Can I hold on, can I believe in
All the things you are?
There's no sane in, chaos reigns in Subterranea
(Subterrenea - IQ)
January 11th 2021
Tokyo 3 Outskirts - Early Morning
There is a bright flash of light and I suddenly become aware of my surroundings. I'm underwater, swimming in a dark red liquid. I feel panic within me as I hold my breath and swim towards the surface as quick as I can. My limbs feel as if they're on fire as I finally reach the surface of the water and gasp for air.
I float on the surface for a few moments taking in my surroundings. Off in the distance I see the land, without hesitating I start to swim towards it as fast as my aching body will take me. As I move a sickening smell infiltrates my nostrils, my mind registers what this foul copper-like smell is.
Blood... Am I swimming in blood? I try not to think about it. Survival and getting out of this liquid is the priority. I move forward and my mind informs me that swimming has never been one of my strengths. It was something I was capable of but never enjoyed or excelled at. Fortunately, that doesn't seem to matter as I reach the land.
I'm thankful for the sensation of the soft sand beneath my naked feet as I take a few slow and careful steps out of the water. Every part of my body hurts and I again find myself thankful for the sand being there to cushion me as I fall forward. Some of it flies up into my face and mouth, I try to spit it out before rolling onto my back and simply lying there for a few moments to catch my breath.
I can now feel the water lapping at my bare feet and the hems of my trousers. I can still smell the blood-like smell of the liquid and in my weakened state I prop myself up onto my elbows and try to shift away from the liquid. Above me the sky is a brilliant blue, the sun shining down on me and there is a gentle but cool breeze in the air.
I look down at myself. I'm barefoot and wearing a pair of black trousers, this is accompanied by a white button-up shirt that is currently open revealing a tattered orange t-shirt. I look up from myself to the rest of my surroundings. Ahead of me I see the pool I emerged from, it's an incredibly large body of water coloured a deep blood red. The smell of it makes me feel sick but I can see that it is not blood as I feared.
I look around and some additional monuments catch my eye. I feel rising out of the water a number of large strange statues. They're posed in cross like forms, their arms stretching out wide. I shudder at the sight of them. There is something eerily familiar about them, something familiar and terrifying. I dislike this feeling and turn my head away not wishing to see them any longer.
'Where am I?' I ask myself as I take another look around, trying to avoid looking at the statues. As I look around I see other things that catch my eye and seem so familiar to me. I see the remains of buildings sticking up out of the water and I wonder exactly what happened here. What cause all of this to happen and why am I here now?
I try to cast my mind back to what happened before I emerged from that pool. I try to remember what happened to me before that bright flash of light. It's at this moment I feel my stomach drop and little pangs of panic rise up inside me.
I... I can't remember. I can't... remember anything before that flash of light. I don't know what happened before it, I don't know... I don't know who I am!
"Who am I?"
I speak the words aloud hoping that maybe hearing the sound of my own voice might trigger something inside of me.
It doesn't. Instead I feel more pangs of panic inside my stomach and I feel sicker than before. I don't know who I am! I don't know my name, where I came from, why I'm here or anything. No matter how much I try to remember, I'm just drawing a blank.
I get myself onto my knees and crawl forward towards the water. Pain shoots through my body with each movement but I try to shrug it off. I can't stop... I... I have to know.
"Who... Who Am I?"
I say the words again as I get closer to the water. I look down at it hoping to see some sort of reflection. Some sort of clue as to who I am but the water is too dark to reflect anything for me to see.
"Who am I!"
I ask again as I bring my hand down into the water in frustration. I feel the droplets splash up onto my face.
"Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?"
I keep asking and with each time I ask I bring a hand down into the water. I'm vaguely aware of a sound from behind me but I don't care to turn around and see what it is. All that matters to me is trying to find an answer to who I am. I dislike this. I hate this. I'm terrified of this. I need to know. I need to know!
"Who! Am! I!"
I ask again as both hands come down, more water splashed up onto me as I hear another sound. It sounds like something slamming and moments later it's accompanied by the sound of footsteps. I don't turn around, I find myself frozen with fear as I wait for them to approach. The sound stops and I hear a voice, that of a young woman.
"Go and contact headquarters, tell them they were right and we have another survivor. Get them to prepare one of the rooms. I'll deal with this."
I still don't turn around but I'm fairly sure one of the others has turned and went away. I remain still as I hear the woman start to walk towards me. She stops a metre or two away from me and I slowly turn myself around.
She is looking at me somewhat cautiously, perhaps the way someone might approach an animal they were unsure of. She kneels slowly and I take the time to look at her properly. She is a young woman with long brown hair done up in a ponytail. She is wearing a uniform that I don't recognize. Her expression seems warm and friendly but also cautious.
"Don't be afraid. We're here to help you." She finally says in a warm tone.
"Who... Who am I?" I ask weakly, "I... I don't... I don't remember... anything."
She takes a few steps forward and kneels down in front of me. She places a warm hand on my shoulder and rubs gently, "It'll be alright, it's a side effect of the emergence. In time you'll be fine, we're going to take you back to a safe place. Is that alright?"
I nod weakly at her. I don't know what she means by emergence but I feel like I can trust her.
"Good. Can you stand?"
I nod again, "I-I think so."
She gets to her feet and extends a hand towards me. I reach out and take it and she helps me to my feet. My body still aches and I stumble forward slightly but she is there to catch me. She puts my arm around her shoulders and helps guide me towards a waiting vehicle and her colleague. I remain silent as I'm helped into the back of the vehicle as she takes a radio from him.
"Team 2-A reporting in, I have one survivor. Male, late teens and showing some signs of emergence sickness. Will need a doctor on standby for when we return."
I hear the voice on the other side come through clearly, "A survivor? Been quite a while since the last one. We've got a room ready as we speak and I'll let the medical team know to be on standby. Anything else to report?"
"Nothing, it's all quiet out here. Will see you shortly."
The two of them climb into the vehicle properly and close the door. I look around and bring the belt around me and clip it in. It's strange that I can't remember who I am but I know to do this. As the car moves away I begin to wonder who these people are and what this emergence sickness was they mentioned.
After a minute or so the man in the car turns himself around, he is about the same age as the girl.
"Our facility is only about ten minutes away from here." He tells me, "You know, you're the first person we've seen emerge in quite some time. We thought that all who were going to return had already returned by now."
I look at him in confusion not really knowing what he is talking about. All I can do is nod my head and immediately he seems to recognize my confusion.
"Sorry, I guess you probably don't have a clue what I'm talking about do you?"
I shake my head, "I am sorry."
"No need to apologize." He says to me, "it's the emergence sickness. It affects most of us when we come out. Tend to draw a complete blank as to who we are and what happened before. It'll pass tough, it always does!"
I feel somewhat reassured by his words but that little feeling of dread is still hanging there. I resist the urge to ask questions like, 'what if it doesn't?'
"So is there anything you do remember?"
"No... nothing." I tell him.
"Well try to not worry about it!" He reassures me again, "Few days rest and everything will work out fine."
UN Emergence Support Facility – Late Evening
I look into the bathroom mirror and once again try to recall just who it is I am. I can feel the frustration beginning to set in for me. It's been this way for three quarters of an hour and I've come no closer to remembering who I am than I was this morning.
I know that they said this would only be temporary but I want to know, I need to know. I don't want to just sit there and wait. I want to try and do everything I can to remember. I want to remember as soon as I can but as I look in this mirror all I see is the reflection of someone I don't know. I see eyes that I've never seen before, I see an expression I don't know and I'm scared. What if I can't remember?
I had the chance to find out some things about what had happened. I found out that five years ago there was a cataclysmic event that threatened the world. It was an event known as the Third Impact, it had ultimately been stopped but a large number of people had vanished as a result of it. Many of those people had since returned, they had emerged from the very same body of water that I emerged from.
They also explained the 'Emergence Sickness' phenomenon to me too. A number of returnees had suffered from a loss of memory similar to what I have done. All of these people would recover their members in time, some of them in a few hours and others would take a few days. They had no process for helping this happen, it was said that it would just happen in time.
All I have to do is wait. All I have to do is wait and feel this frustration within me knowing I could do nothing about it. All I can do is wait and feel fear at the thought that I might be the first who doesn't recover my memory. What if I go the rest of my life not knowing who I truly am?
No! I will recover them, I can… I can feel them somewhere inside of me. I know they're there, as I listened to those people today I would hear certain words and phrases that would trigger certain feelings or emotions inside of me. I must be close to remembering but it is almost as if my memories are locked behind some giant door and I need to find the key.
I look once again at my own reflection and I observe just how peculiar I look compared to the others here. No one mentioned anything but upon seeing my own face for the first time I can see the striking differences between myself and them. It is like I am some sort of alien amongst them. I fix my gaze at the unknown face, stare deep into the red eyes, run my hand through my grey hair and observe my pale skin.
Perhaps… Perhaps it would be best if I took their advice and go to sleep. Maybe in the morning I will remember. I look towards the other room and I can feel tiredness throughout my body. I will sleep, tomorrow may bring the answers I seek.
January 12th - Early Morning
I remember! I remember! I remember!
I awake suddenly from my restless slumber, I can feel my heart pounding rapidly in my chest and I feel the sheets cling to my sweat covered body. Tears sting my eyes as I lay on my side with my eyes wide open staring at the wall.
I know who I am! I know what I am and… I know that I should not… I should not be here.
As I lay on my side not daring to move my nightmare replays itself in my head. I have never dreamed before. I was… I was incapable of such things, I thought I was incapable of such things and yet I have experienced that very such thing right now. The dream was of those final moments, my taking of Evangelion Unit 02, that long trip down to Central Dogma, my conversation with Shinji and my sacrifice.
I have very little time to dwell on this as I'm suddenly hit with another new and unpleasant sensation. A sharp pain is felt in my stomach and I feel an odd queasiness and dizziness in my head. I lie still for a moment hoping it will go away before the pain turns to a burning sensation. In that moment my instincts kick in and I leap out of the bed.
I sprint into the bathroom just in time for the feeling to completely overwhelm me. I collapse to my knees both of them hitting the tiled floor roughly and painfully. I feel more pain throughout me as I retch and throw up violently into the toilet bowl.
With my stomach emptied I remain still for a moment and let out a soft whimper as more tears run down my cheek. My stomach and chest hurt so much, my knees hurt from collapsing onto them. I weakly reach for a piece of toilet tissue and wipe my mouth before flushing the contents of the toilet.
I let out another soft whimper. I remember everything now. I remember it all so clearly. I daren't move from my position in the cold bathroom. Instead I bring my knees up to my naked chest and wrap my arms around them.
All of those memories were rushing through my head now. I can remember it all. I can remember NERV, SEELE, my own birth and the man who raised me. I can remember Shinji with his sweet smile and innocence. I can remember his eyes when I betrayed him. I can… remember it all now and contrary to my previous wishes I wish I could forget it again.
I am Kaworu Nagisa… I was the last Angel mankind had to face. I should not be alive. These thoughts continue to cycle through my mind as I hug my knees tightly and my soft whimpers turn to loud sobs. I fear sleep will not find me again tonight as I sit sobbing on the hard bathroom floor.
January 19th – Morning
One week has passed since I emerged from the sea of souls as I have come to understand it. One week since I was somehow given a second chance at life. One whole week of nights filled with nightmares and days filled with the fear of others. I've spent each day since I recalled who I was living in fear that I will be hurt. I've spent each night terrified of going to sleep knowing that only nightmares will await me.
It is something of a cruel irony, in my past life I had always wondered what it must be like to dream. I was almost envious of those Lilim who did so. I always wondered what sort of dreams I would have and wished that I were able to. Now I just wish I could be like that again. The reality is far more terrifying than the fantasy.
Yet dreams were just one thing I have had to get used to over this past week. I have been examined by this facilities medical staff, spoken to the people who brought me in and it seems I am now completely human. I am no longer an Angel, I am one of them.
It is a feeling that is both liberating to me and terrifying at the same time. I find myself no longer plagued by the crippling loneliness I used to feel in that form, I also find myself no longer plagued by the call of Adam or Lilith. I am no longer able to sense the A.T. Fields of every being around me but I am also no longer able to protect myself with my own A.T. Field should the need arise.
I have found myself struggling with the array of emotions within me. When I was an Angel I felt emotions but they were always dulled by other parts that made up myself. I perhaps did not feel them nor could I express them quite as a human would. Yet now I am feeling these things, I am feeling fear and sadness properly for the first time, it is somewhat overwhelming to get used to.
Again I used to wonder what it'd be like to feel those unchained emotions. To be able to express myself properly and experience what humans feel. They were always fascinating beings to me, I was always told I was above them, better than them and yet in many ways I longed to be one of them. I wondered what made me above them, what made me better than them? I know the truth now, I was not above them or better than them, I was simply different but… I have realized this truth much too late.
In speaking to me I have been assured by the people who brought me in that I am safe. That they do know who I was and what I was and that no harm will come to me. That I am to be treated the same as anyone else who has been through this process has been. It is a small comfort to me, a person who was brought up being told constantly about the negative side of humanity.
As I lie in my bed my thoughts turn once again to the person who I hurt all those years ago. I wonder if these feelings of fear I have now are what he used to feel. Did you feel fear like this Shinji? Did you feel it each time before you piloted the Eva? Did you feel it before you went to school? Was this fear inside me the same as the crippling fear inside of you?
I sit myself up and look around my quarters. They are somewhat barren but larger and more homely than what I was used to in the past. In one corner is a wardrobe with a chest of drawers next to it that I am used to store the clothing I've been given by the facility staff.
In an opposite corner is a small kitchen where I am able to make myself small meals and tea. The centre of the room has a small sofa with a television set up in front of it. I grab the remote control and turn the television on. Immediately I'm greeted by two hosts on some morning talk show, they seem to be discussing a news report about a recent raid on what was suspected to be a SEELE facility.
I quickly change the channel not wishing to hear anything related to that organization now or in the near future. Instead I settle on some kids cartoon and leave it on in the background as I start to get changed. I get halfway through putting my trousers on before I hear a faint knock at the door.
"Just a moment." I call out to whoever it is and finish putting on the rest of my clothes. I button up my shirt and wander over to the door. Opening it reveals Kodama Horaki, the woman who found me on the beach a week ago.
"Mr Nagisa." She addresses me in a formal manner, one that makes me feel slightly uncomfortable. I've never really understood formal greetings as far as humans go but it is not my lack of understanding that provides discomfort. It is that it reminds me of my first meeting with Shinji Ikari.
I force a smile to my lips, "Please... As I have said before feel free to call me Kaworu."
She nods at me, "Fine, Kaworu it is then! How are you feeling today?"
I step aside and let her into the room and close the door behind her. I look for a moment and the smile leaves my lips. I consider telling her I am fine but it would not help me to lie to her.
"I am... feeling better. I am still struggling with the nightmares though."
Her expression softened on hearing my words, "That's understandable, a lot of people when they emerge do experience these things for a short amount of time. If they are that bad then I might be able to speak to someone to give you something?"
I shake my head, "No, I would... as frightening as they are I should deal with them. I fear that they are not just a symptom of the emergence but something else. It is just... I am not used to the experience of dreaming either."
"You did not dream beforehand?" She asked me with some surprise in her voice.
I shake my head once again, "No I didn't. I needed to rest and sleep in my previous body but dreams were not part of that process. I was told about dreams and what they were and I did wonder what it would be like to experience one. It is... ironic that in receiving my answer it only serves to terrify me."
"Like I said, if you need anything we can help you."
"I... Thank you, I will deal with it for the moment but remember your offer."
I look awkwardly around the room searching for some words to say. Before all of this, words would come to me so easily. Now I find myself struggling for things to say to people, I find myself silent a lot of the time.
I look towards Kodama again. She was not only the one who found me last week but she is also the one who has been helping me figure things out and guide me somewhat. When I remembered who I was she was the first one I told. She did not seem to be angry at me or upset with me despite knowing who and what I was. She is curious and something about her is familiar yet I do not know quite what it is.
I think of something to say and strangely one question comes to mind, "Can I ask... what is going to happen to me?"
I pause for a moment, "It is my understanding that this facility was made for people to stay in on a temporary basis, am I right in assuming this is the case for me too?"
Kodama let's out a sigh and shifts from one leg to the other, "Well actually that is why I'm here to talk to you. Your... situation is a unique one Kaworu. There is a lot of discussion going on above me that I'm not exactly privy too."
"That is... understandable." I reply.
"Not just because of who you were but also because of who you are now, you see usually when people emerge and we know who they are we'll start a process of tracking down friends and family."
It's hard for me to hide the sadness in my voice a I reply to her, "And I do not have either of those."
She steps forwards and places a warm comforting hand on my shoulder, "You don't have anything?"
I shake my head, "Nothing, I was born into what the world knew as SEELE. My entire existence and upbringing were based around one thing and one thing alone. I... I was not supposed to live past that moment."
"Kaworu..." She pulls me in closer, not quite hugging me completely but just enough to comfort me.
"Friends and family were something I did not know, I am... alone in this world."
There is a brief pause, she looks like she wants to say something but is hesitant. Finally, she does actually speak, "There is always Tokyo-2... We have rehomed most of the former NERV staff there and..."
I take a step back and feel the fear rise up inside me as I shake my head, "N-No! I.. I do not think that after what I nearly did... I don't think It would be wise for me to be in such an environment."
She steps puts her hand up to her chin and thinks about it for a moment, "I understand. Such things can... wait for the moment. As I mentioned the discussions are going on above me so I do not know the options available yet."
"I am... a unique and complex case." I say with some humour in my voice.
"Yeah... You certainly are." She smiles reassuringly at me, "It might take some time Kaworu but... whilst you're here I want to make sure you have everything you need to be happy. If you... If you need anything at all just reach out and ask me."
It is quite an odd feeling to have someone ask me what it is I desire. It's a question I've never been asked before. Usually things were just given to me with an expectation that I would do what is required and no more or less. My upbringing was orchestrated by a committee and handled by many. It was broken down into stages and mapped out for me.
So now I have to think, is there anything that I... Kaworu Nagisa want? What do I desire? What are my likes and dislikes? Who... who exactly am I? I have shelter, I have access to food and I have some small comforts like a warm bed and a television. It's all provided to me and yet I am being offered more?
Part of me would feel ungrateful and uncomfortable for asking for anything else. After all is this not enough? I have not exactly done anything to warrant anything else. Yet... there is something I do desire. Something that when I think back on did make me happy in the past and might help me now. I look at Kodama, "Actually... Is there a piano in this facility?"
"A piano?" She half smiles as she asks the question and I instantly feel uncomfortable asking for such a thing. Perhaps that was too much, too big of a thing to ask for.
I nod, "Yes... I... I used to enjoy playing the piano. I think... I think it might help if I could play again?"
Her smile widens, "I'm not sure but... I'll see what I can do."
January 26th - Afternoon
My fingers dance lightly across the piano as I feel myself completely lost in my own music. I pay no attention to the book in front of me instead I allow myself to play what it is I desire. I allow myself to play without any idea of what it is that'll come next. I skip from note to note, black key to white key, shifting scale and time signature exploring the full depth of what it is I can do.
Joy lights up my heart as I play, I feel free, a sensation unlike any I have felt before. I wonder if this is is how all those great musicians felt when they composed. Lost in their music and the worlds they created with their symphonies.
Kodama had, much to my great joy been able to find a piano. An older model that had been locked away in the facilities storage. It had been brought in when the centre had opened many years ago but put away again when the number of returnees had dropped off. I was of course the first person to emerge for quite some time, it was quite a shock to the people who worked here but they also seemed somewhat pleased to have me around.
Since I have returned I have learned a few things from Kodama about this place. Before my return there had been talks of actually repurposing this facility for other usage. The area around Tokyo-3 had recently been discussed as a place of interest for certain groups. I do now know what for and I do not feel I need to know but as far as I have been told until they were certain no one would return this place would remain open.
I bring my improvisation to a halt and almost immediately I hear the sounds of polite applause from behind me. I feel myself blush immensely as I turn around and see Kodama beaming at me from across the room.
"That was amazing Kaworu! How long have you been playing for?"
I smile nervously, I am unused to praise for my abilities, in my past I was told what I did was adequate and no more.
"As long as I can remember." I say to her, "It was... one of the few forms of entertainment I was granted access to I suppose. My former handlers felt I should have some appreciation for human culture and so the piano was chosen for me along with the works of various classical composers."
"Was it one of their pieces you were playing just now?"
I allow myself a smile and shake my head, "It was not... I was... Improvising just now. I suppose you could call it my first act of rebellion against them."
"Rebellion?" She asks with some curiosity.
I smile sheepishly, "When I was with them I did enjoy what I was exposed to. I truly thought it was wondrous and the very height of human culture. How people could tell stories and convey emotion with notes on a page. Yet I was limited in what I could do, I was to play only works by the so-called greats. My days were filled with endless recitals of Back, Beethoven, Mozart and so on and so forth."
"And you didn't enjoy this?"
"At the time I didn't mind but... I no longer have a desire to go back to those. I wish to create my own path."
Kodama sits herself down near to me, "Sounds like some really pushy parents. So... it was just the 'greats'? No modern stuff at all?"
"I am afraid not." I reply, "The past one hundred and fifty years or so of human popular culture is little more than a blank to me. I know a few names here and there but I cannot say I have ever watched a television show properly, I have not seen a movie nor did I listen to anything modern. I was..."
I trailed off as I see her stand up and come over to me. She sits herself down next to me on the bench and puts an arm around me.
"I'm... so sorry you had to go through that Kaworu."
I shrug, "It is... something I have come to accept and I suppose I did not think about it at the time. My life was driven by one purpose, one goal and that was supposed to lead humanity onto its next stage... I..."
I trail off again and sniff as I feel the emotion well up inside of me. A tear trickles down my cheek as she hugs me closer to her.
"I was not aware of how lonely my existence was."
Her arm tightens, "You don't need to be alone anymore Kaworu. There is a huge world out there and plenty of time for you to explore all sorts of things.
I look at her and wipe the tears away, "I am... truly sorry for what I was Kodama..."
"you don't have to be." She replies sternly, "What happened... It wasn't your fault. We know what SEELE did to you and also to many others. We know how they hurt and manipulated people. The best thing you can do now is move forward Kaworu..."
"I... I guess."
She looks at me, "Anyway I wasn't just hear to attend your little concert, it seems you have a visitor."
I look at her in confusion, "A visitor? For me? I do not understand, I don't know anyone here unless..."
I can feel my eyes widen as that now familiar feeling of fear rises up inside me again. There is no one in this world I have any attachment to but one but... he could not be the visitor, could he? If he is then... no... I can't face him. I can never face him.
"Actually..." Kodama speaks up, "We were a little bit confused too, we didn't... think the two of you had any connection but he has insisted on seeing you. He says he wants to help put things right for you."
I'm not quite sure what to expect as I follow Kodama silently through the corridors of the facility. I try to think about who this person might be, my mind running through a number of possibilities. I had not dared to ask Kodama who this person was fearing what the answer might actually be.
My mind had of course wondered if it might be Shinji. When I think about what I know, or at least what I knew of Shinji it would be just like him to come to me wanting to make things right. It'd be just like him to blame himself for what had happened. Yet that was the Shinji of back then, a lot will likely have changed in the five years that have passed.
I of course do not know what I would do if it were Shinji, I sincerely hope it is not him. I am not in a position to face him nor do I think I will ever be. I hurt Shinji badly, I offered him friendship and love when he was at his lowest and I betrayed him. It matters not that my feelings for him were real, I cared for Shinji, I wanted to be friends with him and despite knowing him for a short time I dare say that I felt love for him.
Yet I could not do anything to fight against the cruel masters known as SEELE or the call that I felt within my heart. Yet these things matter not, it has all happened and I cannot go back. I cannot change what transpired. I can only go on knowing that my actions helped drive Shinji to his lowest point and hope that he has maybe found some peace.
I try to think of other possibilities, perhaps I can eliminate Shinji as a possibility. Kodama said she didn't think me and this other person had any connection. There were others in NERV that had encountered me only a number of time. Yet I cannot think of anyone who would wish to make anything up to me.
There is another possibility, perhaps a fallen member of SEELE but then… which one would have had such a change of heart? They all treated me with such disdain, like the tool that I was. Those old men would never change, I am certain of that.
As we move into another corridor I see Kodama stop and she turns to face me, "Are you nervous?"
I nod, "Somewhat, I cannot imagine who it is who would wish to meet with me nor can I think of anyone who would wish to put anything right with me. If anything it is I who has a lot to put right with others."
"You know… you yourself were not to blame for what happened Kaworu." Kodama looks at me sternly as she speaks, "In your situation I think… I think all of us would have acted in the same way. You were born into that organization, you were raised by them and conditioned by them. Yet when it came to it you did not destroy us, you tried… to give us some hope and allowed humanity to go forward."
I look at her and shake my head, "I hurt someone who had placed all their trust in me in the process."
"Perhaps you did but… the way I see it you didn't have a choice. You didn't know better." She replied, "Things ended up alright in the end and… well you have the opportunity to have a life now. Life in Tokyo-3… wasn't easy."
I look up at her and find it hard to hide my surprise, "You were in Tokyo-3?"
She shoots me a grin, "Yeah! Although we actually evacuated shortly before your arrival. If things had been different… well you probably would have been one of my sisters' classmates!"
Kodama nods, "Yup! Hikari, she was the class rep at that time!"
"Of course." I mutter, now I know where I have heard Kodama's name before. Hikari was one of the students that would have been in his class. He had been given a file about his fellow classmates before he was sent to Tokyo-3.
"I… I thought your name seemed familiar… I was… SEELE give me a list of people who would have been in my class."
She shakes her head, "You don't need to explain, anyway we shouldn't keep our guest waiting any longer."
Kodama opens the door for me and I look into the room and fix my gaze on the elderly man wearing a dark blue suit and tie. He has a folder tucked under one arm and I'm surprised to see a warm smile on his face. He looks towards myself and Kodama and with his gaze I feel myself rooted to the spot. Of all the possibilities I did not consider that my visitor would be the former NERV Sub Commander Kozo Fuyutsuki.
He bows politely, "Ms Horaki, Mr Nagisa."
I bow my head politely, "H-Hello."
Kodama also greets him politely, "Mr Fuyutsuki."
I avert my eyes for a moment and look around the meeting room. It was a fairly basic affair, they had set up a small coffee table along with a couch and some comfortable chairs. A few colourful plants and pictures had been placed around the edges for decoration. Guided by Kodama I make my way into the room and sit myself down on the couch next to her.
This was most certainly not what I was expecting. I admittedly know very little about Fuyutsuki. I know what he was Gendo Ikari's right hand man at NERV and had some history with both Gendo and Yui Ikari. Outside of that I know nothing else, he was a non-factor in my mission.
"Thank you for arranging this." He speaks to Kodama before turning to look at me, "How are you feeling Mr Nagisa?"
I nod, "I am… feeling okay."
"That is good to hear, I understand myself that emerging from the sea is not the most pleasant of feelings. I will not take up too much of your time."
"I… do not mind." I say to him before continuing and expressing my confusion, "I must admit that I am somewhat confused by your being here. It was mentioned that… well you wanted to…"
"Make things up to you?" Fuyutsuki finishes my sentence for me, "Yet you do not recall us meeting. This is true, we did not meet once during your brief moments in Tokyo-3."
I nod, "Then… what do you have to make right with me?"
He shakes his head and sighs, "Perhaps I used the wrong phrase. I suppose… well what I am doing is a little bit selfish on my part. An attempt to make myself feel better about what happened for aiding in ruining the lives of many. Since that Third Impact I have been… making an attempt to contribute and help those who need it."
I look at Kodama in confusion and she starts to speak, "Fuyutsuki was actually one of the founding members of this facility. He left after the first year though to travel the world and provide medical aid to those who needed it in areas damaged by the two Impact incidents. Fuyutsuki was… also instrumental in making sure the survivors of Tokyo-3 were given appropriate support and compensation packages."
"I… I see…" I stutter out a response, "So… you wish to help me?"
He nods, "I do. I'm going to be travelling to Europe shortly and will be staying in Germany for quite some time. I'm in need of an assistant to help me in my work. It will not be difficult work, nothing you couldn't learn to do easily. You will of course be paid for your work and on top of that I will ensure you have a place to stay on top of the compensation package you'll receive as a former pilot."
I look at him in confusion, "I don't understand, surely there are many others already more qualified to do this than I. After all you know the circumstances of what I was and who I am."
He nods again, "Yes I do, I know who you are and what SEELE did for you. I know that you and the other pilots have all experienced something horrible in your lives and I also know that I am partly to blame for that."
He pauses for a moment to sip from his coffee, "I know that if I were to live another hundred years I could not possibly erase all the damage I have done but I wish to do what I can whilst I can."
"So that includes helping me?"
"Yes. I… do not expect you to answer me right away and I will not mind if you choose to reject my offer. I understand if you want to leave this place and forge a new life away from me and all of this but I ask that you at least consider it."
"I-I see…" I nod again as he places a folder down on the table, "In which case I shall consider your offer."
February 9th - Facility Entranceway
It has been two weeks now since Fuyutsuki come to me with his offer of aiding me in starting a new life and working for him. Since his visit I looked extensively over the information he provided trying to understand what it was I would be doing. It seems that I will be aiding Fuyutsuki mostly in an administrative capacity. It seems like fairly basic things, filling out reports and mailing them for him. Handling calls and arranging appointments. All things that I feel I'm capable of doing.
For accepting this role I'll be paid a wage and given my own apartment in Berlin. This will be on top of a package I'll be receiving from the UN as part of my compensation. I still don't really understand why I'm owed anything for my role in NERV. If anything I nearly destroyed their world rather than saved it.
As I stand here I wonder if I am right in accepting Fuyutsuki's offer. I look at this as an opportunity to finally start to learn about the world and experience what life has to offer. As I stand her though all I feel is sadness and the familiar sense of fear once more.
I look behind me at the entrance to the facility that I have called my home for the last month. This place has been a safe space for me that has helped shelter me from the pain that I know waits outside its walls. It is a place where all I had to fear were the thoughts inside my head, but out here I have so much more to be afraid of.
"Nervous?" I hear Kodama's voice from behind me.
I nod, "Before… Before I was sent to Tokyo-3… Keel and the others in SEELE would often tell me about this world. They would tell me how corrupt and unsafe it was, about how dangerous humanity was. They would inform me of news reports on terrorist attacks, wars, murder, sexual assault and more. They told me about the world dark history, its many genocides, slavery and violent conquests."
"They really tried to get you to believe humanity was at a dead end didn't they?"
I nod again, "Yes… I think that even then I knew what they were doing. I knew they were hiding the positive and beauty of the world from me. After all how could a world so bad produce the beautiful music I heard and performed?"
I shuffle my feet, "I know the beauty of this world but I know it is dangerous and I am afraid."
"I understand, it can be scary out there."
"Also…" I pause, "I will be returning to Germany… to Berlin the… place of my 'birth' as it were."
"Do you remember anything of the city?"
I shake my head, "Nothing, only a few pictures. I was never allowed out into the city itself. I can only remember parts of the facility that I was raised in."
"Well it's a beautiful city from what I hear. I'm sure you'll love it."
"I hope so." I smile and watch as a black car pulls up in front of us, "I suppose that this is goodbye."
She nods before grabbing and pulling me close to her and hugging me, "Good luck Kaworu, please promise you'll stay in touch. I want to know everything okay?"
I nod, "I will. Thank you for everything Kodama."
With those words she releases me from the hug. I pick up the small suitcase I have and walk towards the car. I'm greeted by a smiling man in a suit, he takes the case from me and places it in the boot of the car. I feel a cool breeze around me as I turn and give Kodama and the facility one last glance.
I get into the back of the car and moments later it slowly pulls away from the facility. I now take the opportunity to take the gift Kodama has given me from my pocket. A music player filled with music of influential musicians from the late 60s through to the present day. I hear the music fill my ears as I gaze out of the window.
I suppose this is onward towards my new future, a future that I did not expect I would ever have.