Neon Genesis Evangelion: Legacy
Episode V: SEELE Strikes Back


Chapter 11 – My Girl; Armisael Taints
September 17, 2016 – Comfort 17 Apartments

It has been two days since the battle against Arael, well, it was less of a battle really, as the main part of the battle took place solely in Asuka's mind, at least until Shinji intervened. He hadn't done much, but what he did saved Asuka from her mind being broken. As powerful as Arael was, she could not assault two minds as effectively as one, and the happy memories from their long forgotten childhood had protected them.

She was fine now, and she and Shinji had been released from the hospital that day, with no signs of mental contamination, and no signs of Angelic contamination. All was well for the both of them, at least medically and on paper, but in their minds, they both had a lot of stuff to sort through.

So, both of them were being brought home, but separately, stemming from the revelations from the previous battle. So, Shinji was being brought home with Kaji, and Asuka's transport was left to Misato. Shinji clearly got the better part of the deal

Shinji was quiet in the car. He kept his head down, and didn't make an attempt to talk with Kaji. Kaji however wasn't going to let Shinji get away quietly, and tried to engage him in some sort of conversation.

"So, Shinji, do you want to talk about it?" Kaji asked.

"About what?" Shinji asked quietly.

"Come on, don't play dumb." Kaji said. "It's unbecoming of you."

"Not really…" Shinji said. "Sorry…"

"Don't apologize, Shinji." Kaji said kindly. "You've been through a lot the past few days." Kaji smiled. "You know what you did was pretty brave, Shinji… it takes a lot to jump in the line of fire like that."

"It didn't do much." Shinji said. "It just made things worse…"

"No it didn't." Kaji replied. "You saved Asuka from facing that Angel on her own. If you hadn't intervened when you did, she would…" Kaji grimaced. "Her mind would have been broken, Shinji… you saved her."

"How?" Shinji asked. "I didn't kill the Angel… I got caught by it too."

"Shinji, you distracted the Angel long enough for Rei to kill it." Kaji said. "You did what you had to do… you and Unit–01 were very formidable. Don't sell yourself short."

"Yeah, but what good did it do in the end…" Shinji said sullenly. "Asuka hates me."

"I don't think she hates you." Kaji said. "I mean… I don't know what exactly happened in there, but… whatever it was shook the both of you pretty hard. And whenever you're ready to talk about it, I'm here for you, ok?"

"Yeah, ok…" Shinji said. "Are we almost back yet?"

Kaji sighed. "Just about."

"I'm sorry, I know I'm not being very nice…" Shinji said.

"Hey, like I said, don't apologize…" Kaji said. "You have every right to be a bit… gruff."

"I know…but I'm still sorry." Shinji said.

–––

Misato wasn't having too much luck at getting Asuka to talk, and she was being even more abrasive than Shinji could be.

"Asuka, are you ok?" Misato asked as she took her eyes off the road to look over at her.

"Keep your eyes on the road!" Asuka shouted. "Try not to kill me by being concerned!"

"Fine…" Misato said. "So, what happened in there?"

"None of your damn business!" Asuka said angrily.

"Well… I just hope all this anger isn't over Shinji being in love with you…" Misato quipped.

"Can you just shut up?!" Asuka shouted. "Just focus on getting me home in one fucking piece and don't fucking ask me anything!"

"Asuka… I'm just concerned about you…" Misato said. "Why won't you talk to me?"

"Didn't I just tell you to shut up?!" Asuka shouted.

"Fine… be that way, Asuka." Misato said. "But if you ever want to talk, I'll listen."

"Whatever…" Asuka said gruffly.

–––

Mari and Rei were looking over the parking lot from railing outside the front door. Mari spotted Kaji's red Ferrari pulling safely into the parking lot followed by Misato's erratically driven blue Alpine pulling in as Kaji and Shinji exited Kaji's car.

"At least they're ok." Mari said as she looked down at everyone.

"Yes, and it is a shame that they would not let us visit them while they were in the hospital…" Rei said.

"That doesn't matter now, blueberry." Mari said. "We'll just make sure they're ok… that's our job right now."

"Are you sure that is the wisest move?" Rei asked.

"We don't really have any other choice." Mari replied.

Kaji and Shinji walked to the elevators and Mari and Rei went over to them to meet the two of them as the elevators dinged open on the 12th floor.

"Shinji!" Mari said.

"Shinji, are you well?" Rei asked.

"Yeah…" Shinji said quietly as he walked past both of them sullenly. Mari gave him a concerned look, and Rei's face fell. Kaji turned to them and shook his head. Shinji disappeared into the apartment followed by Kaji as the other elevator dinged revealing Asuka and Misato.

"Asuka." Mari said.

"Are you well?" Rei asked.

"Just leave me alone…" Asuka said as she stomped past them into the apartment.

"I don't know what's wrong with her…" Misato said.

"Did you try to find out, miso?" Mari asked.

"Yeah, she bit my head off." Misato replied.

"Great… this won't be easy…" Mari said sullenly.

"What won't be easy?" Misato asked.

"Comforting the both of them." Rei replied. "We have our work cut out for us…"

"How are you going to comfort them?" Misato asked.

"I'm not sure, miso…" Mari said. "This is one of those make it up as you go kinda things."

"Well, then get inside…" Misato said. "Maybe they'll trust you guys more than the adults."

"That's the idea miso." Mari said. "I can see how you keep getting promoted… you're smarter than you look."

"I'm not sure if that's a compliment or an insult." Misato said.

"Yes." Mari said.

"You're a pain in the ass." Misato said.

"Well, we can talk about that later." Mari said. "We should probably get inside."

The three of them walked inside to only see Kaji sitting in the kitchen with a very sullen looking Pen–Pen sitting on the floor beside him.

"Where the hell are they?" Misato asked.

"Shinji went right to his room, and Asuka stormed off to hers." Kaji said. "Did you say something insensitive in the car?"

"What, me?!" Misato asked. "I noticed Shinji wasn't really one to talk!"

"He at least said hello to those two when he came inside." Kaji said. "All I heard was Asuka shout… you pissed her off."

Misato sighed. "No… she like that when she got in the car…" Misato rubbed the back of her head. "She didn't want to talk about whatever happened… but she's angrier than I've ever seen her, I'm worried…"

"Well, they won't tell us anything…" Kaji said.

"Yeah, we'll figure it out." Mari said. "Ok, blueberry, I'll take care of Shinji, and you'll go comfort Asuka."

"I do not think that would be the best idea." Rei said. "Asuka… I think you would be better suited to talk to her."

"No… she won't want to talk to me." Mari said. "So it's up to you, blueberry."

"What can I do to make her feel happy?" Rei asked.

"Blueberry, you're a very intelligent person." Mari said. "I'm sure you'll think of something."

–––

Mari walked cautiously into Shinji's room. He was looking blankly at the ceiling above him, with his hands behind his head.

"Shinji?" Mari asked.

"What is it, Mari?" Shinji asked. "Because I'd rather be alone right now."

"I figured that with the gruff hello, but you can't run away, Shinji." Mari said. "You have to talk about it."

"I don't have to talk about anything." Shinji rebutted.

"What happened in there?" Mari asked. "We could hear what you were saying, but none of it made any damn sense."

"She knows I love her." Shinji said. "And she doesn't feel anything."

"That's not what she said." Mari said.

"How would you know?" Shinji asked.

"Shinji… I was hiding around the corner." Mari said. "You two were shouting loud enough it was hard not to eavesdrop."

"Damn it all, Mari." Shinji said. "Why ask if you already knew?"

"Because talking about it will make it better." Mari said.

"Yeah… I guess you're right…" Shinji said.

"So, can I sit down, or do I have to stand here forever?" Mari asked.

Shinji sat up against the head of his bed and moved towards the wall, leaving space for Mari to sit next to him. "Yeah, you can sit…"

Mari sat down and cuddled against Shinji and wrapped her arm around him. "So… you guys met each other before last year?" Mari asked.

"Well… apparently our moms knew each other." Shinji said. "We met here at NERV HQ… inside the Geofront… before it was called NERV… before Tokyo–3 was installed."

"Your moms worked together…" Mari said. "You don't say."

"Yeah… but that Angel… she was attacking Asuka with her worst memories, and when I showed up, she was powerless." Shinji explained. "Arael… the Angel… she was vindictive, cruel, sadistic even, but the only memories that came up when I was there were those of the day we met. We were friends… we talked on the phone all the time… until my mother died anyway, then I didn't talk to her again… I forgot about her… and now Asuka hates me."

"Shinji, she doesn't hate you." Mari said. "She said she hates herself. She's right, this is a lot to process…you don't just learn about something like this and roll with it… it takes time. She just needs space to think, so you guys just can't hang out for a while."

"Why does it have to take time?!" Shinji shouted. "She likes me, and I like her, why does it have to be so fucking complicated?!"

"Shinji, it's not that easy." Mari said. "It took just as much guts for her to finally admit that she liked you… and it was really brave you finally admitted you liked her."

"Yeah, I guess it was finally the right time." Shinji said. "Wait… you said she finally admitted she liked me… you knew?!"

"What?" Mari asked nervously.

"You did!" Shinji said angrily. "You said she finally admitted it… that means you knew!"

"Shinji… don't get mad…" Mari said.

"Why?" Shinji asked. "You kept telling me to ask her out when you knew she liked me! Couldn't you have clued me in to that fact?! I would have told her months ago, it would have been so much easier than doing it in the middle of a damn fight!"

"Shinji… I couldn't break her confidence, just like I didn't break yours." Mari said. "I wanted to tell you both… but I didn't want to interfere, not like that."

"Really, you didn't want to interfere?!" Shinji asked.

"Shinji, there are some things you just don't do." Mari said. "People have to admit their feelings when they're ready… you can't force it."

"Why not?" Shinji asked.

"Because, Shinji…" Mari said thoughtfully. "Love doesn't work like that."

"It should… life would be a lot easier if things were just easier." Shinji said sullenly.

"Shinji, you know better than a lot of people that life isn't easy." Mari said. "Or fair for that matter."

"Yeah, no shit." Shinji said. "Mari, can I ask you something about, Asuka?"

"Sure." Mari said. "Go for it."

"Why didn't Asuka ask me out if she liked me?" Shinji asked. "I mean… couldn't she have, uh, taken the initiative?"

"Well…" Mari said. "She's kinda… traditional…"

"What does that even mean?" Shinji asked.

"Boys do all the work, and she just waits for you to notice her." Mari said. "I know it's stupid, but I can only do so much… she's kinda…"

"Stubborn." Shinji said plainly. "I know… but it's kinda endearing…"

"Aww… puppy." Mari said as she squeezed Shinji tightly. "Are you sure you're ok? Do you need to cry or something?"

"No… I just…" Shinji stammered. "I just want Asuka to want me as much as I want her… it's… I want the girl I met all those years to come back… the girl I fell in love with twice…"

"You fell in love with her twice?" Mari asked.

"Yeah…" Shinji explained. "Back then when I met her, and again last year when I first saw her on the Over the Rainbow… I just love her." Shinji's eyes teared up. "I just hope she's ok… I just want her back to normal…"

"Hey, don't cry…" Mari said. "It'll be ok, remember what she said, just give it some time. She has a lot to work through…" Mari looked at Shinji. "But why aren't you as freaked out about it? I mean… you just remembered all this stuff and you're not freaking out about it."

"Do you remember the girl I told you about?" Shinji asked. "The redheaded girl I saw in my dreams?"

"Yeah, the girl you said was your best friend when you were asleep." Mari said. "Or the girl that would taunt you in your nightmares."

"Well I guess I remembered all along, but I just didn't consciously remember it." Shinji said. "I guess I just needed my memory to get jogged or something."

"So that's why you're not freaking out?" Mari asked.

"Well, yeah. Those memories just reinforce what I already know." Shinji explained. "I love Asuka, and I guess I have for a very long time…"

"Well then… when she's ready to talk to you again… tell her that." Mari said. "I'm sure she'll understand."

"Do you think she'll ever want to talk to me again?" Shinji asked.

"Yeah, she just needs time, Shinji." Mari said. "Just give her the space she wants."

"How will I avoid her… we live in the same apartment." Shinji said.

"Let me worry about that." Mari said. "Just don't be too sad about things."

"But I am…" Shinji said. "I don't really want to leave or anything… I just want to hide away until this is all over."

"Shinji, you can't hide." Mari said. "If Asuka sees that you're overly effected, she might hate herself more for hurting her. As much as it sucks, you just have to deal with it."

"If you say so." Shinji said nervously.

"I do say so." Mari said.

–––

Rei walked trepidatiously into Asuka's room. Asuka had her head buried in her pillow as usual but she wasn't crying, she was only sulking. Rei walked quietly up to her and announced herself.

"Asuka, are you alright?" Rei asked.

"Go away." Asuka said in a muffled. "I want to be alone."

"Asuka, I will not leave you alone." Rei said.

"I SAID GO AWAY!" Asuka shouted.

Rei stood her ground and was not perturbed in the slightest. "I am not leaving."

"Why do you care?" Asuka said in a muffled angry tone. "Just leave me alone."

"Because we are friends." Rei said. "I am worried about you, you are far too quiet and that is not how you usually are."

"What does it matter? Everything is shit." Asuka said. "Why did you even bother to come in here?"

"I am here to make you feel better." Rei said. "We are friends, and this is what friends do for each other… unless everything you, Shinji, and Mari has taught me is incorrect."

"No, you're not wrong… but why do you care?" Asuka asked.

"Because something happened to you when the Angel assaulted you." Rei said. "If it was anything like Shinji's experience with the Angel that swallowed him you are not in a good place. You were trapped for some time before I… before I could kill it."

"You killed it?" Asuka asked. "No one said who… how?"

"I used a weapon the Commander kept hidden." Rei explained. "A spear that ripped through its A.T. Field and killed the Angel."

"Arael…" Asuka muttered. "It was called Arael… she made me remember awful things…"

"What happened, Asuka?" Rei asked. "Shinji always tells me talking about hurtful things makes it better. Perhaps it will help you."

"I don't want to talk about it." Asuka said. "It was awful…"

"Asuka, you cannot avoid talking about this." Rei said. "I will not tell anyone else what you tell me. It will be our secret."

"Rei… it's not anything I want to talk about." Asuka said. "The Angel forced me to remember awful shit that I've tried so hard to force out of my head. Then Shinji had to come and save me again."

"Why sis Shinji saving you a bad thing?" Rei asked. "Is it not desirable to be saved by a friend?"

"I don't like needing people." Asuka said. "I like being alone."

"No one enjoys being alone." Rei said. "That is a lie people tell themselves."

"No it isn't." Asuka said. "I can't hurt anyone if I'm alone."

"So are you upset Shinji loves you?" Rei asked.

"What?!" Asuka asked incredulously.

"Shinji admitted to everyone how much he loves you before he ripped the base apart to try and save you." Rei explained. "He has been hiding that for quite some time… I believe it took a lot for him to finally use it."

"Wait… you knew?" Asuka asked angrily.

"I have only know for a few weeks…" Rei said as she blushed, realizing she admitted something she shouldn't have.

"Who else knew?" Asuka asked angrily. "WHO ELSE?!"

"Mari and Hikari knew for some time." Rei said. "They promised Shinji that they would not tell you about his feelings for you even though they knew you liked him back."

"Why did he tell them?!" Asuka shouted.

"Because he needed advice on how to approach you." Rei said. "He was afraid that you would not love him."

"But I do…" Asuka muttered.

"I am aware of that." Rei said. "But why are you not talking to Shinji?"

"I… I just can't." Asuka said. "I'm not…"

"Does it have something to do with what the Angel saw you do?" Rei asked.

"Well, yeah…" Asuka said. "But I don't want to talk about it."

"Asuka…" Rei said. "What is so horrible that you do not want to talk to Shinji?"

"I… I…" Asuka stammered. "I met him before, when we were kids!"

"What do you mean?" Rei asked.

Asuka stood up. "Our mothers knew each other!" Asuka shouted. "They had a meeting and we spent an entire day together, and I forgot about him! I forgot the most wonderful person in the world, and I don't deserve to be with someone like that if I can't even fucking remember them! He's too good for me!" Asuka started crying. "I hate myself for forgetting him! I don't know why he even loves me!"

Rei stepped forward and awkwardly wrapped her arms around Asuka. "I am here for you, Asuka." Rei squeezed her tighter. "I am sorry that you forgot him, but you should not hate yourself… if your memories of childhood are as horrific as you say it is understandable how some things could be forgotten."

"That's just an excuse." Asuka said as she cried into Rei's shoulder.

"It is not an excuse if it is the truth." Rei said. "Do not blame yourself for the poor circumstances you were given as a child. A child cannot choose their parents."

"I…" Asuka muttered.

"Asuka, you love Shinji and he loves you." Rei said. "It is quite simple, you should be together. It is only logical."

"Love has nothing to do with logic." Asuka said.

"It should." Rei said. "I am not sure what advice to give you. This is more Mari's field of expertise… but perhaps you try and rectify your feelings with what you were forced to remember of Shinji… that may be the only way for you two to be together…"

"How is that the advice you give me?" Asuka asked.

"It is… logical." Rei replied. "Even if love is not."

"Well whatever." Asuka said. "But you're hugging me a bit too tight."

"I am simply hugging you the way Mari hugs me." Rei said.

"That's the problem." Asuka said as Rei let her go. Asuka wiped her eyes and looked wearily at Rei. "You promise not to say anything to Shinji or Mari?"

"Of course." Rei said. "I do not believe we discussed anything."

"So what happens when we go back to school?" Asuka asked. "I don't want to be near Shinji… just to be safe."

"I believe me and Mari can keep you both separated." Rei said. "Is that agreeable to you?"

"Yeah… just don't tell him it was my idea." Asuka said. "I don't want to hurt him more than I already have."

"Then I will let Mari know." Rei said. "Do you feel any better?"

"No." Asuka said. "But I guess I have a lot to think about."

"You will get better, Asuka." Rei said. "I am sure of it."


September 18, 2016 – Comfort 17 Apartments

Hikari came over to the apartment and came inside to see a very tired Mari sitting at the table. Mari was half asleep in her bowl of dissolved cereal.

"Mari… are you ok?" Hikari asked.

Mari jerked up, knocking the bowl across the table and causing it and its contents to clatter to the floor. "What, I'm fine!" Mari shouted. "I'm alive!"

"Mari, what's the matter?" Hikari asked worriedly.

Mari blinked her eyes a few times and it took her second to focus on Hikari. "Oh… it's you freckles." Mari said. "What was your question again?"

"Are you alright?" Hikari asked. "You look awful."

"Well…" Mari said. "I'm not sleeping very much."

"Why not?" Hikari asked. "Is everything ok?"

"No…" Mari said sullenly. "Asuka's having nightmares… she keeps screaming about her mother and all the blood… it's not a pretty thing to think about."

"So, have you talked to her?" Hikari asked.

"She only talks to Rei." Mari said. "She won't talk to me anymore."

"What about Shinji, is he ok?" Hikari asked.

"Yeah, mostly." Mari said. "He's still upset though… he knows Asuka loves him, but he's sad that she needs space. He just wants to be with her."

"Yeah, well…" Hikari said. "Is he in his room? Can I talk to him?"

"Yeah… I can't tell talk to him like this… I need to sleep now… I'm sleepy…" Mari said as she fell asleep at the table. "Night, night…"

"Poor girl…" Hikari said. "I hope you get through this too, Mari."

Hikari walked silently past Asuka's closed door. She heard muffled crying from inside. "Asuka… what's happened? Why are you hiding away?" Hikari leaned against the door. "Asuka… please get better… I miss you."

Hikari walked up to Shinji's door and knocked. "Shinji?" Hikari asked quietly. "Can I come in? I just want to talk."

It took a minute before Shinji responded. "Sure."

Hikari walked quietly into his room. She saw Shinji laying on his bed staring blankly at the ceiling. "Shinji, are you ok?"

"No." Shinji replied. "Where's Mari?"

"She's sleeping." Hikari replied. "She hasn't slept much I guess."

"Asuka's nightmares…" Shinji mumbled. "No one can sleep… and I can't help her."

"Why not?" Hikari asked.

"She doesn't want me near her, no matter how many times Mari tells me otherwise." Shinji said. "And all I want to do is help her… and I can't…"

"Shinji, it's not your fault." Hikari said. "But what is she screaming about?"

"Her mother…" Shinji said. "She found her mother's body after she cut her own throat. That why she screams about all the blood. She was going to tell her about becoming a pilot… and she found her like that instead."

"How do you…" Hikari mumbled.

"Kensuke isn't the only one who knows how to use a computer." Shinji explained. "I got into Misato's computer and read Asuka's file. I just wanted to know… the screaming… I… she's wouldn't tell me what happened that day. I just wanted to know what she was screaming about…"

"Shinji… why did you violate her privacy like that?!" Hikari said.

"Because no one told me she liked me, including you!" Shinji shouted back. "And she won't talk to me anymore! What am I supposed to do? Listen to her scream like I did while I waited to break out and help her, I'm tired of doing that! I just want to help her!"

"What are you talking about?" Hikari asked. "Shinji…"

"Because you knew Asuka liked me, and so did Mari!" Shinji shouted. "Why didn't you tell me? I could have just told her so much sooner! I could have avoided all of this!"

"Shinji…" Hikari said. "I didn't want to break Asuka's confidence… I couldn't tell you, it wouldn't have been right. I… are you mad at me Shinji?"

"No, I'm mad that Asuka doesn't want to talk to me." Shinji said. "I still love her, and when I finally tell her, she says she hates herself and that she can't be with me… do you have any idea how this feels, Hikari? I'm alone, and the girl I love hates herself so much she won't even speak to me!"

"Shinji, why does she hate herself?" Hikari asked.

"Because we met before." Shinji said tiredly.

"You mean on the carrier, right?" Hikari asked.

"No… when we were little here in Tokyo–3." Shinji said. "Our moms were friends… me and Asuka became friends when we met and then… my mother died and I forgot her, and she forgot about me too… that's why she hates herself…"

"Shinji…" Hikari said consolingly. "I'm sorry… I didn't… I didn't know…"

"That's the problem, Hikari." Shinji said. "Asuka never explains anything to anyone… I just hope that she can figure everything out soon… I just want her back to the way she was. I miss her…"

"I know you do Shinji… but you need to just give her space." Hikari said.

"Why? What has giving her space ever done to help her?" Shinji asked. "Someone needs to talk to her… and I can't do it, she won't even look at me. She can't even admit things to herself… she hides from everything like I do…"

"Which is why you two are so good together." Hikari said. "You're more alike than most people would realize."

"Yeah, but that doesn't change the fact she's in a bad place… " Shinji said. "Hikari… promise me you'll do what you can to help her… please…"

"Shinji…" Hikari said softly. "I don't think I can… she only talks to Rei now."

"Oh…" Shinji said. "Rei hasn't asked me how I'm doing… I think I've seen her once since I came home."

"She's busy comforting Asuka, Shinji." Hikari said. "Someone has to."

"Well, at least she's with someone who will keep her safe and tell her the truth." Shinji said. "Rei's smart enough to tell Asuka what she needs to hear, even if she doesn't want to hear it…"

"Are you sure?" Hikari asked.

"Well… Rei is so innocent that she just tells it how it is." Shinji said. "So I guess Asuka will be fine…"

"But Shinji… are you ok?" Hikari asked.

"No… but I will be eventually." Shinji replied. "When, Asuka's better, I'll be better."

"As long as you're sure." Hikari said. "Shinji… are you mad at me?"

"I… uh…" Shinji stammered. "No… I'm not mad, I'm just… everything that's happened recently is just too much. I hate my life… I wish I had never been an Evangelion pilot, and I wish my mom was still alive… I just wish all this never happened."

"But, Shinji… if you never came here, you'd have never met me or anyone else." Hikari said.

"But Hikari… I used to live here with my mom and dad." Shinji replied. "I would have met you anyway… we would have been friends for longer… what if the EVAs and Angels didn't exist? What if we had normal lives and everything wasn't fucked up?"

"I guess things would be a lot better than they are now." Hikari said. "What made you think of all this?"

"I guess it's just everything…" Shinji said. "It's making me wish for a normal life."

"I know, but we don't have normal lives anymore." Hikari said. "You know that right?"

"Yeah… but I can dream a normal life, can't I?" Shinji asked. "I'm entitled to at least that… right, Hikari?"

"Yeah… we're all entitled to our dreams." Hikari said. "At least you still have some after everything you've been through."

"Yeah… I'm surprised by it too." Shinji said. "I thought all hope had been stamped out of me by now."

"Well, do you need anything?" Hikari asked. "I can make you something to eat."

"Yeah… whatever you can muster up would be nice." Shinji said.

"Do you know if Asuka ate?" Hikari asked.

"Probably… she has bags of chips in her room." Shinji said. "But if you leave something near the door, she might take it."

"Alright… I'll go make you a sandwich." Hikari said. "What do you want?"

"Anything will be fine, Hikari." Shinji said. "Something that isn't instant would be nice."

"Ok…" Hikari said. "I'll be back shortly. Do you need anything else?"

"No, unless you can makes things go back to normal." Shinji said sullenly.

"Sorry Shinji." Hikari said as she walked over to him and held him tightly. "I love you like a brother… you know that right?"

"Yeah, I know that." Shinji said. "I love you too… you won't leave me, right?"

"No Shinji, I'll always be there for you." Hikari said. "I'll never leave you."

–––

Gendo was sitting calmly in his office. A stoic looking Fuyutsuki was standing across from Gendo's desk, and a worried Ritsuko was standing next to him.

"What is the status of Unit–01?" Gendo asked.

"She's been restrained." Ritsuko said. "In a different isolation Cage. Unit–01 has shut down however, but considering the strength of the A.T. Field Unit–01 can deploy, nothing can hold it if Shinji doesn't want to stay still. Unit–01 is far beyond our control."

"As is her pilot." Gendo said. "He has clearly fallen for a fellow pilot."

"Are you disappointed he finally fell for Asuka?" Fuyutsuki asked.

"No… I am pleased Shinji has fallen for her…" Gendo said before he composed himself again. "But there is the issue of what occurred here when they first met, before the city was complete. Does he now remember all those memories? Everything we heard them say over the comm seems to indicate that. What else will he remember? Does he now know his mother built Unit–01? Does he remember he was there the day he disappeared?"

"What does it matter, Commander?" Ritsuko asked. "Why can't he remember?"

"If he remembers, he becomes more unpredictable than he already is." Gendo said. "And the way he is now is quite dangerous, I can't even fathom if he were to become recklessly unpredictable."

"Can't you, Ikari?" Fuyutsuki said. "He sounds like someone else I know."

"Who are you talking about?" Ritsuko asked.

"He is talking about me." Gendo said. "I can understand the correlation, but he inherited his mother's extremely long fuse, and when it blows it is not anything you want to be near."

"So do you see Shinji heading in that direction?" Fuyutsuki asked. "Do you really think he could be dangerous?"

"He has a vested interest in all of his fellow pilots and friends." Gendo said. "If Rei or Mari are put in excessive danger again, it could become a highly dangerous situation."

"More dangerous than what already occurred?" Ritsuko asked.

"Yes, he has already tried to destroy the base twice, he might succeed if he attempts to destroy everything a third time." Gendo said solemnly.

"I would tend to agree with you." Fuyutsuki said. "So the simple solution is to simply deploy Shinji in every battle to avoid him destroying the base."

"Is it wise to risk Unit–01 in such a way?" Ritsuko asked. "Don't you need it for your plan Commander?"

"Yes, but it is more prudent to risk Unit–01 than risk the safety of this entire base." Gendo said. "Pass along the new order to Colonel Katsuragi immediately."

"Understood Commander." Ritsuko said.

"Speaking of damage…" Fuyutsuki said. "What is the damage from Unit–01's most recent rampage?"

"The isolation Cage has been completely destroyed." Ritsuko said. "But the damage was isolated to there, the damaged remains of Unit–03 are safe, and everything else is fairly intact, but it will take some time to repair."

"What about the EVAs themselves?" Gendo asked.

"Unit–XP is fully repaired from the Fourteenth Angel, and Unit–02 and Unit–01 sustained no actual physical damage from the attack, and Unit–00 is also ready for combat." Ritsuko explained. "But the pilots haven't been in for a sync test since before the Fifteenth Angel."

"That doesn't matter." Gendo said. "The sync tests really aren't necessary, you know that, don't you Dr. Akagi?"

"Yes I am aware, but it keeps them in line." Ritsuko said.

"Considering the last few tests, I don't believe they do." Fuyutsuki said. "I think they can be on hold for the time being, Commander?"

"I agree, for the time being, sync tests are on hold." Gendo said. "They can resume in a few weeks."

"But Asuka's score has dropped so much!" Ritsuko protested.

"It doesn't matter." Gendo said. "Her score is still above the activation threshold, therefore Asuka will continue to pilot." Gendo stared her down. "Is there anything else we need to discuss?"

"I do not believe so, Commander." Ritsuko replied.

"Good, then go set the Evangelions on hot standby for launch." Gendo said. "I want to be ready for the next Angel."

"Yes sir." Ritsuko said as she left the office.

"Well, Fuyutsuki, do you have anything to add?" Gendo asked.

"Yes… where is Agent Yamada?" Fuyutsuki asked. "He has not been around in a long time. Have you disposed of him?"

"No, Agent Yamada is out keeping tabs on SEELE for me." Gendo said. "I have kept him very busy as of late."

"So… anything new on their front?" Fuyutsuki asked.

"Yes… they appear to be building their own Evangelions." Gendo said. "And they have made several financial inroads with the JSSDF as well."

"What does that mean, Ikari?" Fuyutsuki asked.

"Find a way to move money around in the budget to hide the expense of updating the base defenses and armories." Gendo said. "An invasion of this base seems far more prevalent than before… I want to be ready."

"I will inform all department heads to push for weapons training for all employees." Fuyutsuki said. "And I'll work on getting the weapons dealt with as well."

"Good." Gendo said happily. "When SEELE decides to invade this base, they'll be in for the fight of their lives."

"Do you really think they'd risk it?" Fuyutsuki asked.

"Yes, they are beyond arrogant in thinking that this base will fall to their machinations without a fight." Gendo said. "I want them to pay for the taking of this base in blood."


September 21, 2016 – Comfort 17 Apartments

Asuka had walked down to the basement of the apartment to look around the storage unit at the belongings she hadn't been able to unpack in the limited space she had in her shared room. She found the boxes easily as there were still so many of them and started to open and go through them, looking for something important.

"If it's here, than I wasn't imagining things… if it's here… I knew him all along." Asuka muttered as she shifted boxes around and found old clothes she had grown out of and old toys she didn't use anymore. "If what I'm looking for isn't here… then everything I remembered in there is wrong… either way I need to know."

It took her a few boxes to find what she was looking for. She found them exactly where she had packed them, and she had long forgotten their purpose until now. Sitting at the top of a box on a stack of old manga were five sealed boxes. Two of those boxes were GameBoy Colors, one berry and one purple, the third box was a link cable, and the in the last two boxes were two games, one copy of Pokémon Red, and in the second a copy of Pokémon Green.

"Here they are…" Asuka muttered. "The games I promised to play with him the last time we talked on the phone before my mother ended up… in the hospital… I said we'd play Pokémon together… I really did know him… I forgot about him… I'm such an idiot."

Asuka's eyes started to tear up. "How could I forget someone so wonderful! I'm such an idiot!" Asuka broke down crying into the box, unable to contain herself. "I can't believe I remembered everything after all this time… I hate myself for not remembering Shinji was the friend I wanted to find. I don't deserve to love him… I don't deserve his love either… even if he forgot too, I can't blame him because he's baka… he's my baka…"

Asuka did her best to compose herself, but was not able to and cried where she was kneeling for a few minutes. Once she got it out of her system she started drying her tears and Asuka packed up what she had found and moved the box with the GameBoys to the top of the stack.

"Maybe when I can figure all this out we can be together Shinji…" Asuka muttered. "I want to be with you Shinji… but I don't think I deserve you…"

Asuka closed up box and storage locker and was heading out as she wiped a few errant tears from her eyes she saw a worried Misato run into the storage room looking for her.

"Asuka… you're here!" Misato said as she nearly tackled Asuka with a wild hug. "No one's seen you in hours! I thought you ran off on me! Don't do that ever again!"

"Why are you so worried?" Asuka asked gruffly. "You've never shown that you cared this much before. Are you only caring cause I haven't talked to you?"

"Asuka, it's not like that…" Misato said. "I just… Shinji ran away once, and I was so worried about him, I just didn't want you to get hurt if you ran off…"

"Shinji ran away once?" Asuka asked.

"Yeah, after the Fourth Angel." Misato said. "He was mad at me and I was worried I'd never see him again. I thought you did the same thing…"

"I wasn't running away, I was just looking for something." Asuka said. "I don't plan on running off or trying to kill myself or anything. I appreciate the concern and everything… but I'm fine."

"Asuka it hurts me when you say that." Misato said. "I think of you as my daughter… just like I think of Shinji as my son, I care about you guys. I just want to help."

"I get that, Misato, but you can't help with this." Asuka said. "I'm sorry, but this is something I have to do on my own."

"Asuka, are you sure?" Misato asked.

"Yeah… some things you have to do alone." Asuka said as she walked out of the storage room. "I'm sorry… don't worry too much about me though, I can handle anything."

–––

Asuka walked back upstairs and saw a worried Shinji sitting in the kitchen. He looked up and then hurriedly looked away when their eyes met.

"Shinji…" Asuka muttered.

"Sorry…" Shinji said. "I… I thought you disappeared, I guess you didn't." Shinji stood up. "I'll leave you alone."

"Shinji… wait a second." Asuka said. "I… uh… I know it's tough for us not to talk, I just… I just need a bit more time."

"Ok…" Shinji said quietly. "I get it… just… can I tell you one thing?"

"Sure…" Asuka said cautiously.

"Just don't hate yourself too much." Shinji said. "I forgot about you too… and I'm sorry for that Asuka… "

"Shinji… you don't have to apologize." Asuka said. "Just… uh… give me a few more weeks to sort all this out. I remember so much… you gave me a Band–Aid, we talked on the phone so much… I…"

"I know Asuka…" Shinji said. "I'll be here when you're ready."

"I know…" Asuka said. "Thank you for being so patient with me."

"Some things are worth waiting for…" Shinji said as he walked to his room.

"I'm glad you think I'm worth it Shinji." Asuka said to his retreating form. "At least one of thinks so."


September 24, 2016 – Tokyo–3 Junior High School, Class 2–A

Kensuke looked over at Shinji and Asuka during lunch. They weren't looking at each other or talking to each other. Kensuke knew better than to ask either of them directly what was going on, as Shinji appeared to be buying his lunch rather than making it, which concerned Kensuke greatly. Mari and Rei were even separated, Mari sitting with Shinji, and Rei sitting with Asuka. Hikari sat down at the desk next to Kensuke and looked quite down.

"Hey, Kensuke." Hikari said.

"Hey yourself." Kensuke replied. "How's Toji?"

"Oh, he's getting better." Hikari replied. "He wishes you could visit, but he knows it's not your decision to not go and see him. Sakura says hi too by the way."

"Oh, that's nice of her." Kensuke said. "Are they getting out of the hospital soon?"

"Sakura might be, but Toji has a few more weeks to go, or maybe less depending on the rest of his recovery."

"I can't wait till he's out of there…" Kensuke said. "I'm kinda bored, no one to hang out with or anything."

"Yeah… sorry…" Hikari said.

"Don't be…" Kensuke said. "Things just aren't the best with all these Angel attacks."

"Yeah, I know…" Hikari said.

"So, was the last Angel what caused Shinji and Asuka to stop talking?" Kensuke asked.

"What do you mean?" Hikari asked.

"Really, since they came back to school after the last Angel, they've been pretty fucking quiet, they don't talk, and Shinji doesn't even make his own lunch anymore. Hell, Shinji barely says hello to me anymore… something's wrong, I just want to know."

Hikari looked sadly at Kensuke. "I can't really tell you what happened, it's not my place to say." Hikari said. "All I can say is that it involved the Angel… and it's only between Asuka and Shinji…"

"Did they get hurt?" Kensuke asked.

"Well…" Hikari mumbled.

"Come on, either tell me or I'll just hack the info…" Kensuke said. "I just want to help, and it's really hard to follow what Shinji told me when I can see that everyone's really stressed."

"Damn it Kensuke…" Hikari said. "The Angel got ahold of them and attacked their minds, well, it attacked Asuka first and Shinji went to try and help, and no one knows what happened to them in there, but it wasn't good and they aren't talking to anyone. Asuka won't even look at me anymore… and Shinji barely says hello."

"So it's that bad…" Kensuke said. "Is there anything I can do to help?"

"I think the best thing we can do is just give them space, and when they're ready… they'll come to us."

"Alright…" Kensuke said. "I just wish we could do more…"

"So do I Kensuke…" Hikari said as she looked sullenly towards Shinji and then towards Asuka. "I want things to go back the way they were…"

"You never realize how much you like something until it's gone, Hikari." Kensuke said.

"Yeah… I just noticed that." Hikari said. "I hope that was the last Angel… I don't think they'll be able to take on another one."

"Well they do seem to be getting more destructive." Kensuke said. "I hate to think what's coming next…"

"And we're not even fighting them…" Hikari said. "Imagine how they feel."

"Scared probably, even if they don't show it." Kensuke said.

"Yeah…" Hikari said. "I just hope this is over soon before someone dies…"


September 25, 2016 – Tokyo–3, Old Hakone Quarter

Mari was over at Rei's apartment getting some much needed rest. Rei had been gone for the day and had offered her place to Mari so she could sleep uninterrupted by Asuka's nightmares and outbursts.

Rei came home to see Mari deep asleep on her bed, drooling slightly. Rei walked up to her and shook her slightly. "Mari, are you ok?"

Mari stirred cutely as Rei shook her. "Five more minutes mommy…" Mari muttered.

Rei poked Mari's face. "Mari, are you alright?"

Mari woke up slightly and looked towards Rei. "Yeah… I haven't slept so well since before the last Angel attack." Mari smiled. "Thanks for letting me stay here, blueberry."

"I just wanted to help." Rei said happily. "Is Asuka still having terrible nightmares? IS that why you haven't slept?"

"Well, they've gotten better…" Mari said. "But she still screams about her mother… I think she just needs Shinji and she'd be ok…"

"But she is not ready to talk to her." Rei finished.

"Yeah, that…" Mari said. "I hope she gets over it all soon."

"I hope so too…" Rei said quietly. "But, Mari… can you please get up." Rei said. "I want to ask you something important."

Mari woke up slowly and looked up at Rei. "What is it, blueberry? Why do you look so worried?" Mari sat up. "Is something wrong?"

"No… nothing is wrong, Mari." Rei said. "I have been thinking about something."

"What have you been thinking about?" Mari asked.

"Given recent events I have been thinking about what you told me a few weeks ago." Rei said. "I do not want to end up like Shinji and Asuka. I do not want to admit things too late."

"What are you talking about, blueberry?" Mari asked.

"I do not want to wait any longer to tell you what I realized when you talked to me." Rei said as she blushed. "I… I like… no… I love you too, Mari. I do not want to wait any longer to tell you, I do not want it to be too late. I do not want you to suffer as Shinji has… it is not fair."

"Rei…" Mari muttered. "You love me too? You really… love me?"

"Yes, Mari… you are so kind to me." Rei explained. "You have always been nice to me… you care about me… and that makes me feel… happy and warm inside… I am ready to try being in a relationship with you…"

"Oh, Rei…" Mari said as she blushed and smiled widely. "You're so cute! I just want to kiss you right now!"

"That would be agreeable… but I would like to ask you something else." Rei said. "But is it not customary for a couple to go out on a date together?"

"Yeah… yeah it is…" Mari said. "I… uh… I would love to go out on a date with you."

"Where would you suggest?" Rei asked. "I have no experience with such matters."

"Well, there's a restaurant I think you'd like…" Mari said nervously. "Maybe we could skip school on Friday and go."

"Why such a long wait?" Rei asked. "That is five days from now…"

"Well… we miss a lot of school." Mari said. "Besides… I want to plenty of time to plan a perfect first date for us…"

"That is very sweet of you, Mari." Rei said. "I look forward to what you have planned." Rei blushed. "May I… uh… have that kiss you were talking about?"

"Of course, blueberry." Mari said as she leaned slowly towards Rei. "How could I refuse my… girlfriend?"

Rei blushed. "Girlfriend?"

"Yeah, silly…" Mari said. "That's ok to call you, right?"

"That is what I am, is it not?" Rei said. "If I want to be in a relationship with you, than that is a part of it… it sounds nice."

"It does sound nice…" Mari said absentmindedly.

"Does that also make you my girlfriend?" Rei asked.

"Of course silly, we're both girls… you're not my boyfriend…" Mari purred.

"That is a sound argument." Rei said coyly.

"No more talking though… I want to kiss you so badly right now…" Mari said as she pressed her lips gently against Rei's and parted them eagerly with her tongue.


September 28, 2016 – Outside Tokyo–3

Misato was driving along the highway trying to relax. It had been a long few weeks. Shinji and Asuka barely looked at each other, let alone talking to each other since Arael assaulted their minds. Misato had trouble sleeping with Asuka screaming for her mother, and every time she ran in to help Asuka, and every time Asuka would kick her and tell her to get out. Mari had either been sleep deprived in the apartment, or gone to stay at Rei's to actually sleep, and the apartment was a mess, as Shinji no longer cooked or cleaned. Kaji had invited her to stay over at his place, but Misato always refused saying she had to be there for the kids if they ever decided they needed her, which Kaji understood, and he decided to rough it with Misato in case he was also needed. However, Misato needed some time alone, and driving her Alpine at high speed was the way to do it.

However on her drive, Misato spotted something she hoped she'd never see as close again… another Angel. It was a massive braided ring that looked like a circular DNA strand, it glowed a bright white and spun slowly in place far from the city, as if she was waiting for her prey to come to her willingly.

Armisael had appeared.

Misato picked up her phone and dialed the base on a secure line. "Hyuga…" Misato said sternly. "What do you have on sensors?"

"We just picked it up Colonel." Hyuga replied. "It keeps flipping between Pattern Orange and Pattern Blue… we can't identify it."

"Well I saw it." Misato said. "It's an Angel all right. It's too freakish and weird not to be."

"What are your orders Colonel?" Hyuga asked.

"Get Unit–00, Unit–XP, and Unit–01 ready to launch, and have Unit–02 prepped as backup." Misato ordered. "I'm 15 minutes out." Misato looked at her speedometer and slammed her gas petal to the floor. "Make that 10, have everything ready when I arrive."

"Copy that Colonel." Hyuga said. "We'll be ready."

Misato hung up the phone and glanced at the Angel in her side mirror. "Great… just what we need, another fucking Angel…" Misato muttered. "I hope this one isn't worse than the last one… at least its close enough to shoot at…"

–––

Mari was standing next to Rei and Asuka as they pulled their plugsuits on hastily after being dragged from the apartment to NERV HQ quite hastily. Mari hadn't slept much, but was surprised to see a plugsuit awaiting her in her locker, one without a helmet.

Mari pulled off her clothes and pulled on her new plugsuit and activated it. It was pink, and labeled with the letters "XP" and had dark blue highlights around her neck, red and black highlights around her collarbone. There was marble white ribbing covering and extending down from her breasts which perked up her breast and gave them extra support, and a small, dark blood red orb in the center of her chest. There were also black lowlights on the underside of her arms and hands, and connected to the ribbing around her breasts, as well as two black highlights on her pelvis. The wrists of her plugsuit were extra bulky and had two orange disks that looked like Pokéball on each. Finally there was thick dark blue ribbing wrapping around her upper thighs, accentuating her curves and ass quite nicely. Mari kept wearing the same A10 connectors in her hair attached to the same dark blue headband.

"It's about fucking time… now I'll look sexy like you two do in your plugsuits… no more extra padding on my tits either! And no more fucking bulky helmet!" Mari bounced her tits up and down a few times. "Ah… free at last! Bouncy, bouncy! Oooh that feels nice…"

"Wonderful… a walking sex doll." Asuka said. "Don't start playing with yourself…"

"Oh my god… princess, you finally said something!" Mari said as she hugged the half–naked girl. "Does this mean you're back to your old self?"

"I don't know yet, four eyes." Asuka said. "I remember everything, and I know why I fell in love with Shinji… but I still hate myself for not remembering for so long."

"Asuka, do not hate yourself for something beyond your control." Rei said sternly. "Do you love Shinji?"

"Yeah, of course I do." Asuka said.

"Then after this battle, tell him." Rei said. "You have made him wait long enough."

"Rei… I…" Asuka stammered.

"No more excuses, Asuka." Rei said. "It is time for you to grow up and accept that there are things beyond your control. Do not waste the most precious gift we have… time. Do not let moments where you and Shinji could be together slip you by… if something were to ever happen, you would regret it deeply. I know I would."

"What are you even talking about?" Asuka said.

"Mari and I are now a couple." Rei said. "I did not feel waiting any longer would have solved any trepidations I may have had."

"When did this happen?" Asuka asked.

"Few days ago." Mari said. "Wanted to keep it quiet until after our first date."

"Oh…" Asuka said. "Does Shinji know?"

"Hmmm, you said his name… that's an improvement." Mari said. "But no, I haven't told him, I didn't think it was fair considering the uh… circumstances…"

"Yeah… I can understand that…" Asuka said.

"Speaking of circumstances… are you ready for this?" Mari asked.

"Of course." Asuka said. "I'll kill this fucker before it can mind rape me like the last one did… I'm never going to let that happen to me again."

"Well, just be careful." Rei said as she active her plugsuit. "I have a bad feeling about today in the pit of my stomach."

"It's just nerves blueberry." Mari said. "You'll be fine."

"Yes, but the problem is, I do not get nervous." Rei replied.

Asuka and Mari both stared at her.

–––

Rei was inside her Entry Plug and was awaiting orders to launch. She could see the other three Evangelions also prepped for launch around her. Unit–00 was carrying the only ranged weapon, the portable Positron Rifle, while Unit–XP had its spear, Unit–02 was outfitted with the Prog Axe, and Unit–01 had the Prog Sword.

Rei felt nerves for the first time in her life, and was scared by it, which is something Maya noticed, as it showed up on her vitals.

"Rei, your heartrate is elevated, are you alright?" Maya asked.

"I am fine." Rei said. "I just wish to end this battle quickly."

"Well, just be careful in doing that." Misato said. "No hasty decisions, from anyone, is that clear?"

"Understood." Rei said.

"Got it, Misato." Asuka said.

"I'm never reckless, miso!" Mari said brightly. "You got nothing to worry about."

"I'm not making a promise I can't keep." Shinji said. "I'm ready to launch."

"Alright then… good enough… Evangelions… LAUNCH!" Misato ordered.

Unit–00 and Rei shot up towards the surface with everyone else. When they arrived, they all saw the new Angel floating there, serenely. Rei survived the Angel, and felt a pang in her stomach.

"What data do we have on this Angel?" Rei asked.

"Nothing, I keeps cycling between Pattern Orange and Pattern Blue, the MAGI can't predict its capabilities." Maya said.

"We're pretty much flying blind, Rei." Misato said.

"This is what you get for trusting Skynet to make all of your decisions for you." Mari quipped. "The machines will always rise up against you."

"Mari, this isn't the time!" Ritsuko shouted.

"The hell it isn't!" Asuka shouted back, full of rage. "We're the assholes sitting up here waiting for intel you won't ever have, because your hack scientist of a useless mother couldn't design a better fucking three–piece calculator!"

"How dare you, you fucking little cunt!" Ritsuko shouted. "My mother…"

"Was a self–righteous cunt like yourself with a quarter of the skills of my own mother…" Asuka said venomously. "And that's being generous…"

"Asuka, enough!" Misato shouted.

"No, it isn't enough Misato! We're going to get hurt again because you're all relying on those stupid computers!" Shinji shouted. "I'm tired of seeing the people I care about getting hurt while you sit around telling us what to do!"

Unit–01 glowed red as Shinji's rage spiked, and the ground shook slightly.

"Shinji, please calm down…" Mari said. "You're scaring me…"

"No…" Shinji said.

"SHINJI!" Asuka shouted. "Calm down for me, please!"

The ground stopped shaking and Unit–01 lost its red glow and Shinji calmed down. "Sorry…" Shinji muttered.

"You better be." Asuka said.

"Seeing as that's over now… everyone, just stay back and gather data on its movements, we'll use that to make a decision." Misato ordered.

Rei felt another pang in her stomach. "I do not see that as a viable option, Colonel." Rei said fearfully.

"Why is that, exactly?" Misato asked.

"It's coming to us." Rei replied.

In that moment, Armisael formed into a tentacle like whip and flew towards the closest Evangelion, Unit–00. Rei extended her A.T. Field and put up her hand to block the attack, Unit–00 caught the whip in its hands and shoved its rifle into her struggling tentacle and fired every shot in the clip point blank into Armisael, to no effect.

"It did not work!" Rei shouted. "What… what is this?"

"What's going on with her arm?" Fuyutsuki asked. "And the chest?"

"Contamination!" Aoba shouted. "The Angel is invading the EVA!"

"Damn it!" Misato shouted. "Can you do anything?"

"No… the Angel is bypassing the A.T. Field entirely!" Maya said anxiously. "It's penetrating the inner all the protections we have!"

"Is it trying to reach the pilot?!" Misato shouted.

"Yes!" Hyuga shouted.

"Move in, what are you all waiting for?!" Misato shouted.

"Great… tentacle porn… this never ends well…" Mari said. "And it's fucking blast proof… we're fucked. Hold on, blueberry, I'm coming for you!"

"Help me… Mari…" Rei said weakly. "It hurts…"

Unit–XP charged forward, spear at the ready. "I'm going to make you into a fucking kabab!" Mari screamed.

The tentacle split into several different tendrils and lashed out in unison towards Unit–XP, impacting heavily on the armor with massive electrical discharges, sending the poor EVA flying through the air. Unit–01 and Unit–02 turned and charged the Angel together, weapons raised.

"Take this, you fucker!" Asuka screamed.

"Leave Rei… ALONE!" Shinji roared.

The tentacles went after both of them, and the discharges scorched Unit–02's armor, sending painful shocks to Asuka. Unit–01 was unaffected, as the tentacles bounced off its A.T. Field.

"AAAAHHHHH!" Asuka screamed as Unit–02 went flying backwards and plowed into the ground.

"ASUKA!" Shinji shouted. "BASTARD!" Unit–01's A.T. Field spiked and it charged the tentacles again. This time, Armisael broke free of Unit–00's grasp and attacked Unit–01 with all of her might, breaching the A.T. Field easily and penetrating the armor. Armisael then sent a powerful blast into Unit–01 and sent it flying backward, leaving Shinji injured. Rei watched helplessly as the tentacle left Unit–01 and came back and split into a dozen pieces and shot right through the middle of her chest and several other places on her EVA, and she felt every bit of it.

"AAAAHHHHH!" Rei screamed. "WHAT ARE YOU!?"

–––

Back in Central Dogma the scene was once again utter chaos. All the EVAs were either down, or captured by the Angel, and there weren't any left to take out the Angel.

"Give me the status of everyone, now!" Misato shouted.

"Asuka's offline!" Maya shouted. "She's out cold! She has severe abdominal and chest lacerations from the attack…"

"Shit!" Misato shouted. "Medical teams?"

"It's an active battle zone, Colonel." Hyuga said. "We can't do anything."

"What about Mari?" Fuyutsuki asked.

"I'm rerouting power in her EVA to bypass the mechanical damage." Aoba said. "ETA, five minutes. She's injured, but not as badly as Asuka, but her sync score is slipping."

"Rei and Shinji?" Gendo asked. "What is their current status?"

"Rei's sync rate just shot up to 75%!" Maya said. "And the Angel has penetrated no less than 18 points on her and Unit–00's body… those kinds of injuries could kill her!"

"What's Shinji's sync score?" Misato asked.

"90%…" Hyuga said. "He's semi–conscious"

"What about Unit–01?" Misato asked.

"Heavily damaged and in some sort of stasis." Maya said. "Most likely healing itself… but Shinji is still synced to it, and his vitals are slowly improving…"

"Is the EVA healing him?" Misato asked.

"I believe so, ma'am." Maya said. "The S2 Engine is helping him."

"How long until Unit–01 is back online?" Misato asked.

"Unknown, ma'am." Maya replied.

"What can we do?" Hyuga asked. "Colonel, what are your orders?"

"We wait…" Misato said. "We can't do anything without any EVAs." Misato sighed. "As soon as Mari is back online, get her in there. Same thing with Shinji…"

"Can do, ma'am." Maya said. "I just hope it's soon…"

"So do I, Maya." Misato said solemnly. "So do I."
–––

Rei was writhing inside her Entry Plug. Armisael had invaded the Entry Plug, and her small glowing tendrils had worked into Rei's body, ripping into her skin and violating her.

"Get out of my body…" Rei said weakly. "You are not allowed…"

"Rei!" Shinji shouted over the comms. "Are you alright? Rei?!"

"Shinji… please help me…" Rei said. "The Angel is inside of me… Shinji… Mari… Asuka… someone… I am… I am afraid…"

"Rei!" Shinji screamed.

"AAAAHHHHH!" Rei screamed. "WHO ARE YOU?!"

"I am Armisael." A voice said sickeningly to Rei. "You killed my sister Arael… and I am going to make you pay…"

"What?" Rei said. "How?!"

"We are going to play a game." Armisael said.

–––
Gendo sat worriedly, listening to the comms channel as Rei screamed in pain. He winced every time Rei screamed.

"Who is she talking to Fuyutsuki?" Gendo asked.

"I do not know." Fuyutsuki said. "Although given the past few Angels we have encountered, I would render a guess that she is chatting with Armisael."

"Yes, I would have to agree." Gendo said. "I just hope she survives this."
–––

Rei was standing in a large pool of LCL. She was in her plugsuit and had the small tendrils tearing through her body, in even this mindscape. She was staring at a copy of herself in a plugsuit, but without the tendrils showing through the plugsuit. The copy rose eerily from the LCL and stared blankly back at her.

"Who is that?" Rei muttered to herself. "It is not the me from inside Unit–00… it must be the Angel…"

"Hello, cousin." Armisael said. "Are you in pain?"

"No…" Rei replied. "You cannot hurt me…"

"I'll have to fix that." Armisael lifted her right hand and twisted it around, causing Rei to scream in agony. "That sounds better… so, tell me cousin… why did you kill my favorite sister? What drove you to finally kill?"

"I was protecting my friends." Rei said. "You seem like you would not know what that is."

"Being who live forever do not need friends, cousin." Armisael said.

"Why are you calling me that?" Rei asked. "I am not your cousin."

"Oh how dumb you are." Armisael said. "You do not even know what you are…"

"I am me." Rei said. "I have friends who care about me and a girl I love… and I know where I come from."

"So then you know my father and your mother were twins." Armisael said. "And that your mother killed my father the same way you killed Arael, with that spear."

"I do not care about ancient beings." Rei said. "It is of no consequence to me."

Armisael twisted her hand again, causing another blood curdling scream to emanate from Rei. "Considering your current situation, it is of consequence to you." Armisael kept the pain shooting through Rei's body. "Unless you disagree of course. Scream if you disagree, Rei… scream like my bitch."

"I am no one's… bitch…" Rei said between screams. "I will not submit to you…"

"But you already have, Rei…" Armisael said venomously. "Just like you submitted yourself to that girl you love… you aren't even entirely convinced you can love… I can feel it in your soul, a flicker of regret that you lied to her face…"

"I did not lie…" Rei said. "I love Mari…"

"Funny, your heart doesn't fill with happiness a those words." Armisael said. "Do I have to demonstrate that pain to you?"

"I have no pain to demonstrate…" Rei said. "You cannot hurt me…"

"You say that… and yet I don't believe you…" Armisael said. "Time to help you feel all those emotions you seem to be neglecting."

"What is this?" Rei gasped, her breathing ragged. "It is not physical pain… it is sadness… despair… loneliness…" Rei looked at Armisael with pity. "We have killed all your brothers and sisters, you are the only one left. And you hate being alone."

"Funny how quickly you can identify the feelings of your own heart." Armisael said. "I am surprised you recognize feelings you grew to ignore… you are the lonely one, Rei. You know you are not truly human. You know you do not truly deserve to live… you are an abomination, Rei… a cheap imitation of human life with fragments of a copied soul and a dead deity from long before humans walked this planet. You know you deserve death to save yourself the shame of those you say you care about finding out your dirty little secret." Armisael screamed. "Damn that boy… he's stronger than he looks…"

"Shinji…" Rei muttered.

"Yes, your brother…" Armisael said. "Perhaps for you to understand my pain, I should kill your sibling and see what you do, or perhaps that stupid girl you say you love who clearly didn't take a hint…"

"Leave them alone…" Rei said. "You will regret it…"

"Well, then you should regret everything you've done to my siblings when they're dead…" Armisael said. "And I can't wait to feel the anguish this will cause you… and then… I'll kill you too… slowly… so I can enjoy every moment of it."

"I will be brave like Shinji was." Rei said angrily. "And I will destroy you, Armisael."

"We shall see, lonely hearts…" Armisael sneered. "We shall see… I doubt you have the guts to kill me." Armisael smiled sickeningly. "Well, I'll kill your brother first… seeing as he's right in my grasp, it should be easy. Or maybe your girlfriend… she seems to be charging me again like a reckless fool…"

"No… Mari…" Rei stammered. "Don't attack her…" Rei felt tears roll down her cheeks. "I will not let you take away the people I care about."

"Then why are you crying?" Armisael asked.

–––

Mari's vision was blurry. The injuries she received from Armisael still stung. She felt like her ribs had been chattered.

"Fucking Angel…" Mari muttered. "I am so going to kill you." Mari saw through her flickering main display that Unit–01 and Unit–00 were trapped, with Unit–00 being completely trapped in its kneeling position.

"Stop hurting my girlfriend you motherfucker!" Mari screamed as Unit–XP charged forward. "Fucking die!"

Unit–XP raised its spear and moved at high speed towards the trapped Unit–00. Unit–XP activated its retro rockets to increase its speed and tired plunging its spear into Armisael, only to see it fracture and crumple against the Armisael's impenetrable body.

"What the fuck?!" Was the only thing Mari could say before the tentacles assaulted her and Unit–XP and blasted her full of energy, sending her flying backwards and ripping the mechanical parts of Unit–XP to pieces.

"AAAAHHHHH!" Mari screamed as everything went black.

–––

Central Dogma was in stunned silence.

"What is Mari's status?" Misato asked.

"Unknown…" Maya replied. "But that blast… she may not have lived… it was beyond powerful… I… don't know if she's ok."

"What about the others?" Misato asked.

"Asuka's vitals are dangerously weak." Aoba said. "If she doesn't get help in a few minutes, she's going to…"

"Die." Misato mumbled.

"Yeah…" Maya said. "Shinji's vitals are ok, but Rei's heartrate and blood pressure are excessively high… she could have a stroke if this keeps up."

"Is Unit–01 online yet?" Gendo asked.

"No, Commander, it's not." Hyuga replied. "It's still in standby mode."

–––

Rei watched in horror as she saw Unit–XP fly away as a smoldering wreck.

"Mari!" Rei screamed. "MARI!"

"Your pain amuses me." Armisael said. "Funny… I can't even feel your heart breaking considering you supposedly love her… perhaps your sad little heart will break if I kill that stupid boy over there."

"Leave Shinji alone!" Rei screamed. "You will not hurt him!"

"No… I will brutally end his life so that you can watch and suffer in silence… you won't be able to escape this, you're going to suffer for what you did to my sister." Armisael said.

"That Angel was hurting my friends…" Rei said angrily. "I was defending them… I saved them… I will not let you hurt them."

"Funny, I've already injured two of them." Armisael replied. "Now I'm going to make you witness the death of your sibling… get ready to suffer all those sad emotions you hate so much."

"No… I will kill you before you hurt anyone else." Rei said. "Shinji has shown me there is always a way."

"You're in a no win scenario, Rei." Armisael said. "You're all alone, without support, and you're injured." Armisael raised her hand and clenched her fist tightly, causing Rei to scream in utter agony. "See… you're some serious trouble, Rei… you're going to be all alone in a minute, and their deaths will be all your fault…"

"I do not believe in no win scenarios." Rei said angrily.

"Oh, you will in a few minutes." Armisael purred.

–––

Shinji watched As Mari got blasted across the landscape, bits of smoking metal flying off her Evangelion. As he saw a dust cloud get kicked up by ground impact, Shinji shook his control yokes again.

"Mother, come on!" Shinji shouted. "Everyone's on danger… we have to fight!" Shinji slammed his fists into the controls. "Come on… I'm tired of waiting around! I don't want Rei to get hurt anymore."

At Shinji's urging, Unit–01 finally activated and stood up. Even with the damage it took, and the repairs the S2 Engine were able to complete, movement was sluggish, and Shinji felt the shooting pains from where the tentacles had impacted.

"Hold on Rei…" Shinji said weakly. "I'll save you…"

As Unit–01 moved towards Armisael, several dozen small tentacles flew towards him. Shinji extended his A.T. Field to maximum, and the tentacles impacted the field and tried to force their way through. As the A.T. Field crackled under the strain, Shinji tried desperately to keep the tentacles away from him.

"Get away from me!" Shinji shouted.

"Shinji… run away…" Rei said weakly. "Save the others… leave me behind…"

"No, Rei, I'm not leaving you!" Shinji said as the tentacles fractured his A.T. Field. "I'm not letting you get hurt!"

"I am already injured Shinji… save Asuka and Mari…" Rei replied weakly. "While they still have time."

"I WON'T LEAVE YOU!" Shinji roared.

Armisael ripped through the A.T. Field and plunged the Tentacles into Unit–01, causing Shinji to scream out in pain like Rei had been.

–––

Rei was no longer in her mindscape talking to Armisael. She was back in her Entry plug watching helplessly as Unit–01 was assaulted by Armisael and ensnared like just like she was. Rei could also see the smoldering remains of Unit–XP and the damaged and charred hulk of Unit–02.

"Shinji…" Rei muttered as she cried silently. "Why did you not run? You should have saved them instead…"

"AAAAHHHHH!" Shinji screamed.

"Shinji, fight back!" Misato shouted.

"I… I can't!" Shinji shouted. "It hurts too much! I can't move!"

"I can feel Shinji's heart…" Rei muttered. "We are connected… brother… onii–chan…" Rei wiped the tears from her eyes. "I know what I must do now… I will do what you did to save us once before…"

Rei tapped several buttons on her control yokes and powered up her A.T. Field to maximum, and then she inverted it. Armisael was pulled into Unit–00, and out of Unit–01, freeing Shinji from what was coming. Armisael was pulled into Unit–00's gut and struggled against the A.T. Field to escape.

"Rei's Field has inverted!" Maya shouted. "She's absorbed the Angel!"

"Rei, what the hell are you doing!?" Misato shouted. "Eject, now!"

"If I do that… the A.T. Field will collapse and Armisael will kill Shinji…" Rei said. "I will not let that happen…" Rei painfully turned around in her seat and fumbled around, pulling an access panel off that revealed a green ball. "Some things cannot be avoided."

"Rei, what are you talking about?!" Shinji said. "Rei?!"

"Rei, don't do it!" Misato shouted. "Please, eject!"

"Shinji… please look after Mari for me… tell her I love her." Rei said as she spun the green ball downward and revealed a red handle.

"Tell her yourself!" Shinji cried out. "Rei!"

"Rei, get out of there!" Gendo cried out.

"Her A.T. Field is at its limit, the Angel is fighting, breach is imminent!" Maya shouted.

"Rei, this an order!" Misato shouted. "Eject… NOW!"

Rei wiped her eyes as the tendrils throbbed inside her body. "Shinji, I know you told me to never say this again but I must…" Rei said as she cried silently. "If I do not, I will severely regret it…"

"Rei, just tell me after we kill this Angel!" Shinji shouted.

"No… I must tell you Shinji…" Rei said woefully as she gripped the handle. "Goodbye… onii–chan…"

Rei pulled the handle and felt Unit–00 shutter as she activated Mode–D, self–destruct. The struggling Armisael was pulled into Unit–00 as the sequence activated. Unit–00 was lifted off the ground by some outside force, and Unit–01 ran towards Unit–00 as the sequence counted down. Its A.T. Field extended around Unit–00 as it got close. Just for the instant before the explosion Unit–00 looked like a nude, Evangelion sized, white glowing Rei. A massive halo collapsed above her head, and then a massive explosion emanated from the spot, bouncing off of Unit–01's A.T. Field and shooting upwards several kilometers into the sky like a mushroom cloud and leaving a shallow crater into the ground. The city was spared from any damage, but Unit–00 had disappeared.

–––

Central Dogma was lit up by the dazzling white light and was stunned into silence as they watched in horror as things unfolded around them.

"The Sixteenth Angell's Pattern Blue has disappeared from sensors…" Aoba said. "And Unit–00's transponder and emergency transponder are not being received…"

"What about… the others?" Misato asked.

"Unit–01 contained the explosion, Shinji's vitals are stable, he's safe, ma'am." Hyuga replied quietly. "As for Unit–02 and Unit–XP… they are still transmitting… vitals on both pilots are critical."

"What is the status of… Unit–00?" Misato asked shakily.

"I… I don't think the Entry Plug ejected in time…" Maya said.

"Send out emergency response teams to Unit–02 and Unit–XP." Misato ordered. "And send search and rescue teams into the blast zone to search…"

"If they're anything left to rescue that is." Ritsuko quipped.

Misato turned her head and glared at Ritsuko, and was going to say something but was cut off by someone else.

"Shut the fuck UP!" Maya shouted. "JUST SHUT THE FUCK UP!"

Everyone in Central Dogma stared at Maya. She was usually so quiet and soft spoken, it was unusual to hear her shout, let alone swear.

"What did you say?" Ritsuko asked.

"I told you to shut the fuck up!" Maya shouted again. "We just watched… we just watched Rei sacrifice herself to save us all, and all you have to say is that fucking bullshit?! Asuka's right, you're nothing but a stupid, self–righteous cunt!"

"Enough…" Gendo said. "Dr. Akagi… you're heading up the team going into the blast zone, you have 10 minutes to assemble your team and depart."

"Commander…" Ritsuko started.

"No arguments, just do it!" Gendo shouted.

"Sir…" Ritsuko said angrily as she stormed out.

"Set alert status to Level–2 battle stations." Fuyutsuki ordered. "Keep the evacuation in and shelter order in effect until further notice."

"Understood, sir." Misato said.

"Uh… Colonel…" Hyuga said nervously. "We have another problem."

"What… what is it now?" Misato asked.

"Shinji synchrograph… it's highly unstable…" Hyuga said. "I think he's going into another rage… like with the last Angel…"

"Oh no…" Misato mumbled as alarms started to go off and the base started to shake.

–––

Shinji stared at the crater in front of him. He was shaking in shock and rage, even though his A.T. Field had dropped after the explosion subsided, he still couldn't see anything but fire and heat through his display.

"REI!" Shinji screamed. "NOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

As Shinji screamed frantically in the aftermath of the explosion, Unit–01's A.T. Field ignited in a vicious fury. The power emanating from the Evangelion created a massive shockwave making a crater in the ground and caused the EVA to glow brightly.

"REI, COME BACK!" Shinji screamed at the dissipating blast cloud. "YOU DIDN'T DESERVE TO DIE! YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE BEEN THE ONE TO SACRIFICE YOURSELF LIKE THAT!"

"Shinji, calm down, please!" Misato pleaded.

"NO, I JUST LET ANOTHER FRIEND OF MINE GET HURT BECAUSE I COULDN'T DO ANYTHING! I JUST… I JUST WATCHED REI DIE!" Shinji screamed. "SO DON'T TELL ME TO FUCKING CALM DOWN, MISATO!"

The ground beneath Unit–01 began to buckle even more, causing rock and dirt to levitate around him. Tremors began to emanate from Unit–01, shaking Tokyo–3 and NERV HQ. And as Shinji continued to scream, a massive shockwave emanated from Unit–01, sending a shockwave outward and ripping up the ground and creating a dirt storm.

"Shinji, get ahold of yourself, you need to calm down, you're destroying the city!" Misato exclaimed. "Please, stop…"

"NO!" Shinji roared. "WHY DID I LET THIS HAPPEN!? WHY COULDN'T I STOP HER IN TIME!? WHY COULDN'T I SAVE HER!?" Shinji stared up in the Entry Plug and screamed. "WHYYYYYYYYYY!"

Unit–01 roared in agony with Shinji at the loss of Rei, with a long and lamenting cry…

"ROOOOAAAAAARRRRRRRRRR!"

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.

Sync Score Rankings!
Shinji – 90.0% (-9.0%)
Rei – 75.0% (+6.6%)
Mari – 36.4% (-34.6%)
Asuka – 18.1% (-3.7%)

Just a brief explanation is needed here… This is something I decided long ago had to happen, which is why it was so hard to write this chapter. Killing Rei II, while horrible to write had to be done, Rei III is far freer from Gendo, as she is even more removed from the idealistic memories of Rei I. Also, this event will push a lot of the plot of Episode VI, Mari will be weakened by it, and Shinji is of course devastated (see above), and Asuka will feel like she has lost someone close to her too.

The problem the show never had with killing Rei was that she was only connected to Shinji and Gendo. However, in this story, she is connected far more to those around her, and the effects will be far more severe than in the show. I don't expect this decision to sit well with many people considering Mari and Rei were just starting a relationship… but some things need to occur for other plot points further on in the story to occur… and for that, I am sorry.

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