering up the truth like that. It's not good for them." She felt his ribs rise and fall heavily before he went on. His breath combed easily through her hair, past her face. "Then again, the lie is what they're being taught in school. It's...it's reality, now, isn't it? It won't be so easy to disrupt everything they've been told. "I suppose it'd be nice to let them keep that innocence... but..." "But it's just not true!" Asuka bit down on her last statement before she went on, unwilling to disrupt their children's play. "We learned Second Impact was all a lie, and it didn't bother us..." "Yeah...but...that's different." Her brow crumpled in thought. "Dammit, it's too complicated. And they're not going to like finding out that we've been keeping the truth from them, too. I mean, look!" She lifted his right hand away from her waist, holding it up to the light. The scar glistened back at her. "Who's going to believe you got this in a car accident? I don't." "That's what I'm afraid of." They watched their children. Two happy, friendly, healthy children. They were proud. Proud of them, and proud of themselves. "But who's going to believe you when you say your parents are two of the three dead Eva pilots?" A shrug was the only response. Neither of the two could think of a better one. The advantage of secrets is that only the bearers need to suspect anything. The problem with secrets is that when they aren't air-tight...they allow all to suspect. So far, there hadn't been much inquiry into their scars...people in general were too polite and tactful. So far, no problem. "It's your turn today," Shinji said, finally. The silence was filled with laughter. He liked it. "Baka. Lazy baka." Sighing, Asuka kissed him quickly beneath the ear, then left to start breakfast. Shinji crouched down between the girls. "I don't suppose you two have had your bath yet, today?" he asked, giving the dog a cursory scratch on the head. "I did!" the older of the two said, sticking her hand into the air and waving it wildly. "I had a shower, all by myself!" "Well, aren't you all grown up?" The other one looked a little embarrassed. "Want me to pour you a bath?" he asked, lifting her in his arms. She nodded. With his chin, he motioned to the door. "And you, you can help your mother make breakf..." He'd scarce arrived at the end of his sentence when she had already disappeared, shouting "Special breakfast!" at the top of her little lungs. Shinji watched her go. "So...let's get you clean, shall we?" he asked the younger of the two. ----- Well, there it is. The One-shot in three parts. I don't suppose I ever considered this a formal project, but it's turning into one. I wrote Looking Back on a whim, because AotL was moving slowly. Then I wrote Child because it was 2:00 AM, and people had been asking about Rei's kid. Now it's 4:00 AM, and Shinji and Asuka now have a family. I don't think there'll be any real story line to Looking Back. Just a series of scenes, kind of like Mr. Trujillo's illustrious Vignette series. All this talk of viruses an computers screwing up is kind of depressing, ne? And I figure with all the trauma I've put this lot through recently, you deserve some WAFF. How about it? BTW: *: "Jump on your father!" I had something else in mind, but Altavista is useless.