14th September 2021

Asuka Langley Soryu – Early Morning

Kaworu's Apartment

I slowly open my eyes to be greeted by the slightest slither of light coming in through the curtains. It's funny in a way but this sofa and this room is actually starting to feel like a second home to me. The first night I spent here had been uncomfortable, I've always struggled with sleep as it is never mind in an unfamiliar home and on a sofa but now I'm starting to feel slightly comfortable waking up here. Maybe I should leave some things here for the next time.

I have to laugh at that strange thought. Only yesterday I was considering cutting off all contact with Kaworu. I was considering running away and never seeing him again, an effort to protect him from me. Or maybe it was just an effort to try to make sure I'm unhappy like I seem to feel I should be.

When I agreed to go to dinner with him I didn't think it'd be like it was, I didn't think he'd have cooked. I thought it'd be a matter of going out to dinner and then saying goodnight. It wasn't his fault but him going to that effort triggered something inside of me, that voice that tells me I'm horrible and don't deserve anything nice, certain not all that Kaworu had done for me. I so very nearly fucked up the night by listening to that voice. Still even without the voice I didn't think I'd have ended up staying the night, nor did I think I'd have kissed him.

The kiss, was wonderful, awkward but I suppose that is to be expected. It would have been Kaworu's first kiss after all and I'm not exactly massively experienced in that department either. My first kiss was with Shinji and I don't need to go over how much of a disaster that was again. I've never really been one for too much kissing since then. It's always been something of a means to an end, just something to get the blood flowing but little emotion/passion in there.

Kissing in a certain way always seemed to be romantic to me, something you'd save for the person you love. Thing about having a one-night stand is that both of you don't really care about love and romance, you're there for a brief bit of fun and then you move on and never see them again. So of the two encounters I've had sticking to the no/little kissing rule has been quite easy.

What wasn't as easy was stemming those feelings of guilt and the voices telling me how horrible I am for a few days afterwards. I don't know what else I expected to happen though. I mean I am me after all. I can barely even please myself without feeling guilty afterwards so what did I expect when someone else is involved?

I don't feel strange nor do I feel any guilt about kissing Kaworu though. What happened last night was something I wanted to do, something that felt right to do and something that made me feel good and I'm damn sure it made him feel good too. Thinking about the kiss is actually making me smile, I can still feel Kaworu's soft lips on mine and him holding me gently in his arms.

Despite being inexperienced he seems to have eased into it fairly quickly. We kissed for what must have been well over a minute, both of us stood there holding one another peacefully. At no point did Kaworu try to overstep any boundaries. I suppose that was probably down to Kaworu not really knowing what to do and maybe a bit of fear of any retaliation from me.

I did sense some awkwardness from him after we finished kissing, both of us wondering what to do next. I could see the embarrassment in Kaworu's face and also feel that his body clearly seemed to have an idea of what he wanted to do next but I decided to not draw attention to that. Instead I backed away slowly and allowed him to settle down before asking him to finish preparing the ice cream.

We didn't sit at his dining table for the ice cream, instead we sat on the couch and put on a concert DVD he had bought. We had a spoon each and managed to finish off the entire tub before the concert had finished. The ice cream, for the record, was just as delicious as the main meal was.

Shortly afterwards we realized just how late it was and instead of me getting a taxi back Kaworu asked if I would like to stay the night. I agreed and he brought out some sheets and pillows for me to sleep on the sofa. A part of me considered asking to sleep in his bed but I held back, maybe that'd be a step too far for the moment.

In addition there were things I wanted to think about. A vast number of questions started to enter my head. What exactly are me and Kaworu now? Are we boyfriend and girlfriend? I do like him, I've already admitted that to myself and I wouldn't have kissed him if I didn't but I still wonder about him. Does he like me because I'm the first person to reach out to him? If he does then how far will this go?

I have other things to think about too. I was going to contact Shinji yesterday, I was going to speak to Rei as well but now this has happened. Do I explain this to her? Do I tell Shinji? Will Kaworu want me to contact Shinji and tell him? What will those two think about this? In a way I know it's none of their business but I know how tangled the web is between the four of us and I'm sick of it.

I know with a few words I can start untangling that web but I don't want to hurt people, least of all Shinji. I don't want this web to be so tangled anymore.

Kaworu Nagisa

It's morning and I have been awake for at least an hour but have not yet gotten out of my bed. Instead I've been lying here with my mind wandering through a maze of thoughts about last night and questions about me, my past and who I am and was.

Thoughts of last night echo prominently in my mind for the moment. Asuka... Last night she kissed me and it was such a wonderful thing. It was astonishing. In fact, I don't think I can find an adjective suitable to sum up the experience.

Yet, despite how wonderful the experience was I still feel an amount of trepidation about the whole thing. I worry that despite my enjoyment of it that it might not have been as good for Asuka. I question if perhaps I should have done more during the kiss, I wonder if she was expecting me to do more or even if I might have done too much when I held her. I even question If I was any good at kissing her.

In addition, there was one other slight problem I experienced whilst kissing her. It's an issue that I've only had to deal with when on my own and never in the company of another person. Being kissed and held by her in such away aroused me and to be in that state in front of another person was embarrassing. I don't know if Asuka noticed it, I hope that she didn't, she didn't call attention to it if she did but regardless it was not a comfortable experience.

If anything, to have my body betray me in such a way was humbling and slightly terrifying. I was aware that the human body does respond in such a way but I didn't expect to happen to quickly and it to feel like it did. In truth, it scared me and I worry that if I felt awkward in that situation how would I feel if it had progressed further?

It was further confirmation that I am definitely not the same Kaworu of years ago. Arousal was not something I felt in that form and unlike now I did not have any qualms back then about being naked in front of others. For me the body I inhabited was little more than an instrument to carry me forward into the next form.

Now however my body is so much more and I am aware of it in ways that I wasn't before. I am aware of how it looks, I am aware of how it feels, I am aware of size and of my differences. I have found myself comparing my body to others and understanding how I am different to them. To describe it best, previously I was inhabiting a body but it felt more like my consciousness was merely floating above it. Perhaps not too dissimilar to how Asuka or Shinji would feel in an Evangelion. Now I feel that I am as one with my body, both myself and it are in sync.

With this heightened awareness also comes feelings of guilt with how I might have acted towards others and how I might have made them uncomfortable. I can now understand the awkwardness that Shinji Ikari felt around me many years ago when I spoke to him and when I walked around naked in front of him. I remember finding it curious how he blushed and averted his eyes when in the showers with him. When he flinched as I touched his hand and panicked as I asked him to go to bed.

I understand why he was awkward now and Shinji, if I could see you again then I would say that I am sorry for that. I understand now and I did not mean to make you uncomfortable. If I had known then what I know now I would not have acted the way I did at all.

I angrily shake my head at that last thought, if I had known then what I know now? That was the point wasn't it? That was why SEELE treated and raised me the way they did so that I wouldn't act any differently. They kept me in such a state so that I would push forward to try to wipe out this world and betray my first friend in such a way without hesitation. They were responsible for who I was!

Yes I am sorry for what I did. Yes, maybe I could have acted differently and I accept that ultimately my actions were my own but I am not blameless in this scenario. It is not a matter of if I ever saw Shinji again I would apologize but a matter of when. I can't help but feel our meeting is inevitable and when that time comes I know I will be terrified but I will face him and apologize for my actions.

The idea of that meeting does frighten me somewhat. I know not how such a thing would happen but after Asuka informing me last night of her desire to re-establish contact with him I know it will. These thoughts in turn bring me back to the kiss last night. I wonder what this means for me and Asuka going forward, I wonder what we are to one another? Are we a couple now? Will this go further or will she discover she made a mistake and say that this can't go further?

I wonder what I am to Asuka? I know she has feelings to Shinji, that much is obvious so if she were to re-establish contact with him then what would that mean for me? Is what we might have only temporary and should I therefore enjoy it whilst I can?

I have so many questions and lying here is only causing me to go in circles thinking about them. Perhaps I should just get up and see what the day brings.

Rei Ayanami

Emergence Facility Café

As I enter the cafeteria I feel my phone vibrate inside my handbag. I stop for a moment to take my phone out and check the message. As I both thought and hoped the message is from Asuka and I quickly open it to check the contents.

'Hi Rei, everything is fine here, there is nothing for you to worry about. I will contact you later, I have something I want you to look at and give me advice on. Also, I'm sorry about what happened with Shinji yesterday, I didn't think he would pick up. I hope I didn't cause any trouble for you.'

I can't help but feel there is something slightly strange about the message Asuka has sent me, in fact there are two strange things about the message. I read through it once more for confirmation. First of all, Asuka is asking me for advice on something. That is extremely rare, if anything I'm usually the one asking her for advice where possible, especially in the earlier stages of our friendship when I was still discovering certain things.

Secondly Asuka has called Shinji by his name. Come to think of it she did a similar thing the last time we spoke but it didn't register properly in my mind. Perhaps I thought it was a simple slip of the tongue or she didn't realize due to other circumstances. This however, this had to have been deliberate. Which of course makes me curious.

Asuka has not said Shinji's name in a very long time, it is a fact that makes me quite sad that my best friend is unable to speak my brother's name. At the same time, I am also saddened by the fact that my brother is unable to speak by best friend's name. I don't know why the two of them are like this, perhaps it was a way to shield themselves from some sort of pain. Either way they have not mentioned one another's by name for a few years.

I wonder then what has caused Asuka to suddenly start to speak Shinji's name again, not only in this message but in our conversation a couple of weeks ago. I wonder if there is some significance to her doing this. Almost immediately I wonder if maybe this is a sign that she is ready to come back and see us all again. I would like that so much

Unfortunately, I am unable to find out the reasoning at the moment in time. I have a reason for being here and it would be bad of me to suddenly leave. I put my phone away and slowly walk towards one of the many free tables in the cafeteria. As I walk I can feel the eyes of the few people in the facility on me, I wonder if they are looking at me because of what I look like or because I'm one of the few people to pass through here in quite some time.

I sit myself down and start to observe. There are so very few people here, at one point this place might have dealt with a hundred or so people emerging from instrumentality a week. Now I believe it is barely any, in fact aside from Nagisa I don't know if there have been any people emerge in the past year. It is my understanding that he was the first person they had recovered in quite some time.

I sit for another minute or two before I see the person I am supposed to meet finally arrive. Kodama Horaki, she is about a year or older in appearence than her sister Hikari and fairly similar in appearance. Much like Hikari she also wears her hair in two shoulder length pigtails and each of her cheeks is also dotted with a small number of freckles.

She has a soft, caring expression which I suppose fits someone who works in a facility such as this and she is at the moment wearing a pair of glasses with a thin black rim. She is also wearing the uniform of this facility which is something of a contrast to the short black dress she was wearing on our blind date the other night.

I must admit, when I agreed to go on that blind date that had been arranged by Hikari I was quite apprehensive. I disliked the idea of going on a date with someone I had not selected or met previously but I trusted Hikari's judgement. I did not expect that the date be with her sister, nor did I expect to find her sister so attractive and charming.

Kodama notices me and give me a quick smile because making her way over to where I am sitting. I get up from my seat and we both smile and nod at each other politely, "Hey Rei! I'm sorry I didn't get here sooner. We've had a few people come back this week so I've been busy dealing with the paperwork from all that. You haven't been waiting long, have you?"

I glance up at the clock and contrary to what Kodama has said I can see it is still another couple of minutes to go until we are supposed to meet. I shake my head, "No, I have not been waiting long. You are early as well actually."

Kodama turns to look at the clock herself and shakes her head, "Damn clocks in the office must be wrong then. Can I get you anything? They do a really good hot chocolate here?"

I nod, "That sounds nice, I would like that then."

"No problem, I'll be back in a moment then."

I watch Kodama as she gets up and goes to get our drinks. Whilst she is gone I take the opportunity to look around the facility once again. Her informing me that others have been returning has intrigued me. I wonder how many people in total have come back this year and if this has something to do with Nagisa suddenly returning earlier this year.

Perhaps it is the case that Nagisa returning was the beginning of a new wave of returnees. Although I fail to see how this could be the case. The way to return is for a person to want to come back and to be able to imagine themselves in one's heart. I fail to see how one person returning could allow others to do that. It is likely this is just coincidence, after all as long as there are people still within instrumentality the possibility remains that they will return.

The fact that people can still return is one that makes me feel somewhat anxious. I know that there is one person still within that sea who is unlikely to ever want to come back. Yet I fear that one day we will find out that he has returned and I worry that his return would ruin the stability we have enjoyed for so very long. It has not been perfect but it is better than anything he could have offered.

I shake my head, I am not here to contemplate the return nor even the existence of that man. I am here to find out what I can about Nagisa. I admit, I do feel bad about suddenly coming to Kodama and asking for this. I do understand that it might make me look bad in her eyes but I am only trying to ensure Asuka and Shinji are safe and I hope Kodama understands.

At the same time, I am also here to see Kodama again, I enjoyed our date together and I would very much like to go on another one, if that is something she desires.

Just as I finish that thought she returns with a tray and two cups of hot chocolate. She lowers it onto the table and I take one of the cups from the tray and wrap my arms around it enjoying the warm sensations spreading through my fingers.

"How are you then Rei?"

"I am good." I reply, "Are you doing well?"

She nods and gives me a cute smile, "I'm good! Just been a bit busier recently due to more people returning. It's nowhere near as busy as it used to be a couple of years ago but they also moved a lot of staff on so it's little more than a skeleton crew here so double or triple the work."

"Has this only just started?" I ask.

"Started picking up again in February actually, started out at just one or two a week, around April it was five or six and in the past week we've had at least ten. They've actually been looking at pulling in more staff to cover it, problem is a lot of people who used to work here have moved on to higher paying places and won't want to come back so we're looking at juniors and volunteers for the moment."

"I see." I nod and make a note in my head to speak to Misato about the situation. Perhaps she might be able to find someone to speak to someone who can arrange help for Kodama and the facility, "I hope that you are able to get the help needed here soon."

"Me too!" She sips from her drink, "I suspect... that you're not here to speak to me about my work, are you? Or at least, not what I've been up to in the past week anyway."

I shake my head, "No... I am not."

"This is about that one who came back in January isn't it? Kaworu?"

I can feel the tightening sensation of guilt in my chest as I hear the disappointment in her voice.

"I apologize I did not mean to misle-"

She shakes her head, "No, it's fine, I sort of expected it to be honest. Can I just ask... and be honest, when you agreed to that date did you... did you know?"

I shake my head, "No I did not, it was not until I met you and you told me that I learned about you working here. I also... that is not the only reason I am here."

She raises a curious eyebrow, "Oh?"

"I also wanted to ask if you would like to see me again. I very much enjoyed our time together on that date and would like to see you again. I apologize for being here to ask about Nagisa but I am very worried about a friend."

"I see, in which case I understand." She pauses, "Dinner tonight then?"

"Yes, that would be nice."

"Okay then, I'll come and pick you up at around seven." She takes another sip from her cup, "So what do you want to know about Kaworu, keep in mind I can't tell you too much. I know... what he was especially in relation to you guys but some things have to remain private."

"I understand, I would not want you to put your job at risk." I reply, "Was there anything unusual about his return?"

Kodama shrugs, "Nothing really, pretty standard across the board. He had a bit of emergence sickness but aside from that he seemed healthy enough."

Kodama pauses for a moment, "Well... There is one thing I suppose."

I raise an eyebrow out of curiosity, "Oh?"

"Well most people... When they emerge, they come out the same age as when they went in. It happened to me, it's why I only look a year or two older than Hikari despite the age gap technically being a bit bigger. That didn't happen with Kaworu, he actually aged during the process."

"I see, and this has never happened before?"

Kodama shakes her head, "Not to my knowledge but... although it was a bit strange he was perfectly healthy regardless."

I take in her words and wonder if there is any importance to them. Kaworu aged whilst in Instrumentality but I wonder if that means anything. It is certainly curious to say the least but I fail to see how it affects anything.

"I see, and there was nothing unusual around him?" I'm not quite sure what sort of answer I'd expect to this question. Am I expecting A.T. Fields to have just started appearing at random? Objects to be thrown around or people to start having visions?

Again Kodama shakes her head, "No, nothing at all."

"I see."

"You sound almost disappointed." Kodama smirks as she speaks and I feel my cheeks glow red slightly. I don't quite know what I expected to hear today from her but I was hoping for something, perhaps anything that might prove me right that Kaworu can't be trusted.

"What about Kaworu himself?" I ask fearing that I already know the answer.

"He was a nice person Rei, he was terrified of us all at first which is understandable given who he was but he did as we asked and he kept to himself." Kodama pauses, "You know I… I felt sorry for him. He had clearly been through a lot and he told me a lot of things too."

"Things you are unable to repeat?" I ask.

She nods, "Yes things I can't repeat but the more I spoke to him the more I realized that he isn't a bad person, he was a victim too."

"I see." Her words only echo the same things that Asuka has already told me about Nagisa. They are not the words I was hoping to hear or perhaps wanting to hear. They are not the words that confirm to me that Nagisa is a bad guy, they are instead the words that paint him as afraid and nice and a victim.

"I'm sorry I can't tell you what you want to hear Rei." Kodama speaks up, "I know what it's like to be scared for a friend, I've seen my own friends do things and I've been terrified about them, hell my own sister when she started seeing Touji… I wanted to see only bad in him."

I look up at her and laugh, "It isn't that far fortunately. My friend has met him and is friends with him. I was concerned that he might hurt her. Do you think I am wrong to feel this way?"

She shakes he head, "No, not at all. I… think if I was in your position I'd feel the same way. With what he did it's understandable that you would feel that way, I was… apprehensive about Kaworu at first but I had to put that aside for my job and because of that I could get to know him properly."

"I see…" I finish what is left in my cup, "I just do not want my friend to be hurt, nor would I want Shinji to be hurt should Kaworu come back into his life."

"Of course. If you can… perhaps you should try talking to Kaworu yourself. Get him to explain what happened and see if that will help you feel better."

"Perhaps…"

I take a moment to think about it, perhaps I do need to speak to Nagisa to understand him more. Did we all not do bad things over that time period? I myself was guilty of a great many things, I myself knew what the Commanders plans were and I could have helped stop it at any time but I did not until the last moment. Myself and Kaworu… we are similar but I hate to admit that fact because I do not like facing the idea that I myself could have been a bad person, it is easier for me to pretend my life started when I emerged and what happened before was under the control of one man.

If I can be forgiven by Shinji and Misato and Asuka then perhaps I should be capable of forgiving Nagisa. Perhaps I should communicate with him. Perhaps he is not who I think him to be anymore and Kodama and Asuka are right.

"Look I have to go back to work now." Kodama pulls me from my thoughts, "Give it a thought though and… still on for dinner tonight?"

I look up and smile, "Yes, thank you."

Asuka Langley Soryu

14th September 2021 – Early Evening – Kaworu's Apartment

I read through the paragraph one final time to confirm that it sounds correct and conforms to what the publisher wanted. A little bit of extra dialogue between the main character and the AI that controls the ship was all they had requested for that section. It wasn't a bad suggestion, the relationship between the main character and the AI is an important one, especially considering the revelations about the AI later one but I worry that too much dialogue will give things away too easily for readers.

Behind me I can hear Kaworu in the kitchen and preparing tonight's meal. I did try to suggest that we order food tonight but he was adamant that he cook something for us instead. I want along with it, still feeling somewhat guilty about nearly ruining the meal last night. From what I can smell I'm expecting a chicken curry tonight. My stomach growls in anticipation of it.

I open up my e-mail client to fire off another e-mail to my publisher with the changes they needed. Hopefully that will be the last thing and I don't need to alter anything else on the book. I also make sure to include a note telling them that I am not available for interviews and also tell them a firm no to the idea of getting someone to stand in as 'Mari Makinami' in interviews and readings.

I shake my head at the ridiculousness of that request. If anyone is going to speak for me then it'll be me and not someone paid to act as me. What annoyed me more is they even started to explore what Mari Makinami looks like! They sent me some sketch of some brown-haired girl with red rimmed glasses and a massive chest. It's clear what they were going for with that one.

They'll be disappointed but they can deal with it. Maybe one day I'll reveal that Mari isn't real and is actually I, the great Asuka Langley Soryu but until that time and only until that time there will be no press, no quotes and Mari remains silent and unseen.

I send off the e-mail and notice that I've received one from Rei some time ago. I must have been so wrapped up on my work I never noticed it come through. I also realize with some guilt that I was supposed to have contacted her earlier today. It has just turned six in the evening here which means for Rei it'll be the early hours of the morning. I could risk it, knowing what Rei is like she could still be awake but it's probably best I don't.

I open up the e-mail,

'Hello Asuka,

I received your message and I am pleased to read that everything is okay, I was concerned after your phone call yesterday.

As far as Shinji goes I do not think he suspected that it might have been you, it seems that the measures we put in place worked but I must admit I do not feel good about this. I feel bad for deceiving him in such a way but I understand that it is your wish that he does not know.'

I feel a tightening in my chest at reading that last paragraph. I feel guilty as well about it, I don't want to put Rei in that position and I know it's hurting him. It should only just be for a little while longer though. I'll... I'll contact him Rei.

'For contacting me, unfortunately I am not going to be in this evening so it would probably be better if you contacted me tomorrow. I will message you with a safe time to do so. I am glad to hear that you are well.

Also, I feel I should apologize for my actions when you told me about your friendship with Nagisa. Whilst I am still apprehensive about him and will likely remain so until I am certain he can cause no harm to you or my brother I appreciate that you might have a different perspective having spoken to him directly and spent time with him.

If I have angered you in any way when speaking about him then I apologize for that as well.

I will speak to you tomorrow.

Rei

xx

(\-/)

(='.'=)

(")-(")o

I ready myself to write a reply to her when Kaworu suddenly announces from the kitchen that dinner is ready.

"No problem, let me just…" I look up whilst speaking and see his big dumb smiling face beaming at me and then I gaze over towards the table where I see he has already set out two plates. I let out a laugh and shake my head, "Never mind, it can wait."

The laptop screen gets folded down and the device itself placed onto his coffee table before I get up and make my way over the table. I sit myself down and Kaworu takes a seat opposite me. I look down at my plate and just as I guessed it is indeed a simple chicken curry. My mouth starts to water at the sight of it and I look up to see Kaworu is looking at me expectantly. He catches me eye and quickly looks down at his own plate.

I smile to myself as I mix up some of the rice with the sauce and scoop it onto my fork along with a good sized piece of chicken. Just as with the meal last this this too is incredibly tasty and I start to feel like I could get used to the idea of Kaworu cooking for me.

I'm barely haflway through my first mouthful before I hear Kaworu speak, "Is it to your liking?"

I shoot him a glare as I try to finish my mouthful of food, I swallow and nod, "It is delicious."

Kaworu breathes a sigh of relief and then starts to eat from his plate too. I simple shake my head and let out a laugh as I see an embarrassed smile creep onto his lips.

"I apologize if my questioning is annoying." He speaks, "I am simply not used to doing something like this, I have only cooked for myself so I don't know if it is good for others. Your approval in particular means a lot to me."

"It's fine, I guess I can deal with it for the moment." I remark with another laugh and continue to eat the meal. Every now and then I'll rip off a bit of the naan bread and use it to dip into my curry and scoop up bits of rice. As I do this I look up to see Kaworu is looking at me and staring at his own bread. I grin at him, "You know how bread works right?"

He nods, "I know how it works for sandwiches but I was unsure how it worked in context of this meal. I… forgot to research that part."

I continue to laugh, "Well it's not like there are any rules to it you idiot! Just rip it off and dip it in your food or whatever."

"Oh I see…" He tentatively rips apart a piece of the bread, "I was also uncertain about the heat of the meal as well. Is this too your liking? It is not too hot?"

"Kaworu..." I speak sternly, "It's good. I've got a pretty high tolerance when it comes to hot food anyway. Besides it should be you who is more concerned with that with it being your first curry, how is it for you?""

Kaworu nods, "It is good although I will admit the sensation of heat is something I am unused to but I am sure I will adapt to it over time."

"Well you picked a good curry to start with, some of them would probably kill you." I joke but see him look at me with a horrified expression.

"Really? A curry can do that."

"No not really!" I shake my head, "It'd probably be really unpleasant though."

"Oh… Good, I think… I will avoid that sort of thing all the same."

"A wise decision." I smile and we resume eating our meals in a comfortable silence. I reach over to get a drink, another bottle of wine from Kaworu's fridge that he has gotten out. This is another white wine, a Spanish wine this time, whatever that means. It tastes good though.

I have to admit Kaworu has done well with the two meals he has cooked so far, I'm quite surprised how someone who has only been properly human for less than a year and never had to cook before is able to do this. I guess he's had little choice but to do it though.

As we continue to eat a strange thought suddenly enters my head. It's something I haven't actually realized until now but Kaworu is eating meat. In fact this is not the first time, he has had it on a number of occasions since I've met him. Yet I thought with him technically being the same as Rei he too would be unable to eat meat like her.

"Kaworu… Can I ask something?"

"Of course." He replies after sipping from his wine glass.

"This might seem strange but… Why is it that you are able to eat meat?" I ask.

"I do not understand." He looks at me curiously.

"It's just… You and Rei are similar right?" I wait for him to nod, "She can't eat meat but you can, why is that?"

"Oh, that would be…" Kaworu looks up and shakes his head sadly, "I believe that is due to the way in which we were created."

"Explain."

"You are right that myself and Rei are similar, we were both created from a human doner and supplanted with the soul of one of the seeds of life. In my case it was Adam and her case Lilith. I do not believe that Rei Ayanami's creation was as smooth as mine was, she was created from the scavenged DNA of Yui Ikari whilst my donor was in a stronger and more complete position."

"Who was your donor?" I ask him.

"I do not know, it is not information that I was ever granted access to nor did I seek it out. I do not know if that person lives nor do I know if they were even aware that they were a donor. Knowing SEELE I would doubt both things, they disliked loose ends."

Kaworu pauses for a moment to sip from his wine again, "With my creation there was an entire team of people working around the clock to ensure my body was kept fit and healthy. I was attended to at all times by the best doctors and scientists in the world. I do not believe Rei would have been… as fortunate as I was."

I bow my head slightly as I recall the various stories I heard about Rei's so-called upbringing. I never saw any of it for myself but I have heard of the place where she lived. I heard Rei and the others speak about how it was in some abandoned part of Tokyo-3, how it had walls that were damp and rotting away and it was unpopulated aside from the unfortunate homeless of Tokyo-3 and a myriad of rats.

I once called her the Commander's favourite. I looked at her with envy believing that she lived a life of luxury and praise. That because she had the Commander's attention she had everything that I thought I wanted. How wrong was I? How awful must I have sounded when I said those things to her?

"No… She really wasn't…" I finally mutter.

"All of these additional resources meant that… my human vessel was stronger than that of Ayanami's. SEELE thought I necessary to minimize weakness as best they could for me to carry out their goals."

"I see…" I prod a piece of chicken with my fork before stabbing it angrily and shoving it into my mouth.

"SEELE made an effort to suppress my humanity. They wanted their vessel strong but wanted to keep my humanity at bay except for where it would benefit them. They would remind me constantly of what I was and what I had been put on this earth to do. They wanted me to be unable to resist the call on that day."

"You meant the day you betra-" I catch myself before I finish the word but I can see still the spark of sadness in his eyes, "I'm sorry… I didn't mean to."

Kaworu simply shakes his head, "No… That is what it was, it was a betrayal. I betrayed my only friend because I was unable to resist my own urges. I was unable to spot the lies in front of me and gave into the desire to reunite with the being known as Adam."

He tears off a piece of bread and dips it into his curry, "As… 'Tabris'… I always felt something calling to me. I was told what it was, that call was an answer to the pain of loneliness that I always felt. Each passing day that pain grew larger and the call grew more alluring."

There is another brief pause as he scoops up a bit of rice with his bread, "SEELE explained it all of course. They told me of the being known as Adam and how it was waiting under Tokyo-3 for me. Not only that but they gave it a purpose, not only would it cure the pain I felt but it'd cure the world. All would be reborn and perfect!"

I see his expression darken as he continues, "I believed every lie they told me, so when I got to Tokyo-3 I knew what I had to do. When I was there I felt the call grow even stronger, it spoke to me, it wanted me and it only confirmed what I had been told until… I finally got to it and I saw it wasn't Adam at all. It was Lilith and in that moment… I knew the truth."

I rise from my seat and make my way over to him and hold him, running my hand through his soft hair, "It's okay Kaworu… I know the rest."

"There are times when I don't know if I should blame SEELE for it or if I should blame myself. I had the power within me to resist it. I could conjure an A.T. Field of such strength, my S2 Organ gave me unlimited power, I could have… I could have resisted SEELE but… I was weak to the call and their lies."

"Stop it!" I say sharply as I continue to hold him, "There was nothing you could have done and… things worked out in the end."

"Perhaps!" He nods, "I suppose… there is little point in me thinking about that now."

"No… No you won't." I pat him on the back and move back to my seat, as I sit back down I see Kaworu smiling at me again.

"Thank you Asuka… for listening to me." He pauses.

I shrug, "Don't worry about it."

"I… I don't know if it is appropriate but there is something I wanted to ask."

"Go ahead." I reply to him with a mouthful of chicken and rice.

"How come you decided to come back to Germany?"

"Ah."

I didn't expect him to ask me that, at least not yet. I shake my head, "It was… just something I felt I had to do to be honest. It wasn't like there was a big argument or incident I just… I couldn't be there anymore with them and I had to come back."

I pause and try to recall the day that I left.

6th June 2016 - Asuka Langley Soryu

My eyes open immediately at the sound of my alarm going off and I quickly bring my hand down to silence the device. I lie still for a few moments staring at the time, it's early, far too early for my liking and for a brief moment I contemplate rolling back over and going back to sleep. I realize however that it is simply not possible for me to do that, I'm awake this early for a reason, so instead all I can do is let out and annoyed sigh and sit up.

That annoyance at the situation soon fades when I reach over to turn on my lamp and see the card and wrapped up box waiting on my bedside table. Instead I feel something else, sadness? Regret? Fear? I'm not entirely sure, it's a mixture of feelings but I suppose that's to be expected.

I reach over and pick up the card and turn it over in my hand to reveal Shinji's name written, in beautiful handwriting, on the card. I shake my head as certain thoughts enter my mind.

'You don't have to do this... You can stop it, just tell him that you changed your mind. He already said you can change your mind at any time, it wouldn't exactly be difficult.'

I put the card back down on the table and shake my head. I can't stop this, not now, it's something that I have to go through with. I can't stay in this place any longer, I just... I can't be here anymore. I just don't belong here, I don't deserve to be here with these people.

I know they probably feel the same, that I don't belong here with them. I can't blame them really, not after the way I've acted towards them all. Sure, it's not like I've acted like that since we all returned but that doesn't matter. They still remember and so do I and I know it's just a matter of time before that monster surfaces again.

Of course, they're too polite to ask me to leave so I'm going to make it easy for them. I contacted Fuyutsuki weeks ago and arranged this. I've packed what few belongings I have and I'll leave before any of them wake up. There are just a few things I need to do first.

I step out of the bed and look at the clock again. I need to be quick and quiet during this. Everythign has been planned out, I need to shower first then I'll get dressed before giving Shinji his gift. When that is done I'll leave and they won't need to see me again, I'll tell Fuyutsuki to let Misato know what I've done but not where I've done. It'll be better this way, if they find out they'll just try to get me to stay and... I'll probably do it.

I slide the door to my room open as quietly as I can and slip out into the main hallway. It's only a short distance to the bathroom from here but I do need to make my way through the living room, that brings me to my first obstacle. As I enter the living room I can hear a soft snoring sound and I immediately freeze and look towards the source of the sound.

I try to stifle a laugh as I see Rei lying on the sofa, or at least the hair of Rei Ayanami. Somehow, and I'm not sure how, she has managed to roll herself up in her blankets to create a perfect blanket burrito, or as I might call it a 'bureito.'

'No more sofa for you after today Rei, you can have that room now.'

A few brief moments later I'm in the bathroom, have disrobed and turned the shower on. As the water comes down around me my thoughts turn once more to why I'm doing this today. When were those seeds sewn of me wanting to leave? I can't really pin down an exact moment, I guess it was just a feeling I had ever since we call came back from Third Impact.

Thing started off well enough. Shinji was the first person to return on that day and I was not far behind. I can still remember those initial moments on the beach when I returned. I can remember the rush of emotions, the pain and the confusion of it all. I can remember what Shinji did, or tried to do to me in his confusion and how I was able to stop him.

I can remember how he sat there and cried when he realized what it was he was doing and how afterwards we lay in silence just holding one another. We even spoke to one another after it, we actually had a proper and decent conversation. I told him things about my life, about my mother and my upbringing and he told me about his. It was nice, it was cathartic and it felt right.

Of course, that feeling couldn't last. Barely a day later Misato returned and soon afterwards Rei turned up before more and more people came back. There was no more talking after that, there was no more holding one another and there was barely any communication. Shinji had Misato and Rei to confide in now, he had his family back and I... Well I've never had a family, Misato tried to make me feel welcome but I'd already burned those bridges, hadn't I? So, it never felt right.

Soon afterwards we fell into routines. Shinji became more withdrawn as more people came back, he won't venture out of the apartment and is terrified of anyone knowing who he is. I spend most of my time outside the apartment going on long walks and avoiding people.

Rei... Rei actually went back to school as soon as she could. It's strange but she has grown so much from the girl she used to be. She is still quiet but you can see a spark of humanity in her that wasn't there before. She speaks about what she wants to do in the future, of places she wants to go and things she'd like to see.

As far as my future goes... I've thought about it but what sort of future does someone like me have? Shinji... Rei... Misato, they all have a chance, they're all heroes and can do whatever they want but me? I'm little more than nothing. I'm the girl who lost, I'm the girl who failed, the girl who had the potential but squandered it all. I'm the monster who did nothing but hurt others.

I'm the one who screamed and yelled because she couldn't get her own way. I'm the one who turned everyone away who tried to help. What does the future hold for someone like me? All I'm capable of is hurting other people. Everyone here knows it too. They think I don't notice it but I can see and feel their eyes on me when I walk around this town. I know how Misato and Rei look at me, I know they're terrified that I'll hurt Shinji and I don't blame them. I've done it once so why not again?

'Because you aren't that person anymore, you don't shout or yell anymore. You don't need to be like that...'

It's a nice thought that passes through my mind but what if it isn't true? Besides, even if I'm not that person anymore it doesn't erase the person I was and the person they think I am. I'd rather save the others the hassle of having to tip toe around be because they're frightened. I just hope they all go forward to have a happy life, they deserve it.

I turn the shower off and wrap a towel around myself. I slip out of the bathroom and once more past the bureito lying on the sofa. Within moments I'm back in my room and drying off. I hastily throw my clothes on and grab the gift and card. This is the last thing I need to do, probably the most difficult task.

I take those few careful steps to Shinji's door and slide it open as quietly as I can. I take a feep breath to steady my nerves before stepping into his room. It's dark, save for a thin slither of light coming in through a crack in his curtains. The light is providing just enough illumination for me to see him lying on his bed. He's facing away from me, good, that'll make this easier.

I silently approach the side of the bed and place the gift and card down on his bedside table before kneeling next to the bed.

"Shinji..." I whisper to him, "I'm... I'm leaving. I don't know how long I'm going for, it might be a short amount of time or it might be forever but please... promise me you won't look for me okay."

I let out a sigh, "I... I just... I don't deserve to be here with you guys. You're all good people but me... I'm not, I was horrible to you all, I was a monster and... I know we should be leaving that in the past but I can't. I think about who I was every day and I just can't forget that. I just... I wanted to see you one last time and maybe do something nice for you."

I pause as I feel the stinging of tears in my eyes, I bring up a hand to wipe the tear away and continue to speak to him, my whispering voice trembling as I do so, "Today is your birthday isn't it? I got you a card and a gift, I hope you like it. I got you a new music player, I know you lost your old one and I know you loved it so... I wanted to get you something nice. I also... put some money in the card too, so get yourself something nice with it. Some new shirts to replace the white ones you always have or a nice cake."

I pause again and smile, "I'm sorry for everything I did Shinji. I never meant to hurt you or anyone else like I did. I just hope you know that I never meant it when I said I hated you, I always liked... no... I always loved you Shinji, I still do and... maybe I always will but I just can't be here anymore so... goodbye Shinji and... Happy Birthday."

With those final words I quickly turn around and leave his room. I rush back into my room blinking furiously and bringing my hands up to my eyes to wipe away any tears that threaten to run down my cheeks. I quickly grab my case and head back out into the hallway towards the front door. I slip my feet into my shoes and open the front door as quietly as I can.

As I step out a cool breeze hits my cheeks and I turn to see the solemn figure of Kozo Fuyutsuki.

"Fuyutsuki." I nod towards him.

"So, you're actually leaving? You don't want to change your mind?" He asks me.

"Yes." I confirm without hesitation, "Let's get this over and done with."