Shinji Ikari

Tokyo 2 – Late afternoon

"Shinji, I need to speak with you."

I put down the piece of sheet music I'm looking over and look towards Rei as she enters the living room. There is something about her seems, off and I feel a sense of worry as I watch her enter the room. Rei looks worried, immediately I stand up, "Of course, Rei! Is everything alright?"

She makes her way towards me and nods, "It is... fine but I fear I have made a mistake."

That slightly worried feeling I had moments before begins to morph into that familiar sense of butterflies in my stomach. It's not like Rei to look nervous or worried like this. Scenarios begin to rush through my head as to what could be wrong. I wonder if someone has hurt her or threatened her in some way.

I try to keep myself calm as she instructs me to sit down. I go back to where I was previously and watch as she sits down near to me, she gazes down at the ground awkwardly.

"What's wrong Rei? Did somebody hurt you?"

She looks up at me and shakes her head, "No, it is nothing like that but there is something that happened on my recent holiday that you need to know."

"You mean in America? What happened Rei?"

Again, scenarios begin to flash through my mind. Did someone take advantage of Rei in America? Did someone threaten her or hurt her in some way? I find it hard to believe someone could have hurt her with the security watching us but then I wonder if maybe she met someone there and they hurt her. I know that unlike myself she has actively dated people, both male and female and has experimented in those ways.

I swallow and wait for her to reply, "Yes, only this incident did not occur in America. I was... In Germany when it occurred. There was something in Germany that I wished to see but then this happened. This is the reason I cut my holiday short. I should have told you sooner about my being in Germany but there were things that needed to be worked out."

I feel a brief sense of relief knowing no one hurt her but was this all she had to tell me? That she was in Germany and then got called to come back. Is this just about her being in Germany and not telling me. I know I worry about her but she doesn't need to tell me everything. On occasion she has been guilty of telling me too much.

Besides Rei is an adult, she can go wherever she wants. I give her a reassuring smile.

"That's fine Rei, I know you've been to Germany before and I know you like it there. I'm guessing Misato found out and asked you to come back early then, I know she can be overprotective of us."

"That was not the end of my story." She says with a hint of impatience in her voice, "The reason I was called back early was not because of my being in Germany but because of what I witnessed whilst there, or at least who I witnessed."

I say absolutely nothing as I sit there in a mixture of confusion and worry. That uneasy feeling I had moments before has returned as I wonder why Rei is so worried about telling me this. I wonder just who or what she could have seen. If it was this bad then it must in some way concern me but I don't understand what it is.

Unless... I don't think that could be it but what if... What if after all these years she has finally been seen again. She is from Germany so it'd make sense for her to be there and I know Rei would have issues telling me if she saw her.

I feel a lump in my throat as I prepare for Rei to say her name. This is a moment I've been waiting for ever since she left. I feel a mixture of fear and excitement, what if it really was her? How am I actually going to feel if Rei does say her name? Excited? Happy? I don't know. I also wonder what it matters if it was her. It's not like she would want to come back here and I don't think we could ever be friends again.

I know she hates me for the things I did to her and I can't blame her. It's probably best she does stay away because I'd only hurt her again. I just want to know she is okay though, that she is happy and doing well. I feel Rei's hand around mine as she reveals to me the person she saw.

"I saw Kaworu Nagisa."

I blink. I blink once more and then all the excitement, all the fear and all the other feelings within me are replaced briefly by a strange numb sensation as I try to process what Rei just said to me. The name floats around my head for a few moments and then I start to feel that lump in my throat swell.

I look at Rei aware that my eyes are widening. I want to ask her to say that name again but I can't. I can't open my mouth, it's as if my jaw has been wired shut. All at once images flash back to me of my meeting with Kaworu. Images of us talking at the beach, of us doing our sync tests and me staying in his room. Finally, the images turn darker, the descent into Central Dogma, the fight with Unit 02 and then opening Unit 01s hand to reveal that horror of what I had done to Kaworu.

I wonder if maybe I misheard her. Maybe it was another name but I know how idiotic that sounds. Rei wouldn't make a mistake like that, if she saw Kaworu then she saw Kaworu and that was that. I keep my mouth shut firmly, this time not because it feels like it's wired shut but through fear that if I open it I'll be sick.

I can't believe that he could be alive. I can't believe that Kaworu, my friend for such a brief moment of my life is somehow alive. The boy who befriended me when I had no one else. The boy who betrayed me and the boy that I murdered.

I don't know how to feel about it. Should I be happy at this news? Happy that he came back too along with so many others? Should I be sad or angry at him? I've always tried so hard to not think about Kaworu. I've always tried to put him out of my mind. It's the one memory that I never wanted to revisit and yet I've revisited it so many times over the years. Every moment of our brief couple of days has been replayed in detail in my dreams from the moment I first laid eyes to to his death.

I feel like I should hate him. I know what he did, he took advantage of me and betrayed me. I sunk to my lowest point after that, I did things that were horrible to Asuka and I did nothing as Misato died trying to help me. Yet I cannot hate him. I feel like there was more to him than what I knew, I always wanted to know what that was. I always felt strongly about him, perhaps not as strong as I felt her her but there was something.

"I apologize that I did not tell you sooner." Rei interupts my train of thought, "I promise you though, no harm will come to you from him. I will protect you Shinji."

I look back towards Rei, "P-P-Protect me... No... No I don't... I... Ka-Kaworu wouldn't... He..."

Rei runs her thumbs over my hand, "I know what he was and what he did to you. You don't need to be afraid of him, he can't and won't hurt you again."

"I-I-I..." I start to stutter and close my mouth again. I have nothing to say to Rei, all I can feel now is the numbness spreading throughout my body. I can feel my chest tighten and my breathing becomes more difficult. Rei quickly moves to sit herself beside me and wraps her arm around my shoulder. My vision blurs as I try to steady my breathing, I try to remember what I've been told whenever this happens. It's been so long since it's happened.

Rei wraps me in a warm hug and whispers, "It is okay brother, just breathe. I know this is difficult for you."

Rei Ayanami

I hold my trembling brother tightly in my arms and wait for his anxiety attack to subside. I'm hit with an overwhelming sense of guilt as I sit there and realize that I have been a terrible sister with what I have done to him. I should have told him this sooner but my failure to act has now only ended up hurting him.

Seeing his reaction to this only makes me think about how he would react were he to learn about the other secret I am keeping from him. I've been close to telling him about it in the past but now more than ever I feel like he needs to know that she is alive and well. That he needs to know she is still out there but I also feel like I am too deep in my lie.

I'm afraid, not only of his reaction to learning she is alive but also of his reaction to finding out I kept it hidden from him for three years. I know eventually the truth will come out, that is the way of these things but I am afraid of what will happen when it does. It is not only Shinji's reaction that I fear but also Misato's, the woman who took me in and gave me a home for these past years.

I also fear her reaction as well were I to tell them without her permission. I know she wants to keep herself hidden from them and whilst I disagree with her that she should I promised to keep her secret. I would be betraying one of my best friends if I did that, I would also be confirming her fears that everyone would eventually betray her.

I just want these people, the ones who I love to be happy and safe and thanks to Nagisa I can no longer feel that they are. Thanks to Nagisa my ideal little world has been torn apart, I did not like keeping the secret before this but it was manageable. With Nagisa there there is a risk, not just to us but to Asuka as well. I don't care what Fuyutsuki tells us, that boy cannot be trusted.

"I apologize again Shinji, I know the memory of Nagisa hurts you. I am sorry that I did not tell you about his return sooner but…"

Shinji releases himself from our embrace and shakes his head whilst smiling at me, "N-No… It's fine, I understand why you didn't. I am… I'm not the easiest person when it comes to something like this. I'm sorry I make things so difficult for you. I'm sorry I'm not stronger or better yet!"

"Idiot!" I reply to him sharply and silence him by claming my fingers around his lips, "You have nothing to apologize for Shinji. You do not need to be 'stronger' or 'better' you are who you are, you should not apologize for things which you do not need to apologize for."

I remove my hand and to my surprise he actually lets out a laugh, "You know… You almost reminded me of… Well you know who I mean. When you told me off it sounded just like she did."

I try to ignore that feeling of guilt swelling inside of me as he talks about Asuka. I try to cast the thought of her aside. I cannot tell them yet about her. Not after he has just learned about Nagisa. Instead I must focus on making him feel better, focus on helping him in the here and now.

"I apologize, I do not mean to insult you."

Shinji carries on smiling, "No… You didn't insult me. You were right Rei and when she used to say it she was right. I do… apologize too much, I know it myself and I try hard not to. It's just too easy to do so, it's too easy to blame myself for everything…"

"I feel that, despite how harsh she could be that sometimes Soryu did have a point regarding us all."

Shinji nods, "Yeah… Do… Do you miss her Rei? I know you two never really got along."

"Yes I do. I would have liked to have had the opportunity to know her better and perhaps be her friend. I regret how cold I was towards her in the past and I think I would have liked to correct that. The truth is I did come to admire Soryu in a number of ways, I admired her strength, her fierceness and her compassion."

"I know what you mean, she always had a way of getting us fired up and… she always made sure to include everyone."

"Yes, I was always appreciative of that." I reply to him, "At first I found her attempts to pull me into the group irritating but… I look back on it fondly. I now appreciate those moments."

"Yeah… Do you… Do you think she is alright?"

"I do. Wherever Soryu is now I believe she is doing fine."

Shinji bows his head, "I hope so Rei, she deserves to be happy."

That feeling of guilt, the lead in my soul continues to weigh down heavily on my heart as I hear Shinji speak. Yet I can do nothing about it, all I can do is sit there and pretend I don't know anything about Asuka or her current condition. I have to pretend that I don't know that she misses him as much as he misses her. I have to replace the 'I know' and 'She is' with 'I believe' and 'I hope.'

I'm sorry Shinji, I have not been a good sister to you.

Kaworu Nagisa

Berlin – Late Evening

I try to keep my eyes on the large screen as my fingers press down on the controllers trigger and the car continues to drive forward. It moves down a large dip in the road and starts to gain speed, I slow it just enough in order to take the next sharp corner. As it turns the corner I watch as the back of the car starts to spin out, I try to remember the advice I've read for this and adjust for it. I'm able to get it back under control and the car now drives forward on a long straight.

I keep on driving it forward, being careful to watch my speed knowing that I can't make any mistakes. On screen it drives through a large puddle and little droplets of water splash up onto the games camera and partially obscures my view. I allow myself a quick glance at the minimap, just one more corner and I'll be finished.

Finally the car crosses the finish line and I feel a genuine sense of accomplishment. My results flash up on screen, third place, whilst I did not win it is still much better than I did when I first bought the game. I lean forward and sit the controller down on my coffee table. I let out a soft groan as I feel a twinge in my ribs, a reminder of what happened to me only a couple of hours ago.

The game goes back to the main title screen and I contemplate having another race but I decide against it. I instead look towards my hallway nervously, hoping that Asuka will return to me soon. She said that she would try to be as quick as possible but we found that getting her a taxi back to her place on this particular night was difficult.

Naturally my mind jumps directly to the worst case scenarios. What if she too has been attacked as I was? I wonder if maybe I should have gone with her but my condition would not allow it. I did offer but she was very forceful in telling me that I had to stay here and rest. I did not wish to argue with her.

My mind jumps to another scenario, what if she doesn't come back? What if what has happened has reminded her of what it is I was and she has turned her back on me. I would not blame her and yet I really hope that is not what has happened. I am thankful for her friendship and adore her company. Whilst the circumstances of our being brought together tonight were not how I would have liked them to be I find myself glad that she is here.

I cast that second thought out of my mind. If Asuka had no intention of returning she would not have took a copy of the key to the apartment. Nor would she have said she would return. I do not believe Asuka would be the sort to break such a promise. Yet without her here now I start to feel the fear and vulnerability set in.

Worst of all I am beginning to feel that I deserved what happened to me. I feel that those people were right in attacking me and that maybe I actually deserved worse. I let out a sigh and bring my feet up onto the couch hugging my knees to my chest. I can feel the tears welling up in my eyes once more. I dislike this fear and pain so much and I dislike the voice I my head telling me what I deserve it even moreso.

I do not want to feel this way anymore. I want to believe Asuka and Fuyutsuki when they say to me that my actions all those years ago weren't all my fault. I want to believe them when they say that I was a victim but I don't feel like I was a victim. I can still remember everything, I can remember each and every thought I had on that day, the day I betrayed my first ever friend and tore their world apart.

I remember thinking that humanity had reached its natural conclusion, that it was no longer worthy of this world and time for them to move on and be replaced. I can remember thinking that because that is what they told me. They told me that humanity had to die and I believed it. I believed it right up until I saw Lilith in that chamber. Then I knew… I knew I was little more than a puppet and that all there was for me was death. Yet I embraced it because death would be my escape, an end to the risk I posed those people and an end to the loneliness I felt being the soul being of my kind.

I'm snapped from my thoughts by a sudden noise from the hallway. I jump in fright and hug my knees closer to my chest as the door opens. A moment later Asuka calls out to me, "I'm back, sorry I took so damn long. Took me a while to find my stuff and then the damn taxi refused to wait so I had to call Fuyutsuki to send a car for me and…"

Asuka stops herself in mid-sentence as she enters the room and looks across at me huddled on the sofa. I'm aware of how pathetic I must look but she makes no comment about it. Instead she drops the backpack and makes her way to the sofa and puts an arm around my shoulder. I feel instantly calmed by her warm touch.

From there I see her look up at the screen, my results are still there and she smiled, "Third place! You're getting better Kaworu, still a huge distance from my lap times but definitely better than when you first started! I mean that video you sent me was hilarious."

I let my legs drop to the ground and groan as my ribs ache again. I smile as I turn to her, "I admit I am enjoying the console but I am having some difficulty in adjusting to the games. That video… was not my proudest moment."

"No but making a car do that many flips is an achievement all on its own." Asuka laughs.

"I am finding that I like this game, it is difficult in places but not overly so to put me off or frustrate me. I am able to easily learn at my own pace and do not feel pressure to succeed. I find that with the shooting games I am struggling to adapt to the control methods, moving the character and camera at the same time is a struggle. That other game you recommended I am having a lot of difficulty progressing in. I have made to a… boss character I believe they are called but it kills me instantly. It is frustrating because with each death I seem to lose any progress I have made."

Asuka smirks and nods, "Well I did think that one might be a bit difficult but it is one that everyone should play. You just need to be patient with it, try to watch what the boss does and adjust for it. There are always patterns to the attacks and ways of countering it. As far as the progress goes, well you are spending the points you earn when you kill enemies right?"

I offer her only a blank stare and she shakes her head and sighs, "I should have known! I'll have to show you how it's done won't I?"

"I… Would appreciate that."

"Well don't expect me to do it for you! I'll show you my recordings and give you advice whilst you play. You're not going to improve unless you do it yourself!"

I can't help but smile at her offer, "That sounds like fun."

Asuka then picks up the controller from the coffee table and shoots me another smile as she sets up a track for herself. I can see that the track seems to be one of the more advanced ones in the game, to go alongside it she picks one of the faster cars.

"Now, you watch and learn Kaworu. I'll show you how this is done!"

A little under ten minutes later Asuka crosses the finish line of the track managing to get a time that not only has her in first place but also in the top 250 on the online leaderboards. She triumphantly sets the controller back down and grins, "See, nothing to it! That's how you win a race, patience, smooth driving and no mistakes!"

Whilst Asuka says there was nothing to it I could see quite clearly there was a lot to it and I dread to think how I would fare on that track. I watched it as Asuka skilfully navigated a large number of difficult and sharp turns with ease, looked on as she went through the water hazards and up and down banks without it even affecting her.

At the same time my eyes were not entirely glued to the screen. I couldn't help it but every now and then I would find myself glancing towards Asuka. She is, in all honesty such a beautiful person. I can't help but feel fortunate to have encountered her and struck up this friendship. She has such a kind soul despite all the pain I know she has suffered. She radiates an aura of confidence that only serves to empower me.

I feel so safe around her as well. With her here I feel like nothing can harm me. She is wonderful. I'm snapped away from my thoughts of Asuka by a sudden knock at the door. Once again I jump in fright and I feel redness in my cheeks as I quickly pull my eyes away from Asuka.

She leaps up from the sofa, "That'll be the food we ordered! Be back in a second."

Asuka gets up and I find my eyes tracking her as she moves into the passageway to answer the door. My eyes wander all the way down her body and I feel the blush in my cheeks increasing. I try to hastily think about something else than her figure. The more I try the more I can't help it, I feel a strange sort of giddiness in my stomach that I've only ever felt once before when thinking about someone.

A second later I'm hit with that feeling of guilt. I shouldn't be looking at Asuka's figure in such a way or thinking of her like that. I shouldn't be thinking about what it would be like to hold her in my arms. I shouldn't be thinking about what it might feel like to kiss her lips. I definitely shouldn't be thinking about other rogue thoughts that threaten to sneak in there.

Thankfully she returns a few seconds later balancing a few large boxes in her hands and with a bottle of something tucked under her arm. I am eagerly anticipating this meal and I can feel my mouth begin to water as the smell from the food infiltrates my nostrils.

Asuka was somewhat shocked to learn I have not sampled pizza yet. She insisted on ordering from a place she knows, she also insisted on paying. I did try to tell her I would not mind paying but Asuka was very forceful. I did not argue.

As Asuka sets the boxes down on the coffee table and goes to grab some glasses from the kitchen I look at the feast waiting for us and wonder if maybe I was wrong about music. Perhaps this ability to order delicious food and have it delivered to your home is the height of human culture.

She returns and we begin to enjoy our food and spend the rest of the night playing games and enjoying ourselves. She shows me how to defeat that boss I was having difficulty with and we play each other a few times on the football game I bought. I even manage to win a couple of matches.

Before long I feel tiredness creep over me and I excuse myself to go to bed. I find a spare duvet and pillows and give them to Asuka before thanking her and bidding her goodnight. I'm about to enter my bedroom when she wishes me goodnight and hugs me, she tells me she hopes I sleep well.

As I drift off to sleep that night I find myself cuddling my duvet tight to my chest trying to recapture the feeling of being hugged my Asuka. It is a peculiar feeling to know that what started as one of the most horrific and terrifying nights of my life has somehow managed to change into one of the best. Tonight, I do not feel the guilt and fear I usually do when I try to fall asleep. Instead I feel calm and peaceful as I think of the girl sleeping in the room next to mine.

Asuka Langley Soryu

I find myself walking down a street, one I haven't walked down in many years. One that in all honesty shouldn't exist anymore and the clothes I'm wearing are ones that I shouldn't be wearing. Yet here I am in the uniform of the Tokyo-3 Junior High School. I continue to walk down the deserted street towards my destination. Why am I here? Where is everybody?

I round the corner and see the school gates in front of me. Finally I can see people but I freeze upon recognizing exactly who they are. Panic rises up in my chest, it's Kaworu and... and… that boy. They're stood facing one another and talking. They're talking and smiling and laughing and joking with one another. They both look so happy, happier than I've ever seen them.

I take a step back feeling something else rising up inside of me. It's like a churning in my stomach but not one that makes me feel sick. No it's worse somehow, it's jealousy. Jealousy that I'm watching these two people talking so nonchalantly and I'm not there with them. Jealousy that I'm watching Kaworu take Shinji's hand and slowly raising it to his lips.

I try to walk forward but my legs feel heavy. There is nothing but pain as I slowly drag one leg forward. I have to reach them in time. I need to talk to them both but what am I going to say?

'You're going to tell them what you think of them of course!'

I hear the girl next to me call out. I try to ignore her.

'Look at them both, both the objects of your desire. You one you ran away from and the one you're going to run away from.'

"No… No I'm not." I reply, "I'm not going to run away from him."

I keep on trying to move forward but my legs, they hurt so goddamn much. Why am I feeling this pain?

'Yes you are. Of course you are because that's what you have to do. If you don't you know what'll happen. You'll just hurt him, same as you did to Shinji. You're no good for him.'

I shake my head, it isn't like that. It isn't like that at all. I'm his friend, I want to be his friend. I don't want to hurt him, I won't hurt him! I promise I won't!

I keep on moving forward, painfully dragging myself forward trying to get to the two of them. They're still stood there talking and laughing. Shinji has his arms around Kaworu's neck now and I feel that churning increase.

'You long for that don't you. Long for either one of their embrace but you can't have it. You ran away from him, you can't even bring yourself to speak his name can you? You can't even think his name! It'll be exactly the same for Kaworu, you'll hurt him and you'll run away!'

I'm about to reach the gates when I hear the bell ring. I try to shout out to the pair of them, my mouth opens as I try to speak Kaworu's name but no words come out. I then try in desperation to say his name but I can't. I don't deserve to speak either of their names. I stop and watch in despair as the two of them walk towards the school hand in hand. There is nothing I can do but stand there propping myself up against the gate.

As I watch I hear a strange noise. I hear three clicks followed by a loud crack, I turn around and see the version of me who has been taunting me stood there. She's wearing a chef's hat now and carrying a bowl in which she's just cracked a number of eggs into it.

'Good morning Asuka!'

My eyes slowly open as dream fades away. I feel the sting of tears in my eyes and for some reason I can still feel that churning in my stomach. It was a dream, it was all just another goddamn dream in which I come out of it feeling horrible. Another dream in which I see him and can't even speak to him or get close to him only now Kaworu seems to have made an appearance too.

I take a few calming breaths and lay still. My eyes flicker around the space in front of me, I'm in Kaworu's front room. I'm safe and lying on his sofa. In front of me is a coffee table with boxes of pizza and empty glasses. I'm not… I'm not a bad person and I'm not… going to run away. I'm Kaworu's friend, I promised I'd be there for him and he isn't going to abandon me.

A second later my nostrils are hit by an array of pleasant smells. I hear a noise from the kitchen and suddenly sit up and look towards the source of the sound. I see the light is on and Kaworu is stood there looking over a number of pans, breakfast ingredients set out over the counters. I suppose… that explains the eggs.

"K-Kaworu…" I rub my eyes as I call out to him, "What are you doing?"

Kaworu slowly turns around and shoots me a smile. I try to smile back at him but in my tired state it turns into a yawn. From here I can still see the effects of the attack last night. I was able to clean up as much as I could and some of the swelling as gone down. He looks rough but it's an improvement over last night. His smile though, his smile seems as sweet as it did when I first saw it.

"My apologies Asuka, I did not wake you, did I?" He finally says.

I shake my head, in truth he did but I'm thankful that he did, I didn't want to see how that dream would have panned out, "No. I was just waking up anyway."

He turns away for a moment to monitor something in one of the frying pans. Just at that moment I spot some toast pop up out of the toaster. One by one I start to identify the various smells coming from the kitchen and my stomach growls in response. At the same time I can't help but frown at him as I watch him limp over to the toaster.

"I thought I told you to rest!" I try to sound commanding but let out another yawn as I finish my sentence, "I said I'd handle things!"

Kaworu lowers his head and smiled back at me, "I know but I would not feel right you doing everything for me and also, I wanted to repay your kindness in some way. I have heard that breakfast in bed is seen as a kind gesture among humans and thought you would appreciate it. I am unable to do many things but cooking is something that I feel I am competent at."

I face reddens at his words, he was going to make me breakfast in bed. He was actually going to the effort of doing that for me. All I can do is mumble under my breath, "Idiot… You don't need to repay me for anything."

I sit on the sofa and watch him moving around the kitchen and I feel myself smiling as I do so. He seems content and happy to be doing this. He seems at peace, just as he did last night when we were playing games together. As I watch him I begin to feel that butterfly like churning in my stomach again only this time it isn't jealousy, it's something else entirely and something that should feel nice.

Except it doesn't feel nice because it frightens me. I shouldn't be allowed to feel this because I can never be that person for anyone. I can never be that person who likes someone and lets them like me back because of who I am.

I turn away and sit back on the sofa shaking my head. As I do so Rei's warnings enter my mind as well. She warned me to stay away from Kaworu because he is dangerous but it isn't me who should be afraid of him. It's the other way around. Only I can't leave now, I made a promise and I'm not going to break that promise.

I need to speak to someone but my options are limited to two people. Kaworu or Rei, neither of which seem like good candidates for this conversation. I turn again to see Kaworu is finishing putting things out on the plate and he looks over, "I'm nearly finished do you want me to bring it over to you or shall we eat over here?"

I shake my head, "Over there please, I'll just be a moment."

I ignore the previous thoughts. I can't focus on things like this on an empty stomach, I'll eat and enjoy today and then figure out what to do. I start to stand up off of the sofa and as I do I look over towards the lone chair and spot a piece of plain red fabric hanging off of it that looks suspiciously like my nightshirt. I gaze at it again, it is my nightshirt.

I lift up the duvet that is wrapped around me and look down to see my exposed breasts and stomach and look back at the nightshirt in horror. I remember what happened now, I woke up in the middle of the night and was too hot. I forgot where I was and removed my shirt throwing it onto the chair. I think about what happened to Kaworu in my apartment and realize something, the universe hates us.

I know the easy thing to do would be to just ask him to get it for me, I know that'd be so simple but I also can't do that. I may as well expose myself to him by doing that, would seem like the same thing. I try to ignore the voice in my head that urges me to expose myself to him. That'd it'd be only fair after what I got to see the other week. I can almost imagine the Asuka from my dream taunting me.

'Go ahead and let him see all of you. You know he's going to like it, you saw him stealing glances at you all of last night. You know he likes you, don't you think he'd appreciate getting to see that?'

I tell myself to shut up and start to stretch my hand out towards the chair whilst also using the other one to keep the duvet wrapped around my topless body. Please don't fall, please don't slip, please just let me grab the damn top and put it on. Please don't let him see me.

My hand edges closer to the fabric and my fingertips graze the soft material. I did it! I won! I begin to triumphantly grasp the material and then it happens. I feel myself lose balance. My hand around the duvet slips and I snatch at it to keep my modesty in check. My other hand however falls to the ground. I stifle a yelp as it hits the floor with a thud.

I freeze in place as I hear Kaworu's footsteps, "Is everything okay?"

I quickly fire back, "Fine! I'm fine, breakfast smells great. Is it nearly ready?"

Please turn around, please turn around, please turn around.

"I'm just putting it out now. Will be a minute."

I quickly glance and see he has turned his back, now is my opportunity. I grab the shirt from the floor and throw it on as quick as I can. I'm covered, I can face him now! I cast the duvet aside and brush the hair from my face and stand up. I still feel somewhat strange being in this state in front of Kaworu. I'm not used to exposing this much flesh to people but the nights are so warm I'm hardly going to wear my winter pyjama's

Still I am at least covered up where it counts. All he is going to see is most of my legs and he can't exactly see my chest unless he really makes an effort to look down my shirt. Something I'm fairly sure Kaworu won't be doing.

I walk over to the kitchen and stand beside the counter top with one of the plates on it. Kaworu just finishes placing the sausages on the plate and after putting the pan in the sink he turns to look at me. He starts off smiling but then I see a confused look spread across his face. I look at his eyes and they're not looking at my face, they're lower but not on the plates. They're focused on my chest, he wouldn't... be so obvious, would he?

"Kaworu... What are you staring at?" I start to raise my voice, ready to call him a pervert for being so obvious but then he looks back up at me.

"N-Nothing it's just... Your top is..."

I look down and then I see the issue. I look back at Kaworu and my mouth opens and closes akin to a goldfish. In my haste to not get spotted I seem to have put my top on back to front, I'd feel less embarrassed if I did just flash my damn tits at him now. Our awkward silence goes on for a few moments longer.

"Excuse me." I say politely as I excuse myself to go to the bathroom and correct my mistake. All the time resisting the urge to slam my foot against the wall.

The universe hates me.

Rei Ayanami

I feel those nerves build up in the pit of my stomach as I hold the phone in my hands and scroll to her name. I still haven't quite worked out what I'm going to say to her yet. I want to ask her about telling Shinji and Misato that she is alive and well. I do not know if I can do this though, I fear what her reaction will be.

I'm certain she'll be angry with me, she'll tell me that to do that would be betraying her and by wanting to do this I suppose I am betraying her. Asuka has been through so much pain in her life and she only made one request of me as a friend. It seemed like a simple promise to make and keep at first but now I am realizing that I cannot keep it any longer.

At the same time, I am hoping that maybe she will understand why it is I have to do this. With Nagisa reappearing as he has done it has complicated things and it has hurt Shinji. It has made me realize that by keeping this secret I too am hurting Shinji. All he wants to know is that Asuka is alright, I am sure that would help him.

Perhaps if I told them that Asuka is alive and well but also tell her of her desire to stay away until she is ready they will understand. I do not think either would do something so drastic as to go and seek her out. With that said, that is what I did and Misato and Shinji have much more of an attachment to her than I did.

My other fear is as to how Shinji will react. I have been keeping this secret from him for nearly three years, I could have told him at any time and I didn't. I knew all along of the feelings he had for her and the feelings she had for him. I have kept them apart from one another when I could have done so much more. Will my brother be angry with me? Will he hate me for what I have done?

I let out a sigh as my thumb finally presses the call button and the phone starts to dial Germany. A few moments later she answers and I hear a surprisingly happy voice, "Hallo! Rei, I didn't expect to hear from you, how are you doing?"

"I am doing well, thank you. How are you?"

"I'm good."

I'm about to say something else to her but then I hear something in the background. At first, I think it could be that Asuka has left her television on and I'm hearing whatever show it is she has on. A second later I hear Asuka speak, "I'll be back in a few moments, I'm just going to take this phone call."

There is the sound of movement from the other end of the phone, followed by the sounds of a door closing, "Sorry about that!"

I pause for a moment to think about the reason for my phonecall. Asuka has someone there with her, I did not expect that to have happened. Perhaps now is not the best time for this. I should maybe have expected this to happen. Asuka is busy at the moment finishing her second book, I expect she must have things to do and meetings with others.

"No, I apologize. I did not realize you had company. If I did I would not have called you. I can call you back if it is important."

"Not at all! It's not important, I'm just... with a friend and we're playing some games together, that's all!"

It is a... friend? I feel a small pang of jealousy at hearing that but I quickly force it away. I did not realize Asuka had other friends in Germany, she does not speak of knowing anyone else there and yet it does make sense. She has been there for a few years.

It seems that my decision has been made for me, I will not speak to Asuka about that matter at this moment in time. I would not wish to upset her when she is with others. Instead I'm about to ask her how her week has been when she speaks.

"Actually... Rei, I was going to call you later." She lets out a sigh, "There is something I wanted to talk to you about."

I raise an eyebrow out of curiosity, it is unlike Asuka to reach out to me to talk about something. Usually I have to pry things out of her. I sit down on the edge of my bed, "You can talk to me about anything, you know that."

"I know but I think... you might be angry at me for this." She pauses again, "The Friday after you left to go back to Japan... I... I visited Nagisa."

I was certainly not prepared to hear those words from her. I try to not make any sound but feel my hand clench itself into a fist, my nails digging into my palm. I try to not be angry with her, I try to not be angry because I am sure there is a reasonable explanation.

I just do not understand how, after all my warnings, after all I told her about just who and what Nagisa was! How could she have just ignored me like that. It seems so typical of her, so foolish of her, why would she do such a thing?

She couldn't have even known that he was human when she made that decision. She must have known the risk she was putting herself in.

"You're mad at me, aren't you?" Asuka asks me.

"No!" I reply bluntly not doing a very good job of hiding my anger.

"Heh." Asuka laughs, "You know... I don't blame you, considering who he is and what you told me you have every reason to be."

"Why did you visit him?" I ask her, "I warned you about him and what he was. I do not understand why you would put yourself at risk like that."

"Because I'm Asuka Langley Soryu of course!" She replies in a mocking tone, "Because I can handle myself and take care of myself. Because I've never been good at taking advice that is good for me and... I was curious about him. I saw him run away from me Rei, I had to know why he was terrified of me and I had to know what he was for myself. I had to... You know what, I don't know the full reason myself, I just did!"

As she says these things my brain makes a sudden yet bizarre leap. That voice I heard previously, the male friend she has over. It could not be... could it? He couldn't possibly be there right now, could he? Such an event seems... inconceivable. I can understand her need to satiate her curiosity but further interaction with Nagisa would be a move ill-fitting my friend.

"What did you find out?" I ask her, no longer making an attempt to hide my annoyance.

"I found out he's terrified Rei, he's scared of everything. He was terrified of me and he barely even knew who I was. I was nothing more than a name on a file he had read and yet he was terrified of me."

"Good, he has every reason to be afraid of you." I reply, "Especially now that he is human, he knows people can hurt him."

"You knew about that?"

"Misato spoke to Fuyutsuki about him reappearing. We found out when Nagisa returned and why he is in Germany."

"Yeah... Fuyutsuki helped him out... Does... Well does your brother know about him?"

My mind goes back to my earlier conversation with Shinji and his reaction to Kaworu's return. Shinji seems to be alright now. I heard him playing the cello earlier and he seemed to be happy during dinner. I will check on him after this phone call.

"I told him earlier today."

"I see, how... did he take it?"

"He took it hard." I'm honest with her, "What happened with Nagisa hurt him badly, not just because of what Nagisa did but because of what Shinji was forced to do. You remember I told you about that?"

"Yes... He had to kill Nagisa I..."

"I will protect Shinji from Nagisa, I do not wish to see my brother hurt like that again."

"I understand Rei it's just... I don't think... Nagisa is as you think he's... terrified of the world and barely knows how to live he..."

She pauses as she tries to search for the right words, finally she speaks again, "He's not that different to us Rei."

On hearing her say that I feel my anger rise in my chest. How can Asuka say such a thing to me when she knows, she knows exactly what Nagisa did to my brother? She knows what Shinji went through and she knows what Kaworu did. How can she think that Nagisa is in any way similar to any of us?

"Nagisa is very different to us!" I reply, "He was aware of what he was and what he was doing. He could have stopped himself, it was all within his power. If he has told you otherwise it is a lie Asuka! He is the enemy."

Asuka Langley Soryu

I hear Rei raise her voice at me down the phone and all I can do is stare at it in quiet amazement. A part of me wants to laugh at hearing an irate Rei Ayanami. I don't laugh though because this isn't a laughing matter. I feel a queasiness in my stomach as I wonder how I'm going to explain the rest of what has happened regarding Kaworu to Rei. I don't even know if I can or should, Rei is so protective of her brother and any threat to him.

It is difficult to blame her for that though, after the things that I put him through and the pain and suffering inflicted on him by others in his life she has to be. Not only that but she feels she owes her current life and happiness to him. I don't blame her for seeing Kaworu as a threat and someone who would hurt Shinji.

I know the things Kaworu did were wrong but the difference is I've actually spoken to him and Rei hasn't. I've listened to him tell me about his upbringing and what he was made to believe under SEELE. Yes, Kaworu did bad things but we all did bad things back then and we're all paying for it now. I know that more than anyone else.

I do feel like telling her this now was a mistake. She's probably had a rough ride dealing with her brother and it isn't exactly easy to hold this conversation with Kaworu sat in the other room but I feel she deserves to know. If I'm going to be Kaworu's friend then I need to tell her that and try to get her to give him a chance.

The truth is I need her to be my best friend through this too because I'm finding the more time I spend with him the more I'm starting to have other feelings too. It's only been two weeks since I've met him but being around him just… makes me smile, it makes me happy and I feel comfortable around him.

Also… I do find him attractive. His eyes show so much emotion and I feel like I could get lost staring into them. He has a cute little smile when he laughs and the look on his face when he played piano, the way his fingers glided across the piano keys was wonderful.

I shake my head trying to stop those thoughts for a moment, I need to deal with the friendship thing first.

"Look Rei, I… I know you don't like him and I don't blame you. Those things you said about him though, about him not being trustworthy and him hurting others, him being away of what he was doing? He could have stopped at any time? Rei… Take away the part about him being an Angel and who does that sound like?"

I hear Rei sigh in annoyance, "That is completely different Asuka, you were-"

"I was a traumatized teen with a fucked up childhood. I had a father who couldn't give a shit about me and a step-mother who tried but I didn't want to know. I grew up believing I was better than everyone else and I was horrible to you all. I lashed out at everyone, it didn't matter who it was, you… Misato and yes… your brother most of all. I was a horrible person Rei. If people know the truth about me… what do you think they would say?"

She pauses again, "I understand what you are saying yet I do not see how his situation mirrors yours. Besides you have already expressed guilt for your situation and we know why you acted in such a way. You have apologized for it."

"So has he Rei, he feels horrible about what he was and what he did, he apologized to me and to the people in the facility. I spoke to him, I found out about what sort of childhood he had, SEELE raised him just so that he could die. They kept him isolated from the outside world and told him nothing but how bad humans were."

"That is… unfortunate. I… was unaware of any of this, you have remained in contact with him then?"

"Yes… Rei… I spent the night at his apartment last night."

"You what? I did not think you were inte-" Her voice gets higher and I can only imagine what is running through her mind.

"Not like that!" I hastily stop her, "I got a phonecall yesterday from Fuyutsuki… Kaworu had been attacked, the people who were supposed to protect him got him outside his apartment. I was Kaworu's only friend so I spent the night here and looked after him. He needed a friend Rei… But… I had to tell you because you deserve to know about him too."

There is another long pause, "Was he hurt badly?"

"They bust his nose, gave him a black eye and kicked every other part of him. Nothing was broken but it didn't help his fear of people."

"I see. I am… Sorry for what has happened to him then, if he is as you say than he does not deserve that. I… I apologize that I cannot yet feel good about this situation, there are things I need to figure out."

"I know." I reply, "I just… He seems like a victim too in this and he shouldn't be alone."

I hear what sounds like a small chuckle from the other end of the phone, "This is proof then, that you are not the bad person that you think you are Asuka."

I feel myself blush, "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

"That you constantly berate yourself and tell me you are not a good person, yet you are looking after this person you have no reason to like or trust. You… saw past that which others such as myself cannot yet see past. You are a good person."

"I'm just trying to help him."

"I know and I apologize again that I cannot feel good about this but perhaps with more time and when I am certain he will not hurt anyone I may do so. I would like you to look after him though and Asuka…"

"Yes?"

"If he does hurt you… I will be in Germany to hunt him down."

I can't help but laugh but also feel slightly afraid that perhaps Rei isn't joking. Before I say my goodbye I realize there is something I want to say to Rei, "Rei… before I go I… I have no right to ask you to do this and no right to say his name but please… I know how much he must be hurting right now and he needs people so… Look after Shinji."