For The Want Of Safety

[18:11] * Aline was staring at the ceiling, staring not out of some kind of psychological trauma, not out of abject boredom, but… just out of a simple desire to sleep. Owing to all -manner- of things, she and Shinji were quite naturally in different beds, and mooore than likely he was already asleep. Aline herself wasn't that far away, clad in a white nightgown and under the sheets.
[18:14] <GM> [Indeed, the lumpy outline of young Shinji would be barely seen in the faint, barely-there light.-
[18:14] <GM> [Time would continue to pass. Why was sleep evading Aline so?]
[18:17] * Aline to be honest had no idea. Sometimes this happened, sometimes this didn't. Sometimes all the things about her day just didn't get answered and bugged her. Sometimes she was just stuck, in a way that defied any explanation but that word. Hell, there was also that fun, fun time where she was afraid of the nightmares, all the way after that first time. But they weren't back, at least
[18:17] * Aline not as strong. Nor as strong as from the kidnapping - though alien monsters and nasty not-blood tended to make things worse. …Either way, today's reason wasn't clear to Aline.
[18:22] <GM> [It would seem that despite it all, she wasn't alone in not being able to sleep. A rustling noise from the other bed- Shinji stood up, slowly, quietly. He was dressed in winter pyjamas- as expected. He crept across the room- not wanting to wake Aline up, of course! And slipped into the bathroom.]
[18:25] * Aline did lift up her head to peer curiously over, but said nothing and set it back down. In this amount of darkness, it was hard to tell if she was awake or not unless someone stared right at her. And what would she say? 'Oh, hi Shinji, you can't sleep either?' - then he'd say something - 'Wow, I don't know why either.' And likely they'd just stare at each other trying to come up with
[18:25] * Aline something to say. Nah, let's try to sleep some more.
[18:28] <GM> [The faint sound of rushing water. Then, it stopped. The door opened- Shinji emerged again, and started to creep back. But… It wasn't to his own bed he was returning. Instead, Aline would feel a weight on her bed- Shinji sitting on the edge?- … And a faintly cold hand stroke her hair.]
[18:34] * Aline remained there with her eyes closed, trying to breathe slowly, perhaps in part paralyzed by the uncertainty, perhaps something else… but… nonetheless she stayed where she was. Mostly. There was this little twitch of her head she did when the stroke went further down her hair, which was mentally cursed as possibly being a tell that she wasn't asleep.
[19:43] * GM is now known as Ikari‘Shinji
[19:49] * Ikari`Shinji … Didn’t notice. He kept gently stroking her hair- a tender, loving gesture if there ever was one. Quietly, he whispered, ashamedly to himself… "I'm sorry…"
[19:57] * Aline figured now was as good a time as any, and turned her head, opening her eyes to look right at him. Her tone was very soft. "You shouldn't need to be."
[19:58] <Ikari‘Shinji> "-!" Shinji practically jumped off the bed, his hand bound tightly to his chest. There was, for a moment, silence- then he started to bow. Profusely. "I-I’m sorry! I'm sorry I had no idea-"
[20:01] * Aline lifted a hand, and grabbed at his chin. Not hard. "Didn't I just say you didn't need to be sorry?" Ah, nothing like the smile that combined fatigue with a desperate attempt to look nonthreatening. "I know you're afraid. I would've stayed quiet, but… I didn't want you to go around feeling ashamed for that. Because I know why."
[20:06] * Ikari‘Shinji is locked into a gaze with Aline, now. Between panic and forcing himself to calm down, he… Forces himself to calm down. "Ah… Y-You do…?"
[20:10] * Aline nodded her head briefly. "I do, or at least on the surface. You’re afraid to get close. The deeper reasons… I don't know. But I saw it whenever I would, uh… well, get close. The hugs and the little squeezes and so on. I could almost feel your fear." But then Aline closed her eyes, mostly (from how it ended up coming off) to amplify the effect of the smile she was now widening.
[20:10] * Aline "So… even if other people would find it strange for you to do that… I know that… well, when I'm asleep, it's probably less intimidating? I… I'm trying to make sure I understand before I act. I think I did that, right?"
[20:14] * Ikari‘Shinji lowered his gaze for a moment, a moment of anguish passing his face before his eyes rise again. "R… Right. When you were asleep… You… It feels more like something I can handle… Without it getting out of my control."
[20:17] <Aline> "Mm." A very simple affirmative. "Well, and I don’t want to scare you, but… I was awake the whole time - that is to say… I was okay with it."
[20:19] * Ikari‘Shinji nodded. "You… You were okay with it…" He nodded again, seemingly to himself. "Aline, if… I stand up here and go back to my bed, would you be disappointed in me?"
[20:27] * Aline looked straight-on at Shinji, pausing as if to consider which thing to say. "I…" The smile became a bit more neutral-ish. "…don’t know. I'm being honest but I… I want you to not be afraid, but I don't want to hurt you. I don't just mean like… uh… not-hurting-you as in out of some kind of fear that I /might/, but… because I /know/ that if I force you to you're going to
[20:27] * Aline feel bad. And then I'm going to feel bad and guilty. So… just… choose what feels right. Please. Don't try to think that my saying that is a 'yes' or a 'no', it's just…" She blinked, but held that blink for a few seconds. "That I… nnn, that I want you to just be your true self, and just happening to be with me too. Sorry to make it so confusing…"
[20:31] <Ikari‘Shinji> "True to myself…" Shinji paused. He had to think about that. It… Was something that took awhile. Sometimes, he wondered… No. Wasn’t the time. "Aline… Please be patient with me. I will try for you."
[20:36] <Aline> "Yeah…" Aline let the syllable fall for quite some time. "It's not easy. Some people just don't have everything sorted out yet. Some people even have more to deal with than you do - sometimes so much that it makes them have no idea that it's even a problem." She stroked his chin again. "Just keep moving forward. It doesn't matter to me if it takes you a while. Just helping you makes me
[20:36] <Aline> happier."
[20:40] * Ikari‘Shinji reached up and took Aline’s hand, shakily. His hand was cold. "… Thank you…"
[20:43] * Aline gripped the hand firmly - not deathgrip though! "…Yeah…" Somehow, saying a 'you're welcome' felt… crass. But she obviously didn't have a good substitute. "We've both been having trouble sleeping… I'd wonder why, but I don't really have an answer. But I guess something nice came of it?"
[20:47] <Ikari‘Shinji> "Y-Yeah…" Shinji stared at their hands… "Something… Something nice. But… No." His hands trembling slightly, he started to stand a little- and pulled the sheets back.
[20:53] * Aline squeezed a little tighter - but if he was going to go, she wouldn’t drag him back down or something. It's not like she even had the arm strength for that anyway, that's just silly. "I… …" What was -with- those trailing first-person pronouns?… Looks like Shinji isn't the only one feeling a bit awkward. "…I still love you. Don't… forget that." She finally managed to say.
[20:55] <Ikari‘Shinji> "I love you, too." Murmured Shinji, his face downcast. "I’m so sick of this stupid feeling. Of wanting to be close and- and pushing away… I-I don't want to be afraid." With an action that seemed to take a -lot- of effort on his part, he pulled the sheets back fully on Aline's bed, exposing the untouched half.-
[20:56] <Ikari‘Shinji> Trembling all the while, he… Sat down on the bed, and then carefully swung himself up, pulling the sheets up as well. He now stared at her with wide eyes- on an equal level.
[20:59] * Aline stared… for a whole half minute, she just stared back. But it didn’t hold up any longer than that, because a few tears started to bead up by those same eyes… and she just gave up all pretense and just hugged the poor conflicted boy. "Thank you… thank you, thank you…"
[21:01] * Ikari‘Shinji was starting to cry a little too. Maybe it was just empathy, or fear, or… Something. But he hugged her back. He -snuggled- back. "We’re-we're here together." He swallowed.
[21:04] * Aline tightened her grip, almost wrapped around him. Why did she feel like crying… but… …Nevermind. Don't waste time on that. "Yeah… we are. We don't need to be alone here."
[21:06] <Ikari‘Shinji> "We’re not alone." Mumbled Shinji. "B-But please tell me- reassure me- this is… Safe…"
[21:10] <Aline> "It is. It's the safest thing I can… think of." Aline's voice was actually cracking a little. "Because it makes me… feel better to open up like this. Because I know you wouldn't hurt me. That's how I know it's safe…"
[21:11] <Ikari‘Shinji> "I…" A hand through her hair. A tighter embrace. "Then I-I don’t ever want to leave you alone."
[21:16] * Aline responded with her own strong cling, pushing at least close enough that she could feel him breathing. It was like she was holding on for dear life - and maybe in a small way, she was? "I'll make sure of that. More than anything else I would. You don't… deserve to be alone either."
[21:17] <Ikari‘Shinji> "T-Thank you. For… For giving me that feeling. Of worth."
[21:20] <Aline> "It’s… good. I… ah, I don't even know how to say it…" Aline just held on, letting her hands grab a bit higher, the shift itself being a bit of an expression of how she felt. "Ha… I can't even think of words that feel good enough for now. I guess I'll just make do with this~"
[21:25] * Ikari‘Shinji closed his eyes. She was right- the words didn’t exist to express it. He kissed her gently on top of the head, and… "G'night… I-I love you."
[21:28] * Aline practically felt part of herself… do… something. Change? Leap? She felt tired, but yet so alive. "Love you… too…" …And Aline slowly dozed off with her head buried somewhere next to Shinji's, not too long after she finished that (very short) sentence.
[21:31] * Ikari‘Shinji didn’t sleep with the same ease Aline did. For a long hour after she dozed he laid there, holding her- emotions rushing through him. He was full of a sort of awed horror/fascination at what he was doing- something so… Removed from his comfort zone that it didn't register.-
[21:32] <Ikari`Shinji> Eventually, though, a combination of tiredness and warmth subdued the voices, and the horror and the emotions. Although he fell asleep like a weary, collapsing soldier, he slept in a very private, intimate little shell of warmth and safety.

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