"Major Katsuragi, you have to understand that your position within NERV as of the end of last year was effectively stripped away from you by the Japanese Government. In actual fact NERV Japan was at that moment declared a criminal organization."

The voice is just like any UN suck-up, full of smugness. The sort of person you'd want to punch within five minutes of meeting them. Yet the sort of person who always seems to be present and protected by someone who thinks they have value.

"I am aware of that but they have the truth in front of them now. They can't just do this to us, the pi- Asuka and Shinji are in there. I have to be there! I can face whatever questions they have later."

"They do not desire to question you Katsuragi. You don't understand that area has been declared a no-go zone ever since the aborted Third Impact attempt. The situation around the world has changed significantly and is very delicate at this time. The emergence of these details regarding SEELE and also the presence of a new Angel has made people very nervous. Even more so that the person in charge of NERV Japan's tactical operations has emerged from nowhere."

I try to protest again but get nowhere, "I know tha-"

"You forget that you have not been sighted for a number of months and barely a few weeks after your return this occurs. People are nervous enough as it is. It will only be temporary until this situation is resolved. As you said yourself there is little you are able to do. We will do our best to keep you informed of the situation and we swear no harm will come to the children."

"That's a different tone to the one your people took when they were ordered to kill them!"

"That was regrettable on our part and the people involved in that have been dealt with, now please cooperate with us. A transport will pick you up soon to transport you away from the Geofront. It will only be temporary."

"It's not just away from the Geofront! You're taking me all the way to Germany! It's-"

"It's only temporary."

The man on the other end of the phone repeats himself. Only temporary. It's only temporary. My urge to throw the phone across the other side of the room and stomp on it is growing but I have to remain calm. I'm supposed to be Major Katsuragi of NERV at this point. Not that it means much. As I've just been told NERV Japan had all its privileges stripped from it before Third Impact.

It's all politics. A group of men sitting in a room somewhere safe and sound from all this debating what to do next, trying to figure out how they can come off the best. It's a good political move. Remove the fragments of NERV from the equation so it seems like they're being active in doing something. Even with the truth out there people will still have doubts over the loyalties of those who worked for NERV.

At this moment it's the only real move the politicians can make. They know nothing can penetrate that dome covering the Geofront so it'd just be a waste of resources to attack it. To be seen to extradite people they can say they're safe-guarding the location or they can call it a humanitarian evacuation.

I've already been filled in on the delicate situations that have developed around the world since Third Impact was aborted. The other NERV branches have not been shut down but they're under strict scrutiny from the UN. That will likely be doubled now that Fuyutsuki released his dossier on SEELE and the truth of Second Impact. I've been told about the minor skirmishes and scuffles that broke out in a number of countries.

They is also the debates that are going regarding what to do with NERV going forward and the Evangelion Project. A number of NERV branches were still pushing forward at the time of the aborted Third Impact creating parts for the Eva's. This was halted but there is the question on what to do with those parts and the knowledge to create Eva's. Many countries will want those resources and secrets.

I care little for any of this. All I care about are Asuka and Shinji. We have no way of knowing what is going on in that dome right now. We don't even know if they're still alive. I know they will be, I have faith they are but with each passing minute that dwindles. I wonder if this truly is the end.

XXX

Everything happened so quickly, one moment I was sat at the table with Rei the next the next there was a knock at the door and several men from NERV were leading me and Rei out to a vehicle. They spoke English to one another so I couldn't understand them. I spoke to Rei about what is happening but she didn't seem to know either.

After a short drive we were loaded onto a plane. I wonder as I'm sat here should I have tried to fight back or run away but what could I have done exactly? Rei seemed calm throughout the entire thing.

"Rei… what's happening?"

"They seem to be taking us to Germany."

"Who are these people?"

"NERV but I was unable to hear what they were saying."

I feel like I should have ran away from them or fought back. I don't know if this is a safe place to be. No one has threatened us so far but no one has told us what is happening either. Everything that has happened to me since I was pulled into the Angel has been so strange. Waking up so far away from the Geofront. Seeing Rei again and now this.

On top of this I'm still waiting to hear anything I can about Asuka. I feel so alone. I look towards the front of the plane and see a man enter wearing a white lab coat. He speaks to the two guards at the front and finally makes his way towards us. Upon seeing me he raises his eyebrows in surprise.

"I must admit that when I saw the footage I didn't quite believe it but now that I can see you before me I have no option but to believe it. You must be Shinji Ikari."

I nod, "Yes."

"I can only apologize for what is happening I imagine you're very tired and confused right now. Truth is all the NERV branches across the world are also sharing your plight. What is happening in Tokyo-3 right now has ignited something big in the world. I will however try to bring you up to speed as best I can on what is happening."

I say nothing and let him continue.

"As of now we are transporting you to NERV Germany, once there you will be re-united with Major Katsuragi who is being transported there from Japan. I don't know when she'll arrive yet but it's a UN order that she was brought away from the Geofront."

"Misato is going to be there?"

He nods, "Yes, as will former Vice Commander Fuyutsuki. They are unaware of you being where you are however, very few people within NERV are aware of this. Again the truth is that we're as confused as you are as to what has happened."

He pauses for a moment, "What is the last thing you remember before you woke up on that street?"

I look towards Rei and she simply nods at me. I don't know if I can trust this man but what choice do I really have.

"I was… fighting the Angel. We were pulled into what we thought was its body. Everything went black and I woke up here."

Before allowing him to continue, "A-Asuka was there as well! Do you know anything about her? What's happened to her?"

"Stay calm, we don't know yet. Pilot Sohryu hasn't been seen but we're doing whatever we can to find out what has happened to her."

"You have to find her! Please!"

Without being aware of it I've stood up and I'm raising my voice. The man looks a little bit taken aback by my outburst.

"We will Shinji. I promise we're doing everything we can."

XXX

'Is that what you really want?'

I hear the voice call out to me as I sit with my back to the wall. My legs pulled up to my chest and my head tilted back against the wall. I ignore the voice and after a minute it calls out to be again.

'Is that what you really want?'

I let out a small laugh as its question. At it asking me if I really want to be alone, if I really do hate everything. If I really do hate the pain I'm feeling right now and just want it all to go away. Even with all the pain I know what it is. I know it's just the Angel feeding off of my despair. It won't work.

"Fuck you."

I snarl at the voice and I feel the warm presence in the room change. The temperature drops and I can feel a cold wind blow through the corridor. I don't move from where I am. I should move but I can't. I should fight but I can't. All I can do it dwell on my hatred for this being and for myself for my failure.

'I can give you what you want.'

"Fuck off."

I snarl again a little bit louder this time and in reply another cold wind blows through the corridor. I'm sick of these games. Yet I don't know how to fight this thing now. In the Eva I can tear Angel's apart but this is the Angel's domain. The world it has made and I… I can't even move. I'm putting on this brave act.

'Don't you want happiness?'

I don't reply to it this time. The worst thing about this is that despite what I know about it being a trick and knowing it's just feeding on my despair a small part of me is so tempted to just end this by giving into what it wants. By saying yes I do and allowing the world to go through Instrumentality. All become one being with no happiness, no sadness, no joy and no life.

This part is telling me that maybe that is humanities destiny and maybe it is for the best. All that ever happened to me was I'd reach for something I'd find it and it'd be snatched away from me. It's the part that keeps on throwing the image of my mother being impaled by the lance through my mind.

'I can give her back to you, I can give him back to you, I can give you Eva back and your purpose again. You don't have to suffer anymore Asuka, you can be exactly what you should be.'

Exactly what I should be? Just what exactly should I be? Slowly I climb to my feet, pain shoots through each part of my body but I just smile. I'm in so much pain right now. Physically I think I've felt worse but emotionally I'm at my limit. Yet I'm not going to be tempted by it, I made a promise to protect Shinji and I'm going to keep my word.

"You… you and your creators just don't understand. I don't want your false world. I don't want your false happiness. I don't want your false world. I don't want any of it. You can die."

Almost immediately after the words leave my lips pain shoots through my skull. I guess that is the Angel's response to my telling it to die. The voice rings out again only now it isn't the warm inviting voice it was before. It's a snarl, malicious and it's mine.

'Idiot you have no place in that world. You're pathetic, useless. You've already been abandoned. There is no one there waiting for you.'

"Shut up!"

I scream down the corridor. It's trying to play on my insecurities, my fear of being alone but I know it isn't true. Misato is there waiting for me. Shinji will be there. Even the people at the Geofront will be there waiting for me. I'm not alone anymore.

'Are you really that stupid? Thinking they'll be waiting for you. Take a look Asuka, they've already abandoned you. They don't believe in you, they never did. Shinji left the first opportunity he got, he realized he couldn't fix things with you and he left.'

"Liar! Shinji wouldn't! He wouldn't abandon me!"

'Idiot, he abandoned you to die once didn't he? He rejected the real you when I gave him a glimpse into what could have been and even now… he isn't fighting me. He's half a world away, safe.'

"No… He isn't, you're…."

There is a flash of light in front of me as suddenly a screen appears illuminated with an image. It's a plane. I'm looking at it through the eyes of someone else as they walk through the aisle. Eventually they stop at a set of seats. I look at the two seats and there I see him sat there, his head resting on the shoulder of someone else.

The camera pans to show me the other person and I feel sick when I see who it is. It's Rei, he's sitting on a plane with Rei. He's asleep and resting his head on her shoulder. This can't be real, this has to be a trick but…

'It's real, this is happening right now. Your precious Shinji didn't take long when he knew you had no chance. He saw her again and ran straight for her. It's exactly what you always feared isn't it?'

"No this… This isn't…"

'Real? Happening?'

The camera pans again this time to another aircraft and this time I see Misato sat inside talking about something. I see Misato holding a folder and the person with the camera turns to show me it's a picture of Shinji.

'You see Asuka… as soon as she heard where he was she ran to meet him. They all gave up on you because they knew there was no chance you could do it on your own.'

Its words linger in my head, the images I've just seen go through them. I can't deny what I've seen but it can't be real can it. It has to be false. It's a trick, just a trick.

The image changes again this time showing the Geofront itself. I see a dome of light surrounding it. I see soldiers and I see a car parked up. The car belonging to Misato, a group of people are stood near to it and looking towards the Geofront. I can hear little bits of their conversation. They're talking about how the pilot of Unit 01 has been found. They're talking about how the Major is being transported to meet him now.

'As soon as she knew, she was gone Asuka. As soon as he was able to he was gone Asuka. Face it, you're alone. You always have been and always will be. You have no place in that world, you have no purpose.'

"No…"

'Everything you ever had was taken from you. Every purpose you had was stripped from you. Everyone you ever loved abandoned you. You have no place there. I can give you what you want.'

"No… I… It isn't"

The image turns again to show me Shinji, it focuses on his hand this time. His fingers entwined with Rei's. I feel sick. I turn away from it and start to run.

XXX

Slowly I stir and as I do I look up and see the man from before looking over us. On seeing me stir he smiles at me and walks away. I don't know how long I was asleep for, as I stir I see I'm holding Rei's hand. Her hand is surprisingly warm.

"Rei?"

"We need to be careful."

"Huh?"

"The man, I do not trust him. We should proceed carefully."

I don't quite understand but I go along with what she says, "How… how long was I asleep for?"

"Two hours hour, there is still more of the flight remaining."

I look down at our hand again just as she does. I grow red immediately and pull my hand away.

"Sorry… I… I didn't realize."

"I do not mind."

A few moments pass by in silence before she speaks again.

"Since I returned I have been thinking about certain things."

"Oh?"

"I am… not aware exactly of who I am or what I am in relation to other people. I am aware that I am a clone of your mother but outside of that my relationship with others has always been difficult to define. My relationship with your father seemed to be logically that of father and daughter. I believe you told me that once."

I nod, "I… in that other world. You remember that?"

"I experienced portions of it. If the Commander is my father then that makes you my brother. Would that be correct?"

I nod, "I suppose we share the same blood so yes that is correct."

"So I am your sister."

"Yes, I suppose you are."

"Then would that make Sohryu my sister-in-law?"

I have to stop myself from choking on the water I'm sipping at the time.

"N-No, she… me and Asuka aren't married. So she would just be… well a friend for now."

"But Sohryu dislikes me, so she would not be my friend would she?"

There is a touch of sadness in her voice. She really does think Asuka dislikes her. I suppose I can understand why, Asuka did have a complicated relationship with Rei.

"S-She does not dislike you she just… it's complicated. Asuka had a lot of things she had to work out and she took a lot of things out on… well everything I suppose. She doesn't dislike or hate you thought. You shouldn't think that Rei."

"I see, so she would be a friend until you both get married."

I nod, "Well… I suppose so."

XXX

I stare down at the surveillance footage of Shinji and I can hardly believe it. They found him but far away from the Geofront. How can that be possible? I've asked but no one has been able to provide me with an answer yet. Apparently they have some theories but no one is saying anything to me. I'm completely in the dark aside from knowing that Shinji is somehow back and Rei is there as well.

I still feel like complete crap for having to leave the Geofront behind. Until I know the Angel is defeated, until I know Asuka's condition I shouldn't have left. I know Shinji needs me too but Asuka does as well. I made a promise that I'd be there for her. I neglected her so much before Third Impact and now it just looks like I'm breaking that again. Yet I've not been given a choice.

I look around the small aircraft I'm on. It'll be some time before I reach Germany where I'll be reunited with Shinji. I don't know what I'm going to say to him yet. I need to make sure he is alright, I have no idea what he has been through or what has happened. All I have for company is this footage and the hired goons parading as Section 2. They're like any other Section 2 Agent I've dealt with, not talkative and trained in staring straight ahead. Every now and then the leader of their group will come across and talk to me.

If I'm being honest it makes me uncomfortable, he leans in too close. Close enough that I can smell his cheap aftershave. He has a certain smarm about him reserved for people who think they have more power than they really do. He must be loving the idea of being able to command me about. Section 2 always answered to us in NERV in a number of ways, now the tables have turned.

I lean back and sigh, I've never felt so powerless.

XXX

Eventually I come to stop in this maze of corridors, I lean against a wall and slide down trying to catch my breath. I've been running for god knows how long, trying to shake the voice following me, trying to get away from it and its images. Those images of Shinji and Rei, the image of Misato, the image of the soldiers at the Geofront.

I've been abandoned, that's what it shown me and that's what it said. I'm alone again. I'm always going to be alone. When I look back on it all its true, it's all I was destined for and I deserve it. The way I've been, why would anyone love me for a prolonged time. I don't blame Shinji for running from me. I don't blame Misato for giving up on me. I blame myself. If I was better, if I was stronger and if I wasn't so fucked up maybe it wouldn't have happened. I deserve all of it.

I slide down against the wall and I feel the tears welling up, I just don't care anymore. I don't need to be strong anymore. I can just stay here and be alone. I can get away from all of them, they won't need to deal with me anymore. Besides what can I ever do for them? Everything I've tried to do I've just failed at. I couldn't pilot Eva, I couldn't protect Shinji, I couldn't protect my Mother, I couldn't do anything.

I let my arms fall down by my sides as the tears start falling. I bring my legs up to my chest again and wrap my arms around them and I start to sob. I sit there sobbing for a time, going back over every bad decision and moment in my life. Everything I could have done differently flashes by my eyes. There is no point, we can't redo it and even if I could I'd probably just fuck it up.

"Sohryu."

I hear the voice from above me. I recognize it but it's just another trick isn't it? Just another conjuration of the Angel to try to drive me into despair.

"Asuka."

It speaks my name again only its closer this time. I feel hands rest themselves on my shoulders. A warmth spreads through me at its touch. I raise my head and through blurred eyes I see Kaworu Nagisa looking at me, he's not smiling for once. He's concerned, it isn't a look I'd associate with him.

Another sob escapes me and I drop my head again.

"I… I failed… I'm sorry."

"Failed? I am afraid I do not understand."

"Yes you do! I… I couldn't stop it. I can't stop it. I don't… I can't do anything anymore. I… I…"

I can't say anything else. He looks at me for a moment and I expect him to do what everyone else has done. Abandon me. Yet he doesn't, he reaches his hand around to my head and he holds me. I freeze up as he does. My sobbing stops instantly, I don't know how to react or what to say.

"W-What are you doing?"

I try to sound angry or annoyed but I just can't. Instead what comes out of my mouth sounds weak and pathetic and it just causes him to hold me tighter. Finally he speaks, softly.

"You have not failed yet Asuka, otherwise you would not be here. Those people have not abandoned you, they wait for you yet the truth has been skewed. You are not unloved Asuka."

I look back at him, "Yes… I am. Who can blame them! Look at who I am! All I've done is been abusive towards people, lashed out at them and spoke about how good I was to try to back it up. All that happened is I've failed over and over again. They've abandoned me and rightfully so!"

"You don't believe that."

"Yes I do! I do believe it, I deserve to be alone. I don't deserve to be here. I don't…"

I slump back down against the wall as he looks down at me. I'm sorry Kaworu but I'm not Shinji. I can't do what he can do. They got the right person when they picked me, I'm too weak to do this. I can't beat anyone."

"I should have just died…"

"Asuka, you don't really believe that do you?"

I hear the words but it isn't Kaworu who says them. It's another voice, one I haven't heard for so long. One I shouldn't be hearing again. I look up, this has to be a trick it can't be real.

"K-Kaji?"

He's looking down at me, standing with one hand in his pocket the way he always does. His long hair and stubble prominent. He's just as handsome as I remember him to be. I know I could never have been with Kaji, even when I did have that crush on him I knew it. Yet seeing him in front of me I can still feel it. He really is handsome.

"I apologize that I never had the opportunity to say goodbye to you properly Asuka. In truth I didn't know how, I was scared of hurting you. I was scared that it was real."

"Kaji... I… I wasn't in a fit state for you to tell me. Besides you didn't get the chance, you…"

"Be that as it may, it was wrong of me to have acted the way I did. I was irresponsible. I left behind so much in my pursuit of the truth when I should have trusted more in the people around me. Instead I paid for trying to protect you all."

"Kaji…"

"Listen to me Asuka, we all have our own weights to carry. Some of us are carrying it from the Second Impact, some of us from the decisions we made since that time. I'm no exception to that. I was cowardly in how I acted. I kept myself at a distance from you, from Shinji, from Misato even though I could see the pain you were all going through."

"W-What are you saying?"

"I'm saying that there is so much more I could have done for you Asuka. I knew the pain you were probably going through. I lost my parents in the Second Impact, I knew exactly what sort of pain you were feeling. I saw things growing up, yet I didn't make any effort to help you. I… I failed you."

"No! No you didn't Kaji. You… you looked after me when no one else would. You actually treated me like an adult, just as I wanted you to. You…"

He smiles back at me, "Listen to me Asuka. I am sorry for not being there when I should. I'm sorry for leaving you the way I did. I want you to know though, none of it was your fault and none of what has happened was your fault either. Asuka, it was an honour to be your guardian and see you flourish into the pilot that you were. You were always stronger then you thought. I'm really proud of you. "

"Kaji…"

I can feel the burning in my eyes again as he speaks. I get no time to dwell on his words as another voice speaks.

"Asuka!"

I turn and see Misato stood before me, "Misato I…"

"I know the pain you must be feeling Asuka. You've been through so much and we… we all could have done more. I neglected you when you needed me most but…"

I laugh, "No Misato! You didn't, you did the best you could. What else could you have done?"

"I told you to leave the past in the past, when you clearly wanted to talk about it I told you to forget about it. I should have encouraged you to talk, I should have told you about Shinji. I should have done a better job, I'm as much to blame for what happened to the world as any of us are."

"But I… I made Shinji do it Misato and I… I kept losing and…"

"And nothing! Asuka listen to me, you can do this! We all believe in you! Go get 'em girl!"

Another voice, "Hey Asuka!"

The class rep, my old friend from school is stood before me now. "Hikari?"

"I'm sorry we weren't there for you when we should have been. I wish we had seen it earlier."

"Hikari it wasn't… it was my fau-"

"We never stopped believing in you or the others though. We always felt safe when you three were piloting. Thank you for saving our lives."

The tears are falling freely on my face now as another voice sounds.

"Sohryu."

I look up and smile at the sound of that voice, "Wondergirl…"

"Thank you for helping me…"

"No… I didn't. I was always horrible to you, calling you an emotionless doll! I didn't… I didn't realize…"

"I didn't realize either. I would… I would have liked to have been your friend."

"Asuka."

One more voice. I turn to meet it and see Shinji standing there.

"Shinji."

"Asuka. You saved my life, without you… I don't know what I would have done. I love you."

I smile, "I love you too Shinji."

I'm crying as I say the words. Kaworu is at the centre of these four people. All telling me how I did well, how they're proud of me. I appreciate the effort Kaworu I really do.

"They aren't real though are they? They're just what you think I want to hear."

"That isn't true Asuka, while it is true these people aren't actually here right now what you are hearing from their forms is genuine. What you are seeing are echoes of their souls grabbed from the sea of LCL. This is only some of what they feel in their heart towards you."

"Heh… a pep talk from lingering souls. When did I ever need anything like this? I'm crying too… I always said I wouldn't in front of people…"

"Then it is a good thing for you that these are only echoes and I am not a person."

"I guess that's true, although I already broke that rule in front of Shinji and Misato. I've fallen so far…"

"You haven't fallen Asuka, there is no shame in that."

"You think I don't know that? Doesn't make it any easier. I know I don't have to put on that façade anymore, I know I don't have to lash out and yell but… it's still there telling me I'm weak. It's… telling me I'm unloved and don't deserve to be loved… that I've failed and it's telling me I'm better off dead."

"Asuka… you are not unloved nor have you failed. You can still fight. You've heard their echoes, you are a strong person. You are fragile, you are complex… you are deserving of love. I love you."

The smile returns to his face as he says those final three words. I stare up at him and let all his words wash over me. If anyone else had said that to me I might have lashed out, I might not have believed it yet there is something in the way Kaworu has said it. A feeling I get from his presence that speaks to me of his honesty. I can't explain it, it's just a feeling I have. Shinji told me about something similar from his meetings with Kaworu.

At the same time I don't know what to do. Those echoes, the people in my life who are important to me all care about me. I have no reason to doubt it's a trick. I believe that those are what he said they were. The only problem is I don't know how to fight this thing. I look up at Kaworu again, the echoes of those people have vanished.

"I… haven't failed?"

"No, while you are still here there is still the possibility for you to beat this."

"And… I haven't been abandoned? I… I saw Shinji and Rei, I saw Misato… they aren't there waiting for me. They… gave up on me."

He shakes his head and drops the smile, "You have been misled Asuka."

"But… I saw them…."

"I know and I can't explain it but trust me, what you saw was not likely to be the complete truth."

"You… don't know that though, you… you just said you can't explain it. How do you know it isn't the truth? You know what I was like before Third Impact, why wouldn't they abandon me? I deserve it."

He looks at me for a moment and I know I have him, he doesn't have an answer for that.

"Because I have seen Shinji's heart, I know that he would not abandon you for anything."

"H-He would for Rei, she was… she meant a lot to him! He was always fixated on her, I was just…"

Kaworu laughs, "Shinji does indeed love Rei but it is not in the way you might think. Asuka, did Shinji tell you the truth about Rei Ayanami? About what she is?"

I look up at him and I shake my head as I try to remember. I'm sure Shinji mentioned something once but I can't remember it. My jealousy over Wondergirl always blocked any mention of her out of my head.

"It would be more appropriate for Shinji to tell you but… Rei Ayanami is the closest thing Shinji has to a blood relative alive at this moment in time."

"A…A blood relative, you mean like a… sister?"

"Exactly like that."

I throw my head back and hit the wall and groan. I do remember Shinji mentioning something along those lines now. Rei's origins are in my head now, I can't remember when it was mentioned but I do remember now. How could I have been so stupid to believe otherwise? I must have forgotten it or put it out of my head somewhere.

"Do you see now Asuka, you can fight this."

Kaworu stands and extends his hand out to mine. I take his hand and he pulls me to my feet. Just as he does the cold wind blows through this corridor. I look up at Kaworu and he's smiling again.

"I… I can do this?"

He nods, "Yes you can."

"Where… where do I go?"

"The core of the Angel, follow me."

He starts to lead me down a corridor and as he does so another thought crosses my mind. Kaworu said he loves me, what the hell did he mean by that? Why do I feel like I love him too?

XXX

This is wrong, according to Rei we're going in the wrong direction for Germany. I haven't questioned how she knows this, I just assume Rei knows things. In addition to that the man who saw to us earlier hasn't emerged in a while to tell us what is happening and the Section 2 agents have noticeable weapons.

Rei has her attention focused towards the front of the plane. She has said very little instead letting me drift in and out of sleep. I haven't had any dreams, at least not ones I remember. My thoughts have been filled constantly with images of Asuka though. I wonder what she is doing right now, she is fighting the Angel alone and I can't help her. I wish so much that I could. I feel like I've abandoned her again. I only hope she knows I haven't and that I'm thinking of her, that Rei is thinking of her and that we know she can do this.

"Rei… where are we?"

"The plane has been diverted, I do not know where we are going to. It is best we act as if nothing has happened."

"D-Diverted? What… why?"

"I would assume the people who are transporting us and Major Katsuragi are also those responsible for the creation of the Angel."

The calmness in her voice does little to soothe me. I feel my heart start to race as I look forward towards the Agents at the front of the plane. I curse my own stupidity at not realizing something was wrong sooner but even if I did what could I have realistically done? I'm an Evangelion pilot but when it comes to real life I'm just Shinji Ikari. I slump back in my seat and look at Rei.

"H-How long have you known?"

"Since we were picked up to be transported to Germany. I did not recognize the Doctor from the list of NERV personnel so I assumed something was wrong."

"You didn't recognize him? But NERV must have hundreds of people working for them, could you now have made a mistake."

"Possibly but I memorised all the people of a particular rank within NERV on your fathers orders. He said it would be important to commit that knowledge to memory. While it is possible that personnel have changed it is unlikely. Therefore I believe we have been taken hostage by the group responsible for the creation of the Angel. I would also assume that the person that found me is also part of this group."

I look towards the front of the plane again, one of the Agents is talking to the other. I'm scared, more so then I ever have been.

"Rei… aren't you scared?"

"No, because I believe Sohryu will save us."

XXX

The plane is coming into land, I look down at my watch and realize we're still a good few hours out from Germany. We're not on a commercial plane so we are going at an increased speed but even with that we're still a few hours away. Yet I can feel the plane descending and I felt the rumble of the landing gear extending. Just what the hell is going on here?

I say nothing but prepare myself for trouble as we start to come in to land. I feel the guards staring at me, watching me for the moment I realize something has happened. I don't let on that I know anything. They'll know I'm probably wondering what is happening though, they'll know I'm not stupid enough to believe we're in Germany already. It's become a game of who will blink first.

I continue to say nothing as we finally touch the ground. I sneak a glance out of the window but see nothing but trees and a few spotlights. Finally the plane comes to a halt and the man who brought the folder into me emerges.

"Major Katsuragi, I know you're not stupid and have probably realized that we're not in Germany. I would appreciate it if you would co-operate with us. No one needs to get hurt."

A gun is pointed at me followed by two more from the goons on either side of him. Three guns against an unarmed woman, they must see me as a serious threat. With no choice I stand up and smile.

"I was wondering where we were."

"It does not matter, this world will be cleansed soon. Keel might have failed months ago but we will not. It is only a matter of time before your pilot is broken and humanity achieves its true state."

XXX

Kaworu leads me into a darkened room, in the centre of it is a cylindrical tank and a series of pipes all leading into it. The pipes are arranges bizarrely above it, it's untidy and resembling a mechanical looking brain. I feel like I've seen something like this before but not in person, through someone else perhaps.

I strain my eyes and look to see if there is something in the tank and then I notice it. A red object floating in the tank, surrounded by LCL. This is the core, the heart of the Angel.

"Kaworu?"

No reply. I spin around and he's gone. I'm alone and I'm frightened. I take a few steps towards it and I feel the cold wind blow around.

'Don't.'

I smile. I have the power now don't I? I take a step towards the tank again. My heart is racing, I'm sweating and so very scared about what might happen. Yet I've never been so certain about doing this. Again the voice rings out again, snarling at me.

'Don't!'

"Scared are we?"

'You don't know what you're doing! If you do that you'll die as well!'

I laugh and step forward again, "I don't believe you."

'If you do that then they'll die, my creators have them. As soon as they realize I'm gone then they'll all die, they'll be killed instantly. You'll be alone.'

I freeze just before taking another step. It knows what is happening to Shinji and Misato. The images I saw, I know they were true so the people who made the Angel might not be lying about that. Yet I think about what it shown me. I think about the distress I felt because of it and Kaworu's words. I was misled. It tried to feed on my insecurities and fears and it nearly worked. Everything the Angel has done has been to lead me down a path of despair. It nearly worked, when I saw my mother die I was ready to give up. I was ready to send the world to hell yet I couldn't.

When it shown me Shinji and Rei together, when it shown me Misato and made me feeling like I had been abandoned the words were on the tip of my tongue. Yet I couldn't say it. I'd rather have stayed in this purgatory forever than damned the world, or damned Shinji. Even if he had have abandoned me I made a promise to protect him, to ensure he would survive. I don't want to die, I've never wanted to die but if it means he is safe. I'll take that risk.

Now however I know they have Shinji and if I act he is at risk. If I do this they could do something to him. Yet if I do nothing they might do it anyway. I can't stray from this path. Everything I've gone through has been leading up to this. It took my Shinji away from me, I spent nearly a month by his bedside watching on as I could do nothing. It made me feel powerless. This abomination.

It killed my mother in front of me. It took away my happy ending with her. It fed on my insecurities and my anxiety. It made me feel weak and pathetic. It tried to take away everything I was and offer me false hope. I'd rather die than give it and its creators what they want.

I take another step forward and immediately I'm confronted with a woman's voice. My mother's voice.

'Wait Asuka, you can't do this.'

I free up again before taking my next step towards the tank in the centre. I close my eyes and take in a deep breath. It's just a trick, it's a trick and I have to keep moving forward. I can't turn around, I can't face it because it's a trick. It isn't real, just like the monsters I envision in the dark. It isn't really there just like the creatures that I see when I try to go to sleep. She is gone, I know that. Just like I can't turn off the night, she can't be here with me.

Yet I feel myself turning around to see her.

'We can be together Asuka, we can be a family just like you always wanted. You don't have to be alone anymore.'

I turn around and I open my eyes.

"Mama…"

XXX

"Misato!"

She lifts her head as I shout and looks towards me. Immediately she shakes her head as I'm about to run forward and I remember the situation we're in. It happened just as we landed, a group of armed people got onto the plane and marched us off. It was exactly as Rei said, the people who got us were the people who created the Angel.

Now they've brought us to this location, we don't know where it is but at least Misato is here. The three of us were blindfolded and herded into a darkened room before the door was locked.

"Misato…"

She says nothing for a moment, I can see the emotion in her eyes. I forget how long it's been for her since she has seen me properly. She emerged from that sea of LCL and that same night was the night I was shot.

"S-Shinji… I… I…"

She drops to her knees and throws her arms around me and buries her head into my shoulder. I'm uncertain of what exactly to do so for a moment I stand their awkwardly while Rei also stands looking onward. Her head cocked to the side.

"I believe this is where you should put your arms around her."

I nod, "Y-Yeah you're right… sorry. Thank you Rei."

"Shinji… I was… we were so worried. We… the Angel, what happened and Rei, what are you doing here? How… I thought you were…"

Misato pauses for a moment and I can see her trying to collect her thoughts. In honesty I don't know how I'm going to explain what happened to me. I don't know how much time it's going to take nor do I know how to make it not sound like I've gone insane. All I know is that there is one person missing that I need to see, that I need to know about desperately.

"Misato… where is Asuka?"

"Shinji we… I…"

She bites her lip, I've picked up on this before. It's what she does when she is trying to give me bad news but doesn't know how. She might be thinking of a way to sugar-coat it or hide it somehow. After a moment she speaks.

"We don't know, we saw you both fighting the Eva series and we saw you both get pulled into the Angel but I was forced to leave the Geofront and… we don't know what happened to her. I know it isn't what you wanted to hear but it's the truth. I… what happened to you, how were you fighting the Angel? Where did Unit 01 and 02 come from?"

I look from Misato to Rei. She doesn't know what has happened to Asuka. Rei told me Asuka was fighting the Angel but I don't know if that is true. If I got spat out by the Angel somewhere then maybe she has as well. Yet I don't know if I should doubt Rei. I look at Misato again and I can see the concern in her eyes.

I begin to tell her about what happened to me. I tell her everything about how I woke up in that other world. How I was made to believe that what I had experienced was a false reality created by the twelfth Angel. How I had tried to fix things in that world and how I eventually found out it was all false thanks to Kaworu and Rei.

Misato doesn't interrupt me while I tell my story, she doesn't question any of it not nor does she question me on believing it. Instead she listens and takes everything in that I'm saying. I eventually tell her about what the Angel was trying to do and how me and Asuka were brought together again. I tell her about how I was spat out in that town only to be found by Rei.

Finally she turns to Rei, "You… helped them? How?"

"I have no recollection, as of last night my link to Lilith and that world has been severed. I am aware that I did something but I cannot say what."

"You… lost your memory?"

Rei nods, "I am… losing fragments of it, either that or the part of Rei Ayanami that was connected to Lilith is no longer a part of me. As an example I am no longer able to sense the parts of humanity that I once was able to. I am no longer able to sense the presence of Lilith or remember the events of the world Shinji was taken into in as much detail. I am as… starting to be as in the dark as you all are about it."

"Oh Rei… I'm…"

Misato releases her grip on me and moves over to Rei pulling her into a hug, "I'm sorry about everything that happened to you. I… I wish I could have done more."

Rei stands there frozen for a moment in shock by Misatos gesture, I smile.

"I believe this is where you should put your arms around her."

Obediently Rei mimics what I did earlier. It looks awkward and clumsy, I don't expect Rei has much experience in hugging people but it looks like she has the basics of it down. I guess before me and Asuka returned neither of us had much experience in it either. I dread to think what our first time holding each other looked like.

"Misato… what's going to happen to us?"

"I don't know Shinji. These people go deeper then we first thought and it's not like we can fight our way out of here. We don't know anything about these people. I can just hope that Rebecca's people realize what's happened or even if Asuka can save us somehow."

XXX

I've listened to Shinji tell his story. I let him speak and as fantastical as it sounds I believe every word of it. I feel a lump in the back of my throat but I swallow it down as we all sit in this cell. I feel so useless in front of Rei and Shinji right now. If I had maybe taken more notice of what was happening, if I had tried harder while Shinji was in that coma maybe we could be out of this situation.

I look across at Shinji. He's sat on a bed with his knees pulled up to his chest. Rei is stood on the other side of the room looking at nothing in particular. Shinji has grown since Third Impact, not much but he looks different. I suppose living as the only two people in the world for a nearly two months will do that. He hasn't cried, he doesn't even look upset. I can't tell if it's a brave face he is putting on for us or not.

Maybe he just can't right now, same as when he dealt with Kaworu. Maybe he's just too drained or maybe he is saving it for when he and Asuka are reunited.

I wish I could have been there for them. To help guide them in some way while they survived. They shouldn't have had to go through that hell, no one should have done. I should have done more. I should have done more from the beginning.

XXX

"Mama…"

'That's right Asuka, we can be together. Isn't that what you have always wanted?'

I close my eyes again. Just a trick, it's just a trick. That isn't really her and we can't be together. No matter how much I want it we can't be together anymore. She's dead. Her human body is gone and the Eva is gone as well. Anything else would be false.

'I can make all the pain stop Asuka, just me and you…'

"No… you can't. You're not her and you never will be."

'You don't know that, you won't know that. It can be perfect.'

"I will know, just like he knew when he tried to go down that path. You can never be her. You can never give me what I want."

With those words I turn away from her. I hear the voice of the Angel return and snarl something at me but I block it out. I run towards the core at the centre of the room. I feel tears streaming down my face. Everything I ever wanted, some people would do it. They've turn away from reality to accept that world of illusion. They'd let the world fall down around them for a shot at imaginary happiness.

Those people like SEELE believed humanity reached its end. That it had nothing left to live for and that the only way for it to progress was to bring us all together into a singular entity where there were no walls or barriers. It's funny when you think about it, the concept of the wall around our hearts and minds. That which lets no one in and keeps people at a distance. Build that wall too high and you become isolated and you become that which you hate or despise.

Yet if we get rid of it completely, allow us all to become one and erase all the sadness and emptiness from our lives and we also erase happiness. We become nothing. As much as the real world might hurt me, as much as I might want to scream sometimes or be angry I'd rather be there. I'd rather be scared of the darkness in there than allow the false light here to engulf me.

I look at the tank in front of me, and then down at the console in front of it. The funny thing about this is how easy it is. The walls around our hearts are always so easily broken, the same rings true for Angels.

XXX

My heart is racing as I run through the corridor. Rei to my left and Misato in front of me. Misato stops next to one of the fallen guards and checks his pulse. I feel sick when I realize he's dead. I see the blood pooling next to him. I don't care that he is a part of the enemy the sight of his body makes me feel ill. Why does it have to end like his?

"Shinji!"

"Y-Yes?"

I look up and stumble back a little bit, I feel a pair of hands on my back propping me up.

"Focus only on me okay. I know… I know this isn't easy but this is our only chance. I… I don't know what the hell I'll do to make up for this. I'll buy you and Asuka a lifetime supply of ice cream but just focus on me alright. Don't look at any bodies, just on me."

I nod weakly. Her attention turns to Rei.

"Rei, are you alright?"

"Yes."

Her voice is shaky, clearly she isn't handling this well either. I know Misato is right, I have to focus on her. I hear more gunfire as we run through the corridor and an explosion. I don't know what happened. Everything went past so quickly. I was sat in the cell, I was thinking about Asuka and how she must be doing. I was wishing I could be with her to help her in some way. All of a sudden there was a huge explosion, we heard some shots being fired and our cell door slid open. Misato immediately gathered us and we started to make our escape.

We come to the end of our path and the corridor splits into two. Misato waves her hand out and stops both me and Rei from moving.

"Kids turn around."

"Wh-"

"Just do it Shinji!"

Her tone is no longer friendly, it's serious. I turn around like she asked, I grab Rei by the hand and pull her away from Misato just in time to hear Misato fire three shots down the corridor. I feel queasy at the thought of it. I've seen Misato shoot people before but that was different, I wasn't really in charge of my faculties then. Now I am, now I can hear the shots, I can smell the blood and feel the trembling in mine and Reis body.

"Rei are you alright?"

She nods, "I will be fine."

"Me too."

Misato calls back to us, "You can come out now and remember focus only on me."

We both nod and I hold Reis hand as we both walk out into the corridor. I hear a tiny gasp escape Rei's mouth as we do. I know she looked at the bodies, one of us had to. I'm trying with every fibre of my being to not look and just stay focused on Misato like she asked us to. I can feel my eyes curiously darting to the side. I can't explain why, I don't want to look but it's like watching a horror movie. You don't want to see it yet you peek through your hands at the scene.

"Misato what's happening do you thi-"

"I don't know, if I had to guess I'd say they found out the people behing it all had captured us and they are attacking. It all happened so quickly though, it's as if they…"

Suddenly she stops and holds her hand out again, it's another section where the path splits into two. We can either continue along the corridor or we can go into another one. I hear Misato curse under her breath.

"Damnit, who builds these facilities?"

"Are we lost?"

"To be lost we'd have had to know where we were in the first place Rei, we're pretty desperate right now."

Rei looks down both corridors and then back the way we came. She looks to be lost in thought for a moment before finally pointing behind us.

"We took a wrong turn, we should go back this way."

Rei immediately starts to walk, he head turning away from the bodies. I run to catch up with her and Misato quickly follows.

"Wait how do you know?"

"I made an attempt to memorise the route we took when they brought us here."

"But we were blindfolded."

"I know, that is why I had difficulty remembering."

XXX

I can hear the explosions in the distance, I can hear the agonized screams of the Angel as I drive the glass shard into the core. This world is collapsing, I don't know what will happen next. I know what I want to happen. I want to go home, I want to be with Shinji. I want to taste his cooking again and I want him to hold me. I want to kiss him and make love to him. I want to forget about all of this.

I turn and face the entrance to the room. The ground shakes as I slide down and look around first at myself and then out again. I look at my dress and I see blood stains on it and I bring my hand up to my face. I'm bleeding, damage from the fight against the Eva's. Yet another scar to add to the ones I already have.

Another explosion. They're getting closer. I hope I don't die. I don't want to die. I softly whisper that to myself.

'I want to go back, I have to go back. Shinji… Misato… they're waiting for me. They're relying on me. I don't want to die. I can't die. I'm Asuka Langley Sohryu. I… I don't want to die.'

More explosions, they're right outside the room. I close my eyes, my voice louder this time as I feel the final explosion. I open my eyes one more time as the light engulfs me, I can see her there again. My mother only it isn't the Angel taking her form again, it's really her. Standing next to her I see a boy with silvery hair, red eyes and a school uniform. This isn't the end, it can't be. I scream out.

"I DON'T WANT TO DIE!"

XXX

All three of us struggle to stay on our feet as another explosion rocks the facility. I watch as the roof is torn off in front of our eyes. We're all near blinded by a bright light and feel the immense heat from the latest explosion.

I raise my arm to shield my eyes and wait for the intensity to go down. As it does I realize it's a cross shaped explosion. I look at the stunned faces of Misato and Rei as we realize something. The Angel… it was here and that explosion means it's been defeated. That's what happens, we defeat an Angel and a cross shaped explosion happened afterwards. It has to mean that which means…

"Asuka…"

I turn to Misato, "Misato! Asuka… she is here too! She has to be!"

"Shinji she… how? She was in the Geofront, how can she be here too?"

I shake my head, "I don't know, I don't know anything about how this Angel works or what these people made. We never knew anything about the Angels did we? How did that one get into orbit? How did one get in a volcano? Where the hell did the spider one come from? I just… she's got to be here!"

Rei steps forward and I plead with her, "Rei… you must know… she's here right? That thing we saw it was the Angel being destroyed right?"

"I… I am sorry Shinji, I don't know."

"It… It has to be!"

I'm an idiot, Asuka is right because if I wasn't an idiot I wouldn't do the thing I'm doing right now and that's run. Run down the corridor and climb of a collapsed bit of wall. I survey the area in front of me and hear Misato's yelling behind me. I can see the base of where the explosion was. I can see an octagonal field at its base. An A.T. Field!

I ignore Misato and run towards it. I'm such an idiot. I can hear the sound of helicopters, I can hear gunfire as I cross that small gap towards the A.T. Field. She is there… she has to be. I run as fast as I can, throwing any caution to the wind until I arrive.

Finally I see it, the cylindrical object in the centre of a crater. I see the text on the side of it. Evangelion Unit 02. My heart pounding, my stomach churning I run to the hatch. Intense heat threatens me as I approach. I rip my shirt open and quickly slide it off giving me something to put between my hands and the red-hot handle on the plug.

I scream out in pain as I make contact with the door. The shirt does little to ease the pain.

"ASUKA!"

Slowly I feel the handle start to turn. It's so slow and stiff at first but eventually it loosens. I see the LCL spill out as the door opens. More heat blasts me in the face as I scramble into the darkened chamber. I look around for any sign of her and hear a sniff from the centre of the plug.

"ASUKA!"

No reply. I dart inside and around to the seat. She is there, her eyes wide and staring straight up. I can see blood trickling down her cheek from a wound on her head.

"Asuka!"

I make my way around to her front trying to get her attention. She slowly registers my presence.

"Sh-Shinji?"

I throw myself at her and wrap my arms around her tightly as she lies there barely moving. After a moment I feel her arms wrap around me.

"I… I'm not dead?"

Through tear stained eyes I pull back and shake my head.

"No… you're not, you're alive. We… we're alive Asuka. You did it!"

I look at her lying there in the seat. I don't understand how she got here or what happened. She looks exhausted, she can barely move. I don't think she knows where she is, come to think of it I don't know where we are either. Yet all I know is that everything is going to be fine. Asuka saved us and we're going to be rescued.

"I… I did? Oh… yeah I did didn't I?"

'We move in circles, balanced all the while on a gleaming razors edge.
A perfect sphere, colliding with our fate.
This story ends where it began.'

I sit up and I look across at one of the strongest people I've ever met. If you were to meet him you'd probably be surprised to learn that but no one knows him like I do. He doesn't look like much and he comes across as wimpy and lacking in backbone to the point of annoyance. In a past life I tried so hard to hate him.

I feel my fingers run across his bandaged hand as he looks out across the sea from our section on the beach. He thinks I'm strong too. I guess in many ways I am. After all you need strength to save the world don't you?

It's been two weeks since that happened. Since I was nearly the catalyst for the end yet again. They thought they could break me down, they thought they could dig up all my fear and insecurities and use me to finish the job SEELE started. Funny thing once upon a time I might have done it. Once upon a time I did want to do it.

Except I'm not the same person I was back then. Don't get me wrong, I'm still terrified of being hurt and abandoned. I still have nightmares about my past and I'm still an angry young redhead. I'm still insecure about who I am and my purpose in life. Yet I don't want to give my life up because I'm actually happy and if I wasn't I know there is still a chance of happiness.

What those people wanted was to run away. Me and Shinji are through with running away. Besides, I promised I'd protect Shinji and I'm not in the habit of breaking my promises.

"It's peaceful isn't it?"

I lift my sunglasses and turn to him, "Yeah, let's enjoy it before Misato comes along and ruins it with her drunkenness."

He giggles, "You should cut her some slack. She's been stressed out having to deal with the fallout from everything that happened."

"Yeah yeah, I know but you'd think she'd show some restraint."

"I don't think she knows how."

"She should learn! I didn't save the world just for her to get drunk every night."

Another laugh from him and we settle into a nice comfortable silence looking ahead at the sea. The beach is mostly empty aside from a few people out in the sea itself. We have a blanket with us, a small basket with food. It's wonderful.

It's been two weeks of recovery for the two of us. Shinji getting used to being back in this world. Adjusting to his feelings of guilt over believing he could change things, believing he had gone back in time and believing that was the real Asuka in there. I've tried to stay calm but it's difficult. I can't help but think sometimes about what he and that other Asuka might have done. I know he thought it was me but it's still difficult. Yet I've been good. I've kept my anger to screaming fits when I'm alone. They're not as long now so I think I'm doing well.

For me I've been recovering from seeing my mother die again. It's strange but I don't feel sad about it. I guess it's because I finally got closure on the whole affair. It wasn't like our brief re-union before Third Impact it was a real reunion with her. I know that person who was in that hospital bed when I was a kid wasn't really her. It was something that was spat out of the Eva.

I still have nightmares about it, I've only had a few but I'll wake up in our bed and Shinji will hold me. I don't tell him I have nightmares. I don't want to tell him, it's embarrassing to admit it after I saved the world but he knows. He isn't as stupid as I tell him he is.

I'm still not clear on everything that happened that day. As with most of the Angels we fought the laws that govern them are beyond our comprehension. From what we understand it was a combination of what was learned from the creation of the Eva's, research on the Dirac Sea created in Tokyo-3 at the time of the twelfth Angel as well as Unit 04s activation test. It was somehow able to exist in a number of places at once. All of them linked by the Angel itself. So what appeared above the Geofront on that day was only one part of it. The Core of the Angel and its control centre was kept in their base. This is how it was able to spit me out there.

Shinji on the other hand was spat out somewhere else in Japan near to another location monitored by them. It was just where the Sea Of LCL ended, where Rei had landed weeks before hand. Knowing that this was a potential exit point for people, they used it to their advantage to have Shinji spat out there by the Angel. This was a part of their plan.

We know what their plan was, to isolate me. Drag me down to the lowest pits of despair they could and get me to pull the trigger on the world. So it took Shinji first knowing how I'd feel about it. It tried to merge the two realities and used the MP Eva's as a distraction while it built power. Then it took Shinji away from me. It took us both in, absorbed me into the core and spat him out elsewhere. They thought I was weak, that I wouldn't be strong enough to fight back. Yet I did.

There were some other elements in play. Rei and Kaworu somehow interfered and helped me and Shinji. I don't know how and I don't think we'll ever figure it out. Wondergirl can't remember and Kaworu… well he's not been seen. I don't think we will see him again, it's a shame I felt a connection with Kaworu like he could have been a brother to me or something. I kinda always wanted a little brother to boss around. Rei on the other hand isn't here today, I don't know what she is doing. She's been like one of those androids that's learning to become human. Trying out emotions and human endeavours like art or music. Seems she has a talent for drawing. Emotions not quite, she tried smiling at me once and it was terrifying.

I don't think it matters if we do figure it out. What matters is that we… well I did it. Sure I had a bit of help from Kaworu, I had some help from Shinji and I guess the soul echoes that Kaworu conjured up helped but aside from that the ultimate victor was me.

We also know that Rebecca's people aren't stupid. They knew as soon as Misato was called away that something was up and had a small team make contact with the U.N. to track the flight. The group sympathetic to SEELE never expected it. They thought that by the time they had gotten Misato and Shinji to their base that I would have brought them the release they wanted. Except I didn't and they weren't prepared for an assault. A number escaped to god knows where, others died and some were captures. They say the world is in a delicate state right now. Evangelion and Angel based technology is showing up on black markets and being offered to governments. World leaders are at each other's throats every day and the UN don't have enough answers to placate them.

There is talk of constructing the Eva's again. A few still exist in the world from what I know and who knows what secrets are left behind but for now I'm content to just be me.

I bring my sunglasses back down over my eyes and lie back as I do Shinji rolls over and positions himself on top of me. I tilt my head at him.

"Shinji… what are you doing?"

He blushes, "I…"

He's staring at me, looking down at me from the top of my head down to my stomach and I know as soon as I see his face change what he is doing. He's comparing. He's remembering what happened when we returned. Slowly I reach my hand up to him and I gently caress his cheek as he leans in towards me. I see his lip tremble and his eyes water.

"A-Asuka…"

I smile, "You're crying…"

"I… I just… I'm just happy we…"

"Me too."

I pull him towards me and kiss him gently on the lips. I can feel his tears splashing onto my cheeks, they mix with my own. We don't break the embrace and lay there for a while in each other's arms kissing each other gently and smiling at one another. I'm Asuka Langley Sohryu and this is Shinji Ikari. We're both a little bit fucked up but that's alright, we have each other.


Author's Notes

I've been trying to hold off on Author's Notes on this one until the end, so here they are. This is the end. I don't really want to say too but beyond thank you to everyone who took the time to read this work, who has left a review on it or added it to their favourites. It means so much to have that sort of feedback when writing and it's helped me massively in shaping this work and other pieces that have sprung up around it. I have other stories on the go at the moment, one of which I'm currently editing to put the first chapter of online soon but please let me know what you thought of this. I would like to revisit this particular universe again in the future as I really enjoyed writing from the first person perspective for it. Those will likely be shorter self contained stories similar to what I did for the Human Equation side stories like Notes On A Dream and 6:00 on a Christmas Morning.

Once again thank you to everyone who stuck with this.