Neon Genesis Evangelion: Legacy
Episode V: SEELE Strikes Back


Chapter 12 – Mending Fences
September 28, 2016 – Outside Tokyo–3

"ROOOOAAAAAARRRRRRRRRR!"

Unit–01 was still roaring at the sky in agony with Shinji. The ground was shaking wildly from the energy being expended outwards by Unit–01's powerful A.T. Field. The ground was also fracturing under unit–01's feet, causing the rescue teams to hold off from entering the area due to the massive danger.

Shinji was still shouting and crying inside his Entry Plug. "BRING HER BACK!" Shinji cried. "BRING BACK, REI!"

"Shinji… please…" Misato stammered. "We can't search the area until you calm down."

"I'M NOT GOING TO CALM DOWN!" Shinji shouted. "NOT UNTIL YOU TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED TO REI! WHY DID YOU LET HER DO THAT! WHY, MISATO!? WHY DID SHE HAVE TO DIE!?"

"Shinji… she did it save us all." Maya said worriedly.

"SHE DIDN'T HAVE TO DIE!" Shinji screamed. "SHE DIDN'T DESERVE TO DIE! TELL ME WHY SHE HAD TO DIE! SOMEONE EXPLAIN WHY!"

"She did what she had to do, Shinji." Gendo said.

"YOU DON'T GET TO TALK TO ME!" Shinji roared. "YOU DON'T GET TO PASS THIS OFF LIKE YOU DO ABOUT EVERYTHING ELSE! YOU LET HER DIE!"

"Commander, I don't believe you're helping." Fuyutsuki said. "Shinji, if you don't calm down, you'll end up hurting the people you want to protect."

"I DON'T CARE! I ALREADY FAILED AT DOING THAT!" Shinji shouted. "I JUST WATCHED HER DIE, AND I COULDN'T DO ANYTHING!"

Unit–01's mouth started to glow and its A.T. Field focused in the back of its mouth. The ball of red energy collected and fired a blast straight into the sky, the sky turned blood red and the beam dissolved any clouds it passed through as it reached high into the atmosphere and reached into space. The effects of Shinji's rage were being felt even more on the ground. The ground around Unit–01 had collapsed into a small crater of its own, and everything was vibrating dangerously. Tokyo–3 was in danger of collapsing.

"Shinji, stop!" Maya pleaded. "If you don't calm down, we can't save Asuka or Mari… and we can't search for Rei…"

"Maya…" Misato warned.

"WHAT IS THERE TO LOOK FOR!?" Shinji shouted. "SHE… SHE… BLEW HERSELF UP! I JUST SAW IT, SHE'S GONE AND IT'S ALL MY FAULT!"

"Shinji, please…" Misato begged. "If you keep this up, Rei's sacrifice will mean nothing if you destroy the city!"

"I DON'T CARE, I WANT HER BACK!" Shinji shouted. "I WANT MY FRIEND BACK! IT'S NOT FAIR! IT'S NOT FAIR!"

"Shinji!" Maya pleaded. "Please, calm down and get back here… we… we need to treat your injuries, and we need to find Asuka and Mari before it's too late…"

Shinji snapped out of his rage spiral. "Asuka…" Shinji said. "What about Asuka!?"

"She's dying, Shinji!" Maya explained. "Asuka and Mari are dying… we need to save them, now! Please, Shinji… calm down so we can save them… please…"

Shinji's response was silent, with Unit–01 ceasing its destructive red energy blast into the air, and the shaking slowly subsided. Shinji's rage had subsided as well, and now he was worried about Asuka and Mari, as he realized that Rei was beyond help.

"Get them back…" Shinji said weakly. "Please…"

"We, will, Shinji…" Maya said kindly.

"Shinji, get to the nearest elevator for immediate recovery." Misato ordered.

"Understood…" Shinji mumbled as he moved the control yokes unsteadily.

Unit–01 moved slowly towards the nearest Evangelion elevator to be pulled back down into NERV HQ while the rescue teams sped by, looking for everyone who was missing.

–––

It had been several hours since the fight. It took time to find the Evangelions, as they were buried under several inches of dirt released by the destruction of Unit–00. The teams found Asuka first inside Unit–02, which was laying on its back. Unit–02 wasn't badly damaged, but where the tentacles had made contact, there was severe charring and burning to the armor and the flesh of the red Evangelion. After taking the time to lift the Evangelion into a sitting position in order to access the Entry Plug, they were able to recover Asuka. She was covered in her own blood, from several lacerations to her midsection from the sympathetic injuries that matched her Evangelion's own. Asuka was barely conscious when they got her out, and she was muttering to herself incoherently.

"Shinji… Shinji… I love you…" Asuka mumbled. "Shinji… I'm sorry… where are you…" Asuka cried. "Momma… I'm sorry… I wrecked your Evangelion… don't leave me because I broke it… please… tell me how to be with Shinji… momma…"

"Poor girl…" One of the medics said. "Think she'll be ok?"

"Once we get her into the LCL bath, she'll be fine." The other medic said.

"It's just a shame she had to get this injured in the first place." The first medic said sullenly. "I'm really tired of seeing these kids like this…"

"Well, yeah, so am I… but with their jobs, it's kinda unavoidable." The other medic said.

However, it took longer for the recovery teams to find Unit–XP. It had been far more severely damaged by the assault from Armisael. Half destroyed and missing most of the armor covering the biological components, Unit–XP was a shell of its former self. The recovery team not only had several trucks to cart away the damaged remains of the mechanical arms and legs, but an even bigger crane was needed to suspend Unit–XP in order to recover Mari. When they found her she was in bad shape, unconscious and barely alive. Her arms and legs were a mess, covered in blood and her plugsuit had been torn to shreds by the amount of energy that passed through the Entry Plug when Armisael attacked. The scorch marks from the surge were visible all around her. Blood from a head wound partially obscured her face, and her glasses had been cracked from surge of energy pouring through her body. By the time Mari was pulled out, a portable tank of LCL was present, and she was submerged in it immediately, in the hopes that she would survive the trip back there. Asuka was in a similar tank next to her and saw her friend floating there through the orange liquid before she too lost consciousness.

–––

Kaji walked into Central Dogma. He had heard what happened and went to see if it was actually true. As he walked in, he saw that the Command Center was almost entirely empty. The people working at the smaller workstations on the lower levels and near the MAGI were gone, and the rest of the room was silent. As he moved closer to Misato, he heard Gendo and Fuyutsuki getting up to leave.

"Colonel… we leave the recovery operation in your hands." Fuyutsuki said.

"Understood, sir." Misato replied hollowly.

They left without another word and Kaji walked up quietly towards Misato.

"Misato… what happened?" Kaji asked. "Is it… true?"

"I… Kaji… it's…" Misato stammered. "It's true… Rei's… Rei's dead…"

"No…" Kaji muttered. "What about… everyone else?"

"I… I can't talk about this…" Misato mumbled. "I'm still waiting to hear from the recovery teams… excuse me for a moment…"

"Misato…" Kaji said. "Are you going to be ok?"

"I don't think so…" Misato said. "I'm… I'll be back shortly… can you uh… take over here for now? I'm going to go down to the Medical Wing, you know how they hate answering the phone."

"Yeah… go…" Kaji said. "I think I can handle this."

As Misato left, Hyuga and Aoba got up and looked over at Kaji. "Sir, do you mind if we leave? We… we uh… we need to…"

"Go." Kaji said. "But first… are the others alright?"

"Shinji's fine… he's still in shock." Aoba said. "As for the girls… Asuka's banged up pretty bad, and Mari's barely alive…"

"Right… thanks for letting me know." Kaji said.

"We'll be back shortly sir…" Aoba said. "We just need to…"

"I don't really care." Kaji said. "Just do it and get back to work."

"Yes, sir." Hyuga replied as the par left the room.

"Maya, you can leave too if you want, I won't tell anyone." Kaji said kindly. "You could use a break."

"I'm not abandoning Rei…" Maya said. "They're still searching for her."

"Maya, are you ok?" Kaji asked as he sat down next to her.

"No… I just watched probably the sweetest girl sacrifice herself without a second thought." Maya said. "And then I watched as Shinji lost it in a fit of rage… if he hadn't calmed down, Rei's sacrifice could have been for nothing… it was too terrible to watch."

"So that was the shaking then." Kaji said. "I'm guessing Shinji didn't take it very well…"

"He had an up close and personal viewing of what happened." Maya said. "He watched and couldn't do anything more than watch his friend die… and considering his reaction Asuka being hurt when he couldn't do anything, I can't blame him for losing his temper."

"Maya, are you sure, you're ok?" Kaji asked. "You seem… different…"

"I'm just sad, Kaji." Maya said. "I hate this job… everything here is awful, even that horrible Akagi woman… I hate that woman…"

"What did she do this time?" Kaji asked.

Maya began shaking in rage. "She… she made a remark about how there wouldn't be anything left of Rei to find… and I… I snapped and shouted at her…"

"Rightly so." Kaji said. "She's never really been a happy person."

"Yeah, and I used to have a crush on her…" Maya said. "I'm such an idiot…"

"No, you're not." Kaji said. "She's fooled a lot of people. To be fair, she's a broken person. I think she hates happy people because she can't be happy herself. I can't even pity her because of what she's done, she doesn't deserve it."

"What did she do?" Maya asked.

"Ah… that's a bit of a private story." Kaji said. "Maybe if you ask that nice girlfriend of yours to come and meet Misato and me for a couple's night, I'll tell you."

"Why exactly?" Maya asked. "Male fantasy?"

"I'm not that kind of guy, Maya." Kaji said. "But I am curious to meet Misato's ex and best friend from high school."

"Oh, you know about that?" Maya asked.

"Yeah, I just want to meet the girl that stole Misato's heart." Kaji said. "Kinda dumb, isn't it…"

"No, it's sweet…" Maya said. "You really care about her."

"I've loved her for a very long time." Kaji said. "She's a hard person not to love, really."

Maya started to tear up. "Rei was the same way…" Maya said tearfully. "And now… now she's gone…"

Kaji got up and hugged Maya tightly. "Don't cry… Rei was only doing what she thought was right… she wanted to save her friends." Kaji smiled as a tear rolled down his cheek. "She did something not many people would be willing to do… she sacrificed herself selflessly to save everyone she cared about."

"That's a nice way to look at it." Maya said.

"It's the best way to look at it." Kaji said. "It's slightly less depressing that way."

"I guess it is…" Maya said as she wiped her face.

"Maya, sorry to change the subject, but can I ask what made you turn against Ritsuko?" Kaji asked. "I mean, you said you had a crush on her…"

"Yeah… it was the way she wrote off Shinji when the Twelfth Angel absorbed him…" Maya said. "She was so evil to Asuka and the others… it was hard to watch. I started to see who she truly was… an evil person…"

Misato walked back in with puffy eyes and saw Kaji and Maya talking. "Are you guys ok in here?"

Kaji turned and saw her eyes. "I'd have to ask the same thing of you."

"I've been better…" Misato said.

"Is it…" Maya said.

"Are the girls ok?" Kaji asked.

"Asuka and Mari are in critical condition." Misato said. "The doctors don't know if they'll make it… I… Shinji… I can't tell Shinji… he'll never forgive himself…"

"Misato…" Kaji said. "Where is Shinji?"

"He's heading to the Medical Wing… he's been sedated." Misato said. "They had to forcibly remove him from the Entry Plug, he's still so distraught that they had to sedate him. Kaji… I can't face him… he's going to hate me for letting Rei do that…"

"I'll go look after him." Kaji said as he got up and walked towards Misato. "You just worry about work. He's just angry right now, Misato… he doesn't mean it."

"I can't… I can't handle it if he hates me…" Misato said. "I don't want him to hate me."

"He doesn't." Kaji said consolingly as he hugged Misato gently. "Don't worry about, Misato… just give him some time, he's in shock… just like the rest of us are."

"Ok…" Misato said. "Please… take care of him…"

–––

It was nearing nightfall, the battle with Armisael had long since ended, and the three of the pilots had been recovered, however one pilot still had to be accounted for: Rei.

Due to the robust construction of the Entry Plug, Gendo had ordered a search for Rei, with the miniscule chance she was alive. Even if she had not survived, there would still be body to recover, and a soul to transfer to a new body, which wasn't public information, but Ritsuko understood the point of what she deemed a useless search.

So, Ritsuko was in an orange hazmat suit, combing through the wreckage and debris far outside of the crater where Unit–00 exploded. It was a horrific sight, and due to the fact that there hadn't been anything left of value in the crater, meaning that the search was extending away from the epicenter of the blast outwards.

Finally, after hours of searching, they found several items of Unit–00. First was its mostly intact Core. It had a few fractures, but scans showed it was still viable.

"Well, if we were to ever get another Evangelion and pilot, we would be able to rescue this one." Ritsuko said coldly.

"How could it have survived such a powerful explosion, ma'am?" Stevens, a researcher that worked for Ritsuko, asked.

"I'm not sure…" Ritsuko said. "These things are meant to take a beating, and of this survived the explosion, then the Entry Plug must have as well, in some form or another anyway."

"Do you think she survived?" Stevens asked.

"I doubt it." Ritsuko said plainly. "But this search is to see if she has escaped the clutches of death… so we soldier on."

A call came over Stevens' radio and he answered it, with a grim look on his face. "Ma'am, they found the Entry Plug. As per your instructions, no one has gone near it, and they have cordoned off the area."

"Fine, get Montez, we'll need his assistance." Ritsuko said as she headed for her Jeep.

Stevens and Montez arrived at the Jeep and climbed in as Ritsuko started it up. "Where is the Entry Plug?"

"About 8km South East of our current position, ma'am." Stevens replied.

Ritsuko drove off, not in any rush to get to the site. As she pulled up, they could see the heavily damaged Entry Plug. It was cordoned off by an orange banner tape, with a team of people mulling around outside the cordoned off area. Its entire surface was darker than usual, with some patches of it being heavily charred and burned. The Entry plug was also bent in several places, most likely by the explosion. There were also several burn holes in the Entry Plug, consistent with the explosion, the largest of which was in the main entry hatch. A small pool of LCL was gathered around it, meaning the burned holes occurred after the Entry Plug had landed.

"It's in better shape than I thought." Ritsuko said as she parked the Jeep. "Let's go have a look."

The trio walked towards the Entry Plug and saw even more damage up close. The once uniform and smooth surface was filled with dings and pot marks, scuffs and scrapes. Ritsuko hesitated at looking inside, as did the two men with her, as they were afraid of what they were going to find.

Ritsuko walked cautiously up to the Entry Plug and peered inside, and Stevens and Montez followed suit. When they peered through a large burned hole in the side they saw a horrific site which made Mendez vomit inside his helmet.

"What the hell is that?" Stevens muttered.

"That's what death looks like, Stevens." Ritsuko said. "A sad, mangled mess…"

The entire inside of the Entry Plug was burned and unrecognizable, and still situated, almost eerily were the burned remains of Rei and her plugsuit. The entire scene was too horrific to describe, and the smell was even worse, it was penetrating the air filter of the hazmat suits… the smell of death.

While Stevens ducked out to compose himself, Ritsuko glanced at the body in disgust. "What a waste… you didn't even save anyone important." Ritsuko said coldly. "You saved a useless wimp of a boy, a self–important cunt, and a girl who thinks she's funny when she's just a stupid nuisance."

Stevens came back and saw Ritsuko was still looking at Rei. "Ma'am, Montez is cleaning himself up… understandably, he's shaken up."

"Some people can't handle things like this." Ritsuko said. "It's not for the faint of heart."

"No…" Stevens said. "Uh, ma'am? What should we do with… what we've found."

"Stevens, mark this and everything in and around here as classified and destroy all of it." Ritsuko ordered. "No one talks about this to anyone, understood?"

"Understood ma'am." Stevens replied. "And, ma'am… what about the body?"

"Bring it to my lab." Ritsuko said. "I will deal with it personally. As far as anyone knows, we found nothing, is that understood?"

"Yes… ma'am." Stevens replied, slightly confused by what Ritsuko meant.


September 29, 2016 – NERV HQ

Gendo was brooding in his office. He was awaiting a report from Fuyutsuki about Rei's death, as he had some questions about how exactly she died. He was in no mood to see anyone else, and had refused to go and see Rei III into the world. The only person he would talk to was Fuyutsuki, as the pain he felt brought back the dark memories of when Yui and the first Rei died, he could not handle a third major loss like this… but he still needed to know exactly what killed her.

Gendo looked up when he heard a knock on the door.

"Fuyutsuki?" Gendo asked.

"Yes, Commander." Fuyutsuki replied through the door.

"Enter." Gendo said uneasily.

Fuyutsuki walked in with a report in hand. "I have the results of the autopsy here, Ikari." Fuyutsuki said. "They're worse than you expected them to be."

"How bad?" Gendo asked.

"Rei… she uh…" Fuyutsuki said uneasily. "She survived the explosion…"

"How?" Gendo asked.

"Well, if the prototype for the Entry Plug kept Katsuragi alive through Second Impact… then the Entry Plug can survive a simple explosion." Fuyutsuki said.

"How do they know for sure?" Gendo asked.

"Well, her lungs had smoke in them…" Fuyutsuki explained. "The LCL leaked out from a few fractures in the Entry Plug, leaving her essentially inside of an oven. Smoke got inside, then the fires burned through the hull of it in a few places… then she burned alive… Gendo… she could have been saved if we acted a bit faster…"

"How long did it take?" Gendo asked. "When was there no way to save her?"

"Three or four hours." Fuyutsuki replied. "The fires were out when the teams got there, but it was several hours past that survival time… we failed her."

"No, Ritsuko failed her." Gendo said. "If she had moved more expediently, then Rei would not have to be reborn a second time…" Gendo sighed deeply. "Like mother, like daughter… they've both got a young girl's blood on their hands."

"Well, she certainly seems more unstable than her mother ever was." Fuyutsuki said.

"Perhaps it is because she was raped as a teen…" Gendo explained. "…or perhaps because she was never really wanted by her mother, seen as a burden, or perhaps the fact her father would have rather had her aborted… she was not born of love, or even lust…"

"That isn't an excuse." Fuyutsuki replied.

"Well, it does explain a few things." Gendo said. "That, and I'm sure she hates me because I have not touched her in months."

"Well, her attitude has made people hate her." Fuyutsuki said. "It's her own fault, really."

"Of course it is." Gendo said. "She has never made a smart choice in her life… always acting impulsively, as smart as she claims to be, she is just a sad little girl who hates her mother for being better than her. So she will have to taught a lesson for letting Rei die."

"Of course." Fuyutsuki said. "Do you have something in mind?"

"No… she will need something far more painful than what happened to her mother." Gendo said. "If Rei died a slow and painful death, hers will need to be even slower and more painful."

"So you need time?" Fuyutsuki asked. "Isn't she a liability?"

"She is more useful at this point." Gendo said. "Ms. Ibuki may be the best person for the job, but she is not quite ready to take over yet."

"So we wait." Fuyutsuki said.

"Unfortunately, yes." Gendo said. "Are you going to Rei's rebirth?"

"No, I, like yourself cannot bear to see her go through that again." Fuyutsuki said. "I think Ritsuko can handle the resurrection on her own."

"Has Rei's death been kept quiet?" Gendo asked.

"Only six or seven people know, including ourselves and Dr. Akagi." Fuyutsuki said.

"That's a few too many." Gendo said. "I'll have Yamada take care of the… loose ends."

"Understood." Fuyutsuki said. "Anything else?"

"Rescind the evacuation order in the morning." Gendo said. "It's time to get the city back to normal before those idiotic bureaucrats act even more irrationally."

"I will deal with it, Commander." Fuyutsuki replied. "I do have some other reports if you're so inclined."

"Unit–00." Gendo asked. "Was anything other than the Entry Plug and Core recovered?"

"No… just those items." Fuyutsuki said. "The Core is intact, it can be used again, if we were to acquire another Evangelion for Rei to pilot."

"I don't think that is possible." Gendo said. "Construction on any Evangelions past Unit–04 have been put on hold indefinitely. Apparently the materials are needed elsewhere."

"So then it is certain, SEELE is planning an attack." Fuyutsuki said.

"Yes, and from five Evangelions, we have lost an one, have only two that are battle ready, with one more able to be easily repaired, and the last one ripped into pulp."

"It is unfortunate." Fuyutsuki said. "However, reports on Unit–XP say they can have its limbs repaired within two or three months."

"I don't think we have that much time." Gendo said. "It is becoming increasing dangerous. Is Unit–02 repaired?"

"Unit–01 and Unit–02 are already prepped once again." Fuyutsuki said. "Do you have any other questions or shall I leave?"

"No… I have one other question… about Unit–01." Gendo said. "What is your take on Shinji's latest outburst?"

"Well, he seems to be tapping into the EVA and drawing out its latent powers." Fuyutsuki said. "Even with that most recent rampage, his sync score and synchrograph were stable throughout. It's quite an impressive, if not disturbing feat."

"Yes…" Gendo said. "Yui does not seem to be helping him as actively anymore. He is learning to use the EVA himself… he will eventually uncover its true power."

"Do you trust Shinji with it?" Fuyutsuki asked. "Do you trust him with all that power?"

"After his reaction to Rei and Asuka…" Gendo said. "He will only ever use that power to save others, he won't hurt anyone mindlessly, he will focus his rage on those that deserve it. If SEELE were to ever attack this base, and threaten those he cares about, he would wipe them out entirely."

"So, what is Shinji to you?" Fuyutsuki asked.

"Our ace in the hole." Gendo replied. "He will protect us all, and in doing so, he will bring my plan to fruition. He will bring his mother back to us…"

"Why do you trust him, Ikari?" Fuyutsuki asked.

"Because, above all else, and despite him having me as a father… he is a good person." Gendo said. "That is why I can trust him."

–––

Ritsuko was standing in dark room with a vertical cylinder of LCL in front of her. Inside the cylinder was a new Rei, Rei III. She was naked and her eyes were closed, as Rei's soul was still being transferred to the new body. However as Ritsuko looked around the room impatiently. She was trying to avoid the gaze of those around her, the gaze of the hundreds of Rei clones floating naked in a massive tank that encompassed the room.

"Damn dolls." Ritsuko muttered. "You're not even real people. Just cheap imitations." Ritsuko glared at the new Rei in the cylinder in front of her. "That especially goes for you, you stupid thing. I hate you."

Ritsuko checked the status of Rei's soul and saw it was still being transferred. She hated being in this room. She looked over at Rei's still body. She looked at her smooth, flawless skin and soft flowing hair as she floated there, still lifeless.

"Why do you have to be so pretty?" Ritsuko asked. "Why couldn't you be as ugly as your piecemeal soul?! Why can't you stay dead?!"

Ritsuko threw her coffee cup at the cylinder and it shattered on impact, scattering pieces of ceramic and the remnants of Ritsuko's cold, stale coffee on the floor. "I hate you… you used to be so obedient, so subservient! Then you met Shinji… the son of that whore, and that fucking asshole! Then that big titted slut showed up followed by the redheaded whore! They changed you and made you human… you're not human! You don't deserve to be human!" Ritsuko raged. "You deserve to have that snapped little neck my mother gave you a six years ago! You're an abomination with friends! You don't deserve them! I'm a person, and I don't have any friends, why do you get to have them?! How do you think they'll react when they finally find out you're a freak of nature! Do you think Shinji will still like you when he finds out you're cloned from his mother? Will that big titted slut still love you when she finds out you're not even a person?! I doubt it, they'll abandon you, and you'll finally be alone and pliable again, just like you're supposed to be!"

The machine in front of Ritsuko brought her out of her rage. It beeped several times, indicated Rei's soul had been fully transferred into her new body. Rei's eyes slowly opened, and she stared blankly at Ritsuko from the cylinder.

"Well… the abomination is ready for her third life…" Ritsuko muttered. "Fine…" Ritsuko tapped several buttons on the control console and emptied the cylinder of the LCL suddenly, causing Rei to fall and crumple to the bottom of it, and lay there.

"What, can't you get up?" Ritsuko shouted as the cylinder opened.

Rei got to her feet unsteadily. Even though she had memories of standing and walking before, this was her first time experiencing it. When she was mostly steady on her feet, she turned slowly to the opening and faced Ritsuko. "Who are you?"

"What, you don't remember me?" Ritsuko asked. "Do you remember your name?"

"I am… Rei Ayanami." Rei replied. "I remember… other things… but it is all… jumbled. I cannot piece my memories together. I am… confused."

"Well, at least you're not that stupid." Ritsuko said absentmindedly.

"I am not stupid." Rei replied. "I know I am the third."

"Excuse me?" Ritsuko asked. "Are you contradicting me?"

"I am defending my self–worth from your baseless accusations." Rei said. "I know I am not stupid… am I not supposed to correct others when they are wrong?"

"No… you're supposed to be obedient to your elders." Ritsuko said.

"I do not have any elders." Rei said. "I was created… not born… I do not have parents…"

"Good, so you know that you're an abomination." Ritsuko said coldly.

"I am not an abomination." Rei replied. "I did not wish to be created… I do not even remember who you are… yet you hate me. Why do you hate me? What did I do to hurt your feelings?"

"Your attitude and lack of respect annoys me." Ritsuko said. "Now, lay down on the table."

"Why?" Rei asked.

"I need to make sure you're healthy." Ritsuko said.

Rei gave her a puzzled look and went over to the table on the side of the room. Rei laid down and was then surprised when she was forcibly restrained to the table by Ritsuko.

"Why have you restrained me?" Rei asked.

"Well, it's quite simple really…" Ritsuko said as she grabbed a heavy bag full of tools. "No one else knows what you are… and they are to assume that you have survived, you have to be injured, don't you?"

Rei got a worried look in her eye. "What do you mean?"

"I mean I am going to break your bones and cause you many different injuries to make it look as though you barely lived through that stupid stunt of yours." Ritsuko said coldly.

"What did I do?" Rei asked. "I do not remember any of this."

"You will… in time…" Ritsuko said angrily.

"Why are you doing this to me?" Rei asked.

"I don't like you." Ritsuko said. "Do I need more of a reason?"

"I do not know." Rei said nervously.

"Seeing as you don't know, we should begin." Ritsuko said as she grabbed a tool from the bag. "This will hurt you far more than it will hurt me."

"AAAAHHHHH!" Rei screamed as Ritsuko began.


September 30, 2016 – Comfort 17 Apartments

Shinji had been released from the hospital. No one was there to greet him as he left the hospital, so he walked out alone, unsure if any of his friends were ok. No one had informed him of Asuka or Mari's current health, and Shinji still assumed that Rei was dead.

Shinji has gotten his clothes from the locker room and had also taken his SDAT from his locker and boarded a train home. He turned it on for the first time in a great while as he tried to suppress all the negative things he was thinking. He found the last track he had been on and played it, with the song fitting his mood exactly.

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 unweaving
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

A falling star
Least I fall alone
I can't explain what you can't explain
You're finding things that you didn't know
I look at you with such disdain

The walls start breathing
My mind's unweaving
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
Just a little insight will make this right
It's too late to fight
It ends tonight
It ends tonight

Now I'm on my own side
It's better than being on your side
It's my fault when you're blind
It's better that I see it through your eyes

All these thoughts locked inside
Now you're the first to know

When darkness turns to light
It ends tonight
It ends tonight
Just a little insight will make this right
It's too late to fight
It ends tonight
It ends tonight

When darkness turns to light
It ends tonight
It ends tonight
Just a little insight will make this right
It's too late to fight
It ends tonight
It ends tonight

When the train arrived at Shinji's stop he pulled the SDAT out of his ears and walked calmly out of the train. He walked alone to the apartment, as he got into the elevator he noticed the lack of Misato's car in the parking lot.

He came into the darkened apartment, and realized that the last time he had been here was the day of the battle. Section 2 had dragged them from the apartment to NERV HQ to deal with the Angel. Shinji looked and noticed the apartment was exactly how they had left it. Two day old breakfast sat out on the table, with everyone's half eaten food laying to waste.

Shinji sat down where he had been eating days before and gazed at the empty chairs around the table. He couldn't help but think that those chairs were never be filled again.

"I hope you're both ok…" Shinji said towards Asuka and Mari's chairs. "No one's told me anything… they just told me to go home. Please… don't be dead. I don't know what I would do if I lost you both."

Shinji turned to Asuka's chair. "Asuka… I love you… I just want you to be safe. When I see you again, I'm going to ask you out… I don't want to risk losing you without…" Shinji's eyed welled with tears. "Without ever having a relationship with you… I want to be with you more than ever… please be ok…"

Shinji faced towards Mari's chair. "I know you liked Rei… and I'm sorry I couldn't save her… I failed… I was too weak to do anything." Shinji shook with sadness. "Please… don't be dead…"

Shinji turned to Rei's chair as his eyes teared up even more. "Rei… I'm… I'm so sorry." Shinji cried. "I… I wish you hadn't of done that. I didn't deserve to be saved… you shouldn't be dead… I should have found a way to kill that thing… I'm sorry!"

Shinji sat there and cried at the table for some time before he was able to compose himself. Once he got a hold of himself, he eased himself up from the table and began collecting the scraps of food and throwing the out. He then did the dishes in silence. He looked around the kitchen after it was clean, but the memory of everyone siting in there still haunted him.

Pen–Pen popped out of his fridge with a look of concern on his face. He waddled over and wrapped his fins around Shinji's leg and nuzzled him. "Wark…" Pen–Pen said consolingly.

"Hey buddy…" Shinji said. "I'm sorry I woke you up… I'm just sad."

"Wark… wark…" Pen–Pen said.

"Thanks buddy." Shinji said. "Do you want some jerky?" Pen–Pen shook his head. "Ok, well… I don't want to stay in the kitchen, ok?"

Shinji walked into the living room and looked around and Pen–Pen followed closely behind him. Shinji saw that the rest of the apartment was fairly clean and that he had nothing else to do. Shinji looked longing at the couch and decided to lay down, with Pen–Pen hopping up as he settled in and cuddled up against him. Shinji turned on his SDAT player to drown out his sorrows while Pen–Pen snored softly next to him.

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

The song ended, but Shinji didn't notice, as he fell asleep as the next rack started. Shinji needed the sleep, as the whole time he was in the hospital being checked for Angelic contamination, he didn't sleep at all. So, now that he was back in a safe place, Shinji was able to finally get some much needed rest.

–––

It was dark out. Shinji had slept most of the day away. He was resting comfortably, however, he did not know he was about to be interrupted. Shinji was disturbed from his sullen slumber by Kaji, who had gotten into the apartment even though Shinji had locked the door behind him.

"Hey, kiddo, you doing ok?" Kaji asked.

Shinji was so startled by being woke up that he accidentally sent Pen–Pen tumbling to the floor. Pen–Pen gave a dirty look to Kaji for disturbing his sleep and waddled back into the kitchen in a huff.

Shinji gave his own dirty look to Kaji, and took out his earphones. "No… I'm not."

"Anything you want to talk about?" Kaji asked.

"Do you know about Mari and Asuka?" Shinji asked. "Are they ok… are they… alive? What about Rei? Have they found her yet?"

"They were barely alive when they were found." Kaji said. "But they're getting better. They've been in LCL since they were found, and their injuries are being healed quite well, they should be ok in a few days. As for Rei… teams are still out looking. They found the Entry Plug empty. But they haven't found her yet… there's still hope, Shinji, Rei could be alive."

"What if they find her and she's…" Shinji stammered.

"We'll cross that bridge if it comes to it." Kaji said kindly.

"What about Asuka and Mari?" Shinji asked. "When can I go see them? I want to know that they're ok. I need to see that they're ok."

"I… I don't know, Shinji." Kaji said. "How about I bring you by tomorrow, how does that sound? They should be out of isolation by then."

"Is Misato ok?" Shinji asked. "She wasn't there when they let me out…"

"Shinji… she was busy." Kaji said. "She's having a hard time right now. Rei's death has done a lot to her too. She's been crying Shinji… she didn't even know you were released. She found out after you got home."

"Then why didn't she come home?" Shinji asked. "Why are you the one here and not her?"

"She thinks you're mad at her." Kaji said. "That and the fallout from this fight has caused a lot complaints from the U.N. and the Japanese government. I guess they're all afraid that if an Evangelion was destroyed by an Angel then humanity is in far greater danger than they ever realized."

"What about Rei?" Shinji asked. "Do they know she could be dead, do they know that we all almost died? Or are they too worried, about their own useless lives? Do they even know what we sacrifice so they stay safe?!"

"Well, politicians generally do worry about themselves above others." Kaji said. "And you're not wrong, they are more worried about their own possessions and their positions than anything else."

"So Misato has to deal with that?" Shinji asked.

"Yeah… and I've told her you don't hate her, but she doesn't believe me." Kaji said. "And your most recent outburst has a lot of people scared."

"I don't care if they're scared." Shinji said. "I was angry and I was sad. What else was I supposed to do? No one listens to me unless I'm mad. I didn't mean for Misato to be afraid of me… I just… I just wanted answers. I don't hate her… can you tell her I told you that?"

"Tell her yourself." Kaji said. "Misato, you can stop hiding now."

Misato came out of the kitchen, her eyes were bloodshot and she looked exhausted, but she had a small smile on her face. Pen–Pen was in her arms nuzzling her chest.

"Misato… are you ok?" Shinji asked.

"I'm better now that I know you don't hate me." Misato said. "And I'm sorry too… we should have never sent you guys out there. We didn't do enough recon…"

Shinji got up and walked over to Misato and hugged her tightly, causing Pen–Pen to squawk loudly. "I didn't mean to make you think I hated you… I hate myself… I couldn't… I couldn't save her…"

"Shinji… you did your best." Misato said. "Don't ever let anyone else tell you different."

"But…" Shinji said.

"Shinji." Kaji said sternly. "You did the same for them against the Twelfth Angel. Rei was only doing what she was right. Shinji… you're not to blame. You should be proud of Rei for being as brave as she was. Don't undersell what she did, ok?"

"Ok…" Shinji muttered. "I just wish I could tell her… thank you…"

"When they find her you will…" Misato said. "They're still looking… there's some hope. You just have to believe."

"I… I can't…" Shinji said tearfully as he let go of Misato. "I saw it up close… she said… she said goodbye! She said the one thing I told her to never say again before a mission! She knew she was going to die! She knew!"

"Shinji, you need to relax." Kaji said. "You'll be able to tell her all this yourself. Just give them more time…"

"It's been two days!" Shinji said. "They need to find her soon, otherwise… there won't be any hope left!"

"Kaji…" Misato said. "Shinji has a point. I want Rei to be ok too, but there's such a small chance for her to be ok… we shouldn't be getting his hopes up."

"Yeah… I just don't want to believe it either." Kaji said. "She deserves so much more."

"I know…" Misato said as Pen–Pen hopped out of her arms. "But…"

"She's dead…" Shinji said.

"But as long as you never forget her sacrifice, she won't ever truly be gone." Kaji said.

"I know." Shinji said. "Do Mari and Asuka know?"

"No… they've been unconscious." Misato said. "Why?"

"I… I need to be the one to tell them." Shinji said.

"Why?" Misato asked.

"Because if it's not me, then they'll wonder why I didn't tell them myself." Shinji said. "They need to know… I can't hide this from them either."

"When would you tell them?" Kaji asked.

"As soon as they wake up." Shinji said. "They would appreciate it… even if it's bad news."

"Shinji, are you sure?" Misato asked.

"Yeah…" Shinji said sullenly. "I know them, they hate being kept in the dark."

"If you say so." Misato said.

"Can I go stay in the Medical Wing with them?" Shinji asked. "They've done it for me so many times… I don't want them to be alone."

"I'll see if they'll put them both in one room." Kaji said. "That way you can watch them both, and no one will be mad that you weren't there for them."

"Thanks, Kaji." Shinji said.

"Well, why don't we all go to bed?" Misato said. "I have to be into work early… Kaji can drive you in at more reasonable hour."

"No, I want to go see Asuka and Mari right away." Shinji said. "I don't care if I'm waiting there forever. I just want to see them…"

"Ok… as long as you don't mind my driving." Misato said.

"The risk is worth it." Shinji said as he went to his room. "See you in the morning."

"Night, kid." Kaji said as he walked to Misato's room.

"Good night, Shinji." Misato said as she followed Kaji.

"Wark!" Pen–Pen squawked as he waddled to his fridge.


October 1, 2016 – Undisclosed Location

Twelve dark and quiets obelisk sat in a room. A hum began as they began to light up in sequence, as the members of SEELE gathered for another meeting.

"Is everyone here?" 'SEELE 01' asked.

"I believe so, sir." 'SEELE 03' replied.

"Excellent." 'SEELE 01' said proudly. "We have much to discuss."

"Yes… the Sixteenth Angel, Armisael, has eliminated a minor threat." 'SEELE 06' said. "Unit–00 is no more. And its pilot is presumed dead. Two deep blows for Ikari. He will not be able to recover from this."

"No, Ikari has survived worse." 'SEELE 02' postulated. "We killed his wife, and the other woman he loved, her mind was broken. This will simply be an irritation to him."

"We also destroyed the wrong Evangelion." 'SEELE 04' said angrily. "The god like powers of Unit–01 still roam this Earth. Its most recent outburst nearly ripped Tokyo–3 apart. If he had not been stopped…"

"The younger Ikari would have been able to start instrumentality on his own." 'SEELE 07' said. "He is a great threat to our great plan."

"To everything written in the Dead Sea Scrolls!" 'SEELE 11' shouted.

"Then we must find a way to stop him." 'SEELE 03' said. "He is too powerful, both of them are too powerful!"

"Yes, nut every Angel we have thrown at them has been destroyed." 'SEELE 01' said. "Our plan for revenge against Ikari bucking our plans at every turn is not working."

"Sahaquiel, Ireul, Leliel, Bardiel, Zeruel, Arael all failed in their missions." 'SEELE 02' explained. "Even though Bardiel and Arael caused much emotional damage, and Zeruel caused major to their headquarters, we have not gained any ground. Even with Armisael's half a victory, we still have three Evangelions left to contend with, all with highly capable pilots, and a highly competent tactical commander."

"So what should we do?" 'SEELE 08' asked.

"We need to break the younger Ikari's mind and spirit." 'SEELE 05' said.

"We know from our spies that the young Ikari is in love with Soryu's daughter." 'SEELE 10' said. "What if we kill her to break his spirit?"

"Yes… that is one plan." 'SEELE 01' said. "But we also have a one last Angel that could do the job… Tabris."

"Is it really safe to use him?" 'SEELE 03' asked.

"Yes, we can trust him." 'SEELE 01' said. "He can sew discord amongst the pilots, breaking their friendships and making them all weak… then when Tabris walks up to Lilith unencumbered by those pesky pilots, he will begin our instrumentality, and we will have won."

"Why not just simply kill them?" 'SEELE 12' asked.

"That is too simple of a solution, doomed to failure." 'SEELE 03' explained. "The Seventeenth Angel must attack in order for everything to come true. He is the final soldier of the Angelic army, the leader and second son."

"So when does Tabris strike?" 'SEELE 08' asked.

"As soon as he is prepped on his cover identity, and as soon as we can convince the good doctor at NERV to recruit a new pilot." 'SEELE 02' said. "It will take some convincing of course, and we will need to use Marduk to our advantage."

"So, it is possible?" 'SEELE 05' asked.

"Yes…" 'SEELE 01' said. "And if the pilot of Unit–01 is no longer able to pilot, then his Evangelion will not be able to oppose us, and neither will any of the others."

"So, we will be able to finally become the gods of men?" 'SEELE 07' asked.

"Yes, after all this time, our plans will finally come to fruition." 'SEELE 01' said proudly. "We will destroy NERV and create our new world without anyone's intervention!"

"So, the plan for our revenge is complete." 'SEELE 04' said. "We have finally won."

"Yes, nothing can stop us now!" 'SEELE 02' said joyously.

"We are unbeatable!" 'SEELE 04' proclaimed.

"The Dead Sea Scrolls will guide us to our ultimate goal!" 'SEELE 03' rejoiced.

"Yes… we will prevail." 'SEELE 01' said. "All we need now is a bit more patience, and our goals will be realized. I will begin the preparations for Tabris to ensnare Tokyo–3… he will destroy everything." 'SEELE 01' paused. "Is there anything else we must discuss?" The room was silent. "Then let us celebrate our victory in our own ways, and await the day we become gods!"

And with that, the obelisks went dark once more as events were set in motion that would have ramifications far beyond the mental health of three children.

–––

Shinji arrived mostly in one piece that morning. Even though Misato had driven him, and Kaji followed as closely and safely as he could, Shinji still regretted his decision to go in Misato's car. However, the three of them arrived at the same time, and Shinji was guided to the Medical Wing by both adults.

As Shinji sat there alone, waiting for Misato and Kaji to finish talking to the medical staff, he saw someone walking towards him that looked familiar, but he couldn't place. She had long and beautiful brunette hair and was wearing a pink t–shirt and a thigh length white skirt. It took him a second to realize who it was without the bandages around her head. She smiled and waved as Shinji, and that's when he realized who it was… Sakura.

"Hiya, Shinji!" Sakura said brightly. "What are you doing here?"

"S… Sakura?" Shinji said in shock. "You're… you've been released?"

"Yeah, they just let me out today! I was just telling my lump of a brother the good news." Sakura said. "If you visited more, you'd have known that." Sakura said with a frown, but then noticed Shinji started to tear up. "Oh, I was just kidding, I know you're busy, Shinji."

Shinji wiped his face. "No… it's not that." Shinji said. "It's just, so much has happened."

"Yeah, I know, apparently Hikari hasn't been here in like three or four days." Sakura said. "She's here every day without fail."

"It's because of the last Angel… the evacuation was only lifted a few hours ago." Shinji said. "We've had so many Angels to fight, we haven't had much time for anything else. The last two were the worst…"

"Worse than being stuck in your Evangelion?" Sakura asked.

"Yeah… the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Angels were too strong…" Shinji said as his eyes teared up again.

"Shinji… are you ok?" Sakura asked.

"No…" Shinji said shakily.

Sakura sat down next to him and enveloped him in a tight hug. "It's ok to cry, Shinji, just tell me what happened with those two Angels."

"Well… the Fifteenth… she assaulted Asuka's mind." Shinji explained. "I tried my best to help… but I got trapped too… then me and Asuka found out while we were trapped we met as kids… and I told her I loved her… then Rei saved us… she killed it and saved us."

"Then what happened?" Sakura asked.

"Then we were held in a taped off area and got in a fight." Shinji said tearfully. "I told her again that I loved her… and she asked why I would bother, and I said it's because I've loved her since we met… and then she said she loved me too, but hated herself for forgetting we met as kids. We haven't really… spoken since then."

"She said that?" Sakura asked. "She admitted she loved you?"

"Yeah… and now…" Shinji stammered. "Now because of this last Angel, I don't even know if she's ok!"

"What happened with this one?" Sakura asked. "Is she hurt?"

Shinji nodded his head. "This Angel was the worst… it was just a noodle thing, Mari called it a tentacle, and it decimated us. It took… Rei hostage… it wiped the floor with me, and Asuka, and Mari… we couldn't do anything… we were powerless…"

"How did you defeat it?" Sakura asked.

"I… I didn't… Rei did…" Shinji said. "She… she…" Shinji broke down in tears.

"Shinji… what happened?" Sakura asked consolingly. "Why are you crying?"

"Rei… she's dead!" Shinji shouted. "She… trapped the Angel in her A.T. Field and activated the self–destruct… she'd been missing since… since the battle… I saw it happen, I tried to stop her… but I was too late… I watched as she and Unit–00 exploded in a bright flash of light…I watched her die… she… scarified herself for all of us…"

Sakura teared up this news. "So that girl with the blue hair… died?"

"Yeah… she's…" Shinji said as he kept crying. "Did you ever meet her?" Shinji asked.

"Yeah, she visited once with Mari…" Sakura said through her tears. "She was very nice…" Sakura tried to wipe her tears, but they kept coming. "How do you know that she's… dead?"

"They… haven't found her yet…" Shinji said as he continued to cry. "But… but… it's been so long, I don't think she could have survived… it's all my fault."

"Oh… Shinji… it's not your fault." Sakura said as she started to cry. "You did your best… you can't blame yourself… she… was so nice… she was protecting her friends…"

"I know… but I should have fought harder…" Shinji said. "I should have done more…"

"Shinji, there's only so much you can do." Sakura said. "You saved me and my brother, and you did everything you could for us like you did for Rei… it's ok…"

"I know… I just wanted to do more…" Shinji cried. "She deserved better…"

"Shinji… its ok." Sakura said soothingly. "Just let it out…"

Shinji nuzzled Sakura's collar bone and cried into her trembling body. Sakura did her best not to cry, but could not contain herself, as she had never known someone who had died. So, as the two of them cried in each other's arms, Hikari arrived having been freed from the cramped and smelly shelter. She saw the two of them hugging and ran over to them happily, unaware of what had happened.

"Hey Shinji, hey Sakura!" Hikari said brightly. "Boy I'm glad to be out of that damn shelter… it smelled like sour milk and feet…" Hikari noticed the two of them were crying. "Hey, what's wrong? What happened?"

Shinji looked at Hikari, and she could see the guilt on his face. "Shinji… what happened." Hikari said, her tone noticeably more worried than before. "Is… everyone ok?"

"No…" Shinji cried. "Asuka and Mari are in the hospital… and Rei, Rei's dead!" Shinji started crying harder than ever as Sakura tried to calm him down, to no avail.

"Sakura… did he… is he…" Hikari asked.

Sakura looked up at Hikari. "He explained it to me… the Angel was too strong, it hurt Asuka and Mari pretty bad, and Rei… she sacrificed herself so the others would survive. He saw it up close." Sakura rubbed Shinji's back as he kept crying. "He's pretty upset. He says he didn't do enough to save her."

"That's just Shinji feeling guilty over something he couldn't control." Hikari said shakily. "I can't believe… I mean… " Hikari walked over to Shinji and pulled him from Sakura's grasp. "Shinji, look at me, please."

Shinji looked up at Hikari and she kissed him gently on the forehead. "Shinji, you didn't do this, just like you didn't hurt sakura, and you didn't hurt Toji. It's the Angel's fault."

"B… but…" Shinji stammered.

"No, I forbid you to blame yourself!" Hikari said. "I know Asuka and Mari will tell you the same thing. You have to stop this, Shinji, not everything is your fault."

"But…" Shinji started.

"I said, stop it!" Hikari shouted as she too started crying. "It's not your fault! Did you fight the Angel the best you could?"

"Yeah…" Shinji said.

"Then you did everything you could!" Hikari said. "Rei did something brave, and… and I want her back too, but it's not possible is it?"

Shinji shook his head. "It would take a miracle."

"Miracles happen." Sakura said as she wiped her eyes. "Shinji saved me, Rei might be out there… you just need to have hope."

"See, that's what I was saying." Kaji said.

"Mr. Kaji?" Sakura asked. "What are you doing here?"

"I'm here with Misato about the girls." Kaji said. "They're being moved to a room now, Shinji. They'll be in the same room too, just like at home."

"Are they ok?" Shinji asked.

"The injuries they had were mostly sympathetic injuries from the EVA." Misato said. "They're mostly healed, but they're still out cold."

"Can I… can I go see them?" Shinji asked.

"Yeah, in a minute." Misato said. "I'm guessing you told them about Rei?"

"Yeah…" Hikari said as she wiped her eyes. "Are you sure she's…"

"We're presuming she's dead." Kaji said. "No… uh… body has been found yet. But she could have survived. Like little Sakura there said, you've got to have some hope."

"I've told you before, I'm not little." Sakura said. "I'm 13!"

"I know, I'm only kidding." Kaji said. "But seriously, Shinji, the girls will be fine, and we'll know something about Rei soon."

"Do you want to go see them?" Misato asked.

"Yeah…" Shinji said. "I'm going to stay with them until they wake up."

"We'll come with you…" Hikari suggested.

"No…" Kaji said. "It was hard enough to get them to allow Shinji to stay with them overnight… something about young boys taking advantage of a situation…"

Shinji looked at Kaji in horror. "I… I would never…" Shinji said. "That's just wrong!"

"I know, Shinji, Misato set them straight." Kaji said.

"Yeah, I told Nurse Ratchet that you would never do something like that to them because they're your best friends, and if she had problem with my request to shove it up her ass."

"What did she do?" Sakura asked.

"She called my bluff and the Sub–Commander overrode her." Misato said. "But its Shinji only I'm afraid."

"Ok…" Hikari said. "I'm going to go see Toji then…"

"I'll go with you." Sakura said. "We should tell him about Rei, right?"

"No, don't tell him about Rei." Kaji said. "It's a bit much right now, even if he's getting out in a few weeks."

"I don't want to lie to him." Hikari said. "He needs to know, he deserves to know, she tried to save I'm once before, and she's our friend too!"

"Kaji… she's right." Shinji said as he wiped the half dried tears off his face. "Toji should know… just that she's missing."

"Huh?" Sakura asked.

"Tell him the truth, she's been missing since the fight, and we don't have any idea where she is, she's presumed dead… it's the truth, even if it is filled with hope…" Kaji said. "Right, Shinji?"

"Yeah…" Shinji said.

"Do you really think she's alive, Shinji?" Hikari asked.

"I said I don't think so." Shinji replied. "I want to believe she's alive… but she told me goodbye… I just…"

"I get it." Hikari said. "But you know you have to tell them gently. Rei's been Asuka's best friend the past few weeks."

"I know…" Shinji said. "I don't want her to cry… and Mari… she'll be heartbroken… but I'm the only one that can tell them… even if I don't want to."

Hikari kissed Shinji on the cheek. "You can do it, Shinji." Hikari said. "I believe in you."

Sakura kissed Shinji's other cheek. "Yeah, they'll know it's not your fault either."

"Ok…" Shinji said. "Tell Toji… hi for me."

"I'll tell him you're with them." Hikari said. "He'll understand."

"And if he doesn't, I'll yell at him." Sakura said.

Sakura turned and walked towards her brother's room, but Hikari stayed behind for a moment. "Shinji…" Hikari said.

"I know Hikari." Shinji replied. "You don't have to say it."

"As long as you know it's not your fault." Hikari said as she walked away. "I'll see you later, ok?"

"Ok." Shinji said as Hikari walked away. Shinji turned to Misato and Kaji. "Where are they being cared for?"

"They're in Cranial Ward 6." Misato said. "I'll come check on you later, ok?"

"Yeah…" Shinji said. "Where are you going?"

"I'm going to Central Dogma, I'm on shift." Misato said. "Where else?"

"I'm, going with her." Kaji said. "If we find something out about Rei… I'll come tell you right away."

"Alright…" Shinji said. "I'll be alright… don't worry."

"We're not." Kaji said as he walked off towards the elevators. "Keep your chin up, kid."

"Bye, Shinji." Misato said as she followed him.

Shinji waked silently into the room Misato had directed him to. Inside he saw two beds, with Asuka on the left near the windows, Mari on the right. They both looked like they were ok, and resting peacefully. However, Shinji could only see their heads, so any other injuries they might have were hidden. Shinji took a chair and set it in between their beds, settling in. He looked at both of them and smiled.

"I'm glad you're ok…" Shinji said. "I just wish we were all here together."

Shinji settled into the chair and started to drift off to sleep, hoping that they would wake up as they he wished to tell them everything and to tell Asuka specifically that he wanted to be with her and couldn't wait anymore, and hoped that she would understand.

–––

Keel Lorenz was alone. He was inside a massive underground complex below his home in Obersalzberg. He was moving amongst his collection of prized artifacts, which after a theft at his Berlin residence the previous year lost him the fetal body the First Angel, Adam, Keel had moved all of his materials here, including the Dead Sea Scrolls.

He walked down the longest corridor towards a small, isolated chamber. He stepped inside and turned on the lights, revealing a somewhat barren room. A single bed, a desk with an old laptop, a dresser and a lamp were against one wall while against the other was a large cylinder filled to the brim with LCL. Inside the cylinder was a single occupant, a teenaged boy with long, messy, silvery white hair and crimson eyes.

"Ah… Tabris." Keel said. "You're awake."

"Of course, I felt Armisael leave this world. My sister is gone, as are the rest of my siblings" Kaworu said with a grimace. "But I have told you not to call me Tabris… I am Kaworu Nagisa."

"So, you take your role seriously?" Keel asked.

"Yes, I cannot wait to meet the people you have told me about." Kaworu said. "I want to make the acquaintance of those you have told me so much about."

"Yes, well it is time for you to get ready, Tabris." Keel said as he typed on the console, releasing Kaworu. "The hour of your reckoning awaits."

"Of course." Kaworu replied. "When do I get to go to the shining beacon of Tokyo–3?"

"Ah… the plans we have laid out put you there by the beginning of December. I will explain those in time." Keel replied. "But once you are there, you may make your revenge and reclaim the body of Adam."

"Yes… it will be wonderful to shed this human form you are all so attached to." Kaworu said happily. "I wish to reclaim my true body."

"Good." Keel said.

"Where shall I be housed until I leave?" Kaworu asked.

"Here in this room." Keel said. "It should be sufficient until you are set to leave."

"Very well." Kaworu replied. "Are there clothes in the dresser?"

"Yes, I will leave you to it." Keel said as he put something on the desk. "Good day, Tabris. Look at those when you are ready."

"Good day, Chairman Keel." Kaworu replied.

As the door closed Kaworu made his way to the dresser and pulled out some simple undergarments and a white button up shirt, an orange t–shirt, and dark pants. He pulled them on silently and sat quietly at his desk. He looked at the pictures of the Evangelion pilots Keel left on his desk.

"Hmm…" Kaworu said. "Rei… the girl just like me, born of human and Angel… my sworn enemy… I know you fought and killed my sister Armisael… yet I still feel you're A.T. Field alive and well." Kaworu flipped to another picture. "And Asuka, such a rude beauty. You always get in my way… I can feel your strength… somehow you live and are not a useless wreck like you usually are by now… how interesting…" Kaworu looked at the third picture. "Ah… a new face that feels familiar. Sometimes you are there, most of the time you are not… how intriguing."

Kaworu looked at the final picture and closed his eyes and thought deeply on the one subject that had tormented him for countless lifetimes. "Shinji Ikari… for lifetime upon lifetime, our happiness together as one has been just out of reach. Even when we are together, you are haunted by the time you spent on the beach with Asuka all those lifetimes ago." Kaworu said. "Perhaps this time around, I can have you all to myself… remove Asuka from the picture. I am tired of waiting for you… I want you more than I want my revenge… this time, I will take you for myself."


October 2, 2016 – NERV HQ, Medical Wing

Shinji was awoken early in the morning by the stream of light coming through the windows. He had an uneasy sleep as he was worried about the two people he was watching over. When he awoke, Asuka and Mari were still unconscious, as they had been since they were recovered from their Evangelions. Shinji looked at each of them as he sat and waited for one or both of them to wake up from their comas, hoping and praying that they were alright. As he was looking at Asuka, he saw her face contort, as the light shone brightly over her face, she stirred.

"A… Asuka?" Shinji asked. "Asuka?!"

Asuka moved her arm. She shook her head and looked over tiredly s up and winced in pain as she rubbed her eyes. "Baka… where am I? Why is it… so bright?"

"Asuka… you're in the hospital at NERV." Shinji said. "You've been unconscious since the battle."

"It's been almost five days." Shinji said. "You were hurt pretty bad."

"Ok… so I'm in the hospital." Asuka said. "Why am I sharing a room with four eyes?"

"So that I could… watch both of you." Shinji said. "I was so… I was so worried about both of you…"

"You were worried about me?" Asuka asked. "Even though I haven't… haven't bothered to talk to you since the last Angel? Why do you even care that much?"

"Because… I love you." Shinji said. "Don't you remember?"

"Of course…" Asuka muttered. "I didn't forget again. How could I forget you? I… I love you Shinji."

"You mean it?" Shinji asked.

"I do." Asuka said. "Shinji… could you move closer… I need to tell you something."

"I need to tell you something too, Asuka." Shinji said.

"Well… it can wait, this is more important." Asuka insisted.

"No… Asuka…" Shinji started.

"Shinji… please… I need to say this…" Asuka begged.

Shinji sighed and moved his chair and sat right next to Asuka's bed. "What is it?"

"I… I had a lot of time to think the past few weeks." Asuka said. "I remember everything from back then… everything that is good and bad from when I was a kid. Every awful thing I saw… its balanced out by those wonderful memories of when we met, and all the times we talked on the phone."

"I remember…" Shinji said. "We talked all the time, my mother was so happy, she was so glad I had a friend my own age."

"My mother was happy too… I was just glad to have a friend." Asuka said. "I… I found something that convinced me it all wasn't a dream."

"What was it?" Shinji asked. "Why did you think it was all a dream?"

"Because… I thought the Angel was twisting my memories of you, of us." Asuka said. "But when I went to the basement and looked through all my other stuff, I… I found what we I promised to bring you the last time we talked on the phone."

"Pokémon?" Shinji asked. "You actually bought them?"

"My mother did, right after we got off the phone. One for you, and one for me." Asuka said. "She told me to not play them until we met again… she made me promise… and I told her I would only ever play those games with my best friend Shinji Ikari. And now they sit in the basement, still sealed in their packaging."

"Asuka… what are you trying to say?" Shinji asked.

"I'm trying to say I came to my decision, baka." Asuka said. "I… I want to be with you. I want to try and express my feelings with you. I saw your face that day when I came up from the basement. You were so worried, even though I avoided you, you still cared enough to be worried. And I realized that… and I wanted to make it right… I shouldn't have made you wait…"

"You weren't ready." Shinji said bluntly. "I… I hid the fact that I loved you for so long, and then I suddenly told you… it wasn't fair."

"Shinji… it doesn't matter." Asuka said. "You've made me feel something since we were training for the rematch with the Seventh Angel… I kept questioning my need to be alone, and then you told me you were my friend… and you… you put a Band–Aid on my knee like that day we were kids. You were there for me when I was truly afraid… you're always there for me… how could I not love you for that?"

Shinji blushed. "Really?"

"Really." Asuka said. "Shinji… I need to ask you something."

"Yeah?" Shinji asked.

"That night when I held you before we fought the Seventh again…" Asuka said. "Did you try to kiss me? I always had a feeling you did… but I was never sure."

"Well… yes." Shinji said.

"Why?" Asuka asked.

"You looked… so beautiful." Shinji said. "But then you muttered something about your mother, and you asked her why she had to die… I couldn't kiss you like that… and I knew it was wrong."

"So, you were honorable?" Asuka said. "That's sweet. I'll admit, even though I told you I didn't like holding you that night… I felt so safe and warm… I… think I started to fall in love with you then… it just took me so long to realize it. I was afraid of my feelings. After my mother died, I swore I would never need anyone again, and I swore I would never shed another tear… but I did both for you… I wanted you to be my friend because you were the best pilot… then I found out how kind you were, and it warmed my heart, and I cried over you… and cried because of m conflicted feelings for you."

"So… you've loved me for that long?" Shinji asked.

"Yeah… that's why I was mad when the Twelfth Angel absorbed you… and when you disappeared after the Fourteenth… I realized I didn't want to lose you…" Asuka explained. "I cried and cried and cried… I thought you died… and then you came back… and then while I was out cold, all I could think about, and all I could focus on… was you…"

"For the past several months, I've been unable to dream about anyone else but you." Shinji said. "All I could think about was trying to ask you out… but something always happened that made me think it wasn't the best time."

"And then the Fifteenth Angel happened." Asuka said.

"Right." Shinji said. "I didn't want to live without you… and I told you how I felt…"

"And I was an ass." Asuka said. "But this Angel… this Angel made me realize that I… that I needed to do this."

"Do what?" Shinji asked.

"Shinji… I want you to be my boyfriend. I should have asked you months ago, Mari kept telling me that I should just take the initiative… she was right." Asuka said. "I don't care who knows that I love you, I just want to be able to hold you, and kiss you without wondering if you like me."

Shinji teared up. "Asuka… I'm so glad… I was so scared to ask you out…" Shinji chuckled. "I don't think I've ever been this happy."

"Well, baka…" Asuka said. "Are you just going to sit there crying at your good fortune, or are you going to kiss me?"

"I… what…?" Shinji asked.

"Kiss me, baka." Asuka said. "Mari showed me a few tricks…"

"Oh?" Shinji asked as he got up and leaned in close to Asuka. He could feel her breath on his face as he met Asuka's awaiting lips. When their lips met, both their hearts skipped a beat in tandem, they both felt their blood rush. They parted their lips and their tongues met, dancing like their Evangelions did against Israfel. They kissed for what felt like an eternity an when their lips parted, they both had wide, giddy grins on their faces.

"Shinji… that was…" Asuka said.

"Beyond wonderful…" Shinji replied. "I love you so much, Asuka…"

"I love you too, baka…" Asuka replied.

"Do you have to keep calling me that?" Shinji asked.

"Well… it's like a pet name…" Asuka said. "I kinda like it don't you?"

"You used to call me silly Shinji." Shinji said. "But I guess baka is ok…"

"I know… baka just sounds cuter." Asuka said. "What do you want to call me, baka?"

"Just Asuka…" Shinji said as he blushed. "I think your name is pretty…"

"Awww… it's about fucking time." Mari said angrily from across the room. "Congratulations you two… on getting your heads out of your asses."

"Mari!" Shinji said happily.

"I think you forgot about me, puppy…" Mari said.

"Way to ruin another moment four eyes!" Asuka shouted. "How long were you listening?"

"Long enough to hear you two finally profess your love in a constructive fashion with no yelling or anything." Mari joked. "So glad you two finally figured it out."

"Yeah… don't make me come over there, four eyes." Asuka said threateningly.

"Asuka… don't fight." Shinji said.

"Fine…" Asuka said. "Only because I love you."

"Awww…" Mari said. "So, puppy, did you forget I was here?"

"No… I was just…" Shinji stammered.

"He was busy, four eyes." Asuka said.

"Well, excuse me." Mari said. "I'm injured too… but I don't have anyone to kiss me."

Shinji's eyes widened in shock. "Oh… they don't… why does this always happen?" Shinji muttered. "Why…?"

"Shinji, what's wrong?" Asuka asked. "You're shaking."

"Yeah, puppy, where's the blueberry?" Mari asked. "I wanna see her… my girlfriend. Yeah… I wanna see my beautiful girlfriend."

Shinji stared at Mari in shock. "Your… girlfriend?"

"Yeah… happened right before the battle, our date was supposed to be… what day is it?" Mari asked.

"Second of October." Shinji replied.

"Yeah… we were supposed to have our first date two days ago." Mari said. "Why isn't she here? Is she hurt or something?"

"I…" Shinji stammered.

"Shinji, where is she?" Mari asked in a worried tone.

"Mari stop." Asuka said. "He's shaking."

"No… where is she?!" Mari asked. "Shinji, is she ok?"

"I… I don't know!" Shinji said as he started to cry. "I don't know if she's alive!"

"Shinji… what happened?" Asuka asked. "Why are you crying?"

"Shinji, if you care for me at, you have to tell me!" Mari shouted. "Please, what happened to my blueberry?!"

"She… to kill the Angel, she inverted her A.T. Field… she drew the Angel into Unit–00, and she… she activated the self–destruct sequence…"

"You're lying!" Mari screamed as she started to cry. "Rei's fine!"

"Shinji… you're joking right?" Asuka asked. "You killed the Angel like you always do…"

Shinji shook his head. "After we were all knocked down, Unit–01 shutdown to repair itself. Rei fought that thing all alone…" Shinji explained. "Then as I was getting up, the Angel attacked me, and Rei… she told me to tell you something… to look after you, and tell you she loved you… and then she said… goodbye… then… I watched as… As Unit–00 exploded… I saw it… its real, it happened." Shinji was choking back tears. "They found her Entry Plug… empty… she's presumed dead…"

"NOOOOOOOOO!" Mari screamed. "I DON'T BELIEVE YOU! SHE CAN'T DIE!"

"She scarified herself… for us?" Asuka asked with tears in her eyes and Shinji nodded silently. "Shinji… it's ok to cry…" Asuka said as she started to cry herself. "Just cry… I'll hold you… you're safe…"

"WHAT ABOUT REI?" Mari screamed. "WHO WAS THERE FOR HER?!"

"Mari, shut up!" Asuka shouted. "Can't you see he feels guilty enough, even though it's not his fault! Let him cry!"

"Well, who's going to hold me?!" Mari shouted.

Asuka struggled to sit up. "I will… and Shinji will…" Asuka said with some difficulty. "We're always there for each other…"

"Asuka… don't move." Shinji said as he sobbed. "You'll just get hurt more…"

"I don't care…" Asuka said. "Mari's in pain… and we need to comfort each other, just we did when you were missing… she not dead… no body… no proof."

"Asuka… you're fucking kidding, she blew up!" Mari shouted.

"They didn't find her body… that means she could be alive!" Asuka said. "Now, help me over there Shinji!"

Shinji helped Asuka out of bed, he disconnected her from the machines monitoring her and helped her across to where Mari was. She settled into the bed, and Mari promptly held her close, nuzzling her back as she sobbed.

"Shinji, come here." Asuka said. "We'll be fine as long as we support each other."

Shinji climbed into the bed and face Asuka and buried his face in her chest and began to cry. "Mari… I'm sorry…" Shinji said. "I wish…"

"Don't talk like that." Asuka said as she fought to restrain her own tears. "She's alive until they produce a body that says otherwise, got it?"

"Got it…" Shinji said weakly.

"I understand…" Mari mumbled. "And Shinji… I'm sorry I yelled… I know you loved her too… you really cared for her…"

"I do…" Shinji said. "She's like my sister…"

"Hey…" Asuka said. "You should tell her that when they find her."

"Asuka, how can you believe that?" Mari asked.

"I found my mother's lifeless corpse on the ground after she shatter a lightbulb so she could slit her throat." Asuka said. "I won't believe Rei's dead until I see her body…"

"Right…" Mari said as she choked back her tears. "Sorry…"

"It's ok…" Asuka murmured. "I don't talk about it much."

"You shouldn't have to…" Mari said. "I remember seeing my parent die right in front of me… it's hard to imagine…"

"I saw my mom die too." Shinji said. "It was awful…"

The three of them lay huddled together on the bed, clutching each other tightly trying to make the pain go away, when they heard the door slam open with someone running inside.

"Shinji… don't tell them!" Kaji shouted. "She's alive!" Kaji noticed the three of them huddled together and realized they already knew. "It's ok, everything's ok, Rei's fine! They found her a mile from her Entry Plug…"

"Kaji?" Shinji asked.

"What?!" Mari shouted. "Rei's ok?!"

"I told you she was fine!" Asuka said.

"Where is she, I want to see her!" Mari shouted.

"Well… she's alive." Kaji explained. "Her injuries are… incredible… she's lucky to be alive. Most of her bones are broken, and she has some burns from the fires… she's barely there, they had to set the bones, but she got casts, and she's in some sort of LCL treatment… the doctors are saying she should be ok. It's just going to be awhile."

"So, can I see her?" Mari asked.

"Can we see her?" Asuka corrected.

"No…" Kaji said. "She's isolated in case she's been contaminated by the Angel. They don't want to risk your health for you to get infected… or whatever."

"When can we see her?" Shinji asked.

"Probably in a few weeks." Kaji said. "But don't hold me to it."

"We won't." Shinji said as he started crying again.

"Why are you crying this time?" Asuka asked.

"I'm happy!" Shinji said. "Rei's alive! You're my girlfriend! What isn't there to be happy about?!"

"Well stop crying, baka!" Asuka said. "Normal people don't cry when they're happy!"

"Princess, we're far from normal…" Mari said.

"Speak for yourself." Asuka said. "I am normal."

"Ah… you two finally got together…" Kaji said. "Nice going."

"You knew too?" Asuka asked.

"Of course." Kaji said. "It's hard to miss… same thing with Mari and Rei… I've seen that look before… once you know it, you can't forget it."

"You and Misato?" Shinji asked.

"Yep…" Kaji said. "And I've loved her ever since."

"You had a great way of showing too, Ryoji." Misato said as she walked into the room. "So, they're up to speed?"

"Yeah, they know Rei's alive." Kaji said.

"Good… cause I have more good news." Misato said. "The doctors say you two can go home tomorrow."

"Really?" Asuka asked.

"So soon?" Mari said. "Everything still kinda… hurts."

"Well, they said you're just bruised up, no internal injuries of any kind of severity." Misato said. "Your scans and bloodwork are clear."

"I'll be glad to be home." Asuka said. "These beds aren't comfortable."

"I agree." Mari said.

"Yeah, they're kinda lumpy…" Shinji added.

"Well, there is one problem." Misato said. "Shinji's being kicked out. Apparently, some prudish doctors think he's going to try and have his way with both of you while you sleep, so he has to come home."

"That's the stupidest fucking thing I've ever heard!" Asuka shouted. "I joke that he's a pervert, but he's not!"

"Yeah, Shinji would never do that!" Mari protested. "I want him to stay!"

"So do I!" Asuka added empathetically.

"Sorry girls… doctor's orders." Misato said.

"Fine, but you bring him back here bright and fucking early." Asuka said. "And if he's not here, I'm blaming you, Misato."

"Why do you need him here?" Misato asked.

"We're dating." Asuka said.

"And if you tease them, I'll incinerate every last drop of alcohol n the apartment." Mari said. "And the stuff in your top dresser drawer too."

"Wha… how do you…" Misato stammered. "Never mind… I don't want to know. I won't tease them, unless they're kissing in front of me."

"Misato, don't be an ass." Kaji said. "Don't ruin their fun."

"Killjoy…" Misato muttered. "You're ruining my fun…"

"I'll make sure he's here before breakfast." Kaji said. "Then we'll get you two out of here as early as possible."

"You promise, Kaji?" Asuka asked.

"I promise." Kaji said.

"Fine, Shinji, help me back to my bed." Asuka said.

Shinji helped Asuka up and held her steady while he tucked Mari back into bed. "Bye, Mari." Shinji said.

"Later, puppy." Mari said. "See you in the morning."

Shinji then took Asuka and helped her limp back to her bed and tucked her back in. "Guess I'll see you in the morning, Asuka."

"Goodnight, baka." Asuka said as she leaned up and kissed him. "I love you."

"I love you too." Shinji replied.

"Awww… aren't they adorable…" Misato said in a baby voice.

"Shut up!" Asuka and Shinji shouted in unison.

"Yeah… they're perfect for each other…" Mari joked.

End Episode V


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)
Green Day – Wake Me Up When September Ends (2005)

Sync Score Rankings!
Shinji – 90.0% (No Change)
Rei – 75.0% (No Change)
Mari – 36.4% (No Change)
Asuka – 18.1% (No Change)

This chapter picked up right where the last one left off, Shinji is enraged and in shock, hating himself for watching Rei die in front of him. So, moving forward, Rei is reborn, which gives me a chance to break her character out of the strict mold we're given for Rei II. It was the best way (and only) way to give Rei more independence away from Gendo, a further separation from Rei I and her happy childhood memories. Now, as for what Ritsuko did to her, it should be impossible to sell the fact Rei survived that blast without being injured. How she went about it is completely fucked up (breaking bones, inflicting burns and so on…), but it is the beginning of Ritsuko's descent into madness.

As for Shinji's entire guilt thing, this is what he does. He worries about anything where he thinks he could have done more. However, Armisael was the strongest of the Angels so far, being able to fight the way it did, it was nearly invincible, with really the only way to kill it is to give one's life… so Rei took the only course of action, and Shinji blames himself for not being able to fight properly. Sure, he went into an outrage that could have destroyed Tokyo–3 after the battle, but he has yet to gain any control over that as of yet.

But, Rei is alive so Shinji's guilt evaporates, and Shinji and Asuka are now a couple. Where Rei (III) and Mari stand will be seen in Episode Vi, but as of now, they are both still single until Rei is healed and they can once again speak to one another.

The reference to Keel being in Obersalzberg is a reference to the area's most infamous resident, Hitler, seeing as Keel wants to be a god amongst men and to kill those he views as unworthy seems to fit a Hitler archetype.

Next up! Neon Genesis Evangelion: Legacy – Episode VI: Return of Reality.

Please read and enjoy!

Well, technically yes, Episode VI is next, but first, it's time for a curveball, set in between Episode V and Episode VI, it is a Gundam Wing Crossover and it will be a part of the story line, not just a separate one shot or some such bullshit! Actually, its first chapter takes place the day after this one.

We now interrupt this story with: Neon Genesis Evangelion: Legacy – Gundam Invasion!

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