The first and seemingly hardest hurdle had been cleared, yet many more would have to be cleared before he would be free. Free, a word that never held much meaning before he arrived in Tokyo 3. Shinji had taken his first steps from the cage surrounding his life.
Free of his father
Free of Eva
Free of Asuka
Free of the expectations
Free of being a burden to everyone
Free of the pain they all caused him
'One of the hardest things in life to gain is freedom. Freedom always comes at a high price. Do the consequences outweigh the rewards? '
" My life seems to revolve around consequences."
'Once you attain this freedom you realize that this isn't actually freedom. There is no absolute freedom except in death. '
"The one true freedom"
'I wish to gain freedom from my father and the pain he caused, yet I would never be free from the memories. The memories of my experiences with Eva would always hunt me. Only those who had directly experienced it could possibly understand. Though not all the memories I had were bad, they overshadowed the good memories. Then there were the nightmares that plagued me every night. I began to understand why the pilots constantly had frequent psychological evaluations. First off, the pilots weren't your average emotionally healthy children to begin with. You had to be pretty screwed up anyway to consider piloting and even more screwed up to want to do it. '
"Kensuke Aida comes to mind"
'He's the resident military nut, hacker, Eva enthusiast, and last but not least all around nerd or geek, depending your definition, of class 2-A I must admit when it comes to getting information, he's one of the best around. Since I've known him, he's gotten more and more obsessed with Nerv and Eva. I had been sure that the battle with the 4th Angel would have changed that. Of course he might change his tune quickly if he actually became a pilot and experienced it firsthand. It's probably really glamorous looking from the outside looking in. Fighting Angels in a large robot to save mankind seems like it will result in fortune, fame, and lots and lots of women.
"Apparently I was not made aware of this or either I must be exempt from it. I've been treated like crap since the first day I arrived. Fortune…hmmm… I live in a modest at best apartment with 2 other people and a penguin. My room is basically a storage closet and the only money I received is from Misato. Yep, I'm just rolling in dough. As for fame, people have heard of me, but they couldn't pick me out of a lineup with a mannequin. I guess I just don't fit the hero model, what ever that is. I'm more of the lone wolf type…I wish. I'm more alone than a loner. When most guys find out I'm a pilot they think its cool, but they don't have a true interest in becoming my friend. Then there are the guys who hate me because I pilot an Eva and think that I must act high and might or even those who think I pilot to attract women. If only they knew the truth. As for women, I don't even have to go into that. I have as much luck with women as rock has of floating. Besides those who work for Nerv, my roommates, Rei, and Hikari, I must be invisible to the opposite sex. I'm sure that there are some who would be enticed by the notion of dating an Eva pilot, but I don't think they would be interested in me. When you think of someone piloting a large robot, I don't think I'm the first person you'll think of. Not that I mind all the time, it's hard enough talking to the women around me. I guess I just don't have that confidence.'
"That brings me to Touji Suzuhara"
'The resident jock and troublemaker of class 2-A. He doesn't seem to have any problem talking to the women around me, especially Asuka. They are like oil and fire, anyone caught in the middle is likely to get burned unless your name happens to be Hikari Horaki. They've been at each other's throats since they first met and Hikari is the only person I know of that can bring their argument down peacefully. By peacefully I mean stroking the pride of Asuka and threatening Touji with some after school punishment.'
'Hikari is the smart, somewhat nerdy disciplinarian of the class. She's the class representative though I'm not sure if she molds herself to be class rep or if that's just the way she is. From what I've heard from Touji and Kensuke, Hikari has been class rep since grade school. She seems to be Asuka's only real friend, though I'm not sure that Asuka ever really opens up to anyone. It's probably more of a one sided friendship with Hikari
I guess these are really the only people I can call friends. I'm not exactly sure where I stand with Asuka or Rei. They both sort of treat me like a hindrance. Maybe they're right, maybe I am just getting in their way and holding them back from their full potential. If only things could have been different. I guess it happens when you start off on the wrong foot. Of course my first encounters with each of them were not very pleasant. It could be the fact as soon as I met them, an Angel attacked. I guess I know realize my life has never been good.'
A thick glaze of moisture covered the mirror as Shinji glanced about the bathroom.
"I guess Misato was right. Bathing does cleanse the soul."
He could only lay back and stare at the ceiling as steam rose from the water in the tub.
"Another unfamiliar ceiling."
The humid water began to soothe out the stress that had been building up as the day wore on, yet the tension that had been building over the years never seemed to be fully released. Just finding a place that didn't recognize him as a pilot was pretty easy. Of all the pilots, he seemed to be the least recognizable even thought he was the only publicly known male pilot. Maybe it was because of his shy attitude that he avoids the spotlight which Asuka would gladly take. Yet then again he didn't stand out like Asuka or Rei. He didn't have flaming red or chilling blue hair, nor did he have the crimson eyes would quickly catch your attention. He looked like your average everyday, normal looking boy. It didn't matter to him; all that mattered now was that he had a place to think. From now on, it was definitely going to get hard. He slipped down further into the water and closed his eyes as the heat lulled his body into a state of clarity and tranquility. His mind could now relax and the flow of memories began seemingly as they always did, but this time was different. This was the first time that the memories were tolerable, even pleasant. Before only memories of the battle would plague him as he relaxed in Misato bathtub. Yet no matter how terrible the memory, it always reminded him that the next day could be his last.
'If it weren't for that large crowd, I don't think I would have gotten away from Section 2. I figure that by tomorrow afternoon they'll be on to me again. 'I knew from the second I left the apartment that a report went in to Nerv to let them know I was on the move.
"Yet they never seem to be around when I need them."
Surprisingly I've never really had trouble losing Section 2 agents on my trail. The first time I ran away, it took them 2 days before they caught up with me. I didn't really think that I'd be able to lose them, but I didn't try to lose them either. I had no intention of leaving anyway that time; I just needed some time to think about things. I was so deep in thought that before I realized it, I was in downtown Tokyo-3. After I realized Section 2 was no longer behind me, I just kept walking. I wondered if they let me go on purpose and that I didn't really mean anything to Commander Ikari. After all I only had one use, but I was still replaceable. Why should Commander Ikari go through the trouble of tracking a replaceable pilot? If I had kept moving instead of camping with Kensuke, they probably never would have found me. I guess I stuck around with Kensuke and let Section 2 pinpoint my location, in order to prove to myself that I at least had a purpose even if it was just to pilot. Section 2 is still a mystery to me. I have no idea what they actually do besides keeping an eye on the pilots. They just somehow stick out in a crowd with their dark suits and dark shades. They even wear them at night. Though I have seen some in plain clothes, but they still give off that same feel as before. It's hard to really describe how it feels when their around. I always get this creepy feeling when their around me. They all seem to have this cold attitude similar to Commander Ikari. I guess they have to show no weakness or emotion if they want to instill fear. Fear is what runs Nerv. People fear the Angels so they have to depend on Nerv to save them. I've got to get out of Tokyo-3, but where to go. Hokkaido or Okinawa sounds good, but can I make it there undetected.'
The warm water began to finally take affect as fatigue began to replace stress as it eased slowly away. Shinji glanced upwards as his eyelids grew heavier and his thoughts of the future grew blurry, leaving one primary thought.
'Another unfamiliar ceiling'
I don't think I've ever had a steady pre-reader since I've been writing. Oh well, the show must go on.
Draft 1 6/26/05 No pre-readers were used or harmed in making of this chapter
Leaving 2-3 chapters
Escaping -1-2 chapters
Wandering 2-3 chapters
Returning 2-3 chapters
(These are subject to change)