Neon Genesis Evangelion: Legacy
Episode V: SEELE Strikes Back


Chapter 4 – Saturday Night Karaoke
May 7, 2016 – Tokyo–3 Junior High School, Class 2–A

Hikari and Toji were cleaning up the classroom after school. It had been over an hour, and the two had barely spoken as they quietly cleaned up the room. They were almost done, but Hikari was stalling by knocking over the mop bucket and spilling water all over the place.

"Oh shoot…" Hikari said sheepishly. "I'll go get some towels."

"Nah, let me do that Hikari." Toji said. "I'll be right back."

Hikari blushed at his kindness and began to finish picking up the other cleaning supplies.

'Well, we're getting close to leaving and I still haven't worked up the nerve to talk to him…' Hikari thought. 'When he comes back, it's now or never… and I'll regret it just like Mari said I would if I didn't act… she knows so much, I'm glad she's my friend…'

Toji walked back into the room with a huge stack of towels. "I think these are enough, right?" Toji asked. "I wasn't so sure."

"Yeah, that's plenty, Toji." Hikari said. 'Well, it's now or never… let's see if Shinji's other suggestion works…'

"Here, you take some, I'll take some, we'll clean this shit up and head on home." Toji said happily. "I'm tired of being here today, and I'm hungry."

"Is that because they didn't have what you wanted for lunch?" Hikari asked, seeing her opening.

"Yeah, dumb cafeteria ran out of my favorite stuff, said the delivery or some bullshit was late." Toji grumbled. "All they had left were crummy plain rolls and sandwiches."

"Well, you know…" Hikari started. "I pack my lunch every day, for me and my two sisters. Most of the recipes make enough food for four, so I could… well… pack the leftovers for you if you'd like, and you never have to worry about the school not having food again."

"Are you sure, Hikari?" Toji asked. "I don't want to be an inconvenience."

"You could never be an inconvenience, Toji. I just want to do a favor for my oldest friend." Hikari said. "I'd be happy to make a lunch for you."

"Wow, Hikari, that's really thoughtful of you…" Toji said. "It's actually kinda sweet…"

Hikari blushed brightly. "Well… yeah… kinda…"

"What are you blushing for, Hikari?" Toji asked.

"Oh, no reason…" Hikari said.

"No reason, huh?" Toji asked. "Nothing you want to tell me then…"

"What…" Hikari asked.

"Come on, Hikari, you've been acting strange for weeks." Toji said. "And only around me too. You talk to the others just fine… but you've been getting shy around me."

"You noticed…" Hikari mumbled. "I didn't think you'd notice that…"

"Of course I did Hikari." Toji said. "You tend to always notice the people you like."

"People you… like?" Hikari asked. "I thought it was one sided…"

"Yeah, people you care about." Toji said. "You tend to notice them, or when they're avoiding you a bit."

"I can't believe you noticed me." Hikari asked. "What made you… notice me?"

"Sakura had a lot to do with it." Toji said. "She noticed that might have liked me, especially after you gave me the Sailor Saturn figurine. Sakura said you must have found out from someone who my favorite was… probably Shinji… but then she said that you must like me because a gift like that isn't just for a friend. Once she pointed that out, it just made everything so clear. Really, really clear…"

"So you liked your gift?" Hikari asked.

"Of course, it was really nice of you to do that, Hikari." Toji said. "But it did give me a lot to think about."

"Really?" Hikari asked. "So what does that mean?"

"Well, I'm not sure…" Toji said. "Why don't we just get to know each other better before we, well… I don't know, jump into anything."

"So, take it slow…" Hikari said.

"Yeah, I guess…" Toji said. "It's not something I ever thought about."

"Oh…" Hikari said sadly.

"No, not like that, Hikari!" Toji said nervously. "I meant I've never thought about having a girlfriend before. It'll just take some time for me to wrap my head around."

"Oh!" Hikari said happily. "I don't mind waiting…"

"Well, as long as we can hang out like we used to, and you'll stop being awkward around me." Toji said. "It'll be nice to get to know you again, Hikari."

"Yeah, I've missed being able to chat with you, Toji." Hikari said. "It'll be nice to be able to look at you and not wonder if you liked me anymore."

"It'll be nice to see that cute face of yours smile again too." Toji said. "But uh… you're still making my lunch right?" Toji joked.

"Of course…" Hikari said as she stuck her tongue out. "I want you to like me, don't I?"

"I think you want a bit more than like." Toji said.

Hikari blushed a deep red. "Toji, how bold of you to suggest!"

Toji blushed as much as Hikari did. "Well, at least I didn't guess incorrectly."

–––

Mari and Rei were sitting in Rei's apartment. Mari had brought along her music collection at Rei's request. Mari also brought along a stereo so Rei could listen, as she didn't own one.

"Blueberry, why did you ask me to come over today?" Mari asked. "You could have come over to the apartment you know." Mari said.

"I wished for you to come see me." Rei replied. "I rarely receive visitors, besides Shinji or yourself. It is nice to have company sometimes."

"Well, I'm glad to be here, blueberry." Mari said happily. "So, you like the music so far?"

"Yes, it is quite… interesting." Rei replied.

"Good, if you want, I made you a copy of a bunch of stuff I thought you'd like, that's why I brought the stereo." Mari said.

"Do you not mean you bought the stereo?" Rei asked. "It appears to be brand new."

"Well, yeah, I thought it might be nice if you could listen to music whenever you wanted." Mari said. "So I picked it up on the way here…"

"That was very thoughtful of you Mari, thank you." Rei said.

"You're welcome, blueberry. I was glad to do it." Mari said. "So, do you have any favorite bands yet?"

"Yes, I do think this Evanescence is an interesting band." Rei said. "They lament on things that have happened, and the song… I feel like they relate to me…" Rei blushed. "I do not know if that is normal or not."

"It's perfectly normal blueberry." Mari replied as she smiled. "Music is supposed to speak to you. It's supposed to make you feel something. That's why it's so great!"

"Oh, that is good to know." Rei said.

"So, any other bands you like?" Mari asked.

"Yes, this Green Day, and Linkin Park also have some excellent songs." Rei said. "And I also believe that this band Genesis also is quite interesting."

"Led by Gabriel or Collins?" Mari asked.

"It does not matter to me, they both may be a bit different, but they both still sounded wonderful." Rei replied.

"Good girl." Mari joked. "That's the right answer."

"So, Mari… why do you like music so much?" Rei asked.

"Well… I guess it's just an escape for me." Mari said. "I like to hide away in the words of the song to distract me from my problems. I've been able to do it forever, and it really relaxes me. Shinji's the same way, he listens to that SDAT of his like there's no tomorrow."

"I can understand wanting to escape from sorrow or other feelings." Rei said. "I did not realize it could be done so easily."

"What do you mean, blueberry?" Mari asked.

"Oh, nothing, I was just… thinking aloud." Rei said.

"Oh, ok." Mari said, giving Rei a bemused look.

"So, Mari, why do you like to sing so much?" Rei asked.

"Oh, well… that's easy, it's fun!" Mari said happily.

"Do you think I'd enjoy it?" Rei asked.

"Yeah, I think you would." Mari said. "Next time Shinji and I go to the karaoke bar, we'll bring you along, and princess too! I bet she'd love to hear her own voice."

"That sounds quite fun." Rei said.

"Good it's a date!" Mari said without thinking.

"A… date?" Rei asked.

Mari blushed profusely after she realized what she had said. "Oh, sorry… I meant it's a plan… wasn't thinking…"

"It is alright, we would have to choose a date to go out on." Rei said. "Otherwise how would we know when we would go to the karaoke bar?"

'Oh, thank god she's so naïve… it's a godsend sometimes.' Mari thought as she smiled. "You know blueberry, you're right, I guess I just mixed up my words."

Rei smiled. "Understandable when you're so excited about karaoke."


May 10, 2016 – NERV HQ

Fuyutsuki was talking to Gendo's office. Gendo had just had a meeting with the Human Instrumentality Committee, and was curious how it had gone. He saw the door was open and waiting for him to enter. Fuyutsuki entered the room and closed the door behind him.

"Ah, right on time, Fuyutsuki." Gendo said. "You never disappoint."

"Well, I daresay I try not to disappoint." Fuyutsuki replied. "So, I assume you know why I'm here, Ikari."

"Of course." Gendo said, flipping the switch on his desk to keep anyone from listening in.

"It's the same reason I'm here, Sub–Commander." Agent Yamada said, coming out of the shadows. "I'm also quite curious."

"Who isn't curious?" Kaji said, entering the room behind Fuyutsuki. "Some things are hard to keep secret forever."

"Well, now that everyone's here, I can begin." Gendo said, smiling broadly. "So, the meeting was quite… enjoyable. The Committee is up in arms because Ireul failed to destroy us, I also falsified the data to show that it was destroyed from the outset in its panel without it causing any damage. Needless to say they were not pleased."

"How did you explain away the damage to the Pribnow Box?" Fuyutsuki asked.

"Simple, the radiation leak we experienced was a chemical reaction gone wrong in the heavy water." Gendo explained. "I must say, they were quite annoyed. They seem to think the MAGI was hacked, even though the MAGI say there have been no such intrusions. I do enjoy keeping them in the dark and showing them their plans mean nothing."

"So, that means The Committee will still be coming after us." Yamada said. "Shouldn't this be more concerning?"

"No, Yamada, we have four Evangelions, we are well protected." Gendo said smugly. "We have all the protection anyone could ever need."

"What about Unit–03 and Unit–04?" Kaji asked. "They should be ready soon, right? I doubt they're going to allow us to have six Evangelions in total."

"Well, they are already scheduled to be transferred to our command in Tokyo–3." Gendo replied. "They will really be of no consequence, at three Evangelion, we have more than enough power to deal with whatever Angel they throw our way, four gives us added insurance, six gives us complete control."

"What about the shifting of building materials for those newer Evangelions?" Kaji asked.

"Those Evangelions have barely started production, Kaji." Yamada said angrily. "Those things will never be a major threat to us."

"You say that, yet… they kind of are." Kaji replied.

"Kaji is right, we must be wary of those newer models." Gendo said. "Although, with the same power restrictions our own Evangelions have, we will have the advantage if they ever try to attack us directly."

"Well, if that test at the 2nd Branch goes as planned, those restrictions could disappear." Kaji said as he folded his arms. "That is worrisome."

"Somehow I doubt Shamshel's S2 Engine is in any condition to be activated." Yamada said. "It still didn't look quite healed when I saw it a few weeks ago."

"True, and if that test goes bad…" Kaji said.

"So will the program to install those things inside the Evangelions." Fuyutsuki finished.

"Well, I'm sure anything we ca do to further derail their plans will simply result in another Angel assaulting us." Gendo said.

"So, which Angel will be attacking next?" Fuyutsuki asked. "And will it be soon?"

"I'm sure it will be quite soon." Gendo said. "They want me and this base gone, as we keep holding up their plans. So they will attack at the next opportunity. The Angel I think will be next s Leliel."

"Why that Angel, sir?" Yamada asked.

"Well, simply put, it's the next one mentioned in the Apocrypha, and because they refuse to break from that road map, we can anticipate their next move." Gendo said. "Their arrogance and rigidity will be the end of them."

"So, what should we do to prepare." Kaji asked.

"Just keep quiet and be alert." Gendo said. "Kaji, you won't be going anywhere for the time being, I can't keep sending you around everywhere."

"No problem, Commander." Kaji said. "I think I can find something to do."

"I'm sure you can." Gendo said. "Yamada, you have an assignment or two in the United States and Germany that need your attention."

"Yes, sir." Yamada replied. "I'll take the usual mode of transport, and I'll deal with everything quickly."

"Don't be too hasty, Yamada, we don't want any mistakes." Fuyutsuki said.

"Understood, Sub–Commander." Yamada said.

"Yamada, you're dismissed." Gendo said. "Kaji, stay for a moment, I have something to discuss with you and Fuyutsuki."

"Understood, sir." Yamada said as he left.

"Kaji looked at the door as it closed then turned back to Gendo. "So, sir, what could be so important that killer over there couldn't hear it."

"I'd like to know as well, Ikari." Fuyutsuki said. "It seems rather unorthodox."

"This matter does not concern him." Gendo said. "It involves the pilots."

"What about them?" Kaji asked. "Three of them live with Katsuragi, and the other one is quite safely guarded at her own apartment in Old Hakone."

"It involves my son and Ms. Soryu." Gendo said.

"Ah, so you see it too." Kaji said.

"Yes, I fear that the meeting they had as children will come to light soon." Gendo explained. "I am not against this, as this is something both their mothers would have wanted, however considering the current state of things…"

"You mean the imminent threat of death by Angels?" Kaji asked.

"Precisely." Gendo replied. "I do not wish for Shinji to fall into despair if she dies. I have suffered that fate myself, something both of you are aware of."

"How did Kaji find out?" Fuyutsuki asked.

"How else?" Kaji said. "By accident, when I found out what was in the Cores of those Evangelions, I was quite stunned to say the least, and Mari… well that's an entirely different story, Professor Fuyutsuki."

"You know about… Mari?" Fuyutsuki asked.

"Of course… I did some digging on the Proto Child in the U.K. after Unit–XP showed up." Kaji said. "Then the discoveries led back to Kyoto University in the late 90s, which led to you, Jushiro Kyoraku, and a Gendo Rokubungi, and those three girls being your students. I was surprised how much information survived Second Impact, but I destroyed the evidence trail, or at least smudged it up a bit to make any other research into the subject a bit harder."

"Why on earth would you do that?" Fuyutsuki asked.

"To protect Shinji and the others." Kaji said. "Plus, I think Mari suffered enough being displaced in time by that little incident with Unit–XP's Core."

"Quite…" Fuyutsuki said in a state of shock.

"Well, I'm not surprised." Kaji said. "Although, the link to Gendo and Yui is quite difficult without anything to go on."

"Well, Project Alcion and its files have been purged to keep anyone else from prying." Kaji said. "It's simply safer that way."

"Enough on that, Kaji." Gendo said. "Let's get back to the matter at hand. Your new assignment is to look after the pilots when Lieutenant Colonel Katsuragi is unable to. However your priority should be Shinji."

"Why him?" Kaji asked.

"Because, he is very important as a pilot, his sync scores show he is close to gaining full control over his EVA, and if the incident with Sahaquiel showed us anything it was that he is quite powerful when he is determined to protect his friends." Gendo said.

"So, just keep tabs on him, and talk to him?" Kaji asked.

"Yes, Kaji, that should be agreeable." Gendo said.

"Well, it's something I'm glad I'll get paid for." Kaji said. "He's a good kid."

"But why does it matter about Shinji and Asuka?" Fuyutsuki asked.

It matters because I do not want them to become a target of SEELE or their cronies." Gendo explained. "I believe those children suffered enough with the loss of their mothers. And while both loses were tragic, Asuka I believe had it far worse, and abusive father and a mother she found bleeding all over the place, dead from her own insanity. They need to be protected, and Kaji is the man for the job. He will blend in quite well, as he knows all of them, unlike Yamada, who always sticks to the shadows."

"So, boss, is there anything else?" Kaji asked.

"No, you are dismissed, Kaji." Gendo said.

"Right–o!" Kaji said. "I think I'll go pick up Shinji at school… should be a nice change for him, maybe even talk to him a bit."

"I'm glad you're taking this seriously, Kaji." Fuyutsuki said.

"I take everything seriously, Sub–Commander." Kaji replied. "However, I keep up a happy disposition in spite of anything I've witnessed, it's just easier that way."

As Kaji left, Fuyutsuki turned to Gendo. "Why did you let him find out?"

"It was not a matter of letting him, it was a matter of seeing if he could." Gendo explained. "I told him to clean out all the Alcion files after Mari returned, and then he found out about a Mari from the files, and put two and two together. At least he found out and not someone else more rash, such as Katsuragi or Akagi. Those two would be unpredictable with such news, whereas Kaji, he'll cover it up to protect Shinji and Asuka from harm. He may be a spy, but his heat is certainly purer than either of ours."

"Why not simply lie to him?" Fuyutsuki asked.

"Well, he researched it as far as he could, and found the old Kyoto files himself, which led to the rest of us." Gendo explained. "Then he figured out the real reason why the kids can sync with the Evangelions."

"But does he know about Rei?" Fuyutsuki asked.

"Fortunately no, that secret is quite safe." Gendo said. "He could not find any files on Rei, as she does not exist. He assumes her mother inhabits Unit–00, like Yui and Kyoko inhabit Unit–01 and Unit–02."

"Isn't he a liability?" Fuyutsuki asked.

"No, he, like Mari, will never intentionally hurt Shinji or Asuka." Gendo said.

"So he's not a liability." Fuyutsuki said.

"Precisely." Gendo replied.

"So, why do you really care about Shinji and Asuka?" Fuyutsuki said.

"Like I said, I believe the memories of their first meeting will come to light." Gendo said.

"Ikari, I'm not Kaji, you can't lie to me about this." Fuyutsuki said. "Admit it, you're glad for Shinji."

"I am simply glad that Yui's wish is going to true." Gendo said. "She would constantly talk about how wonderful it would be if Shinji and Asuka were to fall in love." Gendo sighed. "Perhaps it's fitting that they may actually fall in love, it would be nice to see some good come back to this dark and desolate world."

"What happens if they do start to date?" Fuyutsuki asked. "You know, what contingencies do you have?"

"We shift priorities to protect her from harm in order to make sure Shinji does his part when the time comes." Gendo said. "That is if they realize their deep seated feelings for each other from that day."

"Do you really think they fell in love that day?" Fuyutsuki asked.

"I saw the security footage of them together." Gendo said. "They had the same look for each other that me and Yui had so long ago."

"So, you're sure then." Fuyutsuki said.

"I'm as sure as anyone can be." Gendo said. "And I know personally that those feelings never disappear."

–––

Kaji pulled up to the school gates in his red Ferrari. A short distance away he could see the school situated on its rolling lawns.

Ding dong ding ding… ding dong ding ding

A few minutes after hearing the bell, Kaji saw students starting to file slowly but happily out of the school.

"Brings back memories…" Kaji said as he looked for the right group of kids who emerged a few minutes. He noticed them at a distance thanks to two things, a striking redheaded girl that seemed to be berating several people, and the confirmation of a pale blue head of hair that told Kaji this was group he was looking for.

Kaji got out of his car and leaned against the passenger door as the kids approached, where he noticed that they were not in their uniforms, but in shorts and t–shirts, and he finally heard what Asuka was yelling about.

"Why the hell would you mix that shit together?" Asuka shouted.

"I thought we went over this." Kensuke said. "It was for fun, we didn't realize it would make that much of a mess…"

"Who's we, I didn't have nothing to do with this disaster!" Toji said.

"Fine, I didn't think it would be a big deal…" Kensuke said.

"We're not done going over thing until I find out why you thought it was smart to spray the entire classroom with soda!" Hikari shouted.

"You ruined my hair, soaked my wonderful lunch with shit, and got me all covered in diet fucking Coke!" Asuka shouted.

"You make it sound as if you hate diet soda…" Kensuke said innocently.

"Of course I do!" Asuka shouted. "It tastes like shit!"

"I hate diet soda… it tastes funny, and it burns your eyes…" Shinji uttered.

"Yeah, what made you think that was a smart plan?" Mari said. "You must have seen the videos online about what Mentos do to soda…"

"Well yeah, that's where I got the idea!" Kensuke said as he was given a dirty look by everyone. "Oh… right… oops…"

"Yeah, nice move moron…" Mari said, glaring at them. "You even made usually have to clean up the classroom, like a bunch of idiots."

"Well, at least no one had to stay after to clean up." Toji said. "So no harm done, I guess."

"Yeah, we'll see how much fun Kensuke has when he's on clean up duty for the next two weeks, alone!" Hikari spat.

"Hey, Hikari… take it easy, he can't do all that work on his own." Toji said. "I'll stay with him to help out, so sign me up too."

"Why, Toji?" Hikari asked.

"I'm nice like that." Toji said proudly. "That and I should have stopped him, but we haven't been hanging out much lately."

"Well, you have your sister to worry about…" Kensuke said.

"Yeah, she mentioned that you haven't been stopping by as often, pal." Toji said. "Anything wrong?"

"No, just busy…" Kensuke said.

"Well, maybe you come with me to see her today." Toji said. "She likes when you stop by, don't know why, but she does."

"Yeah…" Kensuke said.

"I'll come too." Hikari added. "But you're still in deep trouble, Kensuke."

"Yeah, I know." Kensuke said sullenly.

"And what do idiots say when they're in deep shit?" Asuka asked angrily.

"They say sorry?" Kensuke asked.

"Son of a bitch, that wasn't a question, it was a rhetorical statement!" Asuka shouted.

"And I gave you a rhetorical answer." Kensuke joked.

"Kensuke, run…" Shinji said.

"Calm down princess…" Amir said worriedly. "There's no need for…"

"Oh, no, there is every need…" Asuka muttered as she moved swiftly for Kensuke, knocking him into the grass.

"Not the face!" Kensuke screamed.

"Asuka, stop!" Hikari screamed.

"Asuka, you're going to hurt him!" Shinji said.

"Well, it's nice to see everyone getting along so well." Kaji said from the car.

"Kaji?" Shinji said.

Asuka turned from Kensuke, who she had firmly underneath her on the ground. "Kaji!" Asuka said happily getting off of Kensuke. "It's been so long!"

"Glad to see you're being yourself, Asuka." Kaji said.

"What are you doing here?" Shinji asked.

"Oh, just driving through…" Kaji said nonchalantly. "Figured I'd come to see how you're all doing."

"Well, I'm fine, Kaji." Asuka said. "I mean, we haven't had to fight an Angel in a while…"

"Yeah, we're all still breathing and shit." Mari joked.

"What about your friends?" Kaji asked. "I haven't seen you all since our time on the Over the Rainbow last year."

"Oh, we're fine, Mr. Kaji." Hikari said. "Nice to see you again."

"Yeah, I'm good…" Kensuke said as Toji helped him up.

"And how are you, Rei?" Kaji asked.

"I am adequate." Rei replied. "I wish I was not wearing these clothes however."

"I'm guessing it had something to do with the argument I overheard and why you were beating on Aida there." Kaji said.

"Yeah, pretty much." Asuka replied.

"So, what are you doing here?" Mari asked.

"Oh… right." Kaji said. "I came to offer Shinji a nice little drive. I figured he could use some time away from the apartment. Maybe not have to do all the chores."

"Yeah, but he likes doing all that." Asuka said.

"Asuka, I think you could clean the apartment sometimes." Kaji said disapprovingly. "It's not beneath you as you like to think."

Asuka grimaced and Mari smiled. "Yeah, we'll have the apartment clean when he gets home. Shouldn't be too hard."

Kaji smiled. "Well, just don't try to cook anything."

"How did you…" Asuka grumbled.

"Katsuragi told me." Kaji replied. "I hear it was quite the scene."

"You have no idea…" Asuka muttered.

"Anyway, com on Shinji, let's hit the road." Kaji said.

"Does Misato know about this?" Shinji asked.

"Does she need to?" Kaji replied as he went to the car.

"I guess not…" Shinji said as followed Kaji. "Well, I guess I'll see you all later. Asuka, Mari, please don't burn down the apartment."

"How?!" Asuka shouted.

"Princess, it's a valid request, considering…" Mari said. "We'll do our best, puppy."

"Yeah, I'll be extra careful." Asuka said.

"Good, thanks you two." Shinji said as he got in the car.

"Bye, puppy, see you later!" Mari said.

"Later Shinji." Toji said.

"Be careful, Shinji." Hikari said. "And drive safely Mr. Kaji."

"Later, baka." Asuka said.

"See you tomorrow, Shinji." Rei said.

"Bye Shinji, have fun." Kensuke said.

Kaji turned over the engine and shifted into gear. "Buckle up, Shinji."

Shinji buckled in as Kaji put on his sunglasses. "All set."

"Let's ride." Kaji said as he sped off towards the outskirts of the city.

They sat in silence for a few minutes, with Shinji simply taking in the views as Kaji sped along the highway. Shinji looked over to Tokyo–3, it looked magnificent at a distance, its buildings all shining in the sunlight.

"What are ya thinking about?" Kaji asked.

"I'm not really thinking about anything." Shinji said.

"Well, you're looking pretty intently at the city." Kaji said.

"It's just… I help defend that place…" Shinji said. "It's weird to think about sometimes."

"Why are you surprised?" Kaji asked.

"Well, if you would have asked me a year ago what I'd be doing now, I would have said that I'd just want to be alone, away from people." Shinji explained. "But here I am, in a new city, with a new school, and friends… not just a friend, but six wonderful friends… and I even have a job too, one that puts me against giant monsters from inside the cockpit of another giant monster. I mean, I'm even… uh… it's not anything like how I expected my life would be right now."

"Why are you surprised you have friends?" Kaji asked.

"I've never really had them before." Shinji said. "I had one a long time ago, but I can't even remember their name…"

"Well, sometimes that happens, Shinji." Kaji sad. "You can't remember everything that happens to you as a child."

"I guess…" Shinji said as he looked at Kaji. "Kaji, why the sudden interest in me?"

"Huh?" Kaji said. "What do you mean?"

"Well, you picked me up from school. I mean, we haven't really talked all that much." Shinji said. "At least not since you brought Misato home that night."

"Well, I've been out on assignment all over the world, Shinji." Kaji explained. "If I had been her, I'd definitely have been around more."

"So this isn't just some random thing?" Shinji asked.

"No, I've wanted to do this for a while, Shinji. I just wish I hadn't been as busy as I was, then we could have hung out more." Kaji said. "Plus, considering your father seems… disinterested in your well–being or development, you need some male figure in your life. Who better than me?"

"I don't know." Shinji said bluntly. "I've never really thought about it. Ever since I left sensei's to come here, I haven't been around any kind of father figure."

Kaji chuckled. "You know, you remind me of someone I know."

"Who?" Shinji asked.

"My younger brother, Taichi." Kaji said. "You have that whole sweet and innocent thing down, even though you deal with death all the time from the Angels, you're still an innocent kid."

"Where's your little brother now?" Shinji asked innocently.

"Oh, he died during Second Impact…" Kaji said and then he heard Shinji gasp. "Hey, don't worry, you didn't know."

"Still, I'm sorry…" Shinji said.

"Why are you sorry, Shinji?" Kaji asked. "You didn't cause Second Impact, did you?"

"No, I'm just sorry for bringing it up." Shinji said.

"I said not to worry about it Shinji." Kaji said.

"If you say so." Shinji said.

Kaji smiled. "So, with all this change in your life, have you fallen in love or anything?"

"Well… yeah…" Shinji said.

"Is it that girl, Mari?" Kaji asked. "She seems nice."

"Yeah, Mari is nice, but it's not her." Shinji said. "Mari's just my best friend… I don't get why everyone thinks we're a couple…"

"Well, you look cute together." Kaji said. "So, if it's not her, who is it?"

"Well… it's Asuka." Shinji said. "I love Asuka."

"That's a pretty strong statement Shinji, you sound quite sure of yourself." Kaji said, smirking slightly.

"I am sure." Shinji said. "She just makes me feel happy…"

"So, is this that complicated stuff you told me about when I dropped Misato off last month?" Kaji asked.

"Yeah, it's that complicated stuff I mentioned…" Shinji replied.

"What's so complicated about it?" Kaji asked. "Have you told her yet?"

"No, I'm too afraid to." Shinji said. "I don't think she likes me like that, because she's always so… well… difficult to read I guess, and I don't want to lose her friendship if things don't go well either… I mean we kissed, and then she went all cold on me for a while…"

"You kissed?" Kaji asked.

"Yeah, she said she was bred, and asked if I had before, I told her I had, and she got all angry, and then we kissed… and it was the most wonderful sensation in the world." Shinji said. "I felt like I was flying or something. Then Mari came home and saw us, and Asuka ran off to her room and when I tried to talk to her, she just slammed the door in my face. It took her two weeks before she really spoke to me again."

"But she apologized right?" Kaji asked. "After the few weeks?"

"Yeah, but how did you know…" Shinji asked.

"Well, Asuka only apologizes when she knows she messed up big time. She only apologizes to people she really cares about." Kaji explained. "It's how you can tell she really has a vested interest in someone. But when she's being cold and distant, it's just the other side of her personality, so don't take it personally, she treats everyone that way as a matter of course. It's just her defense mechanism to keep from getting hurt by anyone, she had a rough childhood to say the least, so you can't really blame her."

"I figured as much, but still… I don't know how she'd react to me asking her out." Shinji said. "I mean, some days I think she likes me, and others… it's like she'd rather be alone."

"Shinji, I can understand you're nervous." Kaji said. "But sometimes you just have to ask that girl out you like and accept the consequences if it doesn't go well. It's part of life."

"So, then why have you avoided asking Misato out?" Shinji asked.

"Well, it's a bit more complicated than that." Kaji said. "We dated in college, and it didn't end so great."

"Then why does she have you picture on her nightstand?" Shinji asked.

"How do you know that?" Kaji asked.

"All those times I have to wake her up for work." Shinji said. "She must still like you if your picture is in her room."

Kaji smiled. "Well, then it looks like we both have women to ask out. But you're not wrong, it's going to take a lot of courage." Kaji glanced over at Shinji. "Just remember, you fight Angels, asking a girl out should be pretty easy for you."

"You say that, but, I think the Angels are an easier thing to face, at least you know how they feel about you." Shinji said.

"Touché, Shinji." Kaji replied. "Women are far more mysterious in how they think. They are very nuanced in their actions too."

"I don't think they are." Shinji said quietly. "I just think they're as clueless about us as we are about them."

"So basically, what we have is a failure to communicate?" Kaji asked.

"Yeah, I guess." Shinji said. "Neither side wants to be the first to ask, so we all just stay in the dark. It's kind of sad really, we just say it's a mystery because we're all afraid to ask."

Kaji looked stunned. "Well, hearing it like that does make a lot sense…"

"Just like me, everyone's afraid to truly know one another." Shinji said.

"It's a human limitation, Shinji, nothing else." Kaji said. "The closest thing to truly knowing someone is to fall madly in love and spend the rest of your life with a person."

"I'd like that someday." Shinji said.

"Hey, I'm sure Asuka will figure out you like her, she's a smart girl." Kaji said.

"I just hope it doesn't take too long." Shinji said.

Kaji slammed the brakes, pulled the e brake and pulled off a drifting U–turn, which caused Shinji to almost shit himself.

"What the hell was that?!" Shinji asked.

"Turning around." Kaji grinned. "I figured instead of worrying about when Asuka will catch a hint, why don't we go get some food and talk some more."


May 12, 2016 – Comfort 17 Apartments

As was the group's custom, they all met up at least once a week at Misato's apartment for Shinji to cook them a wonderful breakfast. Shinji didn't really mind, as he liked having his friends over, and it usually gave them a bunch of leftovers for a few more days, making Shinji's life a bit easier in the mornings overall. It was also usually the day they all arrived to school early, as they didn't have to rush.

This particular Thursday morning, as the gang filed into the kitchen, Misato, quite uncharacteristically was already wake an dressed for work. As they were all sitting or standing around the table, and eating happily what had been prepared for them, at Asuka's insistence: eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, French toast, and strawberries.

"Damn, Shinji, this is some good shit!" Toji said happily as he chowed down on his food.

"Yeah, why did you make all this?" Kensuke asked. "It's usually a lot less food than this, and certainly not as heavy."

"I told him to." Asuka said proudly. "I wanted a lot of food, so I asked him to make all this."

"I just wish he would have let me help…" Hikari said.

"Hikari, I told you, I don't mind cooking on my own." Shinji replied. "Besides, you're our guest, I can't have you doing the cooking."

"Nonsense, you should let me help." Hikari said. "I love cooking as much as you do."

"Well, however much foo it is, he did a great job too…" Misato said with a mouthful of half chewed hash browns.

Mari swallowed her mouthful of strawberries. "Miso, what did I tell you about talking with your mouth full?"

"Shut up Mari, you're not the boss me." Misato said, sticking her tongue out.

"Well, someone needs to act mature around here." Mari quipped. "You certainly don't…"

"I'm mature!" Misato retorted.

"Yeah, and monkeys don't throw their shit at people." Shinji said.

"Now that's a comeback…" Asuka said.

"Nice one puppy." Mari said.

"Are you three implying I'm not mature?" Misato asked.

"Well, considering Asuka and Mari actually clean their room, then yes, I'm implying you're not mature." Shinji smirked while Asuka and Mari stifled their giggles.

"Actually, Shinji did everything but explicitly say you are not mature." Rei explained. "And you certainly have several childlike qualities, such as your tendency to oversleep or otherwise not be motivated to clean or assist with any house work, almost like the stereotypical teenager."

"I…" Misato stammered. "I'm not… I do things! I work!"

"Yeah, I don't think of what you do as work, Misato." Asuka said. "You watch us all do sync tests. We only ever work when we fight an Angel, you included."

"I do a lot more than that, Asuka." Misato said.

"Yeah, clearly she does, seeing as she got promoted recently." Kensuke said.

"Say what?" Mari asked.

"Yeah, promoted." Kensuke replied. "She has three silver bars on her jacket instead of two, which means she's a Lieutenant Colonel now. Didn't you guys notice?"

"No." Shinji said.

"Not really." Asuka replied. "She didn't mention anything."

"I just thought those bars were a shiny decoration." Mari joked.

"But you live and work with her, how could you not notice?" Kensuke asked.

"It's no big deal really." Misato said.

"How did you even notice?" Hikari asked.

"I just see these things that's all…" Kensuke said.

"It's just your thing, buddy." Toji said. "I'm glad it has its practical uses."

"Thanks Toji." Kensuke said happily.

"Well, thank you for noticing." Misato said. "But I'm not kidding, it's no big deal."

"But it is!" Kensuke said emphatically. "This kind of thing deserves a celebration!"

"PARTY!" Mari shouted. "I love parties!"

"Yeah, we can tell." Asuka said.

"So, were should we take you?" Kensuke asked.

Mari's hand shot up. "I know! I know!"

"Mari, I know what you're going to suggest." Shinji said.

"Oh yeah?" Mari asked.

Shinji grinned. "Karaoke."

"Lucky guess puppy…" Mari muttered.

"So, we're finally going to that karaoke place you two always chat about." Asuka said.

"I cannot wait to go." Rei replied. "I was hoping to go soon, as I wish to attempt the karaoke."

"Well, the rules are we all sing one song, and eat as much as you can without killing yourself." Mari explained.

"So we'd need reservations for eight then." Hikari said.

"No, nine." Shinji replied.

"Why nine?" Misato asked. "Is Ritsuko coming? She's not exactly one for parties."

"Hell no, she can go darken someone else's doorstep after that last stunt of hers." Mari said.

"I hope she chokes on a dick and dies." Asuka said angrily. "That is if anyone will have her of course."

"Asuka!" Misato said. "That want very nice."

"Well, the truth hurts sometimes, don't it?" Asuka quipped.

"Well… yeah… point taken." Misato said. "She can be quite… um… standoffish with people at times."

"Anyway!" Shinji said loudly. "The ninth seat isn't for Dr. Akagi, it's for Kaji."

"Why him?" Misato asked.

"He's a nice guy, and I know you two are friends." Shinji said. "He should be there."

"Do I have a choice?" Misato asked.

"No, not at all." Shinji said.

"Wonderful…" Misato mumbled. "So, when is this party?"

"After school, Saturday!" Mari said excitedly. "I honestly can't wait!"


May 14, 2016 – Wonderful Karaoke Buffet and Bar, Tokyo–3

The gang walked directly from school to the karaoke bar, with Mari proudly and happily leading the way. Everyone else was having trouble keeping up with her, as she was walking extremely fast. After Asuka shouted for Mari to slow down, the rest of the walk was far more enjoyable, and they all arrived before the two adults showed up.

As they went inside, they noticed it was quite busy being a Saturday evening. However the others were simply amazed by the large buffet, which they had only sampled at Mari's birthday party. Toji's eyes were like saucers.

"Holy shit, this place is awesome!" Toji exclaimed. "Look at all that grub!"

"II know, I can't wait to eat as much as I can without exploding!" Kensuke said happily. "Mari this was a really great idea for a venue."

"Don't mention it." Mari said, feigning embarrassment. "It's the least we can do for Misato, considering she lets us live with her."

"Well, she's lucky to have all three of you." Hikari said. "She's got three wonderful kids."

"I don't she sees us as her kids." Asuka huffed.

"Princess, be nice." Mari said.

"I think she does see us that way… just not in the traditional sense." Shinji said. "I mean, she's not the greatest parent in the world, but she does try, even though she seems to not know what a parent should be like."

"That's really nice of you to say, Shinji." Hikari said. "At least you notice she tries."

"How are you so oblivious about some things, yet you pull shit like this out of your ass?" Asuka asked.

"Oblivious about what?" Shinji asked.

"Oh… never mind." Asuka said. "Baka…"

"Oh, look the married couple…" Toji joked, but his ear got tugged by Hikari.

"Don't start any trouble, you." Hikari said. "We don't need them fighting."

"Yeah, jock, it's a party, not a funeral." Mari joked.

"Fine, I'll leave it alone…" Toji said. "And don't do that again, Hikari, that ain't nice!"

"Funny, it got you to stop being dumb for a minute." Asuka quipped.

"Asuka, leave him alone." Shinji said.

"Fine…" Asuka said, rolling her eyes. "You're no fun, baka."

"Hello and welcome to the Wonderful Karaoke Buffet and Bar." The hostess said. "Do you have a reservation?"

"Yeah, a table for nine under Ikari." Shinji said.

"Follow me please." The hostess replied.

"I'll meet you guys at the table." Mari said.

"Ok, see you in a few." Shinji replied as they separated.

The gang were led to their table by the hostess, who Shinji told to be on the lookout or the other two in their party. Mari arrived a few minutes after them, and settled herself into the large booth. Just as everyone was flipping through the song collection, and excitedly chattering about what food to grab, Misato and Kaji showed up and happily joined them.

"So, this is the place Shinji and Mari go hang out at alone." Misato said. "It's nice."

"That, and the food is fantastic!" Mari said excitedly. "I already put everyone down to sing too, that way you can't get out of it!"

"Wait, what?" Asuka asked.

"So, that's what you did when you disappeared." Shinji said.

"Yep, I told the KJ to call us all up in the order I gave him. It'll be a couple minutes though." Mari explained. "There was already a line of people waiting to go, so just relax, it won't be that bad. Just choose a song and give it your best shot."

"I hope I'm not first, I want to get some of that damn good food." Toji said.

"It's not you who's first, jock." Mari said as she smiled widely. "It's freckles."

"Wait, I'm first?" Hikari said. "I'm not… I can't go first!"

"Hikari, it's not so bad." Shinji said. "It's actually really fun. Just go up there and give it your all."

"Yeah, Hikari, Shinji's right, you'll be fine." Toji said.

"You really think so?" Hikari asked.

"I know so." Toji replied.

As the group got some food and brought it back to the table, Hikari's name came over the loud speakers.

"Oh… I'm not ready…" Hikari mumbled. "There are so many people…"

Toji was standing next to her and leaned in and whispered in her ear. "Then just sing the song for me and no one else."

Hikari blushed and nodded. She then walked nervously to the stage. It took Hikari a minute to choose the song she wanted, but when she did, she thought it was a song that she thought she could sing well enough and told the KJ play the music.

You think I'm pretty
Without any make–up on
You think I'm funny
When I tell the punch line wrong
I know you get me
So I let the walls come down, down

Before you met me
I was alright, but things
Were kinda heavy
You brought me to life
Now every February
You'll be my Valentine, Valentine

Let's go all the way tonight
No regrets, just love
We can dance until we die
You and I, we'll be young forever

You make me
Feel like I'm a living a
Teenage dream
The way you turn me on

I can't Sleep
Let's run away
And don't ever look back
Don't ever look back

My heart stops
When you look at me
Just one touch
Now baby I believe
This is real
So take a chance
And don't ever look back
Don't ever look back

We drove to Cali
And got drunk on the beach
Got a motel
And built a fort out of sheets
I finally found you
My missing puzzlepiece

I'm complete

Let's go all the way tonight
No regrets, just love
We can dance until we die
You and I, we'll be young forever

You make me
Feel like I'm a living a
Teenage dream
The way you turn me on
I can't sleep
Let's run away
And don't ever look back
Don't ever look back

My heart stops
When you look at me
Just one touch
Now baby I believe
This is real
So take a chance
And don't ever look back
Don't ever look back

I'ma get your heart racing
In my skin–tight jeans
Be your teenage dream tonight
Let you put your hands on me
In my skin–tight jeans
Be your teenage dream tonight, tonight, tonight, tonight, tonight,

Tonight, tonight, tonight, tonight

'Cause you make me
Feel like I'm a living a
Teenage dream
The way you turn me on
I can't sleep
Let's run away
And don't ever look back
Don't ever look back

My heart stops
When you look at me
Just one touch
Now baby I believe
This is real
So take a chance
And don't ever look back
Don't ever look back

I'ma get your heart racing
In my skin–tight jeans
Be your teenage dream tonight
Let you put your hands on me
In my skin–tight jeans
Be your teenage dream tonight, tonight, tonight, tonight, tonight,

Tonight, tonight, tonight, tonight

Hikari garnered a fairly good applause from the audience, and happily went back to sit down and was greeted by the smiling faces of everyone at the table.

"I was so nervous!" Hikari said.

"Why, you did great!" Asuka said.

"Yeah, I'm impressed, Hikari." Toji said a she winked. "I hope you'll sing more later on."

"Thanks Toji…" Hikari mumbled as she blushed again.

"So, who's next?" Kaji asked.

"Oh, I think it's the puppy." Mari said. "Ready to go yet?"

"Yeah, just a sec." Shinji said as he flipped through the program. "Yeah, here's the song. I think I can sing this one."

"Is it a new one?" Mari asked. "I told you, you can't repeat any songs."

"Yeah, it's a new one I haven't sung before, just relax."

Mari stuck out her tongue.

"Well, get moving, let's see you sing like you mean it." Misato said.

"Yeah, I'm going." Shinji replied as he walked calmly to the stage. The KJ greeted him warmly and Shinji told him is song choice, and the KJ queued it up.

"Alright then, let's go." Shinji said as the music started to play.

Paper bags and plastic hearts
All are belongings in shopping carts
It's goodbye
But we got one more night
Let's get drunk and ride around
And make peace with an empty town
We can make it right

Throw it away
Forget yesterday
We'll make the great escape
We won't hear a word they say
They don't know us anyway
Watch it burn
Let it die
Cause we are finally free tonight

Tonight will change our lives
It's so good to be by your side
We'll cry
We won't give up the fight
We'll scream loud at the top of our lungs
And they'll think it's just cause we're young
And we'll feel so alive

Throw it away
Forget yesterday
We'll make the great escape
We won't hear a word they say
They don't know us anyway
Watch it burn
Let it die
Cause we are finally free tonight

All of the wasted time
The hours that were left behind
The answers that we'll never find
They don't mean a thing tonight

Throw it away
Forget yesterday
We'll make the great escape
We won't hear a word they say
They don't know us anyway

Throw it away
Forget yesterday
We'll make the great escape
We won't hear a word they say
They don't know us anyway

Throw it away
Forget yesterday
We'll make the great escape
We won't hear a word they say
They don't know us anyway
Watch it burn
Let it die
Cause we are finally free tonight

Shinji got a loud round of applause, and happily walked back to the table where everyone was sitting.

"That was really awesome Shinji!" Asuka said proudly. "I didn't know you could sing!"

"Yeah you were great!" Toji exclaimed, his face covered in food. "You practice a lot!"

"I didn't know you could sing that well…" Misato said. "Good for you."

"Great job, Shinji." Kaji said. "It's nice to have a talent, isn't it?"

"Thanks everyone." Shinji said happily as she sat down next to Hikari.

"So, Shinji, you're some kind of pop star then?" Hikari joked.

"No, I'm not, Hikari." Shinji said, pushing her playfully.

"Well, I'm surprised." Mari said. "Usually with a performance that good, panties start to fly at the stage. I should have chucked mine up there, puppy, for encouragement."

"He doesn't need your brand of encouragement." Asuka said. "Or your dirty panties."

"Hey, Shinji already know what our panties look like, princess." Mari said loudly. "He does our laundry, and miso's too, so it's not like he'd be shocked at my panties."

"You mean all the see through lace?" Asuka said.

"So, you do peek, princess, I'm impressed." Mari said. "Like what you saw?"

"I'm so gonna kick your ass…" Asuka threatened, but she was stopped by Shinji grabbing the back of her shirt. "Hey, let go baka!"

"No!" Shinji said threateningly. "Sit down Asuka."

"But…" Asuka said sullenly.

"Listen to the puppy, princess…" Mari purred.

"Asuka, Mari, enough!" Shinji said loudly. "We're in public at a party for Misato, save it till we get home!"

"Fine…" Asuka said.

"Sorry puppy, sorry miso…" Mari said quietly.

"I believe I heard my name while you were all arguing, I will go up on stage now." Rei said. "I believe the song I chose will be a good choice."

"Oh, yeah, blueberry's next!" Mari said happily. "Break a leg, blueberry."

"I would wish not to, it hurts quite severely when that happens." Rei replied.

"Rei, it a figure of speech meaning good luck." Hikari explained.

Rei smiled. "Oh, well then… I will go and… break a leg."

Rei walked up to the stage and spoke to the KJ, he took her song choice and pulled it up. After Rei tapped the microphone a few times to see that it worked, motioned the KJ to begin the song.

I'm so tired of being here
Suppressed by all my childish fears
And if you have to leave
I wish that you would just leave
'Cause your presence still lingers here
And it won't leave me alone

These wounds won't seem to heal
This pain is just too real
There's just too much that time cannot erase

When you cried I'd wipe away all of your tears
When you'd scream I'd fight away all of your fears
And I held your hand through all of these years
But you still have all of me

You used to captivate me by your resonating light
Now I'm bound by the life you left behind
Your face, it haunts my once pleasant dreams
Your voice, it chased away all the sanity in me

These wounds won't seem to heal
This pain is just too real
There's just too much that time cannot erase

When you cried I'd wipe away all of your tears
When you'd scream I'd fight away all of your fears
And I held your hand through all of these years
But you still have all of me

I've tried so hard to tell myself that you're gone
But though you're still with me
I've been alone all along

When you cried I'd wipe away all of your tears
When you'd scream I'd fight away all of your fears
And I held your hand through all of these years
But you still have all of me
All of me… All of me…

Rei got a nice bunch of clapping from the audience and gracefully returned to the table. She was greeted with teary faces, and a large hug from Mari.

"Blueberry, why did you choose such a sad song?" Mari sobbed.

"It is how I felt." Rei replied. "I simply did as you suggested and chose a song that fit me as a person. Did I do it wrong?"

"No, you did fine, wundergirl." Asuka said. "But we didn't know you felt like that."

"Yeah, who in your life did you love?" Kaji asked.

Rei lied for the first time in her life. "I lost… a sister. She died long ago, with my parents…"

"Oh…" Kaji said. 'That's not in your file, Rei. I guess I'll have to dig deeper.' Kaji thought.

Mari hugged her tighter. "Oh, blueberry, I'm sorry you lost a sister… were you close?"

"Closer than you could ever imagine." Rei said.

"Are you ok, blueberry?" Mari asked.

"I am fine, it was long ago." Rei explained. "But I appreciate your concern, Mari."

"Yeah, no problem…" Mari said.

"So, who's next?" Misato asked. "Is it me?"

"No it's the perv." Mari joked.

"I don't really like that nickname…" Kensuke said. "It's hurtful."

"It's true." Hikari said.

"But…" Kensuke argued.

"Well, I'll come up with a different one, but for now, you're perv." Mari said. "Now get up there and impress us."

"Yeah… I'll try." Kensuke said.

He made his way awkwardly to the stage and looked out at the audience. He was nervous, but asked the KJ to play the song he chose, and he as the piano notes started to play, Kensuke grabbed the mic, and started to sing his heart out.

Just a small town girl
Livin' in a lonely world
She took the midnight train
Goin' anywhere
Just a city boy
Born and raised in South Detroit
He took the midnight train
Goin' anywhere

A singer in a smokey room
The smell of wine and cheap perfume
For a smile they can share the night
It goes on and on, and on, and on

Strangers waiting
Up and down the boulevard
Their shadows searching
In the night
Streetlight people
Livin' just to find emotion
Hidin' somewhere in the night

Workin' hard to get my fill
Everybody wants a thrill
Payin' anything to roll the dice
Just one more time
Some will win
Some will lose
Some were born to sing the blues
Oh, the movie never ends
It goes on and on, and on, and on

Strangers waiting
Up and down the boulevard
Their shadows searching
In the night
Streetlight people
Livin' just to find emotion
Hidin' somewhere in the night

[Instrumental interlude]

As the guitar solo started, Kensuke began to air guitar like he was a pro as everyone looked on in amazement.

"I am impressed…" Mari said in shocked voice.

"I know, look at those skills…" Toji said. "Maybe he should focus on music and not guns and shit… he might do better."

"He certainly wouldn't come off as weird as he does now." Mari said.

"Mari…" Hikari said.

"What, everyone was thinking it, right?"

"Well… yeah…" Hikari said as everyone else nodded in agreement and the interlude came to a close with Kensuke grabbing the mic again enthusiastically.

[Instrumental interlude]

Don't stop believin'
Hold on to that feelin'
Streetlight people
Don't stop believin'
Hold on
Streetlight people
Don't stop believin'
Hold on to that feelin'
Streetlight people

Kensuke held the last note until his voice faltered and then he got a wonderful applause from the audience, and a few whistles from his friends. Kensuke walked back to the table happily, and promptly sat down.

"Nice job, buddy." Toji said, clapping him on the back. "Didn't know you had it in you."

"Yeah, that was a… well it was a shock." Mari said. "Nice job though."

"Thanks Mari." Kensuke said. "I'm just glad you guys liked the song."

"Well, it is a bit cliché to sing that song." Kaji said. "But at least you did it well, unlike so many others at weddings and karaoke bars all over the world."

"Thanks, Mr. Kaji!" Kensuke said.

"Hey, just call me Kaji." Kaji said.

"Yeah, he hates being called "Mr. Kaji" he likes saying he's not his dad." Misato said as she sipped a martini.

"Yeah, well, I'm not my father, nor am I married or have kids." Kaji said. "So my last name is my name, no titles please."

"Can do, Kaji!" Toji said happily.

"Don't look so happy, jock." Mari said. "You're next."

"Nice!" Toji said as he jumped up.

"Look at Mr. cocky over here." Asuka said. "I hope he does well, otherwise I'm going to tease the shit out of him."

"Challenge accepted, Asuka." Toji said as he marched towards the stage.

Instead of walking up the stairs to the stage like a normal person, Toji jumped onto the stage and walked up to the KJ, who he was several inches taller than. He told him the song he chose, and a few drumbeats opened the song as Toji tapped his foot and started singing.

I'm packed and I'm holding
I'm smiling, she's living, she's golden
She lives for me, says she lives for me
Ovation, her own motivation
She comes round and she goes down on me
And I make her smile, like a drug for you
Do ever what you wanna do, coming over you
Keep on smiling, what we go through
One stop to the rhythm that divides you
And I speak to you like the chorus to the verse
Chop another line like a coda with a curse
Come on like a freak show takes the stage
We give them the games we play, she said

I want something else, to get me through this
Semi–charmed kinda life, baby, baby
I want something else, I'm not listening when you say good–bye

The sky was gold, it was rose
I was taking sips of it through my nose
And I wish I could get back there, someplace back there
Smiling in the pictures you would take
Doing crystal myth, will lift you up until you break
It won't stop, I won't come down
I keep stock with the tick–tock rhythm, I bump for the drop
And then I bumped up, I took the hit that I was given
Then I bumped again, then I bumped again
I said
How do I get back there, to the place where I fell asleep inside you
How do I get myself back to the place where you said

I want something else, to get me through this
Semi–charmed kinda life, baby, baby
I want something else, I'm not listening when you say good–bye

I believe in the sand beneath my toes
The beach gives a feeling, an earthy feeling
I believe in the faith that grows
And the four right chords can make me cry
When I'm with you I feel like I could die
And that would be all right, all right

And when the plane came in, she said she was crashing
The velvet it rips in the city, we tripped on the urge to feel alive
Now I'm struggling to survive, those days you were wearing that velvet dress
You're the priestess, I must confess
Those little red panties they pass the test
Slide up around the belly, face down on the mattress
One
And you hold me, and we're broken

Still it's all that I wanna do, just a little now
Feel myself, head made of the ground
I'm scared, I'm not coming down
No, no
And I won't run for my life
She's got her jaws now, locked down in a smile
But nothing is all right, all right

And I want something else, to get me through this life
Baby, I want something else
Not listening when you say
Good–bye, good–bye, good–bye
Good–bye

The sky was gold, it was rose
I was taking sips of it through my nose
And I wish I could get back there
Someplace back there, in the place we used to start
I want something else

Toji bowed to the less than enthusiastic applause and went back to the table. He was greeted with odd stares, and a smirk from Asuka.

"Alright, so it wasn't the best performance of the evening, but it could have been worse." Asuka said.

"What was wrong with it?!" Toji asked angrily. "I sang great!"

"The song choice, basically." Asuka said.

"Really the song wasn't to your liking, red?" Toji asked. "Hikari, Shinji, what did you think of the song?"

"I thought it was a nice song." Hikari said.

"Yeah, it's a good song." Shinji said. "But why did you pick one about drugs and blowjobs?"

"What?!" Hikari and Toji exclaimed.

"Well, yeah, listen to the lyrics… the guy's on crystal meth, whatever the fuck that is and he's getting blowjobs and sex while he's high." Shinji said.

"But the tune is so catchy…" Hikari said.

"Yeah, that's the point." Shinji explained. "It supposed to get past parents wo screen their kids music. It still a good song though."

"Damn, Shinji, why did you have to ruin that for me…" Toji said.

"Still… great song… Toji…" Misato said as she sipped another martini, her fourth.

"Hey, Katsuragi, slow down." Kaji said. "You need to be able to stand when you sing."

"No I don't, I'll just sit on the edge of the stage and sing." Misato said. "But I'm fine, see?" Misato tipped back the rest of the drink. "I'll be fine once I have another."

"Well, you may have picked a shitty song, but I didn't." Asuka said proudly.

"Good timing then, princess, you're next." Mari said.

"What?" Asuka asked.

"You're next, they just called your name." Mari repeated. "Get moving, and impress us with your karaoke skills."

"Yeah, come on Asuka, I'm sure you'll do great." Shinji said kindly. "You're so good at everything you try."

"Thanks, Shinji." Asuka said. 'Glad I chose the song I did… maybe he'll catch the hint…' Asuka thought as she walked away from the table.

Asuka got up on stage and proudly walked over to the KJ. She grabbed the microphone and stood dead center on the stage so she was as illuminated and visible as possible.

"Hit it." Asuka said as a guitar strummed twice before Asuka started singing.

According to you
I'm stupid
I'm useless
I can't do anything right
According to you
I'm difficult
Hard to please
Forever changing my mind
I'm a mess in a dress
Can't show up on time
Even if it would save my life
According to you, according to you

But according to him
I'm beautiful
Incredible
He can't get me out of his head
According to him
I'm funny
Irresistible
Everything he ever wanted
Everything is opposite
I don't feel like stopping it
So baby tell me what I got to lose
He's into me for everything I'm not
According to you

According to you
I'm boring
I'm moody
And you can't take me any place
According to you
I suck at telling jokes cause I always give it away
I'm the girl with the worst attention span
You're the boy who puts up with that
According to you, according to you

But according to him
I'm beautiful
Incredible
He can't get me out of his head
According to him
I'm funny
Irresistible
Everything he ever wanted
Everything is opposite
I don't feel like stopping it
So baby tell me what I got to lose
He's into me for everything I'm not
According to you

I need to feel appreciated
Like I'm not hated, oh no
Why can't you see me through his eyes?
It's too bad you're making me decide

But according to me
You're stupid
You're useless
You can't do anything right

But according to him
I'm beautiful,
Incredible,
He can't get me out of his head.
According to him
I'm funny,
Irresistible,
Everything he ever wanted.
Everything is opposite,
I don't feel like stopping it,
Babe I'll tell you what you got to lose
He's into me for everything I'm not
According to you.

According to you
I'm stupid
I'm useless
I can't do anything right

Asuka got a thunderous applause from the audience as she gave the microphone back to the KJ and went to sit down. When she got back to the table, she saw everyone's face, but only cared about one, Shinji. HE was smiling from ear to ear and as she sat down, she was hugged by Mari.

"Oh, princess, I should have never doubted our singing ability." Mari said. "All that yelling you do, you clearly have a wonderful set of lungs o sing so well."

"Let go you dummkopf, you're crushing me!" Asuka exclaimed. "But thank you all the same."

"If you really wanted to thank me, you'd let me hug you some more." Mari joked.

"Fine…" Asuka said. "Only if you leave me alone afterwards."

"Done deal." Mari said.

"Asuka that was wonderful." Shinji said. "I really liked the song you chose."

"Thanks Shinji…" Asuka said.

"I mean it Asuka, I was really impressed." Shinji said. "You sang it like you were talking about yourself…"

"Yeah, it almost sounded like you picked it for a reason." Hikari said.

"Or a person." Mari said as she snuggled against Asuka.

"I did not." Asuka said. "I just… like the song."

"Well, whatever the reason she picked it, it as a good choice!" Kaji said enthusiastically.

"So, who's next?" Misato asked. "I'm dying to go up and sing."

"So am I." Kaji said.

"Well, you'll both be happy to know you're next." Mari said.

"Wat, together?" Misato asked.

"No, no, miso first, then scruffy." Mari said. "I'm last of course, cause I wanted everyone else to go first. I'm nice like that."

"Or you didn't know what song to pick." Shinji said.

"Hush, puppy." Mari said. "They don't need to know anything."

"Whatever…" Shinji said. "Have fun Misato."

"So, I'll go up now I guess." Misato said.

"Good luck, Lieutenant Colonel." Kensuke said.

"Yeah, Katsuragi, go blow this song away." Kaji said.

Misato staggered a bit towards the stage, as after having six martinis and a load of food, she wasn't exactly able to walk correctly, especially in heels. She got up to the KJ and told him the song she wanted, and took her place on the stage as an upbeat pop tempo played.

Oh, baby, baby
Oh, baby, baby

Oh, baby, baby
How was I supposed to know
That something wasn't right here?
Oh, baby, baby
I shouldn't have let you go
And now you're out of sight, yeah

Show me how you want it to be
Tell me, baby,
'Cause I need to know now, oh, because...

My loneliness is killing me (and I)
I must confess, I still believe (still believe)
When I'm not with you I lose my mind
Give me a sign
Hit me, baby, one more time

Oh, baby, baby
The reason I breathe is you
Boy, you got me blinded
Oh, baby, baby
There's nothing that I wouldn't do
It's not the way I planned it

Show me how you want it to be
Tell me, baby,
'Cause I need to know now, oh, because...

My loneliness is killing me (and I)
I must confess, I still believe (still believe)
When I'm not with you I lose my mind
Give me a sign
Hit me, baby, one more time

Oh, baby, baby
Oh, baby, baby
Ah, yeah, yeah

Oh, baby, baby
How was I supposed to know?
Oh, pretty, baby
I shouldn't have let you go

I must confess
That my loneliness
Is killing me now
Don't you know I still believe
That you will be here
And give me a sign
Hit me, baby, one more time

My loneliness is killing me (and I)
I must confess, I still believe (still believe)
When I'm not with you I lose my mind
Give me a sign
Hit me, baby, one more time

I must confess that my loneliness
Is killing me now
Don't you know I still believe
That you will be here
And give me a sign
Hit me, baby, one more time

Misato got a polite applause from the audience and went back to the table. As she got back, she noticed Kaji beaming.

"Wow… that was impressive." Kensuke said.

"Yeah, I'm surprised." Shinji said. "In a good way of course."

"So, still got it, eh Katsuragi?" Kaji asked.

"I never lost it." Misato said. "But I still need to drink to be good at karaoke though…"

"Wait, you can only sing well when you're drunk?" Asuka asked. "What a weirdo you are, Misato…"

"Hey, it's weird, but it works for me." Misato said. "But I need to sit down now, next to one of these two Kaji's…"

"Ok, here you go, Katsuragi." Kaji said, helping her down. "I think you overdid it a bit."

"No I didn't, I rocked the house." Misato said.

"Alright, you did." Kaji said. "Shinji, can you make sure she doesn't drink anymore? She needs to be awake for the cab ride home."

"Yeah, no problem." Shinji said. "Asuka and Mari will help too."

"Sure, whatever." Mari said.

"Why?" Asuka asked.

"Because it's a nice thing to do, Asuka." Shinji said.

"Fine…" Asuka said.

"So, I'm next, be back in a jiffy!" Kaji said brightly.

"Have fun, Kaji." Shinji said.

"Yes, break a leg." Rei said.

Kaji walked and walked over to the stage, where he told the KJ his song choice, and when he told him to start the music, a catchy band tune started up, and Kaji began to sing like Frank Sinatra.

Fly me to the moon
Let me play among the stars
Let me see what spring is like on
A–Jupiter and Mars
In other words, hold my hand
In other words, baby, kiss me

Fill my heart with song and let me sing for ever more
You are all I long for
All I worship and adore
In other words, please be true
In other words, I love you

Fill my heart with song
Let me sing for ever more
You are all I long for, all I worship and adore
In other words, please be true
In other words
In other words
I… love… you…

Even though the song was short, everyone in the audience clapped loudly. Kaji smiled and bowed and left the stage.

As he got back to the table, he saw some puzzled looks, and a smile from Shinji and Asuka.

"What song was that?" Toji asked.

"It sounded familiar." Rei said.

"Oh, just something from a bygone era." Kaji said.

"It's catchy." Mari said. "And for some reason, it gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling."

"Cause it's a nice song." Shinji said.

"Yeah, it is, it means a lot to a lot of people out there." Kaji said. "In the U.S. during the Space Race, this song was the embodiment of the hopes and dreams of being the first country to land on the moon… an era where anything seemed possible."

"Doesn't anything seem possible now?" Hikari asked.

"Yeah, we have the Evangelions, and we survived Second Impact." Kensuke said.

"Life still goes on like it did before Second Impact, so what changed?" Mari asked.

"Well, we may have survived Second Impact, but humanity is a shadow of its former self." Kaji explained. "With the constant threat of the Angels looming over us, opportunities do not seem as boundless as they once did."

"What if we were to defeat all the Angels?" Shinji asked. "Would that fix it?"

"Shinji, I like your idea of that being the only thing to solve." Kaji said. "But things are far more complicated than just Angels and Evangelions. The political landscape has been in constant turmoil since Second Impact, and only the U.N. and its military might are holding things together, or at least keeping up the status quo."

"But will it help?" Shinji asked.

Kaji smiled. "I'm sure it will take away one source of irritation to the world if the threat of third impact is removed."

"Good." Shinji replied.

"Your such an idealist, Shinji." Asuka said.

"Is that a bad thing?" Shinji asked.

"Not really…" Asuka said as she tapped her chin. "It's more endearing than anything else."

"So, enough of this boring talk." Mari said. "I'm up next, so I hope you all enjoy it!"

Mari ran excitedly towards the stage and ran up to the KJ and he greeted her warmly. Mari told him the song she had chosen, and it took him a moment to find, but when he did, Mari took her position on stage and pointed to the KJ.

"Let the music play." Mari said, and the techno beat started.

Like an angel who has forsaken sympathy
Rise up, young boy, and make yourself a legend!

Blue skies and beckoning winds
Are trying to open the door of your heart
But you're gazing at me as if you cannot see
You just stand there smiling vacantly

Your eyes hold such innocence
You're blind to the fate that will soon come to pass
But it's summoning you with a touch like a sigh
You seek it without knowing why

But someday I know that you will be awakened
And your eyes will finally see
These wings on your back are just waiting to guide you –
The future will soon set you free!

This cruel thesis, a spiteful angel's litany,
Will soon soar from the window of your destiny
White hot pathos, a desecrated symphony
Stay true to this and don't betray your memory!
Come now, reach out – you must embrace reality
Rise up, young boy, and make yourself a legend!

You've slept for ever so long
Embraced in affection and cradled with care
But with morning's approach comes an echoing cry
It tells you to wave your dreams goodbye

And the moon is shining above
It wishes to show just how fragile you are
You're so frail and slight in its silvery light;
Our fate is not one we can fight

But someday I hope that we'll be reunited
If that is what's destined to be
Perhaps we'll discover that elusive bible
And then we will finally be free!

This cruel thesis, a spiteful angel's mockery,
Will bring with it the sorrow of futility
Hold on tightly and do not lose vitality
You must wake up, for now the dream is history!
Come now, reach out – you must embrace humanity
Rise up, young boy, and make yourself a legend!

Love is the thread of the story that's woven
Of future and present and past
I may not ever ascend to the heavens
But I know my love will still last

This cruel thesis, a spiteful angel's litany,
Will soon soar from the window of your destiny
White hot pathos, a desecrated symphony
Stay true to this and don't betray your memory!
Come now, reach out – you must embrace reality
Rise up, young boy, and make yourself a legend!

Mari got a wonderful applause and went back to the table to see smiles all around.

"So… how was it?" Mari asked.

"Great as usual." Shinji said. "Nice song choice."

"Yes, it was very interesting." Rei said.

"Funny you found a song about angels." Misato said.

"Yeah, considering your job, its ironic, isn't it?" Kensuke asked.

"Yeah, but I like being ironic." Mari said. "It's fun."

"Mari, you just like pushing boundaries." Shinji quipped.

"And the puppy bites back." Mari said. "You know, I try to break four boundaries every day."

"Yeah, to everyone's annoyance." Toji said.

"I think it's fun to see Mari ease everyone." Hikari said. "She's really good at it."

"Thanks freckles." Mari said.

"Yeah, it was a nice song, like an anime opening." Asuka asked. "Where was it from?"

"Some anime or another." Mari asked. "I can't remember the name of it."

"What's it about?" Asuka asked.

"I dunno, mechs or something?" Mari said.

"Oh my god, plot four eyes, give me plot." Asuka said.

"Well, let's see…" Mari said. "Well, I only remember the broad strokes… it's got psychosocial themes and follows three kids through their battles with alien monsters, and all the kids are fucked in the head, the boy whines, one girl bitches, and the girl's really quiet." Mari snapped her fingers. "Oooh, it also has loads of religious symbolism and is endlessly being analyzed."

"Who has time for that?" Asuka said. "I just want something straightforward and simple to watch, bad guy on one side, good guy on the other, good guy kills bad guy after battle that wrecks half of city. I don't want to think while I watch anime, I want to be entertained."

"Not all anime can be as straightforward as Dragon Ball Z, princess." Mari said. "Some people like deeper meanings to their shows."

"Yeah, Asuka." Shinji said. "Having a plot that goes beyond shit exploding is a nice change of pace. It makes you rethink how you view the world."

"I'm with red on this one." Toji said. "Simple and straightforward I like. Some things are too deep for me to care, which makes them… uh what the word… hard to watch."

"So, just don't watch it then." Hikari said.

"You know, that anime almost sounds like you guys without Mari." Kensuke said.

"What!?" Asuka and Shinji shouted.

"Well, I was only saying it sounded similar…" Kensuke said.

"Well, art does imitate life after all." Kaji said.

"Well isn't most anime about teenagers against forces they can't comprehend?" Hikari asked. "So basically any anime could be an allusion to your life, this one just seems to match a bit closer."

"Yeah, that's pretty much most anime." Shinji said.

"Well, I wouldn't want to watch an anime about some bitchy character anyway." Asuka said. "I bet she gets horribly disfigured at some point to make her more of an outcast for having an opinion, and then the perverted protagonist fixes everything and helps the damsel in distress."

"And then they just end up with like one visible scar or something like an eyepatch." Toji said. "Which just seems pointless, why not leave them uninjured instead of causing all that damage just for it to be fixed."

"Yeah, it's stupid." Asuka said. "Like a waste of emotional moment, just for it to be completely erased."

"You know what's even dumber in anime?" Toji said. "Long time skips with no explanation of anything in between. I mean, I'd really hate having more questions than answers, it kills the whole point of a show."

"I dislike when an anime focuses too much on one character, neglecting the others for a skewed story telling experience." Shinji said. "Focusing on one character when any others could have way more depth would be really detrimental to the overall story."

"Yeah, and some bullshit reason that it's only about that character would be the only reason they give…" Kensuke said.

"I like having more than one main character to focus on." Mari said. "I'll give you that, cause there's always some newer character that gets left out and barely gets screen time, but the fan love them so much."

"Yeah, I can understand that." Kensuke said. "I'd hate to be in the background like that, wouldn't you?"

"Yeah, that would suck." Toji said.

"I would literally kill anyone who tried to take screen time away from me." Asuka said.

"Well, it's better to be partly ignored than forgotten." Kaji said.

"Or completely changed from who you used to be." Misato said.

"Well, aren't some creative decisions for the better?" Hikari asked.

"Some, not all." Shinji said. "Sometimes things get too carried away to make a story different, it still ends up being more of the same, or heavily borrows themes from other anime to make it seem different."

"I do not mean to interrupt, but I believe our discussion about Mari's wonderful song choice has been digressed quite severely." Rei said. "How did we end up on the topic of bad decisions anime creators make?"

"Asuka asked a question." Hikari said. "That's when it sort of broke off."

"It's not like we didn't say anything that didn't need to be said anyway." Mari said.

"Yeah, but, Rei has a point, we did off topic." Shinji said.

"Oh whatever." Mari said. "Who wants to go up and sing again?"

A few of them raised their hands.

"Well, go down to the KJ and get yourself on the list again." Mari said excitedly "As for me, I'm getting more food! Come on, Shinji, you can carry my second plate."

"Mari, remember what happened last time?" Shinji asked.

"Of course I do! I nearly passed out form overeating, I want to do that again!" Mari said.

"Asuka, please help me…" Shinji said as Mari dragged him off.

"Hey, four eyes, why don't you pace yourself and see if you can out eat me!" Asuka said.

"Challenge accepted, princess." Mari said. "Puppy, you're going to be getting our food for us, and we'll eat tot the death."

"Hikari… please help." Shinji pleaded.

"I don't think you can stop them now, Shinji." Hikari said. "They look really determined."

"I know, that's why I'm worried." Shinji said. "I don't want to have to clean the toilet when they throw up."

"Oh, if we get sick, we'll clean it." Mari said.

"Yeah, loser cleans the bathroom for a week!" Asuka said.

"You're so on." Mari said.

"Oh boy…" Shinji mumbled as he followed them to the buffet.

–––

Kaji and Misato were walking behind the kids. Kaji kept eyeing Misato, but she kept avoiding his gaze. Misato had started to sober up, and didn't really want a lecture from Kaji about being dunk in front of all the kids. Finally, Kaji got fed up and went for a direct approach on what he wanted to ask Misato.

"Katsuragi… I was curious about something." Kaji said innocently.

"Whatever it is, no." Misato said.

"Are you sure about that answer, Katsuragi?" Kaji asked.

"Why?" Misato replied back.

"Your song choice got me thinking." Kaji said. "I know you still love me, but do you miss me at all?"

"No, why would I?" Misato said. "It's not like we left each other on the best of terms."

"That doesn't matter." Kaji said. "I told you that I would be there for you in the elevator, even if you didn't want me."

"Well, I don't want you." Misato said defensively.

"Are you sure, Katsuragi?" Kaji asked. "That song doesn't exactly say "I hate you" now does it?"

Misato grimaced. "Why are you so intuitive?"

"It's my nature to notice things that don't add up, Misato." Kaji said. "Plus, we had that wonderful talk on the way back from the wedding."

"Wait, that talk wasn't a dream?" Misato asked.

"No, it wasn't, Misato." Kaji said. "That happened while I carried you on my back."

"So then you already know I still love you…" Misato mumbled.

"Yeah, yeah I do know that already." Kaji replied. "You told me as much while we were walking."

"So, why didn't you bring it up sooner?" Misato asked.

"You've been avoiding me, Misato." Kaji said. "And to be fair, I didn't know how to bring it up that I wanted to try again."

"Wait, you still want to be with me?" Misato asked.

"I never stopped wanting to be with you, Misato." Kaji said.

"Even after I lied to you to make you tell me you loved me." Misato said. "You must love me then… even if you won't say it."

"Now you get it, Misato." Kaji said. "So, would you be willing to give us another shot?"

"I… we can't Kaji." Misato said. "Work has rules…"

"For people in the same department, which we're not." Kaji said. "Trust me, I looked at the rules, and we'd be in the clear."

"Ok… so if we're allowed to, then…" Misato said. "Maybe we could try it this time."

"Under one condition of course." Kaji said.

"What's that?" Misato asked.

"Don't try to force me to say that again." Kaji said. "Let me come to it in my own time. I know it in my heart, but I don't think I'm worthy enough to say the words yet…"

"Because of Taichi." Misato said.

"Yeah." Kaji replied.

"You know, for what it's worth, you didn't kill him." Misato said. "You had no idea they'd go and kill them all. Those soldiers killed him, not you."

"But…" Kaji said.

"No buts, Kaji." Misato said sternly. "But I won't force the issue, cause I'm too tipsy to make a go convincing argument."

"Fair enough." Kaji said.

"So, if you want to go out with me again, we'll just start from scratch, Mr. Kaji." Misato said. "You'll pick me up for dinner tomorrow night, and take me somewhere nice too."

"How about a ramen cart, like our first date?" Kaji asked.

"I'd like that." Misato said. "But for now, let's keep it a secret from them. I don't think they need to know, do they?"

"No, but they'll need to know eventually, especially if I stay the night…" Kaji joked.

"How presumptuous of you!" Misato said

"Well, I remember that week we spent together in college." Kaji said.

"Yeah, so do I…" Misato said. "Maybe we could try some of those positions again. After we catch up on what we've missed."

"Yeah, there's a lot I need to tell you, Misato." Kaji said. "A lot of stuff you need to know."

To Be Continued


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

As for the songs used in this chapter, I don't own them either, and they're listed below in order of appearance:

Katy Perry – Teenage Dream (2010) [Hikari]
Boys Like Girls – The Great Escape (2007) [Shinji]
Evanescence – My Immortal (2000) [Rei]
Journey – Don't Stop Believing (1981) [Kensuke]
Third Eye Blind – Semi–Charmed Life (1997) [Toji]
Orianthi – According to You (2009) [Asuka]
Britney Spears – …Baby One More Time (1998) [Misato]
Frank Sinatra – Fly Me to the Moon (In Other Words) (1964) [Kaji]
Yoko Takahashi – A Cruel Angel's Thesis (1995) [Mari]

Sync Score Rankings!
Shinji – 84.3% (+0.3%)
Asuka – 78.2% (+3.9%)
Mari – 75.0% (+0.8%)
Rei – 71.8% (+1.2%)

Well, that was the chapter folks! It's not based on any particular anime episode or manga chapter, but still covers a bunch of stuff. Gendo's near omnipotence and ability to plan ahead for all eventualities, including his son falling in love, being always on point and ready to adapt, so Gendo is prepared for them to start a relationship, but he certainly won't see some of the other stuff that's coming. The chapter name comes from the 1977 movie Saturday Night Fever starring John Travolta. I would have opened to someone carrying a paint can and walking to the beat of "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees, but I thought that might be a bit too corny.

Kaji and Shinji having a bit of time to themselves was fun to write. Lord knows Shinji needs a good male influence in his life that isn't his father. That and there conversation has been a long time coming, but Kaji is always so busy, but it's nice to put them in a scene together to chat, and there will be several more before the end of this fic.

As for the karaoke night, which is the last portion of the chapter… it was mean to portray how the characters are feeling at this time in the story. I picked each song (see above) to fit their personality, Hikari was singing for Toji, as she is his teenage dream (basically reaffirming the beginning of the chapter), Shinji's song was about running away with the one you love and leaving everything else behind, Rei's song choice was more of a comparison of how she remembered Rei I's life and her death, Kensuke basically won't ever stop believing he'll be an Evangelion pilot, Toji is foreshadowing his events with Bardiel in a way with his song as he will descend the Entry Plug to meet the Angel, while the song references getting lost in a crystal meth addiction, and wanting a change, Asuka's song s her recognizing that Shinji never puts her down, even when other people in her past have, he doesn't, Misato wants Kaji back with her song choice, and regrets not having asked him out yet, and Kaji and Mari's songs were more for fun than for any foreshadowing. Kaji's could be considered a serenade to Misato, and Mari's knowledge of events from the disc Fuyutsuki gave her, led her to choose the theme song to some "mech anime" with "psychological themes" at the forefront, and yet they can't remember the name of it… yeah, the fourth wall can kiss my ass, as that was so totally worth it.

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