Asuka was a stubborn, sensitive brat.
Dare you ever say that to her? Not likely. However, she was someone who was almost charmingly candid. The fact that she so easily let her heart show on her sleeve was a sign of her purity.
It endeared you to her. Made you want to protect her, not that she technically needed it with how undeniably skilled she was. Sit her down in a mech and she'd work magic on those Angels, something she initially only seemed to be doing to compete with everyone else and appeal to her one and only Kaji.
She was surprised by your presence just behind her, not expecting you to have been there. You'd popped up like a mole from a mound of dirt.
“...Sorry to scare you, haha...”
You were never quite sure what to say to her these days. She always seemed so flighty and quick to anger, it was less like walking on eggshells and more like treading on broken glass with her. You half expected the girl to lash out at you for shocking her in such a way.
Yet you quickly noticed how fragile she looked in that moment. Her eyes were rimmed with red and glistening still from all her crying. Her figure was hunched by the metal wall where she'd been standing for a while, a fist tightened against it. It was the pounding that had brought you here in the first place...
“Is everything alright--”
“Everything's fine, okay!?” she was quick to snap, scoffing, “...It's fine. Just leave me alone.”
Lies were hardly a benefit to her. You knew she was lonely, and that she yearned for the kind of human company she thought she didn't deserve. You could only imagine Kaji must have rejected her to put her in such a state. Then again, she would often get upset about the littlest of things.
“...Did something happen with Kaji?”
She suddenly slammed the wall again and spun around sharply, glaring at you,
“I said, leave me ALONE!”
You didn't say much about that initially. Her anger was palpable, and you figured she must be upset for good reason. Really though...even as she was trying to glower so fiercely you could see her lip quivering, her hesitation before suddenly casting her gaze aside.
“...Kaji has nothing to do with it. I don't care what he thinks anymore...I just...” Asuka grit her teeth and pushed past you, but didn't wander far, “I fucked up during training today and I hate it...I hate it! I can't stand it!”
Her gloved fists clenched, nails practically tearing through her plugsuit,
You felt for her. You really did. Something compelled you in that moment to move past the lingering barrier, and reach out for her hand, holding it gently.
She turned and looked at you, this time her startled self wasn't quite so brash. She looked so delicate.
“...What are you doing? Didn't I tell you to-”
“Leave you alone? Yeah you did, but I'm not planning on it.” you stepped around her fully so you could face her properly, “You are a lot stronger than most people could even hope to be. You'll make mistakes, but so do I, all the time. What we're up against is constantly evolving, it's okay to falter sometimes.”
“Yeah, say that when Tokyo-3 gets annihilated. Try and justify it then.” she muttered bitterly, but you just kept holding her hand, giving it a soft squeeze. She hadn't tried to pull away yet, there was some sort of promise there. Maybe she'd actually be open to reasoning after all.
“Tokyo-3 is not gonna get destroyed. We'll fight together. Kaji might not be there for you, but I will be.”
You were making assumptions, and perhaps stepping in a little too boldly, but to your surprise, her expression softened. It was if she'd been waiting for you to say exactly that.
“...I told you I don't care about him anymore. He's an idiot, they're all idiots.” Word shot from her lips like sharpened needles.
“'They', including me?” you asked her, and she paused.
Her eyes met yours. You'd always found her beautiful, even if you'd never told her so. A soft blue that reminded you of the sky.
A calmness settling where it had found no place before.
She had things she wouldn't admit herself. Like how you made her feel in the moment.
How it felt like you were the only person who actually wanted to give her the time of day, to try and understand, to actually be there for her.
How happy you actually made her after all.