A/N: This is easily the darkest thing I've written/am writing and, as such, a lot of warnings apply. Those will be listed off at the head of each chapter they apply to. For this chapter, the warnings are infanticide, miscarriage, and stillbirth.
In the year 2000, a total of 3,821,147 births were recorded. For almost the first three quarters of the year, an average of 333,549 babies were born every month, but following the events that took place on September 13th, this number fell quickly before leveling out at 266,881 several months later. On the exact date of Second Impact, 7413 new lives were brought into the world as billions of others departed it. Of these, 3794 were male. Only one was named Nagisa Kaworu.
Unlike the other 7412 who shared his birthday, this boy was not birthed from a human mother. He was an anomaly; one of a kind; a freak, as he would later come to think of himself. He wasn't an only child; far from it. He had fourteen siblings, all varying drastically in appearance and ability, but even among them he was the odd one. Unlike them, he wasn't completely an Angel. He was the result of a contact experiment, his DNA that of both a human donor and his inhuman progenitor. On the day when billions were killed, he was given the life of being part Lilin, just enough that he gained a mind and body akin to a human's despite being the vessel for Adam's soul. From the moment his crying newborn body was recovered from the chaos of Second Impact, he was a murderer.
"What should be done with him?"
"Are we positive he's an Angel?"
"He doesn't look like one."
"He looks human."
"Because the experiment was a success."
"He is Tabris, the Angel of Free Will."
"Everything is going according to the designs laid out in the Dead Sea Scrolls."
"He's just a baby now. We have plenty of time to mold him to benefit our plan."
"We can use him."
"We can control him."
"He is ours."
"He is ours."
"He is ours."
"He is our key to Third Impact."
13/09/00 || Wednesday || 22:58
Stillborn. Dead at birth. Abortive. Strangled by his own umbilical cord. A medical rarity caused by lazy practice. Nine months of carrying around her baby only to never hold his tiny form in her arms. She felt like she had almost heard his tiny cries as his life was forced out of him. She hadn't even seen him; his body had been taken away so quickly. It was as if she had gone through all that agony of labour and birth only to mother an even more painful emptiness.
A soft knock issued from the door and she looked up from her hands with hollow eyes. She half expected to see her husband despite him being overseas in Japan on a business trip and visiting family, but instead there stood a man in a black tailored suit who looked at her with a serious expression affixed on his face. "Liese Nagisa?" he asked, to which she nodded in confirmation that that was indeed her name. "There's something I would like to discuss with you." He stepped heavily into the room, holding a black attaché case in one hand and closing the door behind him with the other. He came over to her bed and took a seat on the stool beside it. The private room was small, forcing them to be in close proximity to one another. "I realise that this is a sensitive subject, but I am in the understanding that earlier today you came into the hospital in labour but suffered a stillbirth. Is this correct?"
"...Yes, it is," she answered, her brow knitting both in the pain of being reminded of what she already couldn't stop thinking about and confusion as to why this man was asking, or even who this man was for that matter.
"I have something to offer you, however, accepting it will come with a number of complications. Do you accept that?"
She was silent for a moment before giving the slightest of nods.
"What I am offering you is a baby you could take care of and raise in place of your own. It was born several hours ago, just a short while before yours was, and is without parents. If you are willing to possibly accept taking in this baby I will tell you more, however from here on is confidential so I must ask you to sign a statement that you will refrain from so much as mentioning it to anyone. This of course includes your husband."
"Why can't I tell my husband?"
"I'm afraid he's a possible liability. It is important that as few people as possible are aware of this transaction."
"Just what kind of deal is this? What could be so special about a child that I can't even tell my husband that he's not ours?!"
"That's classified, ma'am."
"Who exactly are you even?!"
Liese was horrified. That such acts of secrecy could be performed centering on a newborn was not only atrocious but also extremely suspicious. But all the same, she was desperate. She had had three miscarriages already and had put so much joy and hope into this pregnancy that its failure was a crushing blow to her, saturated in shame and guilt. Her husband didn't know about the stillbirth. He didn't even know she had gone into labour. He had been on his flight to Japan at the time her water broke and there as of yet hadn't been a change to contact him unless someone else had done so. She had come to the hospital and gone through the birth alone. If she took in this baby, she could pretend it was her own. No one would have to know. Her husband could think she had gone through a successful birth, producing a healthy and happy son that they could love and nurture together. There had been so much strain on their marriage, partially caused by her previous miscarriages, that the news of their baby's death would likely lead to divorce. This child could be the thing that saved their relationship.
The man in black opened his case on his lap, extracting a sheet of paper and a fountain pen which he handed to her. She began reading, but the words jumbled and flowed together in her mind so much that she could only pick out bits and pieces. Regardless, she signed her name where instructed at the bottom, her signature a flourish of shaky black ink.
She then thrust both objects back towards the man, not meeting his gaze. He began speaking again as he took them from her. "I cannot tell you my name, however I represent an organization known as Seele which works under the United Nations. What Seele does is classified, but I assure you our work is solely for the betterment of mankind. This is the child that you will be taking in." Another slip of paper was handed to her, though so much of this one was blacked out that there was little she could read. "His official title which Seele refers to him by is Tabris, however, you and your husband are free to give him any name you wish to address him with."
"…Kaworu. Kaworu Nagisa. That was what my husband and I planned to name our son, so that'll be fine, won't it?"
"Of course, ma'am. If you take in this boy – Kaworu – you will receive him in a week's time, once we've completed all the necessary medical examinations. Following that, you will be required to bring him to one of our bases of operation every six months where he will stay for a minimum of one week for further examination. The nearest base is just outside of Munich. Do you accept this?"
"And you swear to not tell anyone, including your husband, about Kaworu not being your biological son, as well as you swear not to repeat any of what I've told you here today?"
"Then I will ask you to please read through and sign this as specified." What he handed her this time was a thick packet of paper covered in tiny font, blank spaces appearing once every so often for her to fill her name or initials into. A contract. She read through it in silence, much of the text making little, if any, sense to her, until she got to a segment two thirds in. "What's this part about me relinquishing custody of him on his tenth birthday?"
"It's exactly as it sounds. At age ten, he will be transferred to another base of Seele's in Japan where he will be trained to be used for his intended purpose."
"Of course it is…"
"If all goes as planned, you will be reunited with him no later than at the beginning of 2016."
She didn't like the idea of having her son taken away from her for five years, even if he wasn't really her son, but once again her thoughts went to her husband, to her and his hope and desire to start a family together.
Ten minutes later, she had finished with the contract and she handed it back to the man, breathing out a deep sigh.
"Thank you very much, Mrs. Nagisa. Would you like to see your son?"
She looked up at him, her eyes brightening at the prospect. "Can I?"
"Of course. Come with me." He stood and paced over to the door, resting his hand on the knob as she stumbled out of the bed to follow him. The two exited and began walking down the hall, Liese noticing as they did so that a man in casual clothes stood from a seat to follow them, then another pushed off a wall he was leaning against to do the same. Had they been guarding the room?
Finally, they reached the neonatal room and Liese peered through the glass window, her eyes fanning over the rows of newborns sleeping soundly. Which one was Kaworu?
"Fifth row, second column," the man said, answering her unspoken question.
And there he was, sleeping as soundly as all the rest in his little blue bed. A small tuft of hair was present on the crown of his head, so light it seemed almost white. He stirred slightly under her gaze, wiggling his hips and curling in his fingers as he opened his eyes slightly. Red.
She thought to herself in that moment that he was the most beautiful thing that she had ever seen. This opinion of hers would hold strong until five years later.
Unbeknownst to Liese, she was not a mother chosen by chance to raise the seventeenth Angel purely on the coincidence of a stillbirth. She had been chosen by Seele because she and her husband fit the qualifications, including both being highly intelligent and being strongly subject to persuasion. Specialized drugs had been slipped into her breakfast for that morning by operatives, leading to a medically induced labour several weeks earlier than what had been predicted by her doctor. In truth, there had no stillbirth. The obstetrician had been bribed by Seele to kill the baby, the death then covered up and made to seem like an accident. Had Liese not accepted so easily to take in Tabris, she would have been bribed. If that too had failed, Seele had positioned personnel around her husband, ready to threaten him in the event that a bit more coercion was needed. Liese never had any chance to decline. Everything had been predetermined.