Neon Genesis Evangelion: Legacy
Episode IV: The Last Hope


Chapter 5 – School of Hard Knocks; Shamshel Attacks
August 5, 2015 – Tokyo–3 Junior High School

Shinji was walking downstairs from the classroom to head to NERV, but he was stopped first by the Class Representative for Class 2–A.

"Mr. Ikari, are you adjusting to everything alright?" She asked. The class rep was a girl with shoulder blade length brunette hair, tied up in short twin pigtails with purple beaded hair ties. She had several freckles on her kind face, and hazel colored eyes, and her name was Hikari Horaki.

"I'm doing right, Horaki–san, thank you for asking." Shinji said meekly.

"I'm glad to hear it!" Hikari replied happily. "I'd be doing a poor job as class rep if you weren't. Just remember, if you need anything, just ask, ok?"

"Sure thing, Horaki–san." Shinji said meekly. "Thank you."

Shinji was now at his shoe locker getting ready to leave school for the day. Rei walked silently past him and left to go wherever she goes after school, while Shinji wanted to go home to Misato's apartment, he had other plans. Shinji was walking to NERV HQ for some EVA battle simulations. In the time since he arrived in Tokyo–3, he hadn't really made any friends at all. He kept to himself, and had been left alone. Other than introducing himself on the first day he went to class, no one had said anything to him at all. The only thing Shinji actually did at school was struggle to stay awake from the teacher's boring pre–Second Impact life lectures and how they need to rebuild the world.

'Well, at least people are leaving me alone… Horaki–san is nice enough, but she's just doing her job… so is she really being nice?' Shinji said. 'It's already far better than my last school though, yet somehow… it's just as lonely.'

As Shinji approached the top–side entrance and swiped himself in and took the funicular train down to the Geofront.

–––

Ritsuko and Misato were walking down to Simulation Cage #2 for the training simulation they were going to be running with Shinji.

"Hey, Ritsuko, I'm worried about Shinji." Misato said.

"What are you worried about, his training for the EVA is going well." Ritsuko replied. "He's far exceeding anyone's expectations!"

"It's not about the EVA, Ritsuko." Misato said sullenly. "It's his… personal life. I don't think he has any friends at school. I got him a cell phones so that if made a few friends they could call and chat, or text or whatever kids do on those damn things, but it hasn't rung once. He hasn't used it all."

"Well, I would guess that Shinji isn't exactly the sort of person who makes friends easily. I mean his physical well–being may be fine, but from my observations, he's just a very submissive person, who does as he is told." Ritsuko said. "He also seems afraid to get close to others like he's afraid of getting hurt."

"Is that normal?" Misato asked.

"Well it's not unheard of, it's called the Hedgehog's Dilemma." Ritsuko said.

"You mean those little spiky animals?" Misato asked. "Like Sonic the Hedgehog?"

"Yes, Misato, like Sonic the Hedgehog." Ritsuko sighed. "Anyway, as I was saying, even though a hedgehog may want to become close with another hedgehog. The closer they get the more they injure each other with their spines."

"Well, that's weird, how does that apply to Shinji." Misato asked.

"Because, some people withdraw protect themselves for getting hurt." Ritsuko replied. "The reason Shinji seems so withdrawn is because he's afraid of being hurt."

"Well, he's just going to have to learn… someday… that part of growing up means finding a way to interact with others while ignoring pain." Misato said sadly.

"I'm sure he'll be fine, Misato." Ritsuko said. "He's at least got a friend in you, right?"

"Yeah… he's got a friend in me." Misato replied. 'If he'd open up to me…' Misato thought.

–––

Unit–01 was suspended inside a holographic chamber. It was attached by the shoulder pylons to an apparatus spending it from the ceiling. Its feet were off the ground so it would have a free range of movement.

There was a selection of projectile weapons fitted with lasers instead of ammo, set up along the wall. The weapons, while similar looking to human sized weapons, were correctly proportioned for an Evangelion to handle and fire. Among the select were a Pallet Rifle that looked similar to a Steyr ACR assault rifle, a sniper rifle that looked like a Barrett M99, a sub–machine gun with a slim profile designed like FN Herstal P90, a handgun type weapon designed similarly to an IMI Desert Eagle Mark XIX, a huge Gatling Gun modeled after an M134 Minigun, and finally a rocket launcher with a magazine, modeled after an Shoulder–launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon (or SMAW).

Unit–01 grabbed the Gatling Gun off the wall and was waiting for the simulation to start.

Shinji was inside the Entry Plug, waiting. He was finally dressed in a plugsuit. It was mainly a bright blue color on the waist, lower torso, arms and hands. There was a red highlight on the collar, the plugsuit had a pale blue chest area that was built up like plate armor. Set just beneath the chest armor, there was a small, dark grey orb in the center of his chest. There were also black lowlights on the underside of his arms and running down the sides of his legs coming down from where the chest armor met the rest of the plugsuit. Shinji was, like always, also wearing his pale blue A10 connectors in his hair.

The comm line opened, and Ritsuko started talking. "Shinji, is everything alright in there?"

"Yes, Dr. Akagi." Shinji replied. "Everything seems to be working normally. I'm getting used to breathing the LCL."

"So, Shinji, have you finished memorizing the positons of all the EVA emergence locations, the emergency power junctions the armory and munitions buildings, and the emergency recovery zones?" Ritsuko asked.

"I think so." Shinji replied. "There are a lot of them."

"Good, Shinji, just keep working at it." Ritsuko said. "Well, Shinji, you've been cleared on all the weapons except the Gating Gun, so today is your qualification test that. Afterwards, we'll move on to close–in weapons, alright?" Ritsuko flipped a switch. "So we'll start the simulation when you're ready."

"I'm ready, Dr. Akagi." Shinji said. 'I can't wait to put down these guns, I may be pretty good with them, but I don't like them…' Shinji thought.

"Alight, beginning the test now." Maya said. "Activating induction mode, running simulation, difficulty level set to hard."

"Good luck Shinji, just remember to focus!" Misato said encouragingly.

Shinji had had several training sessions like this, where they tested his skill with the other weapons on the wall. He had passed each test with flying colors, and being rated a basic marksman on their weapons qualified him for training with the Gatling Gun and rocket launcher. Shinji refused to train with the rocket launcher, as he thought it would cause too much collateral damage and civilian casualties.

'I just don't want another little girl to get hurt because of me…' Shinji thought.

When Maya activated the simulator, the room lit up in a dazzling array of colors. Then the room materialized into what looked like a replica of Tokyo–3. Shinji looked around in a daze, the buildings around him were the ones he had seen up close three weeks ago during his battle with an Angel. Also, once again for his training, he was facing a holographic replica of the Angel he had, or rather who Unit–01 had just killed, Sachiel.

Shinji raised up the Gatling Gun and held it steady.

"Just remember, short bursts." Misato said. "Otherwise you'll waste ammo and give the target cover."

"Ok, Misato." Shinji replied softly. He squeezed the trigger on the control yokes and muttered to himself. "Center the target, pull the trigger. Center the target, pull the trigger. Center the target, pull the trigger."

The Gatling Gun spun arounds, releasing holographic rounds and sending them towards each successive holo–Sachiel, causing them to vanish. Shinji continued firing at each target, whether moving or not until the test concluded.

Meanwhile in the control room, the three people present were having a conversation about the pilot in question.

"You know, I can't help but wonder why Shinji agreed to pilot again." Maya said as she monitored Shinji's progress.

"I thought he'd run away after the last battle, but he didn't." Ritsuko stated. "But he surprised me by staying."

"Well, Shinji just has something to prove is all." Misato said. "And he's a good kid who does as he's told."

"He wasn't like that on the catwalk three weeks ago." Ritsuko replied. "He said he wanted his father to go to hell and take Unit–01 with him. Like I told you before, Misato, he's a submissive person, he'll do as he's told once he stops being so stubborn."

"Yeah, I guess you're right." Misato said sullenly. "So, when is the test over?"

"In an hour or so, I really want him ready to use that thing if he needs it." Ritsuko said. "After that you can bring him on home."

–––

Misato and Shinji were on their way back home from NERV. They had just gotten off the car train, and were exiting the access tunnel.

"Shinji, how was school today?" Misato asked.

"It was ok." Shinji replied while staring blankly out the window.

"Are you sure? You sound kinda down." Misato gave him a worried glance. "Are you sure everything there is going ok? You can tell me anything, Shinji, I'm here to help you…"

"Its fine, I keep to myself mostly." Shinji replied. "Its way better than my old school, they never left me alone there, always teasing me and hitting me, it's nice to be… invisible."

"You used to get hit?!" Misato shouted. "Why did nobody do anything?! What about your old guardian?! Why didn't he step in?!"

"I never told him, he couldn't do anything anyway. The teachers never did, they just saw me as the child of Gendo Ikari – Wife Murderer. I was judged because of him, and I couldn't do anything about it." Shinji kept staring out the window. "Besides, I can handle myself. It happened for long enough, it doesn't even hurt anymore…"

'Shinji…' Misato thought. 'Life hasn't been fair to either, has it? I guess we really are a lot alike, almost like destiny brought two souls together to help one another…'

"Is the story getting too real for you, Misato?" Shinji asked. "Or is something wrong with you."

Misato looked over at Shinji again. "What do you mean? I just…"

"Couldn't think of a way to make me feel better?" Shinji asked. "It doesn't matter, as long as people leave me alone, I'm just fine! Friends just end up disappearing and leaving you… alone…" Shinji said sullenly as a tear rolled down his eye. 'Like that girl from so long ago…' Shinji thought. 'Why did she leave me?'

"Shinji… I'm sorry." Misato replied. "I just…"

"Just pull over here, I have to pick stuff up for dinner." Shinji said gruffly. "I'll walk the rest of the way back."

–––

Misato was taking a shower after dropping Shinji off on the side of the road. While she was soaping herself up, she was talking to herself about Shinji.

"I wonder what's up with Shinji…" Misato said to the shower wall. "I mean, he's sometimes so quiet, and sometimes he's a dick, but he's been through so much. His file mentions nothing, save for his mother's death and father abandonment… I guess he just needs a friend, but I can't be his friend… I just don't get him… I want to help him so badly, but I'm just not sure how to. He's not exactly open about things…"

Misato rinsed the soap off herself and sighed. "Well, at least a nice hot shower at the end of a long day can make things better… maybe I'll just take a bath later too, to relax. I wish I knew what could calm Shinji down though…he's so tightly wound, it's only a matter of time before he snaps and does something… drastic."

Shinji was walking towards the apartment. 'I hope Misato's not mad.' Shinji thought. 'But, she was asking questions she wasn't prepared to hear the answer to. Sometimes the truth is just harsh, there's no way around it.' He pushed open the door and walked into the apartment. Shinji realized he didn't actually unlock the door. 'Great, she left the door unlocked again. Someone could just walk in, like any perv off the street. Misato is just so careless. Whatever…'

Shinji wake silently into the kitchen, after locking the front door. Shinji got hard to work on dinner, and beginning to cook a simple stir–fry. Pen–Pen waddled up to Shinji while he was cooking and began to pull at his pants leg.

"Wark!" Pen–Pen squawked sullenly.

"Oh, hello Pen–Pen." Shinji replied to the sad bird. "I bet you're hungry, aren't you?"

"Wark, wark!" Pen–Pen squawked in reply.

Shinji went into the fridge and gabbed a package of beef jerky. "I got this especially for you. I figured since the package disappeared, you might like one to yourself."

Pen–Pen wrapped his fins around Shinji's leg. "WARK!"

Shinji patted Pen–Pen's head. "You're welcome." Shinji replied, as Pen–Pen ran off to the couch and ripped open the package of jerky, eating all of it in a rush before slumping over in a happy daze. "Silly bird…"

Shinji kept cooking while Misato got dressed. 'So, he came back without saying hello. Guess he's still mad…' Misato thought as she went out into the kitchen to relax. She grabbed three beers from the fridge, and cracked one open and chugged it. "Ahhhhh!" Misato exclaimed. "There is nothing like a cold beer after a hot shower, right Shinji?"

"Misato, I don't drink." Shinji said as he served dinner. "I'm a minor, remember?"

"You're no fun." Misato replied, digging into her dinner. "So, Ritsuko called me with some results from today's test. You're reaction time has improved incredibly since you started piloting. But one area of improvement she can see is, you need to respond faster to orders. That lack of response time is dangerous, and could become a problem down the line."

"I can't help it, Misato." Shinji replied. "I'm just not cut out for this shit. Besides, it's not like I'm piloting because I want to."

'I thought he was piloting because he wanted to… I've got to set him straight…' Misato thought as she stared at Shinji in shock. "What kind thinking is that, Shinji?!" Misato shouted. "The lives of all mankind are riding on you as a pilot, if you think like that in combat, you're liable to get yourself killed!"

"Whatever, I don't really care." Shinji replied as he played with his food. "It doesn't matter when I die, it'll happen when it's supposed to, EVA or not."

Misato slammed her beer down and stood up. "What the hell kind of thinking is that?! You may be open and accepting of death, but the rest of us aren't quite as accepting of that. You're an important pilot to us, your life is no longer yours to live! I don't want you to die, stop thinking that way!"

Shinji swiped his hand across the table, sweeping his plate off the table and leaving a mess on the floor of his uneaten food. His face looked livid as he stood up and silently walked away from Misato. 'So I belong to them, do I?' Shinji thought. 'And here I thought Misato took me in because she liked me… does anyone in the world care about me?'

"Hey, I'm talking to you Shinji where the hell do you think you're going?" Misato asked.

"Bed." Shinji replied angrily. "I'm done with this conversation. You made your point very clear, nothing is my decision anymore, and can only die if I'm ordered to. Just go out and kill angels, and eventually, I'll be told I can be in control of my life again, if I don't die before hand. I'll see you in the morning."

"Shinji, get back here and clean up this mess!" Misato shouted.

"It's your turn for cleanup tonight, Misato, look at that chart of yours." Shinji said coldly. "Goodnight…" Shinji slammed the door to his room. 'It's not like I have anything worth fighting for anyway…' He thought he laid back on his bed and looked at the ceiling.

Shinji left Misato standing alone and confused. "What did I just do?" Misato muttered. "I was just trying to motivate him…"


August 6, 2015 – Tokyo–3 Junior High School, Class 2–A

"And so humankind was about to face its greatest trial. In the last year of the twentieth century. The small, fast moving meteor from outer space collided with the continent of Antarctica. The continent's massive ice cap was melted almost instantaneously…" Nebukawa no Sensei droned on.

Shinji was sitting in Class 2–A, he was deathly bored from Nebukawa no Sensei droning on about pre–Second Impact life and all his other nonsensical nonsense. Shinji was trying to keep to himself. He was staring around the room looking for something to do, and trying desperately to stay conscious. His red laptop was in front of him, but the screen was blank as Shinji didn't see a need to do anything on it.

After a few minutes, Shinji's eye's focused on Rei, who was staring out the window, looking at nothing in particular. She still had a cast on her right arm, and some bandages on her left arm and leg, and she still had an eyepatch over her right eye.

'Why does father view her more favorably than me?' Shinji thought as he stared at the pale blue haired girl. 'Why does she always look so emotionless? I wonder if she is lonely too. She seems so distant, just like my father, just like me…'

Ding dong ding ding… ding dong ding ding

"Oh… I guess the bell means it's time for lunch… class dismissed." Nebukawa no Sensei said in his monotone voice.

Hikari stood up and spoke in a very authoritative manner, the kindness on her face evaporating as she executed her role as class rep perfectly. "Rise… Bow… Sit!"

As soon as the ritual was over, Shinji pulled a bento out from his desk and put in his SDAT, attempting to ignore the world around him, as usual.

Your subtleties
They strangle me
I can't explain myself at all
And all that wants
And all that needs
All I don't want to need at all

The walls start breathing
My mind's un–weaving
Maybe it's best you leave me alone
A weight is lifted
On this evening
I give the final blow

When darkness turns to light
It ends tonight
It ends tonight

The class got up and many left the room. Many left to go outside to eat lunch, or go buy it from the cafeteria. Only a few stayed behind in the room. Hikari, Shinji, Rei, and a bespectacled boy, who was grabbing a camera and a model of a VTOL attack craft in JSSDF markings out of his bag, he had light brown hair and brown eyes. Kensuke Aida was a strange boy. His one friend wasn't in class that day, so he kept to himself, and acted a little stranger than usual.

Hikari walked over to Kensuke as he started playing with the model and recording himself flying it around. She snuck up behind him to catch him unawares.

"Mr. Aida, did you deliver that printout I told to give to Mr. Suzuhara yesterday?" Hikari asked forcefully.

Kensuke reached around inside his desk and stuttered haplessly while trying to respond. "Well… um… er…. I went over there yesterday… but no one was home at all."

"Mr. Aida, you are Suzuhara's friend aren't you?" Hikari asked. "Aren't you just a little bit worried about him?"

"Well… I haven't seen or heard from him since that massive robot attack." Kensuke stated. "You don't think he was injured do you?"

"Ugh… enough of your nonsense, Kensuke." Hikari dropped all pretense. "The conspiracy theories you have are out of control sometimes. What happened three weeks ago was a training accident."

"The hell it was class rep, there was a battle in the city, and we were kept in lockdown most of the day inside the shelters. But something was going on up there, because N2 Mines don't have nuclear fallout, they could've let us out, but they didn't. There were wrecked VTOLs everywhere when we came back up the next morning, and they weren't brought down by any N2 Mine. There was a round, charred hole in one, I saw it for myself, and they hadn't cleaned up the evidence yet." Kensuke spouted out. "And haven't you heard of the giant robot that defended us against whatever it was?"

"No, Kensuke, I don't subscribe to all this." Hikari said. "And the robot hasn't been confirmed by anyone, they even said no one was injured by whatever actually happened."

"Come on, they had the Atsugi and Iruma VTOLs out there in addition to the ones stationed at Tokyo–3, and that explosion, and the collapsed buildings? Someone must have gotten hurt." Kensuke rattled off.

The door to the classroom slid open roughly, and framed in the doorway was a boy dressed in a black tracksuit with broad white stripes, and narrow purple stripes on the shoulders, broad white stripes running down the sides of the pants, jet black hair, and dark brown eyes, and a gruff look on his face, was Toji Suzuhara.

"Toji!" Kensuke exclaimed.

"Suzuhara…" Hikari said quietly. 'Thank god you're all right…' Hikari thought happily.

Toji threw his bag down on a desk. "Where the hell is everybody?"

"Where the hell have you been, Mr. Suzuhara?!" Hikari shouted. "You haven't been in class in three weeks, and no one called to confirm why you were out!"

"When the evacuation order was given a few weeks ago. My sister and I got separated from my pop, and we got lost, then my sister ran off to help someone up, and then she just saw that massive beast, coming towards us, then that robot came out of the ground, the robot got knocked into the building we were standing near, and the ruble crushed my little sister." Toji explained. "Then the robot pulled the rubble off of her, and just looked at us. I took her to the hospital and stayed with her since then, seeing as pop and granddad had to work, she would've been alone if I came to school…"

"Toji, you have to tell me more about that robot!" Kensuke said excitedly.

"Kensuke!" Hikari said admonishingly. "What the hell is your problem, his sister is hurt!" Hikari turned to Toji. "Is she ok, Toji, is she seriously hurt. Is she still…"

"She's alive… barely." Toji said sullenly. "Her body got pretty crushed by the rubble, her head is all swollen and she hasn't woken up at all since that day…" Toji slammed his fist down on the desk "That stupid pilot, running at that thing like an idiot, it's all his fault Sakura got hurt! I wanna kick that pilot's goddamn ass for hurting her."

"Suzuhara, you will do no such thing!" Hikari shouted. "The pilot got the rubble off of Sakura! He was probably trying to save her!"

"Yeah, and the pilot did defeat the whatever, right?" Kensuke said.

"It doesn't matter!" Toji shouted back. "The pilot almost killed her because they were so fucking careless!"

Kensuke sighed. "Well then, I guess you haven't heard the rumor about the new transfer student have you?"

"What transfer student?" Toji asked.

"Him, over there." Kensuke motioned towards an unawares Shinji, who was still listening to the SDAT. "He transferred in right after the incident with the giant robot. It's an odd coincidence isn't it?"

"Whatever, I'm not going to beat someone up until I know for sure." Toji said. "I don't just senselessly hit people, Kensuke."

"Suzuhara!" Hikari said sternly. "You shouldn't hit anyone! That pilot was only doing their job!" Hikari looked over at Shinji. "I don't think he could hurt anyone intentionally."

"Whatever, class rep." Toji said. "What do you know about that kid anyway?"

Ding dong ding ding… ding dong ding ding

The students filed back into the room and took their seats. Shinji put his SDAT away, and Rei stayed in the same position she had been in all day, staring out the window. Nebukawa no Sensei walked back into the room, and Hikari sprang into action. "Rise… Bow… Sit!"

Nebukawa no Sensei began his droning on about the pre–Second Impact world, and while the class was being bored near to the death once again, Shinji received an instant message on his laptop.

[...
PRIVATE CHAT WINDOW

NEW PRIVATE MESSAGE!

FROM: HOTKATANA
–IS IT TRUE THAT YOU'RE THE PILOT OF THAT GIANT ROBOT? Y/N

FROM: SHYBOY6601
...]

'What the hell?' Shinji thought as he stared at the message on the screen in front of him. He then looked around the room, and saw behind him that two girls were on their computer. When he caught their eyes, they waved back at him. 'How do they know?'

Another message popped up, and Shinji sighed deeply. 'Oh, the hell with it, what could happen?'

[...
PRIVATE CHAT WINDOW

FROM: HOTKATANA
–IS IT TRUE THAT YOU'RE THE PILOT OF THAT GIANT ROBOT? Y/N
–IT'S TRUE, ISN'T IT?
–Y/N

FROM: SHYBOY6601
–YES
...]

The moment Shinji sent the message, the entire class looked around to Shinji.

'Mr. Ikari what did you do?' Hikari thought. 'I just hope Toji doesn't lose his cool…'

'No fucking way he is the pilot!' Kensuke thought. 'One of my conspiracy theories was actually fucking right!'

'That son of a bitch…' Toji said. 'I'm gonna pound his stupid ass…'

'Shinji, why admit you are the pilot of Unit–01? What is the point?' Rei thought. 'Your father is right… you are a fool…'

Hikari scoffed at her computer, and Kensuke almost fell out of his chair. Rei simply didn't care what the commotion was, and Toji looked on in utter disgust as the other kids in the room swarmed around Shinji.

"Hey guys sit down!" Hikari shouted. "We're still in class, show some respect!"

"Quiet class rep, we're busy!"

"Yeah don't listen to her!"

"Cut it out, you guys!" Hikari shouted. "Get back in your seats!"

"Ignore her, guys."

So as Shinji cringed from the people suddenly crowding around him, he was bombarded with questions. 'Figures they only care about me now '

"It is so cool you got chosen a pilot."

"So, how did you get chosen to pilot?"

"Did you have to take a test?"

"Were you scared?"

"Does it have a special attack?"

"What does the cockpit look like?"

"I'm not really allowed to talk about it…" Shinji replied meekly. "It's all classified information…"

"Aww, man!"

"Come on, just tell us a little bit…"

"Please, Shinji?"

"What's it called?"

"What was the thing you fought? Was it like Godzilla?"

"Come on Shinji, just tell us!"

Shinji finally succumbed to the peer pressure and told them some small stuff about the program. 'God… if I tell them something, maybe they'll leave me alone.' Shinji sighed. "Well, they call it EVA or Unit–01, and the thing I fought, they called it an Angel… I don't really know much there than that."

Kensuke was typing out everything he could hear Shinji saying while Toji looked on angrily, his fists clenched, and his teeth gritting.

Ding dong ding ding… ding dong ding ding

–––

Toji and Kensuke were outside the school as the other students packed up for the day. They were talking to Shinji, or more accurately, Toji was taking out his pent up rage on Shinji, who was confused as to why there was a problem.

"So, new kid, you think you're hot shit?" Toji shouted as he cornered Shinji outside. "You almost killed my little sister Sakura you asshole! Your carelessness almost cost me the person I love most in this world, my little sister!"

"The guy in the tracksuit that took the little girl away, that was you?" Shinji said. "I cleared the rubble off of her! What the hell did I do wrong?!"

"Wrong answer, new kid." Toji socked Shinji with a fast right hook to the cheek.

Shinji fell to the ground hard. He struggled back to his feet, and faced Toji defiantly.

"Toji, you can't go around hitting important pilots!" Kensuke shouted.

"Shut up, Kensuke, this doesn't concern you." Toji said. "Well, aren't you the tough guy. Most people would be smart enough to stay down."

"Most people should be smart enough to not blame the person who tried to help!" Shinji exclaimed. 'I've had enough of this shit… it was bad enough when I didn't do anything to deserve being hit, but now… I have to stand up for myself eventually.' Shinji thought.

"What did you say to me, new kid?" Toji asked, balling up both his fists.

"What, are you, deaf and stupid? I said you're blaming me for what happened. I didn't want to get in the stupid Evangelion, and wasn't even trained how to use it! I was told to ignore your sister under the rubble, but I dug her out anyway, against my orders." Shinji squinted his eyes. "So what do you want me to do? Kneel down and beg for your forgiveness? Fat chance, I was trying to help, and I'm sorry your sister got hurt, but it wasn't my fucking fault!"

Toji tackled Shinji to the ground. "Shut up!" Toji raised his fist and punched Shinji with his right hand. "You think you're so damn special?!" Toji punched him again with his left. "You're not, you're just some damn fool." Toji socked him again with his right. "You're just a jerk who doesn't have any clue what he's doing in that giant thing!" Toji socked him again with his left. "You're a danger to everyone around you!" Kensuke ran forward and tried to pull Toji off Shinji, but was having trouble.

Unbeknownst to the boys below, one of the students tidying the room had seen everything happen, and Rei now thought it important to say something. "Class Representative Horaki, I believe you may want to go to the courtyard." Rei said quietly.

"Why is that?" Hikari asked as she cleaned off the last desk.

"It appears student Suzuhara is being restrained quite inadequately by student Aida." Rei said plainly. "Pilot Ikari may need some assistance."

"What?!" Hikari shouted. "Rei, I'll be back soon, you can leave now, don't worry about the room, just go home!" Hikari ran out of the room at top speed to the courtyard to see Kensuke finally pull Toji off of a dazed Shinji.

"SUZUHARA, WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?!" Hikari shouted. "I TOLD YOU NOT TO HIT ANYONE!"

"He had it coming class rep!" Toji shouted back. "He gave me lip, so I gave him a bloody lip! He deserved it for what he did!"

"No he didn't!" Hikari said, poking his chest. "Now get lost, and leave him alone, whatever grievance you think you had against him is even now!"

"No, class rep I was just…" Toji Said.

"Leaving!" Hikari said shoving a stunned Toji. "Get out of here, before you do something I can't forgive you for!"

"What the hell are you talking about?!" Toji asked.

"Nothing, now get lost!" Hikari said. "Kensuke, just take him to see his sister. Go, before he does something worse…"

"Yeah, sure class rep." Kensuke replied meekly. "Toji, come on." Toji resisted. "Come on! Let's go!"

"Fine." Toji said defiantly. "But new kid… this isn't over…" Toji said as both he and Kensuke left the school yard.

Hikari rushed over to Shinji as the two boys left. Shinji was laying on the ground. He had blood coming out of his nose and mouth, and he was stirring slightly. Shinji rubbed his forehead, and tried sitting up, and Hikari helped him do so.

"Mr. Ikari, are you ok?!" Hikari asked.

"Trust me, I've had worse." Shinji stated. "That was a light beating, no one was holding me down, and he didn't kick me when he was done."

'Wow… what's he been through? He doesn't deserve that…' Hikari thought. "Mr. Ikari, let me take you to the nurse's office to clean you up." Hikari took out her handkerchief and held it to Shinji's nose. "Hold this here, you don't want to bleed all very your shirt."

"Thank you, Horaki–san, but you don't have to worry about me." Shinji said. "I'll be alright."

'He's so stubborn, but I have to make up for this…' Hikari thought. 'It's my fault for not stopping Toji in the first place… I feel so guilty…' Hikari grabbed Shinji's arm and dragged him up. "No, Mr. Ikari, I'm taking you there, it's my responsibility as your class rep!"

"Alright… if you're going be so insistent, lead the way." Shinji said. 'Why does she care so much now? Is this a trick?' Shinji thought.

"Good, now come on, I'll fix you up." Hikari said she dragged Shinji along.

Rei contend peering down at the scene below her and looked puzzled. 'Why is this all so important? What purpose is served by mindless violence and unneeded compassion?' Rei thought. 'What is so important about Pilot Ikari?'

–––

"Captain!" Hyuga said. "We have Pattern Orange inbound, similar inbound route to the Third Angel, from the Southeast."

"Track it, Hyuga, and the second that Pattern changes, declare Level–2 battle stations." Misato said. "Aoba, contact both the pilots, and get them here now, we have to be ready in case this goes south. Maya, have Unit–01 prepped for immediate launch, and alert Ritsuko and the Commander as well."

"Yes, ma'am!" Aoba said, grabbing the phone.

"Yes, Captain, I'll be back shortly." Maya got up and was about to leave, when Hyuga got a new alert.

"Captain, it's been confirmed! The Pattern Blue has been confirmed!" Hyuga shouted. "It's an Angel!"

"But it's only been three weeks! Why so soon?" Maya bemoaned. "They waiting 15 years between attacks last time."

"Well, I guess they're being impatient." Misato quipped. "Aoba, did you get ahold of the pilots?"

"Shinji's phone was off, and Section 2 says he's inside the school somewhere, but Rei answered, I sent her to find him, ma'am." Aoba replied.

"Good, now let's prep Unit–01." Misato ordered. "Show me the weapons we have ready."

–––

Hikari was still dragging Shinji along by the arm. It took them a few minutes to get to the nurse's office, which was empty when they arrived. "I guess she left for the day…" Hikari said. "Well, I guess I'll just fix you up myself."

"Ok…" Shinji replied. He watched as Hikari grab some cotton swabs, rubbing alcohol, a damp towel, and an ice pack. She took the handkerchief away from Shinji's nose and started wiping his face off. "Horaki–san, why are you helping me?" Shinji asked innocently.

'I should just tell him the truth…' Hikari thought. "Listen you can call me Hikari…ok? And… um… can I call you… Shinji?"

"Sure, uh… Hikari." Shinji said as he looked at her eyes, which were not very far away from his own. It looked as though she was holding back tears. "Why do you look so sad?"

"Is it that obvious?" Hikari asked as she looked down in shame. "I'm sad because I didn't do enough to keep you from getting hit by Toji… could you ever forgive me?"

"What?" Shinji exclaimed. "How are his actions your fault? You didn't make him punch me, did you?"

"No, but he told me if he found who the pilot was, he'd… he'd… bet them up!" Hikari cried out. "I should've known he'd hit you, but I didn't think about it! I was so mad about class being disrupted, I didn't think about what might happen to you!" Hikari had tears running down her face. "I'm… I'm… so sorry! I should've helped you! I should've tried hard to stop him! I'm sorry he hit you too! I'm really, really sorry…" Hikari buried her face in her hands and started openly crying. Please… Shinji… can you forgive me?"

Shinji felt awkward watching while Hikari cried right in front of him. 'Why is she so upset over me? I don't deserve being cared for like this.' Shinji thought. 'But I can't just let her keep crying like this either…'

He decided the best way to help would be to hug her. "Hikari… don't worry about it, you have nothing to be sorry about. Suzuhara isn't the first person to beat me up for some reason, and I doubt he'll be the last." Shinji sighed a he let go of Hikari. "But why do you care if I get hurt? No one else ever has…"

"I care because you don't deserve to be treated badly by others, you're far too nice for that." Hikari said, wiping her tears away. "No one should be hit for any reason. Toji explained everything you did, you did everything you could, right? So that means you're a good person."

"Yeah, I was told to leave rubble alone and focus on the Angel…" Shinji said. "I told them to send help, but they wouldn't…" Shinji looked at Hikari again. "Why is he so angry though?" Shinji asked. "Where does he think hitting me solves his problem? His sister won't get better if he beats me up, will she…"

"Underneath all that male bravado crap, Toji is really sweet." Hikari said bluntly. "When we were kids, he was a lot nicer, a lot like how you are actually, quiet, shy, and all that, but, when we hit junior high he changed, he got taller and acted all tough, and I'm not sure why…" Hikari explained. "But, I know he's still the same sweet little boy I…" Hikari paused. "That I knew back then."

'What was that about?' Shinji thought as he just looked at her. "…Hikari?" Hikari looked up. "Thank you…"

"For what Shinji?" Hikari asked.

"For being so nice to me." Shinji replied. "It's been a while since I had something like that, a very long time…"

"It's not a problem, Shinji, it's nice to make a new friend." Hikari finished wiping Shinji's face, and then cleaned the cuts with the rubbing alcohol. "Don't thank me yet though, this might hurt."

Shinji cringed as the alcohol hit the still open cuts. "No worse than getting punched a lot in the face."

Hikari chuckled. "You're pretty funny Shinji Ikari."

"Thanks…" Shinji blushed. "So we're friends now?"

"Well, yeah." Hikari replied, grabbing a bandage. "Its nice talk to someone as me and not just as the class rep. It gets annoying after a while, even Toji and Kensuke call me class rep." Hikari applied bandage to Shinji's nose. "But you always called me Horaki–san, and you never called me by my title like everyone else. That's why we're friends, plus, nothing says friendship like cleaning blood off your face." Hikari smiled. "There, all fixed, Shinji, you're good as new."

"Thanks Hikari." Shinji said. "I guess we should get going, I have to cook dinner for me and my guardian. She can't cook at all, and I'd rather not eat more of what she considers food. It didn't agree with me so well the last time…"

"Yeah, I have to cook for my dad and sisters when I get home. I'm the only one that can cook, otherwise they'd starve." Hikari chuckled.

"So, should I call you Hikari in class to, or just when we're talking like this?" Shinji asked.

"Just call me Hikari, all the time." Hikari smiled. "You don't ever have to refer to me as class rep again, ok?"

"Yeah, that sounds nice." Shinji said. "So, as friends, do we hangout or whatever? Should I give you my phone number?"

"I don't see why not." Hikari said, blushing slightly. "But what would the other boys think if we hung out all the time, or if I called you on the phone? I wouldn't want them to get the wrong idea."

"What do mean?" Shinji asked as he handed her a slip of paper with his number on it.

"You really are the sweet and innocent type aren't you?" Hikari asked. "I'll tell you what I mean later, don't worry."

"Alright…" Shinji said as he opened the door. "It'll be nice to actually get a call on the stupid thing…" The pair were about to leave the room, but were blocked by none other than Rei.

"Pilot Ikari, there is an Angel alert. We must go." Rei said simply. "I'll report in first."

Rei ran off and Hikari just looked at Shinji. "You better go, it sounds important. Just… be careful, Shinji. I wouldn't want to lose my new friend because of some…"

"Angel." Shinji replied. "I'll be careful, Hikari, but I can't promise I won't get hurt, that's part of this job. But you should get yourself to a shelter, I wouldn't want to lose my new friend to an Angel either."

Hikari threw her arms around Shinji. "Just remember one thing, you're a good person who just wants to protect people." Hikari squeezed him tightly. "Just remember that while you're fighting, ok?"

Shinji hugged her back tightly as well. "Thanks, Hikari, I will." Shinji replied. "But I have to get going now. I guess the fate of the world is in my hands. "So, I guess I'll see you tomorrow!" Shinji said as he ran out of the room. "Unless you call me before then!"

–––

"Angel has been visually confirmed." Aoba reported. "Putting it on screen."

The screen showed the Angel approaching from the ocean flying horizontally. It had a long cylindrical body, colored a deep maroon. There were two arms at the front of the body that were folded underneath it as though it were praying. Coming out from the ventral side were bone like legs, that looked very insect like as they clicked and moved as the Angel glided forward. Inside the moving ribcage was the Angel's blood red Core. Situated forward of the main body was a massive spade shaped head, that was maroon on top, with two black circles that looked like "eyes", and a tickle–me–Elmo color on the underside. Situated between the "head" and cylindrical body was another bird like mask.

Shamshel was coming.

"What an ugly motherfucker." Misato muttered.

"No kidding." Ritsuko said appearing behind Misato. "The last Angel wasn't this ugly at all. We have the weapons loaded and ready to be sent up, Misato. We should be all set for launch whenever you're ready."

"Good." Misato said. "I hate that the Commander and Sub–Commander are gone. It disturbs me that the Angels may know that they are not here."

"It's just a coincidence, Misato." Ritsuko said.

"Whatever, Ritsuko." Misato replied. "Hyuga status?"

"Captain, the Fourth Angel is closing on Tokyo–3." Hyuga said. "The MAGI predict a 98.9% chance that the target is NERV HQ."

"Level–1 battle stations. Set Tokyo–3 for battle configuration. Bring the Angel Intercept System online and begin active target tracking." Misato ordered.

"Setting Level–1 battle stations. AIS is online, all installed weapons encampments are active and online, active radar is online." Hyuga reported. "AIS is on hot standby."

The buildings in the central block began sinking below the surface of Tokyo–3, locking into place above NERV HQ. The weapons systems popped out of buildings and the surrounding area, and pointed in the direction of the approaching Angel.

"Fire!" Misato ordered.

The defense grid opened fire on the advancing Shamshel. The exploding shells and missiles did nothing to stop the Angel's slow advance.

"What a waste of the taxpayer's money…" Aoba said.

"Of course, it doesn't work, an N2 Mine barely stopped the last Angel. So, now it's time to deploy the real weapon." Misato quipped. "Status of Unit–01?"

"Unit–01 is on the launch platform, the MAGI have chosen the best spot to intercept, and the path is clear and ready, Captain." Maya reported. "Shinji's sync score is 43.9%."

"Good, thanks, Maya." Misato said. "Shinji, are you ready?"

Shinji didn't respond. He was sitting in the Entry Plug, thinking bank on the day. 'Figures, I get beat up, and have to fight another one of these fucking things…' Shinji sighed. 'Well, at least I made a friend, so not a completely shitty day.'

"SHINJI!" Misato shouted though the comm line. "Are you listening me?!"

"You don't have to yell, Misato." Shinji quipped. "I'm not selectively deaf like you are with doing the chores."

'You little shit…' Misato thought. "Fine, Shinji, are you ready to go?"

"I'm ready whenever you say go, Captain." Shinji replied snarkily. "I'm awaiting your orders. You're the one I charge."

"Fine then." Misato said gruffly. "Evangelion Unit–01… LAUNCH!"

–––

The entirety of the Junior High school was inside a shelter not far from the campus. Toji was sitting there quietly looking at the ceiling.

'Why did the class rep defend the new kid?' Toji thought. 'What makes him so special anyway? He deserved the beat down, and more, didn't he?' Toji sighed. 'Unless, the class rep was right and I shouldn't have hit him… he did unbury my sister, maybe he was just trying to help…'

"Hey Toji!" Kensuke said loudly to get Toji's attention. "Did you hear what I said?"

'No, dipshit, I'm thinking of something here…' Toji sighed. "Yeah, man, it's all a conspiracy." Toji said unconvincingly.

"Exactly!" Kensuke was reading a message on his camera he had tuned into the local news station. "Typical government cover up bullshit. They always try to keep the truth from coming out."

"Shut up man!" Toji said. "We don't need to know everything." Toji started grabbed and started fiddling with the camera. "You are really weird sometimes, bro. I mean, you do kinda get off on this stuff though, like some kind of conspiracy theory pervert…"

"Man, I just want to see it once, I might never get another chance." Kensuke bemoaned. "I mean you got to see it and everything, and all I got was stuck in a bunker with a bunch of losers…"

"Kensuke, are you stupid?" Toji asked. "That thing you want to see almost flattened me and Sakura. I'll be happy if I never see another giant robot again."

"You know." Kensuke whispered. "We should sneak out and watch the fight. Can you help me with that, Toji?"

"Are you fucking crazy?!" Toji exclaimed. "We could get killed you moron!"

"Will you calm the hell down?" Kensuke said trying to calm his friend down. "That might happen if we stay here, you know. These shelters aren't exactly built to withstand giant robots blowing shit all to hell."

"Yeah, well, I'd rather die in here than out there." Toji said.

"Don't be so damn lame, Toji." Kensuke shot back. "Besides, you should go out there to watch. You have an obligation to watch the guy you just beat up put his life on the line to save our asses for a second time."

Toji grimaced. "No…"

"What was that, Toji?" Kensuke asked. "That didn't sound very convincing. Don't you owe him one?"

Toji grumbled silently. 'Damn it all, Kensuke's kinda right, I hit him without thinking there may be more monsters out there for him to fight…' Toji cracked his neck. "Yeah, yeah, let's go. I'll tell the class rep we're going to take a piss."

"Awesome!" Kensuke said.

The two boys walked over to where Hikari was leaning against the wall alone, reading a cooking magazine. "What do you two want?"

"Well, class rep, we kinda gotta go drain the snake." Toji said.

"Excuse me?" Hikari said, looking up from her magazine. "Couldn't you have done that before we all settled in here?"

"But we didn't have to go then." Toji said, dancing on his feet a little. "Come on, class rep, I don't think you want us to piss ourselves here around all these people."

"Well, it would serve you right for hitting Shinji like that." Hikari snapped back. "You could've broken his nose or something." Hikari saw the boys actually looked a like they were desperate. "But I'm the bigger person, and won't hold it against you, go, just hurry up, whatever is happening out there, I doubt it's pretty."

"Thanks class rep!" Toji said smiling broadly as the two boys walked away.

"I just hope Shinji's alright out there." Hikari mumbled. "For all our sakes."

–––

Toji and Kensuke made it outside and were running up the steps of the Hakone Shrine to get a good view of the battle that was about to occur.

"Come on, Toji, keep up!" Kensuke shouted.

"Dude!" Toji shouted back. "You're going too fast!"

The pair reached the top of the shrine and could see Shamshel floating along towards the shore of Lake Ashinoko. Kensuke got his camera out and started rolling.

"Whoa!" Kensuke said excitedly. "Here it comes!"

"Damn that thing is ugly." Toji stated "The other one looked weird, but this one looks like some kind of freak!"

The Angel stood up as it entered the city, spreading its arms out as its rib like legs continued to move and click. Shamshel continued moving forward, but at a much slower pace compared to before. Right after, one of the buildings flashed with red lights and its side opened, revealing Unit–01.

"There it is!" Kensuke shouted. "This was so worth it."

"So that's the new kid, eh?" Toji said quietly.

Unit–01 glared at the Angel, and deployed a shimmering field, then stepped forward. The building next to the deployment point opened up to reveal a Gatling Gun. Unit–01 took it in its hands and leveled it towards the slowly advancing Shamshel.

"Center the target…" Shinji said loudly. "And pull the trigger!"

The Gatling Gun opened fire, and instead of a short burst, Shinji unloaded the entire magazine into the Angel, causing the ejected shells to damage the road, buildings and cars all around them, it also created a massive smoke cloud, obscuring the Angel from view.

"YAAAAHHHHH!" Shinji screamed as he fired the Gatling Gun relentlessly.

"Shinji, you idiot! You can't see through all that smoke" Misato shouted over the comm line. "Short bursts! I said short bursts, now how will you see when it's attacking! Cease fire! Cease fire, right now!"

Shinji didn't stop firing until the Gatling spun around, empty, and out of ammo. Shinji sat in the Entry Plug, breathing heavily. Out of the smoke shot two violet colored whips made of light. They struck Unit–01, knocking it backwards, and the Gatling Gun, causing it to be split into three pieces.

"Ugh!" Shinji exclaimed as he was thrown back in his seat.

"Shinji, get up!" Misato shouted. "I'm sending up a spare rifle, don't screw it up this time! Neutralize the A.T. Field, then shoot its Core!"

A Pallet Rifle emerged from an armament building next to Shinji. However as he grabbed for the rifle, the light whips shot out again, cutting the building and rifle in half, and knocking Unit–01 back onto the ground.

"Jeez, he's getting his ass kicked!" Toji said.

"Do ya think that might be because you gave him a concussion earlier?" Kensuke remarked. "You did beat him pretty hard…"

"Did I?" Toji said. "I just wanted to teach him a lesson…"

"Good job then." Kensuke said sarcastically. "You taught him so well, he can't pilot for shit now. If we die, I'm blaming you."

"This is… all my fault?"

Shinji looked out of his view screen and saw Shamshel advancing towards him. It's "Eyes" looked quite menacing as it appeared to leer at Shinji.

"This isn't going well…" Shinji said as he pulled Unit–01 back on its feet. "I don't see how I can fight this thing and its fucking tentacles…"

The whips shot out of Shamshel's arms towards Unit–01 and sliced it and several buildings around it violently.

"Umbilical cable has been severed! Unit–01 has switched to internal batteries."

"Shinji you idiot, hurry up!" Misato yelled. "You only have five minutes left!"

The all too familiar timer appeared again, giving its ominous message "INTERNAL POWER SELECTED" and a sickening timer counting down from "5:00:00" telling Shinji exactly how much time he had to kill the Angel.

"Fuck, not again!" Shinji screamed. "What the hell am I supposed to do? It has tentacles!" Shinji grabbed his head. 'It's not like I can ask the EVA for help again, not after last time…' Shinji thought. 'I'm fucked…'

The whips shot out again, and Shamshel grabbed Unit–01 lifting it into the air. Unit–01 was thrown backwards I the air, then shot forward at high speed towards Hakone Shrine.

"AGGGGHHHHHHH!" Shinji screamed as Unit–01 flew through the air, right towards where Kensuke and Toji were standing.

"AGGGGHHHHHHH!" Kensuke and Toji ran as fast as they could from where they were standing. Unit–01 landed where two had been just moments before. Unit–01's hand slammed down right next to them, putting them between the pointer and middle fingers of its left hand.

"The fuck, Kensuke! I told you we'd be in deep shit if we came out here!" Toji screamed.

"No, were in bigger trouble than that." Kensuke said as he pointed to an advancing Shamshel. "I don't know about you, but the Tentacle Porn Angel over there looks pretty pissed off…"

"I don't wanna die here…" Toji said. 'Please, new kid, I'm sorry, just… just save us, ok?' Toji thought as he looked desperately towards Unit–01.

Shinji was rubbing his head again from the impact. "Son of a bitch that hurt a shit load…" Shinji bemoaned. "Why do I always have to get thrown? And why do I always have to feel what this thing feels. It'll be the death of me eventually." Shinji started looking around, and saw Shamshel advancing towards him from where he had been moments before. "Shit, its coming, and I only have three minutes left to kill it." Shinji looked to his right and saw nothing, but on his left, he saw two figures between his fingers. "Are those the two from earlier?" Shinji asked aloud, and Unit–01 responded by scanning them and pulling up their data files. "Shit, it is!"

Central Dogma was a scene of utter chaos.

"Damage report!" Misato shouted.

"None, ma'am. Unit–01 is still all green, no change in sync score." Maya reported.

"The Fourth Angel is advancing on Unit–01 again, ma'am." Hyuga reported. "But the two civilians are there and in the way, ma'am."

"What?!" Misato shouted.

"Yes, a Suzuhara and Aida are there, registered as Shinji's classmates.

"Shinji, you have to ignore those two!" Misato said. "Your only priority is the Angel!"

'Not two of the pilot candidates!' Ritsuko thought. 'We can't lose them, but I can't tell Misato that… damn it all!' Ritsuko shook Misato. "You can't leave two civilians like that there, they need to be recovered and told not to yap about this!"

"You always like to say, Ritsuko, Angel first, EVA second, everything else last." Misato spat back. "Those kids are out of the shelter, it's their own fault." Misato pressed the comm button. "Shinji, you're nearly out of time, retreat immediately!"

Shinji stared at the two below him as Shamshel hovered over Unit–01 and threw its whips down towards the trio on the ground. "FUCK YOU!" Shinji yelled as he grabbed the control yokes and threw up Unit–01's hands and caught the whips and held them. "How you like that, fucker!"

Shamshel struggled to get free of Shinji's vice grip, but couldn't. It kept rocking the whips back and forth to get free, but it was simply not able to escape.

Toji and Kensuke looked on from the ground. "Why doesn't he just leave?" Toji said.

"Cause, he's protecting us." Kensuke shouted. "If he moves, we die! Even after what you did, he's still protecting us!"

"Great, two minutes left…" Shinji snarled inside the Entry Plug. "Just go away!" Shinji yelled at Shamshel.

"Shinji, I said retreat!" Misato yelled. "Get out of there now!"

Shinji looked back down towards Toji and Kensuke and sighed. 'I can't leave them here to die. IF I leave that Angel is going to kill them, I won't let that happen.' Shinji thought. 'I'm not a monster…' Shinji pressed a few buttons on the control yokes. "Holding current orders and recover the civilians!" Shinji yelled, and hit the button to eject the plug." Shinji flipped the external speaker switch. "Hey, you two get in here, quick, we don't have a lot of time!"

"Shinji, what the fuck do you think you're doing?!" Misato yelled. "No unauthorized persons are allowed in the Entry Plug!"

"Shinji, you're putting the safety of the EVA and yourself in danger is you let them in!" Ritsuko shouted.

"Shut up, both of you!" Shinji shouted back. "I'm the one out here, not you, and I won't let people needlessly die! So deal with it!" Shinji shut off the comm line by punching the button hard with his fist.

Toji and Kensuke ran towards the exposed Entry Plug and clambered up the ladder. They got to the top and climbed in, falling headfirst into the LCL.

"The fuck is water doing in here?!" Toji shouted.

"My poor camera, all my footage is ruined!" Kensuke bemoaned. "All that effort for nothing!"

The two looked down and saw Shinji sitting in the pilot's seat, and the screen around them came back to life. They could see Shamshel outside, with its light whips still being held tightly by Unit–01.

"Will you two shut up!" Shinji yelled from the pilot's seat. "I'm trying to concentrate up here."

The comm line sputtered back to life. "Shinji you fucking idiot!" Misato shouted. "I give you the orders, you don't get to make your own decisions, you just do as you're told!"

"Shut up, Misato!" Shinji yelled. "I'm busy dealing with your problems!" Shinji looked around and saw he had an opening to attack. "Time to get lost, you tentacled freak…"

Unit–01 lifted its legs and pressed against Shamshel's body. Unit–01 pushed as hard as it could, then Unit–01 finally let go of the tentacles and let her fly away into a building, making t collapse from the impact. Unit–01 slowly got up, and stood up straight. Its hands were quite charred and smoking from holding onto the whips so long.

"Good Shinji, now retreat immediately." Misato ordered. "Use Route 34 Bravo, double time it! You only have 90 seconds left, hurry up!"

"Hey, new kid!" Toji shouted. "Didn't you hear her? That lady told you to get out of here!"

"I mustn't run away…" Shinji muttered. "I won't retreat for her, not after all this shit. I'm killing this Angel, I just need a weapon." As if on cue, one of the pylons opened up revealing a weapon, a Progressive Knife, slid out of its casing. "This'll do…" Shinji muttered as he moved the control yokes and grabbed it out of the casing. The Prog Knife came to life and glowed slightly in Unit–01's hand.

"Shinji, follow my orders! Put that thing away and retreat!" Misato yelled over the comm. "NOW!"

"YAAAAHHHHH!" Shinji screamed as he charged forward towards Shamshel. She was just getting back up when Unit–01 plunged the Prog Knife into her Core, lifting Shamshel off the ground, and using its mass to force the blade in deeper. "Take this!"

"Shinji, stop, you only have 45 seconds left, get away from there now!" Misato screamed. "SHINJI!"

Shamshel shot out its whips and punctured through Unit–01's torso, causing Shinji to scream out in pain. "Goddammit!" Shinji screamed. "Just die already!"

Shinji twisted the Prog Knife around in the Core, causing it to start to crack.

"30 seconds remaining!" Maya shouted. "29… 28… 27… 26… 25… 24… 23…"

Shamshel's Core was glowing white, and its whips were fluctuating, growing larger and smaller, causing more damage to Unit–01.

"12… 11… 10… 9… 8… 7… 6… 5… 4…" Maya said over the comm line.

Shamshel's Core cracked one final time, and stopped glowing all together, and it slumped down against the Prog Knife.

"3… 2… 1… total EVA shutdown!" Maya reported. "Pattern Blue has disappeared, the Angel has been defeated."

"Begin recovery operations for Unit–01 and its insufferable pilot." Misato ordered.

Shinji sat in the pilot's seat in the dark, with Toji and Kensuke behind him, breathing heavily, and holding his hands against his head. "I didn't run away…" Shinji muttered. "And I killed the Angel myself…"

"Hey, uh, new kid… Ikari…" Toji stammered. "Are you ok?"

"I'm fine…" Shinji muttered. 'How long will I have to fight these awful creatures, I don't know how I can handle any of this stuff anymore. Why do I even fight anyway… I don't really have anything to fight for… or do I?'

The Angel's carcass and Unit–01 were supporting each other as the first response vehicles from NERV began approaching.

–––

"Shinji, what the fuck were you thinking?" Misato asked angrily, her arms crossed. "Why did you disobey my orders! I can overlook the fact you let your friends into the Entry Plug, but did you even think of what might happen if you ran out of power." Misato glared at Shinji. "Well, did you?!"

"I'm sorry, Misato…" Shinji muttered.

"Sorry isn't good enough, Shinji!" Misato yelled, her arms still crossed. "I'm your superior officer, and your operations commander, you have an obligation and a duty to follow my orders! Do you understand me?!"

"Yeah, I get it. I'm only your pilot… your subordinate. That all I am to you. That's all I'll ever be to you, isn't it." Shinji said. "So, did you want us to live together because it would be easier to keep an eye on your unruly pilot? I mean, it was a nice idea. It was fun for a while. You actually had me convinced that you truly cared about me…"

"What are you saying?!" Misato said indignantly. "Of course I care…"

"No you didn't… don't insult my intelligence and lie to me like that." Shinji spat. "Besides, I killed the Angel though, so why does any of this matter anyway. Mission accomplished and everything."

SLAP

Misato hit Shinji so hard across the face, she drew blood from the inside of his mouth. Shinji's eyes looked dead after getting hit.

"How dare you!" Misato shouted. "Just what do you think your duty is anyway?!"

"Kill the Angels at all costs…" Shinji said sternly as he stood up. "Even at the cost of my own life…"

"That's not…" Misato started.

"Yes it is." Shinji said. "Can I go now, Captain? All this fighting has made me exhausted."

"Yeah, Shinji, go home…" Misato said dejectedly. "I'll see you later…"


August 7, 2015 – NERV HQ

Misato walked gruffly into Ritsuko office.

"Ritsuko… I have a bit of an issue…" Misato said.

"Oh, god… you had sex with Shinji didn't you…" Ritsuko muttered. "I told you that would happen…"

"What the fuck is wrong with you?!" Misato shouted. "I didn't fuck him, you demented pervert, he didn't come home last night, and Section 2 lost track of him!"

"What!" Ritsuko said. "And you call yourself his guardian!"

"What are you yelling about?" Misato shot back. "I thought he was acting weird, but I didn't think he'd go and run the fuck away!"

"We have to report this, you know." Ritsuko said. "The Commander was right though, he is a coward. Who runs away like that?"

"A boy forced into a situation that he doesn't understand!" Misato shouted. "We made him run away, it's our fault."

"No, Misato, it's your fault." Ritsuko snapped. "Now I have to report this before it's too late. We can't have a dead child on our hands. Unless you think you can find him on your own of course."

'How?' Misato thought sadly. 'It's my own fault, I have no idea where he'd go…'

–––

Toji and Kensuke were sitting in class. Toji was sitting in the window, looking out towards the mountains.

'Man, I didn't get what Ikari was going through at all… I mean he was scared of that thing, and angry, way angrier than me, I gotta apologize for what I did…, Hikari was right, I was being an idiot…' Toji thought. "Hey, Kensuke, how do ya think Ikari is doing?" Toji asked.

"I don't know, he didn't show up for school today, maybe he got hurt or something." Kensuke replied as he played with his VTOL.

"Nah, I just have a bad gut feeling we won't ever see him again." Toji replied.

"Well, if you're so worried about Shinji, why don't you call him?" Hikari asked as she walked over. "I didn't think you liked him at all, so why all the concern?"

"I'm not worried about him, class rep!" Toji shouted. "Just curious as to where he is! I wanna… uh… kick his ass again!"

"Yeah, sure…" Hikari said. "You certainly sounded concerned a minute ago. Here." She handed him a slip of paper. "He gave me his number the other day, I left a message when I called him last night."

"Why were you calling Ikari, class rep?!" Toji demanded.

"Yeah, you like or something?" Kensuke asked.

"As a friend, you demented perverts." Hikari said. "He's nice enough, and actually uses my name and doesn't always call me class rep."

"What do you mean class…" Toji started, but realized what he was going to say. "Oh… I'm… uh… my bad, Hikari… I didn't think it mattered, you're always taking your job so seriously, and I just figured… you wanted to be called that…"

"No you big idiot, I like my name just fine." Hikari said indignantly. "Plus, we were friends once, I thought you'd just keep calling me by my name."

"We aren't still friends?" Toji asked. 'Great, now I feel worse than I did…' Toji thought.

"Well, you don't talk to me anymore, and you always skip school, and we don't go out and play like we did when we were kids either…" Hikari said sadly.

"Listen, Hikari… I'm sorry." Toji said. "I shouldn't treat you like just my class rep, we are friends, and I don't want to lose my oldest friendships over something stupid…"

"Hey, what about me?" Kensuke asked indignantly. "I'm right here!"

"Quiet, you." Toji said threateningly. "I met Hikari first… you hung out with us, she's your friend too… isn't she?"

"Well… yeah…" Kensuke said quietly.

"Good, than it's all settled, we're friends again!" Toji said, clapping Hikari on the back. "How's that sound, Hikari?"

"It sounds good, Suzuhara." Hikari said smiling faintly. 'But I want more from you… but how do I ask?' Hikari thought sadly.

"Cool, now let me call Ikari and apologize…" Toji said before changing his mind. "I mean telling him that I owe him another beat down for getting us yelled at for getting in that giant robot of his!"

–––

Shinji got up from the box he had slept in. He was covered in grime and muck from having fallen into a puddle the night before. Shinji shuttered a bit as he nursed his aching neck from sleeping without a pillow. Shinji started walking out of town.

'Why did I have to fight those Angels anyway? I was told to fight, then Misato yells at me about how I should always follow her orders. Why does it matter if I follow what she tells me or figure it out for myself? The result is the same. The Angel is dead…' Shinji thought. 'Did she ever care about me, or even love me? Misato was just keeping her interests protected, it didn't have anything to do with me at all… God this sucks, I'm all alone, and no one cares about me…' Shinji thought for a moment. 'Wait, someone does care about me, and it isn't Misato… I have a friend in Hikari… she cares… she told me to be careful… I could tell, she was… different… it wasn't like Misato's empty words, everything she said, she meant. Even that hug was full of kindness and friendship…' Shinji sighed as he queued up the SDAT. 'Even though Hikari does care, I don't want to go back…'

Graffiti decorations
Under the sky of dust
A constant wave of tension
On top of broken trust
The lessons that you taught me
I learned were never true

Now I find myself in question
They point the finger at me again
Guilty by association
You point the finger at me again

I wanna run away
Never say goodbye
I wanna know the truth
Instead of wondering why
I wanna know the answers
No more lies
I wanna shut the door
And open up my mind

Paper bags and angry voices
Under a sky of dust
Another wave of tension
Has more than filled me up
All my talk of taking action
These words were never true

Now I find myself in question
They point the finger at me again
Guilty by association
You point the finger at me again

I wanna run away
Never say goodbye
I wanna know the truth
Instead of wondering why
I wanna know the answers
No more lies
I wanna shut the door
And open up my mind

I'm gonna run away, and never say goodbye
Gonna run away, gonna run away
Gonna run away, gonna run away
I'm gonna run away and never wonder why
Gonna run away, gonna run away
Gonna run away, gonna run away
I'm gonna run away and open up my mind
Gonna run away, gonna run away
Gonna run away, gonna run away
Gonna run away, gonna run away
Gonna run away, gonna run away

I wanna run away
Never say goodbye
I wanna know the truth
Instead of wondering why
I wanna know the answers
No more lies
I wanna shut the door
And open up my mind

I wanna run away and open up my mind
I wanna run away and open up my mind
I wanna run away and open up my mind
I wanna run away and open up my mind

'Yeah, I just want to runaway from all my problems…' Shinji thought between tracks. 'That the only option I have left… I'm sorry I couldn't be stronger, Hikari…'

–––

Misato was laying in her apartment on her couch, staring mindlessly at the TV. Misato stared over at Shinji's room as she drank through a 12 pack of Yebisu, and two bottles of sake all on her own. She had just opened her second bottle of sake when she started thinking really hard about Shinji. Needless to say, Misato was fucking wasted. Pen–Pen knew that in this state it was safer to stay hidden away in his fridge and wait for Misato to drink herself to sleep, but it would be a while before that happened.

"God, I fucked up, I made him run away… I'm such an idiot." Misato threw an empty can of beer she had been drinking at the TV. "Why did I say those awful things to him?! He does mean more to me than just a subordinate. He's like family to me, like the son I know that I'll never have… Oh god… Kaji… he's the only person I'd ever consider having kids with, and I screwed that up too… like a fucking idiot…"

Misato wasn't even bothering with drinking from a glass, and just drank straight from the bottle, trying to drown away the sorrows, but they wouldn't leave her alone.

"Every fucking relationship in my life goes right to hell, I hated my mom for hating my father, I hated my father for leaving me, I lost contact with Kotomi after high school like I said I wouldn't, and Kaji… I really fucked that one up, I told him I cheated when I didn't, and then he left in a huff, and I haven't spoken to him since… and ten I get an opportunity to help someone out who looks like someone who helped me out in the past… and then I go and treat him like some sort of doormat… he's a person, and I forced him into Unit–01, thinking it was fort the best, and he was also so depressed after I put him in that thing, and I couldn't put it together, the girl who survived Second Impact and was mute for two years couldn't figure out the kid I her charge had something going on in his head… and I didn't even talk it out with him… I'm a fucking idiot, I don't deserve to be Shinji's guardian." Misato kept drinking and rambling on. "Great, now I can't get Shinji–kun out of my head, and I really liked having him around too… he was nice to me most of the time, and when he was angry I deserved his anger, cause I treated him like shit! I'm such a shitty person… oh fuck, to now…"

Misato jumped up and ran to the bathroom and violently expelled the contents of her stomach, not in the toilet, but all over and around the toilet.

"Nooooo…" Misato moaned as she continued to dry heave into the bowl. "Why did I have to puke… no I have to clean this all up…"

Misato struggled to her feet and walked over to the sink and garbled a bunch of mouthwash. She then staggered out of the bathroom and went to Shinji's room.

"It's so empty and lonely in this room… he didn't even decorate it at all… and most of his stuff is still here, even his cell phone is here…" Misato noticed that the cell phone had a blinking light. "Two new messages? I didn't know he gave out his number… someone must be looking for him…" Misato opened the phone and dialed the voicemail, and listened to the messages. She saved them and plugged the phone in. She then staggered back to the living room. "I need to have Shinji listen to these before he leaves…" Misato said weakly as she slumped over on the couch. "I can't let him leave without knowing how these guys feel about him…"

–––

Shinji had been walking for a while. He was on an abandoned highway, walking along to another song on his playlist.

Summer has come and passed
The innocent can never last
Wake me up when September ends
Like my father's come to pass
Seven years has gone so fast
Wake me up when September ends

Here comes the rain again
Falling from the stars
Drenched in my pain again
Becoming who we are
As my memory rests
But never forgets what I lost
Wake me up when September ends

Summer has come and passed
The innocent can never last
Wake me up when September ends
Ring out the bells again
Like we did when spring began
Wake me up when September ends

Here comes the rain again
Falling from the stars
Drenched in my pain again
Becoming who we are
As my memory rests
But never forgets what I lost
Wake me up when September ends

Summer has come and passed
The innocent can never last
Wake me up when September ends
Like my father's come to pass
Twenty years has gone so fast
Wake me up when September ends
Wake me up when September ends
Wake me up when September ends

As the tracks changed, Shinji started thinking again. 'Well, at least when I left, I took the one thing that can never hurt me… my SDAT…' Shinji felt a hand grab him roughly, and pull out his earphones. "Hey, who the fuck do you think you are?!" Shinji shouted.

The man turned Shinji around. Shinji looked at the men in disbelief. He saw three men, dressed in black suits with black ties, and dark sunglasses.

"I'm Agent Smith, of the Intelligence Division." The man said. "I need you to come with us immediately."

"Let me guess, you, Larry and Curly are all named Smith, but are no relation to each other, am I right?" Shinji joked. "Go to hell, I'm not going back."

"Listen, Mr. Ikari, we can do this the easy way or the hard way." Agent Smith said. "Your choice."

"I already said I wasn't going back jackass, so I think that makes the choice kinda clear, doesn't it." Shinji said harshly.

"Fine, the hard way it is." Agent Smith said.

And the last thing Shinji saw was the darkness take him.


August 8, 2015 – NERV HQ

Shinji was sitting in a dark room, all alone. He was sitting quietly in a chair waiting for someone to come see him. He had woken up a while ago to the darkness, and felt around to find the chair.

"Figures my father would put in jail for running away…" Shinji muttered. "He's such an asshole. He calls me here and expects me to just accept that I have to pilot a massive Evangelion against just as massive and hugely deadly Angels…"

The door slid open, flooding the tiny room with a massive amount of light, blinding Shinji, and keeping him from seeing who had walked in.

"Hello Shinji." Misato said.

"Misato?" Shinji asked. "Why am I here? I ran away for a reason you know. To get away from here, far, far away from the Angels and the EVAs."

"Yes, it's me, Shinji." Misato replied. "You were brought back because you are important to NERV, but I am very glad Section 2 found you safe and sound, I was very worried about where you went."

"Were you worried about me, your ward or me your EVA pilot?" Shinji asked angrily. "I'm pretty sure I already know the answer, but I'm always up for my expectations to be exceeded."

"I was worried about my roommate and foster child because he didn't come home after we had a nasty fight… and I didn't want the last thing I said to you be… what we were arguing about." Misato said tearfully.

"What?" Shinji said, stunned at what he was hearing. "You better not be just saying that."

"No, Shinji, I was really worried about you! I was scared you ran off and got hurt, I had no way to reach you because you left your phone behind, and I just wanted you back so I could say I was sorry!" Misato said loudly. "I understand why you ran away, I didn't act like I cared about you, but I did, I do, and it's just nice to be around someone for a change, someone I can consider my family, if they'll let me…"

"What do you mean?" Shinji was very confused. "You're sorry about what you said? You're really sorry?"

"Yes, I'm really sorry, Shinji." Misato replied. "So if you want to, and only if you want to, come back and pilot the EVA, and you can keep living with me…"

"I knew it was really about that… thing." Shinji said, once again, his anger spiking. "You couldn't even be honest with me about that, could you? Here I thought you were apologizing, and then you tell me to get in the EVA! I'm never getting in that fucking thing again, Misato! NEVER! Humanity isn't worth fighting for, Misato! Whatever those goons did to me, knocked me out for hours, and then they just threw me in here, and I woke up on the floor! Do I really want to work somewhere I'm a fucking prisoner if I don't listen to my stupid father or his stupid subordinates?! Fuck that, humanity can go fuck itself for all I care, someone else can deal with the Angels, because it won't be me!"

"Shinji, I'll leave it up to you, but are you sure there isn't a sliver of humanity worth saving?" Misato asked as she pulled out a cell phone. "You have two messages on here that might change your mind about things. I listened to them last night, and I know they might make you think that what you're saying is wrong." Misato tossed the phone to Shinji. "Just give humanity a chance."

"Whatever…" Shinji said as he flipped open the phone and dialed the voicemail.

"FIRST SAVED MESSAGE; MESSAGE RECEIVED ON AUGUST 6, 2015, AT 11:56p: Hi Shinji, its Hikari. I hope everything went ok. They just let us out of the bunker a little while ago, and I didn't have to cook because we got in so late. I'm just worried about you, and I really do hope you're ok. Whatever you had to fight out there, we could feel it in our shelter, like it was right over us, and I wasn't really afraid because I knew you were protecting us. I knew you'd defeat it because that's what you do, you protect people even if you risk your own life to do it. So thank you for keeping us safe and killing whatever that was. Stay safe, and talk to you soon. Bye, now, Shinji! MESSAGE SAVED… NEXT SAVED MESSAGE; MESSAGE RECEIVED ON AUGUST 7, 2015, AT 5:17p: Hey, uh… new kid… I mean… uh Ikari… its Toji. Toji Suzuhara. I was the guy you saved, not once, but twice from one of those freaky Angels, or the guy that knocked you on your ass at school for saving me and my sister. Look… uh… Hikari… I mean the class rep gave me your number ad I wanted to apologize for what I did to you. I should have hit you like that, even if I was angry, you were right, and the class rep was right, you saved my sister, and I should be grateful for that, you saved her from certain death, I owe you my life for hers really… and then today, you saved me again… putting yourself at risk and getting the wrath of your commander, it's not fair for you to have done that for some jerk who hit you. So, if you're avoiding school cause of me, don't. I won't bother you anymore, I just hope you'll accept my apology, and I deserve any beat down you think I deserve new kid… so just come back because the class rep is really worried about you… and uh… so am I… so just come back soon, alright, you're getting pretty missed here, and I ain't having people sad cause you're moping around somewhere. Again, I'm really sorry, and I hope you'll accept my apology in person when you come back… uh… bye new kid. Hope to see you soon. MESSAGE SAVED, THERE ARE NO MORE MESSAGES. MAIN MENU… CLICK."

'Toji said sorry… that's never happened before, and he really meant it, he sounded so… dejected on the phone, like how I sound when I'm really sad about something, and Hikari, she seemed really worried, and that was after the Angel battle, she must be really worried by now, seeing as I haven't been to school at all in the past…' Shinji thought as he hung up the phone and looked at Misato. "So you listened to both?" Shinji asked.

"Yes, and Mr. Suzuhara's was very interesting, when did he hit you?" Misato asked.

"Yesterday." Shinji replied. "He was the guy who carried that little girl away after the first Angel I fought."

"Oh, so you did save him twice…" Misato said. "So, do you still think humanity isn't worth fighting for?"

"As a whole, yes, humanity sucks, but Hikari really cared about me… she sounded a bit worried. That's new for me. My old guardian would be a bit concerned, but he didn't call to find out if I was ok. If I was in my room, he mostly left me alone…"

"So, what's your decision?" Misato asked. "I don't want to lose you, Shinji, and I promise if you stay, I'll treat you more like my son than like my pilot. How does that sound?" Misato smiled. "But, I don't want you to pilot Unit–01 if you're not absolutely sure about doing it. I don't want to force you back into it again… I want you to be comfortable with the choice to save humanity and put your life on the line to do that, ok?"

"Well, it sounds a bit unrealistic. I think you're too young to be my mom, but we can give it a shot." Shinji said.

"Does that mean…" Misato started.

"I'll stay and pilot Unit–01, to protect my friends…" Shinji said. "I don't want to disappoint Hikari, and I don't want anyone else to get hurt… they're worth fighting for, not humanity… just them…"

"Well, it's a start, Shinji." Misato said. "Now, I'll grab your stuff and we can go home."

–––

Ding dong ding ding… ding dong ding ding

Class was just getting out for the day, and Class 2–A was emptying out, with Toji and Kensuke chatting about where they were going after school. Hikari ran up to them, seemingly worried about something.

Class was just getting out for the day, and Class 2–A was emptying out, with Toji and Kensuke chatting about where they were going after school. Hikari ran up to them, seemingly worried about something.

"Hey, do you guys know where Shinji lives?" Hikari asked.

"Why?" The boys replied.

"I'm worried about him, he's missed two days of school, and I just want to find out what's happened, that's all." Hikari said.

"Well, I did find out he's staying with an officer from NERV from my dad's computer, and I got the address last night." Kensuke said. "I didn't really think about going over there though, unless he wasn't in school on Monday, then I'd be worried."

"Well, he hasn't returned my phone call, and I'm just worried something happened to him." Hikari said worriedly. "What the address, I want to go check on him…"

"Don't you have access to that as class rep?" Toji asked.

"No, they didn't list an address for him for security reasons, so I've been asking around!" Hikari said indignantly.

"Well, he hast returned my phone call either, and I'm worried too." Toji said. "So, Kensuke, what's the address…"

"It's on the edge of town, probably 20 minutes or so away by foot, we don't even need to take the train." Kensuke replied. "He's staying with a Captain M. Katsuragi, that's all I could get."

The three kids arrived at the apartment complex about half an hour later and went up to the 12th floor, which according to the directory, was the residence of "M. Katsuragi", Shinji's guardian. They walked up to the door, and Hikari rang the doorbell. The door slid open moments later to reveal Misato.

"Wow!" Toji and Kensuke exclaimed.

"Hello there, miss, we're from Shinji's class, we wanted to come and check on him, as he hasn't been in school since the alert was called two days ago." Hikari said politely, ignoring the idiots with her. "If he's in, can we see him?"

"So you two must be the boys from the other day, which would make you class rep Hikari… you're pretty cute." Misato joked. "So, no hitting on my little Shin–chan, ok? He's too young to date such pretty girls!"

"What?" the three exclaimed.

"I'm only kidding!" Misato said happily. "Come on in. he's in the kitchen!"

"Misato, who was at the door?" Shinji said turning around to see Hikari, Toji, and Kensuke in the kitchen. "Oh, it's you guys… I was just going to call you back in a little while, we just got home and I haven't eaten in a while…"

"Shinji!" Hikari explained, running up to him and throwing her arms around him, almost knocking him down. "I was really worried about you! You should have called me sooner! It's not nice to worry your friends!"

"I'm sorry, Hikari, I was…" Shinji started.

"In the hospital." Misato finished. "He was injured pretty badly by the fight, so he only got your messages this afternoon when he was released. That was my fault, not his."

"Oh, Shinji, you were hurt?!" Hikari said. "I told you to be careful!"

"I tired, but those two kinda got in the way…" Shinji said pointing at Toji and Kensuke.

"You two got in the way!" Hikari said loudly. "You got him hurt!"

"Hey, uh yeah… about that… I'm really sorry about getting you in trouble with your boss, she sounded pretty nasty."

"Excuse me?" Misato said. "I sounded like what exactly?"

"Oh, uh, Ms. Katsuragi, that was you?" Toji stammered. "I didn't mean it like that, I just meant you sounded really pissed, and I was sorry he got in trouble ad everything cause of me and Kensuke over here."

"Yeah, sorry about that, Shinji." Kensuke said sadly.

"That, and I wanted to apologize again for giving you a beat down." Toji said, looking at Shinji with a sad face. "You didn't deserve it, and I deserve a good sock in the face for doing it."

"Toji…" Hikari said.

"I'm not going to hit you, but I do accept your apology Toji, I forgive you." Shinji said. "I'll get my payback another way though, and you'll just have to wait and see."

"Shinji!" Hikari said. "What are you going to do to him?"

"Nothing serious, probably something funny…" Shinji said. "I've never had friends to joke around with before, so it'll be fun."

"Well, now you have three." Hikari said letting go of Shinji after nearly crushing him. "So you'll have to get used to it quick. No excuses!"

"Sure, Hikari, no excuses." Shinji said, smiling for the first time in a long time, in the presence of his three new friends.

To Be Continued


A/N: I do not own Evangelion or any of the characters, GAINAX and the other distributors of NGE related material do. I am simply using them as a backdrop for my fanfic.

As for the songs used in this chapter, I don't own them either, and they're listed below in order of appearance:
The All–American Rejects – It Ends Tonight (2005)
Linkin Park – Runaway (2000)
Green Day – Wake Me Up When September Ends (2005)

Sync Score Rankings!
Shinji – 43.9% (+1.9%)
Asuka – 37.8% (+2.1%)
Rei – 15.1% (No Change)
Mari – N/A

So, this chapter is based on Episodes 3 and 4 of the anime, if you couldn't already tell. Also based heavily on the second manga volume as well.

So, the times are a changing (Boom, Bob Dylan reference!), and there are now, I hope, noticeable differences with the canon and this story. I am making Hikari a more central character, because, well, she's adorable and was just as underused as Fuyutsuki was.

As for Shinji's more violent outbursts, someone who has been tormented as Shinji had wouldn't always be so passive, he's been beaten and pushed around, and abandoned by his own father, he's got issues, and sometimes, anger has a tendency to boil over and shoot out at the closest person, who is Misato. Not that Misato is innocent of being an issue, as the way she tends to talk to him more as a subordinate, rather than as her surrogate son, or even as a friend. Something she figures out in her loneliness after he runs away.

As for not including the train, well, Shinji actually had something to come back and fight for, Hikari, his new friend, and the fact a bully apologized to him, Toji. Sure, his beat down from Toji was more severe, however, someone as angry and hotheaded as Toji wouldn't really stop at one punch or two, it's just so unrealistic. I trust my own experiences in that regard for a more accurate account of what happens after school when the bullies come out in force. But, in the end, Toji realizes he was wrong, and that Shinji didn't mean to hurt anyone, and, new friends are made!

As I said before, and will always say at the end of chapter, please leave comments, as I would like to try to improve the story going forward any way I can. And, hell, constructive criticism is a good thing.


つづく