Author's Notes: I don't normally like to leave too many author's notes in my works but I do feel it's quite important to do so in this one. This fic is a sequel to another of my fics, the Post 3.33 Fic .Erase. Whilst you can probably don't need to read it to understand what is happening here it might be best to go back and give it a read just so you can see the development of the characters up to this point and the context behind some of their actions.
Aside from that, please enjoy.
If Shinji had to guess he would have to say it had been a week since they had returned to the AAA Wunder. He had made an attempt to count the days since their return and was sure that at least seven days had past.
His return to this ship had not exactly been what he had expected. His expectations had been for a very negative and painful experience. He was perhaps expecting people to yell at him and be angry with him. He had been expecting an interrogation or maybe even to be hurt in some way. He had expected to have seen Misato and face a backlash from her over his actions.
He had expected some positive experiences though. Asuka, before they had returned had told Shinji that she would try to visit him. She had told him that she would talk to him and try to speak for him in front of the others. She was the only one he had expected to show him any kindness upon his return here. Throughout these seven days here he had held onto the good memories of their journey across the wasteland.
He recalled the times they had talked. He recalled how she had held his hand and how they had kissed. He even recalled that one special night they had shared.
The expectations that Shinji had were however far from the reality of what had happened to him. Instead of being yelled at or interrogated he had instead been silently refitted with a DSS Choker and escorted to a cell. Instead of facing a backlash from Misato or any kindness from Asuka he had been left entirely alone.
There had been no visitations from anyone he knew of. There had been no anger or shouting towards him. There had been no interrogations or pain. He had been left completely alone.
The only contact he had had with anyone was the guards who would bring him his food at various intervals during the days. The guards never spoke to him, instead they would keep their distance. They would look at Shinji and Shinji wasn't sure if it was a look of fear or hatred, maybe both.
The passage of time had been a lonely and boring one. It had been a week where all he could do was repeat the events that had happened to him over and over again within his own mind. All he could do was contemplate that which had happened to him since he had woken up in this strange and cruel world.
His mind once again turned towards Asuka and wondering where she had been. Asuka had been swiftly sweapt away from him shortly after they had gotten back to the Wunder. It was not long after that he was brought to this cell and there had been no word of her since.
He was starting to worry about her and was longing for her presence. His mind started to conjure irrational little scenarios like her suddenly hating him again now that they had returned. He wondered if maybe she had been hurt or something had happened to her. He wondered if maybe she had just forgotten all about him.
Shinji had been tempted at one point to ask one of the guards that brought his food but he had ultimately decided against that course of action. Talking to the guards beyond a polite thank you would have been a risk. He fears that they could turn around and try to hurt him. It was a silly fear he knew, if one of the guards wanted to hurt him they would probably just do it.
Yet that fear was within him and with each passing moment the fear was also growing. He was beginning to feel unsafe aboard this vessel. Asuka was the only one that he felt he could rely on. He didn't know Mari all that well, Ayanami was likely in the same predicament as him and the only other people he had interacted with he didn't think he could trust.
Shinji leaned back on the bed and stared up at the ceiling. Bringing the back of his hand up over his forehead he took in a deep breath before letting it out slowly. Perhaps this was it for him now. A lifetime of doing nothing. In some ways he thought that maybe this would be the best thing for him.
He knew that the state of the world out there was his fault and that he'd be unable to change that. He had already tried and that very nearly made things worse. Perhaps doing nothing really was the best course of action.
As he lay there he allowed his mind to wander to what the others might be doing right now. His thoughts went direct to Asuka first. He wondered just where she might be at this moment. If she was safe or if she was happy. Again he thought about whether or not she would want to see him anymore. It was possible that after their journey she had realized she didn't like him after all. That the affection she shown towards him was just of the moment.
He tried to distill those thoughts. They had shared so much together over that journey. Tears, laughter and even each others bodies. She couldn't just suddenly hate him now, could she?
Trying to get away from the negativity he turned his mind towards whatever Rei was doing. Rei would most likely be in a similar situation to the one he was in. She had probably been fitted with a DSS Choker and put into a cell.
Shinji had to question whether or not Rei would even be bothered by such a thing. He had to think that the Rei they had brought back would be. She was radically different to the one they had started the journey with. The Rei they had returned with wanted to interact with others and not be left alone. To be left alone right now would probably be worse than how it was for her at NERV.
Of course Shinji wasn't oblivious to the fact that the crew of this ship would be more mistrusting of Rei than they were of him. He felt a cold chill run down his spine to think of the extreme end of what might have happened to her. Would they have gone so far as to have had her left behind of even killed?
'W-Would Misato do that? She wouldn't but... I just... I don't know anymore. Everything... everyone is so different.'
Shinji had to believe that Misato and Ritsuko wouldn't have had Rei killed or left behind. Although the Misato he had met here was very different to the one he used to know he knew that she wasn't a murderer. She just wouldn't be capable of that. If she was then Shinji would have been killed a fortnight ago when he escaped from the Wunder.
Boredom was settling in as Shinji felt himself slowly started to drift off to sleep. He was suddenly awoken from his near slumber by the sound of footsteps near to his door. It must have been one of the guards sent to deliver his lunch. It seemed a little bit earlier than normal but he was starting to feel somewhat hungry again.
To his surprise though it was not a guard carrying a tray of food that greeted him when the door opened. Instead it was the young medical officer that had seen to him when he had first woken up from his imprisonment in Unit 02. In response to her presence he felt his heart rate increase with fear. The young girl was Sakura Suzahara. Touji, his best friends, little sister.
Despite it only having been two weeks since he had met her, Shinji had actually forgotten that she was a member of the crew. Seeing her here like this though brought the memories straight back to him. He could remember how at the time she was the only one who seemed to show him any kindness. She was the only one who seemed to want to help him when everyone else was glaring at him with their eyes so full of distrust and hatred.
He felt a cold chill as he remembered her exact words to him just as he left with Rei on that day.
'Just whatever you do, don't get in an Eva!'
Naturally he had failed on living up to doing what she had asked. He had gotten into an Eva and he had once again nearly destroyed their world. All he could do as he sat up was bow his head and try to avoid eye contact with her. He heard her enter the room and braced himself for her to berate him or slap him over what he had done.
It was probably common knowledge amongst the crew and besides she likely would have seen it all unfold. She would have been there when the Wunder attacked NERV to stop Shinji and Kaworu on that day.
"Um… Mr Ikari. How are you feeling?"
Shinji, much to his surprise heard a very different voice to the one he had expected. This was not a voice that was about to berate him, nor was there any anger in it. Instead it sounded cheery and somewhat apprehensive.
Shinji slowly raised his head to see Sakura was stood in the middle of the room. There was a smile on her face as she looked across at him. Nervously he responded.
"I-I'm alright… h-how are you?"
Sakura nodded and her smile grew wider, "I'm very good thank you. I just wanted to, as your doctor, have a quick talk with you and ask you some questions if you're up to it?"
Shinji nodded as she approached. Along the way he braced himself for the smile to fade and the shouting to begin but it didn't. Instead she stepped over to him and looked him over before raising a curious eyebrow.
"Hmm, you look a little bit pale and you've visibly lost weight? You've been eating right?"
There was still a cheeriness in her voice as she spoke but there was also a stern professionalism to it as well.
Shinji nodded in reply, "Y-Yeah, I've been eating what they've given me."
"I see. I might have to ask them to up the food you're being given then. Any problems since your return? Headaches? Vomiting? That sort of thing?"
Shinji shook his head in reply. He had had some bad dreams since returning but that was about it and he wasn't really about to divulge that information. He knew that maybe he should be honest with her, but talking about Kaworu or what had happened to him really wasn't something he wanted to do right now.
"No, I've been… I've been fine."
"And how about sleeping, have you been sleeping alright?"
Shinji nodded weakly, "Y-Yeah… kind of…"
Shinji really didn't want to divulge the nature of his nightmares but at the same time he thought that lying might only cause trouble.
"I've been having a few… nightmares."
She shot him a sympathetic glance before placing a calming hand on his shoulder, "I see, that's understandable given your situation. I could maybe get you something to help with that but I don't think it'd be necessary. If possible I'd like to schedule a check-up for you later this afternoon?"
Shinji nodded again and gestured around the room, "Y-Yeah… I don't think I'm going anywhere."
Sakura giggled at his response, "Good. It'll just be a physical examination just to see how you're doing. I know this hasn't been easy for you and I'd like to make sure you're fit and well."
Shinji looked across at the girl again as she spoke. It was still so difficult for him to comprehend that this girl in front of him was Touji's little sister. It was only a few weeks ago that Shinji had been thinking of her as an infant. She was barely out of the hospital after the injuries she had suffered in the fourth Angel attacks and yet now she was actually older than Shinji was in appearance.
He wondered about people like Asuka and Mari and how they dealt with things like this. Neither of them had aged since Shinji had seen them. Yet for Shinji it seemed to make sense, he had been imprisoned within Unit 01 for all that time. Asuka and Mari actually lived in this world. They watched people grow up and age whilst they stood still.
Shinji remembered exactly what Asuka had named this strange affliction. It was the curse of the Eva. In remembering this he realized just how little he truly knew about this world and its people. He had learned a few things since returning but there seemed to be so much more to learn. He knew that so much of this was his fault but just what had happened? It couldn't all have been bad.
As he looked at Sakura he couldn't help but feel those pangs of guilt within him. What must she really think about him as she looked at him? She couldn't be completely ignorant of what had happened.
"H-Hey Miss Suzahara…"
She giggled again at the politeness and stammering from Shinji, "Please call me Sakura…"
"D-Do you know what happened… whilst I was away… in NERV I mean?"
The change in her expression was immediate. Shinji's mouth went dry as the smile faded. Sakura seemed to contemplate his question for a moment before finally nodding.
"Yes, I know what happened. You did get into an Eva…"
Again she stopped to think about what she wanted to say, "You had to find your own path Shinji and I know… we didn't want you to get in an Eva but what happened. It wouldn't have been your fault. Not really! NERV and well… the Commander… he…"
Sakura seemed to stumble over her own words at this point as if she wasn't sure on how to address Shinji regarding his father. He knew that it was probably an awkward situation for her, after all the Commander she was about to say something negative about was Shinji's father.
Shinji instinctively took hold of her hand to calm her, "It's alright… I know exactly what my father is now…"
"Shinji your father is manipulative and he knew how to get to you. We all… we all knew and I can't blame you for what happened. I do know that you're not a bad person Shinji. Touji always used to speak so highly of you and…"
"Touji!" Shinji suddenly exclaimed as she said the boy's name. She seemed startled by his sudden outburst.
Shinji however could feel himself going cold as another memory from his time in NERV bubbled to the surface. A shirt he had been given during one of the days there. He had thought it to be a simple oversized shirt at first but then he had seen the name written on the inside. It was Touji's name.
Shinji bowed his head again, "I-I'm really sorry about what happened to Touji. If I hadn't have… he wouldn't…"
Sakura stepped back in confusion, "Huh?"
Shinji looked up at her with tears forming in his eyes, "I… I found his shirt in NERV and… If it wasn't for me then he would be… I'm sorry…"
"Shinji what are you talking about? Touji is fine!"
Now it was Shinji's turn to be confused. He wiped the tears from his eyes and looked up at her, "Huh?"
"He's alive and fine Shinji! He's serving WILLE in one of the European cities as part of the engineering teams there. You mean to say you thought he was dead?"
Shinji was left speechless by her words. He felt a sense of elation on hearing that his old friend was indeed alive and well but also confusion at what he had seen at NERV. He had been told that all he knew was dead. He didn't have too long to think about it as a third voice entered the conversation. One that he recognized all too well.
"Of course that's what the brat thought. That's exactly what he was shown and if there is one thing Shinji isn't good at, it's questioning things."
"Asuka!" Shinji exclaimed.
"Captain Shikinami, you've returned."
Shinji turned his head to see Asuka standing in the doorway to the room. She was not in her plugsuit anymore but was wearing a pair of combat trousers and boots. She had her hands in the pockets of her red jacket, the same one she had worn on the day he had returned. He could see she was holding some sort of metal box in one hand and in the other hand was a combat helmet.
"I'll take it from here Second Lieutenant. Akagi wants you to go and help her with Ayanami."
Sakura politely bowed as both Shinji and Asuka before saying her goodbyes and exiting the room. Shinji stood up to greet Asuka and allowed himself to smile. Asuka had returned. He had no idea where from but it did explain why she hadn't visited him. It hadn't occurred to him that she might have been sent away straight after coming back.
Shinji was given no chance to finish his sentence before she had dropped box her helmet and the box she was carrying onto the ground. He trailed off as he watched her walk aggressively towards him. Her gaze was fixed directly onto him and she was frowning. He half expected her to punch him for some reason but instead she reached out and grabbed him firmly by both shoulders. She shoved him up against the wall and pressed her lips firmly against his and clamped both hands onto his sides.
Shinji's only response was to wrap his own arms around her and return the kiss. In the moments that passed with the kiss he felt all the worry and guilt flow away from him. He allowed himself a moment in which all that existed was just him and Asuka.
Finally she broke off the kiss and smiled at him.
"A-Asuka... I… I've missed you."
Shinji watched as her gaze went downwards, she seemed to linger for a moment. Shinji felt himself glow red as he realized what must have caught her attention. His body seemed to have had something of a reaction to their kiss. She looked back up at him and grinned, "I can tell."
She laughed, "Like I care, I always knew you were a pervert but you're my pervert now so it doesn't matter. Anyway that aside, I suppose I've missed you too."
She paused and backed away before continuing to speak, "So let me guess, they threw you in here and put the collar back on you. No one has been to see you in that time and besides me, our friendly medic is the first real person you've communicated with right?"
Shinji nodded, "Yeah…"
His response only drew a sigh from Asuka, "I had a feeling that something like that might have happened. Barely an hour after I returned I was sent out on some escort runs over the wastelands and a retrieval mission. I only just got back half an hour ago."
"Y-You were sent out?"
"Yeah. I managed to shower and then I was immediately ordered back out in one of those stupid TARKUS Unit's as four-eyes called them. Wasn't even debriefed about our journey through the desert."
"What have you been doing?" Asked Shinji.
"Hopping from outpost to outpost really making sure supplies arrived safely and on time. Final one had to retrieve this thing, no idea what it is though." She pointed at the box she had set down earlier.
"I had no idea..."
"Well how could you have done? You've been in here for a week, and lets be honest after what you've pulled I doubt they're going to be keeping you in the loop."
Shinji bowed his head apologetically, "Y-Yeah... I guess."
Asuka sighed again before strolling over to the middle of the room. She looked back at Shinji and frowned trying to figure out what to do from here. It had been her intention to talk to Misato about Shinji and his situation as soon as she had gotten back. Unfortunately her new assignment had prevented her from being able to do so.
It had then been her hope that whilst she was away someone might have dealt with Shinji, given him a set of quarters or at least interviewed him. Maybe someone might have brought him up to speed on what had happened but none of that had happened.
Shinji had been treated just like a criminal so far. No contact with anyone, confined to a cell and given three meals a day. Although sympathetic to him she could see why it had happened. In their eyes he had turned against them and had nearly brought about another catastrophic event. Yet they must have known it wasn't entirely his fault, that the miscommunications upon his awakening had led to all that had happened.
If anything Shinji was guilty of being an idiot and allowing himself to be manipulated by his father so easily. In that case it seemed cruel to have kept him isolated in this manner. Yet he had carried out those actions, so there had to have been some punishment.
Her cyclical train of thought was broken by the sound of his voice, "So... are you alright?"
"Yeah I'm fine, it was quite boring actually. Absolutely no contact with NERV and no sign of the Nemesis Series either. So it was just a lot of time spent walking alongside trucks."
"That's good though?"
She nodded, "Yeah it's good I suppose. You know what they say, no news is good news right?"
She paused for a moment, "I just... don't trust those TARKUS Unit's. They feel so flimsy compared to my Unit 02. Unfortunately that's undergoing serious repairs at the moment for some reason..."
She shot a glare Shinji's direction upon mentioning her damaged Evangelion Unit. Shinji felt himself flinch at her words, "Um... sorry about that..."
Asuka let out a laugh, "Whatever, wasn't like it was you that damaged it. Set the thing to destruct when fighting the vessel of the Adams. You would have and in fact you actually barely even made a scratch on it."
Shinji wasn't sure why and he knew this probably wasn't the best course of action but he suddenly felt an urge to defend himself against her taunt.
"Hey! I did make a scratch on it though! I got you a few times!"
Shinji instantly regretted speaking up. It was really nothing to be proud of, everything he had done that day had been wrong and fighting Asuka was near the top of that list. She seemed to contemplate him for a moment before raising an eyebrow and then laughing again.
"Hah, only because I was going easy on you. If I was fighting at my full strength you wouldn't have stood a sta-"
Shinji pushed himself off of the wall, "Y-You were going easy on me? Asuka I was about to do the stupidest thing ever! Why were you going easy on me?"
All she could do was shrug in reply, "Well maybe it's because I thought you'd use your brain and not do the stupidest thing in the world. Of course that wasn't going to happen because you're you!"
"B-But you shouldn't have gone... I... Asuka yo-" Shinji tried to stutter out some semblance of a response to her but found himself completely lost for words.
"And maybe Shinji... it's because I actually care about you and I didn't want to actually hurt you. Unfortunately that didn't quite work out did it?"
Shinji shot a hurt glance her direction, "Didn't seem like you cared the way you were firing at me."
"Oh you had an A.T. Field didn't you? God, why do you have to be such a brat about these things? What did you want me to do? Perform a striptease to stop you? Actually don't answer that, knowing you the answer is probably yes."
"I cared about you and I wanted to stop you, what was I supposed to do? I couldn't exactly try to kill you could I? I had to stop you even if it meant hurting you a little bit. I probably would have stopped you too if Ayanami didn't interfere and if four-eyes had been a bit quicker. If it was one-on-one you wouldn't have stood a chance!"
Shinji took in all she had said and once again he felt a silly urge to defend himself against her taunt.
"I... I'd be able to beat you!"
Asuka grinned at the response, "Oh would you now? Is that a challenge from the brat I hear?"
Shinji's hands clenched themselves into fists, "Yeah it is!"
"Fine, I accept but won't be going eas-"
Asuka's was cut off instantly by a sharp voice echoing throughout the room.
"Nobody will be challenging anyone. Captain Shikinami, you should have reported to me after you returned. Why have you not yet done so?"
In a single moment Shinji felt every last bit of courage and confidence he had regained from his playful argument with Asuka drain away from him. As he looked across towards the source of the voice he could see Misato stood in the doorway, he gazed fixed directly on Asuka. Slowly he turned his head towards Asuka and saw that she too seemed to be having issues forming a reply.
Shinji's eyes shifted from looking at Asuka back to Misato. He wanted to say something or make some sort of motion but found himself completely rooted to the spot. He dared to not move or speak in front of either of them as he felt Misato turn her gaze towards him.
Her eyes seemed to burn through him as a sudden churning in his stomach started. His vision started to become blurred as little black dots appeared before his eyes.
This had happened to him once before. It was back at NERV after he had been shown the state of what was once Tokyo-3 by Kaworu and Fuyutsuki. This time it was the sight of Misato that had triggered this in front of him. He dug his nails into his hand and struggled to catch his breath.
As the shapes of their bodies started to blur so too did their speech. He focused on keeping himself on his feet as all around him started to fade out. Misato being here and spawned a whirlwind with his mind.
There had been a time when she had been the closest thing Shinji ever had to a mother. Yet all he had done for her was serve to tear her world apart. She had tried to help him and all he had done was repay her by trying to run away on a number of occasions and eventually rip apart what she had tried to protect.
Not only that but upon his return he had managed to endanger her and her entire crew. Within a week of that return he had nearly ripped apart the world once more.
As he struggled to stay on his feet he started to go through images of their time together. He recalled their first meeting in the shadow of the fourth Angel. How she had come to pick him up in her blue Renault Alpine. He recalled how she had been when he had gotten into the Eva for the first time and he remembered how she had told him that he had done a good job and that she was proud of him.
He remembered the time that she had shown him what was underneath NERV. She had told him about the contract with Lillith and how if any Angel made contact it would trigger a Third Impact. She had told him that this was what he was protecting.
Shinji recalled all the times she had given him a hug after the Angel battles. How she used to smile at him and ask how his day had been at school. He recalled the times she had taken Asuka and he out to dinner after a sync test at NERV. They were all memories of much happier times, so very far removed from the reality he now faced.
With all of these past memories being brought up Shinji was beginning to realize that he couldn't face Misato again. Shinji knew that he would probably have to, if not for the others but for himself but right now it just wasn't possible.
With each passing second he could feel the collar tighten around his neck. He resisted the urge to pull at it. It was only in his mind he reminded himself and he didn't wish to show any visible discomfort.
He took in a deep breath and some of the blurriness started to subside. He could see Asuka still facing his direction. She looked worried as her eye was fixed directly on him. In response he pressed himself up against the wall and tried to stem some of the trembling in his legs.
He continued to take deep breaths and started to count slowly in his head as he watched Asuka and Misato finish up their conversation. Misato started to walk away but stopped herself at the door. She didn't turn to face him but Shinji did see her look up towards the ceiling.
Shinji felt a strange sense of déjà vu and realzed her actions mirrored that of how she had been when she came to see him in his room after the fourth Angel. Only this time her words had no warmth of comfort to him. This time they were cold.
"Shinji... We will talk later."
She left and the door slid closed. In that split second everything finally hit him. The blurriness returned and along with is a wave of nausea. He could make out Asuka's shape running towards him and placing a hand on his shoulder as he fell forward. She was just able to catch him and soften the fall to his knees.
Pain shot through his knees as they hit floor and he heaved forward spilling the contents of his stomach onto the floor.
Asuka turned away and closed her eyes. He kept a gentle hand on his back rubbing it as his body quivered. Finally when it seemed like it was over she opened her eyes and saw he was staring ahead at the door, tears were streaming down his cheeks.
He blinked and turned to look at her, "A-A-Asuka... I-I..."
She shushed him and gently helped him to his feet before carrying him over to the bed. She sat him up and observed him for a moment. All the colour had been drained from his cheeks and any trace of the confidence and cockiness he had displayed before Misato's visit was now completely gone. All that remained was a trembling and scared boy.
She made sure he was stable before rushing over to a small sink in the room and grabbing the cloth that was there. Asuka ran up under the cold water tap for a few moments before moving back over to where Shinji was sitting. She gently began to dab at his cheeks and around his eyes trying to mop up some of the tears that had fallen before wiping around his mouth to try to clean him up.
"A-Asuka..." He looked up and suddenly reach out to grab her hand.
She shushed him again, "Don't say anything, just read for now. Okay."
He nodded blankly, "I'm sorry..."
She sighed, "What are you apologizing for now?"
Weakly he nodded towards the middle of the room, "I-I... made a mess..."
She turned around and grimaced at the sight before shrugging, "Yeah you did but hey at least you didn't get it on me right?"
She grinned at her own joke but Shinji didn't seem to react. Instead he looked up at her again, his lips trembling and his eyes full of anguish, "I'm so sorry..."
"Shinji will you just..."
"I ruined your world Asuka... I ruined Misato's world... everyone on this ship... I should I have just died... I don't... I don't deserve to li-"
"SHINJI!" She raised her voice, perhaps a bit more than she was expecting to. It seemed to have the desired effect though and Shinji immediately shut up.
"Look this... what happened all those years ago. Yes you triggered something but it isn't quite that simple. I don't know how to explain it all but what you think you know about this world... you just..."
She paused, "Urgh you just need more time and someone to explain it to you properly. We need to sit down and have a proper discussion about this but now isn't that time. I have to go and... you're not in the right condition for it."
"Y-You have to go?"
Asuka nodded apologetically, "Yes, I'm on duty and I shouldn't have come here in the first place. I'm going to go and get Sakura to come and see to you alright? I'll also be giving her orders to move you into my quarters, to hell with this prisoner bullshit. I'll make sure a guard is posted out there so that you don't escape. It'll be more comfortable than here and you can rest there too."
Shinji smiled weakly, "O-Okay... thank you Asuka."
She smiled and leaned in to kiss him on the forehead. She then stood back up and geared herself up for the rest of the day. Her smile transformed into a scowl, she stood up straighter and put on the air of authority she would be needing.
"I'll see you this evening Shinji. I'm ordering you to rest, am I understood?"
Shinji laughed, "Yes... Captain Shikinami."
Asuka left the room and immediately turned towards a waiting Sakura. The girl had clearly heard that something had happened in there. Her eyes were wide with worry.
"Is everything alright?"
Asuka nodded, "Fine. We had an incident in which Shinji was taken ill, I'm going to need you to go and see to him."
"After you have done that I want you to relocate him to my quarters. I've got a spare keycard for him. Make sure he gets a shower, has something to eat and drink and make sure he rests."
Sakura started to protest, "But what about Katsuragi's ord-"
Asuka immediately cut her off anticipating such a response, "I don't care what Katsuragi has ordered. This is what I've ordered and as his doctor do you see any reason to disagree with me?"
She shot Sakura a knowing smile as the medic replied, "Not at all. In fact I think moving Shinji out of that cell is the best thing for him."
Asuka nodded, "Doctor always gets priority in these cases then. Have a guard posted outside the door. Shinji won't go anyway, he's an idiot but he isn't that stupid but that's what the higher ups will want."
"Understood, I'll have him moved right away."
She could feel a warm glowing sensation spread all throughout her body as she started to gain more awareness. As she opened her eyes she found herself in complete darkness but could also feel herself floating in this unknown environment. As she looked down all she could see was the pale skin of her naked body. As she looked below her there was a sudden flash of flight and she began to feel a force pull her down towards it.
As she was pulled down images and objects were starting to come into focus. Most prominently was a narrow black metallic walkway. On each side were cylindrical railings and just beyond them were tall walls reaching up high into the air.
As her feet touched the cold steel she looked upwards and could see a ceiling with a sequence of pipes and small circular spotlights along the way. She squinted to look ahead trying to figure out exactly where she was. The lights provided very little illumination but she could see traces of a light orange smoke emanating from the pipes.
She felt like there was some external force guiding her and she slowly started to walk down this alien corridor. Although she knew she had never been in this place before there was some feelings of familiarity to it.
She continued to walk for what she estimated to be two minutes and came across a section where the walkway split off into two. Sat in the centre of this fork was a floating metallic disc. It was hovering gently in the air some seven feet off of the ground. On its base was a small spotlight and on its back were two prongs.
She apprehensively approached it and stopped a couple of metres aware. She tilted her had and observed it with a sense of curiosity. As it curious as to what she was it rotated itself and shone its spotlight up and down her body.
Suddenly it spun around facing away from her and started to slowly move down the left hand fork. It got a few meters before stopping and spining around to shine its spotlight on her once more. Did it want her to follow it?
Cautiously she began to put one foot in front of the other one and move forward following this strange being. She didn't know where it would lead her and with each step she began to feel a sense of panic rising up within her. She knew that she shouldn't be here, that this place was not safe.
She took more steps finding herself unable to stop moving. Despite these feelings that she should turn around and run she couldn't keep herself from going forward and following this thing. As she moved onwards she began to wonder just what this place was. She began to wonder how she had gotten here and if she was alone here.
It definitely seemed like she was alone but in the back of her mind were hazy images of others. They were there in front of her, their images not fully formed in her mind. She concentrated trying to clear the fog in her mind. One of them was a boy, brown haired and he was wearing a strange outfit. It was purple and grey. She remembered that he had a warm smile but also that he was in pain.
There was another person there as well. Red haired and with a patch covering her eye. This girl wore a suit similar to the boy but hers were red with white markings. She tried to remember more about her. The girl she remembered being angry and commanding yet she too had a pain within her that she didn't speak of.
Finally there was a third person she remembered. One she barely knew. Her suit was just like the others except pink. The girl had brown hair and wore red framed glasses. As she thought of this girl she felt herself smile and blush in the darkness. She could feel a strange ticklish sensation within her stomach.
Despite having the images of these people in her head she couldn't quite remember just who they were. Everything was just so hazy right now. She continued to walk onwards trying to remember until she came across a large door.
The door was comprised of a thick black metal. She cast her gaze over it and could make out a symbol on it. A symbol that comprised an upside down triangle, an apple in the middle and a snake coiled around the apple. On each side of the apple were eyes, four eyes to the right and three eyes on the left.
She was given almost no time to contemplate the symbols meaning as the door suddenly slid open revealing the bizarre room beyond. The room has octagonal and as she entered she realized that the disc she was following had disappeared.
Within the centre of this room was a large tank which had been filled with a thick orange liquid. Coming out of this tank were a sequence of pipes which were connected to smaller tanks dotted on the sides of the room. From each of these smaller tanks were smaller pipes which lead out of the rooms.
The feeling of fear started to rise up inside her as she examined the room closer. She was still unable to turn around and run away though. There was a force within her compelling her to go on and explore everything.
She cautiously took steps towards the large tank and a strange familiar smell began to creep into her nostrils. All of a sudden three letters popped into her head.
She knew what this liquid was. It was a substance called LCL, she could remember being surrounded by it on a wide number of occasions.
As she stepped closer she could begin to make out a shape within the tank. Her fear rose more and more as she crept closer and closer to the tank. Features were beginning to form on the shape. It was human, there was somebody in there.
She stepped closer until she was inches away from the glass. She wanted to run but she was rooted to the spot. There was a jolt, the figure inside the tank moved and she jumped in response to its sudden movement.
The fogginess of the liquid was beginning to clear as more and more features were being revealed of the figure within. Her eyes widened as the facial features and body came into full view. Everything was telling her the same thing.
'This is... This is me!'
As it hearing the voice in her mind the figures eyes suddenly shot open. Its hand lurched forward and landed with a loud thud against the glass. She fell backwards in response as the figure stared at her with a sickening grin and a voice was transmitted into her head.
Her eyes flickered open and she let out a muffled scream as she came to the realization that she had awoken in a similar tank to the one she had just witnessed the figure from her nightmare in. She frantically looked around the tank as the liquid began to drain from it. She wanted to scream but the sound was caught in her throat. She wanted to run but all she felt was a tremendous amount of pain as she dropped to her knees.
The image of that figure from her nightmare had burnt itself into her mind. Every detail of it from its pale appearance to its sickening grin. She knew that it looked exactly like her but it wasn't her. It was a twisted version of her. A version that should not exist.
She looked around the room again just as sound was finally begin to return to her ears. Outside of the tank she could hear a voice yelling out orders.
"Finish draining the tank completely and have the LCL put back through the filtration systems. Get a wheelchair ready as well, she's going to be weak when she comes out."
The source of those words was unknown to her but there was a familiarity to the voice. The person was also very correct. As she tried to move she found herself unable to do so. She remained on her knees continuing to take in her surroundings.
The room she was in was not the small octagonal one from her nightmare. Instead this was much brighter and more spacious. There were no little tanks scattered around but instead a series of consoles with various people in lab coats moving between them.
It took her a moment to find the source of the voice. A short blonde haired woman with pink earrings in. She, unlike the others in the room was not wearing a white lab coat but instead had a sleeveless black top on. On her hands were black fingerless gloves.
The tank opened up and one the assistants leaned in and gently helped her out of the tank and into a waiting wheelchair. She was wheeled over to the blonde woman. Her expression was hard to read, she was stony faced, almost mistrusting but there was a look in her eyes. A look of fear mixed with sympathy.
Finally she spoke, "Please try to remain calm. You're very weak right now. I am Dr Akagi, are you able to tell me your name?"
Her first instinct was to shake her head and say she couldn't remember. As she was about to do though a name suddenly popped into her head, "My… My name is Rei Ayanami."
Dr Akagi gave a nod, "That's very good Rei. Tell me do you remember who I am?"
Rei shook her head, "I do not."
Dr Akagi frowned and tapped a few keys on the laptop that had been set up beside her. For a moment Rei wondered if she had given the wrong answer, there was something familiar about Dr Akagi but she just couldn't remember yet.
"Tell me Rei, do you know where you are right now?"
Rei shook her head again, "I do not."
"Hmm… and what about how you got here?"
Rei was read to shake her head for a third time but suddenly the answer popped into her head. She could remember them now, the people she had thought of in her dream. They had brought her here.
"I-I was brought here… by two others."
There was no reaction from Akagi at this response, she just tapped in a few more things onto the laptop before turning back to Rei.
"That's good, can you tell me their names at all?"
Rei nodded slightly, "Asuka… and Shinji."
Akagi tapped in a few more things before turning towards one of the assistants, "Her memories are starting to return. Have her transported to the main medical bay and have Suzahara watch over her. She'll need some fresh clothing and probably something to eat and drink."
The assistant nodded as Akagi leaned in, "Listen to me Rei. You'll probably be feeling quite disorientated for a short while. It will pass but you might also experience some headaches and slight nausea as your body adjusts to the new processes. If you feel anything strange at all let Suzahara know immediately."
"Very good, I will be along later to inform you of your current situation."
Rei gave a weak nod as she felt one of the assistants grab the wheelchair handles and begin to wheel her out of the room. As she was pushed towards her destination more memories were being unlocked within her.
She could remember being in a vast wasteland along with Asuka and Shinji. She could remember sleeping in a tent with them. She could remember eating and talking with the two of them. She remembered how Asuka shouted at Shinji on the first day and how Shinji would cry every now and then. She remembered seeing the bond between the two of them.
She could remember the journey. How they had travelled together, hid together and gotten to this place together. They had helped her out when she didn't deserve it.
'I… I should thank them…