Disclaimer: I do not own Evangelion. All names and other references associated with it are owned by Gainax.

            The Third child could feel the sand beneath him. It was soft and smooth, and somehow comforting. Shinji could feel his heart beating inside of his chest; he could feel the oxygen entering and leaving his lungs. Breath. Air. Life. "I must be alive," he thought to himself, "I must have found the truth; the truth within my heart."

            Shinji sat up and scanned the area. The oddities of his current place of being did not strike him, what he did notice, however, was a red haired German girl sitting next to him. Thoughts now rushed through the mind of the third child. "Why is she here? Is there no one else?" Shinji again looked around him. There was no one else. Only himself and the woman who hated him. Shinji's thoughts now seemed returned to him after establishing this fact. "Perhaps she found truth as well?" Shinji did not know. Suddenly his memories flooded back to him. He could see the kitchen in his old apartment vividly. Asuka was there, and he was as well. He had asked her, no begged her, to help him. Shinji knew that she was the only one who could save him, though from what he did not know. It was just a horrible feeling really; a disgusting existence some called life. Perhaps she could make it bearable. Then the shove had come; the coffee pot, the floor, the final rejection. It was at this exact moment Shinji had lost whatever it was that he found himself holding on to. If Asuka, the one person who could have saved him, rejected him, then there was no point for her to live. There was no point for anyone to live.

            Yet Instrumentality had not solved this problem either. It had all been a lie. A false reality. "Is my mind so perverted and obscure that I cannot even accept perfection?" Shinji asked himself.

Shinji Ikari had ended it. He had destroyed the one place where he might have been happy, only to return to a world of pain. Shinji Ikari was beset by the ironies of his own life; the thought that of all the people in the world, he had returned with Asuka. "But Asuka rejected me. If it is only the two of us, and I have been rejected, then there is no point for her to live; it would be better to simply be alone, that way I won't have to deal with the pain she would bring." Shinji's mind was made.

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            Asuka Langley Soryu could feel a weight upon her body, and soon her blank eyes again provided her with the curse of observation. She could feel the clenching of hands upon her neck. The second child focused her vision enough to see the form of Shinji Ikari bearing down upon her. The German girl could feel her thoughts returning. "I died. Then I lived again. Yet that life was not real. It was hollow. And now I am here. I am here for a reason. I must be alive. I am alive for a reason. Yet there is nothing here now. Nothing except…him. Is he my reason? Is Shinji my reason for living?"

            Asuka could feel her death drawing close. "This is not correct. Why would I return to simply die? Is my purpose to be killed by Shinji? No, it can't be, can it? Does he exist to kill me? Will that solve his problems; will that make him happy? No, death cannot be the answer. I have returned so that I may live. If we are not to die for each other, are we to live for each other?" Asuka Langley Soryu knew that whatever the cause may be, she would not allow Shinji the satisfaction of killing her. She knew that Shinji could not find happiness this way, for it was simply another way for him to run; to escape from having to be with her. "You were always such a coward Shinji," she thought, "But I won't let you run away from this."

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            Shinji Ikari could now feel a touch; her touch. She was reaching up to him, caressing his face. "No! Please don't do this to me. Asuka! Please just let me end it. There is no need for you to live, please!" Shinji's mind was screaming. He could feel his murderous insanity begin to slowly drain away from him as he loosened his grip upon her throat. The third child gazed upon the woman beneath him. There was something else there now; something he hadn't seen before. Her hand continued to play upon the side of his skull. Shinji could only barely recognize the feeling it gave him. It was something that he had not felt since he had been a small child. It was comforting in a way, yet at the same time the contact frightened him. Was this love? There was nothing else in this world; nothing but Asuka and himself, yet she had stopped him from his task. "Does that mean she wishes to live, even if it means she would be with me? To exist with me in this world of pain?"

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            Asuka could feel Shinji's grip loosen as she continued to caress his face. Slowly she could feel existence returning to her fully. And moments later the horrible pain of life was with her again. She had left perfection to exist in this place; this painful, torturous reality. She had been given a chance to escape this world as well; yet she had stopped the boy who could have brought this escape about. What was it she had done? She had touched him. The second child gazed into the eyes of the third. She could see the pain in his eyes; they were vying for comfort. His eyes pleaded of something to hold on too; something to hold. "Would it be comforting to him if I was gone? No, if it was he would have killed me." Instead she had given him comfort through her life, instead of through her death. Was it that simple? Had a simple touch provided him enough reason to continue? Was it just a touch?" Asuka was not sure. "Was it more than that? Was it the feeling? Did I show him understanding? Did it express love? Do I love Shinji? Is that why I am here? Is that why I am alive?"

            "What a disgusting feeling."

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Shinji Ikari rolled off of the second child, his rage gone, exhaustion taking it over. He gazed into the sky. He had ended it. He had been raised since the age of five to hate the world, to fear people, to want the dream of perfection that was the human instrumentality project. But he had defied them all. But mostly he had defied his father. And for that he could feel a small measure of happiness.

For the first time Shinji now looked beyond his own thoughts to the actual observation of what was held in the sky. It was enormous and dark, the kind of dark that seemed to envelope your very soul and send chills down your spine. A giant black sphere simply suspended in the atmosphere.

"It's bleeding," Shinji said to himself, not really knowing why he had said it, or having any other way to describe what was going on. It was at this point that consciousness finally left the third child, and he drifted into the blissful slumber brought by fatigue.

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Unknown to Shinji, the "blood" that he had observed was quite different than what he imagined it to be. The tides of the beach he rested upon were slowly drifting farther away; siphoning off back into the air. The LCL was reverting, the primordial soup that had once surrounded the two pilots was now returning to the form of the AT field. The newly reformed fields found themselves floating back up into the atmosphere. They were returning to Lilith's black egg. However the majority of these fields lingered only briefly, for the perfection that had once been inside was now distorted beyond recognition; the inside of the egg had become a veritable hell in and of its own. The AT fields now began to leave the egg once again to search for a new place to exist. The reversal of the process had now left them with only one choice. They would have to restore the bodies that had once held them.

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Shinji Ikari awoke sometime later to the sound of tires riding across pavement. The first thing that he noticed upon his awakening was that he held a red haired German girl in his arms, and for that he was both relieved and frightened. Upon further observation he noticed that he was riding in the back of a large pickup truck with several other confused looking people. Shinji gently laid the sleeping Asuka down and knocked on the window to the truck cab. Upon hearing the noise, the man in the passenger seat opened the back window.

"Oh good, I'm glad you woke up. I was starting to worry a little bit," said the man.

"Where are we?" Shinji asked intently.

"We're just about to Tokyo 3, a lot of the city is still intact, me and the wife here are just going around picking up folks that have returned," he said with a gesturing motion to the woman driving the car.

Shinji nodded, and with his question answered returned to where he had sat with Asuka. Shinji again now looked to the stars. The black egg was still spewing redness out upon the landscape. Shinji watched as one of the glowing red spheres returned to the body of a man strewn beside a car on the highway. The man gasped and sputtered as Shinji observed his feature spring to life once again.

"Driver," Shinji shouted, "A man just woke up over there on the side of the road."

"Oh," responded the woman driving the truck, "Gotcha. I'll turn around."

And with that they stopped and picked the man up. He seemed rather "far away," and Shinji and the other conscious passengers did what they could to get him situated in the truck as they entered the limits of Tokyo 3.

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Deep within the underground geofront, NERV had slowly began to awaken as their AT fields returned to them. Commander Kozo Fuyutski could feel his mind getting  its  bearings strait, and he began to walk around the room, unsure of what had happened to him. He watched as Maya Ibuki and the other technicians slowly began to return as well. Fuyutski suddenly realized what must have happened: "Shinji must have aborted third impact," he thought to himself. Then, after several more minutes, almost the entire staff had returned to life, and the commander began to give orders.

"I want to know what the situation is on the surface as soon as possible. If we have any functioning equipment left try to get an analysis on the damage," he shouted at his team.

One of the newer technicians was the first to answer in return.

"Sir it appears as if much of the area surrounding the city has been destroyed. However the city itself appears to be mostly intact. We also seem to be experiencing an eclipse of some sort, and I'm receiving massive energy readings from the atmosphere."

"What? An eclipse?" Fuyutski knew almost immediately what had happened. Lilith's sphere still hung suspended in the air, eclipsing the sun.

"But why are we receiving life readings from it?" pondered Fuyutski. But soon afterward he answered his own question.

"The souls must be draining from it as we speak."

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When the pickup truck had neared their apartment Shinji stopped the driver. He did his best to support Asuka in his arms, and then carefully carried her up the stairs to toward their home. The door was open, but besides that everything seemed to be intact. He carried her inside and slowly walked to her bedroom. She felt her herself awaken on the way, and managed to look at Shinji as he carried her to her bed. As she observed him, her thoughts drifted back to instrumentality. The last thing she could remember seeing before returning to the earth; the last thing she had observed before returning to life, was Shinji. Asuka had clearly seen the Third child crucified on a cross in the sky. She knew that he had suffered for the world, suffered for her. And with those thoughts she again returned to sleep.

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With Asuka safe in her bed, Shinji sat down on the couch and for the first time thought about himself. He felt different, he couldn't quite describe it, but it was there. "Was it the way she looked into my eyes," he thought, "Or is it deeper than that." Shinji had the feeling that everything in the world had just changed a great deal in a very short time. Although it was unknown to Shinji Ikari as he sat upon his couch, people all over the city were now regaining consciousness. They all suffered from momentary confusion, and then recalled the last thing they had seen. Before they returned they had observed s the image of a boy, young, no older than 14, suffering on the cross. Somehow they knew that that this boy was the reason they had returned, the reason they were now living. And for that they were grateful.

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Back at NERV, things were once again functioning normally, or at least as normal as things could possibly be. Fuyutski had established that humanity was indeed returning to its old state of existence. But there was something that had been picked up by Aoba that was troubling him. They had begun to receive readings from somewhere in Tokyo 3, a new kind of energy pattern that they had never encountered before. Its life signs read as human enough, but its pattern was altogether different. They classified it as pattern Green energy, and that was really all that they could do, that and wait for the rest of humanity to reawaken.

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Soon after Shinji had laid Asuka in her bed, as well as thought for a good while, he too went to his bedroom and collapsed under the covers. Shinji was indeed quickly asleep, though his housemate in the other room was now quite awake. She slowly got up out of bed and walked into the living room. The sky still seemed to be raining blood; raining the red AT fields of humanity. It was at this time that Asuka now noticed that the pain from her arm and other injuries had now subsided. In fact, the wounds had altogether healed.

The second child now walked back to the hallway, but this time instead of returning to her room, she entered Shinji's. Asuka slowly lifted the covers and laid down next to her savior. It was warm and she was soon asleep. She felt safe, and for the most part, happy.