Misato's Apartment - Rei Ayanami

I have just learned from Asuka that Shinji will be returning home and now I am frightened. Asuka has assured me that she has managed to resolve the situation but I worry that she was wrong and Shinji was only pretending. I worry that when he comes through that door he will still be angry with me. I worry that he will not step through the door at all and then what will I do?

If Asuka isn't wrong and he is on his way home then I have other, slightly more irrational fears. I am frightened what something will happen to him as he makes his way home. Asuka did not tell me the exact location Shinji had gone to, but I can only assume it is some distance from here. It would be easy for someone to hurt him.

Yet, I know this is not a logical thought to have. For I am aware of the security teams that keep an eye on us constantly, watching and observing threats. I am aware that very few people in this town know who Shinji Ikari is and even less know the story of Third Impact. Despite all of this there is still a tiny slither of doubt in my mind. I question how safe we really are especially in the aftermath of the attack on Nagisa.

I am also frightened that in his anger Shinji was actually correct in what he said. I worry that I really am no better than our father for what I have done. Asuka seemed to be very angry when she heard about him saying that but I wonder, was he right? Our father was a selfish man who lied and manipulated others for his own gain. Have I not done the same? Putting my friendship with Asuka ahead of the happiness of my brother and family?

I know this isn't true but I wonder if there is more I could have done. Perhaps I could have said more to Asuka to encourage her to return or at least communicate with Shinji and Misato. Perhaps I could have given Shinji some sort of subtle hint or even engineered a scenario that would have forced the two of them to communicate. Surely I have had opportunities over the last few years to put an end to this but I did not take or think about them. I have been passive when I should not have been.

I glance at my phone another time to see that only a minute has passed since the last time I looked at it. Shinji has been gone for just over two hours now. He has not contacted me in all that time nor have I contacted him. At this time I am much too afraid to do so. Misato will also be returning home soon as well.

Thinking about Misato also makes me scared. I am frightened of her reaction to this news, I assume that she will be told about this. After she hears this then she is likely to be angry with me. I wonder if she will still want me here after she finds out. If I am to leave then where do I go? I am able to afford somewhere on my own I suppose but it would likely take time to arrange. After what I have done I doubt one of our friends will want to have anything to do with me.

Another minute passes in silent contemplation with me sitting cross legged on the soft. Suddenly I hear a clicking sound from the hall way which causes me to spring to my feet. I rush to the entranceway and see the door opening and Shinji stepping through. He looks exhausted and the red marks around his eyes show that he has been crying. He enters the hallway and turns somewhat sheepishly to look at me.

I feel myself slowly back away as he speaks, "Hey Rei… I… We have a lot to talk about, don't we?"

In that moment I feel the fear of him leave me and I rush forward and throw myself into his arms letting out a loud sob as I do so. I feel him stumble backwards as he struggles to remain on his feet and I nestle my head into his should, between my cries I try to speak, "Shinji… I… I am so sorry…"

Shinji pauses for a moment as he recovers his balance and I feel his arms move slowly as if he is unsure of what to do. Finally though his arms wrap themselves around me and his hand gently rubs my back to calm me down. We stand like this for a few moments as I let out a few more sobs.

"It's alright Rei…" Shinji speaks softly, "Asuka… She explained it all to me. I… I'm not mad at you anymore, I… I'm sorry."

"You… You are not mad? But I lied to you Shinji… I… I was…" I unsure as to why I am protesting his forgiveness of me. It is that forgiveness that I wanted and was craving. I did not want Shinji to be angry at me any longer and yet I am trying to achieve the opposite of that via my words. I trail off and let him speak.

Shinji merely shakes his head, "I'm not mad… I know what you did was bad Rei but… I now know why it happened. I know what position you were in and… I am sorry for what I said to you too, I should never have said you were like him. You're nothing like him Rei, it was… I went too far."

Shinji's words do bring me the comfort that I needed and yet my mind immediately wants me to protest them some more. I do not know why, why can't I accept this?

"But I lied…"

"I know you did." His voice is still calm but with some weak trembling in it as if he is about to cry too, "I know… but I forgive you. I… forgive you Rei."

This time I don't protest him, I let myself thank him instead and we release each other from the hug. I wipe my eyes free from tears and I watch him do the same with some embarrassment. He removes his shoes and the two of us go into the front room silently and sit down, me on the couch and he sits on the nearby chair.

At this moment I am unsure of what to say to him. He looks to be thinking about something and I want to ask what it is but I do not feel I have that right anymore. I know he must be feeling a range of emotions right now. I know he must be questioning a lot of things and I want to say something to help but what can I do or say?

It is Shinji who breaks the silence, I look up to see he is smiling, "She… She actually spoke to me Rei… and… she said she will speak to me again."

"That is good." I manage to weakly smile back at him, "What did she say to you?"

Shinji glances downwards, "She… explained everything to me about why she left and you finding her in Germany. She told me all about the promise and that you were reluctant to agree to it, that you did try to persuade her each time but she refused. I… really am sorry Rei, I thought… I didn't even stop to ask for the details…"

"I… It is okay." I reply, "Did she say anything else to you?"

Shinji nods, "Yeah… We actually had a conversation."

This pleases me when I hear it. I do not recall the two of them having a proper conversation after they returned. I know they spoke immediately after Third Impact but they did not seem to communicate much beyond that. I know there was a time they communicated prior to Third Impact but even then that was a long time before it.

"What did you discuss?"

Shinji looks up and is still smiling, "She… Told me about her book…"

I find myself blushing when I realize what this means. If Asuka told him about the book then it is likely he also knows about the main character being based on me. Asuka will surely have told him of that. I look across at him, "I… Was shocked when I found out about it too."

"I can imagine." He almost laughs, "I… Had no idea Asuka had a creative side, she never seemed to show it when she was with us. I… I guess I never asked about it though…"

Shinji sounds dejected when he speaks so I move to reassure him, "Even if you had have asked her then she would likely have denied it. Asuka back then did not feel such things were worthy of her time, she strived to be seen as an adult and to her creative endeavors were not a part of that."

"Y-Yeah… I suppose." Shinju replies, "She also… said she wanted to attend the concert in December. She even offered to help me learn about the tracks."

I nod, "Yeah, it is likely that she will know a lot of the tracks you are to learn. Asuka is… passionate about music. She has an extensive music collection that she has introduced me to in the past, I find that whilst I am… fond of some of it there are certain artists that I find to be a bit too much."

Shinji lowers his head at my words and I wonder if perhaps I have said something wrong to him, "I apologize, did I say something wrong?"

Shinji looks up at me and shakes his head, "No… You didn't it's just… I know so little about her really. When she lived with us I didn't even bother to ask her about any of this. I didn't really talk to her about what she liked I just… reacted to things."

"You were a different person then, you were unused to her and she was not the easiest person to get along with either. Remember she shut herself away back then but now she is not like that." I say as I try to cheer him up, "Now you have an opportunity to speak to her and find out these things."

Shinji nods, "Y-Yeah… You're right I… I will do that. Does… She know a lot about me… Not that I've really done much."

"Yes." I answer truthfully, "Asuka asked about you a number of times, she always took an interest in you and the others."

"I see…" He mutters, "I guess she must have found it pretty boring then."

I shake my head, "Not at all, she was concerned about you if anything. She wanted you to be happy."

He smiles again, "Y-Yeah…"

"Did she say when she will next be contacting you?"

Shinji shakes his head, "Not exactly but it'll be soon I think. She gave me all of her contact details and she wants to send music to me. She also asked for a recording of me playing the cello. I… don't really know what to do, do I wait for her or do I contact her first?"

"Do whatever you think is right, if you record yourself before she sends you the music then contact her first." I reply, not exactly sure how to handle this situation myself. In the back of my mind there are other questions I have about what Asuka has told Shinji but I keep those locked away for now. I will contact her myself to find out how she will approach the subject of Nagisa.

"She also… asked us to tell Misato about her as well."

I feel my body tense up when I hear Shinji speak those words. Fear sets in once more as my thoughts about Misato from earlier return. The fears of how she will react to this and the fears of what my future is in this place I call home.

"Rei…" I hear Shinji say as he moves close to me, "It'll be alright, I… I'll explain everything to her."

I nod, "I would like to explain too… I should admit my part in this and face the consequences."

Shinji puts his arm around me, "Rei… There won't be any consequences for this."

"No… You don't understand, I lied to you both. I did not tell Misato the truth about my visits to Germany and she put her trust in me. I have betrayed her trust in who I am…"

Shinji pulls me towards him and hugs me gently, "It'll be alright Rei, Misato… She'll understand, I'm sure of it."

Misato's Apartment - Misato Katsuragi

Exhaustion is starting to set in as I finally reach the door to the apartment. I take out my key and let out a sigh, I feel bad... No, I feel awful. Once again, I'm late home from work and late home to see Shinji and Rei. I know they don't mind and are old enough to take care of themselves but that doesn't make me feel any better about it.

We are supposed to be a family and I'm neglecting that fact but then I've never really been very good at this. I've tried but I've always had to ask others for advice or defer to them. I love Shinji and Rei dearly but I've hardly been the mother they deserve for these past few years. I let out another sigh, this... this is the exhaustion talking and I know it.

I've been working late so much for the past two months I've let it get to me. I've not taken the time to relax. Maybe... maybe I should make sure I come home early this Friday and we can all go away for the weekend or something. Just to get us away from this city.

Maya will be able to handle whatever is happening at work. We've made progress with our plans and are getting ready to send in the first teams to search through the debris of Tokyo-3 and hopefully what is left of NERV itself. I am nervous about what we might find in there to be honest but if anything could be useful to humanity then I would like to see it extracted.

There have also been questions recently as relates to the Emergence Facility built there. The last couple of months have seen activity at the facility with more people returning and there are members of the U.N. who are concerned about who might emerge next. They are worried about 'him' coming back and to be honest so am I.

Not necessarily for the same reason that they are. They worry for their jobs and status, they worry about the fact that many of them took backhanders and looked the other way when Gendo Ikari was the Commander of NERV. They worry that they might be exposed by a man who could be desperate to keep himself free.

My worry? I worry about the effect it'll have on Shinji and Rei if he returned. I worry that it could undo all the progress the two of them have made these last few years. I worry that his return would hurt the two of them. If he were to return... I would do everything to ensure he couldn't harm them again. I would protect them with everything I have.

I need to stop thinking about these things, I need to actually get inside the apartment and get changed into something more comfortable. I can warm up whatever leftovers there are and take a long bath. I finally open the door and announce my return, "I'm home!"

"Welcome home!" Comes the joint reply from Shinji and Rei.

I smile weakly as I make my way down the hallway and towards the front room, ready to apologize to the two of them but I stop when I see the two of them are already stood up waiting for me to enter. Both of them are wearing similar expressions and almost immediately my heart leaps into my mouth, "What's wrong? Has something happened?"

They both exchange a look and I see Shinji nod slowly. He steps forward, "Nothing... is wrong it's just... We both have something to tell you and we know you have had a long day but we thought it'd be best to tell you now, rather than wait."

Despite him saying nothing is wrong I find it hard to believe that, the tone of his voice definitely indicates that something is up. I look at Rei and she looks uncharacteristically nervous, she is struggling to make eye contact with me and unless I'm mistaken I can see her legs trembling. Something is definitely wrong with the two of them.

"Okay..." I slide off my jacket and hang it over a chair, "What is it?"

I follow as the two of them sit themselves down on the sofa, I sit on the chair and my mind starts to trick over the reasons as to why they're acting like this. Could one of them have been attacked? I can't see any visible marks on either of them so I'm not sure. It seems improbably though, after we heard about the attack on Nagisa in Germany we tightened security here. I would know if either one of them was attacked or threatened.

Rei seems to be the one most affected by this, could it then be something to do with her? I know she has just started seeing someone. Could it be that she is pr- No... That can't be it at all. Rei is seeing Kodama, Hikari's sister so there is no chance of Rei getting pregnant there.

What about Shinji then? No, I doubt that Shinji would get someone pregnant, I don't even know if he has had that sort of contact with anyone before and I'm not going to ask. This is Shinji though, I know if he would probably be careful if he were to do that.

I'm not sure why my mind leapt straight to the idea of Rei being pregnant or Rei getting someone pregnant though. It doesn't seem likely for either of them. I guess perhaps I do have some sort of motherly instincts after all, is that not what parents worry about?

I glance around the apartment. Nothing within seems to be broken so it can't be there. Unless of course they have been in and broken something in my room, in which case they'd probably be improving it. I really can't guess at what the problem might be. I still don't know if there is a problem, Shinji said there wasn't but from the way the two of them look and are acting I don't believe that.

"So, what exactly is this about?" I ask.

Again, the two of them look at each other and once again it is Shinji who nods and then speaks, "It... It's about Asuka..."

I realize I probably look like an idiot but on hearing him speak those word my mouth hangs open. Those are some words I enver expected to hear Shinji speak, I never expected to hear him utter her name, he hasn't said it since she left. If I was ever to hear something about her I was sure it'd be from Fuyutsuki or even from Asuka herself.

Hearing her name frightens me, it's been so long and I never expected to hear from her again. I had hoped we would but as time went on it seemed less and less likely. I start to fear the worst, the sombre tone of Shinji's voice and the way Rei is avoiding speaking.

"What about Asuka?" I start to ask frantically, "Have you heard something? Has she been hurt? Is she okay?"

"We... We heard from her today Misato and she is okay." Shinji replied immediately.

"You heard from her?" I exclaim in surprise, "How? What happened? Is she here?"

Shinji shakes his head, "No, she is in Germany and she... called me."

Asuka called him? My first thought bizarrely is how much calling Japan from Germany must have cost but then I realize Asuka was given a vast payout and can likely afford it. My second thought is to why and how she contacted Shinji.

I look towards both Shinji and Rei for an explanation and both seem to be struggling to come up with what to say. I have to admit I don't really know what to say myself. I want to feel happy that Asuka is alive and well, I had always feared the worst for her. When she left she cut off all contact, I had no idea what had happened to her, only Fuyutsuki's reassurance but after a time even he seemed unsure.

"How did it happen? How did she get in contact with you Shinji?"

Shinji looks up at me, "She… got my phone number from Rei… It was to… sort out an incident that occurred earlier today."

"But… How did she get your number?" I ask.

I see Rei flinch slightly but then she looks up at me, I can see tears in her eyes and she finally speaks, her voice is soft and shaky, "Perhaps I should explain."

I nod, "Please do…"

"Asuka was able to get Shinji's number because I told her it." She looks at Shinji who just gives her a small nod, "I was able to tell her it because I have been in contact with her for the past three and a half years."

I smile and nod and then the reality of her words hits me. I feel my mouth open in shock as I look between Rei and Shinji. I see Rei lower her head again and a tear roll silently down her cheek. I see Shinji reach for her hand and stroke it gently. I don't quite know what to say to that, "Three and a half years? Contact… how? When?"

Rei doesn't make eye contact with me, "When I went to Europe for the first time it was… to find Asuka. I was successful in my attempt."

I cast my mind back, I do recall thinking back then that it seemed strange for Rei to want to visit Germany all of a sudden. I didn't bother to pursue that though, after all if I was unable to find Asuka then I doubted Rei would have been able to. It seems that I was wrong, not only that, but Rei didn't tell me or Shinji about it.

I admit I'm quite mad at her, I trusted her on that trip to do what she said she was going to. If she had come to me and told me she wanted to find Asuka I would have supported her in that. I'm also mad that she didn't tell me or Shinji that she found Asuka but as I look at him I can only imagine how Shinji must have felt when he found this out.

I will remain calm for the moment, I need to learn more about this. I suspect there is more to this story than I have been told so far.

"So you found her, how come you didn't say anything?"

Rei hesitates for a moment but then speaks, "Asuka… asked me to not tell anyone. She said she was not ready for other people to know. I tried… I tried but she did not want anyone else but me to know about her and her whereabouts. I… accepted her friendship but continued to lie to you and Shinji. I… I am sorry."

Seeing Rei cry is an unusual sight and one I am witnessing right now. I watch as Shinji calmly puts an arm around her to calm her down. I decide to leave Rei for the moment and turn my attention to Shinji, "When did you find out?"

"Earlier today." He admits, "I… accidentally saw a message from her on Rei's phone. Rei admitted she had been in contact with Asuka after that."

"And then what happened?"

"We had… an argument." Shinji lowers his eyes, "I… left the apartment and not long after that Asuka called me to put things right. She wanted me to know that it was all Asuka's fault and not Rei's at all. She also asked us to tell you about it too… She said that if you wanted to speak to her you could contact her."

I nod my head, "I think I'll do just that then but it can wait. For now I need to deal with this, Shinji… could you please leave us. I'd like to speak to Rei alone."

I try to soften my voice to try to keep Rei calm but I hear a small sob escape her as I say those words. Shinji looks at her with a worried expression but after a time she nods, "It is… alright Shinji."

Shinji nods back and goes into his bedroom. I take the opportunity to move over to the couch and put an arm around Rei, "Rei…"

"I am sorry…" She sniffs between her words and I feel her body shake as she starts to cry. I pull the girl towards me and gently rub her back. I am admittedly lost for words right now, I don't quite know how to deal with this but would anyone know? It wasn't a situation I ever planned for.

"Are you mad at me?"

I nod and decide that it would probably be best to be honest with her. I'm certainly not about to yell at her or anything but she does need to know that I'm not exactly happy with this situation, "A little bit, I trusted you when I let you go to Germany for the first time. I expected your reasons for going to be exactly what you told me. I also expect that your other trips there and to Europe have involved seeing her too?"

"Yes, they have." Rei admits.

"I see." I try to sound stern when I speak but it's hard to muster up anything like that when Rei is crying in front of me, "I wish you had told me your intentions the first time Rei, I could have helped you. I would have helped and supported you."

"I am sorry. I did not… I did not think I would be successful, so I did not tell you or Shinji and then… I made that promise to her."

"The promise that you would not tell us about her?"

Rei nods, "Yes, I… I tried to persuade her to come back each time I saw her but she did not think she could. She… thought that you and Shinji disliked her for who she used to be. She… was frightened."

My stomach twists as Rei says that. Asuka really thought that I disliked her? The worst thing is I can't blame her, I didn't do a lot to help Asuka, not as much as I should have done. I treated her like the adult she thought she wanted to be despite the fact that I knew otherwise. I went down that same damn path myself, I should have put an end to it. I should have gotten her to talk but I… I didn't.

"What will happen to me?" Rei suddenly asks.

I look at her in confusion, "What do you mean?"

"I lied to you and Shinji, I was… disloyal and I am undeserving of your care… I… I will leave if you desire."

I look at her in a stunned silence for a moment before laughing, "Rei, I'm not going to kick you out and I don't want you to leave. Nothing will happen to you I… I just wish you would have said something in the first place but… this seems more complicated then you just lying. If you had have told us then… it would have hurt Asuka and she's had her share of pain."

"I did not like deceiving either of you, I know how much Shinji misses her. I tried to tell her but she…"

"Is stubborn?" I smile as I see Rei hesitate but also nod, "I'll speak to her tomorrow Rei and see what she has to say. I think… based on how you are now and this argument between you and Shinji you've probably been punished enough but in the future I want you to be honest with me, you could have been hurt or worse. Do you understand?"

Rei nods, "Yes, I do. I am sorry."

"It's fine. I'll order us food tonight after I've gotten changed. You can go and get Shinji too and tell him to decide what he wants."

"Yes, I will. Thank you."

I give Rei another hug and get up off the couch and slip into my room letting out another sigh. This was not exactly how I expected my evening to go. Of all the people I expected to deal with in the next few days Asuka was not one of them. I don't even know what I'm going to say to her really, I can't really be mad at her for asking Rei to promise that, it was up to Asuka and I don't blame her for not wanting to see me.

Still, I am relieved to know she is alright. The poor girl deserves happiness after all she has gone through and I hope she has been able to find it in the last four and a half years.

Kaworu's Apartment – Asuka Langley Soryu

I slowly open my eyes and find myself looking up at an unfamiliar - well actually it isn't entirely unfamiliar to me, but I suppose in this situation it certainly is - ceiling. This particular ceiling belongs to Kaworu's bedroom, and I am currently lying, wrapped up in a duvet on his bed. His bed is warm and comfortable and I dislike the idea of leaving it but as I glance over at his alarm clock for the time I can see it's already past ten and I have things to do today.

Naturally the space next to me is empty, Kaworu will have gotten up a few hours ago to get ready and go to work. A smirk comes to my lips as I imagine the sight of him getting out of bed carefully to not wake me. All I can imagine is the same scenario that I bared witness to in my apartment some weeks ago. The image of him scrambling around trying to quickly get his pants on and tripping over them.

I laugh as I remember him falling to the floor accompanied by the look of embarrassment and frustration on his face. I had already decided that he was cute but that clumsiness just added to it. I wonder if it was a similar situation this morning, I wonder if he still had the same difficulties as he tried to get his clothes on. I have noticed he has his moments of clumsiness, tripping here and there and his cooking did leave a few cuts and burns on his hands.

Either that or he wasn't clumsy at all. He stood up straight and tall as he put his suit on. Slipping into those tight trousers that make his ass look so perfect. Buttoning up his shirt to cover up his pale but strong body. Putting on his tie and jacket making himself look professional and handsome.

I need to stop thinking about this, I have things to do but as I stretch myself out in the bed I can't help but think about how comfortable and warm I am right now. Not only that but I slept so well! I didn't have, nor was there even the threat of any bad dreams. It was so nice to fall asleep next to someone I... something I care about deeply.

That through brings me back to some of the questions I've been asking myself since we kissed on Friday, no actually, I've been asking them since I met Kaworu. How do I feel about him? On Friday I finally came to the decision that I want to be more than friends with him but what does that make us now? Boyfriend and girlfriend? It's a weird concept for me, I never imagined having someone like that but I suppose I do now. We've surpassed simple friendship, I mean you don't make out with your friends like we have been.

Well... except for that one night with Rei of course. That was however a different matter and one of many interesting nights revolving around Rei. I have to smile, that girl has grown a hell of a lot since I met her all those years ago. She isn't wild by any means but it's nice to see that she has been able to grow. She is also slightly more open to experimentation than I expected. I would never have considered making out with a girl but me and Rei decided it might be fun and... well it was. I mean I'm not really wired that way but if I was then... I guess Rei would be my first choice.

I let my thoughts return to Kaworu. I have a boyfriend now I suppose, I mean we haven't spoken about what we are and I don't know if we will. Being honest I don't really know what to say in those sort of situations, I've not been here before. We'll just have to see how this develops but I know my feelings for him are real and I want to be with him.

I do question if he has those feelings for me too. Are his feelings real or am I just the first girl to come along and show feelings for him? Is this something I should ask him or should I just wait and see how it goes? Maybe I shouldn't think about it now and just enjoy this.

What I am certain of is that I feel a safety from him that I've not felt before. It's the reason why I shared a bed with him last night and the reason I had no nightmares. Last night we kissed and made out some more and fell asleep next to one another.

Things went no further than that, I could of course feel his body reacting to what we were doing. It wasn't as if my body hadn't reacted either to it either. Despite this he made no moves to try anything related to that and I didn't do anything to him. I'm glad because I'm not ready for anything like that just yet. My body might be reacting but my mind is far from willing and I get the feeling this might be true for Kaworu as well.

I look around the room a final time before deciding that as nice and warm as this is it is actually time for me to get up. I climb out of the bed and feel my bare feet make contact with the soft carpets. I stretch once again and start to head out of the room. I actually feel remarkably refreshed this morning and that isn't just related to getting a good night's sleep. The phone call to Shinji has also helped, it's lifted a weight from me that I've been carrying for so long.

As the memories of yesterday's phone call enter my head I start to get that familiar feeling of nervousness in my stomach. What happened yesterday was only the beginning, there is still some way to go. I said I'd contact him again and I will also have to face Misato at some point too. It's likely I'll have to face the others as well. It's too late for me to back out now though, I'm sick of running away and fed up of having that fear of them hating me.

Shortly after the phone call last night Shinji sent me and e-mail with the proposed set list for his concert. I had my entire music library on my laptop so it was just a matter of me and Kaworu going through it and finding the tracks that had been performed by or with an orchestra. For some tracks I sent along two versions, one of the band playing with an orchestra and the other of the song being performed by an orchestra. Hopefully it'll help him. I've uploaded all of the tracks to my online storage, I just need to send him the link and that'll be done.

I can do that after I've spoken to him today, I need to find out how things went with Misato. I also need to see how Rei is doing and I guess I should tell him about my friendship with Kaworu. I can't imagine how that is going to go. Will he have the same hatred for him that Rei does? I can't imagine Shinji being like that, he'll be conflicted and confused. That's just his way.

I make my way into the front room and I can't deny it feels quite weird stepping out of Kaworu's bedroom like this. More so the fact that he isn't here. I'm so used to sleeping on his couch and waking up at roughly the same time that he does. This is different, I was in his bedroom… I was in his bed… it's just… strange but it also feels right in its own way. It feels nice.

I cross over into the bathroom to take a shower and do various other things that I need to do. I finish up in the bathroom and throw on a change of clothes that I've brought with me. It's then that I realize I'm actually running out of clothing. I did go and get a couple of things at the weekend but I didn't know how long I'd be staying for, I still don't but after last night it might be a while. I need to go back and get fresh underwear and a few other things.

I go into the kitchen and spy a set of keys lying on top of a note addressed to me.

'Asuka,

I apologize for leaving without waking you but you looked so peaceful as your slept I did not dare disturb you. I've left you this set of keys in case you need to go out today. They're my spare set and I want you to have them so you can come and go as you please.

I was unsure if you would want to return to your apartment today or not but if not then please know that you are welcome to stay for as long as you want. If you need a place to store your things there is a lot of space in the wardrobes and drawers, as you may have noticed I do not own a lot of clothing so you can bring whatever you want. Also feel free to make use of anything inside the apartment, all I have is yours whilst you stay.

Hopefully I will see you this evening.

Kaworu xxx'

As I put the note down I'm aware that I am blushing, damn idiot putting three kisses on the bottom has gotten me to blush. Just wait until I see him later, I'm going to kiss him so much he won't know what to do with himself. Just you wait Kaworu, you will be seeing me tonight!

I leave the keys on the counter for now, thoughts of what to do with Kaworu can wait as can my returning to my apartment to get more clothes. I don't want to put this off any longer, I have a phone call to make. I grab my phone and select his number, hoping that he will be around to answer it.

The phone rings twice and he answers, "A-Asuka! Hey!"

"Hello Shinji." I feel myself smile as I speak, "How are you today?"

"I'm good!" He answers back enthusiastically, "How… How are you?"

I let out a yawn as I walk towards the couch and sit myself down in front of my laptop, "Good… Tired, just work up less than half an hour ago."

"Oh… I'm not bothering you am I?"

I look at the phone dumbfounded for a moment, "Shinji… I'm the one who called you!"

"Oh yeah… sorry." I hear him reply sheepishly.

I shake my head, "Do you have time to talk? I thought maybe we could pick up where we left off last night?"

"Yeah… Rei is out on a date and Misato isn't due in for another hour so I'm not really doing anything."

"Good." I nod wondering where I should start. I don't really want to mention Kaworu just yet. I guess I should find out what happened after we stopped talking last night first, "Were you able to patch things up with Rei?"

"Y-Yeah… I… apologized to her for what I said too…"

"Good, how is she doing?"

"She still feels bad thought… I said she should contact you but she is worried you'll be angry at her…"

"Idiot…" I sigh, Rei can be as bad as Shinji sometimes, "Tell her to phone me when she gets back."

"Yeah I will..." Shinji pauses for a moment, I sense that he has something else to say so I wait for him. Finally, his voice returns, "We... We told Misato about it too."

"Oh... Good..." I reply nervously, I know I asked them to tell Misato but it doesn't exactly make me feel good, "How did she take the news?"

"She was a bit mad at Rei... for lying about the reason she first went to Germany but she seemed relieved I guess. She was really worried about you when you left the first time..."

"I know..." I sigh and shake my head, "Did she say anything else?"

"Not really, she spoke to Rei for a while about it but I don't know what they spoke about. She said she'll contact you when she can though. She's just... really busy at the moment."

"Yeah, Rei mentioned something about that. Tokyo-3 stuff, right?"

"Yeah..." He replies, "She comes home late a lot, she feels really bad about it too but we tell her to not worry about it. Oh... I listened to those tracks last night!"

"Ah, did you?" My ears prick up on hearing him say that, "What did you think?"

"I liked them!" He answers with some enthusiasm, "I can see why he picked those ones, I can imagine where strings might fit in but a few will be challenging. I'm... excited to try them though."

I grin, embracing a challenge? This is a side of Shinji I haven't seen before, or at least very rarely seen, "Did any of them stand out to you?"

"Umm... Well that one by Meat Loaf definitely stood out but I really liked the tracks by Genesis and Procal Harum too. A few of them were very... different to what I'd normally listen to."

I find myself intrigued as he says that, "What do you normally listen to anyway?"

It takes him a moment to reply, "Well... a few things really, mostly classical stuff because of my teacher but there are a few modern songs I like. I've got a few songs on there too that were... they were left on the SDAT when I first got it, I think they're what my mother used to listen to."

"Ah I see..." I say and lower my gaze unsure of what to say to him. Mothers are, as are many things, a delicate subject, "I didn't realize it was her SDAT when you had it?"

"Yeah... It was the only thing of hers that remained after my father destroyed everything." He pauses, "I later found out that it was Fuyutsuki who saved it, he sent it to my teacher saying that my mother would want me to have it."

"That was good of him."

Music left to us by our mothers, yet another thing that links the two of us. Sometimes it wouldn't surprise me if I found out our mothers were best of friends before they both died. Heh, maybe they were, it's not like I've asked anyone.

I glance down at the laptop screen, "Well I went through and found some of those tracks for you last night. They finished uploading a while ago so when we're done here I'll send the link over if you want!"

"Really? That'd be great Asuka, thank you so much, I don't know how to repay you."

"You don't need to repay me you idiot, consider this part of the apology for... well what I did and what happened between you and Rei." I reply.

"You don't need to apologize Asuka, I should be the one who..."

I cut him off immediately, "No! Don't you dare apologize, I already told you... None of this was your fault."

"I know but..." He resists

I stop him once again, "No!"

Once more he protests, "But..."

"Shinji!" I almost growl.

"Sorry..."

He still managed to find a way to apologize! He's frustrating, impossibly so yet despite how much this annoys me I can't help but grin at it. It irritates me and yet I missed it, I missed those little exchanges because they were in some strange way funny and I get the feeling he's smiling on the other end of the phone as well.

"Oh, you said you wanted two tickets for the concert, didn't you?" He suddenly asks, "Did you want me to ask Hikari for you?"

Hikari? Why would he... Oh, I said last night tickets for me and a friend, didn't I? He must have assumed I meant Hikari after all if I was back in touch with them why wouldn't I also get back in touch with Hikari. In truth I hadn't considered it just yet, I was intending to eventually but just not yet. One step at a time I suppose.

"Oh... No, it... wasn't Hikari." I reply to him and figure out the best way to go about this, I was intending to tell him about Kaworu, just not exactly like this. I take in a deep breath and wonder just how he is going to react to this. Rei said he reacted fairly badly to the news that Kaworu was alive, that was weeks ago, though. Surely, he'd be better now... right?

'You know that isn't how this works Asuka...' I hear a voice in the back of my head remind me. Yeah... I'm aware of how this sort of thing works. Trauma doesn't go away quickly, if it ever goes away at all.

"Oh... It's a friend from Germany then?" He asks.

"Yeah..." I trail off, "Look... this isn't the easiest thing to say Shinji so I want you to prepare yourself."

"Okay..." He sounds confused.

"So, this friend is..." I trail off again, this is so damn hard, "Shinji, do you remember that thing Rei told you a few weeks ago? About... a certain person returning?"

"Y-Yeah..." I can hear the trembling in his voice as he speaks, as much as I like to call him an idiot I know Shinji isn't that stupid, he must be starting to make the connection, "K-Kaworu was back..."

"Yeah... That's my friend... Kaworu... Kaworu Nagisa is... my friend."

I feel sick, my heart is thumping in my chest and my legs are shaking and yet I know that how I feel right now, it's probably nothing compared to what Shinji is feeling. In fact, despite the distance I am sure I can hear the sound of something breaking.

"I... I have to go..."

"Wait!" I almost yell, "Wait Shinji... Please... Please don't hang up, don't you dare hang up on me."

"No, I can't do this. Goodby-"

"Shinji, if you hang up that phone I swear to god I will be in Japan tomorrow and tell you about this face to face!" I reply to him sternly, "Let me... Let me explain everything, just... hear me out okay? If you don't want to talk to me after this then... I understand but just... let me explain."

There is silence from his end of the phone and I do actually expect him to hang up. I wouldn't blame him if he did to be honest. That was probably the last person he ever expected me to mention and after all that happened yesterday he's probably been upset enough. Damnit my stomach is churning, I'm glad I haven't had breakfast yet.

It's a minute before I hear anything again, "O-Okay… I… I'll stay, sorry."

"No, don't be sorry." I tell him. How can he still be sorry for wanting to leave when I bring up Kaworu? Okay I guess maybe I didn't help matters with my warning, "Don't be sorry at all, I… probably shouldn't have mentioned him yet but I thought you should know sooner rather than later."

"I don't understand, I mean… how?"

His voice is trembling still but at least he is staying on the phone, "I bumped into him coming out of a café here in Germany… Literally bumped into him, he dropped a letter and ran off when he saw me."

"He ran away?" Shinji asks me, "Why?"

"He recognized me, thought I'd hurt him. I didn't have a clue who he was, thought he was some idiot who didn't bother to look where he was going." I laugh, "Being honest I thought he was someone who recognized me, I thought that my life on anonymity had finally ran out."

"You didn't recognize him?"

"No, I couldn't have done. I was in a coma when he arrived remember so I didn't know who he was or anything about it." I explain, "It was Rei who filled me in when I saw her the next day. She recognized his name and warned me against any contact with him."

"You still went to see him?" He exclaims in surprise.

"When have I ever listened to people?" I ask him with a smile, "I was… curious I guess. She told me about this dangerous person who used to be an Angel yet my experience had been the opposite. I guess I wanted to know why he ran away from me. When I got to his apartment he… well he was terrified of me."

"Why?"

"Because he's human Shinji and he thinks everything is going to hurt him." I explain, "He knew who I was and thought I was there for revenge for what he had done… I guess I felt sorry for him. I know how that feels."

"Yeah… I do too…" Shinji says solemnly, "But we didn't do what he did Asuka!"

"I know Shinji, I know what he nearly did and I know what he was. Rei reminded me of that when I told her about this, she wasn't… happy about it either." I explain to him.

"Rei knows about it?" Shinji asks.

"Yes she does, I had to tell her and she wasn't happy about it. She… understandably doesn't trust Kaworu and she also wants to protect you." I say to Shinji, "She was worried that it'd be some trick by Kaworu but… well it isn't."

"How do you know? It still could be!" Shinji raises his voice to me which I find somewhat surprising.

"Because he was attacked Shinji, not long after he came back the people assigned to watch him attacked him and beat him up." I tell him, "They recognized him from NERV and they hurt him, I was… there for him. He was helpless."

"Oh… I… Was he hurt?"

"Nothing too bad physically, busted lip and black eye. He recovered quickly but it hurt his confidence and pride I guess." I shrug, "Look… This isn't my story to tell but Kaworu's past… SEELE made him do those things and he's a victim too. I don't blame you for hating him or not trusting him but… I'd like for you and Rei to give him a chance."

There is a long pause and I know Shinji is struggling to figure out what to say. This isn't going to be easy for him but I need to get this out of the way now, if I don't then it's just going to build up and up and besides… if I can get those two talking to each other I can make them both happy right?

"Okay I…" Shinji trails off, "I'll… He can come and… I'd like to speak to him sometime if that's possible? I… I'd like to know his story."

"Okay, good." I nod my head, "Thank you Shinji, I'll speak to him."

"Okay and… thank you for telling me, you're right it is better I hear it now."

"I know… Let's… forget about that for now. I want to hear more of your thoughts on those songs and tell you a bit more about the tracks I've picked."

With those words we carry on speaking to one another and put the awkward part of the conversation behind us. He tells me what his favourite songs were and I tell him which ones are my favourites and even about the bands behind them. He sounds surprised to hear me talk about music in such a way, I guess when I was around I never really shown much enthusiasm for the subject.

On the other side though hearing Shinji tell me about what he likes and playing the cello, it's like I'm talking to a different Shinji. He sounds enthusiastic, confident and happy, a far cry from the nervous and timid boy I used to know. We speak for another half an hour or so and then Shinji tells me he has to go, Rei is due in and I need to go and eat and get my stuff from my apartment.

We hang up and say we'll talk again soon. He also says that he'll send a recording of himself playing the Cello later. I'm sure me and Kaworu will enjoy cuddling up and listening to it. After the phone call I sit for a moment thinking about what'll happen going forward. I'm back in contact with them, this is… a major change for me but one I think I want. I want to be happy, I deserve to be happy and so does Kaworu, maybe… maybe all of this can work.