Red Tears Final Chapter: Shinji's POV
Phase 1/7: Promise
5 June 2015 – Thirty Days after the failed Third Impact
It has been exactly one month since that fateful day in Terminal Dogma. I still have difficulties sleeping, but the nightmares are fading, and the wounds are starting to heal. My hands are still weak and shaky, and as I write this diary, I can tell that my handwritings are clearly not as tidy as before. It is just one of the few things that remind me of what we have been through.
Perhaps spending two weeks in the psychiatry wards wouldn't come as a shock to those closest to me. I, for one, don't find it hard to believe. People will never understand my loss. Now that I look back, the depression that I suffered isn't all that bad. After all, there is once a person who suffered worse. The doctors and nurses think otherwise, and for that reason, I am still being carefully monitored throughout the day. They believe that I am suicidal. Perhaps their decision is justified, because when I looked into the mirror this morning, I could hardly recognise myself anymore. The sunken cheeks and protruding eyes showed that I must not have been eating well.
Misato is right, however. I should stay healthy for myself. There are many times when I saw her crying. Sometimes, she would just break down just by glancing at me. She doesn't know, but I noticed. She gave me this little book yesterday, after I was discharged. She said the diary would help me keep my faith. The cover is very simple, but it reminds me of so much. It is light blue in colour dotted with patches of hearts.
7 June 2015
It has been two days since I returned to Misato's residence. Everything is tidily kept in place. Misato refused to let me do the housework, but she managed well on her own, although Asuka helped a little. She has not recovered from her eye injury yet. There are now five of us living in the apartment, six if you count PenPen. Kaji is now staying in the guest room, while I share mine with Kaworu. I still have difficulties moving around. My legs have been wasted during my stay at the hospital. I now need the aid of a walking stick.
Misato and Kaji were away for the afternoon. I asked if I could go with them, but Misato refused. Perhaps she was still worried that I might lose control, like I did nearly three weeks ago, which then resulted in me being sent to those psychiatrists. I was slightly grateful that Asuka and Kaworu chose to stay behind with me. I didn't want to be alone. Kaworu tried to get me play some music together. I complied, but stopped when one of my cello strings broke. I guess my loyal companion was finally getting old.
When Misato came back, I asked and told her about my concerns. She chose not to answer, but informed me that she would try to get the authorities' permission to let me visit as soon as possible. It probably means I have to finish my medications first, and pass the psychiatry review session afterwards. I am just depressed, not psychotic. I don't understand why they are doing this to me.
30 June 2015
The newspaper headlines caught my eyes today. It was the first time I read the papers since weeks ago. The news was out. SEELE and NERV were both found guilty on attempted genocide. It was also revealed to the public that the Second Impact was deliberately planned, and not triggered by a meteorite hitting the Antarctica. Minute details, such as the key components to Third Impact, are being kept confidential.
I turned on the television later and switched to the news channel. A man by the name of Keel, supposedly the head of SEELE, was sentenced to life in prison, along with the rest of the council. I was slightly surprised when Commander Fuyutsuki appeared on the screen. He took responsibility for NERV's wrongdoings, and was sentenced to serve twenty years in prison. The rest of the NERV employees were not charged, as they were considered to be victims of this conspiracy. I wondered how they could call those section two agents innocent, but then again, it was convenient to shift responsibility and avoid further media attention, least they find a link between the UN and NERV.
I find it ironic that these people live to serve their punishment, while my father escaped his by dying early. The world will never find out about his lesser crimes, as they would have put it. After all, Third Impact involved the safety of the entire world population. Who would care about individual sufferings?
19 July 2015
Maya and Makoto came today. We went to visit Shigeru at the Black Moon Memorial. Supposedly, it houses all the victims who died on Black Moon day, the name used to refer to the tragedy that accompanied the failed Third Impact. For the first time, I was able to walk on my own, without the aid of a walking stick.
The memorial is located at the outskirt of Tokyo-3. Misato was driving. When I looked out of the car window, I couldn't help but noticed how quickly they were rebuilding the city. The rubbles were already cleared, and for a moment people seemed to return to their normal lives. Perhaps I have become bitter, but I feel that the government wants the people to forget that they were never here when Third Impact started. That is probably their motivation behind the reconstruction project. And now everyone thinks the government cares greatly about us.
No one understands anymore, that the Black Moon Memorial would never be there had the UN and our government acted sooner. Kaji told us. He was delayed because Interpol was not willing to take action before SEELE began their move.
Maya and Makoto were teary while we were at Shigeru's grave. Misato looked solemn, but I knew how she felt on the inside. I knew that the scar and guilt inside her would never disappear as long as she lives. I tried hard not to cry, but I guess Maya and Makoto's show of emotions had an impact on me, even though I wept mostly for a different reason.
Ritsuko's body was never found. However, we had erected a statuette for her beside Shigeru's. Kaji, Misato and Maya each has their reasons for mourning her death, but I don't.
28 July 2015
I passed my psychiatry review session today, and I don't need to take any further medications, although they reminded me that I might still need to attend their cognitive behavioural therapy sessions. Misato was especially happy for me, and she brought us all to an expensive Chinese restaurant to celebrate. I was pretty relieved and pleased myself, but amidst the laughter and chatter, I noticed something missing.
I knew she was still there, and that someday I would hopefully learn that my loss was never permanent, but I still felt depressed. The smile on my face was just my attempt to act normal, and to put my friends' worries away. I knew they deserved better than that.
Misato came to me during the night before I went to sleep. From her eyes, I could tell that she understood me very much. I didn't want to ask her, although I was becoming impatient, but in the end, the news she gave me was very welcomed. She told me that on her request, my doctors had notified the hospital authorities about my improved conditions, and that she was confident that I would receive my approval for the visit within a week.
8 August 2015
To think that it was three months ago since she last spoke to me. I was granted a small wish today, as they finally let me see her once again. Her room was quite large, but the metallic equipments and feeding tubes made it seem less spacious. NERV Hospital had now been renamed as Tokyo-3 City Hospital and made open to the public.
I am grateful that they are keeping her away from the other patients, and that her room is heavily guarded by special agents sent from the UN. Misato stood by my side as I sat beside her, least I lost control of my emotions and attacked the medical staffs again. She didn't look much different. Her hair colour and her skin texture have not changed. Her lips are red, as the doctors have replenished her lost blood. Misato informed me that they had performed six operations on her: three to fix her spine, one to mend her elbow and another two to stabilise her damaged S2 Organ.
But she is still unconscious. They do not have the skills and knowledge required to fully repair her S2 Organ, and it is left to heal on its own. Nobody knows how long this will take. There were so much that I wanted to tell her. I tried to talk to her today, but was choked back by the tears. I made a silent promise to myself…
I will wait for you, Rei.
Phase 2/7: Dreams
1 January 2016
Today marks the beginning of a new year. School has been rebuilt and proper lessons start tomorrow. Kensuke, Touji and Hikari have all returned. The later two have even become an item while they were away. Tokyo-3 has now returned to its glorious self, and people are beginning to flood into the city ever since it was announced as the new capital last year. I am still getting used to the pace, but everyone has been really helpful.
Misato is now a teacher in our school. She will be teaching Geography, Mathematics and Science in junior classes. We were sceptical at first, as we thought that she was more suited to be an armed officer, like a policewoman or something. I was quite impressed when she told us that she didn't want to put her life in danger anymore.
Kaji, on the other hand, now operates a small restaurant just twenty-minute walk down the street from our apartment. I had always thought that he was the adventurous type, but after having a short chat with him, I realised how important Misato is to him. He, like Misato, doesn't want to risk his life again.
I guess people do change, and lessons can be learnt. Humans learn to appreciate each other more through difficult experiences. That's how we are created, and that's what makes our time together the more precious.
16 February 2016
It seems that I was not entirely correct about people being able to change. Misato has her own ways of getting the students' attention, but I prefer not to go into details. Today, she made her entrance by doing a 360 degree spin with her car. All the guys went berserk and they were chanting her name as she walked into the school. I'm amazed that the headmaster has not done anything yet, but perhaps people are beginning to show tolerance since the Black Moon Day.
Kensuke seems to be exceptionally enthusiastic in class these days. He told me he had stopped wasting his time day dreaming about being a soldier. I was surprised that the war could have a negative impact on his views on the military business. He said he wanted to put his knowledge to proper use in the future, and that he wanted to pursue a career in computer technology.
However, it was Touji that impressed me the most. He seems to have matured so much, no longer the hot headed brute I once knew. He told me that his sister is well on her way to recovery after the government agreed to cover her expensive medication. I still feel guilty for what happened to her, but Touji kept reassuring me that it was never my fault.
Our friendship remains, but perhaps we all have changed. I kind of miss those days when they would invite me to the arcade after school. Nowadays, Touji spends his time with Hikari and his sister. Kensuke has grown out of video games. I, too, no longer have the interest in that kind of entertainment. The old times will always linger in my mind, but I feel very happy for my friends.
14 March 2016
It's White Day today. I bought a bouquet of roses with the money Misato lent me. She dropped me off the hospital after school, and I spent the rest of the day with Rei.
As I arranged the roses in the vase, I realised that it was the first time I gave her flowers. It wasn't that I never wanted to buy her anything. It's just that we led a very different life from others, and I just never had the chance. I joked that we were a special couple, but she didn't give any reply.
This may look strange to onlookers, but I chatted with her about the recent events, about how the city has changed through these months, and about what Misato, Asuka, Kaworu and everyone else is now doing. There were times when I felt saddened at the realisation that I was the only one laughing, and she was still sleeping, but White Day should be a happy day, so I didn't cry.
As I held her warm hand, I noticed that her hair had grown longer. However, the nurses kept it clean and tidy. They gave Rei a bath every two days. Misato and Asuka came to help sometimes, but I'm not allowed to watch. I stayed with Rei until evening, and when the orange sunlight swept across the room, she looked so beautiful. I bent forward and kissed her on the forehead, and it was then I felt a flicker of movement in her fingers.
I was beyond happy, and I ran to call the doctors. They examined her, and finally told me that it had most likely been my imagination. I left the hospital with mixed feelings.
After dinner, all five of us gathered in the living room for a chat. At first, I simply listened to them talk about what they did during the day. Misato and Kaji went golfing; Asuka and Kaworu went to the amusement park and then to a movie. They must have noticed that I felt isolated, so they asked me to tell them what I did with Rei. I laughed and told them that they would find it boring, but they insisted. So I told them about my chat with Rei. I was grateful that they expressed such interest in my story. At least if they had found it boring, they didn't show it on their faces.
11 April 2016
Makoto and Maya came today to inform us that they are leaving for England. None of us were really too shocked, as we all knew of their ambitions and planning before this. Makoto will be studying law, whereas Maya will be doing her medical degree there. She has been in the medical team caring for Rei since last year, but she said that her contribution is now limited because although Rei is still unconscious, her conditions are now stabilised.
We agreed to hold a farewell party in the coming weekend. Seeing them being active and healthy brought a smile to my face. Makoto has his broken knee replaced by an artificial bone, and is now able to walk normally. There is still a faint scar running vertically on Maya's left cheek, but she seems to be coping well. I guess one can never ask for too much. Sometimes, I can still see the melancholy expression in their eyes when we were all together. The passing of Shigeru will never be forgotten. After all, the trio of bridge bunnies is never complete again.
5 May 2016
Today is the first anniversary of Black Moon Day. The Black Moon Memorial was crowded with people, and we had a two-minute silence to mourn the passing of the victims. We sat beside Shigeru and Ritsuko's monuments and shared our past memories about them. Misato looked cheerful when she told us about her college stories with Ritsuko, but I couldn't be certain if she had completely buried the past.
Ironically, it was today that Asuka removed the bandage on her eye. The healing process had taken longer than we had expected. Nevertheless, it had been confirmed last week that she had fully recovered, but she wanted to wait until today to remove it. She buried the white patch in the grass between Shigeru and Ritsuko, and we applauded her when she announced that it symbolised the end of the past and the beginning of the future.
As usual, I visited Rei in the evening. It has become a routine: I spend Tuesday and Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday with her. It doesn't matter how many times I've done it, I always look forward to these occasions. The memories are still fresh. Sometimes, I would try talking to her; sometimes, I would just sit by her side, watching her breath quietly; sometimes, like today, I couldn't hold back the tears.
Phase 3/7: Life
15 November 2016
It's the end of our school academic year. As expected, Hikari lost her title as the class number one student. Kaworu has the highest marks, and he even received a special award for besting the entire grade ten. Misato looked especially proud of his achievements, as in her opinion, Kaworu's success was down to her good teaching. I seriously doubt it. After all, nearly half of Misato's lessons were made up of silly jokes. I think Kaworu just have the insight and wits the rest of us don't.
Kensuke was third behind Kaworu and Hikari, with Touji at the eleventh place and me at the nineteenth. Asuka was fifth from the bottom. She didn't mind at first, until Touji, to my surprise, started teasing her. They had another verbal fight, which rapidly turned into a corridor chase. Nevertheless, it brought a small smile to my face. I could tell that their mouth-off was good natured. Sometimes, things like this are needed to lift the tension, and remind us what life is all about.
We had an outing during the night. Kaworu was made to pay for the dinner, which he happily did. I remember he once told me that things like wealth and fame were nothing compared to a simple smile. I found myself agreeing with him completely. Tonight is a happy night, because I feel that we are all living as normal teenagers.
However, I guess I can never truly be happy, for joy and laughter remind me of Rei, and what she's missing in life.
25 December 2016
It was Christmas Eve, and we went to visit Rei in the evening. To my pleasant surprise, I was given special permission to take her out for the night. We wrapped her up with thick layers of clothes and sat her on the wheelchair, with her feeding bag attached to a pole. Misato then drove us to the city centre.
Tokyo-3 was decorated with brilliant colours of lights, and cheerful festive music sang in the streets. Everyone was in euphoric mood, and as I wheeled Rei along, Misato and Kaji followed closely behind. Kaworu and the rest had gone to another more crowded part of the area where the countdown would take place. I thought Rei might not like loud noises, so I chose to stay at the quieter part. The people here were mostly grown-ups and couples of the older generations, but the light was very beautiful.
At midnight, I could just faintly hear the distant, joyful shouts and screams from the countdown. Misato and Kaji were engaged in a passionate kiss. I decided to follow their example. I crouched down, bent forward and kissed Rei on her lips. It felt cold initially, but grew warm soon after. When we parted lips, I noticed that her cheeks were flushed red. By now, I am getting used to these little reactions that she gave. It's what keeps the hope alive in me, that one day she will wake up from her sleep.
And then the miracle happened. I felt a light cold touch on my neck. Immediately, I looked up to the sky, and for the first time in nearly twenty years, it was snowing once more. The whitish flakes rained from the black curtain of the sky, as the city exploded in cheers. At least, our Mother Earth is finally healing.
Merry Christmas, Rei-chan…
20 March 2017
Today is another milestone in my life, as a long felt guilt was finally put to rest. Mari studies in a junior high school different from ours, and Touji invited us to his sister's school in the afternoon. She was taking part in the interclass singing contest today, and Touji wanted us to cheer for her. It was lucky that we managed to grab the front row seats.
It was actually the first time I had seen Mari. She looks quite similar to her brother, except that her features are much more feminine. She is quite small for a grade eight student. Her skin is almost as pale as Rei's, and her raven black hair is tied up in two ponytails, much like Hikari's. Although she looked fragile, her singing was very energetic.
She won the second place in the end. Touji was wiping his eyes when he saw her receive her trophy. I was teary myself, and I couldn't look at Mari or Touji in the eyes. Mari's voice was sweet to the ears, and perhaps for that reason, I was reminded of Rei.
Come to think of it, there are so many things that remind me of her…
I find myself touching my right cheek as I write this. The faint scratch marks remind me of that final moment I shared with her inside Terminal Dogma. She gave her all for me, and sometimes I feel that it was my fault that she had to use her Angelic power to save me from my father. She might have suffered a less serious injury had I finished off my father myself…
Life goes on, but scars and memories remain…
17 May 2017
I've finally caught up with the rest of my friends and passed my driving test. I am very eager to show off my skills, but Misato won't let me go out there alone. She insists that she accompanies me every time she let me drive. She said I might have acquired my license, but she wanted to give me her personal driving lesson before she would allow me to drive alone without the presence of other adults.
Asuka and Kaworu didn't get this treatment when they got their license. Part of me thinks this isn't fair, but I guess Misato is just worried. After all, I failed twice before getting lucky on the third test.
Sometimes, I can't help but feel that even though we're not blood related, we live as a family, with Misato and Kaji taking the roles of parents. It certainly warms my heart every time I feel the harmony in this apartment. Although it's a little crowded, with Kaworu still sharing my room, I find it very lively.
26 June 2017
After more than a month of vigorous, tense and very often ridiculous and laughable personal driving lessons from Misato, I'm finally given the permission to drive alone. As planned, Kaworu, Asuka and I went to fetch Rei from the hospital. Like last Christmas, we made sure she was warmly dressed before securing her on the wheelchair with her feeding bag attached. Touji came to meet us later with Hikari, Mari and Kensuke. The four of them shared a car while we travelled in Misato's newly modified Renault.
The beach would have been just a one-hour drive away, but we spent two hours to get there because I promised Misato to go slowly.
During the picnic, I simply sat beside Rei under the sun, watching the rest of them bath in the sea water. I tried to explain the scenery and activities to her, and amidst the bright light, I could just imagine her lips curving upwards. We spent the evening watching the sunset.
Asuka and Kaworu were sitting a fair distance away from us. Touji and Hikari had strolled off and were nowhere in sight. I found out later on our way back that he proposed to her, and that she accepted. Kensuke was forced to help Mari collect her seashells, and it was an amusing sight when she tugged playfully at his curly brown hair.
I had Rei's head leaning onto my shoulder, and as I watched the day pass, I wondered to myself how much longer I have to wait before she returns to me. Everyone has moved on, and yet Rei is still tangled in the past.
21 August 2017
Under Misato's enthusiastic guidance, we had a major clean up in our apartment today. We digged out old rusty objects from all the corners we could find and threw away the unwanted ones. Some old clothes were gathered and donated to the orphanage. We mopped the floor and washed the ceilings, and by the end of the day, everything looks fresh and new.
I was tidying up my room when I found an old card in the drawers. I couldn't remember how it got there, but it was a NERV ID card with a picture of Rei attached to it. It immediately struck a cord inside me, as I stared at the very same child-like face that I see every week in the hospital. Rei really hasn't grown any different. Her facial features remain the same through these two years.
Kaworu walked into the room later and saw me looking at the picture. I tried to hide my emotions but wasn't successful. He then told me a familiar line: crying is not a shameful act when you're doing it for someone you love.
I cut out the picture and keep it in my pocket.
Phase 4/7: Memories
23 April 2018
I received a call from Tokyo-2 this morning. They informed me that Commander Fuyutsuki was in delicate condition, and that he wished to see me. I told Misato about the news, and she agreed to come with me. We booked the train ticket, and will be leaving this coming weekend.
I tried to take a nap this afternoon, but found it very difficult to keep my eyes closed. I couldn't fully understand what I felt on the inside. The feelings were mixed. Perhaps it was guilt, for not visiting the ex-commander once since he went to prison, but then again, I doubt the prison guards would let me see him since they consider him to be extremely dangerous.
The irony is depressing.
Perhaps it was anxiety, for the anticipation on why he would want to see me. I still remember our short conversation three years ago in Terminal Dogma. Maybe he did have certain feelings for my mother, and maybe that's why he wants to speak with me. I'm not too keen on the truth, but I have much sympathy for him for more reasons than one.
I still remember the time when he stopped me from killing my father. Although I blamed him at the time, I now understand why he did so. The guards would have killed me if I had shot my father dead, and perhaps Commander Fuyutsuki didn't let that happen because he knew Rei was simply kept in the prison, not dead. Now that I recall, he didn't seem to be surprised when he saw Rei in the middle of our escape from the NERV prison. He helped us after all, and I'm grateful.
I look forward to meeting him again.
2 May 2018
Reality hurts sometimes. Some people believe that certain things are best kept unknown, even though they're the truth. Perhaps Commander Fuyutsuki is one of those believers.
I went to see him in the morning. Misato came with me but wasn't allowed in. The visiting room was quite small, and there was a guard standing at each corner, with a video camera attached to one end of the ceiling. Commander Fuyutsuki didn't make me wait long, but when he eventually came, all I could feel was a remorseful hollow.
His long grey hair was filthy, and he hadn't shaved for a long time. His eyes lacked the brilliance they once had, and he had to be wheeled in. The bruises on his body told me what he had been through in the prison. Nevertheless, his put on a strong smile when he saw me.
I started by telling him what had happened these years. He seemed very pleased when I told him about Misato and the rest. He said he was happy that everyone was doing well. It was then I mentioned that Rei was still in coma. His attitude changed immediately afterwards, and as he spoke, I began to understand why he had wanted to see me.
He told me that initially, Third Impact was my mother's plan. It was meant to be good natured, until a bad experiment took her life. My father was made in charge afterwards, and he changed the plans to suit his own selfish desire. Commander Fuyutsuki knew his plans all along, but he complied with my father's wishes because he too, wanted to resurrect my mother. He admitted that he knew what my father was doing to Rei, but he didn't want to stop him because he feared that it might result in a premature exclusion of him from my father's plan.
He apologised, but I was bitter. Nevertheless, I asked him if he truly had any love affection towards my mother. He chose not to answer. Instead, he gave me a ring. It was a golden band with a beautiful diamond attached, elegantly centred by a circle of smaller diamond pieces. He told me that it was the family tressure of Ikaris. My mother gave it to him after her marriage with my father. Commander Fuyutsuki wanted me to have it back.
Before he went back to his cell, I asked him if Ikari was truly my surname. It took him a while to reply, but he answered yes. I asked again if he thought my father was despicable. He smiled and replied "only in the eyes of certain people". Just before he disappeared behind the door, I stopped him again. I asked him if he ever had a son, and assuming he did, if he would like to hear his son call him father at least one more time.
I didn't miss the teary eyes, but he replied he had never had a child.
I didn't tell Misato about the minute details of my conversation with Commander Fuyutsuki, as I believe he would have wanted it to be kept secret. I'm not feeling comfortable, to be honest. I guess certain things will always remain a mystery. Regardless, the truth doesn't matter, as I will always be an Ikari. I wrapped the ring in a plastic seal and put it carefully in my bag.
13 May 2018
Third Impact and the Human Instrumentality Project brought more changes to us than we would like to imagine. People's lives are greatly affected, and although I'm now seeing the positive influence it gave to Japan and the rest of the world, a part of me will always be haunted by the past. It plays too big of a role in my life.
I returned to visit my mother's grave today. The place was very isolated and windy. The dusts flew in the air, and there was not a single sign of life within sight, not even a tree or grass. The place simply looked like a vague memory of the past.
As I paid my respect to her, I tried to sort out my own feelings towards her. I didn't succeed. The bigger part of me wanted to believe that she was a kind mother who cared greatly for the people around her; but there was a smaller part which reminded me that the after all, she was the initiator of the whole project. Perhaps it was fate that allowed these events to happen, let me meet the people in my life and made me what I am today. Perhaps my mother was simply part of that fate.
I remember feeling her presence in Unit-01 before, but I guess I'll never find out if that was truly her. The Evangelions were destroyed shortly after Black Moon Day, together with all the documents and records. They are now part of the history, and the truth now rests in graves.
I seem to recall that they buried my father's remains somewhere in that graveyard as well. He was not allowed in the Black Moon Memorial, for obvious reasons. I never attended his funeral, and I never visited him. I don't even know his exact location. There's simply no reason for me to find out.
22 June 2018
Today's news, once again, brought mixed feelings. It wasn't even on the television, neither was it on the front page headlines. It was luck that I happened to notice it at a little corner in the morning newspaper.
Commander Fuyutsuki had passed away due to heart failure. Chairman Keel had hung himself on the same day. They were both classified as war criminals. Nothing else was said about them. By now, I have become used to the government and media's handling of affairs concerning the Human Instrumentality Project. In a way, it created harmony and unity among the civilians. On the other hand, the truth will never be learnt about what role the UN played in the tragedy.
Fifty years from now, the government and UN will be credited for their contribution to the rebuilding projects. No one will remember the small stories behind the Third Impact.
24 June 2018
Two days after I learnt the death of Commander Fuyutsuki, I went to visit Ritsuko and Shigeru at the Black Moon Memorial. The place was kept very tidy, with carefully trimmed bushes and trees and carpet soft grass. It looked more like a garden than a graveyard.
There was no one around when I was there. I sat down beside them and hummed a slow bedtime tune to myself. As I looked up at the sky, I began to see a pattern. It seemed that while I observed the happenings around me, I have forgotten to free myself from the past. As Rei put it, I should keep them in my memory, not my heart.
I don't think I hate Ritsuko anymore. The grudge has disappeared. I still feel guilty for Shigeru, but even Misato has moved on. He gave his life for us to live, to give us a chance to be happy. It's now up to me to treasure the gift he left us. Perhaps it's time for me to move on…
I left the memorial in the evening, with the sunset marking the closing of a chapter in my life.
Farewell, memories of the past…
Phase 5/7: Faith
27 January 2019
A lot of tears were shed today, for two of my closest friends had left. Since we have all finished high school, Asuka decided to further her studies in her home country Germany. She will be studying physics there. Kaworu went with her, and he will be studying philosophy. I asked them if they would consider coming back after obtaining their degrees. Asuka replied she would most likely prefer to stay in Germany, although she told me she would never forget the time we shared here in Tokyo-3.
There was nothing I could do, except asked them to call me and keep in contact. The three of us shared a hug together and Misato took a photo for us.
When I saw their plane took off for a foreign land, I couldn't help but let out a sob. Touji and Kensuke had their arms around me, reminding me that I wasn't alone, but I can't deny that a part of me is now missing. After all, we wrote our story together.
Good luck, Asuka…Good luck, Kaworu…May we meet again in the near future…
18 February 2019
I've now started my tertiary education, along with the rest of my friends. We are enrolled in the new University of Tokyo-3. As expected, Kensuke is doing information technology; Hikari is taking accounting; Touji couldn't earn a place in the medical school, so he ended up doing pharmacy. He told me that his sister had a huge influence on his decision to pursue a career in the health department.
As for me, I'm doing business management. I wasn't keen on continuing my education initially, because I just wanted to be a chef, but Misato insisted that I obtained a degree. She said it was for the sake of my future and that people would respect me more if I owned a university certificate. I guess she was right, but I made her agree to let me start working part time at a restaurant and take cooking lessons.
31 July 2019
Misato was trying to make tea in the kitchen this afternoon, and she accidentally had her hand burnt by the boiling water. Kaji immediately held her hand under the running cold water. The scene was oddly familiar, and for some reasons it stirred up a hollow feeling inside me. I couldn't figure out why, so in the end, I chose not to think about it. Maybe I'm just getting a little too sensitive.
After dinner this evening, Kaji and Misato declared that they are getting married. PenPen and I were the only audience when they made the announcement, so there wasn't much applause. In my opinion, their coming marriage was long overdue. Kaji is now 36 and Misato 34. I had expected them to get married years ago. Needless to say, I was very happy for them. Misato was exceptionally cheerful, and it warmed my heart knowing that she had found her happiness.
Of course, Misato, being Misato, wanted a party held for the celebration. Kaji was hoping that they could get the proper ceremony done before the end of this year, but Misato insisted that they waited until next summer, so that our friends in Europe could make it back here. She even blamed Kaji for not proposing earlier, but I guess since they are already sharing the same room, it doesn't make much of a difference.
It is times like this that makes me feel the absence of Kaworu and Asuka, but at least we still talk through phones, and I'm glad they are doing well in Germany.
6 August 2019
I have just received my results for the first semester exams. I actually did better than I had thought. Two distinctions and three credits weren't bad at all, and I was pretty pleased with myself.
I spent the afternoon watching an old movie from the twentieth century. It was a sad romance that happened on an ocean liner. Unfortunately, the male character didn't survive in the end, but there was much faith in the movie itself. I found myself lying back and staring at the picture on the wall soon afterwards. It was the same picture Misato took at the airport before Asuka and Kaworu left. There were three of us in there…One was missing…
I don't usually visit Rei on Thursdays, but today was one of those exceptions. I simply sat beside her and held her hand. The nurses had just given her a bath, so she smelt pleasant. I tried to talk to her, but couldn't find anything to begin with. So in the end, I just watched her breathe quietly and wondered to myself how I would react when she finally woke up, and how she would react when she realised how many years she had missed.
26 August 2019
We had a small party in the apartment today to celebrate Misato's engagement to Kaji. Touji, Hikari, Kensuke and Mari were all present. Quite a few teachers were invited too, and around fifty other students came. Our little home was really crowded and at times it was very noisy, especially when Misato tuned up the speaker and invited everyone to dance.
I went outside to get some fresh air when the heat became a little unbearable. Touji and Kensuke joined me afterwards. We talked about our complaints in life at first, but our chatters rapidly turned into gossips. It was then I found out that Kensuke has started dating Mari. Touji doesn't seem to have any problems with that, so I'm glad for them, although it reminded me of Rei and made me feel lonely.
Now that everyone has found their partners, I feel left out. The world is never fair, but considering what I went through with Rei, and that she's still lying unconscious on the hospital bed…it really brought a bitter taste to my mouth.
Touji must have noticed it, for he started asking me about Rei. They've never really talked to her before, so there were many questions. I was comfortable in answering them and explaining to them how Rei and I came to understand our feelings for each other. At first, they seemed very eager on the conversation, but after a while, I noticed something else.
They were hesitating, so I asked them if there was something else they wanted to talk about.
Their reply was very unwelcomed, and I found it malicious at the time. Clouded by anger, I broke the glass I was holding and shouted at them. I told them not to be ignorant, and that they would never understand me because they were not down there in Terminal Dogma four years ago. I remember them trying to reason with me, but I ignored them and stormed back into my room.
It was after the party ended that I went out again. I apologised to them, and told them that while I appreciated their concern, I would never abandon or betray Rei as long as I lived. I could see sympathy on their faces, and perhaps respect as well, but they apologised and left soon afterwards.
4 September 2019
It has been more than a week now. Misato had found out about what Touji and Kensuke said. Although she has been caring, I noticed the subtle changes of her expression these days. I really don't want anyone's sympathy. It's as if they have already given up hope that Rei would one day return to us…
However…to be completely honest…I can't even be sure myself anymore…regretfully…I'm simply holding on to what I have, and knowing that Rei is still there brings comfort to me, even though I admit that my hope is fading. It's hard to accept the truth. My heart has never given up, but a certain voice is telling me that my struggle might have been vain right from the beginning.
My doubts scare me, and suddenly I find myself feeling lonely again. I dare not think about the future, because I'm afraid that I might not be able to find the light. Unable to find the courage to speak to Misato about my fears, I called Kaworu at night. I told him of my uncertainties, and the fear that I might give in to other people's beliefs and lose my own determination and faith.
He replied that conscious thoughts and logic could mask a person's real feelings, so he wanted me to act according to my heart. I asked him what he would do if he were me. He said that it was irrelevant because I shouldn't let his or other people's opinions influence my own decision.
What does my heart tell me? I can't imagine a life without her. Although she is unconscious, I feel her presence wherever I go…but…for the first time, I fear that she might never wake up again.
10 September 2019
After days of confusion and struggles to search for my own true feelings, I came to a conclusion today.
I visited Rei in the afternoon. As usual, I sat beside her and held her hand in mine. Her pale face reminded me of the last words she spoke to me. The part where she compared love to obsession was still fresh on my mind. Rei wanted me to find another girl and forget about her. As always, she placed me ahead of herself even in her last moment, and I found myself very touched by her last act to make sure that I could find happiness for myself.
I'm teary at this point. What would Rei have done if I was the one lying on the bed, and she was the one sitting on the chair? I'm sure she would have never lost her faith. She would have kept waiting even if the medical report told her that I would never wake up again. Some may think it's foolish, but I don't. In my opinion, it's an act of having strong beliefs. Rei would have listened to her own feelings and acted accordingly.
She gave her life for me not once, but twice.
I shall do the same in return.
Time has passed, but not my feelings.
I shall keep my faith and wait for you, Rei-chan…
Phase 6/7: Reunion
29 June 2020
More than a year has passed since I last saw Asuka and Kaworu, and it was a heart warming moment when I met them once again at the airport this morning. They haven't changed much, still the same appearance and choice of clothing. Misato gave us a ride back home, and although we have been keeping in contact through phone calls and letters, talking to them in person just feel so much better. Both of them will be staying until mid August, so I'm looking forward to spend a good time with them.
We spent the afternoon relaxing in the living room. Maya and Makoto had returned from England last week, and they joined us in the chatters soon afterwards. I have never travelled outside Japan before, so listening to them telling stories about their experiences in Europe was very interesting. I found myself hoping that I could have the chance to visit there one day.
Misato and Kaji are still busy preparing for their wedding, which will be a little less than two weeks from now. Misato wanted to have a big open party and invite all the teachers and her students. Kaji just wanted to organise a simple dinner party in his small restaurant and invite his business friends, but he gave in to Misato's persuasion in the end. They decided not to go through all the traditional Japanese procedures, but agreed that the ceremony be held at a Shinto shrine.
3 July 2020
Asuka and Kaworu came with me to visit Rei in the afternoon. I didn't do much while we were there, but I went through a lot of feelings as they both took turn talking to her. Sometimes, I feel that they are the ones who truly understand what I'm going through. The smiles on their faces…the patience they show…the spirit they infuse in me…they make me feel grateful, but I can't seem to find the courage to thank them.
We spent two hours there. After that, Asuka left to help Misato with the wedding arrangement. Kaworu and I went to the rooftop. We stayed there in silence for a while. The gentle wind reminded me of Rei's soft touch. I asked Kaworu if he thought I was foolish, and if he thought I was clouded by my blind faith. His reply was the same as the one he gave last year, but this time he added something more.
He said while Rei would have wanted me to move on and be happy, there was always a selfish part that resided in every person, especially when it involved love relationship. He said Rei would have been greatly moved if she knew what I was doing for her.
I guess regardless of the outcome, as long as I'm content with my own beliefs, then it doesn't matter what is right and what is wrong. Kaworu left in the evening before sunset, but I chose to stay with Rei for a little while longer.
I watched as the nurse refilled her feeding bag. She must be a new recruit. She casually asked me how long Rei had been unconscious. I replied five years. I didn't miss her slightly shocked expression. After she left, I kissed Rei on the forehead again, but there was no response from her, not even the little reflexes she would sometimes give. I finally left when Misato came to pick me up afterwards.
9 July 2020
Misato and Kaji are now officially married. It was a grand, but busy day. We were rushing from the minute we woke up. Misato had difficulties sleeping last night, and she ended up waking late this morning. She hastily changed into her wedding kimono and left with Kaji. Kensuke came with his new four wheel drive and gave the rest of us the ride to the shrine.
The Shinto shrine was elegantly built, and there was a sacred feeling to the place. Since people normally prefer to wed in spring and autumn, there weren't many couples there. We were the last group to arrive. We found a spot at one side of the hall and sat down, watching various couples given the blessings from the sanctuary.
Somehow, the scene stirred a longing feeling inside me. I guess the others probably felt the same. From the corner of my eyes, I could see Kaworu and Asuka holding hands. Touji and Hikari, Kensuke and Mari were also doing the same thing. I felt so empty, and somewhat left out. Nevertheless, I fought down the thoughts and tried to enjoy myself. After all, it was Misato's wedding.
Misato had previously insisted that Kaji practise the ceremonial procedures with her. I guess she wanted everything to turn out perfect, but sadly, it didn't happen. The crowd gasped when Misato's hood came loose and fell off. Supposedly, the hood was to hide the bride's horns, so that she would be obedient to her husband after marriage. Perhaps it was just my imagination, but I think I saw a scared look on Kaji's face.
After that, we had a small tea party in the apartment. Neither Misato nor Kaji has any relatives, so only their closest friends were invited.
In the evening, we each changed into our best formal dress and head off for the dinner party. It was held inside a hall in the Imperial Theatre, the city's poshest hotel. The place was very beautiful and the decoration fit the mood perfectly. There were roughly three to four hundred people there, with most of them being Misato's students. The food was served buffet style, but it was very good. I think the wedding must have cost Kaji his entire year of earnings.
Touji, who made a proposal to Hikari more than three years ago, finally announced that they were getting married next spring. I was surprised that it took them this long, but Touji said both of them wanted to make sure their families were financially stabilised first before announcing their marriage. I asked Kaworu jokingly if he would be the next. He simply laughed it off and gave no certain response.
The party went deep into the night. It was an amusing scene when I saw Misato dancing in her kimono. Asuka, Hikari and Mari all joined in the fun, but none of us boys knew how to dance except Kaworu. Misato pulled me onto the stage at one point, and I don't think I'll ever forget the moment when I tripped and fell backwards onto the floor. We took a lot of pictures tonight, and perhaps some day in the future, these pictures will remind us of the happy time we had today.
12 July 2020
For some reasons, I can't seem to find the strength to do any work. There was a feeling I can't describe in words. It's a sense of longing, a feeling of emptiness, a passive view of the future, and perhaps a desire to relive memories of the past. It isn't exactly depression, but I found myself spending hours looking at the ceiling and thinking, and when I woke up from the trance, I couldn't seem to remember what I was thinking about.
I can't be certain why I'm suddenly feeling like this, but I think Misato's wedding somehow contributes to the cause. I tried to play some music to ease the tension, but it didn't help. I spent today's evening lying on the bed, and before I realised, I had taken out my mother's ring and started playing with it. The gold band and the diamonds were beautiful, but I suddenly found myself developing a deep affection towards the little piece of jewellery.
The affection was a very familiar feeling. At first, I couldn't understand why I felt that way. It was later when I opened my wallet and took out Rei's picture that I fully recognised the waves of emotions inside me.
I've thought deep and long, and I've spent five years waiting and searching for my own true feelings. I think I've finally found my answer.
Red Tears Final Phase: Shinji's POV
Phase 7/7: Answer
Five Years and two months after the Third Impact
The musical chirping of the birds resting on the window sill woke me up to the gentle rays of morning sunlight radiating into my otherwise quiet room. Taking a few deep breaths, I cleared my eyes and stepped onto the carpeted floor. My limbs still felt tired, but my heart gave me the spirit and strength I needed. I proceeded into the bathroom and did my routine cleaning. As I looked into the mirror, I realised how much time had eclipsed and how much I had aged. The scar on my right cheek has disappeared, and even I could notice that my blue eyes now housed the angst stemmed from years of leading a hollow life.
I then dressed myself in a thin white shirt and a pair of black jeans. For some reason, I always liked this combination of colour. Some people believed that it lacked the colours and emotions one experienced in life. I found myself partly agreeing with the part about colours, but not the emotions. After all, moments filled with complexity of mixed feelings were what made up my life.
By the time I entered the kitchen, Asuka and Kaworu were already there eating breakfast. With their ruffled hair and pyjamas, I could tell they hadn't done their morning cleaning yet. They had probably acquired the habit through the year living in Germany. I greeted my two companions and opened the fridge, taking out some canned fish and put them on a plate. I then fed them to PenPen, before proceeding to make myself some toasts.
Misato and Kaji had gone out for the day. After a simple breakfast, I left the kitchen and walked to the front door. I put on my shoes and was about to leave when Asuka stopped me.
"Where are you going, Shinji?"
"I'm spending the day with Rei."
"Oh, we'll come with you," She replied, with Kaworu now standing beside her, "Would you mind just wait a little bit? We won't be long till finish."
"I appreciate your effort, but I wish to be alone with her today."
"Shinji-" Asuka was about to say something, but stopped when Kaworu put a hand on her shoulder. He then gave a warm smile.
"Have fun, Shinji."
"Thank you. You two have fun too, and I'll see you later."
The traffic was usually thick on the weekends, so I chose to take my time and walk to the hospital. Couples strolled along the street; a few older people gathered at coffee tables for chess; there were also some younger children running around, free and full of energy, with their parents closely nearby. Moving with my feet didn't seem to be tedious work on a slow day like this, and I quite enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere. The city was no longer the war ravaged battlefield it once was.
The trip to the hospital didn't feel as long as it probably took. When I arrived at the white and sterile looking building, quite a few visitors were already there. Some were in the garden, together with their relatives or friends; others stayed in the wards, simply catching up with each other and chatting about life.
Several nurses were present when I finally made my way to Rei's accommodation. Like usual, I watched quietly as they dressed her up in warm cloths and put her on the wheelchair. As they secured the feeding bag onto the short pole, one of them came to me and said, "We've just given her a bath, but make sure you bring her back before sunset."
"Thank you, and yes I will."
"Good," she smiled, "so where are you taking her?"
"An old place…" I replied, "she likes it there…"
After they were done with the preparation, Rei was handed to me, and I left the hospital with her. It had become a bright day on the outside, and Rei's pale skin might not respond well to the heat, so I placed a straw hat on her head to obscure her face from the sun. She looked to be sleeping peacefully as I wheeled her along. Together, we strolled slowly to the nearest monorail station. I bought two tickets and we boarded the train soon afterwards.
There weren't many people on the train, but Rei and I chose a spot in the cabin designed for the disabled. I was pleased that we were alone there, for I didn't want anyone else to disturb her. I had her wheelchair properly placed so that she was facing towards the window. I then sat down beside her and looked at the scenery outside.
The view changed as we continued our journey. The buildings and vehicles were gradually being replaced by green mountains and vast fields. The sunlight reflected off the window glass and created a serene look to the little room, and not for the first time, I noticed how much Rei looked like an angel. I soon found myself switching my attention from the view outside to the gentle features on her face. Her cheeks were not as fleshy as before, but her long eyelashes still looked silky. Her hair was kept short as always, with the light bluish colour matching her whitish skin.
Time flew as I bathed myself in admiration of her beauty, and before long, the radio communicator announced that we had reached our last stop. I stood up and carefully wheeled Rei out of the cabin. We then stepped off the train onto the solid land outside.
The train station was an isolated building among the agricultural look of the endless farmlands. There was no other public transport here, and people mostly travelled by foot. As we left the station and ventured into this land of natural heritage, I began to recall the times we had been here. The memories were imprinted on a special place in my heart. I carefully observed the familiar landscape, and took the route she had shown me before.
It wasn't long before the small greenish hill came into sight. I took a few deep breaths, the anticipation of what lay beyond revived the hopes and longing inside me. Climbing up the slope wasn't as difficult as I had expected, but I was careful to make sure that Rei was not affected by the ascension. Each step I took gave a new surge of energy to my legs, and when we finally reached the top, I was overwhelmed by the sight with waves of powerful emotions.
The meadow plain had been free from the weaves of time. Everything looked the same as they were five years ago.
"We're here, Rei-chan…"
The wind blew gently as usual, and the grass danced along to welcome two old visitors from the past. The air was light and fresh to the lungs. The cerulean sky radiated a tranquil sensation into the heart of the garden, and the few patches of cloud sailed peacefully along with the flocks of flying birds. The running stream shone as the sunlight reflected off its water.
"Do you still remember this place?" I began walking slowly towards the old apple tree, "Do you remember the first time you brought me here?"
There was no response.
"It hasn't changed, Rei, it hasn't changed a bit. We walked this very same grass before, and drank from that very same river. Do you see that apple tree, Rei? It's still there, standing strong as ever. We used to sit under it, remember?"
Again, she gave no reply. I smiled.
"I still remember, Rei… Perhaps you don't know, because I've never told you how special that moment was to me… Well, I was a little nervous around you back then, but that day, I saw the hidden side of you that made me believe… believe that there is more in you than you would show…"
I took off her hat and put in on her lap. Her feathery hair flickered to the wind as I continue to wheel her along.
"You know, whenever I feel the wind caressing my face, I'm reminded of your touch. They always calm me, and let me know, or make me realise that there's a reason to live no matter the hardship. I wonder if my touch can do the same to you… Perhaps not, Rei, perhaps not… for I do not have the same quality as you… I had so many faults that sometimes I do not understand what you see in me, other than how much I care…"
I found myself chuckling softly at this point.
"But then again, you're never one to complain, are you? I feel very blessed, Rei, knowing how you feel about me. I'm just sorry that deep as it may be, my love pales so much compared to yours. You did so much for me, and I realise that I've never really done anything for you other than make you cry. You're always so forgiving, and yet I… I've forgotten how many times I've let you down, but you've never lost faith in me… And I'm really thankful for that…"
The running noises coming from the stream was soothing and melodious, but I found myself struggling to continue. Nevertheless, I tried to calm myself from the emotions, with the soft caress of the wind seemingly encouraging me to speak.
"Until now, I still don't exactly know when I fell in love with you, but I believe it started here, right here at this place. Your voice, your laughter, your scent… so peaceful and yet seductive… I found myself intrigued. It finally made me understand what it was that I had been feeling, from the very first moment I allowed my instinct to take over and board the Eva for you. And suddenly I was asking myself if it was possible that you felt the same for me…"
Once we reached the apple tree, I disconnected her from the feeding bag, and carefully lifted her off the wheelchair. After that, I sat down beside the tree, with my back leaning against the trunk. I then lay Rei down on my lap, with her head resting lazily on my chest. As I wrapped my arms around her waist, I could feel her stomach rising and falling gently as she breathed.
"Have I ever told you how peaceful you look when you're sleeping? No…I haven't, have I? There's so much more that I want to tell you, and even now, I'm wondering if you can hear me as I speak… I really hope you can, Rei, because I want you to know that there's something worth living for, and that no matter what happened in the past, I will be there…right now and in future…"
As I spoke, a gust of wind had risen. The leaves parted with the apple tree and floated in the air, and suddenly I was reminded of the tears we had shed together.
"What am I talking about…perhaps I don't even have the right to ask you for your faith anymore…perhaps it is because of my recurrent failures to ease your fears and uncertainties that until now you still haven't woke up. I feel sad, Rei, and I'm really disappointed with myself for not being able to bring you any sense of security. I still remember you telling me that you were sorry for being a weak person…no…Rei…no…"
There was a brief moment of silence, as I tried to find my voice again. The fluid that trickled down my cheeks didn't seem to feel foreign anymore.
"I'm the weak person. Even after I made the vow to protect you, in the end, it was you who protected me. It was you who made the sacrifice, and not just once…not just once…you did it twice, and you did it because I was simply not strong enough… I just hope that one day I will be able to thank you properly, but when I thought I could finally show you what it's like to live normal and carefree, you had already fallen into this sleep… and I've been waiting ever since…"
Once again, I found myself choking. Being as gentle as I could, I wiped away the few droplets of clear fluid from her face, and brushed her hair aside so I could see her face clearly.
"I don't even know why I'm crying. After all, what have I ever done? Without you, these years are nothing but shadows. I miss you, Rei, I miss you so much that sometimes I found myself looking over my back and half expecting you to be there, hand extended and smiling… I still dream, about the times we shared in the past, but every time I woke up, all I could feel was an empty hollow, and despair that there was nothing I could do to bring you back…"
I rested her hands on her lap, and then I held those long and delicate fingers in mine as I continued.
"I know you've always felt that you don't deserve anything, that the blossom of our relationship is actually a blessing to you instead of the other way around. Perhaps it was because you never knew how I felt. Your hands…Rei…they are so soft, and to be honest, sometimes I feel that I'm degrading you simply with my presence. I wonder if you still remember that time when we held hands in the NERV prison."
This was followed by another long moment of silence, as I looked at the horizon, trying to find the words and courage to confess. The scenery was so soothing, and for once I managed to calm down from the flood of emotions.
"There was something that I had wanted to tell you, but I had never had the chance. I just wanted you to know, Rei, that even if you hadn't told that you were a pure Angel back then, I would still have loved you. It didn't matter the consequences, or what was right and what was wrong, or what others would think. You knew it all along and you never cared, so why should I? After all, we were living with the Evangelions. I guess what I want to say is, I was willing to cross the boundaries just as you did…"
Drawing a few deep breaths, I reached up and wiped my eyes dry, before bending forward and kissed her on the forehead.
"Perhaps you may call me obsessive, just as you did that time when you thought you were dying. I wonder why you were still so concerned about my happiness when your very own life was slipping. I don't think I could've done the same if I were you, Rei… I'm just not as noble as you. You said you wanted me to find someone else, but I'm afraid, or maybe even glad that it's impossible, because your place in my heart is so big that there simply isn't enough room for anyone else. I thought I gave it all for you, but right now I'm ashamed that at one stage I was even questioning my own faith…"
At this point, I gently sat her up and rested her head on my shoulder. I wrapped an arm around her thin frame, while my other hand slipped into my pocket.
"You may not be able to talk. You may not be able to move. You may not even know what I'm saying right now, but you still live inside my heart. Time has passed but not my feelings, Rei. I've searched far and beyond, and I believe I now have the answer…"
I took out my mother's ring, and with a cracked voice, I asked.
"Will you marry me, Rei-chan?"
I then waited, and waited, and waited… After a long moment of silence, a few droplets of fluid hit her face, but she didn't give any response. My hope faded, and I became devastated by the painful emotions that followed. I lifted my face, unable to look at her anymore, as the tears flowed uncontrollably. I guess in a way, I was expecting a miracle, wishing the show of my faith and the moment of truth would wake her up from her deep slumber. And I guess I was wrong.
It was then I felt something wet trickling on my neck. I glanced down immediately. Two trails of clear fluid were streaming down her face from her eyes.
"You…you're crying…you can hear me…you can hear me, can't you…? You heard me! You must have heard me!" I choked and pulled her into a tight embrace, "You heard all those words that I said! You know how I feel, Rei! Then please wake up…please…come back to me…you're the only reason why I keep on living after all these years, hoping that some day you will return and we will be reunited once more… So please…please…"
My tears eventually soaked her shirt, as I kept on mumbling the same word over and over again, desperately begging for the miracle I was waiting for. The weaves of time seemed to have stopped, as I could no longer feel anything besides the girl I was holding to. My limbs soon became numb, and perhaps my heart as well, as I came to the realisation that after all the tears I shed, Rei was still silent.
"It's alright…it's alright… You don't have to reply today, Rei," I managed to calm down after a while, "My question remains with you, and I will wait for your answer, even if it takes forever…but at the mean time…"
I took out a thin silver chain from my pocket and stringed it through the ring to make it look like a necklace. With my hands still slightly trembling, I ran it around Rei's neck and secured it in place. The elegant piece of jewellery shone beautifully, and it was a fine decoration to Rei's equally elegant and beautiful neck.
"Keep this ring with you, and know that my heart is forever yours…"
We stayed in the same position for the rest of the day, with Rei leaning onto me as I embraced her in my arms. Time passed slowly as I hummed a series of bedtime tunes to myself. Rei simply kept quiet and listened. Soon, the sun went down the horizon, and the field was washed over by the gentle orange light. It gradually grew dark. The flocks of birds flew across the sky, returning to their homes. A chill wind had risen. The once cheerful scenery was replaced by a sad painting, filled with nothing but memories, but a new day would come eventually.
Rei never woke up that day, regardless of how much I had hoped and prayed for a miracle to happen. Reality always came back, and it had never showed compassion for human emotions, but as I promised, I would keep my faith, for I still believed there was something worth searching for down this road, and hopefully when I reached that light one day, I would be able to live once more. There would be no regrets.
One Week Later…
A single ray of sunlight crept in through the narrow slit between the two window curtains, as I lay on my bed with my eyes boring onto the ceiling. The room was dark otherwise, but for some reason, that was the way I wanted it to be. There was an unexplainable awareness to my surroundings. Instead of falling into a sleep as I desired, I found myself blinking and curiously observing the endlessly spinning fan that hung from the ceiling.
Misato and the rest had gone out, and I was left alone in the apartment. There was much to think about, but my mind drew a blank whenever I tried to sort out my feelings. It was getting difficult; I felt restless, and yet passive. The air was becoming heavy and humid, and its warmth remained slightly uncomfortable even though I was dressed only in a thin singlet and a short.
My trance was broken by the sudden ringing of the phone. I tried to sit up, but my heavy legs wouldn't allow me to move. I felt tired, and perhaps unmotivated, even though I had hardly done any work during the day. Unwilling to get up and answer the call in the middle of this lazy afternoon, I rolled to a side and covered my ear with the pillow. The ringing seemed to have been dampened, but it continued for a long while before finally stopping.
I removed the pillow after calming down from the disturbance, but as soon as I did that, the phone started ringing again. I grew frustrated, and slightly annoyed, but this time I forced myself to stand up onto the floor and walked to the living room. Once there, I picked up the still ringing object and answered.
"Hello, Katsuragi residence."
"Hello, may I speak to Ikari Shinji please?"
"This is Shinji speaking. How may I help?"
"Good afternoon, Shinji. I'm calling from the City Hospital, and I believe there is something you should know…"
He continued to speak as I listened quietly. The unexpected deliverance of the news woke me up completely from the afternoon haze, and suddenly, I found myself breathing rapidly. My hand began to tremble from the surging emotions, as I fought down the building lump in my throat. When he finished, there was a long silence before I spoke again.
"W-what did you just say?"
I didn't wait for him to finish this time. Seconds later, I was already out of the apartment, running with all my might towards the hospital.
It was a working day, and the traffic was heavy as usual, but even the noises coming from the motor vehicles could do nothing to disrupt what I felt on the inside. The day was bright and the high temperature brought sweat to my skin, but not even the humidity could dampen the anxiety, and perhaps disbelief or even the gratitude that was slowing overwhelming my heart. Time seemed to be weaving slowly as I ran on, powered by the desire to end all these years of agony.
By the time I arrived at the hospital, the emotions were already threatening to overflow and I had to struggle to keep them down. The sight of the building revitalised me, as I made the last surge up the stairs towards my destination.
I soon reached outside her room, and I was slightly surprised to see Misato, Kaji, Asuka and Kaworu already standing there, concern showing on their faces. The door to her room was locked. I didn't understand why, but now that I was so close, all those powerful feelings began to fade gradually, being replaced by a calm serenity. Suddenly, I felt very peaceful, but even then I could feel something else slowly welling up on the inside.
As I stood there, Misato came and embraced me in a loving hug, "The doctor is examining her at the moment, but I think it should be done very soon…"
Unable to find the words, I simply nodded.
"Oh…Shinji…" Misato continued with a cracked voice, "I…I don't know what to say…"
"It's alright…" I replied after a brief moment of silence, "I understand what you're trying to tell me…"
It was then the door clicked open and the doctor came out, followed by the nurse. He then shut the door as we quickly surrounded them.
"How is she doing?" Misato initiated the question.
The doctor smiled, "She is conscious and alert. I did a full examination, and her heart function is normal. Her lungs are clear, and her memories seem fine, although she is experiencing some difficulties speaking. Her limbs have partially lost their strength, and she will need help feeding, dressing and moving around. That was to be expected after being out for so long, but I am confident that in time, she will make a full recovery."
"How long will that take?" Asuka asked.
"Depending on her determination and the help she receives, I would say probably weeks to months."
"So…is she alright now?" I asked with a trembling voice; I found it hard to believe what was happening, "I mean…apart from what you just mentioned… Is she otherwise fine? Sorry if I sound disrespectful, it's just that I…I…"
I stopped when I felt Kaworu's hand on my shoulder, "It's just that you're still worried, and there's nothing wrong in that."
"Don't worry," The doctor smiled again, "She will do just fine."
His simple reply somehow managed to calm my fears, but the uncertainties were still there, and somehow I failed to find my voice again when I decided to ask the obvious question. So Kaji did it for me, "Well, can we see her now?"
"Yes of course you can. If there's no further question, I'll leave her to you then," The doctor replied before he left us and headed off with the nurse.
This was followed by a long silence. I tried to recompose myself, but I wasn't successful. Once again, I felt something welling up inside my chest, and soon I even began to find breathing a tedious work. My heart beat uncomfortably. The simple door that separated her from me suddenly felt like an enormous obstacle. Perhaps I was still shocked by what had just transpired. Misato and the rest simply stood there, seemingly waiting for me to take the initiation.
Asuka broke the trance after a while when she grunted eagerly and attempted to open the door, but Misato grabbed her hand just before she could. At first, Asuka looked confused, but before she could start questioning, Misato stopped her by shaking her head slowly. She then turned towards me, "Well, I think we should let Shinji have his private moment with her first, everyone alright with that?"
I glanced at her, and then at Kaji, Asuka and Kaworu. They simply smiled and nodded in agreement. It managed to give me some reassurance and help me gather my courage. Putting on a brave smile myself, I turned back to the door as Asuka stepped aside, but just as I was about to open it, I stopped suddenly, with my hand still resting on the doorknob.
"What's wrong, Shinji?" Misato asked.
"I…I don't know…It's just that…" I struggled to continue, "It has been so long… and now that my prayers have been answered, I…I feel that I'm not mentally prepared… I don't know why, Misato…maybe a part of me had already given up hope that this day would eventually come true…"
"If all these years of wait is not enough to prepare you for this, then nothing will," Misato replied, putting her hands on my shoulder, "You've waited long enough for this moment, Shinji, now take the final step and go find your happiness. She's just beyond this door."
Her words triggered the fluid that welled up inside my eyes, "But…I'm afraid…I'm afraid that once I step inside there, I won't be able to hold back the emotions…"
"Then don't," Kaworu stepped forward, "Don't hold them back, because she would have wanted to know how you truly feel. Don't be ashamed of yourself, Shinji. Instead, be proud that you've made it this far."
"I see…but what if…what if she doesn't recognise me?"
"I can't see that happening. You look as young as you were five years ago," Kaji joked, "Unlike Misato here. She's getting wrinkles."
The rest chuckled; I managed a small smile as Misato elbowed him in the ribs, "Keep your mouth shut! We're trying to be sensitive here!" She then turned towards me, "You've come through the toughest tests you could possibly be given. Don't let your fear get you in this last one. We're all here with you, and you have our support. I'm sure she's waiting for you inside there. Now don't keep her waiting, you hear?"
"I won't, Misato… I understand now… Thank you…Thank you all for this…" I was about to turn the doorknob when I stopped again, looking down at my singlet and short, "One final question…do I look presentable?"
"Oh come on," Asuka said impatiently, "It's not like you're meeting her for the first time!"
I replied with another smile and a nod. Taking a few deep breaths, and with my heart threaded on an emotional edge, I turned the doorknob and opened it. Once I stepped inside, I was immediately greeted by a heavenly sight.
The room was tranquil, decorated by the soothing sunshine that cruised past the open window, and the soft wind was a gentle touch to the skin. As I had predicted, I couldn't hold back the emotions when I saw her sitting there on the bed, still dressed in the hospital gown, as she carefully observed the ring that was strung onto her necklace. The innocence of the scene gave her a look of pure angelic beauty. I quickly wiped away a tear before she heard me and looked up. Her eyes widened slightly, and although subtle, the surprised look on her face told me how she was feeling.
I bit my lower lips, an attempt to calm myself, as I took the last few steps towards her with my now shaky legs. Our eyes never left each other. Suddenly, I found myself blinking rapidly; trying to hold back what I believed would be inevitable in the end. I then sat down beside her on the bed.
"Rei…you…you're awake…" I said, trying to put on a smile.
"Sh…Shin…ji…" She tried to reach my face with her trembling hand, but stopped halfway as she struggled with her strength. I quickly took her hand and pressed it gently on my cheek.
"Yes…Yes, Rei, it's me Shinji…"
Her touch was delicate as always, and I could clearly see the longing and empathy in her eyes. "Y…you…look…diff…erent…Has…has it…been…tha…that…long…?"
"Not really, only a little more than five years…" I replied, smiling sincerely. At first, she looked slightly shocked; and then a tear made its way down her cheek. I wiped it away. It was then she grabbed my shirt and slowly pulled me towards her. I complied, and as I put my arms firmly around her, we were reunited once more in a loving embrace.
"A…And…you…you wai…waited…all…all these…years…?"
By then, the barrier I erected to hold back my emotions had collapsed. My tears were flowing uncontrollably, but I made no attempt to stop them, because for some reasons crying just felt like the right thing to do, "Of course…of course I waited…you would've done the same for me…"
She buried her eyes on my shoulder, "Why…?"
"I guess…" I found my own lips curving upwards, "I guess because I was just obsessed…"
Soon, the shirt on my shoulder where her head rested became wet. I brushed her hair affectionately, with my other hand still wrapped around her body, not willing to ever let go again. Despite all the tears we shed, I was simply overjoyed. There was a moment of understanding, before she finally spoke once more.
"No, Rei… Thank you…" I replied, "Thank you for coming back…"
As we bathed ourselves in each other's attention, I could barely hear Misato and the rest coming in and applauding us. To me, it was a highly emotional moment, as years of pain and agony were finally ended. The reunion signalled the closing chapter of the wait and the beginning of her journey to recovery. Rei had lost a significant amount of time, and especially so since she had never experienced the life of a late teen, but now that everything was in order, she would be able to make it up in the future, and I would be there to share it with her.
July – August 2020
Things had never been easy for Rei, but she was a determined character. During the days that followed, I tried my best to help her in her daily activities, and even though it was hard initially, I was content that Rei was with me once again. There was no school in summer break, so I spent all my time by her side, and even at nights, I chose to stay at the hospital with her. I had learnt to cherish and tressure, and every moment with her was golden.
Rei regained her normal speech within a week, but her muscles were atrophied and needed more time. She was discharged from the hospital soon afterwards, and she moved in together with Misato and the rest of us. Considering the five years I had spent without her, this was more than I could ever asked for, and at times I realised that I had become overly protective of her, but it never stopped me from caring. I wasn't strong enough to lose her again, and I wanted to make sure that I did everything I could to make her happy.
As time went on, the story Rei and I wrote together had come to an end. There had been struggles, pain, tears and sufferings, but there had also been moments of bravery and selfless heroics. Sad as it might be, it was through this story that we realised what we wanted, and how much we meant to each other. What mattered most was that we had learnt to appreciate, and now I felt that our bond was stronger than ever.
Regardless, the memories would remain, and at times when there seemed to be no hope, they would serve to remind us that miracles did happen as long as we believed. The light, which we had searched for hard and long, had now been reached, and from it another story would be written, and this time, it would be a happy one…
Two Months Later…
It was a warm evening at the beach, with a gentle breeze of salty air accompanying us as Rei and I strolled along by the sea. The rhythmic sound coming from the waves hitting the sand was soothing to the ears. As the sun slowly sank down the horizon, the area was washed over by its fading but still brilliant rays, radiating a longing sense into the heart of this sanctuary. The sky that was once a magnificent blue in the morning had now been replaced by a pleasant orange, and a few stars had appeared in the distant space to decorate the orange curtain with their faint blue lights.
Rei was sitting on the wheelchair as I pushed her along. She wore a white, sleeveless evening dress that reached just above her ankles, with a slit running down on the left side. The thin silky cloth made her look ethereal and somehow fragile, as she shuddered when a chilly gust of wind brushed past our skin.
"Are you cold, Rei?" I asked, "Do you want my shirt?"
"No, Shinji," She replied with her usual soft voice, "I wish to feel the wind on my skin… I find its touch very comforting."
"Oh alright then, but if you do need it, just let me know."
"I will. Thank you."
Smiling, I turned and looked towards the reddish horizon, "It's really beautiful, isn't it?"
"Do you mean the sunset?"
"Yeah…let's find a place and sit down together, shall we?"
Rei simply nodded her head. She had an amusing habit of assuming that people would be looking at her whenever she did that. It had caused several misunderstandings with the people not familiar with her. They thought she was rude, but I honestly found this act quite cute in an innocent way.
We soon found a dry spot beside a wood log. It was reasonably far away from the coastal line, and the whitish sand looked clean and was devoid of any tiny stones and wood pieces. I gestured to the spot and asked, "What about here, Rei?"
"It looks good," She gave a simple reply.
"Ok, just stay where you are. Let me lay down the towel first, and then I'll help you down from the chair," I said and retrieved a piece of cloth from the picnic bag. I then spread it across on the floor before turning back to Rei. It was then I noticed that she had already stood up by herself.
"Be careful, Rei!" I exclaimed and rushed to support her thin frame.
She frowned slightly in response as I held her in my hands, "Shinji, I can manage well on my own."
"It's still dangerous. You had a fall last week, remember?"
"The floor was slippery."
"Yes, but no, Rei, I will not allow you to stand or walk alone without my guidance until I can make sure that you've fully recovered." I said as we made the few steps towards the wood log and sat down together. Rei gave no further response. I then wrapped my arm around her shoulder. She simply stared ahead, seemingly in deep thoughts as we stayed still in this moment of contentment.
By then, only a small portion of the sun was left above the sea surface. Flocks of seagulls flew across the darkening sky, heading back to their respective homes with their families. Night life was about to begin. A few crabs were seen running diagonally on the sandy beach. Far away in the horizon, several playful dolphins shot out from the sea into the air, before diving back into the water again.
"Sorry, Rei, perhaps I was just over-reacting," I broke the silence after a while.
She seemed to have woken up from a trance, as she stared at me, looking slightly confused, before putting on her ever graceful smile, "No, it is alright. I do not mind. It warms my heart, knowing that you care so much about me."
I smiled back, "I'm glad you understand."
It was another brief moment of silence before she spoke again, "Shinji?"
"Yes? What is it?"
"Have I ever told you that I used to hate the colour red?"
"No," I was a little surprised, "Why was that?"
"Red reminded me of blood and certain painful experience…but I believe I've now found another side of it… Look," She pointed towards the reddish sun, "Just like how you described… It is so beautiful… I realise that red is also the beginning of life…"
Unable to come out with a response to match her, I simply held her hand and pulled her closer to me, "You're right, Rei, and I'm happy for you…"
Time weaved slowly as she leaned her head onto my shoulder. I inhaled the womanly scent coming from her, cherishing this moment of deep and spiritual affection. Soon, the sun was no longer visible, but then came the billions of twinkling stars that made the night a lot brighter than it should have been. The crescent moon shone elegantly, with its silver light reflecting off the surface of the sea and illuminating the peaceful beach.
"Are you feeling tired, Rei?" I asked, "Do you want to go home?"
"No, Shinji," She replied after a while, "I wish to stay a little longer…"
I nodded and gently stroked her arm with my hand, feeling the smooth texture of her flawless skin. Rei simply kept still and breathed quietly. Together, we gazed at the magnificent star filled sky that extended beyond the horizon. The sight displayed before us was magically absorbing and truly one to behold, with the blue sparkles seemingly dancing to an imaginative melody. Suddenly, a blazing white meteorite was seen soaring across the black curtain of the night sky.
"Look Rei!" I shook her excitedly, "It's a shooting star! Quick, make a wish!"
I then closed my eyes immediately and pressed my palms against each other. Still feeling blessed with the unexpected and rare opportunity, I made a silent wish.
When I opened my eyes again, Rei was still sitting there with her eyelids shut and her fists clutched together. Her mouth was slightly ajar, and with the moonlight seemingly enhancing her charming facial features, I once again found myself intrigued by her beauty. Her captivating radiance began to slowly draw me closer to her inviting lips, and I soon lost my own conscience.
As I closed in on our distance, I started to feel her warm breaths gently blowing against my skin. It was soothing, and yet arousing. I then stopped midway, taking a brief moment to inhale the sweet aroma coming from her and savouring the heavenly fragrance, before advancing again. I tilted my head slightly to the side just when our noses were about to meet, and then with a deep breath, I made the final push and planted a kiss on her lips.
Her lips were warm and moist, and although our tongues never met, the kiss was highly sensual. I couldn't remember for how long it was maintained, but when we parted lips, I was immediately greeted by another priceless expression of hers. Rei's cheeks were flushed red, and the corner of her mouth was curved slightly upwards into a soft smile. The look in her eyes showed me an affection so deep that sent waves of blissful emotions into my heart.
It was Rei who spoke first, "My wish just came true."
"Your wish…?" I was slightly surprised, "You made a wish for me to kiss you?"
"Yes, Shinji," She nodded, "A kiss was all I asked."
"You knew I would kiss you anytime you want, so why didn't you ask for something else?"
"It is a simple wish, but stories are written from simple actions, and love is developed from simple show of care. I have learnt to appreciate them, for it is simple things that merged together to make me realise what it means to live."
I smiled in response, "You seem to be quite thoughtful tonight."
Her cheeks slowly turned red again with a shy looking smile. She tried to look away, but returned her gaze to me when I reached forward to caress her face. Her eyes met mine; her hair flickered in the gentle wind. I wanted to tell her how beautiful she looked, but before I could, she asked, "What about you, Shinji? What did you wish for?"
"Sorry, I can't tell you," I chuckled, "Not until it came true."
She looked slightly bemused, "Why not?"
"According to popular beliefs, a wish would not be realised if the person revealed it to other people before the wish itself happened."
"I see," Rei replied, now looking a little dejected.
"Yeah…" I then surprised her by bending forward and reaching behind her back. Slowly and carefully, I unclasped her necklace and retrieved it from her neck. Rei had a questioning look on her face, but I simply smiled to reassure her. I then removed the ring from the silver chain and held it in my hand, "Do you know why you're wearing this ring, Rei?"
"You told me it was a symbol of faith."
"Yes, but that is only part of the reason…" I stopped and took a few deep breaths before adding, "It carries a proposal I made just a few days before you woke up from the coma."
By then, my heart had begun to beat uncomfortably. There was also a tinkling sensation in my limbs, and I couldn't seem to stop them from trembling nervously. Trying to be as graceful as I could, I stood up and then knelt down on one knee beside her. With my arms raised and the ring firmly held between my fingers, I asked, "Will you marry me, Ayanami Rei?"
She drew an audibly sharp breath. Her eyes widened slightly as she stared blissfully at the ring, looking pleasantly surprised. She then put on a smile and glanced back at me, "Why should I?"
Subtle as it might be, I didn't miss the mischievous glint hidden behind those two ruby orbs. It was one of the very few times when Rei was in her playful mood. The rare occasion was one to be cherished, but my instinct told me to do this the serious way.
"Destiny," I replied, still holding the ring.
Her eyes softened, now glistening with deep emotions; the childlike smile on her face was replaced by a longing and understanding one. There was an extended moment of silence, as we simply bathed ourselves comfortably in each other's attention. Memories returned and flooded the instant, slowly condensing and finally climaxed with the reply that came from her white lips.
"Yes, Ikari Shinji, I will marry you."
"Then," I tried hard to suppress a seemingly impending eruption of overwhelming joy. Although her answer was expected, I was still very delighted, "May I have you hand, please?"
With the smile still on her face, she slowly extended her hand towards me. I took it gently in mine, admiring her long slender fingers and pale glowing skin. Rei became the sole focus of my attention; everything else went silent. Encouraged by her calming presence, I slid the golden band onto her ring finger. It fit perfectly.
The already stunning piece of jewellery was further enhanced by her fine-looking hand. It shone brilliantly in the moonlight, radiating rays of enchanting light. As Rei took in its elegance, I sat back down beside her, "It looks beautiful on you."
"You mentioned that this is your mother's ring, correct?"
"Yes, it was," I replied, "The ring is our family treasure that has been passed on by many generations, and now…it belongs to you…Ikari Rei…"
"Ikari…Rei…" She smiled, slightly blushing, "I like the way it sounds…"
There was a sweet taste upon my tongue as I heard her say her new name. It came from a sense of belonging, and also from the heart warming knowledge that she was now mine. I simply soaked myself in this moment of euphoria, and it was another brief silence before I spoke again, "Well, do you want me to tell you about my wish now?"
"There is no need," She turned around and wrapped her arms tightly around me; her chin now resting on my shoulder, "Because I already know."
I returned the affection by rubbing her back firmly but gently.
"Shinji," She said after a while.
"Yes? What is it?"
"I feel like walking."
"Alright, but only if you let me help you," I replied firmly.
She pulled back from the embrace and with a smile, nodded her head, "I wish to feel the sand under my feet," She carefully removed her sandals, laying them beside her wheelchair. I did the same before helping her up by supporting my arm around her waist.
With her head leaning onto my shoulder, we strolled alongside the coastline, feeling the wet, but warm sand touching the skin of our soles. There were no words exchanged between us as we walked on, but even though we kept quiet, I could feel her soul and our strong bond that had been built down these years. It was a while later that I glanced back and saw the trails of footprints we had left behind on the beach. Some were smaller than the others. Eventually, all of them would disappear with the tides, but not our hearts… Never our hearts…
"Rei," I said as she turned to look at me, "I just want you to know…that I feel really happy right now…"
Her response was a simple, but captivating smile. She then stood on the tip of her toes, leaned upwards, and gave me a light kiss on the cheek, "I love you, Shin-chan."
"And I love you too, Rei-chan…"
It was a rainy weekend afternoon. The gloomy cloud hung heavily in the distance, and the chilly temperature outside was becoming intolerable. Fortunately, with the help of my electrical heater, I was able to make myself comfortable in this small room of mine. A cup of hot chocolate and a few depressing pieces of music later, I opened Microsoft Word and typed in the first two words. "Red Tears" thus made its way into existence.
The idea stemmed from the reason why I admire the character Rei. She was such a mysterious and an angst-filled character, and yet she was never fully explored in the anime. I found it amazing how a detached character like her could have such drawing power that I had to go read fan-fictions to learn more about her. I was fascinated. I especially enjoyed tragedies mixed with a good touch of WAFF, but sadly there were not many of this combination out there.
So I started wondering: What if I wrote a story that would crush the feelings of my fellow Rei fans out there, but at the same time manage to keep them coming back for more? It was overly ambitious, but I was quickly reminded of Gendo, the character I hated most in the anime. What if this bastard was sexually abusing Rei? The pills then came to mind easily.
The story didn't start off very well. The first chapters were so mediocre that I hated them. From the start till finish, I poured my feelings into this story. However, I was simply not good enough to put my own emotions into words, and by chapter 10, I had become so disappointed with myself that I wanted to stop writing and save myself from further embarrassment. Some of you would remember the confession I made when I posted chapter 11; others would not even know, but I'm glad I didn't quit.
From then on, I went chapter by chapter, never planning too far ahead. The story then took a serious turn in chapter 15. For once, Rei fans began to express their anger and hatred against me, and yet they kept coming back for more. The objective I had initially set for myself was then reached.
Although my writing was still amateurish, I had never been happier for my story. Being called a genius is fun; being called a sick horrible genius is ten times more gratifying. However, many readers didn't realise this: what you felt, I felt ten times as much. I was teary myself when I wrote some of the chapters.
Writing from first person's POV was very difficult. It took away a lot of freedom and imagination, but now I realise that POV when done properly, is the best way of relaying emotions. Although I'm not overly confident with Red Tears overall, I'm fiercely proud of what I have written since chapter 20, especially chapter 24 because I put tons of effort into it and consider it the peak of the story.
In conclusion, writing this story has been a long journey and an amazing experience. I really enjoyed the emotional side, and now that it's finished, I feel somewhat depressed and sad. It has received a far better response than I could ever hope, and honestly I'm not very willing to part with it. However, everything must come to an end. On the bright side, I'm far from being done. Red Tears is over, but expect to see more crazy fan-fictions from me!
First, I want to thank brindani. Words cannot express my gratitude, so I can only try. He has been such a big help to me, especially on the grammatical side and sentence structure. He comments on where I should add more details and where I shouldn't. I admit I never like it much when he starts nit-picking on my storyline, because it means I have to work through the chapter again. However, he often makes suggestion and covers the plot holes for me, and I really appreciate it in the end. I can really tell that he sincerely wants the best for my story, and for this I'm really grateful. Without this man, Red Tears would not have been half as decent.
Second, I want to thank Akhorahil and ttestagr. Akhorahil pre-read my early chapters, and he was the first one to offer me any help. He taught me a few German swear words, which I unfortunately didn't get to use. I used to discuss my plot with him, and he was the only one who knew about my acidic plans for Gendo before I wrote chapter 24. ttestagr pre-read my middle chapters. He helped a lot on sentence structure. Sadly, these two quit pre-reading half-way through the story.
Third, I want to thank Optimus Magnus, my best buddy in the Evangelion e-world. He wasn't a pre-reader, but he helped on the Asuka/Kaworu chapter. I bug him frequently for technical details and story ideas. He was also the one who stopped me from making Shinji pee his pants when he realised that Rei had forgotten her pills in chapter 17.
And finally, I want to thank all those who gave me constructive, helpful and inspiring reviews. I especially want to thank the people who read this story right from the beginning when I first started posting. I want to thank them for keeping their faith and staying with me throughout. I also want to thank all the readers for their brave and successful journey through the first few sloppy chapters. You deserve my respect for being able to get pass them and finish reading this story. And of course, if you're still reading this, I want to thank you for actually reading the longest author's note ever written. It shows that you care about how I feel and not just how I write.
Below is an extra scene I wrote. It happened roughly twenty years after the ending of Red Tears. Enjoy!
It was a fine morning in Tokyo-3. The city had just woken up from the night, and daily routine had already started for most of its citizens. However, not everyone had caught up with time. A certain fourteen-year-old boy was still sleeping peacefully in his bedroom. The window curtains were drawn together, blocking the sunlight and allowing him to slumber in his dark room. That was until a girl of the same age stormed in and pulled them open.
The irritating rays of light immediately filled the place. The boy frowned and tried to pull the blanket over his head, but before he could, the comfortable piece of warm cloth was already snatched away.
"Wake up you little idiot!" The girl shouted.
"Please…" The boy yawned sleepily, trying to feel around for his blanket, "Just give me another five minutes…that's all I ask…"
It was then the girl saw the bulge in his pants.
"You pervert!" She screamed and gave him a slap. She then stormed back out of the room mumbling under her breath, "How disgusting…"
"I couldn't help it!" The boy shouted back, feeling annoyed.
He sat up and rubbed his tender cheek. His sister's method always seemed to work better than the alarm clock. Slowly, he stood up and walked to the bathroom. There, he did his morning cleaning and got dressed in the school uniform. He then took a glance at the mirror. The image he saw reminded him of his unique origin. Silvery hair with a light shade of blue, two orbs of sapphire eyes and perfect skin made him and his twin sister stood out from the rest of their classmates.
Both of them resembled their mother's ethereal appearance, but the boy also inherited their father's tanned skin and boyish look, where as the girl received their mother's whitish skin and elegant stature. They were both beautiful, but it came with a price.
The boy arrived at the kitchen soon afterwards, and he was greeted by the girl, this time in a much more polite way, "Good morning, Kenji."
"Good morning, Reiko." He then proceeded to sit down and eat his breakfast, but his sister grabbed his toast away and handed him a pill and a glass of water.
"Swallow it first," She said, "You'll have to eat your bread on the way to school, or else we'll be late."
Kenji put the pill in his mouth and gulped it down with a mouthful of water. He had never liked it, but he and his sister had already become used to the routine a very long time ago. Reiko then returned his toast and they both stood up. The two siblings put on their shoes hastily and left their luxurious condominium.
"I wish mum and dad were at home more often in the mornings," Kenji said as they briskly walked down the street to school, "I'm getting tired of eating pieces of toasts everyday, and I miss the breakfast mum used to prepare for us."
"Don't be silly," Reiko replied, her pony tail flipping left and right as she jogged, "Dad is a chef. He needs to be at the restaurant by early dawn. Mum has been busy lately, but she promised me that she would spend more time with us once her work is done."
"Her work…you mean the cure to our disease?"
Reiko rolled her eyes, "For the millionth time it is not a disease!"
"Well, we do take the pill everyday, and we receive an injection every month…"
"The pill is to give us the energy we need, and the injection-"
"Is to support our AT-Field because we are half-Angels," Kenji finished the sentence for his sister, "Yes I know."
"Mum also told me that the pills are not vital and we can survive without them," Reiko added, seemingly proud of her knowledge, "Only the injection is compulsory."
"I hate injections…I would rather take pills…"
"That's why mum is working hard to find the permanent solution so we don't have to take either of them ever again," The sister said solemnly before adding, "And being half-Angels is not a disease so there!"
"Wonder how long that will take?" Her brother asked.
"Very soon I think. Mum's work is in the final stages, and she told me that her physician friend from Germany is coming here to help her. Together, they will combine their findings and reach the conclusion."
"Mum's physician friend from Germany…you mean the red-haired auntie?"
"Yeah, she's the one. I heard her family will be coming with her."
"Her family is coming too?" The boy asked, "Will they be staying here permanently?"
"Mum told me they will. The red-haired auntie has been planning to migrate here for quite some time now," Reiko explained, "She only stayed in Germany because she wanted to fully utilise Western technology to find the solution for us."
"Why is she so keen on helping us?"
"She used to live here, you know?" The girl answered, "Mum and her are very close friends."
"How do you know all these stuff?"
"Mum told me."
Kenji's eyes widened in jealousy, "Why did mum tell you and not me? This is so unfair!"
"Because you, like dad, are insensitive and inconsiderate," Reiko chirped happily, "You just sit there and watch television all day, whereas I know how to be a good daughter and give mum my full support."
"That is so not true!" Kenji retaliated angrily, but before he could further add anything, Reiko shouted back.
"Kenji! Look out!"
However, it was too late. Before Kenji knew what was going on, he was bumped heavily on the head by another person darting out from the left corner. Both of them crashed to the ground, each rubbing the growing lump on their sore foreheads.
As Kenji glanced upwards, he was greeted by a girl and an unobstructed view of her white cotton panties. The boy froze immediately, being overwhelmed by a sudden burst of hormones. Reiko tried to get him to stand up, but his legs refused to move.
The other girl simply stared at him with a faint blush on her face, making no attempt to cover herself. Kenji was intrigued by her appearance. The girl's hair was shoulder length and silvery blue, and it was kept in place by two red hair clips; her sapphire eyes shone brilliantly, matching the flawless texture of her fair skin. They were almost identical to his. He had never seen anyone with similar features other than his own twin sister. Interestingly, the girl whom he had just run into seemed to share the same curiosity.
"Are you alright, sis?" Another boy came and helped the fallen girl up.
"Yes I am." His sister replied.
"I am deeply sorry for this," The boy turned to Kenji and Reiko, "We are running late for school and we need to hurry. Once again, I apologise."
With that, both of them ran off. The girl took a glance back at Kenji, before she and her brother turned at a corner and disappeared from sight.
"D-Did you see that?" Kenji asked after a while.
"See what?" Reiko scowled, "Her panties?"
Kenji frowned in return, "No, her looks…and her brother…they look so similar to us…"
"Well, that's interesting and all, but you'd be surprised if I told you how many teenagers out there are trying to copy our hair style," His sister replied with a sarcastic tone, "and failing spectacularly if I may add."
She then headed off without her brother. Kenji sat there contemplating what had just transpired. Not only did the girl and her brother share the same unique features as him, they also looked oddly familiar. It was as if he had seen them some time before, perhaps a few years ago in their early childhood when he and Reiko were much younger. Unable to come up with an agreeable explanation, he shrugged it off and stood up. Kenji then started running and caught up with his sister. Together, they made their way for the school.
Lessons were just about to start by the time they arrived at their class. Reiko sighed in relief and took her usual seat beside her best friend and class rep, Tomoe; Kenji went to sit by the window with his buddy and the class geek, Sousuke.
"Hello, Sousuke, guess what happened this morning?" Kenji asked enthusiastically.
"What?" His friend sounded detached, "You saw your sister naked?"
"No," Kenji shot him a glare, "I bumped into a girl. She has exactly the same hair and eye colour as me!"
"Yeah, and?" Sousuke still look disinterested; his hands playfully toying with his camera.
"I saw her panties too."
His friend bolted upright, "Damn you! Why are you always the lucky one?"
Kenji smiled as he finally got Sousuke's attention, but before he could add anything further, a high pitched screech was heard from the outside. Immediately, the entire male population of the class flooded to the windows and started chanting, "Miyuki! Miyuki! Miyuki!"
It was the name of their extremely attractive female teacher. Kenji sighed in frustration. He wanted to share his news with Sousuke, but now even his best friend was busy filming Miyuki. The twenty-year-old had just made an impressive entry to the school by doing a 180 degree reverse turn into the parking slot with her classic blue Renault.
Kenji didn't understand why everyone was idolising that woman so much. In his opinion, Miyuki, like her mother, was a drunken slob. She was always blunt and untidy at home. Kenji especially hated it when she started teasing him and Reiko by calling them test tube babies. It was true, but that didn't mean he had to like it. To make things worse, their parents knew each other very well.
He was slightly pleased when Tomoe started barking orders at the students, demanding that they keep quiet and stay in order. The class rep then marched over and grabbed Sousuke by his ear, twisting it painfully. The boy let out a yelp.
"Have you fed the fishes this morning?" She asked angrily, pointing to the small aquarium at the back of the classroom, "It's your turn today, you know?"
"Ouch! Ouch! Let go of me! I'll do it straight away!"
"Good," Tomoe released his now reddish ear, "Now get going!"
With that, Sousuke hurried away to perform his duty. He and Tomoe were actually cousins, but Tomoe, although looking much smaller, seemed to be more dominant in terms of personality. Kenji couldn't help but chuckle when he saw his friend rubbing his sore ear.
"That'll teach you not to ignore me," He mumbled under his breath, before stopping and realising what he had just said, "Oh no…I'm beginning to sound like Reiko…"
The bell rang soon afterwards and everyone returned to their own seats. The classroom became evidently quiet as the students waited for their teacher to arrive. After a short while, Miyuki walked in and Tomoe led the class through the routine of stand, bow and sit. The teacher, as always, was in a cheerful mood, but Kenji was surprised to see two familiar faces accompanying her.
"Class, I have good news," Miyuki announced, smiling, "I would like to introduce our two new students from Germany. Boys and girls, give your warm welcome to Erika and Haru!"
Kenji watched on with his mouth slightly ajar as the rest of his classmates applauded. The two newcomers were the very same people he had run into earlier in the morning. Together, Erika and Haru bowed politely, "Please to meet you all."
"Wow, do we have another pair of twins?" Tomoe chimed.
Haru glanced at Erika, seemingly encouraging her to answer the question, but the girl simply stood there passively. So her brother decided to reply, "No, we're not twins. My sister Erika is eleven months younger than me."
"Oh I see," Tomoe said, "So she's only thirteen?"
"Yes. Don't let her shy personality get you. She is quite bright for her age," Haru chuckled, "She started school a year early. She is quite lucky, receiving all the good genes from our parents leaving only the bad one for me," Haru said as he affectionately messed up Erika's hair.
The class snickered as Erika nudged her brother gently from the side, feeling slightly embarrassed.
"Haven't we met before?" Reiko asked, her finger gesturing teasingly at Kenji, "Your sister flashed her panties at him just a bit ago, remember?"
Kenji suddenly found himself sweating profusely; a faint blush appeared on Erika's cheeks but she kept her curious eyes on Kenji; Haru laughed softly, "Why yes I do believe we've met each other. However-"
"So this is the girl who flashed you her panties?" Sousuke cut in, "Wow, I admire you, Kenji. I would say she's even hotter than your silly sister."
The class burst into laughter; the highly embarrassed Kenji was starting to wish himself out of existence; Sousuke smirked as Reiko slammed her fists onto the table and shouted, "What did you just say?"
"Guys, guys, calm down," Miyuki laughed and stopped the brief quarrel, "Let's hear what Haru's got to say, alright?" She then turned to the boy, "Haru, would you mind continue?"
"Well, I just wanted to say that Erika did not show her underwear to this boy here intentionally," Haru replied. He then decided to mention Kenji's role in the morning incident, "And it certainly wasn't this boy's fault for running into my sister. The whole thing was purely an accident."
"Alright then, that explains everything. So let's leave the matter for now, shall we?" Miyuki said. Kenji didn't miss the knowing look she shot him, however. He had the feeling that his teacher would be teasing him about this incident for weeks to come. "So do you have any more questions for our new friends?"
"I do," Reiko raised her hand, "Does Erika have a boyfriend?"
The rest of the students whistled as the quiet girl in question turned red once again. It was Sousuke who spoke first, "Why? Are you interested in her? Wow Reiko, I didn't know you were a lesbian."
"Me?" Reiko laughed, "A lesbian? In your fantasy you perverted geek boy."
It was Sousuke's turn to go red as the class exploded into another fit of laughter, "I don't have that sort of fantasy!"
"Ok silence class," Miyuki tried to restore order, "You can ask our new friends the more personal questions later. We're already running behind schedule, so let's start today's lessons, shall we?" She then turned to Haru and Erika, "You two can take any open seat you like."
Haru took the seat in the front row, leaving only one other empty seat in the class. Kenji didn't know if he should feel blessed or cursed, for the remaining seat was none other than the one right beside him. He started sweating again as Erika walked slowly to the seat and sat down.
Kenji tried to stare ahead; his hands were unconsciously fidgeting with his pen. He couldn't maintain the stiff posture for long, however, as his curiosity peaked rapidly. He gave in soon afterwards and turned to glance at the new girl, only to see her staring back at him with her sparkling eyes.
"Hello," She said; her voice was soft and childlike.
"Hello," Kenji replied.
"Are you an Angel?"
The boy was a little surprised by her question, but chose to give a reasonably correct answer, "No, not really."
"Then are you a half-Angel, like me?"
It was then Kenji remembered why Erika and her brother had seemed so familiar. They had met each other before during his family's trip to Germany. The memories were vague since it happened such a long time ago, but Kenji was quite sure that Erika and her brother must be the red-haired auntie's half-Angel children. However, he could somehow guess that Erika didn't remember him anymore.
"Yes…yes I am a half-Angel…like you," There was something about Erika's charming facial features that soothed Kenji's inner feelings.
The girl smiled in return, "My name is Erika."
"And my name is Kenji," The boy replied, offering his hand to his new friend. Erika shook it happily.
Perhaps being a half-Angel wasn't so bad after all.