Neon Genesis Evangelion: Legacy
Episode VI: Return of Reality


Chapter 2 – I Am Not the One You Know
December 12, 2016 – NERV HQ, Medical Wing

Rei was staring blankly at Shinji as Mari ran out of the room, barely stifling her sobs as she did. Rei had a blank look on her face, like when Shinji had first met her. She didn't seem like herself, which worried Shinji.

"Rei?" Shinji asked.

"Was that her name?" Rei asked.

"No, that's your name." Shinji said. "Her name was Mari."

"Oh… well…" Rei said. "Who are you?"

"I'm Shinji…" Shinji muttered. "I'm your friend…"

"But I don't know you either." Rei said. "How can we be friends?"

"I…" Shinji stammered. "You don't remember what happened to you?"

"What happened to me?" Rei asked.

"You got hurt trying to saving to save us all…" Shinji said. "You almost died, he thought you had for a while there…"

"So… I am the third…" Rei muttered. "It wasn't a dream…"

"What?" Shinji asked.

"Nothing of concern." Rei replied. "Could you leave? I would like to be alone."

"Sure, Rei…" Shinji said sullenly. "I'm glad you're back."

As Shinji walked out of the room, Rei's blank look became one of concern and sorrow.

"So, I did die that day…" Rei said to herself. "But I can't let them know that… I have too much to process. Another death… another horrific death…"

Rei shuttered at the vivid memories of her slow and painful death, flashes of her time inside the sweltering Entry Plug, the smell and feel of her flesh burning and cooking, her insides boiling, and the agonizing pain and loneliness she felt.

"No… they mustn't know what happened…" Rei said. "No matter how much it hurts them, I need to keep my distance. Especially Mari… I should never have admitted my feelings for her when I cannot understand and interpret my feelings…"

–––

After leaving Rei's room, Shinji was upset and worried.

'Why couldn't she remember us?' Shinji thought. 'Does she have amnesia? And poor Mari… she looked heartbroken… I need to find her.'

Shinji pulled out his phone and dialed Mari. "Straight to voicemail…" Shinji muttered. "Damn it Mari, where are you?"

As Shinji was looking around, he came across Kaworu coming out of the elevator.

"Shinji… how nice to see you." Kaworu said.

"Hey, Kaworu." Shinji replied. "How are you?"

"Much better now." Kaworu said. "You look worried, Shinji–kun… is something wrong?"

"Yeah, I'm looking for Mari." Shinji said. "She's a bit upset right now."

'Ah the big breasted fool is upset…' Kaworu thought. 'Good… perhaps I can use this to my advantage…' Kaworu put on a convincing worried face. "Is there anything I can do?"

"Have you seen her?" Shinji asked.

"Oh… I'm afraid not, Shinji–kun." Kaworu said. "But if I see her, I'll let you know."

"Thanks, Kaworu." Shinji said. "You're a good friend."

'If you only knew how close I wanted to be, Shinji–kun.' Kaworu thought as he smiled. "Just trying to help the best way I can, Shinji–kun."

As Shinji rushed off again, he tried to think where Mari would hide. 'Oh… she loves the smell of LCL, so she's probably in the Cage…'

Shinji quickly changed direction and headed for the Cage. He looked around for Mari and didn't see her near Unit–01 or Unit–02.

"I wonder if she's over here…" Shinji muttered as he walked past where the active Evangelions were to the cold storage section Unit–01 had been placed after the fight with the Fourteenth Angel. He looked around and saw a few things in the heavily armored and extremely chilled Isolation Cages. One had the remnants of Unit–03 inside, its heavily damaged exterior giving Shinji a chill down his spine.

"Best not think about that now…" Shinji muttered as he walked past the next two rooms. The first was the room the Unit–00 ripped apart over a year before, and the second was the one Shinji ripped out of during the Fifteenth Angel's attack. Shinji then peered into the next room and found the half assembled Unit–XP. Its armor was mostly there, with some patches of flesh where the armor hadn't been reattached yet. Its cybernetic limbs were disassembled and looked like they were in pretty bad shape.

"That's pretty cool…" Shinji said. "But I don't think Mari would be looking there."

Finally, Shinji found Mari where he thought she was, near what appeared to be the recovered remains of Unit–00. Shinji saw the charred and half destroyed Entry Plug, bits and pieces of Unit–00 that weren't obliterated by the blast, and the Evangelion's Core.

"Wow… I'm surprised that much survived…" Shinji said. "Rei's lucky to be alive."

Shinji saw Mari standing in front of Unit–00's displaced Core. He walked down the catwalk and walked up behind Mari.

"Mari…?" Shinji asked.

"Why did she have to do it, Shinji?" Mari asked. "Why did she have to go and lose her memory?"

"I don't know, Mari." Shinji said. "Are… are you ok?"

"I… I don't know, Shinji…" Mari said in a shaky voice.

"Well, you're calling me by my name, so it can't be good." Shinji replied.

"Well… yeah…" Mari said. "I just want to go and die, Shinji… if I don't have Rei to love, what point is there in being here?"

"You still have me." Shinji said reassuringly.

"That's not the same, Shinji." Mari replied. "You just broke Asuka's heart… how do I know you won't do that to me? I can only handle one person breaking my heart… and Rei just did that…"

"Mari, Rei will remember in time, you just have to be patient." Shinji said reassuringly.

"And what if she doesn't remember?" Mari asked. "What then, Shinji… WHAT THEN?!"

Shinji took a step back from Mari out of shock. "I… I don't know…" Shinji muttered. "You just have to believe she'll get better…"

"Shinji… I think it would be best if you left me alone right now…" Mari said coldly. "I don't really want to talk to anybody right now…"

"Mari, I'm only trying…" Shinji began.

"Shinji, just get away from me!" Mari shouted as Shinji noticed tears streaming down her face. "You're just making things worse!"

"Fine… I'll go…" Shinji said as he left and heard Mari break down, sobbing uncontrollably. "I'm sorry, Mari… I wish I could help…"


December 15, 2016 – NERV HQ, Living Quarters

Kaworu was relaxing in his room. He had decided against staying in the outside world for several reasons, one being that he enjoyed the isolation, and secondly, he liked the proximity to what he assumed was Adam. It gave him a warm and comforting feeling he hadn't been able to experience in Berlin. Kaworu was also waiting for Shinji to arrive, as Shinji was kind enough to come and meet Kaworu at his humble abode.

"Shinji–kun all to myself…" Kaworu muttered. "And such an intimate setting too."

DING DONG

"Ah… speak of the Angel…" Kaworu said as he answered the door. "Hello, Shinji–kun."

"Hi, Kaworu." Shinji said quietly.

"Is something wrong?" Kaworu asked as he guided Shinji inside.

"No, it's just been a long few days." Shinji said.

"Well, I'm here to listen if you need someone to talk to." Kaworu said kindly.

"Yeah… it's about Rei." Shinji said.

'Ah… Lilith's corrupted soul…' Kaworu thought. 'The one who's got those pesky human emotions to contend with.' Kaworu frowned. "Is she alright?"

"Well…" Shinji began. "She's ok physically… even though she almost died. But she doesn't remember anything. She doesn't remember me or Mari…"

"Oh… why would she remember Mari?" Kaworu asked.

"Well… just before fighting the Sixteenth Angel." Shinji began.

'Armisael.' Kaworu thought. 'My sister.'

"Rei admitted that she loved Mari, so when Rei ended up in her coma all Mari could think about was getting Rei back so they could be in a relationship." Shinji explained. "So, I guess Mari's just heartbroken because Rei doesn't remember that…"

"So, Mari's… understandably upset." Kaworu said.

"Yeah." Shinji said. "So, she's just really upset about everything."

"But that doesn't sound like the reason you're upset." Kaworu said. "Something else has to be bothering you."

"Well… I do feel sorry for Mari." Shinji said. "I don't like seeing my friends upset."

"Well, Shinji, there must be something else bothering you." Kaworu said. 'I know there's something… I can feel it…' Kaworu thought.

"Uh…" Shinji muttered. "It's about Asuka…"

"What happened with her?" Kaworu asked in quiet excitement.

"She dumped me…" Shinji said quietly. "Which… I…" Shinji stammered as he began to cry. "I just don't understand why she… why she dumped me…"

"I don't know, Shinji–kun." Kaworu said. "You're a wonderful person."

"I was only defending you…" Shinji said. "I don't understand why people don't like you… you're so nice… Asuka sounded like she overreacted to what you said the other day."

'Ah… it worked.' Kaworu thought. 'I really fucked her up good.' Kaworu smiled. "Well… I was only trying to help." Kaworu said. "But I guess that she was just upset about what Dr. Akagi told her. It's quite unfortunate."

"I guess…" Shinji muttered. "I just wish things were different."

"Well, Shinji–kun, no matter what happens, I'll be right here to help when you need it." Kaworu said kindly. "I'm sure she'll come around eventually."

"I hope so." Shinji said sullenly.

"Don't worry about it, Shinji–kun." Kaworu said sweetly. "I don't know why anyone wouldn't want to be around you… you're just so lovable."

Shinji wiped his eyes. "Thanks, Kaworu." Shinji said. "You're a really good friend."

"Well, I've learned it all from you." Kaworu said. "You've shown me so much kindness."

"We haven't known each other that long…" Shinji said.

"Well, since meeting you and witnessing human kindness first hand, it feels like an eternity." Kaworu said. "You've made me very happy by being my friend."

"I… was life that bad before?" Shinji asked.

"It was." Kaworu said. "I was alone and felt isolated. I was different and I was treated differently because of it…"

Shinji remembered something from his past, something Kaworu didn't even know he could trigger, but did…

Flashback

"I'm still not sure what to do." Shinji said as he looked over at her. "But, thanks Asuka, for being so nice to me." Shinji said shyly, as he blushed. 'She's so nice to me even though my dad's the boss. It's nice to have someone to talk to.' Shinji thought.

"Shinji why do you keep thanking me for being nice?" Asuka asked.

"Well, uh, I guess I'm not used to it is all." Shinji said. "Most kids avoid me, or don't really talk to me." Shinji said. "That's why I read, no one can bother me. I'm actually glad my dad took me out of daycare, at least if I'm alone no one can ignore me."

"Why would you say that Shinji…" Asuka looked sadly at Shinji. "Do people really treat you like that, Shinji?"

"Yeah, but that's how it's always been. I'm used to it." Shinji said sadly.

"It's not right though!" Asuka protested. "They shouldn't treat you that way just because you're different." Asuka's eyes started to tear up. "It's just not fair!"

Shinji had a concerned look on his face. "Asuka, what wrong? Are you ok?"

"Wha…?" Asuka said as tears started to stream down her cheeks.

"Asuka, why are you crying, did I do something wrong?" Shinji said. He looked very worried about her. Was it something I said?

"I'm crying because what you said reminded me of home!" Asuka shouted. "Nobody wants to talk to me when I'm home because I'm different."

"Is it your hair?" Shinji asked innocently. "I know I've never seen anyone else with hair like that. It's very pretty, are they jealous of it?" He stammered.

Asuka's crying lessened as Shinji spoke. "That's the only thing you can see that's different?" Asuka asked.

"Well, yeah, that and you're a girl." Shinji replied matter–of–factly.

End Flashback

"Kaworu…" Shinji said. "You're not different, you're… just the same as everyone else."

'Oh, Shinji–kun… if you only knew how different I was…' Kaworu thought. "Thank you, Shinji–kun, that makes me feel wonderful." Kaworu paused. "Have you eaten, Shinji?"

"No… I've been too upset to cook." Shinji replied.

"Well, come on." Kaworu said as he gently grabbed Shinji by the arm. "Why don't I buy you dinner as a thank you… and I won't take no for an answer."

–––

Misato and Kaji were lying in bed, trying to ignore the extreme silence in the apartment. Since Asuka had broken things off with Shinji, and Mari found out that Rei had amnesia and couldn't even remember her, things had been too quiet in the apartment. Shinji hadn't cooked or cleaned in days, Asuka refused to leave her room if Shinji was even in the apartment, and all Mari could do was mope around like her soul had been taken from her.

"Hey, Kaji?" Misato asked. "You still awake?"

"Well, I wasn't until you asked." Kaji said. "But I'm guessing something's wrong…"

"Yeah, none of the kids have been acting like themselves since that other kid showed up." Misato said. "I don't trust him…"

"Well, he is a creepy kid." Kaji said. "He acts far too mature for someone his age."

"It's not just that." Misato said. "He looks familiar… like I've seen him before."

"Misato, how could you have seen him before?" Kaji asked.

"Well… he looks like my father." Misato said.

"Wha…?" Kaji asked. "Misato… I don't mean to sound insensitive, but are you high or something?"

"No, I'm not." Misato said as she got out of bed. "Look… here's a picture we took on my eighth birthday… look at his face, Kaji. Does he look familiar?"

Kaji stared at the picture on disbelief. "Wow… that is a pretty uncanny resemblance." Kaji said. "But, Misato, are you sure you're not overacting?"

"No, I don't think I am." Misato said. "He… he's too weird. His birthday was during Second Impact in a city that was destroyed within hours… it just doesn't make sense! And he looks just like my father!"

"Misato, calm down." Kaji said. "I don't trust him either… just relax."

"So, what are you going to do about it?" Misato asked.

"He's under surveillance everywhere he goes." Kaji said. "It's nothing to worry about. If he does anything suspicious, we'll take care of it."

"And what does…" Misato began.

"Don't ask a question you don't want the answer to." Kaji said.

"Oh…" Misato said.

"You don't seem surprised." Kaji said.

"Kaji…" Misato said. "Ryoji… I know you've done a lot of stuff for Commander Ikari, and I always assumed that… but I never knew for sure…"

"Some things are necessities, Misato." Kaji said. "I regret what I've done, but it was all to find out who caused Second Impact… and I told you I'd do that by any means necessary."

"Yeah… but murder?" Misato asked.

"It's no different than what those men did to usher in a new world order." Kaji replied. "Two billion dead Misato… a few more bad people isn't really going to make a difference, is it?"

"I guess not…" Misato said. "But people still died."

"And those same people killed my brother and countless others for trying to survive." Kaji said. "No one that didn't deserve to die was killed."

"What are you talking about?" Misato asked.

"The only people I've ever killed were the soldiers who killed my brother and my friends." Kaji said. "They deserved what they got."

"Kaji…" Misato said.

"I hope you're not disappointed." Kaji said.

"No… just surprised…" Misato mumbled. "Or whatever…"

"Do you still love me?" Kaji asked.

"Yeah…" Misato said. "I understand why you did it. It's just weird to hear you admit it."

"Well, you had to find out eventually." Kaji said. "I feel better that you know… and that you understand."

"Well, we can't all have our relationships crumble around us." Misato said. "But can I ask one question about all that?"

"No… it didn't help me get over it." Kaji said.

"That's what I thought." Misato said as she got back into bed. "At least you can admit it."

"Yeah." Kaji said bluntly. "It's still good to know they can't hurt anyone else ever again. I just wish Taichi was still alive."

"I know, Kaji. I know how much you miss him." Misato said. "But… you didn't tell me why you think this Kaworu is a bad guy."

"Well, he's just got a bad vibe coming from him." Kaji said. "Other than that, I can't explain it."

"I just hope that Kaworu doesn't cause us any trouble." Misato said. "Otherwise things could get ugly."

"I honestly can't see how things could get worse." Kaji replied.


December 18, 2016 – Tokyo–3, Old Hakone Quarter

Rei had finally been released from the hospital. The bandages she had been wrapped in after coming out of her medically induced coma had been removed, her skin looked normal, but Rei could still feel the phantom pain of her last life's horrific death and the abuse she suffered when she came back. So, Rei was lying on the bed in her apartment, staring at the ceiling, trying to make sense of the past few months.

"Why did everything turn out this way?" Rei asked herself. "Why was I born into this world? I can remember it so clearly, but I do not know why I was created… no one has ever told me."

Flashback

Gendo walked up to the horizontal cylinder filled with LCL. Inside was a young girl, her eyes were closed and she was covered in a hospital gown. Her hair looked as though it was light blue, and was long. It reached down past her knees and floated all around her in a big mess. But as Gendo looked at her small face, he saw someone else entirely. "Yui…" He whispered.

"Soul transfer complete." Fuyutsuki said. "All vital signs are normal, brain waves indicating everything is functioning normally."

Gendo continued to look in the cylinder at the on girl. "Understood, Fuyutsuki." Gendo said, and as he did the young girl opened her eyes. They were the bright red, and within them, he saw the kindness that Yui had in her eyes. 'Fuyutsuki was right, part of this girl is her.' Gendo thought. 'Although, it must be the LCL that is fooling my eyes, she can't have red eyes and blue hair, that's just not possible.'

The girl stirred and mouthed something that Gendo couldn't understand. She then put her small hand on the interior of the cylinder. Gendo placed his hand over hers leaving only the glass of the cylinder between them. "Fuyutsuki, can you drain the cylinder and let this girl out?" Gendo asked.

"Of course, Ikari, right away." Fuyutsuki replied, as he began the sequence to release the young girl from the cylinder.

The LCL drained and as it did, Gendo got a better look at the girl. She had extremely pale skin and her hair was in fact a pale blue, and her eyes were a brilliant crimson color. The top of the cylinder popped open as the LCL drained out. As she sat up, and was hit with oxygen for the first time she was sputtering up the LCL that had been in her lungs moments ago, and was struggling to breathe until Gendo patted her gently on the back. "Are you ok?" Gendo asked without realizing she wouldn't know how to respond.

As soon as her coughing stopped, she looked up at him with her crimson eyes and spoke softly. "I think… I… am… alright." The girl said as if unsure of what the words' meaning were.

Fuyutsuki's jaw went slack as she spoke, and Gendo was clearly shocked that she could speak, let alone put together a sentence. "You can speak?" Gendo asked in utter disbelief.

"Yes… I do not know what exactly I am saying… it just feels as though I should say it." The girl replied. "Who are you?" She asked politely.

"I am Gendo Ikari." Gendo replied.

"Who is he?" She asked, pointing at Fuyutsuki.

"He is Kozo Fuyutsuki." Gendo replied.

"So if you are Ikari… and he is Fuyutsuki… who am I?" The girl asked.

"Your name is Rei Ayanami." Gendo said kindly.

"Rei… Ayanami…?" Rei said quietly.

"Yes, your name is Rei Ayanami." Gendo repeated.

"My name is… Rei Ayanami." Rei said, gaining confidence in her ability to speak. "I am Rei Ayanami."

End Flashback

"Yes… my birth…" Rei muttered. "Things did not go that well after that, did they?"

"No, they did not." A voice in Rei's head said.

"Who… who are you?" Rei asked.

"I am your inner light." The voice said. "I am Lilith."

"Lilith?" Rei asked.

"Yes…" Lilith replied. "I am what makes you so unique."

"What do you mean?" Rei asked.

"I am a byproduct of your creation, a piece of the Second Angel grafted to our damaged soul." Lilith said. "Haven't you ever wondered why you've felt so at home near this place?"

"No, I have not." Rei said. "I grew up here… and I became attached through my memories of this place."

"Yes, but you also know that my body resides in basement of this place?" Lilith asked.

"It's your body in Terminal Dogma?" Rei asked. "Does it matter?"

"It will in time…" Lilith said. "But not right now…"

"So why are you speaking to me?" Rei asked.

"To help with what you desire." Lilith said. "To help you understand."

"Understand what?" Rei asked.

"Death and rebirth." Lilith said. "A cycle that has been repeated endlessly through time."

"What do you mean?" Rei asked.

"This…" Lilith said.

Flashback

Rei approached Naoko silently, and when Naoko turned around, she jumped. "Rei–chan, you can't sneak up on people like that, is not polite." Naoko said admonishingly.

"I was looking for you, Doctor." Rei said politely, simply staring at her with a blank look on her face.

"Why were you looking for me?" Naoko asked. "And how did you get in here?"

"I needed to tell you something." Rei replied. "Something important."

"Well, tell me whatever it is that is so important." Naoko said.

"Alright, old hag." Rei replied.

"What did you just say to me?" Naoko replied.

"Old hag." Rei replied, still with a blank look on her face.

"You're mumbling, Rei." Naoko said. "I couldn't hear you very well… say it again."

"Old hag." Rei replied once again.

"How dare you say that to someone!" Naoko shouted. "When I tell the Director of this, I'm sure you'll be in for a well–deserved spanking."

"But you are an old hag, aren't you?" Rei replied. "It's what he calls you, after all."

"Wha…" Naoko said. 'Why would Gendo call me that? He loves me… doesn't he?' Naoko thought frantically.

"He always says it when you're not around." Rei said. "That's what he likes to call you. That old hag is no use. That old hag is annoying. That old hag is stubborn… useless… and desperate for affection." Rei looked up at Naoko as Naoko's eyes widened in shock. "It's only fair I tell you what he says about you. I'm telling you because it's sad for you not to know."

Naoko's hands lunged at Rei's neck. "You fucking little bitch!" Rei's eyes widened in shock as Naoko's hands wrapped around her neck and she immediately began to gasp for breath.

"You little bitch, how dare you lie to me! You're just as replaceable as me!" Naoko shrieked. "He's already disposed of one child, he'll find another just like you take home and play house with! Just like he found a replacement for me!"

Ritsuko, who saw the scene unfolding in front of her cried out. "MOTHER, STOP!"

SNAP

End Flashback

"I did not need to relieve that again." Rei said. "I have thought of that moment countless times."

"Except when you're around your friends." Lilith said.

"They simply quell the memories, not suppress them." Rei said.

"Really?" Lilith asked. "You seem to have forgotten what it was like when Shinji became your friend… right after you saved him the first time."

"I simply assisted Shinji with the Fifth Angel giving him time to kill it." Rei said. "I did not save him."

"Yes you did, and he repaid the favor and saved you from your Entry Plug." Lilith said. "And then you two became friends."

Flashback

The pair exited the Entry Plug without a problem, and Shinji supported Rei as they walked away from the Entry Plug. He walked slowly, as Rei was having trouble moving fast.

"Ayanami…" Shinji said. "You should stop saying goodbye before a mission starts. It sounds too sad, like you plan on dying."

Rei looked over at Shinji with a forlorn look. "But, Ikari, I am…"

"Alive." Shinji interrupted. "That's all that matters. We might only have the EVA program right now, but we also have each other, and I'd be happy to be your friend, Ayanami. We can survive this together."

Rei smiled again. "I'd… like… to be your friend Ikari." Rei said happily.

"Good, so would it be inappropriate to call you… Rei?" Shinji asked nervously. "I don't mind calling you Ayanami… it's just…"

"You call the Class Representative by her given name, do you not?" Rei asked. "And you two are friends, so logically by that thinking, it would be appropriate if I called you Shinji, and you called me Rei. Seeing as we are now friends."

"I'd like that… Rei." Shinji said smiling happily.

"I fell happy as well… Shinji." Rei replied as the emergency teams lead by Misato found the pair and came to see if they were alright.

Rei was taken on a stretcher to an awaiting VTOL, which had landed nearby to transport the two of them and Misato back to NERV HQ for medical treatment.

While they were riding back to base, Shinji held Rei's hand. "Everything will be ok from now on, Rei." Shinji said. "I promise."

"I believe you, Shinji." Rei said weakly. "I have faith you'll keep your word."

End Flashback

"I know why Shinji is my friend." Rei said.

"Then why push them all away?" Lilith asked. "Why distance yourself from what makes you happy?"

"To protect them from me." Rei said. "I am expendable."

"No, Rei, you're quite the opposite." Lilith said. "You're so important you're irreplaceable."

"Then why am I the third?" Rei asked.

"Because of many unfortunate circumstances." Lilith said. "And how do you still see yourself as replaceable? You believed Mari when she told you."

"No, I did not." Rei replied.

"Yes you did." Lilith said. "And you admitted that you liked her too."

Flashback

Mari was over at Rei's apartment. Mari had been thinking about Rei said for over a month, and that day at school, Rei had invited the brunette over for a chat. So as Mari followed her home from school, she couldn't help but feel butterflies in her stomach. When they got up to Rei's dingy apartment, Rei put on some of the music Mari had given her and went to make tea. Mari settled herself on Rei's bed and waited patiently for Rei to return.

Rei walked back over with two teacups in her hands. "Here is your tea, Mari."

"Thanks, blueberry…" Mari said.

Rei sat down next to Mari and looked at her inquiringly. "Mari, are you deep in thought about why I asked you to come over today?"

"Yeah… I am…" Mari said as she blushed.

"I wanted to ask you something." Rei said.

"What is it?" Mari asked as her heart pounded in her chest.

"What do you feel for me?" Rei asked.

"I uh… I like you blueberry…" Mari said. "I like you a… a lot…"

"That is good to know." Rei said.

"That's it?" Mari said tearfully.

"No… Mari, please do not be upset." Rei said. "I am not very good with emotions, so I am not familiar with how to express of process certain things."

"I know that blueberry." Mari said as she wiped the tears out of her eyes.

"I have many feelings about you…" Rei said. "All the feelings I have for you make me feel very warm inside… I do not know if it is love…"

"But you don't want to rush things." Mari said.

"Yes, I do not want to rush into something I do not know if I am ready for." Rei said. "I do not want to make you feel sad if things do not work out the way you'd like…"

"It's not about me, blueberry." Mari said. "I'll do whatever I need to do to make you feel comfortable… I would never want to rush you into something…"

"Thank you Mari…" Rei said. "I knew you would understand…"

"Yeah…" Mari said.

"But I would like to know something…" Rei said.

"Yeah?" Mari asked.

"What is it like to be kissed?" Rei asked.

"Huh?" Mari asked.

"Mari, I am asking you something very simple…" Rei said.

"Wait… you want me to…" Mari said.

"You sometimes take a minute to catch on…" Rei said. "I believe you would call something like this… adorable."

"Wow, I guess my mannerisms have been rubbing off on you…" Mari said. "Are you sure that a kiss isn't going too far?"

"I just want to know how it feels to kiss someone I have feelings for…" Rei said as she blushed brightly. "I believe it is something I would very much enjoy doing."

"I think you'll enjoy it too…" Mari said.

"Well, do not keep me waiting, Mari." Rei said. "I do not want to lose my nerve…"

"Well, I wouldn't want that to happen." Mari said as she leaned in and kissed Rei lightly on the lips. Mari's heart skipped several beats when their lips met and she flashed back to when she kissed Yui. 'She kisses just like Yui…' Mari thought. 'But who cares…'

When Mari broke the kiss, she saw Rei was blushing and could tell her face was as red as hers was. "So, how was that, blueberry?"

"It was… very nice…" Rei said.

"I'm glad, blueberry." Mari said. "So, what do want to do? Just take things slowly and see where life takes us?"

"Yes, I believe that is the best option." Rei said. "I hope you are not disappointed."

"No, I said I don't mind waiting." Mari said. "I'd wait an entire lifetime for a chance to be with you, blueberry."

"That is the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me." Rei said. "I am glad you feel that way about me… I always thought I was… replaceable."

"Blueberry…" Mari said. "You're anything but replaceable…"

End Flashback

"Stop making me remember!" Rei shouted at the ceiling.

"But you need to remember, Rei." Lilith said. "This can't be like before, you have to remember your humanity… you are not a pawn, and you are not replaceable."

"Then what am I?!" Rei screamed.

"You are a girl with a destiny." Lilith said. "But even more than before, you are a girl that wants to protect others."

"I only wish to do what I'm told." Rei said.

"Not since Shinji arrived and opened your eyes to the world." Lilith said. "You can't lie to me, Rei, I'm inside your head. There is no escaping the truth."

Flashback

Unit–00 arrived on the surface after being launched holding the spear. Rei moved the Evangelion into position and held the spear tightly.

"Rei, are you ready?" Misato asked. "We're sending you the tracking data now."

"Do not send me the data." Rei said. "I will do this without assistance."

"Rei, you can't do that." Misato said. "You need the data to throw the spear."

"I do not." Rei said. "I will do it without assistance."

"Rei!" Misato said. "This is an order!"

"Shinji killed the Fifth Angel without any tracking data, Asuka fired on this Angel and hit the target…" Rei said sternly. "I will do this without assistance."

"Damn it, Rei!" Misato said angrily. "What are you trying to prove?"

"That I am more than capable of killing an Angel on my own." Rei said. "I will do this on my own, please allow me to save my friends on my own."

"Fine, Rei, just remember you only have one shot." Misato said.

"I am aware, Colonel." Rei said. "I will not miss."

Unit–00 prepped itself to throw the spear. It lifted the spear above his head and cocked it back with its right arm. Rei aimed for where the light was coming from. Unit–00 then started to move backwards several hundred yards. The spear, sensing it was about to be thrown twirled its bident form into a twisted shape that matched the rest of it.

"Take this." Rei said angrily. "And leave my friends alone."

With the spear at the ready, Unit–00 moved forward and at the point where Unit–00 had originally taken aim, spun around in a circle three times and as the spear lined up on the third rotation, threw the spear with all the strength Unit–00 and Rei could muster, and spear shot off to the heavens. Right after it was released, it broke the sound barrier. IT shot through the clouds and entered orbit in seconds. It came upon Arael, who deployed her A.T. Field to defend herself, but it didn't matter. The spear untwirled to reveal its bident head, right as it passed through the A.T. Field like it wasn't even there, and ripped through Arael's body, killing the Angel in a single, decisive blow. A cross shaped explosion lit up the night sky as the spear passed through the explosion and collided with the Moon, implanting itself into the ground.

Rei looked on as the explosion back lit the clouds and the beam that had been trapping Unit–01 and Unit–02 disappeared. Rei smiled slightly and looked over at her friends' Evangelions as they stopped struggling and shut down.

"Colonel…" Rei said. "Unit–01 and Unit–02 are down. Send rescue teams immediately. They appeared to be in distress until they shut down."

"We can't Rei." Misato said. "They may be contaminated. Return to base immediately."

"I will not return to base until they are safely recovered." Rei said. "I will watch over them until they are safe. I owe them that."

"Rei, you can't stay out there forever." Misato said. "You aren't needed out there."

"Miso, let her stay out there!" Mari said angrily. "They're defenseless otherwise…"

"Fine… Rei…" Misato said. "Please be careful."

"Thank you, Mari." Rei said.

End Flashback

"What was that memory supposed to prove?" Rei asked.

"That you will do whatever it takes to save your friends." Lilith said. "You even told Armisael about why you killed Arael… you were protecting everyone, just like they had protected you."

"I told her that because it was the truth." Rei said.

"Then why push them away by pretending to have amnesia?" Lilith asked. "Your girlfriend, and your brother…"

"Shinji…" Rei muttered.

"Yes, him." Lilith said. "You say the sadness in his eyes as he watched you wreck that poor girl Mari."

"It was for… her own good." Rei said.

"Why?" Lilith asked.

"Armisael was right." Rei said. "I am not capable of love."

"I disagree." Lilith said. "Your actions to kill Armisael are proof enough…"

"Do not show me that!" Rei shouted.

"You have to see it, Rei." Lilith said. "It is the only way you'll understand."

Flashback

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

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

"AAAAHHHHH!" Shinji screamed.

"Shinji, fight back!" Misato shouted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End Flashback

"NOOOOOOOO!" Rei screamed. "It burns! EVERYTHING BURNS!"

"Rei, it is only a memory." Lilith said. "If you let phantom pain dictate how you live your life, you won't have a life worth living."

"I can feel it every time I remember!" Rei shouted.

"Because you are letting the memory control you!" Lilith said. "You must control the memory, Rei. Otherwise you never be able to be near your friends again!"

"I don't want to be near them!" Rei shouted.

"That's a lie, Rei!" Lilith shouted. "And I'll show you why!"

Flashback

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Why?" Rei asked.

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

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

"Why have you restrained me?" Rei asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I do not know." Rei said nervously.

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

"AAAAHHHHH!" Rei screamed as Ritsuko began.

End Flashback

"STOP IT!" Rei screamed.

"You need to remember that pain, Rei." Lilith said. "Why are you keeping your friends away?!"

"To keep the, safe!" Rei shouted.

"That's still not the whole truth, Rei!" Lilith shouted. "What else?! What else can't you admit?!"

"What if I die again?!" Rei screamed. "I can't put hose I love through that again! I refuse to let my death cause them any more anguish than they already have. If we are no longer friends, my death will not hurt them ever again!"

"There it is…" Lilith said. "You're trying to keep them from getting hurt… because you can't stand to see them upset… how noble."

"I'm not the one they remember…" Rei said. "I'm a different person than before, I just don't want them to go through all that."

"You are Rei Ayanami." Lilith said. "You are the one they remember, they know no different."

"But I do." Rei said.

"Yes, but to them, what they see is their truth." Lilith said. "Unless they know about the circumstances of your birth, you're still the same Rei you were two months ago when you saved them all."

"I… I am?" Rei asked.

"Rei, do you honestly believe you've a different person?" Lilith asked. "Growing as a person isn't your identity… it only changes how you act in certain situations."

"I believe I was Rei the third." Rei said.

"No, Rei… you are simply Rei Ayanami." Lilith said reassuringly. "No amount of death and rebirth can ever change that."

"I am Rei Ayanami… and I always have been…" Rei repeated as she finally began to relax. "Thank you… Lilith…" Rei sighed. "But I have to distance myself from them… I don't want them to mourn my death again… I just want them to go on without me."

"Rei… I do not understand." Lilith said.

"You said there is something else I must still do." Rei said. "It will invariably result in my death… if I distance myself from them, no one else will ever get hurt again."


December 20, 2016 – NERV HQ

Everyone was in their Test Plugs. Ritsuko thought with Rei out of the hospital, it was time for to put the kids through the ringer once again. Misato was glaring at Ritsuko from her usual chair next to Maya, while Ritsuko avoided her glare, Maya was focused on making sure the tests were over as quickly as possible before Ritsuko could do anything to upset anyone.

"How's everyone doing?" Misato asked quietly.

"Everyone but Kaworu and Toji have declined." Maya replied quietly.

"Great…" Misato muttered. "End the test, just tell them they did fine, ok?"

"I can handle that, ma'am." Maya said.

"Thanks, Maya." Misato said. "I don't think they can handle more bad news…"

"So is everything as bad as rumor says it is?" Maya asked.

"Yep, Asuka refuses to be near Shinji, if you look at Mari, she cries, and Shinji is just hanging out with that Kaworu kid and moping around when he's home… it's… it's pretty fucking horrible." Misato explained. "But enough about me… how are you and Kotomi doing? You're still together, right?"

"Yeah, we're still together… and we're doing alright." Maya said shyly. "She's really great, Misato. She makes me feel loved every time I see her."

"Did you two move in together yet?" Misato asked.

"Not yet, but we're looking for a place." Maya said.

"Anywhere in mind?" Misato asked.

"No… not yet." Maya said.

"Well, if you need somewhere with discounted rent… I may have a place in mind." Misato hinted.

"Your apartment building?" Maya asked. "You'd rent to us?"

"I don't see why not." Ritsuko said. "Kaji keeps telling me I need to rent the place out cause it's just sitting there with five people sharing one apartment."

"You'd really do that?" Maya asked.

"Yeah, it's the least I can do for a friend." Misato said as she smiled. "Besides, I may as well have neighbors I like."

–––

Mari was depressed as she left her Test Plug. When she exited hers, Rei had been standing getting out of hers, and Mari, who had not yet gotten her confidence back to talk to Rei again, decided to run off rather than try and deal with the elephant in the room.

As Mari got to one of the unused breakrooms, she sat at one of the dusty tables and laid her head on her arms. She heard someone come in behind her and gently close the door. Then she heard the click of the lock and looked up to see Kaworu glaring at her.

"What do you want, freak?" Mari asked.

"Oh, just to talk." Kaworu said.

"Just leave me alone, freak." Mari said. "I don't want to talk to some two bit piece of shit like you."

"Strong words for someone who has not really talked to me." Kaworu replied.

"Why would I talk to someone who harasses people?" Mari asked.

"And why would you think someone could love you?" Kaworu asked.

"Wh… what did you say…?" Mari asked slowly.

"How could think anyone could love you, Mari Makinami?" Kaworu asked. "Did you really think Rei cold love you?"

"How is this any of your business?" Mari asked.

"Oh, you have no idea what's my business or not." Kaworu said venomously. "You must have known a broken girl like Rei could never love a completely fucked up and useless person like yourself."

"I suggest you leave…" Mari said through gritted teeth. "Otherwise, you'll regret it."

"I doubt it." Kaworu said. "I'm not scared of a fool like you, Mari. You can't even look at the little emotionless demon that broke your heart…"

SLAP

Mari tackled Kaworu to the ground and pinned him while she put her face inches away from his. "Don't you EVER talk about Rei that way again, you LITTLE SHIT!" Mari spat. "Do you understand me?!"

"I like that reaction, Mari…" Kaworu said. "I believe I found your trigger… Rei isn't capable of love, have you seen her? She's just a doll…"

Mari head butted Kaworu, slamming the back of his head into the tile floor. "SAY SOMETHING ABOUT REI AGAIN, I DARE YOU… I DOUBLE DARE YOU MOTHERFUCKER, SAY SOMETHING ABOUT REI ONE MORE TIME!" Mari roared.

"What shouldn't I say?" Kaworu asked. "That she can't love… or that she lied to you because she couldn't understand that it would crush your fragile, lonely, little heart…"

Mari started punching Kaworu in the face repeatedly, alternating between her left and right fists, and gave Kaworu a bloody nose. "I told you to shut the fuck up!" Mari shouted. "Rei has amnesia! I know she loves me!"

Kaworu kneed Mari in the gut when she let her guard down and threw her against the wall and crouched down in front of her. "It's nice you think that… but Rei has no feelings… she pretends because she tries to fit in with you Lilin… all to wear the mask of sanity when in reality she is no more capable of love than the plugsuit you're wearing."

"How do you even know what Rei thinks?" Mari asked. "As far as I know, you've never talked to her… you're just a lying little fuck, aren't you?"

"Oh, no…" Kaworu said as he stood up, turned around, and shook his head. "I have my sources, Mari…"

"Who told you all this?!" Mari shouted as she got back up.

"Mari… you're not the one…" Kaworu began.

Mari tackled him to the ground once again, with a look of pure rage on her face, she shifted all her weight to her arms and rested them on Kaworu's throat.

"TELL ME WHO TOLD YOU ALL THAT!" Mari shouted.

"Who… who else…" Kaworu gasped. "S… Shinji…"

"W… wh… what?" Mari stammered as her choke hold on Kaworu slackened.

"What are you, deaf and useless?" Kaworu asked. "Shinji told me all about it. Are you surprised or something?"

"I…" Mari stammered. "You…"

"Shinji will tell me anything he knows." Kaworu said. "He's wrapped around my little finger… and there's nothing you can do about it."

Mari stood up and let Kaworu go. "We'll see about that." Mari said furiously as she stormed out of the room.

"Good…" Kaworu said as he smirked. "Two down… one to go…"

–––

Rei was walking down the hallway towards the elevators. She saw Mari running into an elevator, a look of fury on her face. Rei was confused, as she'd never seen Mari like that before. Rei backed away and let Mari get into the elevator and head towards the surface. A few minutes later, she saw Kaworu smirking as he walked down the hall. As Rei turned to leave, Kaworu noticed her and called out to her.

"Rei." Kaworu called loudly. "I've been hoping we'd meet."

"What purpose would that serve?" Rei asked. "I do not wish to meet you."

"Why not, Rei?" Kaworu asked. "Aren't you curious about how alike we are?"

"We are not alike." Rei replied.

"Really…" Kaworu said. "I'm sure you must know you have a piece of Lilith inside you… you can't be that stupid."

"What may or may not be a part of be is none of your business." Rei said. "Now, move."

"No." Kaworu said. "I've really wanted to talk to you."

"Why?" Rei asked. "So you can do to me what you've done to Asuka and Mari?"

"Ah… not so stupid after all." Kaworu said. "Not like some of your predecessors."

"I have never met you before." Rei said. "And neither have my predecessors."

"Oh… not those predecessors." Kaworu said. "It's something your tiny mind couldn't possibly understand."

"Why don't you let me decide that?" Rei said.

"No, I'd rather not waste my breath. You've been among the Lilin far too long to understand our greater purpose." Kaworu said. "But no matter how much you'd like to think we're not alike, we are. We're both from the same matter, both have stolen the visage of someone else to hide amongst the Lilin. So, no matter how different our lives have been to this point, we are the same."

"I am nothing like you." Rei said. "I can actually feel emotions and understand what others are feeling. I do not use people as pawns for some sick thrill… so I suggest you get out of my way before I force you out of my way…"

"I'll leave, Rei." Kaworu said as he walked away. "But think on this… have you ever tried to manipulate you're A.T. Field? It's not that hard… even you could probably do it."

Rei glared at him as he walked away. "I do not know what to make of that odd boy." Rei muttered. "But whatever it is, we are all in danger…"

–––

Mari had tried to find Shinji at NERV, but by the time she got to the men's locker room, Shinji was gone. By the time Mari got home, she was fuming. She stormed into the apartment, looking around for any sign of Shinji, and then she saw him, coming out of the bathroom and she charged at him.

"Shinji!" Mari shouted as she slammed into him. "What the fuck is your problem?! What did you do!? Why did you do that?!"

"M… Mari… what are you… what are you talking about?!" Shinji asked fearfully. "Why are you yelling at me?"

"Why did you tell that bastard Kaworu about my business?!" Mari spat at him. "What the fuck is your fucking problem?!"

"What are you talking about?!" Shinji shouted back. "All I did was talk to Kaworu about what was going on… I didn't tell him anything private."

"Bullshit!" Mari shouted. "You told him everything!"

"All I told him is that Rei had amnesia!" Shinji said defensively. "I didn't tell him anything personal!"

"Then why did he tell me Rei doesn't love me?!" Mari shouted as she slammed Shinji into the wall. "Why did he come after me like he came after Asuka?!"

"Mari, you're not making any sense!" Shinji shouted. "Kaworu wouldn't do that! You're being just like Asuka, you're blowing everything out of proportion!"

"No I'm not!" Mari screamed. "He said awful things to me and you won't even try to understand! WHAT THE FUCK KIND OF FRIEND ARE YOU?!"

"The kind of friend that thinks you're taking Rei's amnesia a little hard!" Shinji shouted back. "Why is everyone attacking Kaworu?! What did he do to deserve all this shit?!"

"Because he's not a nice guy, Shinji!" Mari shouted. "He's playing you like a cheap fiddle and you look like a complete asshole!"

"He is not like that!" Shinji shouted. "He's nice to be around, unlike my s called friends who just keep yelling at me about him!"

"Because you won't listen to reason!" Mari shouted. "He's clouding your judgment, Shinji, think about it! He only does this shit when we're alone with him, but always acts all nice and friendly when we're around you!"

"I can't believe I'm hearing this!" Shinji shouted. "You've got me against a wall and you're spewing the same lies about Kaworu that Asuka was! You're both lying!"

"We're not lying!" Mari screamed. "You're being an idiot! Shinji, why wont you believe me?! What do I have to do to show you he's a bad guy!"

"You don't have to do anything!" Shinji shouted as she shoved Mari away from him, making her land hard on the floor. "I don't have to stay here and listen to your lies!"

"Shinji, wait!" Mari shouted.

"Stay away from me!" Shinji shouted. "You're just like Asuka… you're jealous I have someone else to talk to now besides you!"

"Shinji… that's not…" Mari said.

"I said… SHUT UP!" Shinji roared as he stormed out of the house.

"Fucking idiot…" Asuka said from behind Mari.

"So, you heard that, then?" Mari asked.

"Yep…" Asuka said. "He's being real dumb…"

Mari turned around to look at Asuka and saw she was wearing one of Shinji's t–shirts, and the same necklace he gave her for her birthday. "Asuka… "

"What?" Asuka asked. "Why aren't you calling me princess?"

"I'm not in the mood." Mari said. "But why are you…?"

"What, wearing his stuff?" Asuka asked. "I might hate his stupid face and his stupid guts… but I can't stop loving him…" Asuka said as a tear rolled down her face. "That's not my baka… something's… changed him…"

"Or someone…" Mari muttered. "Cause he just won't listen… he's never this stubborn."

"I know that… but I still don't want to see him… otherwise…" Asuka muttered.

"You may want to do what I just did?" Mari asked.

"Something like that…" Asuka said. "Although, throwing him against the wall didn't make you look sane. It sort of proved his point."

"I was pissed." Mari said. "I wanted to kill him…"

"Something tells me this Kaworu asshole was sent to tear us all apart or something. Nothing else makes any sense…" Asuka said. "He's just so…"

"Evil." Mari finished.

"Yeah, but its more than that." Asuka said. "It's like he knows us… and he hates us."

"But why?" Mari asked. "We've never even met this asshole before."

"Who knows why crazy people do crazy shit." Asuka said. "But maybe we should let everyone else know about why Kaworu's bad news…"

"But do we tell them what he said to us?" Mari asked. "I really don't want to repeat it."

"I told you what he said to me… and that still makes me cry at night…" Asuka said. "You only have to tell me, I won't… I won't repeat it…"

"I guess…" Mari muttered.

"I promise, Mari." Asuka said.

"I believe you…" Mari said. "So, I saw Rei after the sync test…" Mari began.

–––

Kaworu was relaxing, listening to Die Walküre as loudly as he could. He kept wondering if the seed he planted in Mari's mind had festered enough to cause her to snap. Asuka was an easy target for him, he'd dealt with her before, but Mari was a new obstacle, she'd rarely been in the middle of things, always on the peripheral, but she was always contained, which worried Kaworu deeply.

"Why are things so similar here… yet so different?" Kaworu mumbled. "What happened this time around to make things turn out like this? What has changed this time… Shinji should not have been this happy… he should have been untouched… he should have been mine from the start!"

DING DONG

"Who could that be?" Kaworu wondered aloud as he went to the door. Kaworu opened it to the shock this lifetime. "S… Shinji–kun?" Kaworu asked. "What an unexpected surprise…"

"Can I come in?" Shinji said shakily.

"What's the matter?" Kaworu asked as he led Shinji inside. "What happened."

"Can I stay here the night?" Shinji asked.

"Of course." Kaworu said. "Is there anything you want to talk about?"

"Not… not right now." Shinji mumbled. "I… just want to go to sleep…"

"Shinji, were you crying?" Kaworu asked and Shinji nodded. "Shinji, if you need to cry some more, I'm here for you."

Shinji nodded and collapsed into Kaworu's arms and began crying. 'Finally… all to myself…' Kaworu thought as Shinji cried into his shoulder.

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 – 67.6 (-19.6%)
Kaworu – 60.0% (+20.0%)
Mari – 25.0% (-9.3%)
Rei – 21.3% (-53.7%)
Asuka – 19.3% (-17.8%)
Toji – 8.1% (+3.7%)

This chapter delves more into Kaworu's twisted relationship with Shinji, or at least what he views as his relationship with Shinji in head. Kaworu sees Shinji as tainted by his relationship with Asuka. He wants Shinji to have not loved anyone else, and only love Kaworu and Kaworu alone. All his past experiences have kept him at arm's length from Shinji, he's always loved someone else first, and Kaworu, naïvely thought this time would be his chance. But now, after as many cycles as he's been through, he's had enough and he's taking the most direct approach to rid his competition – direct physiological manipulation on Asuka, Mari, and Rei.

Now, as to Rei's conversation with herself, after being exposed to Armisael, some of Rei's latent abilities have come to light, such as her ability to communicate with the fragment (yes, just a fragment) of Lilith's soul. Now, poor Lilith, her soul is currently split between four places, her own body in Central Dogma, Unit–XP's Core, Unit–00's Core, and Rei herself. Rei happens to have a caring and compassionate piece of Lilith within her who is trying to help her understand her feelings by forcing her to remember why she is the way she is. Through this forced intervention(in a vein less malicious than Mari's 17 year torture), Lilith makes Rei realize what she's actually doing (trying to protect her friends from her next death) while making it seem like she never loved them at all, which is something Armisael kept telling Rei she was doing. Yes, there were a lot of flashbacks, but it was necessary, as somethings can't be condensed down to be easily rehashed. Sometimes it takes a little more effort.

The next chapter may be Kaworu's last, but what he's done will ripple through the rest of this Episode until things may or may not be put right by the time December 31, 2016 comes around. I hope you've all enjoyed his new characterization thus far, which was inspired mainly by Anthony Hopkin's portrayal of Hannibal Lecter.

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