Neon Genesis Evangelion: Legacy
Episode VI: Return of Reality


Chapter 3 – Betrayal; Tabris Deceives
December 21, 2016 – Tokyo–3 Junior High School, Class 2–A

It had been a long few weeks. Asuka and Mari were depressed as Kaworu had taken Shinji from them. Since Mari had slammed Shinji around the apartment, Shinji had not come, at least to their knowledge. They assumed Shinji was staying with Kaworu, but Misato hadn't told them whether or not that was the case.

So, their friends had noticed the change, and that Shinji wasn't hanging around them as much. Asuka always avoided Shinji's gaze and Mari constantly glared at him. Rei had also changed and kept to herself like the old days, not talking to anyone almost like she was a different person. So, after a week of avowing the subject, Hikari broached the subject that morning and they got the full story from the two girls.

"This is so fucked up." Toji muttered as he stared out the window looking for Shinji. It was a dreary day out. The clouds were thick and gray, but there was no rain, just the thick humidity to breathe in. Toji was glancing around and finally saw him. Shinji was walking into school with Kaworu. He looked a bit depressed, but if what Asuka and Mari had been saying were true, then Shinji had really fucked up in Toji's opinion. He didn't trust Kaworu to begin with because he was so off putting to others, or rather, everyone but Shinji.

"They're here." Toji muttered. "All fucking buddy buddy and shit…"

"Great…" Mari said. "I was hoping he'd skip again."

"Well, that would make things easier, wouldn't it?" Kensuke mused.

"Yeah… it would." Asuka said. "Not that it means much if he's here…"

"Yeah… but…" Hikari muttered. "You must be leaving something out! I can't believe that Shinji…"

"Believe it, freckles." Mari said. "Shinji's gone nuts and trusts that skinny freak more than his actual friends."

"Yeah… we covered everything though." Asuka muttered.

"I can't believe what you guys are saying…" Hikari mumbled. "Why wouldn't Shinji believe you over him? You're his friends… I mean Asuka, you were…"

"I know, Hikari." Asuka said. "Please don't remind me."

"Sorry, I'm just so mad!" Hikari said. "Shinji isn't like this! He's a nice person! That kid is doing something to him, and I want to know what it is!"

"Don't confront him here." Asuka said. "I don't want people knowing my business."

"I have to, Asuka." Hikari said. "He doesn't even live with you guys anymore! He avoids everyone, someone needs to talk to him!"

"Hikari…" Asuka muttered.

"Let her do it, princess." Mari said. "She's got one hell of a determined look in her eye. Go for it freckles, just don't try and kill him… I tried that and it didn't work."

"Wait, I thought you were kidding?" Kensuke asked.

"Nope, I tried to choke him to death." Mari said. "Not my finest moment to tell you the truth."

"Well, I kinda want to strangle him right now." Toji said. "He needs to be brought back from his little crazy bubble of bullshit."

"Speaking of…" Kensuke said as Shinji and Kaworu walked in.

"Hikari, wait…" Asuka said as Hikari stormed over to him.

"Shinji!" Hikari said. "Can I talk to you for a minute?"

"Sure…" Shinji said.

"Alone." Hikari said.

"No, anything you have to say, Kaworu can hear." Shinji replied.

"Thank you, Shinji–kun." Kaworu said which made a shiver go down Hikari's spine.

"Why aren't you going home, Shinji?" Hikari asked. "We're worried about you."

"I'm not wanted there." Shinji said. "I don't like going where I'm not wanted…"

"Did you ever think that they miss you?" Hikari asked.

"Why? Asuka dumped me and Mari tried to kill me, why would I talk to them?" Shinji asked.

"Because they care!" Hikari said.

"No they don't!" Shinji said angrily. "They hate me!"

"Shinji, they don't hate you! They came to you to tell you something and you ignored them! Why did you ignore what they said about him?" Hikari asked bluntly.

"What do you mean?" Shinji asked. "I didn't ignore them!"

"Yes, you did, Shinji! Asuka and Mari came to you to tell you what horrible things your supposed friend said to them, and you didn't believe them. Why would you believe him over your best friend and girlfriend?!"

"I didn't believe him, I just think they were overreacting!" Shinji said angrily.

"I don't like your tone, class rep." Kaworu said venomously. "It seems quite rude, and you're upsetting Shinji–kun."

"I don't give a damn what you think about my tone." Hikari said. "I was talking to Shinji."

"Don't talk to him like that." Shinji said defensively as he pointed at Asuka and Mari. "You're acting just like them."

"Shinji, can't you see what he's doing?" Hikari asked. "Don't you trust me?"

"Of course I trust you." "But not if you're going to be acting like this!"

"Acting like what?!" Hikari asked.

"Irrational." Shinji replied. "What's so bad about Kaworu?!"

"He's playing you, Shinji!" Hikari said. "What did he tell you about his interactions with Asuka and Mari?! Or did you not bother to ask?!"

"I asked him, he said it was nothing!" Shinji replied loudly.

"And you believed him?!" Hikari replied.

"Why wouldn't I?!" Shinji asked. "I trust him!"

"Over everyone you've known longer than a few weeks?!" Hikari asked loudly. "Over people who trust you with their lives, and who you trust your life with?!"

"Yes!" Shinji shouted.

"Why!?" Hikari asked.

"Because he's just like me!" Shinji shouted. "Friendless and alone, and avoided because people think he's different or doesn't deserve to be liked!"

"Shinji, you have friends!" Hikari said. "And you're not alone!"

"But he is!" Shinji shouted. "He's just like me!"

"Will you stop upsetting, Shinji–kun?" Kaworu said in deep tone. "I won't ask again."

"I'm not upsetting him!" Hikari said angrily as Toji stormed over. "I'm just pointing out that you're a jerk!" Hikari turned to Shinji and pleaded with him. "Can't you see he's playing you?!" Hikari asked. "He's nothing like you!"

"He is like me!" Shinji shouted. "Why can't anyone see that?!"

"Because we're not blind to it like you are!" Hikari shouted.

"No, you just can't accept it for some reason!" Shinji shouted. "Why is everyone so afraid of him?!"

"Shinji, stop yelling at Hikari." Toji said sternly. "What the fuck is up with you lately? Y You're not acting like yourself…"

'Damn these fools…' Kaworu thought. 'I've never had to deal with so many… the jock is usually too banged up to make a difference, and the other two hate him because he got hurt… this has to be handled carefully…' Kaworu looked Toji over and sized him up. 'I just need to provoke him somehow…' Kaworu smiled. "I don't understand what all the fuss is about, Shinji–kun and I are just friends. I don't see how his staying with me is an issue that concerns you though. He's smart enough to make his own decisions, isn't he?"

"Not when those decisions involve a snake like you." Toji said.

"Toji, don't." Hikari said.

"That's just unnecessarily rude." Kaworu said.

"Toji, stop it." Shinji said angrily.

"Shinji, he's a bad guy!" Toji said. "I told you this when Asuka came crying to you… the girl don't cry, and she was balling her eyes out, and you thought she was overreacting? Are you fucking stupid or something?!"

Kaworu made his move and stepped between Shinji and Toji. "I think that's enough from you, Suzuhara. You're being very rude to Shinji–kun."

"Hey, asshole, get out of my way." Toji said as he shoved Kaworu out of his face, knocking him to the ground.

"Toji!" Hikari shouted.

"Toji, why did you do that?!" Shinji shouted as he shoved Toji backwards, catching him off guard and kicking him to the floor as well. "Why did you have to hurt Kaworu, WHAT DID HE DO TO YOU?!"

"He got in my face." Toji said as Hikari helped him up. "And I didn't push him hard enough to knock him over, either. He's faking it!"

"No, he's not!" Shinji shouted.

"Shinji–kun, can we please go." Kaworu said. "I'd much rather not be here if this is how school will be for us from now on…"

"Sure, Kaworu." Shinji said sympathetically. "I don't like being somewhere I'm not wanted."

"Shinji, wait…" Toji said as he grabbed Shinji's left arm.

"Get off ME!" Shinji shouted as he decked Toji with right hook. "DON'T TOUCH ME!" Shinji wrenched his arm from Toji's slackened grip and helped Kaworu up. "I can't believe any of you were ever my friends!" Shinji shouted as he and Kaworu left.

"Toji… are you?" Hikari asked.

"Yeah, I'm fine…" Toji said as he wiped the blood from his mouth. "But I don't like this… Shinji's definitely not himself… and he's too trusting…"

"You know, Kaworu played you." Kensuke said.

"Kensuke…" Toji muttered.

"It's true." Kensuke replied. "He made you look like an ass, and faked falling just to get Shinji's sympathy… it's almost like the honeypot."

"The what?!" Hikari asked.

"Like Kaworu is some sort of spy and he's… well… seducing Shinji." Kensuke replied nervously.

"Dude, you're going way too far off the deep end." Toji said.

"Not really." Kensuke replied. "He's pulling Shinji's emotional heartstrings, and its working pretty well."

"You know, I hate to say it…" Asuka muttered. "But he's got a point. Shinji's just being a total idiot, and he's not thinking with his head… just his heart…" Asuka sighed. 'A heart that used to be mine…' Asuka thought. "Uh… Hikari… if you don't mind, I'm going to, uh, go home. I'm not feeling well…"

"Yeah, sure." Hikari said. "I'll make sure you're covered."

"Thanks…" Asuka said as she left in a rush.

As Asuka left, Rei looked over and caught Mari's eye. They looked at each other for a moment before tears started welling in Mari's eyes.

"Yeah, freckles…" Mari said as she choked back her tears. "I… I can't do this today…"

"Mari, I can't…" Hikari started as Mari grabbed her bag and ran out of the room. "Let you go too…"

"Wat the hell is going on with them?" Toji asked. "It's like their all trying to fuck things up… it's stupid!"

"I miss how things used to be…" Kensuke said sullenly as he and Toji took their seats.

"Shinji… you have no idea what you've done…" Hikari muttered. "You were what held our group of friends together… without you… we're nothing."


December 23, 2016 – NERV HQ

Kaji and Misato had come in early. Misato had let the kids still at the apartment know about today's sync test, but Kaji and her decided to get in early so they could talk privately in Kaji's bug free office.

"So, what did you want to talk about?" Kaji asked.

"Shinji." Misato replied. "Have you been keeping an eye on him?"

"Well, yeah." Kaji said nonchalantly. "I can't leave Shinji to his own devices. I just don't understand what's going on with him."

"Well, that Kaworu is doing something to him." Misato said. "Drugging him to act stupid."

"Nope, I already tossed the kid's room." Kaji sighed. "No drugs or compounds that can be made into drugs were found. There was plenty of stuff hidden, but nothing serious."

"Like what?" Misato asked.

"Journals written in a language I can't even comprehend." Kaji said. "Like some kind of dead language."

"So, no idea what it said then?" Misato asked.

"Nope, I sent some pictures over for analysis." Kaji said. "Nothing yet. But I think I know how Kaworu's got a hold over him."

"How?" Misato asked. "I mean, drugs or brainwashing…"

"Nope… its way less complicated." Kaji said. "Kaworu's manipulating Shinji's emotions with fake stores that match up to Shinji's childhood."

"How do you know?" Misato asked.

"I bugged the room." Kaji said. "I wasn't leaving anything to chance with this."

"Seriously?" Misato asked.

"Well, it was either that or actively watch them." Kaji said. "I've checked his file, at least what little they gave us about him. He grew up in NERV's care, somewhat like Rei, but more sheltered. Though I can't find any actual references to him in the daily reports."

"What do you mean?" Misato asked.

"You remember working in the U.S. branch, right?" Kaji asked.

"The one at that old tech college?" Misato asked. "Yeah, constant paperwork and red tape."

"And you remember being in charge of Asuka for a time." Kaji said. "Loads of reports on her well–being and everything?"

"Yeah, there was at least a two page long form a day I had to fill out, and that was without sync tests or additional training."

"Kaworu has no paper trail." Kaji said. "There are references to his files on the servers, but no actual paper backup. No sync test results, no psych evaluation, not even a physical or a daily schedule. The kid is a ghost."

"How do you…?" Misato muttered.

"Went to check myself." Kaji said. "There are boxes there, sealed boxes marked classified, loaded with folders… but it's just filled with paper, blank fucking paper."

"So, what?" Misato asked. "Can we pull him from duty for that?"

"No, we can't let them know we know." Kaji said. "We just have to go in there and… well, neutralize him or something."

"When?" Misato asked.

"Christmas morning." Kaji said. "Bastard's ruined the holiday already, so why not just make it official."

"Well, that's fucked up, but whatever." Misato said. "What about Shinji though?"

"When they go in, they'll make sure to keep him safe." Kaji said. "I won't let anything more happen to him. I think he's seen enough shit as it is…"

"Yeah…" Misato muttered. "And Kaji, there was one other thing I wanted to bring up…"

"What is it?" Kaji asked.

"Maya invited us out on a date with her and Kotomi." Misato said. "I told her I'd ask you first before I said anything."

"Why would I say no?" Kaji asked. "I've been dying to meet your ex–girlfriend Kotomi since you told me about her."

"Ok…" Misato mumbled.

"Don't be so worried, Misato." Kaji said. "I promise not to embarrass you by asking which of us is better in bed."

"Kaji, you know the answer to that…" Misato said as she blushed.

"Yeah, guys and girls do things differently, and we're both great." Kaji said. "I remember."

"Fine, just don't be weird and stare at her or anything." Misato said.

"Why would I stare?" Kaji asked. "I'm sure she's just as gorgeous as you are…"

"Shut up, Kaji." Misato said.

"Come on, Misato." Kaji said. "If we can't laugh when shit hits the fan like this, life will be kinda difficult to deal with."

"Why do you have to make jokes though?" Misato asked. "I mean… we're about to kill…"

"No, I'll be killing him." Kaji said. "The Commander is fine with it, so I won't be in any trouble for offing the bastard."

"I know"

"It's how I cope Misato." Kaji replied. "Even though it's for the greater good, and to protect Shinji… it's still a human life being taken."

"But are we entirely sure he's human?" Misato asked.

"No…" Kaji replied. "But it won't matter anymore come Christmas morning…"

–––

Mari was walking around after yet another sync test. Her sync score was down, and she knew why. Between Shinji and Rei, she was thoroughly depressed. And with Asuka's current condition, Mari really had no one to lean on anymore. Shinji had been her rock, whether he knew it or not, and now Mari was utterly alone.

As Mari walked down the hallway, she saw Rei coming from the other direction and froze.

'Shit…' Mari thought. 'I can't deal with this right now…' Mari turned around and ran the other way before she heard a voice call out to her.

"Mari!" Rei said loudly.

Mari froze in place again and slowly turned around. She saw Rei approaching her, a blank stare on her face and no visible body language to explain what was going on.

"I remember you." Rei said.

"You… you do?" Mari asked.

"Yes… I remember everything." Rei said. "But I must tell you something."

Mari's heart sunk at those words. "W… what is it, blu… Rei…"

"I lied." Rei said.

"A… about?" Mari asked.

"Loving you." Rei said. "I lied."

"W… wha… what?" Mari asked as tears started to well up in her eyes.

"After I woke up from my coma I realized that I had been lying about my life." Rei said. "I did not care about those around me, I preferred solitude. I realized that I did not miss having you around me, I was happy being on my own."

"Wha…?" Mari stuttered. "But you said…"

"I lied." Rei replied. "I thought that was what you wanted to hear, so I said what I thought would make you happy. But now I realize that I was mistaken, and your happiness I no concern of mine."

"I…" Mari stammered. "But…"

"I don't know how difficult this will be for you, but it is what it is." Rei replied.

All Mari could do is stare blankly at Rei as tears dripped from her eyes. "Rei… why… why are you doing this?" Mari asked. "I know… I know you weren't lying when you told me. I could… I could feel it."

"Then I guess I am a more convincing liar than I thought." Rei said. "I am incapable of love, I never loved you, and I never will."

Rei looked at Mari as the words hit her. She could see Mari's heart breaking right in front of her. Mari's face fell, her lip quivered, and her body was shaking. Rei walked right past Mari and heard the poor girl run away, bawling her eyes out. "I am sorry, Mari." Rei said quietly. "I may have loved you in a past life, but this is for the best. If I am close to you, I will end up hurting you again. I just wish things could have been different…"

As Mari ran in the opposite direction, she had to stop to catch her breath. 'Was Kaworu right?' Mari thought. 'Was it really all a lie?' Mari shook her head. 'No… I know it wasn't a lie. She loved me… or am I just wrong like the last time… like with Yui…?' And with that, Mari collapsed on the floor, crying, wondering if she'd ever feel love again.

–––

Asuka was lying in bed. She was upset because her sync score kept falling, and now she wasn't even allowed to pilot Unit–02. Asuka needed someone to talk to, but Mari was nowhere to be found, and Hikari was busy with Toji, and Rei… Rei wasn't Rei anymore, so Asuka was all alone.

"Stupid bullshit…" Asuka muttered angrily. "Life sucks… I'm a reserve pilot! And Shinji doesn't love me anymore…"

Asuka anxiously rubbed her eyes. "Why does he think that Kaworu is more trustworthy? I know I'm not the easiest person to deal with… but he said he loved me? Was that a lie? Did he ever love me?"

Asuka played with the necklace she had around her neck. The same one Shinji had given her for her birthday. "I just don't want to believe that Shinji doesn't love me anymore… I don't think I could handle things if… if I didn't have Shinji in my life…"

Tears started pouring down Asuka's face. "This is why I should never have fallen in love with that idiot…" Asuka mumbled as wept. "He couldn't hurt me if I never loved him… but I do love him… and he'll never love me again…"

"Why do bad things always have to happen to me?" Asuka asked herself as she cried herself to sleep. "Why can't I ever be happy?"


December 24, 2016 – NERV HQ, Living Quarters

Shinji was lying down in Kaworu's room. He had been living there for a few weeks, and Kaworu had been kind enough to get Shinji a mattress to sleep on. Shinji hadn't been sleeping very well the past few days, and had really been thinking about what Hikari had said to him, and it was bothering him that everyone was against his friendship with Kaworu.

'I know that Asuka has a tendency to overreact, and Mari always exaggerates stuff.' Shinji thought. 'But Hikari never overreacts… but if she's been listening to Asuka… maybe she was just mad at me and took it out on Kaworu…' Shinji sighed deeply. 'I miss Asuka though… I wish she wasn't so mad at me… I still love her…' Shinji shook his head. 'Why do things always have to be so complicated…'

Kaworu on the other hand was miffed that Shinji and him weren't sharing a bed, but he was at least happy about Shinji being near him. So, while Kaworu did his usual staring blankly at Shinji, he was thinking about everything he'd accomplished, and just how close to his goal he finally was.

'Well, Shinji's friends won't ever talk to him again, and I doubt he would talk to them after how they treated me.' Kaworu thought. 'They all think he's a jerk, his girlfriend dumped him… she wasn't hard to manipulate, the big breasted buffoon was even easier to push around… and to think Lilith tortured her for so long, must have left her fragile. Rei wasn't even a challenge, she's so broken… not that I haven't died violently countless times since this all began… but… I finally have Shinji–kun all to myself… finally, he's mine for the taking… alone and isolated, I'm the only person he can trust… after all this time, I've finally got my heart's desire.' Kaworu smiled. 'Well, Shinji–kun… my Shinji–kun, come tomorrow, I will give you the world when I merge with Adam and bring about my own instrumentality where we get to live forever without anyone's interference.'

"Hey… Kaworu?" Shinji asked, breaking Kaworu from his dreams of instrumentality.

"Yes, Shinji–kun?" Kaworu asked.

"Can I ask you something?" Shinji asked. "I really need your opinion."

"Sure, Shinji–kun." Kaworu said. "You can ask me anything you'd like."

"Do you think I…" Shinji started. "No, that's not right. Do you think that Asuka will ever forgive me?" Shinji asked innocently. "I… I kinda miss her…"

"What?" Kaworu asked, barely keeping his composure.

"If… if I ask Asuka to talk to me again, do you think she'll forgive me?" Shinji asked.

"Why would you do that?" Kaworu asked, trying not to lose his cool.

"Because I think I still love her." Shinji said.

'WHAT?!' Kaworu thought angrily as he started shaking with anger. "How could you still love her after how she treated me?" Kaworu asked angrily. "Let alone how she calls you stupid all the time? You can do far better than that bitch!"

"Kaworu, that's a little harsh…" Shinji said. "You don't know her that well… she really doesn't mean it…"

"Why are you defending someone that hates you?!" Kaworu shouted.

"Because I love her." Shinji replied. "Kaworu, why are you so mad?"

"Because, you're being foolish Shinji–kun!" Kaworu said. "You love a girl that never loved you enough to treat you with respect!"

"Kaworu, why are you getting so upset?" Shinji asked again. "It hard to explain why I love her so much…"

"Just shut up!" Kaworu said. "You're supposed to be mine, not that stupid girl's." Kaworu pointed to the door. "JUST GET OUT!" Kaworu screamed. "GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME!"

"Kaworu…" Shinji muttered.

"JUST GET OUT!" Kaworu shouted as he slammed open his door and shoved Shinji from the room. "DON'T COME BACK HERE EVER AGAIN!"

"Damn it all to hell!" Kaworu shouted. "How could he love her that much?! She hated him, and he wants her back!" Kaworu took a deep breath. "It doesn't matter anymore… come tomorrow, I will have exactly what I want… Asuka wiped from existence and Shinji all to myself with no memory of that stupid fucking bitch."

–––

Shinji watched as Kaworu's door closed and locked right in front of him. All Shinji could do was stare at the door with a look of shock and sadness on his face.

"Wh… what just happened?" Shinji muttered. "Why did he get so mad?" Shinji sighed. "Is it because I mentioned Asuka? I just don't get it."

As Shinji walked away from Kaworu's room, Shinji started muttering himself. "First Asuka, then Rei, and then Mari… then Hikari and everyone else… and now Kaworu… am I so fucked up, I can't even keep my friends around?"

"I hate being like this…" Shinji muttered as he wandered aimlessly around NERV. "All alone… just like before I came to this stupid city. Everything that's happened the past year and a half may as well have never happened at all. Everything always ends up like this… I'm alone and I don't even have my SDAT to listen to…"

Shinji found a nice secluded break room that looked relatively abandoned. "It's amazing how many rooms in this place are empty." Shinji said. "So I guess this is as good a place as any to sleep… it's not like I have a home to go back to anymore…"


December 25, 2016 – NERV HQ, Terminal Dogma

Lilith was resting quietly, stuck to her cross and bleeding out tons of LCL. She was at rest, with nothing to do but wait. She could feel the pieces of her soul all nearby, and another that was fast approaching… one of Adam's progeny.

'And so it begins again…' Lilith thought. 'We're once again approaching that destined hour… and Tabris will be joining me shortly… how time flies…'

–––

Aoba was sitting in the Command Center patiently waiting for his morning coffee. He was twirling his pen while staring aimlessly at the main display. He looked over at Maya who was half asleep from the night before.

"Long night?" Aoba asked.

"Yeah…" Maya replied. "Had a double date with Kaji and Misato."

"How did that go?" Aoba asked.

"Pretty well." Maya replied. "Kaji and Kotomi are kinda similar… it's really weird."

"Could be worse." Aoba said. "They could have been really shitty with each other."

"I guess, I just wish we hadn't been up so late." Maya said. "I mean, Misato can come in when she wants to, but the rest of us have to be on time."

"Well, what can you do?" Aoba said. "She's the boss."

"You can bring coffee." Hyuga said as he walked in. "It's the only thing that can get us all through the day."

"Yeah, or maybe some excitement." Aoba said.

"Why do we need more excitement?" Hyuga asked. "Don't we have enough to around here?"

"Well, not really." Aoba said. "It's been kinda boring since the Gundams left. It's way less boring around here when there's something to do."

"Seriously, we have massive death robots in the basement and a bunch of angsty teens to pilot them." Maya said. "We may as well be in an anime."

"Well, when you put it that way…" Hyuga said. "Kinda backs up the point I was trying to make. Things can stay like this, it's kinda nice."

"Why did you have to say that?" Maya said. "Every time you say that, something happens."

"What are you on about?" Misato asked when she walked in. "Every time what happens?"

"Every time someone says it's going to be ok, it all goes straight to…" Maya started as an alarm sounded. "Son of a bitch…"

"No… it's been months…" Misato said. "It can't be an Angel…"

"Pattern Blue confirmed… it's an Angel." Hyuga said solemnly. "The Seventeenth Angel has been confirmed."

"Location?" Misato asked.

"It… no… what?" Hyuga muttered. "Target is within NERV itself!"

"What?!" Misato shouted. "How did we not get a warning sooner?!"

"Unknown." Maya said. "But regardless, we have to intercept it."

"Where is it heading?" Misato asked.

"It's leaving the Evangelion Cages." Aoba replied. "It appears to be heading for Terminal Dogma."

"What is it exactly?" Misato asked.

"Unit–02." Maya replied. "It activated a few minutes ago and started moving on its own, no pilot or Entry Plug."

"Is it a rogue EVA?" Misato asked.

"No idea." Maya replied. "Perhaps the Angel is controlling it."

"Regardless of the circumstances, we need to launch Unit–01 to intercept." Gendo said, appearing at his usual post. "Find Shinji."

"Understood, Commander." Misato said. "I just hope we can find him in time."

"Can we do anything to stop it?" Maya asked.

"Other than closing off the bulkheads, absolutely nothing." Misato said.

"It's already too deep to do anything to stop it." Fuyutsuki said. "All we can do now is wait."

"Perhaps our warding on the Doors of Destiny will hold him off…" Gendo muttered quietly to Fuyutsuki.

"I hope so, Ikari." Fuyutsuki replied. "Otherwise, SEELE will have us right where they want us, as their tools to their ultimate goal."

"Instrumentality." Gendo said as he scratched the palm of his left hand. "If we can survive this, perhaps we should move up our own time table."

"The key word being if…" Fuyutsuki muttered solemnly.
–––

Kaworu was floating down the shaft to Terminal Dogma with Unit–02 acting as his lone guard. As he descended the miles long shaft, he was getting more and more impatient.

"Why must this always take so long?" Kaworu asked aloud. "And then I have to try and get through whatever is blocking me from getting to Adam… or rather, father, considering he made me in his death throes."

As Kaworu continued to descend he spun around to look at Unit–02. "Well, I hope I won't need you. But I would much rather not be interrupted while I work on my plan… so if Shinji–kun comes down here, keep him away." Kaworu laughed. "It's not like you have a choice, you've locked yourself away because you can feel Asuka's pain… so you're my doll now." Kaworu sighed. "I just wish Shinji–kun had never met your daughter… things would have been so much easier for me if he hadn't."

As the pair reached the bottom of the shaft, Kaworu looked around. "Ah… so close, yet so far." Kaworu muttered. "Time to get to work on this warding."

–––

Back in the Command Center, it was a flurry of activity. Everyone was prepping for a battle in the bowels of NERV, one which may not even happen if they couldn't find a pilot for Unit–01.

"Where are the pilots?" Gendo demanded. "They are supposed to be ready when we need them."

"Rei is nowhere to be found." Fuyutsuki said. "Section 2 lost sight of her early this morning."

"Interesting…" Gendo muttered. "And the rest?"

"Asuka and Mari didn't pick up their phones, and they aren't at home." Misato said. "I think they're hiding."

"And Shinji?" Gendo asked.

"We're looking for him." Maya said. "His ID was swiped in yesterday, and there is no record of him leaving. He's got to be somewhere on base."

"What about that Nagisa boy?" Fuyutsuki asked.

"He's missing." Aoba replied. "He disappeared shortly before the Angel alarm went off."

"Interesting." Gendo said.

"We found Shinji." Maya said. "Security found him in a less than used break room. He's being brought to the Cage now."

"Excellent." Gendo said. "Have him launch immediately to Terminal Dogma."

"Understood, Commander." Misato replied.

"Uh, Colonel, there's an issue with Shinji." Maya said. "He's refusing to go to security."

"Why?" Misato asked.

"Something about fighting more not being worth it." Maya replied. "Perhaps you should get down there."

"Colonel Katsuragi, we do not have time to waste on an insolent child." Gendo said. "Lieutenant Ibuki, order security to restrain Shinji and force him into Unit–01, whether he likes it or not, he is the only pilot we have available."

"Sir, if could just talk to him…" Misato began.

"Considering he has not been in your home for some time, I doubt very much that he would listen to you." Gendo said. "Restrain him and get him into Unit–01, and have it ready to deploy by the time he arrives."

"Understood, Commander." Misato replied.
–––

Shinji was once again inside Unit–01. He was peering over the edge of the shaft to Terminal Dogma, and was very confused by the hurried briefing he'd been given. He was also upset having been dragged kicking and screaming into the Entry Plug after being forced to change into a plugsuit.

"Was all that really necessary?" Shinji asked. "Aren't there other pilots that can do this?"

"You're the only one we could find." Misato replied. "Everyone else is missing."

"Typical… I'm left to do everything myself." Shinji muttered. "Always alone…"

"Shinji, focus." Misato ordered. "There is an Angel loose in NERV."

"Fine." Shinji said gruffly. "So the Angel is at the bottom of this shaft?" Shinji asked again.

"For the fifth time, yes." Misato replied. "The Pattern Blue is in the restricted section of Terminal Dogma."

"And how do I get down the shaft?" Shinji asked. "Just jump?"

"No, there is a winch…" Misato began.

"But there isn't time if there's an actual Angel down there." Shinji replied. "There are retro rockets in the shoulder pylons, right?"

"Yes, there are." Misato said.

"If he activates them just before impact, he can slow himself down." Maya said. "Just like during the Jet Alone incident."

"Alright, go for it, Shinji." Misato said. "Against my better judgment."

"Yeah, sure." Shinji replied. "Here goes nothing."

Unit–01 looked down the shaft and backed up a bit and ran towards the shaft jumping into it. As the Evangelion free fell in the darkness, Shinji had no sense of how deep the shaft was.

"Just how deep is this thing?!" Shinji shouted.

"Several kilometers." Aoba replied. "It goes way down deep."

"Activate your thrusters for a 20 second burn in one minute." Maya added. "That should slow you down."

"Right." Shinji replied. "And where was Unit–02?"

"Uh…" Misato said. "I forgot to mention the Angel may have taken it over."

"You forgot to mention…" Shinji muttered. "That's just great, I'm going to be outnumbered two to one."

"We're not sure, Shinji." Hyuga said. "It could be using Unit–02 as a conduit, or Unit–02 is the Angel… we just won't know until you make contact."

"Great…" Shinji said. "Firing retro rockets now."

The shaft lit up in a blaze of light as the twin retro thrusters fired and slowed Unit–01's decent to a manageable landing speed. However, Unit–01 sill landed hard, and the sound echoed loudly around them. The antechamber itself was dimly lit, and Shinji couldn't see a much of anything.

"Did no one install lights down here?" Shinji asked.

"It wasn't high on the priority list apparently." Misato replied. "Just activate the low light filters."

"No, I will turn on the lights in the antechamber." Gendo said.

As the lights blazed on, the chamber was revealed to be very stark. Shinji turned around and looked for any signs of Unit–02 or an Angel, and found them when Shinji faced what appeared to be a blood red door. In front of that door was Unit–02 and what appeared to be a hovering human. Shinji zoomed in on the figure and was shocked.

"K… Kaworu?!" Shinji shouted.

"What?!" Misato shouted. "You've got to be kidding?"

"It's confirmed." Maya said. "Facial recognition confirms its Kaworu Nagisa."

"How is that possible?" Misato muttered.

"It does not matter." Gendo said. "Shinji, he is the enemy, you must kill him."

"But… he's human!" Shinji shouted.

"No, Shinji, he's not!" Misato shouted. "He's confirmed as Angel, do what you have to and neutralize the threat. He cannot enter Terminal Dogma."

"But, Misato!" Shinji shouted. "I will never kill a human! It's wrong!"

"It doesn't matter what you think, Shinji." Misato said. "It's either him, or the world, which is more important to you?!"

"I won't do it!" Shinji shouted. "There has to be another way!"

Shinji saw Kaworu raise his hand and an orange octagonal field erupted from it, forcing the red doors off and he floated inside. Kaworu turned and paused however, and motioned to Unit–02, bringing it to life and forcing it to charge at Unit–01.

"What about Unit–02?" Shinji asked.

"Disable it." Misato said. "And then stop him at all costs."

"But…" Shinji muttered.

"Shinji, we're talking about the fate of the world." Misato said. "Kaworu is not the guy you think he is, you have to stop him to protect everyone!"

"Fine!" Shinji shouted as Unit–02 got close and Shinji dodged to the left, causing Unit–02 to run straight into a wall and get dazed. It took a moment for the EVA to recover before it charged once again with reckless abandon. "I don't have time to play with you!" Shinji shouted as Unit–01 deployed both its Prog Knives, and countered the charging Unit–02's sloppy attack. "Sorry, Asuka… but you already hate me, so wrecking your EVA isn't going to make much of a difference!" Shinji buried both Prog Knives in Unit–02's chest and lifted the red EVA over Unit–01's head and threw it against the wall, where it landed in an awkward slump.

"Good work, Shinji." Misato said. "Now go and finish your job."

"Misato, I can't." Shinji said. "He's…"

"He only looks human." Misato said. "You saw him floating there, how do you think he's doing that?!"

"But he's human!" Shinji shouted.

"He was never your friend Shinji, nor was he human." Gendo said. "He was the proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing. He has been confirmed as an Angel, our sworn enemy, you have seen the proof and have no choice but to kill him or watch the human race be extinguished by your own inaction." Gendo paused. "I never expect anything from you, so you not doing anything wouldn't surprise me very much. Go ahead and be a petulant child, Shinji, you're only costing everyone on this planet their life."

"Damn you, father!" Shinji shouted as Unit–01 charged into Terminal Dogma, only to fall into the pool of LCL. "What the hell is all this?!" and then Shinji looked up and aw Lilith nailed to the cross. "And what the hell is that?!"

"Explanations can wait." Gendo said. "Stop the Angel from making contact with it."

"Fine." Shinji said. "I want to know from him why this is happening."

"Whatever it takes for you to get the job done." Gendo replied coldly.

–––

Gendo switched off the comms to Shinji and Unit–01. "Prepare the self–destruct." Gendo said. "If Shinji decides to not act, I want a backup plan in place."

"What, Commander?" Misato asked.

"Ikari, is that truly necessary?" Fuyutsuki asked.

"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." Gendo replied. "You know that Fuyutsuki. Carry out my orders."

"Commander, give Shinji a chance." Misato said. "He always does the right thing."

"We cannot take that chance." Gendo replied.

"Commander." Kaji said as he came in. "Shinji always needs a bit of prodding, he'll do it, he just needs to come to it in his own time."

"That may be, but we are not taking any chances." Gendo replied. "Set the timer for immediate detonation when activated."

"Understood, Commander." Misato grumbled.

–––

Kaworu floated into Terminal Dogma while Unit–01 and the pilotless Unit–02 fought in the antechamber. Kaworu saw the white mass that was Lilith bolted to the cross.

"Ah, hello father…" Kaworu mumbled as he moved closer.

As Kaworu got to the mask, he felt something was off, that something was missing. He held up his hand and his A.T. Field shot a beam into Lilith. He dropped his hand after the beam made contact, and he floated quickly backwards from Lilith.

"You're not Adam… you're Lilith… why are you even here?" Kaworu said to himself. "I know I sensed Adam here… I can feel his presence, and it masked yours." Kaworu stared at Lilith in disbelief. "You were destroyed years ago, you should be here… unless I've been misled… those old bastards or Ikari… or both. All their little plans, and I've been tricked and used a pawn, just like all my brothers and sisters…"

Kaworu heard a loud crash behind him as he saw the limp body of Unit–02 get thrown through the doors and collide with Lilith's cross. Unit–02 fell to a slump at the bottom of the cross and Unit–01 waded quickly through the water and grabbed Kaworu in its right hand, clutching him tightly.

"Hello Shinji–kun…" Kaworu said as he heard Unit–01 splash through the LCL covering the floor. Kaworu didn't even try and move when Unit–01 grabbed him and gripped him tightly in both hands. "How nice of you to join me…"

–––

Rei appeared at the bottom most level that she could access. She could feel Kaworu's power and was drawn straight to it. She opened a door onto a balcony and saw Unit–01 grab Kaworu tightly within its hands. Kaworu's A.T. Field flashed, and resisted Unit–01's grip the best he could.

"I wonder…" Rei muttered. "He is very powerful… onii–chan will not be able to stop him on his own… perhaps my own power can help…"

Rei extended her hand and her own A.T. Field flared up. "I do not know if I can control this power… but I will try… I cannot let Shinji fight on his own again… he never left my side…"

Rei tried directing her field towards Kaworu, but it faltered. "Why won't it work…" Rei's eyes narrowed. "I cannot give up… I must help, now that Lilith and Kaworu have opened my eyes… I know I can do this." Rei focused one more time and used her own A.T. Field to negate Kaworu's. The lights around her flickered, and "Now perhaps onii–chan has a chance…"

–––

Back in Central Dogma, even more alarms were going off at the detection of yet another A.T. Field, one so strong it was blocking their sensors.

"What the hell is going on now?!" Misato shouted. "Why has everything gone dark?!"

"We're detecting the strongest A.T. Field we've ever seen." Hyuga said. "It's power is unbelievable."

"It's shutting out everything, light, magnetism, sub–atomic particles." Maya added. "Our sensors are completely dark."

"Can we identify what is creating the A.T. Field?" Fuyutsuki asked.

"No pattern identifier detected." Aoba said. "It could be Unit–01 for all we know."

"So how do we know what's happening down there?" Misato asked.

"We just have to trust Shinji is doing what he's supposed to." Kaji said.

–––

Shinji was inside his Entry Plug, and could feel the warmth of Kaworu's body in his hands as Unit–01 griped Kaworu firmly, but Kaworu didn't struggle. His A.T. Field has disappeared suddenly, and Shinji had almost crushed him, but he needed to know some things first.

"Why, Kaworu?!" Shinji screamed. "Why did you do it?! Why did you have to be an Angel?! You lied to me!"

"My name is not Kaworu Nagisa, Shinji–kun, my name is Tabris, the son of Adam." Kaworu smiled. "And I never lied, you never asked."

"I don't care about your name!" Shinji screamed. "You're Kaworu to me! I just want to know why you did all this!"

"The names are important, Shinji–kun. We all have names, Sachiel, Shamshel, Ramiel, Gaghiel, Israfel, Sandalphon, Matarael, Sahaquiel, Ireul, Leliel, Bardiel, Zeruel, Arael, Armisael, and myself all had the same mission, to reset the Earth after merging with our father, Adam." Kaworu explained. "I did not mean to lie to you, Shinji. I simply had to keep myself hidden until I could accomplish my mission. It was… unavoidable."

"How was it unavoidable?!" Shinji shouted. "Why did you do all this?!"

"To get you to myself." Kaworu said. "And to shape the world the way I want to… it's as simple as that."

"I don't care about that!" Shinji shouted. "Why did you break Asuka and me apart?! How did that help you?!"

"Ahhh… that." Kaworu said sullenly. "Shinji–kun, that was simply to try and get you to help me with my plan, as I found you so fascinating, I always have, and I wanted you to be mine. I've always wanted you to be mine. And she was in my way… your happiness separated you from me, so she and your friends all had to go."

"I WAS FUCKING HAPPY TO BE WITH HER!" Shinji roared. "SO YOU LOVED ME!? THAT'S WHY YOU DESTROYED THE BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO ME!?"

"Yes, Shinji, I may not understand the feeling of love, but I do believe it is called that." Kaworu said sullenly. "But Shinji–kun, what surprises me more, is that you asked only about her and not what I needed you for to further my goals, or that you also seem to not care about the fate of the planet in general. Clearly you are… attached to her…"

"So that's why you kicked me out last night?" Shinji asked. "Because I asked about Asuka?"

"Of course, Shinji–kun." Kaworu said. "It hurt me for you to bring her up after I worked so hard to get her out of my way…"

"What do you mean?!" Shinji shouted.

"What I mean is that I did say all those things to her she was screaming about… Mari too." Kaworu said. "And don't even get me started on Rei… they were all so easy to manipulate, it almost wasn't challenge this time around…"

"What are you talking about?!" Shinji asked angrily.

"Hwy you care so much for a girl that clearly doesn't love you back." Kaworu said. "It's astonishing how you could care for someone as selfish as her… you'd apparently let the planet go to hell just for her…"

"She's not the selfish one!" Shinji roared. "You are! I could give a shit about the planet, I only care about Asuka!" Shinji shouted. "I love her with all of my soul, A.T. Field and all!"

"Well then, I have my answer." Kaworu said. "I would never have been able to have you."

"What does it matter?!" Shinji shouted.

"I guess it doesn't matter really." Kaworu said. "I've even failed my mission. This isn't even Adam, this is Lilith. I do so dislike being tricked into doing the chores of others. Yet I know I can feel him here…"

"I don't care who it is!" Shinji shouted.

"Well, that is interesting." Kaworu said. "How did you find this out?"

"I would only ever tell a friend how I found out!" Shinji shouted.

Kaworu raised his eyebrows. "Well, I guess I deserved that."

"You deserve a lot more than that for what you did!" Shinji screamed. "You completely destroyed whatever happiness Asuka had left, and for that, I can never, ever forgive you!"

"I do deserve much worse…" Kaworu said as he looked up at Unit–01. "Shinji–kun, I know it is not my place, but I simply must ask you for one favor."

"Why the hell should I do that?!" Shinji shouted at him. "Why would I help you?!"

"It is not about helping me, it is about ending me." Kaworu said. "I am not long for this world anyway. I simply request that you end my life. Please kill me, Shinji–kun. You should be the one to do it… I realize now I have caused you a lot of pain and suffering, and you should exact your revenge."

"But… I can't kill you, you're human!" Shinji said angrily. "I don't kill people! I'm not a murderer!"

"No, Shinji, I am not human. I only look human through a long and complicated list of currently irrelevant circumstances." Kaworu said. "I am just another Angel, please, kill me, as it is your duty to do so."

"So, if you're not human…then everyone was right… you weren't anything like me… you were just… using me…" Shinji said quietly. "Then I guess I don't have any other choice…"

"Yes, I did use you, Shinji–kun, and I am your enemy…" Kaworu said. "But before you do what is necessary, Shinji–kun, I would like to ask you one question." Kaworu asked.

"What?" Shinji asked. "What gives you the right to ask a question?!"

"The final request of a marked man." Kaworu said. "Please, I just want to know one thing."

"Fine, go ahead." Shinji said coldly.

"Shinji–kun, could you have ever loved me?" Kaworu asked. "Could you have loved me the way I loved you?"

"Maybe in another life…" Shinji said. "Maybe if you hadn't had hurt Asuka so badly… we'll never know now, will we?"

"You are right, Shinji–kun, it is my own fault I will never know for sure." Kaworu smiled. "Then this is my penance for those actions, and I can have hope for a different future. Perhaps things will be different next time…" Kaworu said. "Goodbye, Shinji Ikari…"

Shinji gripped the right control yoke and then thought about the motion to close his right hand into a fist. As Shinji saw Unit–01's hand close, he saw Kaworu's head pop off, and felt Kaworu's body get crushed by the pressure into a pulpy substance, he could feel everything as it crushed, every bone, every organ, and the warm feel of the blood as it ran from the crushed remains of Kaworu's body in Unit–01's closed hands.

"KAWORU!" Shinji screamed. "I THOUGHT YOU WERE MY FRIEND!"

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 – 92.5% (+24.9%)
Kaworu – 90.0% (+30.0%)
Mari – 22.5% (-2.5%)
Rei – 20.0% (-2.3%)
Asuka – 12.5% (-6.8%)
Toji – 12.0% (+3.9%)

And so ends Kaworu's arc in the story. Things have changed a bit here, and Kaworu's motivations, his wanting Shinji to himself, and after having been through this world more than he would like, he had understandably gone a bit crazy. So, he wanted to begin instrumentality for himself and create a world where it was just him and Shinji. Thankfully, Shinji came to his senses in the end (or was rather forced to do so), and put things right. However, now Shinji is all alone, and Kaworu's mission from SEELE, to disrupt NERV's operations was successful.

Also, Asuka, Rei, and Mari's individual troubles will be exacerbated as well, Asuka's aimlessness without Shinji, Rei's new found power and her difference from her friends, and for Mari, the loss of someone else she loves, and her best friend are digging at her because it's happening a second time in her second life of sorts.

Also, on Rei referring to Shinji as "onii–chan"… those were Rei II's last words about Shinji, so put simply, that's been engrained in Rei's memory, and she'll do whatever it takes to protect Shinji.

Now, going forward, Third Impact is coming. No need to hide from that, it's how these stories go. However, the way we'll get there in this story will be different, so stay tuned, because the next three chapters will be setting up the events that lead directly into New Year's Eve and the events surrounding Third Impact.

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