Authors note: I'm so teary eyed. I've actually managed to finish something this large. Anyway, just want to thank everyone who helped pre-read for me throughout the months: Rvy, rgreat, D Flowers bTan, Sessha, RedMage2k, and Srose. Big thanks goes to those who reviewed for my story as well.
Disclaimer: Don't own Eva or its characters. If I did, the ending movies would have been a whole lot different.
"Speaking out loud"
Through the Mind of One
(Two months after the final battle: Misato's new apartment)
Shinji's eyes opened slowly to stare blearily up at the ceiling above him. The first coherent thoughts that ran through his mind was that his body still lay comfortably on the couch where he had fallen asleep several hours ago. The only addition to his state was a blanket that hadn't been there when he fell asleep. 'Rei.' He thought fondly before turning inward.
His face fell to his chest as he once again remembered his frustrating new curse. Sleep, it was frustrating. The reason for his annoyance was obvious; he had slept for the first month and a half after the battle and then had to sleep nearly thirteen hours out of each day. 'Probably shouldn't be complaining, I almost died back there.' He thought with a small shiver.
'No I wouldn't get depressed.' He thought remembering that today was the day that Misato promised she would take him outside to see what had happened since the incident. It was something he had been yearning to do for some time.
"You are awake." Rei's voice drew his eyes to the hallway where her crimson eyes were watching him, dancing with a new inner light.
"Yes." He replied with only a little hesitance.
"I'm glad." Rei said as she silently walked over to the couch. With a light smile, she lay on top of him so that their faces where separated by a bare few centimeters. Her smile widened as she took his hands into hers. Twin burn marks aliened perfectly, each representing the memory of their mutual saving of the other's life. She did this often now that he was awake. To her, it represented the growing bond she felt with him.
"So today is the day?" Shinji asked.
"Yes, Misato should be arriving soon, but until then..." Rei released his hands and wrapped her arms around his waist, pulling herself closer to him, while shifting her head to lay gently against his chest before sighing in contentment.
Her light squeezes were just one more aspect amongst many that Shinji found very pleasant in his new relationship. 'Oh, life just couldn't get any better.' He thought as he absently stroked his right hand lightly through Rei's hair, which elicited a small sigh.
They lay like that for twenty minutes until the front door opened ushering in Misato with her classical black skirt and red jacket. She stopped near the entrance taking in the, by now, familiar scene before her. With a small chuckle, she decided to restart her favorite hobby: teasing Shinji.
"Shinji! I can't leave you alone for a second without you trying to take advantage of Rei!" She said with mock anger.
Shinji's first instinct was to bolt away from the object of the insinuation. This impulse died quickly as he was far too weak, especially since a very delightful weight still rested on top of him. All he could manage was a little bounce that even Rei hardly noticed.
"Misato! I...it isn't what it seems. We weren't doing anything honest..." he stopped speaking as he noticed Misato crouched over, doing a very poor job of holding in her gales of laughter.
"Don't worry Shinji. I don't think you will be able to do such things for another couple of months anyway." She said as she gained some amount of control back.
"Hey, then what did you do that for?" Shinji asked with a little bit of annoyance.
"It was just too fun to resist." Misato said as she walked over and lightly ruffled Shinji's hair to his dismay.
"Do not be concerned, Shinji. It is one of very few things that Misato excels at." Rei said as she shifted to stand up, much to Shinji's disappointment.
"Hey, Rei now no need to get insulting." Misato said with a small frown.
"Revenge, as they say, is a female dog."
'Mental note to self: never piss Rei off in a verbal battle' Misato thought to herself.
"So, are we going to go soon, Misato?" Shinji asked trying to change the subject in hopes of preventing Misato from making a fool of herself... again.
Misato glanced at him for a second before swishing her finger back and forth in front of his face. "Not quite yet. I still have to get out of this first." She said while plucking at her currently weathered skirt. "Plus we have to wait for our guests to arrive."
"Guests? Who else is coming along?"
"Now that would be telling." Misato said with a last wink before strolling away to her room.
Shinji looked up expectantly at Rei. "Do you know who is coming over, Rei?"
Rei simply shrugged her shoulders "No idea." She said before she too left to change out of her school clothes.
"Damn, their early!" Came Misato's voice from somewhere down the hall. Several seconds later, Misato rushed out into the front living room in the middle of trying to get her black mini-skirt back over her head. Being far more extreme then her typical displays of undress, Shinji's mouth quickly fell open.
"Hello, I didn't expect you guys so early. Yes, I should have figured. Come on in." Misato said to whoever was at the door.
Several moments passed by until both Touji and Hikari came strolling into the front living room while Misato rushed back into her room to get ready.
"Hello, Shinji. We've been worried about you. We figured today would be an excellent opportunity to check up on ya since you are going to be heading out and all."
"How did you know I was going out today?" Shinji asked with one eyebrow raised.
"Well, that was really easy as Rei asked us if we would like to come along." Hikari said as she stepped up besides Touji.
Shinji directed his gaze over to the newly revealed Rei in a sky blue sundress. "Hmmm, no idea, huh?" Shinji said before his eyes widened as the image of loveliness before him.
Rei only smiled mischievously. "I thought you may enjoy the additional company." She responded in a relaxed tone.
Unable to keep his disappointed face under Rei's light crystal clear laughter, Shinji broke down to join her with a small laugh of his own.
Touji looked from one to the other, taking in the slight rosy hue that slowly developed on Rei's cheeks. A small smile of his own formed before he walked forward to grab Shinji around the neck. "Why you little rascal, you've already had her haven't you?" A sharp slap punctuated his statement as Hikari appeared behind him with her temple throbbing angrily. Touji took one look at her before laughing again and immediately letting go of Shinji. "But really, I'm happy for both of you. I kind of figured you two would be good for each other." He said sincerely to both of them. His words also had a calming effect on Hikari as she lowered her fist that had remained ready just in case her boyfriend decided to continue his vulgar behavior.
"Thanks, Touji." Shinji said looking away in embarrassment.
"Ok everyone, I'm finally ready. Lets..." Misato stopped mid-sentence as she noticed Shinji's flustered face and the nice red tint still growing on Rei's cheeks. Smiling, Misato opened her mouth to comment when Rei raised her eyes to stare intently at her, almost daring her to try. Remembering her previous experiences dealing with Rei, she thought it wise to perhaps drop the subject, well... at least until she could get Shinji by himself and then she could torture him mercilessly with all the new dirt she had been gathering recently.
"So let's get going." Touji finished for Misato as he walked over to help Shinji stand. Rei gathered up Shinji's other arm to help him navigate to the car as well.
As they approached Misato's car, Hikari's face grew an impish grin as she grabbed ahold of Touji's arm forcing him to let go of Shinji and started to drag him insistently towards the back seat. Seeing where she was heading, Touji chuckled once before stopping her progress. "Now you don't think I would separate the two new love birds do you?" He said with a genuine grin. Hikari pouted for a second before shrugging and walking around to the other side of the car. Touji very ostentatiously opened the back door while sweeping his arm around to invite Shinji and Rei to enter.
Shinji stared bashfully at the offering before Rei took the initiative to help him enter. On the other side of the car, Hikari noticed something that could cause a problem. "Hey! There is only enough room back here for two people." She complained.
Misato looked worried for a second wondering whether it was a bad idea to have invited the two additional people to come when she noticed a devilish smile start to spread on Touji's face. "I don't see any problem." He stated, as he looked her directly in the eye. For a second, Hikari looked confused until Touji directed his eyes towards the front passenger seat.
"Oh." She said as her face started to blush.
Misato thought it a bad idea at first, but after taking in Hikari's joyous continence and her quick movements to join Touji, she decided to let them be. 'Besides, all the cops know better then to try and pull me over.' She thought to herself with relish.
(On the road)
Shinji stared sadly out of his window as the group drove along one of the less traveled roads. Although not their main target, the JSSDF had demolished much of Tokyo 3. 'It's such a shame.' He thought as he noticed debris ranging from small pebbles to large boulders along the side of the street. During the time he had been out of action, the city had done a good job of removing much of it yet more still remained to be cleared.
Not wanting to think about it, Shinji turned his attention to the front of the car where Hikari sat on Touji's lap with his arms held lightly around her waist, she wore a small satisfied smile on her lips as her unfocused eyes stared out the window.
Turning his attention down from them, his eyes landed on the girl next to him. The girl he had recently found that he actually...loved. She wore a solemn expression as she looked out at the wreckage. An odd feeling started to twist in Shinji's abdomen at her tiny frown. He just didn't like seeing her unhappy. Slowly and deliberately, he took his right hand from his lap to gently place it upon Rei's down turned hand next to him.
She looked around at the unexpected touch. Seeing Shinji's hand now covering her's, she slowly smiled up at him while moving her hand around so that they could hold each other's hand.
Still smiling at Rei, Shinji happened to glance just past her to see several run down buildings. Shifting his gaze forward he saw Asuka's apartment coming up. He really wanted to see her again. She hadn't been by to visit during a time when he was awake so he wanted to know what she had been up to.
His smile faded as he realized that they had just past the building. 'What the...' "Hey Misato, I thought we were going to check up on Asuka today."
Misato looked back at him in confusion before realizing which building they had just went by. "Oh, I forgot you didn't know."
"Asuka moved out of her old apartment."
"She did? Where did she move to?"
"Now that will be a surprise." Misato answered with another of her small secretive winks.
Indeed, Shinji was very surprised as they pulled up to a very large expensive looking mansion.
"Misato, why are we stopping here?" Shinji asked.
"This is where Asuka lives now." She replied with a knowing grin.
"Ya, didn't you know that, Shinji?" Hikari asked as her mind managed to reorient on the conversation.
"Umm... No? How could she afford something like this?"
"Well, it has been well past her punishment of a month, I just kept my word and let her live someplace bigger."
Shinji sat gawking at her and the giant mansion in front of him. "You put her up in that?!"
"No, we just opted for the servants."
"But... but how?"
"A couple of weeks after the battle, Asuka started doing advertisements. She is now something of a celebrity." Shrugging her shoulders, Misato continued. "Who could have known that she had a minor in both acting and business?"
With that they pulled into the long driveway and up into a spare parking spot off to the side. "Ok, everyone out." Misato said as she put her own words into action.
Everyone else clamored out of the car to follow Misato as she made her way to the front door. It took several minutes after ringing the doorbell before the door opened. There stood a butler. After taking a good look at the people before him, the butler held his head up in a very snobbish fashion. "May I help you?"
"Yes, we're here to see Asuka."
"Madam is currently indisposed. You may come back at another time." With that, he tried to close the door. He didn't get very far before he found the door stuck open. Looking down he noticed a foot lodged firmly at the base of the door, the foot belonging to one Misato Katsuragi who wore a very condescending expression.
"I believe that if you check, you'll find that Ms. Soryu is actually expecting us. As such, I would expect you to inform her of our arrival before you find yourself out of a job." Misato said all of this in a very nice manner, nice for someone staring holes straight through you anyway.
"Hummff." The butler's reply came as a small sneer of contempt spread across his face. He then waved them in and began to walk toward the back of the mansion.
The only thought going through Shinji's mind was that this place was big. They must have pasted at least a dozen rooms decorated with lavish furniture and expensive looking paintings. He also could swear that he had noticed at least three kitchens along the way. He had no clue as to why someone would need so many, but he figured it was on the off chance that an army decided to pay a social call.
His amazement magnified ten full as they exited from the back to find a very ostentatious Olympic sized swimming pool. On the side closest to them, they found the very person that they had come to see. Asuka was lounging on a reclining chair in a two-piece black bathing suit while talking on the phone.
The butler raised an arm to stop them as he continued to Asuka's side awaiting the discussion's end. Standing only a couple of feet behind Asuka, the group was privy to part of the conversation.
"So you want to make a movie about the events around here? Now who are you with again? Gainax? I've never heard of them. How much are you willing to pay? Only three million for the whole thing? Try three million per month. Yes, you heard me right. That would go for everyone else involved including the other pilots... You and I both know that you will still make a killing off it. Everyone and their dog will want to see it and if you do a halfway decent job, they will probably come back to see it again. Is that so? Well, I have Spielberg willing to make the picture too. I'm sure he won't be so stingy." With that, she flipped the phone over, hanging up on the other party before they could reply.
Seeing that Asuka was now off the phone, the butler leaned down to whisper in her ear. Smiling, Asuka stood and walked over to the awaiting group.
"Hey guys. What took you so long? I've been waiting for awhile." Asuka said with sultry smile directed at Shinji, this coupled with her very tight bathing suit, would turn practically any guy into a puddle. It didn't have quite the intended result as Shinji's main attention continue to wander to the blue haired beauty at his side from the corner of his eye.
"Don't blame us; the butler decided that we were too low to grace your presence. It only took a ... little persuasion to get him to reconsider." Misato said with her own mischievous smile.
"Oh, don't mind James." Asuka said slightly disappointed by Shinji's lack of attention. "He can be a but-head at times about the lower class, but he really does a good job." By the time Asuka finished, James had made himself scarce, which seemed to amuse everyone present.
"So Asuka... what made you decide to live in a place like this?" Shinji tentatively asked taking his gaze momentarily off of Rei to look around to emphasize the size of everything.
Asuka brought her attention back to Shinji, her smile becoming much brighter seeing that she finally had his attention. "Shinji, it's good to see you up and about again. As to your question, if you want people to see you in a certain way then you have to act and live in kind. Thus if I want people to treat me as the star that I am, I have to live as a star would. Of course, this is only a modest house really..." Asuka lasted only five seconds before breaking down and laughing out loud at the incredulous gazes that where now directed at her. "Really, you guys need to understand a joke when you hear it."
Asuka stopped a moment to stretch her arms well above her head stretching her swimming suit dangerously outward. Touji's eyes were nearly popping out of his skull at the wondrous display now revealed. Hikari was glaring daggers at the back of Touji's head, Rei was showing some sever annoyance and Misato looked curiously at her wondering why Asuka was being so ostentatious. "Anyway..." Asuka started after finishing her stretch covertly looking at Shinji, hope filling her eyes. Her hope turned to despair when she found he hadn't even been looking at her display, his eyes being drawn to Rei once more.
She didn't have too much time to consider the implications before she heard a beeping coming from the stool next to her. "Just a second." She picked up the phone with a little annoyance. "Yes? Represent the banana latheriest cereal brand? That stuff tastes god awful why would I... five million? Yes, I think the taste is beginning to grow on me. Could you hold on a sec." She turned to her friends with an apologetic look. "Sorry guys, but I really have to take this call. It was nice seeing you all. I know you must have a bunch of other things that you need to do so I'll see you later."
With understanding at the shear quantity of money that Asuka was dealing with, every one decided to leave as suggested.
Asuka watched them go through the back door where James quickly appeared to help escort them out of the house. Her brow sunk down in anger for a second. "Damn, she already has you enthralled. Maybe, if I invite you over. I could have James pick you up when that hussy isn't watching and then I'll be the sole object of your attention. You'll be all mine soon enough" She said with a small evil laugh. She then noticed the phone still in her hand. 'But until then...' "Yes, I'm still here. I think we can work things out with this cereal deal."
Misato, leading the group back towards the car, decided to be the first to say what was on everyone's mind. "Asuka isn't going to be hurting for cash for awhile."
"That's no joke. It sounded like she was going to seal a deal worth five million." Touji commented as he once again took the front seat with Hikari not far behind.
"What was that about a movie deal anyway?" Shinji asked
"No clue really. It likely just came up, but it sounds like we might be able to get in on some of the action. That would be a couple of million that I could live with real easy." Misato replied dreamily.
(On the road, again)
Everyone had been relatively quite for some time after leaving the luxurious mansion. The calm was interrupted when Misato's cell phone began to ring.
"Yes, Misato here. No, for the last time you guys won't get your chance. Hell with the higher ups." She said before promptly turning the phone off.
"What was that about, Misato?" Shinji asked.
Misato glanced at him before speaking. "That was the health department at NERV. They have been hounding me to let them examine you."
"That doesn't sound so bad." Shinji commented.
"You don't understand. They want to cut you open to see how you were able to do what you did during the last battle."
"Oh..." Shinji said his face beginning to pale considerably. He quickly stopped thinking about this distressing piece of news when he felt something. He looked down to find that Rei now held his hand. He looked up to see her give him a caring smile.
"Don't worry; we will not let them do anything to you." She said quietly.
He smiled back for a second before a frown began to form. "What about... father?" Shinji asked the last in a low voice with a subtle hint of anger.
Covertly, everyone in the car watched him; gauging his reaction as best they could.
"He is in a prison locked away from anyone he might hurt, right?" Shinji asked.
"Well, not exactly." Misato answered nervously.
"What do you mean not exactly?" He said with his full attention now riveted onto Misato. The look made her feel very self-conscious. "Is he really allowed out there to continue to hurt other people? That can't be allowed."
"I believe that it may be prudent to pay a visit to the commander." Rei said quietly. Shinji quickly shifted his attention towards her, which Rei didn't quite meet.
"Ya, that sounds like a good idea, Rei." Misato replied.
"Misato, would it be alright if you dropped Hikari and me off at the park here." Touji asked while pointing to a small park that they were currently passing.
Misato took the hint when Touji subtly nodded his head towards Shinji to let her know that he thought it best if Shinji saw his father with minimal interference. She nodded once before replying. "Sure." She said as she pulled over.
Shinji opened his window when Touji lightly knocked against it.
"I'm glad to see that you are doing alright, Shinji. Make sure you hang in there, ok?" Touji said giving him a playful hit on the shoulder.
"Sure thing." Shinji replied as he watched his best friend turn to Hikari and gently take her hand as they headed towards a swing set in the distance.
Shinji read the letters on the front of the building twice before turning to Misato. "What does that stand for, Misato?" He asked pointing up to the letters.
"Mental Institute for the Criminally Insane." She replied as she walked past him up the steps. Shinji quickly followed behind to keep up while Rei helped support him from his right side.
In a gentlemanly fashion, Shinji supported himself against the door to hold it open for Rei which set off a few giggles from Misato when she turned to see what was taking the two so long.
Once everyone was in, Misato turned to the counter where a relatively scraggily guard sat eating a chocolate donut. "We're here to see Gendou" she said with only a small frown at the very unprofessional actions the guard made far too public for her taste.
He only glanced in her direction before muttering with his mouth still full "Gendou is in a restricted section. I can't just let anyone go and see him." The guard didn't notice a heavy tick begin to rise on Misato's brow or he may have been a little more agreeable.
Silently Misato whipped out her NERV id badge and shoved it into the guards face. "I think I just might have authorization, don't you?" She said just a little too sweetly.
The guard blinked as he tried to read the writing now directly in front of his face. 'Misato Katsuragi: second in command of NERV.' His eyes grew wide as TV screens before he jumped to his feet to salute the second in command. "Sir... I mean Ma'am. If you'll come this way I'll lead you to patent Gendou Ikari's cell immediately." He said in his most professional scared out of his mind voice that he could.
Misato nodded and waited for him to regain control of his bladder before they moved down the hall and into an elevator. After descending four floors, the elevator stopped to open into another hallway with glass panes lining the opposite wall.
"This is where we hold the more important figures." He said trying to be helpful when he noticed the young boy look around curiously.
"And Gendou is where exactly?" Misato asked while impatiently tapping her foot.
"Yes, of course." The guard said as he sped away along the hall to a pane of glass near the far end. Shinji curiously looked into the room. There he found Gendou in one of the corners with a strap jacket enveloping him. What caught his attention immediately was that Gendou was definitely not in his standard I am mightier then thou position. He was twisting and turning around as if to avoid phantoms that no one else could see. Occasionally he would yell at what appeared to be the top of his lungs. It was difficult to tell with soundproof rooms.
"Wha...what is he screaming?" Shinji asked nervously.
"It seems that every five minutes or so he starts to yell something about 'not again' before ducking into one of the corners. The physiatrists have no idea what is wrong with him. They can only speculate that he became shell shocked when NERV was attacked."
"So, he did get what he deserved." Shinji said in just barely above a whisper.
The only other person to hear him was Rei who had continued her visual directly next to him. Her smile widened noticeable while they all walked out of the building.
(In the car, part three)
"So where do you guys want to head to now?" Misato asked of the other two occupants in the car.
For a long time, every one remained silent. Misato was about to suggest returning to the apartment when Rei spoke up. "Could you drop us off at the school, Misato?"
Misato glanced at Rei before shrugging her shoulders. "Sure, I don't see why not."
"Why do you want to go there, Rei?" Shinji asked curiously, as he looked deeply into her crimson eyes.
"Think of it as... a surprise." She whispered quietly into his ear.
Misato watched as Shinji leaned much of his weight onto Rei while she angled them towards a large clump of trees off to the side of the main school. "I'm happy for you both. If anyone deserves happiness it's you two." She then drove off to keep a lonely beer can company."
"Isn't this that grove that you and Asuka fought in?" Asked Shinji curious as to why Rei would take him here.
"Yes, however, I noticed something else while I was here." She steered Shinji into the clearing while he gave a little shake, nerves at being in this place again.
Rei, however, didn't stop there as she walked directly into the foliage on the opposite side. "Rei? Are you sure this is a good idea?" Shinji asked taking note of the rather dense foliage and his limited ability to maneuver.
"It isn't far." Rei soothed as they soon broke into a second less obvious clearing. This one was far more spectacular then the last. Through the center ran a small stream gently tinkling along with clear crystal water running in it. The soft grass on either side of the brook seeming to tempt them to sit. Taking the opportunity, Rei gently lay Shinji against a smooth rock off to one side then sat herself down to snuggle against him on his right.
Both gazed up as the stars started to reveal themselves into countless specks with a large full moon prominent. Tentatively, Shinji put his arm around Rie while she shifted to lay her head on his shoulder.
Shinji sighed in contentment before speaking again. "Rei? I...I love you."
For a moment, all that Rei did was smile brightly. "I... do too. I love you, Shinji."
Authors notes: There was something I forgot to explain during the last chapter. The actual title of this story isn't arbitrary. It was based off the idea that Shinji could channel the eighteenth angel through his mind thus: 'Through the Mind of One'.
And now, I, your humble waiter for the night, hope you enjoyed your repast and found it to your liking. I am hesitant to speak so, but it is necessary to mention that I am overjoyed to be a waiter here at The pay, however, is negligible at best. So we waiters must rely on tips from our customers. Nothing extravagant really, just please take a moment to press the button on the lower left to review and tell me how I am doing and how you enjoyed your time here. If you did not enjoy yourself, please tell me how I might rectify any problems so that I may better serve you in the future.