Asuka Langley Soryu
Berlin – Early Morning
The nightmares came back last night. The ones in which I get found out, the ones in which the fragile social bonds I've made with people are shattered and everyone turns there back on me. The ones where I wake up crying knowing that if that did happen I'd deserve it.
I didn't sleep for the rest of the night, from four o'clock onwards I've been awake sitting in my front room. I tried doing some further editing to my book, that didn't happen so instead I put on a game instead. I spent the majority of the morning scoring goals past any and all opposition as I try to put what happened yesterday out of my mind.
Why did he run away from me like that? Did he know who I was? Does he know what I did? That shouldn't be possible though, I know logically it shouldn't be possible. I've spoken about it with Rei in the past, He... he has the same concerns but no one knows who we are. If they do they just know we were the Evangelion pilots who helped save the world.
Yet that annoying awkward fear remains. It doesn't help that I'm seeing Rei today either. It isn't her fault, I know she is my friend but I can't help but worry each time I see her that it will be the time that our friendship is revealed to be nothing but a fraud. That she comes here with the others to tell me how much they hate me. To tell me how disgusting I am and that I deserve to be alone and abandoned. To bring up all those things I did in my past and throw it in my face. I'd deserve it aswell wouldn't I?
I shake my head and force those thoughts away. That isn't going to happen, Rei is my friend now and everything is in the past. She's told me numerous times, even with some annoyance that I'm forgiven for how I acted back then.
It's all that guys fault, if he hadn't had ran away then I wouldn't be like this right now. No, that isn't true. I'd be like this anyway, he's just made it more prominent. I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I look rough. I can see the bags under my eyes and I know no amount of make-up will hide them. I've tried to make an effort but I know Rei will see through it. She always does, it's who Rei is.
I finally open the door ao reveal Rei standing on the other side. She's a far cry from the dour girl I knew so many years ago. She's looking upwards, a faint smile on her face and wearing a short red skirt, complemented by a black top with a white jacket over it. In one of her hands is a bag that I recognize from one of the nearby cafes.
"Hello Asuka." She announces, "I brought lunch if that is alright?"
I laugh and step aside to let her in, "Of course, come on in!"
I watch her as she enters the apartment and I allow myself a smile as well. I feel happy to see the life that now exists within Rei. It's good to see she finally has the chance to have a life. I follow her through into the kitchen and watch as she places the bag up on one of the counters. I'm interested in seeing what it is she has bought, moments later she pulls out two boxes each one filled with luscious smelling pancakes.
My mouth starts to water at the sight of them and I step forward. Rei sees this and smiles and immediately turns herself around and pulls me into a warm but tight hug.
"I've missed you Asuka!"
I laugh and return the hug, "I've miss you too Rei, it's been quite a while hasn't it?"
She releases me from the hug, "Almost a year since we last met."
"Yeah." I say guiltily, "How was your flight?"
She shrugs slightly, "It was okay. I arrived late last night so I was able to get a good amount of sleep."
"I'm glad." I reply as I go into one of my kitchen cupboards to grab some plates for our pancakes, "These smell delicious Rei."
"They do, I was wondering what to do for lunch and saw a place selling these. I have become quite a fan of pancakes whilst being in America, I am eager to try these."
I am as well and I get out some plates and cutlery for us. The pancakes are plain but the café Rei got them from supplied her with a variety of spreads to try with them. Rei reaches for the strawberry jam for hers, I go for the classic chocolate spread for my first one.
"So how come you're here in Germany, I thought the plan was to travel America for a few more weeks?"
"it was but I realized halfway through the trip that it was coming up to a year since I last saw you, so I sought to rectify that."
I almost choke in shock, "Y-You... Rei that's too much money just to come and visit me!"
She shrugs again, "I do not think so. As I said it has almost been a year and I think the chances of you visiting me and Japan are somewhat slim."
That little pang of guilt I feel at hearing her say that is suppressed for a moment by me swallowing a bit of my pancake. I gave down at the counter, "Yeah well... You know why that is Rei."
"Yes. Although I must disagree with your stance, I am sure they would like to see you again."
"No Rei... They wouldn't like to see me." I look up at her and let out a sigh, "Look, it's... it isn't that I don't believe you it's just that... I can't see them again and that's for the best. I hurt them a lot and it's just best I stay away. They... They're better off without me in their life, I'm not a good person."
"I do not become friends with bad people Asuka."
I feel my cheeks glow red, "Yeah well... maybe I'm the exception to the rule."
"I do not believe so, I believe you are being too hard on yourself."
I shrug, "Maybe... Maybe not... I guess... they still don't know that we're friends do they?"
"I have not told them anything of our friendship and I will continue to keep this a secret for as long as you desire it. As far as they are concerned you left Japan years ago and are living comfortably and off the grid."
"T-Thank you, I'm sorry I am making you keep this a secret."
"I do not mind." She replies coolly, "That is what you wish and as your friend I will not betray that wish."
"Thank you." I nervously shift from one foot to the other, "So... how are they doing?"
"Misato has begun work with an organization known as WILLE. I believe that she wishes to start operations in Tokyo-3 to salvage what is left of NERV."
Another pang in my stomach at hearing the name of NERV spoken, I quickly supress it with another chocolate covered piece of pancake. I'm nearly done with this one, I should get another. Maybe not chocolate spread this time, I might try the jam, Rei seemed to enjoy that one.
"is there even anything left to recover?" I ask, "I mean... we didn't exactly leave it in a reusable state."
Rei nods, "NERV was much bigger than any of you... even I knew. There are parts of it that will still be there and might have something of benefit to us... or something that should be destroyed. I trust that Misato will make the right decision."
"Hah, making the right decision and Misato?" I start to joke but trail off, Rei seems amused but halfway through I realize the joke just isn't funny to me, "Yeah... She will. What about... well... you know who?"
She seems to take a moment to think, "He is doing well."
She lies to me, a strange thing about Rei is that she isn't a very good liar. She always looks off in the same direction when she does so and her hand twitches on doing so. I decide to not press her on it though. I don't have any right to be too concerned about him or know more considering who I am.
"He has signed up to take music lessons."
I look at her in confusion and shock, "Music lessons? What the hell would he need music lessons for? I... I heard him years ago, he was... he was very good."
It was just a shame that I had to go and ruin his night by being... me. I force the memory away as Rei replies to me, "It has been many years since he last played so he believes his skills to be somewhat rusty. He had his first lesson yesterday but I have not yet been in contact to find out how it went."
"He is doing alright though?" I ask once more, in a way hoping that maybe Rei will be more truthful with me.
"Yes." She replies but her tone again indicating that he isn't as good as she is letting on.
"I'm glad." I finally reply, "He... He deserves to be happy."
My hand clenches into a fist as I avert my eyes from Rei. Those little daggers of guilt appear once more as I think about him, "Especially after everything that I-"
"Asuka!" Rei cuts me off sternly. I slowly look up into those piercing red eyes of hers. They're frightening and I instantly go quiet, "You should forgive yourself for all that happened. I have told you on numerous occasisions that not only you but we were all very different people back then."
"I-" I start to protest but Rei doesn't allow me in. After Third Impact Rei did find her voice and she isn't afraid of using it.
"You are a good person Asuka and... I know that you were back then as well. You might not have always shown it but you were. If you weren't I would not have made such an effort to find you after you left Japan."
"I know you see yourself solely as the Asuka who always yelled and shouted at others, who belittled other people and believed herself to be better than other people. The Asuka who would lash out frequently."
I feel so much better now.
"But that is not who you are now and not all you were back then. I can look back and see the Asuka who was brave in front of monsters that threatened this world. The Asuka who tried to encourage her teammates to do better. The Asuka who risked her life to protect her friends. A frightened Asuka who wanted to reach out to others. I saw an Asuka who was unselfish, who made an effort to include someone like me when she had no reason to. That Asuka who took us to the ramen cart that night."
I'd cry on hearing her words if that wouldn't be unbelievably pathetic of me and if I hadn't already used up my weekly supply of tears after my nightmare. So instead I blink rapidly and force the stinging feeling behind my eyes to go away. She mentioned that damn ramen cart again, she has a thing for that.
I laugh, "Well... Misato couldn't really afford a steak dinner and... you're vegetarian so what else was I supposed to do."
"You were not supposed to do anything. It was not your responsibility, Misato should not have made the promise if she were not able to keep it. Yet you did do something and I am grateful for it."
"Alright!" I try to put an end to this, "You've made your point... I guess I wasn't completely awful. Maybe only 95% awful."
She glares at me, "It is an improvement I suppose."
I watch as she leans over to grab another pancake. She seems to stop mid motion as her eyes are drawn to something on the counter. Rei does something of a double take as she looks intently at the piece of paper I had left lying there. Her mouth opens slightly as if she is shocked and I take a step forward.
"Rei… Is everything alright? You've been looking at that piece of paper for nearly a minute now."
She looks up at me and her expression as changed, it's hardened and for a brief moment I wonder if this is it. Is this finally the moment she is going to call me out for all the bad I've done just as I deserve. Naturally she doesn't do that, she instead picks up the piece of paper and holds it in front of me.
"This document, where did you get it?"
I look at the document she is holding and my heart starts to beat faster in my chest. It's the one that guy dropped yesterday. I can see his name written at the top followed by an address. I don't know why I picked it up, after what happened I probably should have left it there but it looked important. I was going to post it.
I lean casually on the counter trying to not show any trace of being bothered by Rei holding it up to me or by my memories of yesterday.
"Oh that?" I shrug, "I... found it yesterday... some guy was coming into the café I was working in and he didn't look to see where he was going. Idiot bumped right into me and sent us both spilling to the ground. He left and dropped it."
Rei is eying me oddly, does she know what happened? Rei has a weird sense of just knowing things from time to time. She looks at the name on the form as if confirming what it says, "You... met this guy? Did anything else happen?"
I swallow and nod, "Well he... looked at me and he got frightened... he ran away from me. He didn't stop to pick it up he just ran. I... He knew who I was... He knew me Rei, he was frightened of me and he..."
In a blur of motion Rei sets the form down on the table and moved into wrap me in another of her warm hugs. I don't even try to resist and I put my arms around her and rest my head on her should. I can feel myself on the verge of tears again, "He knew who I was... I've been found out Rei... I've been..."
Rei shakes her head, "No... No, you haven't Asuka. You don't recognize the name on that form do you?"
Still in her embrace I shake my head, "No... Why would I?"
"Asuka that person you met… Kaworu Nagisa, he was the Fifth Child and… he was the final Angel." She informs me darkly and I feel my stomach drop, "I… I need to make a phone call."
Rei breaks the hug and starts to walk towards her handbag. I reach out and grab her wrist before she can make any motion. I can't let her make a phone call just yet. I need to know more, what does she mean he was the Fifth Child? What does she mean he was the final Angel?
That person who recognized me yesterday was an Eva pilot? That person knew me because of that? I certainly didn't know him so how is that possible. I need to know more information and... I know it's selfish of me considering what she said but I can't let anyone know I'm here.
"Wait!" I tell her, "No phonecalls, not yet."
She looks at me, "Asuka, this is serious. He was…"
I nod my head, "I know and I believe you Rei it's just… I need to know more first. What do you mean he was both the Fifth Child and the final Angel?"
I keep my hand in place and continue to look at Rei. She stares back at me before finally relaxing her pose and putting her handbag on the counter. She walks out of the kitchen into the front room where we both sit opposite one another on the seating. She sighs before looking at me, "I apologize, I… forgot that your memory of that time period is not complete."
I shake my head, "It's fine, it's not like I ever asked for those blanks to be filled in before. Not really a period of time I want to remember. Start from the beginning, who is Kaworu Nagisa?"
Rei pauses and seems to be deep in thought for a few moments. I can imagine she is finding it tough to come up with the right words to say to me, so I decide to make it easier for her, "The Fifth Child… Shinji was the Third, Touji was the Fourth but he was injured during the activation test so the Fifth Child would have been my replacement right?"
Rei nods, "Yes… He turned up around the time you…"
Again I step in to make things easier, "After I ran away and tried to… kill myself?"
She nods again and edges closer to me holding out her hand. I place mine on top of hers and tighten around it, "It's alright Rei… I know… what I tried to do. We don't need to avoid the subject."
"You are correct, Kaworu was your replacement and arrived shortly after you were found and hospitalized. He immediately befriended Shinji. Shinji was in a very bad place at that time. He had discovered the truth of what I was and had just witnessed me die and become a different person. His friends had left Tokyo-3, you were hurt, Misato wasn't around…It was very easy for someone like Kaworu to manipulate him."
There was genuine venom in Rei's words as she spoke of the boy. It's a little bit unnerving if I'm being honest, I've heard the girl get angry and frustrated before but never anything like this.
"Manipulate him? How so?"
"He became friends with Shinji. He told Shinji things that he wanted to hear and Shinji fell for it and I believe for him."
"Fell for him?" I ask in some shock, "You mean…"
I trail off unsure of how to phrase my question. I would not be entirely surprised if he was not in fact heterosexual but the truth was in the time I knew him I never known him to show a romantic interest in anyone, except of course… for those brief fleeting moments when we kissed and when we encountered each other in Third Impact.
Rei nods again, "I do not doubt that there was some romantic attachment on the part of Shinji. Whether it is because of Kaworu appearing at the right time or not I do not know. My brother has never shown any romantic or sexual interest in anyone. I wanted to say or do something at the time but things were very muddle for me in my third body… Also given what Shinji has just discovered about me I did not feel he would trust me."
"So what happened?"
"Barely a couple of days after he arrived Kaworu snuck into NERV and hijacked Unit 02. His Angel form allowed him to manipulate the Eva and he used it to descend towards Central Dogma."
Anger flares up inside of me at hearing Rei say this, not so much at the betrayal but at the fact that he used my Unit 02 to do it. How dare he do such a thing, how dare he takes what was mine!
"On reaching Central Dogma he found out that he was standing in front of Lilith and now Adam like he thought. He realized that much like he had used Shinji, SEELE had used him and meant for him to fulfil his role in their plan and die. It was Shinji who dealt the final blow. It… broke Shinji. Kaworu wasn't human but he looked, sounded and smelled human. He was much more human than I was, Shinji not only had to deal with the loss and betrayal of a friend but with killing what was a living person."
I lower my eyes, I know what happened after this. I know the events afterwards, "I see, no wonder he…"
I can remember those moments before Third Impact quite clearly. Being in my Eva and fighting, waiting, hoping that he would show up to save the day. I had never wanted it to happen so badly but it wasn't to be. I died on that day except… I didn't really die. Instead I was pulled into Instrumentality and forced to relive moments and try to untangle the mess of my fucked up life.
I feel Rei's warm hand tighten around mine, "I apologize for making you relive your memories of those moments. I know they are painful, they are for me too. If you wish I will go."
I look up at her and shake my head, "No please… stay. I'm glad you're here it's just… a lot to take in. I just… I didn't know about any of this. No one told me and I never bothered to ask. It just… puts a lot of things in perspective now."
As I speak I hear my voice start to tremble slightly. I blink away the tears again, in some way my heart feels somewhat lighter at hearing the strange tale of Kaworu Nagisa. He did recognize me and he must have been frightened of me but not for the reasons I thought, it was because he must have thought I knew what he did and I'd hurt him.
I look up at Rei's frowning face and feel that if I were to hurt Kaworu I'd have to get into a queue behind Rei. The only thing is I have no wish to hurt him, I don't want to be that angry person, I don't want to hurt people anymore even if they do deserve it in some way.
I don't really understand why Kaworu would have ran from me though. If he is an Angel then why would he be afraid fo a human like me.
"He must have… known who I was yesterday then. That's why he ran like that but… if why would he run?" I ask Rei to see if maybe she knows.
"I do not know." Rei replies to me, "I do not know why he is alive right now but I wish to find out. I also want to make sure no harm comes to you or anyone. He will not hurt one of my friends again."
I muster up a grin, "I can take care of myself Rei. I'll… let you make your phone call, just… don't… mention… if you can."
"Do not worry, I will be sure to not mention your involvement in this."
Tokyo-2 – Early Evening
I leave the small meeting room and head straight down the corridor towards my temporary office. The meeting was admittedly not quite as productive as I'd have hoped. A lot of the focus was on them questioning me and my actions during the war against the Angels.
I know why they did it, they want to find out who I am, who I was and whether I'm worthy enough to accomplish what I need to do. They want to see if I'm capable and strong enough and want to see if my personal feelings aren't getting in the way. They want to make me look stupid so they can all get their people in there and freeze us out.
I can't say I didn't expect any of it though, it was something that I discussed in length with Maya and the others before we decided to go into this. So, I did my best to remain calm and focused. I answered any and all questions as professionally as I could. I deflected when I was able to and tried to keep everything on track to what to do with Tokyo-3.
In a way I am still questioning why I'm doing this. Maybe my personal feelings are getting in the way somehow but Fuyutsuki persuaded me I was the best person for it and I'd make the right decisions. He wants me to do this and I believed him.
It isn't as if no progress was made during the meeting though. We now have a date for the next meeting and we know that each interested party will be presenting their team to do an exploratory sweep of the abandoned zone. I've already selected Maya and Makoto as my team. If there are any people best suited for it it'd be those two. Ritsuko would have course been an ideal candidate too but nothing will persuade her to join us. She seems happy teaching at a local school now and I can't blame her.
As I enter the office I feel my phone vibrating in my bad. I quickly pull it out and glance at the caller ID. It's Rei, that's unusual, I thought that she was enjoying herself in America at this moment. Why would she be calling me now?
Hoping everything is alright I answer, "Hello, Rei? Is everything alright?"
There is a small pause and I hear the sound of a door closing, "Hello Misato, everything is fine."
I relax my shoulders and breathe out a sigh of relief, "Oh good! How is America?"
There is another brief pause, "I am not currently in America. I am actually in Germany right now, Berlin to be precise."
"Berlin?" I exclaim, what the hell is Rei doing in Berlin?
"What are you doing in Berlin?" I ask her, I already have a suspicion, one I've had for quite some time but I've never spoken or asked about it. It's a bit of an unwritten rule in our home that we don't speak of certain things. I wonder if... Well I doubt Rei will say one way or the other.
"America bored me." She replied, "So I decided to come to Europe instead. It was something of an impulsive decision I made yesterday."
"Oh." I shrug casually, "As long as you're alright."
"I am doing fine but... there is a reason I am calling you. Since arriving I have... seen something..."
I feel a little pang of nervousness in my stomach as she says that. My mind immediately begins to wander to dark places, I can't help it. I worry about her, I know she is sensible, probably the most sensible out of all of us and she is incredibly mature too considering she has only really started to explore her own humanity over the last few years but she is not invincible.
Added with the fact that she is currently in Germany I begin to run over other worst-case scenarios. That thing which we don't speak of, is it something to do with that? Has Rei seen her? Is...
My own thoughts are cut off by Rei speaking, "Kaworu Nagisa is alive."
My jaw drops, that was certainly not what I was expecting to hear. In a million years I would not have ran that scenario through my head. I find myself unable to say anything in response to her. In a way I'm relieved that it was not one of the things I had thought of, in another I'm terrified knowing what this could represent.
"Misato are you there?"
Rei's voice brings me back down to Earth, I have to make sure she did in fact say what I thought she did.
"Rei... Can you repeat that please?"
"Yes. Kaworu Nagisa is alive."
Kaworu Nagisa... A name I haven't heard of in a long time. If that other subject is not spoken about in our home then the subject of Kaworu is even more complicated. My mind immediately wanders to Shinji and how he would react to this news. I know exactly how Shinji feels about Kaworu. I know Shinji still harbours feelings of guilt towards what he did, towards what he had to do. I can understand it though, killing someone is not a pleasant thing... even if they are your enemy.
"Okay Rei..." I try to focus myself and make an attempt to switch to Major Katsuragi mode, "Tell me more, when did you see him? How did you see him? Are you certain it was him?"
So Rei tells me, keeping her words short and to the point, "I saw him yesterday, he was entering a small café in the city but I do not recall the name. I am certain it was him, there is no mistaking that."
"Right." I nod my head, "And did he see you at all?"
"Good." I nod again, "Look Rei, I know you're on holiday but I'm going to ask you to cut it short. I want you to come back to Japan as soon as you can, I'm going to find out more about this."
"Goodbye Rei, see you soon."
"See you soon Misato."
Rei hangs up the phone and I stand there in disbelief for at least a minute. Kaworu Nagisa is back on this Earth and has somehow found himself in Berlin. That one thing I have been afraid of for so long has happened. If Nagisa is back then what else does that mean? Does it mean more Angels can return? Does it mean SEELE are back?
I try to focus my thoughts, there is no point jumping to conclusions just yet. What I need to do is gather information first if I rush into doing something then people are going to get hurt, most of all that kid who is sitting back in my apartment right now. I need to protect him most of all.
So, what do I do now? There are a few people I can contact but I suppose my first port of call will be the person I always turn to for advice. I'll start with her, she might know something before I go further down the rabbit hole.
It doesn't take long before answers the phone. She sounds happy and I immediately feel bad for what I'm about to say, "Hello MIsato, just finished your meeting I'm guessing."
I don't greet her, "Ritsuko, Kaworu Nagisa is back."
There is silence and I imagine her in very much a similar state to what I was when Rei told me. Her voice comes back moments later, "Can you repeat that?"
"Kaworu Nagisa is back."
She isn't silent this time, "Are you sure? How do you know?"
"Rei just phoned to tell me, she is currently in Berlin and she saw him."
"Some point yesterday, he was entering a café there. He didn't see her though fortunately."
"You're sure she didn't just make a mistake."
"Ritsuko, this is Rei we're talking about here, if she says she saw him then we can be sure of it. Besides... how many people do you think there are who look like Kaworu Nagisa?"
"True..." Ritsuko pauses for a moment, "I don't understand though, how can he be back? He was..."
"An Angel?" I finish Ritsuko's sentence for her, "I don't know Rits, I was hoping you might know something."
"I'm afraid I can't really help you, I know nothing about him either. His name came up on reports back then but that was literally just it, a name and a date of birth. I didn't have access to any further information on him, you know how NERV was and by the time he arrived I wasn't exactly in good standing with others..."
I bow my head at hearing her say that, in my panic to try to learn more I had forgotten just what had happened to Ritsuko at that point in time. With the way she carries herself now it's easy to forget that she was deep into her own personal hell back then too."
"I know... Sorry."
"It's fine, out of all the people back then I am the one most likely to know something. The best I can offer is that Kaworu seemed to be similar to Rei, a hybrid of Angel and human, he was also a part of SEELE's dummy plug system."
"So like Rei... he would have had spares..."
"Exactly. Although anything like that would have been kept in SEELEs main strongholds which were raided years ago. I don't remember them finding anything like that."
"Well if they did they could have kept it secret, Rei and Kaworu... were miracles of science really. I imagine a lot of people would want to keep hold of that sort of thing." My mind then leaps immediately to the worst case, "You don't think that... SEELE might still be..."
"We shouldn't jump to conclusions yet." Ritsuko says to me, "I'm just offering one possibility, there are others. He could have... returned just like Rei did."
I know she is right, I shouldn't leap to the worst-case scenario but I want to prepare myself just in case. There is a brief pause before she speaks again, "Are you going to tell Shinji?"
"No... Not yet, he's... having a tough time at the moment with the music lessons thing and I don't want to add to that. Until I learn more I think I'll keep this quiet."
"A wise decision." She pauses again, "Speak to Fuyutsuki, I know you don't like dealing with him and... well I'm not a fan either but he does seem to be genuinely trying to help. If anyone is likely to know something it'll be him."
I sigh, "I know... Fuyutsuki it is then. Bye Rits."
"Goodbye Misato and... good luck."
Berlin – Mid Afternoon
I shift myself around on my seat trying to get comfortable and reach across the desk for my cup of coffee. My fingertips grace the top of the plastic cup and I gently grip and lift it. I raise it slightly from the desk when a sudden knock at the door causes me to jump in fright. I let out a noise and drop the cup, it falls to the desk, some of the contents spilling onto my hand and the rest down the desk onto the floor below.
I look up and see Fuyutsuki enter the office, he looks around briefly taking in the sight of the mess I've made and then the sight of me clutching my hand in pain, "Nagisa! Are you alright?"
I nod my head angrily, annoyed at myself for letting this happen and ending with me looking like an idiot in front of Fuyutsuki. Ever since last night I've been a bag of nerves. I barely got any sleep last night and I've been unable to focus on anything so far today. I keep on shaking and every noise is getting to me. Coming into work was a struggle, I keep on expecting to see her wherever I go, I keep on expecting to see the others and expecting them to give me what I deserve.
Fuyutsuki takes a look at my hand and shakes his head, "Wait here I'll go and get you a cloth. I don't think you've burnt anything."
I nod again as Fuyutsuki leaves the office and slips into the kitchen down the corridor. In the meantime I sit myself down on my seat and let out a sigh as I watch the spilled coffee drip off of the desk onto the floor. I suppose I should think myself lucky that it didn't hit anything on my desk.
As I sit and wait for Fuyutsuki to return my mind once again replays the scene from yesterday. My unfortunate encounter with the former Second Child, Asuka Langley Soryu. I find myself asking a number of questions about it, what was she doing here? Is anyone else here with her? Did she even recognize me?
I try to think about what I know about her. I know she is originally from Germany but from what I understood she had made Japan her home as a pilot. I only had access to minimal files on her but my understanding was that her family situation was complicated and she had expressed a desire to her guardian to remain in Japan.
I lean back and wonder about my other questions. She seemed to be alone at the time but that doesn't mean anything. She could have been meeting someone in the café or going to meet someone after being in there. As for whether or not she recognized me, she was incapacitated when I went into NERV but I'm sure in all the years that have passed for her someone would have told her about me.
She didn't seem to recognize me but in the confusion of it all I don't think she had the chance to properly take a look. Still I know myself I'm not exactly normal looking so there is a chance she'll have recognized me.
Fuyutsuki finally reenters the room with a cloth and a handful of paper towels. I take them from him and start to clean up the mess I've made. As I do so I can feel his eyes on me and I wonder if he is angry at me for what happened. I look up and see the same sympathetic eyes I've seen from him since I first met him.
"Nagisa, Is everything okay with you today? You have seemed somewhat distracted all day and it is most unlike you, did something happen at the interview yesterday?"
I avert my gaze from him and I actually consider lying to him and telling him I'm fine. It seems embarrassing to admit the truth but I know that if I don't things might get worse. So I swallow what little I have of my pride and shake my head, "I… The interview went fine yesterday, they are eager for me to start."
"I see, so what is the issue?"
"On the way back from the interview I was going to go into a small café to relax and… there was an incident. I… encountered someone…"
His expression turns from sympathetic to deathly serious and he steps forward, "Was this someone you know?"
"Yes… Well no… sort of…" I fumble my words, "I don't know them exactly but I know of them and I fear that I am known to then. I saw… the Second Child… I saw Asuka Langley Soryu."
"Ah!" Fuyutsuki takes a step back from me and shakes his head, "I see… I was afraid that something like this might happen eventually."
"Y-You were afraid of something like this happening?" I ask him and find it hard to hide my surprise, I don't know if I should be angry or not at hearing this, "Did you know Asuka was here in Berlin?"
"He gives a small nod and goes to sit down at his desk, "I am afraid I did know but I did not anticipate any issues. Belin is a vast city and the odds of you two meeting were slim."
I finish cleaning my desk and the area around it and deposit the kitchen towel into the small bin before sitting back down at my desk. My hand is still stinging from where the coffee hit it and I try to process what Fuyutsuki has told me.
"I must apologize to you Nagisa, perhaps I should have told you before that there was a risk of you encountering her but from what is known of her we didn't think it'd be a factor. Can I ask… did anything happen when you saw her?"
"No…" I say to him, "I accidentally bumped into her when she was coming out of the café, she yelled at me and I tried to help her up to her feet. When I realized who she was I… I turned and ran away. I don't think she recognized me."
"Perhaps she didn't… A lot of time has passed and I don't think Asuka has ever been properly informed of that period of time. Asuka…" Fuyutsuki bows his head, "Asuka decided shortly after Third Impact to return to Germany and cut off all contact with her former friends and colleagues. We do of course monitor her for her own safety but she wishes nothing to do with us."
Fuyutsuki stops there and I wonder if there is anything more to the story than he is telling me. I wonder why Asuka chose to leave Japan behind and why she decided to cut off contact from others. I know little else about her, my focus when I went to Tokyo-3 was on Shinji as he was the only other active pilot. I decide now is not the best time to inquire about such things.
Fuyutsuki addresses me again, "Again I apologize that I did not tell you that there was a risk of this. If you wish you can take the rest of the day off and we can look into rehoming you elsewhere to prevent such things."
I shake my head, "N-No… I would… This place is my home now and I am grateful to be here and to be able to work here. I want to continue living here. I have very little here but what I do have I like and I don't want to lose it, I would rather stay."
"Very well." He replies, "If you have any issues please let me know. I don't want to see you hurt."
Asuka Langley Soryu
Berlin – Early evening
Why am I doing this? It's a question that I've been asking myself constantly since I left my apartment just under thirty minutes ago. I round a street corner and pull the envelope out of my pocket and pop the small form out. I glance at the address and compare it with the apartment block I'm now stood in front of. This is definitely the right place.
My hand hovers over the buzzer and I once again ask myself just why I'm doing this. I don't have any answer except that I'm curious. I'm curious as to why Kaworu Nagisa fled from me yesterday, I'm curious as to who he is and how he came back, I'm curious as to why he is in Berlin right now. I continue to stand in front of the buzzer as a certain saying about cats and curiosity runs through my head.
I dread to think what Rei would think or say if she knew I was doing this. My finger finally presses the buzzer and I wait, there is no sound from the device and I press it again. There is still no sound and I look down at the door and see the lock is broken. I shake my head and gently push the door open and step inside the lobby.
It would have been so easy for me to just post this to him but for some reason I was compelled to deliver it to him myself. After a bit of walking I finally reach his door, it's an unassuming brown wooden door just like the many others in the hallway. I knock twice and wait, listening out for sounds of movement. I take one cautious step back from the door and prepare for the worst.
Yesterday is replaying in my head, how I collided with him and we were both sent spilling to the ground. How he got up and ran from me and how I lost a night's sleep because of it. I think about all those things Rei told me about him in her attempt to fill in some of the blanks. This guy was the last Angel, strange I didn't think they could take human form.
I wonder if I should be scared of him, judging by his reaction yesterday probably not but then what should I feel about him? Should I be angry at him? For doing what he did to… for what he did to a certain other person? For nearly destroying this world. In that way he is no different from me but at least I suppose I was at least honest about what a horrible person I was.
After a time, I hear the sounds of a lock opening and the door opens slowly to reveal Kaworu Nagisa to me. I'm only able to catch a glimpse of him, it looks like he is still in his work clothes, he's wearing a pair of smart grey trousers, a plain white shirt and orange tie. That is all I'm able to see of him before he locks eyes with me, he jumps backwards and immediately tries to slam the door in my face.
As if expecting him to do that I place my foot in between the door and doorframe and I yelp out in pain as the door collides with my foot.
"Wait!" I manage to choke out through the pain, "I'm not... I'm not here to hurt you, you idiot!"
I realize angrily calling him an idiot might not be too persuasive as he continues to try to shut the door on me. He's strong and I consider withdrawing my foot, letting him shut the door and walking away. Unfortunately for my foot an older part of me has taken over and I'm not willing to let him win.
I lean myself up against the door and look around the corridor hoping that no one else here can hear this exchange or comes out right now. The last thing I need is for someone to see me doing this. I push against the door, "Listen to me! I'm not... I'm here to deliver that damn letter you dropped yesterday!"
My words seem to have had some effect on him as I feel the force stop from his end, something my poor right foot is very grateful for. I stay exactly where I am not pushing on the door anymore but keeping it propped open. I'm sure I can hear him take a step away from me before I hear a weak voice, "Could... Could you please post it and leave?"
This is really the Fifth Child and final Angel? The one who nearly doomed all of mankind? This is the person who made Rei so angry just by seeing his name? I consider his request, maybe I should just leave him alone but again I feel that compulsion to find out more. I want to know why he is so terrified.
I push the door slightly and I see him stood on the far side of the corridor his eyes wide with fear. He backs himself up into the corner like some sort of frightened puppy. I hesitate to move any closer and feel my own heart rate increase. I'm really having this effect on him, I'm really scaring him this much because of this aren't I? I should leave, I should never have come here at all.
I stand there awkwardly in the doorway before repeating, "I'm not here to hurt you."
He looks at me with a look of disbelief and I take a step back. His eyes... they're the same eyes I had seen from another certain person in the past. That fear of the monster I am, does Kaworu know about me then? Does he know what I was? Is that why he is so scared of me?
I weakly smile and hold out the envelope, "Here... Take it, I'll... I'll go. I'm sorry, I didn't realize I scared you that much."
Kaworu looks at me again before taking a tentative step forward. He slowly reaches out and takes the envelope from me before looking at the form within. I see his eyes light up for a moment and he half smiles at me.
"T-Thank you." He says as he takes a step back, "I... I appreciate you bringing this."
I shrug, "Yeah well... it was no big deal. Look I'll just go, I just thought... Never mind... You should probably look at getting that front door fixed too."
I turn around to leave and hear him speak, "It is... a big deal to me... I am really grateful."
I freeze up, some communication finally, "Good."
I don't leave my spot in the door yet and wonder If he is about to say anything else. After thirty seconds of awkwardness he does, "I... I should apologize about yesterday... I hope... I did not hurt you..."
I finally turn around to face him, "It's fine... I just... Why did you run away from me?"
He averts his eyes from me, I'm sure I see some redness of embarrassment come to his pale cheeks, "I… I thought you were going to hurt me… That you knew who I was… but you know that now don't you?"
I nod my head, "I didn't yesterday but I've had a few of the blanks filled in for me now."
He glances at me before backing himself up against the wall, "Then you know what I was and what it was I did?"
I nod again, "Yes I do…"
"How much do you know?"
"Enough. I know that you were sent to NERV to replace me and I know you ended up being an Angel." I tell him realizing there is no point beating around the bush, "I know that you befriended… "
I trail off for some reason finding myself unable to say his name. Kaworu is looking at me with a wounded expression, "I know that you hurt him too."
He recoils at my words and shakes his head, "No it was not… I had no choice… I…"
He looks directly at me now, "It was too much… SEELE and the compulsions I felt I… I didn't want to hurt him. I didn't want to hurt anyone but…"
"But you did."
"Yes… I did…" He admits, "And I regret it, I've regretted it every day since I returned… I should not be here… I should…"
"Stop it." I order him not wishing to hear him say these things. It's not that I don't have sympathy for him but because those are the same words I've used countless times in the past about myself. I hate hearing them in my own head, never mind from someone else.
I try to move the subject on, "So what are you now?"
"I'm as human as you or anyone else is." He answers me immediately. It was just as I suspected and the fear he is feeling starts to make sense. He's not only going to be afraid of me but everyone else. He doesn't have whatever powers he could rely on as an Angel to protect him and his human side has taken over.
An awkward silence falls upon us as I step further into the hallway, his front door closes extinguishing an amount of the light that was coming in. In the darkness I can still make him out and I can see his red eyes looking towards me reflecting the little light that is coming in from one of the other rooms. Finally he speaks, "W-Would you like to come inside?"
His question takes me by surprise and I find myself nodding and following him into his front room. His front room is immaculate, not surprising considering the total lack of anything in it. He has a simple black couch placed in one part of the room with a television opposite. A small coffee table sits in between the two.
On one of the far walls is a small piano with a bookcase next to it filled up with what I presume to be music books. Next to that is a table with a music player on it. There is nothing else in the room, no plants, pictures or ornaments. The walls are a plain and dull white making it look as if he has just moved in here.
"How long have you been here?" I ask him.
"Almost six months…" He replies, "I… returned in January and spent a month in the facility there."
Six months here and this is all he has, even Rei didn't take that long to start amassing things. I wonder how Kaworu lives and what he does. He can't just sit and play piano all the time, he can't just listen to music all the time. Does he not have anything else?
"So you came to Berlin after being in the facility, do you know people here?"
He shakes his head, "I… not really. It was Fuyutsuki… he offered me an opportunity here. I work for him, he's helped me a great deal."
I don't know if I should be surprised at that. Fuyutsuki has, since we all returned been making an attempt to make up for what he was a part of. In the early days he visited each of us and ensured we got fair treatment and suitable payouts and support for what we all went through. I can imagine that he is also behind ensuring those people still watch over me, despite me saying I wanted nothing to do with any of them.
"Fuyutsuki huh? So he is still trying to help people is he… even if they used to be an Angel…"
I feel bad almost immediately after saying it, even more so when I see him flinch, "He has… been very helpful and kind to me."
"Good. I'm glad." I state flatly before taking another look around this barren and somewhat alien room. It unnerves me, it's so sterile and basic. It doesn't feel lived in at all.
"Thank you once again… for bringing the form I mean. It is… It is really important to me."
I shrug, "Don't mention it, so what exactly is it anyway that's so important?"
"I am applying to become a music tutor." He wanders over to his piano and smiles, "As you have probably noticed I don't have much here. I… don't really know how to live yet, most of my life was spent in isolation with minimal contact with other people. Music is… one thing I have always had though and playing the piano is one thing I am able to do and I would like to share my gift with others."
At least he knows what he wants, that is something. I walk over to his piano and take a look at it with him. It's a nice looking instrument but the thing that really catches my eye is the piece that he has displayed on the stand. I have to do a double take, "You're learning Firth of Fifth?"
He smiles at me, "You know the song?"
I grin, "Of course I know it! It was one of my…"
I trail off partway through my sentence and shake my head. I don't really want to explain to this guy I barely know just why that sort of music resonates with me. I used to tell people it's because it was music for smarter people, that the musical complexity was made for people like me and the lyrical depth was something you wouldn't get in their simpler forms of music.
It was of course all bullshit. The real reason I know and like this song and this sort of music is because my mother liked it. One of the few things I have left of her is her record collection. I would listen to the songs repeatedly, absorbed in the stories they tell and the musical journeys they took me on. It was one of the few things that allowed me to get close to my mother. He looks at me expecting me to finish my sentence, instead I smirk at him, "Play it."
"Play… Firth of Fifth?"
"Yes! Play it! I want to hear you!"
"O-Oh but I…"
"Oh come on." I challenge him, "You want to be a tutor right? You have to get used to having an audience."
"Okay… I shall try…"
I step away from the piano and he takes his seat and looks over the sheet a couple of times. I watch as he stretches his hands out and I watch as his hands hover over the piano keys for a moment. I wonder if he is really going to do it, he seems hesitant but then he nods his head four times and his slender pale fingers come down on the keys launching into the wondrous introduction of the song.
I remain still, my mouth slightly open in awe as he plays the entire introduction to the song flawlessly. I look and see his face deep in concentration as his hands glide across the piano. It's such a far cry from that frightened puppy of a boy I had witnessed only moments ago. A minute and some later he brings it to an end and I give him some light applause, "Very good."
"Y-You think so?" He looks embarrassed by the praise.
"Of course! So you like this sort of music?"
He nods enthusiastically, "Very much so, I just find it a shame that many of these artists are no longer active. I have exhausted a lot of their discographies."
I laugh, "Well a lot of those bands were quite turbulent or they changes drastically."
"Yes, this one was no exception, two of their members leaving only a few years apart and their sound changing. Tell me, which era do you prefer?"
I shrug, "I like both, sometimes I found the earlier stuff a bit too wordy but sometimes the later stuff could be a bit too poppy or droning. There is a lot to like from both sides though."
"I see, I admit I find myself preferring the older material but later tracks such as Domino, Home by the Sea and Fading Lights are wonderful."
"They are." I reply and then I'm hit by a strange idea.
"Say… Kaworu there is… a band playing nearby tonight… a tribute act funnily enough and they cover only the earlier material. I have two tickets for it and I was going to go with a friend but she unfortunately had to leave to go home earlier today."
He looks at me, "Oh… That is unfortunate."
I can't help but think that for Kaworu it's actually quite fortunate considering just what it is Rei wants to do to him. I probably shouldn't mention Rei right now, a part of me thinks I shouldn't even be doing this but something inside me feels bad for the guy. He's been here six months and it's obvious he hasn't experienced… anything. Going to a concert will be good for him and he'll have me to protect him from anything.
"So would you like the spare ticket?"
"I-I do not know… I… there will be many people there… I…"
"You have nothing to worry about, no one knows who you are and besides you're going to be with me. I'll make sure no harm comes to you."
He smiles, "In which case… I would like that… thank you."