STANDARD FORM DISCLAIMER: The following is a fan-written derivative work of NEON GENESIS EVANGELION. The author ("I") claims(s) no copyright, explicit or implicit to any unoriginal character contained herein. Furthermore, I disclaim any and all copyright to any Original Characters ("OCs") appearing in this work. I gain absolutely no profit from this venture, and am entitled to none. This disclaimer will not appear on any subsequent chapters, however, it should be considered to apply with equal force to them. For any further inquiries, please contact me via a private message to this account.
THE CREATIVE PRINCIPLE
CHAPTER ONE: TALYA KOUM
"Lay upon the sinner his sin,
Lay upon the transgressor his transgression,
Punish him a little when he breaks loose,
Do not drive him too hard or he perishes.
Would that a lion had ravaged mankind,
rather than the Flood.
Would that a famine had wasted the world,
rather than the Flood.
Would that pestilence had wasted mankind,
rather than the flood."
-The Epic of Gilgamesh
He killed Kaworu again that night, as he did every night. The scene played out slightly different every time. Sometimes it was close to how it went for real. He would sit in his crash-couch, as he did in life, holding him for a while before giving the mental command to his Eva to crush him. He would feel his skinny body break, his bones shatter, and his core rupture. Shinji knew Kaworu was an angel, but he died like a boy every time.
Sometimes, instead, Shinji would float in the air somewhere and watch as Unit 1 crushed Kaworu. That was slightly better. He didn't have to feel his organs rupture, he didn't have to feel blood coat the inside of his giant biomechanical hand; he only had to see it, as if he were a spectator. Those dreams, he could almost live with. Almost.
The worst, though, were the pseudo-psychedelic journeys into hell that plagued him with increasing frequency. There was usually little to no coherent imagery, just flashes of things, sometimes entirely unrelated, but an all pervading sense that he was killing him. He did not relieve Kaworu's death so much as the overwhelming sense of loss and guilt that went with it. And that terrified him.
Kaworu's blood, once an idea but now an image, morphed as if by some perverse transubstantiation into semen. Shinji was over her now, once again in the hospital, long since covered by an ocean, violating her as he did every night. In her silence, she screamed. The silent scream turned real: "Don't rape my mind!" Suddenly Shinji was Arael. Suddenly he, or He, was the one probing deep into her mind relentlessly. NERV never actually told them the secret names of the Angels: Kabbalah was out of their pay grade. But somehow, here in the dream, he knew it. By the time he awoke, he would forget, as he did always.
Now, he was falling off a tower, or maybe a tree or a cliff. It didn't matter which, and it changed several times. He had jumped consciously, but he wasn't trying to kill himself. It wasn't that kind of dream. Shinji hit the ground, and his body broke. He knew that he had died on impact, but his body was still conscious. His living corpse was on the Beach back in what was left of Japan, lying next to Asuka. Voices came to him from nowhere in particular.
"Pick yourself up." said Misato.
"Pick yourself up." ordered Asuka.
"Pick yourself up." willed Ayanami.
"Have you learned nothing?"
He woke with a start, his entire body shaking, his breathing laboured and shallow. His stomach inflated and hollowed out arhythmically as he attempted to calm himself down. Asuka woke and grabbed him immediately, cradling him in his arms, cooing something soft and calming into his ear. He had no idea what or for how long.
This was routine.
"S-sorry." He said, between breaths. He felt weak, as if he were about to die. "I had a-another one."
"It's okay… just relax." She said, in an attempt at calming him. Her voice was soft but underlying it was a vague sense of panic, that it wouldn't work this time, that he would never calm down. There was no haughtiness, no dig at him or attempt at humour here - never during an episode. Their relationship was complex to say the least, but in situations like this there was no place for anything but absolute support. This was their most iron law. That, and never mention the hospital and never mention the beach.
After a few more moments of desperate cuddling, Shinji's breath finally began to slow down. His nerves were still on edge, but his heart no longer felt liable to explode. "Sorry." He said, again. There was no better word to use here.
He traced his fingers over her arms, stopping at the jagged scars on her wrists. Every scar from the battle with the Mass Production Evas had faded away to almost nothing, as if by magic. Even the eye, which had ruptured in the fight, was more or less perfect in terms of aesthetics, even if she was mostly blind in it. Apparently LCL had regenerative properties far beyond the natural ability to heal. But the scars she gave herself remained. There was probably something poetic in that.
"Your hands are like ice." she said.
He kissed her on the forehead and reached over her into the nightstand. In passing, he noted that the digital clock read 5:55 AM. Fumbling with the drawer, he retrieved a small bottle of generic diazepam. He popped one of the chalky pills in his mouth. After an instant of second guessing, he downed another.
"You're addicted to that shit." She said, all too frankly, in English this time, wrapping her arms around him.
"As if you never take any." He said, digging at her without really refuting her claim. He was, in fact, dependent on it, but he really couldn't think of any other solution in the short term. It was (probably) better that than booze, which he avoided knowing, without needing to try it, that he would like it too much.
"I haven't had a panic attack in like a month," she lied, "And I've only popped one Valium since then. Doctor says you're only supposed to only take it when you need it, it's not candy."
"And I don't need it right now?"
"You do, so take it. Just… try to cut down, okay? For me?"
He didn't give a response. Anything he said would either be a lie or would piss her off. They were more and more like an old couple every day. This was despite the fact that Shinji had only just turned 19. Asuka would still be 18 for another three months.
"Are you going to stay in bed?" she asked.
"No, I… I should get up. I can't sleep."
"We don't have to sleep…" she said, her voice a bit coy.
"Not now, Asuka. I'm sorry, I just… I can't" There's that phrase again. "Not after that."
"Are you sure? It might make you feel better."
"Trust me, it won't, not now at least."
"Fine. You owe me one though. I'm going back to sleep. I gotta get some work done on my thesis today."
"The monkeys are ready to be lobotomized?" he said, switching back to Japanese.
"Baka! If you imply I'm as dumb as a neuropsyche pleb again I'll castrate you."
"I'm talking about your students." The off-brand valium was starting to kick in, he could hold a conversation again! He could joke again!
"You try to explain the Akagi theorem to a bunch of idiots educated in public school – American public school." She said, as if she were describing a particularly impacted cyst. "It's a new semester so I have to start that shit all over again with a new group of children."
"You're younger than most of them."
"So that means they have no excuse. I mastered this stuff before I could tie my shoes."
"Maybe you should go easy on them this time. I looked at your professor review page. You're not particularly popular…"
"Only thing I care about on that shitty site is if I have a chilli pepper. Last time I checked, I do, so screw 'em. And don't you dare tell me how to do my job till you get one, Baka." She said in in English. Except baka, she liked the sound of that word too much to translate it.
"I… we went over this!" Shinji said, in no mood for this conversation again. "It's not like we need the money, the NERV checks keep coming in."
"It's not about the money. You can't just sit here all day doing nothing."
"I'm writing the book…"
"Suuure. And how many pages have you written so far? At least teach some Japanese or something on the side, or maybe teach some English to the refugees. Help your people out."
"They're your people too, Asuka. And besides, I don't think I'd make a good teacher."
"First of all, I'm a world-baby. Who isn't my people? And how hard could it be? I taught you how to speak English and you're dense as hell."
"I already spoke some English before I met you…"
"Trust me," she said, "You didn't. I'd show you what you sounded like but you'd just call me racist. Again."
Normality. A normal conversation. Some relief. He shoved the dreams in the back of his mind, hoping in vain that they would never trouble him again.
"Anyway, I'm tired, so if you don't want to screw me at least let me sleep. Get up or don't, just shut up for a while." She yawned loudly. "You threw the sheets on the floor and it's freezing in here! When's the landlord going to fix the heat?", she grumbled, as she let go of him to gather up the fallen linens.
"I'll ask him again later. I might be gone by the time you get up for work. You want anything while I'm out?"
"Some fucking sanity." She deadpanned, already back in her sleeping position.
"They're running low on that, I heard, so don't get your hopes up. Want anything else?"
"We're almost out of soy sauce."
Slowly, their relationship had evolved from a confused and awkward jumble of conflicting feelings, violence, and absolute sexual confusion to something slightly more comprehensible. There were a lot of tears involved, a lot of hellish nights with no privacy in a sweaty refugee camp in the middle of god forsaken flyover state. They were almost institutionalized, split up, probably never to see each other again.
Their issues were far from resolved, of course. But the wounds were too painful, and their co-dependent relationship was too important to be staked by scratching the wounds. The beach was verboten. The hospital was verboten (to Shinji's immense relief). Third Impact, and what the hell happened in there, was definitely verboten. The angels, especially the 15th, and of course Kaworu, were touchy subjects, rarely discussed, and only in whispers or, occasionally, screams. Asuka still had occasional breakdowns. Now at least, she could, with the help of psychiatric chemistry manage them. Asuka still swore, often loudly, that talk therapy was a scam. She still went. Shinji was… more fragile, and on a far heavier cocktail of drugs than she was. Both of them knew, somehow, that they would have to talk about these things eventually, but both knew that it would probably be too painful to bear.
They were technically married, but it didn't really feel like a marriage. They were too young. In truth, it was mostly a scam to get Shinji citizenship – Asuka had a US passport after all - and out of the JRRI (the Japanese Refugee and Resettlement Initiative) camp. It was distressingly common at this point, and already there were calls in Congress to close the loophole. In what was becoming a family tradition, Shinji had taken Asuka's name (specifically the Japanese one, Sohryu. Shinji felt weird about 'Langley,' a name he could never really pronounce properly in its English version.) It wasn't for any ideological reason, but to be named "Shinji Ikari" nowadays was like being called "John Hitler." It just wasn't a good idea.
Their marriage was more real than most, though. They at least loved each other, even if their definition of 'love' was nonstandard, to say the least. She could have left at any time, gone to live anywhere in America, or back to Germany to find her father, but she didn't. She stayed with him in the camp, despite claiming (at least at first) to despise him. She did little but cry for the first few months or so. But gradually, she changed back into Asuka. That was good. They had been through hell together, they had seen inside each other's minds. There was something profoundly sacred about their bond: Shinji could not see himself with another woman, under any circumstances. None of them could know him as well as Asuka. He was certain no one but she could love him. It was the only bright spot in his life.
Still, the marriage had practical advantages as well. Many of Shinji's countrymen weren't in anywhere near as good a position. Of the United States 50 million new residents fleeing the now-uninhabitable islands of Japan, most were still confined to the Jerry Camps. Japan was gone as a nation: the blackened, shattered remains of the Home Islands couldn't grow food or support life. The only ones there were UN aid agencies combing the lands for an ever dwindling number of Returnees. The vast majority of Japanese that had survived what was called in America "2I" and "3I" picked the US, which was largely untouched by the disasters. The rest either scraped out a living in Hokkaido, which was still apparently liveable though not "Japanese" anymore, as it was under direct UN control, paid to go somewhere else, died, or didn't come back, continuing to exist somewhere out there in Instrumentality.
The aim was to integrate them gradually, with the least "impact to American society" possible. Any troubling comparisons to a certain World War 2 era practice involving the same ethnic group were conveniently forgotten.
They had 'married' by unceremoniously signing paperwork in front of a bored federal clerk in a conference/ping pong room at JRRI "Temporary Settlement" 2181 in Kootenai County, Idaho on December 5th, 2019, exactly one day after Asuka's 18th birthday. There were eight other couples behind them, waiting in line. By that point they had been dating (such as it was) for two years and having sex for three. That same day, they had their walking papers and were checked into the only motel nearby for a (admittedly hot) 'honeymoon.'
No one, especially the refugees spoke of the Third Impact, especially Instrumentality. It was the taboo of taboos. That is, except for the cults, which were popping up in the camps at an alarming pace. They talked about it at any opportunity. There were a lot of cults which had formed in the wake of the Third Impact, especially on the dead and desolate West Coast, which had been almost entirely wiped out.
Technically, all of those souls were still in sight, in that new horrible red constellation of souls that orbited the world, or in the sea. Occasionally, someone would return from the sea, either to be reunited with their families or to find out that their families were all dead. Many of The Returned (a stupid title, as technically everyone was Returned), killed themselves within a few months of coming back. There were fewer people returning every year. Eventually, it was expected that people would stop coming back all together.
Within a month of leaving the camps, the couple was settled in South Boston. Apparently it had been a mostly Irish neighborhood for a century and a half, but a growing number of Japanese immigrants (including Shinji and Asuka) had begun to set up there since the Third Impact due to its relatively low housing prices. The natives weren't exactly pleased about it. They lived in a tiny duplex bungalow which they rented for fairly cheap. Though they had only lived there for six months, they had had three different neighbors, none of whom they knew at all. They didn't know anyone, really. They had no real friends, and they certainly didn't get out much: Asuka went to work, Shinji did the grocery shopping. In truth, the two of them were as lonely as ever, but at least now they could be lonely together.
Asuka enrolled at MIT, which she commuted to each day, finishing her Masters in Metaphysical Field Theory in eight months. Around the same time got a job teaching First and Second year Metaphysical Biology, which according to Asuka was a 'fad' subject because it was in the news a lot.
They lived cheaply off of Asuka's rather meager associate professor salary and the "don't sue us" checks from the various shell corporations that handled NERV's finances, which were obscenely large. Shinji hated the money. He wanted to either donate all of it, or just burn the checks un-cashed, but Asuka forbade him.
This was the source of most of their arguments. They got heated at times. Eventually, they arrived at a sort of compromise. All of the checks to Shinji would go into an account, only to be accessed if (to quote Asuka: "big fucking if,") they had children. Asuka's checks were hers. She splurged at first; buying a cherry red pre-Impact Mercedes with a vanity license plate (UNI-2JR, pronounced "Unit 02 Junior"). Eventually, guilt made her dump most of it into the account as well. For his part, Shinji drove a beige 1998 Honda Civic, with miscolored doors. He did it both out of an inherent cheapness and the slightest tinge of nationalism. He drove it rarely, gas was at a premium, now a days.
Few knew of their significance to world history. There were a few stares of recognition, after all, everyone in the world had seen their faces at least once, but memories of Instrumentality were vague and not to be trusted and certainly never to be discussed openly. Even the cultists that worshiped them would never recognize them in the flesh. Instrumentality memories were vague.
The world seemed eager to forget it even happened. The absolute environmental and human disaster caused by it created far too many pressing issues to worry about the past anymore. Everyone was slightly battle hardened: those that did not lose someone in the Third Impact lost someone in the Second, or the wars that followed it. Even twenty years later, the streets of America were still packed with maimed and disfigured war veterans from the Third World War, just after the Second Impact, their minds often broken. Shinji was shocked at this. They never seemed to be around in Japan. Or maybe he just never noticed them.
He sat at low coffee table drinking coffee and eating some kind of bread-y thing he didn't know the name of. The water for the coffee was filtered, tap water was still unsafe. With it, he took a veritable cocktail of prescription anti-depressants: Lithium and Zoloft (which apparently could cause hallucinations when taken together, his shrink never mentioned that, luckily none had manifested yet), Paxil. He contemplated another Valium, but he was numb already, so he decided against it. At night, he took Prazosin to cut down on the nightmares. They didn't seem to help much. Maybe I should schedule another appointment to up the dose?
The sun was just starting to come up. It was still summer, but fall was threatening to take over any day now. It would be a cold winter, there was already frost on the ground. It was September 3rd, the first day of school for children. It was weird, but there was a part of Shinji that was eager to see a school bus for real. They didn't have them in Japan, but growing up they were always on the periphery of the culture, in the American movies.
The TV was on, at low volume so as not to disturb Asuka. Shinji was only half listening. The English still gave him trouble when they talked fast, but over time he was getting better at it. Asuka was not a slow talker. "…Kozo Fuyutski, the apparent second in command at NERV, declined to comment. Fuyutski was directly below Gendo Ikari, who is presumed dead or Unreturned, in the NERV hierarchy. Legal analysts are already calling his trial the most important of the Ottawa Trials to be convened so far. The Ottawa trials are set to be the largest war crimes tribunal since Nuremberg. Seven other high ranking NERV officials: First Lieutenants Maya Ibuki, Shigeru Aoba, and Makato Hyuga, as well as chief financial officer of the Berlin branch..."
He shut the TV off. The Ottawa trials were the bane of his existence, and he didn't want to hear about them so soon after a major panic attack. They were rounding up anyone remotely connected to NERV that they found washed up on a beach somewhere. They had been trying to get Shinji and Asuka to be witnesses for years. In the camps, they had offered him citizenship, a way out. Shinji told him that that part of his life was over, and that he wanted nothing to do with any of it. Asuka felt the same way. On this he was steadfast. He would not testify. It wasn't that he particularly cared about anyone on trial, hell, most of them deserved to be punished. But Shinji was done with that life. He wanted to tell his own story his own way. Hence, Shinji's planned autobiography, which was sitting perpetually unfinished on a cheap laptop charging on the counter next to the coffee maker.
The bastards were insistent, though. And as the trial grew ever nearer, the US had been calling more and more regularly, trying desperately to convince them to testify. No matter what Shinji would not be their pawn. Never.
Suddenly, a bird hit the window, breaking his reverie. It shocked Shinji, sending his already skittish mind into overdrive, causing him let out a small yelp. He hoped Asuka hadn't heard. From the sound of it, it must've been massive, large enough to rattle the window. There were tiny, downy feathers still plastered to the outside. It must've hit with some force.
Slowly, Shinji rose and went outside. He was barefoot, and the frost on the grass in their tiny front lawn chilled bottom of his feet. He spotted the bird under their window immediately: it wasn't a pigeon or a songbird, but some kind of bird of prey, not quite as large as an eagle. It was probably a falcon or something.
Shinji crouched down and cradled it in its arms gently. It was alive, just barely, its wings obviously broken in several places. It was beautiful, proud looking. Something was wrong about it laying here, broken. Somehow, it reminded him of Asuka in her darkest moments. Shinji was at a loss of what to do. The bird made a pitiful noise; it was clearly in immense pain. He tried to stroke its feathers, to calm it, but it began to tremble.
Suddenly, a pang of panic hit Shinji in the pit of his stomach. The bird could not be saved, that much was clear. But should he be the one to put the poor thing out of its misery? It would be quick and easy, just a quick twist of the neck. Images of Kaworu flooded to his mind, and Asuka, on the beach. He thought that was a mercy killing too:
"You were just lying there… I thought you wanted to…"
His tears fell on the ground, melting the frost. He couldn't do it. Even if it was the right thing, he just… couldn't do it.
"I'm sorry." He said, in Japanese. It didn't matter what language he spoke to a bird, did it? "I hope you understand. I can't." He laid it back on the ground. It tried to move its wings, but it couldn't. It stopped shaking. Something in its eyes seemed resigned. The animal knew death was close.
Have you learned nothing?
Shinji went back inside. He contemplated crawling back in bed, he could really use Asuka's warmth right now, but instead he sat back down, trying to stifle the horrible feelings welling up in him. The coffee was cold.
When he checked the spot he left the bird later on, it was gone. Part of him liked to believe it had somehow gotten away, and, against all odds, survived. But he had seen a stray tabby cat prowling around a few days before. The little bastard probably got it.
So, here we go, the first chapter my first real (published) Fanfiction. I've been trying to write this shit for a year now, and finally, finally it's gotten to a state where I think I'm ready to put something out there. As you can no doubt tell by having suffered through that, I'm still remarkably new at this. So be it.
I will, however, need some help. First of all, a second (or third, etc) set of eyes is EXTREMELY valuable for this sort of thing. If you want to help me with this through editing, or hell, even just talking about the story, send me a message. I'm really worried that there are significant structural/pacing issues with this. Also, reviews will help. I'd say be constructive in your criticism, but all criticism is constructive. Once I wrote a fanfic in a different fandom under a different name. I was much younger and much stupider. Then, I saw it on a list of "worst fanfictions in [INSERT FANDOM HERE]." That, for awhile, wrecked my confidence, but you know what? They were right, goddamn it! I've made a conscious effort to avoid that this time around. I don't need to be the best, I just don't want to be the worst.
Also, a few points of order: there will be OCs. I tried to avoid bringing any in the first chapter because really who cares about these non-established assholes, right, but they are integral as supporting characters. They're living in a new country, after all. Don't worry, I'm trying to avoid Sueism like the plague. The OCs are non-typical for this genre:
For example, in the next chapter we'll be meeting the sixth child who is named "Darkstar." He's SUPER COOL and he can fight BETTER THAN ANYBODY and he also has a BLACK AND GREEN EVANGELION. He's also a hedgehog with that listens to metal core and often quotes Linkin Park...
I'm kidding. If you thought that I could be serious, then that means I've already failed.
Also, I always found Post-3I stories weird where NERV is established again 2 months later, and for some reason they're still doing synch tests and shit. I'm trying to give the impression of a partially destroyed, semi-post apocalyptic world (America got off comparatively easy) with the illusion of normality glommed over top of it. How am I doing with that? Does it need to be more, like, desolate sounding, or do you get the idea?
I'm willing to edit this chapter a bit if I need to, since we're still early in the process and things aren't quite as solid yet as they will be once more chapters are out. If you see anything particularly egregious, hit me up early (except for spelling/grammar/formatting, for that contact me any time, even if it's like 10 years in the future) so I can get them taken care of. That's not a guarantee I'll change anything, but I'll at least take it into consideration.
Anyway, until next time:
UPDATE, JUNE 7, 2015: Just a minor edit in this chapter, I think I jumped the gun and revealed something a bit too early. Just two or three sentences were cut out, and replaced by something else. For my small gaggle of readers, you'll probably know why immediately next chapter. For everyone else, who might be reading this months or even years from now, trust me, it was for the best.
Also, new chapter almost done. The writing is basically complete, and the editing will only take a few days. Watch for it this week, I'm guessing probably by Thursday or Friday.