By Otaku D-Man
Evangelion – Not Mine.
Author's Pre-Rant –
The following story is set after the TV/Manga Series. Third Impact never eventuated. Yes, Gendou is seriously pissed about this (but a pissed off Gendou is a deliciously evil Gendou, and I just love to hate the Bastard King), but he still has a scenario to work with. Basis for the story.
No real pairings as such. No real intentions to do so (Do not tell me to pair people up, not going to happen, yet, maybe not at all. There only 15 years old with no real life experience between them, well maybe Misato). OOC will be kept to a minimum (Hopefully). Angel battles (if any) will be mostly glossed over. The content will focus on character interaction and development. (It's called living, I think)
Absolutely NO Self Insert (S.I.). and Non Canon and Author Created Characters will be space fillers only (There are more people in Tokyo 3 than just the main EVA cast) although I will stick to Japanese names (Annoys me no end to see NCC's and ACC's with western names in a supposedly Asian setting). Character portrayal will flitter from Anime and Manga as required. Those who have read the Manga know what I'm talking about.
Constructive praise/flames appreciated. Generalised and specific abuse mocked then ignored.
By the way
"Indicates the Spoken Dialogue"
Implies unspoken thoughts
On with the Show.
Insight and Understanding
Chapter the First – Pretty Pink Balloons
(From the Mind of the Third Children)
Shinji sighed. Not out loud. Just his mind trying to subconsciously come to terms with things while his conscious self fought to repress them. He reflected on the circumstances that led to his current problem. Just another issue in an extremely long line of complicated dilemmas. Deciding to ignore his minds own inner turmoil, he lifted his gaze from the concrete footpath he had been staring at and cast his gaze , rather covertly, at his two companions.
To his right strode a young woman with brilliant orange/red tresses, held back by her ever present neural interface clips. Her fierce sky blue eyes bright with the knowledge of who she was. Confident. Intelligent. Beautiful. Asuka Langley Sohryu was all this and more besides. She was also not remiss in ensuring that all those around her were made aware of just how spectacular she was. Unfortunately for Shinji, she made every effort to not only make him aware, but reinforced it daily.
Seeing her dressed in a sun yellow yukata (informal kimono) patterned by a delicate pink flower motif was a unique sight. The bright crimson sash wrapped around her waist contrasted nicely, enhancing her figure. The fact she even wore the garment confounded him. Asuka made no secret of her dislike for most things Japanese, one Shinji Ikari included. For some reason she had expressed an almost childlike delight to wear the kimono to the festival that they had just left. To Shinji, the crowning glory was the festival mask she had decided to wear, tilted to one side of her head. On anyone else, it may have appeared comical, but on Asuka it was almost picturesque. Some discerning individual had decided to make masks of the EVA's and the Angels. Shinji had thought the decision in bad taste but Asuka had demanded he buy her the Unit 02 Mask.
Perhaps it was simply the fact that the stall owner had mentioned how he had had to withdraw the Unit 01 Masks as people had found the visage of the infamous beast disturbing. Shinji had to agree with them.
At least they didn't make a mask of Him The Him in question was the Fifth Children, Kaworu Nagisa. The Seventeenth and hopefully Last of the Angels. Unknown by most, Kaworu had left a wound on the boy's fragile heart. Hoping to intentionally derail his own train of thought Shinji glanced at his other companion.
To his left, almost in stark contrast, was another equally young, attractive and intelligent woman. Her Azure hair cradling her delicate, almost elvan features. Her alabaster complexion and crimson eyes adding to her mystique. Rei Ayanami walked with a defined purpose. Her goal was established and woe to any that would attempt to deter her from her objective. The main problem being that she spoke infrequently, so no one ever understood just what her goal was. Least of all Shinji.
Her yukata was just as rare a sight as Asuka's. Rei wore a dark midnight blue kimono with an orchid pattern in a lighter shade, almost matching her hair. The dark lavender sash accentuated her slender waist. Rei had not wanted a mask. Shinji was slightly relieved, as she had stared at a mask of the Third Angels visage for some time. It was the first Angel Shinji had had to fight. Father. Blood. Pain.
Bad memories, think of something else
Shinji looked at the item she carried. Rei had politely asked if Shinji would purchase her a bamboo fan with a rabbit and moon motif that had obviously taken her fancy.
The fact that both girls had asked him to pay came as no great surprise. Asuka often spent her money on the latest designer fashions, perfumes and oddly enough, video games. Rei had developed an obsession for rare books, thinking nothing of spending a small fortune on a first edition print of some obscure romance novel.
In comparison, his own meagre existence was quite plain, drab even. Rei had more personal possessions than he did, not that it was that great a feat. Apart from his small wardrobe, his only real possessions were his S-DAT and his cello. He hadn't even owned a summer kimono to wear to the festival, instead opting for one of his all purpose, multi functional school uniforms.
Turning back to stare at the ground at his feet, his mind continued to churn. He had hoped that the death of the last Angel (something he tried to avoid thinking about at any time) and the failed assault by the UN and JSSDF Forces against NERV and the Geo-Front would afford his existence some measure of normalcy
(A/N – SEELE did not send the Mass Production EVA's into battle during the failed takeover of NERV, at least not yet)
Things rarely, if ever, fell in his favour. Tonight was no exception.
Asuka had not yet forgiven him for his carefully worded questions a couple of months ago on why she had left and somehow ended up in hospital. He had only mentioned it once. He considered himself fortunate that Misato and Rei had been present, otherwise things may have deteriorated beyond him having a black eye.
To further complicate matters, Rei had virtually refused to explain why his Father was now no longer interested in her activities. He could vaguely recall Dr Akagi stating that Rei was a vital component to instrumentality. The fact that his Father had made no comment about her relocation to the Katsuragi residence only served to reinforce this disinterest.
Father, even now I can't hate you for all you've done. I just hope that one day, perhaps, you'll acknowledge me as something other than the 'Third Children' or the Pilot of Unit 01.
Shinji was dragged from his spiralling thoughts by the voice of one of the girls.
(From the Mind of the Second Children)
Asuka negligently flicked her hair back. To the casual observer, the action could be deemed as attention grabbing. Asuka needed no such contrivance. She was Asuka Langley Sohryu. The Great Second Children. Pilot of Evangelion Unit 02. She was resplendent in her magnificence. She was genuinely happy. Such an occurrence was truly rare. But then it wasn't every day you woke from a self imposed coma to battle the combined forces of the United Nations and the JSSDF. Her victory over the fools was not the reason for her joy though, conventional weaponry was no threat to an Evangelion. No, her Mama's spirit was within her Unit 02. Her Mama had been protecting her all along. Helping her be the best. Her smile slipped as she glanced at the young man walking beside her.
Gott, you'd swear he carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. Things can't be that bad can they. I mean, surely he realises his good fortune that I allow him to spend time with me.
Asuka found herself observing the Third Children's actions more and more often of late. Of course, these 'Baka Watching' episodes were kept very discrete. It wouldn't do for anyone to get the wrong idea after all. She didn't really understand why she watched him at all. Sure he was sort of cute. Hardly the sort of man Kaji had been. Sure he could make his EVA do the impossible and he had a knack for standing where others would fall. But he seemed to struggle with the everyday stuff. He couldn't even enjoy a traditional Japanese Festival, and he was fully Japanese.. It had been her first and she had enjoyed it immensely, even the fact that the dumb jock had somehow deceived poor, innocent Hikari into going with him and the geek had spent the entire time filming everything and anything had not dampened her amusement at the night 's festivities. But the Baka ….
He confused her.
Her confusion evolved into frustration.
Frustration became irritation.
Finally irritation gave way to anger.
For Asuka, anger had only one solution.
Attack the source of the problem.
Just as she was about to launch her third verbal tirade for the evening (Fun had taken priority over her usual insulting of Baka Shinji) at the boy, she noticed something that caused more than mere anger.
He's doing it again! Why? Why does he keep looking at her?
What the object of her frustration was doing was gazing at the First Children.
Shinji's occasional glances at the blue haired doll pissed her off.
(From the Mind of the First Children)
Rei Ayanami walked back to her residence, which she now shared with the other remaining active pilots and their commanding officer and guardian.
She now lived with Katsuragi-san, Pilot Sohryu and Shinji.
She was the Third incarnation of her own existence.
Not long ago she had been just another empty shell. Hoping only for oblivion.
The sacrifice of her previous self had instilled a particular mindset that had become the template for her current existence.
Her soul was now her own.
She was no longer replaceable.
She was no longer the tool He needed.
When the time had arrived, she had refused Him and His purpose for her.
Instead of ending her life, as she had determined he would, he had simply walked away. Leaving her.
No longer did he smile at her.
No more did he praise her.
He simply did not need her.
Rei smiled lightly. She no longer needed Him.
While death would have been the release she had always sought, life was proving, most interesting.
The major source of this interest was walking beside her.
She caressed the words in her mind as she thought them. Where others had used her, treated her as a lab specimen, this particular individual actually respected her and valued her needs. He had simply offered his friendship, wanting nothing in return. Something the Second Rei had come to appreciate. Something her present self enjoyed.
Similar to Asuka, the festival had been her first. None of her predecessors had ever attended something so trivial. While she was still trying to understand the emotions that swept through her, her cool demeanour offered no clue as to what lay beneath. But of all the emotions she was beginning to discover, the feeling of warmth she felt whenever Shinji gazed at her was the most agreeable.
Initially he had avoided her. Not understanding that while she was no longer the Second, she was still herself. Thoughts, memories, all that she had been were still within her.
*I am Myself*
The mantra that had long sustained her and her predecessors.
Her thoughts were disturbed by the voice of the fiery Second Children.
"Baka," the accompanying clout to the back of Shinji's head snapped him from his thoughts, "leave the moping for when we're actually at home. You'll have plenty of time to gaze longingly at Wonder girl once we're there. Concentrate on getting there. Hopefully before Misato does."
Rubbing the back of head, Shinji glanced over at the girl who had already picked up her pace. He blushed at her rather direct statement.
"Pilot Sohryu is correct Shinji." Shinji looked back at his azure haired companion. It still felt odd to hear her call him by his first name. He always felt as if Rei's crimson eyes saw through all his barriers, directly to his soul. He feared she would see just how truly pathetic he was.
"Of course I'm right, Wonder girl. Now hurry it up Baka. We have school tomorrow and I will not tolerate being late on the first day back. Even if I don't really need to be there …." Shinji tuned out as Asuka continued on her rant about being a college graduate.
He felt stupid enough without having her staggering intellect shoved down his throat. Instead he concentrated on the surroundings of the streets as he continued his way home, albeit slightly faster.
Things settled down and once again proceeded as they normally did.
Asuka filling the silence with the sound of her own voice.
Rei stoically silent and introspective.
Shinji oblivious to most things around him, obsessing with his self loathing.
Until the sound of a young child shattered his normal routine.
Shinji stopped to see a young girl, no more than four or five looking up into a tree and crying her little heart out. Her mother obviously trying to calm her down.
He felt the deja-vu at the significance of this. He had spent most of his younger years crying. Unlike the little girl, his Mother had not been there to console or comfort him. No one had. He had always been alone. Always unloved. Always wondering why.
Following the gaze of the child he noticed the reason for her despair. There, cradled in the upper most branches of a tree, was a bright pink balloon. Obviously purchased at the festival.
Noticing that his two companions were rapidly leaving him behind he decided that whether he was five or ten minutes late getting home was pretty much inconsequential.
Shinji made his way to the Mother and child and after introducing himself he turned to the tree and began climbing towards the balloon. The young girl had stopped her crying and watched in awe as this complete stranger made his way up the tree towards her precious balloon. The tree was not overly difficult to climb. But the branches where the balloon sat were fragile. Shinji was not large. In fact, he was often called rail thin by many people. But fragile branches being what they are, tend to collapse and break under even the lightest of masses.
Remarkably enough, Shinji managed to grab the string of the balloon as he plummeted towards the pavement. More remarkable was the fact that as his body impacted against the ground, he managed to keep his hold on the string. Wincing from the pain, Shinji struggled to his feet and handed the prize to the obviously happy little girl. The mother expressed her thanks, bowing to him. It genuinely surprised him for anyone to be happy at something he had done. His accomplishments to date had not endeared him to those around him, or so he thought.
"Jeez Baka, is that all it takes to get you to smile. Maybe we can get you a pretty pink balloon of your very own"
Shinji, startled by both the voice and just how close it was, turned suddenly to find both Asuka and Rei watching him.
Asuka, hand resting on her hip as she smirked at him. Rei, both arms clasped behind her back, he was fairly certain he could see a slight smile gracing her features. Both girls had stood in silence, watching the young man smile. Shinji smiling was rare. Asuka could recall Rei commenting on how Shinji's smile was not so much the expression of happiness that others experienced but rather that he was 'less sad' than he normally was. Both girls could count on two hands the number of times they had seen his smile. The times he had actually laughed could be counted on one hand.
Brushing the dirt from his clothes Shinji tried to explain his actions, "I just wanted to help. I'm sorry…"
"Whatever. Let's get moving." Asuka turned and left the bewildered young man where he stood, hoping her swift movements masked the blush she had developed while watching him.
As he moved to follow, Rei stepped beside him and kept pace with him.
"Shinji, why …." Rei was startled from her question as Shinji gasped and ran from her side towards the street.
Rei and Asuka watched as the events unfolded. Everything appeared to happen in slow motion.
Shinji sprinting out onto the road pavement.
Shinji pushing the same little girl from the path of the oncoming truck. She had lost the hold on her balloon again and had chased it out onto the street.
The scream of her Mother.
The oncoming truck's tyres squealing as the breaks were applied.
Shinji turning to face the oncoming truck, headlights consuming his vision.
His body flung back by the truck as it struck him.
His body bouncing along the road like a rag doll.
Blood. So much Blood.
Rei's voice screaming in unison with Asuka's as they raced to his side.
All the while, the little girl cried as she watched her balloon float away into the night sky.
Shinji's last thought as his body burned bright with pain was I never realised how pretty the firefly's are against the night sky. as he watched a pretty pink balloon float by.
The sky turned a dark scarlet, confusing him more than anything.
Then nothing, as he fell into darkness.
End Chapter the First
Authors Post-Rant –
Hate to leave things on a cliff-hanger like that but what other way is there to get you to tune back in (Decent plot, story etc. maybe?)
Rei's betrayal of Gendou will be further explained in latter episodes. (This isn't OOC to me. Rei did choose Shinji over Gendou in EoE)
Hopefully Asuka didn't come over as OOC, but it's difficult to balance her previous personality with one where she recognises her Mother has been with her all along inside Unit 02.
Shinji, still full of self loathing. But let's face it. He wouldn't be the tragic hero if he was anything else.