It is almost calligraphy as he rights his name on the board, swift but decorative. He curves the ends of the K, not as much dots the eye as makes a tiny circle, and even ends the last letter with a gentle script tail. When he is done, he turns to the class, golden red eyes flashing as he smiles.
"Hello. My name is Kaworu Nagisa. It is a pleasure to meet you all. Are there any questions?"
The entirety of the class, including Rei, who is sitting in the back, are silent.
"I am also the Fourth Child and I pilot the silver Evangelion."
Every hand goes up.
His vision takes a few moments to clear. The world is fuzzy, for some reason. Distorted. It is like he has been just born, and everything is new. Shapes, sounds, smells paint a picture for him, and the most distinguishing part of the picture is the girl standing over him.
"About time," Asuka says.
Her voice, he can tell, has a hoarseness to it.
"Two days," she responds.
She sits down in the chair next to the bed, arms folded, in the NERV uniform she was wearing on the Over the Rainbow. The uniform itself has seen better days, to.
"They got you out of the Eva, but you were unconscious," she continues, Shinji sitting up to get a better look at her, "You haven't been up for two days. Nagisa's going to be moving in with you and Katsuragi."
He blinks, body still stiff and sore.
"Did we kill the Angel?"
"Yeah. You did."
He turns to her, eyes questioning.
"You…well, Ikari explained you merged with the Eva. It went beyond nuts, and it destroyed the Angel. You're never doing that again, okay?"
He stares at her, blinking, uncomprehending. He almost yelps when she is on the bed, grabbing him by his shirt. For a moment, he could swear he saw tear lines on her cheeks.
"Do you understand," she yells, pitch raising with every word, "You are never doing that again! You put yourself in danger, you put the Eva in danger and you almost got yourself-"
They both turn to the door. Commander Sohryu clears his throat, pushing his glasses up on his nose.
"Asuka, time to go," he says.
"Go home or go to school. You've been here for two days."
She releases Shinji, nodding. The frustration on her face is visible as she slides off the bed and shakily walks out. Sohryu gives her an appraising glance as she leaves, before walking over and slumping down in the chair.
"My daughter's not good with dealing with two things," he says, "Being upstaged and being worried. She's both, right now. Give her a day and she'll calm down."
He hands Shinji a bottle of water, taking a pull from his own.
"By rights, I'm supposed to throw the book at you. Read you the riot act. Asuka beat me to it."
Shinji nods, looking down, hands folded in his lap.
"But I'm not going to," Sohryu continues, "Yeah, you went against orders. Yes, you risked your life in a supremely bone-headed stunt which even the MAGI is hard pressed to find out why it worked. And yes, you upset my girls, and yes Rei is upset about what you did to, she's just better at masking her feelings than Asuka is."
Sohryu sits up, sighing. And reaching out, he squeezes Shinji's shoulder.
"But here's the thing," he says, "You saved my daughters. You saved my crew. You saved my staff. And more importantly than that, you saved the world. Every single human being from this point on is living on time you bought for them. Every last one of them is breathing because you ran at that Angel and told it what to go do with itself. I am never going to understand why the Eva did what it did with you. But it worked."
He stands up, turning Shinji to him and placing his hands on his shoulders.
"We could all die tomorrow, or we could all live to be a hundred. But no matter what, you can never be down about what you've just done. Kid, I can't speak for your father, but right now I am God damned proud of you. And you should be to."
He closes his eyes, ruffling the pilot's hair. He waits for a response, but does not expect one. He read the reports on how he responds, but simply pats him on the shoulder.
"You did good, kid," he says, "Katsuragi will be by in a couple of hours to take you home. Hope you don't mind, but Kaworu's your new room mate. He's odd, but he's a good kid."
He turns, shoving his hands into his pockets, and walks out. Sitting silently for minutes, Shinji finally lets his shoulders shake, eyes clenching shut.
And lets out a choked, shaking,
Pleasant post-coital bliss gives way to reality once more. And once more, Doctor Gendo Ikari stares at the ceiling, even as his partner wraps an arm around his chest, moaning into his ear.
"It's been a long day," she giggles.
"It has," he responds, "It is…disturbing."
She snuggles up close to him. He can see, even in the near darkness, the light reflecting off of her face.
"You mean your son," she says.
He says nothing, nodding.
"You're upset," she says, an edge to her voice, "You're upset that Unit 01 gave him up but won't give up her. Is that it?"
"Well summarized, Doctor Akagi," he says.
She sighs, moving from him. He hears the rustling of clothes, hears her clip on her earrings.
"One of these days you will have to move on," she says, "Believe it or not, as much as I enjoy this, I won't wait out forever. I'll be in touch."
He hears the quick footsteps and the door shutting…no, slamming, actually. He hit a nerve with that. Calling her by her title, condescending to her. He made her upset and angry.
Folding his hands behind his head, Gendo Ikari, third in command of NERV and head of Project E grins.
"Still got it."
Fumbling her keys, Ritsuko Akagi walks up to her front door, muttering to herself how she has to stop doing this. It is easy to give in, she tells herself, but hard to actually grow up and act for herself. It has always been her weakness. Yet another trait she inherited.
She sees the lights out, thanking something for small favors as she slowly, quietly walks in…
And swearing to herself as she turns to the living room couch and the one waiting for her.
"I saw the news," her roommate continues, "I haven't seen something like that in years."
"This is the last place I want to talk about work, and you know that."
Her cat is sitting at her roommate's feet. At some level, she starts to wonder if anyone is going to listen to her, as she walks into the kitchen and begins fishing through leftovers, mainly from meals her assistant cooked for her.
"Unit 01 absorbed its pilot. Only difference is, this time it didn't keep him."
"Him? Oh, right…Ikari's son."
"Who is very little like him, thank God," Ritsuko says, settling on a tupperware full of sesame noodles, picking at them cold, "He just woke up today. I have a new pilot to set up synch tests for, an Evangelion to repair and God knows how much longer until another Angel knocks on my doorstep."
She closes the container, hunger forgotten.
"I went to bat for you again. Sohryu isn't budging."
"He should," her roommate says, "He can't afford to be without me."
Ritsuko slams the refrigerator shut, leaning against it.
"What you did was stupid, petty…and most importantly, it was something that hurt him. He forgives a lot. He's not going to forgive that. I'm going to bed."
The cat rubs against her leg, finally, and with a sigh she walks to her bedroom.
With Doctor Akagi and Doctor Ikari retired for the night (and in her opinion, hopefully for the next day or so since Sempai has gone far too long without sleep) Maya Ibuki is provisionally in charge of Project E. She has a PhD herself, and could insist on being called Doctor Ibuki, but does not want to upstage anyone.
However, these are different circumstances, so she allows herself to use authority to have Lieutenant Aoba carry around supplies while she makes final inspections on the rearmored and repaired Unit 01.
In particular, the long haired lieutenant is carrying around the portable generator for the laptop/scanning system she is using to deep scan Unit 01 for any irregularities. The process takes hours, and thankfully for her keeps him so busy he can't use the time they are alone to flirt with her.
Which also means he will never agree to do this again.
They are now at the head of the Eva, scanning it as she looks over the data, and with a final satisfying snap closes the laptop and looks at it.
"Oh, thank God," Aoba says, "We're done!"
"Yes, we are," Maya says, putting the lap top into her bag, "I'll forward the results to Doctor Akagi. Thank you for the help, Shigeru."
"Anytime," he lies, "So…anything wrong with it? Is it going to eat any more pilots?"
"No," she says, waving off the sarcasm, "Everything checks out. I think it was just responding to outside stimulus, but it does give us a better understanding of Evangelion technology. So, we're good."
She turns to the Eva, folding her arms in a mock schoolmarm manner.
"Isn't that right? You don't have any more surprises for us, do you?"
The two lieutenants allow themselves a light chuckle…
Which promptly turns to screams when Unit 01 turns it head and faces them.
End Episode 1
To be Continued in Neon Genesis Evangelion: Mother Issues