The first 48 hours

My stomach is still churning by the time I make it back to my position on the beach. I'm not able to keep anything down at the moment it seems. Even water seems to have difficulty staying in my system. It's been this way for the past two days now. I'll try to eat or drink something from the supplies I've scavenged but an hour or two later I'll be consumed by the thoughts, by the loneliness and the guilt and I'll have to run off to throw up whatever is in my system.

I'm alone here. Maybe it'll always be this way and maybe I deserve it. After all this is my fault. I could have prevented it if I had been a little bit stronger. If I had listened more, if I had taken notice and not been so afraid. Instead I was a coward, I was sneaky and I did horrible things. I was passive when I shouldn't have been and I acted when I shouldn't have done. Now everyone is lost, out there in that hellish red sea and I am alone.

Everyone is gone and it's all my fault. My guardian, the only person to willingly invite me into their home. Provide me with the love of a parent is gone. I watched her die. It was my fault because I couldn't find it within myself to do anything because I was selfish she got shot and she died.

Ritsuko, the technicians, Rei and even my father. They're all gone and it's all my fault.

Asuka, she's gone as well. That's the one that hurts the most. That's the one that twists my stomach and causes me to vomit. I sat by and did nothing while she was killed. I listened to it all and I could have done something. I could have ordered it to move so I could fight but I sat there and did nothing. That isn't even the worst of it. Before her fight I visited her in the hospital. I wanted to see her after what had happened with Kaworu.

Asuka was, well Asuka was special to me. She was the only one out of all of them who would be honest with me. She wasn't afraid to hold anything back. Sometimes she might have been a bit harsh and she could be arrogant, she could be lazy but she was beautiful and talented and no one truly knew what lay behind her eyes. I loved her and I let her down in so many ways. I was so broken.

So when Third Impact started, when the voices and souls of Rei and Kaworu spoke to me do you know what I did? I wished for death. Not for me but for everyone. I wished for an endless world of nothingness. I actually wished for the human race to die. They persuaded me otherwise. They showed me other worlds, other places where I could live without pain and suffering. Where I could be with the people I loved. Do you know what happened though? I realized that those worlds were just hollow and empty. That there was no joy to be found in them because there was nothing negative there either. I realized that tearing down the walls between people completely would result in nothing, that we needed them to exist and be human. So I called for them to be restored.

In that final act I was told that anyone can return as long as they're able to imagine themselves in their hearts. Two days later I sit alone on this beach. I'm so tired.

The Spirit of Man…

When I awake I'm aware of two things. First my stomach is still hurting and secondly I'm not alone on this beach anymore. There is someone else here to my left. I open my eyes and I can feel them widen immediately at what I see. There she is lying next to me, Asuka. She isn't moving but as I sit up I can see she is alive.

I notice she has a bandage over her right arm is heavily bandaged and her left eye is also covered in bandages. Her other eye is open but not moving, has she noticed me? Does she know where she is? I get up and look at her and suddenly I'm hit by a mixture of emotions.

Anger, Hatred, Fear, Sadness, Rage. They hit me at once and before I know it I'm sitting over her. My hands are edging closer to her throat. She still hasn't acknowledged me, she still hasn't moved. This isn't my Asuka, if it was she'd have yelled at me by now. She would have noticed me by now. She'd have called me an idiot or she would have hurt me for what I did to her!

This is an illusion, conjured by my own mind. I'm terrified of the image of her, after all I did. I caused her to die. If she sees me she's going to kill me. I have to act first. I can't take this anymore and I feel my hands tighten around her throat. Her throat is cold to the touch, immediately I feel her body spasm below me in reaction to my actions. I begin to choke harder and her eyes finally come to life. She looks around frantically before looking straight up at me. I don't release my grip.

Next thing I feel is her bandaged hand reaching up to my cheek. Her touch is soft and gentle as she strokes me softly. I suddenly realize I'm making a mistake. I release my hands from around her and without making a sound I feel tears begin to fall from my eyes. I can't control it but now they're flowing freely down my face and onto her body. I can see them splashing on her face and the remains of her plugsuit. She whispers weakly.

"How disgusting."

I was so very wrong this is my Asuka. I collapse forward onto her and close my eyes. The tears are still running down my face but I feel her put her arms around me and stroke my hair until I fall asleep again.

I'm not a strong person

I let him sleep on top of me for a short while. I didn't want to move him, I can't imagine he's had a lot of rest since he returned from that red sea. Eventually I needed to move him. I had to move my limbs, I had to find something to eat and I had to find something to soothe the soreness in my throat. I wonder how long he has been here for.

I look around at the meagre camp he has set up for himself. It's got a fire, a few boxes of scavenged supplies and blankets. Barely any of it has been used. The idiot is the only one here and he can't even look after himself properly. It's a good thing I'm here now.

I take something from the supplies, I realize that I'm craving chocolate for some reason. Isn't that strange? Come back after the apocalypse and I want chocolate? Fortunately there is some there. I also grab a blanket and place it over the idiot while he sleeps. He looks so peaceful for a change, it's cute.

I admit, I don't really know how to feel about Shinji Ikari at this moment in time. I don't really know how to feel about a lot of things right now. I've just returned from sharing thoughts and memories with everyone on the planet including him. I've discovered things about myself I probably didn't need to discover. I've gone over my own issues numerous times, resolved them and looped back around to running away from them again. I've forgotten most of it now and been left with a strange emptiness. Every now and then something will poke at me and I'll feel a flash of sadness or anger, or rage or happiness but it's a bit of a jumble. I guess it's a side effect of returning.

For now I look across at one of the strongest people I've ever met. Many would be surprised to hear me admit that but it's true. He may not seem it but no one knows him like I do. When you look at him he doesn't look like much, he comes across as so wimpy and lacking in backbone it annoys you. That's why I always tried so hard to hate him. He was strong without having to come across as such.

People have always commented on how strong I am but it was bullshit. All I did was put on a front. I didn't need anybody, I was never going to cry and I was never going to fall in love. Except all of that was untrue. I needed somebody, I did cry and I definitely fell in love. Except my own pride and stubbornness prevented me from accepting that. So I lashed out at others. I yelled at them, I screamed at them and I hurt them.

He on the other hand. He was afraid of being hurt but he tried anyway. He got knocked down but he didn't give up. He tried to believe in people and he got betrayed and knocked back again and again and again. Until he became so broken he tried to end the world. I don't blame him. I'd have done the same only I don't think I'd have been strong enough to reverse it. I'd have given the world the middle finger and sent it straight to hell.

Look at what I'm saying. If it was me I'd have done the same? It was me and that is exactly what I did. The first soul he sought out in that world where all the walls went down was me. He came to me! Not Misato, not his father, not his mother, not his friends the stooges or Rei Ayanami but me. He came to me and you know what I did. I told him how pathetic and weak he was. I told him how scared he was of everyone else and how he didn't deserve anything because he couldn't even love himself. I told him how sick he made me.

I shoved him to the ground and kicked him while he was down and then I watched with pleasure as he flipped out and started throwing furniture around before setting his sights on me. So while Shinji might have been the one to make the call I was the catalyst in all of it. I was the spark for Shinjis wish.

Despite all that I put him through at that time he kept on calling for me during it. I could feel my soul being pulled towards him even as I tried to escape. I kept on telling him he made me sick, I kept on telling him he was pathetic. Yet he'd call for me and then he told me something that hasn't left my mind. He told me that me and him, we're the same. Maybe it's true. We're both from broken homes. My mother died when I was four years old. I watched her die, I found the body. My father, I blamed him and I hated him. He put Mama into that machine which lead to her death. While she was in the hospital he was fucking one of the nurses absorbed in his own guilt.

For Shinji, well there was no body for him to discover. Does that make it any better or worse I wonder? Does it even matter? We can't really measure grief it affects us differently. His father abandoned him after that, sent him to live with a teacher. Shinji had no family to try to support him like I did. Here is the twist, while I had a family trying to reach through to me I rejected them all. He was reaching out for a family but they rejected him.

I'm not saying Shinji is perfect though. It's not like he didn't do anything bad before Third Impact. He did something bad alright and that is where a lot of my anger lies. I saw what he did to me in the hospital. I saw him reach down and touch himself in front of me. I saw him soil his own hand and I saw his reaction afterwards as he ran out of the room to throw up.

It makes me sick, it makes me angry that he did such a thing. I know how fucked up he was and how broken he was but I still need to talk to him about it. I need to have that discussion no matter how uncomfortable it is. It can wait though, for now he needs me. This isolation has gotten to him.

I'm not sure how long I've been sat here but he finally starts to stir from his slumber. He sits up and looks over towards me. I can see the fear in his eyes immediately. He's feeling guilty about what he did to me when I appeared. I reach to the supplies I have next to me and hand him the dry crackers.

"Here, eat these. Not the tastiest but they'll help with your stomach. You haven't been able to keep anything down have you?"

Shinji looks at me unsure of whether to take the packet from me. Eventually does so and looks at me sheepishly, "H-How did you know?"

"You're pale, you've clearly lost weight since the last time I saw you and I saw the… evidence when I had a look around unfortunately."

He looks away from me, clearly embarrassed. I decide to ask him how long he has been back for.

"Two days… I think."

He takes one of the crackers and nibbles at it slowly. I keep a stern eye on him to make sure he eats the entire thing. We sit there in silence with only the sounds of him eating and the waves on the beach to keep us company. I decide to hand him the bottle of water I grabbed as well.

"Drink this as well, only a few small sips though. You should be able to keep all of that down okay?"

He takes it and has a few small sips out of the bottle and brings the blanket around him. "Thank you."

"No problem."

I reach around for the final thing I brought from my little scavenging trip earlier. I passed a little book store and knowing about Shinjis condition grabbed a few volumes of manga from within. I skipped the giant robot stuff and went for the comedy or action stuff. I hand him one of the volumes and he looks at me confused.

"It isn't quite your SDAT I know, and I can't vouch for the quality of it but it'll help keep your mind off of your stomach. You need to rest but I can't have you going back to sleep yet, I need to watch over you. I don't think either of us are up for talking so that'll have to do."

He smiles at me. I feel a warm glow inside me at his smile. I wonder if that's the first time he's smiled since returning. It's probably the first time I've seen him smile in weeks. "It's perfect, thanks."

He sits up and starts to read as I return to looking out amongst the sea wondering if and when other people might start to come back. Every now and then I'll steal a glance at Shinji. I have to keep looking away when I start to think about how cute he is. I don't need those sorts of thoughts right now. I need to stay focused and strong until we're able to get off of this beach.

The more I try to force it away the more the thought remains and my mind starts to wander to other places. In my mind I'm edging closer towards him. I'm putting my arm around him and pulling him towards me. It's escalating until I'm fucking him right there and then. I start to feel something in my lower body and I awkwardly close my legs together and try to force that particular one away. Definitely a thought for a later date, although I might have to alter it slightly to remove certain elements from this little hellish landscape. That'd be a sight, two horny teenagers fucking while the head of Rei Aya-fucking-nami looks on.

"Asuka are you alright?"

I'm pulled from my distasteful thoughts by his voice and jump slightly. Turning to him I nod, "Yeah I'm fine. What's the matter? Is it your stomach?"

He shakes his head, "It's feeling alright… I was just wondering if I could have another of the crackers that's all."

I hand him the packet and he takes one along with another sip of water. I'm not sure how much time has passed since he started eating but I can feel my eyes starting to grow heavy. I need to stay awake though, I need to watch over him.

"Hey Asuka…"

"Mmm hmm…"

"I think… I'll be alright if you want to get some rest."

"Are you sure?"

He nods, "Yeah…"

He starts to pass me the blanket but I feel myself shake my head. I edge closer to him and move the little makeshift pillow he has been using along. I cover myself with the blanket ensuring he still has it covering him too.

"You need to stay warm."

I instruct him sternly but not before letting out a yawn, "If you feel ill at all wake me okay. I'll just rest my eyes for a bit."

I can feel his warmth beside me and before I know it I've fallen asleep.