Neon Genesis Evangelion: Legacy
Episode VI: Return of Reality


Chapter 6 – Critical Mass
December 29, 2016 – Tokyo–3 Junior High School, Class 2–A

Asuka walked to the school with Hikari that morning. Things had taken a somber turn since the alarms had gone off the previous night. A mandatory evacuation for all nonessential personnel had been enacted, and Asuka just wanted to see her friends one last time before she had to go back to NERV and presumably help defend the city.

"Asuka are you ok?" Hikari asked as they walked into the nearly deserted classroom.

"Yeah, I'm just worried about why they're evacuating the city…" Asuka said. "They're never this proactive… it must be a bad sign."

"I'd guess as much too." Kensuke said. "They've sent out a list of evacuation points for us to go to be taken out of the city. We'll either be going to Tokyo–2 or Atsugi."

"By what, plane?" Asuka asked.

"Plane, VTOL, or train." Kensuke said. "All non–NERV personnel are being moved out this morning, and the rest should be moved out by tonight."

"How do you even know that?" Toji asked.

"It's on the evacuation orders." Kensuke said as he pulled a copy from his pocket. "Did you even bother to read when you're being evacuated?"

"Well… I mean, Ms. Ibuki called and said I should evacuate cause I'm not an active pilot anymore…" Toji said.

"See, this why you have me." Kensuke joked. "Otherwise you'd end up somewhere entirely different than where your sister is."

"Well, you'd keep an eye on her, wouldn't you?" Toji asked.

"Of course." Kensuke said. "She's awesome!" Kensuke paused. "I mean, she's cool."

"Dude, you're weird." Toji chuckled.

"So where are we flying to then, smart guy?" Hikari asked.

"We're going to Tokyo–2." Kensuke said. "There's a train we get on tonight. It'll be packed full of people, so don't expect a pleasant ride."

"I'd have been surprised if it was going to be a pleasant ride." Hikari said.

"So, Asuka, you're staying, right?" Kensuke asked.

"I mean, I guess so." Asuka replied. "It's not like I've checked my phone or anything lately…"

"So, have you seen Shinji at all?" Toji asked. "Or talked to him or whatever?"

"Toji!" Hikari said admonishingly. "Stop being a dick!"

"What, we're the only ones in here, who the hell's gonna hear us?" Toji asked.

"Hikari its fine." Asuka said. "I haven't seen him at all… and I don't know if I want to, but I want to patch things up, and we're gonna be at NERV together so I guess it's inevitable…"

"So… can you give him a message if you see him?" Toji asked.

"Huh?" Asuka asked.

"Tell him we miss him and good luck." Toji said. "And good luck to you too… something tells me you're gonna need it."

"Yeah, I have that same sinking feeling…" Asuka uttered.

"Hey, why aren't Rei and Mari here yet?" Hikari wondered aloud. "Rei's always here… and Mari… well, she'd follow Rei where she goes."

"No idea." Toji said. "Maybe they're already at NERV or something."

"Yeah, that's probably it…" Asuka replied. "I guess I should head there now… after I get a few things from the apartment… ah fuck it… I don't care about that shit anyway."

"Asuka, if I don't see you again…" Hikari started as Asuka began to leave.

"We'll see each other again, Hikari." Asuka said. "Don't be so dramatic. I'll see you guys in a few days or whatever."

"Just be careful." Hikari said. "Ok?"

"I'll be fine." Asuka said. "Besides, Shinji will be there too… and he always protects me no matter what."

"Even after your fight?" Toji asked.

"Yeah… because he loves me…" Asuka said as she left. "And because I love him too…"

–––

Misato had spent the last several hours searching for Shinji and Mari to no avail, because they had snuck off the base the previous day. Section 2 had lost sight of them shortly thereafter with the evacuation order being issued, giving them the order to recall to base and get ready for an incursion. Now, all of the pilots were missing adding to the mystery of Rei entering the base but disappearing sometime after that, and Asuka not being seen in several days, Misato was worried that the Evangelions they had left would be pilotless whenever the current conflict came to a head.

But now wasn't a time to worry, because Misato had to help send someone off. So, she was walking to meet Maya and Kotomi at the launch pad on the surface. Kotomi, being assigned to the still crippled Unit–03 was being evacuated as non–essential personnel for her safety along with many of the others. Because she lacked a family, she was one of the first being shipped out. As Misato got to the surface, she looked on to see almost a dozen VTOLs parked with people being checked in and loaded on. Maya, Aoba, Hyuga, and Kotomi were standing some distance away chatting quietly. Misato walked over and tried putting on a smile.

"Hey guys." Misato said.

"Colonel." Hyuga replied. "Any luck?"

"No… they're all still missing." Misato said. "And there isn't much time left to find them before we go into full lockdown."

"I'm sure they'll turn up soon." Maya said.

"Yes, but everything's been somewhat shitty since that whole Kaworu fiasco." Aoba said. "Whatever he did, he did pretty well."

"What are you talking about?" Misato asked.

"Well, the kids started having issues only after he got here." Aoba explained. "And then it sort of snowballed straight to hell from there."

"You think it all had to do with him?" Misato asked.

"Well, didn't they tell you?" Aoba asked.

"No, they haven't really spoken to me much since…" Misato said.

"Hey, don't worry about it." Kotomi said. "They'll show up eventually."

"Why don't we go make some calls?" Hyuga suggested. "Right Aoba? Maybe we can find them, or at least help out."

"Yeah, we'll keep calling their phones till someone picks up." Aoba said. "So, Kotomi… be safe, huh?"

"Yeah, we'll see you soon enough." Hyuga said.

"Bye guys." Kotomi said. "And be careful."

"We're always careful." Hyuga joked. "It's not our fault the city's a hotbed for Angel attacks."

As the pair of them walked away, Misato shifted silently, rubbing her foot against the ground looking away from Kotomi and Maya as they embraced tightly.

"I'm gonna miss you…" Maya said.

"I know…" Kotomi said. "And I'm gonna be worried sick about you being stuck here."

"Well, I'm sorta stuck since Akagi went nuts and tried to kill Shinji and Mari." Maya said. "I wish I could go…"

"I tried to get you guys clear of this." Misato said nervously. "But Hyuga and Aoba refused to leave and the Commander said we can't go on without your input."

"He said that?" Maya asked.

"Yep, you were on the list of people not allowed to evacuate." Misato said.

"And Hyuga and Aoba were listed as non–essential?" Kotomi asked.

"They were listed in between." Misato said. "They could stay if they wanted or evac if they wanted, and they chose to stay."

"I… didn't think he thought that highly of me." Maya said.

"Well, the Commander isn't the warmest person, considering Shinji's upbringing." Misato quipped. "He doesn't make his opinions known… but he's wanted replace Akagi for a while, so this isn't a big surprise."

"Well, thanks, Mis… Colonel." Maya corrected herself.

"You can call me Misato, Maya." Misato said kindly. "We're friends now, aren't we? I mean, I introduced you to that nice girl who won't let go of you."

"Well, she's very cuddly." Kotomi joked. "And I'm not gonna see her for a few days."

"So, this is it… huh?" Maya asked. "They VTOLs leave in a few minutes…"

"It won't be so bad." Kotomi said. "I'll be safe in Tokyo–2 for the next few days, so don't worry about me… stay focused, ok?"

"Yeah, I will." Maya said. "And don't worry too much about me."

"I will, babe. There's no changing that." Kotomi said. "But uh… can you give me a minute with Misato?"

"Oh, sure." Maya said brightly. "Just try not to kiss her, ok?"

"I'm a one girl kind of girl, Maya." Kotomi said quietly. "Besides, her heart belongs to someone else…"

"Yeah…" Maya said as she and Kotomi stopped hugging. Maya smiled at Misato and took Kotomi's bag. "I'll get you checked in, yeah?"

"Thanks." Kotomi said as she smiled widely. "Your eth best."

"I know." Maya said as she walked away.

"So… I guess this is goodbye again…" Misato said as Kotomi walked up to her.

"Yeah… but this time I know we'll see each other again." Kotomi said. "And I have to thank you for introducing us… she's perfect."

"I'm just glad you're happy." Misato said.

"I'm glad you're happy too." Kotomi said. "That boyfriend of yours is a really great guy."

"Yeah, he was…" Misato said quietly.

"Anyway, I only a few minutes." Kotomi said. "So just promise me one thing. Keep Maya safe, ok? Just make sure she makes it out of whatever this is alive…"

"I'll do my best." Misato said. "I don't want to give you false hope… but it's the best I got."

"Thanks for being honest, Misato." Kotomi said as she hugged her. "I always loved that about you."

"Thanks…" Misato said. "But save tha loe for her… she deserves it."

"I will." Kotomi said as she saw Maya waiving to her hurry up. "Good luck, Misato, something tells me you'll need it."

"Yeah, if this is as bad as they think it's going to be, we're gonna need all the luck we can get." Misato quipped as they walked over to the VTOLs as they started their engines.

"Kotomi, you have to go now, they need to leave." Maya said as she handed Kotomi her bags. "I love you."

"I know." Kotomi said as she climbed aboard he only VTOL with its hatch still open. "I love you too."

As the hatch closed between them and the VTOLs lifted off, Misato and Maya waived until they were out of sight. When they turned to leave, Maya turned to Misato.

"So, Misato, are you ok?" Maya asked. "With… everything's that's happened…"

"You mean Kaji, right?" Misato asked.

"Yeah." Maya said.

"It'll all sink in eventually." Misato said. "I won't really feel it till all this is over, I need to… uh… stay focused."

"At least your head is in the right place." Maya said.

"You didn't tell Kotomi about Kaji, did you?" Misato asked.

"No I figured it would be best to leave it alone." Maya said. "I can tell her later… and she likes to worry too much, she'd be thinking about that the whole time…"

"Well, I know she still likes me, Maya." Misato said. "We never really… ended things."

"I know." Maya said. "We've talked about it."

"Seriously?" Misato asked.

"I wanted to make sure she was all mine." Maya said. "She loves me, but she'll always have a special place in her heart for her first girlfriend."

–––

Asuka had finally gotten to NERV after bidding her remaining friends goodbye. As she got inside, she saw a flurry of activity, with people packing up equipment and pulling out loads of heavy weapons, from smaller rifles, to large, heavy machine guns. She decide to head down towards the Command Center, because she wasn't quite sure where to go. She still thought Kaworu was there, and still thought she wasn't a pilot.

As she was walking around, she finally saw someone she knew and wanted to talk to, Mari. As Asuka approached her, she saw that her face was red and looked as though she'd been crying quite a lot.

"Hey, Mari, what's going on?" Asuka called out. "You look like an Evangelion just spit you out!" And with that, Mari turned and ran from her without so much as a word. "Weird… not even a sarcastic comment…" Asuka mused. "Wonder what's wrong with her…"

Asuka decided to wander around a bit instead of chasing after Mari, assuming she had her reasons to act like a nut job. Asuka was so lost in thought about Shinji that she didn't even know where she was going, but ended up very near the Command Center when she bumped into someone and almost knocked them over.

"Oh, sorry…" Asuka said.

"It's fine, Asuka." Maya replied. "I'll… oh my god, you're ok!"

"Of course I'm ok." Asuka said.

"But you've been missing for days!" Maya said. "You've had Misato worried sick! You should be ashamed of yourself!"

"I was upset with Shinji." Asuka said. "I didn't want to see him… so I left for a few days. I honestly didn't think Misato would notice… "

"Of course she noticed, she cares about you!" Maya said.

"Fine, but Shinji doesn't care…" Asuka said. "That jerk and his friend Kaworu…"

"Oh…" Maya said. "You don't know, do you?"

"About what?" Asuka asked.

"Kaworu…" Maya said.

"Don't say that asshole's name!" Asuka said angrily. "He took my Shinji from me!"

"Because he was an Angel, Asuka." Maya said.

"What was that?" Asuka asked. "Did you just say he was…"

"The Seventeenth Angel." Maya replied. "Shinji was the only pilot available… and he had to kill him…"

"Good riddance." Asuka said.

"Asuka, it wasn't like any of the other Angels." Maya said. "He took control of Unit–02 and tried to use it against Shinji. Then Shinji… he… he crushed Kaworu in Unit–01's hands. He squeezed him so hard his head popped off…"

"And Shinji… did all that?" Asuka said. "He… he actually killed Kaworu himself?"

"And he disabled Unit–02 without doing too much damage." Maya said. "Just two Prog Knife wounds."

"He did that for me?" Asuka asked.

"I think so." Maya said. "But he was crushed by what happened… he hasn't been the same… and then Dr. Akagi kidnapped him and Mari…"

"What else did I miss?" Asuka asked.

"That's it." Maya said. "Shinji's had it rough for a while… maybe if you two talked again…"

"Look, Maya… you're really nice, but I barely know you." Asuka said. "I barely take advice from my friends."

"Still, Asuka, Shinji's a really nice boy… maybe he'd feel better if you two were talking again." Maya said.

"Well, I am looking for him." Asuka said.

"So's everyone else." Maya said. "Shinji, Mari, and Rei are all missing. I'm just glad at least one of you got here before the lockdown."

"Well, Mari's here." Asuka replied. "She ran away as soon as I saw her."

"Well, that's two of the four…" Maya said. "Oh, I'm just so glad you're ok, Asuka."

"Why though?" Asuka asked. "I mean, I haven't exactly been nice to you guys…"

"Asuka, you've had a rough life and you have a horrible, stressful job." Maya said. "I don't think anyone could come out of that with a positive attitude."

"I don't like using it as an excuse though." Asuka said. "Shinji's fine, and he's had it just as bad as me…"

"But he has a horrible temper." Maya said. "Especially when someone he cares about is in trouble… you two aren't really that different."

"Yeah we are… I'm not that brave… or as committed as him." Asuka said. "That's why I love him…"

"Maybe you should go tell him that." Maya said. "I'm sure he'll show up soon enough."

"Yeah…" Asuka muttered. "Goodbye then."

"Good luck." Maya said.

"You too." Asuka replied as they parted ways.

Asuka walked around and tried to think of where to go next, but bumped into someone else before she could make up her mind. She didn't acknowledge him at first, but when he said hello, she didn't really have a choice but to respond.

"Hello, Ms. Soryu." Fuyutsuki said. "I'm glad to see you made it here alright."

"Uh… thanks?" Asuka said, feeling very confused as to why he was even talking with her.

"Ms. Soryu… I know we've never spoken, but seeing as I ran into you like this, I thought I should take the opportunity to tell you something." Fuyutsuki explained.

"Ok…" Asuka said. "Why?"

"Well… in talking to Shinji about a few things, it seems only fair you know something about your mother."

"Did you know her?" Asuka asked.

"Yes… she was a student of mine in her time at Kyoto University." Fuyutsuki said. "You're a lot like your mother… kind and intelligent, and a strong willed personality."

"Thank you?" Asuka said in a confused tone.

"Ah, you're confused." Fuyutsuki said.

"Very." Asuka replied.

"Well, just think of it as an old man reminiscing for a moment about one of his three favorite students…"Fuyutsuki said. "Her and Yui were the best of friends…"

"Yui… Ikari?" Asuka asked.

"Yes, they were very close." Fuyutsuki said. "Not as close as you and Shinji, but close enough."

"Huh…" Asuka said. "It's kinda fuzzy, but I remember."

"Good." Fuyutsuki said. "I'm sorry to have bothered you though… good luck, Ms. Soryu."

"Uh, sir, if you… if you really knew my momma, you can call me Asuka." Asuka replied.

"Thank you Ms.… Asuka." Fuyutsuki said. "And if you see Shinji, tell him I'm sorry for upsetting him."

"I'll do that." Asuka said as Fuyutsuki walked away.

Asuka was confused, and walked away a little quicker than usual. 'He taught my momma…' Asuka thought as she looked around and decided to head towards Misato's office, hoping she'd be in there. 'He actually knew her… and said I'm a lot like her…' As she went towards the elevator, she heard it ding, and the doors opened to reveal none other than Misato.

"Asuka!" Misato cried as she sprinted towards her and enveloped her in a bear hug. "I can't believe you're here!"

"Can't… br… breathe…" Asuka muttered.

Misato loosened her grip, but didn't let go. "Sorry, Asuka, I'm just glad you're ok."

"I can tell." Asuka said. "I'm sorry I made you worry…"

"Asuka, its fine, at least you're alive…" Misato said.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Asuka asked. "Did you think I was suicidal?"

"I just didn't know Asuka…" Misato said. "I've lost enough people this week… I just wasn't sure if you'd be one of them."

"One of them?" Asuka asked.

"Oh… you don't know…" Misato said.

"Don't know what?" Asuka asked.

"Kaji… Kaji's dead." Misato said. "He's… he's gone, Asuka."

"No." Asuka said. "He's not gone, you're just fucking with me."

"I'm not Asuka… he… he left a message, he basically told Shinji he wasn't coming back." Misato said. "He's… he's really gone…"

Asuka stared at Misato in a stunned silence while vigorously shaking her head. "No, it's not true… it can't be true."

"It is, Asuka, I'm sorry." Misato said. "I know you two were close."

"I… I didn't get to say goodbye." Asuka said. "I… I didn't get to tell him…"

"Asuka, don't think about that now." Misato said.

"No, I… I have to find Shinji." Asuka said. "I… I can't let the last time I talked to him be the last… I need to fix things."

"Asuka, I don't know where Shinji is." Misato said.

"He's probably at the apartment." Asuka said. "Go get him."

"Asuka, even if he's there, he's not in the best place right now." Misato said. "Between Kaworu being an Angel and that shit with Ritsuko…"

"I know all that." Asuka said. "Maya told me. Just go find him… I need to tell him how much I love him… I… I don't want it to be too late…"

Misato was unsure of how to respond, but didn't want to hurt Asuka's feelings. "Ok, Asuka, you stay here, and I'll go see if he's at home, maybe Mari's with him."

"No, she's here." Asuka said. "I saw her, but then she ran away."

"Well, that Rei, Mari, and you…" Misato muttered. "I just hope Shinji's home… then you'll all be safe."

"If we're all so safe here, why is the city being evacuated?" Asuka asked.

"I don't know, Asuka." Misato replied. "But we'll find out soon enough, I think."

–––

Shinji was lying on the couch, staring at the ceiling once again. He hadn't slept at all, and his heart was still pounding hard against his chest. He kept thinking about Mari, how he'd made her cry and how she'd run off into the night. He still hated her, and he wasn't sure if he could ever trust her again.

'Why did she have to lie?' Shinji thought. 'She could have trusted me… she made me trust her… and I told her everything… and she didn't trust me at all… was she ever really my friend?' Shinji sighed. 'I really hate this… between her and Kaworu, how will I ever be able to trust anyone ever again?' Shinji adjusted himself on the couch to try and get more comfortable. 'And why am I the one that has to be everyone's pawn? My father, Kaworu… even Mari… why do people always have to use me like I'm not worth anything more?'

Shinji heard the door close, and looked up to see an extremely stressed looking Misato run into the room.

"Shinji, we need to go." Misato said.

"Why?" Shinji asked. "I don't want to go anywhere anymore… just leave me alone…"

"Shinji, we don't have time for you to hate yourself!" Misato shouted. "An evacuation order has gone into effect, we need to leave now!"

"To go where?" Shinji asked. "NERV?"

"Yes, NERV." Misato said. "You're on standby for a pending attack."

"What the point?" Shinji asked. "We're all gonna die anyway… what can I do all on my own?"

"Yeah, well, you ran off with Mari just fine yesterday." Misato said. "They lost track of her yesterday, but she's at least at the base."

"Good for her." Shinji replied nonchalantly. "Not that I care, anyway…"

SLAP

"Shinji, what the fuck is wrong with you?" Misato asked while Shinji rubbed his face. "What made you stop caring about everyone you used to care for so deeply? Why are you acting so careless?"

"I don't know." Shinji said. "Maybe I'm tired of having to be the one to save everyone from all the evil in the world!"

"Shinji, it's because you're one of the only people that can!" Misato said. "You're important, you're strong, and despite everything, you always want to do the right thing, even if you get hurt!"

"Misato, I want to believe you, but I've been lied to so much, I just don't care anymore…" Shinji replied.

"Shinji, I know you seem not to care about yourself, but do you really want to leave Mari, or Rei, or Asuka all alone to fight whatever's coming?"

"I thought Asuka wasn't a pilot anymore." Shinji said. "Why would she have to fight?"

"Without Kaworu, and with Rei and apparently Mari now missing somewhere in NERV, it's you and her." Misato said. "I know you two had a fight… but maybe it would be better if you were there for her when whatever happens, happens. But right now, she's all alone and just wants to see you. She misses you."

"No she doesn't…" Shinji muttered. "She fucking hates me."

"No, she doesn't." Misato replied. "She heard about Kaworu… and about Kaji. She just wants… to tell you she still loves you."

"Seriously?" Shinji asked.

"Yes." Misato said. "So, will you come with me now so you'll be safe?"

"Yeah… when whatever happens…" Shinji muttered. "Fine… I'll go… for Asuka… she's the only one left apparently…"

"Huh?" Misato asked. "What about your other friends from school? Toji and Hikari, and the other one…"

"Kensuke." Shinji said. "We had a fight too… everything's just so complicated."

"Shinji, your friends are only in town until tonight." Misato said.

"Because…" Shinji asked.

"Didn't you hear me when I said there's an evacuation order in effect?" Misato asked. "Everyone in this city, save for essential NERV personnel are being moved out by tomorrow morning."

"So…" Shinji asked.

"Do you want to see your other friends, or not?" Misato asked.

"Yeah…" Shinji muttered. "Just… just in case it's the last time…"

"They're leaving from South Metro Station in a few hours." Misato said. "I'll drive you if you want to go, but you need to go pack now so we can leave."

"Fine…" Shinji muttered as he shuffled off to his room. He grabbed a backpack, and took some clothes out of his closet. He then rummaged around inside, moving past the cello and some of his clothes and found something hidden under all of his stuff, a letter his mother sent him that Fuyutsuki had apparently made sure was sent on.

"I guess I should take this." Shinji said. "I should probably read it if what he said is gonna happen… especially if there won't be a 2019…" Shinji sighed. "I can't die not knowing…"

Misato stuck her head in Shinji's room and startled him. "Hey, are you almost ready, Shinji?"

"Yeah…" Shinji said.

"Well, let's go." Misato replied with Pen–Pen under her arm. "Sooner we leave, the better chance you have of seeing everyone before they leave."

"Right." Shinji replied as he zipped his backpack and looked around his room one more time. "Alright… let's go."

–––

Mari was wandering aimlessly around NERV. She kept getting bumped into by all the people rushing around her, trying to accomplish whatever mundane task they'd been assigned. As she was walking around, she saw Asuka at the other end of the corridor. As soon as Asuka called out to her, Mari turned tail and bolted in the other direction as fast as she could go, not wanting to go near anyone again. Once she made it to an elevator and slammed a button on the panel to get it moving and the doors were safely closed, Mari slumped down onto the floor.

"She knows…" Mari muttered to herself. "I bet she hates me too… everyone will know by now that I'm not who I said I was… " Mari began crying again. "If everyone hates me… then there isn't anything left to live for anymore…"

When the elevator finally stopped, Mari found herself with only one option to end the pain. She wandered out of the elevator in a stupor and walked towards the Evangelion Cages. As she got close to the, she found the hallways entirely deserted. When she slipped inside through an unmonitored door, they were even emptier than usual, with only minimal lighting illuminating just the Evangelions and not the entire space. She walked towards Unit–01, and looked down over the catwalk into the darkness below.

"This is it…" Mari muttered. "Once more into the abyss…" Mari looked up at Unit–01 and over to Unit–02 standing beside it. "Goodbye Kyoko… goodbye Yui…" Mari murmured. "I'll see you again soon… once this is all over… I just can't handle it anymore… I really just want the pain to end… my parents… my memories of Lilith… finding out what happened to you guys… Shinji hating me… it's just too much sadness and despair for one mind to remember… so if I go back into the abyss, I won't have to remember anymore… it'll be over once and for all…"

Mari peered over the edge one more time and took a deep breath before closing her eyes and letting herself fall down into the darkness. Mari felt the air rush past her on the way down, but heard metal creak and then she stopped falling. She opened her eyes to see something she didn't expect. Unit–01's left hand holding her from underneath, while the Evangelion appeared to be confused as it looked at her. Mari opened her mouth to speak, but before she cold, she saw a bright flash of light and stood in front of someone she hadn't seen in a very long time.

"Yui…" Mari mumbled.

"Hello, Mari." Yui replied. "What was that back there?"

"I was ending the pain." Mari said.

"Why?" Yui asked.

"Shinji knows about me…" Mari muttered. "Fuyutsuki told him, and Shinji hates me for lying to him."

"He can't hate you, Mari." Yui said. "He's mixing his feelings about that horrid Angel boy with his feelings towards you. He'll figure it out soon enough."

"But…" Mari began.

"Death is not the answer Mari." Yui said. "You escaped hell and came back to finally get to live your life, don't waste it because Shinji is upset."

"But he hates my guts." Mari said. "He said horrible things…"

"And you tried to hurt him when he defended Kaworu, and he forgave you for that." Yui said. "Right?"

"Yeah…" Mari muttered.

"Look, Mari, things are going to start moving fast, so you need to protect those two… they need you, and you know in your heart, just like Shinji dos, that you care for them deeply." Yui explained as she moved closer to Mari. "Once this battle is over, you have to go to him and tell him I said he's being foolish to give up on the best friend a person could have…"

"Do you really mean that?" Mari asked.

"Of course I do, Mari." Yui said. "I didn't see it at the time, but I'm glad Shinji's benefitted so much from your friendship."

"He has?" Mari asked.

"I saw the change the day he fought the rampaging robot." Yui said. "He'd just met you, but he was happier… calmer… and it's all because of you. So don't give up hope, ok, Mari? It will all get better soon enough."

"Yui… I… I don't know what to say." Mari said.

"Stop thinking about the past, Mari." Yui said. "Just focus on the present and find a way to help them out, ok? I know you can do it."

"Ok. I'll try my best." Mari replied. "It was… nice to see you again."

"I'm glad you're happy." Yui said as she hugged Mari tightly. "I always like seeing you happy, Mari." Yui looked kindly at Mari before leaning in closer and letting her lips meets Mari's before there was another flash of light and Mari was back on Unit–01's outstretched hand feeling warm and confused.

"Yui…" Mari muttered as she looked at Unit–01's glowing yellow eyes. "Thank you… and I won't let you down, I'll keep them both safe."
–––

Misato pulled up to the train station and saw a load of people mulling about outside. She put the car in park and sighed as Shinji looked out the window trying to stop his friends amongst the crowd.

"Wow, way busier than I thought." Misato said.

"I'm going to get out and look for them, ok?" Shinji asked.

"Yeah go." Misato said. "I'll be right here when you're done, ok?"

Shinji got out of the car and heard it lock as he walked away, looking for signs of his friends, hoping to see them one last time before what Shinji viewed as the end of life as he knew it. He bumped into people constantly, listening carefully for their voices as he looked around, when he finally heard Toji's voice a short distance away. He pushed his way through the crowd and found the four of them huddled together waiting for their turn to get on the train. Toji saw him first and his jaw dropped.

"Well, son of a bitch…" Toji muttered. "Where the hell have you been?"

"Uh…" Shinji stammered.

"Shinji!" Hikari said. "What, what are you doing here?"

"I just wanted to say goodbye." Shinji said. "And to say that I'm sorry for all the shitty things I said… you were right about Kaworu, he wasn't a nice guy at all… he wasn't really even a person."

"What are you talking about?" Toji asked.

"He was an Angel." Shinji said as he explained everything that happened that Christmas, and how Kaworu ended up having to be killed by Shinji himself. He then profusely apologized for ten minutes, saying he'd been an idiot, only to be reassured that he'd been manipulated, at that he wasn't really at fault. Still, everyone was shocked at the revelation.

"Holy shit…" Kensuke muttered. "That's awful."

"I can't believe you felt him get crushed." Sakura said.

"Shinji, are you ok?" Hikari asked.

"I will be, once I see Asuka and maybe fix things…" Shinji said. "Or at least apologize."

"Shinji, she still loves you." Toji said. "We saw her earlier today, she'll be fucking thrilled to see you, dude."

"And you guys can be a couple again!" Sakura said excitedly.

"Yeah…" Shinji said quietly as the intercom dinged. "That would be nice."

"This is the first boarding call of the 9:00 PM evacuation train to Tokyo–2." The message said. "At this time, we ask that all persons boarding these trains to enter the station in an orderly fashion. I repeat, this is the first boarding call for the 9:00 PM evacuation train to Tokyo–2…"

"That's us." Kensuke said.

"Can we wait a minute?" Sakura said. "I want to say goodbye properly."

"Just for a minute sis." Toji said. "We don't want to be late."

"I know." Sakura said as she hugged Shinji tightly. "Bye, Shinji, be careful."

"I'll try." Shinji said.

"It was nice seeing you again." Kensuke said. "Just try not to wreck you EVA."

"I won't." Shinji replied. "But it's unavoidable with big fights."

"And make sure you keep everyone safe." Toji said. "Otherwise I'll have to kick your ass, big hero or not."

"And make sure you tell Asuka you're really sorry." Hikari said. "Ok?"

"I will, Hikari." Shinji replied. "I missed her a lot more than I thought I would…"

"That means you can't live without her, buddy." Toji said. "Just like I'd die if I was separated from this great sexy girl over here."

"Oh, stop it you big softy." Hikari said.

"Come on guys, we have to go." Kensuke said.

"Bye guys…" Shinji said. "And be careful."

"Shinji, we're not the ones that need to watch our bacs." Toji said as the four them walked towards he crowded stations doors. "That's you. And good luck with whatever's coming."

"Thanks." Shinji said as he waived to them one last time before turning to leave and meet Misato at the car. "Something tells me I'm gonna need it."

–––

When the four of them were finally checked in, there was a bit of a problem. Because they were last to get inside from talking with Shinji, there were only two spots left on each train. This led to an interesting dilemma the kids had to solve quickly, because the trains were leaving very soon.

"Ok, so what do we do?" Toji asked.

"Go with Hikari." Sakura said. "You two can spend some time together as a couple."

"Are you sure?" Toji asked. "You'll be stuck with super nerd over there."

"Toji, don't call him that…" Hikari said exasperatedly.

"He's fine." Sakura said. "You do know we're friends, right? He visited me in the hospital almost as much as you did."

"I know, sis, I know." Toji said. "Alright, have fun or whatever. And Kensuke, make sure no tries and get all touchy with her, ok?"

"I'll make sure buddy." Kensuke said as they split up. "See you in a few hours."

"Bye guys, have fun." Hikari said as her and Toji boarded the train.

"We'll probably just end up sleeping." Sakura said as she and Kensuke boarded their own train. The two of them found the open pair of seats at the back of train, isolated form everyone else. The train doors closed and the train lurched forward as it slowly picked up speed and began speeding through the countryside towards Tokyo–2.

"Why do you always have to be so coy?" Kensuke asked.

"Because it's fun, Kensuke." Sakura said.

"You always get so close to telling him." Kensuke said worriedly. "It freaks me out when you do that."

"Kensuke, just relax, Toji's too thick to figure it out." Sakura said as she cuddled up against him.

"Well if he does find out we're dating, he'll fucking murder me." Kensuke said.

"Kenny–kun…" Sakura said as she looked up at him. "Do you actually think I'd let that happen?"

"No…" Kensuke muttered.

"Then relax." Sakura said brightly as she kissed him softly on the lips. "Let's just enjoy the free time we have together, ok?"

"I know." Kensuke said. "I'm just still surprised you asked me out."

"Why are you still shocked?" Sakura asked. "You're a great guy, Kensuke, I'm not the only one that sees it."

"You're the only one that says it though…" Kensuke muttered.

"Because I love you, Kenny–kun." Sakura said. "And you deserve to be told how great you are all the time, even if you are a bit of a pervert, but you're my pervert."

"Look, I said I was sorry about all that." Kensuke said. "Since Hikari yelled at me… I haven't done it since."

"I believe you, and I'm really glad you told me." Sakura said. "But, you still have to take some pictures of me… that way you have them to look at when were not together."

"Are you sure?" Kensuke asked.

"Like I said, I love you." Sakura said. "And you're my pervert"

"I…" Kensuke started.

"I know you love me too… you don't have to say it." Sakura said. "Don't say it if you're not ready, Kenny–kun. I can wait till you're ready."


December 30, 2016 – NERV HQ, Living Quarters

Shinji was sitting very quietly in the room Misato had gotten for him. He was looking silently at the envelope he'd grabbed from his room and the attached postcard he'd received with it from his mother. The postcard featured a cute blue haired angel hugging a heart, which Shinji ironically thought looked a lot lie Rei, with the name Yui Ikari stamped at the top. He read it again just to see if what he was about to do was the right thing to do.

"September 15, 2004

My wonderful Shinji,

I always knew you could be impatient like your father which is why I put my letter inside another envelope. I know if you're reading this note that means I am gone, and the letter was given to you to hold until you're old enough to understand its contents. I'm sorry I can't be with you anymore, but sometimes things happen that we have no control over. I just hope you understand that if I could be with you, I would be.

I wish I could tell you that everything will be ok, but I can't lie to you sweetheart, with me gone, your father will be devastated, and he may not want to keep you around as a reminder of what he had with me. I know this is hard to understand, but your father is a very special man, he has a lot of feelings that people have ignored, so when he's sad he acts out. Just remember not to hate him, he doesn't deserve that. Just be the good boy you are and listen to whatever he tells you.

And finally, Shinji, I want you to know this, my sweet loving boy, that no matter where I am, no matter what has happened to me, I will always love you, and I will always be watching over you with all of my heart and soul.

Love always,

Mommy"

"I have to open the letter, mother." Shinji said. "We've talked before, but you never really told me what's in here, have you?" Shinji sighed as he gripped the envelope tightly in his hand. "Fuyutsuki told me so much… and now I just want to see if it's really true…"

With a bit of hesitation, Shinji ripped open the envelope and pulled out what was inside. There was an old picture of a man that looked an awful lot like Shinji, who had a goofy smile. He was standing next to a large combat fighter, loaded with various weapons on its underbody. He flipped the picture over to see two sets of handwriting, one was his mother's and the other Shinji didn't recognize. He read the older, faded writing first. "My new F–15J, how do I look next to her? I'm thinking of nicknaming her 'Yui' in honor of my favorite sister." Then Shinji read his mother's writing. "Shinji, February 1996 – showing off as usual."

"Shinji…?" Shinji muttered. "Is that my uncle? Like Fuyutsuki said?"

Shinji then saw another picture, one with three girls standing in a lab, with an older gentleman siting off to the side. He recognized three of the four. His mother was on the left, standing closest to a young looking Fuyutsuki, with Mari standing between his mother and the other girl, who Shinji assumed was Asuka's mother. Mai didn't look much different, maybe a few years younger, like she'd been frozen in time. He flipped the picture over to see his mother had written on that one too. "Fuyutsuki, me, Mari, and Kyoko – Kyoto University, June 1997."

Shinji put that picture down in shock. "So… Mari wasn't lying…" Shinji muttered as he picked up the letter and unfolded it carefully.

"September 15, 2004

My dearest Shinji,

I know that if you are reading this, I have been gone for a very long time. Perhaps we've been talked since then, or perhaps the threat I feared was coming never came to pass. But I have my experiment today, the same kind of experiment that cost me a friend back in 1998. She was one of the nicest people I've ever known, and she didn't deserve what happened to her. I know it's dangerous to attempt something similar, but there is no way around it, I have t do this to ensure the safety of the planet. If I become one with the Evangelion, something I hope you never have to pilot, then maybe I can do some good in the world and stop an evil plan from going forward.

Second Impact happened, and you know that. But what you don't know is that it was orchestrated by a secret organization known only as SEELE. Your father has been working with them a very long time, trying to stop whatever machinations they've had about something called instrumentality. I don't know much about it, but what I do know is that they intend to try and becomes gods or some other crazy thing. The point is, with me inside my Evangelion, it means only you can pilot it, and that means that I'm putting you in an awful position. If whatever happens comes to pass that means the fate of the world will be in your hands.

Now Shinji, I need you to promise me that you'll remember the promise you made to me by Lake Ashinoko, the one where you promised that whatever happens to you, and no matter how bad things may seem, that you will always protect the happiness of the people in this world. If you're ever caught in a place where you have to decide the fate of humanity, just remember that promise and protect the world.

I'm sure this doesn't make a lot of sense sweetheart, and if you don't understand it, then you should seek out your godfather, Kozo Fuyutsuki. He can tell you everything you need to know. Trust him and what he tells you, I've trusted him for a very long time, and there isn't anyone more trustworthy than him that I know.

Good luck sweetheart…

With Love, Always,

Mommy

P.S. I enclosed a few things you might like to see that I wish I could have shown you, but never had the chance to."

Shinji stared at the letter in disbelief, not sur what to make of what he'd just read. "It was all true… every last bit of it… "

–––

Rei was sitting quietly in her little corner of the Evangelion Graveyard. She was eating some of the rations she had brought for herself as she heard the sounds of movement all around her, echoing throughout the chamber. All the sounds of the bustling activity above and around her.

"So much activity." Rei muttered. "All the little pawns running around, not knowing what's coming…" Rei leaned back. "I won't be doing anything to help… only if onii–chan needs me. And he will be fine on his own, he is stronger than I could ever be…" Rei sighed "He's shown me that the circumstances of one's birth are irrelevant. It is what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are." Rei said quietly. "And I hope to be able to tell him that soon… once this is all over."

–––

It had been several hours since Shinji had read the letter. He still couldn't believe that his mother knew what could happen, and chose to be in Unit–01 rather than stay with him. He just didn't understand why she shouldn't have found another way. However, a frantic knock on his door broke him away from his thoughts. He got up and answered and was faced with the one person he was afraid, yet relieved to see. Before Shinji could say anything, Asuka wrapped her arms around him and gave him a very warm hug.

"I'm sorry, Shinji." Asuka said. "I'm sorry you had to kill Kaworu… I should have been there to spare you the pain…"

"How…?" Shinji asked.

"Misato and Maya told me." Asuka said. "And Misato told me about Kaji…"

"Oh, Asuka…" Shinji said consolingly. "Are you… ok?"

"No…" Asuka said.

"Are you still mad at me?" Shinji asked.

"No…" Asuka said as she squeezed him tighter. "I… I didn't want things to continue to be shitty between us… just in case… I mean… I may have overreacted a bit…"

"No, I was the idiot, Asuka." Shinji replied.

"Well, you're an idiot, but your my baka." Asuka said.

"Asuka the last time we…" Shinji said.

"Shinji, don't say anything about that." Asuka said. "Kaji… him being dead… it made me realize that I don't want to have the last thing I said to you be the last thing I said to you. I love you, and I want to be with you."

"You mean?" Shinji asked.

"I want to be with you tonight." Asuka said. "Once and for all. I want to show you how much I love you…" Asuka leaned in and kissed Shinji softly on the lips, slowly slipping her tongue into his mouth to dance with his. She ended the kiss and saw Shinji's flushed face and he look of shock that he had. She then stated kissing his neck gently as she felt Shinji shudder at her touch.

"Shinji, did you bring any protection?" Asuka asked, as she stopped kissing Shinji's neck.

"Huh? What protection?" Shinji asked, confused as to what she meant. "What would we need protection for? What's even going on?"

"Dummkopf!" Asuka slapped him playfully on the ass. "What are you, stupid or something? You can't have sex without protection, what would happen if I got pregnant!"

"I don't know Asuka, no one's ever talked to me about this before." Shinji said quietly. "And do you really… I mean… with me?"

"That's no excuse, you should just know!" Asuka said angrily as she grabbed a condom out of her pocket. "You should always be prepared, baka, for when the mood strikes."

"Asuka, how do I prepare for something I didn't know or ever thought was going to happen?" Shinji whined, rubbing his ass. "I mean… I thought you hated me till a few minutes ago… and then… sex?"

"Shut up, baka! Don't ruin the mood with your complaining." Asuka said as she kissed him tenderly. "I just want to enjoy this… with you."

"Do you mean what I think you mean?" Shinji said, turning a bright shade of red.

"Mien Gott! You are denser than Osmium." Asuka said sarcastically. "Well, I guess, I'll have to show you what I mean then." Asuka took off her shirt to reveal her bare chest. "Is this direct enough for you, baka?"

Shinji stood there stunned. "A… A… Asuka?!" Shinji stuttered. "Wha… what… are you doing?" Shinji's mind was racing. 'Am I dreaming, or is this actually happening again?' Shinji thought.

'Jesus Christ in Heaven, he is that dense.' Asuka thought. "I want to have sex… with you. Or am I not being clear enough, baka?"

"I… I get it, but… I'm just surprised." Shinji stammered. "I never thought… I mean that you're…"

"Shinji…" Asuka said quietly. "Just breathe… I love you, you don't have to be nervous."

"No… I… it's just… I'm a little… hold on a second…" Shinji rummaged in his bag and removed the disc Mari had given him the other day. He gripped it tightly for a minute before thinking about what Mari had said. She may have lied about who she was, but she always cared about him and Asuka. "I want… to… uh… play this." Shinji stammered.

"Shinji, is my nudity making you nervous? You've seen Mari and Rei naked, and yet you get nervous around me." Asuka said coyly. "Go ahead, put your song in. I don't want you to be unable to perform…"

"What?! I know that… but I… I love you Asuka… I… I don't want to disappoint you…" Shinji shuttered. "But I'll… um… uh… erm… music…" He muttered as he put the disc in.

"Silly, Shinji, I'm going to have to put the condom on for you, aren't I." Asuka said as she crossed the room and kissed Shinji passionately on the lips as the music started to play.

You don't have to move
You don't have to speak
Lips for biting

You're staring me down
A glance makes me weak
Eyes for striking
Now I'm twisted up
When I'm twisted with you
Brush so lightly

And time trickles down
And I'm breathing for two
Squeeze so tightly

I'll be fine, you'll be fine
This moment seems so long
Don't waste now, precious time
We'll dance inside the song

What makes me want to shake you down?
Each touch belongs to each new sound
Say now you want to shake me too
Move down to me, slip into you

She sinks in my mind
As she sheds through her skin
Touch sight taste like fire

Hands do now
What eyes no longer defend
Hands to fuel desire

I'll be fine, you'll be fine
This moment seems so long
Don't waste now, precious time
We'll dance inside the song

What makes me want to shake you down?
Each touch belongs to each new sound
Say now you want to shake me too
Move down to me, slip into you

Ooo, ah Ooo, ah
Ooo, ah Ooo, ah

Ooo, ah Ooo, ah
Ooo, ah Ooo, ah

And I'll be fine, you'll be fine
Is this fine? I'm not fine
Give me pieces
Give me things to stay awake

What makes me want to shake you down?
Each touch belongs to each new sound
Say now you want to shake me too
Move down to me, slip into you

What makes me want to shake you down?
Each touch belongs to each new sound
Say now you want to shake me too
Move down to me, slip into you

Move down to me, slip into you

Both still breathing heavily, Shinji held Asuka tightly in his arms. "I'm sorry Asuka, I didn't mean to hurt you."

"It's ok, Shinji, it's supposed to hurt the first time." Asuka replied as she wrapped her arms around him. "Besides, the pain was worth it to be so close to you." She nuzzled his neck. "You know, I want to tell you something important."

"What do you want to say, Asuka?" Shinji asked, kissing her softly on the cheek.

"I want to say that I… that I… that I love you!" Asuka exclaimed. "I've wanted this for so long… since we started dating… I was just afraid…"

"I love you too Asuka." Shinji said. "And I've wanted this too, I was just too afraid you'd reject me to say anything. Or call me an idiot or a pervert or something…"

"Hmph. I kinda figured that, pervert." Asuka said. "And I know I act like a prude, but… I'm really not… I just don't like… people knowing… what I like… and I… I… I didn't want to die a virgin and you shouldn't either…"

"Wha…?" Shinji said.

"I didn't want to go into some fight we may all die in tomorrow without… without being with you." Asuka said, blushing slightly. "I wouldn't have known what to do if I lost you. I'd probably kill myself if you died… I've lost so much, and I can't… I won't lose you…"

"Asuka…" Shinji said. "I wouldn't know what to do if I lost you, either." Shinji held Asuka tightly. "But I can promise you one thing, I won't let anything happen to you tomorrow… I'll be there to protect you no matter what…"


December 31, 2016 – NERV HQ, Living Quarters

'Oh my god, what have I done…' Shinji thought to himself.

Shinji awoke to the sleeping Asuka next to him. He looked at her sullenly and got up as quietly as possible. He gathered his scattered clothes and hurriedly yet quietly put them on.

'I should never have ever done this…' Shinji thought. 'It was a mistake… we rushed into things… I'm sorry Asuka… I can't stay here… I have to break my promise… I have to leave…' A tear rolled down his face. 'I really don't deserve you after what I've done… you can do far better than me… I didn't trust you enough to believe you… and you came here, and I took advantage of that because I wanted you… you said Kaji's death made you think about this… and I should have said no… I should have been able to say no, tell you that we'll survive whatever's coming and that our first time can be on our terms… not just… because we were afraid to die alone…'

Shinji looked back and looked at her one more time. "Goodbye, Asuka." Shinji said quietly as he left her there all alone. "I guess I'll see you on the other side… that is if you still want to talk to me after this… I hope one day you can understand…"

To Be Continued


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

As for the songs used in this chapter, I don't own them either, and they're listed below in order of appearance:
The All–American Rejects – Dance Inside (2005)

Sync Score Rankings!
Shinji – 92.5% (No Change)
Mari – 22.5% (No Change)
Rei – 20.0% (No Change)
Asuka – 12.5% (No Change)

Now before anyone gets upset about Kensuke and Sakura, the birthdates I wrote out in my storyboard are as follows and can be found in my fic's thread over on the evageeks forums.
– Kensuke Aida – September 12, 2001
– Sakura Suzuhara – April 2, 2003
See, they're only 18 months apart, so it's not too big of an age gap like it would be in the actual show where he's 14 and she's like 6 or 8. This is partly why I made her older, because Kensuke deserves a nice girl, and Sakura fits the bill.

Now on to the meat of the story. Mari tries to kill herself, seeing no way back not Shinji's friendship, and Yui does Yui and saves her. Their talks brings Mari back from the brink, but she still has some stuff to figure out in her head.

As for Asuka and Shinji, well, things go back on track after Shinji gets a slap from Misato and finally reads the letter his mother left him which corroborated what Fuyutsuki had already told him. In short, Shinji is jolted back to reality knowing what his mother did was to set him up to save the world and protect humanity, something he doesn't think he should be doing. Asuka, after finding out a bunch of stuff herself, is now faced with her mortality and realizes, if they die, she wants Shinji to know how much she truly loves him.

Shinji on the other hand, realizes in the morning that it was a mistake, because he doesn't deserve Asuka, because he didn't believe her. This is my replacement of the hospital scene in EoE. It's even more fucked up because he left her alone like an asshole, but at least this was consensual between the two of them before he fled like a dumbass.

Finally, we are at the half way point in this story. So, just a note. The following six chapters will be shorter than usual, but the story will progress quickly over the next few weeks. So stay tuned, because it's the final countdown to third Impact and Shinji's final decision.

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