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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.