30th September 2021 – Rei Ayanami

It is early evening when I return to the apartment and when I enter the front room I quickly realize that no one is home right now. This is fine, for now the silence and solitude suits me. I have had a particularly busy day at the school and then seeing Kodama for a couple of hours afterwards. Whilst I enjoy volunteering and I enjoy seeing Kodama even more the opportunity to return home and enjoy some time alone is a welcome one.

There might once have been a time when I would have been worried for Shinji not being home. He rarely went out, if ever up until a few weeks ago. The only time he would go out would be short trips or when there was a full group of us. Even then those would be rare occasions. Now, since he has started the rehearsals for the concert and gotten back in contact with Asuka he seems more confident and less reluctant to venture out. It pleases me that he is happy.

Naturally Misato is not home either. She did however mention that over the next couple of weeks she is intending on taking a short break. She even made an offer to take us away somewhere for a short holiday if we desire it. I am unsure if such a thing will be possible. With Shinji's commitments to the concert and my relationship with Kodama and the job in the school it would be difficult for us too.

All I would like is to see Misato more often. I certainly do not hold it against her that she has to work as late and as often as she does. I know she does it to ensure myself and Shinji have a home and I do believe that what she does is important. I do know she feels bad about it but she does not need to. I still would embrace the opportunity to see her more though.

At least she and both myself and Shinji are happy. This is likely to be the first time that we have all been happy and content. It is something I have wanted for so very long. I know that it is unlikely this happiness will last as it is forever, the way forward will not be simple. There will be issues and bumps in that road but we are happy for now and we should embrace that.

For me it is very simple things that are making me happy. Seeing my brother smiling so frequently, knowing that the bond between he and Asuka is being mended and of course my ongoing relationship with Kodama. This happiness is wonderful and it is strange to think that it was a feeling I did not know existed a few years ago.

I stretch myself out on the couch and wonder what I should do for the rest of the evening. Tonight is supposed to be my turn to prepare dinner but with Shinji still out and Misato not back yet it seems pointless to do anything right now. In addition I lack the motivation to do anything, perhaps I should just pay for something to be delivered instead.

I would go and get my laptop to look at potential places to order from but I am now lying on the sofa and very comfortable here. I did not realize how exhausted I was from seeing Kodama until I started to lie down. Perhaps I should do something else, I have been meaning to contact Asuka for a week or so now. I can do that whilst lying down.

I have not spoken to Asuka much since she and Shinji started to speak again. In a way I feel like I should give the two of them more time to speak and any time I speak to her would use up that time. I admittedly am still feeling quite ashamed of my actions leading up to the two of them speaking again. I know that both of them have said they forgive me and that it was fine but I still do not feel good about the situation.

I am also apprehensive about hearing more regarding her ongoing relationship with Nagisa. Having had more time to think about things I admit that perhaps I have been unfair regarding that situation. It has been nine months since he arrived at the emergence center and he has not done anything untoward. It has been confirmed to me that he is human and no trace of the Angel he was remains.

In addition he has been friends with Asuka for a couple of months and caused her no harm. If anything it has been he who has been hurt. He was the one who was attacked, it was something that I know we all feared would happen to each of us. We all played a role in the events leading up to Third Impact and we carry that with us each day. Yet deep down we all knew it was illogical to fear someone hurting us. Except… that very thing did happen to Nagisa.

Yet, I still cannot bring myself to trust him. I fear for Asuka's safety despite knowing that my friend is not likely to let anyone hurt her so easily. I also know that if she did not trust him then she would not let him get close to her. She would never have gotten involved with him.

I suppose another part of me feels some resentment towards that friendship too. It is illogical but I fear that her friendship with him could spell an end to her friendship with me, after all they live in the same city, and it is easier for the two of them to see one another. If she also has contact with Shinji again and re-develops that bond then where would that leave me?

I am an outsider, I always have been and I filled that gap for Asuka whilst she came to terms with who she was. Now she seems to have what she needs so my role is done, isn't it?

No, it isn't. I know this isn't true and yet I ask myself these questions. My friendship with Asuka is not over, nor will it be.

My other fear is that what she has with Kaworu seems to have developed into a romance with him. Perhaps it was wrong of me but I dislike this. I always envisioned Asuka and my brother being together. I know they have had their difficulties but there was always a strong bond between them that transcended being friends.

I was so certain within my heart that they would resolve these difficulties and finally begin that relationship. Therefore Asuka falling for another does not sit right with me. It does not feel right, especially when I am more than aware of my brother's feelings for her. I can only imagine how heartbroken he'll be when he finds out.

I try to rid my head of these thoughts. It is not right of me to think such things. Asuka and Shinji are both adults and it is not up to me to think in such a way. My brother will have other opportunities to find love as time goes on and Asuka deserves love and happiness as well. I should be supportive of Asuka's choices and if Shinji is hurt then I will be there to support him as well.

I pull my phone out of my pocket but as I so I hear the door to the apartment opening. I listen for the voice and hear a mumbled 'I'm home' from Shinji. Immediately the tone of his voice makes me worry.

"Welcome home!" I call back to him, sit up and listen as he makes his way through the corridor and into the front room. As he enters I can see that I was not wrong to be concerned. He is visibly upset about something.

I stand up, "Shinji, is everything okay?"

Shinji looks at me, his mouth open ever so slightly. He closes his mouth and I see him swallow before he finally shakes his head, "No… I… I spoke to Kaworu…"

I move around to him quickly and hug him tightly. I say nothing to him but already my mind is jumping to what feared. Shinji has found out that Asuka and Nagisa are romantically involved and it has hurt him deeply. I remain silent as I release him from the hug and watch as he wipes his eye. I gently guide him towards the couch and sit him down. I sit down on the seat opposite and take his hand.

He takes a few moments to compose himself, "I… It was my own fault…"

"What do you mean?" I ask curiously.

"Asuka… We were talking and she said that maybe I should speak to Kaworu sometime." Shinji shakes his head after he speaks, "I… I was an idiot though. I just went right ahead and did it. I didn't think about what I wanted to say or what might happen, I just charged in and called him!"

"I see." I stroke his hand with my thumb to comfort him. This would admittedly not be the first time my brother has been impulsive at an incorrect moment. I suppose at least the consequences are less dire this time around, "I presume that things did not go as you expected?"

"I don't know what I was expecting." Shinji shrugs, "He… He apologized to me though."

"That is a good thing then." I reply to him whilst also making an attempt to push my own personal feelings for Nagisa to one side. Whilst I have recognized that I might have been unfair towards him it is still going to take some time for me to see him as anything other than a threat.

In truth this situation is not going to help that, clearly something has happened between them to upset my brothers. Now is not an appropriate time for my misgivings though. Shinji needs me support and not my feelings about Nagisa.

"I'm sorry Rei." Shinji lowers his head, "I'm so stupid. I should have waited and spoke to Asuka more about what to say. I should have come to you and Misato. I… I don't know what I was thinking, I thought it'd be easy but…"

I squeeze his hand and quickly move to cut him off, "Shinji, you are not stupid. You are your own person and free to make decisions by yourself. You do not need permission from myself or Misato.

"I know that Rei I just…" he lets out a sigh, "If I had spoken to you or Misato first I could have worked out what to say to him. If I had spoken to Asuka first she could have arranged it with him for us to speak so he'd be prepared. Instead I… I just made a mess of it…"

I raise a curious eyebrow, "Did you argue when you spoke?"

Shinji shakes his head, "No, we didn't. If we had then… maybe this'd have been easier."

"Then tell me what happened." I say to him.

"I called him and… I didn't really know what to say. I… I started by asking if he was really human now, I guess… I had heard it from you and Asuka and I had no reason to doubt it but I wanted to hear it from him."

I nod, I can understand that. Whilst it is one thing to hear about something it means more to have confirmation from the person themselves, "I understand your desire to hear him say that. Did his answer satisfy you?"

"I guess…" Shinji shrugs again, "After that though I couldn't really think of anything else to say. I wanted to tell him how I felt but the truth is I didn't know. I wish I could have just yelled at him or something and told him I hated him for what he did to me..."

"That is not who you are though." I tell Shinji, "Also I do not feel that you hate Nagisa."

"No… I don't. If I did then it'd have been easier but I don't because I don't understand. I don't know why he did what he did, I don't know what he was or who he really was." Shinji lets out another sigh, "So… I thought… maybe I could ask him. I asked him if he really was my friend all those years ago."

"And what was his reply?"

"He was actually honest with me." Shinji half smiles as he speaks, "He said he wasn't supposed to be my friend at first. He actually told me the truth, that he was sent to befriend me as part of his mission but as time went on his feelings changed."

"Yet he still betrayed you…" I try to hide the venom in my voice as I speak but I fear I am unable to do so.

"I know…. He tried to explain that as well. Mentioned his mission and that he was unable to stop it." Shinji shakes his head, "I… I didn't really understand it. He said he wanted to explain it all to me. He said he'd like another chance to be friends with me."

"What did you say?"

Shinji looks at me, "I said no. I told him no and… then he hung up. I think I hurt him Rei, I actually upset him and made him cry. I did a bad thing."

"No." I take Shinji's hand in both of mine, "You did not do a bad thing. You did what was right for you at the time. If you did not feel you were able to be friends with him then you were correct in telling him such a thing."

"But he was crying Rei…"

"Sometimes the truth can hurt a person." I reply, "Both me and you know this but a lie can hurt a person more."

"I just…" Shinji lowered his eyes again, "Asuka wanted me to give him a chance and wanted us to be friends. I… I upset him and she's going to be angry at me because of it. I should have waited and figured things out, I shouldn't have rushed it like that."

"What you could or should have done does not matter now. It has already been done." For a moment I wonder if my words were appropriate and will not just upset him more. I continue to speak, "What matter is how you move forward."

"I don't know what to do now though…" Shinji replies, "Asuka is going to be angry at me."

"No, she will not be angry. I am sure that Asuka will understand what has happened." I tell him, "She will see that it is a situation that can be resolved."

"How though?" Shinji asks me, "I upset him, I doubt he'd want to speak to me again."

"I do not know, perhaps it is not a situation that can be resolved quickly." I reply, "Perhaps it is something that will take time for you both."

"Do you think I should have forgiven him?"

"No. I do not, at least not until you learned the truth. Remember that Nagisa's actions did not just hurt you, he did not just betray you but he also put this planet at risk. Whilst he may have been acting under the influence of another he was still aware…"

I trail off as I come to a sudden realization. Nagisa's situation is not a unique one, there has been another who has been in that position. That person is myself. I was under the influence of our father for many years, I lied about who I was and my actions hurt others and put this planet at risk.

I nearly betrayed them all for that scenario until the last minute when I decided to betray our father. Even than it was too late to truly stop things from happening. I could have stopped it sooner but I did not. Shinji and the others know all of this and they forgave me.

Myself and Nagisa, we are similar. I've condemned him despite myself being guilty of the same acts. I painted him as evil and manipulative and why? The only difference between he and I is that he could speak to people whilst I wasn't able to. Maybe I've always known this and that's why I condemn him so much. What if someone were to condemn me liken that though? Perhaps people already have done. The thought makes me feel sick.

I let out a sigh of my own not quite know what I should say to Shinji. I have no words to say anymore. Instead I move over beside him and pull him into another hug.

"What should I do Rei?" I hear him ask me.

I do not know what advice I should give to my brother. I no longer feel I am qualified to give him advice regarding Nagisa considering how I myself have acted. Yet I feel I must say something, I want to help my brother be happy. I want to try to salvage this situation.

"I believe… it would be worthwhile listening to what he has to say." I finally reply, "You do not have to do it now or this week but you should listen to him. You should explain to him why you feel you can't forgive him yet but you might be able to. You should be honest with him.

"Do you think he will understand?"

I nod, "If he really does want forgiveness and to be friends with you again then yes… I do."

Asuka Langley Soryu

God damn it, my hand hurts like hell! I close up the book and place it onto one of the piles near to me and wonder why the hell I agreed to do this. Up until now I've been so adamant about who I was as a writer. I've always made an effort to make sure there is no chance my pseudonym is revealed. I always said there would be no press appearances, no signings, no interviews and no social media. My publisher would release the book under the name I gave them and that was to be it.

Now, for some reason, I've agreed to sign five hundred copies of the first book and said that I'll sign five hundred copies of the second book too. So today I've been working through those copies of the first book. I had to come up with a signature for Mari Makinami, I figured something simple would do. It's not so much a signature really, more of a wiggly line with a smiley cat face above it.

It's all Kaworu's fault. He was the one who persuaded me to do this. I was going to say no to the publisher when they suggested it. I was going to suggest giving an anonymous donation or something to the charity. Kaworu on the other hand said I should do it. He appealed to my ego by informing me how much people would love to have an item signed by my hand. He also appealed to my heart on mentioning how much good publicity it would be for the charity.

What can I say, I have a soft spot for cheering up disadvantaged children. I can't imagine where that comes from. So I decided I'd do it, if it will genuinely help these children get the treatment they need not just physically but mentally then I want to help. I don't want there to be another child that grows up like I did out there.

I let out a loud yawn as I lean back in my seat. I've been tired all day, I suppose that hasn't made things much easier. I'm not sure if I can blame Kaworu for my tiredness though, after all I was the one who initiated things. Still, as I think back, the tiredness I'm feeling now is totally worth it.

Kaworu made me feel good and the best thing is that for once feeling good like that hasn't been accompanied by the usual shame and guilt I always feel. Instead… I feel happy, I feel content. I can still remember every detail of it too, I can remember how his hands felt as they ran themselves over my body. I can remember how his fingers felt as he touched me. I can remember the warmth I got from him and how he felt in my hands.

I shudder and feel myself blush as my mind continues to wander. If that is how good that feels then I can't imagine how good it would feel to make love to him. I blush some more as I shake my head, what the hell is happening to me? I'm fantasizing about making love to Kaworu in the middle of the day. I've changed over these last few months. Those walls I kept up around me have slowly started to come down without me realizing it.

I don't dislike knowing that though. I always kept them up before I feared what would happen if I let them down but… it isn't so bad. I'm in a place I never thought I deserved to be. I'm actually happy with who I am and my life. I actually know that people are my friend and I… I'm falling in love… no… I've fell in love.

I was never supposed to fall in love. I was never meant to let people in romantically. All that would happen is I'd get hurt by them. Yet I want to let Kaworu in, I want to let him in more. I want to continue to feel like this because I'm starting to realize that what Rei might actually have been right all those years. I am worth something and I do deserve to be happy.

I get up from the seat and head into the kitchen to pour myself a drink, just as I do I hear the front door open. A moment later Kaworu enters the room, I barely get a chance to look at him as he moved past me and mutters a greeting. I watch as he takes off his jacket and throws it onto the couch and sets his bag down roughly on the floor.

I slowly make my way towards him wondering what it is that could have upset him. This was only his second week of teaching piano but I wonder if it could really have been something during one of his lessons. Last week he was speaking about how pleasant everyone was and besides, they're paying him for these private lessons it isn't as if he has a classroom full of people to manage.

Perhaps then something has happened on the way home. I feel my chest tighten for a moment as my mind goes back to him being attacked a few weeks ago. It doesn't seem likely that he was attacked though, he didn't look hurt or anything when he got in, just upset.

I carefully path around the stacks of books and stand near the edge of the sofa, "Kaworu... Is everything alright?"

He turns to me and gives me a weak half-arsed smile, "It's fine, how was your day?"

He immediately turns away and reaches for his bag and starts rummaging through it, I frown at him, "Kaworu..."

Kaworu ignores me as he pulls out his books and sheet music from the bag. He throws them down somewhat angrily onto the coffee table and opens one of the books. If he thinks I'm just going to accept that he's 'fine' he has another thing coming. I sit next to him and put my finger under the cover of the book and flip it shut.

"Kaworu..." I then reach out with my hand and gently turn his head to face me, I can see his eyes widen as I narrow my own eyes at him, "Tell me what is wrong... or I'll..."

I don't even get the opportunity to come up with some vaguely creative threat that I'd never seriously carry out before he replies to me, "I spoke to Shinji today!"

I'm stunned into silence as I release my grip on Kaworu's chin. He turns and angrily opens his book again and gazes at the page. I take a moment to process what he has told me. Shinji... Shinji, you idiot! You absolute idiot! When I said you should speak to Kaworu I didn't mean you should call him straight away! You... You absolutely goddamn idiot!

"Oh... Did you?" I finally reply through gritted teeth.

Kaworu nods in frustration, "Yes, he called me this morning just after I had finished my first lesson. He said that... you told him to contact me."

This is... new, I don't think I've heard Kaworu sound annoyed like this before, at least outside of when we're playing games anyway. I didn't really think it was possible for Kaworu to be angry like this. I watch for a moment as he flips a page of the book. It'd be amusing if I myself wasn't angry at this.

"Oh... Did he?" I make no attempt to hide my own annoyance at the situation, "And what exactly did Shinji have to say?"

"He wanted to know if I was really human and I told him." Kaworu's voice sounds strained as he speaks, I can hear the anger in it but I can also hear his voice cracking, "I said to him I was and I tried to apologize for what happened. I... I asked him if I could explain things to him and if I might have another chance to be friends. He said no."

Kaworu immediately drops his head as he says that last line and I see his other hand clench itself into a fist as he brings it down onto his knee. I feel my own anger subside as I reach out and place my hand onto Kaworu's leg and rub gently.

This is not how I had expected their first conversation to go nor how I wanted it to go. I also did not expect Shinji to contact Kaworu so soon after I suggested it. I was hoping that perhaps he would wait a day or two or even speak to me and Rei about it first. Damn it Shinji, why do you have to be impulsive at just the wrong moments?

"I think..." Kaworu finally looks up, "I think it would be best if I were to not go to Japan with you in December. I know it was your wish for me to be there and for me and Shinji to be friends but I fear that would not be possible. I am sorry but what I did appears to be unforgivable."

"No." I squeeze his leg in comfort, "It isn't..."

"Yes." Kaworu turns to look at me, "It is, I am sorry but I was a fool to think I could be forgiven. I hurt Shinji with my actions. I didn't just hurt him, I betrayed him when he had nothing, I offered him friendship and then took it away from him. I do not deserve his forgiveness, I'm angry at myself for even thinking I did."

"Kaworu, you can't..." I try to speak softly to calm him down.

"No!" He interrupts me, "I shouldn't have deluded myself into thinking I."

"Stop it!" It's my turn to cut him off sharply, "Just stop it! You aren't deluded and you will be coming to Japan with me!"

"But he hates me!" Kaworu snaps back, "If I'm there with you then all I'll do is end up doing is causing more pain for him. I'll just be a distraction. I don't want to hurt him any more than I have done!"

Damn it Shinji, just what the hell did you say to Kaworu to make him act like this? What the hell did Kaworu say to you for this to happen? I thought you were going to hear him out and talk to him properly so what caused this? Did you just jump in without thinking? Is that it? No matter what Kaworu tells me I know you don't hate him, I know you wanted to mend this. I could hear it in your voice when I spoke to you, I know how the two of you feel about each other!

I put my arm around Kaworu and remain silent as I try to figure out just how to fix this. At the same time, the last thought I had rings through my head. It's true, I do know exactly how Kaworu feels about Shinji and I know how Shinji feels about him as well. It's the same thing that did feel for Shinji and it's the thing that I feel for Kaworu right now. Love, it is love that I feel for Kaworu and it is love that they have for one another.

The thought of it frightens me and there is a darker part of me that thinks that maybe I should embrace and maybe even encourage this division. Maybe I should just let Kaworu give up on attaining forgiveness from Shinji and maybe I should tell Shinji to not try to contact Kaworu. If I do… then I get to keep Kaworu, I get to stay happy and I don't have to fear the inevitable. Let's be honest, Shinji is a much better person than I could ever hope to be.

That part of me is still waiting for what it thinks is inevitable. For Kaworu to realize the so-called truth and abandon me. It was there from the beginning of our friendship and as we've grown closer it's continued to be there.

No, I can't let myself think things like that. I can't continue to see myself as that person anymore. I'm not that person. I'm not the Asuka I was all those years ago. I'm not a bad person and I'm not going to suddenly transform into that.

As for Kaworu, I shouldn't fear him suddenly leaving me. I know he won't leave me like that. I know his feelings for me are true. I know how he feels for me. Besides… I have to help fix this, it's my fault it happened in the first place. I don't really know how to fix it but I will.

I let out a sigh, I guess I need to know more, "Look… This can be fixed, just… start from the beginning. Tell me exactly what happened."

He closes his book in irritation, "I don't see what the point is he…"

"Just humour me Kaworu."

"Okay." He nods, "I finished my first lesson and then after it I got a phonecall. I answered it and it was Shinji, he said you gave him my number and told him to contact me."

"Yes, that is true." I nod as I reply, not making much of an effort to hide my own annoyance, "I said that he should speak to you. I didn't… think he'd do it right away though."

"You didn't?" Kaworu asks me.

"Of course not!" I shake my head, "I only suggested it to him and said it'd be good if he spoke to you about what had happened. I had told him we were friends and figured that it'd be good for you both to speak before we go over there! I thought that maybe he'd use his brain and talk to others first or take the time to think about it."

"I see." Kaworu leans back in the seat, "That does explain why he was struggling for something to say."

"So…" I pause for a moment, "Shinji asked you if you were human and you said yes. Then what?"

"I told him I was, he seemed to accept that." Kaworu explains, "After that he… didn't really say anything else so I tried to tell him things about me."

Kaworu leans forward again and idly plays with the corner of the book, "I didn't really know where to start. There is a lot about me he didn't know and it's hard to organize it all when you're put on the spot like that."

I move my hand to his back and rub it gently, "So what did you tell him?"

Kaworu shrugs, "I told him that I had a mission and that part of that mission was to befriend him. I… I said I'd like to tell him more and then I apologized to him again for what I did and what I put him through."

"And then what?"

"I asked him if…" Kaworu pauses for a moment and I see his angry demenour start to drop. He takes a moment to compose himself and I ready myself for what will happen next, "I asked maybe it would be possible to be friends again. I said that I'd like to explain everything to him about who I was and what I was. I… I asked him to be honest.

Kaworu turns to me at this point as he speaks, his voice becoming more ragged with each word. I watch as a tear slowly starts to trickle down his cheek. I reach up and gently wipe it away with my thumb. I'm slowly starting to see where things might have gone wrong now.

I remain quiet as once again Kaworu begins to speak, "He said… he was sorry but he couldn't…"

Another tear falls down his cheek and I wrap an arm around him and pull him close to me. I run my hand through his hair, "I… I couldn't stand to hear him say anything else so I just told him he didn't have to explain and then I ended the call."

"It's alright." I say softly as I continue to run my hand through his hair. I'm still trying to figure out how I can solve this. I didn't their first conversation to happen like this. I'm not so stupid as to expect it to be resolved in one day but I certainly didn't expect this.

"Did you try to call him back afterwards?" I ask Kaworu out of curiosity.

I feel him shake his head, "No… I felt that he would not want to speak to me so I thought it would be better for me to focus on the rest of my day."

"And… Shinji didn't try to call you again either, did he?" I ask, just to make sure.

"No, which confirmed to me that he did not wish to speak to me." Kaworu answers.

I nod, it's not too dissimilar to how I've acted in the past. Not getting in contact because I thought they wouldn't want to speak to me and then having that theory confirmed by them not contacting me. I know Shinji, he'll probably have been feeling the same thing. I know… I know he wants to fix this. He'll be regretting what happened just as much as Kaworu.

I have to fix this. I can't let the same thing that happened to me and Shinji happen to these two. I can't let them repeat my mistake. I'm not going to let them both spend five years wondering about the other. This has to be resolved.

I feel Kaworu shift himself, he looks me in the eye, all the annoyance of before is now gone. He looks almost puppy like in his sadness, "So you understand, I cannot go to Japan now. I would be…"

I place my hand on his chin and lean in quickly to kiss him on the lips in an effort to silence him. I pull away and stare deeply into his eyes and let myself smile, "Kaworu… You are going to come to Japan with me. I'll speak to Rei later on and find out what is happening to Shinji. I'll set it up so you can explain things to him properly at the very least."

"What if you can't do that? What if he doesn't want to?"

"Kaworu…" I kiss him again, "I'm Asuka Langley Soryu, I can do anything."

"T-Thank you…" He finally smiles and then he leans in to kiss me. His lips meet mine and my mouth parts slightly to allow my tongue to explore his mouth. I feel his hand rest itself on my side and I allow him to carefully position himself on top of me on the couch. I smile up at him as he pulls away and looks at me, "I… I am so thankful to you Asuka. I don't know what I would have done these past few months without you. I just… I want a chance to explain things to him and say I'm sorry."

"I know Kaworu…" I nod, "And I'll make sure you get that. What happened today… I made a mistake in telling him to contact you. I should have expected him to do that but… it can be fixed."

"I hope so. Again, thank you… thank you Asuka. I… I love you, from the bottom of my heart."

For a brief moment I'm actually stunned into silence by his words. I feel the sensation of butterflies in my stomach. He… He loves me and… he actually said it. I feel myself grin as I wrap one arm around him and run my free hand along his side, "I love you too Kaworu."

1st October 2021 - Rei Ayanami

I sit up and move the curtain to one side to gaze up at the moon. It is bright in the sky tonight, it is a beautiful sight and yet the is something disturbing about it. The brightness of the moon has also put emphasis on the streak of red that now crosses over it. As the years have gone on this streak has faded, it was at its worst when it just after Third Impact, now it is duller and it may one day go completely.

In a way I hope it doesn't, that blood red streak, as haunting as it is for me also serves as a reminder of what was avoided. There are of course more reminders on this earth, the red waters around Tokyo-3 and the city itself but the streak is one that all of humanity can see, no matter where in the world.

I can still remember that day so vividly, I remember standing in front of Lilith and hearing it call out to me. I remember the commander appearing and telling me it was time and then I heard the scream of Shinji. He was in such pain and in that brief moment I knew exactly what it was I had to do. I had to ease that pain, I had to stop his suffering.

I took Adam from the commander into myself and the unholy union of Adam and Lilith was complete. I would become akin to a god and let Shinji dictate the future of this world. Through this we were able to avert the loss of all mankind. It was not a simple process but I had faith that Shinji would make the right decision.

I close the curtain and look at the clock. It is now three in the morning, I came into my bedroom at half eleven with the intention of going to sleep. I thought that I would have no difficulties but since I came into my room the exhaustion that I had been feeling has now faded. It has been replaced by an energy that is fueled by the thoughts circling in my mind.

I find myself to be concerned for Shinji. Over the course of the evening his sadness at the events of the day did not fade. If anything, it just seemed to grow. I wish I could have helped him, I made an attempt to reassure him that things would be find but my attempts were a failure.

It is both disheartening and frustrating in equal measures. I wish that things could be so simple that they were able to be repaired in one evening. I know that the truth is things are rarely ever that easy. I told him so much myself. I told him that the situation between himself and Nagisa was not one that'd be quick to repair. Yet I find myself unable to accept my own words.

This situation with Nagisa is an eye opening one for me. It is forcing me to face memories and thoughts that I had locked away after I returned. I have, up until now, tried to think very little about what my role in the world was at that time. There have been many an occasion where I have been unable to do this, in those times I have been fortunate to have Asuka or Shinji to turn to.

When I look back on those times I see exactly what I was. I was a victim. Gendo Ikari brought me into this world not to be a person but to serve a purpose. The fact that I resembled a person mattered little to him, if anything it helped him develop his scenario. I was raised to not challenge my role in life, I was kept isolated and told that my only purpose was to keep to the scenario.

Shinji arrived one day and slowly my life changed. I started to see value in myself beyond being a puppet. Shortly afterwards Asuka arrived and we became a team. Thanks to her I also started to question my role in life, I started to realize that maybe what I wanted did matter.

Nagisa, you are the same as I am, aren't you? You were a being brought up to serve a particular purpose and not question your role. Unlike me you were unable to go against your role though. Maybe that is why I think I hate you, because you were unable to do what I did. How could you have done that though? You aren't me and you didn't have the same experiences I did.

Perhaps it is not just Shinji who should speak to Nagisa, perhaps I should speak to him as well. Since I have heard of his return I have done nothing but warn and be angry about him but I have not reached out to communicate with him to learn the truth. When others returned and saw me, they did not act that way towards me, they spoke to me and learned the truth of things. I owe Nagisa that same courtesy, I should be the one to speak to him.

I want to help to fix this situation between Shinji and Nagisa. I know that Asuka will want to fix it as well. As it is she is the only one out of all of us who knows the truth about Nagisa. She has tried to tell me before but I was unwilling to listen. I am willing to listen now, only I want to hear it from him. Perhaps if I know the truth myself then I can help Shinji to understand.

I pull up my phone to see what time it is in Germany. It is not too late over there and I know Asuka isn't the sort to go to bed early. I just hope that I am not interrupting anything between her and Nagisa. I know that with them starting a romantic relationship it is likely I might call them in the middle of certain activities. Still, I need to do this now, otherwise I will not sleep tonight.

I select Asuka's contact card and hold the phone to my ear. I hear the phone ring for a short while before she picks up, her voice sounds panicked, "Rei? Is everything alright? It's early in the morning over there isn't it?"

"Yes, everything is fine." I reply, "I am calling about the situation between Nagisa and Shinji?"

"Well, nothing like getting straight to the point." I hear her laugh, "I was actually going to call you tomorrow morning about it. Look… It seems like I'm saying this sort of thing a lot lately but I'm sorry. I was the one who told Shinji to contact Nagisa."

"Yes, I know." I say, "I do not believe you are to blame for this situation."

"I just didn't expect him to go straight ahead and do it. I thought that maybe he would…"

I finish her sentence for her, "Consult myself or Misato first?"

"Yes." Asuka confirms, "Of maybe he would talk to me a bit more about it."

"But he did not do that…"

"No… He didn't do that… I'm just used to him being more hesitant about things."

I smile, "You know what Shinji can be like…"

"Yeah… I know!" I hear her sigh, "I know damn well what he can be like. I know he probably thought it'd be better to do it right away. I know he probably thought that since I asked him to he should do it right away. God knows I demanded he do things right away when I lived with him, so why wouldn't he think that?"

"It is not your fault he did this." I make an effort to reassure her, whilst what she is saying has some truth to it I do not believe Shinji contacted Nagisa right away before of those memories. I just think it was an unfortunately thing, "Who or what is to blame does not matter now. What matters is that we resolved this. Shinji is upset by what happened. He fear that he will also have upset you, I assume that is not the case."

"Urgh, that idiot!" Asuka snaps back, "Of course that isn't the case! Does he really think that?"

"Yes he does."

"Yeah… Of course he does. I do feel bad for Kaworu but I'm not exactly angry at Shinji. It's not like I expected this to be an instant fix, I just didn't think it'd go this bad."

"Was Nagisa upset?" I ask.

"He was upset enough that he has said it'd be best if he didn't come to Japan in December." Asuka tells me, "I told him that he will definitely be coming to Japan."

"I see." I pause for a moment to take in this new information. I was not aware that Nagisa was intending to visit Japan in December. I feel like perhaps I should have expected it to do the ongoing romance between Asuka and Nagisa. This does complicate matters slightly, before knowing this I believe we had a good quantity of time to resolve the problem.

I was hoping to speak to him a couple of times over the next few weeks before getting him and Shinji to speak again. I will have to accelerate that process now. I am confident we can resolve the situation but I am unsure if we can do it by then. If not then where will that leave things for the concert?

"What if we are unable to resolve this by then?" I ask Asuka.

"Hah!" Asuka laughs, "Of course we will be able to resolve it! With the two of us guiding them we can't possibly fail! We just need to get the two of them to actually think about things properly."

Her reply gives me some confidence and I allow myself to smile, "Okay, I'll speak to Shinji in the morning. There is something I wanted to ask you though."

"Sure, what is it?"

"I… would like to speak to Nagisa myself." I make my request, "I feel I have been unfair towards him, and I would like to further understand who he is and also apologize to him."

"Apologize?" Asuka replies in confusion, "Rei, you haven't said anything to him. You have nothing to apologize for."

"Yeah I know." I say, "But I have said unpleasant things about him to yourself and I have not giving him a chance. I feel he should know of this and I should apologize."

"Okay fine. I'll speak to him tomorrow and get him to phone you. Is that good?"

"Yes, that would be fine. Thank you Asuka. I hope you have a good evening."

"Yeah, I will. Sleep well Rei."