See Chapter 1 for disclaimer, 2 for speech/thoughts things.
Chapter 8 (Epilogue): We Will Be Invincible
Early in the morning, out on the rooftop of the apartment complex where the Katsuragi/Ikari/Sohryu residence was located, Shinji Ikari laid out on its flat surface thinking over the past two weeks since the last battle.
'Feels nice out here today,' he thought as a breeze went by. He hadn't gotten a peaceful break like this in some time, and he wanted to enjoy it while it lasted. 'So much has happened…'
About two weeks ago, Sub-Commander Fuyutski released the "doctored" report to the U.N. regarding NERV and SEELE's plans. But seeing as the committee was destroyed by their own machinations, Commander Ikari would be the only one to put the blame on.
'Not like anyone at NERV would've had it differently,' Shinji thought. He still wasn't sure whether to feel sorry for his father or hate him, knowing his reasons for wanting Instrumentality. The Third Child had declined to testify against the Commander, not really wanting to get involved in the whole mess of the trial. 'Already too much against him to matter anyway,' Shinji thought. The thought that the man responsible for much of his pain would be locked up for a very long time both saddened the boy and made him feel somewhat vindicated.
Concerning the future of NERV, most of its employees had either transferred to the JSSDF or simply left entirely. The former had included Dr. Akagi, who had wanted to work on dismantling the EVAs and disposing of the First and Second Angels. Maya had followed her, wanting to continue working with her "sempai". Being part of the latter, Shigeru and Makoto both also parted with the rest of NERV, both having seen enough of the organization. Fuyutski had mentioned something about "going back to where he was before Gendo found him", as he had put it.
'And as for Misato…' Shinji's thought trailed off. After he had been released from the hospital, she had ordered him to give her an explanation about his two "coincidental" trips to NERV in time for battles…
****Five days after the attack...*****
Shinji and Misato sat at the kitchen table, the violet-haired woman awaiting an explanation. Shinji had been anticipating this since he'd awoken after the battle. Misato would be needing a good explanation, and he couldn't very well lie to her. 'She deserves to know as much as Asuka did,' he thought.
Sighing, Shinji began to over the details, much like he'd done with Asuka several days before. Hearing about the many secrets even she hadn't seen yet, Misato had held herself back from getting hammered more than a few times. 'No, I need to be sober for the rest of this,' she'd thought regularly during the story.
When all had been said, the two sat silently at the table for an hour before the heavy silence was broken. "Alright, Shinji," Misato began, "that was pretty out there…but I don't really see why it's not possible, considering what NERV's been up to in private." Standing and walking over to the coffee pot, she continued. "So have you told anyone else?"
"Yeah. I told Asuka about a week ago," Shinji answered. "And Rei knew a good bit of it from the start, I think. She was a part of more than a few of the Commander's larger plans."
"Yeah…is that it?" Misato asked while fixing a mug of coffee. Shinji nodded. "Good, not exactly the best idea to have things like that be common knowledge." Seating herself back in her chair, Misato took a long look at the boy sitting across from her. "You've done some very brave things, Shinji. Braver than most people would've done," she explained. "I just want you to know that…I'm proud of you."
"T…thanks, Misato," Shinji said, giving her a genuine smile. "But there was this one other thing I'd like to ask of you…"
"Oh? What's that?" Misato questioned in-between sips.
"Uh…do you remember the morning after the 15th Angel?" Shinji asked nervously.
Misato gave him a strange look. "Yeah, what about it?" she asked.
"Do you remember where I stayed?" Shinji asked, beginning to show a blush.
"Yeah…in Asuka's room," she answered.
Swallowing, Shinji continued. "I don't suppose then you'd…mind if I did that regularly?" he asked, lowering his head, which was nearly red all over.
Misato's eyes went wide and she nearly choked on her coffee. After taking a second to absorb his question, she understood what he had meant. 'Ah…almost got the wrong idea again,' she thought, wanting to laugh at herself. Seeing the opportunity to tease the boy, she pressed on the offensive. "Oh, does little Shinji want to do something naughty with his girlfriend?" she asked in a straight face with only the slightest hint of humor in her voice.
Shinji jumped and nearly fell out of his chair. Calming himself, he tried to hide the red on his face, but it was far too late for that. "N-no…it's not l-like that, Misato!" he stammered.
"Oh? Are you sure?" Misato continued to tease. "No ropes or lingerie or cameras or…"
Shinji had nearly passed out already from hearing his guardian's assumptions. "No!" he shouted and slammed his palms into the table.
Misato looked him straight in the face with her best serious expression…for about twenty seconds. Finally cracking a smile, she nearly laughed herself out of breath from the look on Shinji's face. Shinji just sat with a rather pissed look on his face until Misato managed to calm herself and speak evenly again. "Oh God, the look on your face…priceless," she got out between giggles.
"Misato, that really wasn't funny…" Shinji said flatly.
"I seem to remember someone waking up and having fun like that with a certain redhead, right?" Misato asked, knowing she had him cornered.
Shinji broke out in a small laugh at the memory of his teasing of Asuka when he woke up after the 12th Angel. "Yeah…I guess I had that coming," he said. "But you know what I meant in the first place."
"Yeah, I know," Misato said. "I just couldn't resist." Taking a deep breath, she became serious. "So, you two would like to share sleeping space, huh?"
Shinji's face reddened a little, but nowhere near as it had been several minutes before. "Uh-huh, we had a little talk while in the hospital. We…just want to be close to one another," he explained. "And I want you to know that not one wrong thought was in my head."
"Heh, no need to tell me," Misato said, "I know you're a good young man. Not like you'd get away with anything with her anyway…"
"Ugh…Misato…" Shinji sighed, smacking his forehead.
"Well, it's true!" Misato protested. "Hmm…I guess I could trust you two," she said. "But if I end up hearing one odd sound…"
Shinji groaned in frustration and hit his head against the table. "I wish you'd quit that…" he mused.
"Okay, I'm done," Misato said with a sly smile. "I agree to it, but don't go and make any of those suspicions true…" she finished, getting up and heading for her room…
*****End of flashback*****
'God, I never thought she'd quit that damned teasing,' Shinji thought, 'at least I got through the important stuff without breaking down.' The next day, Misato had turned in her NERV ID card and washed her hands of the whole organization. 'I guess with all of the Angels defeated, she feels like her revenge against them has been finished,' he thought. She'd told him and Asuka that she'd still keep them in her custody, already considering them her children in a way. Those words had made both children smile happily. 'Nowhere else I'd rather be living,' Shinji mused.
Thinking about the major made Shinji remember an odd occurrence four days ago. He had been home by himself, Asuka and Misato having gone out shopping, when the doorbell had rang. When he opened the door, a letter was neatly placed on the outside, and no one was around. Picking up the letter, Shinji began to read…
'Shinji, I'm having this note dropped off discreetly so I can tell you that I'm fine and alive. I heard about SEELE and the battle with the EVA series. I haven't seen for myself, but I'll bet you and Asuka gave 'em hell, huh? Anyway, I can't return to the city just yet, still have a few things left to work out. Might be another month, maybe two at most. Just keep it a secret until then, alright? Good. See you then, Mr. Ikari.' The letter had the handwriting and signature of Kaji Ryoji.
Shinji had felt a wave of relief come over him after reading the letter, knowing that Kaji was alright and would be back eventually. 'Heh, can't wait to see Misato's face when he gets back,' Shinji thought, holding back a small laugh.
The Horaki, Suzuhara, and Aida families had come back to Tokyo-3 only three days after the attack. The three children had been relieved to hear that their friends had survived it. However, when they first visited the pilots' hospital room, they'd managed to catch the Second and Third Children in the middle of a rather serious liplock. Hikari had just shoved the other two out of the room, while Toji had been cheering for Shinji and Kensuke was trying to film it. Both Shinji and Asuka had sat down with them and explained the situation. While the two boys had been reluctant to congratulate them, Hikari's not-too-subtle glares had changed their minds. 'It'll still take time for them to get used to being friendly with Asuka,' Shinji thought, 'and it'll take her just as long.'
His mind turning to the redhead, Shinji began to smiled widely. At the moment, Asuka was in the apartment, showering and dressing for the day. 'At least we're on even terms now,' he thought, remembering what she'd said shortly after he woke up in the hospital. 'She loves me…and that's really all I need,' he mused, feeling light-headed. The last two weeks, they still acted the same towards one another in most public places, like school. But alone on the streets or at home, they held hands and enjoyed each other's company. And of course, falling asleep in each other's arms.
And then, there was Rei. The First Child had, in the last couple of weeks, taken a few key steps towards living a normal life like any other teenage girl. 'With a little help from Asuka and me,' Shinji thought, remembering a shopping trip he'd gone on with the two. It had lasted several hours, Rei not really being familiar with clothes-shopping. 'At least she had good help,' he thought. He'd noticed that Asuka and Rei had started to try and get along better since the attack. 'Maybe miracles do happen,' Shinji thought, remembering something he'd thought when the two girls first met before the 7th Angel. Rei herself was now doing better about being a normal girl, although that would take some time. 'Now if I could only convince her to move out of that apartment of hers,' Shinji thought, 'at least she said she'd think about it.'
Shinji sat up and looked out at the city. Slowly, Tokyo-3 was picking up the pieces and rebuilding what few structures had been damaged in the attack. 'And now, it won't have to worry about another Angel attacking,' he thought.
Then he frowned, thinking of the only thing he wasn't sure at the moment. 'I still haven't seen Kaworu since before the battle,' he thought, wishing he knew of his friend's whereabouts.
Just then, a voice sounded and Shinji felt his hair stand on end. "It is so nice of you to worry about me," the voice said.
Turning around, Shinji caught sight of the familiar white robe and face of Kaworu Nagisa. "Y-you're okay?" he managed to say, standing up and walking over to the ethereal form of the Fifth Child.
"Yes, I am quite alright now," Kaworu said, "I simply needed time to heal my wounds."
Sighing in relief, Shinji leaned up against the railing next to Kaworu. "I'm just glad to know you're okay…" he said. "Does this mean you finished your task?"
Kaworu nodded. "Azrael has become nothing more than dust in the wind. I would have rather not fought him at all, but it could not be helped…" he explained.
"I understand," Shinji said sadly, "I still wish I hadn't had to…"
Shaking his head, Kaworu spoke, "Now now, there is no need to bring that up again. As far as I am concerned, this all came out for the better, even if I do not have a physical form." Turning back to Shinji, he continued. "There is nothing that you should regret," he said.
"I know…but I still feel bad about it," Shinji said, hanging his head.
"But thanks to you, I have found friendship," Kaworu said, "and that is a fair trade-off, I say." Sighing, he turned his gaze back over the morning horizon. "I only wish I could stay," he said.
"Huh?" Shinji asked, turning to the other.
"I am afraid my time has come to and end on this plane," Kaworu explained. "I wanted to stop and see how you were doing before leaving. But before that…" he trailed off, removing the white robe and revealing the familiar Tokyo-3 school uniform he wore when he first met Shinji. "I thought I should finally remove the last of my guise as Nephilim. I am Kaworu Nagisa once more," he said.
"Now that's someone I haven't seen in a while," Shinji said, smiling. "You've really got to leave?" he asked.
Nodding, Kaworu explained, "Yes, the Creator has told me that I can return to the heavens, my job here completed. I wish I could stay with you all, but that cannot happen."
A silence fell over the two for several moments. "I…understand," Shinji finally said, some tears forming in his eyes.
"I am glad," Kaworu said with a smile. "How have you been since I last saw you?" he ventured.
Leaning back against the rail again, Shinji answered, "Ah, life's been…good to me recently." Turning back around, he propped his back against the railing. "For once, I'm genuinely happy," he said.
"What about your wounds?" Kaworu asked. "You took a Lance copy in each shoulder…"
Shinji idly put a hand on the spot where the bandages were under his shirt, which hid two small round scars on his right shoulder. Another set was on his left, slightly lower than the right set. "Yeah, hurt for a while, but it was preferable to her being hit by them," he said. "Are they permanent marks?"
"I am afraid so…" Kaworu answered. Noticing Shinji's smile, he gave the boy a puzzled look. "You seem as though you are happy about that…" he mused.
"In a way, yes," Shinji said. "I'm…going to consider these a reminder."
"Of what?" Kaworu questioned.
"Of how far I'd go for Asuka," Shinji finished, "of what I'd do to protect her. Like a medal."
"I do not believe you need physical proof for that," Kaworu said. "And I see you and Miss Sohryu have become quite fond of each other's company."
"Yeah, we've…reached an understanding. For the better, I think," Shinji said.
"And I am happy for the both of you," Kaworu said. "You both deserve happiness more than any other Lilim I have ever known."
"Thanks, Kaworu," Shinji said. "You know, I-" he was cut off by the sound of a door opening.
Asuka walked out onto the roof, dressed in her yellow sundress and drying her hair with a towel. A small set of bandages could be also be seen, still wrapped on a spot near her left shoulder. "Hey Shinji, you didn't get your good-morn-" she stopped in mid-sentence, seeing the gray-haired ethereal figure next to Shinji. "What the…what…" she stammered, her eyes wide.
Shinji walked over to the shocked redhead, placing his hands on her shoulders. "Asuka, it's okay," he repeated several times before she looked back at him. "I guess I should introduce you two," he said. "Asuka, this is Kaworu Nagisa," he said, motioning to the other boy's form.
"Pleased to meet you, Miss Sohryu," Kaworu said, bowing. "I have heard a lot about you from Shinji."
"Uh…same here," Asuka said, finally understanding. "He told me a lot about you…and what you've done for him," she said, extending a hand.
"Ah, that will not work, I am afraid," Kaworu said, passing his hand through hers, "not without a physical body, anyway. And I did it for you and the rest of humanity, as well. Not to mention my own grief…"
"It's nice to meet you, though," Asuka said, wrapping the towel around her head. "And call me Asuka."
"As it is for me, Asuka," Kaworu said. "I only wish I could stay with you both…"
"Whaddya mean?" Asuka questioned.
"I must be returning to the heavens now that Azrael has been defeated and Third Impact averted," Kaworu explained, "and I came by to tell Shinji I was leaving."
"Shame you've got to go," Asuka said, "I haven't really thanked you enough for what you've done."
"No, no," Kaworu said, shaking his head, "I only gave Shinji a choice. It was up to him to answer it. And I am glad he made the correct choice."
"And you've taught me something else, Kaworu," Shinji spoke up.
"What is that?" Kaworu asked.
"Well," Shinji started, "after what you've told me about things that would be happening, I've decided that I'll look only to the present. I have enough in it to be content. I'll try to take whatever tomorrow throws at me as long as I have that thought."
Both Asuka and Kaworu looked at Shinji after the boy's short-but-deep speech. "Very well put, Shinji." Kaworu said.
"You must have been thinking that over for a while," Asuka said, taking ahold of his left hand. "And I think that as long as I have him, I'm fine," Asuka said.
Shinji gave her hand a small squeeze and turned back to Kaworu. "Well then, I guess this…is goodbye," he said.
"Do not worry, we will meet again," Kaworu said. "When it is your time…I will be waiting for you both."
"Before you go," Shinji said, "could I ask you for one last favor?"
"Let me guess…Miss Ikari?" Kaworu said, already knowing what was on Shinji's mind.
Shinji nodded, "Yeah…I just want to know if it's possible to…free her."
Floating above the roof, Kaworu turned back to them. "It is possible for the Creator to free her. And the other two as well," he said.
Asuka looked a bit sad at the mention of her own mother inside Unit-02. 'Mama…looks like you're gonna be free now,' she thought.
"Really? That's great!" Shinji said, feeling elated.
Smiling, Kaworu waved back at the two teens. "You both take care of each other, okay?" he said.
"Oh, don't worry, I'll keep him in line!" Asuka said proudly, smirking all the while.
"You heard the lady," Shinji said, wiping his eyes with his free hand. "Goodbye Kaworu," he said, waving at the boy's disappearing form. Asuka joined him in waving as the form of Kaworu Nagisa vanished from this plane.
Shinji breathed in deeply and turned to Asuka. "I'm going to miss him. He was one of the best friends I've had," he said.
Giving him a quick kiss, Asuka walked back over to the roof's door. "I know…but it's okay, right?" she asked, hoping he wasn't going to be depressed. "C'mon, I've got a nice day planned for us!" she said before going inside.
"Yeah…it's okay," Shinji said, smiling and taking one last look at the sky before heading to the door…
High above, Kaworu watched the two children, along with two other souls.
"I think they will be just fine," Kaworu said. "You will not have to worry."
"Oh, we'll have to," Yui Ikari said.
"It's only natural for mothers to worry," Kyoko Zeppelin Sohryu finished.
"Ah yes, I suppose that is correct," Kaworu said.
"She seems so…happy for a change," Kyoko noted.
"That is because she has been loved and has shown love in return," Kaworu explained, "something she has not done in some time."
"I wish I had been there for her…" Kyoko said.
Yui laid a hand on the other's shoulder. "I say the same about Shinji. But now, I think he'll be alright," she said.
"Yes," Kaworu said, "as far as they is concerned, the words on NERV's emblem hold true for once."
"God's in his heaven…" Kyoko started.
"…all's right with the world," Yui finished.
A/N: Well, that wraps up this fic! Nearly five months later, it finally sees completion. But it feels as though I've done more than that. For a change, I've finished a task I set for myself. And to me, that's a pretty big accomplishment.
For all those reading this, your criticism, reviews, and simply "stopping by to read" have helped me greatly. Your attention to this work has not gone unnoticed, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading this up to now.
On the note of thank-you's, I'd like to extend my deepest gratitude to my dedicated pre-reader, FinalMax. Aside from the usual PR duties, he supplied me with many helpful changes/fixes that made this fic better overall. He's been a damn big help in this endeavor of mine, and I'd like to thank him specially for it.
As for other works from me, I've got a little something up the road, but I have no idea on a release date. Just keep watching for it. Other than that…well, only time will tell.
Pre-read was done by FinalMax…yet again! After all this, I should consider putting him on a payroll…
As of the fourteenth of June in 2010, I have updated all of my fics...AGAIN. Not to worry, it's mostly just small alterations/edits and spelling/grammar fixes.
As usual: good comments will be appreciated, bad ones will be ignored (or kept for firewood). But I do favor good/helpful criticism, so send it my way!
Until next our paths cross,