Standard Disclaimer

Well all things have to end eventually and this my dear readers is the end of Divergence. I hit everything I wanted to with this story and then some. It's a good idea to always start a story with the end in mind and this is where I wanted to end this particular story. Want to thank all of you that stuck with me and this oddity for the couple of years it took me from inception to completion.

X-X

Divergence

Chapter – 17

The Hardest Choice

Walking up with a stinging hangover, Misato didn't notice at first the warmth being generated underneath her. Keeping her eyes shut, she just tried to recall what had happened again to her in the drunken stupor she'd been wallowing in. Ritsuko said something about a test with Shinji and then she brought up Kaji and…The rest was a blur of hazy words and something about throwing her glass at somebody's table. "Hell I need to do something about this, its killing me to not be with him," she muttered.

Then she heard it and it caused her heart to jump in her chest, light snoring. Not again! Oh please God if you exist please don't have had me slept with somebody else. Some stupid guy that saw her as weak with booze and opted to play the gentleman until she took her panty's off. "I couldn't even hope to ask for forgiveness if I did it again." She wanted to look at the offending male but she just couldn't. The hands she registered as being wrapped around her just above her waistline where slim though and somehow familiar. "I…can't…"

Acting against her brain's wishes her eyes cracked open and her mysterious date was unveiled. "Sh-Shin-chan?" she asked the sleeping boy whose face was blissful and serene in its state of slumber. "Shin-chan wake up please…please." She started to shake Shinji gently to rouse him, she had to talk to him, to slay the fears that she dragged him into her room against his wishes and dashed the last hope she had at reconciliation.

"Mmm…Misa-chan five more minutes," Shinji muttered as he tried to turn his head away from the still alcohol stained breath. But the shaking continued, the gentle touch giving way to something more desperate. "Fine…fine I'm up," he groaned as he opened his eyes and realization dawned on him much like it had on Misato. He was still laying under her, her arms on either side of his head as she gazed down on him with worry and shame.

Opening her mouth to speak nothing came out at first, her lips moved but no sound emanated from them. He was to calm, to happy, for her to have done anything that she feared to him. But what did that mean? What did it mean for them? "Shinji, about last night…about US what happened?"

From his captive position between her arms at his sides and her body atop him, Shinji's face hardened. She'd forgotten everything about her dragging him in and confessing and asking for forgiveness. For a moment he was going to rescind his decision to forgive her and give her one last chance, but only a moment. Her face spoke to much of regret for her actions for him to punish her again, and he wanted to be with her so bad it hurt. "I forgave you Misato-san. Ritsuko-san brought you home drunk and when I got you in here you said you loved me, said you wanted another chance. I'm going to give you…give us one more chance Misato-san. But if you hurt me like that again…betray me again I don't think I have it in me to do it again."

The sting was still present from what Misato and Kaji did but Shinji wanted to try again. He loved Misato as a person not just a collection of pleasing body parts. The good had to be accepted with the bad, and Misato's bad was her crutch of booze and sex. Dragging his eyes away from Misato's lovely brown eyes, he saw her arm twitch and buckle.

He was going to let her try again, to do what she should have done from the start and what he had been doing all along. Change for the person she cared for, be what she wanted to be FOR him and not just take. Her body heated up as the joy she felt radiated out from her like fire. Lowing herself so she was laying comfortably on his chest, Misato felt tears of joy wet Shinji's face. "Oh thank you Shin-chan. I-I wanted to ask you to forgive me so many times that I lost count. I love you…I know it's not right but I do." She started peppering his face with feather light kisses.

"I'll make it up to you this time Shinji. I won't let you be the only one trying to contribute. I just let you care for me…do what I wanted and never thought of your needs and wants but not this time." Her body started to slowly grind against his and both of them started to feel the longing to be with the other, it'd been so long for both of them to be with a true lover that even Shinji's body responded by acting before Misato and sealing her lips with his own.

Both of their minds mirrored the same thought. I missed him/her so much. This is what things should have been like. Regretfully pulling herself away from Shinji's more than willing lips, Misato sat on Shinji's stomach lightly and looked down with a sultry smile. "This time it'll work, this time its forever." Pulling her shirt off and showing her well shaped bra-clad chest to Shinji, Misato wondered for a moment if he wasn't going along just to please her, but a pressure building against her bottom dissuaded her.

As she drew Shinji's hands up to her body, both of them felt a chill as her door opened and a sleepy Asuka walked in. "What's going on in…" Asuka's jaw slackened as she saw the two in more than just a light intimate embrace. He…He and…her…but what about us! She has Kaji and I was…NOO! Things started to click in her mind now. The puzzle that was Shinji's action took on new light. Her head swiveled back and forth like a fan powering down. "Its not fair…not fair," she babbled as she took steps back.

"Asuka its…not what it…looks," Misato tried to lie but what else could it have been? Was she going to say Shinji was just going to give her a breast exam or something equally stupid that nobody would believe?

"WHORE!" Asuka screamed and ran from the room, ran from the apartment, ran from the bitch that took not one man from her but two and the bastard that had her heart in his hand and seemingly threw it away.

Her itch doused with the discovery of their act, Misato sighed heavily. "Guess we'll also not have to hide it this time because I'm sure Asuka is going to tell everybody. Shinji are you ok with that?" Her eyes never left the door where Asuka's hurt filled expression still lingered in a ghostly image. Getting no response she asked again, "Shinji are you sure you're going to be ok with everybody knowing your seeing me, they might not take to it to well." Hell she doubted many of her friends would look at her the same way again.

Still no reply, "Shinji?" Misato asked finally looking down at the boy's body. The joy that had still be inside her regardless of Asuka's sudden intrusion drained as she saw the new change. Shinji's eyes were closed, a small trickle of drool trailed down his mouth, while blood seeped out of his nose. "SHINJI!"

X-X

Wiping his face with a damp towel, Mizuho didn't know what to feel at the moment. She was afraid, lonely, angry, and sad all at the same time. Her husband had withdrawn again and it was the fourth day into it, but Mizuho now knew it wasn't normal withdraw. He was there again, he was in Tokyo-3 with that woman that could be called a rival but wasn't. "You'll come back won't you Kei, I need you to come back."

Kei's body didn't respond to either the words or the cleaning his wife was administering. He wasn't even there the body was just an empty shell. The soul that was Kusinagi Kei was with its other part far away from any type of touch.

Breaking down sobbing, Mizuho threw herself on Kei's body and beat her fists against his chest that rose and fell as if it were machine controlled. Her mother had finally got the answers she needed and told her daughter with as much regret as possible. Having lost her own husband, Hatsuho wisely left Mizuho to deal with the pain that she was feeling. Give her time to accept what was happening then come to add comfort after the crying had subsided.

"You promised you stay with me Kei…you have to stay with me. You said that Misato woman cheated on you so you shouldn't stay there…come home Kei," she cried against his cheek. Damn them, damn the other people that she could never see or interact with but were responsible for the situation they were in. There was hope but it was dwindling with each passing moment. Time was running out for Kei and Shinji and the choice had to be made soon or neither would survive.

Standing up and giving her husband a soft kiss on the forehead, Mizuho left their bedroom for the report still sitting on her desk. She'd read the three-hundred page report twice already and she was going to start the third now. She'd taken personal time and had a substitute covering for her at school she'd never be able to focus anyway. "There has to be a way besides…" she said to herself as she opened the report again.

Cross Dimensional Contamination – Causes and Repercussions

Reading the detailed account of what Hatsuho was lead to believe happed to her husband caused Mizuho to curse fate. The report gave the facts and Mizuho had to reluctantly agree that they all matched. Two brainwave patterns, altering sets of personalities and memories, skills that shouldn't be possessed, and the most frightening of all and the most over looked periods of dormancy or catatonic state.

What Mizuho had thought was Kei withdrawing was in reality the sling back of the Kei's persona to the alternate universe in which she believe he was now. Being of a more advanced race, Mizuho had known of the existence of parallel universes for a long time, but the interaction of said universes was nil if non-existent. From the report only a handful of the cases existed like her husband. All we the result of black hole technology testing.

The wave pattern must be weakened or its ties to the physical plane thinned. This must also occur while an alternate pattern matching exactly to that of the affected must suffer the same accident. If the patterns are similar enough, as in the case on Proxima Centurie the affect will have no consequence as the patterns are so similar there is no dissonance.

However if the wave patterns are slightly different and a dissonance is formed the affected is left with only one choice for survival. As in these cases, such as the Jurain case, the wave patterns are in a flux between the two universes. While the merged pattern is in plane-A the body on plane-B is dormant and vise versa. The strain on the pattern will continue to grow until the body breaks down and the individual dies in both planes. As the pattern weakens the flux between dimensions will increase in occurrence but decrease in duration until it is so weak it cannot maintain either existence. The only cure is to prevent the flux is by killing one of the two bodies while the pattern is occupying the other body.

The science that proved the 'pattern' as it said was all proven over the span of several decades. Only seven cases in known history existed, but that made Mizuho laugh. In the sum of infinite possibility and infinite universes how many times did she have to read this document? Not many by the sounds of it. "Patterns and fluxes and all this…why can't they just call it what it really is?"

It was the merging of souls, but not foreign souls. Due to the uncontrolled nature of the universe and the infinite variables that created a life Mizuho KNEW that 'Shinji' was how the universe he came from was actually Kei and the same went for Kei. The pattern as the document stated was actually a soul. A soul had to have its tie to reality weakened, for Kei that was withdraw and for Shinji it was the weapon test. They both had their ties weakened, they were both the same 'soul', and they merged. But the lives they lived were so different that a schism was formed as both tried make themselves dominant in their mind.

Laughing softly as she set the digital reader back down, Mizuho had to wonder. "Maybe I'm this Misato person after all. In that place where he goes and I can't follow, maybe she is what I would have been if I had raised there and suffered as she had." It was possible, all things were, and in a way calmed her mind that even when 'she' wasn't with Kei a version of her was with him. "Guess I can't call him an adulterer then can I?" she laughed again to try and calm her raging and frazzled nerves.

A sudden crash came from the bedroom as Kei lurched out clutching his head in pain, a broken lamp crunched under his feet. "Mizu-chan…it hurts…it hurts so bad," Kei fell into Mizuho's waiting arms, her own fear given form as she couldn't deny the truth anymore, Kei's body was breaking down under the stress of these shifts. He smiled through his pain at her as she rubbed his back, "I m-missed you."

X-X

"Just what the hell is happening to him Ritsuko? Look at him he's dying!" Misato yelled at the resident doctor. Just when things were getting better for her and him this had to happen? Was it a relapse of the coma, but why? After seeing him bleeding, Misato had amazed herself with how quickly she could move. Ten minutes after Asuka had fled Misato had Shinji over her shoulder and rushing to her car. Driving at speeds that even scared her, she got to Nerv in record time and dragged Ritsuko to his side.

Reading the preliminary results, Ritsuko shook her head slowly. "I don't really know what's happening to him Misato. I can run this data through the Magi and have them try and decipher it but with what I know now I might have a theory." After dropping Misato off to the waiting arms of her young lover, Ritsuko headed back to Nerv to finish her research on Shinji's tests. They proved conclusive that Shinji had breached the known confines of their universe. His condition now was likely the result of it.

"I'm all ears Ritsuko, tell me what is wrong with him," she gazed at his now sleeping body and couldn't help but see the difference from what she saw in the morning. When it was back at their apartment he had an air of happiness about him but now he just looked like a stage prop, a fake or robotic person. "We can't stand to lose a pilot at this point," she tried to cover not remembering how she actually confessed to Ritsuko the night before.

The lie brought a grin to Ritsuko's face, "So you forgot already did you?" While it was humorous in an odd light, but Ritsuko's real reason for asking was a stalling tactic. She had to think of a way to describe the situation to Misato in a way she'd be able to understand. Something simple or she'll never understand.

"Forgot what?" Misato fumbled at Ritsuko's misdirection. Much of the last twelve hours was a haze for her. "What are you talking about?"

Thankful for the few moments to plan, Ritsuko walked to her console and started inputting Shinji's data. "You told me last night Misato at the bar. You forgot that?" Maybe it wasn't that Misato forgot and she had just bee playing with her? In the back of her mind, Ritsuko hoped that was the case. The notion of a full grown woman in a relationship with a teenager still sounded off. But as she allowed herself to digest it, apply herself to Misato's situation it didn't sound 'that' bad anymore.

Rubbing her brow in frustration, Misato ground her teeth, "Look I forgot ok. I drank a lot last night and really can't remember. So stop dicking with me and just tell me. Ok?" Now wasn't the time for joking around anyway as her lover lay in some sort of coma with no readily available causes to blame it on.

"You told me about your relationship with Shinji last night," Ritsuko said which caused Misato's face to turn ashen white. Gears turned in her mind and the last puzzle piece was fit into place. Misato did love Shinji, genuinely loved the boy. The stories Misato told were true and it also might have explained how Shinji passed out after Kaji announced his plans. "Hey you were drunk and I was trying to help you out. I suggested you give Kaji a call and you freaked out. Threw you drink at some people and announced to everybody that you loved him."

Her bladder increased in size if felt like, her back teeth were floating. "I didn't…really tell you did I?" Asuka was one thing but a whole bar of strangers was another, but which was worse Misato didn't know.

Nodding briefly, Ritsuko turned from the computer and patted Misato's shoulder comfortingly. "You did but for what its worth I hope you work this out. While I might not agree with this whole mess you're both entitled to some happiness I guess." Misato's grin didn't really reach her eyes but the woman tried. Turning back to the monitor, Ritsuko saw the Magi's returned analysis of all of Shinji's test data and she matched Misato's earlier pale skin. "Oh my God."

It was the tone of Ritsuko's voice and not the words that tipped Misato off that something was seriously wrong. Usually the blonds tone was flat and without any hinting emotion but this was something that just screamed bad. "What is it Ritsuko, what do the tests say? What is wrong with him," she started babbling as hysteria started to sink in.

Feeling Misato's grip on her shoulders tighten brought Ritsuko back to reality. She was going to have to say something now because the results were dire. Shaking off the strong grip so she could look the haggard woman in the eyes, Ritsuko was at a loss for how to start. "It's bad Misato, really bad."

"How bad, what do you mean by bad…I mean he's just sleeping right we just have to wake him up." Misato said alternating her view from Shinji's body to Ritsuko's face. "He is just sleeping right?"

"No he's not sleeping Misato. That body is basically an empty vessel." Ritsuko hoped to see comprehension in Misato but didn't. "Ok let me start at the beginning ok?" Misato's nod was all Ritsuko got. Grabbing a rubber band, Ritsuko bit the tiny rubber piece and turned it into a thin rubber string. "See this string Misato? Picture everything above the line as Tokyo-3."

"Tokyo-3, here above the line is Tokyo-3 got it," Misato didn't know where this was leading but it had to go someplace that frightened her friend.

Waiting for Misato's breath to calm a little, Ritsuko started to worry that she might need some tranquilizers to keep Misato calm and manageable. "Ok and every below the line is a different Tokyo, the place where Kei Kusinagi came from." A small light in Misato's eye twinkled, "Remember how I said Shinji might prove the parallel universe theory, this is how." Setting the rubber band down Ritsuko grabbed a piece of paper.

While Ritsuko worked on the paper, Misato tried to make sense of the equation handed to her. "So…Shinji's mind is in some other universe right now? That's just too impossible to happen. I doubt any universe, if this theory of yours is right, has soulless bodies just laying about." Her head started to hurt as she tried to imagine the proposed scenario.

Holding the paper up so Misato could see it, Ritsuko didn't expect Misato to understand the whole thing just yet. "That's now how it is. Look at this paper," she pointed to a dot that had Shinji's name over it on one half and another dot with Kei's name over it on the other. "Normally life goes on exactly as we know it to. We're born, age, and then die right? Right. But when Shinji experimented using the cannon all those months ago that changed for him." She folded the paper so the two dots overlapped.

"During the test he was subjected to a type of physics we have no idea of understanding or what affects it has on people. At the same time something must have happened to that Kei kid and the two of them…merged in some way." She emphasized it by dropping some water over the two dots so the ink smeared together forming a larger discolored blob.

Her forehead scrunching in confusion Misato was starting to understand things but it was hard. "So what does that mean now…that he's going to keep doing this for the rest of his life? Going to some other place and then coming back like nothing happened?" Could she live with him like that? She wanted to think she could but it was so frightening to see him just pass out so suddenly she didn't know if her heart could handle it.

Handing Misato one end of the torn rubber band, Ritsuko's face grew even more saddened. "It's not that simple Misato. Remember how I said the top was here and the bottom there?" Misato nodded again, "Well what's happening is this." She pulled the rubber band down with her free hand and let it go, causing the line to vibrate up and down rapidly and slowly mellow back out and come to a rest.

"I don't get it? What does that mean?" Misato said again as she let go of her end.

Dropping the used prop on the ground, Ritsuko would bet Misato understood a lot more than she was willing to believe. But to believe would be to abandon hope. "Like the rubber band this started off with long periods in each side, top and bottom, but as time goes on it things out but moves to the other side faster and faster. Eventually…" Ritsuko trolled off.

"Eventually what Ritsuko, what's going to happen when he stops moving back and forth?" Misato pulled Ritsuko so close to her that her breath was fogging Ritsuko's glasses. "What happens after that?"

Turning her head, unable to keep her eyes on Misato's, Ritsuko bite the bullet. "He, no they, will die. You saw how his body was when this coma started. His body is unable to cope with the switching, I'd think the same for his mind as well. The Magi have one view on how to possibly stop the process before it kills them both."

Hope returned to Misato's face, if there was an option she'd take it. Anything was worth doing at this point, she had to make amends for her sins and she was going to start now. "What do we have to do to save him Ritsuko? I almost lost him once and I won't risk it again. He's done to much for me for me to give up on him now." She reached out and ran her fingers through his hair.

"We have to convince him to have Kei's body killed while he's over here," Ritsuko's tone was shame filled. "One of the bodies has to die while the merged mind is on the other side. By severing the link to the other it will force him to stay. It's the only way and it might not even work. All this is theoretical and…"

Misato's hand hurt from the sting of the slap she just delivered to her friend. Ritsuko's head bobbled and weaved about. "This is all your damn fault! Your stupid experiment did this…and now you want us to convince Shinji to have himself killed!" If what Ritsuko was saying was half true it meant that Shinji was alive as this Kei person someplace else, that he'd have to die there. While she wanted him with her forever it still was appalling to think of convincing somebody to partially commit suicide.

Her cheek throbbed and she could taste blood in her mouth, but she still thought she got off easy. It was all her fault, more so than Misato would ever know. "Sorry Misato but it's the only way and I don't think we have much time. The Magi think he has very little time left. If I were you I'd sit by his side and wait for him to come back and when he does do anything you can to make him stay."

X-X

Hikari just sat and listened as Asuka vented her frustration and sadness. She couldn't believe it at first, that Shinji was actually in a relationship with his guardian, but as Asuka continued to talk it made more and more sense. Kaji shows up one day saying he was with Misato and going to marry her, Shinji faints, and when he wakes up he's more responsive to Asuka. It was simple, he was hurt by his girlfriend and Asuka's nicer actions to him allowed him to see other options, but from what Asuka said she acted to slow. "So what are you going to do now Asuka?"

Her shoulders slumped over, Asuka leaned back against the wall letting her feet fall off Hikari's bed where she sat. "I don't know Hikari. I really don't. Shinji just…I could be myself with him. Everybody else I have to have my feeling of superiority to be stronger than them. But with him it was different. I didn't mind being weak." Her pride took a hit to. She wasn't good enough for him, Misato had stolen him from her and all along she was worried about the doll doing it.

Taking a seat next to her friend, Hikari put an arm around her shoulder. "It'll be ok Asuka. You can have anybody you wanted in our class right. You'll find another guy you like in no time." The words were hollow to both of them, but what else could she really say?

"What if I don't want just some other guy? What if I want somebody that understands me, cares for me, and lets me be the person I want to be. He did all of that and I treated him like shit for so long. No wonder he didn't want to be…that he chose her." Asuka's head dipped further down. Just another failure in her life of steady losses.

Before she could even fathom what she was doing, Hikari was kissing Asuka's cheek. She couldn't stand to see Asuka beating up on herself like this, to be wallow in defeat that didn't exist. Pulling back, her face mimicked the shock on Asuka's. "Don't say that Asuka. It just wasn't in the cards but had things been different I'm sure you two would have been a great couple." Her lips tingled with the sensation of Asuka's skin and Hikari couldn't deny how nice it felt.

Rubbing at the phantom kiss lightly, Asuka looked at Hikari in a brand new light, weighing if it was a good or bad thing. "What did you do that for Hikari? You're not just messing with me are you?" Yeah she was emotional because of what she saw but Asuka wasn't going to do something even more stupid and regret it.

Fumbling with her hands that laid in her lap, Hikari had no words of defense for her actions. "I did it Asuka because I realized something the other day. When I was over and you were talking about how you were going to confess to Shinji-kun. I realized I love seeing you happy. You're my best friend, I'd do anything for you and now I'm doing this." She put her hands on Asuka's shoulder and forced her to look her in the eye. "All those things you said you wanted…I can be them for you. I understand you, I care for you, and I don't care how you act. Maybe I'm not as good as Shin…"

Asuka made her choice about if what Hikari did was good or bad. She leaned in and kissed her friend. A line was crossed that she had never envisioned before, maybe it was just confusion because of her jilted first love and aborted second, but maybe this was a viable option. They'd try it, see if they liked it or how it worked. After Asuka broke off from Hikari, the two sat in silence for a few minutes to think about how they liked what they just did.

Both would conclude that it was good, a little odd, but good. Hikari said she'd been planning to break things off with Touji for a little while now, which was true as the reality of the boy didn't live up to the dreams she had made about him. They'd try being together for a while and re-evaluated it later or stop if one didn't feel good about it. Holding onto Hikari's hand as they watched a movie, Asuka could feel the difference in her. With pain comes knowledge, she'd been hurt twice by misplaced affection but this time it felt different. She wasn't the one perusing she was the perused and it was wonderful.

X-X

"Kei I understand this has to be hard for you to accept but it's the only way," Mizuho cried out as her husband walked away from her his face a mask of indifference. "These shifts will continue until you die in both places anyway. The next time you shift to this Tokyo-3 you have to tell them t-to kill your body so you can stay here." She was being selfish she knew but to hell with those other people.

Finding a spot on the horizon on the other side of the lake, Shinji didn't know what to say. "So I just abandon humanity to die over there then? I have the responsibility to pilot Eva and prevent the death of countless people." But he didn't want to do it he wanted to stay with her. A part of him did at least and it spiked with another increase in his headache. It never stopped now, three solid hours of pain since he woke up in his marriage bed. "Can I be that selfish?"

"What about ME and your responsibilities to ME Kei? You made a promise to me on our wedding day didn't you? Are you just going to leave me here to kill my husband so he doesn't die someplace else?" Her tears wouldn't stop, how could her husband not see this? It was a way for him to be free from the pain and suffering he'd faced, to stay with her, be loved by her, to love her. Freedom!

Taking his wife in his arms her hugged her tightly and stroked her hair. "It's not like I want to leave you Miza-chan. I love you more than I can ever say. But…" He pulled his head back as Mizuho clutched his shirt tightly in her hand and pulled hard.

"But nothing Kei. If you love me than stay with me. Tell them the next time you leave them to end this. You have to make this choice and nobody can make it for you. The report said that right as the end draws near you'll have it…the shifting gets so minimal that you can chose where to go. So when it happens you come to me…come to me and they put you to sleep forever." She didn't care how appalling it sounded to have to kill your lover, if they did nothing he'd die and leave them both.

Silence gripped him as he felt the desperation flowing from his wife. She didn't want to lose her husband after finally finding him. They were supposed to be happy together now that things were better between them. How could she not try and get him to stay with her. Her sadness was his sadness and it ate at him. She had been better to him than Misato had, she hadn't hurt him, and she never would. But Misato had started to change for him, she had done things for him that Mizuho could never fathom, saved his life, gave him a home when nobody cared. Both were so special to him that it was torture to think of leaving one, but he'd have to.

He opened his mouth to speak but Mizuho had one last gambit to use, herself. She brought him into a loving embrace and they made love on the living room floor. She cooed that she could never let him go, that she was his and he was hers. It was an underhanded move but she wasn't about to let him be swayed by anything that this Misato woman might do. And if he did leave her she'd have had one last glorious memory. As she expected as she cleaned herself afterward she found her husband had withdrawn. She prayed she saw him awake again but went to get her mothers gift that went along with the report. A syringe full of paralyzing agent, if Kei didn't wake up in a day she'd inject him and his heart would stop. Painless, swift, and heartbreaking.

X-X

He wasn't surprised when he opened his eyes in a hospital bed. Mizuho's words echoed in his head that he'd be moving faster and faster until finally he made his choice. His body and mind ached with each labored breath he took. "I don't think I have it left in me…"

"I am pleased to see you awake Ikari-kun," Rei intoned from her spot in the doorway. She'd just heard that Misato had been called to the commander's office which she herself just left. "Are you well?"

Forcing his aching body into a seated positing he beckoned for Rei to come closer, it was to hard to speak aloud. When the pale girl was at his side he took her hand and tried his best to smile. "I've been better Rei, much better. How are things?" He hoped he wouldn't have to tell this girl this friend of his about his need to choose life or death.

"Doctor Akagi has told all the command staff about your condition Ikari-kun. She told us that your dreams are actually another reality and that if you do not die there you will die here." His hand felt nice against hers but she pulled it out regardless, felt unworthy of his friendship after her betrayal.

A dry chuckle left his throat, "Guess I don't have to tell you or them about this. It's funny everything was starting to get so much better and now this." He trailed off and found his gaze wandering. Rei looked different though, "Something wrong Rei?"

"Go to the other place," she said softly, "Go there and I will see to it that you die peacefully here." She didn't waver as she feared she would have. Since she heard Ritsuko tell her about Shinji's condition. After the commander ordered her to do anything and everything to insure Shinji stayed here and had the other body killed. "Leave this place and all the pain that it holds."

Having not expected such a twist, Shinji balked. "You…want me to die?" Had he meant so little to her that she didn't care if he died?

She bowed her head, "It is not that, the opposite in fact. I will miss you greatly as you are my only friend. But still I betrayed your secret to the commander." She saw Shinji's shocked expression but continued before he could speak. "He knew all along but I still betrayed you to him. I am unworthy of the gift you gave me, and as Major Katsuragi has already hurt you once I say again. Leave this place and find the happiness you deserve with this Mizuho woman, but please think of me on occasion." She didn't know why but the idea of being forgotten by Shinji pained her greatly.

Facing his upcoming death, either here or in Tokyo, Shinji found that Rei's admission didn't hurt as much as he thought it would have. "Rei-chan, my father meant a lot to you didn't he?" She nodded without looking up. "I forgive you for what you did Rei. You must have had your reasons. He tricked you as he tricks everybody." He brought Rei's hand to his lips and kissed the back of it. "You only did what you thought was best."

Her cheeks turned a lovely shade of pink yet she still couldn't meet Shinji's gaze. "The commander ordered me to offer you everything I am to keep you here. He ordered me to become your lover to let you do anything you wished as a bribe to get you to continue to pilot."

It was then Shinji's turn to be embarrassed and a little sickened by his father's actions. To make the girl that was mistakenly following his orders become the slave of another to keep his scenario in order. "Rei-chan…father is sick…he's worried about humanity and to ask you to…"

"I would have." Rei said cutting Shinji off and leaving him spellbound. Her hue darkened to a rose red. "Had you not been Katsuragi's lover already I would have gladly taken the role. I care about you Ikari-kun. And that is why I want you to leave. To live happily with one that cares and not be forced to suffer." Kissing Shinji sweetly on the lips, feather light, Rei ran from the room and passed a dazed Misato. The pair stopped and looked at one another, a silent discussion raged between them about what the best action to take was. In the end Misato continued back into Shinji's room.

"I could tell you were awake by Rei's reaction. Did the commander order her to be your living sex toy too?" Misato spat out as she sat on Shinji's bed. She could see from a tactical viewpoint Gendo's motives but the man was a pig. Use anything to keep your pieces on the board even if it meant soiling them all. Better to have dirty pieces than no pieces at all. "He told me the same thing and he even rescinded my demotion for having relations with a minor."

"M-Misato…I have to tell you…" Shinji started but fell silent. He could tell Misato knew the score. He wasn't going to sure what he was going to do, and she knew it. "About everything…"

"I love you Shinji," Misato said flatly. The closed door etched perfectly in her view. "I won't lie to myself or anybody else anymore. I love you more than anybody I've ever known. I can't imagine my life without you." She blindly grabbed his arm and held it. "When Ritsuko told me about this…plan to convince you about how this world is better for you I felt disgusted by it. To try and convince you to commit suicide to stay here with us."

Her grip tightened, "But the more I thought about the days we were separated after I cheated on you I couldn't help but see how right she was. I don't want to lose you, not because you're a pilot but because you're you." Her eyes glistened with tears but she wouldn't shed them, she fought to keep her voice flat. "I know this place has a lot of bad memories for you and has pain but it also can be a beautiful place. Any place can be heaven if you try and make it that way."

His arms ached but he forced himself to hug the woman he loved, one of the two he'd die for. "I love you to Misato. I don't know what else to say but I love you too." She welcomed his embrace and let him hug her to his hearts content. It didn't always have to be sex that gave comfort and joy. This small intimacy spoke leagues.

"Shinji…you come back to me…you have to. I have so much I need to do for you to show you I'm changing for you as you did for me. It's selfish of me to ask but…come back to me." Her wish to keep her tears in check failed as she felt them falling down her face, drenching her shirt and his gown. Sealing her lips over his she felt him go limp after several moments. Opening her eyes she saw his closed.

It was time for the end of the game. If he woke up again she'd truly love him as he did her. They'd go forward together and popular opinion be damned. The door opened after Misato laid Shinji's body back into a better position and Ritsuko walked in with a tray containing a single pill. If Shinji didn't wake in a week's period of time they'd have slip the pill into his mouth and his body would simply shut down. Painless, swift, and heartbreaking.

X-X

Shinji opened his eyes and found himself in a room he'd only seen twice before. It was a school room which the first time held the memory of Kei's sister and the second Shinji's mother. Standing on his left was his mother and the right his sister.

"Hello Kei," his sister said.

"Hello Shinji," his mother said.

Alternating between the two, Shinji realized that the time he had to make his choice had come. "Hello…I guess this is the last time I'll see you both." He felt an immeasurable sadness in that. Both were taken from him way to soon and he was going to have to say goodbye to them again. "I-I guess this is it."

Yui nodded sagely to her son, "We can't try and pressure you to chose anything. You have to make this decision yourself but you must hurry as time is running out. This place will not last long and if you are still inside it when it collapses."

"Kei and Shinji will both die," the school girl finished for the scientist.

"I don't want to say goodbye to any of them. I don't want to not be Shinji Ikari," he said to Yui, "And I don't want to stop being Kei Kusinagi ," he said to his sister. "I know that now I am both but one of these lives has to end. It will be carried on in memory but the places and people unreachable."

Yui hugged her son, "It is something most unfortunate but the memories you left in the minds of those you do leave behind will be cherished."

"They will never forget you as you never forget them," the young Kusinagi said hugging Kei from the other side. "But you must go now."

Taking a deep breath Shinji saw two doors, one behind his mother and another behind his sister and knew what it meant. His choice was going to be made by walking through one of the doors. He'd wake up there and his other body would die.

"Misato I love you so much," Shinji said in his mother's direction.

"Mizuho I love you more than anything," Kei said looking over his sister's shoulder.

Exhaling deeply he knew his choice and walked through the door. When his eyes opened he found a welcome embrace waiting for him and many tears. Tears of joy for herself and her lover and tears of sadness for the woman that they knew was now doing the must painful thing they ever did. She'd think about what would have happened if it was her that had been left alone, suppress the chill that would try to steal her warmth, and hold her lovers hand tighter for the one that couldn't as not all love ends happily but for them…for now they were moving forward together and they would never forget the sacrifices made to make their love a reality.

The End

And the curtain fell on the final act

X-X

Who did he end up with…its up to you.

I want to thank you all again for reading this for so long and supporting me while I tried to keep on track. I know I could have stretched this thing out longer and added more complications and such but I didn't want to. This is how I wanted it to end. Bitter sweat.

I hope you enjoyed Divergence

Ja Mata

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