Neon Genesis Evangelion: Legacy
Episode V: SEELE Strikes Back


Chapter 6 – You Can (Not) Handle the Truth
June 21, 2016 – Tokyo–3 Junior High School, Class 2–A

Shinji, Mari, Asuka, and Rei had stayed behind to clean the classroom. Mari and Asuka had been assigned by Hikari to clean the classroom, but seeing as they all had sync tests after school, Shinji had decided to stay behind, and rather than going to NERV alone, Rei decided to help her friends clean as well, and hopefully finish faster and get to NERV to avoid being late.

"So, who's in charge of our sync tests today?" Mari asked as she swept the floor.

"Well, I think it'll still be Maya in charge of them." Shinji said as he cleaned the windows. "I don't think Dr. Akagi has been let back to work yet. I know she hasn't come to apologize to me yet. What about you guys?"

"Well, then you're the only one." Asuka said as she cleaned each of the desks. "She came to me and Mari last week. And I know she bothered Maya at home, she told us that a few days ago."

"She visited my apartment three days ago." Rei said as she wiped down the chalk board with a rag. "She seemed annoyed with having to apologize for her actions."

"Well, she's not a nice person is she?" Mari asked.

"No, she's not very kind at all." Shinji said.

"It's like she's avoiding you, Shinji." Asuka said.

"Well, maybe she's ashamed of what she did." Mari said.

"Or something else is bothering that fucking bitch." Asuka muttered.

"Asuka, what did I tell you?" Shinji said.

Asuka sighed deeply "You said not to call her names…"

"Right, she may not be nice, but we shouldn't sink to her level, Asuka." Shinji said. "Don't smirk either Mari, this goes for you too."

"Sure puppy, I can try…" Mari said as she continued to smirk.

"Mari… don't try, just do it." Shinji said sternly.

"Wow, look at you, mister forceful." Mari joked. "Maybe you should be leading us in battle, Commander."

"Yeah, and how would that work?" Shinji said sarcastically as he sprayed the last window to clean it. "I doubt Asuka would follow my orders, and none of us should really be in charge, we should always work together… as equals."

"Well, he's not wrong." Asuka said. "I wouldn't listen to him… and we should be equals out there through. We all know now what could happen if we don't back each other up."

"You mean you could catch an Angel in your hands and wait for the rest of us to get our sweet asses there?" Mari asked.

"Being absorbed into another dimension by an Angel with no foreseeable way to escape?" Rei asked.

"Or is it having an Angel sever your cables to the surface, and then start to fall deeper into a volcano?" Shinji asked.

"Yes." Asuka said. "We don't exactly have the luxury of working independently with the Angels… we might regret it."

"Asuka, just relax, we'll be fine, now that Shinji has that selfless hero thing out of his system." Mari said. "Right, puppy?"

"I already you guys a bunch, I won't scare you like that again…" Shinji muttered.

"Well, I hope you don't mind if we still don't believe you." Asuka said.

"Yeah, whatever…" Shinji said as he walked over to grab a rag and help Rei with the chalkboard.

"Hey!" Asuka shouted. "Don't whatever me, baka! This is serious!"

"Asuka, will you relax, I said I wouldn't do it again." Shinji said. "If one of us gets trapped, then we'll just have to figure out a way to save them without anyone sacrificing themselves again, ok?"

"Yeah, fine…" Asuka said.

As Shinji was wetting down the rag, Rei was at the bucket and doing the same, and as she was ringing it out, Shinji thought it looked familiar. Rei twisted the rag back and forth three times to make sure it was rung out.

'That's just how my mother used to do that…' Shinji thought. "You ring that out like my mother did…" Shinji said without thinking.

"What?" Rei asked.

Shinji blushed. "I said you ring that out like a mother." Shinji corrected himself.

Rei herself blushed. "Oh, well thank you, Shinji…"

Mari had overheard Shinji's original statement, and gave him a piercing stare. 'Puppy's right, she does ring that out like Yui did… ' Mari thought. 'Adding that to all of the other similarities make me wonder who Rei really is… and why does it matter if I love her… I love Yui too, and the similarities are starting to add up into something I can't explain…' Mari coughed. "I'm sure Rei will make a wonderful mother someday."

Rei turned ever redder. "Oh, thank you…"

"Jeez, baka, you made wundergirl blush." Asuka quipped as she rolled her eyes. "You should try complimenting every girl you know like that."

"I'm sure you'll be a great mother someday too, Asuka." Shinji said politely.

Asuka turned her head away from Shinji in a huff. "Well I don't believe you now, because I had to prompt you, baka."

"Awww, princess, are you butt hurt?" Mari asked.

"No, I'm not butt hurt, four eyes." Asuka said. "It would just be nice to be complimented sometimes, that's all."

"Well, you have a cute ass, princess." Mari said.

"What, do you look or something?!" Asuka asked.

"Well, we all change together, princess, it's hard not to notice." Mari said.

Asuka grumbled. 'Just take the compliment, Asuka…' Asuka thought.

"Hey, Asuka…" Shinji said. "I think you have pretty eyes…"

Asuka stared at him. "Really?"

"Yeah, they're like the color of sapphires…" Shinji said as he blushed. "They sparkle like them too…"

Asuka blushed too. "Thanks, Shinji… no one's ever said that."

"You're welcome Asuka." Shinji replied sheepishly.

"Mari, I believe you have been left out of all these compliments." Rei said.

"Yeah, but I don't mind." Mari said. "I know I'm awesome."

"Well, you should be aware that you also have a very symmetrical face." Rei said.

"I'm flattered, blueberry." Mari said as she herself blushed a bit. "But why does that matter exactly?"

"Scientists say that a more symmetrical face indicates a higher level of attractiveness." Rei stated. "I read it somewhere."

"I'm sure you did blueberry." Mari said. "Thank you for noticing."

"You are quite welcome." Rei said.

"So, what time is it?" Asuka asked.

Shinji checked his new watch and realized the time. "We have to be to NERV in half an hour!" Shinji exclaimed.

"What?!" Asuka asked.

"Yeah, how is it that late?" Mari asked.

"I believe we used a lot time complimenting each other." Rei said.

"Well, regardless of the reasons, we should hurry up." Shinji said. "We don't want to be late for Maya."

"Yeah, she's way nicer than Ritsuko." Mari said. "I wouldn't want to disappoint her."

"I quite agree." Rei said. "She is very kind."

"Well, let's shut up and go then!" Asuka said. "Come on, let's go!"

–––

Toji was sitting and waiting for his sister to come out of the bathroom. He had come right after school to see her, and was wondering what was taking so long.

"Heya, sis… you alright in there?" Toji called through the door.

"The nurse is helping me get dressed, Toji!" Sakura called through the door. "Unless you want to be the one to help me!"

"I love you sis, just not that much." Toji quipped.

"You're a horrible brother!" Sakura joked through the door.

"Yeah, I'm the horrible one." Toji said. "You make fun of me half the time."

"Cause you deserve it!" Sakura said in a sing–song voice.

"No I don't!" Toji said. "I'm a nice guy!"

"Yeah… all guys say that." Sakura said as the nurse helped her from the bathroom. "Hey, don't look so down, bro. I was only kidding you know. Can't take a joke?"

"Not about me being a bad brother." Toji said. "That ain't right."

"Fine… I'm sorry, Toji…" Sakura said. "You are a good brother… the best actually."

"Yeah, well, let me help you into bed, sis." Toji said. "I need to talk to you about something important."

"Sure." Sakura said. "I'll be fine, he won't drop me."

"Alright, I'll be back in an hour or so to check on you." The nurse said.

"So, what do you want to talk to me about?" Sakura said as Toji eased her into bed.

"Hikari…" Toji said. "I'm a… nervous…"

"About what?" Sakura asked. "You like her, don't you?!"

"Of course I do, it's just… I don't know…" Toji said. "I'm just scared to ask her out or anything. Like I get all weak kneed around her when I'm ready to tell her I… uh…"

"That you want to date her?" Sakura asked. "Why are you nervous, bro?"

"I just… I want to be with her." Toji said. "I mean, I know she likes me, she makes me lunch every single day… and I just don't know how to repay her for that."

"Ask her out, dumbass." Sakura said. "That's how you repay her."

"Yeah, but what do I do?" Toji asked. "I don't really have any idea how to go out on a date. Where do I take her, How do I act?"

"Just be your regular goofy self, Toji." Sakura said. "She likes you for who you are, so you don't have to act any differently than you usually do."

"Yeah, but what do we talk about?" Toji asked. "What do I ask her?"

Sakura shook her head. "Toji… you're hopeless…" Sakura sat up a little straighter. "Toji, why are you worried. She already likes you, and you already like her. If you're together, what you're hoping will happen, will eventually happen. Just don't rush things, let them happen naturally, ok?"

"Yeah, but how will I know, sis?" Toji asked.

"Toji, you'll just know." Sakura said. "Haven't you ever paid attention to those romantic movies you watched with me?"

"Not really…" Toji shrugged. "They don't have a lot of shit blowing up or anything. Well, True Lies I paid attention too."

"Yeah, because your hero Arnold Schwarzenegger was in it." Sakura said.

"That and he stole a Harrier Jet and blew up a terrorist with it." Toji said.

Sakura sighed heavily. "Jeez… don't let your date end up like that movie, ok?"

"I won't." Toji said. "But where do I take her?"

"Well, you've been chatting with her for over a month and a half, she must have mentioned some things she liked. Or were you not paying attention?"

"I was paying attention." Toji said. "She likes… uh… not having to cook… relaxing at home… watching movies…"

"Well, there's your answer, dummy." Sakura said. "Just ask her out to a movie and take her somewhere for dinner. Nice and simple."

"It sounds simple, but it isn't as easy as you think." Toji said.

"Yes it is. The hard part is over, you like each other." Sakura said. "You've given it time, haven't you?"

"Yeah, six weeks." Toji said. "Every time we hang out I'm really, really happy."

"So, go and do it, Toji!" Sakura said. "I want you to be happy!"

"I know, but if I'm always having fun with her, what about you?" Toji said. "I'd feel guilty if you were alone all the time."

"Just bring her here with you." Sakura said. "You can make cutesy eyes and kissy faces here all you want, I don't care."

"Yeah, but I still feel bad." Toji said. "I know you're not happy staying here all the time. You never get to leave."

"Toji, whatever happened to me that night, it's not your fault." Sakura said. "I wandered off and I caught in the middle of that fight. I thought it was so cool that the Evangelion was fighting that thing… I got distracted and I got hurt. I'm only in here because of me. I can't blame you or anyone else for why I got hurt. I can't be happy because of my own actions."

"But Sakura, it is my fault, you got away from me on the way to the shelter." Toji said.

"I tricked you, Toji." Sakura said. "I snuck away. Just like I told Shinji, it's not his fault, and it's definitely not your fault."

"Yeah, but…" Toji started.

"No buts, bro." Sakura said sternly. "I want you to be happy. I can wait until I'm out of here to be happy, but don't be all caught up on me being in here. Go and be happy, and if you don't bring your girlfriend Hikari here in the next week, I'm calling her and asking her out for you, got it?"

"Got it." Toji replied. "But you're sure you don't mind?"

"I know you'll still come around and see me." Sakura said. "You would never abandon me, but I'll be glad you'll be happier when you're with Hikari."

"Heya, Sakura." Toji asked. "How do you know so much about love?"

"I'm far wiser than my age lets on, bro." Sakura said. "Just make sure to use protection, Toji. You know, in case anything happens."

"Hikari's not that kind a girl, sis!" Toji said indignantly.

"Hey, relax Toji." Sakura said. "I was only kidding. But don't be surprised, the quiet ones are always the one to watch out for."

"What are you implying?" Toji asked.

"If I have to explain it to you, it means you're not ready for it yet." Sakura said as she rolled her eyes. "Jeez, it'll be a wonder if you ever have kids…"

–––

Asuka was alone in her room. Other than Shinji, there was no one else in the apartment. Shinji was asleep in his room, extremely tired after the sync tests that day. Mari had stayed late to help Maya with some additional testing, and Misato, like always, had to work late.

Asuka was playing a game on her GameBoy when she heard a scream from the next room.

"Shinji?" Asuka muttered as she put the GameBoy down, and she heard him scream again.

"Shinji!" Asuka jumped off her bed and ran to his room to see him thrashing on his bed and screaming. Asuka grabbed his shoulders and shook him. "Shinji, wake up! WAKE UP!"

Shinji kept thrashing, so Asuka decided she only had one option left. "Sorry, Shinji…"

SLAP

Shinji woke up, covered in a cold sweat. He stared at her, confused and afraid.

"Asuka, is that you? Is it really you?" Shinji stammered.

"Yeah, it really me." Asuka said. "What's wrong? You were shouting like crazy person."

"I was having a nightmare…" Shinji said. "Is that why you slapped me?"

"Yeah, shaking you and shouting at you didn't work." Asuka said. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be… the slap is better than the nightmare I was having." Shinji muttered.

"What was the nightmare about?" Asuka asked. "Was it about that Angel?"

"Yeah… I know it's dead, but I was still really scared." Shinji said. "I keep seeing Leliel take your form, or Mari's or Rei's, and try to… pleasure me… I don't like it…"

"Why don't you like it?" Asuka asked.

"Because I don't want that from that… that thing…" Shinji said. "I'm afraid of the next Angel, and what they might be capable of."

"Shinji, you don't have to be afraid." Asuka said. "When the next Angel attacks, I'll be there. I'll protect you like you always protect me."

"Thanks Asuka…" Shinji said.

"Shinji, are you sure you're ok?" Asuka asked.

"No, I'm not, but I'll be fine…" Shinji said. "Don't worry too much."

"Well I am worried." Asuka said. "Why don't I stay with you? That way you won't be alone."

"I guess if you think it'll help." Shinji said.

"I think it will… uh… ya know… psychology says it should." Asuka said.

"I thought you had an engineering degree." Shinji said.

"I do, but psych is still a part of the core curriculum, baka." Asuka said.

"Well, if you think it's ok." Shinji said.

"What, you don't like cuddling with a beautiful woman?" Asuka asked.

"It's not that, Asuka." Shinji said. "It's just that… Leliel used you… to try and temp me… to stay there forever… I just feel awful about all that…"

"Shinji, you don't need to be ashamed." Asuka said. "It's ok, whatever you saw, I know it wasn't your choice. You've passed on that opportunity twice in real life. I trust you when you say you feel bad about it, but you don't have to feel bad, Shinji."

"Really?" Shinji asked.

"Really, baka." Asuka said. "Now, I'm going to go change for bed, I'll be right back."

"Ok." Shinji said sheepishly.

"Just don't fall asleep till I get back, I don't want you have to slap you again." Asuka said as she walked back to her room.

When Asuka got to her room, she pulled off her clothes and changed into something more appropriate for the bed. 'I wonder why Shinji is so embarrassed about having seen someone pretend to be me naked.' Asuka thought. 'He seems awful scared about it… but I'm just hoping me being with him will help.'

Asuka shut off the light in her room, and walked back to Shinji's room. Asuka crawled into bed behind Shinji and wrapped her arms around him.

"So, how are you feeling now?" Asuka asked.

"A little." Shinji said.

"Good, I'm glad I can help you out for once." Asuka said.

"Thanks, Asuka… for being so nice." Shinji said as he snuggled up against her.

"You don't have to thank me, baka." Asuka said as she shivered at his snuggling. "Now, get some sleep, we have school in the morning, and you have lunches to make."

"Of course I do…" Shinji said.

"I'm only kidding, baka." Asuka said. "I think Mari figured out a way for food to get delivered. SO you don't have to make lunch."

"How did she figure that out?" Shinji asked.

"Well, she figures she can charm them with her voice, then her… uh… figure." Asuka said.

"Well, that sounds like a plan Mari would have." Shinji said.

"Yeah, well, she's using what she's got…" Asuka said.

"Boobs?" Shinji asked.

"Boobs." Asuka replied.

Shinji chuckled. "Well, let's see if she can pull that off tomorrow."

"Yeah, her and her big, squishy tits…" Asuka said angrily.

"Yeah, they're kind of squishy." Shinji joked.

"How do you know?" Asuka asked.

"I've cuddled with her before, Asuka." Shinji said. "And hers feel a lot like yours."

"Wait, my little ones feel like her big ones?" Asuka asked.

"Yeah, you have them pressed against my back." Shinji blushed. "They're… uh… nice."

"You're a little pervert." Asuka said. "But I appreciate the compliment nonetheless. It's nice that someone notices me."

"Asuka, you're a hard person to ignore." Shinji said. "And I mean that in a nice way."


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

Shinji and Hikari had stayed after school. Hikari needed Shinji's help with some of her duties, and she knew she could trust Shinji to help her without baulking. As Shinji helped staple some handouts together, Hikari sat down next to him with another stack of papers to be stapled together.

"Thanks for the help, Shinji." Hikari said.

"No problem, Hikari." Shinji replied. "I don't mind helping you out, you do a lot for us."

"Well, can I ask you for someone help?" Hikari asked.

"Sure, do you need me to clean something?" Shinji asked.

Hikari blushed. "No, I just need some advice on Toji…"

"Oh, really?" Shinji said. "I thought you two had already worked out you liked each other."

"We did, but nothing's happened since we talked." Hikari said. "I mean, we hang out a lot, but other than that, I don't think he's ready to ask me out yet…"

"Hikari, you know what you have to do." Shinji said. "I mean, you have it a lot easier than I do, you know Toji likes you that way."

"Yeah, I know that…" Hikari said.

"So, you have to do what you keep telling me to do, Hikari." Shinji said. "You have to ask him out if he's not ready."

"But Shinji, I… I can't." Hikari said. "He said he wanted to wait till he was ready, I don't want to rush things."

"You know how you and Mari keep telling me that Asuka will eventually take a hint?" Shinji asked.

"Yeah…" Hikari said.

"And you know how Toji is a bit thick when it comes to well… stuff…" Shinji said.

Hikari blushed. "Yeah… its part of why I like him."

"Well, then you have to take your own advice and just ask him out yourself." Shinji said. "He likes you, but if he's a little nervous like I am, he just needs a push."

"Do you really think it will work?" Hikari asked.

"Of course I do." Shinji said. "You and Mari keep telling me Asuka will eventually ask me out, maybe Toi's hoping for the same thing."

"Wow, Shinji… and I thought you weren't paying attention to our advice." Hikari said.

"I pay attention, Hikari." Shinji smiled. "I'm just too afraid to ask Asuka out because I don't know if she likes me, you don't have that problem."

"I know, but I'm allowed to be afraid too." Hikari replied. "But I'll take your wise advice, and just ask him out myself."

"Good, I know you two will be very happy together." Shinji said happily. "Now let's finish stapling this stuff." Shinji said. "You have someone to ask out."

"But I have… uh… one more question, Shinji." Hikari said.

"What is it?" Shinji asked.

"Well… what can you tell me about kissing?" Hikari asked.

Shinji grinned. "Planning something fun for Toji?"

Hikari blushed and waived her hands. "Shinji, stop suggesting such things!"

"Why? Are you planning on kissing him?" Shinji teased.

"Shinji, you're around Mari too much… she's rubbing off on you." Hikari said. "But yeah, I want my first kiss with him to be really special."

"Well… Mari's more the one to ask about that than me." Shinji said. "Uh, well, yeah, just ask her. Preferably when Asuka's not around."

"Why not near Asuka?" Hikari asked.

"Well, Mari's methods require a bit of discretion." Shinji said. "So, Asuka not being around would be a good idea."

"Ok, so then, I guess Asuka and Rei have cleaning duty tomorrow." Hikari said. "I'm sure she'll be thrilled."

"You know, you use that power of assigning people to clean the room very suspiciously." Shinji said. "Almost like you abuse it."

Hikari smirked and pointed her finger at Shinji. "Shinji… you shouldn't accuse people of things like that."

"Yeah, but, am I wrong?" Shinji asked.

"Oh, be quiet and keep stapling." Hikari said.

–––

Shinji and Hikari were walking home together. Hikari had told her sisters to order out, seeing as their father was working late again. Hikari tended to feel bad about these decisions, but she also knew she shouldn't have the weight of the world on her shoulders at all times. Being friends with Shinji had help put that in perspective for her.

Shinji looked over at her and noticed that Hikari was thinking hard about something.

"Hey, Hikari, what's wrong?" Shinji asked.

"Oh… just thinking about my sisters." Hikari said. "I don't feel like going home to Kodama telling me how I should act with Toji. I mean, she's had a lot of boyfriends, but that doesn't mean she's exactly the right person to ask."

"Well, not everyone settles down right away, Hikari." Shinji said. "Some people like to experience stuff… but that's not you, is it?"

"No, it's not." Hikari said. "I only want Toji, I can't see myself with anyone else. Can you see yourself with anyone other than Asuka?"

"I'm not sure." Shinji said. "I would really love to be with Asuka, but right now, I'm just happy we're friends again."

"Yeah, but you and me are a lot alike, Shinji." Hikari said. "We're both nice people who are deeply in love with someone. I know Asuka will come around soon, she's certainly acting a lot friendlier since you disappeared into that Angel."

"Yeah, she came to see if I was ok the other night when I had a nightmare. She stayed with me the entire night." Shinji blushed. "It was nice…"

"I'm sure it was." Hikari said. "So, what were you dreaming about?"

"Leliel." Shinji said. "Everything that happened, it kept repeating that night… but when she slept next to me, it just went away."

"Well, was the dream about?" Hikari asked.

"Well, remember how I told you I lied to the others?" Shinji asked.

"Yeah, Leliel knew you loved Asuka and exploited that. And you told them that you saw all three of them naked…" Hikari said. "I'm guess the part where she tries to take advantage of you is what's keeping you up at night."

"Yeah, it's the most fucked up sex dream I've ever had…" Shinji said. "I just wish I didn't go through that. I just feel so afraid of that Angel… even though they're gone…"

"Yeah, well, you know that whatever that Angel did, it wasn't Asuka." Hikari said as she patted him on the shoulder. "And you know Asuka would never take advantage of you like that, right?"

"Yeah, I know that…" Shinji said.

"So, did you tell Mari about this?" Hikari asked. "You should, you know, she'd understand I think… she's empathetic like that."

"No… I thought she'd be overly concerned if I told her." Shinji said. "Did you tell her?"

"Nope…" Hikari said. "I thought that you should be the one to tell her."

"Yeah, thanks for that…" Shinji looked up and saw someone standing at the corner he recognized. "Oh… hello…"

"Shinji, who's that?" Hikari asked.

"I'm Dr. Ritsuko Akagi, miss." Ritsuko said. "And you are?"

"Oh… you." Hikari said. "I'm Hikari Horaki."

"Yes, that is the response I'm getting used to. Pleasure to meet you." Ritsuko said.

"I can't say the same." Hikari said coldly.

Ritsuko glared at her. "I assumed Shinji would be alone on the walk back."

"Well he's not." Hikari said. "So, what, are you stalking him or something?"

"No, I simply wanted to apologize to him privately." Ritsuko said.

"Anything you'd like to apologize for, you can say it in front of my friend." Shinji said.

"Shinji, our operations are classified." Ritsuko said.

"You do know she's aware of most of what we do." Shinji said sternly. "Or do you not realize that? Now, whatever you have to say, classified or not, Hikari can hear it."

"Alright, then." Ritsuko said. "I'd like to apologize Shinji… about the last Angel. I should not have acted in the way I did to disregard your life in the manner I did."

"You mean your plan to nuke me to death?" Shinji asked.

"Yes, that plan was irresponsible, and if you had not urged the Evangelion to somehow activate, I should have given you a chance instead of simply trying to solve the problem in the easiest way possible."

"You better be fucking sorry!" Hikari said loudly.

"Excuse me?" Ritsuko asked.

"You should be fucking sorry!" Hikari said angrily. "You tried to kill him, so you better mean this apology instead of it simply being a means to get your job back!"

"I…" Ritsuko said. 'Why are all teenaged girls such stupid, disobedient whores?' Ritsuko thought. 'Does Shinji just attract whores like this?'

"Well, what do you have to say for yourself?!" Hikari asked.

"I do mean this apology, miss." Ritsuko said. "Shinji is a kind person, and I should have thought of a better plan than what I did."

"Good, I'm glad you're really sorry." Hikari said. "Because if you aren't, you shouldn't be going back to that job you had."

"Well, I am, and I'll leave the acceptance of my apology up to Shinji." Ritsuko said calmly.

"Well… I'll accept your apology on a few conditions." Shinji said.

"What conditions?" Ritsuko asked.

"Just try to be nicer to Asuka and Mari." Shinji said. "You really cause a lot more problems that you need to by acting so intolerant of them at times. In addition to that, maybe don't torture us with sync tests all the time. We know our jobs are important, but we need time to ourselves too."

"If that's what it takes for you to accept my apology, I will try to give you more time to be kids." Ritsuko said. "And I will try to not engage with Asuka or Mari."

"Don't bait them either." Shinji said.

"I will not bait them." Ritsuko said.

"Then, I accept your apology." Shinji said.

"Thank you very much, Shinji." Ritsuko said. "Then I will see you later. Enjoy your day."

"You too, Dr. Akagi." Shinji said as Ritsuko walked away.

"So, what was that about?" Hikari asked. "You shouldn't have accepted her apology."

"I'm not evil like she is, Hikari." Shinji said. "I'm not going to sink to her level and be a massive dick."

"So… you're taking the high road." Hikari said.

"Yep." Shinji replied. "I don't see the point in being mean."

Hikari kissed his cheek. "Yeah, Shinji, you're a good kid." Hikari smiled. "I'm glad you're not like that women, if any of those stories about her are true, I can only hope that she just leaves you guys alone."

"Thanks, Hikari." Shinji said. "I'm glad you notice."

"Asuka will too, Shinji." Hikari said. "Just give it time."

–––

Rei walked into the Commander's private quarters. He was sitting a smaller table than usual. Dinner was laid out in front of him, and Rei sat down quietly.

"Good evening Rei." Gendo said. "How are you?"

"I am well, Commander." Rei replied. "How are you?"

"I am doing fine today." Gendo said. "How has school been? Are you enjoying yourself?"

"Yes, Commander." Rei said. "I am very happy at school. Everyone has been wonderful to me these past few months. I actually have something to look forward to when I go."

"I'm glad to hear that, Rei." Gendo said.

"Commander, I have a question." Rei said bluntly.

"What is it, Rei?" Gendo asked.

"What is love?" Rei asked.

"Why would you ask that, Rei?" Gendo asked.

"I am simply curious, sir." Rei said.

"But why are you curious?" Gendo asked.

"Well… I was curious because I am having feelings I do not understand about Shinji and… of Mari." Rei explained. "I know you are in love, Commander."

"Yes, I am…" Gendo said quietly. "What feelings are you having?"

"Well, being around Shinji and Mari, they each give me a very warm feeling in my heart." Rei replied. "I do not understand it, but it feels like the emotion people describe as love… I even have a warm feeling being around Asuka. I do not know why I feel the way I do, Commander, I just wish to understand why."

'I guess that fragment of Yui's soul is causing far more interference than I thought.' Gendo thought. 'I feel that the deep love Yui had for Mari, and the maternal love for Shinji is also beginning to take root in Rei's conscious mind… I'm not sure about her feelings for Asuka however… perhaps something of Yui cared for that girl as well… a maternal love for a best friend's child… but I do not feel bad about this… but it could be a hindrance in the long run… but I won't say this development is a bad thing… it's nice that Rei is growing into her emotions.' Gendo took a deep breath. "Rei, I believe what you're feeling is love. But I don't know why you're having feelings for those three. How long have you had these feelings exactly?"

"Well, I have had these feelings since Shinji saved me after the Fifth Angel's attack." Rei said. "As for Mari… I have had those feelings for her several months now."

"Well, it's only natural to have feelings for those you are close to." Gendo said. "Rei, you work in close quarters with all of them, you all trust each other with your lives, it seems like a natural reaction."

"Yes, but Commander." Rei explained. "These feelings I have… they feel very old. Like they are not my feelings, and yet, I am having them."

"I do not understand Rei." Gendo said.

"Commander… can you please try… that is why I'm asking you." Rei said. "But I need to ask you something else to try and understand… I just need you to be honest please…"

"I will try, Rei." Gendo said. "I would tell you anything you wish to know."

"Well, first… Commander… may I call you papa?" Rei asked. "I know I have never called you that, but I wish to."

"Yes, Rei… I would like that…" Gendo said.

"Then, papa… here is my question." Rei said. "Who do I come from?"

"What?" Gendo asked. 'Why is she asking this now?' Gendo thought.

"Papa, I wish to know who I come from…" Rei said nervously. "I know I am not entirely human… but I wish to know which human I come from… please papa…"

"Rei… are you quite sure you wish to know this?" Gendo asked.

"Yes… I remember my birth… or rather the other Rei's birth… you were the first person I saw." Rei explained. "I wish to know my purpose, and who I came from, papa…"

"Rei… this isn't easy to explain." Gendo said. "But I will try. I just need you to promise me, whatever I tell you, stays between us, Rei."

"I will not tell anyone, papa…" Rei said. "Please, I just wish to know of the circumstances of my birth… but please do not leave anything relevant out."

"Alright then…" Gendo sighed deeply. "You were created from the remains of my wife… Yui."

"Why?" Rei asked. "I thought she was the soul of Unit–01…"

"She is inside of Unit–01, yes. How do you know that?" Gendo asked.

"I found out incidentally from a report on your desk some time ago… is that why you're so protective of Unit–01?" Rei said.

"Yes… that is why I protect Unit–01 in the manner I do." Gendo said.

"But how am I created of Yui Ikari?" Rei asked again. "Please… tell me…"

"During a recovery attempt to get Yui out of Unit–01's Core, we recovered a biomass… it was not anything recognizable… just a disgusting mess…" Gendo shook his head. "Included in this biomass were some fragments of Yui's soul… copies of the soul from what the analysis showed. Instead of incinerating the biomass as instructed, Fuyutsuki mistakenly placed the biomass in a container already containing the soul of Lilith."

"The large white creature in the basement?" Rei asked.

"Precisely." Gendo said. "Sub–Commander Fuyutsuki came up with an idea to use research from his students, Yui and two others to recreate Yui and bring her back a different way… however he did not know of Lilith's soul being in the mix… and you were created some months later…" Gendo sighed deeply. "He created you out of a deep love for Yui… you were made from love, Rei, just like any child should be, even if it's not the most conventional way in existence. However you arrived, I am glad you were born."

"But why do I have feelings for Shinji and Asuka, and Mari…" Rei asked.

"You are partly made up of Yui's soul…" Gendo sighed. "You… are felling the love she had for Shinji as a mother."

"What about Asuka?" Rei asked.

"One of Yui's best friends was Asuka's mother… Kyoko. She met Asuka once, and loved the girl quite a lot." Gendo said.

"But why do I feel something for Mari?" Rei asked. "I do like her… but the feelings are similar to how I feel about Shinji and Asuka… but they are also different…"

'Should I explain Mari and Yui?' Gendo thought. 'I do not want to ruin Rei's feelings for the girl… but I also don't want to expose Mari's secret…'

"Papa… what about Mari?" Rei asked again. "I know the feelings I have are not entirely my own. Please… I just wish to make sense of this, please tell me."

"Rei, there are some things that I cannot tell you." Gendo said. "Some secrets cannot be exposed to the light."

Rei stood up and pointed at Gendo and shouted in a tone that would make Asuka or Shinji proud. "Please, I wish to understand why I think part of me has loved Mari for longer than I have been alive! I just wish to understand!"

'Yui… I see so much of you in her…' Gendo looked at her woefully. 'I have to tell her… I do not have a choice…' Gendo thought. "Rei… Mari is… not of this time…" Gendo said shamefully. "Mari was Yui's other best friend from college. Mari was trapped inside of Unit–XP's Core from an accident that occurred during an experiment back in the late 1990s. The precursor project to Project E, named Project Alcion."

"So, Mari was trapped?" Rei asked. "Why does she pilot?"

"She is Shinji's godmother… she pilots to protect Shinji." Gendo said. "That was why she started. She did it out of a sense of duty to Yui."

"But why do I have feelings for Mari?" Rei said. "I know I enjoy her company, but I feel things when I am around her… I just want to understand."

"Mari was in love with Yui in college…" Gendo said. "And Yui was already in love with me when she found out, but she did fall in love with Mari as she grew older… she loved Mari the day she was absorbed, and she probably still loves her to this day."

"So, do I not truly love Mari?" Rei asked.

"No." Gendo said sternly. "Your feelings for Mari and Shinji and Asuka are deep seated within you. However, your own personal feelings towards them would have stirred up the feelings that are a part of you. You love Mari because you have begun to fall for her. Do not let what I have told you cloud your true feelings for her… whatever you feel for her is real, and I would say go forward with your feelings, Rei… you may be made from Yui, but you are your own person, you are unique and special… but I must emphasize that you cannot tell Mari you know about her, no one can know. I am protecting her from SEELE and other dark forces because I know if she was harmed, Yui would never love me again."

"I understand, papa." Rei said. "I will not reveal what I know. I will protect Mari because I… I love her…"

"Thank you, Rei." Gendo said.

"No, thank you, papa…" Rei said. "I really appreciate you telling me the truth."

"I'm glad I could help." Gendo said.

"Papa, I have one other question from what you said." Rei said quietly.

"What is it Rei?"

"If I am made from Shinji's mother, what does that make me to him?" Rei asked. "His mother, or his… sister…" Rei trailed off.

"Rei…" Gendo stared at Rei intently. "I…" Gendo looked shocked. 'What is Rei to Shinji? She can't be his mother… that would mean she is essentially his sister.' Gendo thought. "Rei… I believe you are more analogous to his sister rather than his mother."

"So… I am Shinji's younger sister?" Rei asked.

"Yes, you are Shinji's younger sister." Gendo repeated.

"Should I not inform Shinji of this development?" Rei asked.

"Correct." Gendo replied.

Rei sat back down and smiled. "I am glad I understand my feelings now…" Rei said happily. "I love Shinji and Asuka like siblings, and I love Mari… because I am unique."


June 25, 2016 – Comfort 17 Apartments

Hikari was sitting nervously in Misato's kitchen. She was waiting patiently for Mari to get out of the bathroom. When Mari came out, Hikari blushed and hid her face.

"Hey, freckles, what's wrong?" Mari asked.

"Look, do you know where everyone is?" Hikari asked.

"Yeah, scruffy picked up puppy from school, said he had some stuff to show him. Princess is cleaning the classroom, blueberry is at NERV I think, so is miso… and we're here." Mari chuckled. "Why does it matter?"

"Well, I need to ask you a favor." Hikari said. "And Shinji pointed me in your direction for this kind of help."

"Oh, I'm so intrigued with what Shinji said you could ask me." Mari purred. "So, please, go ahead and ask away."

"Well… you know me and Toji right?" Hikari said.

"Yeah, you two are this close to being a couple, right?" Mari asked.

"Yeah… that's right." Hikari said.

"So, what do you need advice on?" Mari asked.

"Well, it's less advice, and more experience… with uh… kissing…" Hikari blushed deeply. "Would you be willing to help me out?"

"So, what are you asking me exactly?" Mari asked.

"Would you show me how to kiss properly?" Hikari asked as her face turned beat red.

"Well, freckles, I'd be honored to kiss a face as cute as yours." Mari said.

"You don't mind?" Hikari asked.

"Well… no." Mari said. "I mean, it's to help a friend, isn't it? I'll do what I can to help you. Now, I only have one question, do you want to know how to use a tongue or not?"

"Well… do guys like tongue?" Hikari asked.

Mari smirked. "Yes… yes they do. So, how do you want to do this?"

"Well, right here, I guess…" Hikari said.

"Hey, freckles, are you sure you're ok with this?" Mari asked. "Don't you want to have your first kiss from the jock?"

"Well… its more I want his first kiss to be fantastic… and I know he'll really love it if I kiss good…" Hikari blushed again. "And learning how to french kiss would be really great… just uh… be gentle."

"Ok, then, if you're sure, just lean in." Mari said.

Hikari blushed and leaned towards Mari. Mari leaned in the rest of the way and their lips met. Hikari's faced turned red, and Mari had a flush to her cheeks. Their lips parted and their tongues began to explore their mouths. Hikari was hesitant, but Mari showed her how it was done. They parted to see each other's blushing faces.

"So, did you enjoy that freckles?" Mari asked.

"Yeah… that was… interesting." Hikari said. "Thanks, Mari…"

"You're very welcome." Mari said.

"So, would you mind helping me a bit more?" Hikari asked. "Maybe, without the tongue this time?"

"Sure, freckles…" Mari blushed. "But we're going to have to be careful."

"Why, are you getting aroused from little old me?" Hikari asked.

Mari blushed again. "Maybe a little…"

"Oh… Mari, I didn't think this out…" Hikari said. "I didn't mean to make you…"

"Wet." Mari said. "It's ok, it's just been awhile since… well, technically, I've never had a girlfriend… or a boyfriend for that matter."

"Oh… Mari… you shouldn't be single, you're really sweet!" Hikari said.

"Well, I've got my eyes on someone, but I'm just taking my time." Mari said.

"Well, who is it?" Hikari asked.

"Oh, it's no one you know… but I'd still like to keep it a secret." Mari said.

"Fair enough." Hikari said. "So, will you be too aroused if we kiss again."

"Not if we go with your plan and leave out the tongue." Mari joked.

"Alright then." Hikari said as she leaned in again. "Thank you for this, Mari… I really appreciate it."

"Just show me the appreciation in your effort, Hikari." Mari said as they locked lips again.

They were kissing deeply and enjoying themselves a bit when they both heard a noise. They broke apart and looked up to see Asuka drop her school bag and see her jaw go slack.

"What the fuck is this!?" Asuka shouted. "What the ever loving fuck!?"

"Asuka, what are you doing back?" Hikari asked.

"I came back expecting to relax, but I find out the girl I'm living with is some fucking… depraved perverted lesbian kissing my goddamn best friend!"

"Asuka, how could you say that…" Mari said tearfully.

"Because it's true!" Asuka shouted. "Do you try to sneak a peek at me while I change, do you think about me while you touch yourself?! Well, tell me damn it?!"

"Asuka… I'm not… I'm not like that…" Mari said. "I'm not some disgusting person… how could you… how could you say that? I thought you were my… friend…"

"I don't make friends with perverts!" Asuka shouted.

Mari looked tearfully at Asuka and ran off to her room. Hikari looked at Asuka and glared at her. Asuka looked at Hikari and steppe d towards her.

"Did she seduce you or something?!" Asuka asked angrily.

"No, Asuka, she didn't, she's not like you say she is." Hikari said angrily.

"Then why were you kissing her!?" Asuka shouted.

"Because I wanted her help with learning how to you ignorant moron!" Hikari shouted. "She's not a lesbian, she's omnisexual, she doesn't see gender, just kindness! If you bothered to ask her or talk to her about how she feels, then you'd know that, but you're too fucking selfish to care! That and you're so fucking rigid about people and their gender, you wouldn't be able to understand anyway!"

"Why are you on her fucking side?!" Asuka said angrily. "You're my best friend!"

"I'm on her side because you're being a bitch!" Hikari said. "Now, go apologize to her, right fucking now!"

"No, not until you tell me why you were kissing her!" Asuka shouted.

"Because I want Toji to enjoy our first kiss, and Shinji recommended her to me!" Hikari roared. "Now go say sorry!"

"NO! I REFUSE TO APOLOGIZE TO THAT PERVERTED BITCH!" Asuka screamed.

SLAP

Asuka stepped back, clutching her face, and Hikari stepped forward to slap her again.

"Why… why did you slap me?" Asuka asked.

"Because you're being a bitch." Hikari said. "Now, go say sorry."

"But… I don't want to…" Asuka said.

"Asuka, you made her cry… now go and talk to her so she can explain everything to you." Hikari said. "You make such a big fuss about things that don't even matter."

"But it does…" Asuka said. "She could have taken advantage of me…"

"Asuka, and you wonder why someone as kind as Shinji won't go out with you, its stupid shit like this that would make someone like him think twice!" Hikari said angrily. "Do you even realize how awful you sounded when you yelled at her? You sounded like some sort of fucking woman hating, wife beating asshole!"

"No… No it can't be… I'm not… I didn't realize… but, Shinji…" Asuka said. 'I can't be turning into him…' Asuka thought.

"Shinji and Mari are best friends. Do you think she's not going to tell him about this? He'll hate you for making her cry." Hikari said.

"I doubt he even knows about her." Asuka said smugly.

"Of course he knows, he doesn't give a shit about it either!" Hikari said. "Now if you want Shinji to ever love you, go apologize and make Mari feel better right fucking now!"

"But… but Shinji wouldn't…" Asuka said.

"Yes he would, Asuka." Hikari said. "Just go in there and tell her you're sorry for assuming such disgusting things."

"But I didn't really know before…" Asuka said. "I… I didn't realize… I sounded just like… my father… oh mien Gott… I'm a horrible person!"

"Asuka?" Hikari asked. "What's wrong, what happened?"

"I didn't… I didn't know that was all wrong… what have I done?" Asuka said. "I have to apologize."

Asuka walked towards her and Mari's room and knocked. She could hear Mari crying in the room. "Mari… can I come in?"

"Leave me alone you fucking homophobe!" Mari screamed.

"Mari… please… I need to explain something to you… please let me come in." Asuka said.

"No! I don't want to hear what you have to say, I hate you!" Mari said angrily.

"Mari… please… I need to apologize… I didn't know what I was saying was wrong… please let me explain." Asuka begged.

Mari sniffled. "Please my ass… why should I?"

"Because… I just need to explain…" Asuka said. "Please…"

"Come in then…" Mari said. "Just make it quick."

Asuka came in and sat nervously on the bed next to Mari. "I'm really sorry Mari… I didn't… I didn't know what I was saying was wrong…"

"How did you not know?" Mari asked. "Are you that fucking ignorant?"

"Yes…" Asuka said. "I heard that kind of stuff growing up, from my father…"

"You heard that from your father?" Mari asked. "Didn't your mother teach you any better than that?!"

"No… by the time I was old enough to understand, my mother was already dead…" Asuka said. "I wish she had told me… but she couldn't… I just heard all those things from him… I didn't even realize it until something Hikari said. I realized that what I said… I sounded like my asshole father… I'm… I don't want to become him… please, Mari… don't hate me for what I said… I didn't… I just reacted badly to finding that out… I shouldn't have said that… I'm… I'm sorry!"

"You should be!" Mari said in a hurt voice. "Why did you react like that?"

"I just saw you two kissing… and everything, my father ever spouted while I lived with him… it just spewed out…" Asuka said sullenly. "I'm really, really sorry. I never wanted to become like him… I hate him. I hate myself now for being like him. I can understand if you don't ever want to talk to me again…"

"Asuka…" Mari said. "What are you talking about?"

"I'm a horrible person!" Asuka shouted. "I don't deserve to be happy because I'm a bitch! I judged you because I learned shit from a person I fucking hate!"

Asuka burst into tears, startling Mari. "Hey…stop crying, you're not allowed! You can't cry if you made me cry!"

"I know I'm not allowed to cry… but my father treated me like dirt after my mother died!" Asuka shouted. "I know it's not an excuse, but I just didn't have anyone tell me any different! I didn't know I turned into something I despise!"

Mari looked at Asuka and saw the regret etched all over her face. 'What did that asshole do to you after Kyoko died?' Mari thought. 'I can tell she feels bad about it… but what happened to her really… besides him barring all contact with Tokyo–3 and Shinji… what did he do… how can I stay mad when she's so broken up about it…' Mari looked at Asuka crying on her bed. "Hey… hey…" Mari said softly. "Just stop crying… look, tell me about what happened, but let me tell you about me first, ok?"

"Do you hate me?" Asuka asked.

"I'll save that decision until after the explanation." Mari said. "But I'm not telling you anything about me until you stop crying."

Asuka wiped her eyes. "Ok…"

"So, you know that I like more than guys by now, right?" Mari asked.

"Yeah…" Asuka said.

"Well… I don't really care about anyone's gender when it comes to liking them." Mari said. "I look for something more. Love and kindness… that's it. The person I like could be anything, I don't care as long as they love me… as long as they're kind to me."

"So, what does that mean?" Asuka asked.

"It means I'm what they call, uh… omnisexual, princess." Mari said. "You don't know anything about sexuality do you?"

"No… straight, gay, bi… that's it." Asuka said. "I didn't know there was more…"

"Well, maybe we can save that lesson till later." Mari said. "So, what happened with your father, Asuka?" Mari asked. "What made him so bad?"

"Well… he cheated on my mother while she was in the hospital." Asuka explained. "I caught him with my babysitter a few times, Zelda… she was a dumb girl, and he used her. I heard a lot of the stuff he called her, it wasn't nice. He used to hit me every time I talked back. I got hit and called names a lot… he used to use those words I called you on me… he called my mother the same things… I used to hear him a lot on the phone too… he used to call women all those names. Every time a girl would tell him no to his advances, he'd either call them some awful names, or he'd uh… do something less palatable…"

"What did he do?" Mari asked as she clenched her fists.

"I never really found out… his father is the head of NERV Berlin, and his uncle is an ambassador for the United Nations… he's very protected." Asuka explained.

"So, your dad is just a vile person." Mari said. "He's a fucking rapist."

"Yeah, I think he's still cheating on his new wife and their two bastard children." Asuka explained. "I hate him… I really do. I just… all the anger and betrayal he pulled on my mother just came over me when I saw you kissing Hikari… I… I lost it. I'm really sorry, Mari, I know you every right to never forgive me, and I'll understand if you never want to talk to me again…"

"No, I'm not mad anymore… I understand now." Mari wrapped her arm around Asuka. "But why didn't your step mother help you out?" Mari asked.

"She's too worried about her perfect kids to give half a shit about me." Asuka said. "I'm literally the redheaded step child… I hate her for giving that bastard a new family, leaving me to be treated like shit…"

"Asuka… I didn't know." Mari said. "But this explains… well, basically everything."

"What do you mean?" Asuka asked.

"Well, your abrasive attitude for one, and why you act so defensive all the time for another…" Mari said. "You should have told us all this before… it would have made things much clearer."

"I don't really like chatting about this." Asuka said. "It's… embarrassing."

"Yeah, understandable." Mari said. "But, you're not off the hook quite yet, princess, but I don't blame you entirely for being an ignorant fool."

"I deserved that." Asuka said sullenly. "But I don't really think you're a perverted lesbian."

"I know, princess." Mari said. "Why don't I tell freckles everything is ok, and I'll teach you about sexuality, how's that sound?"

"Is it going to be anything like that impromptu sex ed class you gave me and Shinji?" Asuka asked.

"No, there won't be any visual aids this time." Mari said. "But I promise by the end of it, you won't be ignorant anymore."

–––

Shinji and Kaji arrived at NERV HQ shortly after school got out. Shinji was curious about why Kaji had picked him up from school, so he decided to ask him.

"Hey, Kaji, why did you pick me up?" Shinji asked.

"Oh, well, I have something to show you." Kaji said. "But first, we have to pick up Misato."

"Why do we have to pick up Misato?" Shinji asked.

"Oh, you'll see." Kaji said as he parked the car. "Let's go to her office and surprise her."

"Alright…" Shinji said as he followed Kaji from the car.

Kaji and Shinji walked to Misato's office and found her behind a large stack of paperwork.

"Hello beautiful." Kaji said. "What are you up to?"

"Kaji, leave me alone…" Misato said.

"Come on, Misato… I even brought some adorable company." Kaji said. "Say hello, company."

"Hi Misato." Shinji said.

"Shinji, what are you doing here?!" Misato asked.

"Oh, Kaji said he wanted to surprise you." Shinji said.

"Well, this is a surprise." Misato said. "So, Kaji, why are you here."

"Well, it's still a surprise, for both of you." Kaji said. "Remember what we talked about the other night?"

"Yeah…" Misato said.

"Well, I'm going to show you." Kaji said. "The both of you."

"You can't be serious." Misato said. "You're going to show Shinji? I thought you were only kidding about that last night."

"Yep, come on. We can chat more there." Kaji said. "Just follow me."

"Are you sure Shinji should see this?" Misato asked.

"Yeah, he has every right to see it." Kaji said. "Trust me."

"Whatever you say boss man." Misato said.

The trio walked to the elevator bank, and went to the red elevator that no one used. Misato looked at it, and Shinji wondered why it was red.

"Why are we using this one?" Misato asked.

"Oh, it's the only one that goes to that level." Kaji said. "Just hold on a second." Kaji pulled something out from his pocket and flipped a switch.

"What are you doing?" Shinji asked.

"Oh, just making sure we're not going to be seen." Kaji said as he pulled out an access card and swiped the elevator to open it.

"Kaji, this elevator is only for the Commander and Sub–Commander." Misato said as they stepped in.

"I know." Kaji said. "Just wait for minute, we're going down." Kaji pressed the down button. "All the way to the basement."

"What's in the basement, Ryoji?" Misato asked.

"You'll see." Kaji said.

"Your first name is Ryoji?" Shinji asked.

"Yep, guess that secret's out." Kaji said. "I'd rather just go by my last name though."

"But you have a cool name, Kaji." Shinji said.

"Well, someone doesn't think of it that way." Misato said. "So, what level are we going to, Ryoji?" Misato asked as she poked his arm.

"Level Triple–E." Kaji said.

"That level doesn't exist." Misato said. "I looked at the plans for this base for months, there isn't anything below D Level."

"So you think." Kaji said as he pointed up at the ticker as it switched to display "E–EE" and stopped moving. "See that?"

"Yeah, it's not possible." Misato said.

The elevator doors opened to reveal a darkened corridor and another red colored door.

"And yet, here we are." Kaji said.

"What is this place?" Shinji asked.

"Oh, it's something very special." Kaji said. "Just one more door. But don't worry, this entire area is not under surveillance, considering it's so secret."

"Yes. But what's down here?" Misato asked.

"The reason the Angels attack us." Kaji said.

"Well then, open the door." Misato said.

"Well, this is the part where you can leave and stay ignorant." Kaji said. "Both of you."

"I want to know, Kaji." Misato said.

"You said I should know, so I'm staying." Shinji said.

"Good, then let's look behind the curtain." Kaji said as he swiped the door open.

The door opened to reveal a massive, dark chamber. As the three of them stepped onto a balcony, several lights came online. Situated on the far side of the chamber, in the middle of a massive pool of LCL and attached to a large, red, metallic cross was Lilith.

There was a mask covering her face, which was eerily similar to Sachiel's bone mask. Lilith also bore the marks of where Unit–01 was grown from her, in the form of missing everything below her waist, where instead small, human sized legs and arms stick out and twitched as if they were alive. Her hands were secured to the cross by a massive bolt through each hand. And buried in her chest, was a long, red, bident.

Shinji and Misato stared in awe at the giant.

"What… what is that?" Misato stammered.

"That… that is either Adam, the First Angel, or Lilith the Second Angel." Kaji said. "I'll leave that determination up to you though, Misato."

"Why, Misato?" Shinji asked. "Why is there an Angel down here?!"

"Right… she wouldn't have told you…" Kaji said. "Misato, why don't you tell him?"

"Tell him what exactly?" Misato said.

"Second Impact." Kaji said. "You should tell him."

"But…" Misato said.

"Fill in a few blanks for him." Kaji said.

"Fine." Misato said. "Shinji, you know the truth of Second Impact, right?"

"Yeah, you told me a while back… and Dr. Akagi said the Second Angel was disposed of like the Fourth… and if the First Angel exploded… then this is the Second Angel… this is Lilith…"

"Well, Misato?" Kaji said. "Is this Adam, or is it Lilith?"

"No, that thing… Adam… was mottled grey…" Misato said. "And it exploded and destroyed Antarctica… this isn't Adam."

"So, the brass are hiding Lilith in the basement then… very interesting…" Kaji said.

"Misato… how do you know what Adam looked like?" Shinji asked.

"I was… I was there with my father when Second Impact happened." Misato said. "He brought me down there after my mother got cancer… then one night I got bored and found the thing… with that spear hanging over its Core. Later that day… the test happened, then the spear set off an explosion… we were both wounded. A piece of shrapnel went through someone else and hit my chest… I have a scar to remind me of what happened." Misato sighed. "I was carried nearly unconscious to what looked like an Entry Plug and sealed inside just as Adam exploded. I was tossed around like a rag doll. After seeing Adam rise from the ashes it happened again, and then I don't remember anything after that." Misato shook and started to cry.

Shinji stepped forward and hugged Misato. "I'm sorry, Misato."

"Why are you sorry?" Misato asked as she wiped her face.

"I didn't know you went through that." Shinji said.

"Well, that's the point." Kaji explained. "Misato was told never to tell anyone by your father, Shinji. He's also the one who's hiding this thing down here, and somehow pulled the strings to get you to pilot Unit–01."

"So… my father… pulled some sort of strings to get me here, and put me in danger?!" Shinji shouted. "Why the hell would he do that?!"

"Well… I don't have details on that yet, but your father has some kind of plan for Unit–01 and you, that's why he's so adamant on keeping you and the Evangelion safe." Kaji said.

"Well, what are you going to do about it, triple–agent Kaji?!" Misato asked.

"How did you know?" Kaji replied.

"Oh, I've been checking on you, Kaji." Misato said. "I just wanted to know what kind of danger you're in."

"Well, you caught me." Kaji said. "And I'm very close to my goal, Misato. Please, just let me finish everything."

"Was this part of your goal?" Misato asked.

"Yes, Lilith was part of it." Kaji said. "But I still have some things to check out."

"But why did you show me all this?" Shinji asked.

"Shinji, you put your life on the line every time you launch." Kaji explained. "Your father dragged you into this damn mess, and you had a right to know."

"What about Asuka, or Mari, or Rei?!" Shinji asked. "Don't they have a right to know?!"

"No, not anywhere as much as you." Kaji said. "Your father involved you for some reason after he sent you away, then he dragged you back the second the Third Angel attacked. Asuka wouldn't handle this news very well, and neither would Mari. And would Rei even notice? I doubt it, she just follows what the Commander tells her, or you. You need to keep this a secret. I implore you to keep this quiet, Shinji. I'm telling you this to motivate you to protect everyone from whatever your father has planned."

"But what does he have planned?!" Shinji asked.

"I don't know yet, Shinji." Kaji said. "But when I find out, I'll let you know right away. You need to know… for your safety, and everyone else's."

"You need to find out, Kaji." Misato said. "That way you can put a stop to all this."

"Fine, but I need to tell you one more thing. There are dark forces behind NERV, very dark forces." Kaji said. "A secret organization that controls the world… called SEELE."

"Called what?" Misato asked.

"Don't repeat the name, just remember it." Kaji said. "Otherwise they could come after you. They are one of my employers after all, and they are dangerous people."

"Jesus, Kaji, what have you gotten into?!" Misato shouted.

"Nothing short of what I expected to be honest." Kaji said.

"You are a massive idiot!" Misato shouted. "What happens if you die?!"

"I wouldn't be going down without a fight, Misato, just like I always told you." Kaji said.

"Oh, will you…" Misato started.

"Can I go home… to process this all?" Shinji interrupted. "Please?"

"Yeah, I can take you." Kaji said.

"You'll have to, I still have paperwork to do." Misato said in a huff.

–––

Asuka and Mari were sitting on Mari's bed. They had sent Hikari home a little while ago. They had been talking since she left, and both Mari and Asuka were feeling a lot better than they had been a few hours before.

"Hey, Mari… thanks for all of this." Asuka said.

"No problem, Asuka." Mari replied. "I'm glad I could explain everything to you. Do you understand more now?"

"I think so." Asuka said. "It's a lot to take in."

"Well, it's not something that can be explained easily, princess." Mari said. "Sexuality isn't something that's black and white."

"Well, I guess not, now that I know." Asuka said. "You know, everything you explained has really changed how I see things."

"I'm glad…" Mari said. "I know you're not a bad person. And you're definitely not your father. I bet you're more like your mother."

Asuka blushed. "Thanks… four eyes…" Asuka shifted nervously on the bed. "I have one more question though…"

"Yeah?" Mari asked.

"That advice you were giving Hikari… could you maybe help me out?"

"Well, maybe I can." Mari said. "But, are you sure you want a… what did you say… perverted lesbian I think? Do you want one someone like that kissing you?"

"Am I ever going to live that down?" Asuka asked.

"Probably not." Mari said. "Are you offering to kiss to make up for what you said?"

"Partly…" Asuka said. "But I want to kiss Shinji again, and maybe Hikari had the right idea to practice. Just… no tongue. I'm not that adventurous."

"Really, princess, you're going to let your friend beat you?" Mari asked.

"Life's not a competition, four eyes." Asuka said.

"Well, that is a very different tune." Mari said.

"Whatever." "So, will you help me?"

"I guess." Mari said. "But Shinji may recognize my technique."

"Oh, be quiet." Asuka said. "So, is that a yes?"

"Yep." Mari said. "So, how do you want to do this?"

"Well…" Asuka said. "I'm not sure… I've never kissed anyone but Shinji."

"I'll be gentle." Mari said as she leaned in. "One last chance, though. Do you want to back out? I won't judge you for it."

"No, next time I kiss Shinji, I want to not seem like such a novice." Asuka said.

"Why? Shinji said your kiss was kinda fun, before the storming off and yelling of course." Mari said. "So, why improve?"

"Because I want to." Asuka said. "So… let's kiss already. Do you want Shinji to walk in and see us?"

"Well, his reaction will certainly be less volatile than yours." Mari said. "He'd probably faint or something."

"Sounds about right." Asuka said as she leaned in.

"Oh, look how brave you are, princess." Mari said as she leaned the rest of the way and kissed Asuka lightly on the lips. The kissed for a minute and Asuka broke the kiss.

"I think that's enough, four eyes." Asuka said. "Like I said, I'm not that adventurous."

"Fair enough." Mari said. "But you have very soft lips… I can taste the cherry ChapStick."

"Pervert." Asuka said.

"Hey… too soon." Mari said.

"Yeah, my ass." Asuka said. "Don't be so sensitive."

"Yeah, you're right." Mari purred. "I am a pervert."

They were interrupted by the sound of the door slamming and looked up.

"Is that Shinji?" Mari asked.

"No idea…" Asuka said. "He usually announces his arrival."

Asuka and Mari stuck their heads out of their room to see a despondent Shinji walking towards his room.

"Heya, puppy, what's up?" Mari asked.

"Yeah, what's wrong?" Asuka asked.

"Just tired." Shinji replied. "Going to take a nap."

"How was your afternoon with Kaji?" Asuka asked.

"Uneventful." Shinji said. "Night."

"I wonder what's up with him?" Mari asked as Shinji walked slowly to his room and closed the door quietly behind him.

"No idea…" Asuka said. "He doesn't act like that. I wonder what happened."

–––

Hikari showed up at Toji's door. She knocked feverously until someone answered. Toji looked at her in a bemused way when the door swung open.

"Hikari, will you relax?" Toji said. "Where's the fire?"

"It's right here, Toji." Hikari said. "I need to ask you something."

"What?" Toji asked.

"I want to go out on a date with you, I can't wait anymore, Toji, I'm in love with you!" Hikari said. "I just want to be with you, please, please say yes!"

"Hikari… you beat me to the punch…" Toji said. "I'm really sorry I made you wait… I would love to go out with you."

"Really, no more waiting?" Hikari asked.

"No more waiting." Toji said. "I want to be with you too… I was uh… gonna ask tomorrow after school… but I guess I don't have to now. So, Hikari, where are you taking me?"

"Well, I thought that karaoke bar was fun." Hikari said. "Pick me up tomorrow at seven… I don't have to be home until really late."

"Hikari, what are you suggesting?" Toji asked.

"Oh, you'll see…" Hikari said.

–––

Asuka knocked on Shinji's door. She didn't get a response, so she went inside anyway. Shinji was laying on his bed, staring blankly at the ceiling.

"Hey, baka, you ok?" Asuka asked.

"Yeah, just tired." Shinji said.

"You want to talk about what's bothering you?" Asuka asked.

"No." Shinji said. "There isn't anything wrong. It's just been a long day."

"Are you sure, you don't look ok." Asuka said.

"Asuka, I'm fine, just leave me alone." Shinji said. "Please."

"Shinji… you're worrying me." Asuka said. "I've seen you tired before, this isn't it."

"Asuka… please… I'm tired." Shinji said.

"Do you want Mari to cuddle with you to make you feel better?" Asuka asked. "Did you have that nightmare again, do you want me to stay?"

"No, Asuka, I just want to be alone." Shinji said. "Just close the door on your way out."

Asuka looked at him, but realized the battle was lost, she left without another word, and closed the door quietly behind her. Mari was waiting in their room, and Asuka plopped down on the bed and looked at Mari worriedly.

"Something's wrong with him." Asuka said. "He didn't want to talk… he just told me to leave him alone."

"And what?" Mari said. "You were in there a couple minutes."

"Well… he said no to cuddling, from both of us." Asuka said.

Mari gasped. "Well, you were right, something is wrong." Mari said. "I know he loves cuddling… but I wonder what's got him so distracted… it must be serious."

"I guess we'll have to try and find out." Asuka said sullenly. "I don't like seeing him like this. But I'll settle for trying to find out why he's down, and then we'll cheer him up."

"Sounds like a plan, princess." Mari said.


June 28, 2016 – NERV HQ, Central Dogma

Misato was relaxing in Central Dogma. It was her duty shift, and Hyuga, Aoba, and Maya were at their respective stations keeping watch for any Angels.

"Ma'am… we've lost communications with the 2nd Branch…" Aoba said. "The Commander was on the line with them… but it just went dead."

"Can you get them back?" Misato asked.

"No ma'am." Aoba said. "All attempts have failed. We're not receiving any signals from them at all. Their MAGI have also shut down, I can't see them on the network."

"Hyuga… pull up the GEOSAT for the 2nd Branch, I want to see what's going on." Misato ordered. "Maya, contact the 1st Branch and see if they know anything."

"Right away, ma'am!" Hyuga replied.

"Sure thing, Colonel." Maya said.

"Any luck?" Misato asked.

"GEOSAT feed for the 2nd Branch… pulling it up now." Hyuga reported. "Well, there's the live… feed…"

Hyuga had trailed off after he saw what had been pulled up. A massive black void was spread around where the 2nnd Branch should be sanding.

"Hyuga… what is that exactly?" Misato asked.

"It looks like…" Aoba said.

"The Twelfth Angel…" Maya whispered. "But even more massive."

"Yeah, that's what I thought too…" Hyuga said.

"Aoba, get the Commander and Sub–Commander down here now." Misato ordered. "Maya, do you have the 1st Branch yet?"

"Yes, ma'am, I just got through…" Maya said. "They are aware of the incident, and a Lieutenant Kotomi Amagi is requesting to speak with you, Colonel." Maya said.

"Amagi…" Misato muttered. "I'll take it."

Misato picked up the phone and spoke. "Hello?"

"Ah, Colonel Katsuragi ow, is it? Impressive." Kotomi said.

"Glad to hear you're ok." Misato said.

"Yeah, I'm glad I was assigned to Unit–03 not Unit–04." Kotomi said. "Poor bastards… but this isn't a social call."

"It's not?" Misato asked.

"No, it's not, Lieutenant Colonel." Kotomi said. "I am hereby notifying that the United States government is transferring control of Evangelion Unit–03 to NERV HQ in Japan."

"So quickly?" Misato asked.

"Well, they had this contingency plan in place fi the experiment went south, which it apparently did." Kotomi explained. "We have begun packing up Unit–03 and will have it ready to ship in a few days, with a day or two of flight time after that."

"I'm assuming the staff assigned to maintenance of Unit–03 will be accompanying it?" Misato asked.

"Yes, as head tech, I am assigned to the EVA, not the base." Kotomi said. "Unit–03 is in my custody until sign it over to you."

"Has the Commander been informed of this?" Misato asked.

"No, our request is going through the officer on duty, which is you, Colonel." Kotomi said. "But the plan was pre–approved by him, so I'm sure he's partially aware of it."

"Fine then, we look forward to receiving your Evangelion." Misato said. "Safe travels, Lieutenant Amagi."

"Thank you Colonel." Kotomi replied.

Misato hung up the phone. "Maya… prep another Evangelion berth…"

"Why?" Maya asked.

"Unit–03 is getting shipped to us." Misato said.

"But we don't have a pilot!" Hyuga said.

"Yeah, we have four pilots, and four Evangelions… do we really need a fifth?" Aoba asked.

"No, but having one more around isn't going to cause much else to happen." Ritsuko said, appearing out of nowhere.

"Where did you come from?" Misato asked.

"My suspension was lifted, and it appears just in the nick of time." Ritsuko replied.

"Fine… seeing as you're back, how do we handle being a pilot short to fill out the roster?" Misato asked.

"Oh… that can be handled." Ritsuko said. "I'm sure the Marduk Institute will send us a report shortly on the Fourth Child."


July 1, 2016 – Tokyo–3 Junior High School, Class 2–A

Nebukawa no Sensei walked into the classroom and adjusted his glasses. "Mr. Suzuhara, please report to the principal's office."

"What for?" Toji asked. "I haven't done anything."

"They simply want to see you, Mr. Suzuhara." Nebukawa no Sensei said. "I do not know why."

Toji looked at Hikari. "I didn't do anything though."

"Just go, Toji." Hikari said. "I'm sure whatever it is, it can be cleared up pretty easily."

"Yeah, you'll be fine." Shinji said.

"Just don't start yelling at them, buddy." Kensuke said. "You know that won't help matters."

"Yeah, I know that." Toji said. "I just hope I don't miss lunch."

Toji walked out of the room and headed for the principal's office. There he was directed to a small conference room with a single occupant, a blonde woman with a mole on her lip, wearing a suit jacket with a skirt.

'Is that the bitch Asuka and Mari always complain about?' Toji thought. 'Certainly matches the way they describe her…'

"Good afternoon, Mr. Suzuhara." Ritsuko said. "Please have a seat."

"Yeah, alright." Toji said.

"Mr. Suzuhara, Toji… can I call you that?" Ritsuko said.

"No, you don't get to call me Toji after what you tried to do to my pal." Toji said.

"Fine… Mr. Suzuhara, I'm here to give you some news." Ritsuko said.

"Well, spit it out." Toji said. "I'm missing class, I could be napping right now."

"Mr. Suzuhara, you are aware of your friends' status as Evangelions pilots, correct?" Ritsuko asked.

"That's a stupid question." Toji said.

"Well, you have been selected by an impartial committee to be the Fourth Child, and designated pilot of Unit–03." Ritsuko said.

"No, hell no." Toji said. "Not a fucking chance. I know what those things can do to you, I'm not risking my life like that!"

"Mr. Suzuhara, let me offer you this as incentive." Ritsuko said. "We need you to pilot the new machine, and NERV will be willing to do anything to make this happen."

Toji stared her down and thought hard on what she said. "Anything I want, huh?" Toji asked. "I want you to fix my sister up and get her out of the hospital permanently. If you can do that, I'll pilot your stupid machine."

"Well, NERV has the best medical facilities modern medicine can offer." Ritsuko explained. "If you accept this offer, we will transfer her immediately into our care."

"Fine, but I don't sign until she's transferred." Toji said.

"Why not?" Ritsuko asked.

"I don't want you forgetting about our deal." Toji said. "So, once she's transferred, then I go test out your newest thingy."

"Fair enough." Ritsuko said.

"One more thing…" Toji said. "I don't want my friends finding out about this just yet."

"Oh, no… this is classified." Ritsuko said. "They won't know for several weeks. This will give you time to adjust to being a pilot. We'll also have the cover story for your sister being moved to the ICU and put on a no visitors list. To avoid any awkward questions on her whereabouts."

"Fine… when can all this be done?" Toji said.

"Come by NERV HQ tomorrow morning." Ritsuko said. "There are no sync tests scheduled for the other pilots. But you can come and see your sister first in the Medical Wing, then go have your first sync test. How does that sound?"

"Like you have yourself a deal, lady." Toji said. "But just to be clear… I'm not doing this to protect the world. I'm only doing it to save my little sister."

"Everyone has different reasons for why they pilot, Mr. Suzuhara…" Ritsuko said. "Yours is certainly the more noble reason, I can assure you of that."

"That's nice and all, but I'm sure each of my friends has a perfectly good reason to risk their lives on a daily basis." Toji sneered.

"I'm glad you think so, Mr. Suzuhara." Ritsuko said. "It shows how highly you view your friends and their motivations."

"Well, I think I know them pretty well, and they're all nice people." Toji said. "I would trust them with my life."


July 2, 2016 – NERV HQ

Toji walked nervously towards the entrance Ritsuko had told him to go to. He went inside and found Ritsuko waiting for him.

"Good morning, Mr. Suzuhara." Ritsuko said. "What took you so long? You're over a half an hour late."

"Oh… I just went to the municipal hospital to see my sister." Toji smirked. "They said she had been moved late last night to a better facility. Thanks for holding up or end of the bargain, lady."

"So, would you like to go and see her?" Ritsuko asked.

"Yeah, I would." Toji said. "I have to explain all this to her."

"Very well then." Ritsuko said. "We will go there first, then we will get you fitted for a plugsuit, and we will go over the procedures you are to follow before your sync test, is that understood?"

"Yeah, got it." Toji said. "Sakura first."

"Very well, Mr. Suzuhara." Ritsuko said. "Here is your new I.D. Card, keep it on you at all times. Please swipe it through the security barrier and follow me."

Toji swiped the card and the gate opened, allowing him inside the base. He followed Ritsuko to an elevator, and the doors closed on the very worried looking Toji.

To Be Continued


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

Sync Score Rankings!
Shinji – 85.2% (+0.1%)
Asuka – 71.7% (+0.4%)
Mari – 76.9% (+0.2%)
Rei – 73.8% (+0.5%)
Toji – 22.9% (New)

First off, I left off where I did to set up the next chapter. Now, Toji having a sync score is to show he's now officially a pilot. However, his EVA is currently in transit to Japan, but they want a baseline to see if does better on the activation test, which, will be next chapter, which leads to my next point.

Just to note, everyone who's watched the anime (or read any fic that follows the general Angel formula) knows what Angels are coming up next, so it's going to be pretty dark for a few chapters. Just a warning to all. But that's what NGE is all about, breaking the characters down to rebuild them. Just the breaking down requires a lot of sadness and such. I can promise things will pick up by the end of the episode however. So just keep calm and carry on, things will get better for them eventually.

So, Rei's conversation with Gendo… well, basically that needed to happen. Rei now knows a big secret, as does Shinji. Asuka hasn't learned any doozies yet. So, no further explanation needed on those events other than I hope you were a bit surprised.

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