6th September 2021

Asuka Langley Soryu – Berlin

Early morning.

I open the door into my apartment step straight through into the living room, on looking around I can see it's exactly the same as it was when I left it on Friday evening. The same dirty plates have been left out on the coffee table, one of my controllers has been left on the sofa along with my laptop, the entire place looks... lived in and yet as I push the laptop and controller aside it feels remarkably empty.

There was actually a part of me that didn't want to come back to this place after the weekend. That small part of me wanted to stay at Kaworu's place but I had work to do here. Besides which Kaworu also had to return to work, Fuyutsuki did offer him the week off due to the attack but Kaworu insisted on going back in. I can't say I blame him for that, I'd have been the same.

I suppose I'll at least be thankful for being back in my own bed tonight. Kaworu's sofa was comfortable but I don't think I'd be able to handle too many nights on it. I suppose there is always his... No, I can't think that sort of thing. I mustn't think that, I can't let myself think of feel those sorts of things.

That is another reason as to why I had to return. Over the course of yesterday and even this morning I've been having slightly more thoughts about Kaworu in certain ways. I had to get away from there because I can't allow myself to feel those things for him, befriending him was an accident but I can't let that go too far. He'll just end up being hurt.

Yet, every time I try to remind myself of that the thoughts become more intrusive and vivid. They start off innocent enough. We might be sitting on the sofa and playing a game together but then we'll be holding hands or holding one another. Strangely it always seems to be Kaworu who is cuddling into me and not the other way around, I suppose even in my fantasies I have to be the dominant one.

Today those thoughts shifted again. We weren't holding each other on the sofa but in his bed. We weren't just cuddling but we were kissing as well, passionately and deeply. I could feel him, I could feel all of him. It made my bus ride home very uncomfortable.

I keep on trying to tell myself that it means absolutely nothing, my mind is just working overtime because of the strange situation I find myself in. It's affect anyone if an attractive stranger like Kaworu suddenly came into your life in such a way. Here is this person who I know nothing about yet shares a history with me and my past. He enjoys and can play the music I also like, he is well spoken and very handsome. Yet he also needs help and is similar to me in many ways, of course that is going to affect me.

The time we spent together has hardly been normal either. Who would blame me for the first meeting? I was curious and wanted to know more about him. I wanted to know how someone could have upset Rei so much and why he was scared of me. This weekend I was just being a good friend. He had been hurt by the people who promised to protect him, how could I not be there for him. So, all in all my mind acting the way it does makes sense.

Besides I barely know the guy, I can't have any feelings for someone I barely know. He doesn't even know me yet, if he did then he would have continued to run from me. If he knew me then he'd know that I can't offer him anything good friendship or otherwise, all I can offer is myself, and I'm not worth anything.

The dream I had last night hasn't helped either. It involved Kaworu and Shinji again. It was not the same as the first one, I didn't witness them together without me but instead I was with the two of them. It was early morning I think and we were all lying in a bed together. I had one on either side of me and we were all so warm and happy. It was strange but it felt like the three of us were pieces that completed some bizarre puzzle.

It's been a very long time since I've thought of Shinji in such a way. I never stopped having feelings for him after I left Japan but I tried to suppress them. It's why I went so long without uttering his name. That's changed now, I said his name to Rei and the floodgates are now open once again. Shinji... Shinji... Shinji, Shinji, Shinji... Stupid idiot Shinji!

I can't help the sad smile that comes to my lips as my mind wanders to the image of Shinji. Rei has told him that Kaworu is alive now, I imagine he'll have taken the news about it hard. Rei will take care of him though. Rei knows what to do, she's come a hell of a long way from the girl she used to be. The girl that I berated and called a doll.

I wonder what they're doing right now, I wonder what he is doing right now. Rei mentioned he is playing the cello again, I wonder if he is playing that now? I wonder what he sounds like on it. When I heard him many years ago I really liked what I heard, I know little of how to play an instrument, it's the one thing my brilliant self never got around to trying. I was focused on my studies and my Eva piloting, maybe I should take up an instrument one day.

I'd like to hear Shinji play. I should ask Rei to record him playing for me so I can hear it. I know she'll disapprove of it or… maybe I should just reach out to him myself. Maybe I should just let him know I'm alive and well. I know I have to do it eventually, I can't let Rei keep that secret forever but I don't know if I'm ready.

No… It's not that I'm not ready, it's that I'm scared. Scared of hurting him again but so damn scared of being hurt. Scared that he'll have smartened up and seen who I really was. He'll tell me the truth about myself. Tell me that I'm a horrible person and that he hates me. Tell me how much I hurt him and that he doesn't want any part of me in his life.

Or maybe that wouldn't happen. Maybe it's just like Rei says and I'm not as horrible a person as I think I am. Maybe I can actually be friends with Shinji and Kaworu and not have to feel this goddamn guilt so much. This is why I didn't want to be alone, because with Kaworu I could actually forget about it. I could make him my focus and I didn't have to remember me for a change.

I can't keep doing that though can I? I can't just use Kaworu to prop myself up. Next time we meet there won't be anything else behind it, no curiosity and no attack from others. It'll be on our own terms but I don't know if I can reach out to him. I'd like to see him again, I like being around him. I like talking to him about music and hearing what his plans are. We can play games together and just laugh and enjoy ourselves.

I'd like to continue being friends with him, I want to be friends with him. I want to be friends with Shinji again. Maybe we could all meet up together and get everything out. We can all scream and yell and cry at one another until we have nothing left. Maybe we could even… I shake my head, my minds wandered to that place again. I don't know why I'm feeling so wound up, I'm not normally… I mean I do imagine things but I never usually feel like this. Then again I haven't in a while, maybe I need to take care of it. I need a bath… a nice long hot bath to empty my mind of these thoughts.

Shinji Ikari
Tokyo-2

I approach the store and take a deep breath to calm my nerves, I can already hear the voice inside my head telling me how silly it is to be nervous about this.

'What are you? Stupid. They don't know who you are, they've never heard of you! Why are you scared of them? Just go in there and get it done!'

I nearly laugh and shake my head, it's funny how the voice in my head who tries to push me to do something will take her form. I know it's right as well, I know I have nothing to fear by going into the store. I grab a basket and pull out my list. I move into the store and try to ignore the feeling that the people are looking at me, that they know who I am and are going to say something to me.

I brush past them and move to get the first items on my list. I move into the vegetable aisle and start looking at the ones I need. I take my time examining each one trying to find the ones that are the best quality. When I'm satisfied with them I place them into the basket. I look down at the next thing I need when I hear a familiar voice calling out my name.

"Hey Shinji!"

My first instinct is to panic but instead I look up to see a smiling Hikari waving at me. I smile and wave back and move towards her, "Hikari!"

She bows her head politely towards me, "How are you doing?"

"I'm going well." I reply to her as I pull a box of eggs down from the shelf. I open the lid to check the contents for any damage before setting them into the basket, "Are you and Touji okay?"

She nods, "Fine, Toji has a coaching session today. Don't tell him I told you this but I reckon he was a bit nervous about it."

"Oh really! That's great!" I smile as she tells me the news, Toji since returning has been working towards becoming a PE teacher. It's quite a turnaround for someone like Toji who never really shown any interest in school but he really wants to do it.

"It is, I heard you're taking cello lessons too!"

I nod, "Y-Yeah! I have another lesson this afternoon actually."

I feel myself tense up when I remember my lesson this afternoon. Today is the day that I was going to give me answer about joining up with the group. I still don't know what I'm going to do. With all that has happened I never got a chance to discuss it with Rei and then the news about Kaworu pushed it out of my mind. Damnit, I'm such an idiot!

Hikari seems to notice my sudden discomfort, "Is everything okay?"

"Y-Yeah I just… I forgot that I was supposed to do something today and I still don't know if I can do it." I reply.

"Is this about that group thing?"

I nod, "Y-You knew about that?"

"Toji told me about it when he said you were taking lessons. So you haven't made a decision on it yet?"

I shake my head, "No… Not yet, I don't know what I should do."

"Well, have you talked to other people?"

"I spoke to Misato and Rei briefly… I spoke to Toji and Kensuke and…"

"They just told you to do what you wanted to do right?"

I nod, "Yeah… Problem is I don't know what I want to do. I just don't want to let people down I suppose."

"I don't think there is any danger of you doing that but… I can see how people just saying do what you want won't help." She says as she smiles at me, "Do you like the idea of playing cello with others?"

I pause for a moment to think about it, the idea does appear to me. I enjoy playing the cello, I like it a lot and I can really lose myself in playing whatever music I've selected be it someone else's or just improvisation. I guess it would be fun to play with others and have a conductor or even compose our own pieces. I just don't know if I'm ready for that.

"I… I guess, I've never really done it before. When I first started it was just me and my tutor. My school didn't have a music department and in Tokyo-3… I never really had the time. I just… I don't know if I can, it's hard enough for me to be here."

"But you are here aren't you?"

"I… I guess…"

"And how do you feel about it?"

"Well… A little bit scared." I admit, "I just need to get used to it though, I know that."

"It's the same with that then. The people in here, they don't know you just like the people in that group won't. They'll just see Shinji Ikari the cello player and a new member to their group. If the idea of playing in a group appeals to you then try it Shinji, push yourself and if you don't like it then you can always leave but if you don't try it then you'll regret not trying."

I let out a laugh and shake my head, "I know… I've been trying to tell myself that and I've been hoping someone will say it to me. Rei and Misato they…"

"Rei and Misato love you a lot Shinji, we all do but they have their own issues and I think they're afraid of giving you a nudge sometimes." Hikari explains, "You should do this, you said you've thought about it and the idea appeals to you. The only thing holding you back is your fear of the people there and just coming to the store that'll get easier over time."

I realize that Hikari is right, my fear of people is what is holding me back. The more I think about it the more I realize what I'm scared of is people recognizing me and what I was. I'm not scared of playing cello in front of people. I want to do that, I like the idea of doing that so I'm going to do it.

"You're right. Thank you Hikari."

Asuka Langley Soryu

That was a mistake. That was a goddamn stupid mistake and I hate myself for it so much. Why did I even think I could do this? Did I seriously think I could just jump in here and get myself off like it was normal? Did I really think I could just lie back and think of those two without any problems? Of course not, I'm Asuka Langley Soryu, I can't even do that without messing it up.

It started off fine, the water was nice and warm and... well that started to feel good at first but then of course I had to start feeling the guilt. What the hell was I doing using their image to get myself off? I have no right to use their image for anything like that, most of all making myself feel good.

Then things got worse, I started to remember what I have done to Shinji in the past. I started to think about what Kaworu would say if he knew how horrible a person I was. Soon afterwards all the good feelings I had, the release that I craved had died away. It had been replaced only with a feeling of repulsion at myself and a desire to get out of there.

I glance at myself in self in the mirror for a moment. The scars on my body seem to be showing more prominently today. Two marks on my chest from where my Eva was impaled and the damage transferred to me. Strangely enough there was little scaring on my face, only what I see in nightmares. I quickly put my bra on and throw a shirt on over me to cover myself up.

I don't even glance back at the bath as I move into the front room, what a stupid idea. I should have known it wouldn't go well from the start. I never took well to baths, I've always taken showers but I thought lying back and indulging myself would be easier in the bath. I can't even remember the last time I took a bath properly. It must have been...

I try to cast my mind back and another unwanted image flashes into my mind. A delapidated house on the outskirts of a town, clothes folded up and left on a chair and a rusty bathtub with a naked shivering girl in it.

That was the last time I took a 'bath.' I feel sick.

I leave the bathroom behind and move into the front room throwing myself onto the couch. I quickly check my phone, I've had a message from Kaworu letting me know he is alright. I send him a quick message to let him know I'm home and working on the book.

I open my laptop but any desire to do work has been flushed out of me along with any other desire. I feel nothing but emptiness and anger at myself. I don't even feel clean right now, I just feel dirty and wrong. I slam the laptop lid shut in frustration. This isn't fair damnit, I was happy earlier!

13th September 2021

Shinji Ikari

Tokyo-2

I can feel the exhaustion as I open the door to the apartment and immediately set my cello case down on the ground. I give my sore arms and hands a little bit of time to recover from carrying the heavy instrument around before kicking my shoes off and announcing I'm home to the empty apartment. I pick up the case again and bring it through into the living room.

As I sit down on the sofa I feel something else within me besides the tiredness. It's a feeling I'm so unused to feeling, pride. I was actually able to do it, I was able to go out and meet with that group and not run away. For the past week that is what I've been telling myself would happen. For the past week I've been terrified of meeting them to the point that I even contemplated calling ahead this morning and saying I wouldn't be able to make it in.

I could run away from it though. I couldn't run away because I actually wanted to do it. I wanted to be there, ahead of tonight I was even having dreams about it. It seems so silly but I was dreaming that I was up on stage with other people. I was playing music with them and I was enjoying it so much. Hikari was right, the only thing holding me back was my fear of others, I did want to be there.

Even being there wasn't easy for me though. At first, I was barely able to speak, I was afraid to open my mouth for fear that I'd be sick. Our first task was to introduce ourselves and tell the others a little bit about ourselves. I managed to mumble out my name and tell them that I originally started playing cello over ten years ago but I hadn't played it much in the last five years.

The others started to introduce themselves afterwards. There was one moment of fear for me when one of the violin players in the group introduced themselves. They had lived in Tokyo-3 and had always played violin but started taking it more seriously after the Third Impact. Their dream was to compose and perform a piece dedicated to their son who had died during one of the Angel attacks.

From there the other members of the group introduced themselves on by one. There were about twelve of us in total. Two cellists, six violin players and four viola players. The youngest was a girl who played the violin, she seemed to be a year or two younger than I am, the older was a man in his early fifties.

After our brief introductions we were each asked to play a piece that we enjoyed or that meant something. I selected the Cello Suit No. 1 by Bach, it's a piece I play fairly often and feel I'm competent at. It was the first piece I pushed myself to try and learn on my own without a tutor asking me to and it is one I return to frequently. I typically see it as a piece I enjoy but it is also a piece that has some strange memories associated with it, it was the one I played on the night of a particular incident.

After we each played a solo piece my tutor spoke to the group about what he would like to do with the group and plans for the future. He mentioned that he had a particular piece in mind that he would like to try to get us to learn for a performance later this year. For now, he would like to focus on getting us in sync with one another so will be running through some simple pieces next week.

After that the session was over and I returned home. I am exhausted but happy. I was so scared throughout the session that at any one moment one of them might recognize me. I was terrified on the way home that the same might happen but neither of those things happened. Perhaps I shouldn't fear that happening anymore, maybe if I do keep on pushing myself as I am doing I can get through this.

I reach for the remote control for the television when I hear a noise coming from the other side of the room. I look over and see a phone sat on one of the drawer units and let out a sigh. I bet Misato has left her phone here again, she's done that a few times lately. It's a good thing that we're watched twenty-four seven because if there was an emergency getting in contact with her would be a nightmare.

I stand up and grab the phone from the cabinet. Much to my surprise it isn't actually Misato's phone but it's Rei's. I look at the number on screen, Private Number, I contemplate letting it go to voice mail but wonder if maybe it's important. If it is I should at least take a message for Rei, I tap the button to answer, "Hello?"

Asuka Langley Soryu

Berlin – Early Morning

The mouse cursor hovers over the sent button as I glance back up at the e-mail I've composed. I check the address bar and see his e-mail address wrote there. It is the same one that Rei gave me 'just in case.' I didn't think that I would ever need it, I'm still not completely sure I do now. What I've done was born out of a sudden urge.

For the past five years I've been able to avoid having any contact with him whatsoever. It seemed so easy to do as well. I just tried to avoid thinking about him where I could, even to the point where I couldn't even bring myself to utter his name. Recently it's become much harder to not think of him or say his name.

Shinji Ikari, the boy that I ran away from so many years ago. What are you like now Shinji? What do you look like and what do you sound like? Who are you now? Are you still meek and afraid like I knew you to be? Are you still kind and protective like I know you be? Do you still hate yourself like I hate myself? Do you still think about me like I think about you? Do you even still like me?

Shinji is of course not the only guy who has been occupying my thoughts as of late. Kaworu is a mainstay in both my thoughts and my dreams. I've been having more dreams of him and Shinji, the three of us together in different situations. It seems so stupid to dream of something like that. Yet something feels so right about it.

I wonder about what Shinji's life has been like since I left. I wonder if he has had a girlfriend or even a boyfriend in all that time. Rei mentioned he seemed to like Kaworu and wondered if maybe he liked him romantically. I wonder if maybe Shinji's love life has been similar to mine. He deserves someone good to love him.

I on the other hand tried to keep myself distant. My one sexual encounter was a one-night stand after getting drunk. I didn't regret it, it felt good enough but I wasn't exactly after anything longer than that. Any urges I have I'm fairly capable of handling myself. At least I was, after my last attempt when I thought of both of them I just find myself disgusted by the idea. How dare I use the image of two nice people to satisfy my own urges?

It seems so stupid, that's just what we do as people. I wouldn't exactly be offended if Kaworu had thought of me like that. It's just what happens, it's not like I've had a problem with thinking of people in the past. Then again, I'm still waiting for Kaworu to realize what a horrible person I really am.

I've been thinking recently that maybe I should just cut off contact with him. It'd be cruel but better for him in the long run to be rid of me. I haven't been able to do that though. I've not been messaging him first but I've been replying to the few messages he sends me and keeping up any conversation.

I do want to see Kaworu again, I want to hang out with him again. I really enjoyed the past two times but I don't have anything pushing me to do it this time. I've not got my curiosity to send me over there and I've not been summoned by an emergency. The next time I see him it'll be because I'm invited or I invite myself over and it'll just be me, Asuka Langley Soryu, the mess of a person. I can't put Kaworu through that.

Maybe I'll have an excuse tonight though if I'm able to do this. I feel like I need something or someone to distract me from it and maybe talking to him would help. At the same time, I wonder if it really would in this case. I know what Kaworu's feelings are when it comes to the subject of Shinji. He's terrified of Shinji and I can understand that. After all that happened between the two of them perhaps Kaworu has more reason to be afraid of Shinji than I do. Maybe I should have spoken to Kaworu about doing this first.

No, it isn't Kaworu I should have spoken to first, it's Rei. I should tell her about me doing this and let her prepare for the reaction. I should tell her that I'm about to release her from her burden of keeping that secret. I should let her know that she no longer has to worry about keeping our friendship secret.

Or maybe I shouldn't do any of that. Maybe I should just delete this whole goddamn e-mail to Shinji and continue the damn charade. I move the cursor away from the send button. I... I can't do this, I shake my head in frustration, I really can't do this. What am I expecting to get out of this? Friendship? After all I did to Shinji, I can't just waltz back in like this.

I save the e-mail into my drafts and pick up my phone. I am going to do one thing though, I'm going to call Rei. I need to speak to someone about what is happening to me. Maybe she can help me make sense of all of this.

I pick up my phone and select her name from the contact book. She should be free around this time, it's not too late over in Japan. The phone rings for a few moments and then finally someone answers. I'm about to speak when I'm suddenly stopped by another voice, 'Hello?'

Shinji...

My mouth goes dry instantly as I close it and try not to make any sound. A churning started up in my stomach as moments pass. He speaks again, 'Hello?'

I hold the phone away from me and stare at it in wide eyed fear. My entire body is shaking as I just sit on the edge of my sofa looking at the phone. Shinji is on the other end of the line. I can hear his voice clearly. I can... I... I can... I can't breathe.

'Hello? Is anyone there?' He speaks for a third time with a slight hint of annoyance in his voice. Around me everything seems to slow down. My thumb moves over to the button to end the call and it cuts off before I can hear him for a fourth time. I sit staring straight ahead in a trance like state and feel the phone fall out of my hands and land on the floor.

That was Shinji Ikari. Shinji answered Rei's phone for her. He... He was actually there on the other end of the line. That was actually his voice I heard.

I slowly rise to my feet and just stand still for a moment trying to picture what he must have looked like as he held her phone and spoke to me. I try to imagine the confusion or annoyance on his face as he was met by only silence. I wonder if he knew it was me? I can't think straight but I think Rei has me on her phone under a different name. I wonder if she really does though. What if he knows now? What if he figures it out? How could I have been so foolish to have called her like that. I should have known there was a chance of this happening.

I completely forgot the rules we had set down. I would text her first and then she would call me back. We said we would do this so that we could avoid a situation like this. I'm... I'm an idiot! I'm a damn fool!

I slowly start to come back to reality and I can feel something bubbling up inside of me. A familiar yet hated feeling, rage. My hands curl up into fists and I consider driving one of them into my legs in frustration. I manage to stop myself and instead reach for the closest object, a controller. I throw it full force towards the wall opposite me.

"IDIOT! IDIOT! IDIOT!" I scream out as I hear the sound of plastic smashing against the plaster of the wall. I see the controller break apart on impact and fall to the floor in pieces. I have nothing left to throw so instead I drive my fists repeatedly into the sofa shouting with each punch that lands. Finally, I collapse to my knees in exhaustion, my face leaning on the cushion. I can feel tears welling up in my eyes but I blink them away.

I am not going to cry over this damn it! I'm not going to cry! I'm not! I'm not! I'm not! Despite my protests I feel tears trickling down my cheeks as I just kneel and let it happen. Suddenly I hear my phone go off, I jump in fright and stare down anxiously at the phone. I quickly wipe away the tears and with trembling hands reach for the phone. I contemplate letting it go to voice mail but see that it is not from Rei's phone as I feared but instead Kaworu who is calling me.

Of all the times for him to actually call me, why does it have to be now when I'm in the middle of a breakdown? I should just ignore it and let it go to voice mail. I could do that but I can't do that. Instead I answer it and try to keep my voice steady, "H-Hello?"

'Asuka, is everything okay?'

Good job Asuka, that was convincing. Guess there was a reason you never did well in school plays.

"I'm fine!"

Even better, I go from sounding miserable and upset to snapping at him. Thankfully he doesn't seem to notice.

'Good, I am glad to hear that. Asuka, the reason I'm calling is... Well...' He trails off nervously which causes me to shift up a bit. I wonder if everything is alright with him, 'I don't think... I've thanked you properly for the last few weeks. Your help and your friendship has been invaluable.'

My hand tightens around my phone, "Idiot, don't worry about it! It's nothing, I'm just being a good friend."

He laughs but I feel my chest tightening. A good friend? Me? No, never, I could never be a good friend to someone, least of all to him. I have to get out of his, "Anyway, there is no need to thank me. Anyone would have done the same."

'No, I do not believe they would Asuka. From what I have seen of being on this world few would go out of their way like you did. You... who had every reason to hate me because of who and what I was. You who... had no reason to help or be my friend. You... Well I wanted to thank you by asking if you would like to have dinner with me tonight?'

I'm about to say something about not needing to thank me but the words get stuck in my throat as I realize what it is he has just said. Kaworu has just asked me to have dinner with him. Is this some sort of date? Nah, it can't be, he'll barely even know what romance or dating it. He is just being a friend and... as a friend I'll accept. Maybe it'll be good to get out of here.

"Yes... Yes, that would be nice." I finally say.

'Great!' He almost shouts in excitement at hearing me say that, 'Then would you like to meet me at my place at half seven tonight?'

"Yeah." I nod, "That... That sounds great, I'll see you tonight."

We say goodbye to each other and I hand the phone up and the weird churning returns to my stomach. I try to think of it positively but something in the back of my mind says I should have said no. That it won't be good to get out of here. I try to ignore that thought, it's just dinner. He is just being nice.

I wander over slowly to the broken controller and pick up the various pieces, "Well Asuka... I guess you'd better go and buy yourself a new controller... and a new dress."

Rei Ayanami

Tokyo-2

I can still feel an amount of paint on my hands as I reach up and open the door to our apartment. I've already washed my hands but I still feel like I'll need to shower for quite some time to feel completely clean. I didn't think it'd be possible to make quite that much mess but with a large amount of paint and a number of small children around it was inevitable.

I can't help but smile as I think about what might await me next week when I'm there. I cannot say that it hasn't been a rewarding experience working at the school. At first, I was not sure that it would be for a person such as myself but it turns out I've actually really enjoyed the experience. The children are, on most occasions, well behaved and I feel a certain sense of joy and pride when I am able to do things that help them.

One of my proudest moments was when a boy had to read to me and I was able to help him get through the book. He seemed so happy that he was able to make his way through the entire thing with minimal mistakes. He has already promised me that he will find new books to read on his own and to me. I am looking forward to the experience.

I admit, I was quite apprehensive about taking the role. I am aware of my differences not just in the way I act but also in my appearance. Due to how I was 'born' I do not look the same as others. Although now I am completely human I still retain my natural blue hair, pale skin and red eyes.

I have observed that there are many others who find my appearance to be quite curious. I can feel their stares on me when I am outside and I can see or hear them whispering to one another. I have heard their comments and shouts and although I would like to say I can ignore them I simply cannot. Many have been hurtful, although I try not to show it.

Before taking this role, I did speak to Misato, Shinji and even Asuka about that subject. I suggested that perhaps I should dye my hair to brown and wear contacts to mask the more extreme elements of how I look. Both Misato and Shinji were against it. They said I should be myself.

Asuka how, she was more adamant in telling me what I should do. In fact, it's probably the only time since returning that I have heard anything of the old Asuka come out. Asuka yelled at me, she called me an idiot and a few worse names too as well as asking me if I was stupid. She then threatened me, told me that if I dared to change my appearance like that because of other people she'd personally fly to Japan and wash the dye out of my hair and put the contact lenses in the bin.

I still wonder if maybe I should have gone through with it just to see if she carried out that threat. I'd happily endure her yelling and shouting just to have her back in Japan again. Maybe she could have patched things up with Misato and Shinji and they could all be happy again. I really want her to come back, I want Shinji to know what she is well. I know how much the two of them miss one another and it hurts me so much to keep this a secret.

In the end I decided to retain my appearance. As it turns out the children did not care about it, I did get a few questions from them as to why my hair was blue and my eyes were red so I just told them it was because of a condition I was born with. I didn't mention that the condition was in fact that I am a clone of one of the finest scientists of her generation crossed with an ancient god like being.

The children simply shrugged and went back to whatever it was they were doing before. This taught me that children do not seem to care too much about things like that. They get curious and will ask questions but accept things, it seems to be that they start to care most when adults tell them that they should care.

I enter the front room and I turn to see Shinji sat on the sofa, he's currently reading through some manga of his. At his feet I can see his cello case. I almost forgot, today was the first group session for him. I wonder how it went, I know he was very nervous about it.

"I'm home." I announce as I set my own bag down.

Shinji looked up from his manga and smiles at me, "Oh hey Rei! Welcome home."

"Thank you." I sit down on the chair near to him, "How was your group session today?"

I see Shinji continue to smile at me, "It… was really good."

A small smile comes to my own lips as I hear him say that. It makes me so happy that he found it to be good. I was nervous that it would be an unpleasant experience for him.

"It was… scary at first but I think… I just need time. I need to keep going and maybe it eventually won't be as scary."

"That is good to hear. Familiarity with the activity and the people will ease your nerves in such an environment."

He nods, "Yeah… I think I just need to learn that people probably aren't going to recognize who I am. I keep on thinking that one day they will and… bad things will happen but… maybe they don't know who any of us are."

I nod back at him but at the back of my mind I can hear Asuka's words about Nagisa being attacked. I admit I have been more on edge when outside after hearing about that. I should have asked for more information on the incident but I did not think to at the time. She mentioned that the people who did it were part of the UN Agency that protects us but what their motive was.

Did they know who Nagisa was from before? Did they attack him because of who he was? If so then we should be safe. How were they able to find that out though? Information related to us is classified, unless perhaps they were a part of NERV when it happened. They would not be the only Section 2 agents who would go on to work for the agency.

"Oh Rei, you left your phone here!" Shinji suddenly announces, snapping me from my thoughts. He gets up and wanders over to the drawer unit near my bedroom. As he does I look into my handbag in confusion and look, it seems he is correct. I did leave my phone here, I take the device from him.

"Someone tried to call you earlier as well!" He tells me.

"Oh." I look at him, "Who was it?"

Shinji shakes his head as he returns to his seat, "I don't know, one of those weird marketing calls I think. They were just silent after I answered it. It came up as a private number so I couldn't check.

A private number… I feel a churning in my stomach as I look back towards my phone and immediately go to the call history. Sure enough it is listed there, 'PRIVATE NUMBER', I tap the icon and I see her information displayed immediately. Just as I suspected, it was Asuka and Shinji had been the one to answer my phone. He actually spoke to her and yet he has no idea about it as well. He doesn't know just how close he come to hearing that voice he has longed to hear for so very long.

My own foolishness in leaving my phone behind nearly exposed the secret I've tried to keep. Asuka is going to be angry at me for this. I need to try to put it right. I try to show no signs of nervousness and try to remind myself that her number was put in there as 'PRIVATE NUMBER' for this very reason. It was in case someone such as Misato or Shinji got hold of my phone should Asuka call me.

I also remind myself that Asuka calling me first is not a part of how we regularly communicate. It is always supposed to be me who calls her unless we arrange it the other way around. Both of these facts should serve to reassure me. It all went according to our plans, her secret has been kept and yet I do not feel good about this.

"Thank you." I finally utter to Shinji, keeping my voice as steady as I can. I go to my e-mails and text messages to see if perhaps she has sent me anything. As of now she hasn't, I shall contact her later myself to see what has happened.

I am concerned that she would call me like this. I wonder if perhaps what I feared would happen has actually happened. Perhaps Nagisa has hurt her in some way. It is another thought I have to push out of my head for the moment. It is illogical to think such a thing has happened. Asuka is more than capable of handling herself and she is under protection. Nagisa is fragile in his human form as well, I do not suspect he could have hurt her.

Yet I worry about their relationship all the same. I am confused by the nature of their relationship. I would not have expected them to have become friends and yet there they are. I have been thinking about Asuka's words from our last phone call. I have been trying to understand how she and Nagisa are not that different but I am not seeing it for myself.

In regards to Asuka, she was at times an unpleasant person to deal with. She could be rude and arrogant, loud and obnoxious but there were moments when he true self shone through. She was brave, she was protective and she was warm. She would be the one trying to include everyone in activities. If she saw me alone she would drag me into the group. She would even go to an effort to make sure Touji and Kensuke were involved despite claiming she hated them.

For Nagisa, he was aware of what he was and what it was he was doing. I did not feel any attempt from him to escape that destiny. He fulfilled his goal without questioning it and he hurt my brother deeply. I do not feel that I should forgive Nagisa for any of this but then I also trust Asuka and her judgement when it comes to people. If she is capable of befriending Nagisa than perhaps I am wrong?

I need to think about this some more and perhaps talk to Asuka about it properly. I do wish I had someone else I could confide in about this issue. Misato would be a good person to talk to but I cannot reveal to her the secret I am keeping. This has become so complicated, for all I have learned in the past five years there is so much that confuses me. Humans are such complicated creatures, myself included.

Kaworu Nagisa

Berlin - Evening

I have been unable to keep the smile from my lips ever since I spoke to Asuka earlier today. So much so that I am sure Fuyutsuki and the others I work with thought that something was wrong with me. Asuka said yes to me. She said yes to my request of having dinner tonight!

I was so worried that she would say no. I am aware from various bits of reading that being asked out to dinner is seen as a romantic gesture for humans. I am not entirely sure if that is how I meant it to be. I just enjoy spending time with Asuka and wished to make up for all the help she has given me recently.

Yet, I have wondered about the subject of romance since I returned. Would I like to become romantically involved with someone? At first, I was not so sure, I was so afraid of people that I was happy just keeping to myself. As time went on and I was exposed to a little bit more literature and media I did start to wonder what it might be like to be involved with another. I wondered what it might be like to have a companion, to have someone to hold and to love, someone who I could kiss, touch even make love to.

These were all things that I did not ever consider in my past life. Romance and sex meant nothing to me, they were all human pursuits and as such I did not have any urges in that manner. I felt things for people of course, nothing stronger than what I felt for Shinji Ikari but I knew my time was limited so I did not permit myself to dwell on such feelings.

My time is no longer limited though and as such I find such thoughts creeping into my mind more and more. I think about the sort of person I would perhaps like as a companion. I think about what preferences I have romantically and even sexually. In my meditations on the subject I find that issues such as gender are not a factor for me. I seem to find beauty across the entire spectrum of gender.

Sexually I feel very much the same. Whilst I have not had a sexual encounter with another person yet I have had to deal with certain urges that arise most on evenings. When dealing with said urges I have observed a number of acts, some appeal to me more than others but again I find sexual attraction across the gender spectrum.

There is one person who has been occupying my thoughts on occasions like this though, that of course is Asuka. I wonder what exactly I feel about her. I find her to be an extraordinary person. I am no longer able to sense people's souls like I once was it is not difficult for me to see the fragility of her heart. I know she has been through a lot of hardship in her life and she, much like Shinji Ikari deserve so much happiness.

Yet despite the hardship she is a kind person. She reached out to me when she had no reason to. She helped me when no one else was able to and when I think of her I smile. I find her to be such a figure of beauty as well. Everything about her from her fiery red hair, he expressive blue eyes and her smile and hits me inside. I find that I am unable to take my eyes off of her when in the same room, there is something powerful about mer.

Perhaps… Perhaps then I do like her romantically but I wonder if this is because she is new for me. She is something I have not experiences before. I wonder if maybe I have not lived long enough to feel such things. I wonder what the rules for this sort of thing are, if there are any rules at all.

Of course, it is not just my feelings that matter in this situation. If I find Asuka attractive and I wish for more than friendship than that is one thing but it means little if those feelings are no reciprocated. Would Asuka find someone such as myself attractive? I am already aware that I do not look like a regular person. My appearance is not normal, I receive numerous stares from people every day that remind me of that. I receive comments every so often that remind me of that.

In a way that sort of thing does bother me, I cannot help the way I look. I was not given that choice and I do not feel I should change this for others. Even if such a thing is a hindrance in future matters. I am Kaworu Nagisa, I have silvery hair, red eyes and pale skin. That is who I am and I will not erase that.

I frown as I try to put these thoughts out of my mind for the moment. Asuka will be here in a few minutes and it would not be good to be pre-occupied with these thoughts. I need to focus on ensuring I am a good host for her during this dinner.

I look towards the living room and see the small dining table I have set up there. Across it is a delicate white cloth with two plain but elegant looking mats either side for the plates. Either side of the mats I've arrange cutlery according to a guide on dinner parts I have read. In the centre of the table is a candle that I'll light during dinner.

Currently sitting in my fridge are ten bottles of wine. I did not think to ask at the time what sort of wine Asuka liked and felt it would be silly to call her. Having not sampled the substance myself yet I did not know what would work with the meal I was going to cook. So naturally I panicked and bought a sample of everything. This did earn me some strange glares from people, unfortunately I am not exactly able to explain my origins and therefore my reasoning for such a thing. All I could do was smile at the cashier.

The meal tonight will be a steak in a peppercorn sauce with a variety of vegetables that I have spent the last half an hour preparing. This will be followed by a homemade chocolate ice cream that I perfected making yesterday.

I look towards the kitchen clock once again and feel the nerves building up in my stomach. Questions start to go through my mind, what if Asuka doesn't come? What if she dislikes the food? What if I haven't done this right and she laughs at me? I take a deep breath, this is going to be fine, it's just a dinner for a girl I happen to like and who I am friends with.

Half a minute later there is a knock on my door and I take another deep breath. I answer the door and find myself rendered unable to speak when I see her stood before me. Asuka is wearing a long dark red dress with red gloves to match. She has straightened her hair and put on a small amount of make up with draw my attention to her eyes. Around her neck is a black choker with a little gold diamond hanging from the middle. She looks beautiful.

"A-Asuka…" I finally stammer out before moving to one side to let her in, "Come on in."

She gives me a smile and nods, "Thank you."

She walks forward and enters the living room with me following behind. I smile as I see her stop and look towards the table. It is her turn to look stunned, "T-This is… I thought we were…"

I make my way to the table, "I… Wanted to thank you for all you have done for me Asuka. I understand that cooking someone dinner is a good way of doing that."

"You… Cook, I thought you meant go out this is…"

I smile and shake my head, "I admit that perhaps I am… perhaps not going to be as good as a high end restaurant but I wanted to do something for you. You have done so much for me, you… are not disappointed are you?"

She looks me, "No you idiot! I'm not… this is… really nice."

"Good, I am glad."

She remains frozen to the spot and I watch as her eyes keep going from the table to me and back again. I try to ignore the butterflies in my stomach as I move towards the fridge, "I was… unsure of what wine you would like so I got a selection. I believe certain wines are said to go better with specific types of food. We are eating a steak with vegetables in a homemade sauce. Yet I also hear people have preferences for wine based on country and colour, perhaps you should pick?"

There is no reply from her as I turn around and see her still frozen in place, "Asuka, is everything alright?"

She nods slowly, "I… You… I… I can't… This is… I'm sorry Kaworu."

I'm barely given a chance to respond before she turns and quickly leaves the living room. I hear my front door slam behind her as I'm left stood in a stunned silence. I don't know what to do, do I go after her? Do I stay here? I try to listen for the footsteps echoing down the hallway and outside but I hear nothing. If I leave now maybe I can catch up with her.

Questions run through my mind, did I do something wrong? If so what did I do wrong? Was it something I said? Was this perhaps too much for Asuka? None of that matters now I think to myself as I grab my keys and start to go after her. If I upset her I have to apologize, I have to find out what I did.