23rd September 2021 – Kaworu Nagisa

I leave the practice building completely aware that I am smiling. Today has been an experience that I do not think I will forget about any time soon. The day has brought with it a mixture of feelings and emotions, at the start I was terrified and so very nervous. As the day went on that fear gave way to moments of frustration but also elation and joy.

I cannot think of a name for what I am feeling now, I feel that to give it a name would mar it. Suffice to say I feel like a part of me has been reborn on this very day. I feel like parts of me have been awakened that I never knew existed.

I glance down at my hands as I walk. In all the years I have played the piano I never realized what I really had with these hands. I never fully understood the power that these hands could have. I have the power to inspire someone, I have the power to teach someone, I have the ability to put a smile on someone's face.

Today was my first day of teaching piano to others. I have given four lessons in total today to a variety of people. Two of which were complete beginners, one was a young child and the other was an adult who was double my own age. The other two students were fairly experienced but were looking for help and assistance in moving forward with their own playing.

Today I... I have helped people. I feel such elation in knowing that I, Kaworu Nagisa, can actually make a positive contribution to this world. When I am home I must be sure to contact Fuyutsuki, I must thank him for giving me this chance and tell him how the day has gone. Afterwards I... I shall see Asuka and I will take her out to dinner to celebrate.

I must admit that I was quite unsure as to whether or not I would be able to get through today. Acquiring the relevant qualifications and certifications to do this was fairly simple but actually having to do this was a different matter. I feel like I must have read the documentation and advice a million and one times. Yet I still did not feel that I was prepared.

To tell the truth I felt like an imposter, when I think about what I am and what I was. I am still learning how to be human so how can I teach people something that is the pinnacle of human achievement. I felt that I had no right to do such a thing. I felt that because I am an alien, because I am not human that I was intruding on something that was rightfully theirs.

I told all of this to Asuka last night, in return she called me an idiot and hit me with a pillow. She told me that I was a wonderful piano player and that I'd do fine. She said that I had as much of a right to teach piano as anyone else in this world and to not think of myself as an alien any longer. She then called me an idiot again before throwing a pillow at me and asking if I wanted to share some ice cream with her.

Beyond the concerns about my own identity there was something else bugging me. I did not feel that I would be able to teach my students. Whilst I am confident in my own abilities as a musician I wondered if those abilities would translate well into teaching. I was worried that perhaps I would be unable to keep their attention for an entire lesson, or perhaps I would be uninteresting and they would learn nothing from me.

There was also that familiar fear in the back of my mind that perhaps one of them would recognize me. I know it is unlikely that anyone would recognize me. Asuka has told me that a number of times and I have been out myself often enough to know it is unlikely to happen. Yet the thoughts of what happened to me only a few weeks ago are still fresh in my mind.

It would seem that all of my fears and concerns were in vain though. All four of the lessons seemed to go extremely well. For the two who wanted to advance with their playing I took the time to listen to them play and identify areas that I thought they could improve in. In both cases they had the fundamentals of playing down but felt there was something of a wall in place preventing them from moving forward.

So I listened to them. For one of them I thought that whilst he could identify and play a few pieces his timing was off in a few areas. I asked if he played to a metronome and he told me they didn't, they went off of what sounded right. So I had him play the pieces again but this time to a metronome and also put him through some basic exercises to get him used to playing with that.

For the other person she had her timing down and was used to playing with a metronome but wanted to move onto some more advanced pieces. Her difficulty was that she found herself intimidated by the pieces she wanted to learn and wasn't sure where to really start. She brought in a piece for us to work through, over the next few lessons I'm going to try breaking it down for her, identify techniques used and show her how to put it all together. My hope is that she can apply those methods to learn other pieces she wishes to learn.

The adult twice my age was a complete beginner. He had always wanted to learn to play an instrument but never really made that leap into doing so. He had received a keyboard as a birthday present from his wife and so was looking for lessons on getting started. For him I introduced him to the keys, showed him what each one was and even managed to get him to switch between two chords.

It was the child that concerned me the most though as I went into today's sessions. I had a number of questions going into the lesson. First I wondered if I would be able to handle a six-year old child. I had never even met a child before; my only experiences of young children comes from seeing them in film or television, or seeing them out in the streets and those situations did not always seem to be good.

I admit that I was also worried about the child itself. I questioned whether a child of that age would really want to learn how to play the piano. I questioned whether this was a decision made by them or made by their parents. Perhaps I should not be asking such questions or having such worried but based on my own past experiences I was unable to not have these concerns. It was at age six that my handlers forced the piano onto me.

So yes, I was very worried, it was not my desire or wish to teach this art to a person who does not wish to learn or is being coerced into doing so. Music is a gift to be enjoyed and shared, it is not a competition or something to give a person status. Music is about expression what is within the heart, be it a simplistic melody or a complex symphony. I want to help inspire people, I do not wish for them to suffer.

Fortunately, it seems like all of my worried regarding the child were unfounded. The child himself was a very pleasant young man, he was both attentive and polite. His mother was in the room with us the whole time which made me feel a bit more comfortable.

I actually spoke to her about the child's reasons for playing. It turns out the child's school had someone come in to play and he decided he wanted to do that too. She was reluctant at first saying that it was expensive and the child might not even keep it up but she decided to encourage it.

In the end I am pleased that she has done so. Her son seemed to be very happy with what we were able to accomplish. We went through less than the other beginner, I tried to teach him the location of a few notes and had him play them in order. I gave him a sheet to take home so he can practice this on his own keyboard. Next week I'll continue with that and try to teach him a basic tune and his first two chords.

When teaching him I'll be sure to take it slowly unlike the ones that taught me. Beethoven and Mozart are going to be far away for this young man. We can start simple and build up. I want to make sure his child enjoys playing and has a smile on his face when he leaves here.

Now however it is I who has a smile on my face. I am now returning home, to my home where Asuka, my girlfriend is currently staying. It feels weird to think such a thing, nine months ago I was coming to terms with the fact that I was alive. Barely a month later I had to get used to living on my own, cooking and shopping for myself and learning how to work for a living. Thought of romance were naught but a dream, I never expected such a thing to occur.

Fate it seems had other plans, it led me to bump into Asuka, quite literally bump into her. I can still remember feeling so much fear upon seeing her. I was so certain that she would recognize me and hate me for what I am and what I was. Yet that did not happen, she did not recognize me and even when she knew who I was she did not hate me.

From there a friendship blossomed between us. We laughed together, played games and listened to music. Eventually it developed into what it is now, something more than friendship, is it love? I am sure that what I feel for her qualifies. My heart leaps to think about her, I smile when I'm around her and I always long to be by her side. She is beautiful and she makes me so very happy. I am sure that this thing is love and I am so glad to be in it.

Tokyo-2 – Shinji Ikari

I step out of the reception and onto the street into the bright sunshine. I give my eyes a moment to adjust before looking around for any sign of Touji and Kensuke. As expected the two of them aren't here yet and seem to be running late. Usually something like that would annoy me but today I don't mind, it gives me a bit more time to figure out what I'm going to say to them. I've decided that today I'm going to tell them about being back in contact with Asuka.

If I'm being honest I'm actually quite nervous about telling them. I guess it's because I don't really know how they're going to react to it. In the past the two of them have said some mean things about Asuka. I know they probably didn't mean it and most of it was a reaction to things she said to or about them but I do wonder how they'll feel about this.

I'm happy that I'm able to be friends with her again and talking to her but will they be happy with it? I can still remember not too long after Asuka left Touji did actually tell me that it was probably for the best that she did leave. I never know if he was saying that just to make me feel better or if he actually meant that it was good that she left.

I don't think either of them really knows the full story about Asuka. They don't know the sort of things she went through that caused her to be the way she was. I know that doesn't justify her behavior at times but she dealt with things no one should ever have to deal with. Out of respect for Asuka I never told them about any of it. I figured that if she wanted anyone to know then she would tell them herself.

I spoke to Asuka again last night, during our conversation I actually asked if we should tell the others about her being back in contact. She said that she was fine with that, it was probably better to tell them now so that they can expect her in December. She did however tell me to keep her writing secret for now, not many people know about her pseudonym. So today I'll tell Touji and Kensuke and Rei will tell Hikari about it.

I have to admit that speaking to Asuka again is strange. It's been so many years since I last saw or even spoke to her and yet it doesn't feel like any time has passed at all. It's also quite different speaking to her, she seems to be more open than she used to, I guess in a way I am too. We've both had years to work through the various issues we've had and whilst I don't think I am nor will I ever be completely through it I am in a better place now. I feel like Asuka is the same.

It's nice though, because certain elements of the old Asuka remain but it's different now. She still has a boastful and confident side but it doesn't feel the same as it did before. She will even still call me an idiot when we speak but it's playful. I feel like this is how it always should have been and if things had been different back then it would have been too.

Something that really stands out is I'm learning how passionate Asuka is about the things she likes. She was always so closed off back then. I suppose I was too. We'll discuss music for ages, we'll talk about who we like and why we like them. We've even started sending each other songs and discussing them. I'll ask her things about her book, I'll ask why she became a writer and what it was like to get her book published.

Asuka will ask me about my life here, she'll ask what I've been up to and all about my cello playing. She'll ask me how I started playing and why I decided to keep it up. She'll ask me about where we live now and about Rei and Misato. She'll ask me if I still cook and then I'll speak to her about the same subjects.

I feel like this is really how things should have been between us. From the moment I met her up until the day she left I always considered Asuka a close friend. On the day we met we were addressing each other by our first names and that just felt right. Even when things were at their very lowest for the two of us I never stopped seeing her as that close friend, I so desperately wanted to help but I couldn't.

I did always wonder how Asuka saw me. As first I thought she saw me purely as a rival and someone to compete against. Her addressing me by first name, I thought that was just a product of her being raised in a different environment but then why was I comfortable doing it too? As time went one I guess in figured out that she didn't just see me as a rival, she was my friend and didn't dislike me. She even pushed me to be better, I don't know if she did that intentionally but whenever I was around her I wanted to be better than I was.

Unfortunately, the peace of that time only lasted so long. I can't quite pinpoint the exact moment things started to go wrong. Was it the kiss? Was it something before then? Was it the twelfth Angel? It feels like it was around that time things started to go wrong and all I could do was look on as she and others around me started to fall apart.

I hate that I did absolutely nothing to help them. I hate that I merely stood by and watched it happen when a simple gesture could have helped any of them. What was I supposed to do though? I was terrified that people would hate me and abandon me, in truth I'm still terrified of that but I know now it isn't going to happen.

Yet I still hate myself for it all, I hate that I stood by and watched as Misato lost Kaji, I hate that I stood by and watched Asuka suffer the trauma of having her mind invaded by that Angel. I know that one simple gesture might have helped, a few words or even a hug. Yet I didn't do that, I stood by and watched from the shadows.

"Yo Shinji!"

I turn and look up towards the source of the voice that has very thankfully broken me free of my cycle of self-deprecation. At the end of the street I can see Touji and Kensuke walking towards me, I musted up a weak smile and wave at them with my free hand.

"Hey guys!"

They approach me and Touji flashes Kensuke a quick grin before pulling me into a crushing half-bear hug, "So what's up with you? You looked to be pretty deep in thought before we called out, didn't anyone ever tell ya that too much thinking is bad for you?"

"You know, they only say that because you're not capable of thinking Touji." Kensuke replies in a mocking tone.

Touji thankfully let's go of me and glares at Kensuke, "Hey! What's that supposed to mean!"

I laugh out loud as I Touji playfully punches Kensuke on the shoulder, "I'm just concerned about a friend!"

"Yeah I know." Kensuke laughs for a moment before turning towards me and looking slightly more concerned, "Seriously though Shinji, you did look pretty deep in thought."

"I'm fine, I was just... having a moment. You know what I'm like." I half smile as the two of them look towards one another. More concern on their faces, it's amusing in its own way. Touji looks and gives off the image of being a stereotypical jock but, and not that he'd ever admit it, he has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know and is very understanding.

Kensuke on the other hand, well... there were some issues in the past. For a while I didn't really want to face Kensuke due to his attitudes about me piloting. He's changed though, he's still a nerdy kid but he's more respectful and understands that piloting wasn't the cool experience he thought it was in his head.

Neither of them pries any further at the moment, instead Touji slaps me on the back, "Well, we're here now! Time to go and get food, I'm starving!"

"You're always starving Touji!" Kensuke remarks, "Although that said, I could go for some food too, what do you say Shinji?"

My stomach growls in agreement with the two of them, "Yeah, I'm pretty hungry too."

With that said we decide to go somewhere and get food. Touji has already scouted out places beforehand so knows exactly where to go. We walk along the pavement, Kensuke in the middle, Touji to his right and I'm on the left. I shift my cello case to my left hand to avoid hitting him with it as we walk. During the brief walk I look forward the two of them.

I've never really thought about it before but being in contact with Asuka again has gotten me to think about how we've all changed. I wonder how much Asuka has changed in the past few years too. We've all gotten a little bit taller and our body shapes and faces have changed slightly too. Touji has kept his hair short and the same as it always was but he's gotten a lot taller, standing above the two of us.

Touji does a lot of sport and working out too. He wants to be a sports teacher so he always keeps himself fit and healthy. Basketball is or was his main sport, many people thought that he would be good enough to play at a professional level but he never really wanted to pursue that. He always felt that his prosthetic leg would cause issues and would rather work on inspiring others.

Kensuke is the shortest out of the three of us. At the moment he has a few rough patches of facial hair where he is trying to grow something that resembles a beard. I don't think any of us have the heart to tell him that it isn't working.

I guess I've stayed mostly the same though. I wonder if Asuka would be disappointed by that or if it'd make her feel better? I've gotten a little bit taller but I still wear the same simplistic clothes, I still keep my hair the same length and I've remained the same build. The only thing I really have is a few shaving cuts on my cheek, unlike Kensuke and Touji I have no stubble or facial hair. I hate having it, it reminds me of him.

I wonder how much Asuka has changed in that time, does she still wear her hair in the same way? Has it gotten longer or short? What sort of clothes does she wear now? Has she gotten any taller and what about her body shape? I did consider asking for a picture or asking Rei but I backed out of it. I know it seems silly but I thought it might be too much to ask for that after we've only just started talking again.

We finally reach our destination, it's a small ramen place and for some reason I'm reminded of that small cart that we went to after defeating the tenth Angel. I had fun that night, it was nice to sit with the others and eat whilst enjoying the scenery. It was such a simple thing but it also meant so much.

Funnily enough that night was Asuka's idea as well. Misato had promised to take us all for a steak dinner after we fought the tenth Angel. Asuka found out two things, one was that Rei didn't eat meat and two was that Misato couldn't really afford such a thing. So, she took it upon herself to make sure we did something that Misato could afford and something that we could include Rei with.

It was always small things like that, the fact that she always tried to make sure people were included and always noticed if someone was unhappy that made me realize Asuka wasn't as bad as the image she presented. Things like that are why I considered her a close friend and fell for her. It's a shame that we didn't get to do more things like that.

We all order what we want from the counter and find a quiet booth to sit down in. As we sit I realize I still haven't quite figured out what I'm going to tell them about Asuka. I spent all that time thinking about anything but that. I'm still worried about their reaction to the news. I don't want them to dislike or hate Asuka, she doesn't deserve that after all she has been through.

I know she wasn't always the nicest person to them though. It's not really fair though, they only saw one side of her. They never really saw the side I did. Hopefully they'll realize that.

"So, Shinji, how's it going with the cello stuff?" Kensuke asks me, distracting me from my thoughts.

"It's going good." I nod my head, "We've started to learn the songs for the concert now and it looks like I'll have to go to more rehearsal sessions a week now."

"Oh yeah?" Touji speaks up with a mouthful of food, "Hikari said she's looking forward to it. When is the concert?"

"Not until December." I tell Touji slightly unable to hide the surprise in my voice. I knew Rei and Misato were looking forward to it, as well as Asuka but I didn't think the others would have been that interested, "Is she planning on coming?"

"We're all planning on coming!" Kensuke quickly corrects me, "You didn't think we'd miss something like this did you?"

I feel myself blush and shake my head, "N-No… Thank you… I appreciate it."

I smile as I prod some of the noodles around in my bowl and give myself access to the half boiled egg in there. I balance it on my chopsticks for a moment before putting it into my mouth. So this means that everyone will be there on that night. My family and my friends, all of them will be there. Rei, Misato, Hikari, Touji, Kensuke and Asuka.

There is going to be another person there as well. I don't know if I can consider them a friend, I don't know what to consider them really. Asuka considers them a friend but is that really enough for me? Would that be enough for the others? They don't really know about Kaworu though, I've never really told them about what happened.

I guess that is something I'll have to do if he is going to be there. I'll need to tell them exactly who Kaworu is. That can wait for now though, I need to tell them about Asuka first. I can't believe I spent all that time thinking about everything else other than what to say. I guess I'll just come out with it.

"I… actually have something to tell you guys about the concert. I… I got a phone call from someone else who is going to be coming as well…"

Both of them look up at me in confusion, "Who?"

I take a deep breath, "Asuka…"

Both of them look at me in complete disbelief. I can see that they're trying to figure out if what they've just heard me say is actually what I've said. They exchange a glance between one another and then look at me once again. It takes about half a minute or so but Kensuke is the first one to speak.

"You mean… the red devil Asuka right?"

I nod my head, "Yes."

"Like… that… Asuka?" He asks again.

I nod once more, "Yes…"

"Asuka is going to be there?" Touji exclaims, "I didn't know she played an instrument!"

I can hear the sound of Kensuke groaning next to me and I have the urge to do the same. I look to see Kensuke shaking his head, "Shinji didn't mean she was going to be playing in the concert! He meant she is actually going to be in audience!"

"Oh!"

Kensuke turns to me, "What happened? I mean it's been five years right?"

"Yeah…" I confirm.

I don't know if I should tell them the full story of what exactly happened. That's something I should probably save for later, it involves Rei and I wouldn't like them to think anything bad about Rei.

"It was… Rei… She kinda helped get in contact with her. We've spoken to each other a few times over the past week. She… is going to be coming to Japan in December to attend the concert." I start to tell them a few things, "She's been living in Germany for the last five years."

"Did she say why she left?" Kensuke asks me.

"It was my fa-"

I catch myself before I finish that sentence. I hate myself for jumping to that immediately. Why am I so desperate to blame myself for Asuka leaving? Why am I so desperate to blame myself for any bad thing that happens? I know it wasn't my fault that she left. She told me that and I owe it to her to believe her when she says something like that.

"It was… She didn't feel comfortable here anymore." I explain. Again I wonder just how much I should tell them of what she told me. Asuka told me in confidence so she probably wouldn't be happy to have her personal issues spoken about freely.

"She was dealing with a lot of baggage from piloting and Third Impact. She… didn't think being here would help that so she left."

"So, she just left without telling anyone?" Kensuke asks, I can hear some anger in his tone.

"Yes." I nod.

"Damn, that's cold…"

"It makes sense for her though." I look up in surprise at Touji's words, "Getting away from here… it was probably the best thing she could do.

"Well yeah!" Kensuke adds, "I mean she wasn't the most pleasant person was she? Probably would have just ended up hu-"

"I don't mean that." Touji cuts him off, "Asuka… suffered didn't she Shinji?"

I nod my head, "Yes."

I watch as Touji clenches his hand into a fist and shakes his head, "NERV… The Eva... They didn't do anyone any good, I don't know what happened to or with Asuka but I think she did the right thing. If she had to go then… it was the best thing for her. If it hurt her then… it makes sense."

As I listen to Touji I thing I finally start to understand those words he said to me a long time ago about Asuka leaving possibly being the best thing for her. He wasn't being malicious, it was almost as if he understand why she left. He didn't need to know about her past or what she suffered, he just knew that she, like anyone who came into contact with Eva, had suffered.

Touji will understand that. He felt it first hand when he piloted, he had suffered beforehand when his sister was hospitalized. He watched as one of his friends spiraled downwards before his very eyes. For all the front he might put up, for the image he puts out he isn't stupid and he is a very understanding person.

"Was it that bad for her though?" Kensuke asks, "I mean… she never really seemed to suffer?"

I nod, "It was… She just… wasn't very good at saying anything."

Touji laughs, "Not like any of you were very good at that. Well I guess Hikari will be happy about it. I reckon she's missed her almost as much as you have!"

I feel myself blush as I look down at my bowl and scoop up some more noodles.

"Oh yeah of course!" I hear Kensuke speak, "So I suppose you'll be the first to meet her at the airport won't you Shinji!"

I'm not going to respond to them. I'm going to eat and ignore it.

"We'd better make sure we get him a proper suit and help him pick out flowers and chocolates for her."

I can feel my cheeks burning at their teasing. It's not like I haven't thought about it though. It's not like I haven't dreamed about that moment she returns. Me being there at the airport in a suit, giving her flowers and chocolates. Me spending time with her, holding her hand and holding her. I'm just not going to tell them that.

Instead I try to move the conversation on, "You two are alright with it?" I just… I know she wasn't… well she could be…"

"Loud?" Kensuke says.

"Arrogant?" Touji adds.

"Obnoxious?" Kensuke speaks.

"A total bitch?" Touji says.

"Well... I wouldn't have been as unkind but I know you guys didn't really get on with her I guess..." I gaze down at the table.

"She wasn't so bad..." Touji says.

Kensuke chips in, "Yeah I mean… It's not like we didn't give as good as good as she gave us. Besides that was years ago."

I feel myself smile, "Yeah… It was. Thanks guys."

I resume eating and we continue to discuss a variety of things. That went a lot better than I thought, I thought that they would be against the idea of her being here. After the way she used to be back when she was here I thought they were happy to see the back of her and wouldn't want her back. Yet they seem happy that she is going to be visiting.

I'm glad they're happy and I feel like for the first time in a long I'm happy too.

30th September 2021 – Kaworu Nagisa

I turn myself around on the stool and watch as the woman leaves the room. She seemed to be quite satisfied with how the lesson went. It would seem that the advice I gave her last week was helpful. Our lesson today was spent analyzing the beginnings of the song she would like to learn. Over the past week I actually listened to the song several times, making notes of the chords used, the key it is in and dividing it up into sections.

I gave her the information I thought appropriate for the moment and we started to analyze the beginning of the song. Again I broke it down, helping her to understand the time signature used which in this case was a standard 4/4 as well as the tempo of the song. We then went over the chord changes for each bar of the introduction so she could get her left hand movement down. As an exercise I've given her the notation and asked if she could learn the first three bars of the song for next week.

She seemed keen to learn and she was actually able to listen to and play the chord changes for the introduction. It is my hope that she can not only learn this whole piece eventually but understand how I am breaking things down to help her learn other pieces in the future and perhaps even compose her own works one day.

With the room now empty I look around and wonder what I should do for the rest of this morning. Unfortunately, my other morning lesson has had to cancel due to a sudden illness. It is a shame because they seemed enthusiastic about learning too but I expect I shall see them next week. My next sessions are not until this afternoon. I must admit, I am looking forward to seeing the two beginners again to see how much progress has been made.

I could go home and relax until I need to return for the lesson but in the time it would take me to travel home and then get ready to come back and set everything up I do not think I would get much time to relax. Staying here is a more viable option but I cannot simply sit in this room for all that time. Except this is a part of town I'm not yet familiar with and this building is full of people I do not yet know.

Those two facts scare me, and I know they shouldn't scare me but what happened to me all those weeks ago is still a vivid memory. I still fear going outside in case the same thing happens again. I am used to the commute from Fuyutsuki's office to home and going for short walks around the area but this is an unknown area to me. I suppose that I, like many humans fear the unknown even though this seems like such a minor thing.

It is unlikely that anyone would attack me again. Fuyutsuki has a new security team watching us, one that he has personally vetted himself. The two that did attack me were assigned to me as a result of complacency by the UN. I still fear them though and I still fear the people I walk past on the street.

I take a deep breath and think of what Asuka would say to me at this time. She'd tell me to not let my fear hold me back because I have nothing to be afraid of. To think of her warms my heart and I imagine holding her hand as we walk through town as we have done a number of times. No one ever recognized us then, we were completely safe. I have nothing to fear, I can do this.

I start to pack my sheet music and books away into my bag but midway through I'm interrupted by the sound of my phone vibrating nearby. I quickly get up and rush over to it smiling hoping that it is Asuka. When I pick up the phone I see it is actually a number that I don't recognize.

Curiously I answer the phone, "Hello?"

"Hello..."

The voice speaks and then trails off, it's a soft voice and at first, I don't recognize it. Only at first though, they move past the initial greeting and I slowly start to recognize with shock who it is.

"I-Is that Kaworu Nagisa?"

My mouth opens to say yes but no sound actually comes out. Instead I feel my chest tight and I feel like time has slowed down all around me. There can be no mistaking it, the voice on the other end of the phone belong to Shinji Ikari. That nervousness I hear from them, the softness of their voice, it is him but... why is he calling me? How has he got my number?

I take a quick breath to compose myself to give him a reply, "Yes... Yes, it is..."

I have to sit myself back down on the piano stool, I feel dizzy knowing that he is on the other end of the line. After I reply there is silence, an uncomfortable silence and I can imagine him stood or sat there struggling to find something to say. You haven't changed in that regard, have you Shinji? Not that I'm coping much better though, in addition to the dizziness my mouth has gone completely dry.

My hand is shaking as I try to figure out what to do. Maybe I should say something? I take a moment to compose myself again and finally speak, "It... It's Shinji isn't it?"

I already know the answer to my question but I had to say something and nothing else springs to mind. I can hardly ask him how he is, can I? I can hardly ask him what he has been up to all these years. I can't have a normal conversation with him, I haven't earned that right.

Perhaps... Perhaps a part of me is hoping that it isn't really Shinji and it's just someone who happens to sound like him and knows my name. It could be someone else entirely, some nervous person wanting me to do a survey. That is unlikely though and I know it, this definitely is Shinji and it seems the time has come for our inevitable first discussion.

In truth I've wanted this for a while. I've wanted to speak to him. I want an opportunity to apologize to him. To explain things to him and maybe put things right. I never expected that he would contact me first though. I didn't expect to communicate with him at all, not until December when I travel to Japan. By then I had hoped that Asuka would have sorted things out and it'd have been easier.

"Yes... Yes, it is..." Shinji finally replies to me, I can hear his voice shaking as he speaks.

After his confirmation all turns silent again. This silence lasts for thirty or so seconds as I try to figure out what to say to him next. What can I say to him? What am I supposed to say in this sort of situation? I don't think there is a guide for it, I can't imagine anyone has ever been in this situation before. Do I start by apologizing? Do I do that simple thing and see what happens from there?

I also wonder why he's called me today of all days. I wonder if Asuka has anything to do with it, she has been speaking to him recently and the two of them seem to be friends. I know she has mentioned mine and his friendship to him too. From what I understand she has not mentioned that the two of us are more than friends.

The timing is strange though, myself and Asuka have become more comfortable with one another and our relationship. Last night we were physically intimate for the first time, it was a wonderful experience. Asuka seemed to enjoy it as well, I wonder if our relationship moving to this stage has prompted Asuka to try to do more to mend the bridge between myself and Shinji.

I wonder then if she has mentioned the relationship. I don't know what effect that would have had on Shinji though. I know he has feelings for her and I can sense the feelings that she has for him. I still fear that what I have with Asuka is only temporary, when she talks about Shinji she seems to glow. It would be best to tread carefully when mentioning Asuka. Perhaps I shouldn't mention her at all.

"I'm sorry." I finally speak.

As the same time that I start to speak I hear Shinji also speak, "Kaworu, I'm sorry."

His words bring a smile to my lips as I shake my head, why, oh why are you apologizing to me Shinji? You have nothing to be sorry for. I was the one who wrong you and everyone else in this world. Do you not remember that? I was the one to hurt and betray you. I was the one who pushed you to the brink of despair.

The silence between us doesn't last as long this time, "A-Asuka... She gave me your number and said that... I should contact you but..."

So, I was right. Asuka did tell Shinji to contact me, I'm not sure if she meant to do it now or to wait. From what I understand she probably would have preferred it done sooner rather than later. After all, she knows the impact of putting something off for a long time.

"I am glad that you did Sh-"

I catch myself before speaking his name. It does not seem appropriate to refer to him by his first name like that. I am not his close friend anymore, I do not have the right to refer to him so informally. What then do I say?

"I am glad that you did... Mr Ikari..."

The words leave my lips and I'm left thinking about how strange it sounds to refer to him in such a way. It sounded forced and weird, Shinji isn't a 'Mr Ikari', it doesn't fit with the person I knew at all. Yet, I don't feel I deserve the right to speak his first name, I shouldn't really have said anything at all.

"Mr Ikari?" He asks me in confusion, "P-Please... call me Shinji... Unless you would rather me call you Mr Nagisa?"

"Yeah... okay... Shinji..." I nod my head, it does seem more natural to say his name like that. It felt so wrong to say Mr Ikari. I also smile again, realizing the strange reversal of roles in this conversation. Was this not similar to something I said to him all those years ago?

There is another pause, this is awkward, there is so much I'd like to say to him right now and yet my mind is preventing me from saying any of it. This is not like it was when I met him for the first time. I was able to approach him with confidence then but this is different. When I did that I had a goal and a purpose that had been given to me. I had nothing to fear, nothing to be ashamed of. I didn't expect that I would actually feel something for him.

"Sorry I… I'm not very good at this…" I hear him say, "Asuka said… that I should speak to you. I… I guess I should have thought of something to say first though."

I wonder… I wonder if maybe you did think of something to say Shinji but much like me you can't bring yourself to say those things. I wonder what those things would be, are you upset? Are you angry with me? Do you hate me? I would not blame you if you did.

"It is fine…" I reply with half a smile, "Just say whatever is within your heart."

I frown immediately after saying that to him. I sound like a facsimile of myself all those years ago. I have little else I can say though.

"Okay I…" There is another short pause as I hear him take a deep breath, "I guess… I wanted to know if it was true… that you are really human now. I mean… they are all saying that you are… I… wanted to know the truth though."

I admittedly wasn't expecting him to ask me that. It would seem that others have already told him about my current state of being. I'm not offended by the question, it makes sense that people would have doubts related to who I am. It is something that would be quite hard to believe, I just wasn't expecting Shinji to ask me it in such a direct fashion.

"Yes." I confirm confidently, "I am human… I am no longer an Angel."

"Good."

Shinji trails off once again after his reply and we go back to silence. I decide that maybe I should say something. It seems unfair for me to expect him to say everything in this conversation. It is I who should be speaking to him, I should be apologizing and explaining it all for him. I shouldn't be expecting him to ask me twenty questions.

I think about how our meeting went the first time around. I approached him when he stood by the edge of that water. I sang and spoke to him. I befriended him, took advantage of his grief and told him what I thought he'd want to hear. I made him uncomfortable at times as well, my lack of human understanding contributed to that.

I want to apologize for everything, I want to explain everything to him and maybe start over with him. I take a deep breath of my own, "Shinji, you should know…"

It's my turn to trail off midway through my sentence as I feel a lump form in the back of my throat. I swallow it back, I'm not going to cry, not yet and not here. I need to be stronger than this, crying can wait.

"I am… truly sorry about what happened between us back then. I would like to offer you an explanation for my actions. At the same time I fear that no explanation would be good enough for this situation."

I pause for a moment in case Shinji wants to say something to me. He doesn't say anything so I take that as a cue to continue, "Five years ago… I arrived in Tokyo-3 with a mission. I had no attachment to you nor anyone else in that city. I… befriended you and ultimately betrayed you on the orders of my masters. I won't lie and say I didn't mean to betray you, I did mean to do it when I got there but…"

"Does… Does that mean that you were never my friend?" Shinji cuts me off with his question and I feel my heart tighten in my chest.

"At first… I had no intention or really befriending you." I admit to him, "But… after our first meeting and after speaking to you more I… I saw who you were and I… I wanted to be your friend. I had never met another person besides my masters. I had not had a friend. I had not known any other person."

I sigh, "I could not stop my mission though."

"Y-Your mission?" He asks me.

I wonder how much Shinji knows about my true mission back then. He must know about SEELE and the truth of things by now. I do not know how much information there was left about me though, if any at all.

"To… make contact with Adam… the progenitor of the Angels… SEELE sent me to Tokyo-3 to do that." I explain to him, "They also… wanted me to make contact with you. I admit… I did question it at first."

"Why? Why did they need me?" Shinji asks, "Why did you need to befriend me?"

"I don't know, I questioned it at first but I did not get an answer from them." I say to him, "I was… little more than an obedient tool for them. Their orders were to befriend you and not long after I made contact they then ordered me to make contact with Adam."

"I… I see…" I can hear his voice cracking over the phone. He takes a moment to compose himself, "Thank you… For being honest…"

Shinji doesn't sound angry at what I've told him. In a way I wish he was, perhaps that'd make it easier for me to know where I stand. I could accept him being angry but this… he sounds upset but I can't tell if he is angry or glad I've told him this. I dislike this uncertainty.

"I am… truly sorry Shinji." I apologize to him once more, "I want you to know that by the end of things my feelings for you were genuine but it was too late for me. Every Angel was born to feel the call of the progenitor, it sang to me and whispered to me and SEELE fed that call. I could not stop it or turn back and… I thought I was truly doing the right thing. It was only when I saw it was Lilith and not Adam that I… learned the truth."

I pause again, "But that… does not excuse what I did to you. I am aware of that and I do not expect you to forgive me. If anything I just want you to know the truth of that situation. I am truly sorry Shinji."

Tokyo-2 - Shinji Ikari

I hear Kaworu apologize to me once again and I really am unsure of what to say to him. I fear that if I open my mouth to reply I'll be sick or burst into tears. I can feel my stomach churning and the burning in my eyes. I feel like my chest is about to burst. This is all too much, the apologies and the explanations, I shouldn't have called him yet. I should have waited.

The worst thing is that I can hear all of the emotion in Kaworu's voice as well. I can hear his voice cracking each time he speaks and it makes me unsure of what to feel. I wanted to be angry with him. I was going to demand explanations and warn him to not hurt Asuka but he is on the verge of tears just as I am. This isn't the same Kaworu I met all those years ago, this is a real… human being.

I admit though, hearing the truth has hurt me. It hurt to learn that he wasn't my friend at first and approached me with the aim of manipulating me. I am glad that he has been honest about that to me. That is what I truly wanted from this, honesty.

"Shinji I…" I hear him speak to me once again. I recognize the strain in his voice, he's facing the same difficulties that I am, "I do not deserve your forgiveness and I would not blame you if you said no to this. I… would like the opportunity to talk with you more, I would like to explain everything. I want to tell you who I am and was, how I was raised and so much more."

There is a brief pause as I mull his words over, "Please… be honest with me though. Do not feel you have to say yes for my feelings but… I would also like the opportunity to be your friend once again."

My heart hurts and I really don't know what to say to him. His words… I can hear the emotion and sincerity in them but I just don't know. Could this just be another lie? Could this be another trick? Kaworu sounded sincere when I first met him and that didn't seem like a lie but it all ended up being one. Could this not just be a lie again?

I think about what advice Misato and Rei would give me in this situation. They would probably advise me against it, they'd be telling me to say no and stay far away. In fact, I don't think they'd like the fact that I made this phone call in the first place.

The longer this phone call goes on the more I feel like I've made a mistake. Asuka told me to contact him but I don't think she meant right away. I just… I just thought if I did it now then it would help us all but now I just feel worn out. Now I'm stuck in this situation where I have so much to say and yet don't know what to say.

Should I accept it? Is that what Asuka wanted, for us to be friends again like she is friends with him. I mean if Asuka is friends with him then things must be okay, right? Asuka wouldn't let herself be tricked and manipulated in that fashion. Also, why would Kaworu be trying to trick us? The Eva's are gone now, SEELE and NERV don't exist anymore. There is nothing for him.

Yet I can't fight that doubt in my mind and I can't just give him an answer to his request yet. I need to think more about this. I need more time. I look at the phone in my hand and shake my head. I'm not ready for that yet.

"Kaworu I… I'm sorry but I ca-"

I don't get a chance to finish my sentence.

"You do not need to say anything else, I understand." The churning in my stomach accelerates as I hear a sniff and the sounds of his voice cracking, "Goodbye Shinji."

Kaworu hands up immediately and I'm left simply staring at my phone in silence. He was crying when he hung the phone up. Should I call him back and apologize? Would he want to speak to me again? I feel a tear roll down my own cheek as I grip the phone tightly. I'm sorry Kaworu.