Disclaimer: No time, so: It's Gainax', not mine.
The four year old boy stared wide-eyed out the window as the lush landscape passed by. A wide smile was plastered on his face as he hugged the luggage bag close to him. He seemed so happy for the first time in the last months since... since the accident.
Sensing the sickening feeling threatening to overwhelm him again, Gendo Ikari forced himself to look away from the back mirror and focus on the street.
"Daddy?" His son's voice chirped from the backseat. "How long will we goin' on vatation?"
"For... a long while," he replied, clutching the steering wheel. He never had much problems to twist the truth to his needs. But he shuddered as he noticed how cold his own voice had become as he did it now.
"Daddy? Where're your things?"
For once he found himself unable to do it. He just couldn't think of anything to tell the boy that he would be the only one to leave.
"We're there," he announced as if he hadn't heard Shinji, hitting the breaks even though the train station was only just in sight. Not waiting for any more questions, he quickly got out of the car, walking to the back door on the opposite side where Shinji sat. As he opened it, the boy was already fumbling to loosen his seatbelt. Gendo took the heavy back from his lap.
"Come," he told him, nudging his head towards the station, before turning to go. He didn't look back as they walked over to the desolate place, trusting Shinji to close the door and follow him on his own. He had picked this less-frequented stop on purpose. Though he was used to people judging, hating him, the last he needed today were the accusing looks of unknowing bystanders.
The way seemed longer than it properly was, making him already regret that he hadn't driven right in front of it. Though it was by far not the only thing he already regretted.
Why hadn't he just called a driver to pick Shinji up, instead of doing it himself? It would have been much easier for both of them if he just would come home from GEHIRN to find the boy gone, already being far on his way to Musashino.
But to do this by no one but himself, he felt, was the least he owed his own son.
As if on cue, the train arrived just when they got to the entrance.
"Well, then..." Gendo found himself again in the unfamiliar lack of words as they reached the department platform. He placed the bag down, next to his smiling son who, still unaware, was looking forward to go on a rare vacation with his father, whom he had seen less and less lately. He took a deep breath before he was able to continue. "You better hurry up. You'll miss the train otherwise."
Shinji eagerly nodded, then started to run towards the transport. But his steps quickly slowed again when he noticed that his father hadn't moved to follow.
Hurrying back, he loosely tugged on his fathers jacket. "Won't you come too?"
Gendo clenched his hands tightly as he felt his heart constricting. There was no way to avoid it any longer.
Shinji, either too shocked or too young to understand, continued to stare at him with those big blue eyes. So much like his mother's, even if not in color. Gendo saw so much of Yui in him.
He could only hope she would forgive him for this. Maybe she would even hate him for it. But she would understand it. She had always been able to understand him.
"You are a big boy now, Shinji," he told him, somehow managing to keep his low voice from cracking as he ran his fingers through his son's hair. This had always been the most affectionate contact he had been able to give him. Somehow he had never been able to pick him up, to hug him, even though he was aching to, now more than ever. "You can go on vacation on your own. The conductor is informed and will keep an eye on you. It's the last stop, you won't miss it. There will be someone waiting for you to pick you up."
Nervously, Shinji started to clutch and pull at his striped shirt. "But... but I don't want to. I don't want to go without you." Tears started to well up in the fearful eyes of his son, the same eyes that had sparkled so full of joy just a few minutes ago. Just as they had before... before Yui...
Noticing that he couldn't keep his hands from shaking, he hid them in the pockets of his jacket. "Get inside, the train will be leaving soon."
"But... I... I..." Shinji's head dropped, sobs rocking the small body. "How... how long will I be 'way?"
Did he actually understand? He was so smart in his ways. How often had Gendo wanted to tell him how proud he was of him? But not now. He couldn't do it now. Maybe... maybe sometime...
"I will have a lot of work to do," Gendo admitted as he fought for his calm. "I can not take care of you any longer."
And with that he turned away from his son, unable to speak anymore without risking to lose his self-control, not even the few words he needed to say.
He was abruptly halted as Shinji latched onto his right leg.
"NO!" the boy screamed, now crying openly. "Please! Was I bad? Was that why Mommy left? I-I'm sorry! I'm sorry, please!"
That was too much. Too much for his composure to take. "STAY BACK!" he yelled as his last defenses were straining. He couldn't look down at his child anymore, for he knew he would never be able to go through with this if he did. "GET ONTO THE TRAIN AND LEAVE ME ALONE! I CAN'T USE HAVING YOU AROUND ANYMORE!"
Jerking his leg forward, he freed himself of his son's grip, not stopping anymore on his way towards the car.
'I'm sorry, Shinji... But no matter how much it hurts now, no matter how much he will hate me for it, it is better this way. I would only hurt him more if I keep him with me, if he would look up to the man I am and the man I have to become. Eventually he would realize that what he thinks is love only resulted from his dependence of me. It is better this way... for both of us...'
Every step felt like his feet were encased in concrete, but he forced himself onwards, away from the wailing of his child.
'Don't look back. Don't ever look back,' he kept telling himself as his own tears threatened to form. 'Because if you do... you will never be able to let go... to do what you must...'
A/N: Too OOC? Yeah, Gendo's behavior could have used some fine- (and rough-)tuning here and there. But with the IMO honest happiness about his child before Yui vanishes, and his end in EoE in mind, I have my doubts that sending Shinji away was such an easy, cold-hearted decision for him as it is generally perceived and I wanted to do this from another perspective than the cloudy memory of a small, confused child. Even if I might overdid it a bit.
I actually wanted to do an other fic for this year's anniversary, but sometime end of last month I noticed I could never make it in time and actually already said there wouldn't be one this time. But then a few days ago, I remembered this idea which I had always shrugged off as being to small for a full-fledged fic (as it probably is) and, if I'd ever do it, would only post it in a forum or so. However, that shortness was just what I needed now to have at least something ready.
Well then, back to work on T2t. Want that bugger finished this year after all...